Rabu, 18 Januari 2012

Alchemist Guide

Razzil Darkbrew, Alchemist


Alchemist aka Alch aka Chubby (+10 Cool Points for reference) is one of the more versatile heroes in DotA, and is an especially deadly one now that his stun has been reworked. Alch has always been one of my favorite heroes, and it was nice to see him get some love in the last update.

He is now able to be played as a tank/support and to a lesser extent carry/tank. Not a true hybrid like Slardar and not a true tank like Centaur. Alch has always had some role confusion; my goal is to help you better understand his role and maximize your effectiveness at all stages of the game.

In order to play Alch within the vision I present, you must have the following skills:
1. The ability to last hit effectively and consistently.
2. You must be able to manage your mana effectively.
3. Map awareness.
4. Understand how the roles of heroes interact and how to utilize yourself with your allies.
5. Basic mastery and understanding of jukes is also necessary to play Alch.
6. A sense of timing is the mark of the best Alch players, and without this your gameplay will always be mediocre.

Fair warning, this guide can definitely be a wall of text in some parts, and I've tried to incorporate colors and pictures to break it up a bit for you. However, I highly recommend reading all parts of the guide in order to understand the thinking underlying the play style. By doing this, you can come to understand how I think and make a critical judgement in order to adapt this to your own play style.

Please note that this is a guide based around how to maximize the effectiveness of a particular hero and not an instruction manual on how to play DotA, so I will not be discussing things in the light of how they fit within your learning curve. I will assume I am talking to someone who knows how to play the game at a decent to skilled level. If you don't know what a laning phase is, what a gank is, or when late game starts, IceFrog has a nifty Learn the Game section located HERE.


The Philosophy

This section was added after a thoughtful comment suggesting that I add a section dedicated to outlining a game's flow and how the player should behave and what they should buy at various times throughout the game. Here's where I explain why I don't think this is a good idea.

My gaming philosophy is that the best players are those who do the following:

1. Formulate an initial plan.
2. Decipher the enemy plan.
3. Immediately throw out their plan and react to counter the enemy's plan.

But how do I make this accessible to you, the reader? It seems totally obvious to me how this works, but that doesn't mean it's obvious to you. Hence why I am taking the time to attempt to convey the thoughts behind the guide.

Endless adaptability. Know your options. Recognize synergy. Pressure a game's flow into your favor. Seize every opportunity. Create fear in your opponents. Strike without mercy. Never surrender. Become chaos.

These are the core components of my thinking when going into a game. I intend to make them fear me and my teammates. I intend to be chaos unleashed. And while these things seem to be weighty thoughts, they are truly accessible by anyone.

Here's how I make this accessible. I don't bog you down with a list of things to accomplish and a timetable to get things done. That's your job as a player. Asking me, the writer, to do that for you is essentially asking me to think for you. Laying down your mind is the absolute worst thing you can do to yourself as a player.

My part and my intention in writing this guide is to inform you of the best options and to provide insight into when these options are used. Once you have the best options, it becomes your responsibility to analyze the game, it's flow, and it's players' tendencies and to then react in an appropriate manner. That manner being your best to crush your opponents without letting up. It becomes your job to cause them as much chaos as you are possibly capable of mustering.

Just as an example for you. Let's say that I lay out a pretty timetable going for my preferred items in a standard game, and leave it at that. I've handicapped you. I've not given you the tools I used to construct the timetable. What happens when it's not a normal game, and you need to figure out how to counter a 5 man push mid at minute zero? I fully intend for you to be able to pluck apart this guide and be able to come up with a solution to just such a problem.

In conclusion, the ability to think actively about the situation is what will define you as a player. Set this aside and you leave things to chance. I try my damn hardest to leave nothing that I have in my ability to control and affect to fate. To do so is the height of irresponsibility.


Quick Play Guide

You just want to know what to do and don't care about the underlying thinking, or you've read the guide before and just need a quick refresher.

Starting Items

Skill Build
1. Unstable Concoction
2. Goblin's Greed
3. Unstable Concoction
4. Stats
5. Unstable Concoction
6. Chemical Rage
7. Unstable Concoction
8. Acid Spray
9. Acid Spray
10. Acid Spray
11.Chemical Rage
12. Acid Spray
13. Goblin's Greed
14. Goblin's Greed
15. Goblin's Greed
16. Chemical Rage
17-25. Stats

Support/Tank Items

Carry/Tank Items

Extension Items

Skill Discussion

Acid Spray
Acid Spray is a great utility power. It provides armor reduction, damage over time (DoT), and effects a HUGE area. This ability never gets old and allows you and your physical attacking allies to be even more effective every team fight. Be sure to drop this at the start of every team fight to maximize it's power.

Skill Details

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Unstable Concoction
Alch's signature, and usually the one most people misuse. This power is the one that requires the best instincts of timing and the best juking knowledge to be absolutely devastating. The ability is a stun-nuke, and is unique in its application due to its charge-up time. 5 seconds sounds fast, but you will sweat for all 5 seconds of this abilities countdown if your opponents have any skill.

Maximizing this ability is not about getting the highest possible damage or stun out of it; it's about LANDING the stupid thing. Waiting for all 5 seconds only to have your opponent juke out and let you stun yourself is the absolute height of embarrassment for all Alch players. It's better to land a half charged nuke than nuke yourself for the full amount.

Skill Details

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Goblin's Greed
The ultimate farming skill. This skill is the reason Alch always has items. 1-6 and still got his core items on time, this is the reason. I cannot stress how much last hitting will improve your gameplay for any hero, and it's imperative for Alch especially. And if you manage to get a good score while farming, say 3-1 or even 2-0, you'll probably be the first one to finish your items on the board. That allows you to leave the lane to your carry and roam. Believe me, nothing is scarier than an mia Alch.

Skill Details

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Chemical Rage
Activate GOD MODE. Seriously, massive boost in all of your regeneration, reduction of BAT to the lowest of any hero in the game, extra MS to chase, gank, and run, and extra HP. Never enter a battle without this active if you can help it.

This has a low cooldown and long duration as far as most ultimates go, but you should be cautious while this is on cooldown. Without this active, you are one of the squishiest heroes in the game. While active, you have the potential for causing absolute havoc within the other team's ranks.

Skill Details

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Skill Builds

Alch is one of those heroes that can be built a few different ways. All the skill builds have you make out your nuke-stun first, and that is probably the only thing that is absolutely set in stone for playing Alch. I'll present 3 skill builds. Each one serves a particular playstyle, and I'll explain each one.

The Face Smasher
1. Unstable Concoction
2. Acid Spray
3. Unstable Concoction
4. Acid Spray
5. Unstable Concoction
6. Chemical Rage
7. Unstable Concoction
8. Acid Spray
9. Acid Spray
10. Goblin's Greed
11. Chemical Rage
12. Goblin's Greed
13. Goblin's Greed
14. Goblin's Greed
15. Stats
16. Chemical Rage

This build is optimized towards getting into your opponents' faces as fast as possible. You stun, you spray acid, you smack them until they die, and you do it during the early game. That's the idea behind this skill build.

I also recommend this when facing off against a weak lane. Say a Juggernaut paired with a Phantom Assassin. You can basically free farm as long as you set yourself up as the dominant force in the lane.

The Rich Man
1. Unstable Concoction
2. Goblin's Greed
3. Acid Spray
4. Goblin's Greed
5. Acid Spray
6. Chemical Rage
7. Acid Spray
8. Acid Spray
9. Goblin's Greed
10. Goblin's Greed
11. Chemical Rage
12. Unstable Concoction
13. Unstable Concoction
14. Unstable Concoction
15. Stats
16. Chemical Rage

This is for those who have the $$$ in their eyes. If you have absolutely phenomenal last hitting ability, you'll be able to fully utilize this skill build. You stay a threat since you have your stun, and you become a bigger threat with your intensive farming. Maxing out Acid Spray intensifies your farming and allows you to last hit much easier as well as harassing enemies in the lane (especially melee heroes).

I would almost never recommend doing this build. It's useful in one very select situation that should never happen: your team has no carry. Then it falls to you to step up and farm your damn heart out. Finish ALL your core items by the 15-20 minute mark and one luxury item by 25-27 minutes. Go kill the other team and lol while they realize they shouldn't have let you farm.

1. Unstable Concoction
2. Goblin's Greed
3. Unstable Concoction
4. Stats
5. Unstable Concoction
6. Chemical Rage
7. Unstable Concoction
8. Acid Spray
9. Acid Spray
10. Acid Spray
11. Chemical Rage
12. Acid Spray
13. Goblin's Greed
14. Goblin's Greed
15. Goblin's Greed
16. Chemical Rage

This is my personal build. I am a big believer in taking a level of stats in the early game for that little bit of extra padding on both HP and Mana. I've been saved by it enough to really incorporate it into most of my gameplay.

You'll notice the one level of Goblin's Greed. If you're able to chain your last hits back to back, it really pumps up your gold income by around 15-20% in the early game. I take Acid Spray going into the mid game when I'm assisting in ganks and pushing lanes.


Playing Alchemist

Deciding How to Play

Alright, you have an idea of how Alch is built skill-wise. You may have sneaked a peak at the the Quick Play Guide, and you're wondering what the hell was I thinking when I put that together. No worries. This is where I handle that part.

For now, I'm going to step away from discussing Alch specifically. In order to pick a good item and skill build, you now have to asses your team and the enemy team. You also have to take into account your lane, your lane partner and your enemies in lane and in the neighboring lane. It's a lot to think about, but here's a good summary.

1. Does our team have a reliable carry?

If the answer to this is yes, congratulate yourself on being able to do what you do best: support/tank. If the answer is no, you're the one to step up; you have reliable tanking ability and and insane attack speed as a given. All you need is damage (which means lots of farming).

2. Is my lane partner heavily item dependent?

If the answer is yes, let your partner have at least half the early farm. You can make it up in spades later with a quick 5 or 10 minutes in the jungle. If the answer is no, go to town and farm your heart out.

3. Is the opposing lane lacking somehow?

This is a loaded question. Lacking how? If you can answer yes to at least 3 of these, bash their faces in and be hyper aggressive where you can: they have no regen items, their individual HP is 550 or lower, they have no disable (true disables, not slows or semi-disables), the opposing lane is all melee, they have no strong nuking ability. If the answer is no to at least 3 of these, then you need to be a bit more conservative but completely ready to spring on them if they screw up.

These are the basic questions that I always ask myself when playing Alch, since he is so versatile and can adapt as need to the situation.

Next, we need to do one last thing before we leap off the deep end. We need to summarize the inherent attributes of Alch so we know exactly what we have to work with

-Alch's starting numbers are rather high except his low Agility.
-His overall stat gains are one step above being totally abyssmal.
-He has a stun that is tricky to land (and does physical damage, not magic).
-Goblin's Greed can increase your gold income by up to 30% throughout the game (statistically over the course of a game).
-His ult improves his BAT immensely, gives him more HP, HUGE regen boost for HP and mana, and more ms, so he's most effective only during his ult and is extra fragile outside of it.

So, what does all this mean? Alch is a bit of trick. He's startlingly scary during his ult. He's able to get farm no matter how many times he dies. He has a fairly reliable stun. He will not get easily dominated early game, but will peter out unless he is supplemented with appropriate items.

Keep this in mind, as I'll refer back to it several times.

Getting Out of the Base

This is my preferred way to walk out of the base. Quelling blade is good for a couple of things: interesting jukes, extra last hitting power for both creep kills and denies. That extra 20+ damage a hit on creeps gives you another degree of precision for getting your last hits.

The 3 branches are some necessary padding for when your levels don't net you many stat gains.

For healing items, you get 3 tangos and 1 salve. This gives you necessary heal over time to supplement against any harassment and a burst heal for after that near miss that should have killed you.

If you're really just overly confident in yourself you can replace the tangos or the salve with 2 clarity potions, but I don't recommend it.

Quelling Blade - 225
Iron Branches x3 - 159
Tangoes - 90
Salve - 100
Total - 579

Working the Lane

Ok, we've got items; let's get the hell to a lane and get down to business. Usually, I prefer a side lane with Alch, and having a ranged hero in the lane to harass the enemy is most preferred for you to farm up. *

While in lane, get all the last hits you can on both the enemy creeps and your creeps. Denies means low experience for them and a higher level for you. I would probably attempt a kill at level 3 or 5 if your lane partner is at all reliable. If not, don't even try.

You should shoot straight for some Boots of Speed; the MS means you avoid ganks easier and makes working your lane that much easier. *If you've not used the salve or tangos by the time your ready for your boots, sell off a branch. You can do without if you must, but the heals won't go out of style any time soon.

If the enemy is harassing the hell out of you, there are 3 things you can do about that depending on their method. You'll have to sell a branch to fit one of these in this early, but that's ok since branches are cheap.

or or

The Magic stick is especially useful against spammers like Bristleback. You shouldn't be hurting too bad anymore with this in your arsenal. The Stout Shield is to protect against those guys getting in the random physical attacks like Windrunner or Lich or another ranged hero. The Ring of Regeneration is useful as a supplement to your tangoes and helps most when your tangos were taking care of your issue before.

Now, it's time to upgrade your boots into something more substantial.

Treads vs Phase

Treads grant AS and HP or Attack Speed or Mana, but you have your ult for that. *Seriously, they're overkill in my opinion, and you desperately need some damage.

Phase grants an MS boost that stacks with your ult and damage, which your ult doesn't grant. *That MS boost is nasty; it pumps your MS up to 448 with only your level 1 ult. It's gets really nasty at 16 when you get an MS boost up to 482. Get the Phase.

Moving on to Bigger Things

After the laning phase of the game, you should farm the safe lane and participate in any ganks that you can. Meanwhile, you need to build up your next items.

This is the perfect time to either finish a Magic Wand or a Bottle. I honestly don't have a strong overall opinion here. Bottle is nifty for toting runes, Wand is super burst heal and mana regen in a pinch. It's all relative to how the game is going and what other heroes are in it. If your buddy is rune-whoring, let him abuse his Bottle and get a Wand; don't be a dick and steal his runes.

Be a Team Player Just This Once

Vladmir's Offering is a definite must for any team. It's team mana regen, armor, damage, and lifesteal for melee heroes. Get it if no one else is gonna; you have the farming ability for this to not offset you very much and lifesteal is just baller on top of your ult's regen.

The Split

This is where you actually need to make decisions and things stop being definitively good or bad. This section is more of a discussion of how these items effect your gameplay as Alch and advice on when these items are appropriate.

Vanguard vs Black King Bar

You need the HP, no ifs ands or buts about it. *Here's how this decision works: analyze your problems dealing with the other team. If your bigger problem is dealing with big spells/stuns, you can take full advantage of the BKB, and it gives a good damage boost on top of that. However, if your bigger issue is just needing a mass of HP to deal with a tough DPS, get the Vanguard. You're a melee hero, and you can take full advantage of the Vanguard as a melee hero. It raises your EHP (effective health points) by a significant margin and is also cheaper to build than the BKB.

Viable Orb Effects

Left to right is actually my preference for orb effects in order from highest to lowest. I don't expect to just implicitly trust me though, so I'll explain. This is the point in a game where I really notice Alch's lack of stat gains. His BAT is awesome, and he attacks at a good speed, but he doesn't have much damage. He's really just a good damage absorber at this point in the item build. It could be so much awesome with the right item combination. Choosing one of these orb effects will drastically change which extension items are viable, and I'll make sure to include that later.

The Preferred

Mjollnir is my pick of the bunch. It has a good buildup either from a Maelstrom or a Hyperstone; I prefer the Maelstrom. It gives you a solid attack speed to finally take advantage of your low BAT. I'll grant that you only get one Chain Lightning per second. But with your new BAT and IAS, you will get one at least every 1.5 seconds; I guarantee it. That translates into monstrous pushing power and an 160 damage boost every 4th attack. Not to mention that you now have an stupidly good buff to put on whoever the other team seems to focus down first. This is usually you or your carry; punish them for it with Static Charge. Since this gives me some damage and attack speed, I tend to get this most often since you won't need another item after this. Any item after this is just gravy.

The Needy

Stygian Desolator has a nifty side effect; it stacks with your Acid Spray. This gives you a deadly -12 armor on your targets; they are gonna feel every hit you land, especially any squishy INT heroes. If you can manage an Assault Cuirrass, you'll pop up to -17 armor on your target. Can you say QQ? Honestly though, without a decent attack speed item behind it, you won't be able to take advantage of the damage boost or the negative armor that the Desolator provides. If you go this route, prepare to keep farming for another item afterwards or get the other item first depending on your choice.

The Strangely Intriguing

Diffusal Blade is usually one of the last things I'd ever consider for Alch. However, it's strangely appealing in certain scenarios. Against a team sporting an Omniknight, it's downright kickass. The mana burn combined with your BAT and agility gain from the Diffusal Blade usually empties the mana pool of anyone but an INT hero. I've experimented with this and I have mixed feelings. Following your stun with a Purge just keeps the enemy inside your Acid Spray longer, and let's you wail on them that much longer. If you're going for a carry Alch build, this is definitely something to think about.

The Downright Weird

Eye of Skadi is useful only to the richest Alchs and only to those that absolutely gotta have some stats. It's nifty only in limited circumstances, and I have only gotten it 3 times on Alch. Circumstances calling for a Skadi include having to deal with a Slark (this helps counter the stat steal from his Essence Shift), having forgotten to spend your gold for awhile and have 6150 gold just lying around, or your team has plenty of stuns to initiate with and needs a slow to follow it all in order to finish off heroes. Honestly though, avoid this item on Alch if you can.

Rounding Yourself Out

In all seriousness, your game should be over long before you ever finish too many of the following items.

Certain items should be on the back burner of your brain in case you need them earlier than the late game. For instance: Armlet of Mordiggian can be devastating after your team has a Vlad; Radiance is always nice on Alch and complements your abilities well, and it adds punch to your naturally fast attacks and its AoE damage stacks with Acid Spray.

Blademail is a must if you're the team's main tank. You'll need a way to turn the damage soaking to your advantage.

Monkey King Bar can be a help if the enemy carry got some evasion. It's true strike is sick against such heroes.

Shiva's Guard is a consideration if no one else can get it, or you're really in need of a way to debuff the enemy carry. The armor is super ridiculous on you, the AoE damage/slow synergizes well with your Acid Spray, and the 25% attack speed debuff is a definite plus. Honestly, you don't need the mana.

Necronomicon should only be gotten if a Gem isn't a better choice for dealing with Invisible heroes. You're tanky enough to be a strong candidate for Gem carrier, and I've honestly never gotten this on Alch before. However, it's in my bag of tricks if I ever need it.

Boots of Travel are a viable thing to build in the late game when you need to be a constant presence with your team. It allows you to teleport to the fight immediately after you've solo-pushed a lane or just revived. It also gives you the option to teleport out of dangerous situations. Overall a good if expensive follow-up item.

Finding Some Synergy

I'll assume you've got an Orb Effect item or have one planned at this point. Which items you choose from this list are strongly impacted by your choice of orb effect.

If you went for Mjollnir, avoid anything with more attack speed. You don't need it. The Cranium Basher is usually a good complement to your insane attack speed. Battlefury turns you into almost as good a pusher (or better) as the kings of push like Geomancer and Pit Lord. Same for the Radiance.

If you went for the Stygian Desolator, you HAVE to get either an Assault Cuirrass or an Armlet of Mordiggian. You have to pump your attack speed through some mechanism to truly push your damage into being a threat.

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