Viper’s skills have been reworked in 7.07. Let’s learn how the changes affected his gameplay, lane phase, and item build. Finally, we will examine his talents.
The 7.07 Viper is still powerful in the lane phase, but isn’t anymore a lane dominator as the old one.
- Corrosive Skin no longer slows movement speed. Now it deals more damage from level 2 onwards, but the movement speed slow was great against ranged and magic heroes as the ability is activated also by spells.
- He can’t permanently poison his adversary anymore. Before, Poison Attack costed 20 mana and had a 0 seconds cooldown. Now, you need at least 2 levels for a 4 seconds cooldown and 35 mana cost.
- Don’t level up the new Nethertoxin during the lane stage. The mana cost is excessive and the enemies won’t just stand in the area. You could use it against some melee heroes, but I still think it isn’t worth spending any point in the early game. Even with a Ring of Aquila and some clarities the mana regeneration isn’t enough.
- An agility hero with the skills of a caster. Viper’s skill set is just too expensive mana-wise for his basic mana regen. IceFrog had to modify his INT gain as now he just can’t make use of his new abilities in lane.
Viper is not a weak laner
Before he could passively win the lane, while now more efforts are required, and long range midders such as Queen of Pain or Sniper have the upper hand against him.
A different playstyle with Nethertoxin
Prior 7.07, Viper’s contribution to the match slowly faded after the lane phase if he couldn’t acquire an adequate number of kills. Now, he doesn’t rely anymore only on that aggressive gameplay but is a more versatile hero.
If you missed the patch notes, Nethertoxin is now an AoE ability that releases poison in a 300 range area: it deals damage over time, disables passive abilities, and reduces the magic resistance of the enemies affected.
Thanks to the AoE damage of Nethertoxin Viper can easily kill entire creep waves and farm multiple stacks of neutrals in the jungle. If possible, ask the supports to stack a camp or two.
DPS and magic builds
With all the adjustments to talents and skills, now Viper can be played as an auto-attacker, a magic user, or even adopt a hybrid build.
Ring of Aquila and Dragon Lance, later on upgraded in Hurricane Pike, are indispensable in both builds as they help the hero with some vital statistics, range, and mobility.
You can either choose the Power Treads or the Phase Boots. The former grants more health points and attack speed, and you can switch stats for some extra mana before using a skill; the latter is helpful when kiting and chasing thanks to the extra movement speed.
The build depends from the game and your preferences. I will describe some of the most popular picks.
- An early Veil of Discord is very efficient for the magic build, and in the late game you can take the Shiva’s Guard and the Octarine Core.
- The Maelstrom works on both builds and it also heightens your farming speed.
- Sange and Yasha is effective on the dps build: the slow via Greater Main and the extra movement speed are excellent both offensively and defensively, and the item also provides some useful stats.
- A Rod of Atos is excellent if you need extra utility - it can block an opponent in your Nethertoxin.
- The Aghanim’s Scepter is a must on the magic build, but you should consider it even as a dps when dealing with very mobile heroes.
For the dps build, avoid raw damage and give priority to stats: the Butterfly is your best choice in the late game. I love the Eye of Skadi as well for the extra slow, stats, and survivability.
Buy defensive items such as a Black King Bar, Blade Mail, Pipe of Insight, Linken’s Sphere, etc. whenever necessary.
Some players are also building the Radiance and the Kaya. I don’t like them. The former is strong when snowballing, the latter increases your magic damage and helps with mana usage.
The Kaya is perhaps worth it if your skills are the main contributors behind the team’s magic damage and you are engaged in prolonged fights.
Viper’s abilities already deal lots of damage in the mid game. The item build should primarily boost your survivability and utility. Movement speed is truly relevant for the dps build, while damage is your last necessity.
The pick and win rate statistics after each talent refer to pub games in all skill rating brackets. Viper received no further changes in 7.07b and 7.07c.
- +20 Attack Speed - 44.4% pick rate; 48.4% win rate
- +8% Spell Lifesteal - 55.6% pick rate; 50.1% win rate
8% spell lifesteal isn’t that much - the Octarine Core gives 25% - but is nevertheless valuable for the magic build. As a dps this is a tough pick, but I would still get the spell lifesteal as 20 attack speed is really negligible.
The level 10 talent isn’t as strong as the one of other heroes, undoubtedly because Viper is already a prodigious pick in the early and mid game.
- +100 Attack Range - 66.5% pick rate; 50% win rate
- +6 Corrosive Skin - 33.5% pick rate; 52.2% win rate
Note that +6 on Corrosive Skin means that all its effects are intensified by 6: magic resistance, damage per second, and attack speed slow. It works when you need more survivability, while the attack range is better for a pure auto-attacker build.
- Poison Attack Affects Buildings - 24% pick rate; 59.5% win rate
- +100 Viper Strike DPS - 76% pick rate; 52.8% win rate
Both are fine choices. With the Viper Strike talent plus the Aghanim, you can deal 1225 magic damage (before resistances) in 5 seconds while also slowing attack and movement speed of the target by 80%. It has only a 10 seconds cooldown, and magic immunity doesn’t stop the effect neither prevent the damage.
Viper Strike dps is the best option in most games, especially if you have an Aghanim’s Scepter. Instead, Poison Attack on buildings is great situationally, when your team requires a hero that can siege the tier 3 towers from a safe distance.
If you bought a Dragon Lance and got the level 15 talent +100 attack range, you will be able to destroy them from outside the enemy attack range.
- +120 Damage - 52.2% pick rate; 60.5% win rate
- Nethertoxin Silences - 47.8% pick rate; 56.7% win rate
With the magic build always take the Nethertoxin silence; with the dps one you can select both. If you need more damage in the late game, +120 can help, but don’t underestimate the potential of the AoE silence.
Nethertoxin has only a 300 radius, but it already blocks the enemy passives, and now you can also add an undispellable silence on top of it. Many heroes will be countered by this variant of Riki’s Smoke Screen.
The issue is that at this point of the match many heroes have mobility items to escape from it such as a Force Staff, and of course a Black King Bar will completely counter it. Your choice also depends from the items possessed by the rival team.
Vincenzo is an esports writer with five years of experience. Former head editor for Natus Vincere, he has produced content for DreamHack, FACEIT, DOTAFire, 2P, and more. Follow him on @SkulzDota.