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7 Votes

The Shades demand flesh. The simple in-depth guide to Shadow Shaman

September 8, 2014 by Mercynary5
Comments: 3    |    Views: 37070    |   

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Build 5

Shadow Shaman

DotA2 Hero: Shadow Shaman

Hero Skills

Ether Shock

2 4 5 7


3 8 9 10


1 12 13 14

Mass Serpent Ward

6 11 16


15 17 18


Born in the Bleeding Hills, Rhasta was just a starving youngling when picked up by a travelling con-man. For two pins of copper, the old con-man would tell your fortune. For three, hed castrate your pig, for five, hed circumcise your sons. For a good meal, hed don his shaman garb, read from his ancient books, and lay a curse upon your enemies. His strange new youngling, part hill troll, part¦something else, worked as assistant and lent an air of the exotic to the con-mans trade.
Always one step ahead of cheated customers, one town ahead of a pursuing patronage, the two trekked across the blighted lands until one day the con-man realized that the little youngling could actually do what he only pretended at. His ward had a gifta gift that customers valued. And so the youngling Rhasta was thrust before the crowds, and the trade-name Shadow Shaman was born. The two continued from town to town, conjuring for money as Shadow Shamans reputation grew. Eventually, the pairs duplicitous past caught up with them, and they were ambushed by a mob of swindled ex-clients. The con-man was slain, and for the first time, Rhasta used his powers for darkness, massacring the attackers. He buried his beloved master, and now uses his powers to destroy any who would seek to do him harm.


Hello I am Mercynary5, I have played 1 year of playing dota 2 on hundred games with my most played and favorite hero Shadow Shaman. so I felt fully experienced with him and started to make a guide for a new players or anyone who wanted to know how to play him the right way. This is my first published guide on Dotafire and anywhere else. Some of them are working in progress. So don't hesitate, I can answer you back and willing to fix my first guide.

So he is a one of the great intelligent heroes for beginner and expert players and when picked and played right, he can really dominate the game by himself by becoming a great team player.

Shadow Shaman aka Rhasta, is one of the powerful intelligent radiant heroes in Dota 2 that can cast some dark magics. He is a powerful pusher and disabler with an additional spamming aoe nuke and support service into a team. He can be a strong offensive laner or control mid lane well. Able to push the tower quickly and gank the other lanes efficiently as roamer.

He requires six things to play
Target Priority
Know all heroes and items
Few micromanagement
Mana management

With a little experiences of

So there are 10 not-so important things to learn and master it from my rules. If you really want to be the best player with Rhasta.

Forewarning: this is an in-depth guide only for Shadow Shaman. So I will not add "how to ward or push" section to this guide.


If you want to play another hero with great disabler, Lion and Bane can take it, another great pushers are Leshrac and Nature's Prophet. Versatility heroes? Jakiro and Windranger are a great choices.

Rhasta, The Shadow Shaman
Intelligent Radiant Hero
|Base Damage:47-54
|Base Armor:1.24
|Movement Speed:285
|Turn Rate:0.4
|Attack Range:500
|Missile speed:90
Strong pusher
Strong disabler.
Spammable spells.
Strong single-target spells.
Valuable supporter
Can stay up at late game
Limited item of choices

All of his spells needs close range
Very squishy
Very slow
Tank items won't help him
Mana hungry at all stages
No escape mechanism
Horrible turn rate
When to pick Rhasta
Your team needs powerful pusher and disabler
Your team needs support
Want to be a team player
Your team want to rush game and Rhasta is a good choice on mid (IMO)

When not to pick Rhasta
Want to farm
Your team already have powerful disabler or pusher
Your team does not need more supports
Don't want to be a team player
You don't gank and staying on mid for

These are some of the reasons why a lot of players calls him a versatile hero. Though he is really not great for me in my experiences..
Because if you knew this..
Spoiler: Click to view


Ether Shock

Mana cost=95/105/135/160
Originally used to open shows with the travelling con-man, Rhasta's lightning display shocks adversaries in more ways than one.

Your main magical damage dealing, harassing, farming, and pushing skill. It also has low cooldown similar rly to Lina and Zeus which makes you look like really strong thanks to your aoe size. You can finish your opponent by hitting on creep and your shock will have a chance to linked when used right. When used on all low hp heroes in the center of their team, you have high chance to kill them all up to 1000 range, if used in center. This is what makes Shadow Shaman a versatile hero.
Cooldown=13 seconds
Duration=1.25/2/2.75/3.5 seconds

Mana cost=110/140/170/200
Rhasta often ended performances by turning himself into a chicken - now, the humiliation is shared.

One of your strong disable spell. Has instant cast time and low cooldown. Use it for shutting them down or escape away. Useful on high priority target for Carry > Nuker > Initiator or vice versa!
Cooldown=16 seconds
Duration=2.75/3.5/4.25/5 seconds
Damage per second=40

Mana cost=110/130/155/185
A self-defense incantation, Rhasta developed shackles after his master was slain in the Bleeding Hills.

Longest non-ulti disable in the whole Dota. Perfect spell to use (especially after teamfight when the enemy carry is alone!) This make spells makes you a valuable supporter in your team. It does not have instant cast time and needs really close range. It is channeled as well so keep that in mind.
Duration=45 second
Damage per second=45/60/75
Mana cost=200/350/600
Serpents attack range=600
Serpents health pool=150
Minimum range deals 100% of total damage
Maximum range deals 20% of total damage
Snake charming was a big part of the Shadow Shaman's act; now Rhasta can empower the snakes to do his bidding.

Your serpents ward are a great damage dealers but immobile in team fight and pushing tower. Once it's got upgraded from your Aghanim's Scepter. It can destroy any tower or hero in no time! You can manually control it. See more on "Tips from Shades" chapter. The closer enemies to your Mass Serpent Ward, the greater damage will be received.

Priority on leveling skills on every game!
Mass Serpent Ward > Ether Shock > Hex > Shackles.

Items (Working in progress)

Rhasta has limited items to buy in this section, do not buy anything else outside of this section. He is a hard support but till buy any support items because he is really strong without reliable items, just a pair of Arcane Boots. Anything that costs his mana high is considered to be a bad items, like Mekansm but can be still used as a situational item.

Tanking him won't help him at all. So what does he need?
Rhasta needs mobility (like Blink Dagger and Force Staff) and more powers as much as he can have. What powers? More nuke and slow aoe Shiva's Guard, more Mass Serpent Ward pushing and damaging with Aghanim's Scepter and Refresher Orb, or more crowd control tool like Eul's Scepter of Divinity. Any items in this section will you an ideas!

Starting items
Depends on the number of position from 2 to 5. get a set of tangos and healing salves or just tango and keep some golds for speed of boots. or you can buy something else you might need it, some branches for magic wand or mekansm, ring of proection ring of ballius will give him a strong lane control that you can often spam your ether shock or early push, or you can buy a bottle that is a pretty good for mid, expensive if you're not going on the mid lane. and thats pretty much what you can buy it. Don't forget to buy some support items, included at early to late game.
Core items
Choose your core item after arcane boots

The best boots for shaman is arcane boots. Best mana pool for small cost and an active to restore a good mana. You have three other items you can buy one for your core: Blink Dagger, Force Staff or Eul's Scepter of Divinity. Then you can buy Aghanim's Scepter for a final item of your core build, it brings out a serious damage that can take out towers or heroes much quicker than you think!
comparisons between core items

-No mana cost
-Travel distance longer
-Fast as blink
-Low cooldown
-Can jump in trees or fog safely
-Cannot escape from damage/slow
-Can't save allies
-No mana pool expansion

-Has mana cost
-Travel distance shorter
-Not fast as blink
-High cooldown
-Can't jump in trees or fog safely
-Can escape from damage/slow
-Can save allies
-Give mana pool expansion

-Great mana regeneration
-No travel distance like "blink"
-Gives you third unreliable disable
-Great roaming speed
-Great casting range
-Not a great escape item
-Partially can save allies (even the patch removed it)
-Give mana pool expansion

Although it doesn't matter if they have many negatives, each of this item can certainly do well in many situations, a better way is to experiment and see what you will in some games so you won't have to worry about it again. Some core items can be bought together if it can go better way.
Luxury items

Bloodstone, better respawn, losing less golds, great hp and mp pool, nice mp regeneration, and a suicuide active. This item is great not only for the one dying a lot but for snowballing the game. A better alternative item is Refresher Orb which you can summon your 20 serpent wards to show off your own ultimate pushing power and a same mana regeneration, it can take whole rhasta mana pool but it is efficiently strong on pushing to the ancient base efficiently or a lot of powers on teamfight.

Another alternative item for bloodstone is Shivas guard, gives you an additional armor and has aura that is going to be useful against carries, and has active that does not have bad nuke and slow aoe. And the best part is give you a huge mana pool for just 2700 golds from Mystic Staff, but don't buy it just for that, Shadow Shaman needs some mobility and powers like Blink Dagger and Refresher Orb, so does shivas guard! Really great item IMO.

Necronomicon this item makes Rhasta become a punisher to an enemies. With great pushing power and true sight. This item will make Rhasta scary to anyone. Deward and catch invisible heroes.

Aghanim's Scepter a very powerful item that doubles Mass Serpent Ward damage for Shadow Shaman! If you had a feeling that you don't need to push or damage a lot, or you have low amount of golds you want to get something now like Ghost Scepter or other luxury/situational items. Then it can be skipped.

Black King Bar Can let you stay in a battlefield for a longer duration, situation item but a great survivability item. Makes you really gold in teamfight.

Scythe of Vyse get it as a final item as it scales well in the very late game if you have enough golds and no slot will be next. Though I wouldn't buy if I don't need more disable or I likely won't to survive to cast another spell.Shadow Shaman will be the scariest to a lone hero and it will be full guaranteed when used all disables with your Mass Serpent Ward together.

Early game and situational items

Bottle for every mid heroes out there! you should pick this as always for Shadow Shaman.

Ring of Basilius is a great early item that can give you a mana regeneration and an aura to push tower.

Urn of Shadows Stats aren't matter anyway, If you able to gank and play aggressive, this a great item for any supporter like Shadow Shaman.

Drum of Endurance is a nice overall item for Rhasta. Gives him all he needs in early game. Easy last hits, bigger health pool and mana pool. With an aura and active that speeds allies and himself which is at any stage. when to buy it? can be before and after Arcane Boots.

Medallion of Courage is really great for Rhasta as it becomes useful ganking item. Combine with Mass Serpent Ward against heroes and Roshan (only with aghamin's scepter), they can be total devastated.

Ghost Scepter, hard hitters will have a hard time against you. like Phantom Assassin

Pipe of Insight Not a great carrier for a squishy, still great but they are always a better carrier for this because tanking will not help you anywhere even within the edge.

Mekansm, almost a great item for rhasta but as he needs mana badly through many stage of the game but can be still bought as it is a great choice for any supporters to hold for team.

I am still working in progress on this section..

Playing Shadow Shaman

Which lane he should go to?

He can almost take any lane with his great number of role from position 2 to 5. He can take mid but better on dual lane or trilane. He can take offlane role if your enemy team does not have strong lane heroes. much like Disruptor and Warlock, but there are still better offlaners out there.

Starting game
Onto dual lane or trilane!

I would use Shadow Shaman build to maintain well on the dual lanes or mid lane, Sentry Shaman for a future of anti-invisible hero build. or if you're ganking early (leaving trilane?) I would take Roaming build as its really great for controlling rune and gank any lane to help others. Rushing build is absolutely powerful when you go mid and team want to run the game fast and end quickly with an early gank and push all the lanes.

Anyway, you wanted to win the lane by secure your carry for a kill or survive if you can't play aggressive. Shadow Shaman can go as a trilaner because he is pretty stronger with more of his allies on the lane.
I would level up Hex if the opponent team does not have offlaner and they would be dangerous together on hardlane. If not, Shackles is a great offensive spell that works well with aggressive carry like Ursa and Juggernaut, with the best level 1 of all disables.

Ether Shock is great at level 1 already (140 damage) but turns out it doesn't link to anyone next to him. I keep it as level 2 or level 3 OR if I don't need another disable, I'll level it early on 2 and 3 at the same time. and then level up hex on 4 and I will max Ether Shock when I reached level 7.

Onto mid lane!

He is great with controlling runes and harassing heroes, great mid heroes like Outworld Devourer and Queen of Pain can really hurt Rhasta because they are 1st tier of mid heroes and Shadow Shaman is probably on 2nd tier. His skillset are the main reason why he can go on mid lane.

Shackles is great if they enter your tower range or before creep waves are coming to your oppoent! or Hex can make you feel safe if anyone is ganking you or your opponent is extremely dangerous.

Early game
After receiving few of golds, you want to upgrade your starting items into Ring of Basilius or Magic Wand. Or do you want to gank early? Get Urn of Shadows, no question to ask, it is a great item for any heroes who can gank especially supporter.

Your next item should be a pair of Arcane Boots after you gathered some early game items like Magic wands or least Magic Stick .If you buy a Bracers to turn in it into Drum of Endurance personally, I wouldn't say no but I wouldn't buy it if I dont' have enough gold to get that either for Arcane Boots too.

Mid Game
It's time to go on pushing and team fight constantly, control the map with observer wards and Smoke of Deceit. The most you can participate the fight, your Urn of Shadows will get better as uses for many stages. Especially powerful use of Medallion of Courage. Team up!

It's time for Shadow Shaman to shine! His Ether Shock is quite strong as it gives strong magical damage with an area of effect plus a low cooldown as it can tell his strength are quite strong at mid-game. You will have to disable high target priority and do it well in timing with proper Hex and Shackles. If not, you're not contributed as a good team player if you have failed it. Communicating will enhance your teamwork. Your Mass Serpent Ward, should be used every time for teamfights and pushing the towers. When placed well in the middle position of the fight. You will have earned killing on the opponents who dared to fight you and your minions.

Which disable should I max first? Hex or Shackles?
You will want to level up Hex as second maxed because it's reliable and strong disable on one target, as Shackles mentioned to be longest disable, it has to be unreliable disable because it has shorter range, has cast time, higher cooldown, and get stucked with your opponent, but that's OKAY because you're not a dps hero right? Well there are few problems; more than Hex, it has higher cooldown and gives you bad position. and as I said before, no instant cast time and much shorter range. So Shackles will be maxed last DO NOT REPLACE WITH STATS PLEASE

Late game: Now if you pushed well anywhere to 3rd towers, great job. You just done your big part of your role! especially teamfight with your great CC abilities. Now the most important is to TEAM up again and don't lose the game. You are still great at the late game, try your best to push more like Nature's Prophet if your team demanded and so others possible are. Oh and if the teamfight is happening again, do like you had done before, get high priority targets or you can lose any teamfights easily!

Get any luxury and situational items like Black King Bar and Ghost Scepter and fight with it. Please, do not sell your core items. Oh and dont't forget to buy Boots of Travel I'm pretty sure you do had enough of mobility and powers to do. Refresher orbs will make Rhasta really awesome, his 20 Mass Serpent Wards will just wreck towers hard than hard carries, guess the dps? 2400 damages per second, calculate with armors and it's still higher than hard carries.


Shadow Shaman build is the way to play him. In summary, Every Shadow Shaman players goes to Magic Wand -> Arcane Boots -> Blink Dagger -> Aghanim's Scepter in many dota games, and he isn't really hard to play unless you're new to Dota, but don't worry I'm pretty sure my guide helped you alot to learn more!

Sentry build is my latest and greatest build for Rhasta with high winrate!
You will play as a hard support against anti-invisible heroes which it really worked great for Rhasta as he has amazing disable skillset, pwn Nyx Assassin and Bounty Hunter easily. you WILL often buy sentry wards. more support = more strength to your team. Their strength are invisible so it is effective to use this build. Recommended for anti-pub or anti-invisble players.

Recommended to use when Techies released. It's a must.

Roaming build is great if your mid player does not use bottle often, there are better roamer but I had fun with it too. I would always buy Urn of Shadows or else he is utterly useless. oh as a roamer, you will have to pull your safelane creep camp too.

Rushing build.. I felt this is really used for competitive scene when I played it, I had high winrate against STRONG players and that is not a joke if you believed me. If your team want to finish fast the game. You should use this build and go mid, control the early game by controlling rune, gank and push fast or vice versa! Take down all possible towers you can with your proper team's status and do not get any defensive items unless there are no choice. Blink Dagger is the best item for this build! any question? try it out first.

Oh and I haven't put something there for every build, Get Town Portal Scroll and Magic Wand asap if you can too, its great for every heroes out there in competitive scene.

I will repeat, Rhasta is not a carry on mid but as long as he get all last hits as possible for just a few items he needed (thanks to his limiation of his items) then he can gank or push to control the game efficient. You will love this build including some of my builds. You will get commended mostly for using Rushing Shaman and Sentry Shaman builds when played well!

How to ward trap (Working in progress)

It has a cast Time of 0.3 and required to cast with very short range, and one of the worst moment you will have is your hero has horrible turn rate which it can take time to cast it like Shadow Fiend and Earthshaker while turning.

Simply, try to put it at their feet, not their head. While predicting their movement direction. Cast it where they will go to and land it well with timing. In order to trap it in easiest way is to cast Hex him/her then land your ward, or cyclone and ward trap it. Ward trapping without hex is the hardest thing to do and needs some practicing, especially landing on racing car Bloodseeker, which I did it as a miracle...

Eul's Scepter of Divinity makes much easier thanks to cyclone

I am working in progress on this section. If you been waiting to see this, it will be worth when I'm done with a video/gif pictures.

Rhasta and allies against enemies

Rhasta is not great without his allies, here we got a combo list with allies.

Hit it really hard! Best combo on the lanes of Dota.

Best CCs + Best DPS = Win!

Reducing armors to the enemy team makes your Mass Serpent Ward far from useless.

Those guys can make a big plate for your Mass Serpent Ward to eat your opponents up.

Get the mana for free and dominate the lane with them!

Easy Combo, easy life.

Makes your close range spells become useful

Once Rhasta caught them with low hp it is almost guaranteed they will be finished of with your long single-target spells. And your hex is basically counter to everyone which is the reason why everyone got annoyed easily like Lion.

Any heroes that have high mobility and escape mechanisms:

Any heroes that has extradoniary channeling abilities

Heroes and Items countering Rhasta

There are also an items that can counter him badly. Phase Boots and Force Staff will have to make Rhasta think twice. Orchid Malevolence and Black King Bar will fear him more. As Necronomicon and Radiance will also torture him a lot. Especially Diffusal Blade and Linken's Sphere. Avoid usage of his Hex on you.

: Can remove his allies from your spells with his Aphotic Shield and can survive against your skillset with his Borrowed Time, able to purge by himself. what else can you hate more on anyone else than him?

: Your biggest rival in the game, mimic one of your strong spell with his Spell Steal and your team will probably be in trouble.

: You will hate them.

: rescue his allies by using his Meat Hook to your disabled enemies and you're not happy because he steals your precious kill.

You just bought a Black King Bar? Well, her Laguna Blade can still kill you. The best spell caster against Rhasta.

Those heroes can hurt you really hard without targeting you

Heroes that has heavy armor skills/aura, especially , to reduce Mass Serpent Ward damage.

Any heroes that has silence:

Any heroes that burn your mana

The three nightmares you will have with Shadow Shaman:

One of the three top countered. Too many targets for you, also big hp and strong illusions.

One of the three top countered. counters you very hard on the lane with shifting dagger! Once she have Coup de Grace on.. wait, once she gets Black King Bar. Its gg. avoid going against her and go to a different lane.

One of the top three countered. Your all spells being casted at the time will kill you from his Nether Ward, and counters your shackling with his drain life. And even worse when he is in your team. He can steal your tower kill with his Nether Blast! Geez what's up with him..

Final Boss
Meet Davion, The Dragon Knight.

Let my face be the last thing you see.

The three heroes you are being countered at ease by Chaos Knight, Phantom Assassin, and Pugna. But what about this guy? This guy will TELL you how a real hell works for you once you faced him. considered it to be worse than Doom Bringer.

He will purchase Black King Bar as a core item and smack you down with any kind of dps item in no time! His Dragon Blood is naturally insane. your mass serpent wards won't do even a shrink of his health pool when he maxed it! He even has lower cooldown stun Dragon Tail compared to your Hex. Elder Dragon Form gives him a better attack range and his splash attack and slow effect can really hurt you even you have Black King Bar!

But what's so funny.. If he doesn't go mid. What happen if you and Juggernaut against him on the dual lane.. He would be easily get easily squashed by any of your lane combo.. Really funny when he entered your Shackles range. Woah, now that was easy.

Tips from Shades (Working in progress)

-Use hex then cancel your swing animation quickly then shackle. this improves your quick spell casting which is useful. which was Rhasta's great problem if you didn't knew that.

-Use hex first then shackle, it has better cast range and cast time.

-Shadow Shaman can mid, can farm and harass well at the same time. since he is not the carry. you should go gank on the lanes if they are in trouble. or just push mid tower if the enemies are playing passive. If you know how to mid, you know the job of the mid lane.

-Be careful though, dota isn't about 1vs1 somehow in most situation. Try not to kill a lone hero because it can be a bait too or it's likely pudge has tp already and will gank you, ignore and call your team to prepare for a suprise teamfight after ganking lone hero. As you're getting better as a team player.

Doom Bringer

-Hex and shackle, use these at the same time , its like 4vs3! (yea your being disabled from shackle too..) or Scythe of Vyse for 4vs2! or with Refresher Orb.. ok that's enough, I really don't where you get those amount of golds..

-When you shackled someone, this means you're also being disabled, so watch out if enemy can kill you in your easy position like Pudge, Visage. quickly cancel it!
The usage of Mass Serpent Wards

-Ward trapping in early game doesnt mean you will get easily kill if they got blink, your hex and shackle are not in good levels yet. but still great against supporters.

-if you summoned ward near terrains like trees or wall of rivers, wards are likely going to be scrambled which it doesn't look like for ward trapping. be mind about that.

-Remember you can manually control your ultimate spell, you can catch that fleeing enemy with low hp, deny aegis and tower or even your allies on doom spell.
But be careful you also can accident ward trap your ally! those will likely going to happen on your melee allies.

-To make it much easier with Mass Serpent Ward control. Set up in your option and use this: Control a units you summoned immediately, then ward trap and right click on your target before or after you have disabled on him.

I am working in progress on this section by formatting better.


Today (August 21st) I played with my friend and he played as Bristleback, we're on hardlane against Naga Siren and Nyx Assassin it was pretty boring until the 9 minute reached, we got a great fight so we got tied at the end. Our safelane allies Keeper of the Light and Alchemist were having a bad start till almost the mid game. Me and Bristleback completely secured the early and mid game and control Alchemist's farm till to the end of the game and we won as he farmed very well. Unfortunately Invoker was playing horrible too but at least not feeding. Keeper of the Light was fine but he completely flamed our team for not being perfection, he is still great player. Enemy team was being cocky to us for being underestimated. We won, was not a great game though at the end. They prematurely gave up.

This is one of the game I played today, a great positioning with mass serpent wards can really change the game that can give you triple and ultra kill.

Changelog|Upcoming topics/features

Here I will update and willing to add more until version 2 is reached and can be done as final version if nothing else are needed. Will update automatically if he got buffed or nerfed. But should not be as he is the most balanced hero along with Dragon Knight and Earthshaker IMHO.

Again this is my first guide so don't worry as I already knew there are some errors are there but I felt this is just what players want to know about Shadow Shaman than formatting this guide.

If you found this useful and want to support me, upvote. If not, question me or remind me what I have missed and I will answer to you directly.
Good luck and have fun!


Spoiler: Click to view

BAD NEWS: my laptop has been corrupted, all of my games included purchased that are not from my steam are gone! I will continue this guide faster on next week when I got new laptop. Sorry for a slow progression! If you had any question to Shadow Shaman comment below!

(August 29)
Upcoming topics/features
-Removing my massive errors in this guide..
-Why did he got picked at TI4 and not at TI3 often. and vice versa for Visage...
-Expanding guide
-Adding Shadow Blade
-Still working on chapters

Current version: 1.4 (Still working on it)

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