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Drow Ranger Guide - How she is supposed to be played

October 25, 2013 by Rode Krijger
Comments: 38    |    Views: 479532    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4
Build 5
Build 6

Standard build

DotA2 Hero: Drow Ranger

Purchase Order

Starting items

Early game

Early core

Late core/Luxury



Hero Skills

Frost Arrows

1 3 5 7


4 12 13 14

Precision Aura

2 8 9 10


6 11 16


15 17 18

Drow Ranger Guide - How she is supposed to be played

Rode Krijger
October 25, 2013


This is my first guide ever, so I'd love positive criticism and feedback. As a relative newbie to the game, I found that Drow was quite a great hero to start with. She is very noob friendly, because two of her abilities are passives and her active abilities are pretty much straightforward. Therefore I was able to focus on learning the basic aspects of the game, instead of having to figure out how to use my abilities best. But it seems that many people writing guides to Drow don't really advance from that point. I've read way too many guides with terrible builds and item choices. And the better ones are often outdated or somewhat incomplete. So there's where this guide kicks in, just trying to be more current and adequate than most other guides. You guys have already helped me with that, by giving some valuable feedback.

[EDIT] Reworked some things so it is fully compatible with the 6.79 update again. This mainly changes the Precision Aura and makes a small change to Marksmanship. Ethereal Blade now isn't a viable option anymore. Starting gold has been increased to 625, but since the price of Tango and Healing Salve went up too, you now miss 3 gold to buy the old starting items. Reworked this. Also I missed that Drow's nightvision is now only 800 units, so I removed her old nightvision from the Pro section and the guide itself[/EDIT]

The guide has grown pretty long, since I'm trying to be complete. I want to cover most possibilies and I want to explain my item choices clearly so everyone can understand the skill and item build. This may make it pretty long to read, but I promise you it's worth it

Pro’s and Con’s

- Easy to play
- Very high damage output
- Frost arrows/silence are great for ganking/escaping
- Worldwide damge aura based on your insane agility
- Proximity stealth detection

- Squishy
- Countered at close range
- Escape mechanism isn't sufficient to survive larger ganks
- Bad attack animation


Frost Arrows:
This is your bread and butter, it's what makes you Drow. Great skill for ganking and even escaping. I max this first. The first point gives you a pathetic 11% slow. But when trying for first blood together with a friend, it may just be enough, so I start with it anyway in the main build. Would you prefer to play more passive and first blood is not on your bucket list, you might as well get Precision Aura first and start leveling Frost Arrows from level 2 to 7. When you skill this, the slow greatly improves (24%, 37% and even an astonishing 60% at level 4). At level 4 this is a great skill. It helps you to gank effectively, since most enemies won't be able to get away from your slow. Also is one of your best escape mechanisms. As you don't want people to get close and mess with your ult, this will help you to slow enemies who are trying to get you. I can still remember a game where I was playing bottom lane as Dire. The enemy Ursa had just been soloing Roshan and came up to gank me. With my frost arrows, I made sure he couldn't move a muscle and killed him twice before he even got near me.
It won't safe you from large ganks when you're on your own early on, you can't slow them all at once. Nor should you put them on autocast. It will ruin your lifesteal possibilities and it will eat your mana way too fast. Just keep casting them on enemy heroes when attacking then as it will make up for great harass or ensure you get a kill.

A great skill, makes Drow effective against heavy spellcasters or blinkers. Silence can make all the difference in a team fight. Up to 6 seconds of silence gives you all the time in the world to make sure Anti-Mage and Queen of Pain won't be able to escape from you. It will make sure you won't have to eat heavy nukes when ganking an enemy. I choose 1 point in Silence early, but max it out last, because often 3 seconds of silence will be more than enough and your other abilities are just asking to be chosen first. There are exceptions however. If you're up against a lot of heavy nukers, you may want to max this just after Frost Arrows, as is described in the second build. Cast this skill at the start of every teamfight.

Precision Aura:
Great skill on Drow, especially later in the game. Gives a global damage bonus to all ranged heroes based on your agility. I usually put one point in it at level 2. Although 1 level in Frost Arrows won't have too much effect, it may help you getting first blood. One early level in this skill gives you and other ranged heroes about 4 or 5 damage early on, which helps a bit to last hit/deny. If you don't want to try to get first blood, you may switch these around and get Precision Aura first.
You max it out in levels 8-10. You don't need more points in it early, because the first level gives the biggest bonus (18%) while extra levels don't add as much (6% per level). Besides, the bonus is only really starting to count after at least reaching level 6 and you need level 7 to max your frost arrows. But after that, max this skill out. This aura has been buffed in the last update. Before it gave 16/20/24/28% damage bonus, now this is 18/24/30/36%! First is always affected creeps in an area around you, now that has been disabled, but you can manually cast it to affect creeps globally for 30 seconds (with 120 seconds cooldown). This gives a bit more control over this ability, won't unwantedly affect your lane control and the increased percentage just makes this skill so much better. So unless you're up against strong nukers and you need the extra levels of Silence, you should max this out by level 10.

A great ultimate, gives you 40/60/80 (not 20/30/40 as Dotafire says) agility as long as no enemy hero is too close to you. Thus greatly boosting your damage, attack speed and armor. In addition, this will increase the damage bonus other ranged heroes get through your Trueshot Aura. However, since 6.77 the bonus is totally cancelled when an enemy hero comes within a 400 (somewhat larger range since v 6.79) range. Before that it was only halved, so Drow has become more vulnerable than she was. Losing all this extra agility means your damage output is way lower than at a distance and your considerable bonus armor is cancelled. And in a teamfight it means that your ranged buddies lose a lot of their extra damage. So make sure you use frost arrows and silence to prevent your enemies from getting up that close.
Losing 40/60/80 agility does however have a slight advantage, because it grants the observant Drow Ranger some stealth detection. This is why I listed Dust of Appearance in core items: you are the one who can detect stealth heroes. Whenever you see your agility dropping real fast, pop a Dust of Appearance and hope you'll be quick enough to cast frost arrows and silence on the pesky invisible hero that is trying to get you. It may enable you to get in range to deal full damage again and you might just turn the situation around. This is also why I added a Force Staff to situational items, to help you escape from those heroes who can get up too close like Riki, Bounty Hunter, Tusk etc etc. When the opposing team has such heroes, you actually shouldn't want to play Drow. But if you do anyway, you may as well upgrade Force Staff to core items.

How to play

Although she can be played mid, I prefer playing Drow Ranger in safe lane. Personally I don't fancy her being mid, because the way I play Drow, she is not that mana dependent. Unless you have Frost Arrows on autocast (which you shouldn't) or keep casting Silence to annoy the enemy, you won't need the mana regen from Bottle and with lifesteal you don't need the hp regen either. But not going for those runes as mid, will give your opponent the edge. So unless you have a roaming ganker like Vengeful Spirit, Bounty Hunter and alike on your team who can buy a Bottle to use those runes, I wouldn't recommend going mid. If you go mid without those roamers in your team, get a bottle to make sure the enemy won't get those runes. And you'll benefit from it anyway. Just not as much as others would. So most of the time it's best to give mid to another hero on your team that benefits more from rune control with a bottle.

You are a carry, so you want farm. Best place to get relatively free farm is in safe lane with a support who can deny/harass/stack and pull to ensure the lane is yours to farm.

Early game you may want to play a bit safe. You are pretty squishy and although your base damage is ok, it's not that special yet early game. Also your Frost Arrows aren't that effective yet. You may want to try to get first blood, but this can only be done with one or two teammates who know what they're doing. Don't think of yourself as a strong or invincible ganker, you're not. And when you play like one, you'll probably die early and fall behind on farm and experience. Instead, focus on lasthitting the creeps. Although her damage and attack speed are ok, Drow has a terrible attack animation so it may require a bit exercise to learn her timing well. Don't be overconfident and hang back a bit until at least level 6 or 7.

There are exceptions however. If you chose Drow against Riki on the other team (which I wouldn't recommend) and you're laning against him, you may want to play somewhat more aggressive. Riki is a glass canon too and won't really come online until level 6 when he gets Permanent Invisibility. If he tries to get farm, make sure he'll pay for it. Still don't do anything stupid, don't go chase him all throughout the map. Just fire an occasional frost arrow when he gets too close and there are no last hits to get.

But in most cases it's best to play safe, at least until level 7. At that moment you'll have a massive agility bonus through Marksmanship and your Frost Arrows slow your enemies by 60%. As long as you keep your enemies at a distance, you will be extremely dangerous. You may want to start ganking a bit now, but do not neglect the fact that as a carry, you need your farm. So I tend to stay in lane and keep farming. Whenever an enemy is in a bad position, make sure he'll pay for it. The distance to his tower may not seem much, but when slowed by 60%, it will take him 2,5 times as long to get there and he'll probably be dead before he can get to safety.

You can pretty quickly clear creep waves, so you can start pushing a bit. Your dps will make short work of those towers when undefended. At the time you get a Helm of the Dominator, make sure you'll get an Alpha Wolf or Centaur Khan to help you. You may either keep them with you or stack ancient camps so you can farm them really fast and earn lots of gold to get your mayor items. Still, dont grow overconfident. You're still basically screwed when enemy heroes get too close, so make sure that won't happen. When facing invisibility heroes, always carry Dust of Appearance and cast it when your ult bonus gets cancelled.

You may want to gank mid and destroy the first tower or teleport to top to do the same. Just gain some more map control and keep farming. Whenever a team fight occurs, make sure you Silence the enemy at the start of it. When you have Black King Bar, use it. Don't fight at the front line, you're still squishy, especially when enemies get too close. Instead pick off your targets at a bit of a distance. When firing at one target, you do not need to fire Frost Arrows all the time. Their effect takes 1.5 seconds to wear off, but due to your extremely high agility, your attack speed is probably so high at this point that you can fire at least twice in this timeframe. So fire a Frost Arrow, fire a normal arrow, and cast a Frost Arrow again. This way you will benefit from your lifesteal as well and you save a bit of mana. As your agility keeps going up, make sure you fire as many normal arrows within those 1.5 seconds and then follow up with another Frost Arrow to prevent enemies from escaping.

Keep farming and picking of enemies that are alone, destroy a tower now and then and keep the pressure on the enemy. When possible take down their barracks. If that isnt possible because the enemy keeps defending they plateau tightly, keep farming a bit more to get your late game core items ( Manta Style, Black King Bar, Butterfly, Daedalus). You may even want to take down Roshan to get an Aegis of the Immortal. But then you really should push as a team and take down their towers and barracks. Although it may be very tempting, do not chase heroes down to their fountain for (yet another) rampage and focus on getting their main buildings down and win the game.

Basically there are a few core rules:
- Hold back a bit until at least level 7
- Farm, farm, farm
- Make sure no enemy heroes come too close!
- Kill those badly positioned enemy heroes
- Push those towers
- Cast silence at the start of every team fight and stay alive to deal max damage
- Take down their barracks when you can and end the game


This is where I see a lot of other guides fail terribly. Don't start with Boots of Speed or a Wraith Band. Boots are nice, but you need stats and healing as starting items, or you will be harassed out of lane, missing farm and experience. Wraith Band is a great item on Drow early on, but not directly from the start. You have 6 slots, use them. If you want the stats from a Wraith Band, buy Slippers of Agility and 3x Iron Branch. Gives you the same stats, but costs only 309 gold instead of 485, so it saves you 176 gold, which you can spend otherwise. That's about the price of 2 sets of Tango's, a Circlet or a Ring of Protection! I particularly recommend getting 3x Iron Branch it you're against a lot of nukers. In that case you can build them into a magic wand.

My old loadout ( Tango, Healing Salve, Slippers of Agility, Circlet and one Iron Branch isn't possible, since it now costs 3 gold more that you start with. This leaves you with a number of choices. You can let go of the Iron Branch, since it wasn't working towards anything else on its own. But since it provides you with such great stats for its price, you may want to consider other options. If you want to upgrade your Wraith Band into a Ring of Aquila, you can switch Circlet for a Ring of Protection. If you're up against enemies who rely on cheap spells (such as Bristleback), trade in your Circlet and get 3x Iron Branch to build into a Magic Wand. If you are the main carry in a tri-lane and therefore rather safe from harassment, you can skip the Healing Salve and get 2x Iron Branch on top of the original Iron Branch instead.

Upgrade slippers of agility into a wraith band early in the game though. And buy those boots with your early farm. Just don't get them from the start. Those boots can build into power treads. I advise getting a Band of Elvenskin first and Gloves of Haste last. Band of Elvenskin will not only give you attack speed, but also extra damage, give you and your allies 1 extra damage because of your aura and gives you approximately 1 armor. After completing Power Treads, I like to get a Morbid Mask. Gives 15% lifesteal as long as you don't use your Frost Arrows. Since your damage output is incredible, lifesteal is a great way to regenerate when needed. Hurt from a fight? Just hit a few creeps and you'll be up and running again. If you're on your own, you may want to spend 500 gold to upgrade your Wraith Band into a Ring of Aquila. If after building Power Treads, you still have Tango's left, you can first get the Ring of Aquila and then get your Morbid Mask. If you can get your laning partner to buy Ring of Basilius it is preferable since you can save your money and skip upgrading your Wraith Band into a Ring of Aquila. The aura's don't stack, so it's best to get some other items. And there's no extra bonus for you to have it instead of your laning partner, so as a carry it's best to encourage your sidekick to get it and spend your gold in another way.

You guys have convinced me to work a bot more on survivability at this point, so it's best to upgrade your Morbid Mask next. What to pick when upgrading?

Helm of the Dominator is never a bad choice and can build into Satanic late game. Extra component can be bought in the side shop, which saves your team some courier time. Gives you a bit more damage and armor (which you both have in abundance as long as enemies stay at range). It also gives you an active ability to control a neutral creep. This is greatly underestimated, because the right creep can make your life much easier. Get yourself an Alpha Wolf and he'll give you and your teammates an astonishing 30% damage bonus! This is in most cases my favorite creep to get.

On a more defensive note, you can also get a Centaur Khan, which can stun nearby enemies for 2 seconds (great for those pesky enemies who come to close) and increases your already insane attack speed by 15%. At least, that's what most sites/guides say, in game it seems to be just a flat 15 attack speed bonus, so it's not that great, compared to the Alpha Wolf... His stun may save your life from gap closers though. You can also get an Ogre Magi when facing enemy heroes who seem to be getting too close. Gives you an Ice Armor ability which can give you extra armor and slowes enemies attacking at melee range. There are other options, such as an armor or regen aura or ensnare ability, but I think these creeps have the best synergy with Drow. And as I said, this item can build into Satanic later on. This is why I put this option as a core item. In comparison to the Crystalys you want to build somewhat later, it almost gives you the same damage bonus with an Alpha Wolf on your side. The Alpha Wolf is easier to eliminate for the enemy, but his bonus also applies to your teammates. So it's quite a bit alike, but at a lower cost, while adding some armor, which protects you a bit more against enemies up close. So it's often better to get Helm of the Dominator before you build Crystalys.

You can also choose Mask of Madness. Gives you a little bit more lifesteal (17% vs 15%) and the possibility to fire even faster at the cost of being more susceptible to damage. Don't use it in a teamfight, since you will be focused on and killed quickly. But you can use it to regain you hp even faster when fighting creeps. People often avoid this item on Drow because its active makes her more squishy and you don't want that. But that's why I stated that you shouldn't use it in a team fight. As long as you don't, it will give you somewhat more lifesteal than Helm of the Dominator, but doesn't give you the armor and damage bonus. What I do like about Mask of Madness however is the 20% increase in movement speed. So although in most teamfights you shouldn't use your active, it may just save you from a large gank. Silence and run away with that extra 20% movement speed. It will save your life often... Makes for a great escape mechanism, so you won't need stuff like Shadow Blade anymore. The reason that I didn't list this item as a core item is that it works against you when using it wrong, and Helm of the Dominator gives you the posibility to get great neutral creeps and builds into a Satanic late game. So although I think Mask of Madness is in fact a great item on Drow, Helm of the Dominator should be your standard upgrade.

In most cases you'll need a Black King Bar to survive. First I listed it as a situational item, since there are lineups thinkable where BKB is not nescesary. But as most teams will make sure they won't be that one-sided not to have disablers/nukers in the team, in at least 90% of the cases you'll need BKB. So not needing it is more situational than needing it, so I upgraded it to core items. When building it, I would get Ogre Club first, because it gives a bit more survivability and that's the reason you want to get BKB in the first place. Then add Mithril Hammer and add the recipe last. When teamfights are happening at this point or you're laning against strong nukers/disablers, you need to get BKB now. Otherwise, you may want to get Yasha up first.

Then head towards Yasha. This item is great on almost every agility carry and Drow is no exception. It gives her extra agility, attack speed and last but not least: movement speed. This item can really save your life and builds nicely into Manta Style later on. Since Band of Elvenskin is more cost efficient then Blade of Alacrity (75 vs 100 gold per point of agility), get it first. You can buy it in the side shop, so that shouldn't be much of a problem.

First real luxury item is Manta Style. It gives you some nice stats, but more importantly, it gives you 2 illusions. They deal less damage than you do, but can still kill enemies off rather quickly. Not only does it boost your damage in a teamfight, it may also save your life. When you run away when being focussed on, they will keep dealing damage, covering your retreat. And if you can micromanage, you may just make it hard for your enemies to tell which one you are. Besides, it gives you a split second of immunity when casting it. That alone can save your life.

After getting Manta Style you may want to head towards Butterfly. Giving more agility, damage, attack speed (boosting your damage, armor and global bonus damage even further) and adds evasion. This will make you so much harder to kill. If enemies want to keep hitting you, they'll have to buy Monkey King Bar, which comes at a high price and may not have been their first choice. When building it, make sure you get the Talisman of Evasion first, because it gives you the evasion you need to survive. You may even get this item before upgrading Yasha into Manta Style when you're being focussed on too much by other right clickers and/or if you're not fond of Manta Style]'s illusions. Either way, when building towards Butterfly, you should always start off with a Talisman of Evasion.

Eaglesong may give a lot of agility, but yours is already sky high and it's not really cost efficient. Don't think about getting a Quarterstaff first. The 10 damage and attack speed come at a pretty high price for an agilty hero. In comparison: Blade of Alacrity gives you 10 agility for only 100 gold more. Gives you effectively the same, but also adds about 1,5 armor and gives you and all ranged teammates about 4 bonusdamage when Precision Aura is maxed out (which it probably is at this point). It's mainly an item for heroes who don't have agility as their main stat and want to upgrade attack speed and damage. It's probably best to build your Talisman of Evasion directly into Butterfly so you won't have to drop any items.

After that, work towards Crystalys. Gives you 35 flat damage and a 20% chance to deal 175% critical damage, which with your damage output is off the charts. Effectively getting you 35 damage and an average of 35% extra damage on attacks. I listed this after the other items, since they also help you with survivability: movement speed/illusions and stats from Yasha/ Manta Style, magic immunity from Black King Bar, evasion and stats from Butterfly and armor and a wide range of possible bonusses from creeps through Helm of the Dominator have potential to save your life and that's often more important than the great damage bonus from Crystalys. And as these items together with your Power Treads make a total of 5 items, in order to get Crystalys, you would have to sell Ring of Aquila. I think it may be better to upgrade most of your other slots to their maximum potential first. But when you have those items, you can surely get this item as it will melt away you enemies in just a few strikes. Also, get Blades of Attack first, as you can buy them in the side shop and they are more cost efficient than Broadsword. Crystalys builds into Daedalus, which will be the next item to get. If you're not done when getting it, you should be soon. Gives you 81 flat damage and a 25% chance to deal 240% damage. So compared to Crystalys it upgrades from 35 damage and an average damage increase of 35% to 81 damage and an average damage increase of 60%. This is just huge on Drow. Gives you crits of over 1000 damage. The only reason you might want to wait for it and get Manta Style and Butterfly first is that they provide you with some life saving features. In a way Daedalus does the same offcourse. Attack sometimes is the best defence, killing an enemy off before he can do something is a way not to get hit. But since the other items can save you from more situations and often add more to the team, they are to be chosen first.

If the game isn't finished yet, you can upgrade into Satanic. Gives you massive lifesteal, although at the cost of your neutral creep companion. This is also why I listed this one last. You may at any time get an Aegis of the Immortal. If the enemy has to kill you twice, you may have single handedly killed them before they succeed. You can even sell your Power Treads and get Boots of Travel to further increase your speed and global presence. But then you should really stop messing around and finish the game already! You've been waiting far too long!

Many people will think: why haven't I heard about Shadow Blade? It is a popular item on Drow in pubs and gives you an escape mechanism. I didn't list it as a core item, because its very situational. If you're in a team with Riki, Bounty Hunter or another stealth hero, you give your opponents all the more reason to buy Dust of Appearance or other counter items, thus reducing both your and his effectiveness. And they'll probably play more compact, which makes them harder to gank. So this 3k item can work against you in a way. Even worse: when being countered by Dust, you'll suffer from a 10% movement speed decrease, so this really can work against you, decreasing your escape options! And since it can be countered with only 180 gold of items, you can spend your gold in a better way. Yasha and Talisman of Evasion together are not that much more expensive, but can REALLY make a difference.

In the situational section, there are of course Dust of Appearance and Gem of True Sight when you're facing stealth heroes. The reason I listed Dust of Appearance as a core item is to stress my point that Drow is a great hero to carry it because of her stealth detection. Off course, you won't need it when no one on the enemy team has an invisibility ability or Shadow Blade.

Also in situational is Monkey King Bar to deal with evasion heroes like Phantom Assassin and Butterfly carriers. Only buy it when facing these heroes, otherwise you can spend your gold far better. Because of your aura, you may want to focus on getting extra damage through agility (also boosting your attack speed, armor and bonus damage). Also, since you already want Daedalus, it loses effectiveness. You can't trigger both the mini stun from MKB and the critical strike from Daedalus, for as far as I know. So having both will decrease their separate effectiveness. It's highly situational, because you'll only need it against Phantom Assassin and Butterfly carriers. PA is such a hard counter to Drow since she can get up close, cancelling her ult. And since Drow is squishy, one crit can intakill her. Just don't pick Drow when the enemy team has a Phantom Assasin. Otherwise you probably won't even make it to MKB, since the game might be over before that. You can get Monkey King Bar against Butterfly carriers though. Just don't build it otherwise and spend your gold more wisely.

Force Staff is in this list, because it can save you from gap closers like Tusk, Phantom Assassin, Riki and alike. It moves you 600 units away so you'll regain your ult when they end up next to you. Actualy you shouldn't want to play Drow when facing these guys, so this item shouldn't be an issue. But when you're stubborn enough to do so or if you randomed Drow, get this a bit early on to make sure you do have chances of survival.

Non lifesteal build

Im greatly in favor of lifesteal on Drow Ranger because of her high damage output, which enables you to regain lost health quickly as long as you dont fire your frost arrows. But some people would disagree and prefer not to use lifesteal. I tried to find the best alternative when not choosing lifesteal, although I wouldn't particularly recommend it.

The biggest reason not to take lifesteal might be because you want to use another orb-effect. But on Drow, most alternative orb effects just arent that great choices, so I didn't list them as new core items.

Eye of Skadi is very expensive and gives great stats. It slows your enemies which is nice. But hey, youre Drow Ranger, the master of slow. Not a great fit.

Desolator increases your damage and reduces the armor of enemies. This isnt bad, but I like to focus on damage increase through agility.

Mjollnir increases attack speed, damage and has a chance to chain. This is nice, but as mentioned before, I like to focus on increasing both attack speed and damage through agility.

Diffusal Blade gives stats and burns enemy mana. Downside is that it doesnt work in combination with frost arrows, which you often use when ganking. So you'd like to use both at the same time, which you can't. This reduces effectivity. Besides, Yasutsuna has pointed out that only melee illusions have manaburn, so even when paired with Manta Style, only you can burn mana. The manaburn of 20 or 36 isn't that much then. Given the enormous amount of damage you should deal by now, you'll probably only need a few hits to kill someone off. If you are attacking an enemy, the manaburn is probably the least of his problems. It won't be significant, since he'll be dead before he's empty. Not such a great item on Drow.

But when you really insist on skipping lifesteal on Drow, I think Hood of Defiance is the best alternative. It gives you 8 hp regen. This is less than the regen through lifesteal when attacking most of the time, but it may do. On the bright side: it also works when fleeing and is therefore a bit less risky. It also gives you +30% magic resistance, which is actually very helpful on Drow. Through her ult, she has quite a bit of armor to withstand physical attacks as long as people stay at a distance, but she is still squishy against nukes. This item may help her a bit with that. This build would be best as an alternative to the second build because it focusses on survivability against nukers.

When going for this build, I would suggest to upgrade your Boots of Speed into Tranquil Boots early on. This gives you quite a bit of regen at the start. Make room by upgrading your Iron Branches into a Magic Wand. Then you can work toward the Hood of Defiance. You want to disassemble your Tranquil Boots to re-use the Ring of Regen for the Hood of Defiance, use the Ring of Protection to upgrade a Wraith Band into a Ring of Aquila and upgrade the Boots of Speed into Power Treads. This may all be done at once when you have the right components.

But in what order should you get them?

Buy Band of Elvenskin and Gloves of Haste if you're not attacked that much and want to increase damage to farm. If you are up against strong nukers, a Cloak may be the best item to get first. If you are harassed to much even if you're in safe lane, get a Ring of Health and/or Ring of Regen. If you somehow are in need of mana, get a Sage Mask. You can't carry all these items at the same time, so choose wisely. When you've gathered them all, you can disassemble your Tranquil Boots and make sure all components are used in a good way.

Other than these items, there are no big changes to the standard builds. I wouldn't recommend this build, but if you insist on not taking lifesteal, you'd probably best do it this way.

Noobskill build

There are a lot of guides that list Shadow Blade as a core item. I disagree with that, because it can be easily countered. But at lower skill levels, people often won't really counter it. Dust of Appearance, Gem of True Sight and Sentry Wards are rarely seen and when they are bought, they often aren't used that effectively. So at that level Shadow Blade pretty much becomes a core item. It gives an escape mechanism, allows you to set up ganks undetected, move much more quickly, provides damage and gives bonusdamage on attack. There are only two reasons not to get Shadow Blade when new to the game: 1) When you have other invisible heroes on your team, buying it will decrease your seperate effectiveness. Even at noobskill, with two invisible heroes on the enemy team, your opponents will be buying counter items. They might not have bought them with only one invisible hero on the other team. 2) You may want to learn how to play properly and instead of learning a few tricks that may help you at the short term, you try to learn playing Drow as she is supposed to be played at once.

In order to buy Shadow Blade I had to ditch one of the other late game core items. I chose Daedalus because as Manta Style is such a must-have, I wanted to keep as much stat bases items a I could. Daedalus "only" boosts you damage (by a LOT) and has no other use. But you could switch it for another item when you want Daedalus in this build too.

Besides Shadow Blade, I listed Linken's Sphere. This might give me a few -1 votes, because it is a pretty bad item on Drow Ranger. Drow does not benefit that much from the HP and mana regen. HP regen never hurts, but her HP regen is pretty much covered by her lifesteal, her manaregen doesn't have to be this high, unless she autocasts her Frost Arrows or overuses her Silence, which she shouldn't. The stats are not bad, but just for the stats, Linken's Sphere is way too expensive. The reason to get it anyway is the spellblock ability that blocks a spell every 17 seconds. At a higher skill, you can get you magic immunity cheaper and more effective through Black King Bar. It may give you somewhat lesser stats, but it comes cheaper and its active ability is arguably far better. It provides you with magic immunity for a few seconds, which can save you during a teamfight if you weren't able to silence the enemy team for the entire duration. Linken's Sphere only blocks one spell every 17 seconds and as soon as the enemy team knows you got one, any team that communicates well can counter it fairly easily. The can use a cheap spell like Quill Spray or Wave of Terror to be eated by Linken's and then follow up with the heavy nukes and disables.

The thing is, at low skill, the enemy team probably won't communicate that much. They may not even notice you have Linken's Sphere that soon. So those who save their best nukes especially for you, may be disappointed. It's nice to make the enemy waste a Doom, Laguna Blade, Finger of Death and alike this way. Also, Linken's Sphere eats the spell, so they can't use it on any of your teammates.

Another reason to get Linken's instead of Black King Bar is the training you need in order to use BKB effectively. Its active has to be activated at the right time in order to have effect though. And when you've just started playing the game, timing this right is pretty hard. Many times you may only realise you should have used it when you're already waiting to respawn. You won't have this problem with Linken's Sphere, since it will automatically block a spell every 17 seconds.

Note that all this is just suited for starting players, people who are new to the game, playing against others that are new to the game. It is easily countered at a higher level. Even against new players, I might suggest learning to get it right at once and take another build. But I must admit that these items may have their use on Drow early on.

Plan B

There are times when thing arent working out the way they should be. You may have been a bit stubborn and took Drow Ranger although there were strong counter heroes in the enemy team. Or your opponent may be a far better player and he is frustrating your game. You get harassed out of lane and/or killed early and as they are a few levels ahead, you can't really handle them. You have a bad laning partner who is feeding/stealing farm/pushing the lane/wont help you get a sure kill/just runs away when youre being ganked although he has a stun to save you etc etc. Your team may have little synergy and/or isn't playing as a team, while the other team is working well together. Or maybe even your lane is doing pretty well, but mid is feeding and the opposing mid player who is now a few levels ahead is coming to gank you and you'll be dead in mere seconds. Or like me sometimes, there's a gap between theory and practice. I think this guide is rather adequate, but playing it like it's supposed to is easier said than done for people like me.

There are quite a few situations in which things aren't working out the way they should and youre falling behind on farm and experience. Sometimes just switching lanes with someone else can make enough of a difference, but often it won't. In most cases, the enemy team will snowball and theres little you can do, but I also played games where we were able to turn things around. At least you want to try, but you may have to go to plan B. The main builds have some expensive and great items listed, but you may not have gold to get them. Fortunately some of these items can be build in small pieces, but this isn't the case for all items.

Of course the starting items are the same. You're not planning to fall behind or anything! The early game items are also pretty much the same, but by then you noticed things aren't working out the way they were supposed to. The first towers may be down and your relatively safe moving space is limited. At this point (actually at any point of the game), working together as a team is more important than what you do individually. Don't go off on a far journey, defend the base and hug your towers. Make sure you fight together as a team and try to pick them of one by one. When the enemy creeps come close, get some farm.

But this way you wont be able to farm too much freely and you probably can't afford the expensive items. Saving for them may take too long and if youre dying once in a while this wont help your purse either. Get some cheap stat items to improve your survivability instead. Get a second Wraith Band, and possibly a Bracer which can be built into Drum of Endurance, one of the better cost efficient stat items, which also gives speed to survive. Usually this item is built by supports, but if youre low on farm, they should be so even more. Otherwise you're doing something wrong. So you may just have to get this yourself. When facing invisibility heroes, always carry Dust of Appearance. You may be the best carrier with your stealth detection, but you dont have to buy it yourself. If possible, ask a support to buy it for you. Since you probably wont be able to safely go to the jungle to get yourself an Alpha Wolf or other nice neutral creep, upgrading into Helm of the Dominator wont have too much priority and it may be the last item to add to your midgame core. But if you can go to the jungle rather safely, make sure you get this a bit earlier on.

So you mid game core consists of Power Treads, Helm of the Dominator, Bracer/ Drum of Endurance and possibly Dust of Appearance. When facing spellspammers, you also have a Magic Wand and the other slots should be filled with Wraith Bands. If no one else on your team has a Ring of Basilius, you may want to upgrade one of them to a Ring of Aquila. If you make it this far, you may still have a chance to turn the game around. With your cheap items, you may be able to farm a bit and pick your enemies off one by one, thus gaining gold, hopefully turning the game around a bit.

When you have enough gold to get Yasha at once, sell a Magic Wand or a Wraith Band to pay for it. Since all your slots are filled up with cheap but effective items, you may want to upgrade Yasha into Manta Style first. It can save your life and increase your damage output in teamfights. Next up is either Crystalys or a Talisman of Evasion to build into Butterfly, depending on how hard you're targeted in your guerilla ganks. If not focused on too much, get Crystalys first, otherwise you may want a Talisman of Evasion. Especially in the last case, try to build directly into Butterfly instead of getting Crystalys first as you have to sell a nice item to make room for the slot. If you were to get both at a point, try to upgrade Crystalys into Daedalus. By now, you probably have evened out the score a bit. Start pushing all lanes back a bit to prevent the towers you have from falling to creeps and then try to push as a team. Make sure enough people have a Town Portal Scroll on them to defend when being counter pushed.

When successfully pushing, don't fall into temptation to chase enemy heroes to their fountain. You actually never really should, just get their barracks down. Kills wont win your game, getting their rax will greatly benefit your chances. Just make sure you focus on bringing the enemy ancient down asap, dont go on a detour. If the enemy team has let you come this far, they will be wondering why they ever let it come so far. The answer probably is that they've grown overconfident and cocky and thought they could kill you one by one. Because if they had been playing as a team, the chance of winning the game yourself would be next to none. Anyway, I have played games like these. After 15 minutes I was at about 1-7-1 or something, and (actually too late) we went for plan B. Because the enemy team failed to push on as a team, we were able to turn it around and we won and I ended up with a 13-9-7 score or something.

Lets hope you wont need this build, but when you do, be flexible enough to change to plan B and hope you are lucky enough to face an enemy that lets you get back in the game.

Forbidden items

There are a lot of items you shouldn't get as Drow Ranger. Vladmir's Offering is self-explanatory. Only gives lifesteal for melee heroes. You're ranged so don't waste your gold.

Dagon isn't nescecary. Your damage output is already so high, you really don't need it and can use your gold far better.

Aghanim's Scepter doesn't add to your ult and its stats are not that cost efficient. Waste of gold.

Divine Rapier may be fun, but would be a bad choice. Your damage is already sky high, but being squishy as you are, you may just waste your own game when being targeted. Or even suicide by attacking someone with Blademail... Don't do such a stupid thing and get yourself some better and risk free items.

Quelling Blade is an item I sometimes see in Drow guides as a starting item. Don't get it. Its 12% damage bonus against creeps isn't much. If you want more damage to enlarge your last hit/deny window, get more agility. Also has much more uses. This is just a waste of gold.

Also Refresher Orb. It will reset countdown on your abilities, but as Silence is the only ability that can be on cooldown, this is a terrible waste of money. Silence is great in a team fight, casting it twice would be nice. But not at this cost, not at all.

Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade is a bad item on you too. Only 10% chance to bash is way too unreliable and just won't trigger enough to be worth it. The flat damage bonus is ok, but you'd better get more damage trough agility (to boost attack speed/armor and global bonus dmg as well) or real damage items like Daedalus.

Battle Fury won't do you much good. You're ranged so you don't benefit from cleave and as said before, you don't want to focus on flat damage. Bad item on any ranged hero and Drow is no exception.

Radiance is bad too. Flat damage won't do you that much good and the burn damage is better on someone who wants to be in the midst of a team fight and can survive there for some time. If you were to do such a thing, you're dead in mere seconds. Besides, it's components are expensive, so you would waste valuable time farming for it.

Sange and Yasha is another upgrade from Yasha that you might get instead of Manta Style. Gives you somewhat more strength, maim and a slight increase of movement speed for a lesser price. But I would greatly recommend Manta Style, since it also boosts your other stats and gives you illusions. These can also deal a lot of damage by then and provide you with somewhat of an escape mechanism. You don't benefit from maim that much, since you already slow enemies down a lot. The only reason to get this instead of Manta Style is when you're not skilled enough to use the illusions in a good way. But then again, it's better to learn to do so instead of taking an item that had far less uses.

There are off course more items that wouldn't fit Drow, but these would probably be among the worst. Besides, often all the items you would ever want are in the build itself.

Friends and foes

Any support/ganker who can stun, slow, heal or increase damage without stealing your farm.
-Special mention for Vengeful Spirit though: She reduces armor with Wave of Terror and increases damage with Vengeance Aura, so she can greatly boost your damage output. Can stun your target with a Magic Missile to initiate or save you from an enemy that came to close. And she can get an enemy back in range of save your *** by Nether Swap. And as she is relatively item independent, she can just let you farm and make sure she denies/harasses. Just a wonderful combination.

Basically anyone who can come up close and take/dodge a few hits, like Tusk, Riki, Bounty Hunter, Queen of Pain, Phantom Assassin, Lycanthrope, Brewmaster etc.

Special mentions to Clockwerk and Shadow Demon.

If youre up against them, reconsider picking Drow Ranger. If you go for it though, make sure you have a Force Staff or possibly a Shadow Blade.


That will be all for now. Hope this guide will help you to master this pretty nice hero. Please vote up or leave constructive criticism to help me improve my guide. Thanks to all who have provided me with feedback, it's helping me to make the guide even better.

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