Pub-Star Bounty Hunter Play
Being a Bounty Hunter player over the last 6 months has been extremely fun. The diversity of Bounty Hunter (BH) and how he fits into each game is unique. He can be used as a lane harass or as just a scare tactic. In esports tournaments, having information is key and BH not only gives information, he removes it from the other team. Because Bounty Hunter can be used in so many ways, I wanted to compile a three-part series on advanced techniques that people often don’t consider when it comes to Bounty Hunter play.
Update: Because of significant changes to Bounty Hunter and map mechanics, I’ve postponed my upcoming blog posts.
First, I’ll share my credentials. I have been able to rise from about a 3,800 MMR (Match Making Ranking) player up to around 5,800 MMR in just under 6 months. Since the language filter was implemented in 7.08, I find myself in matches with more English speaking players then before, making communication easier and rotations more productive.
As we discovered in our item timing blog, item choices are important. For me, it’s simple.
These are pretty obvious choices, but I’ll elaborate a bit. I use Tango for basic healing, Orb of Venom for added damage and hero slow, Clarity for mana regeneration, and Iron Branches for extra damage, and eventually builds into the Magic Wand.
Let’s look at other popular options and why I lean away from them.
Observer Ward: While it’s true that not picking this up will put more pressure on your position 5, in most scenarios they should only need a set of Tangos and a Clarity. The rest of your money can be spent on picking up the remaining support items. If you must sacrifice the Iron Branches, get them back into your inventory as quickly as possible. The reason? At 3 minutes in, the courier upgrades to the flying courier. If you are level 2, there is about a 10% chance that 2 hits will not kill the flying courier. If you possess Iron Branches, your success rate is 100%.
Sentry Ward: Placing a sentry ward for a Bounty Hunter is required by the opposing team, but a good BH can easily detect and avoid a sentry. If a sentry is placed on the midlane, just avoid it. There is a long checklist of items you can benefit from instead of spending gold for dewarding.
Faerie Fire: I think this item is redundant in so many ways. If you need an item to break smoke, Iron Branches will do the job and save you 25 gold. If you want extra damage, 2 Iron Branches give +2 attack along with more STR/AGI/INT. It can be argued that Faerie Fire can save you with its instant +75HP heal, but BH is so frail, if you get that low you are probably dead anyway.
Ways to detect a sentry:
- Collect enough information during the start of the game. Your enemies will often show themselves, giving you an opportunity to see their inventories.
- Walk into the lane and see if your enemy makes a sudden movement, or even better, attacks you.
- One thing people forget is that a sentry’s duration is 4 minutes. If you see an enemy put it down, jot the time down in your head. Knowing the exact time of the ward expiration can lead to aggressive plays and easy kills.
- Walk into a lane and right click a hero. When you draw aggression towards a hero, the creeps will attack you in return. This happens even while you’re invisible. If you draw creeps’ attention, you are near a sentry.
Warm-up Movements (-0:90–0:00)
The first 90 seconds may be pointless for most heroes but in my opinion, for BH, it’s the most important. During this time you should be deciding who will be in what lane and what your overall game plan for the first 5 minutes will be. Who has dust? sentries? wards? Where can I get an early kill? Heroes like Omniknight have an extremely low gank potential and auto attacking him is a waste of time.
When I begin, I want to win 2 of 3 lanes. Can I double pull the offlane so the wave pushes for him? Is mid lacking regen and going to bring the courier quickly with a salve? These are all questions I ask before the game even starts.
As soon as the game starts, “pathing” is critical. Every second you sit and wait is time wasted when you can be collecting information. Once you enter the enemy jungle, you have 20 seconds to collect information before you hide. At -0:17 left, cast Shadow Walk and collect your final set of information. Why at -0:17? While I like to believe I have all the information I need, a hero carrying dust may have been hiding. If you steal the bounty rune, and dust is cast, your invisibility will wear off approximately 1 second after the dust. Remember, being invisible while dust is active slows your movement and will certainly kill you.
How to Steal a rune?
Sit on top of the spawn point. At -0:01 begin right clicking repetitively while also spamming “H” or “S” (Hold/Stop). I have an almost 95% success rate of getting the opening bounty rune with this method.
Hint: If you see a player in your initial scout with dust, you may want to just walk from one side to the other. You will have more than enough time and you can avoid the possibility of death all together.
Giving up first Blood
People often rage at the fact that even though I see an enemy with a sentry ward, I will still stay and attempt to steal the bounty rune. Let’s put a scenario in play. You are on the Radiant side and you see an enemy Tinker attempting to take the offlane Dire bounty rune. He has a sentry. Let us assume the worst happens–you steal the bounty, he in turn puts down the sentry, another enemy follows up with a stun, and you die, giving up first blood. How bad for you was this really?
First, Dire spent 100 gold on the sentry. They also didn’t get the bounty rune so now they are -200 gold. They did get first blood, though, which is around ~+320 gold, so the net difference is +120. So why risk it? The truth is, most teams only purchase one sentry to begin the game and give it to the mid to protect themselves. That mid now has no way to protect themselves and you can just sit and hack away.
Hint: If your team has lost a fight in a lane, one of the remaining players will often purchase something and have the courier bring it. This is how I obtain about 40% of my courier kills. The same logic can be applied if you give up first blood.
The First Two Minutes
When I began this blog, I stated that Bounty Hunter is a diverse hero. I rarely play two similar games in a row. Thinking from the perspective of the enemy is the easiest way to give yourself an advantage. Look for the “tells”. Is a hero low on HP but staying in the lane? The courier is probably coming. If a support is standing randomly out of position, he is probably hugging a sentry ward. The first two minutes is critical for setting the tone of your match.
- Hunting Courier: There is one high point for both teams in the midlane. Sitting in the high ground will allow you to see the courier coming without being seen yourself. If you are lucky enough to see the courier, don’t forget the 2 second fade time on Shadow Walk. With only the selected starting items and Shadow Walk, you can 1 hit kill any courier before 3:00.
Hint: Getting to level 2 before 3:00 is important. Jinada will slow the courier allowing you two hits to kill it. When attempting to kill a flying courier, stand directly in the flight path and hit it one time. After the blow lands, walk quickly in its flight path for half a second, then right click one time and let the computer take over. If you spam right click, the animation will start/stop and you won’t be able to get the final blow.
- Hero Damage: Surprisingly, Bounty Hunter can pump out some amazing damage level one. Most opponents will let you hit them 2 or 3 times before they decide the action they want to take and act on it. If I am harassing the midlane, I will approach with Shadow Walk on, hit 2–3 times, and cast Shadow Walk again. I wait for 14 seconds, then go back in. Why? During the 14 seconds that you are waiting, the enemy hero is wondering if you left or stayed. The scare tactic is enough here.
Hint: As stated before, Shadow Walk has a 2 second fade time. You can still attack while this timer is going off, so casting Shadow Walk before your final attack will allow you one hit when the enemy most likely can’t hit you.
- Staying off the map: When IceFrog increased the mana cost of Shadow Walk from 50 to 65, this really hurt the amount of times Shadow Walk can be cast. With the most recent change to mana regen, this nerf was slightly reversed. Still, you cannot stay invisible at the start very often. To conserve mana, try casting only before walking into a lane and not while walking from lane to lane.
- Warding: If you’re lucky enough for your teammate to give you a ward, placing a deeper lane ward (between T1 and T2 midlane) can often yield good results. It can scout any rotation TPs to the midlane as well as courier movements. Remember, knowing where a courier is NOT can lead to a courier kill.
- Jungling Heroes: Jungling in Divine ranks is pretty uncommon. However, heroes such as Axe/Enchantress will stop in from time to time when their offlane is pushed. This is free experience and a possible free kill. If you see that the offlaner is not in his lane, get to the side jungle and check it out. You can even call your safelane support over for the extra damage as most wards won’t be in the rivers path.
- Plan for 2:00: A good Bounty Hunter can cause havoc in the first 2 minutes and still be ready to grab the bounty runes when they spawn a second time. Not only are you gaining gold, you’re forcing the enemy to waste time running to the spawn spot only to see the bounty is already gone. They might then wait 10 seconds for it to spawn, and at that point, you should apply your steal technique again and snatch it up from them.
Stay tuned for my next blog which will cover from 2:00 through the end of a match, and a final blog to speak about positioning and team fighting with Bounty Hunter!