4/10/2013: Guide published.
6/10/2013: Major update, skill build reworked. Thanks to the commenters who helped point out errors.
8/10/2013: Added Level 1 Jungling.
17/10/2013: The Radiant Vacuum Megaward Extravaganza update! Fixed some typos, added a new video. This is pretty much a final build. More updates may arrive, but they'll be mostly cosmetic enhancements.
29/11/2013: Very late adaption to 6.79 patch. Increased Vacuum cooldown and added note to jungle map. That's all, you may leave now.
10/2/2014: The Dagger Update! Added Blink Dagger to situational items, since after patch 6.80 it doesn't cost mana, and is now a viable choice.
Hello everyone! I'm TEL9021 and this is my guide to my favorite hero, Dark Seer.
Dark Seer is usually a first pick/ban in pro games due to his exceptional ability to solo the hard lane against the most aggressive of trilanes, not to mention his game-changing ultimate, which can reverse the toughest situations.
Although he is no carry, Dark Seer can have a great impact on a game's outcome, starting with the excellent Ion Shell counter-pushing skill, then his Surge speed boost to save allies and ensure kills when chasing, Vacuum to set enemies up for massive area of effect combos, and finally, his ultimate skill, Wall of Replica, which punishes enemies the stronger they are.
- Multiple laning options
- Very high starting armor
- Good strength and intelligence gain
- Excellent team fight contribution throughout entire game
- Escape that negates slows and can be cast on allies
- Late game counter-pushing ability
- Ability to place wards fast (due to Surge)
- Terrible agility gain
- Very slow attack animation (tough to last hit and deny)
- Escape does not negate stuns
- Constant mana problems (even with decent mana regen)
- No stun, direct damage or lockdown abilities
Starting items are a pretty standard affair for Dark Seer, with few changes according to your laning position and farm priority. Start with a Stout Shield so you can tank creep damage and enemy harass. After that you'll need some health regen along the lines of a Tango or Healing Salve. After that, you have the following options:
A) Buy two Clarity potions
B) Save gold in order to rush a Soul Ring
C) Save gold in order to rush a Bottle
You'll mostly need a bottle when you're soloing mid, in which case you should also do your best to check the runes and gank the other two lanes with a quick Wall of Replica + Vacuum combo.
A Bottle is also a good idea when soloing the hard lane if you're against high damage-per-second/lane pushing trilanes ( Lone Druid, Leshrac, an Io + Chaos Knight combo, etc.)
In this case you'll want to use the courier to refill your Bottle by taking it to the fountain, rather than stealing runes from your mid lane hero.
If soloing the hard lane, I've found out that two clarities give enough mana regeneration until you farm the gold needed to buy a Soul Ring. An alternative build you can go for is just a Stout Shield and a Ring of Regen, then instantly go for a Soul Ring. This is a very viable build which is really effective against dual lanes with an Agility melee carry hero (Think Anti-Mage, Riki, Phantom Lancer, Spectre)
Observer Wards are a very good item on Dark Seer, on account of the fact that you'll be darting around the map using Surge the entire game, and you'll be able to reliably buy them on cooldown with a little practice in his slow last-hitting. When playing in pro games, you can use an Observer Ward to block the enemy pull camp (google this if you don't know what I'm talking about). Don't go alone to do this though, because it's a really good way to die and give your enemy the first blood.
Lastly, use any remaining gold to buy Iron Branches, which you can later turn into a Magic Wand.
Q - Vacuum
- Moves all enemy non-magic immune units to the center of the cast circle
- Breaks trees in the cast area
- Breaks enemy channeling abilities ( Town Portal Scroll, Death Ward, Black Hole)
- Deals a slight amount of damage
This is your main teamfight initiation skill after Wall of Replica and can be used in a variety of ways. When chasing enemy heroes, Vacuum can send them right back to your location.
Also, when you allies are being chased, a well-placed Vacuum can push enemies away and save your teammate from death.
Vacuum can be used in coordination with area of effect abilities to create amazing combos. ( Reverse Polarity, Black Hole, Macropyre, Storm Hammer, and Chronosphere to name a few.)
With a cooldown of 28 seconds, you'll have time to cast only one in most teamfights, so don't waste it.
W - Ion Shell
- Can be cast on magic immune targets
- Has no effects on unit it is cast upon
This is your main damage output and pushing ability. It can be cast on yourself and almost any unit, friendly, enemy or neutral. Any unit with an Ion Shell on it will deal damage over time to any enemy units nearby it. With a duration of 40 seconds, this means that Dark Seer can push lanes and farm neutral camps without even being there. More on that later.
Pro tip: Ion Shell does not appear to enemies if the unit it is cast upon is invisible, but still deals the same damage. Use this in coordination with Riki or Bounty Hunter to troll enemy supports and junglers.
E - Surge
- Overrides slows (great against Frost Arrows and Open Wounds)
- Cannot be casted on magic immune allies (be aware when teammates carry BKB)
This is your escape ability. It can be cast on yourself and any allied unit, and can be used to both chase and escape. Its max speed buff makes it a must-have when your team has slow, tanky heroes such as Pudge and Sven.
Bear in mind that this spell only makes you fast; you'll still take the same amount of damage and can still be stunned. However, you can still cast it while being rooted.
Don't be a selfish Seer: Use Surge on your allies as much as you can, don't keep it for yourself only.
R - Wall of Replica
- Creates a wall horizontally in front of Dark Seer's location
- Any enemy heroes crossing the wall will spawn an illusion of them
- Illusions take 300% damage and deal a portion of the hero's damage
- Aghanim's Scepter makes illusions deal more damage than their matching hero
- Wall deals slight amount of damage itself
This is Dark Seer's main teamfight initiation skill and is game-changing for this simple reason: the stronger your enemy team is, the stronger your ult gets.
You'll want to initiate the teamfight with a Wall of Replica followed immediately by a Vacuum centered in the Wall. Try to get the enemy carry in first and as many of the other heroes as possible. After that, try to micromanage the newly created illusions to focus on whichever hero you want to kill.
The location of the Wall is critical to its success. You must place a wall in such a way that enemy heroes must cross it. Good locations include the Roshan Pit, the center of the field, directly in front of your Tier 3 towers, behind enemy towers when attacking one, and in front of your tower when defending one.
Pro tip #1: Illusions will retain passive abilities of their matching heroes. For example, Anti-Mage illusions burn mana, Lifestealer illusions lifesteal, Phantom Assassin illusions have critical strikes and Phantom Lancer illusions create more Juxtapose illusions of themselves.
Pro tip #2: Don't forget that you can cast Surge and Ion Shell on Wall of Replica illusions.
It is also possible to level 1 jungle as Dark Seer using the same starting items as build 1 or 2 (You may skip the Clarity potions for a faster Sage's Mask). However, he is not a very efficient jungler and doesn't get as much XP as he would soloing a lane (but about the same amount of gold). Therefore, you should decide to jungle as Dark Seer only in these 2 cases:
A) The alternative is soloing the hard lane against an ultra-aggresive trilane (For example, Alchemist + Lion + Earthshaker) that is completely shutting you down in terms of gold and XP.
B) Your allies ignored your pick and chose more offlane/solo mid heroes that need XP as soon as possible (namely Clockwerk or Batrider)
Dark Seer is an AOE jungler, which means two things:
A) Stacking camps is the fastest way to farm. Here's how to stack camps: at around the 00:52 second of in-game time, attack a neutral creep in a camp, then let them chase you out. If done correctly, at the 1:00 minute the camp will respawn, and will now have two teams of neutral creeps. Ion Shell does AOE damage, so the more the camp is stacked, the faster you'll farm. If you are near the creeps when Ion Shell kills them, you'll also get XP to boot.
B) Mud Golems are your worst enemy. They take no damage from Ion Shell, and you can't cast it on them. The only way to keep farming a camp with Mud Golems is to ignore them, stack the camp, and hope that the second neutral creep team is something other than Golems. Once you gain a few levels, you can autoattack Mud Golems and kill them, but you waste time and HP by doing so.
Start jungling with the small camp and proceed to medium camps, all the while stacking camps when you can. Stay away from the heavy camps until your fourth point on Ion Shell. Remember to completely empty camps so more neutrals spawn. Rush a Soul Ring to jungle more efficiently, and don't stay in the jungle too long, because your team needs you.
As a final note, you can ask your in-lane support politely to stack a camp for you two or three times, then once you get your fourth point in Ion Shell, farm it and reap the tons of gold and XP it offers.
Here's a comprehensive map of both jungles and their camps, shamelessly stolen from Xenasis's Jungling 101 Guide here on Dotafire. You should definitely check that guide out, too!
NOTE: After the 6.79 patch, the medium camp closest to each lane (known as the pull camp) switched places with the easy camp.
You'll most likely want to knock a level 1 point into Ion Shell. However, don't skill it yet until you go to your lane and see what kind of enemies you're up against. If you're up against a trilane with a Visage or a Lifestealer you may want to put a point into Surge to avoid a level 1 death by their slows. Stay within XP range (about 3/4 of your screen) until level 2, then knock a point into either Surge or Ion Shell. Now you can start counter-pushing the lane and harassing your enemies. Here's a few possible in-lane uses for Ion Shell:
Cast it on an enemy melee creep. This is usually the best option when laning because the creep you cast it on will take no damage, so the lane won't get pushed too far. Also you'll be harassing your enemies and messing up their farm because they can't deny their own creeps until they are below 50% health.
Cast it on an allied creep. Go for this option when you want to push the lane as much as possible. In the early game, this is best only when facing stupid autoattacking enemies. In this case, hug your tower and get free farm. Another good use for this is if for some reason there are no enemy creeps near your wave: cast Ion Shell on the wave's first creep, then cast Surge on it to chase enemy heroes.
Cast it on yourself. This is good if you want to push the lane as least as possible, because you'll only do damage to the creeps when you're right next to them. This will also keep enemy heroes away from you. Use this for defensive purposes mostly.
Cast it on an enemy hero. This is generally useful only when against a dual lane with two melee heroes. Doing this means that only one of the two heroes will be able to last hit, because the other will be taking tons of damage from his own ally. Even so you should still prefer casting Ion Shell on an enemy creep so both enemy heroes take damage, not just one.
The number of skill points you put into Ion Shell early game depends on how much your enemies are pushing the lane. If facing competent enemies, they'll be pulling the lane towards their tower, so push as least as possible while still getting all the farm you can.
If you get the feeling that the hard lane is being pulled, you can sneak towards the pull camp and gain XP by standing near it, or casting an Ion Shell on an enemy creep to mess up your enemy's farm. Keep in mind though that if your enemies aren't idiots they will spot you and kill you if you get too close. Have Surge ready to be cast on yourself at all times.
Once you knock a second point into Ion Shell, you can also jungle the camp closest to you. Cast Ion Shell on a neutral creep in the camp, then leave. Now the neutral creeps will go in and out of the camp, taking damage all along. Remember that the creep you cast Ion Shell on will not take any damage, so you should kill it on your own if you want the camp to respawn.
Vacuum is not very useful early game, so knock a point into it when you are level 4 just so you can use it with your Wall of Replica later on. You can also use it on the trees in front of the side shop to destroy them and gain a little vision.
Once you hit level 6, knock a point into your ultimate, grab a Teleport Scroll and start getting in fights. Early game is now over.
One last note: The only bad thing about Dark Seer's early game is that you won't be able to get any kills unless your enemies are complete idiots. This is a double-edged sword because it means that the enemy hard carry will be able to farm decently even against the best Dark Seer. But because you're Dark Seer, you'll be able to use his own farm against him later on.
After hitting level 6, skilling whichever ability depends on the course of the game. If your enemies are forcing teamfights, punish them by maxing Vacuum first and leaving Surge for later. If they're trying to split push, max Ion Shell and push right back. If you're not sure, just skill both abilities evenly. Also, put points in your ultimate as soon as you can. It is simply too powerful to ignore.
Now your Ion Shell will have enough power so you can effectively farm the lanes and the jungle. Even though you can push all 3 lanes at once, do not do so, because you're stealing farm from your carry. Instead, look for alternative ways to get some easy gold.
The best you can do is farm the enemy jungle after a successful teamfight. Just cast Ion Shell on the weakest creep in each camp, then leave. This will kill the other camp creeps, give you a bit of farm, and deny farm from the enemy team, because each camp will now have only one weak creep, which will have to be killed before the camp respawns. This is also a good time to place some offensive wards inside the enemy jungle, effectively turning it into a death zone. Remember that you're deep in enemy territory though, so make sure that you do all this before the enemies respawn and kill you.
If your allies are farming the lanes, go to your jungle instead and do the same thing you would in the enemy jungle, but this time make sure you clear each camp by autoattacking the Ion Shelled creep. You may also stack camps for maximum farm (see chapter Level 1 Jungling).
If your teamfight contribution has been worthwhile so far, the enemy will now hate you and focus on shutting you down. Generally stay close to your teammates, and dash ahead only when you're initiating a teamfight. Good communication is very important at this point. Make sure your teammates know that you're ready to initiate so they can follow up with their spells. If you fail to do so, enemies will just run away from your Wall of Replica unharmed, or even worse, dodge it and counter-initiate. Don't die for no reason, and don't cast your Wall unless you're sure your allies will follow up with their skills.
When in a teamfight, try your best to keep track of your and your allies' location, so you can cast Surge and Ion Shell appropriately. By now your right-click will also do some damage, so don't neglect it.
Continue adaptively responding to your enemies' split push with Ion Shell. If facing heavy pusher heroes (mainly Nature's Prophet), then it's your job to check the minimap constantly and teleport to any towers in danger. Don't die while doing so, obviously.
When you can, win the game. Thanks to Wall of Replica's power, you may have a chance even when severely underfarmed to win a teamfight. In the late game, this could mean a GG push on your side. Don't stay back and defend, play aggresively and push lanes until your enemies respawn, then stay back and wait for the best time to surprise them with a quick Wall of Replica + Vacuum combo. With Dark Seer, it's possible to turn seemingly unwinnable games completely around. Just make sure you're not caught out of position and make the most out of your ultimate.
Mid game is easy for Dark Seer in terms of farm. You're in the comfortable position of being able to farm easily, but not needing much gold to buy items, especially if you are winning. Again, don't be a selfish Seer and keep all the farm for yourself, because you can't carry even with insane levels of farm.
By now you should have bought a Soul Ring and Boots of Speed. If you're the designated ward buyer, continue buying wards on cooldown and placing them wherever you think they would be useful. The next items you need are Arcane Boots and one utility item. The choice of utility item depends on whether another allied hero is intending to buy it or not and goes in this priority:
B) Pipe of Insight
C) Force Staff / Eul's Scepter of Divinity
Only Mekansm needs to be bought as soon as possible, whereas the other items simply add benefits to Dark Seer's survivability and team fight contribution. In pro games, Dark Seers tend to buy a Mekansm. However, Pipe of Insight is, in my opinion, the best utility item for him, because it gives you the health regen and spell damage resistance needed to jump in ahead of your team and initiate teamfights like you should.
If your team has both a Mekansm and a Pipe of Insight, you can go for either a Force Staff to push enemies into your Wall, or a Eul's Scepter for its decent mana regen.
If you are really losing the game and the enemy is sieging your barracks from the 20th minute, skip the utility item (unless it's a Mekansm, in which case you should still buy that first) and rush an Aghanim's Scepter to try and save your team or at least buy time for your teammates to counterattack.
If you are facing high right-click damage carries ( Sniper, Drow Ranger, etc.), you may also opt for a Vanguard. This is a very situational item though, and you should not skip any core item to buy that instead.
What about purchasing a mid-game Blink Dagger on Dark Seer? Let's look at some facts.
It gives you massive mobility and lets you easily initiate from a large distance.
After patch 6.80, it now costs 0 mana to use, and therefore does not have an negative effect on his mana issues.
It allows you to fully save casting Surge for your allies and use only the Dagger to escape.
You have the ability to farm it quickly enough for it to be effective, after you buy your core Arcane Boots and Mekansm, of course.
You already have mobility with Surge, remember?
It costs 2150 gold in one go, which will be difficult to farm up if you're dying often.
This 2150 gold is gold not spent into a much more useful, in my honest opinion, Aghanim's Scepter.
In short, if you are ahead in your farm and have other heroes in your team who intend to also buy a Blink Dagger (such as Enigma, Puck, Shadow Fiend, or Ursa), then by all means go for it. Otherwise, skip it and go for the standard late game items.
Late game items are yet again a pretty standard affair for Dark Seer, but I'll list which ones I like best ranking from god-tier to mid-tier/situational.
Aghanim's Scepter: This is a no-brainer. It's your core late-game item and makes Wall of Replica illusions stronger than their matching heroes. You'll want to go for this one 95% of the time.
Refresher Orb: Know what's worse than one Aghanim's Scepter Wall of Replica? That's right, two walls. It's very possible to cast two walls in the same fight, and if enemies are still near the double Wall, their death is certain. Each Wall makes a seperate illusion and deals a bit of damage when enemies cross it. This item replaces Soul Ring in your inventory.
Heart of Tarrasque: When you're completely stomping the enemy team, or you are facing a spell damage heavy team that doesn't rely on autoattacks at all, go for a Heart of Tarrasque. This item will help you stay in teamfights indefinitely.
Shiva's Guard: This is a very viable alternative to Refresher Orb when facing heroes that rely on attack speed to kill ( Alchemist, Lifestealer, Beastmaster). Just don't forget to cast it. It also gives you some much-needed tankiness to boot.
Scythe of Vyse: Another alternative to Refresher Orb, this item gives you the lockdown spell that Dark Seer lacks and some decent mana regen. Go for this one when you're facing a particularly annoying hero that you want to shut down. Like Slark. I hate that guy.
Orchid Malevolence: This item's silence is a good counter to mages and initators ( Invoker, Magnus, Lina), but is rather situational and not as powerful as other items.
Blade Mail: Go for this item only when you're up against an assassin hero trying to catch you off guard with a quick silence and autoattack you to death (See Clinkz, Nature's Prophet, Riki, Bloodseeker).
As a last word here, do not go for any items that only boost right click damage, attack speed, or give a unique attack modifier, because such items are simply wasted on Dark Seer. You're much better off buying any of the aforementioned items.
In general, Dark Seer's abilities synergize really well with area of effect stuns and slow, tanky or invisible melee carries. Here's a few notable mentions:
Enigma - A good Vacuum by you can help Enigma land a perfect Black Hole. Combined with a Wall of Replica centered in the Hole, you will win every teamfight.
Magnus - Again, set up enemies with a Vacuum, then let Magnus blink in and land the easiest 5-man Reverse Polarity of his life.
Jakiro - A known combo in pro games, Jakiro's Ice Path and Macropyre synergize perfectly with Wall of Replica and Vacuum, thus excellent for wombo-combo team lineups.
Kunkka - While nearly impossible to nail, a Vacuum + Ghost Ship combo will reliably destroy the enemy team in any teamfight.
Rubick - His Telekinesis + your Vacuum can be used to push any given enemy hero up to 625 + 550 = 1175 units out of position. He's also a natural carrier of Force Staff, great for pushing enemies though Wall of Replica.
Disruptor - His Static Storm and his Kinetic Field ensure that enemies stay stuck on top of your Wall of Replica as long as possible.
Earthshaker/ Tidehunter - Echo Slam and Ravage respectively are relatively easy to nail stuns that combine really well with your spells.
Spectre - Yet another known combo in pro games, Spectre can really be assisted in chasing enemies with Surge and doing tons of damage around her with her Radiance + your Ion Shell.
Faceless Void - Vacuum + Chronosphere = dead enemy team. Make sure you don't get stuck in it though.
Pudge - Your Surge completely overrides his slow movement speed, and your Ion Shell synergizes with his Rot excellently, especially in the early game.
Sven - Not only does Surge override his slow movement speed, he also has execellent team-fight combo power with a well placed Vacuum + his Storm Hammer.
Ursa - Surge is best on Ursa, because he doesn't waste valuable seconds chasing enemy heroes down with his Overpower on.
Night Stalker - Turn day into night by casting Ion Shell and Surge on him.
Riki/ Bounty Hunter - Ion Shell is invisible to enemies if the hero it is cast upon is invisible.
Dark Seer mostly does badly against assassin heroes and silences, which completely shut him down in a teamfight. Here's a few notable mentions:
Clinkz - A good Clinkz can really mess you up with a quick silence and some autoattacks.
Slark - His Pounce stops you from escaping with your Surge, and it is nearly impossible to get him through a Wall of Replica. I hate that guy.
Bloodseeker - He has a very long silence spell, Bloodrage, and his Rupture really counters you because you rely on physically running to escape. Carry a Town Portal Scroll to counter him.
Silencer - His Global Silence can mess you up across the map, but if he gets in the Wall, his high right-click damage means a really powerful Illusion.
Doom Bringer - His ultimate, Doom, shuts you down, and he can consume your Ion Shelled creep, nullifying your pushing power.
Lich/ Enigma - Same as Doom Bringer, they have abilities to deny creeps you cast Ion Shell on and nullify your pushing power.
Orchid Malevolence - If enemies are smart enough to carry one, it stops you from initiating properly. Be aware of natural carriers of this item ( Clinkz, Nature's Prophet, Enchantress).
I recently played a pub game as Dark Seer that has everything I want to show you: A comeback from a 13-26 kills disadvantage, some fails and some good plays by me, proper team followups, and combos with various heroes. Huge shoutout to my allies that helped bring this match around.
The following 4 videos are the game's main teamfights. Read the Youtube descriptions for more.
This clip from Dotacinema's Fails of the Week Ep.69 gave me an idea about a new Dark Seer jungle technique. This takes advantage of Vacuum and the so-called "Megaward" location right next to the jungle camp closest to the Radiant Ancient.
Place a Vacuum exactly here.
The idea is fairly simple: Just use Vacuum to move the jungle creeps onto the cliff. On the minute mark, new creeps will spawn in the camp and you can Vacuum them again. Since that cliff is used to place wards on, having the jungle creeps there too doesn't block the camp OR count as a stack in the jungle. Therefore, you could theoretically stack infinite creeps on that cliff.
Whenever you want to farm those creeps, you don't need to have vision of the cliff. Just Ion Shell a creep in the camp, then Vacuum it onto the cliff and get all the farm.
Make sure you don't mess it up and Vacuum all those creeps on top of yourself like in that fail clip.
This could also be used to booby trap an enemy Nature's Prophet, as sometimes they tend to teleport on that spot for safe vision into the enemy jungle.
That's all folks! This is my first guide, so I'm very open to criticism about its design and content.
Shoutout to Sando, the only other Dark Seer guide creator on this site, whose tips helped me improve this guide and become a more competitive Dark Seer. You should definitely check his guide out!
For all the budding Dark Seers out there, don't give up if you aren't nailing wombo combos from the first game. It's gonna take a lot of practice to learn his abilities and even more to master them. Remember to support your allies the best you can and win the game when you can, because as Dark Seer himself says:
" Victory is the goal, not glorious battles."
- Ish'Kafel, the Dark Seer
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