Image by MrScrake
Last time we discussed the strongest utility supports in the current meta, and today we are going to focus on the more late-game, DPS-oriented ones. They are a lot of fun to play as semi-cores in a lower level pub environment, where games tend to be unnecessarily drawn out. In higher level games they usually take the backseat, naturally gravitating towards save and utility items. We are going to discuss today’s trio from both points of view, explaining our reasoning when necessary.
Easily the prime candidate for nerfs. Losing 0.3 Intelligence per level in 7.33c is more or less inconsequential and the hero is as strong as he was at the beginning of the patch, when they made his old Aghanim’s Shard a part of his free kit.
Having a powerful slow and area denial is great both during the laning stage and the early skirmishes. Ice Vortex is a scouting tool, a Blink-breaker, a respectable source of damage, a lane outpushing tool, a damage amplification tool and so much more. There is absolutely no reason not to max it out as soon as possible.
In fact, in many laning setup it is perfectly acceptable and even preferable to go 0-2-1-0 at level three. Cold Feet level one costs a lot of mana and does very little even if it connects. You want to have it maxed out second for the cast range increase, but the first point into it can be easily delayed to level four. The obvious exception is having good, reliable stun in your lane: think Wraith King, Alchemist or maybe even Sven.
Another big mistake for lower level pubs is going for the Cold Feet talent at level ten. It is two levels worth of damage on Cold Feet, sure, but having extra cast range and stun duration by investing into the ability itself is much stronger. Also, by the time you get to level ten as AA, Cold Feet is mostly a zoning tool or a dispel bait.
+300 Chilling Touch attack range can give you some interesting options down the line. Our advice: fully skip the level ten talent and concentrate on your other abilities. In lower level pubs consider transitioning into an extra core for your team with the help of the Chilling Touch talent.
For levels fifteen and twenty going the Ice Vortex talents should be self-explanatory. We feel like going the Chilling Touch talent at level twenty is acceptable, but in a default game the right one is going to be stronger. Finally, at level 25 the Ice Blast talent is almost always better. Cold Feet is rather unreliable as a disable and in the later portions of the game will most likely get dispelled regardless.
Finally, always get Aghanim’s Shard. It is a ~1.7 second stun in a potentially massive AoE for 1400 gold. Ask your team to kill the Tormentor ASAP and if the Shard doesn’t drop for you, just buy it yourself.
Another “Free MMR” support hero of the current patch. Venomancer is an oppressive laner with strong zoning, Blink-breaking and scouting capabilities through low cooldown Plague Wards. He also has a Health Regen reduction talent at level ten, so basically we are talking about Ancient Apparition, but green. More or less.
The general idea is still the same: you want to be very annoying in lane, trading your HP for debuff application. Get a value level of Venomous Gale, max out Poison Sting first and Plague Ward second and try to transition into whatever save items your team needs. Pavise is still exceptionally good, but there are interesting alternatives in Spirit Vessel and Solar Crest as well.
Talent-wise concentrate on getting the most utility, meaning left talent at level ten. Probably the left talent at level fifteen as well: having even more continuous slow is very annoying for your enemy. At level twenty you want more % damage against very beefy popular heroes and at level 25 it is highly situational, but we lean towards the right talent, as -200 AS can be devastating once BKBs start getting shorter.
Unlike AA, Venomancer can’t really turn into a right-clicking machine, but he can scale very well through his Aghanim’s. Getting it too early isn’t particularly good and in many cases you will be better off with a more matchup specific item, but it can be powerful under the right circumstances.
It is also worth noting that Latent Toxicity is one of the most creative disables in the game that punishes enemies who want to use their BKB, Manta or any other dispel. Get it onto the most problematic target at the start of the fight and you should have a much easier time dealing with their Debuff Immunity.
Finally, the most annoying support of the current patch. We are not sure whether we are correctly placing him into the DPS category of supports, since it feels like the hero simply gets to choose what kind of value he brings to his team: he can go both DPS and Utility route. The latter is definitely better in higher level games, but going for Damage can be very snowbally in lower level pubs.
First things first: Phylactery is very questionable on the hero. Having a way to deal 150 magical damage out of invisibility from a huge range is kind of funny, but for the most part it is just going to be mildly annoying for the enemy and a waste of gold for your team. Get tankier with items like Drum of Endurance into Boots of Bearing, or get the necessary auras your greedy offlaner doesn’t want to pick up and your team will be much better off.
Going for items like Solar Crest is generally a good play as well. Other situational alternatives are Heaven’s Halberd against strong ranged DPS, Lotus Orb versus silences or even a straight Scythe of Vyse against elusive targets.
If you are going the memey DPS route, just get the Aghanim’s Scepter. It is highly unlikely Phylactery will pay for itself quickly enough to be a net tempo gain, while Aghanim’s will give your Bounty Hunter some necessary teamfight. It is a lot worse than it used to be, but still very good against enemy supports and if anything, getting Phylactery with Agh’s is much faster than the other way around.
Talent-wise there is a general consensus that BH should maximise the gold and utility gains for his team. Extra speed for your teammates, shared vision from the enemy and extra gold is what BH should typically aim for even in DPS-oriented games. It synergises really well with how Bounty Hunter and his team want to approach fights.
There are definitely a lot of other viable support heroes in the current patch and after the 7.33c changes playing support is a lot of fun. You usually get enough XP and Gold to stay relevant throughout the game and can sometimes even snowball out of control with a couple of good, early pickoffs.
We are not sure whether the support meta is going to change drastically any time soon either: greedier, more late-game oriented supports seem to be doing very well in pubs, regardless of whether they are utility or damage-oriented.
Contest the Wisdom runes, join all the fights, build for survival and you shall be rewarded.