A guide to Dota 2’s latest hero, Zet the Arc Warden
With the release of Dota 2’s massive December update, a new hero has entered the fray – Zet the Arc Warden. And unless you were still playing the original Dota back in 2012 when Zet was first released, chances are you’re not familiar with this hero. Arc Warden is a radiant agility hero typically played as a pusher, ganker, or carry.
Zet’s main strength is his ability to duplicate himself complete with all items and spells. In terms of playstyle, Arc Warden is closest to Meepo – another hero that spawns copies of himself, has high magic burst, and is great at pushing. Also similar to Meepo, Zet requires heavy micromanagement which makes him one of the more difficult heroes to learn and master.
Arc Warden is not your typical agility hero, and his stats reflect this. Zet has low starting agility and per-level gain – 15 + 1.8 agility per level, compared to 24 + 1.9 strength, and 24 + 2.1 intelligence. This unusually high strength and intelligence makes Zet relatively tanky early game and allows him to use his spells often. Although Warden has low base damage (45), his attack range of 625 is one of the highest in the game. His movespeed is average at 295 and he starts out with 0 armor.
All of Zet’s abilities are active and require careful use to have the most impact.
Deals 15-60 damage per second to the target enemy and slows by 50% for 6 seconds; the effect is muted if another enemy unit is within 225 range. 20 Sec cooldown.
This is Zet’s main damage ability. To prevent enemy heroes from removing the effect, it’s best to harass them with auto attacks and planting down Spark Wraiths to force them to move. You can stack flux twice on the same enemy by using your ultimate, causing heavy damage.
Generates a small field which gives 100% evasion and 50-80 attack speed to allied heroes and units inside for 3.5-5 seconds. 50 Sec cooldown.
This spell is best used for team fights and for pushing. It’s particularly useful against heroes that rely on auto attacks for most of their damage.
Summons a Spark Wraith that slowly materializes and haunts a targeted area until an enemy comes within its range. Once a target has been found the wraith fuses with them, dealing 150-300 magical damage. 4 Sec cooldown.
With a cast range of 2000, this spell is very versatile. You can use it to kill players in combination with the slow provided by Flux, and also for map control to anticipate ganks, cover the rune spots, zone out specific areas, and set up traps with multiple Wraiths stacked on one spot.
Summons a copy of Arc Warden with all items and spells off cooldown; cannot use Tempest Double itself; lasts 20 seconds. 65-55 Sec cooldown.
This is the core ability for Arc Warden. It allows you to use all of your items twice (think Necronomicon, Manta Style, Boots of Travel, etc.) and makes it easy to push lanes, pick off lone heroes, and help in team fights.
The standard way to build Zet is E-Q-Q-E-Q-R-Q-E-E-W-R-W-W-W
Spark Wraith is typically taken first to secure the first bounty rune. Rank 1 of Magnetic Field can be picked up at level 4 if you’re facing a hero that is dependent on auto attacks, otherwise it’s better to level it last.
Position & Role
The ideal way to play Arc Warden is mid – this will allow you to farm up a quick Midas, while also making the best use of your Flux and Spark Wraith to control the runes and pick up kills on the opposing mid player. Alternatively, Zet can also be played as a safe lane carry. In terms of role, Zet is a very versatile hero – he mixes elements of a pusher, ganker, and carry.
There are 2 main options for starting items with Zet – the regen-heavy or the stat-heavy route. The regen starting items include 1-2 clarities, 1 stack of tangos, 1 iron branch, and a mango or faerie fire. This is usually best if you’re planning to set up a Spark Wraith trap to get first blood at the rune as the game begins. The second way is to pick up a Wrath Ring along with 1 stack of tangos or faerie fire – this version will make it easier to last hit and give you better harassment. You can try out both options and see what you like best.
Assuming you went mid, the next item is bottle – not only is Warden a mana intensive hero, but he also has better rune control thanks to the Spark Wraith skill. After this you pick up boots.
Hand of Midas
Midas is the most important item for Zet, and should be picked up after you complete your early game items. Arc Warden gets almost 3 times the value out of Hand of Midas compared to other heroes, because it can be used by your Tempest Double every 55-65 seconds. Whereas other heroes get 114 GPM from Midas, Warden gets about 304 GPM. This huge gold boost is really what makes the hero work, given Zet’s reliance on items.
Boots of Travel
Boots of travel is another core item for Arc Warden, because they allow you to split push effectively and be at two places at once. You can use your Tempest Double to teleport and push one lane, while using your main hero to team fight, defend a tower, or push another lane.
Manta Style and Necronomicon
These 2 items are incredibly good on Arc Warden because they spawn additional units, meaning that when you pair them up with Tempest Double, you get a 4 illusions from Manta, and 4 creeps from Necronomicon. Although they are more suited towards pushing, they are great for playing as a ganker/carry as well. In addition, you also get the bonus of True Sight to reveal wards and invisible units, and the dispel effect of Manta.
If you’re really confident about your micro skills, the slow and purge from diffusal blade will make it a lot easier for all your illusions and creeps to kill an enemy hero. Great for a ganking-oriented build.
Black King Bar
If you’re up against a team with multiple burst and CC spell effects, BKB is always a solid choice. It is especially useful if you decide to go the currently-popular Divine Rapier build.
This is a decent luxury citem if you’re looking to focus on bursting enemy heroes for fast kills, giving a total of 1600 magic damage.
This item can be picked up if you’re really comfortable with the heavy micromanagement required to play Arc Warden. Blink Dagger will make it easier to secure kills and push safely.
Monkey King Bar
Great carry item to boost your low damage and get twice the effectiveness out of the mini-stun thanks to your Tempest Double.
Great for pushing because of negative armor aura and attack speed, and also boosts your very low base armor.
Divine Rapier is usually not an item you want to buy on any hero, but the great thing about Arc Warden is that you can use it indirectly through your Tempest Double, since it will not drop it upon death. Meanwhile, you can use your actual hero safely to avoid losing the Rapier.
At the beginning of the game, you will want to secure yourself a bounty rune by using Spark Wraith. Although you can also try to set up a trap by stacking several Wraiths in an area that is difficult to see (like up a ramp on your side of the river), it is usually better to just place several Wraiths right on top of the rune spawn.
The laning phase is typical of most mid heroes – your aim is to pick up farm quickly while trying to kill the opposing mid, and secure runes with Spark Wraith. Using a combination of Flux, Wraiths, and auto attacks can easily net you a kill against most mid heroes.
Once you get your Midas and hit level 6, you will want to use Tempest Double every time it’s up to get free Midas gold. From this point on, you will start to get gold very quickly and can begin to push lanes or participate in ganks and team fights. It is ideal to pick up your Necronomicon next, and then finish your Boots of Travel, at which point your hero really comes online.
Tips & Tricks
- Any usable item can be utilized twice thanks to your Tempest Double. Even something as simple as using your Double’s bottle on yourself or an ally is very helpful
- You should be using your ultimate every time it’s up to get optimal gold, and to get a free use out of items like Necronomicon
- Whenever you use your Double, make sure to cast his spells as well. Spark Wraiths should be spammed off cooldown to provide vision and help push and pick up kills, while Flux can be combined on one target for double the damage
- Stacking Spark Wraiths in trees, ramps, and other spots where the enemy won’t have much vision can create deadly traps that could kill unaware players instantly
- Magnetic Field works on friendly buildings, allowing you to protect them for a short period of time
Arc Warden is a unique and versatile hero that can carry, push, and gank effectively, but requires lots of micromanagement. You will probably not dominate with him right away, so it’s a good idea to try Zet out in normal games before picking him in ranked. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the Dotabuff page of Vaxa – the #1 ranked Arc Warden player in Dota 2. He currently holds a 79% win ratio with the hero, and you can check out his item and skill build, and look up match IDs to watch one of his replays. Good luck and have fun!