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9 Votes

Toxic support - 6.79 updated

January 24, 2014 by Tikru8
Comments: 5    |    Views: 49230    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3

Support on acid

DotA2 Hero: Venomancer

Hero Skills

Venomous Gale

1 12 13 14

Poison Sting

2 3 5 8

Plague Ward

4 7 9 10

Noxious Plague

6 11 16


15 17 18

Toxic support - 6.79 updated

January 24, 2014


24.1.2014: Added "Sir Slow-a-lot" - build and discussion, updated content match 6.79 playstyle and changes.
27.-30.9.2013: Minor additions and format improvements.
1.-2.10: Added section on discussing when to pick which support item.
14.10: Added roaming & pushing skill builds.

18.10: Venomancer saw major changes in patch 6.79.

+ Poison Nova no longer ignores invis/fogged units
+ Venomous Gale no longer ignores invis units
+ Poison Sting duration increased from 6/8/10/12 to 6/9/12/15
+++ Plague Wards now have Poison Sting for 50% of the damage at the current skilled level (When both Venomancer and a Plague Ward affect a target, only the highest dps is applied) o_O

-- Poison Sting dps no longer dispels healing or disables dagger :(
- Plague Wards XP bounty increased from 12/12/25/25 to 20/25/30/35
- Venomous Gale damage over time rebalanced from 15/30/45/60 to 0/30/60/90
-- New Venomancer model looks like something from a cheesy B-class horror movie


Venomancer is a damage-over-time (DoT) hero that is most commonly played as a support. This is a tad strange as his (its?) primary attribute is agility, making him theoretically more suitable for a carry role. His skills, however, are heavily support-oriented and this is where Venomancer actually excels. Venomancer is good at getting early kills but is very dependent on his team doing well. He is constantly balancing on a knife's edge regarding his positioning: His abilities are fairly short-ranged and he is squishy and slow. This means a veno too far away is an ineffective veno but a veno bit too close is a dead veno. You have to have a good eye for positioning with Venomancer, otherwise you are better off playing support heroes that have room for positioning errors thanks to HP and/or movement speed such as Warlock, Lich, Abaddon or Lion.

Pros and cons


+ Excellent slow and kill potential already at level 1 with Venomous Gale
+ Ulti Poison Nova does huge damage over time
+ Normal autoattack with Poison Sting does huge damage over time
+ Free wards for scouting and vision
+ Great push and counterpush with Plague Wards
+ Awesome voice

- Squishy
- Slow
- Short range
- Small mana pool and slow regen
- Doesn't scale well into lategame

Item build

Early game

To start with, get the Animal Courier or Observer Wards along with some regen items: Tango, Healing Salve and a clarity potion or two. For stats or survivability get ironwood branches or Ring of Protection. I prefer Ring of Protection as it will be turned into a Ring of Basilius for some protection, mana regen and aura for your allies as soon as possible. Then I like to get Boots of Speed to adress your slooow movement speed.

Early game keep up Observer Wards and always carry a Town Portal Scroll to tp in for help in case one of your lanes gets ganked etc.

Tip: Get Magic Stick only if you remember to use it in the middle of fights. The key is to pop it in the middle of a fight just when you are dying or when you desperately need mana for Poison Nova or Venomous Gale. Otherwise it is just +3 stats and an occupied item slot.

A Bracer is recommended for survivability early on after Boots of Speed. It can be substituted with a Urn of Shadows or a fast Mekansm. Boots of choice would be Arcane Boots if your team needs extra mana at all. You benefit as well from the increased mana pool and mana replenish since especially early on 2 Venomous Gales will eat up all your mana.

Support item breakdown

Midgame try and get at last 1 item from the "Support core" list to help your team. There are several viable options for Venomancer so adjust to he situation. Here is a breakdown of +/- counting for and against getting the individual items or not. A more complete breakdown can be found in my other guide about support items.

Mekansm is something every team should have. If no-one else is getting it, you get it. Otherwise other items are perhaps a little bit better for Venomancer as he tends to be so close to the enemy due to short range of his ulti and autoattack. This easily leads to Venomancer being bursted down rapidly, leaving the team with no heal.

+ Nobody else is getting it
+ You like it and can avoid getting killed first in team fights

- You get killed first in fights before having a chance to use it

Drum of Endurance is perhaps the best item to get on Venomancer: You really need the movement speed and can leverage all of the +9 stats it gives you as you have low int and low HP. Besides this, your team gets an aura and an active ability that helps your escape or chase.

+ You & team need more mobility
+ You are (almost) dying every fight -> get extra HP
+ Enemy team has gankers that rely on burst-damage combos (e.g. Pudge) or chain stuns
+ You can't afford anything else

- Someone else is already getting it
- Your team needs more something else

The HP is escpecially needed to survive the initial combo of heroes such as Pudge or to (hopefully) live through multiple stuns. Much of Pudge's effectiveness relies on the enemy being so squishy that they die to the Meat Hook + Dismember combo.

Tip: As Drum of Endurance only has 4 charges, I prefer to use it when running after an enemy or away from them and not during teamfights. The extra 5 + 10 % movement speed often really makes a difference between life and death.

Force Staff is a great item that gives +10 int, +3 HP regen and you can actively force any hero within 800 range to move instantly 600 units in the direction it is facing. It has many, many uses such as:
- Getting faster from fountain to front line
- Passing impassable terrain
- Getting yourself or allies away from the enemy
- Chasing
- "Hooking" enemies in to your team
- Disabeling enemy Linken's Sphere

Points counting for and against getting it are:

+ Enemy crowd control consists mainly of slows and
+ Enemy is not fast (e.g. Viper, Drow Ranger, Venomancer ;)
+ You & team needs more mobility
+ You have Bloodseeker or Keeper of the Light: You force movement while enemy is Ruptured or Mana Leaked

- Enemy team has very fast heroes (blink or movement speed) such as Queen of Pain, lycanthrope or Spirit Breaker: They most likely will still catch up to you

Eul's Scepter of Divinity is also great: You get + 150 % mana regen, + 10 int and + 35 movement speed. The active cyclones you or enemy heroes (cannot cyclone allies) for 2.5 seconds, during which the unit is invulnerable.

+ Enemy has fast or invisible gankers such as Night Stalker, Bounty Hunter or Riki
+ Enemy likes to gank a lot
+ Enemy has a carry which relies (almost) only on right-clicking
+ You can get it quite early

- Your team needs movement speed more than a disable

This is the item to counter the support mass murderer also known as Spirit Breaker (before he gets Black King Bar): You can cyclone him in the middle of his charge to interrupt it. Then a) kill him, b) run away or c) run to the woods and teleport out.

Tip: This item is great for interrupting and even turning around ganks by taking one enemy ganker out for 2.5 seconds. In teamfights use this if you see an initator trying to walk up to your team or on the enemy carry with most DPS. Do not use on enemy casters unless you are deliberately messing up their spell combo timing: (Support) caster like being invulnerable during their spell cooldown. Also, do not use it on enemy heroes your team if focusing on.

You might want to cyclone yourself to dodge a nasty spell coming your way (e.g. Magic Missile), if you get initated on or if you are just about to die (assuming, of course that the team will come to your help in ~2 seconds).

Pipe of Insight is an often neglected item that is great for any team facing magic nukers such as Lich, Keeper of the Light, Zeus, etc. It gives you and all nearby units a 400 HP spell shield for 10 seconds.

+ You & team take a lot of magic damage

- You lack HP to survive everything else

Tip: This item is especially useful when going for the enemy's tier 3 towers: you tend to get nuked a lot at this stage and you are grouped close together when going up the stairs to the base.

Rod of Atos is a fantastic item on paper, giving you +25 int, +325 HP and an active 4 second slow of 60 % with a massive 1200 range! The stats are much more than the components themselves give and there is no money wasted on any recepie.

+ Enemies barely escape your ganks and team fights

- Enemy has a lot of hereos that don't care about slow
- Your team is the one running away from fights

Despite the rod's theoretical awesomeness, I end up never getting this on any of the supports I play: The window of most usefulness for this item is when ganks are taking place before the 5v5 man team fights begin. At this stage as a support you usually don't have the farm or your team needed more wards or Mekansm. In team fights it has limited use namely mopping up survivors and preventing melee heroes from closing the gap. If you are on the back foot you need an escape ( Drum of Endurance, Force Staff) or disable ( Eul's Scepter of Divinity) more than a slow. If you have melee heroes,slowing their heroes down during a team fight also has quite limited usefulness - until they start running away.

Tip: Remember to hotkey your active items to convenient buttons so that you don't have to fumble around the keyboard to use them. This goes especially for lifesavers suchs as Mekansm, Force Staff and Magic Stick. I use SPACE for my item slot no. 1 which is my "panic button".

Don't forget these either

Following items are low cost but high utility items that supports can easily afford even when the core support items would be too expensive.

Urn of Shadows is an item that I've really started to like: For a mere 875 gold you get +6 strength, +50 % mana regen and can heal allies for 400 HP or damage enemies for 150 HP every 10 seconds (if you have charges). Usually this item is recommended for gankers but it is great on almost any support - if no-one else has it already.

Medallion of Courage
You get +50 % mana regen, +6 armor and can actively reduce one enemy hero's armor by -6. When using the active, you will also loose -6 armor so you are effectively getting +/- 0 armor from the item. The - armor is really useful especially on low-armor heroes or Roshan.

Leeroy Jenkins style

If you feel like kamikaze, get a Blink Dagger or Shadow Blade and be the team's initiator! Your ulti Poison Nova does huge DoT so it is (perhaps) worth it to blink in, Poison Nova the enemy team and then... well... (Another reason not to put Mekansm on Venomancer.) Note that unlike other "blink in, do your thing"- initiators such as Tidehunter or Enigma, your ult does not stun nor deal the damage instantly. Therefore, you will most likely be the focus of the entire enemy team after your initiation.

Tip: Have Kunkka X Marks the Spot you before you blink in, then Poison Nova and come back!

The Carrymancer


Theoretically you can carry as you are an agility hero but IRL you most likely won't: you are squishy and your abilities are not well suited for carrying: None of your skills can leverage your agility gain (unlike e.g. rikimaru's backstab or Phantom Assassin's Coup de Grace). Therefore, consider skipping Manta Style, Butterfly, etc. and go for standard support (luxury) items. Special mention goes to Aghanim's Scepter as it boosts your ult and gives some nice stats, HP and mana.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation where you are massively farmed while your ( other 4? ;) carries are not, Venomancer's "carry" skills synergize best with other slow items that also give you survivability, not with the typical AGI carry items such as Butterfly or Manta Style: With the following items and skills

14 % slow
35 % slow,
maim 30 % slow and
60 % slow as well as
's 50 % slow

you can literally make the whole enemy team crawl, which is pretty hilarious agains melee- heavy teams with no blink or surge. Furthermore, these items solve most of your other problems as Venomancer:

Extra HP: Eye of Skadi= +725 HP, Rod of Atos= +325 HP, Sange and Yasha= +304 HP
Slow movement speed: Sange and Yasha= +16 % MS
Mana issues: Eye of Skadi= +575 mana, Rod of Atos= +325 mana.

In plain English: If you happen to gave ~5K extra gold and want to have some fun as Venomancer, Eye of Skadi is the item to go for: 35 % movement- and attack speed slow on enemies, +725 HP, + 575 mana and +25 agility is the deal.

Skill build

Your 1. skill provides an awesome slow of 50 % already at level 1. It does a total of 25/200/375/550 damage over a 15 second interval. 1 point in this is put usually at level 1 and then leveled up only later on when you have the mana pool to spam it more.
Early game only use it when going for a kill or when trying to save yourself or an ally.You blow half of your mana pool with one use and it does negligible damage before level 3.

Use your second skill Poison Sting if you want to deal damage to the enemy. This skill is deceptive: You deal a total of 30/90/180/300 extra damage on top of your autoattack over a period of 6/8/10/12 seconds as well as slowing the enemy for 11%/12%/13%/14%. This skill is kind of bad at level 1 but already at level 2 you almost deal double damage with each attack: This skill is your passive but deals about the same damage as an average nuke! I prefer taking at least 3 levels in this skill ASAP as it is very useful in the laning phase but falls off late game as fights are over faster and faster.

Tip: If you can do it safely, hit every lane opponent once every 6/8/10/12 seconds to whittle away their HP.

Plague Wards is Venomancer's signature skill. For a mere 20 mana you can summon wards every 5 seconds. These wards do 11/21/32/42 damage per attack and have a HP of 75/200/325/450, lasting for 40 seconds. Besides this, they deal 50 % damage of your current level of Poison Sting. At level 1 when the wards have 75 HP and you should use them for getting vision only as they give some bounty to the enemy when killed. They can be used for pushing and counter-pushing effectively once your wards are level 2. I usually take 1 point at level 4 and a second point at level 7. If you have the need to push / counter-push earlier, take points in wards earlier by all means.

Note that the damage is piercing, meaning that creeps take + 50 % damage and heroes - 50 % damage from wards. Therefore, you can only kill heroes that are really low with them.

Tip: Most of the time you want to use wards whenever they are off cooldown. They have many uses such as:
- Giving vision to the sides, front and rear to spot incoming ganks and enemy movement.
- Finishing off fleeing enemies - you can cast wards a decent distance in front of you
- Blocking paths through woods
- Getting vision of enemies juking in the woods
- Building "walls" in front of your towers to defend or the enemy tower to attack
- Jungling and taking ancients

Tip: You can control whom your wards attack; use this to micromanage your wards whenever you can. You can still do this when you are dead, use this for finishing off enemies at low HP. Few things are more satisfying in DOTA 2 than vengeance from beyond the grave.

Your ultimate Poison Nova deals a whopping total of 432/812/1215 damage to any unit caught in the quite big 830 AOE over 12/14/15 seconds. At level 3 you can theoretically damage the enemy team for 6075 (4556 after magic resistance) if you get off a 5-man nova. It can be upgraded with Aghanim's Scepter for some even more serious damage. The mana cost is quite high given your low int at 200/300/400 mana, another reason to opt for Arcane Boots. It is situational whether you take it at already at level 6: if you don't seem to get opportunities at that stage to catch at least 2 enemies with it, consider leveling up something else for a while.

- This skill does not take enemies below 1 HP. Therefore, use Venomous Gale or Poison Sting on enemies in conjunction with Poison Nova to kill them.
- Strangely does not affect invisible units nor prevents them from going invis.
- Should be used at the start of a team fight as it is DoT and non-lethal. Better to catch 2 heroes with Poison Nova at the start than 4 at the end.
- If enemy has Rubick always put down a Plague Ward ASAP after using your ult. You don't want to let him Spell Steal it.

Tip: All of your skills last for an insanely long time: Use them to
- Disable Blink Dagger users from escaping as it cannot be used for 3 seconds after taking player damage. When you use your skills (except Poison Sting after 6.79 patch), they can't blink for 15-18 seconds!
- Melt off Refraction shields, Gravekeeper's Cloak and Living Armor.
- Always hit enemies who have any of the above mentioned once if you get the chance.
- Prevent enemy from using Clarity, Bottle, Urn of Shadows or Healing Salve after going low on HP or mana ( Poison Sting no longer disables these as of 6.79)
- Kill Shallow Graved opponents. It lasts 5 seconds. Your poison DoT last 12-15 seconds, that is 7-10 seconds after Shallow Grave ends.

Rule-of-thumb: You want to have as many opponents as possible infected with Poison Sting as often as practically possible.

There are 3 possible roles for Venomancer early on:
Lane support
Level up sequence:

Venomous Gale
Poison Sting
Poison Sting
Plague Ward
Poison Sting

What you get from level 6 onward is situational: If you need to push/counter-push, take levels in Plague Wards, if you still are "laning" consider taking a 4th level in Poison Sting and if you sense team fights coming along at this stage get Poison Nova. The same pattern goes for the other 2 builds: As Venomancer it is important to adapt to how the flow of the game changes.

Prioritize Venomous Gale and Poison Sting, skip the other skills until needed.
Level up sequence:
Venomous Gale
Poison Sting
Venomous Gale
Poison Sting
Venomous Gale

Level up sequence:
Venomous Gale
Plague Ward
Plague Ward
Poison Sting
Plague Ward



Take 1 point in Venomous Gale and see if you can get a first blood with your partner, preferably someone with a slow/stun. Otherwise, stay close to your lane mate, deny creeps, and try and harass with Poison Sting. Remember that you are squishy: Don't go Leeroy Jenkins style yet. Early on use Plague Wards only for vision to the sides or when you are actually to pushing or counter-pushing. Just randomly popping them on the lane will lead to your creeps pushing towards the tower and open up your flank to ganks. Also you will steal CS from your carry.

Remember to stack & pull creeps as needed. See e.g. this video if you are not sure howto:


You can roam & gank once you have 1 level in Venomous Gale. However, to ensure kills you will need assist from another hero: either from in-lane or a dedicated roaming partner such as Crystal Maiden. For roaming & ganking instructions, see e.g.


You can take on jungle creeps and even ancients pretty well thanks to Plague Wards. You have 2 options:
1. Create chokepoints with your wards, see


Stay together with your team and preferably a bit back: you are squishy. Use your utility items and Poison Nova if you get the chance. Try to Poison Sting once anyone you can - especially if the have Blink Dagger, low health, Refraction, Living Armor, Shallow Grave or Gravekeeper's Cloak. Venomous Gale the enemy at the start of the fight as well as when they try to run away. Put Plague Wards down to attack enemy creeps, finish off low-HP opponents and to get vision. This is especially important if you are on the enemy side of the river: Your wards will save you from many ganks if you place them on or near commonly used routes.

You need to listen to your "6. sense" and anticipate tower pushes by teleporting in and putting up a wall of Plague Wards at your tower to kill of the creeps when pushes come. You are a vital asset in pushes, communicate & co-ordinate well with your team mates.


Lategame is not your golden time as you become easy pickings for the enemy carries. Carry Town Portal Scrolls with you, keep up Observer Wards, teleport to defend your towers, follow your team into team fights to get off Poison Nova and Venomous Gale and try to stay alive. Poison Nova is your most valuable asset at this stage. If your team's carries don't carry then you are in a bad spot: Unlike Silencer or Enchantress your skills don't scale particularly well into lategame (even though you are an agility hero).

Friends & foes

The anti-venom(ancer) department:

- Burst damage dealers
Lina, Lion

- Fast burst-damage gankers
Spirit Breaker, lycanthrope

- Healers
Omniknight, Abaddon

- Long-range dual lane
Drow Ranger and Warlock: Bad times.

Poison their game:

+ Squishy melee heroes: Poison Sting will whittle away their HP. Venomous Gale will stop them from running away -> easy killings.
Meepo, Riki

+ Damage block heroes: you will simply strip off their shields and leave them vulnerable
Templar Assassin with Refraction, Treant Protector with Living Armor, Visage with Gravekeeper's Cloak

+ Early/mid-game peaking pushing teams (a line-up with many of these heroes: Kunkka, Death Prophet, Keeper of the Light, Pugna, Leshrac) You counter-push very well early on, ruining their hopes of ending the game early. Plague Wards are immune to magic thus they cannot be nuked down.


+ Stunners, slowers and nukers: to follow up your Venomous Gale to get early kills in-lane
Sven, Lina, Viper, Juggernaut, Ursa

+ Roamers: you can make kills happen together from level 1
Crystal Maiden, Vengeful Spirit

+ Melee flak magnets: you can come much closer to the enemy without dying
Brewmaster, Axe

+ AoE initiators that help you set up a good Poison Nova
Enigma, Dark Seer, Magnus

Special mention goes to Warlock: His Chaotic Offering creates a nice confusion that allows you to Poison Nova. The damage and killing power becomes ridiculous when combined with Warlock's Fatal Bonds.


Venomancer is a potent addition to any line-up that needs a support with pushing/anti-pushing power or who needs to strip away enemy's damage block shields from Refraction, etc. However, you will have to have a decent eye for positioning in order not to feed and to be effective. Also your team has to have some co-ordination and some carry skillz, you have very limited potential to take on anyone alone.

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