I'm writing this build because I've been in several pubs where I've been destroyed by a support Viper in dual lanes. "lrn2playnoob", I hear you say. Well, check it before you criticize:
Everyone hates laning against Viper. Why?
- Long range
- Orb attack
- Inefficient to trade hits with him (Corrosive Skin)
- Difficult to escape from (Poison attack)
- Viper can deny easily (Nethertoxin)
What's the downside?
- Viper needs levels
- no escape mechanism
- no hard stun
- little pushing power
- no teamfight ult
You use Viper as a support when:
- there is already a mid hero (or a player who won't give up mid)
- you are expecting to dual-lane
- your lane opponents aren't expected to have a ton of burst
- your (melee) carry needs space to farm
- you randomed him, and there are too many carries already...
You want to hang out at your max range from the enemy heroes, and every time they move in for a last-hit, you want to deny their creep, then hit them with your Orb (Q + click Poison Attack). As soon as you have Corrosive Skin, you want to encourage opponents to trade auto-attacks with you at every opportunity, as they will take more damage attacking you than they might even be inflicting!
For harass, you want to focus on their CARRY, so that you force them to use up all their consumables, and either leave the lane (and thus get behind in XP and gold), or set them up to be killed. If they fall below half and stay in lane, wait for their support to get out of position, and for the lane to push away from their tower, then go for a kill on the carry (try to let YOUR carry get the last hit!)
If you think they have a lot of burst, or you feed a kill, focus on denies instead - Viper should easily be able to do this. Get more Nethertoxin early.
One of the reasons to get an early Ring of Basilius is to maintain your mana for continued Poison Attack harass, and also to allow your lane-mate to use some mana to harass or get kills. A Basilius is also good to add a bit of armor. Just ensure that you turn it off so that it doesn't buff your creeps and push out the lane.
Viper should try for an early Mekanism so that he becomes tanky, and can continue to be annoying even in teamfights. Ring of Aquila gives you some damage and stats, and Power Treads give you both damage and tankiness (should be left on Strength most of the time).
The reason to avoid a Black King Bar is that you WANT the enemy team to hit you, and thus debuff their attack speed and movement. A Pipe of Insight is also beneficial for this, because together with Corrosive Skin, it makes Viper nearly immune to magic damage (although he can still be stunned). A casual Platemail or Talisman of Evasion can help you survive heavy right-click damage. Alternately, to shut down the enemy carry, you can also build into a Heaven's Halberd for the disarm active.
A Force Staff is a great support item that can both get yourself and your teammates out of trouble, or improve pursuit. However, due to Viper's Agility-based stats, only get this if other supports are not.
Most items that you should buy should make Viper more tanky (Heart), or give him additional options to shut down enemies (Orchid, Halberd, etc).
Viper works well with other aggressive carries or semi-carries, such as:
- Venomancer (semi-carry)
- Chaos Knight
... and others.
Viper will not do well against enemies that like to be hit, including:
Or opponents with a lot of burst or stun, such as:
- Ogre Magi
Or opponents who are insanely tough or have a lot of regen:
- Wraith King
- Lone Druid
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