Nature is Not for the Weak - Lone Druid 7.12
April 11, 2018
Having trouble playing Lone Druid? Blaming Bulldog for making it look too easy? Maybe you just need someone to tell you why spamming lone druid is an acceptable form of mmr gain? Whatever your trouble is, I can help you learn nothing about the game and learn everything about objectively the best hero in the game.
I'm Lone Dog. Divine 3 with 550+ games of Lone Druid and rank ~50 top Lone Druid on dotabuff.
I climbed from 3.3k to 4.7 in exactly a month at the beginning of 2017 by playing almost exclusively Lone Druid, and then from 4.7k to 5.2k in a couple more months. Now I have 550+ games and I would like to think I know a lot about the hero so I am making this guide.
This is my first guide, however, so I apologize for the blocks of text and lackluster formatting but I mean if you really want to learn the hero the selling point shouldn't be pretty pictures or symmetrical walls of text anyways.
Okay so let's start talking about Lone Druid.
Lone Druid is an extremely flexible hyper-carry that can prove to be powerful at any stage of the game. Because of Lone Druid’s unique ability to summon a spirit bear, both are meant to be played in a complimentary play style where each one functions as an extension of the other.
Originally, the most common and popular way of playing Lone Druid was to focus on building items for the bear, while having the druid play the role of the aura bearer. The idea of this build was to build damage items on the bear to have it fight while the Druid would weave around the fight with his enhanced mobility from items and his skills.
With the introduction of 7.00, however, talents brought a whole new approach to playing Lone Druid. The ranged build, which was originally not as popular due to Lone Druid’s stats primarily favoring the bear build, suddenly surged in popularity. The build was considerably over-powered primarily (and by over-powered I mean actually ********) because of his respawn talent, which allowed him to not only do an immense amount of damage, but also made it significantly harder to keep him off the map for the enemy to take objectives.
Because Lone Druid has this summon that is essentially played as a second hero, Lone Druid requires a solid ability to play two heroes at the same time. This makes him intimidating for newer players to try to pick up. Conveniently because you are only controlling two units, he is one of the easier heroes to learn micro on.
Pros / Cons
-Extremely flexible and can easily build to fit the demands of the game
-High mobility throughout the game
-Huge power spike one level earlier than most other heroes
-Puts sf/invoker pickers in the dumpster
-Strong pushing power
Ranged Specific Pros
-Huge burst damage with crazy range and excellent moves speed
-More slightly more reliable in a stomp if you aren't heavily countered
-faster item progression than bear build
-Faster item progression means faster games
Bear Specific Pros
-Extremely durable, can tank and soak damage during most team fights
-Burns down squishy supports by just running at them
-Buildings melt down as your bear smacks structures
-More reliable durability than ranged build
(NEW) Dominator Rush Pros
-VERY fast build
-allows you to control the entire map disgustingly earlier than normal
-can control hellbears and wolves for very nice extra bonus auras
-Relatively frail throughout the entire game
-A billion times more vulnerable to gap closers and high mobility
-Encourages a more lazy approach to micro and those bad habits slip into bear build play
-Noticeably weaker high ground breaking ability (As the bear cannot fully utilize demolish with all stat items on the druid)
-Vulnerable to kiting and hard crowd control
-If you aren't heavily influencing the game then you have to make sure it doesn't end before you get your radiance
-Extremely frail until radiance, even then until you get both boots
(NEW) Dominator cons
-If you cannot control the map it becomes harder for you to find farm since you do not have the midas
-potential to feed dominator creeps to enemy
-very hard to make work on ranged build as it severly reduces your hero damage potential compared to standard ranged
If you look at the skill builds for both ranged and bear build, you'll see that it's basically the same. They really kind of are, and it doesn't actually make a difference what skill build you go. The important part is that you make sure you skill based on what you actually need. So let's talk skills.
Summon Spirit Bear
This skill is your bread and butter. This is the skill that makes Lone Druid not so lone after all. This skill basically summons a permanent summoned unit that does not expire and has the same item slots as a normal hero. Regardless of what build you are going, you always want to consider proper itemization for BOTH the Druid and the Bear.
leave the spirit bear itemless if you are going ranged, and do not leave the druid itemless if you are going bear. Both the bear and druid are extensions of each other, and to leave one of them in the dark is to basically cut your effectiveness as a hero by at least 50%.
The bear has a static xp/gold bounty of 300. This is huge in the early game and it is absolutely important that you make sure that your bear never dies, or dies as little as possible. If you lose your bear in a 1v1 lane then the enemy just gained a 300 gold advantage and a huge xp advantage (usually a full level in the early game). Basically, If you feed the bear in a 1v1 lane, you just lost the lane instantly. If you feed the bear TWICE in a 1v1 lane, you probably just lost the game.
It is that important you make sure your bear does not die in the early game if at all.
is very important with this hero, as you are controlling two heroes. Hence you want your bear to be making all of the "standard" movements. That is straight line movements, face checking uphill, and generally always being positioned such that the bear is between the druid and the enemy as much as possible. This works for either build, primarily because it will require the enemy to travel a larger distance to kill off the druid, which gives more time for the bear to get find an escape root (no pun intended) or a well timed roar to ensure your safety. This also allows you to position yourself aggressively while actually being safe.
Basically you want your bear to be the "main center of movement" and where ever your bear is, your druid is allowed to move anywhere within the 1100 unit radius range of the center of movement. Basically, as long as the distance between the bear and an enemy unit is no greater than the distance between the enemy and the druid, you're positioned appropriately.
Depending on the build and the game, you will have to choose whether or not you want the druid or the bear to be the center of movement.
ALWAYS spawn the bear as SOON as you spawn in the beginning of the game. Note that the cooldown is a flat 120 so what this means is that if you immediately summon your bear you will always have a backup bear by the time the first creep wave meets. This is always good if you're playing offlane lone druid to basically ensure that if something goes wrong, you aren't left bearless for the first 120 seconds of the laning stage, which can prove to be disastrous for an offlaner. Regardless of what lane you are going into, it personally is a good habit to get into just because you will always have that backup bear. Even if you get ganked at the rune and left with your bear at 15% hp, sometimes it's just better to make a new one to ensure you establish your lane presence early.
Now remember that the spirit bear is to be played as a completely separate hero so as such we must address the bear's skills.
Return is a skill that allows your spirit bear to be immediately teleported to your druid location. This is your Q ability and plays a large role in how you move around throughout the game. This is also the ability that enables lone druid to play aggressively in the laning stage.
The ability can be summarized by the following points:
-the bear cannot be recalled if it takes any damage from a hero unit
-recall will always teleport the bear to the right of the druid. Specifically the right diagonal, use this to your advantage when positioning.
Rabid is pretty straightforward.
Provides a move speed bonus of 10%/15%/20%/25% and Attack Speed Bonus of 20/30/40/50.
Basically you want to have this on during fights and when taking objectives as it will allow you to do them more efficiently and do more damage.
There used to be not much to say about this one because the way the cooldown scaling worked it would end up providing a 100% uptime with the cd being exactly the same as the duration. But the frog decided that putting a 10 second downtime would be sufficient to nerf the ranged build instead of just bringing down the damage talents a bit. Thankfully it was then scaled better to provide a greater percentage ms and as bonus to compensate for the 10 second downtime.
The skill isn't mainly strong in the early game, hence it should not be spammed. It it still good for early harass and engagements. But you still want to try to have at least 1 point in it before your lvl 5 as it will allow you to become a greater threat with Entangling Claws
. Once you have maxed rabid then you will really just want to make sure you don't end up taking a fight right as the 10 second downtime.
Keep in mind that because you will be spamming a 50 mana spell every 35 seconds you will need some mana regen in the early parts of the game. A Clarity
or two will suffice and then you will want to try to get a Ring of Basilius
at some point. Note that when playing the ranged build you are going to get the Ring of Basilius
earlier as it comes with the Ring of Aquila
This skill is primarily what makes the bear build every tower's worst nightmare. 40% bonus building damage stacked with your battlecry is pretty dumb. I'll have an essay on that when I cover battlecry later on. The magic resistance coming from demolish is also a nice touch, it adds further survivability to the bear during the mid game, and around the time you get demolish (lvl 4 bear) magic damage will become a more frequent threat during the game.
Entangling Claws (the root button)
Wew. This skill is basically what makes lone druid so scary. Let's start out by looking at what it does.
Every auto-attack from the bear has a 20% chance of casting entangling claws on the attacked unit, this skill applies a root that does 60 damage per second for 3 seconds on a hero unit, and 9 seconds on a creep unit. This skill has a cooldown of 5 seconds.
In other words, applying root on an enemy hero deals 180 damage from the root alone, and on a creep deals 540 damage on a creep unit. It doesn't sound like a lot, but because of this skill, Lone Druid's main power spike is at level 5
, when he gets lvl 3 bear with root. What makes this exceptionally threatening is the fact that Lone Druid's power spike is 1 level earlier than most heroes
, this means that as soon as you get lvl 5, if the enemy laner is vunerable to being rooted and the Lone Druid player is good, that enemy will almost always die at least once, if not then at lvl 4 bear. This is primarily because of the rabid ms/as buff that allows the bear with oov and the druid to keep up with the hero and chase him down. As soon as the hero gets rooted, the druid, while he attacks, can start moving towards the path the enemy will have to take, thus forcing the enemy to either try to run away or manfight you. Odds are you will be distanced enough from the enemy unit to force him to choose the latter. Because of the bears innate tankiness, you can dive towers with the bear if you recognize that you can get a kill/root before any help arrives or before the enemy can turn. As far as proc tips, it's a percent chance, so in general if you have a lot of consecutive auto-attacks without root, you generally can kind of feel when you are going to get your next root and plan your aggression accordingly.
This is my favorite "feature" of Lone Druid because it's pretty entertaining to watch the enemy tilt as he gets rooted over and over. Because root has a 5 second cd, and requires a 20% chance to proc, it will usually not guarantee you consecutive roots in a short time. This is where the double root
comes into play. When your bear levels up, all his skills and cooldowns (except roar) are refreshed, as leveling up the bear spawns a new unit. The only time your bear levels up with root skilled already is between bear lvl 3 and bear lvl 4. As such, when you reach level 7, you can actually hold the point in that level until you plan to go on an enemy hero. When you go on an enemy hero, hold the point until you get your first root, as soon as you get your first root, level up the bear and resume attacking the enemy unit. Many times you will end up getting two roots back-to-back which is basically a free kill. Of course sometimes this is not the case as it has a 20% chance of proccing, but it usually succeeds more often than it fails.
Savage roar allows either the druid or the bear to cast a 325 aoe "roar" that forces enemy units to run towards their fountain. This fear debuff lasts for 1.2/1.6/2/2.4 seconds and grants a movement speed bonus of 20% to the enemy for the duration.
The ability requires some skill and foresight as you want to primarily play around the fact that your enemy will always move towards their base when debuffed. This ability is actually really good for lone druid because it makes it incredibly difficult to latch on to the druid or bear without serious chasing/gap closing abilities. Keep in mind this applies to ALL hero units in the 325 aoe, so you can basically position yourself so that if you need to disengage, you get the most people you can in the range of the roar.
Not only is this ability an amazing defensive spell, but it actually is also a great offensive
spell and disable. You can cast savage roar on a rooted unit to make them completely disabled for a short duration, this can be good if you need them to be disabled during the root for a kill
(ie: sunder, razes, etc)
You'll notice that under the talents for all three builds I choose the roar cd over the armor. At first when the cdr talent for roar came out I was kind of hesitant cause it was only -8 seconds cd or something like that, but now that they buffed it there is really no reason not to get the talent. It basically means you have a roar every eight seconds
which is pretty stupid when used properly. This can be especially helpful against heroes like ursa and pa that enjoy clinging onto their targets to kill them. The big thing is that you can always just buy
10 armor and put in on your bear. But at no point in the game can you buy 60% cdr on a fear/disable spell at level 15.
So instead of writing a seperate "Lane guide" for each lane, I will just write one lane guide and address specific things to know that are exclusive to a lane in like a different color or something. If I don't write an exclusive for a lane in a specific subsection it's because everything I wrote in the first paragraph prior would suffice for that particular lane
First Couple Minutes
Okay so the game started and you are walking to or already at your lane. The first thing that must be recognized is that Lone Druid is not
a killing machine until level 5. That means it is very unlikely that you will be getting any kills without the help of your teammates before this point. In your early levels you want to prioritize cs. Because you are csing with basically two heroes, it becomes really easy to dominate enemy heroes that rely on csing effectively (ie: sf) as you have a significantly larger window to get a cs/deny than the enemy. Use this to your advantage to shut down the enemy offlaner/mid.
Feel free to harass the enemy laner though! Even though you lack a root, with oov and just the shear tankiness of your bear, do not be afraid to throw out a little bit of harass here and there every time the enemy laner comes close for a last hit. Make sure he gets punished as it is usually hard to retalite given your distance from him.
Because you are offlane you will not be given the luxury to abuse this csing ability unless the enemy supports are weak or nonexistant in that particular lane. If you are playing offlane druid your best solution to this problem is to actually to the offlane pull with the bear and leave the druid under the offlane t1.
This is going to look something along the lines of
Where you begin moving as soon as the rune spawns and you run around in that little circle and drag around the creeps for as long as needed.
Usually two/three waves is good enough but it really depends on how long it takes for the enemy supports to contest. Now the BIG difference between you doing this and any other offlaner doing this is that you have more than one way of getting out of there. Remember that you summoned your bear right at the beginning of the game so your resummon bear skill is already off cd by this point, so if you know you will not be able to tp the bear out, you can just run away until you can use resummon. If you aren't getting contested, it's better just to tp the bear to your tower so keep that resummon. Do NOT
accidentally tp your bear to base. AT level 1 your bear do not have recall so you will be stuck without a bear until it slowly walks over to you.
Once you have done your pull, even if the enemy safelaner runs around with your creeps to cancel out the pull a bit, the lane is still going to push in your favor and shortly after the waves meet it should be under your tower soon enough which means you can safely farm and collect your free levels.
Your first power spike (Level 5)
So you managed to get through the early laning stage and have now gotten level 5. Well as mentioned earlier this is your big power spike. At this point you want to start thinking and looking for potential kills on the enemy laner. If there is zero kill potential that's okay! Your root allows you to also farm through the jungle effectively which speeds up your farm.
this is your time to shine. Depending on your lane matchup you now have the ability to make the enemy mid's life absolutely miserable. Basically start to play aggressively and never let any attempts the enemy makes to cs go unpunished. What I usually do is I wait for my rabid
to come off cd, then as soon as I cast it I make my move and literally just run at the enemy midlaner. You have to make sure that your aggression is precise and careful, however. If the hero has a really good escape (qop, puck), then you might have to be less greedy with the aggression cause it is way riskier to go for a dive kill or fight into supports. If, however, the enemy is very vunerable (invoker, shadowfiend, any melee mid) then the next couple of lines become relevant.
- If you get a root before the bear and enemy mid gets under tower range, continue
your aggression and try to kill
- If you get a root after the enemy mid gets under his tower and is low enough to be killed, dive with the bear and try to kill
- If you are diving and enemy supports tp rotate, stop and back
- If the enemy mid is fully healthy has not been rooted yet and you are already starting to dive, back off and try again later
Now I would not recommend diving if you aren't comfortable enough with the hero and are not well versed with the limits and how far you can push your safety without actually dying, but you definitely can dive.
ESPECIALLY if you find out that the enemy mid's supports do not rotate to help, you can even go so far as to dive his t2 and kill him under it. This is definitely going to tilt him by the way so feel free to ask him in all chat where his supports are if you feel like playing dirty.
Reminder this is where your double root can be most effective
At this point you now have the ability to solo kill almost any carry in that lane. I would play more aggressively but be wary of the enemy supports. Ideally you would want to try to kill the enemy supports first, which can be very easy as they might attempt to zone you out and will even try to manfight you as they still think you are as weak as you were at level 4. Basically be aggressive, kill anyone who puts themselves out of position or lets themselve become vunerable, and overall just be a nuisance in the lane and attract a lot of attention.
Farm, Push, and Kill. (Level 7)
You just got demolish at this point and depending on how your lane went you will have to start thinking about what you want to do with the rest of the midgame. Because you have demolish don't be afraid to push and take down some towers to give yourself some more farming space. At the same time also don't be afraid to join in on any skirmishes that happen nearby as you are still a killing machine at this point.
Offlane Exclusive (NEW DOMINATOR MEME)
As an offlaner running dominator rush, you are now granted the ability to basically melt any tower that is left open so really take advantage of that. Because you are an offlaner you also have the luxury of spending a bit more time trying for towers than farming so there's also less pressure which allows you to create a tremendous amount of space. Don't find yourself walking in circles though you still need farm!
But seriously abuse this item. It's stupid how much map control you can get for your team in the first couple of minutes that you get this item.
At this point honestly just rinse and repeat. Take towers, farm, find picks. There really isn't that much else I need to specify as a lot of the detailed information is mainly just in the early game as you can really influence any advantage you get transitions into the midgame.
The only things that I can think of off the top of my head that are super important is to make sure to take advantage of your battle cry
when going high ground or just taking towers/fights. It gives you a ton of armor and damage and can really melt down towers and allow for safer pushing.
Also try not to lose the bear too much, if you are running bear build and you have no bear and resummon is off cd, you're basically a walking melee creep with some aura items which really hurts your team.
Radiance is the face of the bear build basically. With midas starting I usually shoot for 14-16 minutes with worst case as 18-20. With dominator starting your priorities kind of shift if you are focused on making space as an offlaner so as of right now I'd say 16-20 is what to shoot for with that one.
Even though your bear cannot attack when out of range, it can still deal radiance damage so don't be afraid to cut waves with the bear walking around and burning creeps.
You can also chase dying enemy heroes and burn them down with radiance and recall your bear to the fight if need be.
For the love of God don't get this if you're running ranged please.
I see a lot of people do this wishy washy build where they're running half ranged and half bear. They go like midas and then phase mael. The whole point of the ranged build is the fast item progression and early impact so getting a midas hurts your ability to do that. Similarly, midas into ranged items can hurt your midgame presence as it will take longer to get the items you needed 10 minutes ago.
Usually when I see this build that person is usually losing or eventually loses so just saying.
At first I noticed a bunch of people picking up dominator on the hero way earlier and while it definitely tried to be a thing in the past I never really was sold on it but I am pretty sure at some point if dominator gets buffed again it is going to be absolutely core on LD (although I guess I might be a bit late but it is more that I never really tried it) as even now it is suddenly being picked up by pro players for good reason.
The as and regen is mediocre honestly but the key is that they shifted a lot of the benefits to an aura rather than soley for the wearer. For LD it basically then pays for itself as you get both the as and regen on each unit (including dominated units obviously)
The big selling point is that this build is fast
I have been experimenting with the item and looking at how to fit it in to your other item timings on either build and I have been really impressed with how work it can do.
As soon as you get level 7 and have your seige creep you can basically have full control of the entire map and have taken most if not all of the towers by about 15-18 minutes. No siege creep? Grab a hellbear as the as aura lets you mow down towers almost as fast.
Also reminder battle cry (45 second cd) works on the seige unit which is very nice.
Also because of the as aura and potentially hellbear aura this is the one time where I think it is more than okay to build phase boots as this essentially makes up for the lack of damage talents while having the same attack speed and survivability as you would with treads.
I would not recommend building dominator on ranged mid build however because it slows down your item progression just as a midas would, save the build for offlane/safe.
This is a luxury item but it's still worth mentioning as it is my favorite of the luxury items. Note that if you blink and recall your bear you can basically blink both your bear and your hero wherever you need. An example would be if you cast battle cry then blink on an enemy hero or the backline and kill them.
Pipe of Insight
There's not reason not to get this item in the majority of your games as it stacks with your bears 33% magic resistance from demolish at level 7. Keeps your druid nice and healthy and allows for stronger seiging against enemies with magic wave clear.
Tips and Some Tricks to Remember
Tired of your team holding your courier back from it's true delivery? Give your bear a tp and teleport it back to base to have it shop for you while you are still in the lane! This is very impactful especially when you are laning mid as you have easier access to regen than the enemy does.
Savage roar forces the enemy to walk in the direction of their ancient so if you are chasing someone in the direction towards your ancient you can roar them so they run back towards you (kind of trivial to mention but people forget).
If Outworld Devourer astrals your bear, because the bear will not be taking damage for the four seconds it is in the astral you can resummon your bear while it is still in the astral (usually around the 3rd second). Then bear will spawn at the location resummon was casted when the astral ends.
Savage roar fears enemies for up to 2.4 seconds. A tp to base takes 3 seconds.
Battle cry affects all units under Lone Druid's control. This includes dominator units and necrobook units (VERY good on the seige creep btw)
Try to run your druid around in fights to the location where your bear might need to go next by using recall. I don't know how to really describe it but in fights the druid (assuming bear build) is basically going to be the bear's aura bearing blink dagger. ie: If you are attacking someone with a blink, start moving the druid in the direction you think they will blink so that when they you can recall the bear to their location and potentially finish them off
Don't have any more creeps while you are trying to take a tower? No need to wait for the creeps as if there is no backdoor protection and you have an extra bear to throw around, you can let the bear tank the tower until it's about 5% hp and then resummon it. This will give you and your team/creeps a bunch of extra free tower hits. This can be a very greedy play but a really worthwhile one if you are comfortable with having resummon on cd afterwards or you were gonna resummon the bear anyways. Be careful not to let the enemy snipe the bear down while it's low, though. Be smart about when you decide to do this.
- If you cast battle cry and cancel it during its cast point, it still makes the roaring sound. You can spam cancel the cast point of battle cry to make a very loud obnoxious roaring sound. Become a threat to not only the enemy, but to the ears and sanity of your allies who dare move their camera on your hero. This only works for certain True Form cosmetic items (I use Onyx Grove).