Dota 2 Hero Guide – Viper

Viper, the Netherdrake, is notorious among new Dota 2 players as a “scrub killer”, if you will. His arsenal of deadly poisons and extremely straightforward playstyle make it easy for Viper to prey on those without the game sense to play safe against him, as for him to feast on players that don’t know how to lane properly in the first place.

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Thanks to his many toxins, Viper rules the lane with an iron fist. As a hero that can be placed in any of the three core roles, he also has the flexibility of lane choice, with the middle lane typically being his home turf in public matchmaking. Poison Attack is perhaps the best harassment ability in the entire game, thanks to its damage over time and movement speed slow. One touch from Viper’s venom makes life for his lane opponent a living hell—and should they choose to fight back, they will take even more damage thanks to his Corrosive Skin. Corrosive Skin is a passive ability that places another poison on heroes that deal damage to Viper, slowing and hurting them even further. Most importantly, it also gives Viper additional magic resistance, making him more durable against spell-dependent heroes that don’t have Pure damage.

Complementing these two abilities is Nethertoxin, a ground-targeted skill that coats a small area in potent venom, damaging any who walk through while disabling their passives. Nethertoxin actually makes Viper the only hero in the game that has access to the Break mechanic without needing to purchase items like Silver Edge, which gives him a very important niche to serve against passive-dependent drafts. Unlike Silver Edge’s Break, though, Nethertoxin is blocked by spell immunity.

And finally, there is Viper Strike, his signature ability and ultimate skill. Viper unleashes his most virulent poison upon one target, crippling their movement while sending incredible waves of pain through their body. Enemies affected by Viper Strike will be forced to either stand and fight, or attempt to run away with most of their movement speed removed.

In spite of his mid game prowess, though, Viper does have a few weaknesses—that most newcomers should be aware of. For one, Viper is one of the slowest-moving heroes in the game, which makes it difficult for him to position himself when initiating. Not having a hard disable is another, which means that heroes will basically always be able to fight back somehow. Magic immunity also gives him problems, blocking his entire kit without any exceptions whatsoever. His most glaring weakness is his uselessness in the late game; he is a hero who falls off extremely hard past the 45 minute mark.

Viper Skill Build

Since Viper is only really played in the core role, his skill build hardly changes from game to game. Poison Attack should almost always be the first ability you unlock, as it serves as both a harassment tool and a decent Level 1 slow for contesting Bounty Runes. In the lane, you will want to hurl it at your opponent whenever they go for creep kills, especially if they’re a melee hero. Keeping their health down will also slow their farm down, as they will be much less willing to put themselves in danger just to get creeps.

Nethertoxin can be left alone until Level 8, as getting your magic resistance up with Corrosive Skin in the early game is more important than disabling passives. Two value points in Corrosive Skin should be enough to get you by until Level 8, though, so don’t invest too heavily in it. Poison Attack should be maxed out first, in any case. The same goes for Viper Strike, due to the scaling of its cooldown and movement/attack speed slow.

Our recommended skill build, therefore, is as follows:

  • Poison Attack
  • Corrosive Skin
  • Poison Attack
  • Corrosive Skin
  • Poison Attack
  • Viper Strike
  • Poison Attack
  • Nethertoxin
  • Nethertoxin
  • Level 10 Talent: +20 Attack Speed
  • Nethertoxin
  • Viper Strike
  • Nethertoxin
  • Corrosive Skin
  • Level 15 Talent: +100 Attack Range
  • Corrosive Skin
  • Viper Strike
  • Level 20 Talent: Poison Attack Affects Buildings
  • Level 25 Talent: +120 Damage

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Viper Item Build

Due to his slightly below average attack range and bottom-of-the-barrel base movement speed, Viper’s items will typically revolve around shoring up these two weaknesses. Dragon Lance comes to mind first, passively increasing his attack range while giving him extra stats to work with—all in a very cost-effective package. Later on, Dragon Lance can be upgraded to a Hurricane Pike, which gives Viper an escape mechanism as well.

A Yasha-based item such as Manta Style also helps him a great deal. Not only does it give him a lot more movement speed to work with, the bonus agility, attack speed, and the illusions all give him a significant increase in DPS. Remember that Poison Attack deals more damage over time the less HP the target has, which means that getting them low as quickly as possible is important. Manta facilitates this with every single one of its bonuses.

Of course, Black King Bar should always be in consideration, especially for a right-click dependent hero like Viper. Once his initial salvo has been unleashed, Viper is left with nothing but his Poison Attack, which is tied to his regular attack. If he is unable to act due to disables or stuns, he is unable to put out the scaling damage of Poison Attack.

The rest of his inventory will be filled with situational pickups. Blade Mail is a nasty way to turn area of effect damage against the enemy team, and works extremely well against picks like Tinker, Jakiro, Leshrac, and the like. Linken’s Sphere protects you against high-impact single target spells, especially ones that go through BKB’s magic immunity. If you feel like being a real team player, Helm of the Dominator and Drum of Endurance both help your teammates with their respective auras.

Speaking of auras, Assault Cuirass becomes a fantastic choice later on in the game. More armor is always good, of course, but the increase in attack speed for both you and your team can actually help carry the late game load surprisingly often. When going up against true late game carries, Butterfly’s evasion can come through in the clutch. You might also want to consider getting a Bloodthorn, in order to help your team counter those with Butterflies of their own.

Viper Combo

Viper’s combo is very simple, which goes hand in hand with his straightforward playstyle. When initiating a gank or a teamfight, open with Viper Strike—preferably on a key target or one that has a lot of movement speed. From there, you can lay down Nethertoxin, which helps immensely if they also have passive abilities. Try to get as many heroes in it as possible, in order to disable Blink Dagger and deal more damage over time.

From there, it’s just a matter of wailing on low-health targets with Poison Attack. Typically, engagements shouldn’t go on long enough for you to need another casting of Viper Strike. You usually won’t have the mana to do so anyway, so don’t worry about it too much.

Viper Counter

As mentioned above, Viper’s below average range and movement speed are his two most exploitable weaknesses. The latter in particular makes him weaker as the game goes on, especially in the waning minutes of the mid game once the enemy team is able to secure Blink Daggers and Force Staffs. He becomes way easier to gank and pick off once these items hit the field.

Vision is also key against Viper, especially if he is being played by the enemy team as the primary ganker. Because Viper’s movement speed is terrible, he has to either spend a Town Portal Scroll or walk an excruciatingly long distance to get to the lane he wants to gank—which in turn makes Observer Wards and generally good map awareness strong against him. Warn your teammates at all times when Viper is missing from your field of vision, and play safe if you suspect that he is on the hunt. Doing so will allow the hero that he chooses to leave in the lane to get their farm and experience.

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* FirstBlood® is NOT AFFILIATED, AUTHORIZED, LICENSED OR ENDORSED by Dota™, Dota 2™, Steam™, Dota 2™, the Dota logo® and Steam™ are trademarks of Valve Corporation.

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