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Viper! ^u^ The Common Sense Guide!

Created by Boots-chan on 2008-08-01
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Version 6.54b
Last edited: September 1st, 2008

Hi! Welcome to my first DOTA guide ever. Viper is one of the best heroes in the game, if not arguably THE best early game solo hero, if you know how to play him properly. I noticed that existing guides on this site didn't seem to do the Netherdrake's powers justice, so... here I am.

This is going to be a Viper-specific guide, so don't expect to find general info such as last hitting and denying, etc. I'm going to assume you already know how to do all that, and if you don't, you can just look at any other How-To-Dota guide. I am assuming that you are playing non-em in this guide. I don't play em, so I can't help you must there, sorry. Still, even if you do play it, I hope you find the concepts helpful! ^_^


Viper is predominantly a HUNTER. Early game, he can kill nearly anything one-on-one, and the perpetual slow makes him an incredible ganker. If nobody else is doing it, Viper makes a passable carry, but there are other heroes better suited for the role. In other words, Viper isn't here to farm, even if he does seem to do it okay. He's here to stop other heroes from farming. Your income will come mainly from killing other heroes, not from creeps!


Viper - The Netherdrake

Range: | Move Speed: 285
Primary: AGI
Str: 17 + 1.9 | Agi: 21 + 2.5 | Int: 15 + 1.8
Damage: 44-46 | HP: 473 | Mana: 195
HP Regen: 0.76 | Mana Regen: 0.61
Attack Speed: 0.71 | Armor: 2
Poison Attack
Poison Attack (C)
Coats Viper's attack with poison. Slows movement and attack speeds and lasts 2 seconds.
Level 1 - Slows speed by 10%, deals 6 damage per second.
Level 2 - Slows speed by 20%, deals 12 damage per second.
Level 3 - Slows speed by 30%, deals 18 damage per second.
Level 4 - Slows speed by 40%, deals 24 damage per second.
• Damage type: magical
• Poison attack is an orb effect buff placer.
• The slow and damage will not be increased by successive casts; the duration of the spell will be refreshed instead.
• Casting range: 600
Mana Cost: 20
Cooldown: 4/3/0/0 seconds
Comment: This is a pretty useless skill, at least early in the game. Viper shines in early game with his brilliant attack animation, imba orb effect, and rigged ultimate. Most of the time you will be Orbwalking (more on that later) -- unless you're playing against people who stand there and get hit, which I highly doubt -- and the only thing that counts when you Orbwalk is the animation before your attack comes out. For Viper, that animation is already minimal. Possibly you may shave a couple of nanoseconds off that animation by putting points into this skill, but chances are you will be more limited by the speed you are able to click (i.e. how good you are at Orbwalking) rather than the attack animation. Mr. Viper is squishy enough already -- we really don't need to make him any squishier, right? That's not to say that Frenzy does not have its uses. Later on in the game in big team battles, there's many more opportunities to just stand there and attack, and (important) you're not being targeted, go ahead and use it to increase your damage output. It's also useful for killing off towers quickly.

Nethertoxin (R)
Adds a powerful toxin to your attacks. Deals more damage the lower the target's health is. Half damage on non-hero units and buildings.
Level 1 - Maximum of 32 Bonus Damage.
Level 2 - Maximum of 64 Bonus Damage.
Level 3 - Maximum of 96 Bonus Damage.
Level 4 - Maximum of 128 Bonus Damage.
• Starts off with 2/4/6/8 bonus damage, and doubles for each 20% missing hp of target unit.
Mana Cost: N/A
Cooldown: N/A
Comment: Viper's signature skill! One of the best skills for harassing early on in the game. Abuse it! When everyone's HP is still small at the beginning, the poison damage will hurt. Later on, you will mostly be using it for the slow. This skill can be Autocasted, but you will not be doing that often.
Corrosive Skin
Corrosive Skin (E)
Viper's body is covered with poison. Any unit that attacks it becomes infected. Reduced movement and attack speed and minor damage for 3 seconds.
Level 1 - 10% slow, 10 damage per second, 10% magic reduction.
Level 2 - 15% slow, 15 damage per second, 15% magic reduction.
Level 3 - 20% slow, 20 damage per second, 20% magic reduction.
Level 4 - 25% slow, 25 damage per second, 25% magic reduction.
• Spell resistance stacks with spell resistance from items.
• Affects the attacking unit before the attack is actually released.
Mana Cost: N/A
Cooldown: N/A
Comment: A useful skill, depending on how the game is going. If you're not very good at avoiding ganks, this skill can help you escape. The poison damage, however, is quite neglible. If played properly, Viper is a damn scary hero, so most heroes will be fleeing more often than not, and poison damage will be wasted.
Viper Strike
Viper Strike (V)
Strikes with a vicious bite, slowing movement and attack speeds significantly and dealing poison damage over time which lasts 5 seconds.
Level 1 - Deals 60 damage per second and slows speeds by 40%.
Level 2 - Deals 100 damage per second and slows speeds by 60%.
Level 3 - Deals 145 damage per second and slows speeds by 80%.
• Damage type: magical.
• Slow works on magic immune units.
• Casting range: 500 (800*)
• Aghanim's Scepter improves casting range and reduces cooldown.
Mana Cost: 125/175/250 (125*)
Cooldown: 80/50/30 (12*)
Comment: This ultimate does a ton of damage and slows massively. Unless the enemy has some kind of escape mechanism, once they get this on them, they are pretty much dead. Use it how you would use any other slow. Many people choose to initiate with this spell, but I prefer to approach with a few Poison Attacks before using it.
Skill Build

Skill Build:

1. Poison Attack
2. Stats
3. Poison Attack
4. Stats
5. Poison Attack
6. Viper Strike
7. Poison Attack
8. Stats
9. Stats
10. Stats
11. Viper Strike
12. Stats
13. Stats
14. Corrosive Skin
15. Stats
16. Viper Strike
17. Stats
18. Corrosive Skin
19. Stats
20. Corrosive Skin
21. Corrosive Skin
22. Frenzy
23. Frenzy
24. Frenzy
25. Frenzy
Item Build

Item Build:

1.View Details for Bracer
6 Strength
3 Agility
3 Intelligence
3 Damage
Gauntlets of Ogre Strength + Circlet of Nobility + Bracer Recipe Scroll
x2. You're not too sturdy, so the extra HP helps. Alternatively, you could get Wraith Bands.
2.View Details for Boots of Speed
Boots of Speed
50 Movement Speed
Note: Movement speed bonus doesn't stack with Boots of Travel, Phase Boots, Power Treads, or Boots of Speed.
Really, this suffices for most of the game! You could upgrade this to Power Treads or Boots of Travel later on in the game, if you like.
3.View Details for Monkey King Bar
Monkey King Bar
88 Damage
15 Attack Speed
Passive: True Strike
Prevents your attacks from missing (except due to exceeding Movement Buffer Range on melee units). Interferes with some attack modifiers on ranged units.
Passive: Mini-Bash
35% chance to bash on attacks. 100 bonus damage. Stuns for 0.01 seconds.
Note: Clicking the item will toggle True Strike on and off.
Demon Edge + 2x Javelins
Your main damaging item, with a useful ministun that stops people from teleporting away!
Skill Build

Early Game:

OKOK! ^_^

Here we are, game has started, and you've picked or randomed Viper. Try to get a solo lane, if possible -- for reasons that will be explained shortly. Let's see what items we should start with.


If possible, try to get someone to share their chicken with you (your money is better spent elsewhere), and buy these:


Ancient Tango of Essifation
2 Tangoes of Essification


For regen! Don't leave home without them. If you prefer getting Flasks of Sapphire Water of Rings of Regen, then that's up to you. Personal preference, really.

Circlet of Nobility
2 Circlets of Nobility

They'll help in surviving and last hitting etc. Later on, we'll turn them into Bracers or Wraith Bands, depending on how the game is going.

IIt's worth getting your own chicken if nobody else will get you one:

Animal Courier
1 Animal Courier

You'll only be able to get one Circlet in this case, but think about it: The money you spent on this will quickly be regained by the money and experience you don't lose by not going home to the fountain! Great! ^_^ Viper has a much easier time of it if he outlevels his opponent, so one thing you don't want to do is go home and heal if you don't have to.



Last hitting, denying, harassing. You have to do all three to lane effectively. Viper last hits and denies like any other hero -- possibly marginally better, because of his great attack animation, and decent range.

Harassing is where Viper really shines.

You'll start out with Poison Attack at level 1. Manual cast to use it right away (press C), and follow it up with a regular attack for extra damage. As soon as it cools down, do it again. If you get an opportunity, take a couple of free shots -- although if you right click the hero, the AI-controlled creeps and tower will start going after you, so be careful about that. If you're closer to the enemy tower, just manual cast poison attack and it won't hit you since it counts as a spell. Be VERY, VERY aggressive, since Viper is strongest early game, and you want to make the most of that time period.

It really won't take long for the enemy to realise that they're taking a ton of damage just by being around their own creeps, so they will begin to retreat. Now, this is why it's best to be in one of the side lanes -- there is a lot of space between the towers. What you hope to do is to either to chase the enemies away from their own creeps so they are denied of all the experience and money, and/or to force them to go back to their fountain to heal. However, it's dangerous to do this if you're too close to the enemy tower, so it might be easier to pull off if you're in one of the side lanes. If you do this effectively, the best case scenario is that the heroes you are laning against become so starved of experience and money that they end up underleveled and useless in team fights. However, this best case scenario also requires that your enemies be morons that don't ask for help/ganks/lane switches, so this will not happen often.

Not autoattacking is important, and you should try to balance the number of last hits and denies as well, or deny more than you last hit. What you don't want to do is to push the creeps to the enemy tower, because then the enemy will be able to tower hug and get experience.

Now, I've noticed that it's very popular among guides here to tell you what to do if you're facing melee heroes, ranged heroes, or a combination. However, the strategy outlined above pretty much works on everybody, with only a few notable exceptions. Naturally, it's best if you're against one or more melee heroes: they're just so much food for Mr. Viper. Even ranged heroes cannot hope to out-harass you. The only situation where you might need to be slightly more cautious is if you're against a pair of ranged heroes, and both of their attacks combined might hurt you more than one of yours. Fortunately, that's not something that you're likely to encounter on the side lanes.


  • Some heroes that may pose a threat:

Zeus - Lord of OlympiaNevermore - The Shadow FiendKrobelus - The Death ProphetKel`Thuzad - The LichMagnus - The MagnataurLion - The Demon Witch
Any hero that uses their nukes to harass

Especially if they are also soloing their lane, you may think: "Hey! Every time I approach I just get nuked for more damage! That's totally not worth it..."

This is why is it of utmost importance that you are aggressive starting from level 1. If you approach them at level one and land a Poison Attack on them, what are they going to do? Nuke you for 75 damage, minus magic reduction? And waste their mana at the same time? If you play right, they will be forced to retreat early on, and you will out-level and dominate them.


Gondar - The Bounty HunterRikimaru - The Stealth AssassinBone Clinkz - The Bone Fletcher
halp halp invis heroes

I don't know why I bothered putting this here, but just in case, here is the solution:

Sentry Wards
Sentry Wards

Done. It is much better to spend 200 gold (or better yet! Get somebody else to spend it for you!) so you can dominate a lane. In fact, if your enemies get too confident in their invisibility, you may even get a kill and get all your gold back. Invisible heroes are actually fantastic to lane against because they tend to be soft, and their only escape mechanism vanishes as soon as you get wards, making them very easy to kill. You can be certain of any invisible hero tripping off to some other lane as soon as you get your wards.


Sven - The RogueknightLina Inverse - The Slayer Shendelzare Silkwood - The Vengeful SpiritAggron Stonebreaker - The Ogre Magi
Scary comboes e.g. double stunners, etc.
It's the same if you're any other hero. If you're against a strong lane, you just need to be a little more careful. Again, you have to try to hit them early, but temper that aggression with some caution! A 75 damage stun may not hurt you much, but two of them, plus the combined attacks of both heroes, can easily bring you down. Since Viper is one of the strongest laners in the game, you'll probably do okay, but if possible you should request a lane switch. You're not fulfilling Viper's potential by playing carefully.
Aiushtha - The Enchantress
The Enchantress
What kills the Enchantress and her attack-reduction ultimate, healing over time, and tiny HP pool... is nukes. What you don't have... is nukes. Harass her, and she'll harass you back with her very own orb, which is just as good as yours. Harass her more, and she heals it back with her Regeneration skill. Your only hope against her is to bait her into harassing you (keep close so Impetus doesn't sting too much) until she doesn't have enough mana for Regeneration, and go in for the kill. Otherwise, get a lane switch with a nuker, or have them come in for a gank.
  • Skill and item variations

Now, I've only listed one item and skill build, but these are by no means set in stone.  I can't stress this enough. As always, you must look at the situation and adapt accordingly. Are there a million spellcasters on the other team? Or maybe you're having trouble escaping from enemy ganks? Perhaps it's worth getting a few points in Corrosive Skin early for the magic reduction or slow. Are you trashing your lane really, really badly, or are there not too many enemy nukers? You could consider swapping your Bracers for Wraith Bands for the reduced cost and increased damage. It all depends on how the game is going.

But in general, there are two sets of items I recommend, depending on what kind of game you am trying to play.

If I intend to stay in my lane for a while longer, and I seem to be doing rather well, then I usually aim for the following items:

BracerBracerBoots of SpeedJavelin
2 Bracers, Boots of Speed, and 1+ Javelins

As previously mentioned, the bracers may be swapped for Wraith Bands, but you should probably stick with Bracers. I find myself tower diving frequently as Viper, and the extra HP helps in taking tower hits.

However, if you're in a hurry to go out and start ganking people -- recommended if you have a very item-dependent hero in your lineup who would appreciate that free lane -- or if you're having a bit of trouble and would like to increase your battle-efficiency cheaply, then the following items may work better for you:

Wraith BandWraith BandWraith BandWraith BandBoots of Speed
4-5 Wraith Bands, Boots of Speed
Yup! Mass Wraith Bands! So early in the game, so many Wraith Bands will hurt. The increased number of items will compensate for the reduced HP that Wraith Bands give as opposed to Bracers.


When you're level 5, and your Poison Attack is at level 3 with 0 cooldown, you're ready to go for your first kill. Naturally, you'll have to use your good judgment to tell whether you should try now or wait one more level for your ultimate. But if you're having an easy time laning, or if you're against some silly hero like Luna, then go for it! ^u^


  • Orbwalking to chase

If you're going to play as Viper, you must learn how to orbwalk. Say it twice, say it thrice -- if you're a Viper, you must orbwalk. You need this in order to chase down your prey. orbwalking allows you to move much faster than the standard right-clicking. After mastering orbwalking, you will discover that unless the enemy has an escape mechanism, nothing can escape you.

There are plenty of tutorials and videos teaching you how to orbwalk, but I will provide a basic outline here. Orbwalking is essential to playing an effective Viper. When you're trying out this important technique for the first time, you may find that it is helpful to turn Poison Attack onto Autocast so any stray attacks the Netherdrake throws while you're trying to figure it all out have the Poison effect. However, you will not be right clicking the enemy hero. When you get really good at orbwalking, you do not need to turn it on.



  1. Press "C" for Poison Attack.
  2. Left-click the enemy hero. The Viper will attack.
  3. Move your cursor off the enemy. As soon as the projectile leaves the Viper, right-click any empty space near the enemy hero so the Viper MOVES forward, canceling the "recoil" animation.
  4. Repeat.
Simple, isn't it? ^_^
It takes a little more effort than simply right clicking, but the superior results are well worth the trouble. For instance, you will never lose an enemy just because of some creeps blocking away, or if they suddenly disappear into the fog due to trees or elevated terrain. This is not only because you move faster, but also because you now manually control the movement of your hero. The Warcraft III AI has the intelligence of a small child who is stupid, and I'm sure everyone has experienced its irritating habit of turning around to attack something else or simply stopping once the enemy moves out of sight. Or if there are creeps in the way, helplessly moving back and forth behind them when he could simply go around them.
So now that you've mastered this skill, it's time to get your first kill.
If there is only one enemy hero in your lane, simply orbwalk the enemy to death.
Yes! So easy! He can't escape unless he has an escape mechanism or a buddy with a disable. Sometimes, he can't escape even if he has a disable. If he is careless and you've managed to get too close -- while orbwalking with Poison Attack, you will find that you gradually approach your enemy with your superior movespeed -- then you may still be able to catch him after the disable has ended.
It's not really necessary to ambush the enemy from the woods, although if you want to make sure you're really close before beginning your onslaught, you can do so.
If you've decided to hold off until you've gotten Viper strike, I do not recommend initiating with it. You've probably tried using it immediately, only to discover that you have miscalculated and the enemy is too close to the tower, or he is able to escape in some other way, e.g. a buddy comes to save him. The safest method is to use a few Poison Attacks to approach, and when you're good and close, use your ultimate to make sure that they don't escape.
If you are laning against two heroes, it is best to wait for level 6 before getting the kill. The added damage from the spell means your target will die much faster.
If you've really kept your enemies weak by keeping them away from the creeps and sending them back to the fountain frequently, now is your chance for a double kill. Aim for the enemy with less hp. Hit him with your ultimate, start pummeling away, and they will succumb rapidly. If the other enemy is foolish, he will run in to aid his ally -- by then dead -- then you can cheerfully use your orbwalking skills to dispatch of the other one.
If you haven't been able to quite keep them so underleveled, you might have to start attacking them both at once, but be careful! Since you're the team's solo, your life is much more valuable than theirs. It's not worth sacrificing your life for one of theirs.
So even if you hit level 6, it may be wise to not immediately go for a kill. Instead, step up your harassment. With the cooldown of Poison Attack at 0, start spamming it on them as if you wanted to kill them. When they predictably retreat and the other hero comes forward to help, begin attacking the other one instead. Keep doing this, but don't chase one too far even if their HP is low -- you're still pretty vulnerable yourself, and a good disable or nuke from their friend could still kill you. At the end of it all, you might end up with a kill if you are lucky. However, your main purpose is to send them back to the fountain, and if you've done that, well done! You've done your job. ^_^
If, for whatever reason, you have a lanemate, you will need to either work together extremely well or delay the attempt until you are at least level 5. This is why Viper works best in a solo lane.
  • Other uses of orbwalking

You don't only use orbwalking when you are chasing. You use it all the time in fights, particularly against melee heroes without any ranged disables.

Let's say, for example, you are fighting an Ursa Warrior.

Ulfsaar - The Ursa Warrior
Here is a Fuzzy Wuzzy.

Your attack range is far greater than that of his slow, or his attack range, but his DPS is much higher than yours. But remember! DPS only counts if he is able to hit you!

If you attack him with your Poison attack, an inexperienced Ursa will definitely come and try to smack you silly. And he will, if you let him. But of course you won't, because you orbwalk! When he comes forward, move backwards, rather than forwards -- and you move a lot faster than he does, since you have him slowed. When you have a chance, turn around and hit him again, and continue moving backwards. This might mean a lot of mouse action for you.

Eventually our newbie Ursa here will figure that the situation is turning all pear-shaped, and will probably try to escape. Then you simply orbwalk in the opposite direction and begin to chase him. If he turns around again, attempting catch you by surprise, then turn around again. Never let him get close enough to use his slow. At some point, you can also use your ultimate to slow him even more, but this may not be necessary.

In theory, he could have 6 Divine Rapiers:

Divine RapierDivine RapierDivine RapierDivine RapierDivine RapierDivine Rapier
I just wanted to put 6 Divine Rapiers in a row...

And you could have absolutely nothing, and you would still be able to kill him (eventually). In practice, it would take so long for you to kill him that his allies would have jumped all over you at that point and destroyed you, or you run out of mana and die.

You notice that I kept referring to the Ursa's newbishness? What would an decent Ursa have done, then? A decent one would have noticed he was playing against a Viper, and would be packing a Scroll of Teleportation or have Boots of Travels, and as soon as you began your attack, would have teleported the hell out of there. The items you get later will prevent this.



Conclusion: Your role in the early game is the harass your enemies to death, and keep them weak and underleveled. If you play well, you may be able to get a kill. From level 5 onwards, you can opt to surrender your lane to one of your allies and start ganking.

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372 By GuriPSYCO 2012-04-20

Aw goodness! This guide makes me feel nostalgic, good times when Viper still had frenzy!

371 By grumps 2012-04-20

good gude,

370 By zellssj 2011-11-05

Your guide was a great help to me, thanks!!!

369 By xiujk 2011-09-13

u are just a idiot who wants 5 wraith bands for viper. Just like a ns who want 5 bracer

368 By mawhpawh 2011-04-11

Old Guide, not the same skills.

Your post is useless.

367 By bietchie12 2011-04-11

you guide for map dota 6.34?????
By the way, your comments on skill are useless.

366 By yaphets_414 2011-02-19

Great guide! ^_^

365 By STGDS 2011-02-16

358, he was using it as an example, didnt you read everything else, it was all about ganking. the 1v1 was a theoretical example to prove a point.

364 By SunStorm 2011-02-12

Oold guide

363 By shyaganes007 2011-02-04

Aghanim's Scepter y isint it mentioned in this guide??

362 By Bribe 2010-10-16

Manta is good on this guy. His illusion also have toxin, 3 toxins hurt. His illusions have Skin. Poison frome every skin hurts :)

361 By espiri2 2010-09-25

outdated. FAIL

360 By winner47 2010-09-09

Good guide and LOL my school needs better network codes.

359 By LeoMaru_22 2010-09-08

nice .

358 By patlesnar1 2010-09-03


he can 1-1 with all of the heroes when he has his ULTI!!

but not with troll or ursa and mirror immage heroes

357 By barcanisme 2010-07-15

Dude really Super OLD guide dont look or do that u must give nether toxin not stats .... :S:S:S:S:

Update or it will be a fucking guide...!

356 By Kasyx 2010-07-15

i once chose viper and then ursa ambushed me. We both fought and i reduce the ursa health to a quarter. And then i died just after my ally troll appeared

355 By carnage07 2010-05-29

doesnt need damage :O how do you manage to kill TPing heroes?

354 By hikaruwakana 2010-05-29

imo viper doesn't need dmg, viper needs hp to tank ,
my build , vanguard, hood defiance, travel

353 By Zaggiertjukkur 2010-05-07

EwÚt? I just puked! I hope you're kidding