Lone Druid hasn’t been part of the meta for the longest time now. Despite 6.88 being one of the most diverse patches in Dota history, Lone Druid remains nothing but a niche pick. 8 picks at TI6 were still admirable in comparison to a variety of other heroes, but it illustrates that the hero is simply just not fit for the current meta. That said, the 75% winrate in these 8 picks shows that not all is lost for the hero just yet.
Playstyles around Lone Druid haven’t changed for the longest time. Item builds may have varied--from the Radiance build to a short period of Armlet builds back to Radiance--but the hero has always been the split-push, farming type.
That may all change in 7.xx. Talent trees encourage us to change the way heroes have been traditionally played, such as Ember Spirit. And much like Ember Spirit, Lone Druid now has a new build and playstyle that may very well change the way we perceive the hero.
For avid followers of the Dotabuff blog, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that Dragon Lance improves yet another hero. Throughout the last year, Dragon Lance has had an immense impact on the meta, allowing heroes like Drow Ranger and Luna to be more viable than before.
As for Lone Druid, it certainly isn’t the item by itself, but a combination of it with the new talent. Lone Druid’s level 10 talent gives the player a choice between additional 200 attack range or 250 health. Considering the old Lone Druid, neither choice may seem particularly impressive--the additional health certainly is nice, as the main hero never built any significant items to improve survivability outside of auras.
The new build uses the additional attack range however and together with an early Dragon Lance, Lone Druid will have a whopping 890 attack range--a Sniper in the making. Now, the range in itself would yet again not be a reason to rate this new build highly. It’s a combination of a new skilling and the 2nd talent that make this build so strong.
At level 15, Lone Druid can choose between either +30 damage on the Spirit Bear or +65 damage on the main hero. The 65 damage talent roughly equals a Demon Edge and a Broadsword, which would cost 3600 gold. Yet again however, this isn’t everything.
[missing skill: lone-druid-rabid-5413] is an incredibly capable spell that allows for continuous use at level 4, due to its 30s duration and 30s cooldown. Together with Phase Boots, Lone Druid can move around at max movement speed at just level 7. With the already quick Spirit Bear, a player can chase down any target and wear it down, especially with early debuffs like Orb of Venom and Blight Stone. The build continues to focus on damage to turn Lone Druid into a right-clicking machine, much like Sniper. Following Dragon Lance, Desolator is the most logical choice. It uses the damage talent best and any debuff--in this case the minus armor--is more effective here as the Spirit Bear immediately becomes stronger too. Many players opt for a Maelstrom next for efficient farming, pushing, and even more kill potential. From here on out, the options are all open. Some choose the instant Daedalus, some want more stats and CC with Eye of Skadi.
The most interesting choice actually happens early on. While most do purchase Dragon Lance first, there are some builds that use the new Helm of the Dominator. The rework now includes an aura in the item and good stats. The aura is particularly good as once again the Spirit Bear benefits from it. While the Helm is a good addition to the build, it seems rather situational for now, as it delays other, important items.
There is one glaring weakness of the build, or two if you will: Both the hero and the bear remain rather squishy and exposed. Later into the game, Lone Druid may have a Hurricane Pike to keep himself safe, but the Spirit Bear is extremely squishy in this build and will likely die numerous times--for 300 gold each time.
Lone Druid himself remains rather squishy too. While he has good stat gain (+2.1 Str and +2.7 Agi) and could build into stat items later on, the fact that he is the one dealing the damage leaves him open for simple initiations, and he has no innate escape abilities. The in 6.86 introduced Savage Roar does help him avoid ganks, but it isn’t a perfect solution. Especially in the later midgame, when the first enemy support picks up a Blink Dagger, Lone Druid is very much exposed to ganks. In that aspect, he’s very much like a Sniper. That said, he’s much more survivable than Sniper, due to his insane movement speed, which allows him to position himself much better in teamfights.
Unlike the traditional build however, this new build doesn’t do well when behind. A late Radiance can still transition the hero into a pushing machine and nuisance, but falling behind with this new build will leave Lone Druid very useless and squishy for most of the time. Even with the build, his early midgame is very weak and passive. He may have the movement speed and attack range, but his damage output isn’t threatening until he acquires the level15 talent and/or picks up the Desolator.
This new build allows for an entirely new playstyle that Lone Druid has never really been known for. Instead of a farm and split push heavy focus, Lone Druid can actually commit to ganking and killing people, both solo and together with teammates.
His solo kill potential is off the charts with the increased MS and attack range, allowing him to run down almost any opponent with ease, especially since his Spirit Bear can provide him with the necessary vision even uphill. As a result, it may be best suited to lane Lone Druid in the midlane, where he can not only become a lane dominator due to his bear, range and MS, but he can also smoothly transition into ganking and pushing other lanes if necessary.
So while Lone Druid may be more of a ganker or fighter with this build, he can still very well transition into a pusher. Assault Cuirass and Desolator allow him to take towers with ease.
Lone Druid’s pickrate has only marginally increased since 7.00. From just under 2% to now just over 3%. His winrate in pubs has increased by 5%, which is significant, but it is still at roughly 45%. Wings.gaming’s Shadow attempted the build in an official match vs. Digital Chaos, but the Chinese carry had only little success with it. It perfectly illustrated that the build may be strong, but it may still not be enough to keep Lone Druid at the forefront of the meta. His bear is dead weight in the midgame that feeds away 300 gold, and while his damage output may be significant, he also doesn’t offer any other utility, aside from Savage Roar, which is both situational and risky.
The new build is fun to play and it seems like a good change of pace to the so fare stale progression of Lone Druid. That said, it seems like the hero needs just a little bit more to be viable.
We've added new privacy controls for all players! Sign in to see your stats and learn about your options on the settings page.