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Silencer went under the radar of most players, despite a series of buffs starting in 7.13b. This hero suffers from the lack of identity, with community divided on whether he should be played as a support or as a core. While we do not have the statistics for exact distribution of support or core Silencer, we know that he is least successful when played mid and most successful when played in the offlane, probably as a position four support.
Once again, the shift to dual lanes made the hero better in the current meta. Much like Crystal Maiden becomes more efficient if multiple targets are hit with Crystal Nova, so is Silencer is at his best when applying Arcane Curse to two or more enemies.
Laning stage in Dota is currently less about killing and more about being efficient, denying as much XP from the enemy as possible, while getting as much gold as you can. Dual lanes became the norm once the deny XP got changed from 70% to 25%: in 7.07 it became possible to starve out the enemy offlaner so much, that he would end up at level two or three, five minutes into the game.
This necessity for efficiency introduced several new heroes to the meta: heroes like Warlock and Skywrath Mage both could freely use their spells to harass, without worrying too much about their mana pool. You want to zone out the enemy or sustain your core teammate, therefore constant harassment is preferable in lane to hard disables on a longer cooldown, which are better suited for killing. It is unsurprising that both aforementioned heroes received manacost nerfs on their spammable abilities, once players figured out ways to abuse their lane prowess.
Silencer remained unnoticed until after the nerfs occured, but supports already got used to the idea of constant harassment and they needed to find new ways to support this playstyle. Much like Crystal Maiden and Dazzle, Silencer can be a very efficient harasser and scales reasonably well as a support.
This is the ability that made Silencer so good in the current meta, allowing him to become the 3rd most successful support in the 5k+ bracket. It deals 96 damage +80 damage per penalty, if the enemy uses spells. It is also a reasonable slow at later levels and should generally be be maxed out first.
96 damage for a level one nuke is already on a decent side, but the fact that it also discourages enemies from using their spells makes laning against Silencer very uncomfortable. The hero is using his spells to harass, while you can’t or don’t want to. Even mobility spells, which are usually the saving grace in these situations, come with a hefty punishment—a single use of an ability turns Arcane Curse in a 176 magical damage DoT and it is easily one of the most punishing harassing tools in the game.
But there is also the sustain aspect, and Arcane Curse is amazing in this regard as well: With a 75 manacost on a hero with a 450 manapool at the start of the game, it can be used 6 times, without any issues. Taking into account mana regen and any mana-restoring items, this can easily turn into 10+ uses in the first 5 minutes, amounting to at least 960 magical damage on each target. For comparison, CM and Warlock can use their Crystal Nova and Shadow Word only three times, without taking into account mana regeneration.
This ability was nerfed quite heavily 7.07, only to be somewhat restored in 7.13b. At level one it currently deals 25% of Silencer’s intelligence, so if it is taken at level 2, it will add 7 pure damage to your hits. The reason to consider it at level 2 is not necessarily the damage, however. It is the ability to harass the enemy without drawing the creep aggro, maintaining the lane equilibrium.
When used as a spell, Glaives of Wisdom won’t be registered as an auto-attack, hence won’t force the enemy creeps to attack Silencer. This provides a massive advantage in the laning stage, since it prevents or punishes the enemy for retaliating. Under the effects of Arcane Curse, the enemy is discouraged from using his spells. When Silencer is using Glaives of Wisdom to harass the enemy, standing inside the creep wave, it discourages the enemy from auto-attacking back, as they will get aggroed and push the lane. It is a lose-lose situation for the enemy and as long as you don’t get overconfident, you should be able to win most laning matchups as Silencer.
Our stats show that most players ignore the level 2 Glaives of Wisdom in favor of Last Word and it is a mistake. Looking at the guides section, you can see that most professional and high-level pub players tend to take Glaives at level 2 or even level 1.
150 damage for 115 mana with a three second Silence at level 1—this ability would be truly amazing, if there wasn’t so much counterplay to it. With a massive 28 second cooldown and delayed effect, this ability only truly shines in teamfights and early game skirmishes, while not adding much to the laning stage.
Most of the time this ability is maxed out second, since there is really no reason for extra points in Glaives on a support Silencer. It is obviously best used on caster heroes without access to dispels and is notable for its massive cast range of 900—something that can allow for delayed counter-initiations.
It also synergises quite well with Silencer’s ultimate, since by placing the curse on top of an already silenced enemy will extend the silence duration, without allowing the enemy to react.
What is also worth mentioning, is that Arcane Curse gets paused, while the target is Silenced. While it stops dealing damage, it doesn’t stop slowing the enemy and a 18% slow that can last for 15+ seconds can be very annoying. Be vary, though, that silencing a fleeing enemy under the effect of Arcane Curse can allow them to use Blink Dagger, if there is no extra damage.
Finally, there is ultimate. Like all global spells, it really can’t be overestimated—it can allow for great turnarounds, follow-ups and counter-initiation preventions. Obviously, there are many tools in the game that can allow the enemy to ignore the effects of Global Silence, hence it should be used in a timely manner.
Silence can be dispelled and that is a problem. But the sheer fact that presence of the Silencer in the game already forces the enemy to account for it in their itemization is already an advantage. Queen of Pain is scarier with an Orchid, rather than with an Eul’s, but she definitely wants the latter in the game against Silencer. Naturally, enemy Tidehunter can build Greaves to ensure he has a way of counter-initiating, if he gets Silenced, but it also means he doesn’t have a Shiva’s as early. There is counterplay to Global Silence, but it has an opportunity cost. Just make sure you don’t overcommit dispellable resources on a single target that is already forced to use its defensive tools.
This ability, much like Dazzle’s Shallow Grave, also makes Silencer a priority target for the enemy team. Stay in the trees and out of vision, have sentries to deward highground vision from the enemy and don’t step out to use your measly +10 pure damage auto-attacks to “deal damage”. It is not worth it. All Silencer’s spells have a massive range—900 on Last Word and 1000+AoE on Arcane Curse. Use it to your advantage, stay safe and only consider stepping out of the shadows if you have already used your spells or need to save a teammate with Force Staff.
Almost 54% winrate and almost 10% popularity in the most competitive bracket tells us that this hero is definitely worth playing and exploring. Give us your own tips for playing Silencer in the comment section below and good luck climbing the MMR ladder.