Hello, and welcome to my Lone Druid guide. Lone Druid is a unique hero, since he's really two heroes rather than one. Although Lone Druid and his unkillable Spirit Bear ally only deal right-click damage, they have quite different playstyles from each other so it can be quite complex to manage your units.
He's also one of the most difficult and counter-intuitive heroes to play.
is essentially a mini-team within his team. Lone Druid is the support hero, while Spirit Bear is the invincible carry
is an agility hero, but designed to be tanky and played like a strength hero
has a calm and cautious Yin to Spirit Bear's raging Yang
There are four different play-styles for the Lone Druid / Spirit Bear tag team: Jungle King - the shallow end of the paddling pool for early game Laning Ninja - where you use gosu micro skills to last hit / harrass / deny in the early game Support Druid to Bear Carry - Radiance has arrived in the midgame Brave Sir Robin - One brave and one bashful bear tanking it up together midgame
You might find you use all four playstyles in the same game!
Lone Druid is an item dependent hero, since all he has the whole game long are right click attacks for damage, and not even particularly fast ones at that. The items that Lone Druid buys are crucial to his success. Here's purge talking about how to spend your starting gold in a general sense.
All of the extensions and situational items are aimed at buttressing these weaknesses as well.
Power vs Efficiency (or, Using 12 item slots wisely)
Iron Branch is the most efficient item in the game. For reals. But late game for most heroes the bottleneck isn't money to buy items, it's inventory slots. That's not such a problem for our dynamic duo. Ultimate Orb costs 2100 to grant +10 to all stats. 10 Iron Branches provide the same effect for only 530 gold.
The luxury of 12 inventory slots means that many underused midgame items are great on Lone Druid and his trusty Spirit Bear sidekick, because they are an efficient use of what would otherwise be empty inventory slots. The most obvious of these is Orb of Venom, which is a mindbogglingly cheap orb effect, perfect for the bear. It basically destroys the enemies Boots of Speed, so that you can keep up with them and gnaw on their ankles.
12 slots also means that late game Lone Druid can also load up on lots of 'luxury' items that only cost 2,000 - 4,000 gold (as opposed to other carries who want 5,000 - 6,000 gold items).
None of these items need to be fully completed, there are several upgrade paths you can follow. Too fragile? Drum it up. Enemy has nukers? Go Pipe. Facing carries? Cuirass their ***.
AOE damage vs Entangling Claws
Because Lone Druid lacks damage output, there are basically two different ways to build him. On the one hand, Radiance and Phase Boots let your bear chase enemies around and watch them melt even with Lone Druid far far away on the other side of the map. On the other hand, attack speed items will maximise your Spirit Bear stuns with Entangling Claws, as will adding extra bash effects like Skull Basher.
If you're free-farming then Radiance is the best option. At medium to higher level games it's probably not achievable and you need to look to alternatives.
In this case, you want cheaper items that can be built in installments, which increase your spirit bear's chances of hitting on Entangling Claws. Enter these bad boys:
Items that add attack speed all greatly improve your chances of disabling the enemy with your Spirit Bear. However, Skull Basher also doubles your chance of stunning on a hit and does more damage also.
As you can see, Mask of Madness is the best first item to get than Hand of Midas or Hyperstone, although if free-farming I generally like to get the Hand first since the extra gold/exp is useful all game long (it basically makes all of your other items cheaper), and with 12 slots you never run out of slots for luxury items. Skull Basher is more damage, and significantly, double the stun chances.
Here's a little breakdown of which boots are better for your Druid depending on different characteristics:
Gold Cost: Tranquils >>> Phase > Treads
Movement Speed: Tranquils > Phase > Treads
Effective HP gain: Tranquils > Treads > Phase
Attack Speed: Treads
Life is good, compared to other heroes. Lone Druid gets his Ultimate at level 1. And again at 3, 5 and 7. Summon Spirit Bear just is that good. Rabid is his next best skill, but if you are laning against people who can dive you at about level six a point in Savage Roar is a life saver.
> Rabid > >
Neither Lone Druid nor Spirit Bear have a ranged spell, which dramatically lowers the complexity of play. But if you think you have the heart of the bear, see if you can pull these True Form tricks off in a game:
Having two separate inventories can make things more complicated than a more conventional hero with minions like Chen, since in addition to microing your bear, you also want to use his Phase Boots. At the very least, you want the buttons that access your inventory to be near the buttons for controlling groups, so you don't have to move your hands so far. You need to constantly switch between Spirit Bear, Lone Druid and bear + druid groups. Since the control groups are 1,2,3..., and the spells are QWER, and ASD is also used in game, your hand wants to hover over those keys.
I have mapped F1-F6 to the inventory slots, and use ZXCV for scripts.
Tip: Store active items in the slots activated by F1, F4 and F5, so you can more easily find those buttons by touch while playing because of the gap between F4 and F5.
I have the following keys mapped: ~ Select All Other Units 1 for my Hero (this is normally F1, but I'm using that on my inventory slot) 2 for Hero + Bear (as soon as the game starts, skill and spawn the bear to get the cooldown started. Then select both and Ctrl+2 to bind them)
You can set all of those key bindings from within Dota 2. However, to combine multiple key commands into a single action requires a config file tweak.
Lone Druid is not the best jungling hero, and you will often be behind in levels and gold compared to your in-lane teammates when Jungling. Having said that, if your skill level is low, it's a safe place to be, and it lets you practise key awareness skills, such as
Heroes dying? Does it mean that we or teammates are going to get ganked by roaming heroes?
If a nearby lane is empty, should we run there and leech exp until our teammate comes back?
What's happening with the runes or in ward vision?
What creep camps have I cleared in the current minute?
When will this creep camp die?
What's the next creep camp I am running to?
What item am I building towards? What comes after that?
Tip 1: ALWAYS use the quickbuy menu (open the shop, and drag the item you want to buy down into the gray quick buy panel just below your gold total. To buy items, you right click on those items from the quick buy panel.)
Tip 2: Always focus on the biggest creep in each camp first, and start by using Iron Claw on them. In some camps like the Satyr camp the lesser creeps deal no damage at all to someone holding a Stout Shield.
Tip 3: Once you have a level 2 bear (with recall), when the creep camp is nearly dead, start your druid running to the next camp, then recall your bear to catch him up to the druid. You can also use this to finish off a creep camp between x:54 and x:59 sec, then recalling him away so that the camp respawns.
Tip 4: The bear can act as a 'reverse courier', by running to a shop, buying things, then instantly teleporting back to your side with Recall. He even heals if you send him back to the fountain.
Want to test your micro skills? The lane is where it's at. Lone Druid is a capable jungler, but he's even better on a side lane. As a mid, he can rune control with his bear but doesn't really need them or a bottle, and can't help gank sidelanes. If you have the ability to look and think in two directions at once the way the way Sylar in this video can, Lone Druid and his Spirit Bear together have a tremendous damage output for a level 1 hero, greater than any other hero in the game.
Lone Druid has a very passive playstyle until he gets level 5, when his bear can go for opportunistic roots on enemies. Just focus on last hits and not dying before then. The downside to laning is that it's the most skill intensive playstyle of the four.
The key to laning is to harass with Bear, last hit with Lone Druid.
If/when you root a hero, Lone Druid can get a couple of cheeky hits in as well before they retreat. You will be unlikely to kill anybody without help, because you lack reliable stuns and nukes. But harassing is good enough in the laning phase. If you're new to last hitting, here's a guide. Just make sure that auto-attack is set to off or be constantly spamming 's' to cancel your attacks except for the last hit on the creep.
Tip: The way to harass the enemy heroes is to right click on the ground past them, then when the bear gets to them, right click on them to attack. This is because if you right click on to them from a distance the lane creeps will immediately aggro onto you when you attack the enemy hero, which does two bad things: firstly, the bear takes extra damage, and secondly, your creeps will push the lane if the enemy creeps aren't fighting them back.
Extra credit: here's how to pull the creep wave to you when you solo the hard lane.
The end of laning
At about level 7-9 Lone Druid will suffer a dropoff in power in comparison to other heroes, for two reasons. Firstly, other heroes get their ultimate then (whereas we were lucky enough to start off with it at level 1, go Bear!). And secondly, when we start saving for Radiance, that money isn't being spent on items that make us a stronger hero, while enemy heroes continue to buy items and get steadily stronger that way. The closer we get to Sacred Relic, the more vulnerable we become. For this reason I usually leave the lane and hide in the jungle to finish my Radiance.
** Beast mode: ON **
Do a quick sweep to clear the jungle, then start pushing the safe lane.
Your bear is a one man army.
Know what's better than one army? Two armies. Push with a creep wave as well.
Know what's better than two armies? Three armies. Let your allies know that Radiance has arrived, and the smarter ones will get in behind your irresistible tsunami of angry bear.
During this phase you and your bear have two very different and distinct playstyles. Spirit Bear is the manliest man on the planet, wanting to be near the front line, harassing heroes, pushing towers, taking names.
Of course, it's a bit misleading to call Lone Druid a support, since he doesn't support any of the other heroes on your team. He only supports his bear.
You should be able to push them all the way to their Tier 3 Tower, then fall back and push the other two lanes. Only take on the Tier 3s if they all accidentally died while you were taking their outer towers.
Once they have been successfully contained within their base, the game is basically over.
If your bear dies (and it's not out of the question, he is being recklessly aggressive after all), then the newly spawned bear is on cooldown and you need to be much more cautious with him, and maybe even pull back a little and regroup on another lane without pushing all the way.
** Beast mode: OFF **
Lone Druid wants to hang back as far as possible, sometimes so far out of range that the bear can't even attack, and can only do Radiance damage. He's basically Brave Sir Robin --->
You play like this in the mid to late game whenever your Bear is on a long cooldown, or for whatever reason you don't have Radiance.
Unfortunately, your druid is still as easy for the enemy to focus down as when he is the Support Druid above, so I recommend jungling or sticking with your team when playing like this. Don't be afraid to have the Lone Druid run away as soon as he starts taking damage in team fights. He's still disturbingly squishy. Remember, WWBSRD? (what would Brave Sir Robin do?)
The best *ahem* tactical retreat I have found is to right click both heroes on your home base, then select your Bear and use him to harass the enemy. With any luck you'll get an Entangling Claws, and can then teleport your bear back to the druid to complete the escape (or keep harassing the chasing enemies). Once you have enough distance to juke into the trees or to the high ground, you can Town Portal Scroll to safety.
These are high level matches where Lone Druid appears. Because he's a farmer that plays a minimal role in team fights early, he doesn't get much screen time.
NTH/[A].AdminalBulldog solos the hard lane (note: He pulls the creep wave to his tower with his bear through enemy disruption)
NAVI.Dendi with double hand of Midas (note: Bear/Midas is a bug that will get patched)
DK.BurNIng vs LGD
IG vs Navi @ The International 2012 Grand Final. IG.Zhou takes LD in the first game, and NAVI.LightOfHeaven pilots him in the second.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I hope there was something in here that helped you play Dota better. Did you spot the intentional spelling mistake? :)
Edit: Added BurNIng high level replay, chopped out most of the other high level replays.
Edit: Added HoM disclaimer
Edit: Fixed error in config script
Edit: Removed courier config shortcut
Edit: Removed evisceration of suggested starting items, as they have been totally revised and now largely agree with my guide :)
Edit: Updated laning section to highlight different (non Radiance) items
Edit: Renamed Brave Sir Robin section
Edit: Added extra autoexec commands, revised Hand of Midas section
Edit: Changed default post-Tranqil upgrade from Boots of Travel to Power Treads
Edit: Added more jungling tips
Edit: Removed Armlet from build orders in response to 6.78 patch
Edit: Removed cfg command for EXP radius (as it was disabled in 6.78)
Edit: Added insane Sylar laning jukes video
Edit: Reincorporated Tranquil Boots back in to core items now the break nerf has been removed
Edit: Incorporated 6.86 (Iron Claw, Savage Roar skill build)