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5 Votes

How to Dominate with Visage

August 14, 2014 by Hassan Rouhani
Comments: 6    |    Views: 28786    |   


Build 1
Build 2

Supreme Nuker

DotA2 Hero: Visage




Hero Skills

Gravekeeper's Cloak (Innate)

Grave Chill

1 8 10 13

Soul Assumption

2 3 5 7

Summon Familiars

6 11 16

Talents

15 17 18

Introduction

Hello and welcome to my first ever guide.

With any luck, the recommended items have already grabbed your attention and you're eager to know just why this brand new guide recommends two rings of protection to start the game or why, oh why, is there no Mekansm found anywhere. Believe me, I get a lot of criticism early game from teammates for these two things. At the end of the game (most of the time), they're thanking me for doing the build I did.

Just so you get a sense of where I'm coming from, to the date of this writing I've played over 200 games with Visage with a win-rate of over 62%. My stats can be found here: http://www.dotabuff.com/players/94457380/heroes?metric=played

Throughout that time, I have been constantly re-adjusting how I play my favorite hero, Visage. Let me say, I play him unlike mostly anyone else I've seen. I've discovered that, while he can be an effective support, I prefer to play him in a very aggressive manner -- he's just got so much potential. He can be played in so many different ways, and I've listed two of my favorite play styles with him. Prior to each game, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the other team dictates how you play Visage. If they've got a lot of spell resistance, for example, Build 1 is not going to be your best friend. If they have a lot of squishy heroes, while both builds will work, Build 1 will allow you to eliminate an enemy hero in a fight at any point.

Just as a heads-up, I'm not going to be providing any of the mundane information on Visage's skills. Those can be found here in full: http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Visage
My opinion on the skill leveling is to focus nuke and then alternate your other two for a well rounded Visage. If you're getting hit hard, max the passive after nuke.

The strategies I am providing will be broken into two separate guides for Builds 1 and 2 and will focus on Visage's roles throughout the game. Additionally, I have a guide for gargoyles where I list some strategies to using them to their full potential.

Why Play Visage At All?

I've very rarely played against Visage, despite having played over a thousand games of Dota 2. The reason for that I think is because either people do not know how to play him or cannot play him because of trouble handling multiple units. Part of his apparent neglect stems from people as a rule assuming that he is total support -- he's not and should not be.

The best part about playing Visage is that your opponents likely have no idea what to do. They don't pay any mind to his gargoyles, they position themselves poorly, they ignore you in teamfights cause hey, what's that thing gonna do with a mekansm? It gives people a real shock when you start getting triple kills left and right because you're able to eliminate a hero entirely and then mop up others -- all from these builds.

My favorite part of any game is listening to people go on about what items to buy for Visage. A friend of mine told me of a game where a Visage on his team built a shadow blade and a bkb. Don't do that, or if you do, don't be surprised when you lose. I've seen other ones running around with phase boots (okay, Visage is slow so you get a little more speed) and bashers. It breaks my heart, it really does. But you're not going to do that, right?

At any rate, let's get down to business.

Pros / Cons

First, a few Pros/Cons to my style overall.

Play Style Pros

  • Rack up the kills (who doesn't love that)
  • Can easily remove enemy heroes from the game and shut down enemy carries early
  • Creates space for teammates to farm (I've had the enemy team rotate all 5 just to counter me while I am solo offlane

Play Style Cons
  • Can take farm from kills away from friendly carries
  • While Visage will be assisting with wards, he is not getting Mekansm so someone else should
  • Build 1 can suffer from mana issues

Friends

Any hero that can either slow, stun, or do nuke damage is a friend of Visage's, particularly early in the laning phase. I like to lane with a gyrocopter, Tusk, ogre magi, and other heroes that have stuns and high damage output. You can really dominate a lane. Tusk in particular is one of my favorites to lane with.

Because Visage is somewhat tanky but also (supposed to be) support, make sure when you're building your team you have a balanced group -- another support (or 2) would be fine plus some carries with durability.

What To Be Afraid Of (Visage Enemies)

Visage is great against squishy heroes and with a level advantage can be a force against tanky ones. Some enemies, however, really counter Visage. This is more so the case with Build 2, for the enemies I'm listing can kill gargoyles quickly. List is impartial, feel free to add to it

  • Bristleback: his quills will destroy your gargoyles quickly when they auto attack him or are near him
  • Axe: for the love of everything that is good, do not auto attack axe with the gargoyles if its avoidable
  • Centaur Warrunner: his passive
  • Omniknight: purification can kill gargoyles
  • Tinker: March of the Machines is especially brutal for gargoyles
  • Sniper: Sniper is super squishy and easy to kill, however his long range auto attack can allow him to pick off your gargoyles quickly if you aren't smart about their positioning
  • Riki: him or other invisible heroes can pop out of nowhere and kill a gargoyle. This is a problem for someone who seeks to use gargoyles to farm (explained later)
  • Bane: brain sap :/

These things counter Visage's gargoyles and Build 2 pretty well, since that Build focuses on gargoyle damage. Where possible, avoid having your gargoyles around these heroes in fights. Build 1 eliminates most of the problems here (other than invisibility heroes killing gargoyles) because enemy heroes are going to start to realize that the bigger threat is Visage the hero for his potential to select and destroy an enemy at will.

If you're up against a Visage, do everything in your power to destroy his gargoyles (without sacrificing yourself). His ultimate has a long cooldown and his options are very limited when he's missing one or more gargoyles. Also, when you go to attack Visage, whittle him down a little before firing off a big nuke so his passive doesn't just eat the damage.

Also, when you try to kill a Visage, do yourself a favor and kill the Visage. Really badly hurting him is fine until he takes all the damage you just dealt to him and throws it in your face. I've had countless enemies dive tower, almost kill me, then start to flee. They've taken creep/tower damage and so I just turn around and fire off a Soul Assumption for an easy kill. If you don't think you're going to kill Visage, be very, very cautious about how you engage him. He can really punish bad decisions.

Build 1

This is my favorite build, and one that I just started using recently. I like it because it is very unexpected and can really create a large advantage for your team. If the enemy has heavy spell resistance, this build is not one I recommend. It focuses on Visage's nuking capability.

Starting and Early Game

So why the two rings? For armor, duh. Actually I'm kidding. Yes Visage's armor is low to start, but one ring is for Basilius, and the other is for Tranquils. Some added mana regen is nice, and I've found that the best set of boots is Tranquils thanks to their cost and ability to keep Visage's hp regenerating. When gargoyles are up, he doesnt have to break his boots to last hit.

Give your team a little bit of a notification that you will not be going for Mekansm. That may annoy some, but you're not going to be wasting money on it. Grab those two* rings of protection and your tangoes and head for off-lane. If you can get it solo (and judging from the other team think solo will be fine), do that, but otherwise try to lane with a carry and let him farm. You can spend your time harassing.

I rarely play Visage mid, but even when I do, I apply the same strategy as what I recommend for solo offlane. The build is the same, but at 6 you're probably going to be expected to gank. Help out where possible -- usually I will travel back to base at 6, get hp and mana, then teleport to a tower to gank. I immediately summon gargoyles upon arriving at the tower.

Build Tranquil Boots and Ring of Basilius as quick as you can, and then start work on Level 1 Dagon.

If you're solo or laning with a support, take the farm. Visage's attack animation can be tricky but a little practice with it will make perfect. Where possible, and especially when laning with someone else, harass the other team's heroes.

Given an opportunity, try to kill an enemy hero starting at level 2 (level 1 if it's a really juicy target). In a solo this may prove hard, but you can do a significant amount of damage if you do the following attack procession:

  • Grave Chill the enemy carry for his attack speed
  • Auto attack the squishiest enemy hero, hopefully drawing some enemy attacks
  • Soul Assumption once you are at max charges

This process works incredibly well in a dual lane, though you may want to Grave Chill the target you want to kill to prevent it from running away from you and your teammate.

Because you're still somewhat playing support, help out with wards, dust, and smoke as appropriate and always carry a teleport scroll. Where possible, try to let other supports get the wards as you focus on Dagon and Ethereal Blade.

*If you have a Crystal Maiden on your team, only get one Ring of Protection and skip the Ring of Basilius.

Level 6

Here's where things get really interesting. Now you have your gargoyles and hopefully some kills. In most cases, you can dominate a lane by slowing enemy heroes, using the gargoyles to attack and then stun, and finish up with a nuke. The macro takes a little mastering but isn't too hard if you use control groups. I typically have my hero as F1, all units as 1, and all non-hero units as 2. I obsessively cycle through these.

Generally speaking, when I have my gargoyles around I let them follow me and only control Visage. When I am attacking, I will switch to the full group. This way, they will always be close and will hopefully avoid being damaged. Oftentimes, I will send my gargoyles out to farm on their own -- a strategy I will explain in the "Gargoyles" chapter that allows me to make up a lot of gold and push lanes.

Somewhere around this point, depending on how the laning phase has gone thus far, you will be getting close to Dagon. Your potential as a Visage is unleashed with the item. I always use it in conjunction with the attack procession mentioned above, using it right after the grave chill and as gargoyles are attacking. Soul Assumption will fill up quickly and allow you to burst enemies down rather quickly.

Gank, push towers, farm -- do what suits the flow of the game. You aren't a carry (much as I love playing Visage as though he is one) so don't abandon your team who may need you in team fights.

After Dagon 1

So you've gotten your Dagon level 1 and are wondering what to do now. Here is where you need to read the situation. If farm is coming easy, go right for Ethereal Blade. Let the fellow supports know that you will not be buying wards as you build the E-blade. This process is made a lot easier if you have Gargoyles farming (again, to be explained later).

If farm is not coming as quickly or mana is an issue (which it probably will be and you don't think you can tough it out until the E-blade), upgrade Dagon and get the E-blade after.

When E-blade is complete, your options expand. Initiate on an enemy by using the E-blade, followed by Dagon, followed by Soul Assumption. As you level up Dagon, you can eliminate lower base hp enemies very quickly with this method. In some cases, the three click combo will completely destroy a full-hp hero.*

If a carry is a particular nuisance, target him with your nuke. Otherwise, focus on removing enemy supports who are likely carrying nasty spells to turn around fights and are less likely to be building magical immunity (though may build a pipe).

*One thing to keep in mind is that, when you use E-blade on an enemy, you, your gargoyles, and your teammates cannot auto-attack that enemy until the duration of E-blade expires.

Situational

If you get a dagon 5 and E-blade, chances are you're tearing up the enemy team and have extra cash. Buy an Aghanim's Scepter for an additional gargoyle or a Rod of Atos to slow enemies with a short cooldown. If the enemy builds heavy magic resistance, get a Medallion of Courage. I recommend this even if the game is going late... recently I turned around a losing game by doing just that even though I had been focusing on nuke damage for the previous 50 minutes. If you're a greedy person (as I am), build a Refresher Orb and do back-to-back E-blade/dagon combos. It's really fun, if mana intensive.

Build 2

My old build on Visage is this one, what I now call the "conservative" build. It is meant to focus on the power of the gargoyles as an instrument of killing enemy heroes, unlike the previous one which focuses on the power of Visage's nukes. Use it for enemy teams that have heavy magic resistance or that your intuition tells you will be focusing on getting Pipe of Insight and Black King Bar.

Some of the following is copied from the previous build, because the beginning phases are close to identical.

Starting and Early Game

So why the two rings? For armor, duh. Actually I'm kidding. Yes Visage's armor is low to start, but one ring is for Basilius, and the other is for Tranquils. Some added mana regen is nice, and I've found that the best set of boots is Tranquils thanks to their cost and ability to keep Visage's hp regenerating. When gargoyles are up, he doesnt have to break his boots to last hit.

Give your team a little bit of a notification that you will not be going for Mekansm. That may annoy some, but you're not going to be wasting money on it. Grab those two* rings of protection and your tangoes and head for off-lane. If you can get it solo (and judging from the other team think solo will be fine), do that, but otherwise try to lane with a carry and let him farm. You can spend your time harassing.

I rarely play Visage mid, but even when I do, I apply the same strategy as what I recommend for solo offlane. The build is the same, but at 6 you're probably going to be expected to gank. Help out where possible -- usually I will travel back to base at 6, get hp and mana, then teleport to a tower to gank. I immediately summon gargoyles upon arriving at the tower.

Build Tranquil Boots and Ring of Basilius as quick as you can, and then start work on Eul's Scepter of Divinity or Medallion of Courage.

If you're solo or laning with a support, take the farm. Visage's attack animation can be tricky but a little practice with it will make perfect. Where possible, and especially when laning with someone else, harass the other team's heroes.

Given an opportunity, try to kill an enemy hero starting at level 2 (level 1 if it's a really juicy target). In a solo this may prove hard, but you can do a significant amount of damage if you do the following attack procession:

  • Grave Chill the enemy carry for his attack speed
  • Auto attack the squishiest enemy hero, hopefully drawing some enemy attacks
  • Soul Assumption once you are at max charges

This process works incredibly well in a dual lane, though you may want to Grave Chill the target you want to kill to prevent it from running away from you and your teammate.

Because you're still somewhat playing support, help out with wards, dust, and smoke as appropriate and always carry a teleport scroll.

*If you have a Crystal Maiden on your team, only get one Ring of Protection and skip the Ring of Basilius.

Level 6

Here's where things get really interesting. Now you have your gargoyles and hopefully some kills. In most cases, you can dominate a lane by slowing enemy heroes, using the gargoyles to attack and then stun, and finish up with a nuke. The macro takes a little mastering but isn't too hard if you use control groups. I typically have my hero as F1, all units as 1, and all non-hero units as 2. I obsessively cycle through these.

Generally speaking, when I have my gargoyles around I let them follow me and only control Visage. When I am attacking, I will switch to the full group. This way, they will always be close and will hopefully avoid being damaged. Oftentimes, I will send my gargoyles out to farm on their own -- a strategy I will explain in the "Gargoyles" chapter that allows me to make up a lot of gold and push lanes.

Somewhere around this point, depending on how the laning phase has gone thus far, you will be getting close to your first item. Medallion gives you the ability to burst down enemies with your gargoyles. Don't forget that it goes through magic immunity. If you have an opportunity to take Roshan with the team, medallion will speed the process along quite nicely. Eul's gives you some versatility, allowing you to dodge some things or stop an enemy from escaping. If your gargoyles are about to come up from stone form or you are hurt in a fight and want to survive long enough for Soul Assumption to fill up, use it to buy a few extra seconds. It gives great mana regeneration and makes you faster; with Tranquils you can keep up with your gargoyles.

Gank, push towers, farm -- do what suits the flow of the game. You aren't a carry (much as I love playing Visage as though he is one) so don't abandon your team who may need you in team fights.

Mid Game

Get your Aghanim's Scepter as soon as you can. Aghs provides a third gargoyle which will allow you to slay a lot of heroes quickly or push towers with ease. If you're really rolling in money, work on either a Rod of Atos or Orchid Malevolence or your choice of intelligence item. Sometimes I get Mjolnir and focus on attack speed/damage.

Late Game

Provided you have your Aghs, your ability to kill should be around in the late game even as enemies get tanky. If you are unable to get to it, definitely pick up a medallion. It costs about 1k gold (fairly cheap) and can assist your gargoyles in kills. Yes, I know it's late game by this point but I still have found usefulness in the medallion, particularly in fighting the other team's bkb-injected carries.

Gargoyles

Let's talk about the gargoyles.

Ganks

Unless you follow Build 2, your gargoyles will be faster than you. When initiating, be it from fog of war or in plain sight, try to keep them trailing you to not betray your intentions. Most people recognize that the gargoyles coming out of nowhere, or flying far ahead of Visage when previously they were trailing him, are probably coming in hot for a gank. Giving the enemy less of an idea that you aim to kill them is crucial with Visage. The closer you get, the more you can burst them.

In a fight, you may need to use your gargoyles' stuns -- particularly once they've expended their burst damage and need to recharge. Try to stun fleeing opponents (lead a little bit for there is a slight delay). As gargoyles drop, you can still fine-tune their landing so make use of that. If you want, and the ultimate is off-cooldown, you can stun, bring up new ones, and then stun again.

Chasing heroes or picking off unsuspecting, low hp heroes is one thing the gargoyles are incredibly good at. They give great vision flying over trees and can take a few tower hits if you feel like they can dive and kill a hero hugging tower. I've been known to fly gargoyles through the woods on a large round-about route just to have them fly up in the forest paths next to enemy towers to kill a low-hp enemy that thought he was safe.

If you see an enemy with something like a Clarity popped and want to disrupt it, fly the gargoyles out of his vision on a circle and have them come in and attack.

If you're the one getting ganked, grave chill someone, run, and use the gargoyles to stun and cover your retreat. If the ultimate is off-cooldown, you may need to summon more and stun again to increase the time you have to escape.

Also, should you spot a courier mid-gank or fight, try to bring it down with the gargoyles. That can severely disrupt the other team's economy for several minutes.

Fights

In addition to the material under Ganks, here's a couple things to keep in mind:

  • gargoyles can get hooked by Pudge hooks (and therefore block hooks from you and teammates)
  • gargoyles will block a Mirana arrow
  • gargoyles are still controllable when you die -- a friend of mine says playing with me when I'm Visage is like having a 6th hero on the team because I always have them helping out in team fights even long after Visage the hero has died
  • many AOE stuns (like Tidehunter ultimate) will not affect gargoyles (Black Hole does)
  • Lich ultimate will not damage gargoyles. If he uses it, capture the ultimate between your gargoyles and fly them away. If Lich has Aghs, fly the gargoyles safely away and then use stone form.
  • you or teammates with travel boots can travel to your gargoyles.
  • Lifestealer can enter into one of your gargoyles
  • gargoyles can deny things like runes or wards (provided vision)

Farming

Here's where I get unconventional.

If I feel like I'm not going to be farming in lane and I'm safe from harm (relatively), I will have my gargoyles farming. This is usually the case when I'm going for Build 1 and need as much cash as possible (and don't need the gargoyles in fights as much). They are constantly flying from pull camps on both sides of the maps to empty lanes to grab last hits. You can push a lane a little by focusing the ranged creep first. Use stone form to replenish health and damage. When I go to teleport from one lane to another to help an embattled ally, my gargoyles will be left in the previous lane unless I can re-summon. Because it will take too long to fly them over, I usually leave them there to farm.

When you're doing this, please please please do not forget about them. Creeps can over time kill them and if left unattended, an enemy hero will reap a big bounty (100g) from each.

You can make up a significant amount of gold farming like this, and you can also split push towers. If ultimate is off-cooldown, you can allow gargoyles to push another lane and then simply re-summon them if you or they get into trouble.

Closing Thoughts

Thank you for reading.

I'd love to hear back from others who try my builds, or suggestions on new builds. I'm constantly refining how I play Visage and am always open to recommendations -- besides building that Mekansm >:(

Cheers!

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