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6 Votes

Doctor Doom's Druid Guide for Douchebags 7.27d

November 6, 2020 by DoctorDRUID
Comments: 9    |    Views: 16856    |   


Doctor Doom's Druid Guide for Douchebags 7.27d

DotA2 Hero: Lone Druid




Hero Skills

Summon Spirit Bear

1 3 5 7

Spirit Link

2 4 6 8

Savage Roar

11 13 14 16

True Form

9 12 18

Talents

10 15

Hero Talents

+1000 True Form and Spirit Bear Health
25
-0.1 Spirit Bear Base Attack Time
0 Entangle cooldown
20
-40s True Form Cooldown
+8 Spirit Bear Armor
15
-10s Savage Roar Cooldown
+25 Spirit Bear Movement Speed
10
+200 Health

Introduction

"You wanna know what's better than one tank? Two tanks." - Me, just now



Aight grab a glass of water this is a long *** guide to Lone Druid otherwise known as the best and greatest hero in DotA 2. That's lesson one of Lone Druid school, hydrate or diedrate.

Who is Lone Druid? His actual name is Sylla, so that's how I'll refer to him in this guide. I won't just call him LD or Lone Druid because that refers to the whole hero, and the whole hero includes the Spirit Bear.

The Bear is the hero, make no mistake. He may technically be defined a "creep hero" by Valve's spaghetti code but he has all the pushing power, kill potential, and presence of a hero. He can use items, and even let you farm, fight and push after Sylla dies. Lone Druid has a very low pickrate due to his unique design, but don't let his complexity rating in the game confuse you. Lone Druid is easy to learn, but his incredible versatility and potential means that his skill ceiling is very high. If he's good enough for MATUMBAMAN and qojqva, he's good enough for you.

One thing you have to keep in mind, and what makes Lone Druid so great, is that you the player are the limiting factor. Even with the nerfs in 7.27b, I still consider Lone Druid to be one of the best cores in the game, if not the best. No other hero has such incredible damage output combined with so much durability, but it takes real skill and strategy to take advantage of it. If you let yourself get kited around in fights, or forget to cast Savage Roar (I once forgot to cast Roar and it cost me a kill that would have gotten me a Rampage), or mess up your management of your units, you won't be able to make the most of what this hero has to offer. No one is perfect, however, and even if you make a few mistakes in your games, you can still outstrip the farming, pushing, and fighting capabilities of just about every other hero. You also need to be efficient in your build decisions. I have seen many players in my games since the patch pick LD and lose because they were still using old builds like Radiance rush or not maxing out Spirit Link early. Since a novice LD player can no longer skate by on his raw stats alone, more informed decisions are necessary.

I choose to play Lone Druid as a mid hero, so that is how this guide is oriented with regards to item/skill builds. You can play him in other lanes and in other roles, but his need for quick gold and experience plus his solo kill potential means he is best suited to the mid lane. It also gives you the head start you need to snowball, since you can pick up your early items in mid and start making rotations to kill people in the sidelanes around the 10-11 minute mark.

Sadly, Lone Druid is not a popular hero. He hasn't gotten any new cosmetics since 2018, and he only has one immortal that came out in 2013. He consistently has a low pick rate, and very few pro players regularly use him. Keep in mind, a hero's pick rate has nothing to do with how good the hero is, since some of the most popular heroes are objectively not very strong at all. What it does mean is that the hero is hard to learn. You can find a dozen guides to heroes like Anti-Mage that contain info relevant to the most recent patch and are based off the most successful builds in professional games. Lone Druid guides are few and far between, and often contain outdated info, even though his last rework was patch 7.23 which came out in November of 2019. There isn't a good general consensus as to how he is to be played. According to Dotabuff people still play him in the sidelanes or even as a jungler. I still see people going Radiance first item. Some people think he should be a hard farmer, others like me think he should be a fighting core. He functions so differently than every other hero, and is so rarely seen, that I expect a good percentage of players don't understand the basics of this hero and never will. As I will explain later, this can actually give you an advantage. I started this guide to help myself learn the hero, but as I have come to love him I want to make this a resource that the community can use to see an evolving and effective strategy.

I also have an in-game version of this guide, if you'd like to have access to my build during matches. Link to the Steam page.

In this guide I will teach you the ways of the Bear Clan, how to use the Bear effectively, how to manage him and Sylla, and what you should be thinking about during every moment of the game. Yes, that means this guide is very long. Right now it is about 20k words. This is partially because Lone Druid is a strategically complex and deep hero, and partly because this is my personal guide to Dota, as I detail my thoughts on macro strategy and analyzing the state of the game. Lone Druid is the hero that got me to start thinking critically about Dota, I learned about the meta game through him, and I analyze the game primarily through the lens of how it affects LD. You don't need to memorize the whole guide, experienced players will already know most of the big-picture concepts I explain here. I would not be satisfied with this guide if I knew there was information I had left out that was relevant to LD, so I try to explain how you should approach these aspects of the game when playing LD specifically.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a pro player, I am not a streamer, I am not an expert. I just like LD. A lot. I initially made this guide for myself as a way of codifying and reflecting on my strategies, but I figured other people might like to see it. These are all my opinions, and many aspects of my strategy have room for improvement. I am constantly in the process of researching and evaluating new strategies and item builds, and I will keep this guide updated as I find new ways to secure victory.

What Do I Need to Know?

This is the section to look at if you don't feel like reading the whole guide. I advise reading as much as you can, I don't include any information that I feel is unnecessary. This is the basic questions, FAQ's, and core ideas you need to understand in order to passably play the hero. I won't include much by way of explanations here, that can all be found in the rest of the guide. Look to the ability and talent builds at the top of this guide for information on them. Again, this is just the basics. The Bear minimum, if you will.


Q: What is this hero?
A: This hero is two units. The Bear is the actual hero, and you should treat it as such. Use it to kill people, take towers, farm, and generally play like a regular melee carry. The Bear can use items, and has its own active and passive abilities. If you die, the Bear dies. If the Bear is dead, you are basically out of the game. Unless you get Aghanim's Scepter, the Bear is unable to attack if it is too far from Sylla.

Q: What starting items do I get?
A: Your starting items are a Blight Stone, Quelling Blade, and an Observer Ward. Also buy a Town Portal Scroll for the Bear, and pick up an Iron Branch for Sylla, or a Faerie Fire if you didn't get a Tango (Shared) from your teammates. Put the Blight Stone and Quelling Blade on the Bear for last hitting.

Q: What items do I get next?
A: Your first purchases are a Mask of Madness and Phase Boots for the Bear. Then buy Boots of Speed, a Wind Lace, and a Buckler for Sylla. Those are the items you need to start rotating. Now you can start building Monkey King Bar and Assault Cuirass for the Bear. After that you can make Sylla harder to kill with items like Heart of Tarrasque or Heaven's Halberd, or make the Bear more dangerous with items like Desolator, Moon Shard, or Skull Basher.

Q: What lane do I go to?
A: Mid is the best lane for Lone Druid. You will get an early boost of Gold and Experience, and the Bear does better in a 1v1 than a 2v2. The sidelanes are more dangerous because your Bear can be harassed down easily, whereas in mid you have the protection of high ground and the enemy mid is usually more focused on CS.

Q: What is my job?
A: After you pick up your early items in mid, your job is to rotate to the sidelanes, kill people, and take their towers. Don't spend too much time farming neutrals, you want to be killing people and pushing as much as possible. In fights, your Bear is a melee carry so just worry about getting it on top of people so it can deal damage. Your Bear has a Root ability for getting kills and a damage buff against buildings for taking towers. Use both.

Q: Isn't Lone Druid a complex hero?
A: Not really. This guide is only long because I explain my entire thought process on everything. Once you understand that the Bear is the real hero, its pretty simple. Yes you need a bit of micro to play him but its much easier than heroes like Meepo or Arc Warden because you have so few active items and abilities. If you are just learning the hero, you can have both your units selected for most of the game and do just fine.

Chapter 0: Hero Changes 7.27b

I started writing this guide in 7.27, so that's where my strategies started to form. The hero received some changes in 7.27b and may be changed in the future. Here are the 7.27b changes, and how I interpret them. As of 7.27d the hero has not received any more direct changes, but I will update this section if and when LD receives changes again.



Strength gain reduced from 2.7 to 2.5: This adds up as you gain levels. With no items, his max HP at level 30 is now 2200 (200 from the talent) where it was 2380 (again, 200 from the talent) so overall about a 9% nerf to his max health. Health regen at level 30 was 9.88, is now 9.3. Almost inconsequential, since most of your effective HP comes from the Spirit Link healing and the True Form stats, and Sylla can buy items like Heart of Tarrasque or Heaven's Halberd to tank up more if needed.



Savage Roar is no longer duplicate cast if the other unit is disabled: If the Bear has Mask of Madness active, you can still cast Savage Roar from Sylla but it will not eminate from the Bear because it is silenced. Unfortunate, I found it to be an interesting mechanic. This means you have to be more careful when using Mask of Madness if you anticipate needing to cast Savage Roar soon. I suggest this be re-added as a Level 25 talent or be part of the Aghanim's Scepter upgrade, because it is very useful in some games.



Summon Spirit Bear damage per level is now base damage rather than bonus damage: I like this change a lot. The Bear can now make full use of Rune of Double Damage, as well as the % damage increase from the new Vladmir's Offering and Titan Sliver. Previously, those effects only amplified the Bear's base damage which was 20. Now the Bear gains a significant increase in damage output from them. This also means the Bear can benefit from the bonus damage granted by Empower.



Summon Spirit Bear backlash damage increased from 10% Max Health to 20%: Fair enough. Previously killing the Bear did very little to Sylla, now it is much more threatening. Still not a huge amount of damage, and easy to regain if the ability is not on cooldown. Should help incentivize killing/preserving the Bear in combat.



Summon Spirit Bear Entangling Claws no longer has a special duration for creeps: Used to have a much longer duration when used on creeps, now it is the same against all units. Not super impactful, the Bear usually kills creeps in a few hits anyways so it was rare to see the full duration on a creep.



True Form armor bonus reduced from 10/15/20 to 8/10/12: Probably one of the biggest nerfs, after the Savage Roar change, but not as impactful as it might appear. Due to the diminishing returns of armor in Dota 2, this isn't a tremendous nerf to Sylla's effective HP in true form. Increases the value of items like Assault Cuirass and Shiva's Guard, which were already good items for Lone Druid.



Level 25 Talent reduced from -0.15 Spirit Bear Attack Time to -0.1: This talent has been nerfed several times, I personally don't care much for it at all since the additional True Form health is more valuable. By level 25 the Bear should already have ridiculous attack speed from items like your Moon Shard so a bit of extra attack speed isn't too noticeable.



Overall, the hero was nerfed slightly. According to Dotabuff, his winrate fell from around 55% to 50%, but in my matches since the patch I haven't noticed any decline in my win rate. I expect his win rate in the upper brackets will start to climb again once people start using modern builds. This means LD is no longer an easy hero to win with for inexperienced players. If you are using outdated builds or do not understand the philosophy of using the Bear, the hero is still strong but will not carry you. However, if you are able to take full advantage of the hero and use an efficient item build, the hero is a reliable way to win games that would otherwise be much harder. In terms of his statistics, LD has everything I look for in a hero. He has a low pick rate, but is successful in high skill games. This means many players will not be very familiar with LD and subsequently will not have great strategies to counter him, and it means there is good potential in the hero if played well.

Chapter 1: Settings

Lone Druid's strength comes from the fact that he is two units, Sylla and the Bear. Like Meepo or Arc Warden, this grants him the capacity to have twice the presence in fights and push/farm multiple locations simultaneously. However, properly managing these two units takes skill and practice, but we can take a few shortcuts through proper settings in the game.

There are five things you need to establish in the settings menu that are necessary for playing Lone Druid proficiently. You need a way to select Sylla, a way to select the Bear, a way to select them both, a way to switch focus between them with both selected, and the option to automatically select summoned units. I will explain how to set these up. You can choose to play Lone Druid with both units selected the whole game, or by manually selecting them with the mouse, but it is best to build good habits like hotkeys early if you are new to micro heroes.

For selecting units, you have a few options. You can either use the hotkeys for selecting your hero, all units, or all other units, or you can use control groups.

You can find the keybinds for Select Hero and Select All Controlled Units under the Unit Actions section of the Hotkeys menu. Select Hero is self explanatory, and Select All Controlled Units will instantly select all units you control, including your hero. You can use this to select Sylla and the Bear when you want them both to do the same thing.

In the Advanced Hotkeys menu, there is a Select All Other Units binding. This will select all the units you control except for your hero. You can use this to select just the Bear. If you have other units such as Necronomicon summons or illusions of your hero, this hotkey will select them as well.

Using these hotkeys is fine, but it can create some issues. Namely, you will select units like illusions when you select your Bear, which can cause mistakes in fights. To alleviate this, I use Control Groups.

Control Groups are premade selections of units that are preserved between games. You can find their bindings under the Control Groups section of the Hotkeys menu. To create a control group, you select the units you want, then hold down the Ctrl key and press the binding for the control group. Now whenever you press that binding, those units will be selected.

I use this to create a control group for just my Bear, and a control group for Sylla and the Bear. This way I can select Sylla, the Bear, or both, without worrying about illusions and such getting in the way. It can be useful to pick up a Rune of Illusion in the laning stage and send the illusions off to bait out spells or scout areas. Using control groups like this allows you to use illusions without sacrificing control of your main units.

The next thing we need to set up is a way to switch our focus between selected units. Normally, when you select multiple units the game will automatically focus you on the Hero, showing you their spells and items. Since the Bear has spells and items that need to be paid attention to as well, it is important to have a way to focus on the Bear without letting go of Sylla. Under the Control Groups section of the Hotkeys menu, you will find Next Unit and Prev Unit. Pressing these keys will let you switch focus between selected units.

The last setting to enable is Auto Select Summoned Units. This just means that whenever you summon your Bear you won't also have to select it. In fights it may be necessary to re-summon your Bear and continue fighting, and forgetting to select your Bear after doing so can cost you the fight or even the game. This setting alleviates that risk.

Obviously, whatever bindings you choose to use, they should be keys that are convenient and easy to reach. I have Sylla on the "1" key, the Bear on the "2" key and both of them on "3". I have my mousewheel bound to the Next Unit and Prev Unit bindings, so I can switch focus easily. These are just the bindings that work for me. If you have additional mouse buttons, or prefer to use different keys, by all means do so.

With all these settings to your liking, it will be much easier to play Lone Druid right away. The reason I encourage setting up these keybinds, instead of just having both units selected at all times, is that you can get a lot more out of the hero with some clever micro. Often, there are fights where the enemy is outputting a bit more damage than I can handle, so I have the Bear target an enemy while Sylla walks away to a safe distance, letting him heal off the lifesteal and also kill enemies, without being in too much danger. Another place to make great use of micro is in lane, where you can have one unit harassing the enemy, while the other focuses on last hitting since the enemy is distracted. Yes, you can fight and lane with both units following the same commands, but Lone Druid has the potential to do more.

Chapter 2: Summon Spirit Bear

Summon Spirit Bear: This may be one of the most powerful skills in the game, and it is central to Lone Druid's kit. The first ability you get should be this one. In the early game, you will be building up your Bear more than Sylla because of its incredible stats, mobility, and capacity for immobilizing foes later on. The bear can hold and use items, including neutral items. It has a number of abilities including two insane passives.

Early on, the Bear has an odd mix of good and bad stats. It has 1100 health, 300 mana, 97 attack speed, 20 damage, 340 speed, 3 armor, and 32% magic resist. While the Bear can use items, it cannot benefit from attributes (Strength, Agility, and Intelligence) which reduces the power of many items on the Bear. Each time Sylla levels up, the Bear gains 5 damage, and 75 max health. Notably, though the Bear's max health increases quickly in the early game, its current health will not. By the time you hit level 8, if you have not healed or re-summoned the Bear, it will have a fairly low health percentage even though its current health is still quite high.

You need this Bear to function. It represents all your damage output and probably the majority of your net worth. You may be tempted to sacrifice this Bear for a push or in a fight, but most of the time that will be a mistake. If Summon Spirit Bear is on cooldown while the Bear is dead, you're basically just not a hero. You're a dude with boots.

The Bear has 3 abilities, two of which are passives, but it gains Savage Roar later on when you skill it. If the Bear dies, Sylla suffers damage equal to 20% of his max health as backlash. If enemies kill the Bear, it gives a large bounty of 300 XP and 300 gold.

Keep in mind that playing Lone Druid is a lot like playing other melee hypercarry heroes like Troll Warlord, Phantom Assassin, or Ursa except that you use the Bear to doing the typical carry things. Make sure your team understands this as well. If you have allies with targeted buffs like Bloodlust, Empower, or Frost Shield, ask them if they know to cast those spells on the Bear, since it is the unit that will be doing the damage. Sometimes well-meaning allies who don't know much about Lone Druid will cast those spells on Sylla, which usually isn't very effective. Your role in fights is the same as if you were playing any other melee carry, you want to be getting on top of people and killing them. The Bear excels at this.

The Bear becomes disarmed if it is more than 1100 units away from Sylla. You can see this in demo mode, the Bear will turn slightly grey, use different animations, and a broken sword icon will appear above it. These visual indicators are only visible to your team. Mess around in demo mode to get a sense of how far this is, and see how much time it takes the Bear to be separated with different mobility items. If you know how to use the console, you can use the command "dota_range_display 1100" to create a green ring around Sylla that shows this boundary exactly.

Leveling up Summon Spirit Bear improves the Bear's Base Attack Time (BAT) which means it will attack faster as you increase the level of the ability. What it also means is that the Bear gets more value out of items that increase its attack speed. At level 4 of Summon Spirit Bear, the Bear recieves about 1.18 times the value from attack speed items as normal, so a Moon Shard that is supposed to give 140 attack speed actually gives 167. This multiplier increases to 1.25 with the level 25 talent so a Moon Shard would then give 176 attack speed. Of course, due to the attack speed formula Dota uses there are diminishing returns on attack speed, so the difference in the number of attacks over a period of time isn't very much. It also means the Bear gets about 71 attack speed from max level Spirit Link instead of 60. This is one of the reasons it is better to invest in the Bear's attack speed with items like Monkey King Bar, rather than in damage per attack with items like Daedalus.

It is important to consider the Bear's kit when thinking about your job in the game. Some think Lone Druid should be a jungling hero that doesn't even play a specific lane. Some think he is exclusively a pushing hero that should never try to fight. Yet, the Bear has an ability that makes it amazing at pushing towers, as well as an ability that makes it amazing at securing kills. To me, the most optimal way to play Lone Druid is to use the Bear to clear a path through the enemy team to objectives like towers, and then to take those objectives, repeating the process as necessary.



Return: The Bear's first ability is Return. Return is a channeled teleport spell with a 3 second channel time. It teleports the Bear to Sylla from anywhere. This is a strong utility ability that is especially useful throughout the game. It is a means of freely sending the Bear to heal at the fountain, or having it collect runes away from Sylla.

In lane, keeping your Bear alive is essential. Good players will know to target the Bear with harassment, so it may reach low health. There are a few ways to deal with this. You can re-summon the Bear, heal it with items, or send it to the fountain. Summoning the Bear as a heal isn't optimal since that puts the ability on cooldown and makes you vulnerable; if an enemy kills the Bear soon after, you will be useless. Healing the Bear with items is also not ideal, since it has such high max health. The best option is almost always to have the Bear use a TP scroll to go to the fountain, heal, and then use Return to reappear in lane with Sylla. This is why it is important to buy a TP scroll on the Bear at the start of the game. You should also remember to buy the Bear an additional TP scroll or two while it is at the fountain. Do note that if you have a TP scroll delivered by courier, you must micro the courier to give it to the Bear, since there is no way to transfer a scroll to the Bear.

While the Bear is at the fountain, you can't do as much in lane. You're more vulnerable to harassment, and your last hitting power is reduced. It is fine to just sit under tower if you are worried about the enemy mid, but I encourage making the most of your time. Maybe time the teleport so while the Bear is away, you can stack one of the nearby creep camps to get more farm, or at least try to get some denies so the enemy doesn't have a completely free lane for that time. Luckily fountain healing is fairly quick.

The other use to this ability is allowing you to be in two places at once via the Bear. Normally I avoid splitting my units because this leaves them defenseless, but with Return you can quickly bring back the Bear after it does what you sent it to do, and go back to playing normally. This means you can have the Bear go grab a sneaky Bounty Rune at the start of the game while also blocking creeps with Sylla, and then use Return to bring the Bear back to lane. It also lets you cover both power rune spawn points. Effectively using Return is one aspect of Lone Druid I am working on myself, since it seems key to playing better in the early game.

You can also use Return as a free heal for the Bear later in the game. The Bear is good at tanking tower hits while pushing but it can take some time to restore its health via lifesteal. Use the Bear's teleport scroll to send it to the fountain, then have it Return to Sylla. For added efficiency, you can have Sylla teleport towards your next objective at the same time, that way the Bear will Return at that location and you can more quickly work on the next priority.

When having the Bear teleport to base, always make sure to buy a TP scroll for it, so you can keep doing this throughout the game as necessary. With this strategy, plus the need for scrolls on Sylla to move around the map, don't be surprised if you need to buy numerous scrolls over the course of the game. This cost should be offset by the increased efficiency you get from using the fountain to heal. You can also use the Bear as a faster courier this way. Whenever it goes to the fountain, it can pick up any items you have bought. You can ask allies to drop their cache items in the fountain for the Bear to pick up and deliver.



Demolish: Demolish is the Bear's first passive ability. It grants the bear 33% magic resistance, as well as 10/20/30/40% bonus damage against Buildings which scales with the level of Summon Spirit Bear. This ability is very strong and supports both your offense and your defense.

Bonus damage against buildings is very potent for pushing towers and destroying enemy Barracks. The bonus damage from this ability is so much that you can often destroy the enemy Tier 1 Mid tower the moment you are left to your own devices. If the enemy Mid leaves the lane to gank or dies with a sufficient respawn timer, you can push the creep wave and reduce the tower's health very quickly. Later in the game this will be useful in pushing the enemy high ground, allowing you to knock down Tier 3 towers and Barracks while the enemy team is dead or distracted.

Free magic resistance is very valuable. Due to the Bear's kill potential, it will be a prime target for nukes and initiations in team fights. Ignoring one third of the damage from all nukes lets your bear power through and win the fight after absorbing enemy spells. With 33% magic resistance, the Bear is almost as magic resistant as a normal hero with a Cloak. At level 30 the Bear will have 4175 max health, which means it has 6325 effective HP against magic damage with no items. This means Lone Druid is naturally effective against nukers, and the Bear is very good at tanking Techies mines.

Sylla gains this ability when he activates True Form. This means that in addition to having bonus health and armor, his ult also grants magic resistance. With no items, he will have 49% magic resistance in True Form. The bonus building damage is cool as well, though Sylla doesn't hit very hard even in the late game.

It is not uncommon to end the game with the highest building damage total out of everyone when playing Lone Druid. This ability should be your reminder to stay active on the map and try to create problems for the enemy team as much as possible. The best part of this ability is that it reduces the number of fights you need to win in order to end the game. Most lineups struggle to take a tower after winning a fight, but Lone Druid can secure multiple tower kills in the time it takes the enemy to respawn. This ability helps you take advantage of any edge you get over the enemy.

This is also your way of controlling the pace of the game. Lone Druid typically needs about 9-12 minutes to be ready to rotate, depending on how the midlane goes. Most mid heroes such as the Spirit brothers, Queen of Pain, or Tiny need only levels to begin ganking the sidelanes and will thus be able to rotate before you are. Demolish is your way of threatening their tower if they do so. If the enemy rotates, you should immediately push the wave and start hitting the mid tower. If they do not rotate, they are wasting their power spike and giving you time to come online.



Entagnling Claws: Entangling Claws is simply devastating in every stage of the game. On every attack the Bear makes, it has a 20% chance to proc. This ability is a Root, not a stun, meaning enemies can still attack, turn, and cast spells. They cannot move or cast spells like Blink that would move them, and it can both cancel and prevent the use of teleport scrolls. Entangling Claws has a duration of 0.75/1.5/2.25/3 seconds, and deals 60 damage per second to the affected unit.

In the early game, EC lets you harass the enemy mid very well. Harassment is when a hero decides to attack the enemy hero a few times with physical damage or spells, hoping to force them out of the lane. When a player decides to harass, they have a limit of how much health they are willing to lose before they will retreat to their tower and heal. Entangling Claws is powerful because it can force the enemy to take more damage than they would have liked, or potentially to die. With 4 points in Summon Spirit Bear, Entangling Claws lasts 3 seconds and deals 60 damage per second, meaning the enemy will take 180 damage while also unable to move. With this, when the enemy comes to harass Sylla or the Bear, you can have the Bear attack them, and have a decent chance of getting an EC proc. This then gives you enough time to get several additional hits in. If you get an EC proc when the enemy is low, that could easily turn into a kill.

Later in the game, when you have built attack speed for your bear and gotten the level 20 talent that reduces the EC cooldown to 0, EC will ensure that your target is rooted as long as your bear is hitting them, netting you easy kills on anyone out of position. This is especially devastating to heroes like Anti-Mage, Ember Spirit, Dark Seer, etc that rely on being able to escape from fights quickly.

This ability is a good setup for secondary disables. Secondary disables are disabling spells that are very powerful, but hard to land reliably. These are spells like Sacred Arrow, Ice Path, or Kinetic Field, which have some travel time or a delay after casting that can make hitting moving targets difficult. With Entangling Claws, any target your Bear is hitting is an easy target for these spells. A well timed secondary disable can turn a lucky root proc into a secured kill. Similarly, this works with AOE abilities like Nethertoxin, Sand Storm, or Midnight Pulse, where you can attack an enemy inside the spell area to ensure they cannot leave.

Entangling Claws does not pierce spell immunity, and enemies can prevent themselves from being rooted or end the root duration early by using items like Black King Bar. While this is annoying, it can be a good way to force them to waste their BKB duration by presenting the threat of death if they do not. Then, once you know their BKB is on cooldown, you can engage on them with other members of your team to kill them while they are vulnerable.

Sylla gains this ability in True Form. In the early game, before you get the talent for 0 Entangle Cooldown, this is your best shot at getting a chain-root on an enemy. By having both Sylla and the Bear target the same enemy you give yourself a decent shot at getting a longer duration root on the same hero. You can also have Sylla target a tanky or mobile enemy while you focus on controlling the Bear as it takes out priority targets. Sylla won't do much damage, but the occasional root on the enemy helps disrupt their plans.

Entangling Claws deals 60 magical damage per second for the duration. It deals 15 damage in .25 second intervals. This is damage equivalent to a Radiance and should not be underestimated. At level four of Summon Spirit Bear, a single proc of entangling claws can deal 180 magical damage before reductions. This damage enhances your farming speed, and is great for breaking abilities like Refraction.

Other Functionality

As a creep-hero, the Bear has most of the capability of a hero with some limitations. Here are some things it can and cannot do.

Can

Use items
Pick up and teleport neutral items
Destroy wards
Use runes
Buy items
Cast Spells

Cannot

Capture outposts
Benefit from some buffs
Be hit by some spells
Break Smoke invisibility
Use attributes
Use illusions

Being a creep-hero also means that many spells interact differently with the Bear, with some of those interactions being positive and some being negative. Here are some spells that treat the Bear differently than other heroes, according to whether that fact helps or hinders you. Visit the wiki for details on these spells. I also recommend testing out these interactions yourself in demo mode to gain a better understanding.

Helpful

Hindrance


Be advised that some items also do not work on the Bear as if it were a hero. The biggest offenders in this are Crimson Guard, Guardian Greaves, and Lotus Orb. Crimson Guard will not place the active buff on an allied Bear when used, even if used by the Bear. Guardian Greaves will not give the Bear the extra armor and regen at low health. Lotus Orb can be used on the Bear but will not actually provide any benefit, Mirror Shield has the same issue if the Bear is carrying it. Linken's Sphere can be held or placed on the Bear and will work normally. If you have teammates that are building these items, be sure to let them know.

Chapter 3: Spirit Link

Spirit Link: Lone Druid's second ability is Spirit Link, which works in tandem with your Bear. Spirit Link grants Sylla and the Bear 15/30/45/60 attack speed, as well as shared lifesteal. Once you get Spirit Link, Sylla will be healed for 20/35/50/65% of the damage that the Bear deals to enemies.

The increased attack speed is needed because it allows you to get procs of EC on enemies more quickly. 60 free attack speed may sound like a lot, and it is, but like the rest of the stats for the Bear it is balanced around its lack of attributes. Other heroes would be able to increase their attack speed just by leveling up and gaining agility, but if you don't level up Spirit Link then the Bear will continue to attack very slowly.

The shared lifesteal can be utilized to great effect. Once you have built damage and attack speed items on the Bear, as long as the Bear is hitting an enemy then Sylla will be nearly impossible to kill. 65% lifesteal is frankly ridiculous (for context, level 4 of Jingu Mastery gives only 60% lifesteal), but that is balanced against the fact that Sylla is otherwise quite frail outside of True Form. This is one thing people often point to when calling LD overpowered, how hard it is to kill Sylla because of the lifesteal. The obvious solution is to target the Bear first so Sylla has no more lifesteal. I have won many, many fights because people stubbornly tried to kill Sylla while the Bear was eating their team alive. Some people never learn.

Use Spirit Link to keep Sylla alive when Legion Commander casts Duel on him, or to turn Sylla into a pseudo-tank to kill jungle creeps in the early game. If you are Roshing, have Sylla enter the Rosh pit first to be targeted by Roshan, then have the Bear start attacking him. The lifesteal should be more than enough to keep Sylla alive.

You'll be maxxing out Summon Spirit Bear and Spirit Link first, even prioritizing them over your ultimate at level 6, because these two abilities are so key to your performance.

Chapter 4: Savage Roar

Savage Roar: Savage Roar is a disable, that applies the Fear effect to all enemies around Sylla and the Bear. This has both offensive and defensive functionality, and can make a massive difference in fights.

Savage Roar can be cast from either Sylla or the Bear. When cast, it causes all enemy Heroes and units (not jungle or lane creeps) within a 375 range of Sylla and the Bear to have Fear applied to them for 1.2/1.6/2/2.4 seconds, and their movement speed increased by 20% for the duration. Fear means that affected units will be forced to move towards their fountain, which prevents them from attacking, casting spells, or using items. It can be easy to forget this ability. Most of the time you will be focused on choosing your next target, activating your Phase Boots and Mask of Madness, and trying to keep both your units alive. This ability is a powerful disable that can mean the difference between just winning a fight, or wiping the entire enemy team in some cases.

When Savage Roar is cast, both of your units emanate the effect, but only the unit you cast it from suffers the mana cost. The cooldown of the ability is shared between Sylla and the Bear. If one unit is disabled such as by a Stun or Silence, it will not emanate the effect if Savage Roar is cast from the other unit, so be careful with the active on Mask of Madness. Additionally, if one of your units is invisible you can cast Savage Roar from the other one and it will not break their invisibility or show the roar visual effect to the other team, letting you initiate with a roar if the Bear is invisible.

This ability has fabulous utility, in that it makes the enemy heroes effectively helpless. It can disrupt channeled spells and teleports. If one of your units is targeted by a channeled disable spell, such as Shackles or Fiend's Grip, you can cast Savage Roar from the other unit, potentially causing the enemy hero to be affected by Fear which breaks their channeling of the spell. Make sure the non-disabled unit is close enough to hit the enemy with the effect, as it will not emanate from the disabled unit. If you anticipate needing to use Savage Roar to save on of your units or an ally with Savage Roar, be careful with using Mask of Madness so your Bear isn't silenced at the wrong moment.

You can use Savage Roar after Entangling Claws procs, turning it into what amounts to a stun. Enemies rooted by Entangling Claws cannot move, and will be unable to do anything else because of the Fear. Use this combo if you are worried about enemies casting powerful spells or attacking you while they are rooted.

You can also use this spell during fights if you find that you are being surrounded by enemies, giving you time to breathe and refocus your efforts on specific heroes. This is guaranteed to throw the enemy team off by forcing them out of position and disrupting any spells or maneuvers they were attempting. If you are beset upon by illusion heroes, use this to make them back off while you either retreat or switch targets and let another member of your team handle them.

Use Savage Roar to force enemies to move. Break Meld, use it to force Sand King and Monkey King out of their Sand Storm or Wukong's Command. Use it when an allied Bloodseeker casts Rupture on a target to force them to take damage. You can also use it to force enemies to remain inside your team's AOE abilities, with proper positioning, or force an enemy to stare into your ally Medusa's ult.

Keep in mind that enemies will always flee towards their own fountain, not necessarily away from you. It also increases their movement speed, so using it on an enemy who is already fleeing may not be ideal. By the mid game, the Bear will have 445 movement speed with Phase Boots (or 470 if you chose the talent to increase its speed) and 534 (or 550) when you activate the Phase Boots. That is more than enough speed to catch and probably root the target before they can really escape, while they are also unable to cast spells or use items.

Also, casting Savage Roar momentarily interrupts the action of the unit you cast it from. In most cases, this means it is best to cast it from Sylla (unless he is disabled) so that you can recover the mana cost more quickly and to avoid stopping the Bear while it is chasing or attacking someone.

Savage Roar is also good for wasting the enemy's time. When heroes like Broodmother or Troll Warlord activate powerful ultimate abilities and try to engage you, Savage Roar forces them to turn around and waste 2.4 seconds walking away, and more time walking back (since they are faster when the fear is applied) so you really have about 6 seconds to either flee or reposition as a team to kill them. It also uses up the duration of those abilities, so once they turn around again they will be missing the ability they were hoping would secure a kill.

Savage Roar does not pierce spell immunity however, so try not to waste it on enemies using BKB.

Chapter 5: True Form

True Form: Lone Druid's ultimate, True Form, is an incredibly powerful defensive ability, but it has offensive potential as well. True Form grants Sylla 8/10/12 bonus armor, 500/1000/1500 bonus health, and the Bear's passive abilities which are Demolish and Entangling Claws.

True Form is best used before a fight. It has a 1.93 second transform time (which cannot be interrupted by stuns and other disables to my knowledge) and a 40 second duration. By using this before a fight, you ensure that Sylla has the survivability to re-summon the bear if it dies and to increase your ability to disable enemy heroes with Entangling Claws. If you wait until the fight starts to activate this, you risk being bursted and potentially killed before the transformation finishes. Trust your instincts. If you feel like a fight is imminent, activate this. If the enemy team tries to back off, then force a fight or take an objective while this is active. There will be some downtime while this is on cooldown but you can use that to push lanes or farm your side of the map. If you activate it when not needed, then your only consequence is that it goes on cooldown. If you don't activate it when needed, you will likely die, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

The level 25 talent increases the bonus health of True Form by 1000, meaning it can grant him up to 2500 bonus health.

Since Sylla has the Demolish ability in True Form, he not only gains 40% bonus damage against buildings but also 33% bonus magic resistance. Combined with his high health and armor in this form, he becomes extremely difficult to kill. Activating True Form doesn't just increase his total health, it increases his effective health by also raising his damage resistances. Effective health is the actual amount of damage required to kill you, since the damage you take is reduced. This means that Sylla in True Form becomes one of the most durable units in the game, heavily resistant to both physical and magical damage.

True Form has a 100 second cooldown, meaning it has 40% uptime with its 40 second duration. With the Level 20 talent (which you probably won't get until level 30 because the 0 second cooldown on Entangling Claws is still better) it becomes a 68 second cooldown, meaning it has 58% uptime. In the late game when enemies have lots of damage to throw your way, you want to use this before every fight if possible. Use its long duration to push towers after winning the fight.

True Form persists through death, making Sylla a good candidate to hold the Aegis of the Immortal. If you somehow die in True Form, you'll be revived with it still active, now with full health and the same incredible durability. If you die while holding the Aegis, the Bear will not be killed. The Bear cannot pick up the Aegis, but can pick up and use the Cheese. Other transformations such as Shapeshift, Metamorphosis, Flesh Golem, Chemical Rage, Elder Dragon Form, God's Strength, Insatiable Hunger, Morph, Dark Ascension, Battle Trance, and Enrage are removed on death. This makes True Form unique among the transformation spells.

Chapter 6: Talents

Lone Druid has a strong set of talents that allow you to adjust your playstyle, based on how the game is going. At each level, there is a "safe" talent that makes you more survivable but not more effective, and a "greedy" talent that makes you more effective but not more survivable. In easy games you can take more greedy talents, in hard games you should take more safe talents. You don't want to take greedy talents every time because they make it easier for the enemy team to punish you. Picking the right talents for your game is a tricky thing to learn.

+1000 True Form Health

The safe talent. This increases the True Form health to 2500. Get this if the enemy is stopping your Bear from dealing damage, it will help you survive until the lifesteal comes back. You can also get a Heart of Tarrasque for HP.

Level 25

-0.1 Bear Attack Time

The greedy talent. This gives you a lot of DPS from the Bear and helps you get kills and take buildings faster. If the enemy has no way of shutting down your Bear, this provides more effective HP from the lifesteal.

0 Entangle Cooldown

The greedy talent. This provides amazing lockdown and can chain-root enemies as long as the Bear is attacking them. You will usually want this.

Level 20

-32 True Form Cooldown

The safe talent. Not very useful, the uptime of True Form is already great. Pick this if fights are too frequent for your ultimate to always be online.

+8 Bear Armor

The safe talent. This is a substantial amount of armor, you basically want this if the enemy has a lot of physical damage. If they are magic damage, pick the other talent.

Level 15

-10 Savage Roar Cooldown

The greedy talent. This lets you spam Savage Roar more with a 10 second cooldown at level 4. Lets you disrupt fights and stop enemy combos. Also a good way to defend yourself.

+25 Bear Movement Speed

The greedy talent. Get this if you aren't in danger of being initiated on and you just want to move the Bear around better.

Level 10

+200 Health

The safe talent. Get this if you are worried about being killed outside of True Form, or dying before you can transform. If you still need speed buy a Wind Lace.

Chapter 7: Items

Lone Druid's itemization is fairly unique. Since he is two units, you need to equip them both with items which requires spending wisely. I build up the Bear primarily in the early to mid game, with a few value items on Sylla, until I have my core items at which point I itemize based on how the game is going. Typically the Bear gets damage items, while Sylla eventually gets items that make him more durable or provide utility.

This hero is often compared to Meepo or Arc Warden due to his micro requirements and multi-unit map presence. For those of you who already play those heroes, the way I like to think of it is that Meepo wants stat items to buff up his clones, Arc Warden wants active items he can use twice, and Lone Druid wants raw damage and durability improvements for Sylla and the Bear. I might make guides for those heroes in the future, but I don't play them much. I actually find Lone Druid to be the simplest of the three multi-unit midlane heroes, because he doesn't use a lot of active items and abilities.

While itemizing for two units can be a challenge, it also provides some unique advantages. You can carry plenty of small value items or consumables, and in the late game you can have significantly more impact than other carries with your 12 slots.

One thing to remember is that the Bear has no attributes, which means that many items don't provide it with their full benefits. Items that could otherwise be very strong on the Bear, such as Diffusal Blade or Eye of Skadi are almost useless on the Bear because so much of their value is tied up in the attribute bonuses. You'll notice that my preferred items for the Bear all provide raw stats such as damage, attack speed and armor, rather than attributes. This is to ensure that the Bear gets the most value out of each purchase.

Starting Items

Quelling Blade: This Quelling Blade goes on your Bear, to help in last hitting and denying creeps. At level 1, the Bear only hits for 20 damage, but Quelling Blade increases it to 35 against creeps. This is also useful against Nature's Prophet or for cutting down the enemy Mango Tree.
Blight Stone: Blight Stone reduces the enemy armor by 2 for 8 seconds. In the early game where most units have fairly low armor, this translates into roughly a 10% increase in damage for both Sylla and the Bear. This means you will deal more damage when harassing the enemy and last hitting creeps. Later on, this builds into a Desolator for the Bear. Have the Bear carry this, since it is usually the first unit to hit an enemy when you attack them.
Observer Ward: Plant the observer ward so you have at least some vision of the enemy side of the river. Being able to see up the ramp has a number of advantages, such as seeing when the enemy is preparing to attack or cast a spell, and for keeping vision of them when chasing them towards their tower.
Town Portal Scroll: Once you summon the Bear in the fountain, select it and buy the Town Portal Scroll. It is vital to have it go into the Bear's TP scroll slot, since you cannot move it between units. If the Bear is brought to low health in the laning stage, use this to send it back to the fountain, and then use its Return ability to bring it back. Often, it isn't a bad idea to have the Bear purchase another TP scroll while it is there, and possibly pick up any other items you have bought. Teleporting is faster than using a courier.
Shared Tango: To use gold as efficiently as possible, it is best to avoid buying Tangos, or any regen, yourself. After a few levels, you will have lifesteal to keep up your health, but if you take damage before then you can use a shared Tango to heal. You can use these on the Bear, but they don't restore a large portion of its health.
Iron Branch: If you get tangos from your teammates, you can use the last of your starting gold to pick up an Iron Branch. This provides +20 max health and +1 damage for last hitting. You can choose to plant the tree, then eat that tree with a tango to get extra regen. If you didn't know, eating an Iron Branch tree with tangos gives 32 seconds of regen as opposed to 16, so you get healed more over a longer duration. You can also choose to build this into a Magic Wand later if its a good game to get a Magic Stick.
Faerie Fire: If you don't get tangos from your team, that's tough. Grab a Faerie Fire for +2 damage in lane, and an emergency heal if you start taking damage before Spirit Link becomes strong. Again, if you do get tangos you should probably get an Iron Branch instead, but its up to you. Generally you don't want to invest in consumable regen, because Spirit Link comes online pretty fast to take care of your HP worries. This is pretty much just backup in the event that your team doesn't support you with tangos.

Early Game
Mask of Madness: This is one of the most core items on Lone Druid, and buying it is your number one priority in the laning stage. Getting the 900 gold for Morbid Mask is so essential that you don't want to spend money on regen or stat items first. Once you have Morbid Mask on the Bear, you can start hitting the creep camps around the mid lane, increasing your farm. This is also the most efficient way of healing your Bear, and Mask of Madness becomes an essential killing and farming item with its attack speed increase. In lane you can activate this right after getting an Entangling Claws proc to deal a ton of damage while they are rooted and potentially even get a kill. Once you have Phase Boots and some small items on Sylla, you'll be ready to rotate to the sidelanes to get kills and push towers. The insane attack speed from this item is your main method of dishing out damage.
Phase Boots: Speed, damage, and armor for the Bear. The second thing you need to buy in the laning stage. This lets you chase the enemy mid around better, as well as tank more damage on the Bear. Later on this helps you move the Bear through groups of units to get to your target, close the gap on fleeing enemies, and move more quickly around the map. If you take the +25 Spirit Bear Movement Speed talent at level 10, activating Phase Boots puts the Bear at 550 movement speed, the same as a Rune of Haste which is ridiculous. Still, remember that Sylla's move speed is the limiting factor when moving around the map.
Boots of Speed: Phase Boots make the Bear so fast, Sylla can't always keep up with his base movement speed, even though it is 325. Getting boots on him is enough to alleviate this problem for the most part. These will stay as basic boots on Sylla for most of the game, but later on you can upgrade them to Boots of Travel to move around the map faster.
Wind Lace: I put this on Sylla to give him a little extra movespeed. It isn't critical, but for a very small price it drastically reduces the risk of Sylla falling too far behind when chasing someone. Since your ability to move around the map is limited by Sylla, this is a value purchase. Later on you can build this into Drum of Endurance or a Solar Crest, but my games rarely go that long. Sylla should have about 390 movement speed with this and boots, and the Bear will be faster.
Buckler: I pick this up, along with Sylla's boots and a Wind Lace, as I leave the laning stage and prepare to rotate to the sidelanes. Inexpensive, and provides a value +2 armor to you and nearby allies, including the Bear. This isn't likely to make a huge impact, but it helps in surviving early fights and pushing towers. Later on, this builds into the Bear's AC, which provides even more armor. If the enemy has a lot of physical damage to worry about, you can buy a second Buckler on Sylla after you finish the AC, for an armor aura of 7.
Cloak: I don't get this often, but it is worth mentioning as a potential value early pickup. If the enemy team has a lot of magic damage, you can pick this up with or instead of the Buckler. You can put this on Sylla or the Bear, whoever is getting targeted with spells more. This bumps Sylla's magic resistance up to 36% and 57% in True Form, and gives the Bear 43% magic resistance. With their massive HP pools this significantly increases the amount of magic damage you can absorb. You can build this into a Hood of Defiance or Pipe of Insight later on, depending on how much additional magic resistance you need.

Sylla Items
Heart of Tarrasque: After completing MKB and AC on the Bear, the next thing you need is survivability for Sylla. If the enemy team is kiting your Bear or otherwise preventing it from attacking in any meaningful way, you want to pick up a Heart of Tarrasque. This provides 1200 HP, making your health pool in True Form absolutely massive and making you tanky enough to survive being initiated on if you are out of your ultimate. In terms of raw HP, this is the best item to get but it doesn't provide much else. This is the safe item. Also choose this over Heaven's Halberd if the enemy has some way of quickly killing you before your Bear can even get on top of them to heal you. This would be against heroes like Phantom Assassin or Templar Assassin who can blink on to Sylla and kill him in a few hits. Heart of Tarrasque will give you a little extra time to live, so your Bear can get on top of them and Sylla can kite or use True Form.
Heaven's Halberd : If the enemy team isn't able to stop your Bear from attacking, pick up a Heaven's Halberd. Though it does not provide as much raw health, the lifesteal amp works with Spirit Link and means that your effective HP will actually be higher than if you had a Heart. This is only on the condition that your Bear is able to attack people. For this reason, it is the greedy item to get. Heaven's Halberd also has a number of other benefits, such as 20% evasion, and 20% status resistance. These allow Sylla to better handle incoming attacks and disables. Do not forget to use the active to disarm opponents. It lasts 3 seconds on melee heroes but 5 seconds on ranged heroes. The active can be dispelled, but it is a great way of temporarily shutting down enemy cores. It is also cheaper than Heart. Again, this is the greedy item, and you should usually buy Heart instead if your Bear has trouble getting on top of targets.
Boots of Travel: Depending on the game, I may choose to upgrade Sylla's boots to Boots of Travel, for the increased movement speed and map presence. The Bear can follow Sylla wherever he teleports with Return, and Sylla will be able to keep up with the Bear when chasing people. This is not an essential item, and I don't end up buying it in most games, but if you have the money it is important to keep this item in mind as an option. You cannot select the Bear as a teleport destination unless you have Boots of Travel 2.
Vladmir's Offering: Having lifesteal on the Bear is critical. Its job is simply to attack people, and there is no reason why doing so shouldn't also heal it. Your Bear will often be in the middle of the enemy team, taking damage from spells and attacks, so survivability is key. The mana regen isn't very valuable to you, but the rest of the aura is. Since 7.27b, the damage increase the Bear gains every level is now base damage. This means the Bear can fully benefit from the 18% bonus damage, whereas before it would only gain 4 damage from this effect. The lifesteal percentage is less than the 20% provided by Mask of Madness, but the increased damage makes up for this. I buy this item if I need to replace the Mask of Madness with another item, to ensure the Bear still has lifesteal. Sylla is also a great aura carrier for the team since he is so durable.
Solar Crest: The second item to help replace Mask of Madness. Solar Crest lets you apply a buff to the Bear that gives it bonus armor and attack speed. Combined with the lifesteal aura from Vladmir's Offering, they create a pseudo-MoM effect, but without the armor reduction or the silence debuff. If the game is going long and you can afford it, these two items are an upgrade over MoM. Solar Crest can also be cast on enemies to reduce their armor and attack speed, so if you have another physical carry attacking an enemy you might get more damage that way. If the Bear is dead, this item allows Sylla to be slightly less useless since he can use this to buff the other cores. The stats and move speed are also welcome. Overall I think this is an amazing item and if the game goes long enough that you buy all the other core items I recommend this.
Shiva's Guard: Another defensive item, this is what I get in the late game against high physical damage carries. 15 armor on top of True Form and any neutral items or auras you have means your effective HP against physical damage is extremely high. More than that, the aura and active ability on this item are good compliments to your playstyle. The aura reduces enemy attack speed by 45, and reduces their healing/regen/lifesteal by 25%, meaning you can trade better against lifesteal and regen heroes like Wrath King or Huskar that are otherwise very hard to bring down in the late game. The damage and movement speed from the active ability allow you to keep enemies in place during fights, so your Bear is harder to kite. The Intelligence bonus is less valuable, but can allow you to carry a Witless Shako and still have mana to activate all your abilities.
Pipe of Insight: This is what I buy against magic damage lineups. Your Bear has 33% magic resistance from Demolish and Sylla has 49% magic resistance in True Form. With this item, your Bear will have 39% magic resistance while affected by the aura and you will have 68% magic resistance while holding it in True Form. With the huge health pool of both your units, this makes you extremely resistant to nukes and magical burst damage. It also provides an active ability to shield your team from AOE spells.

Situational and Experimental Items
Aghanim's Scepter: This is an item for games where you are behind and the enemy is killing Sylla, either with raw damage through True Form or preventing him from using it. If Sylla is not dying, this is useless. Being able to send the Bear off on its own reduces your effectiveness and I almost never see the strategy pay off. If possible, you want to spend this money on things that make Sylla harder to kill in the first place, like a Heart of Tarrasque or Heaven's Halberd. If that isn't practical, then and only then should you invest in this kind of safety net.
Black King Bar: This is an item for the Bear in games where you are behind. This is a solution to enemies chain-disabling and killing your Bear repeatedly. It is not a core item for Lone Druid, ideally you want to stay far enough ahead via tower taking that the Bear simply shrugs off disables. In games where you can't do that, this allows your Bear to survive long enough in fights to take out key targets. Try to use the spell immunity to kill the enemies who are trying to disable your Bear, so that it does not die the moment the duration ends.
Drum of Endurance: If you find yourself needing to chase enemies around a lot, pick up a Wind Lace on Sylla to help him keep up with the Bear. Later, you can upgrade the Wind Lace to Drums. This item provides decent stats, and can be activated to provide attack speed and movement speed to nearby allies. This stacks with the attack speed bonus from Mask of Madness, so you can use it to increase your burst damage or help the Bear while Mask of Madness is on cooldown. Obviously this benefits all nearby allies, so you can use it to accelerate tower pushes or help your other cores in fights. If you run out of charges, you can replace the Drums with another item on Sylla, or re-purchase the 600 gold recipe to restore the charges. The stats provided by this item were nerfed in the 7.27d patch but I still think the active and the move speed provided are enough to justify it in many situations.
Meteor Hammer: I am currently in the process of experimenting with Meteor Hammer. Given the Bear's innate ability to immobilize people, the stun from this item is guaranteed to hit if you start channeling it right after the Bear roots someone. Before you hit level 20 and get the 0 Entangle Cooldown talent, this can be useful for ensuring a double-root on a target by stunning them while you wait for Entangling Claws to come off cooldown again. It also provides good stats and regen, and allows you to efficiently farm stacked camps. It can damage buildings, increasing your siege speed. I am still unsure as to whether this item provides you much benefit for the cost, and if it is worth delaying more core items like Moon Shard that also help you kill things faster.
Force Staff: The potential of this item only occurred to me recently but I haven't done enough testing yet to confirm its usefulness or lack thereof. Essentially, this could be used as a positioning tool for you and your Bear. If you are chasing someone and the Bear gets too far away to be able to attack, Sylla can Force himself forward, making himself close enough for the Bear to hit the enemy. If you are going on someone but the Bear is affected by strong slows, Force the Bear forward so it is in range of the enemy. If an enemy is attacking from range or from a different elevation, Force them forward so they are vulnerable. If Sylla is surrounded by enemies and cannot move away, Force him out of the crowd. Useful for all the typical Force Staff things too like saving allies or pushing enemies into an AOE spell. The biggest limitation of taking it on Sylla is the short cast range, so it may be difficult to use this on enemies. I will do my best to test how it fits into the build order and whether it actually proves useful. In the best case scenario, I would consider picking this up against enemies like Drow Ranger who are hard to approach due to abilities like Frost Arrows.
Shadow Amulet : I have only begun to experiment with this, but I believe it has fantastic potential. If enemies are focusing Sylla, you can pick this item up for a mere 1000 gold, and use it to hide yourself in fights while you use the Bear to kill people. This forces the enemy to either buy detection or focus the Bear. Another interesting use is a synergy with True Form. If you activate Shadow Amulet on Sylla, and then immediately cast True Form, you will be invisible by the end of the transformation period, thus gaining added tankiness while invisible to withstand AOE damage in fights. When cast on yourself, there is no cooldown, but more importantly the invisibility lasts as long as you stand still. Since Sylla doesn't need to do anything for you to output damage, this works just fine. It can function like a pseudo-Ags scepter, allowing the Bear to fight without putting Sylla in much danger, provided he is nearby. This is also a good way to avoid spells like Focus Fire, since you can simply turn invisible and allow the Bear to deal with the enemy. This may also buy you enough time to survive silences, if you are ambushed outside of True Form. You can build it into Silver Edge for the Bear later on, if you no longer need the survivability on Sylla and you need to apply Break to enemies.
Smoke of Deceit : Again, 12 slots means you should carry stuff. This is something you should pretty much always have on Sylla. Use it to set up ganks, enter Rosh without being detected, increase your movement speed if you need to make movements across the map, and get around the enemy team to take out their backline. I find Smoke is actually one of the most powerful items in pubs. Not just because being able to pass under ward vision to gank is strong, but because it is a great way to get your team organized. Ping the Smoke in your inventory and people will usually come, even if they haven't been good at teamwork prior. After we take the enemy Tier 1 towers, I like to have my team Smoke into the enemy Triangle where we usually get a kill and turn that into a Tier 2 push.
Arcane Boots : Sylla and the Bear both have small mana pools and slow mana regen. In most games this is not an issue since you don't use up your mana very quickly. However, against lineups that have mana drain spells or attacks, running out of mana can be a serious problem. You need mana to use your spells, and to activate MoM. Buying this item solves that problem, since you can activate it to restore mana when needed. It is fairly cheap, and provides benefit to your team. Most games this isn't necessary, either because the enemy isn't draining your mana or you have an ally with this or Guardian Greaves that is solving the issue for you.
Aeon Disk : In some games, enemies will try to get pickoffs on you by killing you when True Form isn't active. This can be hard to deal with if they are initiating with silences or other disables that prevent you from transforming. Aeon Disk is the answer here. It dispels you and gives you a period of invulnerability if your health falls below 70%, freeing you from the disables and allowing you to activate True Form safely. Also, during the invulnerability period, your Bear still seems to be able to damage people. Only pick this item up if you are not able to function on the map due to the enemy team. Usually, it is better to have wards and stick with your team so you can invest this money in more damage items. You can also pick up a Linken's Sphere if they are casting targeted spells at you, but that can be dealt with easily. I do not advise building a Lotus Orb for this purpose because you need warning to use it in time and it does nothing if cast on the Bear.
Blade Mail : You are the target of a lot of damage in fights, so picking up Blade Mail can help punish the enemy for attacking you. The passive doesn't do much in the late game, but you can activate it when enemies target you with nukes or if you have to trade with the enemy carry.
Refresher Orb : With Refresher Orb, you can give your Bear 3 lives, and stay in True Form for 80 consecutive seconds. For games with long fights, this can be a good investment, and works sort of like an Aegis of the Immortal for your Bear.

Neutral Items

Lone Druid can carry two active neutral items, one on the Bear and one on Sylla. Here are some that work well and the reasons why. If an item is not described here, it is probably because it is best used by another hero.



Poor Man's Shield: An excellent tier 1 neutral item. The bonus agility means it is a bit better on Sylla but you should have this on whichever one of your units has no neutral item yet. Far better than nothing, but inferior to most tier 2 neutrals.

Iron Talon: The attack speed and armor is needed on the Bear. The Chop active is also useful for speeding up farming if you find it early.

Ironwood Tree: A simple stat item, no harm in carrying this.

Royal Jelly: I put this here just to mention that you should never take this as Lone Druid. You have no need for regen. You barely use mana and all your health regen comes from Spirit Link. This is far better on a mana-heavy support or another core. If one of your teammates finds this, you may have to explicitly ask them to give it to someone else instead of automatically giving to you because you are the mid.

Ocean Heart: The stats are better on Sylla, but if needed you can put it on the Bear and have it stand in the river to regen.

Broom Handle: Damage and armor for the Bear, as well as melee attack range. Good for chasing and early game harassment to keep the Bear farther away from danger.

Trusty Shovel: Carry this on Sylla, use it while farming to slightly increase your income. You have little need for the flasks, but the occasional gold or TP scroll is useful to have. The Bear can pick up any flasks or TP scrolls discovered with the shovel.



Ring of Aquila: A good aura item for Sylla, it provides him with stats to support his survivability and provides armor to the Bear while it is nearby.

Pupil's Gift: Basically just 260 health for Sylla.

Imp Claw: Extra damage for the Bear, very useful especially if you get it early. Being able to take more health off the enemy mid during harassment is always a good thing.

Philosopher's Stone: One of the best items on Lone Druid. Have Sylla hold it, since his damage will quickly be overshadowed by the Bear. Since Lone Druid has to build items for two units, the extra gold from this item is invaluable.

Dragon Scale: Additional armor and regen on the Bear improves its durability. The bonus damage means that the Bear can hit an enemy once and deal 54 additional damage over 3 seconds.

Vambrace: Put this on Strength and give it to Sylla, he'll get 200 HP and 10% magic resistance which is pretty good if you are against a magic damage lineup. The Agility and Intelligence settings are pretty worthless for you. It's obviously not very useful on the Bear since it's main selling point is attributes.

Clumsy Net: A good item for Sylla, provides stats and lets you catch enemies more easily. In the early game when the Bear doesn't have much attack speed, it can be challenging to trap fleeing enemies if you don't get a lucky proc of Entangling Claws. This works like a mini Rod of Atos to immobilize enemies while your Bear catches up to them. The self ensnare isn't much of a downside at all, since only the Bear needs to actually get up close to the enemy.



Craggy Coat: This often goes unused since people don't like the attack speed debuff, but it works just fine on Sylla. The Bear is your damage output anyways, so giving Sylla 12 armor at almost no cost is a great trade. This is especially valuable if the enemy team is mostly physical damage and you find your ultimate just isn't quite enough.

Greater Faerie Fire: A good amount of damage for the Bear, and a heal in a pinch.

Spider Legs: If you are struggling to get to the back line of fights, Spider Legs can help the Bear breach high ground or flank the enemy team. Be careful that you don't let the Bear get too far from Sylla, or it will be disarmed and become easy prey.

Paladin Sword: Either unit can hold this to increase their lifesteal. Usually you want to give this to another core so they don't have to invest in lifesteal, but you can make use of it.

Orb of Destruction: Good on Sylla if you have Sylla targeting the same enemy as the Bear. It slows them and reduces armor so the Bear can lay on more attacks which will all deal extra damage. If you do not have a neutral item on the Bear, have it carry this item so the slow is stronger. The armor reduction from different items stack. If you have a Desolator, a Blight Stone and an Orb of Destruction you can reduce a target's armor by 12, or 17 if you have an Assault Cuirass.

Titan Sliver: After 7.27b, this became a great item on the Bear, since it can now fully utilize all the benefits. It offers magic and status resistance to help your Bear stay alive and shake off disables, and a 20% increase to base attack damage. Base attack damage for the Bear is 15 plus five times your level (so 20 at level 1). The Bear gets more out of this item the later you go in the game. With this your Bear will have 43% magic resistance, or 49% if Sylla carries a Pipe of Insight.

Mind Breaker: Good on Sylla much like the Orb of Destruction, keeps enemies from fighting back with their abilities. If you are fighting an escape hero, this can keep them from running away until you can get a proc of Entangling Claws.



Witless Shako: Fabulous extra health for the Bear. It doesn't need much mana, but be warned that it will reduce the Bear's mana pool to less than 0. This means you will not be able to cast Savage Roar from the Bear, or use the active functions of Mask of Madness and Mjollnir. You can choose to replace them with items that don't use mana, or use Witless Shako on Sylla since he has a larger mana pool and can buy things like Shiva's Guard to make up for it.

Spell Prism: Not a great item on Lone Druid, this is probably better on your teammates that rely on their abilities to fight. But if no one else wants it, you can combine this with an Octarine Core you can reduce the cooldown of Summon Spirit Bear to 72 seconds and give True Form 100% uptime. Not a great investment, but it can be funny.

Prince's Knife: Like Mind Breaker, this lets Sylla get a short disable from range which can give the Bear time to root the enemy.

Illusionist's Cape: Your Bear actually benefits from the 10% damage increase. Also provides Sylla with 280 health and 2.3 armor. You can use the illusion during fights to give yourself some cover against single target spells and attacks.

Havoc Hammer: Sylla loves any items that make him tankier. It grants him 360 health, and the damage is substantial. If you have a Heart or Halberd done it is even more effective. Costs no mana to use. Excellent for clearing out summons or illusion heroes.

The Leveller: Attack speed is a top priority for the Bear. Lets you get extra procs of all your items and Entangling Claws. This also grants you bonus damage against buildings, which stacks with Demolish, so your Bear will basically be able to delete towers from the map.

Minotaur Horn: 400 extra health on Sylla, good for tanking up. The spell immunity can help you endure the worst of the enemy's arsenal. If you get ambushed, activate it right before you activate your ultimate to protect yourself during the transformation. The active lasts 2 seconds and it takes just under 2 seconds to transform.

Ninja Gear: Even though you have two units and this only works for one at a time, it can still be useful while moving around the map. Carry it on Sylla and use it when moving in dangerous areas, then if you lose the invis effect (indicating a nearby enemy) you can instantly cast True Form. In the late game when enemy carries can quickly kill you outside True Form, this warning can be invaluable.



Force Boots: You can replace the Bear's Phase Boots with these, gives it a ton of movement speed, a dispel, and gap closing potential. However, the active does cost 75 mana which isn't a lot, but the Bear has an exceptionally small mana pool, so it may run out of mana and be unable to cast Savage Roar or activate Mask of Madness.

Desolator 2: With this on the Bear, an Orb of Destruction on Sylla, a Solar Crest, an Assault Cuirass, a Desolator and a Blight Stone, you can get 35 armor reduction on a target. That is pretty ludicrous. Even if you don't get that combo going, the damage and armor reduction from this is phenomenal. If you need to end the game, all you have to do is give the Bear a few seconds in the enemy base with this and any remaining buildings will be pulverized.

Mirror Shield: Zero benefit for the Bear, unfortunately. Like Lotus Orb, the Bear's status as a creep hero somehow means it cannot reflect spells. The visual effect will appear when it is targeted with a spell but it will not be reflected. Sylla can carry this for the attributes (gives him 400 Health) and it is good if Sylla is the one being hit with spells.

Apex: Unfortunately, not very useful for Lone Druid. The Bear can't use it, and it provides Sylla with some nice armor and damage, but this is probably better on a different core.

Ballista: Fairly counterproductive. The damage is nice, but the knockback just makes it harder for the Bear to stay on the enemy and Sylla will be in True Form for most fights so he wouldn't benefit much from the range. Better on a real ranged core.

Woodland Striders: A ton of movement speed and regen, as well as tree walking for the Bear. Probably best if you have Ags to take full advantage of the mobility. The active isn't very useful.

Trident: Expensive to actually make, and not very valuable to you. The Bear gets no value from the Stats and other than the regen amp Sylla won't get much out of this item either.

Book of the Dead: 600 HP for Sylla, but you don't really want to deal with more micro, most likely. Having the summons is nice damage and some free True Sight but will most likely cause you to mess up trying to control all the units.

Fallen Sky: Kind of like an Abyssal Blade for the Bear. It doesn't benefit from the attributes but the AOE stun is incredible. Just make sure Sylla is nearby or you get Ags to prevent the Bear being disarmed after using this.

Pirate Hat: Free money, and some sick attack speed.

Ex Machina: Some nice armor but you don't have any items you really need to refresh.

Chapter 8: Offensive Items

Lone Druid is unique in that he separates offense and defense into two units. On Sylla, you will mostly be building tanky items to increase his survivability, and on the Bear you will mostly build offensive items that allow you to kill enemies. Note that just about every item you build on the Bear offers DPS increase, even Phase Boots. Most carry heroes need to build items like BKB just to survive long enough to deal damage. The Bear is naturally tanky, so you are free to spend almost all your gold on increasing your damage output.

If needed, you can change your itemization to adapt to the enemy lineup. Here are a few item choices you may wish to consider. For most games I build Monkey King Bar> Assault Cuirass> Moon Shard> Desolator after finishing my Mask of Madness and boots, but other options are available if you are having trouble against certain heroes. Do note that I typically build Heart of Tarrasque or Heaven's Halberd on Sylla for durability after finishing AC, then finish up the Bear's items, but games that get to that point are usually wins anyways.

Monkey King Bar : This is generally considered the "default" damage item. It is a very strong item in this patch, and Lone Druid utilizes it very well. It provides damage and attack speed, it deals with evasion, and it lets you kill high armor targets. It also has great buildup, and no part of the item is wasted on the Bear. MKB naturally works very well on Lone Druid because of the Bear's predisposition towards attack speed over raw damage. With a low base attack time and free attack speed from Spirit Link, your Bear hits very quickly which means MKB will proc often. It deals an average of 75 magic damage per attack, plus it gives the Bear 42 additional physical damage. Unlike Mjollnir, the magic damage works with lifesteal so it increases your healing. The buildup is one of the best features of this item. Javelin and Blitz Knuckles are very good components that increase your farming speed even before the item is done. It allows your Bear to basically ignore any evasion or blind effects the enemies have. Enemies like Terrorblade that would normally take a long time to kill with attacks can be easily dealt with by the magic damage. While MKB is expensive at 4850 gold, the benefits are enormous, and it is very rare that another damage item will be better. I expect this to change in the next major patch because the item is very strong right now.
Assault Cuirass : The Bear needs armor, and this provides the Bear with 15 (for a total of 33 with Phase Boots and the talent) as well as 5 armor to allies like Sylla and reduces the armor of nearby enemies by 5. Also grants the Bear 60 attack speed, and 30 to nearby allies. This is perfect. This is the last bit of defense the Bear really needs, and the aura will help keep your squishy team members alive while you obliterate the enemy team. I usually get this after MKB, because this is the part of the midgame where the enemy team is starting to notice that the Bear is a problem. Having this item makes you and your Bear harder to kill and makes killing easier, so you can keep doing your job in spite of increased attention. Occasionally you will have allies that want to build AC as a core item. Try to communicate that it is good on you, but always avoid having two on the same team. If another member of your team builds theirs first, build other items instead. I recommend building an early Skull Basher or Moon Shard if you can't have an AC. The minus armor, combined with your Blight Stone, comes out to 7, which is more than a Desolator.
Orb of Venom : This is a fairly common item on the Bear, and many players choose to take it as a starting item. Personally, I prefer having a Blight Stone in the laning stage to help with last hitting, but the slow from this item is noteworthy. Against fast enemies, or mobile cores, this is good for chasing since you won't always get a root proc on the first hit. I usually buy this situationally after the laning stage, and equip it on the Bear while I give the Blight Stone to Sylla. I don't recommend buying it before you finish your MoM/Phase, because getting those as early as possible is critical. Do not buy this item for the damage, as it is negligible and does not help against abilities like Refraction or Gravekeeper's Cloak.
Moon Shard : Raw attack speed, very cost effective. With this, and the talent for 0 Entangle Cooldown, you can keep enemies rooted as long as your Bear is attacking them. Also gives you more hits per second which means more chances to proc MKB, and a higher rate of healing on Sylla from the lifesteal. If you get rich, or you have a generous Alchemist on your team, having the passive Moon Shard buff on the Bear is nice too. Having a Moon Shard essentially means you punish the enemy more for every mistake they make. If they are out of position, the Bear kills them faster. If they lose a fight or leave an opening, the Bear destroys buildings faster. This is ideal for a late game item where you need to make the most of every weakness the enemy presents.
Desolator : The follow up to your other DPS items on the bear, this is percentage based damage that improves as your Bear gets stronger. Good against low armor enemies like supports and helps in late game pushes against the buildings on the enemy highground. The damage increase is phenomenal and of course it increases the damage your allies do to the same target. You will want to build some attack speed and conventional damage first, then this item will be easy to farm. When you upgrade the Bear's Blight Stone to this, also buy a new Blight Stone for Sylla, which you can upgrade later into a Solar Crest. The armor reduction from Blight Stone and Desolator stacks, so you can reduce enemy armor by 8 if Sylla and the Bear are hitting the same target. Usually this isn't necessary early on, because MKB and Demolish are enough to kill enemies and buildings, but when you need to quickly take lanes of barracks this can be very valuable. Sometimes you have teammates that build an early Deso as a core item. In that case you don't need to build one of your own and you can pick up things like a Moon Shard or Desolator instead.
Skull Basher : A good choice in almost any game, it further disables enemies and lets you interrupt channeled spells if Savage Roar is on cooldown. You can upgrade this to Abyssal Blade which helps close the gap on fast enemies, and gives you ample time to root them before the stun is over. Some people like to get it early for increased lockdown but I find that is rarely necessary. Most of the time the bash will overlap with the root duration so you don't get as many free hits as you would expect, and you can already have a pseudo-stun by combining Entangling Claws with Savage Roar. Also, this item provides 10 Strength which is useless on the Bear, so some of the value is lost. I especially like getting this if an ally has already built a Desolator because that effectively frees up a slot for me.
Mjollnir : Lone Druid is all single-target damage, and thus struggles against illusion heroes or summoned units since he has no quick way of clearing them out. Against such opponents, you should build Mjollnir over MKB. It won't let you deal as much single target DPS, and you cannot lifesteal off the procs like you can with MKB, but it is the solution to crowds of enemies. Please do not forget to use its active ability. Static Charge should be placed on whichever unit is being focused by the enemy (that can be Sylla or the Bear) to deal heavy magic damage to nearby foes. This ability is very underused and can do a surprising amount of damage. Still, even with this you will struggle against most illusion heroes. If your team has no other way of clearing them out, this will probably not make enough of a difference to cover your bad draft.
Silver Edge : Against heroes like Bristleback that have powerful passive abilities, Silver Edge can give you enough time to initiate and kill them while the Break effect lasts. This item doesn't grant as much damage so you will want another offensive item to pair it with. You can also use Silver Edge to get the bear to the back of fights to quickly dispatch enemy supports. If you have the Bear invisible, you can cast Savage Roar from Sylla and it will apply Fear to enemies around the Bear without removing its invisibility or showing the effect from Savage Roar to give away its position. This is a fantastic initiation since you can disable the enemy with the roar, then have the Bear attack them while they are disabled, ensuring they cannot immediately escape or retaliate. Additionally, since it does not remove invisibility, the Bear's attack after the roar will deal the bonus damage and apply Break from Silver Edge. With the new changes to Silver Edge, it grants more raw damage and attack speed for the Bear to take advantage of, as well as the Echo Strike passive to help get more procs of Entangling Claws. This also combines well with Skull Basher and Abyssal Blade, since you have a good chance of getting a Bash from the Echo Strike.
Radiance : This is a terrible item in this patch, I only have this section here to tell you that you should not be building Radiance on Lone Druid. It used to be a very common item, when Lone Druid was played as a hard jungler, but if you're actually interested in winning the game you won't play like that. Lone Druid wants to be active to take advantage of his early powerspikes, and to take towers with Demolish. Radiance does not help you do those things. Let's start with the buildup. Radiance builds out of a Sacred Relic and a Recipe, which is awful. You gain no benefit from the components until you drop 3800 gold on the first component which gives you nothing but some overpriced damage. Then you need to get 1350 more gold to finish the item. Once you have the item, you get the aura, which is the only reason people get this item. It passively deals 60 magical damage to nearby enemies, and gives them 17% blind. This does not synergize with anything Lone Druid wants to do at all. You cannot lifesteal off the magic damage like you can with MKB. It doesn't provide attack speed to get more procs of Entangling Claws. The blind effect is cool but you already have tons of resistance to physical attacks and any decent carry builds an MKB anyways. The damage output doesn't even scale, and gets worse as the game goes on. The 60 magical damage is a flat amount and doesn't go up with your attack speed. People buy this to help them farm, but it doesn't even do that well. The Bear kills creeps fast enough that Radiance will only tick maybe 3 times on a creep before the Bear kills the whole camp, so you spent 5150 gold to deal 180 magical damage to a creep. Please do not buy this item.
Deadalus : The Bear is better oriented towards increasing attack speed rather than increasing attack damage. It gains no damage increases from attributes, and has no abilities that naturally give it high damage. For that reason I prefer to use items like MKB for cost effective DPS increases because scaling attack speed is easier than scaling damage and that produces the highest DPS. However, in some situations you may find that scaling damage is the better way to go and for that I suggest Daedalus. This is in rare situations where you have some method of giving the Bear very high damage or heavily reducing the armor of enemies. Upgrading Underlord's Atrophy Aura with Aghanim's Scepter is one example of increasing the damage of the Bear. As I said this is not ideal for most games, especially since it doesn't work with the magic damage from MKB. I prefer Daedalus on heroes that have some way of naturally getting very high attack damage like Sven or Clinkz, but the Bear's damage at level 30 is only 165.
Hand of Midas : This has become a common alternative to MoM, and I get some questions about when to buy this instead. I recommend MoM for the vast majority of games, but I will explain the key difference. Hand of Midas is a very greedy item. That means it doesn't make you as effective early on, but you'll be stronger later due to higher GPM. MoM provides more combat benefits, with the lifesteal and higher attack speed, but Hand of Midas lets you get rich faster. Even though I recommend MoM because it makes you stronger, you actually want games where you can build Midas. A Midas game is one where you don't need MoM to get early kills. These are games where you have so many buffs from your teammates that MoM isn't necessary and you can prioritize getting more gold. If you have teammates that will rush Vladmir's Offering, or have spells that drastically increase your Bear's damage output, those buffs will compensate for the loss of MoM and allow you to get Midas. If you get Midas and can't kill people early, you will have a worse time because you won't be able to take over the early game and you might even end up with a worse GPM if you are forced to jungle and farm instead of being able to get kills. Interestingly, because of the way cooldowns work, you can buy and use two Hands of Midas with one on Sylla and one on the Bear. Do with that information what you will.

Chapter 9: Applying Yourself

I enjoy Lone Druid because he is valuable and strong at every stage of the game. In this chapter I will explain his role and how to fulfill it as the game goes on.

Draft Phase

Like every hero, Lone Druid has heroes that he synergizes well and poorly with. If you are playing with a team, and have good coordination, you can improve your odds of winning by picking heroes that compliment Lone Druid.

The easiest way to achieve draft synergy is to have teammates with buffs they can apply directly to the Bear.

These are all spells that give the Bear a buff to its kill potential or survivability for some time. When an ally casts one of these spells on the Bear, it gives you a very high chance of getting a kill, and only takes a little bit of coordination. Even spells like Bloodrage that may seem somewhat detrimental are offset by the Bear's lifesteal. Communicate with your team to use these spells in ganks or team fights, just like they would use them on any other carry. You can also use heroes like Io, Chen, Oracle, or Winter Wyvern that have saving spells or more passive buffs like Tether. The Bear can benefit from most auras like Arcane Aura, Lunar Blessing, Vampiric Aura, and Inner Beast as well as
most auras provided by controlled creeps.

You can also combine Lone Druid with heroes that use AOE damage spells, since Entangling Claws can force enemies to stay in the area longer than they would otherwise.

If you are not playing Lone Druid, but your teammate has picked it, consider choosing heroes that compliment his playstyle. Picking heroes that can buff the Bear, or disable enemies to secure kills, or offer sustain for pushes and long fights work very well.

Whether you attack enemies to keep them in these spells, or cast them where the Bear roots an enemy, the idea is to have the enemy be damaged by both the spell and the Bear for as long as possible. A lot of these spells do surprising amounts of damage that you rarely see because people try to leave them immediately. Lone Druid prevents them from doing this, and allows you to get the most out of these spells.

Another way to synergize around Entangling Claws is to pick heroes with "secondary disables" like Ice Path, Kinetic Field, or Sacred Arrow. These are skill shot spells that don't always land, but are often extremely effective if they do. The idea of a secondary disable is that you use it on an enemy that has been hit with a short disable like a bash or root in this case, and use the guaranteed hit to extend the time they are disabled for. This allows you to turn a lucky root into a secured kill. Much like how Entangling Claws can set up for easy skillshots, it can also set up for easy ganks. If you have heroes on your team with global presence like Io, Nature's Prophet, Spirit Breaker, Spectre, Underlord, or Tinker you can initiate on a lone enemy and alert your teammates, so that they have enough time to join the pickoff while the enemy is rooted.

You can also build around another ability of Lone Druid, his Savage Roar. Since it forces enemies to walk towards their fountain, it can combine well with spells that are more effective against moving targets. When an allied Bloodseeker casts Rupture on an enemy, you can force them to walk if they would prefer to stand still. You can make enemies walk into the walls of Arena of Blood or snap Dream Coil. In some situations, Savage Roar can protect your allies as well. Use it to prevent enemies from stopping Supernova or out of melee range of a Witch Doctor or Crystal Maiden using their ultimate.

One thing to avoid is picking heroes who naturally clash with Lone Druid in the way that they fight. This could mean heroes like Pugna who want to cast Decrepify on targets, which makes it impossible for the Bear to attack them. It could also mean heroes like Phantom Lancer who surround the enemy with so many units that the Bear cannot get in melee range. While these heroes can work together and win as a team, they need coordination in order to not get in each others way.

Another thing to avoid is heroes with kits that don't fully synergize with the Bear. Since it is a creep-hero, not all buffs work on it. Some spells that would work great, like Tag Team, Moonlight Shadow, Ion Shell, Ghostship, or Hand of God provide no benefit to the Bear due to its designation.

Consider arranging your draft to play with heroes whose overall play style compliments yours. Lone Druid does best when he can hit his early item timings in the midlane, and then come pick up easy kills on the sidelaners, which turns into easy tower pushes. Heroes like Magnus, Bane, or Shadow Shaman who can help secure pickoffs are great. Also, in the course of running around and killing people, Lone Druid creates a lot of space for his team. Heroes who want to farm in the early to mid game like Anti-Mage or Spectre can work well with Lone Druid because he gives them secure farm, and can make up for their absence in fights while they hit creeps.

If you are playing Lone Druid as a mid, you will probably pick last during the draft to avoid being counter picked. This also gives you the opportunity to pick him if you see heroes that he is effective against. Lone Druid has a number of favorable matchups, for different reasons. He is good at killing mobility heroes like Anti-Mage or the Spirit Brothers because Entangling Claws removes their escape options. Some heroes have spells that simply do not affect the Bear like Wall of Replica, Thundergod's Wrath, Mystic Flare, Haunt, Jingu Mastery, or Death Ward and thus are handicapped against you. Some heroes are simply easy for Lone Druid to lane against or kill like Sniper, Viper, Zeus, or Meepo. He also fares well against heroes that rely on silences or disables that don't prevent him from attacking, since Lone Druid has very few spells he needs to cast and doesn't really care if he or the Bear is silenced or out of mana, provided he is already in True Form.

Early Game

I play Lone Druid as a mid hero almost exclusively. I've seen some people try him as a safelaner or offlaner, but it never seems optimal. Lone Druid has so much kill potential that farming instead of fighting feels like a waste, and the offlane is usually better left to heroes with more utility. To me, Lone Druid seems best suited to getting an early lead in the midlane, then rotating to help get easy kills and take tier 1 towers, which turns into a huge advantage for his team. Don't get me wrong, LD does absolutely need items. The difference between LD and other greedy cores is that LD is significantly stronger in the midgame, while traditional greedy heroes will still be in the jungle. Instead of farming for 30 minutes and then trying to 1v5, Lone Druid can get double or triple kills early on and start to snowball. If your team refuses to play aggressively, or you've fallen behind and are trying to catch up, or are just waiting for you or your teammates to finish off a big item, then farming is a valid move. Mostly you want to leave the farm to your safelane carry, and focus on making space. In previous patches, Lone Druid was played as a farmer with Radiance builds and a jungle playstyle, but I don't feel like that's the most efficient use of his potential anymore.

Another reason I prefer to play Lone Druid as a mid is that he much prefers a 1v1 matchup over a 2v2. I think this is a big part of the reason Lone Druid has a lower reported winrate when he goes to the offlane or safelane. In mid, there is no enemy support free to attack the Bear while you are last hitting, the topography of the lane is safer because of the high ground, and if you decide to go for a kill attempt the target is much less likely to be saved by a teammate.

Lone Druid does not last hit and deny well in the early levels. Combined, Sylla and the Bear hit for 60 damage, not counting Quelling Blade or the damage reduction from armor. However, that damage comes from two attacks combined, so it is not uncommon to lose a last hit or deny to a creep or enemy hero because their attack came between the two of yours, the same way Weaver can miss last hits with Geminate Attack because the creep died before the second attack landed. If the enemy mid has the ability to consistently CS better than you, focus on harassing them away from the creep wave, using your Bear's large HP pool to tank hero and creep damage, to give yourself space to get last hits safely. Also, remember to utilize creep aggro. Others have made more in-depth guides on this specific mechanic but the basic idea is that if you issue an attack order on an enemy hero while near enemy creeps, the creeps will switch to targeting you temporarily. You can use this to drag the enemy creeps up onto your side of the river, where you can last hit more safely. This is also good for drawing creeps out of the AOE of spells like Shrapnel or Nethertoxin.

In the lane, be mindful of the harassment dynamic between you and the enemy mid. If you are lucky, they will focus on hitting Sylla with attacks and spells. This is good, because it means they do not understand how Spirit Link works, and you will be able to regen the lost health quickly once the Bear hits a few creeps. Later on, you probably won't need to worry about that player as much. They will likely focus on hitting Sylla while True Form is up, and die to the Bear. If they do target the Bear, that is okay as well. The Bear has a lot of HP, and once you get a Morbid Mask you will be able to heal the Bear more quickly by hitting creeps. You can use the nearby jungle creeps for this. If your Bear isn't hitting very hard yet, you can have Sylla tank the creep damage, so that he gets healed by Spirit Link and let the Bear lifesteal health back.

It rarely hurts to have the Bear hit the enemy mid a few times every time they approach the creep wave. Most likely it won't do much since you don't hit very hard early on. If the Bear happens to get a lucky proc of Entangling Claws, quickly have Sylla and the Bear both target the enemy and activate Mask of Madness on the Bear if you have it. It is unlikely you will get a kill, especially if they were at near full health, but you should be able to take off a good chunk of health at the very least. This mostly serves to intimidate and zone away the enemy mid. You've shown them that if they approach you, they will be rooted and take massive damage.

If you lose CS to the enemy laner, fear not. All you need is a handful of last hits and some passive gold to afford your Morbid Mask. Once you get this, you can start hitting jungle creeps without your Bear losing a meaningful amount of health. In most cases, you will want to shove the lane with the Bear and then switch to farming the jungle camps, moving back and forth as necessary. The last thing you want to do in the laning stage is find yourself standing around, because the creep wave is under the enemy tower, so use the jungle to fill every spare moment. There are two creep camps near mid for both sides. On Radiant, you want to hit the creep camp towards the bottom lane, and on Dire you want to hit the creep camp towards top lane (you'll have to walk up the ramp to reach it). This is because these are medium camps which give an average of 80 gold and 136 experience, whereas the other camps are small camps and give an average of 66 gold and 100 experience. The medium camps take slightly longer to kill and are a bit farther from the lane, but the increased value is worth it. Remember that if your Bear is low on health you can have Sylla tank their damage with Spirit Link.

Make good use of runes. The Bear cannot have illusions of itself, and you aren't reliant on spells so an Arcane Rune or Rune of Illusion won't do much for you, but the others are useful. Due to changes in 7.27b, the Bear can now make good use of a Rune of Double Damage, where it couldn't before. Picking up a DD rune is a very powerful boost to your damage output, and can facilitate a kill on the enemy mid or a strong rotation to kill people in the sidelanes. Sylla has almost no use for the Rune of Regeneration since Spirit Link heals him so much, but the Bear has slower health recovery so it can save you from having to teleport or re-summon the Bear. Rune of Haste and Rune of Invisibility are hard to use, since only one of your units can use them at a time and you usually want to keep your units close together. However, if the timing is right you can pick them up as you move to gank a sidelane. Have Sylla pick up the Rune and move towards the enemy, and have the Bear cast Return once Sylla is in position. This can be tricky and requires having your units separated for a bit, but it can be very effective to suddenly have the Bear in the fight.

Unless the matchup is very one sided, your laning phase ends when you get a Mask of Madness and Phase Boots on the Bear, as well as brown boots and a wind lace on Sylla. I usually also pick up a value Buckler or Cloak at this point as well. With these items, you have the movement and attack speed to run at people and kill them. Now you need to determine whether to stay mid or rotate. You should stay mid in cases where you can easily dive and kill the enemy mid and take the tower. In these cases, you should be very aggressive and do exactly that, taking their tower and preferably farming the next creep wave. If you can't kill the enemy mid or safely hit their tower, proceed to the next step. Your next move will be to rotate to your offlane (top on Radiant, bottom on Dire) and push that lane. You should be higher level than the enemy safelaner and hard support. With your items you should be able to kill or at least zone them away and take their tower. If you have done this without taking mid first, you should now have a bit more gold and experience so you want to go back and do that.

Mid Game

In BSJ's recent videos, he has laid out the procedure for carrying the game. First, you need to be able to push waves. Second, you need to be survivable while you push waves. Third, you need to be able to threaten kills on people who come to stop you from pushing waves. Fourth, you need to be able to end the game by going highground.

In most cases, heroes need a lot of items to do this. You need a Battlefury or Mjollnir, or at least some AOE spells to push waves. You need a Black King Bar or some escape items to be survivable. You need an Skull Basher or even an Abyssal Blade to threaten kills. You need a big damage item or a massive lead to go highground.

Lone Druid is my favorite hero because he has the ability to do all of these things built in, the only area where he struggles somewhat is pushing waves.

Step 1 is pushing waves. Most heroes have an AOE spell or something to do this, but not Lone Druid. This is fine because your Bear still hits very hard and very fast, so Sylla and the Bear together can kill a wave of creeps fairly quickly. If needed you can buy Mjollnir or even a Meteor Hammer for this, but it is rarely necessary. MKB lets your Bear kill creeps fast enough.

Step 2 is being survivable. I can't think of many abilities better for keeping yourself alive than True Form. Anyone who wants to come kill you has to not only deal with your massive health pool and damage resistance, they also have to contend with your healing from Spirit Link and in emergencies you can use Savage Roar to give yourself time to escape. According to Dotabuff, Lone Druid has one of the lowest average deaths per game stats out of any hero. Later on you will augment this with AC on the Bear and a Heart or Heaven's Halberd on Sylla.

Step 3 is threatening kills. Entangling Claws may be one of the strongest passives for securing kills in the game. Your Bear has a 20% chance to root people for three seconds and deal 180 magical damage over that time. Very few heroes will be able to handle that. Outside of a few counters, if one or two heroes come to stop you, you will be able to kill them or at least make them leave. Your root provides the lockdown, and the damage from MoM, and later on MKB and AC, ensures that you can kill people quickly.

Step 4 is being able to end the game. Demolish is a scary ability. According to Dotabuff, Lone Druid has one of the highest tower damage per minute stats in the entire game. You can easily have your Bear siege tier 3 towers or barracks and take them very quickly. With your team backing you up, there isn't much the enemy can do to stop you. Combined with armor reducing items like AC, Blight Stone or even Desolator, you hit buildings as hard as the rest of your team together.

So Lone Druid is an amazing hero for winning games. But how do you actually put this into practice? Well, remember in the Early Game section I told you that your first move at the end of the laning stage should be to pressure the towers of the enemy Mid and Safe Lane? That's pretty much what you want to keep doing all game. On Radiant you want to be pushing mid and top, on Dire you want to be pushing mid and bottom. There are a variety of reasons for this, but essentially your team can only control two out of the three lanes on the map, and these are the ones you want.

Always, always prioritize killing lane creeps over anything else. Do everything in your power to keep the creep waves up at the enemy towers, and away from your towers. This is the most important thing you can do in the game. If the creeps are on your side of the map, you will lose fights and the enemy will outfarm you. Not only are lane creeps more important for map control, they are also just more valuable. Lane creeps give more gold and experience than neutral creeps. You should absolutely never be hitting neutral creeps if there are lane creeps you can kill without dying. I cannot stress enough how important it is to kill lane creeps.

Keep alternating between the two lanes you are supposed to control, keeping in mind steps 1-4 I explained earlier. If one or two heroes come to stop you, try to kill them. If more come, you will have to back off. If you get the chance, hit the towers when the creep waves reach them. If there are enemies that you can't fight in both lanes you need to control, and you cannot hit lane creeps without dying, then you can spend time hitting neutral creeps. You can also hit neutrals if you can do so while moving between lanes without missing lane creeps. Getting neutral creeps is never worth missing a last hit on a lane creep.

Eventually you should find yourself controlling the enemy jungle. Place wards there to control it, and take the outpost if you have taken a Tier 2 tower. It is fine if your team is occasionally fighting in other areas of the map. Your job is to pressure these two lanes and force the enemy to respond or lose towers. The enemy jungle is actually a fairly good place for you to fight, since you should have wards there now and the creeps should be at least at the enemy Tier 2 towers.

Once you have taken both of the Tier 2 towers in these lanes, you can go push the other lane if you want, or start getting ready to go high ground. This is the late game.

Late Game

The late game is when you're trying to push the enemy highground (or defend your own, if things have gotten bad) and by this point you should have a pretty high net worth. Your Bear should have items like MKB and Assault Cuirass, and Sylla might have one or two of his items like a Heart, Halberd, Pipe, or Shiva's.

You are a decent Roshan killer. By this point your Bear should have high enough stats to tank and kill him, giving you access to the Aegis.

You are a good candidate to carry the Aegis of the Immortal, if the enemy team is focusing you first. Though you are tanky and have regen from the Bear, damage/disable heavy lineups can still kill you. With Aegis, your True Form will persist through death, and your Bear won't die even if you don't have Aghanim's Scepter. This gives you a chance to absorb the enemy's spells in the first life, and kill them all in the second. Also, since dying with Aegis doesn't kill your Bear, you can keep hitting people even during the respawn time.

If you are being left for last, give the Aegis to someone else on your team. It is not a bad strategy to give the Aegis to a support who makes a big impact with their spells, especially if they are squishy. Ultimately the Aegis should go to whoever is dying first in fights or gets picked off, so they can have a chance to make an impact.

Unless the enemy team has very strong defensive spells like Frost Shield, Bloodlust, or Techies mines, pushing high ground isn't too difficult for you. With True Form on and enough items, you can usually just walk up the ramp and start killing people behind their Tier 3 towers, giving your team the chance to come in after you or focus the tower. If the enemy defense is particularly strong, have your team pressure one lane, drawing the attention of the enemy, while you push up another lane. The enemy has to either diver their attention to deal with you or let you take that tier 3 tower, after which you can walk up to the enemy backline and start mauling them to death.

At every stage of the game, remember to coordinate with your team. Your pushing power gives you the option to split push very effectively. Your Entangling Claws can keep enemies in place for secondary disables or AOE spells. Your Savage Roar can save allies from attackers or force enemies to move out of position. You and your Bear are a team within a team.

Adjusting to the State of the Game

Really understanding a hero requires you to have knowledge of three individual playstyles. You need to know how to play when you are ahead, how to play when you are behind, and how to play when the game is even. This guide mostly pertains to even games, but here is some more information on how to adjust. Lone Druid itemization doesn't change much based on this, you might adjust your damage item to deal with a particular member of an enemy team, but otherwise you build roughly the same things. This section is important because if your playstyle doesn't correspond to the state of the game, you are in serious danger of losing.

Q: What if I am Ahead?
A: Lone Druid is a hero that wants to be ahead, especially playing from mid. You scale very well with levels and items, and you naturally present a threat to heroes and objectives around you. If you are ahead, your goal should be to play as offensively as possible. Utilize the snowballing power of a pushing carry to get kills on the enemy side of the map and take their towers. Pushing is the most important thing here. Gold and kills do not win games, towers do. You can spend all the time you want running around and getting monster kill streaks but if you don't take towers while the enemy team is dead then you are throwing. If you have the lead, do not hit neutral creeps. Push waves, take fights, take towers.

Q: What if I am Even?
A: If the game is even, you want to upset the balance by threatening objectives. The most important thing you can do to prevent an even game from becoming a losing game is to focus on shoving lanes. LD doesn't have natural waveclear but you can still kill a wave of creeps pretty quickly just by hitting them, especially if you have MKB. Do not let enemy creeps approach your towers. Do not let enemy creeps die to towers or your creeps. Vacuum up that farm while simultaneously creating map pressure. It is okay to hit neutrals occasionally in even games, but do not devote much time to it. Clear camps as you move between areas of the map, but always prioritize lane creeps if you can hit them without dying. Doing this forces enemies to react to you, preventing them from moving around as a unit and picking off your teammates. If your team is with you, kill the people reacting to your push and take the objectives.

Q: What if I am Behind?
A: Behind is a bad place to be on LD. If your Bear is dying frequently in fights or you die even in True Form, you are behind. In this scenario, you want to go for pickoffs, not team fights. Smoke up with your teammates and move towards the enemy side of the map. Your goal is to get a few kills to put you back on track. Gold translates into survivability for LD because you depend mostly on lifesteal to stay alive, and you buy mostly offensive items which mean more lifesteal. If you find that you can't even get pickoffs or the enemy just has some easy way of dealing with you, that is a sign it is time to adjust your itemization. If the enemy is killing your Bear, you need a Black King Bar for it. This is not an item you want to buy, because it doesn't help you kill people, but it will let your Bear take out key disablers on the enemy team. If the enemy is killing you in True Form or preventing you from using it, you need an Aghanim's Scepter. Again, not a great item, doesn't make you better at doing your job. This is a solution to enemies killing Sylla so that the Bear can continue to carry if it is not getting focused first. In hard games, you may also need to jungle more, if showing in lanes becomes dangerous. Your default method of getting gold should be pushing and kills, only fall back to hitting neutrals when aggressive play is too costly.

Chapter 10: Pros and Cons

Lone Druid is a strong hero, but like every hero he has weaknesses and shortcomings.

PROS:

Matchups: Lone Druid's primary strength, and what makes him a spammable hero, is that he has very few bad matchups. As a mid, this is especially valuable because it allows him to win the lane reliably. Many annoying mid heroes like Sniper, Viper, or Zeus are easy matchups for Lone Druid, even when other heroes would find themselves zoned out of lane and underfarmed. This is why I started playing Lone Druid, because I was sick of the popular mid heroes and it was the perfect hero to let me beat them all.

Low Pick Rate: Lone Druid has never been a popular hero, and most likely never will be. While it does make me sad because he gets relatively little in terms of cosmetics, it actually provides a strategic advantage. Most players have only played a small number of games against Lone Druid, and rarely understand him well enough to counter him effectively. Everyone knows how to play against common heroes like Pudge or Sniper, but very few people I run into have enough knowledge of Lone Druid to kill me. Often, I can tell as soon as the laning stage whether the enemy is going to kill me at all this game. If they waste time hitting me, only for me to regain the health immediately through Spirit Link, I know they will ignore the Bear in every fight as it kills them. However, this also means your allies might not play around you properly. Make sure your supports know that buffs should go on the Bear in fights, since it is the damage output.

Carrying Capacity: Even if Lone Druid gets nerfed to oblivion someday, he will still have the utility of being able to carry 12 items and 2 neutral items. That means he can carry wards, dust, aura items, consumables, and item components better than any other hero. This also means you have the storage space to pick up highly situational items for your team, depending on the game. You almost never have to worry about dropping items to pick up neutrals, you always have a space for the Aegis or Cheese, you can carry the Gem of True Sight, or have healing items for your teammates.

Offense: Lone Druid has a ridiculous damage output, with the proper items. The Bear can comfortably exceed 2k DPS with all his items. Very few heroes can withstand that kind of damage, combined with the reduced mobility.

Defense: Both the Bear, as well as Sylla in True Form, are very tanky units. With high health, armor, and magic resistance, you will be very hard to kill. Combined with the health restoration from Spirit Link, you will have a large, ever refilling health pool. Enemies will often waste effort trying to kill Sylla, while the Bear goes to work on them. Most heroes are weak to either physical or magical damage. Heroes like Anti-Mage or Juggernaut have the capacity to mitigate magic damage, while heroes like Terrorblade or Timbersaw have high armor to tank physical damage. Lone Druid is one of very few heroes that can shake off both powerful nukes and strong attacks.

Cheap Kills: Some heroes, like Juggernaut or Death Prophet, rely on expensive, long cooldown ultimate abilities like Omnislash or Exorcism to secure kills. While Lone Druid does have an expensive, long cooldown ultimate, he rarely needs to use it outside of teamfights or defensive situations. In order to secure a kill, Lone Druid usually just needs to activate Phase Boots and Mask of Madness to root an enemy and kill them. Over the course of the game, this makes a huge difference because other than potentially losing your Bear and having the ability on cooldown, Lone Druid has almost no downtime. Heroes like Spectre won't want to fight immediately after using Haunt, but Lone Druid can. Because of this, you are able to benefit more from any advantage you gain.

Sustainability: On top of the aforementioned tankiness, Sylla is also healed for 65% of the damage dealt by the Bear. With the amount of damage and attack speed the Bear ends up with, that can feel like having a Satanic on constantly. Most of the time, as long as the Bear is hitting an enemy Lone Druid will be nearly impossible to kill. This also gives him the ability to stay in the lane when other heroes would have to return to the fountain or buy regen, because he can regain health just by having the Bear hit creeps or heroes. Where other heroes would need to spend time recovering health, mana, and ability cooldowns after a kill, Lone Druid can immediately look for his next target or start getting objectives like towers. Even if a fight is very close and you go down to low health, Sylla's health can be restored by killing a single creep wave, though the Bear's health will take slightly longer to recover.

Lockdown: Entangling Claws may be one of the most surprisingly dangerous passive abilities. A 20% chance to proc a 3 second root that deals a total of 180 magic damage over the duration. This keeps escape heroes from running away, and invisibility heroes from disappearing. It allows Lone Druid to secure early kills in the laning stage. It allows you to cancel teleports. It can help you last-hit creeps, or secure Sylla's escape if he gets ambushed. With the level 20 talent to remove the cooldown, and the attack speed from items like Moon Shard, you can keep an enemy rooted as long as you are attacking them. In True Form, Sylla has this ability as well, though he won't have the same great attack speed.

Pushing: With the damage increase against buildings from Demolish, the Bear can kill towers as fast as the rest of your team combined. Early on, this lets you bring down the tier 1 mid tower the moment the enemy mid steps out of lane. In the late game, you can kill all 3 enemy tier 3 towers and all 6 barracks extremely quickly. One good fight near the enemy base can turn into a secured game by getting mega creeps.

Farming: Lone Druid can start farming neutral creeps with only a Morbid Mask to prevent health loss, and after that his farm accelerates. Even without items to damage multiple creeps at once like Maelstrom or Radiance, the Bear's damage and attack speed makes short work of anything except maybe ancient creep stacks. Unlike heroes such as Anti-Mage, Spectre, Wraith King, or Ursa that need a Radiance or Battle Fury to start farming, Lone Druid has the ability to farm any creeps on the map from about minute 10. Still, it is better to leave farm to your Safelaner and make as much money as you can from kills, which also creates space for them. Mostly, this farming capacity lets you get an edge over the enemy mid, since you can alternate between shoving the lane and killing the nearby camps.

Speed: For some reason, at level 4 Summon Spirit Bear, the Bear has a base movement speed of 400. It can gain 25 more from the level 10 talent. Combined with Phase Boots, the Bear can easily reach maximum movement speed (550) and be the fastest unit on the map, unless the enemy has abilities like Surge to exceed the move speed limit. Very rarely will enemy heroes be able to run away from your Bear. In fact, there is usually a danger of the Bear being so fast that it gets too far from Sylla to attack. If this becomes an issue, you can pick up a Wind Lace on Sylla and turn it into a Drum of Endurance or Solar Crest as well as upgrade his boots to Boots of Travel.

Disables: On top of Entangling Claws, Savage Roar is a fantastic disable. You can sometimes apply Fear to the entire enemy team for 2.4 seconds. That disrupts channeled abilities, prevents attacking or casting spells, and forces the enemy to move towards their fountain. A good roar can completely change a team fight. Combined with the immobilizing properties of Entangling Claws, you can effectively stun a unit since they can't move while under the effects of the Fear. If you use Savage Roar right at the end of the root duration, it lets you keep them from casting mobility spells for over 5 seconds. Additionally, this time is enough for Entangling Claws to come off cooldown, so you could potentially keep an enemy disabled for 8.4 seconds, by chaining root into fear into another root.

Scaling: Lone Druid hits a power spike at around 10-12 minutes when he gets MoM and Phase Boots. Outside of very unfavorable matchups or throws, he usually becomes the most dangerous hero on the map at that point, and maintains that position into the late game. Most heroes will hit their power spike and fall off later on, but Lone Druid keeps getting stronger with each item after that. He has lots of damage in the early game, and lots of survivability in the late game. This means he functions well in fast playstyles and slow playstyles, which very few other heroes can do. If you need to play fast, he can dominate the midgame with pushes and quickly take towers, securing a quick win. If you need to play slow, he can make space on the map by threatening any lane he goes to and forcing the enemy to respond, preventing the enemy from making plays and buying time for your farming core. If the game goes late, he has amazing DPS and can withstand serious abuse. Also, the Bear's damage scales at a rate of 5 per level, plus Sylla's 2.8 damage per level for a total of 7.8, which is better than even heroes like Terrorblade at 4.8 per level. Lone Druid increases in power throughout the game in a way very few heroes can match.

CONS:

No AOE Damage: Lone Druid has very strong single target damage, but no way of dealing with crowds of enemies besides killing them one by one. This is fine for dealing with creeps since he deals so much damage and attacks so quickly, but against illusion heroes he falters. This also makes it hard for Lone Druid to defend against pushes from zoo heroes or large creep waves, since he has no quick wave clearing spells. You can amend this with items like Battle Fury, Mjollnir, or even Meteor Hammer, but getting those usually delays your more vital items.

Only Attack Damage: Lone Druid is almost entirely physical damage, except for MKB procs and Entangling Claws, which only get applied by your autoattacks. This means you have no way of dealing damage if your Bear is disarmed, or if the enemy unit has some way of making themselves immune to attacks like Decrepify or a Ghost Scepter, or by disarming the Bear with things like Deafening Blast or Heaven's Halberd. Your impact in fights is dependent on your Bear being able to attack targets. If you cannot do that, you will have a rough time.

Needs to Accelerate: Lone Druid scales differently than other carries. Since the Bear has no attributes but is the primary source of damage, it relies heavily on items to provide stats. Where other carries can tolerate a short pause in their income, Lone Druid is vulnerable to falling behind if he dies a few times in the early game. While the Bear can kill creeps fairly quickly, you want to spend your time fighting and pushing, not farming, since you have no AOE or wave clearing ability. Lone Druid can feel very underwhelming if he has been slowed down, since he relies on getting ahead and staying ahead.

No Long Range: While the Bear is fast, it must come within melee range of a target to deal with it, and cannot attack if it goes too far from Sylla. If an enemy is on another elevation or behind trees, LD must go the long way around in order to damage them. Yes, Sylla is technically ranged in his druid form but his damage is usually fairly inconsequential.

No Escapes: Other heroes have invisibility or mobility spells, but LD has to rely on regular movement speed to move around. This means he is weak to things like Disruptor's Kinetic Field or Mars's Arena of Blood since he cannot enter or exit them. It also means that if LD is ambushed or is losing a fight, he has no quick methods of disengaging.

No Gap Close: Often, when explaining Lone Druid to people, I compare him to other melee hypercarries like Anti-Mage, Monkey King, or Ursa because he has the same essential M.O. of getting on top of enemy heroes and killing them quickly. However, in making this comparison, it is easy to see how Lone Druid is lacking compared to these other heroes. Every single melee agility carry in DotA 2 has some kind of mobility spell, to help them get closer to their target. Every single one. Some of those are blink spells like Phantom Strike or Blink Strike, some are move speed enhancers like Phantom Rush or Thirst, some of them have invisibility like Shadow Walk, or leap spells like Primal Spring or Earthshock. What does Lone Druid have? He has Phase Boots. Sure, the Bear is naturally quite fast, but that is it. In order to do anything to your target, you have to walk up to them. This makes Lone Druid incredibly vulnerable to kiting and any spells that reduce his mobility. Slows, stuns, roots, leashes, and barriers all have the potential to make Lone Druid go from a team-killer to a sitting duck.

No Teamfight Abilities: Other than Savage Roar which is quite short ranged, Lone Druid has no way of affecting a whole team at once. All his damage and lockdown is fairly single-target. He can do amazing things if other members of your team have AOE spells and disables, but is easily stopped if the enemy team can focus him without consequences.

No Dispel: Many heroes like Legion Commander, Slark, or Tidehunter have ways of removing debuffs from themselves. Lone Druid has no such mechanisms. Any disables with long durations can severely cripple his ability to be effective in fights.

Two Essential Units: Most heroes only have to worry about keeping themselves alive. They can walk carefully through Bramble Maze or buy things like Shadow Blade and Black King Bar to avoid danger. Lone Druid is reliant on the synergy of both units. If you allow Sylla to die, the Bear dies as well and even if you have Aghanim's Scepter the Bear is vulnerable since it cannot be summoned again. If the Bear dies, Sylla is left without any damage output. Any acts of self preservation you make have to account for the fact that you want both units to live.

Chapter 11: Fighting Lone Druid

Lone Druid is a formidable hero, and though he isn't popular in any bracket you will see him from time to time. Since you won't always be playing Lone Druid, it is important to know how to counter him with drafting, tactics, and itemization.

Winning at Draft



Outworld Devourer
Here are a number of heroes that make the game difficult for Lone Druid. Some of these are offensive counters like Outworld Devourer that can deal more damage than Spirit Link can negate. Some of them are defensive counters like Juggernaut or Lifestealer that can escape from roots.

The best counters are heroes that are hard to kill, but can also easily kill Sylla or the Bear. This includes illusion heroes and Windranger. I name Windranger here because she is commonly played as a mid and hits a power spike at 6 that potentially lets her dive and kill Lone Druid. With the evasion and slow from Windrun and the damage of Focus Fire she can kill Sylla or the Bear in lane. Even after the Bear gets MKB to pierce evasion, the Bear can still be kited with the slow.

Another good counter is Ancient Apparition because his ultimate can prevent Sylla and the Bear from healing at all. It lasts for quite a long time and gives your team a window to deal damage that won't be reduced by the lifesteal.

Due to the large health pools of Sylla and the Bear, some spells and heroes are more effective against them. Lifestealer can regain a significant portion of his health pool by hitting them, making it difficult for Lone Druid to trade with him. Heroes with percentage-based damage spells like Sun Ray, Firestorm, and Spirit Siphon are great ways of reducing their health.

You can also use Winter Wyvern to force the Bear to kill Sylla or his allies. With its high DPS the Bear can quickly knock out priority targets. If you catch him outside of True Form, the Bear may be able to kill Sylla if he hasn't built any durability items yet. The interaction between the Bear and Winter's Curse is interesting. If the Spirit Bear is not in the curse (meaning it is totally outside the AOE) then Spirit Link will let it heal Sylla if he is in the curse. If the Bear is in the curse, damage it deals will not heal Sylla. Regardless of the interactions, just use WW ult as you would against any other melee carry.

Because Lone Druid is two units that usually move together, abilities that can bounce between targets can be highly effective. Spells like Paralyzing Cask, Chain Frost and Moon Glaives can do a lot to slow Lone Druid down in fights. However you should not rely on these abilities too much to shut him down, because they have some inherent unreliability (such as being much less effective if there are enemy or neutral creeps nearby).

Avoid picking heroes that are handicapped against the Bear, if possible. As I have said the most important step to defeating Lone Druid is killing the Bear. Numerous spells do absolutely nothing against the Bear, a few are less effective, and a few are actually more effective. See the section on Summon Spirit Bear for some examples of spells that don't affect the Bear. A few heroes have as many as two spells that are normally good for killing heroes, but do nothing against the Bear.

Winning with Tactics

The first and most important step to effectively fighting Lone Druid is to acknowledge that the Bear is the priority target. I have lost several games because I could not convince my team to focus on the Bear, and they died while trying to kill Sylla in True Form.

In lane, if you are laning against Lone Druid, it is fruitless to target Sylla with harassment. Any chip damage you do will be restored when the Bear hits creeps. It is far more effective to harass the Bear. Doing so forces LD to either summon the Bear again or send it to the fountain. If the Bear tries to TP back to base, do your best to interrupt the teleport, if possible. Ideally, you want to keep the Summon Spirit Bear spell on cooldown. Not only does killing the Bear grant 300 experience and 300 gold, it also damages Sylla for 20% of his max HP and makes him almost useless until he can summon the Bear again. If you can do this in the early game you will significantly hinder his farming and possibly kill the hero if the Bear is dead.

Later on, the Bear represents the vast majority of Lone Druid's net worth. Without the Bear he effectively has a net worth of less than 1k gold in most games. Since Lone Druid is usually a high farm priority hero, taking him out of the game like this can create openings to take objectives. Removing the Bear from the game has just as much strategic impact as getting a regular hero kill.

Lone Druid operates best when playing from ahead. As a mid hero, he wants to rotate fairly early to the sidelanes in order to get kills and push tier 1 towers. If you are a sidelaner and Lone Druid is missing from his lane, do your best to play safe and not get caught out. If you can avoid him killing you, or even better get a kill on him yourself, you stand a much better chance in the game. Be aware that Lone Druid can dive you under tower with the Bear's high health, but as long as you don't make the mistake of targeting the hero you should be able to repel him.

If you have the opportunity to make offensive plays against Lone Druid, then you may be able to kill him by targeting the main hero. The essential step of ambushing Lone Druid is to disable him before he can activate True Form, with stuns or silences. Without his ultimate, he is fairly squishy, and you should be able to deal burst damage to kill him before the Bear can heal him a meaningful amount. If necessary, you may need to disable the Bear as well for this to work. Do note that the transformation of True Form cannot be interrupted. It is absolutely critical that you use instant disables before he sees you. If your spells have a travel time or you appear in vision before disabling him, a good LD player will activate True Form immediately (assuming it is off cooldown) and quickly become very difficult to kill. If you slip up, and you can't kill him before he gets the True Form bonuses, then you should immediately switch to targeting the Bear if it is nearby. Once it is dead the hero is easy to kill again, even with a large health pool, because he does minimal damage.

In fights, Lone Druid can do nothing if the Bear is not in melee range of its target. With no inbuilt mobility spells, the Bear is easy to kite and this is the Best way to handle Lone Druid in the mid to late game. Use slows, stuns, forced movement, or your own mobility spells to keep the Bear away from members of your team. This gives your teammates time to hit the Bear or the Hero without their damage being reduced by his lifesteal.

Ultimately, you have to see the Bear the same way you see any other melee carry. I compare it to Troll Warlord, Ursa, Wraith King, etc. because it has the same MO in fights. It wants to get on top of people and reduce their HP to 0 as quickly as possible, then move on to the next person. It isn't a regular summoned unit that you can largely ignore. Treat it with the same respect and care, and use all the same tactics you would when dealing with a traditional carry such as kiting, disarms, escape spells etc. and you should be alright.

Winning with Items
Shiva's Guard: This is one of the best items against Lone Druid. Not only does the armor make the holder more difficult to kill, but the aura effect seriously hinders him in fights. The reduced attack speed hits the Bear hard due to its low Base Attack Time, and the heal reduction means that both Sylla and the Bear will have less effective HP because their lifesteal is diminished. The active also helps in kiting the Bear. Not many heroes build this as a core item, but against Lone Druid I strongly suggest it.
Eye of Skadi: A similar idea to Shiva's Guard, this will slow the Bear's movement and attack speed making it easier to kite, and it reduces healing so they are easier to kill. This item also provides a lot of raw stats for durability. Like Shiva's Guard, this makes you a priority target for the Bear but it also makes it harder for the Bear to kill you. If you are playing a hero that builds this, you should prioritize getting it earlier instead of as a late game item.
Spirit Vessel: For killing the Bear or Sylla in True Form, Spirit Vessel provides damage as a percentage of the target's max HP. Since they can both exceed 4k Health in the late game this is a good way of dealing damage. It also reduces their healing and lifesteal.
Heaven's Halberd: The Bear is significantly less scary if it can't hit you. On top of being a very good stat item, this also lets you disarm the Bear for 3 seconds, during which time it cannot hurt or root people, nor can it heal Sylla. The evasion will be mitigated if the Bear has MKB, but the status resistance will help you avoid being permanently rooted.
Ghost Scepter: Like Heaven's Halberd the idea with this is to prevent the Bear from attacking. This is significantly riskier than HH, however, because you will become vulnerable to nukes. Best to get this if you are a hero that eventually builds an Ethereal Blade then this might be a better option. With that, you can target the Bear with the active, which both prevents it from attacking and makes it vulnerable to magic damage.
Hurricane Pike: For ranged cores, this is a great way to survive and deal damage safely. The extra range means you can position yourself on high ground or behind trees to attack in fights. The active can be used on the Bear when it goes on you to give yourself some breathing room or escape.
Manta Style: Use the active to escape being rooted, and to provide distractions for the Bear. Lone Druid is all single-target damage, so creating illusions may throw it off long enough to escape or reposition.

Chapter 12: Summary

Lone Druid is a powerful and versatile hero, without many counters, and with a high skill ceiling. He has to be played slightly differently to a normal hero, but once you have the proper mindset and strategy you will find great success.

If you are reading this guide as a player who is new to Lone Druid, please do not be intimidated by the idea of controlling two units at once. For the most part, you can play with Sylla and the Bear always close to each other, having them target the same units, so your management load is reduced. If you are an experienced player looking to improve your Lone Druid game, practice with more difficult maneuvers like farming one part of the map with Sylla and another with the Bear, or pushing two lanes at once, or even fighting in two fights simultaneuously.

Lastly, a word of warning. Lone Druid's Bear is considered a creep-hero. That means some spells treat it as a creep, and others treat it as a hero. Some buffs will not aid the bear, and some enemy spells cannot hurt it. Visit the Dota 2 wiki for a more in-depth explanation of creep heroes and a full list of all the spells that treat it strangely.

Good luck. Stay hydrated.

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