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7 Votes

Doctor Doom's Druid Guide for Douchebags 7.29d

June 6, 2021 by DoctorDRUID
Comments: 16    |    Views: 35305    |   


Doctor Doom's Druid Guide for Douchebags 7.29d

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
-50s 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


ATTENTION: This guide is currently being updated for the latest patch. Some information in this guide still pertains to older versions of the game. Thank you for standing by.



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.

Lone Druid is to Dota 2 what Dota 2 is to everything else. Complex. Obscure. Unique. Rewarding. Who is Lone Druid exactly? 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 abilities, 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, qojqva, and Gunnar, 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 slight nerfs over the last few patches, 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, since Lone Druid has such unique requirements for his items.

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 he hits an insane timing around the 8-12 minute mark after the laning stage where he can fight and kill almost anyone on the map, and taking advantage of that window is key to mastering the hero.

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 Juggernaut 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 major 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 25k words. This is partly 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 and new patches primarily through the lens of how it affects this hero. 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, a Faerie Fire and an Observer Ward. Also buy a Town Portal Scroll for the Bear. Put the Blight Stone, Quelling Blade, and Faerie Fire on the Bear for last hitting in lane.

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 Maelstrom and Assault Cuirass for the Bear. After that you can make Sylla harder to kill with items like 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 Mask of Madness and Phase Boots at around 8-12 minutes, 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 Entangling Claws for getting kills and Demolish 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: Recent Changes

The game is always changing, and so is Lone Druid. The hero, core items, and the meta evolve slightly with every patch. This section is where I will discuss the pieces of the latest patches that are relevant to Lone Druid.



7.29d
Sange: Sange, as well as all the items it builds into ( Sange and Yasha, Kaya and Sange, and Heaven's Halberd) had the healing and regen amp reduced by a few points. These items have been very strong and meta, so a nerf is deserved, but I don't think this will make them disappear. The status resistance is still a huge boon, and the lifesteal amp being a few percentage points lower isn't going to outweigh that I think. In games where you have a lot of physical damage coming in and you need to disarm an enemy carry, a Heaven's Halberd on Sylla still provides a ton of benefit and should at least be considered.
Solar Crest: Nerfed again, now grants only 50 attack speed with the active. That's still almost a Hyperstone worth of attack speed, and the item still seems very good. The buildup and low cost are still excellent, and it still provides the same armor and movement speed. I expect it will get another more substantial nerf in the future, but for now I still recommend considering it.



7.29c
Solar Crest: Now the active now grants/removes 55 attack speed from the target, instead of 65. A small but notable buff. I think it is definitely still a strong item and good on this hero.
Water Runes: Water runes now grant 80 health and mana instead of 100 health and 80 mana. Lone Druid doesn't rely on the water runes much at all, and is much better at contesting/denying them against heroes that do need them, so I consider this a small buff. Heroes that buy bottle or are difficult to contest the runes against will have slightly less health regen in lane.



7.29b
Spirit Bear: The Bear now gains 90 health every time you gain a level, instead of 75. This means the Bear's health increases by an extra 15 every time you level up, which is a very significant buff. At level 30, the Bear now has 4610 health (5610 with the talent) whereas before it had 4175 (5175) which is an increase of 435 health. Of course very few games go that long, but this definitely increases the durability of your Bear. Together with its innately high magic resistance from Demolish and its decent armor from items like Assault Cuirass, the effective health of the Bear will be even higher.
Savage Roar: The duration of the fear effect was increased from 1.2/1.6/2/2.4 to 1.4/1.8/2.2/2.6 which is a fairly small change, at only 0.2 seconds longer at each level. A buff, but a small one. The final duration is almost 3 seconds, which means against enemies that are not spell immune you can simulate a stun by using Roar right after getting a proc of Entangling Claws.
True Form: The level 20 talent was increased from -40s True Form Cooldown to -50s. This shortens the cooldown from 100s to 50s, meaning that the spell has a staggering 80% uptime with its 40s duration. I still think the Entangle cooldown talent is better, because it allows you to get permanent roots on enemies, but now this talent is a much better competitor. I would still prefer a talent that extended the duration of the ult, since the problem is more often the spell running out rather than not being up fast enough, but this is almost as good. Other than mana concerns, it allows Sylla to be in his melee form almost perpetually.



7.29
Hero Changes: Sylla had his base attack time reduced from 1.7 to 1.6, a very minor change but a welcome one. Basically this means Sylla attacks slightly faster, which means last hitting will be slightly easier in the laning stage. Oddly, this change only affects his ranged form, so his BAT is still 1.7 when he is in True Form so he attacks slightly slower when he is melee. Every hero in the game, except for a handful, has a BAT of 1.7. This also means that Sylla will get around 6% more value out of increases to his attack speed.
Aghanim's Shard: This patch brought two small but powerful buffs to Lone Druid's Shard upgrade. Firstly, the shard now makes Savage Roar apply a basic dispel on both Sylla and the Bear. A basic dispel will remove most silences and slows, as well as many damage-over-time debuffs, but not stronger effects like many stuns. This is great. It saves Lone Druid from having to buy certain defensive items, and with the low cooldown on Roar it really lets you shrug off spells. The other change was that the Shard makes Roar be cast from both units even if one is disabled. This is absolutely huge. Lone Druid used to have this functionality by default, and it being removed was quite a blow. You can now use Roar even while the Bear has Mask of Madness active, while one unit is trapped in Chronosphere, or while dealing with almost any disable other than a few spells like Astral Imprisonment. This is a huge buff, and with these two changes together, the Shard is an extremely good purchase for Lone Druid. NOTE THAT THE SHARD IS CURRENTLY BUGGED AND GIVES ONLY 40 ATTACK SPEED INSTEAD OF 60.
Map Changes: This update brought a few changes to the map. Most notably, runes now spawn more frequently and in different patterns. This doesn't have a huge effect on Lone Druid, since he doesn't buy Bottle. However, an early point in Savage Roar may now be very value, allowing you to contest runes since they spawn so frequently now. Gunnar seems to be employing this strategy to great effect. The more pressing change was actually the relocation of some of the netural creep spawn locations. The camp below the middle lane on Radiant is now farther away, making it slightly harder to accelerate your farm by jungling. This isn't a huge change, but it is worth noting. Dire and Radiant are now more similar this way, since the corresponding camp on Dire was already far away.
+2 Attributes: You now have the ability to choose a +2 increase to all your attributes when you level up. For Lone Druid I don't see this being more valuable than his regular skills and talents at any point in the game, but in the late game it does mean Sylla will have an extra +14 to all stats, which means 280 extra health and 2.31 extra armor. Not much of a boost, but a welcome bit of tankiness. Unfortunately the Bear cannot benefit from this, unlike other carries, as it does not have attributes.
Shared Tangos: Shared Tangos now only last for 40 seconds before expiring. This is somewhat unfortunate, since you can no longer ask your teammates for a few shared tangos at the start of the game. Not a big deal, but a little disappointing. I think a Faerie Fire is definitely better than an Iron Branch as a starting item now.
Solar Crest: Now much less expensive, and still very effective. I think this is going to be one of the strongest items of the patch, and Lone Druid can use it very well. It can provide a strong buff to the Bear, or a debuff to enemies, so if multiple heroes on your team have one it isn't a big deal.
Abyssal Blade: The active ability now has no blink component, so this is no longer useful for gap closing. Unfortunate, but the Bear already has access to a lot of movement speed and very few games go late enough to get an Abyssal. I think this is still worth picking up in the late game for the damage block (which was buffed) and for the ability to extend disables on enemies. I do think the recipe cost should be reduced at least slightly.
Quelling Blade: The damage bonus for melee holders was reduced by 1. Very minor, but worth noting. This will make the laning stage slightly more difficult, but Sylla got a buff to his BAT so I think it at least balances out.
Town Portal Scroll: Cost increased by 10 gold, to a total of 100, and you now only get 1 at the start of the game. Additionally, you now get 1 free scroll every time you die. Overall, this is a little unfortunate, since you still want to buy a scroll for the Bear at the start, and the Trusty Shovel no longer drops scrolls. This means using the fountain to heal your Bear is slightly more expensive, but it isn't a huge deal. Sylla and the Bear are both very fast still, and most of the time when I go to the sidelanes I will just walk because that allows me to show up behind the enemy.

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 that you might have 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 90 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.

The Bear also gains stats when you level up this ability. By the time you are level 8, it will have 2630 health, 187 attack speed (that is including the boost from Spirit Link), 55 damage, 400 speed, and 6 armor (its mana pool and magic resistance have not changed).

The level 10 talent increases the Bear's movement speed by 25. The level 15 talent gives the Bear 8 armor. The level 25 talents give the Bear +1000 hp or reduce its base attack time by .1 seconds. These are all impactful and valuable talents, but sometimes taking the health for Sylla or the cooldown reduction on Savage Roar is also worthwhile.

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 test 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 Mjollnir, rather than in multiplying its damage per attack with items like Daedalus, since the Bear's damage per attack is never very high but it makes good use of items that can proc many times per second.

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 until you win the game.



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 useful throughout the game. It is a means of freely bringing the Bear back from the fountain or rune spots 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 Town Portal Scroll or two while it is at the fountain. Do note that if you have a 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 once it is in Sylla's inventory.

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 once its max health climbs into the thousands. Use the Bear's 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 new 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.

The Dota 2 map is nothing more than a buffet for the Spirit Bear. It crawls with scrumptious creeps, sweet and savory heroes, and of course those crunchy crunchy buildings. Demolish is the ability that lets the Bear really dig in to enemy towers and structures, representing unparalleled pressure wherever you are on the map at all times.

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 32% magic resistance, the Bear is almost as magic resistant as a normal hero with a Cloak. At level 30 the Bear will have 4610 max health (or 5610 with the talent), which means it has 6779 effective HP against magic damage with no items (or 8250 with the talent). This means Lone Druid is naturally effective against nukes, 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 bonus 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 8-12 minutes to be ready to rotate, depending on how the midlane goes. Most mid heroes such as the Spirit brothers, Queen of Pain, or Puck 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.

The value of this ability, in terms of its equivalent worth in items, is quite high. While the disable chance is 5% lower, this keeps people in place twice as long as a Skull Basher (though it does not pierce spell immunity or stop channeled abilities) so for the purposes of catching people and getting kills, this is incredible. This passive is integral to your kit, and is vital in your early rotations. At around the 8-12 minute mark where you have your Phase Boots to catch people and your Mask of Madness to activate when they get rooted, almost any hero will die once this procs. This root is one of the major reasons that Lone Druid is so strong, and is a big factor in his itemization. The reason I recommend Mask of Madness over other items like an Orb Of Corrosion or a Hand of Midas is that MoM allows you to make the most of the few seconds where you can get free hits on the enemy. Sure other items let you chase better or farm creeps faster, but MoM is superior in its kill threat since it lets you pump so much damage into a target so quickly.

Having this ability to disable enemy heroes and deal immense damage to them without expending much in the way of resources is a fairly unique strength. Other mid heroes such as Invoker, Puck, or Void Spirit have disables and damage, but their abilities have cooldowns and cost mana. Lone Druid can rotate to get kill after kill after kill, whereas other mids would have to fall back after a relatively small amount of fighting because they expended their resources.

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, Void Spirit, Weaver, etc. that rely on being able to escape from enemies quickly with mobility spells.

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 well 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 chance 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 total 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, and as long as the Bear is hitting something then Sylla should be fine.

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 4 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.

Note that if a unit becomes invisible while rooted, they will remain visible until the root ends. This means that heroes like Weaver, Clinkz, or Bounty Hunter that rely on invisibility to disengage will be helpless if you can get an EC proc on them.



Aghanim's Scepter: Lone Druid's Aghanim's Scepter allows the Bear to attack targets while more than 1100 units away from Sylla, and to stay alive and function even while Sylla is dead. However, this item is not as useful as it might seem.

Normally, if Sylla dies the Bear dies, and if Sylla is too far from the Bear then it becomes disarmed. Purchasing Aghanim's Scepter alleviates both of these issues.

Being able to separate the Bear from Sylla means you can more effectively be in two places at once. You can farm multiple camps of creeps and push multiple lanes simultaneously. However, you don't build any carry items on Sylla and his damage output is usually pretty underwhelming, so usually it just feels like you are in one and a half places at once. It is useful when chasing enemies, since you don't have to worry about Sylla falling behind and disarming the Bear any more.

Some people choose to pick up the Scepter, and then play by keeping Sylla in the fountain or passively farming the jungle while the Bear goes out to be the real hero. I personally do not reccommend this strategy, and I have very rarely seen it play out well. Even though Sylla doesn't deal much damage, he still serves the purpose of distracting the enemy and soaking damage while the Bear goes to work, as well as being another unit to cast Savage Roar from, and Sylla being nearby to summon the Bear if it dies allows you to resume fighting faster. If the enemy sees that you have the Scepter, they will usually ignore Sylla and just start killing the Bear, which is what they should have been doing in the first place, ultimately making the game harder.

The Scepter also allows the Bear to stay alive if Sylla dies. Typically, people see this and think it means the Scepter is very good. Surely, the logic goes, this allows you to win more fights in situations where Sylla dies early. However, ask yourself if buying the Scepter will actually make a difference. If you spend 4200 gold on this item, that is gold that isn't going to make you any more dangerous. There are situations where you can buy the Scepter to keep the Bear alive, but that means the Bear is missing a 4k gold worth of damage, so you still lose the fight. You can either invest in something that actually helps you do your job, or buy this safety net that doesn't actually save you from failure in most cases. Smart itemization, good plays, and proper positining in fights will do you much more good than this item can provide.

Personally I think this item is just bait for inexperienced Lone Druid players. Spend that gold on more damage for your Bear so you heal more from Spirit Link, or on more durability for Sylla. There are lots of things you can do that will be better than buying a Scepter. Buy a Shadow Amulet so Sylla can be invisible in fights. Buy an Aeon Disk so Sylla can't be bursted. Buy a Heaven's Halberd so you can disarm the enemy carry and get more healing. Buy a Heart of Tarrasque so Sylla can take nukes to the face. Buy a Shiva's Guard so you can have a billion armor and prevent the enemy from healing. Buy a Pipe of Insight so your whole team can absorb magic damage. Instead of trying to make it so Sylla dying doesn't matter, why not just keep him from dying in the first place. And don't say that they are the same outcome. The moment Sylla dies with Scepter, the Bear is next, and any tools that let the enemy kill Sylla will also let them kill the Bear. If Sylla is tanking damage, then that means the Bear can continue operating. Spending 4k gold to keep Sylla alive is a better investment than spending 4k gold to let the Bear fight after he dies.

But don't just listen to me. According to Dotabuff, Lone Druid is one of the lowest winrate heroes for this item in the entire game. I think this item provides very little value for its cost, and ultimately slows your game down. Instead of turning a losing game into a win, it is much more likley to turn a favorable game into a loss because you slowed down the actual power growth of your hero.



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 (slowly)
Use runes
Buy items
Cast Spells

Cannot

Capture outposts
Benefit from some buffs
Be affected 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 and others. 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.

In recent updates, more mechanics have been added and Valve has kept up the tradition of having the Spirit Bear's interactions be decided seemingly at random. An allied Lycan can now use Wolf Bite on the Bear. Dawnbreaker can target the Bear with Solar Guardian. Troll Warlord's Rampage does not work on the Bear. Ember Spirit's Shard does not let him regain a Fire Remnant shard for killing the Bear. All of these things work with heroes. Some work with the Bear. Some do not.

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. Damage dealt by Sylla does not heal the Bear.

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 killing Roshan, have Sylla enter the 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.

There is currently a bug where if Morphling uses Morph to transform into Sylla, he will keep the Spirit Link buff even when he transforms back into Morphling and when the ability duration ends, meaning he can gain a permanent 60 free attack speed. If Morphling is on the enemy team, this is disastrous because it basically gives him a free Hyperstone. However, if Morphling is on your team and has built Aghanim's Scepter, then he can transform into Sylla and still gain the attack speed. Be aware of this interaction when playing with or against Morphling.

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 1.4/1.8/2.2/2.6 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.

You can use Savage Roar after Entangling Claws procs, turning it into what amounts to a stun. Rooted enemies 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 activate powerful temporary buffs 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, and the duration of the fear is reduced by status resistance.



Rune Control: With the release of patch 7.29, the way runes work was changed. Water Runes now spawn on both river rune spots at the 2:00 and 4:00 minute marks, and the Bounty Runes spawn in both triangles every 3 minutes. With an early point in Savage Roar, you can take advantage of this by contesting multiple runes in the river and using the fear effect to prevent enemy heroes from grabbing them.

By the time the Water Runes begin to spawn at the 2 minute mark, you will usually be at least level 3, depending on how many denies the enemy mid gets, and also on other factors such as getting early kills or deaths around the initial bounty rune fights. In this section, I will be outlining a strategy that involves picking up an early value point in Savage Roar, most likely at level 2 or 3, though it is somewhat flexible.

The idea here is that with an early point in Savage Roar, you can split up Sylla and the Bear to both head to the river rune spots before the Water Runes spawn. This allows you to grab both runes, and if the enemy mid contests either rune you can use Savage Roar to make them walk away as it spawns. You can also send the Bear to grab the enemy Bounty Rune from their triangle. Keep in mind that you can use Return to bring the Bear back to Sylla. This is great if either unit is in danger, or if teleporting is simply faster than having the Bear walk back to the lane after grabbing the bounty rune.

This is a relatively advanced strategy, with a lot of potential payoff under the right circumstances, but it requires a few different skills to pull off and can go wrong.

Firstly, when considering this strategy, think about whether you should actually go for it. Does the enemy care about the runes? Can they contest the runes even against Savage Roar? Can they kill one of your units if they are split up? In some scenarios, an early point in Roar is unnecessary to contest the runes, and sometimes it will be ineffective. This strategy is best used against heroes that buy a Bottle, and do not have the means to quickly kill your units while they are separated or to contest the runes against Roar (such as by using a stun preemptively).

If it is a good game for this strategy, take a point in Savage Roar at level 2 or 3. Then, before the runes spawn, send Sylla to one rune and the Bear to the other. At this point in the game, it takes about 6-7 seconds for your units to reach these positions if they start from the middle of the lane, but the Bear gets faster as you level your Q. The important thing is to have them both get to the rune positions before the runes spawn. Then have them both grab the runes once they spawn. If the enemy mid, or players from the enemy sidelanes come to contest the runes, use Savage Roar to force them away. At its first level, the fear duration on this spell is only 1.4 seconds, so you will have to time it somewhat carefully. Repeat the process for having the Bear go and contest the Bounty rune that spawns in the enemy triangle, keeping in mind that it will take longer to get there and it is more likely to be contested.

The benefits of this strategy are obvious. You get free health, mana, and gold from the runes. The enemy mid cannot refill their bottle. This leaves you in an advantageous position, where you have improved sustain and do not need to worry about enemy spells as much.

There are a few potential downsides. Firstly, an early point in Roar delays points in Summon Spirit Bear and Spirit Link, which are vital stats that help you sustain and last hit. Secondly, splitting up your units is somewhat dangerous, and you can lose Sylla or the Bear in some situations if they are not together, since sometimes enemy supports will come to help their mid contest runes. Thirdly, it requires a considerable amount of skill and understanding. You need to carefully micro both units, be aware of the matchup, and keep a watchful eye on the game clock.

Done correctly, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Even though sacrificing early stats makes the lane a bit harder, crippling the regen of the enemy mid should net you more last hits and denies since they will have a harder time using spells to stop you and you can more easily harass them with attacks. Keep in mind that Savage Roar can be used in lane too, as a tool to prevent the enemy from killing creeps or to interrupt their spells.



Aghanim's Shard: Lone Druid's Aghanim's Shard improves Savage Roar, granting several additional benefits. It grants bonus move and attack speed to nearby enemies when used, it allows Roar to be cast from both units even when one is disabled, and it dispels both Sylla and the Bear when cast.

NOTE THAT THE SHARD IS CURRENTLY BUGGED AND GIVES ONLY 40 ATTACK SPEED INSTEAD OF 60.

When cast, Savage Roar grants a bonus of +20% movement speed and +60 attack speed to all allies within a 700 range of both Sylla and the Bear. The buff lasts for 5 seconds. This is huge. 60 attack speed is as much as level 4 Bloodlust, and is basically a free Hyperstone on all nearby allies, including creeps. 20% movement speed is the same as the active on Phase Boots for melee heroes. If you take the -10 seconds Savage Roar Cooldown talent at level 15, the cooldown of Savage Roar is reduced to 10 seconds, meaning this incredible buff has 50% uptime, which is insane.

In a previous patch, the functionality of Savage Roar was changed so that if you cast it while your other unit is disabled, the effect will not emanate from them. This was unfortunate because it meant Mask of Madness became somewhat hard to use, since activating it meant the Bear wouldn't be able to Roar. With patch 7.29, a new effect was added to his Shard that allows Savage Roar to be cast from both units when used, even if one unit is disabled, such as by a stun or silence. This is great. It means that you can reliably apply the fear effect to enemies when your Bear is in the middle of a fight, even though it is likely to be disabled. It means that you can use Mask of Madness without worry since you can still cast roar from Sylla. It means you can more easily break channeled disables or chain disables on either of your units. It means you can very easily disrupt abilities like Chronosphere provided at least one of your units is outside of it.

Casting Savage Roar now applies a basic dispel on both Sylla and the Bear. A basic dispel will remove many effects such as silences, slows, or effects that deal damage over time, but not stronger effects such as most stuns. This is a massive benefit. Most heroes would have to buy a Black King Bar, Manta Style, or Eul's Scepter of Divinity if they have effects they need to dispel, but now you can get a dispel on a very short cooldown for both of your units for the low cost of 1400 gold. Dispels seem to be a major part of this meta, with a dispel function being added to items like Satanic, but unfortunately many of the items that dispel are otherwise bad items on Lone Druid. This is a huge benefit, since these kind of disables are one of the major weaknesses of the Bear, and now you have an easy method of removing them.

The AOE buff, the ability to use it while disabled, and the dispel effect make Aghanim's Shard an amazing pickup on this hero, not to mention the core fear effect of the ability. I will be recomending this item more strongly in this guide, since I think it has become an important part of playing this hero to the fullest potential.

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 any disables, nor can it be cancelled manually once the animation starts) 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 50 second cooldown, meaning it has 80% 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 and Spirit Bear Health

The safe talent. This increases the Bear's max health and the health gained in True Form. Get this if the enemy is stopping your Bear from dealing damage, it will help you both survive until the lifesteal comes back. This is a staggering amount of effective 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 may actually provide more effective HP to Sylla by increasing the rate of lifesteal. Reducing the BAT of the Bear also increases the value of any attack speed items you have.

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

-50 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. Less needed if enemies are not focusing the Bear.

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. Much more valuable now with the Shard.

+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 among the simplest and easiest to learn of all the micro 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 usually 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.

My typical itemization is as follows:

Starting Items: For my starting items, I buy what I need to help get last-hits in lane.

Quelling Blade - Bear
Blight Stone - Bear
Faerie Fire - Bear
Town Portal Scroll - Bear
Observer Ward - Sylla

Early Game: During the laning stage, I build the tools I need to become dangerous as well as survivable so I can start rotating and getting kills with my early power spike.

Mask of Madness - Bear
Phase Boots - Bear
Boots of Speed - Sylla
Wind Lace - Sylla
Buckler - Sylla
Cloak - Sylla

Mid Game: With the gold from kills and towers in the mid game, I can start building some more expensive items. I buy my Aghanim's Shard as soon as I can. Once I get some good damage on the Bear, I want durability on Sylla.

Maelstrom - Bear
Assault Cuirass - Bear
Heaven's Halberd and / or Heart of Tarrasque - Sylla
Solar Crest - Sylla
Skull Basher - Bear
Desolator - Bear

Late Game: In the late game, I'm looking to end as fast as possible, picking up what I need to really secure victory with supreme durability and high damage output.

Pipe of Insight and / or Shiva's Guard - Sylla
Moon Shard - Bear
Mjollnir - Bear



Starting Items
Quelling Blade: This 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 32 against creeps. Later on when the Bear is running out of item slots, you can have Sylla hold this or sell it.
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 or Orb Of Corrosion for the Bear, or even a Solar Crest for Sylla. Have the Bear carry this, since it is usually the first unit to hit an enemy when you attack them. Note that this item will not reduce a target's armor if the target is also affected by the debuff from Orb Of Corrosion, Desolator, or Desolator 2.
Faerie Fire: This is a cost effective +2 damage for the Bear. In an emergency you can also use it to heal, but pretty soon you'll be sustaining yourself on lifesteal.
Observer Ward: Plant the 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. It also helps you use creep aggro to control the position of the waves, which is vital in the laning stage.
Town Portal Scroll: Once you summon the Bear in the fountain at the start of the game, 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.

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 camp near 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. 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. Do note that the Bear will suffer a -8 penalty to armor and be silenced while the Mask of Madness is active. You want to activate this right after the Bear gets an Entangling Claws proc, not before. This ensures that none of the duration is wasted on movement, and in lane it lets you turn a lucky root into a lot of damage or even a kill.
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. Lone Druid is one of very few melee carry heroes with no innate gap-closing ability, so this is your way of getting the Bear on top of enemies. With the Bear's naturally high speed, the +25 Spirit Bear Movement Speed Talent, and your Phase Boots, the Bear easily hits the move speed cap at 550. Having such consistent access to speed equivalent to a Rune of Haste is very powerful.
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 still 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 nearby allies, as well as +1 armor to the holder, so you should have this on the unit that is getting attacked more. 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. On top of the magic resistance from Demolish, this provides a good amount of effective HP for your two very tanky units. 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
Heaven's Halberd : This is the item to get if the enemy is reliant on physical damage, since the evasion and disarm effect will equate to a lot of survivability. It gives you a ton of benefits. 400 health, 20% evasion, 16% status resistance, 24% health regen amplification, 20% lifesteal amplification, and a strong active ability. All together it makes Sylla fairly hard to kill, and provides you with the ability to temporarily disarm an enemy carry. This is a greedier alternative to raw health items like Heart of Tarrasque, since this really only helps if the enemy has no way of stopping your Bear from attacking.
Heart of Tarrasque: This is the item to get if the enemy is reliant on magical damage and disables, since it provides so much raw health to tank nukes and survive while your Bear is disabled. It is a safer, albeit more expensive alternative to Heaven's Halberd. While it doesn't provide an active ability or fancy bonuses, it does grant 1150 health which is a sizeable benefit. You should buy Heart when the enemy team has some way of stopping your Bear from hitting people in fights (kiting, disables, disarms, etc). This provides enough health to survive through that period until your Bear can start attacking again, at which point your Spirit Link will keep you healthy. It also grants regen, but you'll be relying on lifesteal anyways. This is the item to get if the enemy is reliant on magical damage and disables, since it provides so much raw health to tank nukes and survive while your Bear is disabled. If the Bear loses a lot of health in a fight, you can give it the Heart for a bit to help it regen.
Solar Crest: Solar Crest lets you apply a buff to the Bear that gives it bonus armor and attack speed. It 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. This is an excellent way to upgrade a Wind Lace on Sylla. It also functions as a way to draw attention away from the Bear as the buff will make it more tanky and Sylla will get that tempting debuff placed on him. I'm working on making this a more core item for Sylla, since it seems to be very good this patch.
Aghanim's Shard: I explain the exact functionality of Lone Druid's Shard in the description for Savage Roar, but to reiterate this makes the ability provide a buff to nearby allies giving them movement and attack speed, it allows Roar to be duplicate cast from disabled units, and it applies a dispel to Sylla and the Bear when cast. This shard is absolutely incredible. To get all that value by buying other items, you would need to spend a lot more gold. I suggest buying this very quickly once it is available, just for the AOE buff which helps you in team fights and pushes. There are also situations where the Shard is even better. If you are fighting into abilities like Chronosphere or Black Hole, you can cast Roar from a unit outside the ability to effectively nullify these powerful spells. If you are fighting into slows, silences, and abilities that deal damage over time, the dispel from the Shard removes these effects. For only 1.4k gold, there is enough value in this item that it would still be worth buying if it were three times the cost.
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.
Shiva's Guard: Another defensive item, this is what I get in the late game against high physical damage lineups. 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 Wraith 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.
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
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.
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 that also help you kill things faster.
Vladmir's Offering: In games that go long enough that the Bear becomes six-slotted, you may feel the need to replace your Mask of Madness with another item. In such cases, I think it is important for the Bear to still have lifesteal, so picking this up on Sylla can be a good idea if no one else on your team has bought one. It provides extra damage, lifesteal, and armor to all nearby allies, as well as mana regen but you don't care about that. The Bear gains a significant amount of damage from this aura, and the lifesteal and armor are good for keeping it alive, so this item definitely helps you do your job as well as empowering your team. This is a fairly good item, but usually not worth getting unless the game goes so late that you need to replace your Mask of Madness.
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.
Aghanim's Scepter: Some people consider this a core item, but I don't think it is very good. It allows your Bear to attack while away from Sylla, and it keeps the Bear alive if Sylla dies. The Bear is less effective without Sylla around, and I rarely see the remote Bear strategy pay off. Much of Sylla's kit and itemization is focused on survivability, so buying this safety net instead of enhancing that durability isn't necessarily the best move. Better to invest this gold in something that will keep you alive or make the Bear more dangerous. This usually just causes enemies to focus the Bear more, negating the meat-shield functinality of Sylla.

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.



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

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. Sylla has enough inventory space to carry the salves and mangos, which you can use to restore the health and mana of your Bear and allied heroes.

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.

Chipped Vest: A fairly good item for the Bear, provides regen and a bit of damage return. The numbers are a bit underwhelming, but it will let you kill creeps slightly faster and punish enemies who focus you.

Possessed Mask: While most carry heroes love this item, it is unfortunately not very useful on Lone Druid. The Bear can't use attributes, and Sylla doesn't care about the lifesteal since Spirit Link exists. Best to give this to someone else.



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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Bull Whip: Have Sylla hold this, so he can use it to speed up the Bear or slow enemies. Sylla will have to stop in order to use it, but the Bear gets to keep moving which makes Lone Druid a good carrier of this.

Quicksilver Amulet: Attack and move speed for the Bear. If you spam Savage Roar, you can keep the buff up for a bit more stats, but usually I prefer to give this to someone else.



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. Stack this with the armor reduction from Assault Cuirass and Desolator to really shred targets.

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.

Enchanted Quiver: A great item for Sylla, since it provides no benefit while on cooldown. Sylla will occasionally attack and deal an extra hunk of damage. There are much better items to put on the Bear.

Elven Tunic: Attack speed, evasion, and movement speed for the Bear, a great item. Good bonuses all around.

Cloak Of Flames: A small amount of armor and magic resistance, as well as a powerful passive. The damage isn't much, but it applies in an AOE which is something Lone Druid usually struggles with. Great on Sylla or the Bear.




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.

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.

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.

Trickster Cloak: Magic resistance and evasion, which both translate into more effective HP. The invisibility is great for keeping Sylla alive when he gets targeted.

Penta-Edged Sword: A very solid amount of damage, an increase to attack range, and a powerful passive. Excellent on the Bear. This will make it harder for enemies to fight back or run away.



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.

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.

Giant's Ring: The strength makes this better for Sylla since it will give him 800 health, but if you aren't struggling to stay alive you can give this to the Bear for the free movement. It won't be able to damage creatures by standing on them since it has no attributes.

Book Of Shadows: Some health and armor for Sylla, and the ability to make himself untargetable for a moment.

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 Maelstrom> Assault Cuirass> Skull Basher> 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.

Maelstrom : This is usually the item that I build with the money gained from my rotations. Fairly cheap, and provides a lot of good damage output. This allows you to kill camps and creep waves faster, and in fights it helps you burn away packs of summoned units or illusions. Later on you can upgrade to Mjollnir, but that isn't always needed.
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 Maelstrom, 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.
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. Note that the Bear cannot benefit from the strength bonus, but otherwise this is a very good item. Lone Druid is all about keeping enemies in place to kill them, so the stun is very welcome.
Orb of Corrosion: A popular new item for Lone Druid, combining the Blight Stone and the Orb of Venom. In most games, I think leaving your Blight Stone as is until you upgrade to a Desolator is just fine. However, if you are fighting a lot early or you have another Desolator builder on your team, this can be a good pickup. It provides 1 additional armor reduction over a Blight Stone and gives the Bear some health. In some games, this can actually be a good alternative to Mask of Madness if enemies are focusing your Bear, since the active of that item reduces the Bear's armor. OoC can also be good if you have strong damage dealers you can coordinate with on your team, if getting a root while an enemy is out of position is more important to your role than dealing the damage while the enemy is rooted.
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 helpful 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. More damage is always good, and this stacks with the armor reduction from your Assault Cuirass, which means you really shred buildings.
Mjollnir : If the Bear is getting built up and running out of slots, you can upgrade your Maelstrom to a Mjollnir. This provides more proc damage, a lot of attack speed, and a powerful active ability. Remember to use the active in fights since it deals a ton of damage.
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.
Abyssal Blade : If you get to the late game, I recommend upgrading your Skull Basher on the Bear. This provides damage block, as well as the ability to stun someone in melee range for 2 seconds through spell immunity. This is really most useful against enemies using items like Black King Bar where you need to disable them long enough to get the kill, otherwise your other disables will usually be enough.
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 pretty much only buy this if I'm planning to go for an Orb Of Corrosion.
Monkey King Bar : This used to be a very core item, but it got nerfed and I don't think its worth buying in every game now. Mainly, I buy this against evasion or super high armor enemies. If it is an MKB game, I recommend building this instead of Maelstrom. This provides attack speed and damage, as well as a way to bypass evasion, but it is very expensive.
Radiance : This used to be a common meta item on Lone Druid, but I think it is absolutely the wrong way to play the hero in the current meta. In simple terms, Radiance is a farming tool and Lone Druid is not a farming hero. He is a core and he does need to hit creeps, but he has such an insane early power spike and is so well suited to fighting and pushing that sitting in the jungle for 20 minutes is just a waste. What's more, Radiance isn't a very good item this meta anyways given some of the nerfs it has gotten over the last few patches. It has a slow buildup, and the final item doesn't help you do your job all that much. You will get much more out of the hero by being active on the map and building fighting items rather than jungling and building farming items.
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 Maelstrom 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, such as Alacrity or Corrosive Haze.
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

Here are a number of heroes that make the game difficult for Lone Druid. Some of these are offensive counters like Outworld Destroyer 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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