While the new patch is still being explored and Valve is still tweaking things, we would like to discuss some of the most flexible heroes in the game, who are also among the biggest winners of the patch. While most heroes in the game have one or two distinct initial item builds, heroes discussed today can realistically go for any starting items and be situationally effective, making them very interesting indeed.
Bounty Hunter is pretty weird right now: he is played in virtually any position and in almost any lane, making him rather hard to analyze.
While the hero can’t boast a lot of innate utility, he more than makes up for it with a good laning stage, great scouting ability and, given proper play, a lot of money, that can be spent on exactly what your team needs.
The last point is very important: the hero is made or broken by his item choices and that does not only apply to the utility three-five Bounty Hunters, but also to full one-two cores.
Looking at our guides we can see that builds differ drastically from game to game. Sometimes Bounty Hunter knows he can allow himself to get greedy and his team needs a killer. In situations like this, it is possible to go for Desolator from a core position.
When lacking teamfight, an Aghanim’s might actually be a decent idea, but usually not as a starting item. Going for defensive auras or active utility, such as Heaven’s Halberd, usually takes priority. In fact, in some games, when dealing with elusive targets, going for Orchid might also work really well.
As a support, the Mekansm into Greaves build still deserves some attention, yet we feel that lately the latter has been outclassed by a slightly cheaper Medallion of Courage. Again, it really depends on the situation and when playing Bounty Hunter, you have to fully understand what type of lineup you are facing and what type of lineup your team has.
His playstyle doesn’t really change from game to game, so you should use it as an anchoring concept for all your item choices. You will need to scout for your team, preferably with the ability to survive long enough, in case you get noticed on a sentry. You will need to continuously Track the enemies, so some mana pool would come in handy.
Finally, you will also have to contribute to teamfights, either by providing utility through items or by quickly dispatching problematic backline support: depending on what option looks more feasible and promising, act accordingly.
Doom is yet another “extra-flexible” hero, but unlike Bounty Hunter, Doom is primarily played as a position three offlaner, with little to no deviation in this regard. It means that he typically frontlines for his team, has some farm and XP priority, and generally needs to be survivable to succeed and reap the benefits from teamfights.
For that reason, Drum of Endurance is incredibly popular right now as a starting item for the hero: decent stats and extra movement speed is exactly what the hero needs in the early game to chase and survive. After it, however, builds vary quite a lot.
Blink Dagger was and always is a good choice for Doom: being able to close the gap to the opponent and initiate with his signature ability or even stolen War Stomp works wonders in a lot of games, but it is also a bit of an all-in: you are putting most of your eggs in the Doom basket and while it is not a bad idea per se, if fights happen frequently or there are several priority targets, it might not be as effective.
There is another option that fully embraces Doom as a position three core: with his immense farm from Devour, Doom can get his hands on Greaves, Pipe or Crimson very early on, solving some potential issues for his team. All three items are excellent in the right situation and can be the turning point in all upcoming teamfights, at least for a period of time. Though going for all three, or even two items on a core hero is typically ill-advised: you still want to scale and after the priority defensive item, Doom should typically let his support get the next.
Finally, there is Spirit Vessel and Blade Mail, both of which heavily punish some specific lineups. Spirit Vessel is a great all-around item for when you know you will have to deal with heavy regen: Doom can get it very early and can almost guarantee the first charges through Doom usage. It also works pretty nicely with his own Infernal Blade, for a surprising amount of burst damage on tanky targets.
Blade Mail, on the other hand, is amazing when dealing with AoE team fighters: Doom is mostly a single target hero, which is his biggest weakness, but by going for return damage, he can not only soak the aggression but also become a much better contributor to early game skirmishes.
Once again, a hero who can be anything: a damage dealer, a zoning piece on the board, a heavy pusher, or even a DPS core. Venomancer is great in the current patch, which is certainly reflected in his win rate in the higher level brackets. Similarly to Doom, he is also primarily played as an offlaner and can be built into pretty much anything.
That said, his playstyle does differ slightly: whereas Doom tries to rotate around the map, looking for kills, Venomancer typically wants to occupy a lane and constantly force reactions from the opponent, and potentially punish them if they don’t bring enough team members. For that reason, at least one defensive item on the hero is generally preferable.
Similar to Doom, Veno can get an early aura pretty fast, but unlike Doom, there is no problem with Venomancer going for several big defensive auras: Crimson or Pipe + Guardian Greaves is an acceptable option, especially if you are trying to establish early to mid game dominance.
There are also two pretty powerful aggressive options: Spirit Vessel, which needs no introduction, and Veil of Discord, which can work wonders in certain games. The latter is often underrated in the current meta, but cheap cost, ease of build and a pretty nifty aura should not be underestimated, when your team is stacking up on you and going for early game invasions into the enemy territory.
Finally, there are some niche options, but which still deserve your attention: Heaven’s Halberd is absolutely devastating against most ranged cores, and winning extra five seconds for yourself can be the difference between getting a kill and getting killed. When facing heavy burst auto-attack damage, strongly consider the option: Templar Assassin and Clinks really hate to play against Halberd.
There is also Rod of Atos, which to us, personally, feels more of a crutch for a draft, that has no ways of dealing with mobile heroes. Venomancer doesn’t really offer any control, which is his biggest weakness, and Atos does solve some of this problem, but if your team is coordinated enough, it is generally better to simply force the enemy to react to you by pushing towers, than trying to catch them yourself. Scythe of Vyse later down the road is much more preferable in most situations when dealing with mobile enemies anyways.
The new patch is still quite fresh and there still changes being made to heroes, which will undoubtedly result in some new trends emerging. This is going to be discussed next week and in this chaotic post-patch time the most adaptable will generally prevail. For that reason, we strongly urge you to give all three heroes a try: they are flexible, they can be fit into any lineup and they were all among the biggest winners of the patch.