So basically this guide came about for two reasons - One, I like the Hero, and I have been having a good time with it thus far.
And two, from observations of Pro Games featuring tree, I noticed that the common trend was to buy Boots first on Tree, and then go utilize the menace than is 85 base damage on something with Boots of Speed at level 1.
So basically I'm going to outline that strategy as well as some other more standard ones to try and make it as comprehensive a Tree guide as I am capable.
Far to the west, in the mountains beyond the Vale of Augury, lie the remains of an ancient power, a fount of eldritch energy nestled deep in the high woods. It is said that the things that grow here, grow strangely. To the forces of nature this is a sacred place, made to stay hidden and unknown. Many are the traps and dangers of this land--all-consuming grasses and crossbred fauna and poisonous flowers--but none are so fierce as the mighty Treant Protectors. These ageless, titanic beings, charged with keeping the peace in this dangerous land, ensure that none within encroach without reason, and none without poach their secrets. For time untold they tended to their holy ground, uninterrupted, only dimly aware of the changing world beyond. Yet inevitably the wider world grew aware of this untamed land, and with each passing winter the outsiders grew bolder. Soon they arrived with tools to cut and with flames to burn, and often the Treants would ponder: who are these fragile, industrious creatures? What now had become of the wild, green world? There came and went an age of questions and of doubts, a thousand summers of long traditions set to scrutiny, while more and more the outsiders died and fed their earth. When all that bloomed had finally finished their stay, curiosity had overcome caution. It was decided: a lone Protector would be sent into the wider world, and instructed to wander until the glaciers arose once more, to observe the changing land and its creatures, and to discover what unknown dangers could threaten their sacred ground.
Nature's Guise (Q)
We will start with Tree's most interesting ability. It's gives you invisibility for 15/30/45/60 seconds when within 375 of a Tree. This allows Tree to have some interesting applications in the late game. There is the obvious application of it being an escape mechanism if ganked in the late game (And to allow more important allies like your carry to escape.) It can enable ganks if the opponent over extends towards the tree line (Though I've always found this works better on another team mate who can actually do a lot of damage relative to Tree, Tree just likes popping Leech Seed for the slow, or Overgrowth for the disable if you really need that kill.).
It also lets you act as a living ward. Which I think is kinda neat. It becomes somewhat predictable and only really lasts till they get detection. (You'll only get away with it a few times in a game at most. And by get away with it I mean burst forth from the treeline to gank someone). But that's ok, because it's only a part of the ability, and I feel like if the opposing team if devoting a lot of time and effort to kill you, you are making space for your carry to farm his next item. Which is definitely a trade I would make in the late game.
If you want an early point, I'd suggest getting it over a second point in Leech Seed. Living Armor scales so well that not getting a quick second point in it
This is probably the part of the guide that is most different to other Tree Guides, so lets jump straight in:
Starting Items: -
Nothing like a good old bullet point table to condense down a lot of the earlier information:
So as I have mention before, Treant Protector is a Hero whose skills do fall off slightly as the game develops, thus Tree is at his best when he has a great early game.
Ideally with the Boots of Speed and the Observer Wards you will head to your lane, setting up either an offensive ward (So in the opponents jungle) if going in the offlane, or a defensive one if in the safe lane. The second ward can be placed at the users discretion, though normally I play it to watch over the closest run spot to help out mid.
You then wait till the 0 minute rune and go from there:
If you have no rune spawn at your location, then proceed to your lane and continue from there. If you do get a rune then:
It's not useful at this time since hopefully you won't have taken any damage. Either deny the rune, or leave it. I generally do this at the discretion of the mid player, since it may be possible he wants to try and grab the rune when he gets a Bottle.
It's workable. I generally don't like it as a ganking rune for Tree, and instead use it to stack multiple camps (If possible and if you are good) for someone to far later. (Either stacking ancients if offlane, or any jungle camp if safe lane)
Great rune if you have a decent laning partner (So someone with a stun). Grab it, get in the targets line of retreat, let your partner stun, start hitting the target, pop Leech Seed, and that should be enough for the kill, even if you have to pursue a bit more. It doesn't take many hits for a Tree to kill at level 1, so with a stun and the body blocking you can do, you should be able to get the kill.
I put these two together because they essentially mean the same thing - You should be able to get a solo kill on anyone you want. With a Rune of Haste, the target won't be able to outrun you, and I don't think there's a Hero who can compete damage for damage at level one with a Treant with Leech Seed. And with a Rune of Double Damage, you are swinging for nearly 200 damage with each hit; which means with [Boots of Speed] you can catch-up for the 3-4 hits (Or more likely less) it will take for that kill.
In all these cases, even if you don't get the kill, giving your lane partner a level advantage is definitely worth the rune so long as you don't don't over commit. Tree is strong at level 1, but he still needs to be weary about diving towers too much. Leech Seed heals up a bit, but not enough.
You want to build a level advantage over the opponent, or at least over the opponents supports.
Tree scales better with levels than items when used in a support role, because your abilities keep the same mana cost, but are much more powerful. (You only really need two items over the course of the game to be effective, Arcane Boots to solve your early mana issues, and Blink Dagger to let you initiate)
Higher levels in Leech Seed increase amount of life you are stealing, thus practically doubling your ability to dive for ganks (At level 2 alone), and doubling the power you have in early Team Fights (Given it gives the life to all friendly Hero's in the radius).
And higher levels in Living Armor not only increase the heal, but also means it will stay on a target for more hits, making it better to protect Team-mates in early ganks.
Now, if you got lucky with the rune, and got your first kill you should have high experience and a fast level 2. Now, use your massive damage to harass your opponent in lane (Especially good against Melee lanes, since you will out damage them at first), get easy denies, and build up a level advantage. And do this till you have enough mana for your next Leech Seed. And once you have it, go gank again. Go for the enemy carry if you think you can get the kill (Very good in tri-lanes, you can leave the carry to farm, and go with your support with his disable), and if not go for a kill that will help you get an advantage in another lane.
And if you didn't get that first rune, the same advice is still true; you should look to try and get a kill with your laning partner since it is still very possible with Treant Protector having high base damage. It simply means you have to work harder to set it up. A rotation to mid under Smoke of Deceit is definitely a strong possibility, arguable better since you can give gold to your carry as you are doing this, and give your supports EXP.
You should look to make yourself a presence across the map. Your high base damage will lose it's threat after a while, and thus you should be looking to making the most of it. Get some kills with him, deny kills to the opponent by using Living Armor to protect against ganks, and keep your Tier 1's healthy for as long as possible. The more you can get done early, and the faster you can get your Blink Dagger means the greater impact you will have over the course of a game. (That does not mean you should take farm priority over your carry, or neglect warding, but it is the primary core item you should save for).
This is when your playstyle changes subtly. Your base damage is no longer so vastly greater than the opponents, and you not going to be able to phase people away with just your presence alone. But that doesn't mean you are suddenly not effective.
You have to be effective in other ways; instead of just relying on Leech Seed to get pick-offs you now have Overgrowth to help with that. You can still be globally effective; keep your towers alive for as long as you can with Living Armor. (I mean there is no need to deny a tower when there's a tree on your team; he can just heal it to maximum and undo all the opposing teams hard work). Make yourself present in team fights, Leech Seed can give your entire team HP in a team fight, and Overgrowth can swing an entire team fight your way. Or even just escape from one you have no hope of winning.
All the while keep warding and de-warding, as well as slowly getting to your blink dagger. And once your Blink Dagger is online, start being your teams initator with your ultimate (Unless you have a better initiator like Batrider; in which case save it for optimum usage in a team fight). Don't be afraid to die for the greater good of the team in a team fight - If using Overgrowth will let your carry escape even if you get caught out, it was still worth it. In the end you are just a support, and the carry is more important in the long term.
By now you should definitely have you Blink Dagger (Even if you had a terrible game up till now) and hopefully another item or two (Utility or Luxury, whichever suits the needs of your team best for the game in question).
Your job here is to keep your remaining buildings up for as long as humanly possible, as well as continuing to make the most from your ultimate. But you by now have the added skill of maxed Nature's Guise. And because of that this Gem of True Sight becomes a very nice option.
Because of Nature's Guise, you can safely scout ahead for your team due to the ability to be invisible, as well as dewarding thanks to the Gem of True Sight as you go. It's not an entirely bad idea to spend large portions of this period wandering around the enemy jungle looking for them. Knowledge is power, and Vision definitely gives Knowledge, and being able to get this vision, and the possibility of free and easy jumps on the opponent is valuable.
Now admittedly once you see that the opponents team also has a Gem of True Sight, this tactic falls off a bit, but until then it is definitely worth taking advantage of it. Every little advantage has the potential to snowball into a game winning one.
And above all else; remember you are a support. You are somewhat expendable. Just don't feed, play smart, and you should be dominating games in short order.
I could probably list another half a dozen or so Heroes, but the trend here happens to be these are all Hero's with hard disables. Wraithfire Blast, Magic Missile Storm Hammer even Hex are all good disables allowing Treant Protector to get close enough to them to attack and chase them down and body block them.
Special mention should go to a tri-lane of Mirana and Bane/ Shadow Demon. Nightmare or Disruption into a 5 second Sacred Arrow is a guaranteed kill with Treant Protector's high early damage output. Mirana also makes a good rotating partner if they can hit arrows well enough.
Keeper of the Light is another worthy mention as a friendly support; He's item idependant meaning Treant Protector has slightly more room to farm his core items. His ability to clear out creep waves with Illuminate combined with Chakra Magic to restore mana means you can gank more often as well as well as force dedicated 5 man pushes in order to kill towers. However, this duo does mean you will lack for individual disables from your supports.
Meele Carries can be prone to be being kited around. Overgrowth's disable can prevent this from happening allowing your carries a few seconds of time in which to go to work without having to chase.
Likewise Hero's with high burst damage abilities that require precise positioning e.g. Mystic Flare and Sanity's Eclipse can benefit from the lockdown provided by Overgrowth. Especially against more evasive, but squishy opponents such as Anti-Mage.
All three of Hookshot, Meat Hook and Sacred Arrow are powerful abilities that require precise aiming. What better way to get the perfect shot than using Nature's Guise to get the details of the exact position of the opponents.
Whilst it does require an early point into Nature's Guise, it is one of the situations where it is worth it. This is a perfect example of adapting your skill build to the specific game.
These three Heroes are extremely powerful tower pushers between Nether Blast, Liquid Fire, Diabolic Edict and Mass Serpent Ward they can rapidly destroy towers. And whilst Treant is good at preventing chip damage with Living Armor, he can't really deal with powerful offense like this. Especially since they deal multiple instances of damage, removing Living Armor quickly.
These Heroes each have abilities that give them massive attack speed bonuses ( Strafe, Focus Fire and Overpower) allowing them to attack rapidly and remove Living Armor before it can really make a vast difference in an early game ganks. The same is true when using it on buildings, which can lead to there early destruction. And ever building destroyed reduces Treant Protector's utility in a game.
Both of these Hero's have abilities that remove tree's around the map. When taking an early point in Nature's Guise this can be critical. Firefly in particular, as it allows Batrider to run you down and kill you with relative ease. Timber Chain also allows Timbersaw to do this, and his combination of Chakram and Whirling Death can prove to kill you fast than Batrider, however it's harder to chase you down with Timbersaw than Batrider
They also deal damage in mutliple instances, again burning through Living Armor in rapid order.
Do note, I use the British calendar system for this stuff. So don't be confused if the date doesn't appear to make sense
14/07/2014 - Added Mek and Vlads to the Items section, as well as fix some basic formatting errors.
26/07/2014 - Added Icons and finished the utility Items Section. Added in the allies and Enemy section.
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