07/09/2009: Upgraded skill build, some descriptions and added Dagger item to item build. 07/15/2009: A lot of improvements and changes (mainly cosmetics). I recommend you to read it again =p 07/17/2009: Added Bottle and Rune Control section and the first FAQ. 07/20/2009: Reworked on the "Playing Witch Doctor" section. 07/21/2009: Took out Lothars from main guide and changed some cosmetic and little stuffs. 07/22/2009: Added Feared Enemies and Valuable Allies section. 07/31/2009: Added a replay.
I must say sorry before start, cause english is not my native language, so I'm not that good with this :P If someone wanna try to make this guide better, would be nice
I consider myself a experienced DotA player, I play it there is like 3 years :P I play privates/clanwars at Eurobattle and Garena under the nick "[EnC]Valasty" if someone wants to find me This guide is mainly made for experienced players, so I hope you know the basics of a DotA game before reading (like deny, last hit...).
Pros and Cons
[+] Fun to play
[+] Badass for enemies
[+] High Inteligence growth
[+] 8 hits bouncing stun
[+] AoE healing spell
[+] High damaging ultimate
[+] Amplifies the entire party damage
[+] Easily take down tankers
[+] Great attack animation (allowing to last hit/deny perfectly, turning him a good farmer).
[-] Low survivability
[-] Great dependency on items
[-] Channeling ultimate
[-] Unpredictable stun bouncing
Aghanim Staff should be included in your arsenal right after you finish your core (exept if you already got it. In this case, go for BKB). This is a item you MUST have! It's cheap, increases your mana, hp, base damage of your ult and make it bounces once more (making it 3 targets!). There absolutly no reasons for not getting it.
The late game items should be a mix of your killing and the supportive build. Everything depends of the game that you're playing, the enemies that you're facing and the allies you have. Below I'll describe better the role of a bunch of items for Witch Doctor, supporting you on this decision. Those that I didn't list, don't even think about getting (or comment here, maybe I forgot =p).
Bottle and Rune Control
Bottle is an special and excelent starting item for Vol'jin if you're going middle to keep the rune control. I personally don't like to buy Bottle to go bottom or top, but if you like it, it's highly recommended if anyone elses will pratice rune control (which is difficult...).
Just for information, runes spawn every 2 minutes on ONE of the two spots, initiating on the minute 0. But there are two occasions when a rune won't spawn:
1) If there is already an spawned rune on one of the spots.
2) If you get the rune with 5 or less seconds left for the next spawn.
Different of some heroes, Witch Doctor makes a great use of every rune he gets:
- Illusion: Increases your DPS providing some protection as well. Early game it turns you into a powerhouse combined with Maledict. Just Maledict the target, Throw the Cast if necessary, and attack attack attack. You'll score an easy kill if you do this right. Late game it's better to let the carries get it.
- Double Damage: It's not big deal, but just like Illusion, it helps you with DPS, but not with some protection as illusion does. Late game, let the carries get it.
- Invisible: This is the best rune for Witch Doctor, that you can make use for all the game. With invisible, to place a good Maledict or Death Ward is a piece of cake. If you have a Dagger, you can also Blink away from danger after Maledict to Death Ward safetly. And for who doesn't know, you can use one bottle charge before the fading out time.
- Regenaration: I don't think I have to comment this :P
Playing Witch Doctor
Now that you know his main items, builds and skills, you're ready to begin the pwnage. But... how to do it? Here are some tips, supposing that you know the basics about surviving, killing, denying and last hitting with any hero.
Ok, lets suppose you followed my hints and bought a Bottle to solo mid. You will have a perfect lane control with nice last hits, denies, and you can also harass your oponent with a infinite mana and HP amount due rune control. If you're on top or bottom lane, the procedure is the same, except of the rune control part.
Some technics to help you:
Auto-attacks: You have a nice range, make it worth. Attack from distance and try to land some hits on your enemy. When you're up on the hill and he's down, go and land attacks until his creeps (or him) comes to you, then go back. If the enemy is Maledicted, try to land as many attacks as possible, for obvious reasons.
Casks/Maledict independent of enemy creeps: Against an smart oponent, to place a Maledict without a Cask is not easy, but if you are smart too, it's not difficult neither. The best chance you have to do it is when the guy tries to hit you with an attack or spell (believe me, he will try) and aggro the creeps. When he comes close, just cast Maledict, some auto-attacks, and when he runs, throw a Cask to hold him for some more seconds. If you don't score the kill, you'll at least make him retreat, and your mana won't care since you can just refil it with the bottle and rune control. If you have a DD or Illusion rune stored, this job will be a piece of cake and you will probably score the kill. If you're not with Bottle, just a few Clarities can solve your mana problem.
Casks/Maledict with 1 creep + hero or 2 heroes: This is the strategy I like most while your enemy don't senses the danger you provide, he will ALWAYS stay at the little mage side (or on another hero's side). Throw the Cask first on the hero (or on the creep, but on the hero you get 0.5 more stun time) and if you have lv2 Casks, it will bounce twice on them. It gives you enough time to hard hit them while Maledict does his job. If you have a DD or Illusion rune stored, this is the time to make a good use of this, probably scoring you a kill.
Death Ward against a non-disabler: Try to get the enemy from behind and/or on the top of a cliff to be totally successful on this, and be sure that the fog is far from you. Maledict first and cast the Death Ward as close as possible of the enemy. If you have enough mana, also throw a Cask before casting the Ward to grant the kill. From here, there are two situations:
1) The enemy runs. At low levels, he will survive only if he is lucky or if he's a counter to you (like Naix). If he enters the fog means that you didn't place a good Ward.
2) The enemy knows that he will die and try to kill you first. In this case, hold the Ward as much as you can, and run when you see that you're going to be killed. If the enemy runs after you, he will see his HP going down and will probably turn back (to not give you Exp), and you just have to auto-attack back. If he doesn't, just keep running and he will get killed by the tower or the Maledict itself. Remember... even if you kill him after you dies, he will be getting Exp while you won't. NEVER DIE!
Death Ward against a disabler: This part is not easy and it's very risky. You have to mindgame and make your enemy use his disable against you, and so you'll be able to successfully Maledict --> Cask --> Death Ward. The rest is just like the above described strategy. It can be made if you're facing an one only disabler (Venge, Sven...). If your enemy have more than one disable (Lion, Rhasta, Earthshaker...), try to avoid using your ultimate and go to another lane, where you can do a better job with a lanemate.
Death Ward against two enemies: Don't do that if you're soloing, please. Do it only if you're COMPLETELY sure you won't be killed (which is very difficult).
Death Ward on defensive stance: Sometimes your allies are being chased by the opponnents. If your Casks are on cooldown, you can cast the Ward directly on the way the enemies are going, what will make them retreat. Always choose a good place to cast the Ward. Top of cliffs, behind your allies, between trees (using allies vision) and far from disablers.
Remember... creeps are your friends! If your enemy aggro them, cast Maledict and throw a Cask. Believe me, it will hurt
Assuming that you already built a BKB, there's no much secret here, just use it smartly. Throw a Cask to bounce at least twice in your enemy, it will assure a safe Maledict cast. Once Maledicted, use BKB followed by Death Ward. With your Casks on level 4, if you find the enemy team without creeps around, get your double kill (if you already have Death Ward lv3, remember that it hits 2 targets at the same time! Or 3 with Aghanim!)!! BKB should be used only while your ult or to escape ganks. At this point, maybe you have some mana left to spend. If so, use Vodoo Restoration always during a battle to assure that you'll be supporting your team while attacking. Use your mana smartly until you get some more mana regen items.
But if you're a supporter, your job is... to support! Always walk with your team, heal them when they need, throw Casks and drop Maledicts, and use Death Ward wisely, cause you won't have a way to protect yourself.
Nothing much different from Middle game, except that your enemies will be more powerful, but you will be as well with Aghanim and another support items in your inventory. The combo for ulting will remain the same, and you will need a team! Now that you have a lot of mana to spend, abuse of Vodoo Restoration to help your team. You can't win alone a late game against good players, your allies MUST protect you since you are a great supporter and a valuable DPSer.
Feared Enemies and Valuable Allies
I'm not putting single heroes here because there are A LOT of them, so I'll be just doing a general comment, and you use your DotA experience to tell you those who can fit each part.
These are the heroes that pisses you off. The mains are those which laught of your Maledict, such as Omniknight, Abbadon or Panda. The two first ones deserves even an highlight, cause they not only can avoid your damage as they can help their allies as well. Blinkers are also part of this, since they can get away from the damage when they get Maledicted.
These are the ones who can cancel your ultimate even with BKB or can easily remove your from battles before you realize it. Good examples of "removers" are Nerubian Assassin and Rikimaru... fear them, really. Heroes that can cancel your ultimate are those which have AoE spells that can "move" you from your Ward casting position or stuns that can go even through magic immune targets, such as Axe, Pudge, Treant, Enigma or Ezalor. Magic immunity means absolutly nothing to Axe =p
I'm not sure if Stratosphere cancels Death Ward... I'll make a test so I edit here.
These are the heroes who makes your Maledicting job easier. Those I like most are Magnataur, Enigma and Axe, cause they can "suck" everyone next to each other, making your Maledict a piece of cake, providing an easy wipeout for them. Another good synergy are those heroes who can keep the enemies starring to your Death Ward not being able to run or hide, like Earthshaker or Treant.