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DotA 2 – The Beginners Pool – Sniper

Here I’ll talk about Sniper, my view on him and how I generally like to play him, this isn’t a perfect view in any respect but it works for me. I refer to and use aspects of Torte de Lini’s builds as they work very well and have helped me to hone my skills for sure, if you don’t read any further than this but still want advice, just follow the premade builds and don’t feed! I wont go over the basics of exactly what each skill does, this is under the assumption you’ve played Sniper and just want to know more. If you haven’t, or need to refresh yourself check out the page here.


Intro

Sniper is, as described by Valve in their game, a Carry and a Nuker. The nuker part of sniper is somewhat misleading. He only has one high damage skill, which is his ult that does 650 magical damage to a single target. Which, you may be thinking, sounds like a good spell to nuke with.

The problem is, it has a 2 second ‘build up’ before you can fire, during which you’re stood stationary, unable to move or do anything else. This makes it feel like less of a nuke, extremely useful for getting the final damage on a fleeing enemy, but less useful in the middle of a fight where, sometimes, you can do more damage just by right clicking. So try to avoid using the skill to initiate or in the middle of a team fight unless it is to secure a kill from an enemy fleeing the field.

The Carry side, is entirely true. Sniper, to me, is a glass cannon. Sniper can pull off impressive amounts of damage and tear down the strongest heroes, but once he’s caught he’ll struggle to survive. The key to Sniper is mobility and range.

Sniper is a hero that many favour playing the middle lane, which is definitely a viable option. Torte de Lini’s guide will give you an easy time playing middle, favouring maxing the Shrapnel skill before taking Headshot and then lastly, Take Aim.


Early Game

I prefer to take Sniper into lane, begin with Headshot for that initial mini-stun for random bursts of damage, then Take Aim to give yourself more room to fire in from afar, one level in Shrapnel for versatility, before then swapping between Take Aim, Headshot and Shrapnel. Take Aim is always my priority, giving myself that extra room to maneuvre and avoid approaching enemies. Playing within a lane, this allows me to comfortably harass enemy heroes and pick off last hits and denies, without worrying overmuch about getting caught up in an attack, as I have plenty of warning if the two heroes I’m facing off against start moving towards me. In the last set of games I’ve played, this has allowed for a comfortable lane-win whereby the enemy heroes haven’t been able to farm, and if the team is playing well has allowed the mid-lane to come in for a gank, destroying the two heroes who I’ve kept on low health.

The heroes that this method struggles against are the likes of Phantom Assassin, who can hit a long distance slow with Stifling Dagger and then close the gap with his Phantom Strike, giving his team mate time to bear down upon you. There isn’t much you can do to counter this, except to play well with your support and keep PA on low health so that she’s not confident enough to give it a go. When she’s on full health and pushing heavily, be cautious and beware a gank. Like I said, Sniper is a glass cannon, and you will feed heavily if you’re not careful.


Mid-Game

Hopefully, by the time you’re hitting level 6 you’ll have been doing well in the lane, at this point I would have 1 point in Shrapnel, 2 points in Headshot, 2 points in Take Aim and 1 point in Assassinate. I still follow the build that Torte de Lini suggests, Ring of Aquila and Boots of Speed before moving onto Mask of Madness and Phase Boots, straight after this I go for Dragon Lance. From there it depends on who I’m facing as to what I pick next. Maelstrom is a great pick for Sniper, and I pick it up along with it’s follow-up Mjollnir in every game. If you’re facing a powerful Phantom Assassin who is farming well and causing trouble, it could be worthwhile picking up Monkey King Bar. Sniper is great at tearing down enemy carries from afar, but when that carry can evade 50% of your attacks, you wont be doing enough damage. Your output is halved. Monkey King Bar grants you truestrike, and takes away Phantom Assassin’s key skill and your worst enemy. There are few heroes out there that will get in the way of a well-played Sniper, and PA is one of them.

If you’re not up against a PA, or they’re not causing you too much trouble at the time, your next decision is Shadow Blade. Sniper has no escape mechanism to speak of, beyond throwing down Shrapnel as a slow and trying to hot-foot it away. Generally, the extra range you’ve got means in a team fight you’re far enough away from the fight that escape wont be your first thought. However, if you’re in a game where the opposition is flowing through the map picking you off consistantly then Shadow Blade is going to be a key purchase. It’s the choice between sinking money into an item that doesn’t do much for your stats, or dying so often that you can’t afford the right items. If you’re farming comfortably and your team has the situation handled, skip Shadow Blade, if you’re facing trouble then make it a priority.

If you’re happy to skip both MKB and Shadow Blade, move onto Maelstrom and then into Daedalus. Torte de Lini suggests picking up Hurricane Pike, which is a good addition but again, I don’t think the stats in the endgame are worth it if you’re not in dire need of another escape mechanism. Dragon Lance is something I sell off once I hit level 25 and can take the +100 attack range talent, meaning I can still fight from a distance but pick up an item that works better for the team, such as Desolator or Eye of Skadi.
In terms of farm, once you have Mjollnir, you can go to the dire small jungle, and farm all 3 camps including the ancients at once, allowing the lightning to jump between the creeps and very quickly and consistently gain gold with minimal danger (Unless you’re radiant, then you’re not in as much luck). If you’re on Radiant, the small jungle there is still likely to be your best shot. Jungling in both of these locations requires good warding, if your support isn’t warding that spot, think about picking it up yourself as the 60 gold spent will give you ample time to get away and allow you to farm comfortably for a good while. Depending on how fast you can clear the jungle, the lane is generally a more efficient area to farm xp and gold (as long as you get those last hits!) but it’s not always viable. As soon as you pop up on a lane alone the enemy will move to intercept and so you’ll need to plug gold into an escape, equally you will push the lane to the tower where it is even more dangerous to fight and so after a couple of creep waves you’re back into the jungle.


End-Game

As you move into the endgame, you’ve hit your 20s, your team is pushing the Tier 2 and 3 towers and you’re looking to finish before you are finished, the extra range, damage and Shrapnel charges are going to come in handy. If you’ve got Monkey King Bar at this point, when you’re pushing the Tier 3 towers you are going to be able to shoot the high ground without missing, meaning you can sit back out of range of the towers and pick at enemies when there is vision. The True Strike on Monkey King Bar unfortunately doesn’t work on buildings and you will have a 25% miss chance, but even then, at this point, you should be doing upwards of 300 damage. If you still have your Mask of Madness and are comfortable risking the extra damage in-take, pop it and watch the tower burn from a distance. There is few things more satisfying than having your team sit in the low ground defending you while you destroy their T3 tower and their only option is to forfeit their high-ground advantage or allow the tower to fall.

Most likely thing to happen, is one hero will charge out to stop you and your team will annihilate him, then the rest of their team will follow giving you a 5v4 advantage. Just be ready to retreat very quickly, the games you’ll play early are unlikely to have the most communicative players and this works for the enemy aswell as your own team, but sometimes it does happen. They could be communicating very well and pop out from the high ground all at once and that will cause you trouble, your team is likely to panic, target different players and muddle it up. Keep your head clear, back away and keep your distance. If the mute from Mask of Madness has worn off, pop a Shrapnel or two down while you back away, then turn back into the fight. Target the hero who’s not popped their ult, or the one most likely to do the most damage. If it looks like your team is going to lose the fight, either get away, or if you think its safe, take out the hero most likely to chase and catch you. This is going to be Phantom Assassin, or another hero with Blink Dagger and stuns or slows. What you don’t want to do is stick around just to grab a kill to find yourself killed anyways.

As for talents I go the following route:

  • Level 10 – +15 Attack Speed
  • Level 15 – +200 Health
  • Level 20 – +8 Armour
  • Level 25 – +100 Attack Range

The attack speed allows you to tear down everything, and you’ll find the mana regen unimportant to you, the extra health and armour will keep you alive longer as you move through the midgame before the final talent allows you to get rid of your Dragon Lance and pick up an item that allows you to put more damage into the game. If you’re finding that Shrapnel is being used often and you’re always out, opt to swap the +8 armour for the -25% cooldown reduction. I try to avoid dropping the +200 health as it can make the difference between getting away clean or having a nuker drop one skill on you and wiping you out.

So that’s it from me for Sniper. Do you have any thoughts? Where do you most like to play Sniper? Have you got an item that’s a little unusual to buy on him but you think works really well? Let me know!

I wanted to create a build on the DotA website and link to it, but unfortunately they’ve temporarily taken the function down! I’ll work on it and add it to this when I can.

Defense of the Ancients 2 – Things I wish someone told me when I started.

I’ve been playing DotA 2 for years now, I’ve racked up over 1040 hours which means I’ve spent 42 complete days playing DotA. If you’ve already delved into the game, you will probably know that this doesn’t mean I’m a pro, or even necessarily good. I’ve learned a lot through the game, and I’m still learning more. It still surprises me how much better I am now than I was 2 months ago, and infinitely better than compared to a year ago (and so on, you get the point!).

DotA is a game that has quite a toxic community, and I can admit, I’ve been at fault for that. You’re stuck in a game for possibly more than an hour if you don’t want to risk an abandon, if you’re being let down by one person who keeps doing what you consider stupid things, unless you’ve the patience of a saint it will aggravate you.

As a new player, you’re the stupid one (bare with me here). It’s something I failed to realise when I came over from SMITE to begin playing DotA 2. I thought that if I’ve played one, I’ve played them all, I’d pick it up quick. So I was the toxic one who would feed and blame the team. Don’t. Be. That. Person. Learn from your mistakes. If someone shouts at you, get around the frustration and try to see the advice there. If there’s no advice in it, mute them. I’ve been known to rage at someone doing something stupid even now, I’ll admit it, but underneath the rage I’m still trying to tell you something. Yes it is a bad idea to rush under that middle tower alone when you’re level 4 and there’s two of them at level 5. It’s not going to work. Even if one of them is low health. You might not realise it, you might think that your respawn time is low enough for it not to matter, but it does. They gain experience, they gain gold, and you lose a small period of opportunity to gain both of the same. It also allows them time to do what we call ‘free-farm’ which means they’re last hitting creeps with impunity. This is bad. So listen to the rage, tune out the frustration and see if the person makes sense. It’ll help you get somewhat past the toxicity of the game. It never goes away, but the better you play the less it bothers you because you’ll know what you’re doing and understand it is purely frustration and nothing more. Water over a ducks back so to speak.

Now, on to the main mechanics. You’ll find similar information everywhere, but I’ll write this up in my way and maybe it’ll speak to someone where others haven’t.

The game breaks it’s heroes down into two basic categories. Carry and Support. These then break down into further categories of: Nuker, Disabler, Jungler, Durable, Escape, Pusher and Initiator.

Delving deeper into the game in this respect will take you into things that are a bit more advanced. Ideally, having a good team build will have a reflective aspect of all of these sub-categories, and 3 to 2 split of Carries to Supports. With one of those Supports generally acting as your ‘main’ support, picking up the majority of wards, while the other Support will be getting team-orientated items or pushing for endgame items such as Aghanim’s Sceptre or Refresher Orb

Your Carry heroes are those who will; given time, gold and experience, become your end-game destroyers. These heroes aren’t the strongest in the early game, but as they progress, get last hits and farm their XP and gold, they will become very powerful. As such, it is extremely important that you allow the Carry to take last hits, on both creeps and enemy heroes. This isn’t to say that if you think a hero is going to get away you don’t go for it, but if a death of a hero is assured and you have a skill ready to quickly shoot in and nab the kill, if you’re not a Carry, don’t do it. You’ll suffer in the end for it. When you’re in lane you’re going to be looking to keep an eye on the creeps, waiting until they’re low health, and then attacking for that last hit gold bounty. Don’t sit there in lane attacking the creep from full health to dead. This is what we call Pushing the Lane and it will force you to fight under the enemy tower. At early levels, this will be devastating if you get caught under their tower and it also means you’ve got less opportunity to harass the enemy as they can just run under the protection of their tower.

The Support class is the opposite. These are heroes who can generally do well without buying the big items. Their spells are team orientated, and while having the bigger and badder items definitely are a positive thing, you’ll want to give priority to your Carry. You’ll find in the early game, if you go for it, you’ll do a lot of damage to enemy heroes, and you’ll feel like you’re the powerful one and your Carry isn’t doing enough. It’ll push you, as a new player, to snub your team mate and get farm yourself. It’s understandable. Don’t do it. A few last hits here and there, no one will quibble about, you need items, you need gold for wards, but if you’re consistently taking what we call ‘farm’ from your Carry, then you’re giving the game away. While in the laning phase, you’ll want to deny your own creeps, look for when they’re low health, tap the ‘A’ key and click on your friendly creep. This denies most of the XP to the enemy, denies them the chance to get the gold from the creep, and also gives you a portion of the XP of that dead creep. On top of this, harass the enemy heroes, don’t chase them too far, and try to avoid standing on top of the creep lane or your team mate, but the more damage you can do to the enemy heroes, the more likely they’ll stay back away from the creeps, severely limiting their farm capability.

Key point to remember! Do not chase heroes half way around the map in the early game. You’ll be laning 2v2 in your lane, and that’s enough to keep you at a close-to stalemate. Unless you’ve managed to buy 16 wards and ward the entire map, you wont have much advanced warning of a hero from another lane making a switch to come and attack your lane (which is what we call a gank). If you allow yourself to get lured under their tower, into their jungle, or inbetween their towers as a creep wave comes up, you will be in trouble. At the very least you’ll have no friendly creeps, two enemy heroes and a creep wave coming in at you. If they’ve got any skills ready to go, you’ve got a long, long way back to protection. At the worst, they’ve coordinated this with their middle or opposite lane hero, and you’re about to be 2v3 with a fresh and ready-to-fight hero coming down on you. This is the biggest frustration when playing with newer players, that they don’t know when to back off. If a game has gone to 20 minutes with only 5 kills total, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad game, it just means that no one has played stupid and neither team has really got lucky.

If you and your lane-partner get caught and killed, the game is now 3v5 until you can respawn, and either teleport (wasting gold) or leg it back into the fight. That can be a very long wait when your middle hero has more than half the enemy team coming at him.

As you start to move into level 6 and upwards (and remember, if you’re in lane and level 4, chances are the middle hero has already hit level 6 and has their ultimate ready to pop, be ready for the gank), you’ll see heroes starting to move between lanes and being more fluid with where they operate. As each tower goes down, the team will move focus to the next one, until all of your Tier 3 towers are dead. Or, if you’re playing well, it will be your team doing this. Avoid using your spells on random creeps, or popping your spells randomly at enemy heroes. You want to try and keep yourself ready to fight, keep in mind how big your mana-pool is, and how much your spells cost. If you have 3 skills to use at 70, 85 and 130 mana, each with fairly long cool-downs, you’re only going to be able to use them once in a team fight. Knowing this, you only need to keep around 285 mana in reserve, so if your mana pool is 400, pop one spell off, wait for your mana to regenerate and repeat. The last thing you want is to get stuck into a fight and only being able to right-click. On the opposite of this, don’t be afraid to use a spell to scare off an enemy you think is about to challenge and you’re not in a position for the fight. Use your stun, your disable or high damage spell and run like the devil is on your heels. Try to avoid using your Ultimate unless you’re either A) Guaranteed the kill B) Your team are in-bound and will be there soon enough to have a chance to finish the job or C) Your death timer is likely to be longer than your cool-down. Your ultimate is likely to be important for your team fight unless it has a ridiculously low cool-down (Sniper for example).

When it comes to what Items to buy, I suggest you use a guide. Every single hero has a pre-built guide on the system, select it. If there is more than one option, pick the one closest to the role you’re going to play. If you’re what the game client suggests is a support player, don’t pick the guide that says ‘Carry‘, it’s possible to achieve, and works really well when done right, but being new you’re unlikely to pull it off. Equally, your team mates will be expecting you to play a certain role unless you’ve told them otherwise, and their hero picks will work around that. A player called Torte de Lini has written a guide for every hero, and they generally work really well, with good advice on how to use certain skills, or when to pick certain items. The more you learn the game, you’ll begin to pick up different items dependent on who you’re facing, but that comes with time. (Again, listen to your team mates, if you’re playing Sniper and there is a Phantom Assassin on the other side and your team mates are screaming for Monkey King Bar, pick it up! You’ll devastate her.)

Beyond that, enjoy the game, try not to feed, and always carry a teleport scroll! Don’t use it to teleport back into the fight from the fountain unless there is a fight you need to jump into, keep it for when you need to teleport to save a tower, your barracks, or escape a gank.

I will try to begin writing up my own guides and thoughts for each of the heroes from the reduced selection pool for new players over the next few weeks. First up will be Sniper, who I keep ending up with, but who can be a very versatile hero. Any thoughts, ideas or suggestions please let me know!