Night Hound Guide


So, Night Hound, with Scout taken for granted to be a superior choice is almost always badly misunderstood. This hero is not a hard carry and the only thing he has in common with the Scout is that they are both invisible most of the time. That’s it. They fill completely different roles and play completely different games. Since they are both only truly viable in low-mid skill games i prefer to pick Night Hound because he comes online much earlier then Scout and I generally own both Scout and Pest with him. Now, how do I manage to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat?

ROLE

Night Hound is a complex ABILITY ORIENTATED HERO, even if he does have 2 passive abilities. He is a GANKER, CHASER, NUKER, AoE DISABLER/SUPPORT and ANTI-PUSH specialist (a rare trait in HoN) with moderate BABYSITTING capabilities and late game CARRY POTENTIAL. A quality guide for NH MUST be long and detailed for the following reasons: his skills have numerous equally important uses, his role and definig features are widely misunderstood, and there are a lot of seemingly obvious counters for him that can be overcome with awareness, understanding and skill. This is why my guide is absurdly long but I promise it will be rewarding for those who take the time to read it carefully.

ABOVE ALL – NH is a TEAMPLAYER. Not being a hard carry he can very rarely win the game singlehandedly even if he ends up with insane items. He makes a good team godly, and can go 20-0 and still lose if his team is bad. This makes him actually better as a metagame choice in serious games, rather than a stomper in lo skilled pubs.

WHEN TO PICK HIM – Generaly, the only thing besides your skill with NH that affects your performance is the skill, communication and coordination of your teammates. Seemingly horrible matchups with heavy hate are not a problem, as will be explained below. If YOU are good, your worst enemy is your own team. He is best used if you are playing with your friends or a in a friendly mid-skilled clan fight. His possible competitive use is also discussed here, as he brings some unique facets to the game and in many ways rises in quality as a member of a skilled team.

He can stomp pubs quite easily, yes, but a recurring situation will make you cringe: You are devastating the opposing team and rightfully thinking: “Wow, these guy’s are the biggest noobs I have ever seen”, only to realize after you have outleveled everyone by 5 levels that you are in fact wrong. The team of noobs that got you the 20-2 score is in fact NOT the worst team in the history of DoTA/HoN, rather they are the SECOND worst team, being outshined in that respect only by YOUR team of noobs which end up losing every fight you are not in, not pushing after a genocide, feeding left and right and losing the game. This happened to me so often i prefer playing more challenging mid-level matchups with NH, even though those are even harder and more frustrating to play with a bad team.

He is the BEST CHOICE if you, like me, dislike boring linear heroes. Even in the games you are dominating you are always walking a razors edge with your low healthpool, he requires and helps develop both tactical and strategic skills, allows for good teamplay and mind games, is a good counter to many popular heroes and his awesomeness potential is HUGE. A game with NH is never BORING.

STATISTIC FARMING
with NH is quite possible and I use him regularly to improve my ratings after a string of unfortunate games where I lose to being stuck with an inexpirienced team many times in a row. PSR pub farming is a bit difficult for reasons stated above, since NH can not carry a game with 3-4 newbies against a superior team, but he is one of the best heroes for improving your Kill/Death ratio, even if you are forced to support more than you would like (in which case you will profit heavily in assists). Statistic farming is sometimes neccessary as with low PSR you will be kicked on entry to serious games, and an unfortunate evening can put you a 100 points below easily thus being limited to low skill pubs which I do not neccessarily enjoy.

A HERO DEFINED BY HIS ABILITIES

I will start with skill (ability) descriptions because the skills themselves are often misunderstood and the skill progression will become clearer after the skills themselves have been explained.

To understand NH you have to understand his abilities and have a very good feel of them, as well of their synergies. Lets examine them in great depth one by one, with tips for newbies and stuff to consider by pros alike. I warn you, this will be an EXTREMELY detailed and pedantic journey.

  • SMOKE BOMB

Night Hound throws a smoke bomb at target location. Enemies standing within the smoke are silenced and will have a higher chance to miss with their attacks. Enemies within the cloud also have reduced movement and attack speed.

Type: Magic
Range: 350
Radius: 250 / 275 / 300 / 325
Cast Time: 1.0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 75 / 80 / 85 / 90
Cooldown: 15.0 Seconds
Required Level: 1 / 3 / 5 / 7

Activation
Creates a 250 / 275 / 300 / 325 radius smoke cloud for 6 seconds which applies Smoke Bomb to units within it.

Smoke Bomb Effects

40 / 50 / 60 / 70% Miss Chance
25% Movement Slow
-25 Attack Speed
Silenced

FACTS AND INSIGHT:

This skill is a 6 seconds MASS DISABLE that applies most possible debuffs to an area short of outright stunning or holding people.

a) It silences, slows move speed, slows attack speed and makes enemies miss on attacks. It is a good disable against both heros that rely on ability usage (casters) and the ones relying on attacking (carries). It’s effects are felt in every stage of the game, becoming increasingly more important as the opposing team starts increasing their damage and attack speed.

b) It affects the static AREA, not the TARGETS, so if somebody moves out of it the debuffs are gone, but people can still move into it and become affected.

c) It affects the enemies under it with a debuff, not friendly targets by giving them extra protection ablilities. Because of this it shoud be cast to affect enemies giving anyone fighting them at close range protection that way. It stacks with evasion making you or your teammates even harder to hit if you have aevasion and are fighting under the cloud.

It, however, DOES NOT protect from ranged attacks and abilities cast form OUTSIDE the cloud, so be sure to Somoke Bomb the ranged opponent or the disabler since they can still affect you. This is almost always the superior choice, as the ranged opponents are often softer targets, and the melee opponent will most probably run into the cloud trying to help his or her teammate anyway.

Any sort of DISABLER is obviously top priority, of course, as silence prevents him from ruining the gank.

d)It has a slight cast delay so learning to time it right takes a bit of time, but is easier for begginers then the Pryomancer’s or Torturer’s stun. It becomes easy with practice.

Because of this it is often a good move to cast it in the direction your opponent is going to run. The delay is signifficant enough, though, to make you a little vulnerable to chained disables/nukes.

e)It can’t be disspelled, and it’s effects cannot be REDUCED by any anti magic gear. I still have to test wether Shrunken Head, Jereziah or Predator can ignore it with their magic protection, but as it silences I believe they can only turn those abilities on before entering the cloud, not if you initiate with Smoke Bomb.

f) It’s cooldown and mana cost make it moderatly spammable. A properly placed Smoke Bomb will affect the desired area for 6 seconds so the time between two Smoke Bombings if actually 9 seconds. This comes into play ofetn in team fights, and sometimes allows you to proceed to gank the would be rescuers after you have succesfully ganked a lone pusher or farmer with your team.

It also means that if you helped break a push with one Smoke Bomb, you can use one again during an immediate counter-push to help bring down an opposing tower.

g) It helps or enables your team to turns the tables on most supposed counter heroes picked specially to deny you invisibility, since the three most popular (Scout, Arachna and Pestilence) are EXTREMELY vulnerable to most of its effects, making you surprisingly a good COUNTER to those heroes, as they are among the top most popular, dangerous and picked heroes at the moment and at least one if not all three will show up in 90% of AP games. This will be discussed in detail in the Invisibility section.

PROPER AND COMMON USAGE:

If a hero had only this skill and no other useful skills he would still be a viable SUPPORT hero. If it is positioned correctly it is hard to get out off and it is almost impossible to do anything useful while under its effects. If Riki (NH equivalent) was ever picked in serious games of DoTA it was because of this skill. You don’t need to max it early but one level of it does wonders. How to use this amazing skill?

1) Position it on top of the hero you are ganking or slightly in the direction he is going to run and backstab him for lots while he is slowed and silenced. If he tries to fight his odds are very slim.

2) You can help your teammate in a lane with is, combined with skilfull Pounce harass. This strategy makes you a moderately good babysitter if you get it right and don’t face extremely dominating laners.

Deffensively it can help ecsape kill attempts, but it works offensively too. It enables timed stuns to be more precise (think Pyromancer or Torturer) and it has been a fine follow up for Tempest’s ulti to me. It is a possible bloodlust enabler with Swiftblade as well.

3) It’s good for pushing towers. If youre team is taking down a tower and you see somebody porting in with homecoming stone, always place it on top of the area he is porting to. This often nets an easy kill for your team. It also interferes with opposing creeps and melee heroes attempts to run off your team while you take out the tower.

4) It’s GREAT for TOWER DEFENSE and STOPPING PUSHES – it stops melee attackers form hitting the tower. Four out of five times it will make the opposing team back off until it clears out if you cast it directly in their way to the tower, thus either breaking a push with a single spell, or giving your teammates more time to assemble at the tower often making your opponents reconsider the push alltogether. You can prolong tower life and delay successful pushing for a good time with this move against most teams, so make sure to keep an eye on your towers.

If, however the oposing team doesn’t back off, you can’t stop the push alone. If, however, you are NOT alone, your team can completely devastate them with the help of your Smoke Bomb. Another variant is to let them get to a tower then Pouncing in after your initiator/tank and catching them under a Smoke Bomb.

This use for Smoke Bomb is SO IMPORTANT, that it will have two separate sections of their own in the specific strategy part of the guide that anyone vying to play a possibly COMPETITIVE worthy NH should read.

5) You can and should help your teammates escape ganks with it. Before the other team gets sick of you and buys reavealing gear you will not get ganked much due to your invisibility. Because of that, your teammates will be ganked and targeted more often. Throw a bomb on top of your ganked teammate, the attackers or between them – it’s almost like a long stun. It can even turn gankers into ganked if they didn’t anticipate you being there.

6) It stops channeling spells so it is useful against Succubus, Tempest, Pollywog Priest and most importantly a superb counter for ELECTIRCIAN, as it not only breaks his disable but affects both him and the attacker giving you and your previously disabled teammate opportunnity to eviscerate one or both of them. It stops teleportation as well.

If you ruin disables a lot you will become the primary target for those disables, but still, Night Hound is a TEAMPLAYER and you should help your teammates as much as you can.

IMPORTANT THING to be aware of is that if one of your teammates gets ganked by 5 people and you are the only one around sometimes he was just too unlucky or stupid to be helped. Sometimes you just have to let the poor bastard die. Most people will understand if you judge correctly and let one guy die instead of dying along with him for no gain. Don’t use this fact as an excuse to just lurk and KS all game long though, as I will personnaly find you and give you a mighty bitchslap for disgracing the noble backstabing bastard that is NH.

There might be more uses for Smoke Bomb but I think it’s one of the most versatile skills in the game with the usages listed, as it seriously affects most if not all heroes. Learn to use well it and you will be a support GOD, while at the same time being a great assasin a well, and with no other support skills or items at all. Your team will love you and it is usefull even if the other team gets revealing gear.

  • POUNCE

Taking full advantage of the element of surprise, Night Hound teleports to a target unit. If target unit is an enemy, Night Hound will strike them when he teleports, dealing additional damage.

Type: Physical
Range: 700
Cast Time: 1.0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 50
Cooldown: 30.0 / 20.0 / 10.0 / 5.0 Seconds
Required Level: 1 / 3 / 5 / 7

Activation
Teleport self to target and attack with 30 / 60 / 90 / 120 bonus damage.

This skill is maxed ASAP. It’s barely useful with a cooldown higher than 5 seconds and your bread and butter skill when it hit’s lvl 4. Think of it as an extremely cool, cheap and spammable nuke. That’s right, nuke. What am I talking about?

This skill does not have many different uses but it has different facets and ways to make it powerful.

First lets discuss the faccets:

1) It teleports and strikes immedeately, adding the bonus damage and any bacstab damage. When this is fully upgraded and actually hits from behind (a few times it doesnt’s since it seems to be bugged) it hits for 120 (from the bonus) + your attack damage + your agi (since fully upgeraded third skill gives you 1Xagi worth of backstab damage). Even reduced by armor thats one powerfull spammable nuke.

2) It put’s you behind the victim and untill the victim notices you you continue to hit for bacstab damage which makes for a lot of damage in the midgame with very little items.

3) It can be cast on friendly units which only teleports without damaging and makes this a handy escape tool, as well as giving some of the potential for quick movement by using creeps.

4) It is highly spammable – if you initiate with it you can almost always finish with it or even cast it twice more in the course of the chase once it is lvl 4. When fighting or chasing heros spam it all the time since it gives renewed bachstab opportunities and, well, it’s a nuke.

5) The MOST important – it works on ballistae and catapults. Since backstab also works on them you are the hero that can bring them down the fastest in the game. (Until they fix this, that is, but maybe they won’t just to make NH even more special). Ability to last hit catapults from afar and bring them down really fast makes for some fast mid game farming and pushing, and they bring a lot of money and xp, not to mention that this makes defending your towers a lot easier. This fact alone makes for very fast lvling even if your last hitting skills aren’t that good and even if you aren’t making many kills. Again, Scout can do this with flurry but you get this ability online and effective with a lot less farming.

The standard creepwave farming procedure is one hit Pouncing a ranged creep, running to the back of the siege engine, landing 2-3 hits and pouncing it, levaing the melee creeps to you teammates if there are any, or proceeding to last hit them as your creeps wear them down. It is quite easy to get most or every creep in a wave without much skill or any farming items this way.

Now for some disclaimers:

1) It’s pathing is bugged: sometimes it hits from the front, but not very often.

2) IMPORTANT: If you are chasing, and you will be chasing a lot, you have to constantly click on the hero you are chasing because sometimes (often) NH will only strike and wont proceed to attack the target further. Prevent this by always clicking on the target a few times afterwards. This happens with Predator’s leap also.

3) It’s easy to ks with it. Well, sometimes you just need to kill as fast as possible, other times its supremely foolish for several reasons. First of all, if you’re any good with NH you will probably end up with most kills in your team anyway and there are teammates that need those kills more. A LOT MORE IMPORTANT factor is that the other team might not be aware of exactly how dangerous you are until you give away how much of a nuisance you really are. Being the only one with a huge number of kills early will pull unwanted attention to you and can lead to the opponents buying anti-stealth gear earlier than is good for you. So don’t be greedy, it’s a mortal sin. KS siege engines though, you have GOD GIVEN RIGHT to each and every one that comes your way.

4) If you pounce a hero and don’t follow with a smoke bomb immediately it’s often a bad move since you will either get stunned or the other guy will turn on you and until very late game you really don’t want to fight them any other way but from the back since you HP is really low. Also, they might make a run for it and it’s a lot harder for them to run far if you smoke bomb them. Just chase and pounce again when it cools down.

IMPORTANT TIPS ON STANDARD USAGE

1) If you have a good initiator in your team, KRAKEN, LEGIONAIRE, BEHEMOTH or TEMPEST, you are NOT the first one to blink in in or against a team push. No! If the other team doesn’t have a way to reveal you, you will be lurking among them as they push, but no one in their right mind will teampush with the chance of an AOE disabling backstabing maniac right among them, so you will be forced to wait for them to reach your tower. This strategy also applys if you are teampushing. It goes like this:

Your initiator blinks or charges in first. You are the SECOND guy in. About half a second after he lets loose or eats a stun, you Pounce either the disabler or the tank and immedeately Smoke Bomb. This silences and screws a couple of guys giving your teammates ample time to let loose while you kill or scare off the low HP heros or assist on getting rid of their tank. Getting in second allows you to do stuff without being the primary target for disables as Pounce instantly homes you in on your target and puts you right in the thick of battle, giving the opponents no time to exploit the fact you broke stealth.

2) If you are ganking someone slower than you (you have Steamboots + Slash) initate with pounce and finish with pounce.

3) If the other guy decides to fight figuring he does better damage sometimes you can win because you have – a nuke. You opened with a Pounce and Smoke Bomb, but the victim managed to move out of the smoke and is now fighting back while facing you. Most heroes will do better damage then you in this situation, but Pounce is spammable and adds significant damage so spam it while you fight, or if you are very confident in your abilities and the other guy has no stun or nuke, just fight untill you are both low on health and Pounce for the kill. Always remember that you don’t have to be far away to Pounce, you can Pounce the target that is right in front of you.

So, use it to last hit creeps, to take down siege engines, to initiate or join ganks, to finish of heros or make them run for it, to chase, to escape (by blinking on friendly units). When you get good at it you will be able to irritate your opponents to no end by last hitting creeps in the lane right beside them then very very quickly backing off. This strategy, when used with good timing and skill makes sure you never get too denied or outfarmed, and harassing your opponents using it as a spammable nuke. That combined with capable usage of Smoke Bomb makes you a surprisingly effective babysitter in your own right and ensures you to reach your ulti in a respectable fashion.

  • BACKSTAB

Night Hound is a master at exploiting openings in combat. When he attacks a target from behind, he does extra damage equal to {25,50,75,100}% of his agility.

On Attack
When behind target, adds 0.25 / 0.5 / 0.75 / 1.0x attacker’s Agility as bonus attack damage.

-

This is a passive skill and you’d think it’s a no-brainer, but there are a few things to consider about it, mostly for beginners, but it might put some skilled but too scout friendly players on the right track concerning Night Hound.

You see, as opposed to Scout, Night Hound doesn’t want DMG items, and pure dmg items are waste of money on him since any AGI boosting item adds TWICE as much dmg (once you fully lvl Backstab), as well as providing armor and attack speed. This ability sets NH apart from other heroes possibly more than Invisibility, because it makes his items list a very unconventional excercise in making your AGI skyrocket. An added perk of this exclusive philosophy is that all that AGI will significantly boost your armor making you quite resistant to armor reduction effects in due time.

This makes a couple of items incredibly useful on Nighthound.

1) Iron Shield is perfect for you since it adds 6 AGI which translates into 12 dmg with backstab, and it helps a lot with the low healthpool by reducing incoming damage. It’s cheap and you can get it whole from the side shop, as you should ASAP.

2) Steamboots. Yes, that’s right, Steamboots, not enchanced marchers. Why? Because it adds hp, mana and most importantly, 15 agi AKA 30 dmg with backstab, as well as fine movespeed which is neccesarry since you are a chaser that starts out slower than most heros (this is because you are in fact an incredably overpowered chaser). The attackspeed loss is irrelevant since you will be chasing and pouncing or in a teamfight under the smokebomb hiting for a lot, as well as acummulating tons and tons of AGI which translates directly into attackspeed. You basicly lose out on 15% att speed but gain a lot more in dmg and stats from steamboots.

3) Slash. Yes, only Slash, since it gives you precious AGI and even more precious – movespeed. Steamboots + Slash insures that those you chase don’t get away easily. I have seen a few good Riki (NH equivalent) players in DoTA stack a 2-3 Yashas (Slash equivalent), and I will try that some time, but I feel that it’s not a good investment even though AGI items are always a bargain for Nighthound/Riki.

These are your core items and they allow for pwnage if got on time which is to say by early to mid midgame. They should allow for a good game and other items will follow from kills and farming between them. You will turn into a carry if you play well and completely dominate if overfed, but you are armed and dangerous if you get these 3 on time (and if your team doesn’t completely suck). All this is based on backstab and the fact that pounce enables it and it will allow you to take catapults down very fast as well as one-hit ranged creeps with pounce quite soon.

Remember – attack form the back, that’s the whole point of Night Hound, unless you are fed, farmed or playing against players of incredibly low skill.

  • INVISIBILITY

Night Hound learns to better conceal himself, making him invisible to the naked eye when not attacking.

Required Level: 6 / 11 / 16

Stealth with {3,2.25,1.5} second fade time.

Your (seemingly) signature skill, the one thing you share with scout. Most people consider NH useless and in need of a babysitter until you reach your ulti. This is not exactly true – if you read my info on Smoke Bomb and Pounce carefully and have some skill with them he can be a good babysitter and even solo in certain lane situations. Good usage of Pounce-Smoke Bomb even enables kills with Siftblade’s spinning, but you will become dangerous when you become invisible and truly dangerous with Iron Shield-Steamboots-Slash farmed in good time.

ALWAYS take your ulti. At lvl 1 it takes you 3 seconds of not attacking to become invisible again after you break it, and that is enough time to get chain nuked or stunned if you don’t pick your targets and opportunities skillfully.

Also, keep in mind that this is the only easily counterable ability of NH, and that good teams and bad teams alike will try to counter it right off the bat with hero picks and item purchases. There is no counter but superior skill to the powerful Smoke Bomb, Pounce + Backstab + AGI items will always be a good spammable nuke, but this skill looks like it could be your downfall if the other team concentrates on making you visible. However it is extremely DIFFICULT for a low-to-mid skill team to really inconvenience you with counters, and those counters will only get them a sense of false security that you can easily exploit. in other words – I win more often against a Scout or Pestilence then against a team with no Hero counters to NH.

As Invisibility is what the other team is going to try to exploit this section will cover (in detail) how to deal with various possible counters which people think make NH a bad choice for HoN games.

Concerning the SCOUT a comparison of your Invisibility with Scout’s Vanish will also serve as an as an overview of your ulti’s facets:

1) Vanish gives +25% move speed so a good Scout doesn’t really care if he is revealed as he can run off quickly. You don’t get the move speed bonus and if they catch you unaware of being revealed you will probably get chain nuked/stunned and die. You can, however, often get out of there by Pouncing a nearby friendly unit, exploit the move speed bonus of Steamboots + Slash as well as throw down a Smoke Bomb to slow or silence them, so compared to the Scout, you actually have more escape mechanisms. That is, if you are skilled and careful. Also, if both you and a chaser are at low enough HP, well, Pounce the sucker. It get’s you unexpected kills sometimes. Run for your tower, as it can get you into these situations often.

2) Vanish gives burst damage with Flurry and semi-disables with Disarm. Scout has uses for Vanish even if he is revealed while you do not have uses for invisibility if revealed. You however have a quality disable in Smoke Bomb and a nuke in Pounce+Backstab. The efficacy of Scouts burst is directly tied to how well farmed they are, and your abilities get dangerous a lot faster. This is why Scout is a CARRY and you are a GANKER.

3) Scout can and will try to reveal you with Electric Eyes. If you have a skilled scout against you this WILL be a problem. You can silence scout with Smoke Bomb and eat him alive with the help of a teammate. You can also roam the map with a gem and destroy Eyes wherever you find them. This is best done if you win a gem off the other team. Now, Eyes are a problem, but they are only really dangerous in three situations:

3a) If you run into a random eye that has been placed there some time ago. You will be revealed but not necessarily aware of it, but it’s only dangerous if there are nearby enemies. Move around a lot, don’t linger long in one place, farm catapults quickly with Pounce and use homecoming stones to port around the map, don’t give them an opportunity to home in on you. Learn the standard locations for ward placement and counter his wards with wards of your own. I sometimes get Scout kills by destroying his wards near runes with wards of my own then waiting for him to come and replace them.

3b) If you push too far alone or try to gank one on one and Scout turns out to be lurking. Now, you shouldn’t be doing this. A NH that is not very well farmed should gank with his teammates and help the team by giving a numerical advantage in seemingly 1v1 or 2v2 situations. You shouldn’t push out alone too often, especialy if you can easily be revealed. This situation is prevented by simply being careful AKA not being an idiot and realizing that it’s not Invisibility that makes a godly NH but teamplay, map awareness and your three other amaizing skills.

3c) If the Scout, or any ward placer puts eyes or wards along the path of the enemy push. Well this prevents you from following the other team from inside their ranks, but that is not really necessary as the methods of stopping pushes is described in the Smoke Bomb and Pounce section. Remember, in team fights, your invisibility means little as it will usually be 5v5 anyway and they should expect you to be there. Your team will rely on you for Smoke Bombing your tower, the other team or their path and killing low-hp heroes and stragglers. Counter intuitively, if they can reveal you, you WANT team fights, as Smoke Bomb stacks the odds in your favor and allows you to kill the one that can reveal you or even win a gem off the other team. If you are confident in your team to fight off a team push or decide that you can sacrifice a tower, evade the team fight alltogether and use the time to push a lane deep uninterrupted, making them sorry for grouping up in the first place.

4) Most important thing to notice is that Vanish has a cooldown of 6 seconds while your cooldown at say lvl 2 ulti is only 2.25 (or the amazeing 1.5 at lvl 3). This means that you can break stealth more easily without fear of getting killed as you can generally back off just a bit and be invisible again, while the scout has a longer time of being a sitting duck. This is especially exploitable if you Pounce+Smoke Bomb him at around 4-5 seconds of his cooldown as he will be silenced and slowed allowing you and the team even more time to land hits and nukes/disables in. If you learn to exploit this fact you will reap the rewards off gangraping all but the most overfed of Scouts.

Now for play against another often picked counter – PESTILENCE.

Pestilence has only one way to counter you, and that’s his ulti. A fun fact is that most low-mid skilled teams will rely on their Scout and/or Pestilence to counter you and consequently will not buy dust, wards or eye, making your life actually easier than it would be otherwise. Why is this?

Simple as it is, a Pestilence without revealing gear has to wait for you to break stealth to actually reveal you. Well then, since you usually don’t break stealth unless you mean to silence and kill something with a teammate or two it turns out to be useless more often than not, since the annoying dung beetle (Pest) bill be gangraped on every opportunity you get. I have lurked near many a Pestilence for MINUTES pinging for my teammates to come and when we ganked he was silenced, stunned and killed promptly without being able to reveal me. in other words unless he buys revealing gear, you can actually FARM him.

If he DOES buy a Bound Eye, he is quite dangerous as he gets a lot of uninterrupted farming time and might roam the map looking for you, but he can’t be in every place at once, so change lanes and be dodgy. If you have been a menace the other team will bunch up and try team pushing. As with Scout’s eyes, against team pushes invisibility is of little concequence and you don’t mind being revealed if you manage to land a timely Smoke Bomb and gut a squishy or even the Pest. Alternatively, while they are bunched up and ready for you, just push alone somewhere where they are not while your team defends the base.

Getting away from a determined Pestilence can be a pain but Smoke bombing and pouncing on friendly creeps and heroes and running for your tower and Smoke bombing him there can get you safe sometimes. He is usually faster than you so you have to accept that you will die sometimes if revealed. But hey, Pestilence is popular in all levels of play and dangerous against anybody almost to the point of being OP, so mostly everyone fears him with good cause. In strange ways you are probably a very good COUNTER to him (with silence+slow and Pounce chasing), rather then him being a really good counter for you, especially in case of a non-pro Pest.

Another thing of note is that one of your possible core items is the Nullfire Blade, another AGI enhancer that has charges of purge. Since Pests ulti lasts for a while it is often a good move to purge yourself to remove it, and that item should be bought right after Slash if playing against Pestilence.

The third popular and possibly powerful counter against you is ARACHNA. Her ulti reveals you and makes short work of you if she catches you with your stealth off. You will often die to it even if your careful but so will mostly everybody as that ulti is considered OP by mostly everyone. There four things to consider concerning ways to deal with her:

1) Avoid like the plague. Don’t get into 1v1 with her if you are both at full HP. Unless she buys anti-stealth gear she has to wait for you to break your cover so wait for favorable odds or simply be somewhere else as with Pestilence.

2) Attack the spider. He dies to 3 hits regardless of damage. This will not always work in time since you might be webbed and your attack speed slowed down but the spider is unescapable and waiting for it to hit you 5 times is always the worse option. You might die but you might live as well, since if the spider dies you can run and your low fade time might give you stealth in time to survive.

3) Force favorable odds or team fights and wait for her to use the spider on somebody else then Pounce the spider and help your teammate get rid of it quickly then proceed to Pounce and Smoke Bomb Arachna. You can Pounce the spider just like you can Pounce siege engines because Pounce deals physical damage which makes you a surprisingly good COUNTER for her powerful ulti.

4) As a low HP hero Arachna is quite vulnerable to you, especially as her hardened carapace doesn’t work against your Pounce. Take her out of team fights while the other team focuses on your tank. Pounce her, Smoke Bomb her and dispatch of her quickly, paying attention not to rambo, which is to say wait till her team is focused on another target or routing. Since she will often linger in the back, you don’t necessarily need to be invisible to surprise her, just Pounce her from the bushes or behind while she focuses elsewhere.

So, it turns out that a skilled NH can with little problem turn out to be a counter for his counters, which are all very popular picks and teams are always looking for ways to dispatch them easily. If the opposing team doesn’t back his or her Scout, Pestilence or Arachna with revealing gear or good teamplay you will have a challenging but ultimately easy and rewarding time.

If the other team picks all 3 of these heroes and also backs them up with revealing gear, then you will have a really hard time. However, you are still a push breaker, team ganker, AOE disabler, physical dmage nuker and possible late game carry if you ward the place up and avoid dying to ganks. You can still farm siege engines easily. Remember, Invisibility is a handy and useful tool, but teamplay, map awareness and skill makes a good NH. In case of this heavy hate, stick to your teammates, force team fights and exploit openings. Let them focus on you while your team farms kills and creeps. Buff up your HP. If your team is good you have a good chance of winning, and if your team sucks you will lose anyway. And remember, as much as they are counters for you, you are a counter for them if you play it smart.

Now, for insight on dealing with the REVEALING GEAR:

0) IMPORTANT GENERAL TIP

Always check out the opposing teams gear, every chance you get. Warding up the map gives good opportunities for this. If they got Bound Eye it is very important to know who is the carrier, so you can avoid him like the plague. Same applies to Wards or Dust, as you MUST be aware of this an play accordingly until they run out.

1) BOUND EYE

People might buy several over the course of the game. It is powerful if its carrier is well protected, but if he dies they lose it. It’s purchase will often lead to team fights and pushes as the opposing team will think they have put you out of the game. This is far from the truth as you are actually a good hero to have against team pushes and bunching up, and chances are good that they will soon lose the eye. Then you have the option of either destroying it, or putting it on one of your teammates or yourself as a countermeasure for opposing Scout or Madman. I advise putting it near your fountain if possible and picking it up when you or a teammate gets well farmed so you don’t lose it again. It is dangerous for sure, especially near a Pestilence or Arachna, but it is the least dangerous of the revealing gear.

It has an interesting side effect on non-skilled carriers since they tend to run as not to die and lose the eye. this means turning their back to you and actually makes them die easier from backstab, and very few heroe’s can outrun you anyway because of your gear and pounce.

Also it tends to wind up on the tank, which sometimes turns out to be hilarious because in a failed push the tank will die the most often as he is gennerally the first one in and the first available target for nukes and disables, especially if they reconsider mid-push and start to back off due to your timely Smoke Bomb.

2) DUST OF APPEARANCE

A cheap consumable temporary Bound Eye, it is more powerful because it costs less and does not endanger the team Scout as it can not switch sides if the user dies. You can back off while it wears off, but that puts you out of the fight, and it gives Pestilence time to reveal you for long, or Arachna to ulti you. It is the least often purchased countermeasure in pubs, but if used correctly the most powerful. Thankfully if you manage to survive its use unharmed, it wears off and you could even kill the user if the situation arises. I have yet to test if it’s effects can be purged with Nullfire Blade, but I haven’t been able to as I don’t always buy it and opponents very rarely go for Dust.

3) WARDS OF REVELATION

The most dangerous countermeasure, works like the scouts Electric Eye, with a timed duration. It is most often used during a long lane push setting up areas in which you are visible. The problem with wards is that they can be placed in advance so you don’t expect them as in that case you won’t get to spot them in the opposing teams inventory, and they can work against you even if you manage to break a push – next time you are in the area and not aware of the ward, you can get killed easily. A way to get rid of them is dusting, warding or carrying a bound eye yourself, but the third option is risky because if you die you give the eye to the enemy.

What makes them the biggest pain is that a good team will set them up in your lane BEFORE you reach lvl6 and if they catch you unaware of it you will probably die. If this happens, you know your opponents are skilled. The bright side is that YOU can do this to Scout or Madman too.

SILENCE, LONG/CHAIN DISABLES AND THE TRUE COUNTER TO NH

You cannot regain stealth if you are silenced, and even worse, you cannot use your Smoke bomb and Pounce, so that quite possibly makes silence a much harder counter for you than any of the above described common methods. Luckily no one can silence you unless you broke stealth so careful play and practice will help you avoid it. Skilled or not, watch out for Blood Hunter, Defiler and a good Dark Lady, or anyone with Hellflower. While only Blood Hunter’s silence lasts long, the real problem is that they all allow you to get chain disabled which is only acceptable in team fights if your team destroys the other team because of too much focus was on you.

KEEP BOTH EYES OUT for POLLYWOG PRIEST, as MORPH silences as well as disables, which turns Pollywog or any TOTEM OF KULDRA bearer into a major nuisance.

Chain stuns are a big pain even without silence. Succubuss and Electrician can ruin your day if he focuses primarily on you, as they can ruin anyone’s. A competent Pollywog Priest, on the other hand is possibly the most dangerous chain disabler i have faced with Night Hound, since he WILL target you, silence AND disable you for ages and can kill you 1v1 with wards and lightning hile he’s at it. He should be top priority on your group ganking and taking out of teamfights list unless the player running him is way behind in skill. In any case keep him well Smoked.

Succubuss, Pollywog and Electrician are vulnerable to Smoke Bomb if they target someone else, however. The moment they grab a teammate home in on them with pounce Pounce and quickly Smoke Bomb them breaking the channel and possibly netting you and the team an easy squishy kill.

THE TRUE COUNTER to NH, the one hero that really works even against a skilled NH is Legionaire. He is without doubt the best laner in the game as he can very quickly position himself behind your tower and kill creep wave after creep wave cutting off your escape while his teammate wrecks your tower and he gets tons of gold and xp. Like most heros, you have no way of preventing this and if a team lets it go on for more than 1-2 creepwaves you will lose the game. And this is only a stunt!

Regardless of cheesy pubstomping gimmicks, Legionaire is both highly resistant to melee and no melee hero wants to tangle with him, especially if he has his ulti. This goes double for you as his whirling blade can take you out in three swings or take you low enough for him to ulti you since you have very low HP to begin with. Smoke Bomb or any stun has no effect on whirling blade so it is impossible for you to ever take a skilled Legionaire 1v1. Against him in a lane YOU need a babysitter, and your babysitter should get a babysitter. And it gets worse!

His Taunt will affect you even if you are stealthed forcing you to attack him and break your stealth. You are also silenced for the duration of the Taunt so you cant Pounce away and the Smoke Bomb is only a slow agains Legionaire. DO NOT LURK NEAR HIM BECAUSE OF THIS.

Extremely carefull play and a lot of help from your team is required to deal with a skilled legionaire, but I recomendd changing lanes (with homecoming stone), gangraping him with nukes and disables in the midgame and staying on the edges of team fights because he tends to blink in with Portal Key and make a mess. Help your team back off with Smoke Bomb, either by smoking him, or smoking his team and making them back off leaving him isolated.

The best solution is to play with a friend and have him pick Legionaire as he is also a perfect accomplice to you since you can freely backstab the people he taunts and get them in range of his ulti fast, as ell as silence disablers. A Legionaire with portal key and a NH with skill a make fine additon to a team of AoE focused blinkers (you would be the fifth man there, charged with dispatching runners, helping getaways, and dps duty).



THE QUESTION OF SKILL

You might have noticed i keep mentioning low-skilled opponents and the NH player’s skill as an important factor, and in high level gameplay most players are of equal skill so it shouldn’t matter. Well, there are three things to always keep in mind:


1) NH has a few things that are easy to learn and almost set in stone. His skill progression is algorithmic as well as most of his item acquisition. You will do best with the skill progression i will list below and there is probably no reason to deviate from it. I have yet to find a better alternative to my starting gear and core items, the only possible difference might come of choosing which late mid-game or carry items you get first later.

HOWEVER, NH’s skills are VERY multipractical, many faced and skill intensive. I could probably sistematicaly list several different types of ganks, correct approaches to such situations, correct responses to other different situations, and it would be a lot less skill intensive if you had more time to act, but as a ganker, chaser and blinker the course of action must sometimes be chosen and possibly changed in a matter of a single second if you want true and masterful badassery. There is just so much possible use, opportunity and need for use for each of his skills, that it takes practice and time investment to become not just dangerous but frustratingly and humiliatingly dangerous.

Knowing the abilities of the heroes you gank is also quite important, so learning what different heroes can or can’t do is a must. This is especially true for AOE heroes, as some AOE abilities won’t affect you if you are stealthed and some will.

Having said all that, NH is a fun hero to play even if you’re not too skilled yet, so gaining skill with him is very fun if you have a good and supportive team, and he can be mastered to a satisfying degree in a matter of a few nights of pubstomping.

2) Concerning the skill level of the opposing team, if you take the time to play a lot of low-mid level AP games picking NH, you will notice people picking a supposed counter-hero for you about 80% of the time. This is where an interesting phenomenon kicks in.

You see, in my experience, the counter hero, Pestilence, Scout or Arachna, is often picked by a player of low skill for one or more of three reasons. First, they are popular and widely considered OP so the player picks them all the time, and would have done regardless of your pick. Second, more experienced players might suggest that hero to his/her teammate believing it will give him an easier time and a chance to farm you, as well as help the team. Third, and this happens surprisingly often, the poor newbie is pressed into picking a counter for you because everyone else wants to play something else and he has no real experience with the hero.

In all of the above cases, and especially in the third one, you will be the one farming THEM, as NH is a good counter for any of those popular heroes, and furthermore, having a hero that can supposedly counter NH reduces the chance that they will buy revealling gear. Add to that the fact that Arachna has a tendency to feed, and scout to be a useless kill stealer if not played well, and you might have an easy game on your hands.

3) The third fact about skill is the question of pshychology, motivation and adrenaline rush. You see, stomping a pub where no quality counters to NH are picked or bought is fun, yet easy to the point that very few heroes can compare to NH’s ability to make the other team concede in terms of speed.

BUT, playing against moderately to well experienced opponents is what inspired me to write this absurdly detailed guide. The pressure, when you know that the wrong moves WILL get you killed can sharpen your senses and instill in you a grim determination boosting your performance in just about every situation. Your farming gets more precise, your map awareness a given, your global pushing strategy a matter of life and death and if you don’t break under pressure, those blindingly fast decisions start turning out to be the right ones. The game sings with you and NH becomes an extension of your mind possibly resulting in a string of crowning moments of awesome.

That is if you practiced a lot beforehand, otherwise you make a lot of rash things, die a lot and get rightfully branded as a noob, with a capital N and two zeroes, a N00b so to speak.

This guide is being written as a result of winning one such game, and they are the true test of whether you have mastered it or not. My team started moaning as soon as I pressed ready on NH, and was voting to kick me before even the first creep wave because they thought I would feed the opposing Scout. I persuaded them to give me a chance, and my lanemate said: “I will give you exactly one chance.”

Picking NH in a serious game one chance is all you can expect, but if you’re good… It turned out i had 15 kills in a hard match, performed better then all of those that called me a N00b, helped stop numerous pushes, dealt with a Scout and 3 bound eyes and carried for the win in the end without anyone overfeeding me. I gained a few buddies in the process and was invited for another game as soon as that one was over. Yes, when NH pays off, he pays against seemingly insane odds and he pays off big.

SKILL BUILD

1. Smoke Bomb (For preventing or possibly helping get Bloodlust, and a million other uses throughout the game)
2. Pounce (At this point just a farming too/escape mechanism. Use it to blink to a teammate in case of trouble and last hit creeps.)
3. Pounce
4. Backstab
5. Pounce
6. Invisibility
7. Pounce (At this point a spammable chase-friendly telenuke. Skill wise, you are ready for ganking)
8. Backstab
9. Backstab
10. Backstab (With Iron Shield, AGI Steamboots and Slash you are armed and dangerous, Pounce is powerful and farming siege engines is easy)
11. Invisibility
12. Smoke Bomb
13. Smoke Bomb
14. Smoke Bomb (By this point you might actually need the larger radius since team fights and pushes should be going on)
15. Stats
16. Invisibility
17.-25. Stats

JUSTIFICATION

The skills have been discussed to scientific depth already, but as for the progression:

One level of Smoke Bomb is deadly enough for anything but possibly team fights. Learn to use and position it well and it will be all you need until late mid game. Otherwise you can delay Backstab by taking another level of Smoke Bomb at level 4, but that cramps your ganking.

Pounce is maxed ASAP as it’s usefulness rises exponentialy from an escape mechanism at lvl1 to mutlipractical telenuke at lvl4. You are not ready for ganking untill you have Pounce lvl4, although it is possible to grab a kill in the lane earlier if your lanemate is a good harrasser.

Backstab is maxed right after Pounce because of both it’s sinergy with Pounce and to enable the exploitation of your unconventional item list. Every item you will buy will depend on and enhance Backstab, so maxing it will tun you into a great Ganker and allow fast farming without farming items.

Invisibility is taken at every opportunity as it is devastating to teams who do not counter it, and clever play will make it useful even if the other team tries or manages to counter it. Reduction of fade time might seem insignificant on paper, but in practice you will feel the difference.

ITEM BUILD

STARTING ITEMS:

MANA BATTERY & 2X MINOR TOTEMS (210 + 106): If you’re not a habitual user, as you should be, NH is a wonderful hero to learn to appreciate this useful and CHEAP item. Read up on it elsewhere, but the basic use for it is to refill your mana mid chase for Pouncing. Use the two totems to upgrade it to a POWER SUPPLY later, or buy the Power supply recipe right away and buy the battery from the side shop to complete it immediately.

A fully charged Power Supply has the mana for 4 pounces and since you will be lurking around invisible or in the middle of teamfights the charges will fill up easily. Laning against Scout will fill it up fast as every time he uses Vanish will add a charge.

If you die it will often be due to disable/nuke spam and your battery will be charged for when you respawn. It is even better when you manage to survive the nuke/spam fest, and a crowning moment of awesome is when you survive said assault BECAUSE it filled up your battery. At any rate, people will try to nuke or stun you on sight so the battery/supply will rarely be without charges.

Use it to gain health liberally but keep in mind that using it breaks stealth so duck for cover to use it and wait for fade time to end if the situation requires it.

It is a core item.

RUNES & POTION: It might look like overkill and you could take a mana potion instead of the second set of runes but your health pool is notoriously low and you should burn through your runes fast. You WILL be harassed by powerful laners and even though you can babysit, you can’t heal, so the potion often comes in handy to heal up the hero you are babysitting. It is also useful after an occasional towerdiving Pounce.

EARLY/LANEING ITEMS:

IRON SHIELD (550): Can be bought from the side shop by buying an Iron Buckler and 2X Duck Boots. It should be your first item, starting with the Iron Buckler ASAP.
It’s significance is detailed under the Backstab ability analysis.

It is a core item.

AGI STEAM BOOTS (1490): Can only be assembled in the base, and can be bought in installments if you die or otherwise return to base.
If bought in installments get Marchers first as you are very slow otherwise. It’s significance has been detailed under the Backstab ability analysis.

They change modes when you click on them, so remember to switch them to enhance your AGI, as they always start out enhancing your STR.

You should never go for Enhanced Marchers over Steamboots. This is not usual, especially for attacking hero’s but NH is special in this regard and on him AGI Steamboots are the superior choice.
Read the Backstab section!

It is a core item.

POWER SUPPLY (203): Complete it to free up space in your inventory.

SUMMARY (2243) : These items make you primed and ready for your first ganks. A nice move is to use homecoming stone to switch to a lane you didn’t lane in, and use your invisibility along with Smoke Bomb
to help your teamates kill or run off their opponents and possibly knock down a tower to gain gold for Slash faster.

ARMED AND DANGEROUS:

SLASH (2250): Your most expensive acquisition yet it is the one that makes you a serious pain in the a.. I mean ganker. It is a bit costly for what it gives to most heroes, and even
less of a good investment if you go for Hack to go with it, but for NH a lone Slash is a core item.

It gives movespeed making you rely on Pouncing less, makes up for the attack speed loss from not getting enhanced marchers, and adds 16 AGI, which means an aditional
16 backstab damage, making it actually cost effective for NH.

SUMMARY (4493 total up untill now): Iron Shield, Steam Boots, Power Supply and Slash farmed on time make you a dangerous ganker (the exect deadline waries considering your skill,
the skill of your opponents, team compositions and strategies so it can be anything from say 20-30 minutes give or take 5).

For 4493 gold you have gained a movespeed of 407, -20 damage reduction, 13 STR, 13 INT, 40 AGI which translates to +40 dmg, +40 Backstab dmg, +40 att speed and an
armor increase. All this makes ganking and farming easier.

MID GAME ITEMS:

LATE GAME ITEMS:

(More to come, and i will arange it better when it’s done)


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