How to play Grimstroke
April 3, 2020
Graceful, sophisticated, cunning and cruel, Grimstroke channels vile forces through the profane ink of his runebinding brush. Groomed from a young age to become a guardian of his people, Grimstroke's path to power was instead built upon a sacrifice he was all too willing to make: the lives of his entire race. Consumed by the very magic that was meant to protect them, Grimstroke's kindred now exist only as inky revenants, bound forever to his brush—their anguished screams and viscous forms apparent in the strokes of each dark mural he creates.
The people of Ashkavor crowded around the temple square, eager to witness the ascension of their new guardian -- to stand near the man as he bound their souls to his own. But as his final brush strikes fell against the runestone, and the bond of a new Ascended One was forged, everyone -- even those who'd stayed in their homes -- could sense that something had gone terribly wrong.
He knew the cause instantly. The droplets of ichor he'd procured to amplify the potency of his inkpots had instead contaminated them, and the power of the binding spell he'd cast now threatened to consume him. An inky corruption snaked upward from the runestone, along the handle of his brush, soon overtaking his hands. From there it spread quickly. Once it overcame his face and his mouth, he couldn't have screamed even if he'd wanted to.
All of his life he'd calculated on how to attain ever greater powers than the limits presented by his teachers would allow--going on far as to break the sacred prohibition against augmenting the inks. Indeed, with the wellspring of the Ascended bond open to him, he felt a measure of power coursing into his soul like he'd never imagined. His greatest triumph was upon him, if he could only survive it.
He drew deep from the power of the bond, pushing back against the corrupted ink flow. A great moan filled the air -- the collective cry of his people. Some swayed on their feet. The weakest collapsed. Many tried to run. And still deeper he pulled from their bloodline reservoir. But it wasn't enough to stop the ink tide.
It was only when the breath trapped in his lungs began to fail him, and the inkpool darkness fully encased him, that he saw his way out. The bond he'd made with the Ashkavoran people -- his people -- meant to be drawn upon only in service of their protection... it flowed two ways.
With the final surge of strength -- this time directed by more than just blind repulsion -- he pushed the ink torrent into the bond itself.
Slowly, he felt the tide retreat.. and heard the awful wails of his people as the corruption in turn rolled over them. When at last the ink relented, his eyes opened upon a world changed. The Ashkavoran people as he knew them were gone. Every last soul was transformed into terrifying shades of their former selves -- comprised no longer of blood and bone, only viscid, tainted ink.
This is the nineth guide I've ever created and I wanted to start with a short introduction about myself and the hero featured in this guide, Grimstroke
, one of the latest heroes entering the Defence of the Ancients!
I've been the Community Manager of DOTAFire since March 4th 2014 and I've started playing Warcraft III's DotA map back in 2007. In 2012 I've joined DOTAFire and a month later I've received a Steam invitation to play DotA 2 BETA, at the time you needed an invitation to play so I had to wait a while to get one. :D
Right now I have almost 4.000 hours played and I'm trying my best to climb up my MMR, currently sitting at about 5.000 MMR. I've used to play competitively years ago in some amateur 6.000 - 7.000 MMR teams and didn't focus too much on ranked matchmaking at the time, so hopefully whenever I have the chance to play I'll be able to improve more!
Okay, let's talk a little bit about Grimstroke
, the evil painter version of Phantom Lancer
. Some people prefer to play him mid, but I believe that the role of support suits Grimstroke
the best and he doesn't really need farm to be effective thanks to his strong abilities. His abilities Ink Swell
and Stroke of Fate
make him an unstoppable force in the early game, harassing his enemies and creating kill opportunities for his allies.
The best part about Grimstroke
is that he can greatly boost his teammates while he's also very strong by himself. His ultimate Soulbind
together with other abilities such as Reaper's Scythe
(managed to do this combo recently in a match, a nightmare for the enemies!), Laguna Blade
or any other crazy single target ability makes up for a scary and fun combo!
Even though he might seem complicated to play, after a few matches you should feel comfortable and in the same time you will crush your enemies' dreams and hopes of winning. :D
Some great high ranked players to follow in order to learn Grimstroke
Pros & Cons
When to pick Grimstroke?
- Strong in lane
- Great in fights
- Synergyses well with other heroes
- Safe (first) pick
- Long cast range
- Mana dependent
- Tends to get focused
- Requires coordination
- Weak against magic immunity
- Weak against silences
Taking all of the above into consideration, you should pick Grimstroke
whenever your team plans to pick heroes that have targeted abilities that can profit from Soulbind
. Since you're going to be one of the first picks and you cannot wait to see what your team has picked, you have to communicate with your allies suggesting them what heroes are best in combination with your abilities.
For example, you could suggest your teammates to pick heroes with strong targeted spells such as Lion
, Necrolyte and so on, basically anything works, really! The team composition is important, indeed, but also is the lane and your lane partner should pick accordingly. I've noticed that Grimstroke
excels playing aggressively together with a hero that can go in and fight, such as Weaver
or Wraith King
. In these two specific examples, Weaver
excels because he can simply Shukuchi
with your Ink Swell
on him and there's going to be dealt a heavy amount of damage that's going to kill almost any hero in the early game. The same applies with Wraith King
, but he's going to initiate and go in with his Wraithfire Blast
The possibilities are infinite in DotA, be creative and make sure to communicate to increase your chances of winning and to also have fun! :)
Skill & Item Build
Level 1 - Ink Swell
Level 2 - Stroke of Fate
Level 3 - Ink Swell
Level 4 - Stroke of Fate
Level 5 - Phantom's Embrace
Level 6 - Ink Swell
Level 7 - Ink Swell
Level 8 - Soulbind
Level 9 - Stroke of Fate
Level 10 - +30 Movement Speed
Level 11 - Stroke of Fate
Level 12 - Soulbind
Level 13 - Phantom's Embrace
Level 14 - Phantom's Embrace
Level 15 - +175 Cast Range
Level 16 - Phantom's Embrace
Level 18 - Soulbind
Level 20 - +3 Hits to Kill Phantom
Level 25 - +200 Ink Swell
Let's talk about the skill build displayed above, which is one of the most popular skill builds used in ranked matches. We're going to start with a skill point in Ink Swell
, which is also the ability we're going to max out first. This is a very strong ability especially in the early game and used correctly it can secure a lot of kills for you and your lane partner. As I've mentioned before, heroes like Wraith King
dominate with Grimstroke
on lane. The second ability we are going to focus on is Stroke of Fate
, which is the shortest cooldown ability of Grimstroke
and also his main harassment tool. Make sure to take advantage of the bonus damage Stroke of Fate
can deal, as it deals extra damage with each unit the ink strikes. The final basic ability that we're going to max out is Phantom's Embrace
, an ability that is not very strong in the early game but strong and stressful for your enemies later on. Make sure to always cast it whenever you've chained the enemies with your Soulbind
It might seem odd that we haven't skilled Soulbind
at level 6, but that's intended because the other abilities are way more important early and Soulbind
isn't that effective early on since there won't be too many fights or opportunities to take advantage of it. We'll skill it just 2 levels later at level 8 and then whenever we have the chance at levels 12 and 18.
Alright, let's move on to Grimstroke
's talents and see which options are the strongest.
At level 10 we have to choose between +100 Ink Swell
Max Damage or +30 Movement Speed. The extra movement speed should be better here as +100 damage on an ability that can be missed or dodged can be underwhelming, while the bonus movement speed will always come in handy. Feel free to go for the damage if you've been hitting your Stroke of Fate
consistently and you feel you need more early damage!
At level 15 we have to make a choice between +175 Cast Range and +15% Spell Amplification. It's very tempting to pick the spell amplification to further boost your damage output, but I'm inclined to believe that the cast range is more important in most situations. For supports in general, as I've mentioned in my other guides, it's important to stay alive and that is done by positioning yourself well in fights. Being able to cast your abilities from a safe distance is important and it'll save you a lot of gold that you would've lost by dying.
Moving on to level 20, we have to pick between +3 hits to kill Phantom or +600 Stroke of Fate
Cast Range. I really enjoy using Stroke of Fate
, but the extra cast range won't be of much use since the cast range is already long enough and since the other option is much better. The extra 3 hits to kill the Phantom will be very stressful to deal with for your enemies and it will also disorient them in fights. Remember that you can cast Phantom's Embrace
on both heroes affected by Soulbind
And now the final pick, the level 25 talent! We're dealing with two very interesting choices, +50% Stroke of Fate
damage or +200 Ink Swell
radius. When you're going to reach level 25 all enemies are going to be pretty durable and at this point Stroke of Fate
will be mostly useful for its slow. On the other hand, Ink Swell
having a bigger radius means there's a higher chance that the enemies are going to get stunned by it at the end of its duration, and in the early game a single stun can change the whole outcome of the game. Pick accordingly!
Let's begin with the starting items:
The item that can win games, the Observer Ward. Always pick it up at the beginning of the match and place it in a spot that can help your lane or your mid player. Usually I place it where it can scout one of the runes while also providing vision for my carry and mid player, it's important for them to be safe. Don't forget that wards can also be used offensively, if your teammates are safe enough and you're confident you can get something done, feel free to plant them in the enemy territory. Also, try to find spots that aren't too obvious, it's important not to get your wards removed. Besides losing vision, your enemy is also earning gold for the ward kill.|
This item is essential against invisible enemy heroes and also for removing the enemy Observer Wards. Vision is crucial and it can decide the outcome of the match, so make sure to always have Sentry Wards on you if needed. I like to pick up one early in case I see where the enemies have placed their starting wards; they're a must against heroes like Bounty Hunter in the early game.|
Provides you with some extra movement speed, enabling you to efficiently chase and harass the enemies! You're going to upgrade this item early into Tranquil Boots.|
Should be enough to provide you with early regeneration, make sure to give 2 tangos to the mid player if he needs them. Feel free to buy an extra set if you feel like you could use some more health regeneration.|
Your abilities are what make you strong, make sure to get at least one early Clarity and always have enough mana for every situation.|
That's everything to say about the starting items, let's discuss further the core items:
The boots of choice of most supports and offlaners! It grants health regeneration and good movement speed, sustaining you in lane and increasing your mobility, great! If you feel like you and your team could use some more mana, feel free to grab Arcane Boots instead.|
A wonderful item to always keep you up and running. Provides you with some extra stats and can save you in a lot of situations if you have enough charges. Great against heroes who tend to spam their abilities ( Batrider, Phantom Assassin, Bristleback).|
One of the strongest items in recent patches, a must have in every match. It can be used after fights to heal your allies and keep the pressure going, or it can be used offensively to damage your enemies and reduce their health regeneration and healing. Very strong against heroes like Morphling and Alchemist.|
Not very costly, this item can be of great value since it enables you to save yourself or your teammates while also forcing the enemies to spend gold on true sight items.|
Eul's Scepter of Divinity
Bonus intelligence, movement speed and mana regeneration. Useful item to catch fleeing allies, cancel teleportation, or simply avoid enemy spells or remove debuffs such as silences.|
That's all about the core items, let's move on to the situational picks:
A little mobility never hurt anybody, except your enemies. Prepping Ink Swell and jumping in with Soulbind, Blink Dagger can be an excellent item to have if your team lacks initiation or if you simply feel like you could have a higher impact in fights. The alternative to this item is Force Staff which we will discuss next.|
If the enemy team has multiple ways to easily disable Blink Daggers, the best alternative is to pick up a Force Staff, since it can also be used in combat. Don't forget, besides using on yourself, Force Staff can also be used to save your allies or to put your enemies into an unfavorable position. Use it wisely!|
If you're getting picked off often or generally you cannot stay alive whatever you do, this item might be a good choice, since it greatly delays your death and saves enough time for you to get away or at least cast all your abilities. In the happiest scenarios, your team jumps in to rescue you and win the fight!|
Veil of Discord
Increasing your durability and granting you some extra stats, the Veil of Discord will amplify all the magical damage that the affected enemies will receive. Great item to get whenever your team relies on magical damage.|
Black King Bar
Even though very situational, the Black King Bar should not be forgotten. It grants you full magic immunity and this is the best item to stay alive in fights and cast all of your abilities uninterrupted. Don't forget that certain abilities go through the magic immunity ( Black Hole, Fiend's Grip)!|
And to sum it up, let's talk about the luxury items that are mostly bought in the late game:
Scythe of Vyse
Rarely seen because it's very expensive, the Scythe of Vyse is a great boost to mana and mana regen while providing a strong 3.5 seconds disable. Always great to have but takes time to save gold for. The +90 Gold/Min talent will help in getting this item, but it will require quite a lot of saved gold.|
Provides a lot of armor and extra mana, an aura that greatly slows the attack speed of the enemies, and an active area ability that deals damage and applies a slow to the movement speed of the enemies hit. Great against heroes like Meepo and Phantom Lancer.|
Provides bonus damage, attack speed, intelligence and mana regeneration, the Bloodthorn is a very expensive luxury item that is worth the gold. The matches where you will get this item are going to be rare, but it's going to be a very relevant item. Usually one of the cores pick it up, so only get it if nobody else has. Silences a target and everyone who hits it critical strikes for 1.4x the damage!|
Expensive but worth it! Gives you extra health, mana and stats while granting you a new ability, Dark Portrait! Great item overall, but get it only if you're doing well with gold and you don't need anything else more urgent. The Dark Portrait ability should not be overlooked, it is very strong against carry heroes who deal heavy right click physical damage!|
Since you're going to play aggressively, your main objective in the early game is to pressure your lane opponents as much as possible together with your lane partner. Your abilities are perfect for harassment and for creating kill opportunities, make sure to communicate with your lane partner and take advantage of your potential as much as possible. For my other support guides, I've also emphasized how important it is to secure the farm of your carry, but in this patch and for this hero, it is more important to actually deny the experience and farm of the enemy carry and of its support. Playing from behind is something that most players are having a hard time to deal with and you can make sure that they will lose their lane. Losing experience and farm is one thing, but remember about the psychological part of the game as well, greatly winning your lane and disabling the enemy core will greatly boost your team's morale while reducing the enemy's. I'm certain that you've played matches where players have given up, well, as unfortunate as it may seem, it's actually a good strategy to reduce the morale of your enemies and use it to your advantage.
In the mid and late game your duty together with your other support is to maintain the vision around the map and win the "ward war" with the enemy supports. Having the vision advantage has proven to be the reason many team fights are won, so make sure to have every aspect of the game into consideration and on your team's side in order to consistently win. Besides taking care of vision, you should always be close enough to your team in other to respond in case a fight happens or in case your teammates need anything at all, either help to escape or some extra support to score a kill.
When team fights arise, you have to be aware that your abilities have a strong impact upon the outcome of the fight. They're able to deal damage, slow, silence, stun and chain enemies together where they cannot escape and they suffer the same targeted abilities. Try to imagine yourself in a fight against Grimstroke
or simply think about a game you've actually played against him and all the stress and chaos he has created in fights. That's just how your enemies feel when you play him, make sure to take advantage of that and to use your abilities as best as possible in engagements.
I would like to discuss once again the importance of your teammate's picks, do your best to convince them to pick proper heroes that will work better with Grimstroke
. It's not that their picks might be bad, it's that they can pick much better heroes that will have their abilities and potential boosted by Grimstroke
's arsenal. Make sure to ask politely since some players tend to take advice/suggestions hardly, don't demoralize your team! Most teams are defeated by themselves, do your best to avoid that!
Don't forget about taking objectives, I've mentioned this in almost all of my guides, once you've successfully won a fight it's crucial to do something with the time when the enemies are dead! Get towers, barracks, Roshan, remove the enemy wards and place your own, use the time you have as much as possible to gain even more advantage from winning the fight! Time and timing is everything in DotA!
Always play with your team and for your team! Maintain map vision and control, only fight when the odds are in your favor, get objectives and don't waste time, sacrifice yourself for your cores and for the better outcome of the fights, play smart and have fun!
Play, practice and learn from every match, don't play a single match without thinking what could've been done better!
Thank you for reading
Thank you for reading my guide!
Thanks you for reading and please let me know what if you have any question or suggestion!
I hope you've enjoyed my nineth guide and I'll make sure to keep this guide updated as soon as the patches are released and as I learn more about the hero.
Good luck and paint them to the death! :D