I'm relatively new to DOTA 2. I was admittedly a dedicated LoL player until recently when I found that a good group of my friends were all playing DOTA. This is only relevant as I use some terms from LoL and that my knowledge of DOTA is not extensive but I have been playing other MOBAS for years now.
My current record for online pvp games is as follows:
Warlock - 7 wins, 1 loses
Sniper - 5 wins, 3 loses
Zeus - 0 wins, 1 loses
I have played many, MANY practice games to test out different builds and heroes until I found one that worked for me. My one loss as Warlock was to a highly skilled Pudge that even my far more experienced at DOTA friends could not take, insisting at his skill. Many of my games I have had a higher K/D/A ratio, Gold per minute, and Exp per minute than even my friends who have over 100 games in online pvp. This build is designed to make the warlock what I think it should be, rather than a support.
My ideal laning partner right now is Legion Commander. My friend and I are very coordinated in our play and the LC is great at chasing and peeling for me when my Warlock is in danger. LC's ult forces an enemy to focus only on her which effectively ends that persons attempts to try to kill me. Meanwhile I am free to mess them up on every level possible.
Lastly this is my first guide and I'm not trying to beg but please rate if you like this build. I don't think much will change in this build over time but if it does and this build has a good/decent rating, I'll be more motivated to keep it updated and/or add more builds to this and other heroes in the future.
Thank you and enjoy the build :)
The first items you get are going to be entirely about mana regeneration. The Warlock struggles with his mana pool until nearing the end of the laning phase. I start with a Sage's Mask and 3 Claritys because it will allow you to stay in lane just about indefinitely until you have the resources to buy your Boots of Speed (which will then allow you to stay in lane ABSOLUTELY indefinitely). With this build it is also possible to buy your team their Animal Courier just to make everyone happy and because the Warlock doesn't really need anything more in his starting build.
Once you start getting money you will want to buy items as soon as you can afford them both to increase your ability to stay in lane and get kills as well as to prevent any losses from possible deaths.
The first thing you should buy is your basic Boots of Speed. This will allow you to move around more easily whether it be away from a gank or in to range to use your abilities and then back out to avoid return harass. The very next thing you should buy is your Energy Booster to increase your mana pool as well as give you your upgraded Arcane Boots so that you can regain mana for you and your laning partner (unless you are mid/solo). These boots combined with your heal will allow you and anyone you lane with to remain at maximum health as well as put out some decent harass. Essentially you will never leave lane unless you get nuked in a gank and die.
The core items of this build are the Aghanim's Scepter and Refresher Orb. I suggest getting Aghanim's Scepter first as both will allow you to multiply the number of your demons from Chaotic Offering but Aghanim's Scepter has more useful base stats for what you need earlier. Most Warlocks will not have a large enough mana pool to cast Chaotic Offering twice in a row and have any mana left for anything else which is what is required by the Refresher Orb yet Aghanim's Scepter gives you a larger mana pool as well as making your one demon into two (even as a slightly weaker version this is an amazing advantage). Once you have the Aghanim's Scepter your mana pool is large enough to cast everything twice so it is time to begin towards the Refresher Orb. Once you have both you can solo just about any other champion in the game. You will have four rampaging demons who do automatic AOE damage as well as put out considerable attack damage. And they make it harder for an enemy to target you if they surround you in any capacity.
The situational items are just that, situational. If you find that you die easily to characters such as Bloodseeker or Pudge, you might want to consider buying Shiva's Guard, Bloodstone, or Linken's Sphere. If you are dealing major damage but just want a little more and are relatively unfocused in team fights you might instead get a Dagon or an Orchid's Malevolence.
It's worth mentioning that a good strategy is to cast Chaotic Offering, use the Refresher Stone, cast Chaotic Offering again, cast Fatal Bonds and Shadow Word (either as a heal or damage depending on the situation), then use the Bloodstone to die. This will heal your teammates, deny the enemy your gold and exp, while still giving you exp in the process. You may then control your four demons to wreck havoc upon the battlefield and you will be back up in time for most follow-up fights and by then Chaotic Offering will be back up.
The first ability you should get and max with this build is your Shadow Word. It will keep you (and your laning partner) healthy in lane from combat and poking. It can also be cast on enemies during successful trades and since it has an 11 second duration it can be quite satisfying to let an enemy run away thinking he might be safe just to later hear that "First Blood" come over the announcement. It is great for securing kills on enemies that run away with low health. Be careful however as this ability requires you to move into fairly close range so be aware of where the enemies laning partner is.
The next most important ability is the Fatal Bonds. This is great for any team fights that randomly break out as well as if it links an enemy hero to a wave of creeps you may beat down on the minions and in turn doing 20% of that damage to the enemy heroes. In the later game you may use this to easily farm a wave rather quickly and when used in combination with a teammate or your demons you can push a lane all the way to an enemy tower almost as fast as you could walk it.
Next you should always, ALWAYS, put points into Chaotic Offering whenever possible. As you build your items you will end up with four (that's right I said four!) demons. Your demons are a great way to initiate a team fight but can also be used to nuke a group of enemy heroes in a gank or if the entire enemy team is elsewhere or dead you can even use them to push a lane incredibly quick and get a tower or two before they can even reach you. Each time you use your demons it stuns all enemies in the casting radius (which is quite large) for 1 second so used in conjunction with the refresher orb you can stun enemies twice all the while your demons are going to town on them with any teammates in the fight.
After these abilities are maxed or up as high as they can go I put all points into upgrading my attributes. This will further increase your damage and survivability overall. By the time you get to this level your goal of putting the fear of you into your enemies should be complete and all you are doing now is increasing that gap.
And lastly you can put points into your Upheaval, or not. I find this ability EXTREMELY situational and have yet in all my games found a moment to use it with any effect. Especially in this build most team fights do not last long enough for it to reach its full slow duration much less stay in one place long enough for it to take much of an effect at all. You should be putting out and controlling your demons, casting Fatal Bonds, and then putting your Shadow Word on teammates to heal or low health enemies to secure kills. Upheaval is a channeled ability that requires you to stand still at close range doing nothing else but channeling when you could be making better uses of your time and not being close to the things trying to kill you.
This is NOT a support build. Do not pass up on last hitting creeps. Do not ever pass on the opportunity to secure the kill yourself to hand it off to a team mate (unless they really need it and you are already a fed monster).
This strategy is written for the middle/solo lane. The only difference with a duo lane is remaining aware that there are two enemies (always attack the one closer to you so that you do not end up being focused by two enemies). And you can keep your lane mate healed as well to remain a constant threat.
Early Game/Laning Phase
In the early game you should focus on last hitting creeps the same as you would with any other hero. Whenever you can get an extra auto attack off on your opponent without receiving harass in return then take it. The Warlock's auto attack at low levels hits for a fair amount of damage so it should not take too long to get an opponent low if they get too close to last hit their own minions. A good strategy is to wait for one of your minions to get low and when your opponent begins to move in to strike it, you move for your own attack on them. After ONE attack back away. You should get a free harass if you are quick and will take no damage in return. This is the goal until they get low (to around 1/4 of their health bar). Once they reach this health threshold then it is time to make your move. As before, wait until they move to last hit a creep (remaining on top of your stairs is great to keep them from seeing your own move forward) then move forward yourself. Cast Shadow Word on them and begin to auto attack. At this point they may try to either return harass or run. If you played correctly then you will still be at full or near full health and there is almost no way they can kill you without outside help (I'll leave that up to your map awareness) or they can run, still taking damage from your spell and getting more from your auto attacks. Most will attack you back once or twice, realize they are in trouble, and THEN run. All the better. Do not go past their turret. If their turret attacks you, back off. Remember, Shadow Word has an 11 second duration so you could wait what seems an eternity after they run out of sight before STILL getting the kill. And even if it fails to kill them due to heals or random luck and barely surviving, it almost always pushes them back to base to heal. If they stay you can always do it again. If they survive and leave or die you now have a free lane to push and farm as necessary. At this point you may also move to either side lane to gank if the opportunity presents itself.
Mid-game/Team Fight Phase
After the laning phase winds down you want to stick with your team. The mid game is the warlock's most vulnerable time. You are probably almost done with your first item yet are too weak to take on most enemies in a duel without aid. You are still squishy. Do not get overly cocky. When your team moves, you move. You want to remain somewhere near the back but not so far back that stealthed assassins can murder you before your team can react. When the opportunity arises for a fight, start off with Chaotic Offering to do massive damage and stun all enemies in the blast zone. You don't want to save it as your demons are also a significant source of damage for your team, and confusion for your enemies as they will have a harder time targeting you and your teammates beneath the larger demon models. At this point in the game during team fights, it is best to save your Shadow Word if the enemy team has stealthing assassins or bruisers who can charge past, around, or flank your team to get to you. If this happens then use Shadow Word on your self and move forward into your team. Enemies from the team fight are unlikely to change targets to you as they will be busy with your demons and teammates but then your team may peel for you or it might deter the enemy from targeting you any further and they will back off or face your entire team.
End Game/Clean-Up Phase
In the late game after you have your core items and can summon two demons twice, you have almost nothing to fear aside from an entire enemy team while you are solo. If you run into any enemies on the map. Drop cast Chaotic Offering, use Refresher Orb, then cast Chaotic Offering again. Cast Shadow Word on yourself to keep your health up if they survive and are determined to kill you or on them if they survive and attempt to flee. Notice how I twice said, "if they survive." That in itself is hard to do except by the tankiest of characters. You do not need to worry about saving your ultimate for the perfect time at this point. Killing even an individual of the enemy team is of benefit to your winning. You may then use your demons to push towers or chase enemies while you yourself retreat to the safety of your teammates. Most enemies upon seeing four giant demons will choose to avoid you long enough for you to get away.
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