You Rock: In-Depth Guide to Control-Based Earth Spirit Support
December 8, 2013
Earth Spirit is a unique Hero in Dota 2. He is an extremely item independent and relatively experience independent support that manages to be useful at all stages of the game. His ability to control positioning better than any other hero gives him a unique niche that remains relevant even into the late-game.
While he may seem intimidating to use at first, much of what you will be doing with him will be more "bread and butter" than it may seem, and learning a few tactics with him is enough to make him a respectful support. However, his potential goes beyond this and allows him to make some extremely impressive and effective plays given the right situations and excellent positioning awareness. DotaCinema is likely very happy with the addition of Earth Spirit because they will probably be getting a lot of fresh, new content for both their top plays of the week and top fails of the week.
In this guide I will be covering the "bread and butter" aspects of him as well as the more situational and advanced tactics and strategies that Earth Spirit has available to him. I will assume that you've played enough Dota to understand your basic role as a support, as well as certain terminology such as stacking and pulling.
This guide is very long and I intend for this to be comprehensive. I don't intend for this to be a quick alt-tab guide since there are several other guides that fill that role quite nicely.
A "Brief" Guide to Items
As stated before, Earth Spirit is largely item independent. However, Earth Spirit's main weakness is his early game mana pool and regeneration being especially lacking. With his Q, W, and E being so effective at level 1, you will wish to spam your abilities early and often to press your early game strengths.
Before The Horn
Your fountain items will depend on what you intend to go for. The ones listed above of:................................
is a reasonable, plain choice that will work well enough in a general situation. Depending on your team composition it is recommended you buy the Animal Courier
and provide the upgrade, leaving the other support for warding duty.
Core items for Earth Spirit are delightfully few in number. Arcane Boots
alleviate your mana issues and help support the team. However, with your mobility provided by Rolling Boulder, boots don't necessarily need to be rushed and can be delayed a little to make room for an Urn of Shadows
or one of your situational items. This mainly depends on if ganks are happening already to make an urn a viable early option and if your lane partner would benefit from earlier Arcane Boots
I list Force Staff
as a core item simply because synergizes so well with all of Earth Spirit's skills. It provides even more options for forcing fights, ensuring escapes for both you and your team, and gives you an entire new level of control. Having a Force Staff
with Rolling Boulder can help ensure your escape from most pick-off attempts and lets you cover unbelievable distance (See the Rolling Boulder section for more information). Force Staff
simply gives you that final element of control that let's you completely work enemy and ally positioning in your favor. Besides that, the extra Intelligence and HP regen are greatly appreciated and help cover a few gaps.
Aura Items are good choices for Earth Spirit because he doesn't put gold to use as effectively as other heroes (even many supports). These items are all situational but viable and depend on the needs of your team. Mekansm
is a viable option thanks to the increased armor it provides, but can be a concern if you initiate on a team and are locked and bursted instantly before mek can even assist in a team fight.
is an effective positioning tool that provides more accurate and versatile positioning for yourself than a Force Staff
. However, Blink Dagger
can be a slightly more greedy option as it only allows positioning for yourself and gives less control options overall. It also provides no stats and can leave you more vulnerable to being ganked in some situations due to it's "break" cooldown.
are simply to be bought if no one else is willing to do so. Because of your mobility, however, you do make an effective warder should you take up that role.
is effective if you plan on being the team's suicide initiation. While the Intelligence and armor are appreciated, this item is not terribly effective outside of suicide lead and should be ignored otherwise. If you plan to survive the fight then Mekansm
is the better choice.
Drum of Endurance
and Vladmir's Offering
are also good aura items you can consider picking up if no one else will be building them and the benefits they offer are worth either delaying your other items, or if they'll be worth the pick-up later into the game.
Items To Ignore
These are items I've seen built a few times and argued for. I'll explain here why I think they're bad ideas when building Earth Spirit as a support hero.
Do not buy Eul's Scepter of Divinity
. The active ability doesn't have any natural Synergy with Earth Spirit and the movement speed is unnecessary since you're already one of the most mobile heroes in the game. The mana regeneration may seem nice, but if you are following my suggested build you actually would get more mana and more mana regeneration for the same gold as going the Eul's route.
Still don't trust me?
is a wonderful troll item but I don't want to see people building this item on Earth anymore. Earth Spirit isn't about bursting down opponents.
has potential as a support item thanks to it's new active, but it simply doesn't work in practice. Most heroes that build Linken's Sphere
do so because they need that spell block available at all times and also appreciate the stats and regen it provides. It's too expensive of an item for a support like you and you don't benefit from the gold spent especially well.
is a poor tool for initiating considering the other tools Earth has available to him. It also makes a poor escape mechanism. The other bonus stats it provides are practically irrelevant for Earth because he's not a right-clicky Hero. It's also expensive and the active costs a fair amount of mana.
Introduction to Skills
Earth Spirit boasts an impressive moveset. All of his spells are nearly as effective at level 1 as they are when maxed out. Along with that, his Q, W and E provide so much in terms of ganking potential, escape for yourself, and keeping your allies safe that I recommend that you do not skill your first point until you are in lane and the situation calls for one of your 3 abilities to be used.
By level 3, 1 point should be in all your abilities in all situations. From then on, it's best to work on your Q as it's the only one that scales much in any way. Your E is often skilled after that to increase the duration of the stun, followed by W. R is gotten at the standard 6, 11, and 16.
Call a Stone Remnant at the target location. Stones Remnants have no vision and are invulnerable, and can be used with Earth Spirit's abilities. Calling a Stone Remnant consumes a charge, which recharge over time.
Earth Spirit can have 6 Stone Remnants active at one time.
Max Charges: 6
Charge Restore Time: 25 seconds
Duration: 120 seconds
Range: 1400 units
is a unique ability in that it's innate to Earth Spirit. It's available at level 1 without needing a skill point to be placed in it, and it's also impossible to level up further. Placing stones does not have a cooldown so all stones can in rapid succession if you wanted to (which you don't). It's also worth mentioning that you continue to recover stone charges even while you're dead. There is also no casting animation
which is very handy for emergency escapes and quick stuns. Placing a Stone Remnant is considered to be casting a spell (likely to be a bug) and will provide magic wand charges, dispell Curse of the Silent, and this ability cannot be used while silenced.
Though you may think managing your stones is difficult as Earth Spirit, it's actually not. Stones should only be set when you intend to use them for an ability or for mind-game purposes (see below) and should not be placed randomly around the map. You just need to be observant of how many charges you have remaining before you begin an engagement so you can avoid looking like a total scrub. Although it says in the Wiki page on Earth Spirit that there is a limit to the number of Remnants you can have on the map, this is not the case.
The in-game description includes neither that text nor the limitation. It's unknown if this is a bug
, but my guess is that it's an intended change.
Stone Remnants provide no vision, they have no collision, they aren't counted as summoned units and will not do things such as block creep camps from spawning. An easy way to think about it is that with the exception of how they interact with your abilities Stone Remnants essentially don't exist on the map.
Even though a Stone Remnant itself doesn't do anything, they can still be an effective method of control by placing "decoy" Remnants in the lane during the laning phase. Opponents will (or can be with a few pulls) conditioned to try and avoid standing between you and a rock. You can use this to your advantage, for example, to try and coax your opponent into unfavorable positions.
Earth Spirit smashes the target enemy, ally, or Stone Remnant, knocking it back in the direction he is facing. The knocked back target deals damage to all units it hits. If the target was a Stone Remnant, damaged targets are also silenced, and the travel distance is improved.
Range for impact: 150 units from target
Radius: 225 units
Slam Distance: 800 units(2000 when using a Stone Remnant)
Slam Speed: 1200 units/s
Silence Duration: 5 seconds (Only when using a Stone Remnant)
Cooldown: 22/18/14/10 secons
Mana Cost: 100
Earth Spirit's first spell is both functionally versatile and effective, yet can be practically very difficult to execute. Boulder Smash
is incredibly powerful even at level 1 as you're able to push both heroes and allies the max distance and the silence is an incredible 5 seconds long with just the first point. Although this skill doesn't scale amazingly well, it does scale better than your other 2 skills and is typically maxed first.
Practical uses for this spell are pushing enemies (especially melee ones) away from an ally, silencing targets from a massive range in preparation for a gank, and pushing your own allies closer into enemies for a gank. Remember that a pushed unit or stone will break trees and can cross impassable terrain, so pushing your at-risk ally or an annoying enemy over a cliff can completely change an engagement in your favor.
An important note to mention are that this spell can push both allies and enemies who are magic immune. Damage or silence cannot be done to a magic immune target, but a magic immune target will still damage other units they hit. Also remember that enemies and allies can use items or abilities normally while being pushed, and it will also not break channeling spells
, so pushing a TPing ally to a safer location is an excellent idea. This does, however, mean the same for enemies. Punching a Dismembering Pudge
will NOT save poor little Crystal Maiden
Aiming Your Shots
After a 0.6s delay, Earth Spirit becomes a boulder, rolling in the direction he is facing and damaging enemy units, stopping if he collides with an enemy hero or is stunned. If the boulder rolls over a Stone Remnant, the Stone Remnant is consumed and travel distance and speed are improved, and impacted enemies have their movement and attack speed slowed.
Range: 800 units (1600 when using a Stone Remnant)
Damage Radius: 150 units
Damage: 90 (135 when using a Stone Remnant)
Movement and Attack Speed Slow: 80% for 2 seconds (Only when using a Stone Remnant)
Cooldown: 16/12/8/4 seconds
Mana Cost: 50
will serve primarily as an escape mechanism and as an initiation tool. Because the boost that Stone Remnants gives to this move is so significant, one should always be used. It's worth noting that the only thing that scales on this move is the cooldown, so it's usually maxed last. Once you begin rolling, there is typically no canceling it early. The only way to cancel a Rolling Boulder is to Force Staff
during the duration.
A very important mechanic of Rolling Boulder is that you will appear behind the enemy Hero you eventually crash into. This allows you to either body block their escape (made even easier with the 80% slow) or to push the fleeing Hero into your team with Boulder Smash.
A typical combo with Rolling Boulder is:
Place a Stone Remnant behind the enemy.
Geomagnetic Grip the stone to stun the enemy, and bring the Stone towards you.
Rolling Boulder into the stone, crashing into the enemy Hero.
Boulder Smash the enemy from behind, and into the rest of your team.
Because the Boulder travels further than you're able to pull a stone from, this combo is always guaranteed to land. However, the stun duration is short before you're able to get a few levels into Geomagnetic Grip, so beginning the role before even pulling the stone is a good idea.
On the topic of boulder travel distance, I'm pleased to say that the 1600 units you travel after consuming a Stone Remnant will happen no matter how far you've already traveled as a boulder.
If you travel 800 units and hit a Stone Remnant at the very end, you will then move another 1600 units, effectively moving 2400 units.
An interesting note about travel distance is that with a Force Staff
it is possible to cross ridiculous distances. The combo looks like this:
Place a Stone Remnant (even works at max distance)
Begin Rolling Boulder in the direction of the placed Remnant
Quickly Force Staff during the .6 second delay.
A Force Staff
provides exactly enough movement to allow your roll to pick up a stone at max range. This combo moves you unrestricted over 3000 units of terrain in a very short period of time.
Please know that a Force Staff
being used while already rolling as a boulder will break the boulder and push you the 600 units. You need to activate the Force Staff
within .3 seconds of casting Rolling Boulder for this combo to work. It's easy with practice.
The reason this works is because Earth Spirit is considered to be under the effects of entanglement while using Rolling Boulder. This means you can do anything you would normally be able to do while netted, such as Force Staff
, casting either Boulder Smash
or Geomagnetic Grip
, and teleporting with a Town Portal Scroll
or Boots of Travel
. An excellent way to help ensure an escape is to roll into the forest and activate a TP scroll.
Activating Black King Bar
during the roll does not break the "entanglement" like it typically would for nets.
Although the Dota 2 wiki states that Rolling Boulder provides flying vision, that is not really the case. Earth Spirit maintains normal vision and gets 75/75 flying vision. This is a change from Dota 1 where Earth received full flying vision and is likely a bug since when Rubick
steals Rolling Boulder he receives flying vision while using it
Earth Spirit pulls the target allied unit or Stone Remnant to his location. Enemies struck by the flying target will be stunned, and take damage if the flying target is a Stone Remnant.
Range: 1400 units
Radius: 180 units
Pull Speed: 1000 units/s
Stun Duration: 1/1.5/2/2.5 seconds
Stone Remnant Damage: 125
Mana Cost: 75
is Earth's pseudo Pudge Hook. While it unfortunately won't pull enemy units to your location, it does provide a lot of utility.
The first note I'd like to make is that the range of this spell is conveniently the same range as Stone Remnant, meaning that if you can place a stone, you can also pull it towards you.
It also conveniently places the stone directly in front of you; between you and the target you stunned. This allows you to either roll into them with the stone or push it back into them for a silence. Thanks to Stone Remnant's 0 casting time, you should always drop a stone and immediately pull it to give your enemy as little time as possible to react.
A Stone Remnant or ally that has been pushed by Boulder Smash can be pulled by this ability while it's still traveling.
This ability is also extremely useful for rescuing at-risk allies as you can safely pull them to your position; even over unpassable terrain. Like your push, this ability will also not break channeling abilities, making pulling a TPing ally to your location a smart idea should they be in danger. However, unlike your push, this spell is not able to pull a magic immune ally
and will not destroy trees.
This spell is also especially effective with Batrider
, as you can pull Batrider
and his lassoed victim to your location without breaking the lasso. While it's typically less useful, it's also worth mentioning that you can push with the same effect using Boulder Smash
. You're also able to pull allies out of many other abilities, such as out of Clockwerk
's Power Cogs
's Black Hole
, and Faceless Void
Magnetizes enemy units in a small nearby area, causing them to take damage over time for a short duration. Any magnetized units cause nearby Stone Remnants to become energized and explode, applying/refreshing the magnetize debuff on all enemy units near the Stone Remnant. This process can repeat multiple times. Stone Remnants are destroyed in this process. If an enemy hero is affected by silence or slows as a result of Rolling Boulder or Boulder Smash, all magnetized heroes share the effects.
Cast Radius: 300 units
Search Radius: 300 units
Explosion Radius: 600 units
Duration: 6 seconds
Damage per Second: 50/75/100
Cooldown: 80 seconds
Mana Cost: 100
is an extremely powerful ulti that can output massive amounts of magical damage and disables to the entire enemy team.
Important mechanics to take out of the wall of text that describes this ability are:
When an affected enemy is within 300 AOE of a Stone Remnant, the debuff is refreshed. Each enemy Hero can only be refreshed by a Stone Remnant one time, but exposing a Hero to multiple Stone Remnants continues to refresh the debuff.
Once a Stone Remnant refreshes the debuff on an enemy Hero it will disappear after 5 seconds. This stone can still continue to refresh the debuff on other Heroes it has not refreshed yet and can still be used by your other 3 abilities until it disappears.
Affecting one hero with the 5 second silence from Boulder Smash
or the 2 second slow from Rolling Boulder
will apply that debuff to any other hero on the map currently affected by Magnetize.
Generally, your role will be to initiate a team fight with this ability. A good way to initiate with this spell would be:
Place a Stone Remnant near several enemies in a group.
Stun them with a pull, and roll through the Remnant into them.
Drop Magnetize on as many as possible.
Place another Stone and Boulder Smash it into the enemies to silence them.
It's possible by level 14 to continue to spam Rolling Boulder to constantly harass the enemy team with refreshed duration and slows.
Beyond the impressive damage output, the ability to also harass with disables can be incredibly disruptive in a team fight. If your unable to do this effectively, even simply dropping remnants near targets to refresh the damage is effective. This ability will reward you well for being conservative with your Stone Remnants should you anticipate a team fight.
If this ability is cast on a magic immune enemy, they will recieve the debuff but not the damage. This does mean, however, that you can refresh the debuff while the enemy is magic immune and when immunity ends they will be under the effects of Magnetize and receive the damage.
In the early and laning stages of the game you'll want to hug onto your carry. Thanks to your abilities, even early on you should be able to help set up ganks with a pull-roll-push combo, as well as get your carry out of danger should a gank attempt be made on them. Stacking and pulling is a good idea
since you will not be too hurt by missing some lane experience, and keeping the creep wave close to your tower is especially nice since you can easily shove an enemy hero under it. You can also have some level of security in leaving your carry in the lane since you're able to stun the enemy or rescue your carry from a whopping 1400 units away, silence from 2000 units away, or quickly jump back into the lane with Rolling Boulder.
Once the mid game stage hits, your role changes from a carry hugger into more of a team fighter and initiator. At this stage in the game you will be able to pick off less tanky heroes with your ult if you have to, but you're better off sticking with allies. Earth Spirit's "burst" damage is very lacking without using his ult so you should not attempt to solo roam for pick-offs
and risk not having your ult off cooldown when it's needed. Teaming up and pushing towers with Earth Spirit on your side is very effective at this stage as trying to defend a tower with Earth's massive initiation range is a scary concept.
As most supports tend to fall off during this stage of the game, Earth Spirit is fortunate in that he has a lot of potential to remain relevant. Your damage that you're able to apply in a team fight is still good compared to most team fight supports, but here your ability to control positioning and apply debuffs is especially important.
Your two main goals in the late game should be to either use Magnitize to spam attack slow debuffs onto the enemy hard carry, or potentially remove them from a fight completely with a well placed Force Staff
or push onto a cliff. Taking fights around the river or especially fighting over the Roshan Roulette can be very advantageous to you as there is a lot of potential to knock an enemy onto a cliff or into the river and remove them from the fight.
You should remember that while you do have a good escape mechanism that would theoretically allow you to push out lanes, your damage, even after using your Q, W and E is not very high and you're very inefficient at pushing out lanes. Do not attempt this by yourself.
With Geomagnetic Grip, it is possible to pull lane creeps into the jungle. There are certain strategic locations on the map for each of the lanes that will allow you to pull a creep inside of a fenced in area of the trees, blocking it inside and preventing it from moving down the lane. This pulls the lane towards your tower and denies a creep worth of EXP and gold to the enemy. This is a good idea to do if you're a support, but works especially well if you're offlaning. For the sake of completeness I'll also include how to do this in the offlane.
Orange will be the path through the trees you'll enter. Pink will be the target location to "box" the creep. Purple is the proximate location you want to pull the creep from.
Dire Safelane AKA Creep Ward
There's my guide, I appreciate you taking the time to read through it. I'll update this guide as new information comes out and I learn things about the Hero. He's still very new to Dota 2 and there is likely a lot of undiscovered potential to be found in him. Despite that, I consider Earth Spirit to be extremely powerful in his current state and expect that if he remains this way will likely be seeing a lot of play in the professional scene.
Hopefully with this guide I can coax some of you to give him a shot, perhaps even a second look. If I can manage to do some work in digging this Hero out of the low win rate ditch that he's buried in I'd be pretty happy.
Good luck all you rockstars out there!
[12/5/2013]-Added Denying Creeps section.
[12/6/2013]-Added information and links to various bugs, rewrote several sections to represent these bugs/changes.
[12/8/2013]-Cleaned the guide up further, added brackets for items and abilities in certain places, and fixed a few small errors.