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Hamstertamer's guide to ganker / semi-carry Wind

December 20, 2014 by Hamstertamer
Comments: 31    |    Views: 260183    |   


Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4

Arteezy style (blink build)

DotA2 Hero: Windranger


Purchase Order

Example item progression

Starting items (offlane)

Starting items (mid)

For offlane use (choose one)

Bottle if mid (or even if not mid)

Early game

Mid game core

F*** magic (choose one)

Bashing arrows (YES it's legit)

Late game options

Situational / utility

Possible alternatives to maelstrom

Please don't

you're trolling and you know it



Hero Skills

Shackleshot

4 8 9 10

Powershot

2 3 5 7

Windrun

1 12 13 14

Focus Fire

6 11 16

Talents

15 17 18

Introduction




Windranger is generally considered to be the jack-of-all-trades of DotA.

She can have her place in any team, lane anywhere, play virtually any role (support, pusher, ganker, utility/initiator, semi-carry...), and she has an extremely flexible item build and playstyle.

...or, at least, that's the theory.

In practice, Windranger is a hero who really struggles to have game impact. In lots of games you see, she can feel a bit like a Rubick who has stolen Shukuchi : annoyingly hard to kill, but not very useful. Sure, Shackleshot is a great stun that can be gamechanging in a lot of ganks and teamfights if you use it well, but honestly...it appears that it's pretty much the only thing going for the hero. Let's be honest, nobody picks the ginger girl anymore, and she's sitting at some abysmal winrate that I don't even want to mention here.

So...what can be done? Does she have to be forgotten and give up her place to some overpicked "in the meta" heroes like Mirana?

Nah, no way. Something has to be done about that. This is what motivated me to write this guide.

So, to get it out of the way, this guide focuses primarily on playing Windranger as a play-making ganker, similarily to a Mirana or a Puck, who progressively turns into a semi-carry with adequate farm.

Why play her as a ganker/semi-carry? Because this is what she's the best at honestly. There are a lot of ways of playing her but in my opinion this is definitely the role she excels at. I'll try to explain why in the following.

While reading I recommend this really cool theme song :



Have a nice read!

Pros / cons of Windranger

Pros:

+ A two-man Shackleshot usually means a won teamfight
+ Strong long-range counterpush with Powershot (think Keeper of the Light)
+ Extremely flexible laning. Can lane almost anywhere and fit in every lineup.
+ Great pusher. Focus Fire melts towers in seconds with proper items
+ Strong at any stage of the game, from early game (good lane presence) to mid game (good ganking/initiation/push potential) to late game (semi-carry and disabler). Hero starts off strong and never drops off.
+ 6 seconds of immunity to right-clicks! Counters right-click heroes like no other.
+ Insane DPS potential from Focus Fire, especially after the 6.81 buffs.
+ Amazing ganker with pretty sick snowball potential. Can solo-kill almost any hero with proper farm - or just set up ganks for her team.
+ High skill cap & very fun to play!



Cons:

- No armor. Very squishy in the early game.
- Only disable/initiation skill Shackleshot is unreliable
- Both level dependent and farm dependent
- Escape is countered by silences, heavy slows and long stuns/roots
- Magic nukes ruin your day
- Only defensive skill is easily countered by Monkey King Bar
- Purely single-target damage. Can only focus a single hero in a teamfight
- Huge kiting issues when using Focus Fire (enemies can just walk away when you ult them)
- Cannot deal any damage in the mid-late game without DPS items.
- Mediocre utility hero (explained below)
- Not a hard carry. Don't try to be one, it doesn't work ^^
- Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

Why play Wind this way?



So why are you playing carry Windranger you n00b? Isn't she a support?

Well...she can be played as a support, and this is how people used to see her at one point, but you have huge issues with playing her as a hard support which makes her more like a semi-support. While she can support a lane or roam relatively well, at the core she's still a pretty greedy hero : very level-dependent and farm-dependent as well.

The main downside of playing a support-y Wind is that she's a pretty terrible utility hero. If you play a "no-damage" Wind with only utility items, like Mekansm/ Force Staff/ Pipe of Insight/ Scythe of Vyse etc, then at some point you'll realize that you have *zero* game impact, and trust me, this will hurt. And this will hurt *hard*.

Why? Because just look at her skillset. What can a Windranger do without farm? Well...she can Shackleshot people. And that's it ; she's basically a walking stun. Her skillset actually offers extremely little in terms of utility to her team. If you go for a full utility build like Mekansm/ Force Staff/ Scythe of Vyse on Windranger...you're just a walking shackle with a good escape. So with no farm, not only will you deal no damage, but you won't have much utility from your skillset either.

Just compare what Windranger brings to her team as a "walking Shackleshot" support to what other heroes would bring to their team if you built them as full utility heroes with a build such as Arcane Boots/ Mekansm/ Force Staff/ Scythe of Vyse :

- Mirana : Supprot Mirana not only has her stun Sacred Arrow, she can initiate teamfights with Moonlight Shadow. Support Mirana >> support Wind.
- Puck : He's hard to kill and Dream Coil can initiate teamfights
- Bounty Hunter : Able to scout for ganks during the whole game, give movement speed and bonus Track gond to his whole team. Great setup hero.
- Gyrocopter : Great burst damage in lane for early kills, and good nuking power in teamfights. Flak cannon isn't that horrible with low farm either.
- Invoker : Who says you can't make arcane boots/mek/pipe on Invoker? He still has his 10 spells and all the teamfight presence that goes with it.

And you could go on and on...tons of heroes who are NOT supports provide way more utility than Windranger. Essentially if you need an utility offlaner you have far better choices than picking Wind, you'll get way more utility from a real utility hero like Dark Seer or Magnus.

On the other hand, the 6.81/6.82 buffs make Windranger extremely strong as a single target damage-dealer. Focus Fire, which used to be one of the worst ultimates in the game, got such a huge series of buffs that it would be foolish now to disregard this skill, which can really be used as the core of her playstyle. It's now perfectly viable to play her as a semi-carry : able to blow up any single hero in a few seconds with her ultimate, a farmed Wind is really nothing to laugh at

So I think you get my point : Windranger is a right-click hero, not a utility hero. You can build 50% right-click and 50% utility on her and it'll work, but if you go 100% utility then...mind the fall :)

This is how I like to look at her skillset :

- Shackleshot/ Powershot : disabler/utility
- Windrun and Focus Fire : ganker and semi-carry

Played at her full potential, Windranger is a very mobile and elusive burst damage dealer/disabler, who excels at picking off single heroes, at split pushing, and at focusing down key targets in teamfights quickly. She's basically Queen of Pain, Storm Spirit or Puck in the way she plays. Or Nature's Prophet : like Furion, some intelligence heroes are just meant for right-clicking, and Furion doesn't even have an ult that gives him maximum attack speed.

Which doesn't mean she's not a support. She can be. But she's more like the kind of support who wants to jump into fights and burst people down, like Venomancer, Skywrath Mage, Crystal Maiden, Lina, Witch Doctor or Shadow Demon, and NOT the kind of defensive support who just sits in the back and pops Mek like Dazzle. As long as you keep that in mind Wind support is OK.

Which brings us to...

Skills and skill builds

Shackleshot


Shackles the target to an enemy unit or tree in a line directly behind it. The two units are stunned for the duration. If no unit or tree is present, the stun duration is reduced to 0.75.


Range: 800
Duration: 1.5/2.25/3/3.75 seconds
Maximum shackle angle: 26 degrees
Maximum shackle length: 575
Mana cost: 90/100/110/120
Cooldown: 12 seconds


- Shackleshot is your stun. You use it...exactly the same way as more straightforward stuns like Storm Hammer really. This is how you initiate ganks and teamfights. Shackle is your only initiation skill, at least until you get a Blink Dagger.

- If you shackle a hero to a creep or a tree, it will stun him for 3.75 seconds. If you manage to shackle 2 heroes together, it witll stun them both for 3.75 seconds! It's one of the best stuns in the game. It also has a great cast range. Of course it's also pretty unreliable : you need to be aligned with your two targets to land it.

- If your target is standing in front of trees, throw a shackle at him to shackle him to the trees. Same thing if he's standing in front of creeps.

- If your target is standing in front of another hero, throw the shackle at him to stun the 2 heroes together. Of course it's the best way to use shackleshot. Always try to initiate teamfights with 2-hero shackles like this.

- If your target is standing *behind* creeps, throw a shackle at the *creep*, and it will latch to the hero behind the creep. It's extremely useful to go for this kind of shackles in lane whenever possible. When playing either support or solo mid, a good shackle to a creep can easily lead to a kill.

- Your target won't be always standing conveniently in front of trees or creeps (^^). That's why you need a positionning item on Windranger to get the right angle for your shackle, either Blink Dagger or Force Staff.

- Blink Dagger is the best way to land good shackles : blink in so that you align yourself with 2 enemy heroes, and throw your shackle to stun them both. With a blink you always have the right angle and you can initiate teamfights reliably and get those 2-man shackles.

- Force Staff can be used to help you get good shackles as well, such as forcestaffing an enemy hero in front of a tree. If you just want to get the best shackles in the world, Blink Dagger is really the way to go though.

- Practising this skill is a very important part of playing a successful Windranger. Wind is best played as an initiator : her main (only?) contribution to teamfights is landing 2-hero Shackleshots, and looking for good shackles is pretty much the only thing you'll be doing in teamfights - at least until your Focus Fire DPS starts kicking in.


Powershot


Windranger charges her bow for up to 1 second for a single powerful shot. The arrow deals damage to enemy units and destroys trees in its path. Damage is greatest on first target, and reduces by 10% for each target it pierces thereafter. If the channeling is cancelled early, the shot will still occur but deal less damage.


Range: 2600
Damage: 120/200/280/360
Mana cost: 90/100/110/120
Cooldown: 9 seconds


- Powershot is your AOE nuke. 360 damage at max level makes it one of the strongest non-ultimate nukes in the game.

- In lane, it's mainly used for farming and harassing. Whether you're solo offlane or solo mid, you can auto-attack the creeps to put them below your Powershot damage, and then clear the whole wave with a well-timed powershot. This guarantees that you get the last hits without the opponents being able to deny your creeps. Of course, try to catch the enemy hero(es) in the powershot if possible for some free harass.

- If going aggressive in lane, your combo is typically Shackleshot -> Powershot. Even if you "miss" your shackle, the (mini) stun duration is enough to hit your powershot. The shackle guarantees that the powershot hits.

- Powershot is a great skillshot to snipe running enemies.

- The main utility of Powershot is for pushing and especially counterpushing. When the enemy team is pushing you can and should spam this skill like hell to clear the creepwave and harass their heroes.

- Powershot gives vision along the path and destroys trees. You can do a lot of interesting things with this such as scouting Roshan, breaking Nature's Prophet's Sprout (very useful for ganking him), creating escape paths through the jungle, scouting the fog before a teamfight breaks out, preventing enemies from juking by getting vision of them and clearing the trees that block your vision...

- Powershot is mainly an early game skill and drops off hard in the late game as a damage source (it still keeps its utility though). Don't forget that Windranger is a right-click hero and not a nuker.


Windrun


Increases movement speed and adds evasion from all physical attacks, while slowing movement of nearby enemies.

Bonus movement speed: 50%
Enemy slow: 8%/16%/24%/30%
Slow Radius: 300
Evasion: 100%
Duration: 3/4/5/6 seconds
Mana cost: 100
Cooldown: 15 seconds


- At maximum level, for 6 seconds you gain 100% evasion, (almost) maximum movement speed, and every enemy in a 300 radius around you gets slowed by 30%. This is 6 seconds of "immunity" to any kind of right-click damage, essentially a free Ghost Scepter that doesn't prevent you from attacking.

- The evasion works exactly like the evasion from Butterfly. It allows you to dodge almost any kind of physical damage, not only right-clicks, but also tower hits, Death Ward or Mass Serpent Ward. However it does not work against Exorcism, the main hits from Omnislash, and some things like Headshot or Desolate cannot be evaded either. Since 6.82 it works against Chronosphere though!

- Windrun is NOT an escape skill!

- I mean, it CAN be used as an escape, but this is not the main purpose of this skill. Windrun is mainly a manfight skill against right-click heroes, a chasing skill, and a slow. Windrun is meant to be used offensively. If you use it only as an escape you're missing out on the strength of the skill completely. The whole point of this skill is to pull out some extremely aggressive plays and get away with it, a bit like Puck's Phase Shift.

- Example usage of Windrun : you have Blink Dagger, and the enemy Viper is standing next to his tower at half HP. You blink in just next to him, Windrun immediately, and Focus Fire him. Viper can't fight back because you have evasion, the tower can't hit you either because of the evasion, and he can't run away because he is slowed by 30% and you have +50% movement speed. Sure he can ult you but it won't do much honestly. Then you can just right-click him down under his own tower : Easy kill. Not many other heroes can just tower dive a Viper like that :)

- Windrun disjoints projectiles. If you see ranged attacks or tower shots coming to you you can just Windrun and you will evade them.

- Never underestimate the slow from this skill. Any enemy standing around you in a 300 radius gets slowed by 30%. And the effect persists for 2 seconds after leaving the radius. Windrun is your second disable, in addition to Shackleshot. Use it to your advantage. The main purpose of Windrun is to prevent enemies from escaping, not to escape yourself - Windrun is your best way to keep enemies in range of your Focus Fire.

- Windrun makes you completely immune to tower hits for 6 seconds. Dive those towers!

- Of course you can ALSO use it as an escape. This is what allows you to solo offlane. And it has a nice synergy with Blink Dagger because it allows you to dodge auto-attacks until your blink goes off cooldown after 3 seconds.

- Like all evasion, Monkey King Bar counters it. Watch out for MKB's in the enemy team!


Focus Fire


Windranger channels the wind, gaining maximum attack speed on the enemy unit or structure, although with reduced attack damage. Once Windranger switches targets, the speed is lost, however the attack speed resumes when attacking the original unit or structure.

Duration: 20 seconds
Damage reduction: 50%/40%/30% (30%/15%/0% with Aghanim's Scepter)
Attack speed: set to 400 (maximum attack speed)
Mana cost: 75/100/125
Cooldown: 60 seconds (15 seconds with Aghanim's Scepter)


- Insane DPS on a single target. A really fun ultimate that allows you to burst people down in a few seconds with proper items, and scales extremely well into late game. It can also be used on towers, making Windranger one of the fastest pushers in the game.

- A bit of math : it gives you *maximum* attack speed, i.e 600 attack speed. Since Windranger already has an improved base attack time of 1.5, she essentially attacks faster than any other hero ever will. According to these formulas

Attack Time = BAT / AS
Attacks per Second = AS / BAT

you get :

- 0.25 seconds per attack or
- 4 attacks per second

This is the reason why orbs like Maelstrom are so good on her, or why Windranger is perhaps the only ranged hero on which Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade are viable.

- The damage reduction only applies to your attack damage. Item procs like Maelstrom, Diffusal Blade or Monkey King Bar do full damage at any level. Another reason why Maelstrom is good on her, because the damage isn't reduced.

- Focus Fire used to be completely disregarded in old Windranger guides, and some old guides/gameplays don't even skill it! That's because the skill used to have a punishing 200/300/400 manacost. Now the manacost is almost negligible in comparison, so there is no reason to NOT skill this early, either at level 6 or at level 10 maximum. *Please* don't wait until level 13 to skill it, this build is completely outdated now.

- Aghanim's Scepter used to be a pretty weak item on Windranger with only the cooldown reduction. But since the 6.81 patch it heavily reduces the damage penalty, and even removes it completely at max level! Honestly, Focus Fire really used to suck in previous versions, but now it has been heavily buffed to make up for it. Focus Fire + Aghanim's Scepter is a very strong ultimate now, so take advantage of it!


Skill build


The skillbuild you will almost always use on Windranger is to max Powershot first, Shackleshot second, and Windrun last. You max your nuke first and your stun second. Of course always take one value point in Windrun just for the early-game escape and movement speed boost, especially in the offlane.

When to skill your ultimate is a bit controversial, essentially you have the choice between skilling it at level 6 (best choice for pushing early towers or dealing some pretty legit early damage in ganks), or waiting until level 10 to skill it. Never skill Focus Fire later than level 10 ; there are old builds that recommend skilling it at level 13 but they are completely outdated now since the heavy mana cost and damage buffs.
Personally I recommend taking Focus Fire at level 6. The damage is far from negligible and the ultra-low mana cost makes it pretty spammable.

Alternative *very situational* skillbuild : Maxing Windrun second instead of Shackleshot is legit in a difficult offlane OR in some mid matchups against right-click heavy heroes. You max Powershot first and Windrun second. If you're soloing mid against pure right-click heroes like Viper, Huskar, Shadow Fiend, Razor, Templar Assassin, Invoker etc, 6 seconds of complete immunity against right-clicks is better than a slightly longer stun. With a max Windrun you can manfight them indefinitely, slow them, and pretty much tower dive them at full HP and get away with the kill :)

Laning and role


Windranger has essentially 3 possible roles in her team : Solo offlane (#3), Solo mid (#2), or rich support/roamer (#4). Soloing the safe lane is extremely good as well. Do not play her as a #1 hard carry, it's terrible.

Always try to get a solo lane if you're not playing a support role. She will get more experience this way, and Wind can solo against dual lanes and trilanes very effectively. It's better for you, and it's better for your team who can now pick a jungler or a trilane.

Here's a breakdown of these roles :

Solo offlane

Solo offlane is Windranger's primary role. If you're new to the hero it's really the best way to play her.

Back then when Wind was actually picked in competitive (^^), she was played almost only as an offlaner.

Farm with your high base damage and your long-range nuke Powershot and just Windrun away when in trouble. With a good Observer Ward you should be safe. Harass their safe lane carry when he comes to last hit. You can trade hits with most supports who come to harass you. Don't play greedy, you just want experience and farm, you're not there to get kills.
If you're against a particluarily dangerous trilane, just play it safe : sit back and farm from a distance with Powershot.

Solo mid

Warning : Only play Windranger mid if you have some experience with the hero. There are risks in playing her mid, and it can go extremely wrong if you're new to her. The risk is pretty obvious : your team having a useless mid. If going mid you're supposed to make things happen for your team and carry the mid-game, so you need to know what you're doing. It's best to play this build as a solo offlane first and only do it mid once you get used to it.

In the mid lane, she does extremely well against right-click heroes, even the most annoying ones such as Viper, Huskar, Sniper, Lone Druid, Razor or Clinkz. If you're up againast a right-clicker the lane is generally an easy win.

However she can have issues as a solo mid against heavy burst damage heroes such as Clockwerk, Mirana, Queen of Pain, Puck, Lina, Earth Spirit or Storm Spirit. Be extremely careful in these kind of matchups.

Heavy harassers can also be a pain, like Skywrath Mage, Silencer, Death Prophet and friends.

Windranger mid plays basically like Puck mid, as a snowballing ganker/initiator.

Support/roamer

Support Windranger is both very good and very bad. Very good because the early-game utlility of Shackleshot and Powershot is undeniable. A good shackle + powershot combo is a great way to get kills in lane, it's also really good for roaming. She's decent at harassing. But it's also very bad because you're left with an underleveled and underfarmed Windranger, who is basically reduced to being a walking Shackleshot, has pretty low game impact except for her stun, and drops off really hard in the mid-late game if she can't find farm.

Focus Fire is mainly useful for for pushing towers, the DPS on heroes can be a bit lacking. On the other hand she's one of the very rare supports who has an escape skill, so this can be of some use.

Trilanes are pretty bad for her, dual lanes are OK, roaming is really fun but you need at least level 3 or something. You had better be good at landing shackles because that's all you're left with :)

Items



The idea between Windranger's item build is pretty simple. You need a positioning item, and then you build damage, with the eventual BKB/Linkens to avoid stuns.
Having an additonal disable can always be useful. Mana regen is always nice to have but it's not necessary as long as you don't spam Powershot too much.
You can definitely build utility items on Wind, in that case you should keep a balance between utility and damage items.


Early game



If you're going offlane, Tango + Healing Salve are recommended because you should expect to be harassed a lot. Good regen allows you to trade hits with supports.
If going mid a single Tango is more than enough because you're rushing Bottle anyways.


Double Clarity is recommended if you're soloing a sidelane, especially the offlane. It allows you to spam Powershot a lot more for farming/harass.
You can skip the clarities if going mid because you'll have Bottle for regen anyways.


Mainly useful if you're soloing the offlane.
Gives you mana regen to spam Powershot and allows you to have non-zero armor which is always useful to avoid feeding :P


Another great option if you're soloing the offlane, especially in a difficult lane.
Soul Ring gives you infinite mana to spam Powershot in lane. Just sit back and spam your nuke from a safe distance to farm and harass.


Bottle used to be an item for solo mid heroes.
...And then came the 6.82 patch. Now it's core on every hero ^^
Even if you're offlane or support Wind, bottle is really good.


Magic Stick/ Magic Wand are good on any hero but especially on Wind who really benefits from the mana regen and the burst heal in early engagements.


Phase Boots are your go-to boots on Windranger. The +24 damage are exactly what she needs for Focus Fire, and the movement speed boost is extremely useful on her as well for positioning, chasing and escaping.
There is really no reason to get Power Treads because you need damage and not attack speed. Tranquil Boots are just way too defensive, you don't need regen that bad.
Arcane Boots are the only possible alternative to phase, but I'd only recommend arcanes if you're playing support or if you're getting a Mekansm.



Mid game



Maelstrom is insanely good on Windranger. Typically it should be your first damage item. Not only does Focus Fire allow you to get a ton of lightning procs, even better, the lightning damage is NOT reduced because the damage reduction only applies to your physical damage, it does not reduce the damage from item procs. So even a level 1 Focus Fire will do the full lightning damage. It also gives you good AOE presence in teamfights ; your Focus Fire is no longer purely single target.
Maelstrom is also great as a farming item, one or two lightning procs + Powershot allow you to clear a creep wave easily.
Don't bother upgrading to Mjollnir, there is no point, the Maelstrom is enough.


The best item in the game. A core item on every hero ^^
Blink Dagger has an amazing synergy with Windranger because Wind is one of the most position-dependent heroes in the game. Blink is your best initiation, ganking or even escape item. Land the best Shackleshots, jump on any hero in the enemy team to solo kill him, escape ganks, etc - the plays you can make with this item are endless.
Typically get blink just after Maelstrom because maelstrom is a farming item, but blink rush before maelstrom works as well.
Discussion of blink versus other positioning items


The more defensive alternative to Blink Dagger. Not as good as blink to land perfect Shackleshots, but better for escaping.
With a forcestaff ganking you is almost impossible.
Discussion of forcestaff versus other positioning items


Windranger's Aghanim's Scepter got a huge buff in 6.81 which makes it a very strong item on Wind.
The item is a must if you're trying to deal any kind of damage with this hero.
Typically get it after your first damage item.


You need BKB on Windranger. Trust me, you really do.
Black King Bar is heavily recommended in about 3/4 of your games.
Wind has absolutely no defense against stuns and nukes, and her playstyle requires her to get in *close range* in order to use Focus Fire. Against a team with any kind of stuns and nukes, in teamfights you'll just get chainstunned and blown up in seconds if you don't have one.
Black King Bar + Windrun makes you (almost) immune to everything for 6 seconds. Take advantage of this to deal your Focus Fire damage with impunity.


Linken's Sphere is a possible alternative to Black King Bar if you're mainly facing a few single-target disables, especially those that go though BKB.
A good item against Legion Commander, Beastmaster, Pudge, Vengeful Spirit, Naga Siren, Bloodseeker or Batrider.
Also good against single-target stuns in general like Sven and friends.


What the hell? Skull Basher on a ranged hero?
Well...if basher is to be viable on a ranged hero it has to be Windranger : with the maximum attack speed from Focus Fire and her 1.5 base attack time, she attacks faster than any other hero in the game.
But what can you do with only 10% bash chance? Well, actually, there's another hero with "only" 10% bash chance : Troll Warlord with his berserker rage. And Troll is still known for perma-bashing enemies with his insane attack speed. So it's way better that you might think.
So...how much does Windranger bash?
Windranger with Skull Basher keeps her target stunned 31% of the time.
For the math :

math behind basher on wind

So, is it worth it? Well, frankly, basher Wind is pretty much the only viable ranged bash in the game, so it's good for the originality alone.
But honestly since this bash is basically the equivalent to a 31% slow (because a stunned hero doesn't move ^^), it's similar to the disable from Eye of Skadi (35% slow), but it's better than Skadi because the target is actually stunned about one third of the time, making it better for manfights.


An additional disable. Especially useful in the Force Staff build where you still have pretty big kiting issues. Solves your mana issues completely.
Main use of this item during ganks is to cyclone enemies in the air and allow your team to catch up to them.
Use it on yourself to dispel silences ; then Windrun away.


Another disable, especially useful in the Force Staff build. Prevents enemies from just walking away from your Focus Fire.
Pretty underrated item that gives a 60% slow for 4 seconds with an insane cast range and almost no cooldown - this active is really good.
However it only works against heroes with no mobility skills and without a Force Staff.


An item that is a bit overbuilt on semi-carry Windranger. It's perfectly legit but it's only a situational item - it's definitely not core by any means.
Only recommended if you need the silence. Either you want to gank heroes with escape skills like Ember Spirit or Weaver, or you want to silence annoying disablers like Earthshaker or Lion - in both cases it's a good pickup ; but if you just want burst damage honestly there are infinitely better items.
Biggest problem of Orchid is that it doesn't prevent enemies from simply walking away from Focus Fire. Therefore it works well in the Blink Dagger build but notably less so in the Force Staff build.


A great snowaballing item. Perfectly viable as a alternative to Maelstrom for your first damage item.
Best to pick it up early, and a strong choice if facing low-armor enemies. Melts supports in a few hits.
Also really good for pushing.



Late game



Arguably the best DPS item in the game.


Less DPS that Daedalus, but it counters evasion, and the mini-stuns prevent enemies from TP'ing out after you used your shackle.


Turn enemy heroes into pigs and start doing some animal abuse.
Of course it does far less damage that real damage items, but the disable is a great way to keep enemies in range of Focus Fire. With a sheep you can probably solo kill any single hero, not to mention the utility of the item for initiation - especially used with Blink Dagger.


Your luxury upgrade to Skull Basher : more damage and the active stun.
The active is melee range so best use Blink Dagger to land it.
A bit like Anti-mage does, the combo Blink Dagger -> Abyssal Blade -> Windrun -> Focus Fire is pretty legit.


R[A]t dot[A] best dot[A].
Windranger is one of the best split-pushers in the game and Boots of Travel help a lot here.
Also, please don't be like those people who drop their Town Portal Scrolls in the late game because they don't have a slot, instead just sell your Phase Boots and get BoTs. Don't throw the game by wandering around without a TP and then rage becuase Lycan took your base.



Luxuries



Stats! Gives you tons of HP and mana and a bit of armor. Eye of Skadi is your go-to item if you need lots of HP, much better than Heart of Tarrasque.
The slow is just awesome on Wind, for chasing enemy heroes during your Focus Fire.
A great item to get if you want to kite heroes like Ursa or Lifestealer.
But who am I kidding...you just want to shoot BALLING SNOWBALLS OF DEATH (^^)


A pretty overkill item.
Maelstrom is fine as it is, there isn't that much point in upgrading to Mjollnir honestly. You don't really need the attack speed, and it doesn't improve the lightning procs by that much.
Essentially it gives you good attack speed when Focus Fire is down with your 1.5 base attack time.
Only get this as a luxury when you're out of slots :)


Pretty overkill item as well.
Satanic allows you to lifesteal from your insane DPS, and heal instantly with the active. Really good manfight item, best used with a Black King Bar.
An ultra-luxury if you're ridiculously fed.



Situational and utility



Great sustainability item. Heavily recommended if you're offlaning and you're not making Mekansm. If you're solo mid you'll probably not need it because you already have Bottle.
Incredible synergy with a ganking playstyle on Windranger ; 150 pure damage is nothing to laugh at.


Never miss a single kill on an invisible hero because you didn't have Dust of Appearance.
Be sure to punish those n00bs who think that Shadow Blade will save their ***.


Just because you decided to semi-carry with Windranger doesn't create an impenetrable forcefield that prevents you from buying wards.



For your team, Mekansm is a very strong teamfight and pushing item and a huge help in winning early engagements.
For yourself, it's best to see Mekansm as the equivalent of Vanguard for ranged heroes. It gives you a total of +345 HP (the stats + the heal) and +5 armor, making it the best early tank item. The armor is especially effective on a hero with horrible armor like Windranger.
So...does this mean that Windranger is a good Mek hero? Well, actually, no, not that much, Mek is OK on her but not exceptionally good. Unlike "core" Mek heroes like Necrophos, Wind doesn't need HP, she needs positioning. It's a bit the same problem as making Mek on Crystal Maiden, or Rubick...Mek is not bad, but you're just delaying your positioning item. The redeeming feature of Mek on Wind is that she can farm one pretty quickly e.g as an offlaner, and still get Blink Dagger or Force Staff not long after - but then you need damage items otherwise you risk to just become useless.
Get Arcane Boots if you're worried about the mana cost (which is admittedly pretty heavy in addition to your skills).


Gives you more pushing power...as if you didn't have enough of it already. Great item for split pushing.
A good pickup if facing invisible heroes also : send the minions on that Riki and make him regret his pick xD


Blade Mail is extremely situational, but can be deadly against the right heroes.
Windranger's HP is actually surprisingly high, with good strength gain and the bonus HP from Aghanim's Scepter and other items.
The point of Blademail on Wind is to punish squishy DPS heroes and burst damage heroes such as Tinker, Phantom Assassin, Huskar, Invoker, Zeus, Skywrath Mage, Bloodseeker, Sniper, Queen of Pain, Slark... Essentially it's a way to counter your counters.
Extremely cost-efficient item, and the damage, intelligence and more importantly armor are exactly what you need.


Did I say that magic nukes ruin your day? Pipe of Insight can be the answer against teams with heavy nukes but few hard disables, e.g if facing heroes like Zeus, Venomancer, Luna, Doom, Phoenix, Earth Spirit, Skywrath Mage, Meepo...
Your best defense against burst damage, and good utility for your team.
Against a team with several stuns Black King Bar is really needed however.


Don't forget that Windranger has no armor. Sure, she has Windrun, but at some point if the enemy heroes aren't completely idiot they will pick up Monkey King Bars. If they do, you need armor so that you don't get two-shotted by their carries. Shiva's Guard is your best option here, you're not really an Assault Cuirass hero.
Shivas has a great synergy with Blink Dagger and Force Staff which allow you to apply the shivas slow effectively. That slow is absolutely great on Wind and allows you to keep enemies in range of Focus Fire longer. Pretty good item for escaping also, slowing the enemies until your Blink Dagger comes off cooldown.



Not-so-good items




Sure, a Drum of Endurance gives you a bit of everything, but it gives you nothing in terms of playmaking ability. As if Windranger wasn't the jack-of-all-trades hero enough, you're getting the jack-of-all-trades item on her... Drum is good on any hero, so it's not a bad item on Wind by any means, but it's just a bit underwhelming because going drum first item doesn't give you the early-game mobility you need so much, and it doesn't give you damage either. The only worthwhile thing it gives you is a bit of HP and a bit of mana, but not that much actually (171 HP and 117 mana) - if you just want HP because you're worried about getting bursted down you have a better option with Mekansm which will support your team a million times better than drum, and if you want more HP and mana you have the way cheaper and more efficient Point Booster (200 HP and 150 mana) to build into Aghanims later. I don't like drum on Windranger for the same reason I don't like drum on Puck, Crystal Maiden or Magnus : because drum is about the same price as a Blink Dagger but it's not a Blink Dagger.


Yeah...don't get Hand of Midas on Windranger. Just don't. It's really a game-throwing item on her honestly. Windranger isn't a farming carry, she's an early game play-making hero similar to Puck or Mirana, and she needs a POSITIONING item for this. Midas Wind is bad for the same reason why Midas Puck is bad. Instead of blowing 2K gold on an item that does nothing (you don't even *need* the attack speed), you can just farm an early blink or mek and own the early-mid game, this will pay off much more. Besides, Midas is mainly an item for safe-lane carries, and safe lane carry Windranger sucks anyways.
If you like Midas that much you should probably play another hero instead, like Clinkz or something.
Do you want a farming item? Maelstrom is a million times better.


dagon dagon is an item for nukers, and Windranger isn't a nuker. Her only nuke Powershot drops off pretty hard in the mid-late game and going Dagon doesn't change much about it. If you want to deal more damage you should build right-click items instead because Wind is a right-click hero. Leave Dagon to ACTUAL nukers like Tinker, Nyx Assassin or Lina. Really fun item for trolling but that's it honestly.


Look at you you silly troll, you just went Ethereal Blade + dagon 5 on Windranger ; I hope you're proud of yourself. Better get that Veil of Discord and Refresher Orb while you're at it. And then go do the same build with a Keeper of the Light solo mid.


Hello you Anti-Mage wannabee. So, Diffusal Blade + Focus Fire = lots of mana burned = **** magic, is that your plan?
Yeah, it's not very good. With diffusal you will burn 25 mana per hit which makes 83 mana per second. It's really little. Illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer burn way more mana (e.g PL with only 3 illusions and 0.6 seconds/attack = 166 mana/second). Very expensive item, and the stats diffusal gives you are a complete waste, you don't need agility. If you like burning mana that much e.g if they have a Wraith King, just make a Necronomicon instead : necrobook gives you 100 mana burned/second and 225 mana burned on activation AND it gives good stats and utility where diffusal completely lacks.
If you're building it for the slow, consider that Rod of Atos's slow is just as good, isn't limited by a charge system, and Atos gives you a ton of mana and HP while diffusal gives you no useful stats - making Rod of Atos a far better item on Wind.


Mask of Madness? You're trolling and you know it.


Well in theory Divine Rapier is really great with Focus Fire...but since you can focus only ONE enemy hero at a time with your ult, don't expect to autowin a teamfight simply because you have rapier. You won't save many lost games with rapier on Wind but you will throw a lot of won games...only as a very last resort and PLEASE at least get a Black King Bar beforehand.



Blink dagger vs Force staff vs Shadow Blade


Windranger needs a positioning item to initiate fights properly with a good Shackleshot/ Focus Fire combo. Thing is, there are 3 positioning/initiation items in the game : Blink Dagger, Force Staff and Shadow Blade. So, which one to get?

Well, it all depends on the game.




Blink Dagger is my personal favorite and is recommended in almost every game, with only a few exceptions. Blink gives you the best positionning you could dream for.
  • Blink Dagger into Shackleshot to land the best 2-hero shackles in teamfights
  • Blink Dagger into Windrun/ Focus Fire to gank single heroes
  • Chase heroes with blink during your Focus Fire -> nobody can escape you anymore.
  • To escape, blink in the trees when you see enemy heroes coming and just TP out. This way you can escape easily. Very useful for split pushing for example.

Only downside of Blink Dagger is that can be pretty unreliable as an escape. You CAN actually use it as an escape in most cases with good reflexes but there are cases where you can't escape with it like :
If playing against these kind of heroes, you can't entirely rely on Blink Dagger to escape, so you have the choice to either still go blink and rely only on Windrun to escape, or to go for the more defensive Force Staff.



Force Staff is the more defensive counterpart to Blink Dagger. Better as an escape, but not as good as an initiation.



Shadow Blade is a potential alternative to Blink Dagger for initiation and ganking : initiate with invisibility instead of blink. Can be fun but generally not recommended.

Blink Dagger is better on Windranger honestly, because blink is far better for positioning and to land good Shackleshots, and besides blink is better for chasing. Also Blink Dagger is a viable escape item, unlike Shadow Blade that can only be used for escape in n00b tiers where people don't know about Dust of Appearance. Only redeeming feature of Shadow Blade is that you can use it to scout the fog which is a bit better for ganking. Pretty effective if you need to initiate on a specific hero in the enemy team. You can try it but just don't expect it to save your *** because it won't :)

Gameplay tips


Here are a few tips on using your skills and items effectively :

- Your standard combo without a mobility item is Shackleshot -> Powershot -> get near your target -> Windrun and Focus Fire him down.

- Alternatively, you can do Shackleshot -> get near -> Windrun -> Focus Fire -> snipe him with Powershot. This option is more unreliable but you'll deal more burst damage.

- Once you get Blink Dagger or Force Staff, you can now initiate without having to rely on Shackleshot. If you want you can just blink in, Windrun and Focus Fire. You should still go for the shackle whenever you see a good opportunity though. So blink -> Shackleshot -> Focus Fire, and then Windrun to chase after the stun ends is the way to go. At that point don't bother with Powershot anymore, just right-click.

- Get in close range if you can to slow and chase with Windrun. The slow has 300 range, use it!

- Windranger is a great split pusher with the right items. Maelstrom and Boots of Travel are essentially all you need to start doing some effective rat dota. Clear creep waves quickly, burst down the tower with Focus Fire, and tower dive defending heroes with Windrun if necessary.

- If playing Windranger as a semi-carry, always remember that she's not primarily a farming carry, she's more like a ganker and a snowballing carry. She is best played like a Mirana, Bounty Hunter, Storm Spirit, Templar Assassin, etc. Her late game rating is similar to these heroes : perfectly legit late game but not the hardest carry. Remember to take advantage of Wind's potential to get kills even early in the game.

Replays

Experience speaks better than words. If you want to see how to play a good Windranger, check out these really nice replays from professional players : SmAsH, EGM and XBOCT playing the hero in pub games. Enjoy!


A really nice Singsing replay :


Arteezy and Meracle are currently playing really effective Windrangers. You can check out their Dotabuff accounts and watch their recent games from the DotA client - just copy the match ID.

Arteezy's recent games with Windranger

Meracle's recent games with Windranger

Conclusion

You'll notice that during the whole guide I kept referring to Windranger as a ganker and an initiator. Of course there are a lot of possible ways to play the hero but I found that ganking is really what she excels at : blink on a hero, stun him for almost 4 seconds, and start attacking him at max attack speed while chasing him at max movement speed and slowing him. She does this better than any other hero, and it's a really effective way of playing her. And if the enemy team is sticking together, initiate teamfights with 2-man shackles.

Don't look at her like a farming carry, don't look at her like a defensive support, instead look at her like a playmaking offlaner or solo mid in the likes of Puck, Clockwerk, Mirana, Magnus, Brewmaster and friends. Gank, initiate teamfights, and make stuff happen.

That's all there is to it really :)

Thanks for reading, I hope that you found this guide useful, and that you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it. I'm open to any kind of constructive feedback, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments.

Credits & Changelog

Thanks to SadOnionDota (Youtube) for the Windranger theme song. Check out his channel!

The credits for the pictures go in order to :

  • Windrunner by litrkerosina (Deviantart)
  • Windrunner by Ketrin-tyan (Deviantart)
  • Windranger wallpaper by TruePrince (Deviantart)
  • Lyralei the Windrunner by trungth (Deviantart)

Thanks to the authors!


Changelog :
  • 25/09/2014 : Published
  • 16/10/2014 : Updated the "Why play Wind this way?" section for a more detailed explanation on her role
  • 16/12/2014 : Updated for 6.83

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