Shadow shaman is one of my favorite heroes. He's very fun to play, and can drastically change team fights and win fights when outnumbered.
This being said, he is a support and should be played as such.
Do not expect to farm gold when sharing a lane, as your carry will need it more than you.
+ Lots of crowd control
- polymorph into a critter and enemy can not attack and can be attacked by anyone (including you) for the duration)
- channeled stun to enemy hero. You can not attack through this, but this will cancel enemy casting and some regenerations (salve, clarity, regeneration rune etc)
- When used right will trap your enemy and they will not be able to escape until they kill a ward to get out(wards are magic immune)
- High lane harassment potential and decent mid game farm
+ High spell based damage potential (from early to mid-late) through ether shock and serpent wards
- VERY squishy
- Focused in almost all team fights
- No escape mechanism
- Slow movement speed
- Very mana dependant (this is a problem in early to mid game)
Usually as the support class, you'll need to purchase a courier for the team. If you do not need a courier, buy wards so your mid will have rune vision.
If the following is covered by someone else, I would stay with the initial purchase items and save the money to buy boots quicker.
After boots buy an energy booster, this is essential early game as you will need the mana, the bigger mana pool, and can support your team's mana at the same time.
These should always be on cooldown. You should always be keeping a high mana reserve in case of a fight as you will burn it off very quickly.
After mana boots, I usually go with a bracer in order to be slightly more durable and less squishy. Some people like to get two of these, and that's fine, I personally like to play more offensively and rush the blink dagger.
Blink dagger - this is crucial to your build. This gives you a viable escape in bad situations or when roaming. Most importantly this will let you land your enemy in a trap serpent ward, as the range is very short.
After blink dagger, the next item will depend on your team composition and how the game is going.
If you need more crowd control, I would do Eul's scepter for the whirlwind.
If you team needs more damage, go Aghanim's scepter for increased ward dmg.
If you are having a hard time mid game and need additional hp or mana, I would build Perseverance ring
Linken's orb / Pipe / Bloodstone if you are being killed too early in team fights (likely you are being too aggresive and should not be the initiator)
Additionally you can buy a mek if your team really needs it, but in most games I would prefer to have Eul's scepter for the cc and my extra mana regen
I would recommend people watch youtube video's on this. Serpent ward casting on the center of a hero will create wards in a square around them
X X X
X 0 X
X X X
If you have problems doing this, or are new to shadow shaman, polymorph the enemy first. This will slow down their movement and make them smaller, making it easier to figure out where the target middle is.
In most cases, it is essential to blink on to the enemy, so they do not have a chance to run or blink away. Serpent ward is a very small cast distance (550), so you want to hopefully be within 300-400 of them, so you do not miss the range and have your character step then cast, missing the trap.
- As a commenter brought up, more experienced players will fight their way out of serpent ward. This is unavoidable at later levels if you can't rush to aghanim's scepter. There are a couple of ways that this can happen in a fight.
Depending on the way the fight happens, I'll often try to crowd control as much as possible in order to let my team focus one or two at a time and take them down. If I'm able to, I'll serpent ward a hero, hex another hero, and wait a second for things to play out to see If I should use shackle to potentially save a team mate from death, or to keep one of my currently controlled targets out of the fight longer, or from running away.
In these situations I hope for my team to focus and kill most of their team while I have their supports and/or carries controlled. Often after a few seconds of confusion the hero that was serpent warded will kill a ward and start to run. Most often after a step or two I will shackle and have the wards and whoever is available on my team to finish them off. I prefer to do it this way, as often the hero warded will
1) panic and use their ult wrong
2) panic and stand there briefly, half watching the fight and taking damage at the same time
If in a smaller low level fights, I will often hex then ward them. This lets me be
1) more accurate in ward placement, especially before I have a blink dagger
2) take less or no damage from them while I'm fighting their lane partner
3) ensure they have a delay and take damage before having a chance to break out - almost guaranteeing the kill.
Laning with shadow shaman is very versatile.
You can choose mid and do well, as your crowd controls and ether shock make you in control of most situations (considering you have wards or are aware of missing enemies) and is AMAZING for rune control. You should buy a bottle fast after the starting gear. The extra levels can pay off and let you get your blink dagger and rush to get aghanim's scepter. Doing this will let you carry and end pub games fast, or a hard support and tower pusher in more experienced matches.
In choosing other lane's you should be with a carry, to baby sit them and make sure
1) they never die
2) you gank the enemy and your carry gets the kill
3) your enemy is harassed through ether shock and never gets last hits
4) since your carry is last hitting, you deny everything.
Early ether shock is very mana draining. Use it only when you can get creep kills and harass the enemy hero off the same cast (unless you are going in for a gank). I might throw it off once before level 3 if the other team is very defensive, but I wait until 3 (2 pts into ether shock) until I am actively using it to harass.
In my experience, jungling is not very efficient with shadow shaman
I keep my writing about late game very minimal, because Shadow Shaman does not need many items. Unfortunately you shouldn't get much farm in early game, and you should be in every team fight, which limits the time you can spend in lane farming when you do have the skills to. If you do very well or get farm, I would get multiple items from the late game list. I would start with aghanim's and pick my items based on my and the enemy team's composition. Bloodstone is great if I want to be tankier or am scared of dying. Black king bar or linken's if I am being focused and disabled. Pipe of insight or mekanism if I have a support or someone else on my team dying in every fight. If you have a plethora of money, I would probably use it to increase health, magic resist or armor, or boots of travel to have an easier time getting around and running away.
In most games, I will end up with aghanim's scepter for the damage I can add to team fights, and tower pushing, and eul's for the utility and mana regen. By the time that I have both of these, I will likely already be in their base with my team, destroying their barracks. So anything on top of those basics, I view as supplemental and not really needed.
This is under construction, and I will edit and add more about laning and strategies at a later point
Critiques, criticism or comments welcome. This build is how I have had the most fun and have had the most successful games playing shadow shaman