Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Spotlight on Vengeful Spirit (6.85)

I'm writing this article with a hypothesis:  Vengeful spirit could and should probably be played more often as a carry.
Updated for 7.05 on April 26, 2017

Venge as a hero
  • 3rd Highest starting Agility in the game (after Riki and Phantom Lancer)
  • 2nd Highest Agility growth in the game (after Morphling)
  • 2nd Highest overall stat growth in the game (2.55, after Silencer's 2.57) 
  • Higher base attack damage and attack speed than Phantom Assassin (levels 11 & 16).
  • Low-cooldown stun (10s at L4)
  • Powerful skills that scale well with right-click damage (armor reduction, % damage aura)
  • Ultimate that allows re-positioning of self and of allies/enemies, and also acts as a interrupt. 

Pro players have been valuing Blink Daggers and the Force Staff more and more lately - realizing that positioning in Dota 2 is key, and the more the better.  Perhaps it's a holdover from old patches, but Vengeful Spirit didn't used to be able to use a Blink Dagger, which might still be clouding the thinking of some long-time players.

Except for  Pudge (skillshot) and Batrider (Blink + Lasso + Forcestaff), Vengeful Spirit is the only other hero who can literally move an enemy hero into an ambush.  Now that she has the ability to use a Blink Dagger, she can also get HERSELF out of the bad spot that Nether Swap usually puts her in, and rejoin her team, instead.

What Limits Venge As a Carry?

1) Farming Speed
There's a trend lately, towards fast-farming carries, namely Alchemist, Shadowfiend, Queen of Pain, and Sven.  Venge does not have any innate farm-boosting skills, although Wave can help her farm neutrals and push waves a bit faster.  She's also not typically itemized with a Maelstrom for faster farming (but she could be!).

2) Skills:  Self vs. Team
Venge's skills will benefit her team regardless of whether she's the carry or not.  Thus, there's no reason not to take another hero as a carry that synergizes well with Venge, instead of making Venge herself the carry.

How Carry Venge Could Be Itemized

Most players build Venge with a Desolator, to allow her to snowball as a semi-carry, and also to synergize with her Wave for additional armor reduction.  While this is not "wrong", there are other possibilities:

1) Illusion-based Venge
Since Venge's aura doesn't affect illusions, it's not optimal to build Manta first.  However, items that boost base damage such as Skadi, DO take advantage of Venge's aura.  So, if you're adding stat-based damage anyway, why not add some illusions that also benefit from stats?  This results in a Aquila+Yasha into Manta/Skadi type of Venge build, which is pretty decent.

2) Damage-based Venge
Since Venge has better Str-gain (2.6) than some Str-based carries, as long as she has time to get some levels and possibly a minor hp-boosting item (Treads, Aquila) (Drums, or casual Ogre Club, perhaps), Venge can focus on damage.  Items such as Chrystalis, Shadowblade and S&Y come to mind.  Like most Agility-based carries, she also benefits from a Poor Man's Shield in early game.

3) Maelstrom for Farming / Pushing Venge
I think the Maelstrom is an underrated early item.  The proc alone is almost worth a nuke, and it's mana-free on a really low cooldown.  Better yet, it allows faster wave-clear and farming of neutrals!  The only downside is that it doesn't boost Venge's low early hp pool - so buy a casual Ogre Club (you can turn in into an S&Y or BKB later). Also, if you buy the Mithril Hammer first, it doesn't give away your item build - you could be going for a Desolator or BKB, too.

4) Utility-based Venge
While I don't recommend a neither-support-nor-carry build for Venge, because this type of role usually falls to the 3-position, Venge COULD be itemized with utility items, such as an Agh's (low-cooldown swap), Vlad's (team damage boost), or Solar Crest (single target armor reduction).  She could also boost her hp pool and stats by getting an early Mekanism for her team, which has been done in the past by mid-carries such as Shadowfiend and Viper.

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