When the hunted tell tales of Gondar the Bounty Hunter, none are sure of which are true. In whispered tones they say he was abandoned as a kit, learning his skill in tracking as a matter of simple survival. Others hear he was an orphan of war, taken in by the great Soruq the Hunter to learn the master's skill with a blade as they plumbed the dark forests for big game. Still others believe he was a lowly street urchin raised among a guild of cutpurses and thieves, trained in the arts of stealth and misdirection. Around campfires in the wild countryside his quarry speaks the rumors of Gondar's work, growing ever more fearful: they say it was he who tracked down the tyrant King Goff years after the mad regent went into hiding, delivering his head and scepter as proof. That it was he who infiltrated the rebel camps at Highseat, finally bringing the legendary thief White Cape to be judged for his crimes. And that it was he who ended the career of Soruq the Hunter, condemned as a criminal for killing the Prince's prized hellkite. The tales of Gondar's incredible skill stretch on, with each daring feat more unbelievable than the last, each target more elusive. For the right price, the hunted know, anyone can be found. For the right price, even the mightiest may find fear in the shadows.
For abilities, stats, and other information, visit this hero's Liquipedia page here: Bounty Hunter
Avoid Tranquils and Vanguard, but aside from that is still relevant. + Show Spoiler [Alleria-‘s Bounty Hunter Guide] +
I. Introduction to the Guide
II. Skill Build and Concept
III. Item Builds for the Off-Lane
IV. What to Do and What Not to Do on the Off-Lane
V. Reading the Flow of the Game
VI. Follow-up Item Builds for Mid/Late Game
VII. Author’s Remarks
I. Introduction to the Guide
II. Skill Build and Concept
III. Item Builds for the Off-Lane
IV. What to Do and What Not to Do on the Off-Lane
V. Reading the Flow of the Game
VI. Follow-up Item Builds for Mid/Late Game
VII. Author’s Remarks
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE GUIDE
This guide isn’t about a special build, nor is it going to reveal to you anything you don’t know about what a Bounty Hunter is capable of. I hope this guide will be able to help those who have difficulties in attempting to off-lane Bounty Hunter and the direction of the hero should take after the laning phase. This guide is about doing the little things efficiently whilst utilising the hero to its maximum potential.
Bounty Hunter is one of the most played heroes in DotA 2, and it’s one of the very few heroes that can potentially win the off-lane and with that, the entire game itself. This guide will attempt to renew your understanding of Bounty Hunter and its abilities, while at the same time showing you the concept of the off-lane and how it fits Bounty Hunter as a hero perfectly.
To kick things off, here’s some facts about Bounty Hunter:
- Shadow Walk is a good escape mechanism
- Track vision, Track bonus gold, Track bonus movement speed
- Has great synergy with a lot of heroes in the current metagame
- Low HP and mana pool
- Relatively item-dependent hero
- Track armor reduction is being removed in the next patch
II. SKILL BUILD AND CONCEPT
When playing on the off-lane, the most important thing is getting your skill build right. It doesn’t matter if you have a ton of the right items, or a ton of levels for that matter, but if your skill build isn’t what it should be you are going to run into trouble. The three general problems with playing on the off-lane are lack of experience points, lack of gold and having to constantly read your opponents’ heroes.
The lack of experience points would stem from there being at least two heroes and sometimes three on the safe lane going up against you. This limits your ability to fully gain experience points as you may be forced back into a position where you won’t be in range to get experience points (denies come into play too). However, don’t fret too much. The beauty of Bounty Hunter is that you do not need that many levels in the early phase. As long as you’re keeping in touch with your opponent’s support heroes for the first 10 minutes of the game, you’re doing fine. But generally, you’ll find yourself ahead unless you die a couple of times while laning (which shouldn’t happen).
Against a tri-lane, it’s best to make use of Jinada (for tower creeping or last hits against neutrals if there is a pull) as you probably won’t have enough levels anyway to utilise Shuriken Toss; but that doesn’t mean you should neglect it.
In essence, you’ll normally be on the off-lane until the 10 minute mark or a bit longer than that depending on how the game goes. The skill build above works relatively well against a tri-lane and when you’re not leveling quickly. One of the reasons for the above skill build is that if you’re not leveling quickly, you’re probably not gaining much gold either, so you won’t get a quick Bottle and mana isn’t an expendable resource that you can simply spend on. You only need to skill Shadow Walk until Level 2, and then max out your other skills before maxing Shadow Walk. The reason for this is that at Level 1, Shadow Walk has a duration which syncs directly with your cooldown and it often reveals your position to your enemy when you cast Shadow Walk again.
One of the reasons I would recommend Jinada over Shuriken Toss is the fact that you can stand toe-to-toe against the opponents’ safe lane carry hero should the supports leave the lane. You might struggle against Luna and Tiny, but almost all other heroes would be fine to lane against as you are able to constantly deal 200 damage (even more with Phase Boots) every time Jinada is on cooldown.
An alternative skill build that works for Bounty Hunter is trying to make use of Shuriken Toss (only if your team is capable of pushing early towers and is capable of finding ganks in the early stages).
The reason why I wouldn’t recommend this build is that you would be over-reliant on Shuriken Toss; whether to lane or in battle. You will have relatively very low base damage and you would be more of a spell-caster rather than a damage dealer. Many people underestimate the slow you inflict on the opponent’s hero with Jinada but it actually is really useful, so if you are going with this build Level 1 Jinada is necessary.
However, the upside of this build is that if you have nukers in your team and your team’s lineup is based on early aggression, this build is the best you could do because Shuriken Toss allows you to kill off enemy heroes quickly before reinforcements arrive or before he/she can cast a spell without getting close to the said hero.
If you're being forced off your lane and/or if you encounter heavy pressure from wards or enemy supports, the above build might suit you better. When you encounter a situation like this, taking Level 2 Shadow Walk allows you to roam about the map (as it is not beneficial to stay in the lane) without being revealed due to the cooldown that Level 2 Shadow Walk provides (use Shadow Walk in the fog while you're still invisible to prevent your opponents from catching sight of you). This allows you to catch out potentially heroes that are jungling (like Naix or Prophet) or set up a gank on mid lane. I will not go too much into detail about this as this guide mainly focuses on the off-lane.
I’ll be mainly focusing on the first skill build from here forth, because I feel that it works better in general. The second skill build leaves you very vulnerable, particularly in the mid-game when spells become less of a factor and you don’t have enough damage from the lower levels of Jinada. Hence, you’ll often find yourself unable to contribute to team fights as much as you would want to. Alternatively, you could mix in Jinada with Shuriken Toss (taking at least Level 2 Shuriken Toss) in your skill build if you feel that it is right because I sometimes do that too if I feel that I need a little of both based on how the game is going (however, this is a pretty subjective call so I won’t go into any more detail about it).
III. ITEM BUILDS FOR THE OFF-LANE
You start with 603 gold, so make sure you get the right items because on the off-lane the slightest miscalculation could spell your doom.
You now have spent 499 gold and have 104 gold left to spare (builds you up to quicker Boots of Speed, a very important item when playing on the off-lane). A Healing Salve might be useful but if you play the hero right, you shouldn’t really need it (situational). However, if your opponent has a spell-based lineup, I would recommend getting it. If you’re playing pubs, it’s generally better to sacrifice one Iron Branch in favor of an Observer Ward to block pulls from the enemy side.
Phase Boots is the best item designed for Bounty Hunter. An item that provides bonus movement speed, no pathing block, and damage! Some people opt for Power Treads instead, but as a hero that relies on getting Jinada strikes and chasing, Phase Boots will do you more good than harm from the early to the late game. Tranquil Boots is another viable option if you're pressed really badly in your lane. I haven't experimented with this much as I feel that if you're pressed badly, you should try and avoid getting hit/staying in range of spells. However, with the regen it provides and the bonus armor and movement speed it is a viable option if you're looking to hold the lane for as long as you can. The only downside of Tranquil Boots is that it does not grant you the bonus damage you benefit from having Phase Boots. Note: Don't be confused by the images. You should only get either Phase Boots or Tranquil Boots and not both!
Bottle is relatively optional, but I would highly recommend you getting one. It helps Bounty Hunter replenish just enough mana to stay in-lane and it’s great to pick up runes for ganking (at the same time replenishes your HP and mana through the charges). Bracer is good for Bounty Hunter as it helps reduce the slots taken up by Iron Branch, gives you additional HP and builds you up to getting Drum of Endurance.
Some people tend to skip Drum of Endurance in the build for Bounty Hunter (I admit that I might have done so on a couple of occasions too), but it is an extremely useful item to have. The bonus attack speed and movement speed from Swiftness aura syncs well with Bounty Hunter’s needs and Endurance does a lot for your team in team fights where you need to chase and with Track, pretty much gives your team a distinct advantage in hunting down enemy heroes. If you do skip Drum of Endurance in your item build, I would recommend replacing the Bracer with a Wraith Band for stats (bonus HP, mana and damage) purposes.
IV. WHAT TO DO AND WHAT NOT TO DO ON THE OFF-LANE
This is probably the most essential part of playing Bounty Hunter on the off-lane. I will again reiterate the three problems you will encounter on the off-lane: lack of experience points, lack of gold and having to constantly read your opponents’ heroes.
Why does Bounty Hunter suit the off-lane so well? It’s because of these three problems. The lack of experience points is not detrimental to Bounty Hunter as a hero in the team because Bounty Hunter is not a carry hero and neither is it a hero that depends on high levels for its skills to be effective. And by that I mean Track. As long as you have Shadow Walk, you should not suffer too heavily on the off-lane and not give away unnecessary deaths to your opponents.
The lack of gold also complements Bounty Hunter well, because Bounty Hunter is a hero that doesn’t rely on the big items to be effective. A simple Phase Boots, Bottle and Drum of Endurance (even without this) can last you through the early phase right up till the 20 minute mark. Another reason why this factor works in favour of Bounty Hunter is that you will practically begin helping out in team fights/tower fights around the 10-15 minute mark. This allows you to score some Track kills if your team does well, and from there you should be able to get some additional income.
Reading opponents’ heroes takes a lot of practise and it isn’t something you can work on overnight. If you’re an inexperienced player, you would generally fare poorly on the off-lane. You’d probably die a couple of times, complain about not having farm, and be extremely under-leveled below your opponents’ support heroes. As I mentioned above, for Bounty Hunter, these are not major problems but you have to know the limitations of each problem when you encounter them. Reading what your opponents’ support heroes are doing is important as you need to know if you’re getting ganked or if they have left the lane to gank elsewhere. Of course having Observer Wards would be useful, but if they have Sentry Wards up, you need to know how to move around the lane and not be caught in a vulnerable position.
Also, reading your opponents’ carry hero’s farm is vital. You need to be the judge of how much he/she is farming relative to your team’s carry hero (if you have one). From there, you need to set the tempo of the game for your team and start directing the flow in which the game should go. Again, this isn’t something you can do overnight but something that you need constant practise to achieve. Patience is key to mastering these concepts, but it can be done.
Okay, now to the point:
What to Do
- Try to stay within experience range of creeps (doesn’t matter if they get denied) by making use of the trees/fog/terrain
- Identify pulls (if any) so that you know when it’s safe to take a creep or two or move into experience range
- Constantly check to see if there are any Sentry Wards/Dust of Appearance up on the heroes you’re facing
- Block opponents’ neutral spawn by utilising Shadow Walk to prevent pulls and allow the creeps to push towards your tower (be wary for wards and Shadow Walk cooldown)
- Harass the opponent carry hero when the supports are not in the lane with Jinada (this is much more effective than you might think)
- Try to constantly Track an enemy hero for vision and movement speed bonus (if possible, target the support heroes to identify their position)
- When you have Track up, try to keep a TP scroll to help out in fights elsewhere
What Not to Do
- Rely on Shadow Walk to last hit or gain experience points (this will instigate your opponents to commit to Sentry Wards/Dust of Appearance to kill you)
- Over-extend when taking last hits more often than not (this will probably get you caught out of position once every ten times and that alone is enough to set your team back)
- Extreme tower hugging (only resort to this if your opponent has Sentry Wards and a very aggressive lane, but even so you should do other things like spotting for rune spawns)
- Be greedy (learn to accept that you have to fall back at times, it’s better to be safe than sorry; you can always make up for lost gold later with Track kills)
- Chasing down and attacking enemy supports during pulls made against you (unless you are sure of the kill or have assistance from Sun Strike, Thundergod’s Wrath, etc)
A lot of this are just the basic ideas of how you should play on the off-lane with Bounty Hunter (you can consider them conjectures if you want), and in practise a lot of this might not be so black and white. Experience and game sense plays a big factor when you play on the off-lane, especially the latter. The only way to work on this is to play more games, and keep the assumption on the back of your head that your opponent is looking to kill you if you present to them even the slightest of chances.
Note: Also, always be wary of the possibility that your opponents may dive your tower to attempt a kill on you when their creep wave is pushing the tower at a strong rate (about 7/8 creeps or more).
V. READING THE FLOW OF THE GAME
This is another important part when it comes to playing Bounty Hunter on the off-lane. This part involves two things, namely knowing when to stay in the lane and knowing when to leave the lane. As an off-lane hero, you will find that staying in the lane for too long would prove to be detrimental to you and your team. Hence, your immediate reaction is either to call for help or to roam to the middle lane trying to achieve something. However, without core items (Phase Boots or Bottle) you will not be able to get much done. This is why it is essential that you do not give away kills as you will lose gold and at the same time slow down your item progression.
If your team is winning the other lanes convincingly, it’s best that you stick to your lane and hold it out. It doesn’t matter if you’re not doing well, but you’re drawing the opponents’ supports to you and building space for your team to take the lead. As long as you do not give away kills, you’re doing your job right and the onus is upon your team to get their lanes right too. However, even if your team doesn’t do well in the laning phase, do not panic. Bounty Hunter is a hero that allows your team to catch back up and draw level with your opponents if you just win one big battle.
If your opponents are playing a very aggressive push strategy, you should try to participate in defending your towers as often as you can (this means TP-ing to help). Normally in a game with Bounty Hunter, if your opponents try really hard to get a tower, they will find a hero or two dying in that process. With Track kills on those heroes, you’re basically making up for the gold lost from the tower falling. One thing to note in these engagements is never poke at your opponents with Jinada + Shadow Walk, and never attack when Shadow Walk is on cooldown (situational depending on the tide of the battle).
If your team is the one applying a lot of aggression, it is good to participate in tower fights as well. Getting a couple of Track kills for your team is added bonus for the tower kills that you potentially can take from the early pushes.
It is important to realise that Bounty Hunter is as much a team hero as it is an individual hero. Yes, you may score kills on your own but in team fights, it’s a hero than can excel brilliantly and scales well into the late game. Some rules of thumb when you approach the mid-game:
- Do not roam around aimlessly following opponents’ heroes
- Do not get greedy by constantly hunting heroes who are jungling (may work once or twice at the start but be wary of detection after that)
- Do not steal the safe lane farm from your carry (unless you’re the carry for the team)
- Identify potential areas that your opponent might have warded (so that you know when you can use Shadow Walk to benefit you)
- Try to Track any hero that comes close to you/your lane and always Track heroes during fights to get Track kills
- Check for rune spawns if possible; and be careful of wards at the river
- Always participate in fights! This is probably the most important part since Bounty Hunter contributes and benefits heavily from battles
VI. FOLLOW-UP ITEM BUILDS FOR MID-LATE GAME
The above is what I deem as the core items for Bounty Hunter (on the fence on Monkey King Bar). If you’ve ever played a game with Bounty Hunter, you’d realise that damage output and survivability are essential in the mid-late game.
Getting the Black King Bar is situational as you might not be the focus fire of your opponents but it is vital to get it even after you have gone for Desolator first. However, I would recommend it as your first item unless you have an extremely good start to the game where a Desolator could help you two/three shots-kill an enemy hero. Otherwise, always BKB first as it gives you good team fight survivability and aids you in dealing damage throughout the fight.
Desolator is good for a couple of things as it gives you really good damage and at the same time lowers the enemy’s armor. With Jinada and Track, this is a great item as it allows you to deal massive amounts of damage during team fights as you can chase down heroes quickly and get many hits in.
Monkey King Bar is a good late game item for Bounty Hunter because of the damage output it offers. It works well against heroes like Luna or Void who have evasion in the late game (Luna with Butterfly).
As many posters in the guide have suggested, Abyssal Blade is a viable core item for Bounty Hunter. I have not had much experience with it, but the +100 damage and 2 second stun (even against Magic Immune targets) really does pack a strong punch against any hero whether carry or support. It is possible to get this before Desolator if you're having a really good early to mid game, as the item is split into a Skull Basher and a Sacred Relic. The 2 second stun from the item allows you to shut down your opponents' main carry during fights and this is crucial against heroes like Void or Sven.
You should and only get Vladmir’s Offering after you’ve got your core items up. It’s good to support your team’s melee carry and Vladmir's aura grants bonus damage and armor. So only get it if your team can benefit from this during team fights (normally when your team is the more aggressive team).
HoT is essential if you’re going to be the one leading the frontline of your team in battles. It’s always good to get it after you get Desolator so that you still have enough damage output during battles. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting this if you find yourself and your team severely under-farmed heading into the mid-late game transition (if that is the case, a Vanguard will suffice).
Only get BoT (by selling off Phase Boots) when you have enough for buy-back and run out of item slots for TP scroll.
Lastly, Daedalus might be a decent item choice when your team does not have much damage output in the late game. I would normally get it (though I didn't realise it) when my team does not have much burst damage come late game against heroes that are pretty hard to kill.
VII. AUTHOR'S REMARKS
I do not have the biggest experience in playing DotA 2 at a competitive level but I watch a lot of it and I have participated in my fair share of competitive DotA during the WarCraft III days. I have spent 8 years playing this game, and have experienced the times of VP, MYM and SK during the .48b era and then the China dominance that followed, up till now. I wasn’t a competitive player back then but I played competitively for 3 years and achieved average results (one semifinal and a lot of quarterfinal/3rd round exits) in local LAN competitions in a place where there were teams like Kingsurf, DNA-SK, Cybertime, Zenith, AEON.sg, and many more that was competing for top honours.
Play safe, play smart, and play right. Know your role in the team, and know your team’s capabilities. Do not rush into doing anything you shouldn’t be doing and do not attempt to over-commit to get kills. One final point to note is that Smoke of Deceit plays a big factor in winning/losing games, so make sure you utilise it well with your team because Bounty Hunter and Track allows for a lot of opportunities to execute perfect Smoke ganks. Take the above mentioned advices lightly as they do not represent exactly how you should play a hero on the off-lane. These are just meant for Bounty Hunter and what I feel is best for the hero. Do not engrave the guidance above into your head, but just spare a thought for it may come to help you when you play the hero on the off-lane.
My personal record with Bounty Hunter isn't too impressive as I started off without knowing the basics to playing on the off-lane. But now that I am better at it, I wish to share my knowledge and my understanding of this hero and its fitting role as an off-lane hero.
"For the right price, anything."
19/12 - Guide published
21/12 - Updated item builds, skill build and some additional explanations
22/12 - Proposed update (better explanation with screenshots)
No longer works but is nice for nostalgia’s sake. Kupon3ss's Guide to Shadowblade Bounty Hunter
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