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Strategy Guide for Vol'jin the Witch Doctor

by Daimonie (as of v6.60)

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About Vol'jin
Vol'jin is one of the more powerful heroes in the game. I like him for his adaptive nature;
he can be a ganker, a initiator, a support, a disabler, a pubstomper and a docter. His spells
take down any hero easily, and he is able to beat any opponent 1v1 with proper timing.

1.1 Pro's and Con's

+ Has a very smooth attack animation, excellent kiter

+ Has 3 extremely powerful spells
+ Has a slighty above avarage movement speed
+ Has a large primary stat grow (Intellect)
+ Has large potential for mind games
+ Is an easy pub stomper
+ Has a supportive spell
- As an intellect hero, he isn't very tanky.
- His ultimate is channeling
- Paralyzing Casks are not very predictable.
- He has no armor

1.2 His Role

Vol'jin's role is, as i previously stated, very agile. I personally play him as a ganker or
a support hero, but he has far more uses than that alone.

1.3 His Game

His strength lies in the early and mid games. In the early game, he is an excellent babysitter,
only looking up to the Warlock himself. When any of your allies feels like it, you can land a
cask, a maledict, start autoattacking,
your ally throws a spell and the kill is there.

In the mid game, he can cause mass confusion in a team fight, make sure any carry dies and do
extreme damage.
Lategame, his goal is to push out as much damage as possible, while amplifying any damage and
keeping an ally alive.

2. Builds
Please look here if you need to check out vo'jin's skills and statistics.
2.1 Skill builds

1: Voodoo regeneration
2: Paralyzing Casks
3-5: Maledict
6: Death Ward
7: Maledict

This is your basic skillset. It gives you the power to stay in the lane. Later on, you can easily take
down any opponent.
The focus lays on your best skill: Maledict.

After this, you can choose to go either way. You can be a docter, or a ganker, or a bit of both.

2.2 Item builds

Vol'jin will have these as a base set of items

- 2x Bracer / Nulls
- Boots of Speed
- Sobi mask

I think that how you early game is your own decision. Typically, I would start off with


Your next inventory should look like this:

Take notice; when building guinsoo, its gibberish to get that sobi mask. Get a voidstone instead.

2.2.1 Gank build

Orchid Malevolance gives you near infinite mana, while giving you a neat dps and a
5 second silence.

The orchid malevolance will allow you to take on ANY opponent 1v1, for a silenced hero cannot
stun you. Second, the dps allows
you to shadow walk with maledict most things to death. For example, Gondar is meat.

You max Casks from level 8 and on.

2.2.2 Docter build

This build is the healing build. You buy a Meckansm, at the same time buffing allies, giving you
a AOE heal, and fixing your
armor problem partly.

2.2.3 Disabler build

This build focusses around disabling your enemies. Who fears a flying sheep? Your item is
You will be able to take most opponents down 1v1, while also having a sheeping power in

You will max paralyzing casks from level 8 and on.

2.2.4 Initiator build

This build is one that i heard many times. You get a bkb as first item, after that an optional

You rush in after the real initiator (Example: Magnus) has made his move. You cast Avatar, throw
casks, maledict
and set a death ward. Then, you pray to the lao that there's no AOE Stun ulti around.

You will be maximizing casks from level 8 and on.

2.2.5 Army build

This build is one that requires more skill than the avarage build. Your item is necrominion. These
two little guys
will give you quite some power in a fight, powering you up with a feedback effect, a mana drain,
a movement speed and
attack speed increasing aura and a last will ability.

I think that this build will prove the best in higher level play. It tends to get all shiny with aoe
spells in a teamfight,
and then there's some tiny little necrocreep.. with the ability to deal damage upon his death.

For instance, Jakiro will not be happy after a necrominion dives into his Pyroblast.

Not to mention the fact that Necrobook gives you intellect (dps, mana, mana regen) and strength
(hp and hp regen).

You can choose whatever to max first.

2.2.6 Pub build

This build is quite simple. You get a dagon, cast maledict, attack a few times, cast dagon and
laugh as the enemy starts falling

2.2.7 Blood build

The second healing build is a bit more expensive. Its buying a bloodstone. One easily overseen
thing on bloodstone is that it
gives your allies in a large area 450hp and 400mana upon your dead. That means that you
effectively heal 2 meckansm's and give mana.
Its quite nice, since a lot of people see vol'jin as some easy kind of food. However, this makes
sure that your allies gain from you for the full
possible amount.

Don't think its a ticket to feed or something. Its just an item that makes infinite Voodoo
Regeneration possible, while at the same time making sure
that if you die due to them focussing you, your allies gain from it.

You will max voodoo regen from level 8 and on.

3. Game play
3.1 Playstyles

The first playstyle is very assassin like. You suddenly jump out of nowhere, allowing your
presence to stun the enemy. Then, you land some spells, and burst out a lot of damage.
Your target should have no chance at all; he will be overrun, cursed, damaged, and eventually he
will die. This is a build that favors Dagon and Orchid Malevolance.

The second playstyle is that of a silent, but immense threat. You're more team oriëntated. If you
don't get focus fired right away, you are a pain, for you have an annoying stun,
several strong spells and you keep your allies up with a 30 hp/s regeneration. This build favors

The third is the raging rampage; basically, you're one beserking spell casting troll. You are the
one in front; the biggest through avatar, and they can't focus fire you.
You're able to take a lot of damage and deal a lot of damage. This build favors BKB.

The fourth is that of a support hero. While you dish out damage, your focus lies upon keeping
your friends up. You disable the biggest threat and heal your allies.
This build favors Meckansm and Guinsoo.

3.2 Ganking

Vol'jin's ganking is quite easy. You should suddenly poof out of nowhere, land a cask around a
small amount of creeps (To max the effective stun
on the ganked hero), then you land maledict and continue to damage him to the point where he
cries out in pain.

3.3 Team fights

Vol'jin shouldn't be the first nor the second to enter the fight. He should enter it as one of the later
heroes. This will allow him to max the
confusing casks cause. Also, to me it appears as if the fight gets much more cluttered around one
spot when it continues, allowing you to land a
your curse upon a larger amount of enemies. Then, you cast a ward. Since the fight has already
progressed, a lot of disables have already been used
and you can burst out that insane dps much more easily.

4. Discussion

4.1 Initiator
Vol'jin lacks in survivablity. He has nothing to keep the enemies at their place. But if they are,
they're dead. What does this mean? It means that
vol'jin needs a real initiator such as magnus or enigma to keep them close. Then, he can kill

So it would seem quite clear that he is not an initiator. Still, some think that he does. If your team
coördinates and builds around this, it could work.
But it is n't easy, and will not work in each fight.

4.2 Viability

Vol'jin lacks in terms of health and armor. Improving these gives him survivablity. Now, his
ultimate is channeling. Is this that much of a problem?
I say, it is not. You just need to time your ward and coördinate some stuns around, and it will do

And in any case, vol'jin isn't made by his death ward. Vol'jin equals maledict; this is the spell that
makes him so extremely powerful.

4.3 Bad enemies

Vol'jin hasn't got enemies that you can consider 'bad'. The only one is the Silencer, for he stops
you from chaining your spells.

His 'bad' enemies are thus the bad enemies of any spell user.

4.4 Good allies

Vol'jin will do well with any nuker. His ultimate profits most from silence and stuns, for it cannot
be stopped in that way.
The most terrifying lane is Vol'jin + Zeus. Zeus his burst damage is large. Say, you're up against
a thousand hp opponent.

You land maledict. Zeus uses his lightning bolt, followed by arc lightning. This deals 1000*0.09
+ 375 + 65 + 0.09 (1000*0.91-65-375) = 651.5 damage.
This means that of the necessary damage is already done by zeus. Taking into account the magic
reduction and the natural regen of the target, you
only have to hit him a few times to kill it.

Ofcourse, lanes such as VS + Vol'jin are awful too. cask+maledict+ward -> getting away?

A list of strong combinations:

• Vol'jin + Huskar: Lifebreak removes such a devestating percentage of the targets hp that
with maledict, you nearly got a free kill.
• Vol'jin + Vengeful: VS her high damage stun makes for a nice nuke after landing
maledicts. With her command aura, both of you kiting will
do the job.
• Vol'jin + Krobelus: Basic spellspammer combo, allows for some fast damage to empower
your maledict.
• Vol'jin + Omniknight: Allowing you to use the death ward to its fullest.
• Vol'jin + Raigor: This combo will get the enemy close (Fissure) so that you can do a lot
of damage.
• Vol'jin + Barathrum: Barathrum can disable an enemy with Charge of Darkness and
Netherstrike, so that vol'jin can easily use his ward.
• Vol'jin + Mirana: A 5s stun arrow combined with maledict and starfall makes a sure kill.
That, and its so funny to pull off.

Clearly, there are a lot of really strong lane combinations possible with vol'jin.

4.5 Item builds

4.5.1 Gank build

This build is only viable if already dominant throughout the game. Orchid malevolance gives vol'jin no survivability
at all, making it a rather
expensive item for its effectiveness. The idea of orchid is that it improves your dps, allowing you to deal more
damage through shadow walking,
thus allowing you to use maledict to a larger effect whenever it is off cooldown. Then it allows you to take any
opponent, even a stunner, down
with your combo.

When not dominant, orchid is not as effective, for you will die while trying to shadow walk.

4.5.2 Docter build

A meckansm is nice to the team. But, vol'jin's natural healing ability has a very small AOE to it (400 units away).
While Voodoo Regeneration
heals your friends over time, meckansm provides means to save them in an instant. This allows for vol'jin to be a
true support hero.

But, it synergizes with one of his spells only; the rest of his spells are all very offensive. This means that it doesn't
have much synergy to

4.5.3 Disabler build

The disabler build fits vol'jin more. It synergizes with his ultimate; sheeping the one that is able to get away or stop
your channeling. Guinsoo
adds some survivablity, in the form of a 10 (15) strength increase. This means 190 (285) extra hp.

Your team will like the extra disable, so sheep stick is a very viable item.

4.5.4 Initiator build

Vol'jin is fragile. Vol'jin needs to have 6 seconds of channeling. So what is he doing initiating? Personally, i don't
have a clue. But some think he does.

This build is only viable if there's a very strong initiator, such as magnus, enigma or raigor, in your team to keep the
enemy still while you burst out
your damage.

4.5.5 Support build

This build is by far the most viable off all. A necrobook gives intelligence (mana) and strength (hp). Next, it gives 2
awesome necro warriors that are able
to kill things easily. They mana burn, taking away mana for a disable to stop your death ward. Next, they buff all of
your team and any nearby units.

In terms of effectiveness by cost, necrominion is the best item for vol'jin.

4.5.6 Pub build

This is the true pub build. Dagon gives you damage and a strong nuke, making you a glass cannon that deals
massive damage. But, it adds no survivability,
doesn't have synergy other than damage for maledict, and therefore, its not a suggested build for vol'jin.

4.5.7 Blood build

Now this is an interesting build. It gives you the most hp, mana regeneration and hp regeneration. So its all your
survivablity needed, except for a platemail.
Next up, it makes it possible to keep up voodoo regeneration for a long time. Next, it grants vision and xp in a large
area after your dead, making sure that
if you've done your role and died, you get profit from it. Then, it buffed your allies upon your dead.

It rewards you for the kill, while at the same time it makes sure that your allies do not gain a lot from killing you.

4.6 Item discussions.

I will only list items that actually make sense on vol'jin. If you want to buy manta style, be my guest... But its not an
item for vol'jin. Same goes for
items like Butterfly or Buriza.


Vanguard - Although rare, this item will be usable in some situations. It doesn't boost anything; but
against little or no spells that break channeling, this item can be a life saver.

Bloodstone - A very common WD item. As a gank hero, he makes lots of kills. Maledict amplifies this
even more. This means that he will get charges fast, allowing him to keep voodo regeneration up at all times, while
also adding survivablity.
Hood of Defiance - If the opponent has no channeling breaking spells, but has several nukes, this item
can make you come out of your channeling alive. Its very situational, but that goes for most items in my build.

Shiva - This item ads extra damage, a slow, a 25% decrease of dps for the enemy. Also, it adds
survivability in the form of a lot of armor. One of the luxury items thati recommend.

Orchid - This item increases Vol'jin's dps at such a rate that it's actually viable for him. It is one of the
best for 1v1 situations, for you can channel your ward easily.

Phase boots - This item is a cheap way to escape through creeps, give some armor (survivablity) and
chase some more (Allowing to feed maledict).

Guinsoo - A great item. It adds a little of everything, so its an alround item for vol'jin.

Refresher orb - This item is actually not that useful. In some situations, a double ward-maledict is great,
but i don't think its that useful. ofcourse, a lategame with dagon 5, aghanim and this gives some opportunity.

Aghanim's Sceptre - Great item. It adds hp, it almost doubles the damage of your ultimate, and it looks
cool. Now, it only doesn't protect you while channeling. So its luxury. Take into account that Chaos damage is
reduced by armor, being rather ineffective during late game.

Skadi - If you casted your ward, it makes for some dps and a slow. It gives you armor and hp. Its one of
the best luxury items.

Heart of tarasque - It adds hp and regen of it. Makes for a good luxury item, but vol'jin is better of with
a bloodstone or aghanim for hp.

Radiance - It adds you some damage for maledict and it gives you more damage in a teamfight, for you
are near the opponents. Now, there are far better carries for this item,but vol'jin can have it if he has a lot of spare

Linkens Sphere - It allows you to block an incoming disable. So you can channel longer, while it also
gives regeneration and some surivablity. It's a good item for vol'jin.

Necrominion - It adds intellect and strength, while also giving you the most awesome summon in the

Dagon - While i consider this a pub item, it does pretty neat against low hp heroes, for it burst a lot of
damage. It does well on vol'jin, but not good enough.

Black king Bar - One of the better items for vol'jin. It makes your ulti next to unstoppable, gives you hp
and makes you pretty big, which is awesome.

Lothar's edge - A pub item. Invisible channeling is kind of fun, but against decent opponents it won't do
any good.

Meckansm - Adds to vol'jins support side, giving him an instant heal.

Eul's scepter of divinity - Is actually quite neat. Extra movement speed is always a good thing. Cyclone
is a neat escape mechanism, while it can also disable something in ateam fight.
Boots of Travel - Allows you to move very fast and to get into teamfights quik. I consider this a core
item on vol'jin.

Dagger allows you to position your ultimate well. This means that you can channel at relatively safe
spots, right in their way/back or whatever fits the situation. If survivabilty is done, this makes for a good luxury.

4.8 Death ward

This is about your ultimate. It deals 60/90/120/150 Chaos] Damage. Chaos type is a damage
type, something natural to Dota.
Damage types have different multipliers against different types of damage. For instane, hero
damage, the normal damage your hero deals through attacks,
has an amplifier of 0.5 against buildings. Chaos damage deals 100% damage to all types,
meaning that its amplifier is 1.

Then, you need to check the armor value, which will reduce the damage more. This is the armor
stated at your hero sheeth ingame; Chaos damage is reduced
by this. This means that when the game progresses, your death ward must scale with armor and
health. Your Chaos ward starts dishing out 100 more dps with each level.
Now, seeing that this is an upgrade each 5 levels, your targets total effective hp must only raise
600 each five levels. This is, for your death ward to stay as effective
as it was on level 1.

As you can see, this is clearly insane. For vol'jin himself goes that buying a simple platemail
after getting his bracers, he gains 700 Effective HP at level 16.
When the game progresses, supporters and nukers will get more EHP through items. Agility
heroes will get more and more armor as they buy more Agility boosts.
Strength heroes get more hp and armor every other level.

Vol'jin's Death ward will, in due time, be ineffective as a whole during lategame. For the sheer
reason that, when everybody runs around with 2k hp and 30 armor (64% reduction),
a level 4 death ward deals only 180 dps over 6 seconds on three targets. You can barely get them
down to half hp, and during this full channeling time, you are sure to get whacked

Buying aghanim in this situation has effectively increased your dps by 36 with the death ward,
dealing a total of 648 damage more.

The conclusion to this is that buying Aghanim for lategame scaling is a Joke. It just won't work,
unless you got opponents that don't know how to make your hero able to absorb
more damage. But then again, you are probably able to kill them without aghanim, making a
Bloodstone a better target.

Instead of upgrading his ultimate, vol'jin should always focus on being a support hero. His ulti
will become ineffective in due time, making it more useful to either build as
a healer/disabler or any kind of support, or buying items that will make sure that you can actually
use that ultimate for full effect (BKB).

There is one reason to buy aghanim other than the damage. Instead of bouncing, it actually wil
be able to hit multiple targets at a time, instead of using bouncing projectiles. This is a large
improvement, as it won't require them to be near each other, only in range. But is it enough to
buy it for a ultimate reduced by health, armor and things that break channeling? i don't think so.

4.9 Maledict

Maledict is an insane amplifier. Lets calculate a bit.

Say that X damage is dealt.

The first tick, 0.4 * 0.75 * X = 0.3X is dealt.
The second tick, 0.3X + (0.3X)0.3 = 0.39X is dealt.
The third tick, 0.3X + (0.3X + 0.39X)0.3 = 0.48X is dealt.

This means the following. Any damage in the first four seconds will be amplified by 1.17, or
117%. This is after magic reduction.
Deal 1/(1+1.17) = .461 or 46.1 % of his total life and the target dies.

For the second tick, 0.3X + 0.39X is dealt. This means that any damage in the second tick is
amplified by 69%. It is gibberish to calculate
how much to deal for a kill, since the first tick deals damage by itself.

For the third tick, 0.3X is dealt. So that's only 30% amplification. Only? That's Dirge's ultimate !

Now, the casting range is easily visualized. I now quote de_dust, for it is only fair that he gets the
full credit for this:


C.3. Maledict
A major reason why we pick Vol'Jin. After magic resistance, Maledict will increase the damage
dealt to a hero before the fourth second by around 120%. It is like Reaper Scythe with different
mechanics: we curse someone, we deal a half of his HP in 5-6 seconds, he dies. Its long
cooldown (35 seconds), super tiny AoE (150), and short casting range (450) make this skill
balanced enough for a non-ultimate spell.

::. Important Notes:

* It’s quite difficult to land this spell well. Here are some tips.
:. Be familiar with its casting range. It’s actually easy to visualize. Imagine a Maledict target
circle in front of your hero, the real casting range is exactly ahead that circle. Take a look at this:

The second circle is the real casting range, or the furthest you can cast Maledict directly. Always
get under Maledict’s range first then click in. Don’t reverse the order. It will just decrease the
chance of hitting.
:. The safest way to cast Maledict is when your target’s stunned (either by your own Cask or your
ally’s stun). All you need is just waiting until the Cask hits. It’s not a difficult task.
* Maledict does NOT affect images.
* Maledict is NOT a debuff. Purge and Mirror Image do NOT dispel it.
* Maledict is NOT a poison. The cursed hero cannot be denied.
* Always look at the animation after casting Maledict at a single hero. If the cursed animation
does not appear, don’t waste your Ward. Either you missed or the hero is an illusion.
* Heal can immensely negate Maledict's effect as long as the hero doesn't receive a lot of damage
again after healing.
* Maledict will increase the damage dealt to a hero before the fourth second by 120%. If the
cursed hero receives small/no damage until second 4, Maledict will increase the damage dealt
before second 8 by around 70%. If he still receives small/no damage until second 8, Maledict
will increase the damage dealt before second 12 by 30% (view this Maledict’s Increased
Damage Table for the calculation).
* The easiest way is to make sure killing blow is by looking at the cursed hero’s health bar at
second 4 (which is when the first tick damage pops out). [/color]If he has lost 60% of his hp at
the beginning of the curse, he would die. The other killing blow numbers are 45% hp lost
before second 4 and 77% hp lost at second 8. With this piece of information you’ll be able to
share Death Ward’s damage more effectively (view this Maledict’s Killing Blow Table for the

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