Lich is a ranged support hero whose nuker skills excel in crowd control and he comes also with a support skill (Ice Armor) and a personal auto-support skill (sacrifice) which allows him to cast his spells without mana problems. He is also a strong lane support hero who can avoid to farm and protect his lane carry to allow him to farm, thanks to the slow which their skills cause. He can also be a semi-carry hero, but usually is used only to support in order to help other heroes to do their job.
+ Excellent lane support thanks to the slows
+ Low mana problems thanks to sacrifice
+ High armor for Lich and for allies thanks to Ice Armor
+ Crowd control nukes
+ Strong ultimate
+ Potentially a good teamfight hero
+ High base movement speed, further increased very much thanks to Tranquil Boots
- No stun abilities (except slowing enemies)
- Chain Frost is only a simple nuke if used in presence of only one enemy (and in fact it's not suggested to use it in this way)
- No escape abilities
- Low armor in early game (Ice Armor will be learnt later)
- Low speed of his ranged attack
Lich has four active skills which work pretty nice together and with the skills of other allies. So let's see what kind of skills he owns:
Now it's the time to talk about the items:
So, by being a support the first items you should buy are the Animal Courier and two Observer Wards. Note that while DOTAFire is telling that you can buy two Observer Wards at a time, in the 6.86 you can buy only one per purchase, so you have to buy them two times (anyway they have the same price as before: 150 gold for two Observer Wards). If you want, you can give one of your Observer Wards to an hero who goes in the opposite lane of yours (so if you go Top, I'm talking about an hero who goes Bot, for example) and decide to place both of them at the runes (this is especially useful when you want to ward the part of river near Roshan to be sure that Ursa, unless he gets Smoke of Deceit, will be discovered while attempting to reach it. It's also useful for the midder, obviously). Alternatively you can place one at the nearest rune in your lane and keep the other for when this expires (works better with the Top rune) or place it in a good spot to avoid ganks (this is my favorite choice in suicide lane). Then buy Tango and after this you have two choices: you can buy also an Healing Salve to increase your or your mate's lane survivability (best choice in my opinion) and two Iron Branch or, alternatively, to invest it in the components for the Magic Wand. Anyway if you have only 625 gold you won't complete it immediately.
By not farming and having low money, but especially because this two items are necessary you should complete first your Magic Wand and then your Tranquil Boots. These items are necessary to increase your survivability, respectively during a battle and after a battle.
In mid game, other than using your utility items, you have to do your two most important items: first Lich needs to do a Mekansm, that is a must to support your teammates. If another support has already did Mekansm or is doing it, you have two choices: you can make it too to support your team when the support who owns the Mekansm it's not in the teamfight, or you can just skip this item, because two Mekansm used in a short time are useless: only the first will heal and will give armor, while the second will do nothing. Then you can finally do the Aghanim's Scepter, which increases very much the nuke potential of your Chain Frost.
You can also make a Blink Dagger, because Lich doesn't need a lot of farm, but if there's a risk that you feed then it's better to prevent it. Anyway I suggest to focus on Mekansm and Aghanim's Scepter first.
Luxury/Late Game Situational Items:
In late game you're supposed to buy the utility items as always. Anyway if you have got some gold (preferably not by killstealing) you could get one of this two luxury items:
- Shiva's Guard: do you need another, better slow? A slow that also damage enemies? Shiva's Guard it's the right item, also cheaper than Scythe of Vyse.
- Scythe of Vyse: do you need a nice disable? Nothing to say, this is the right item, but watch out to the cost: if you die often you could have serious problems to complete this one.
There's a special extension item to annotate here: the Solar Crest. This item is not for Lich's use but is useful because, if its ability is casted on an allied hero, it's like giving him two times the Ice Armor's armor value. In fact, you will give 9 (level 4 Ice Armor) + 10 ( Solar Crest) armor, and also some evasion for the targeted hero. A total of 19 armor +25% evasion is not a value to understimate, especially with hero who already have an high armor value. In particular, I think this could be useful a lot with Timbersaw's Reactive Armor, as he will have an already high armor value if hit lots of times and, obviously, lots of HP. This is only an example, though.
There are also some situational late game items that could be very useful, especially if the match is getting very long:
-The Refresher Orb assure you that you can throw two Chain Frost in a row. This allows you to increase your nuke damage. Notice that if enemies got Black King Bar or magic resistance items, this item is not so useful.
-The Octarine Core allows you to heal from spells you throw, if they succesful hit the enemies: this is very useful if you don't want a squishy Lich, but this works better only if, as for the Refresher Orb, the enemy hasn't got a lot of magic resistance items or Black King Bar. Remember also that Octarine Core decreases the cooldown of your spells, though I never got any problems with Chain Frost's cooldown at level 3.
There are also some situational items for Lich that could do the difference.
The first is Pipe of Insight, and the reason is obvious: it can give a huge advantage against magical damage, so is useful if the enemy team is composed by a lot of intelligence heroes, especially if these heroes are big nukers, like Zeus.
As a second situational item, if you will notice that Lich gets in teamfight often, you can buy a Veil of Discord: if you hit them with the Magic Weakness debuff, in fact, using Frost Blast and Chain Frost could be very effective against the enemies. Or you could use it also to get magic resistance heroes less durable against this type of damage... The important thing to know, anyway, is that is a good item for Lich because it's an AoE spell, and not a targeting one, and the radius is great.
Another good but expensive situational item is the Black King Bar: is useful against most of the hero spells, but remember that you won't be completely invulnerable. Also, Lich is just a support without chanelled abilities, so it's not really necessary for him to be immune against spells while he's present in teamfight. Still, this item is situationally good, especially if the enemies are full of skills that doesn't go through the Black King Bar.
And now, an interesting item: the Shadow Amulet allows you to become invisible. This can be used as a semi-escape, but the reason why this is a situational item is because you can be permanently invisible in one point, then wait the enemies and then use your Chain Frost and catch them by surprise, then use the Shadow Amulet again to become invisible a second time and being protected by the invisibility (or alternatively escape with a Blink Dagger if you have one). But remember! If an enemy has a stun AoE like Tidehunter's Ravage or Luna's Eclipse, or if they have Sentry Ward or Dust of Appearance, Lich is dead for sure! Anyway if you know your enemy and you know that they haven't any of these, it could be a nice idea. This also works with Crystal Maiden's Freezing Field to allow her to stay invisible while she uses the ultimate. It's also very useful with Witch Doctor's Death Ward. Because you need to return invisible this is the reason why you won't upgrade the Shadow Amulet into a Shadow Blade. Anyway I'll repeat that again: if the enemy is organized, this item could not work properly! This is why it's only a situational item. If you want, anyway, you can transform this in a Glimmer Cape, but remember that the Glimmer Cape is pretty useless to Lich. I suggest to do it only if there are allied heroes that you want to protect with the invisibility and the magic resistance.
Finally, you can get a Vladmir's Offering if you feel that your allied heroes needs some kind of boost for their damage. Remember that if another allied hero gets Vladmir's Offering there's no need to buy another one, because the only positive thing to have two hero with two Vladmir's Offering is if you aren't a teamfighter hero and you need to always have the damage boost ready, but for Lich this is useless.
There's nothing to explain here: Lich is a support, and for the entire game Observer Wards and, eventually, Sentry Wards and Dust of Appearance are a must for this hero. Smoke of Deceit is, instead, more situational, but it could still be very useful in the right hands.
Remember, finally, that having a Town Portal Scroll on Lich, that hasn't escape methods, could be a nice idea.
Lich, thanks to the Tranquil Boots, has a very high movement speed, so it's up to you if you want an escape method: usually a Glimmer Cape, combined with the right direction of movement, can be enough to deceive enemies and succesfully escape, but the problem is that with this item you have to be in a good point of the map to find an alternative way to escape with those 5 seconds of invisibility, and it's not always possible to find it. Also, Glimmer Cape doesn't give any type of movement boost and/or extra movement, like Force Staff and Blink Dagger does. So, these two items, in the right situation, could be very useful.
From the other side of the coin, as a support, there's the problem that you should dedicate your money for the team, and the fact that you will choose one of these two items implies that (especially for Blink Dagger) this won't be an item for helping the team, but an item for you. Some supports needs some personal items, but Lich has already three in mid game: Tranquil Boots, Magic Wand and Aghanim's Scepter. So, consider if it's worth to have a fourth item for you or spending your money for something that can help the team.
So, what of the two should you choose?
Well, the Force Staff vs Blink Dagger thing is not always an easy fight to understand, but there are some advantages and disadvantages for both the sides. Talking about them:
- Can be used even when damaged
- Can be used on allies, making it, if you want, a team item
- It pushes you for the half the value of the Blink Dagger (600 units instead of 1200)
- Long Cooldown (20 seconds)
- It has twice the range of the Force Staff (1200 units instead of 600)
- Medium cooldown (12 seconds)
- It can be used offensively to initiate with your Chain Frost
- Can't be used when damaged (3 seconds cooldown)
- Can't be used on allies
Conclusion: Force Staff is more a defensive item, but the Blink Dagger, if you have a fast hand, can be better in some situations. Still, if you aren't so fast or if you want to use the Force Staff even on allies, don't buy Blink Dagger.
So let's talk now about the lane phases:
As a lane support, you will have only five tasks to complete:
1. Defend your carry or the hero who have to farm. Defend it even at the cost of your own life, if necessary. If you die it's not a big deal because you don't need to farm. Anyway don't feed, your role is to support your lane mate, not the enemy heroes!
2. Scare the enemies, especially the hero who wants to farm. The thing is pretty simple if the enemies are two melee heroes, but it could be hard if they are two ranged hero. Anyway try always to hit the hero who wants to farm in order to force him to use his heal items: is hard to kill him in this way, but in fact you haven't to kill, you have only to get your enemies weaker.
3. Deny creeps: this is essential to avoid the enemies to farm. This could be also more important than the point 2 if one of the enemies in your lane is a carry, because a carry who doesn't farm is useless.
4. If possible, when it comes to kill the enemy heroes, let your mate to kill them, unless you think they will be able to escape. Remember that you haven't to farm, especially in early game.
5. If extra Observer Wards or Sentry Wards/ Dust of Appearance are necessary, buy them, more in particular if you are scared to get ganked in the suicide lane or if there are invisible heroes like Riki.
When the teamfights start to occur, usually in mid game, you can move around the map with a Town Portal Scroll and start to be present when they appears. With your strong ultimate, you could do even kills at its starting level if it is a small teamfight, or support it if it's a big teamfight. Remember to use Chain Frost with Frost Blast to focus on the most dangerous enemy and do, if possible, some AoE damage. Anyway remember that Chain Frost at level 1 has a pretty big cooldown, so use it wisely. Continue to buy wards if they're necessary, and upgrade the Animal Courier if another support didn't do it. Remember that even in mid game Lich is pretty fragile, so try to stay with your allies if possible, so you can protect them and they can protect you. Remember to not steal kills, as I said before.
If in late game you haven't did yet a Mekansm or an Aghanim's Scepter, you have seriously to start to farm, because the team needs to be supported with these items, which grants more survivability and more nuke damage for your Chain Frost. If you want to improve your slow effect you should also buy a Shiva's Guard, and if you want a disable you should buy a Scythe of Vyse. Anyway be warned that your strength is pretty limited in late game: you can continue to support effectively with Mekansm and eventually with Pipe of Insight, but your Chain Frost will be limited by items that grants resistance to magic damage, and unless there aren't a lot of agility and intelligence hero who have low health, you could have trouble to score kills, especially alone. So continue to support with your Chain Frost and build Aghanim's Scepter as i said before in order to increase your nuke damage and, by doing so, supporting effectively. Anyway if you have helped a lot your team to get the enemies weaker in early and mid game, your presence in the teamfights will be noticeably important, because if the enemy heroes haven't got farm, your nukes will still be strong, so be sure to do a good job on those first two lane phases!
Like almost all heroes, Lich has good friends.
But who are they, and why they are so good with him? Here's the answers.
Lich's friends are guys who can make his skills more efficient or that have synergies with them. Generally, the best skills that help Lich to land his two nukes are skills which do stuns and slows (for Frost Blast) or AoE stuns or AoE slows (for Chain Frost).
- Crystal Maiden: she comes with Frostbite (which blocks but doesn't disable an enemy) and, for Lich's ultimate, Crystal Nova and Freezing Field, both good at slowing enemies. Notice that Crystal Nova has a smaller radius than Freezing Field, but it's still very good as a slow skill.
- Warlock: his slow, Upheaval, it's extremely strong and one of the best slows in the game. Also, it comes with a very big radius, allowing Warlock to slow the entire enemy team, and by doing that, improving Chain Frost. His ultimate also have a one-second stun, but it's not so efficient like Upheaval (still good though).
- Dark Seer: his skill, Vacuum, allows to have all the hero enemies in his radius captured in one point of the map, allowing Chain Frost not only to be efficient, but also faster at bouncing, improving the DPS. Anyway, beware that this ability doesn't stun nor slows the enemies, so they'll try to get away from the point where they got captured for a moment. If you're fast enough, you could use Frost Blast until they are all in one point to slow them and keep them compact for the ultimate, but I'm not joking, you have to be fast!
- Puck: his ultimate, Dream Coil, make the enemies stunned and damaged and also stunned and damaged again if they get too far away from the point where the ultimate was thrown. This means that your Chain Frost can be used easily because the enemies will stay near that small area or, alternatively, they will try to escape, but they will get stunned so that you can hit them without problems.
- Disruptor: his ultimate, Static Storm, if combined with Kinetic Field, doesn't stun nor slow, but keep the enemies blocked in a small area for your ultimate and also silence and damage them over time.
- Treant Protector: his ultimate, Overgrowth, disables completely the enemies, keeping them immobile for some time for your ultimate.
- Tidehunter: he has a good slow, Gush, and one of the best ultimate in the game, Ravage, which stuns the enemies for a bit. The biggest perk of this ultimate is that it has a very big radius, allowing Tidehunter to stun even an entire team. So your ultimate has a very good occasion of doing some damage.
- Faceless Void: his ultimate, Chronosphere, allows Lich to land a better Chain Frost because the enemies will stay immobile, allowing Lich's ultimate to have an exceptional effect.
- Enigma: his ultimate, Black Hole, is extremely useful to keep the enemy heroes in one point, improving your ultimate.
- Magnus: his ultimate, Reverse Polarity, stuns the enemies by capturing them in one point. It's like an improved Vacuum, because they get stunned after being trapped.
- Treant Protector: his Living Armor, with the Ice Armor, allows your allied hero to block some damage and slow the enemy at the same time.
- Dazzle: his ultimate, Weave, increase the armor of targeted allied heroes and decreases it for targeted enemy heroes in proportion with the time. Ice Armor, combined with it, improve the effect for a very good amount, getting your allies very tanky. Still not satisfied? Well, then build a Solar Crest. So you'll get 9 armor (level 4 Ice armor) with 10 armor with +25% evasion, and also the dynamic effect of Weave. Can you immagine how much armor can you get for one carry if you cast the effect of the Solar Crest and these other two buffs on him? Remember that, anyway, Solar Crest is often built from Dazzle's players, so check his inventory or ask him if he's going to buy one because two Solar Crests don't stack (on the same allied/enemy hero).
The heroes that I mention here are guys who, instead of having synergies which benefit Lich's skills (like the heroes above) they have synergies that they will benefit their own skills or their survivability.
Who are the allies, then? Generally, considering Ice Armor, they are guys who are tanky or that they have an already high amount of armor.
- Timbersaw: thanks to Reactive Armor, he gets a big boost for this one.
- Pudge: if used correctly, he will be an extremely tanky hero, considering Flesh Heap and his strength growth.
- Bristleback: thanks to Bristleback he will get very, very tanky.
- Treant Protector: thanks to Living Armor and it's high strength growth, he's a natural tank.
- Other heroes who have natural tankiness, although they don't have an ability which boost it: examples of this are Centaur Warrunner , Ogre Magi (intelligence hero), Tidehunter and generally the heroes with the highest strength growth.
- Other heroes who have natural armor, although they don't have armor abilities that boost it: an example of this is Ogre Magi (intelligence hero), and generally the heroes with the highest agility growth (which increases armor).
What kind of hero would it be an hero without counters? Probably an OP hero. But you have to be careful, because Lich has a pretty good amount of foes. To explain this, we can say that there are two types of hero whose Lich is afraid of:
1. Big magical and pure nukers: in fact, by having lots of armor, he's not bad against physical heroes when trying to escape (unless stunned/slowed, obviously). But he has a normal protection against magical damage, and obviously, like any other hero, no protection against pure damage. These types of heroes can potentially drain his HP and make his defensive ability (Ice Armor) useless.
2. Big magical resistance heroes: these are literally a pain for Lich, because he completely relies on Frost Blast and Chain Frost to attack. You can buy a Veil of Discord to compensate it, although your nukes won't be strong like they could be against an hero with only the base magical resistance.
So, who are the foes?
- Zeus: maybe the biggest magical nuker, you can expect to be literally destroyed by Thundergod's Wrath when you have low hp, or maybe highly weakened. The very bad thing, however, is when Zeus get an Aghanim's Scepter and a Refresher Orb and maybe, to gets the things even worse, a Veil of Discord. So, how you can survive at him? Well, build a Pipe of Insight for you and your allies. He's a big nuker, so don't expect to negate all the damage. If most of your teammates have a Black King Bar, however, it could be nice to skip this item and buy one Black King Bar for you too. But don't do this if there's another fragile support in your team who could be destroyed by Zeus: just do the Pipe of Insight instead.
- Lion/ Lina: they are in this list for obvious reasons: Finger of Death is an extremely strong magical nuke. Same for Lina, and if she gets an Aghanim's Scepter, there's no way to block her Laguna Blade, because it would have both pure damage and magic immunity.
- Rubick: he's a support whose aura, Null Field, grants to him magical resistance, but this effect is valid even for his allied heroes if they are near him. So this is pratically a buff which can get the enemies more tanky against you in a teamfight.
- Pugna: his Nether Ward can do some serious damage if you throw Chain Frost under its range.
- Pudge: the best tank in the game if used correctly, Pudge has a natural magic resistance thanks to Flesh Heap, but also lots and lots of hp, so if you are alone don't expect to kill him.
- Anti-Mage: even if you can restore your mana thanks to Sacrifice, it could happen that there's no creep near you, and if you spammed a lot Frost Blast and used Chain Frost, Anti-Mage can break you into pieces with Mana Void. Also he has a very big magical resistance thanks to Spell Shield. And do I mentioned that he can burn some of your mana every time he hits you?
- Phantom Lancer/ Naga Siren: these guys could have Diffusal Blade in their build, and this, combined to their illusions, make your mana burn very fast.
- Huskar: this hero, thanks to Berserker's Blood, gets his magical resistance increased the more is wounded. So, considering you can't trust your physical attack to kill him... you could have a serious problem to kill him with your nukes. Just try to fight him in group.
- Silencer/ Drow Ranger/ Death Prophet/ Puck/ Night Stalker/ Doom: These guys can silence you with these abilities: Global Silence, Gust, Silence, Waning Rift, Crippling Fear and Doom. So, obviously, these heroes can potentially make you useless in a teamfight. A less picked hero who can still silence you is Batrider with Flaming Lasso.
- Keeper of the Light: his Mana Leak is a skill which not only burn your mana if you move, but also stuns you if run out of it. It's not a big pain in late game, because you have Sacrifice and you have a big mana pool, but be aware of it at least in early and mid game.
- Nyx Assassin: his Mana Burn, to be honest, it's not so dangerous like others mana burn items/abilities of other heroes, but the problem is that the same mana you got burned from this skill, the same damage you will take. So in late game, if you're already wounded you could have serous problems against this skill. Assure yourself to be healed by the Mekansm or a squadmate's Urn of Shadows, because this skill could take out 1/3 - 1/4 of your health pool, if you have base magic resistance. And maybe even more if you are under-leveled.
- Huskar: although you can potentially have a good armor thanks to your items and Ice Armor, Huskar is capable to do some serious damage in a very small time. Also, before doing that, he will try for sure to reach you with Life Break, damaging you moderately (or heavily if he owns an Aghanim's Scepter) but he will also slow you for a big amount of value (40%/50%/60% slow). This means that, thanks to Berserker's Blood and Burning Spear, he will do a very big amount of damage to you, even if you own a big amount of armor, because you will be hardly able to escape him. As I said above, try to fight him in group.
Lich is a powerful user-friendly support who will give for sure nice moments and will make feel the player a useful member of the team, thanks to his strong nukes and his useful support methods.
Thanks for reading the guide, I hope you enjoyed it, and please, if you have questions, tips or simple comments feel free to put your opinion under this guide.
See you soon!
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