- Insane sustain, making your entire lineup extremely hard to kill. Some warlocks that deal good AoE damage (Disruptor, Shadow Fiend) can heal two (or more with the Ace bonus) units to full health almost instantly.
Since the Warlock rework Warlocks have become arguably the most common and useful secondary synergy for multiple strategies. The sustain they provide is insane, making any strategy with Warlocks much more survivable.
The goal of including Warlocks in a strategy is quite simple – sustain. Every time a Warlock’s ultimate triggers, it links with a low-health unit and both heroes start healing. The more Warlocks you have, the more often they will cast their spells and trigger the lifesteal. Moreover, the more Warlocks you have, the stronger the heal.
The problem about the Alliance is that the cheap heroes are individually weak (squishy and don’t deal good damage), which makes it very hard to build a Warlocks lineup straight away. The solution is to build Warlocks as a secondary Alliance for your main strat.
(2) Warlock Heroes: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 50% of the damage dealt.
(4) Warlock Heroes: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 70% of the damage dealt.
(6) Warlock Heroes: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 100% of the damage dealt.
Warlocks have two main problems that make them hard to build: the early game Warlocks are squishy and deal low damage. This means that if you start buying only Warlocks right away you will end up with a very weak army and will have serious early and mid game problems, which is something you need to avoid. So, in order to build a successful strategy with Warlocks, first you need to think about building a lineup with a decent frontline and damage output.
Although there are various options, the quickest way to include Warlocks in your draft is with Venomancer. He is a Savage Warlock and allows you to get to the (2) Warlocks bonus in the early game with the help of Witch Doctor and/or Shadow Fiend. It's a great idea to use Veno's Savage synergy early on to give yourself a strong early-mid game draft. Getting to (4) Warlocks isn't a priority. You can sit on two for the early-mid game, and then get more Warlocks later on to increase your late-game strength.
This is a great example of a lvl8 Savage-Warrior-Warlock core strategy.
You have three Warlocks in total, one of which Necro, which gives you very good sustain. At the same time, the (3) Warrior frontline gives you the needed tankiness. Last but not least, (4) Savage, especially with the summons of Veno + Lycan, give you the needed damage to dominate the early-mid game and reach this point (lvl8) with good economy and health total.
As you can see, you are not in a rush to reach (4) Warlocks - this is your plan for the late game, when you will include Disruptor for the powerful Warlocks Ace effect.
Here is an example from a game where you reach (4) Warlocks sooner:
You gain the (4) Warlock bonus sooner for better sustain, but get only two levels of the Savage synergy. In one level we will include a third Warrior (ideally Tide). In the late game, the standard plan from this point is to replace Veno with Disruptor to gain the Ace bonus. Your other options are flexible, but you'll likely also want to replace Lycan since you won't use the Savage bonus anymore.
The strategy we'll focus on is the currently extremely popular Warriors + Warlocks which uses the powerful Disrutor Ace bonus for sustain + Troll Warlord for damage. That said, Warlocks are flexible and it's possible to include (4) Warlocks in other kinds of strategies.
A relatively standard (6) Warriors + (4) Warlocks end-game draft. Troll + Disruptor gives you the Warlock Ace bonus, making your already tanky lineup (with the Warrior and Scaled bonuses) almost unkillable, while Troll Warlord with the (2) Troll and (2) Heartless bonus gives the entire lineup a lot of damage.
The strategy is similar in its basic idea as the (6) Warriors + Warlocks build. The (6) Scrappy bonus gives you a lot of tankines, while the (4) Warlocks - a lot of sustain. The difference is that you can have (6) Scrappy + (4) Warlocks on lvl9 thanks to Alchemist. This leaves you one open slot for e.g. Troll Warlord for more DPS. That said, it's viable to sit on lvl9 and to try to find three-star upgrades.
The drawback of this strat compared to the Warrior strat is that it's harder to get secondary synergies like the Scaled bonus (which si great versus mages). The benefit is that with the (4) Inventor + ideally Techies you have a lot of nuke damage that can win you the game.
Example: Bebe plays a Warlock-Warrior late-game draft but instead of going for the full (6) Warriors, he fets Enigma + Arc Warden. They give him the (2) Shaman bonus and Arc is a powerful additional Carry.
Below you will see another variation of a (4) Warlock late game draft:
This one is much less standard but I decided to include it to show that (4) Warlocks could be integrated into other strategies succesfully - in this case, Hunters + Savage.
The player in this example decided to keep his (4) Savage units because he has Summoning stone and Veno, Lycan, and Lone benefit from it a lot. The (3) Hunter bonus make Lycan even stronger (he is a three-star upgrade priority).
Getting a three-star Disruptor is extremely unusual, but the draft functions fine with a two-star Disruptor. Moreover, the frontline positioning is unusual (you'd usually want to swap the places of Disruptor and Lycan), but in this case, the player is trying to avoid the Human silence of his opponent on Disruptor.
(It's worth mentioning that in the late game you usually want your units more spread-out to avoid big AoE abilities and spells.)
Warlock: 1g, Blood-Bound, Warlock
By far the weakest Warlock. You can use him temporarily in the very early game and replace him later on. The only case in which you want to keep him is if you are running a Blood-Bound strategy or if you want to reach the (6) Warlocks bonus.
Venomancer: 1g, Savage, Warlock
A key early-game Warlock if you want to use the Savage bonus to gain an early-mid game advantage. If you are running (4) Warlocks in your final draft, you usually want to replace him. This means it's not a good idea to try to three-star him.
Decent source of control. He is also a Troll and a Warlock, which makes it easy to get (2) Trolls bonus in the late game with the help of Troll Warlord. In Knight Drafts, he can give you the (2) Troll bonus quicker with Bat Rider.
Shadow Fiend: 3g, Demon, Warlock
The biggest damage-dealer out of all Warlocks thanks to his ultimate and Demon bonus. His other great strength is that when he casts Requiem of Souls, he instantly heals himself and the linked unit. That said, he's also one of the squishiest Warlocks so sometimes he dies before he's able to finish his casting animation. If you are running Warriors, you usually don't want to use him because Doom also gives decent damage, but more utility with his ult.
Necro: 4g, Heartless, Warlock
The heal from his ult combined with the heal from the Warlock synergy is insane. Moreover, he is Heartless, which makes it very easy to get the (2) Heartless armor reduction bonus.
Alchemist: 4g, Scrappy, Warlock
The main reason it's very easy to run Warlocks in a Scrappy draft. He's very tanky, and his ultimate reduces the armor of enemies in a big area, which synergizes extremely well with the armor reduction from the (2) Heartless bonus that Necro gives you.
The Ace of Warlocks. Including him in your draft enables your Warlocks to link to additional heroes if you have the (4) or (6) Warlock bonus. This is an insane late-game power-spike and the main reason why (4) Warlocks with Disruptor are extremely strong in any late-game build. His ultimate also shouldn't be underestimated - the big AoE silence is game-breaking if you can trigger it before enemies trigger their own ultimates. Because of this, you usually want to frontline Disruptor, but next to other tanky units so that he doesn't die before he manages to cast.
Bracers of Desperation: warlocks are all about casting their spells as much as possible to heal theri allies. Bracer is extremely powerful on any Warlock with a good ultimate (most notably Disruptor).
Refresher: follows the exact same logic as Bracers but while Bracers are great on units on the frontline, Refresher is a works better on units further back. The high-priority target is still Disruptor - he simply has the best ultimate.
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