- Very high physical DPS
- A lot of ranged units
- Directly counters Elves
- Great late-game control units
- Possible to snipe important enemy spell casters
Hunters are a very underestimated strategy. Unlike other lineups that rely on overwhelming the opponents with extremely high attack damage (i.e. Assassins), Hunters are actually very strong in the late game due to two main factors:
The goal is to get to the (3) or (6) Hunters bonus, which helps your ranged backline Hunters shred enemy units in no time. The (3) bonus gives your Hunters 30 damage and 30% chance to pierce evasion. The (6) bonus – an additional 40 damage and 40% chance to pierce evasion (total 70 DMG nad 58% chance to pierce Evasion).
To provide them with enough time to do their job, you need to have a good frontline with control as well as good positioning.
Drow Ranger: 1
Gold, Undead, Hunter
Drow provides nothing groundbreaking, but she gives a lot of value for the low cost mainly thanks to her Undead tribal. It's easy to get the (2) Undead bonus early on combining her with Abaddon or later on – with Necrophos. The armored reduction works great combined with the high physical DPS of the Hunters. Since her ability is a passive, she‘s a good Mask of Madness carrier.
2 Gold, Orc, Hunter
He’s so good that he often gets used even without other Hunters. He’s the only real frontline Hunter in the early-mid game, which makes him even more useful in Hunter lineups. He is an Orc, which means he‘s great when combined with Axe or Jugg in the early game to establish your frontline before you start building your damage-dealing backline.
Sniper: 3 Gold, Dwarf, Hunter
Good physical damage and high range, but he effectively doesn‘t have a Race synergy, which is a big drawback. His ability is also not amazing because it has a long casting animation and doesn‘t effectively increase his DPS a lot because he stops attacking for a long time to cast it. Consequently, you’d usually prefer to include other Hunters in your lineup instead of Sniper. That said, if the RNG gods are insistent, an upgraded Sniper is still better than a non-upgraded alternative.
Gold, Elf, Hunter
Below average DPS and ability, but she is an Elf, which makes her valuable if you‘re trying to build towards Elves + Hunters (there are two Hunters who are also Elves). Arguably she is the second least valuable Hunter after Sniper.
Windranger: 3 Gold, Elf, Hunter
She is the best mid game hunter and a hero you almost always want to include in a Hunter lineup regardless if you’re going for the (3) or (6) synergy. She has high auto attack DPS and her Powershot, albeit a bit unreliable, deals very high AoE damage. Try to position her in a corner so that she uses her ability diagonally and hits as many units as possible. She is a good unit to put spell damage items on.
Gold, Naga, Hunter
One of the overall best units in the game is also a Hunter, which makes her a must. She gives you crowd control in the late game and also increases the damage your other units deal during the Stone Gaze duration. When she is one star, put her in the back lines ideally with an item like Voidstone. Medusa deals much more damage in a Hunters lineups than in others, which means she charges her Stone Gaze faster than in other lineups. When you upgrade her to two/three stars you can afford to put her in front to activate her ultrasound ASAP if you need to.
The best late game tank. Together with Medusa, he gives you a lot of Crowd Control, which provides your high single-target DPS units with enough time to bring down important targets (ideally your opponents frontline control units). Moreover, Tide + Medusa give you the two Nagas bonus – extremely useful in the late game against all kinds of lineups and especially against Mages, who are currently very popular.
The early game is mostly about building a frontline. In that sense the only really important Hunter is Beastmaster, and the easiest way to build a durable frontline is to combine him with another Orc, usually in addition to two other Warriors. With the frontline secured, you can aim to get your (3) Hunters bonus from two backline damage dealers like e.g. Drow + Windranger.
Of course, other openings are possible. Grabbing a few Knights in the early game will allow you to get the (2) Undead bonus early on from Drow + Abaddon, which is extremely powerful with the high physical damage of Hunters. Bear in mind that even Beastmaster’s ultimate deals physical damage.
Last but not least, never underestimate a Goblin-Mech opening. A Goblins frontline is very durable and in the mid game will buy your Hunters a lot of time to deal damage freely. In the late game, however, you’ll probably have to start replacing your Goblins with better units to finalize your lineup.
A Druid/Elf opening is also possible, but you will usually end up with a (6) Elves (3) Hunters lineup rather than the other way around.
In the mid game,
your lineup usually has (3) Hunters + a durable frontline. As in all strats,
from this point on you need to start visualizing your end-game lineup and start
building towards it while also managing your economy. A good economy will help
you get to a higher courier level faster, which will give you access to Medusa
and Tide sooner, which are the two key heroes to secure the (6) Hunters lineup.
Positioning is even more important for Hunters compared to other strats for two reasons:
Frontline: Beastmaster, Axe, Jugg, Disruptor, Tide, Doom
Backline: Windranger, Sniper, Mirana, Medusa
Synergy: (6) Hunters, (4) Orcs, (3) Warriors, (2) Nagas, (1) Demon
Your early game frontline consists of Beastmaster + Jugg or Axe (ideally both). This will give you the (2) Orcs bonus. It’s a good idea to grab another Warrior to get the (3) Warriors bonus as well, which will give you a very durable frontline.
Afterward, you want to reach the (3) Hunters bonus. Since you are not going for (2) Undead, Drow who is a staple in all other Hunter lineups is not 100% necessary here. You can still go for her, of course, but in this example, we use Windranger + Mirana/Sniper (depending on who you get first).
With your midgame lineup set, you’ll slowly try to get upgrades, to grow your economy and to increase your courier level.
In the late game, your goal is to reach (6) Hunters, with Medusa and Tide being the key two units. Use Medusa on the backlines (ideally with Void Stone) – you have a good enough frontline, and with the (6) Hunters bonus she deals decent damage.
Once done with the Hunters, go for Disruptor to finalize your (4) Orcs. You’ll most likely have to sell or bench your 3rd Warrior – don’t worry too much, the armor bonus is not that significant at this point. If you reach lvl10, you can always restore the bonus with Doom or Kunkka.
Abaddon, Tide, Alch
Midline: DP, Necro, Medusa
Backline: Drow, Windranger, Mirana
Synergy: (6) Hunters, (4) Undead, (3) Warlocks
The opening is Knights into Hunters. The key early game units are Abaddon, Drow Ranger, and Beastmaster. Typically you’ll start with a Batrider to get the (3) Knights bonus ASAP, but you’ll sell him for a better Knight.
In the mid game, you usually go for (3) Knights, (3) Hunters and (4) Undead with the help of Lich. This gives you a great power spike on lvl8 and matures your lineup sooner rather than later.
In the late game, you can invest in another Naga (ideally Tide) for the (2) Nagas bonus. Switching Lich for Death Prophet is also a great ideal - the unit is stronger, it preserves the (4) Undead bonus, and it opens up the option to go for (3) Warlocks.
If the game goes super late and you think that you need more damage, you can choose to start replacing your Knights with more Hunters in order to reach the (6) Hunters bonus in the super-late game.
Beastmaster, Anti-Mage, Templar Assassin, Treant
Backline: Windranger, Mirana, Furion
Synergies: (6) Elves, (3) Hunters, (in the late game (6) Hunters, (2) Nagas)
Elves into Hunters is a relatively easy progression simply because both tribes share two heroes (Mirana and Windranger). This means you can get to (6) Elves + (3) Hunters only with seven units and to (6) Elves (6) Hunters with ten.
Moreover, Elves are a defensive synergy (provide a strong frontline), while Hunters are offensive (provide damage). Moreover, Elves suffer against magic damage in the late game, yet with Hunters, you have Tide + Medusa for the (2) Nagas magic resistance bonus.
Although it is theoretically possible to start the game with (6) Hunters and (3) Elves, we don’t recommend it. In the early-mid game, you shouldn’t have Medusa + Tide, which are two key Hunters in the late game. Moreover, building a solid frontline is more important in the early-mid game, which makes Elves better.
Because of this, in the mid game your lineup will usually look like the one above. You open up with Druids into Elves + Beastmaster. You complete the (6) Elves in the mid game, but make sure you include Mirana and Windranger to unlock the (3) Hunters bonus as well.
In the late game, completing your lineup is quite straightforward. Get Tide + Medusa + one additional Hunter.
Make sure you have a good economy – you need 10 heroes to finalize your lineup, staying on lvl9 will make your army significantly weaker. That said, (6) Elves + (3) Hunters is often good enough to secure you a good spot in the lobby. Since you'll have Druids, it's very easy to include three-star Ench + Druid for (6) Elves + (3) Hunters + (2) Beasts, which will give you a complete lineup without requiring you to get to lvl10.
Special thanks go to our sponsors, EGB, who make publishing free content like this possible. If you are into esports betting you should visit them - they offer great live odds and many bonuses on professional Dota 2 matches as well as all other popular esports titles! Maybe someday you'll be able to bet on Auto Chess matches as well!