|Hey everyone, welcome to this beginner's Sniper guide. In this guide, we'll be going over all the essential info you'll need to get started with Sniper. This guide is aimed at lower level play since most people reading this guide likely range from brand new players to low/middle ranks that are looking to pick up Sniper for their hero pool.
|Shrapnel - Use this to slow approaching/fleeing enemies and deal AoE damage. This ability also grants vision, which is useful for checking Roshan, gaining vision of high ground or finding enemies hidden in trees. Multiple instances of Shrapnel don't stack, so don't bother spamming a bunch of Qs on one spot. This also doesn't damage buildings.
|Headshot - Passive CC on-hit, useful for getting extra hits off when an enemy tries to approach or escape. The bonus damage works with lifesteal but not crit. Does not interrupt channeled abilities. The damage pierces spell immunity but the slow and knockback don't apply.
|Take Aim - Allows you to attack from much safer positions and even outrange towers once it's ranked up. Activate the ability to land a hit on an enemy that's out of your range (combine the extra hit with Assassinate to finish off fleeing enemies.
|Assassinate - Finish off enemies that escape your attack range or help out in fights that you aren't in range to attack in. Use Q and E actives before R when possible because R has a channel time and should usually be your finisher. This ability has a fairly short cooldown so don't be afraid to use it often as long as you have mana. This ability can be disjointed, so try to wait until enemies have blown disjoint abilities/items (e.g. Manta Style, Blink) before casting. Your ultimate grants True Sight for 4 seconds on the target, so most sources of invisibility won't disjoint your ult. The two exceptions are Smoke of Deceit and Shadow Dance as they ignore true sight. Also check for Linken's Sphere since this is a targeted ability and it will get blocked. This ability also has a ministun that pierces spell immunity which you can use to interrupt channeled abilities and items (the damage does not pierce spell immunity though).
|Useful early game in matchups where you'll be getting chunked by spells. If your lane opponent isn't pressuring you, don't bother buying it.
|The movement speed allows you to kite enemies more effectively, and the self-silence isn't a huge deal since you can cast Q just before using the active and you won't need to cast any other abilities in most cases. Your reduced armor can be a bit of an issue, especially later on in the game, so buy this for a power spike early and push your advantage. If you're in a pretty boring lane and farming it out, feel free to skip this item.
|Great for roaming without being spotted by wards and doubles as a defense mechanism if you're caught out. There are counters to invisibility of course, but many enemies will neglect detection until you've already evaded them several times. This item is probably more useful at lower levels of play since people are less diligent about buying dust/gem. If people aren't punishing you for getting invisibility, feel free to buy this every game.
|Sniper is a slow hero who lacks mobility and Phase Boots can offset this weakness. These boots are a good option to escape heroes that will run you down like Huskar and Spectre.
|Protects you from a lot of targeted spells. The stats aren't the greatest since Sniper really needs strong basic attacks to be effective, but sometimes the spell shield can be worth the detour in your build. Identify which spells on the enemy team are important enough to warrant this item before you decide to buy it.
Desolator provide good chunk of damage and applies armor reduction to enemy units and structures. This works great against low armor targets like many strength heroes. If your team lacks a pusher, Desolator allows you to push towers much faster from a safe distance.
Keep in mind that Desolator is a mid game item that falls off in late game but it works well with other damage items.
|In some games that you are far behind, have lost your lane or you think the game is going to last long, Hand of midas is an item to rely on. Combined with the 25% cooldown reduction talent you can get get back on track and have level and gold advantage over tour enemies. For a hero like sniper who has slow farming, Hand of midas is a big help.
|Manta Style has defenses and offensive aspects. It provides extra HP, Movement speed and ability to dodge spells and dispel most of debuffs. It also provides more damage and attack speed and illusions that fight along side you. The real question is when to build this.
Dispel: Roots and slows are the most dangerous debuffs. Against heroes like Crystal Maiden, Naga Siren, Ember Spirit, Dazzle, Enchantress... Manta is a life saver.
Dodge: Dodging spells takes practice but when you master it, many heroes won't be that scary anymore. Most single target disables can be dodged easily.
Mana Drain Strat: Combined with Diffusal Blade, Sniper can drain mana of enemy heroes from a safe distance and make them nearly useless in team fights. This strategy works the best against heavily mana dependent cores like Bristleback. This is not about damage it's about saving the game.
|Protects you from most crowd control spells as well as magic damage. There might be a few games where you can skip this, but it'll be necessary in most cases so you can keep attacking without interruption.
|The upgraded version of Shadow Blade. The effect works great against heroes with strong passive abilities like Phantom Assassin's Blur and Coup de Grace.
|This is a huge increase to your DPS but it doesn't offer any defense. If you're safe and can afford to spend your gold on big crits, buy this to amp up your threat in fights.
|Useful against basic attackers who don't have a Monkey King Bar. Also increases your DPS a fair amount, so it's a good option for increasing your survivability in situations where evasion is useful since you won't lose any significant damage.
|The upgraded Maelstrom. This is a pretty nice choice if you have a frontliner on your team that's taking most of the enemy's attention in fights. You'll get a lot of attack speed and you can use the active on your melee heroes when they engage the enemy team. Beware of Blademail as you'll take damage if the active damages an enemy with Blademail active, even if you put the effect on an ally.
|The go-to counter to evasion. I don't consider this item core since Sniper has access to a number of other good attack speed items. It's a great item against any evasion heroes or items though, so keep an eye on what the enemy is building.
|Big lifesteal. This is only necessary if you're likely to take a lot of damage in fights. Usually your huge range will prevent this but sometimes it can't be helped. Buy this after completing some DPS items since it doesn't offer much damage, and your DPS will determine how effective lifesteal is on you.
|This is a great item for kiting enemies or slowing them consistently before they can escape. It doesn't offer as much damage as other options, but the CC and survivability can be worth it. This can be a good idea if your team has a lot of damage, since adding more utility will make it easier for your teammates to catch out and kill enemies.
You'll run into a lot of different threats as Sniper. Here are a handful of common enemies that might give you some trouble along with some items that'll help you deal with them.
Storm Spirit: Hurricane Pike, Black King Bar
Huskar: Hurricane Pike, Black King Bar
Slark: Hurricane Pike
Spirit Breaker: Hurricane Pike, Linken's Sphere
Phantom Assassin: Hurricane Pike
Lina: Black King Bar, Linken's Sphere
Lion: Black King Bar, Linken's Sphere
Skywrath Mage: Black King Bar
Spectre: Hurricane Pike, Phase Boots
Timbersaw: Hurricane Pike, Silver Edge
Morphling: Hurricane Pike, Black King Bar, Linken's Sphere
Broodmother: Hurricane Pike, Mjollnir, Butterfly
Sniper is blessed with both a long ranged and near-instant basic attack. This makes his last-hitting very strong as long as he has enough damage to match his lane opponent's damage. If you have equal or higher basic attack damage than your lane opponent, you should look to contest every last-hit that you can. Beating your opponent in early farm can net you a big lead that'll make it easier to kill them as well as getting you your items faster so you can carry. Don't get too distracted trying to harass when there's last-hits to contest.
That said, harassing your opponent is a good way to establish lane control, especially against melee heroes. Headshot procs can make it easier to land successive hits on your opponent when they walk up to trade or farm.
Against heroes with high base AD that can take CS from you, you may have to get a bit creative to secure your last-hits. Against melee heroes, periodically harassing them can make it easier to discourage them from denying creeps. If you can't harass them off the wave or your opponent is long ranged enough to avoid harass, you can right-click the enemy hero to aggro the enemy minions, then pull their creeps towards your side of the lane for easier last-hits. A+click one of your allied creeps to drop aggro so you aren't tanking the enemy creeps for long. Since you'll be pulling the wave towards your high ground, it'll be much more difficult for the enemy laner to deny your creeps since they'll have to deal with low ground penalties as ranged, or overextend close to your tower if they're melee.
Notify your team if your lane opponent roams and keep an eye on the game timer to be prepared for rune spawns. Against heroes with good gap-closing abilities and/or all-in potential, you may need to give up roam priority early. Don't follow your opponent up or down the river unless you know it's safe, since you have no way of getting out if you get into trouble.
Leaving lane to pick up a river rune is usually worth your time, but I don't recommend roaming aggressively for ganks in the early game. It's easy to fall behind in gold and experience off a bad roam and much more reliable to stay in lane to soak up farm and hit your item spikes faster.
If you do roam early, try to do so after you've picked up Boots of Speed, Power Treads and/or Shadowblade at least. Roaming for a quick kill (especially if you're just securing a kill with Assassinate from range) is great if you see a good opportunity. Overall, you'll have more chances to roam safely and efficiently once you break the outer mid tower, so focus more on farming and taking that tower down first. Once the mid tower is down, you'll be able to push the wave out farther and you'll have more time to roam before you need to return to lane to pick up farm and defend your tower from a push.
Early Wraith Bands and Power Treads are strong, efficient items, but I wouldn't call them big power spikes. You'll be able to use the stats from these early items to secure last-hits and harass your opponent, but gaining gold should be your main concern in the early game.
Your first power spike is at level 6 when you unlock your ultimate. Assassinate deals 320 damage at rank one and most enemies don't have a way to avoid the damage. If your lane opponent is low on sustain, you can force them to return to base or spend their gold and courier time picking up consumables to try and stay in lane. Save your ult to finish off the kill if you have kill pressure on your opponent or if they can easily heal back the damage, but if they can't, it's okay to just use it to chunk your enemy and make them too low on HP to safely farm.
Dragon Lance is a nice spike since it'll allow you to farm and harass from much farther away. Sniper has a base attack range of 550 and towers have 700 range. This means you'll need a bonus of only 150 range to outrange towers, which you can get from either Dragon Lance + one point in Take Aim, or just two points in Take Aim. While outranging towers is super nice, you'll still need to walk to the enemy high ground to attack it, which can leave you vulnerable. For this reason, it's still recommended to push in the creep wave first before attacking a tower, since the creeps will make it harder for enemies to attack you while you chip away at the tower.
Finally, we have Maelstrom, which is your main farming and pushing tool. Before finishing this item, you'll have to focus on precise last-hits and careful wave control, but once it's finished, you can start shoving in the wave and pressuring your opponent. The proc can also damage your opponent indirectly without making you take minion aggro which is a nice bonus.
Push and Roam
Maelstrom and Shadowblade are your best friends for mid game. Maelstrom will allow you to quickly push out creep waves and farm jungle camps to reach your item spikes more quickly. Sniper is great at sieging towers, but in cases where sieging a tower is unsafe, you'll want to start pushing out the wave and then roaming to help your teammates take towers or pick off enemy heroes.
Shadowblade is the perfect roaming tool since it'll allow you to slip past wards and surprise enemies. It also doubles as a nifty escape mechanism which Sniper lacks. I would almost consider this item core, but obviously invisibility can be countered by some items and abilities. I'd recommend picking up a Shadowblade for mid game roams every game if it's working for you. It's a pretty cheap item and gives useful stats so it's not a bad investment even if the enemy team buys Dust of Appearance.
Keep Up the Farm
Sniper is a pretty item-reliant hero since he uses basic attacks for most of his damage. You'll need a lot of attack speed, damage and defensive item actives to keep you safe during fights, so in order to become super strong, you need to farm constantly. With Maelstrom you can clear mobs pretty quickly, so push out waves and clear ancients and other jungle camps whenever you have free time.
Roaming for kills is good, but try to make your roams quick and decisive. If a roam isn't working out, return to the nearest creep wave and push it out, then take jungle camps until you see another opportunity for a kill or to siege a tower.
Roshan's Aegis of the Immortal drop is a huge asset to whichever team secures it. Late game, when a single team fight can decide the game, this is an important objective to contest (or sneak) when possible. Use Shrapnel to gain vision of the Roshan pit from a safe distance if the enemy team is missing and might be trying to take it.
If your team manages to secure Roshan, it'll usually be you or your safe lane carry who picks up the Aegis. You don't necessarily need the revive as Sniper since you can fight from so far away, but if you have the highest DPS potential on your team, it's a good safety net and will make it way harder for the enemy to win a team fight since they'll have to kill you twice.
Unsurprisingly, as Sniper you'll want to be positioned far away from enemies. Your biggest threats will be flanks and long ranged gap closers since any enemies approaching from the front will have a long way to go to reach you and will have to go through your team.
Any time your team is looking to siege a tower, it's a smart idea to ward potential flanking routes so you don't get caught off guard. Preferably your supports will buy the wards and use them appropriately, but if not, feel free to pick up a couple wards yourself or ask your supports to put them down in the jungle areas near the tower you're planning on sieging.
While you'll want to be far away from enemies, be careful not to stray too far from your team. Enemies with Smoke of Deceit or stealth abilities may bypass your team's wards and catch you along. Ideally you'll want to be at max range from the nearest enemy, but still close enough to your teammates that they can protect you if you get jumped on.
Item usage can make or break a game in late game team fights. Here are some tips for some of Sniper's most common late game item actives:
|If you still have this in your inventory, use the active to safely DPS for 8 seconds or to kite/chase enemies with the increased movement speed. Do not use the active if you're already taking damage since it guts your armor. Make sure you cast Q at least once before silencing yourself with this item.
|Crowd control and major nuke spells are the main things to avoid with this active. You'll need to use it before you get CCd, so don't be afraid to hit it a bit early against fast-acting CC. If the enemy CC is predictable, save it for when you're under threat and use it reactively.
|Check which enemies have Dust of Appearance or Gem of True Sight so you know whether the invisibility will protect you or not. This active is good to use when enemies get in range of you, since even if they can still see you, you still gain 25% movement speed. Make sure your first attack out of stealth is on a target with strong passive abilities. This is especially important against targets with evasion or damage reduction like Phantom Assassin and Spectre.
|Use the active on yourself if enemies are close to you, or on a melee ally if they're near enemy heroes. Be careful of Blademail, as the damage dealt by this item will be reflected back to you.
|Use on melee or other close range enemies to create distance between you and them. You can also use it on yourself to propel you to safety or chase kills, though you often won't need to move to secure long ranged kills since you have Assassinate. You can also use it on allies to help them engage or escape, just be careful not to push your ally at the wrong time since you can get them killed.
|Use it when your health starts dropping. Pretty simple. If you're in no danger of dying, use the base lifesteal to heal up and save the active for emergencies.
Thank you for reading this beginner's guide to Sniper! If you'd like to contribute to this guide, please leave me a comment in the Discussion tab with your feedback or send me a Private Message if you'd like to contribute regularly to guides like this. Everyone who contributes to one of these Beginner's Guides will be credited in the guide.
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