21.10.2013: Poison Attack's cooldown will be 0 seconds at all levels when patch 6.79 comes. This means that the old wisdom of taking 3 levels in it at level 5 no longer necessarily applies and leveling up Viper's skills becomes very situational. Instead, it may be better to take levels as follows:
- 1 level in Nethertoxin at level 1 for easier last hitting
- Levels in Corrosive Skin according to how much enemy tries to harass you
- At least 2 levels in Poison Attack early on to get at least 20 % slow
Hi all, this my first guide and it is to our little green, mean menacing machine called Viper. Viper is one of my favorite heroes and my most winning one.
Viper a durable carry that is relatively beginner-friendly, jack-of-many-trades and has few "mortal" weaknesses. This guide is aimed at more starting players. There are many Viper guides here but none of them focus on what I've found to be most effective build: Aga Scepter style.
This build is also very beginner-friendly as almost all of your items are passive, thus requiring no micro-management or correct timing.
+Very good and constant slows with Poison Attack and Viper Strike
+Makes enemy pay heavily for being too far in lane (common beginner mistake)
+One of the best lane harassers and damage-over-time dealers
+Can orb walk with Poison Attack
+Durable after some levels
+High magic resistance
+Easy-to-play: Has only 2 active skills that do the same
+ Nethertoxin makes Viper surprisingly dangerous against opponents with low % of HP left with little pre-warning
-Squishy and susceptible to burst damage early on
-Slow base movement speed
-Drops off late game unless you are steamrolling the opposition
-No active escape mechanism
-Low base damage
For starters, get some healing and some stat boosting items (see above). If you want to build a Magic Wand later on you can opt for some more Iron Branches to begin with.
Important! A team without Animal Courier/ Flying Courier / Observer Wards / Sentry Wards is a crippled team. Even though it should be the job of the supports to get these items if no-one else gets them, get them!
Unless your lane partner has Ring of Basilius you will in practice need to get it for effective lane harassment: Poison Attack drains quite a lot of your pity mana pool. Upgrade to Ring of Aquila by upgrading your bracelet and Slippers of Agility to Wraith Band.
Boots of Speed should be purchased very early on and upgraded to Power Treads after Ring of Aquila. Consider Phase Boots if you are ganking (especially if you are mid) or are under high risk of gettting ganked yourself.
If you face heavy harassment in lane yourself, get Ring of Regen + Ring of Protection + Boots of Speed = Tranquil Boots. Disassemble later on for Ring of Basilius and Power Treads.
The next item and the core of this build is Aghanim's Scepter. Why? Because
Point Booster + Ogre Club = +390 HP (low HP is your Achiles' heel early on)
Point Booster + Staff of Wizardry = +280 mana. Aghanim's Scepter also lowers Viper Strike mana cost to 125, effectively solving your slight mana problems
Blade of Alacrity = +10 agility, which for you means +10 attack speed, + 10 damage and +1.4 armor
Viper needs HP to be tanky, everthing else he has "by nature" after some levels. He also needs to stay in the fight for as long as possible to be effective as he is a damage-over-time hero, not a burst-damage hero. Viper has:
- High magic resistance thanks to Corrosive Skin
- Primary attribute is agility, meaning he will have high natural armor (and thus resistance to "right-clicking")
- Deals massive damage over time with his Corrosive Skin, ultimate Viper Strike and Poison Attack
- Nether toxin is the more effective the lower HP the opponent has
The best thing about Aghanim's Scepter is however the upgrade to Viper Strike: The increased 900 range (compared to 500) and 12(!) second cooldown (compared to 80/50/30 seconds).
Keep in mind that your "golden time" is mid-game: Once your inventory has Power Treads, Ring of Aquila, Point Booster and maybe Ogre Club you are very, very dangerous and should actively start looking for fights.
After your Aghanim's Scepter, patch up your slow base movement speed by getting a Yasha. Then I prefer going for high-end items such as Butterfly or Manta Style.
Many people like Shadow Blade, generally I don't: it is easily countered by dust of appearence, obeserver wards and Gem of True Sight. For ~1000 more gold you would have Aghanim's Scepter. However, it does give you an escape- and sneak attack mechanism which will be worth it from time to time.
If you are facing an uphill battle with lots of deaths, Drum of Endurance and Crystalys might help.
Heart of Tarrasque is also possible if you want to act as the team's gung ho flak magnet but at that stage of the game Viper's main challenge is to get DPS (damage per second) items as Viper will at this stage be fighting to keep up with other carries in damage output. Therefore, I recommend Butterfly or Manta Style.
Poison Attack: Slows the enemy attack and movement speed down by 10%/20%/30%/40% and deals magic damage over 2 seconds for a total 20/32/44/56 damage.
Nethertoxin: Deals extra damage based on missing % HP on opponent (half damage on creeps). Great for last-hitting and "unexpectedly" finishing off opponents.
Against someone at 100-80% health, it deals 2.5/5/7.5/10 damage.
Against someone at 80-60% health, it deals 5/10/15/20 damage.
Against someone at 60-40% health, it deals 10/20/30/40 damage.
Against someone at 40-20% health, it deals 20/40/60/80 damage.
Against someone at 20-0% health, it deals the full 40/80/120/160 damage.
Corrosive Skin: Increases magic resistance and anyone that deals damage to you will suffer following debuffs for 4 seconds:
Attack and Movement Speed Slow: 10%/15%/20%/25%
Damage Per Second: 10/15/20/25
Magic Resistance: 10%/15%/20%/25%
Viper Strike lasts for 5.1 seconds, dealing a total of 300/500/725 damage over time and slowing the enemy move and attack speed down. The slow starts off at 40%/60%/80% and goes gradually to 0 over the duration.
The awesome part is that the slow goes through magic immunity including Rage and Black King Bar. With the upgrade you can practically lock down the opponent's melee carry that need to get up-close-and-personal such as Lifestealer, skeleton king and Ursa.
Viper has some flexibility to his skill build and the only "must" I consider is getting ultimate levels at the possible 6, 11 and 16 and 3 levels of poison strike when reaching level 5 to get the 0 second cooldown
Putting the other levels to Nethertoxin or Corrosive Skin depends on the following factors:
- If you are getting heavily harassed, put more points into Corrosive Skin
- If you need last hits on creeps and/or have someone to take the damage for you in-lane, prioritize Nethertoxin instead
At least 1 point in each is good relatively early on.
Viper is flexible with respect whom he is in lane with but it is a good idea that the other has either burst damage nukes, slows or stuns to ensure that your prey goes down: you move so slowly that often the others can escape even if hit by Poison Attack. Good examples would be Lina, windrunner, Jakiro and Vengeful Spirit. Aggressive tanks / meat shields (e.g. Axe, Bristleback) are also good as you are squishy early on.
Viper can also be played mid but IMHO there are better mid players: Viper has slow base movement speed, low starting HP and lacks an escape mechanism. Viper also doesn't really need the Bottle and runes as it doesn't need the mana nor should it need the heal.
If you are in a low-level pub game almost anyone will do as lanemate except those whose playstyle prioritizes passively AFK- farming in the lane (the so-called hard carries such as Morphling and Medusa). They have a priority to get creep kills over you: you are not a late-game (a.k.a. hard) carry but a mid-game carry. Do not be in lane with a hard carry or you will both end up under-farmed later on.
Your aim should be in winning your lane by harassing the opponents out of lane and back to base / 6 feet under with Poison Attack. The key is not to right-click the opponent when creeps are around - use Poison Attack by pressing "Q" instead. If you right-click you will draw "creep aggro" from nearby creep and a) lose HP due to creep attacks and b) push your lane: While creeps attack you, your creeps kill the other creeps and soon you will be fighting close to the enemies towers. This makes you susceptible to getting ganked, which is your Achilles' heel.
The key to winning is keeping behind your creeps and utilize your long attack range of ~600 so that they opponents have to draw creep aggro to retaliate to your Poison Attacks. The rule of thumb is to go in front of your creeps only if you are going for a kill. Remeber to retreat instantly towards your tower if your creeps are dying to avoid being caught in the open.
Do not hesitate to go for the kill if they make the mistake of being in the open too close to your tower without creeps around them. This is a common mistake in low-level play and reason why Viper's "playstyle cousin" Drow Ranger with her similar Frost Arrows is so popular in pubs.
When going for the kill, you need to orb-walk: "Q" the opponent once to use Poison Attack, then move towards him a bit, "Q" again, etc. Each Poison Attack refreshes the slow duration but does not stack, thus you only need to hit the enemy every 2 seconds with Poison Attack. Feel free to use Viper Strike to initiate the killing.
Communication over VOIP or "pinging" your soon-to-be-dead prey is essential to success: you are so slow that the prey ofter escape if you go for the kill alone. I've had lot of success by playing with a friend in the lane over Skype.
Get Sentry Wards ASAP if you are in lane with any invisible heroes such as Broodmother or Bounty Hunter: They are nigh unkillable for you without them but easy prey with them especially on low levels. The common denominator for these heroes are: if they get a good start early on, they will likely stomp you later on and vice versa.
Rinse & repeat pattern for beginners
If you don't know what else to do (i.e. you don't have a good eye for ganking etc.) here is a pattern you can follow:
a) Harass the enemy a lot from level 1 with Poison Attack: Especially when they come forward for a last hit.
b) Be careful that you don't take too much damage yourself (stand behind your creeps, keep close to lanemate)
c) Watch out for incoming ganks by placing Observer Wards and keeping the creep fight close to your tower
d) Kill enemy if possible
e) "Win" lane with a)- d): You should start gaining a kill/gold advantage over your lane opponents thanks to your harass capabilities. At this stage start "pushing" the lane by actively killing their creeps and take down their tier 1 tower. At this stage you can intentionally draw creep aggro on you to trigger Corrosive Skin on the creeps every 4 seconds.
f) Move to other lane from the side/behind, taking the enemy by surprise, rinse and repeat.
After taking down 1-2 tier 1 towers
At this point the game usually transitions into team fighting phase. By now (or at the beginning of this) you should have your Aghanim's Scepter finished. Stick together with at least 1 of your teammates and gank the other lanes or push towers down with all 5 teammates. At this stage it is quite risky for you to be alone as the others can burst you down if they find you - remember that you have no active escape mechanism.
Once you have the Aghanim's Scepter you should be in the phase where 5v5 fights occur. Use your upgraded Viper Strike whenever you get the chance: You can punish the opponents for being too far towards you or "poke around" at the forefront of your team to see if you can initiate with it. When in fights, use Viper Strike to lock down their most dangerous melee fighter and prevent the opponents from running away. Use the $$$ to buy Yasha/ Butterfly/ Manta Style.
Viper will absolutely rock 20-0 if you manage to get a level and gold advantage relatively early on: Viper's abilities are heavily geared towards killing weaker enemies, especially those who stick their head out too far and then try to escape from you. Since Viper lacks a reliable escape mechanism (e.g. blink, invisibility) and is slow Viper becomes cannon fodder if the enemy gets the upper hand, has many burst damage heroes (who come after you) or the game drags on for so long that the hard carries overtake you with their % -oriented damage output boosters.
Thus putting early pressure on the enemy (with teammates) and keeping it up constantly is key.
Viper has few weaknesses, which are not that bad in lower level pub games as he can compensate for most of them with Corrosive Skin and some HP.
The only true weakness that will get you killed over and over again is focused ganking effort by the other team. For this, they need co-ordineted effort from at least 2 heroes that can surprise you (e.g. Queen of Pain, Night Stalker), stun you (e.g. Vengeful Spirit), manipulate your position (e.g. Disruptor's Glimpse) or deal quick burst damage ((e.g. Lina). Also watch out for lanes with 2 high burst damage dealers early on before you get HP boosting items and magic resistance with levels in Corrosive Skin. In these cases, stick close to your teammate and keep the observer wards up to see incoming ganks.
Do not lane against a Silencer before level 6 as you can only dispel curse of the silent with Viper Strike.
Like already mentioned many times: Late-game most hard carries will overtake you in terms of DPS ( Medusa, Phantom Lancer, Morphling, etc.): your are a mid game carry, not late game! If the game draws on you must have some other carry for the DPS.
Due to this, Viper is a rare pick in pro matches. During The International 3 Alliance picked him against iG (if you know other top-tier games please leave a link in the comments).
Those that do not like damage-over-time
- Templar Assassin: Poison Attack will melt away her Refraction shields, Visage will hate you for stripping his Gravekeeper's Cloak layers.
- Melee carries that have no blink, especially if they rely on lifesteal such as Lifestealer and skeleton king. Lock them down every 12 seconds with our upgraded Viper Strike.
- Heroes who cannot handle much harassment early on and have no healer with them (e.g. Riki before level 6).
Viper is (relatively) ineffective against:
- Blinkers (e.g. Anti-Mage, Queen of Pain)
- Heroes that cannot be slowed (e.g. Dark Seer with Surge, lycanthrope under Shapeshift)
- Healers and exceptionally resilient heroes (e.g. Dragon Knight with Dragon Blood, Timbersaw with Reactive Armor). Special mention goes out to Omniknight: repel and Guardian Angel will save the enemy from Viper's Poison Attack over and over again and you have to watch out for Purification as the damage is pure and ignores your armor and magic resistance.
- People who do not make the mistake of being too far forward from their own towers / stick close together with their lanemates.
Shutting down Viper
Viper is pretty hard to deal with once it gets some gold and levels, therefore Viper's early game should be made as hard as possible. There are several ways of doing this:
- Gank Viper
- Put Silencer in Viper's lane and spam curse of the silent all the time. Viper should change lanes pretty fast, make Silencer follow him.
- Put Drow Ranger in the same lane. These 2 are evenly matched in terms of harass potential
- Put 2 burst damage characters in Viper's lane. Troll Warlord together with Lina is quite nasty for Viper to deal with.
- Put Dark Seer, Omniknight or a healer in the lane to prevent Viper from getting kills
- Have your own well-fed hard carry
Hope this was useful, please leave constructive feedback. For pics and stats I need to go through my replays. I can add them later on (unless I get lazy) :P
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