Venomancer is an agility support hero with great push, anti-push and the ability to roam and semi-carry. He's got a great early lane presence, kicking out massive amounts of harassment damage, and also has a great slow at level 1 that can help you get first blood.
As the game develops he can offer great vision of the battlefield, as well as substantial push and anti-push via his Plague Wards. His DPS can mount up substantially with the right equipment, and his ultimate inflicts massive AOE damage, swinging team fights in your favour.
+ Great harassment potential
+ Good slows
+ Strong AOE Nuke
+ Good stats gain
+ Good attack and casting animations
+ Strong push and anti-push
- Slow movement speed
- Relatively short range
- No disable
Gale is a combined stun and nuke, offering a long duration and an initial 50% slow, even at level 1. You don't have a massive mana pool to spam this in the early game, but this ability is great for assisting with kills or escapes, slowing enemies to a crawl.
Gale has a travel time and you have to target it manually, allowing you to fire at juking enemies, and it moves fairly quickly and can hit multiple enemies. It also has a relatively short range. Gale is effective as a ganking opener or escape tool even at level 1, so unlike most nukes you don't necessarily have to max it ASAP, unless you're going to be roaming or very aggressive in your lane.
This is Veno's premier laning skill, adding a great deal of DoT to your auto-attacks and making you extremely unpleasant for melee heroes to lane against. Even at level 1 it adds 30 to your basic attacks, 80 at level 2 - causing considerable irritation for your opponents. It tops out at 240 extra damage, almost a nuke in itself!
It also has a mild slowing effect that lasts for quite a long time, making it very hard for fleeing enemies to get away from you and your team mates without a good escape ability. If you open up with Venomous Gale and follow up with several Poison Sting autoattacks you can keep enemies well within range.
Sting is an orb effect, so you should avoid getting others unless you're swimming in cash. If you've got an aggressive lane or 2 melee heroes against you, try to get several points in it early to make your opponent's lives hell.
It works especially well against heroes with layered protection like Templar Assassin who will lose her Refraction cheaply to it.
As the name implies, these little guys are mini versions of the conventional Observer Ward, with the added bonus of piercing attacks. Pierce damage means that they inflict more damage against creeps, but less against heroes and towers. Wards are also magic immune, and offer a small bounty for enemies who last hit them.
Wards are very cheap, so once you have some basic mana regen ( Ring of Basilius will do) you can afford to make plenty of use of them. Be careful early on that you don't push the lane too much or give your opponents extra farm.
As you're moving about the map, take the opportunity to plonk down wards in any spots that will give you vision ahead. This is especially useful if you're going to ward in slightly dangerous locations.
Wards are great for both pushing and defending towers - try to get to the location early and make a wall of wards to blunt incoming attacks - you can have 7-8 active at any one time before they expire.
Wards have many other utilities - you can block enemies in narrow passages, preventing them from escaping, or chasing you down - especially in the woods on the edge of the map. You can also use them to jungle later in the game by laying them down, attacking the neutrals and then running out of their chase range - the wards will continue to attack and wear them down.
Intelligent Ward use is the mark of a good Venomancer.
Ah your ultimate - capable of inflicting extreme damage to groups of enemies. You're relatively squishy and your ulti has quite a limited range, so you have to walk a tightrope between hitting as many enemies as possible, and ensuring that you get it off before being focused down.
Ensure that you are comfortable with the range of Nova as it can make a vital difference in team fights. Also use it as early as possible so it has time to take effect during the course of the fight. Nova cannot actually kill an enemy hero on it's own (they will only drop to 1 HP), but any of your other skills can be enough to tick them over.
Some of your item choices with Veno can help a lot with successfully getting your ulti off - Shadow Blade and Eul's Scepter of Divinity are two popular options. Blade's invisibility allows you to get in range of a group of enemies and release it, or the chance to go in and then invis as you get focused. It also helps your DPS. Eul's gives helpful movement and mana regen bonuses, a disable, and the option to go in, release your ulti and then tornado yourself to avoid getting focused.
There are a few powers that combine really well with Nova:
- Any AOE slow or disables (e.g. Black Hole, Reverse Polarity or Overgrowth, Echo Slam, Upheaval or Epicenter) will help you get off a great Poison Nova.
- Warlock's Fatal Bonds can massively increase the damage potential (200% if it gets all 5 heroes), and also allows Nova to finish the job and kill enemies. This will melt enemy heroes in early-mid game, and is still unpleasant later on.
Have a look at a demo of this in action:
Venomancer is primarily a support hero, and other players will usually expect you to play that way. Veno can be an effective DPSer/semi-carry with the right farm, but be careful that your team has sufficient support to let you play that way, and don't take farm from the 'proper' carry.
Your first responsibility is to make sure your team has Observer Wards and/or Animal Courier, plus any items like Sentry Ward or Dust of Appearance, if required. Depending on the makeup of your team, and how much farm you have, you should also consider other utility items.
I've listed Circlet as your initial stats item, although you could just as easily go with a Ring of Protection instead - it just depends whether you want the mana/hp/damage boost, or the extra armour.
I've gone for a very straightforward core in this guide - Ring of Aquila is almost a perfect item on Veno, offering you much needed stats and mana regeneration. This will pretty much sort out your mana problems unless you're roaming and making heavy use of Venomous Gale.
Boots is a slightly different question - Phase Boots, Tranquil Boots and Arcane Boots are all viable if you need them for a particular reason, but generally you'll benefit most from Power Treads. The ability to switch to the stat you need is valuable for a hero as adaptable as Veno.
This is very situational, as you may not have much farm, and there may be other heroes on the team who can provide some of these items. Personally I really like to pick up a Eul's Scepter of Divinity, aside from a lack of hitpoints it solves pretty much all your other issues. The movement speed boost combined with your slows will allow you to outrun most heroes, it gives you a disable and also a means of surviving getting your ulti off.
You can also consider stacking this with Drums of Endurance, giving you some much needed survivability, and even more movement speed.
As an agility hero, Veno has quite a range of damage-based items available to him that you wouldn't normally consider on a support hero. Aghanim's Scepter is the default choice as it gives you a bunch of stats plus making your ultimate even better.
Once you've got this though, there's no harm in considering items like Manta Style or Butterfly as your attack speed and poison stacks will go through the roof - many people underestimate just how much DPS you can throw out.
Venomancer combines well with many heroes, but these guys will love you:
- Juggernaut. The Jugg/Veno combo is a classic for a reason - Venomous Gale + Blade Fury can often lead to first blood, even at level 1.
- Warlock. As previous discussed, Fatal Bonds combines perfectly with Poison Nova for massive amounts of damage.
- Enigma/ Dark Seer/ Treant Protector/ Magnus. All of their mass disables/grouping are the perfect setup for Nova, and give it several seconds to start working it's magic.
- Earthshaker/ Sand King. Yet more AOE damage stacks, both offering a slow or a stun.
- Zeus. The thunder god will be laughing all the way to the bank as he follows up your ulti with his own. Nature's Prophet, Invoker and Ancient Apparition can also pick off fleeing heroes with their global nukes.
Venomancer is something of a glass cannon, able to inflict damage but not so able to take it. As a relatively squishy hero you're vulnerable to anyone who has big burst damage or being disabled and quickly taken down.
Heroes such as Tiny, Queen of Pain, Lion, Lina and Bane will find it reasonably easy to nuke you down, given the opportunity.
Your additional vision from Plague Wards actually provides good protection from gankers outside the lane (e.g. Pudge), your biggest threat is usually invisible heroes who avoid this detection, such as:
Bounty Hunter, Riki, Clinkz or any reasonable ganker with an invisibility rune.
Heroes with high mobility or abilities that bypass slows also make your abilities much less potent. For example, laning against Dark Seer it's very difficult to get kills due to Surge overriding your slows, same with blink heroes like Queen of Pain. This doesn't make you useless, but is worth bearing in mind.
Back in the day, Venomancer actually used to be quite a popular choice for hard-lane solo among the pro teams - something you don't see much these days.
Veno has certain advantages and disadvantages in this role:
+ Plague Wards give great anti-gank visibility
+ Plague Wards can allow you to block creep camps
+ Plague Wards give you more lane presence and anti-push
- Relatively low health
- Venomous Gale is the closest thing you have to an escape
- Small attack range
As you can see, Veno is not an ideal choice for top lane solo, but he does have potential to do a job there. The main issue is that you can need levels to get into the role, and a good enemy lane combo might be able to force you away and stop you getting them.
The most important thing is that you ward the enemy pull camp:
You need to be close to the creep wave in order to level up, and be able to defend your tower when the time comes, as well as your overall game.
Ideally you want to be against another solo, or a dual melee lane, as your Poison Sting will allow you to kite and offer a strong lane presence. Venomous Gale gives you a fairly reliable means of escaping if necessary then.
Against dangerous lanes, or combinations with a lot of harass, you have to hang back more and rely on levelling up near your tower. Once you've got a few levels into Plague Ward you can get far more lane presence and be difficult to shift.
In all laning situations (not just solo!) once you have a little mana regen, you should be using your wards to keep a constant line of sight on the nearby jungle to avoid ganks.
I've put a possible solo build at the top of the guide, although you will need to adapt this a little depending on the situation. You'll almost always want Gale first, but after this it depends on whether you want the damage/slow of Sting (good versus melee heroes, less useful against long ranged), or the anti-gank/lane presence of wards.
Against a tri-lane or aggressive jungler, max Plague Ward ASAP.
Venomancer is one of a select group of support heroes who can make an effective roamer. In case you don't know, roaming is aggressively moving to gank lanes very early in the game, and is a risky but potentially rewarding strategy. If you get kills, you can massively swing the early game in your favour. If you fail, you can end up badly underlevelled.
Roaming very much depends on having the right lane setups on one or both sides. If you have a semi/carry who can happily solo, or the opposition is running a jungler, then this potentially frees you up to roam.
You may want to lane as normal to start with, to get a few levels and ensure your carry gets the upper hand if against a solo hero. Alternatively you might want to start with an immediate first blood by ganging up with 2 team mates.
Veno is effective in both these roles - Venomous Gale added to any lane can be enough to get first blood, and a quick level or two in Poison Sting only adds to your damage and slowing ability. You don't need many levels to potentially get kills. A single level in Plague Ward can be worthwhile if you're worried about being counter-ganked, but this has to come second to your damaging abilties.
This guide is still in development...is there anything you think you be added? Leave a comment below...
- Limited Item choices, concentrated on most frequently used.