+ Strong pushing skills
+ Excellent intelligence gain
+ Incredible Physical damage amplifier
+ Shallow Grave lets you save team mates
+ Item independent
+ Good speed and attack animation
- Very squishy
- Struggles against heavily armoured foes
- Lacks disabling power
- Somewhat level dependent
- Did I mention how squishy he is?
Poison Touch is a single target slow/stun/nuke with a strong emphasis on Damage over Time (DoT). When you cast it, you get approximately 3 seconds of slow/stun, then another 7 seconds of damage. This damage is physical, so is reduced by armour rather than magic resistance.
This ability has been tweaked a fair bit of various patches to the point where I'd say it's "alright" - not great, but not bad either. It can help you setup ganks and escapes, and is especially annoying for enemies who have Blink Daggers.
It has a slightly longer range than your auto-attack, so you can start ganks/harassment with it and then follow up with a bunch of right click.
The stun/slow works as follows:
Shallow Grave is Dazzle's signature skill - a unique ability that prevents the targeted unit from dying while under it's effect, no matter how much damage they take.
The only thing that can go through Shallow Grave is Axe's Culling Blade - which debuffs it before applying the damage. It cannot be purged any other way.
Obviously, this ability can be tremendously strong in various situations - having your carry alive and doing damage for another 5 seconds, or your primary initiator alive long enough to cast their big teamfight ability can be a really big deal.
It can also be used to save allies (or yourself) from very unlikely situations, and can be extremely frustrating for enemy players. However, be aware of the limitations - being alive for a further 5 seconds may be almost useless if you still can't get away.
It has it's full 5 second duration from level 1, with the range increasing and the mana cost and cooldown reducing with levels. This can make levelling Dazzle a little tricky - you get "more" from your other skills, but points in Shallow Grave make it much easier to use.
Choosing when to Shallow Grave allies can be tricky - to get the maximum effect you want to wait until your team mate is on very low health, then cast it at the last possible second. However, you obviously need to get it away soon enough to protect them. This can be a difficult balancing act and you need to judge pretty accurately how much damage the enemy will be inflicting.
Make sure you have Shadow Wave and/or Mekansm ready as the buff ends so you can give them a bit of heal and get them off the 1 health they're probably sat on. It's especially handy if your ally has an Armlet of Mordiggian here.
Shadow Wave is quite a deceptive spell for beginners - it's a heal, right? You spam it to heal your friends, right? Well, not really, no. While it has some healing utility, it's a very expensive way of doing it, and not the best for sustaining in lane.
So what is it then? Basically it's a nuking/pushing spell. If you cast it into your creep wave you'll heal each of them, and also damage each enemy they're in contact with. Enemies next to multiple allied units will take Shadow Wave damage from each of them - which is the real strength of this skill.
Even at level 1, you could cast it on your creeps when they're next to an enemy melee hero - that's 240 damage right there. Bear in mind however that you'll need more friendly units in melee range of enemies to greatly increase that damage with more levels - one of the reasons I don't usually max it until a bit later.
Bear in mind that this is another Physical damage spell - so strong versus magic immune heroes, but weak against heavily armoured ones. It's also got the nice "turnaround" effect of all nuke/heals - if you cast it on a friendly hero fighting an enemy within melee range then you both heal them, and damage the enemy.
Obviously once your mana pool is big enough later on, spam it as much as you can in team fights to keep your team healed up, and nearby enemies damaged.
Weave is a deceptively powerful spell, but not the easiest to use perfectly. Every hero in the AOE when it's cast will receive an armour buff or debuff depending on which team they're on - allies get bonus armour, enemies get a reduction. As it does no actual damage itself, new players often struggle with this ability - is it doing anything? How much difference does it make?
At maximum effect, the potential 36 armour reduction/buff can increase/decrease physical damage by as much as 85%. However, this is an absolute maximum, and unlikely in a real situation.
In fact, it's very difficult to work out what exactly it's worth due to the nature of the constantly shifting values and relative impact of those changes. You won't see big flashes of extra damage or reduction, but your team will win fights they wouldn't have done otherwise, or certainly with fewer casualties.
I've worked out from a test scenario that a rough average is that your team gains about 25% more protection from physical damage for the duration of the ult at Level 2. This is obviously loaded with lower protection initially, and higher later on. It also depends greatly on the starting armour of the heroes (high armour heroes gain about 15%, low armour heroes about 35%).
This effect is mirrored on the enemy team, but high and low armour heroes alike are effected more evenly - taking an average 25-30% more damage. I'd run you through some of the maths I used to get a feel for this, but it's pretty horrific :).
The duration is quite long at 24 seconds, with the effect increasing in strength over this time, then disappearing suddenly. It also has quite a short cooldown at just 40 seconds.
This slow acting effect is what makes Weave a little tricky to use correctly - do you want to use it on your allies before the fight, and then initiate once the effect is strong enough? Do you want to hit as many heroes from both teams as possible during the fight to maximise impact? Do you just cast it on the opposition for maximum damage output?
There's no right or wrong answers to these questions - it depends on the situation. Sometimes you'll want to protect your team more than make the enemy more vulnerable, it depends. A big factor is who initiates the fight, and whether the enemy can disengage easily and wait out it's effect. Lets look at some examples:
1) Your team is about to siege an enemy barracks. You can choose when exactly go in here, but your team will no doubt have to tank some tower damage too. You should probably cast Weave on your own team here before engaging, ensuring they get the strong later benefits of it at a time of their choosing. The opposition have to fight or forfeit the rax.
2) Your team has spotted the whole enemy team in the Roshan pit and crept into position to challenge it. Your allies include a lot of big physical damage heroes, but are split in different positions around the pit. You'd probably drop Weave on the grouped enemy team here, as they can't disengage easily, and it will have maximum effect.
3) Your team are jumped on suddenly by the opposition with no warning. Throw Weave immediately onto the biggest concentration of heroes you can find - it will effect team mates and enemies alike, but you'll have to hope the fight lasts long enough for it to really become effective.
Aghanim's Scepter and Refresher Orb both have interesting interactions with Weave - the scepter increases the rate/total armour change, and also increases the AOE quite considerably. Not an essential upgrade, but quite good.
Refresher Orb wouldn't normally be advisable on an ultimate with a 40 second cooldown (and frankly you'll probably never have the gold for this anyway), but refreshing and recasting Weave will actually stack the effect for some potentially insane armour changes. Two Shallow Graves is also quite nice :)
Bear in mind that Weave does no damage by itself, your team have to supply that!
The two build orders I've given above are fairly good general guides for how to level Dazzle in most situations, but he's actually very flexible.
It's quite possible to level any of his three non-ultimate skills first depending on the situation - they all can be useful straight away. Generally try to wait until you need a specific one before committing the point.
The next decision is whether to max Poison Touch or Shadow Wave first - this depends on whether you're trying to push or gank. Both have certain advantages - but generally I'd level Poison Touch first as Shadow Wave alone isn't enough to actually take towers - you need other threats to stop your creeps being pulled past, or to inflict damage.
It does depend on the lane however - against a melee opponent who's trying to farm, Shadow Wave can be very powerful for the price.
Shallow Grave is a tricky one - you definitely want it available fairly early on, and I definitely wouldn't leave it any later than level 3 to put a point in it - you may even start with it in some lanes.
Generally I'd advise one more point in it after that before finally maxing it late game. This is to reduce the cost/cooldown a little, but probably more importantly, increase the range slightly to make your relative positioning less critical. In some games you may even max this first - for example if the game is a real bloodbath with a lot of early fighting and ganks.
Weave you'll generally want at 6/11/16 - although you can delay it if something else is vital at the time. The increased effect is more notable than it can appear when you're playing, and there's no mana increase.
Dazzle in competitive level play is almost always a hard support (#5) - he doesn't need a lot of additional equipment to be able to do his job. However, I'd argue he's one of the slightly more greedy #5's, as his spells are a bit expensive and some additional equipment is quite useful on him.
Generally you'll supply some combination of Animal Courier/ Observer Ward/ Sentry Ward at the start, and continue warding/dewarding throughout the game. Dazzle does enjoy picking up some relatively cheap extra equipment that's pretty good on him - usually an Urn of Shadows and Medallion of Courage, with another hero picking up the Mekansm.
Despite Shadow Wave and Shallow Grave, Dazzle is actually quite an aggressive support - with those abilities giving him and his allies more scope for risky plays. Your good auto-attack makes it easy to zone out most offlaners, and Poison Touch can punish heroes without good escapes who get out of position.
However, remember that you are quite squishy and vulnerable to burst damage, so be in close support of your aggressive partners rather than right at the front yourself. You want to be the sidekick rather than the bully...
A pretty standard hard support starting kit. We get both the wards and courier, leaving us limited funds for anything else. One set of Tangos should be enough with occasional top-ups from Shadow Wave, while we bulk out our stats and get some mana regeneration.
In the lore, Dazzle was the priest who called Huskar back from Nothl realm, and they can make a devastating pairing on the battlefield too. The main synergy here is Shallow Grave - Huskar's Berserker's Blood provides maximum benefit at very low health, keeping him alive for 5 seconds at this point means massive damage output.
You really want him with you than against you. Counter Helix, Berserker's Call and Shadow Wave have a nice synergy, and he generally works well with you.
Poof into Shadow Wave is both hilarious and deadly.
Allies with big physical damage spells are great in combination with Weave.
All of your damage is physical, so allies who can stack further armour reduction with Weave make you all even more dangerous.
Armlet of Mordiggian heroes work well with you, partly due to their aggressive nature, and the synergy with Shallow Grave.
Again, Shallow Grave can be a huge help for these guys - capable of healing their entire health pool quickly if given time to do so.
Very mobile heroes can cause you plenty of problems - dodging your projectiles and mocking your puny lockdown abilities. Even worse is if they have the burst damage to quickly tear you down.
Heroes with very high armour or the ability to boost the armour of others considerably make your casting abilities weak. Weave does help counter them somewhat however.
Burst damage heroes are a real problem for you - if they can stun/unload enough damage into you, you'll have no time to Shallow Grave yourself or anyone else.
Being Silenced essentially leaves you as nothing but a big, squishy creep.
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