Friday, June 21, 2013

Let's Play (Part 3) - Juggernaut


Every week or two I generally try to play a new hero to discover what it’s like playing it, and in this series of blogs I will make a post on my experiences with it.

Release artwork for the Juggernaut


The Juggernaut is based off the character Grom Hellscream in Warcraft 3, a legendary Orc Blade Master and Chieftain of the Warsong Clan. Grom is remembered for both his failings and his valor - he was the first one to drink of the demon Mannaroth's blood, allowing himself and his clan to fall under the Burning Legion's control. Yet Grom ultimately redeemed himself by wresting his sanity back through sheer force of will, attacking and killing Mannaroth at the cost of his life, freeing the Orcs from the Burning Legion once and for all.

In DOTA2, the Juggernaut is a wily melee combatant with the ability to deal massive amounts of damage while avoiding retaliation. He can also heal his team, allowing them to mount a sustained assault on the enemy base or weather a prolonged siege.

Juggernaut is a classic hero that hasn't seen much change over the years. He currently has a 49% win ratio, yet is the 8th most picked hero (out of 101). He's generally seen as a fun to play and popular hero, yet well balanced.

This is probably my most played hero, currently standing at 33 wins and 17 losses, one of the best win rates I have on this account.


Highly lethal early and mid game. He is the quintessential snowball hero, capitalizing on his ability to score early kills to build an unstoppable advantage by mid-game.

Difficult to pin down and kill, with Bladefury giving him magic immunity and Omnislash giving him invulnerability nearly the entire fight.


Falls off in strength by lategame because his spells don't scale as well as other carries.

Most of his power is in his Omnislash, which can be counter-picked against or neutralized lategame with the correct items.


An interesting quirk of this skill is that the Juggernaut can land normal autoattacks during Bladefury - on targets that don't get affected by it. You can auto-attack things like buildings (towers, barracks) and siege engines while spinning next to them. You can't auto-attack magic immune heroes, though, since the heroes are still considered a valid target for Bladefury, it's just the damage they take is reduced to zero.

Healing Ward

Many people have wondered, why does an assassin type hero have a team healing ability? Isn't this completely counter to the entire concept of the Juggernaut?

I'll make a slight detour here to overall team strategy:

A common game mechanic between asymmetrical teams is that one will be the "Aggressor" and one will be the "Defender". The Defender has the better late game, they try to stall the game until they reach the point they can win. The Aggressor has the better early game, they need to try to win early. These roles are mutable and are only defined in relation to each other - a team with 1 hard carry might be the "Defender" when playing against a team with no hard carries, yet they might be the "Aggressor" when they play against a team with 2 hard carries.

Having a Juggernaut tends to put your team in the "Aggressor" role since the Juggernaut takes up farm yet isn't a hard carry himself - his power falls off late. If you carry out a successful gank and don't manage to take a tower, you may actually be putting yourselves further behind - since you've commited extra heroes to that gank, while the enemy hard carry gets free-farm in another lane, and the game isn't any closer to ending. This is the reason why the Juggernaut has the Healing Ward as a skill - it allows your gank team to heal up and immediately push the tower in the lane they just ganked.

As you can see the Healing Ward is a key ability on the Juggernaut and should be maxed after Bladefury. Practice placing the ward out of reach of enemies during teamfights, either by anticipating their movement or by hiding it in the trees or on high ground near the team clash. If you know the enemy has big initiators (Enigma, Magnus etc with a Blink Dagger) you can preemptively place it a bit further back then move it up so it heals your team through the initiation stuns.


This is a very simple skill, but a little forethought can go a long way towards maximizing its use.

1) There's nothing worse than seeing the enemy alone, starting your Omnislash, then having enemy creeps arrive from the fog and absorb your attacks. If you're ever not sure if there are enemy creeps approaching from the fog, check your own creeps in lane - their movement exactly mirrors the enemy creeps, so you can always know where the enemy creeps are.

2) You need to keep track of what skills your enemies have which avoid your Omnislash. Get into the habit of also checking the enemy inventory before you gank them - smart opponents will buy items such as Shadow Blade, Ghost Scepter, Force Staff, or Manta Style which can nullify your Omnislash. Bait them into using those items prematurely, then kill them.


Juggernaut synergizes well with heroes with disables and AOE nukes, as they allow him to land his Bladefury and Omnislash. He typically does well in an aggressive push oriented lineup.


There are many heroes which have abilities that negate your Bladefury and Omnislash. The full list is extensive, but generally involve abilities that grant invisibility, mobility, illusions / summons or invulnerability. Playing against them isn't impossible, but is definitely more difficult.

Item build

As a snowballing ganker, you want move speed and regeneration so you can gank continuously, and level advantage so you can continue killing your opponents. He is reliant on his Bladefury and Omnislash combination to kill. This is why it's vital he doesn't fall behind - if the enemy ekes out enough of a level and item advantage that they no longer die to his combo, the Juggernaut basically becomes useless for the rest of the game.

1) Movement and stats - Juggernaut needs the mobility provided by Phase Boots to position himself to use his Bladefury and Omnislash. He typically needs some Ironwood Branches at the start, because if he does not take any points in stats, he won't have enough mana pool at 6 to use Bladefury + Omnislash combo. Having some branches at the start allows him to take one level of Healing Ward instead of having to put two points in stats, and you can convert the branches into a Magic Wand, or just sell them. Key point on Phase Boots - the Phase movespeed effect cancels if you use a skill, so if you use Phase and then Bladefury it will dispel the Phase. The correct sequence is to use Bladefury first, then Phase, so you can get the advantage of extra movespeed and no collision, but that will not always be possible.


2) Lane sustain - As the Juggernaut is a snowballing carry, he needs regeneration in order to continuously threaten and kill his opponents. In fact you should build the regeneration portions of the items here even before finishing your Phase Boots. There are two possible choices, either a Battlefury or a Vladmir's Offering paired with an Urn of Shadows. The Battlefury is the more passive option, as it takes much longer to farm, and doesn't help his ganking or killing power - it primarily helps accelerate his farming. This is a dubious choice, as he finds it difficult to compete with true late-game carries anyway. The Vladmir's Offering and Urn combination is more aggressive, as it comes online earlier, and the Urn offers an extra source of nuke damage to finish opponents off if your combo doesn't kill them. Soul Ring and Medallion of Courage are notable alternatives, as the Juggernaut generally doesn't fear retaliation, but their following build up can be awkward.

3) By mid-game, realistically, your game should be more or less decided. Either you've secured a large advantage, or you haven't. From this point your hero power peak ends. The Juggernaut doesn't have the mobility or disables to dish out his substantial click damage effectively. As hero health pools and autoattack damage increase, Bladefury becomes obsolete, becoming a net DPS loss for you when used, leaving your Omnislash and Healing Wward as your main teamfight contribution. With that in mind the Aghanim's Scepter is a critical item for the Juggernaut, giving a big boost to your ultimate, adding 50% to its damage at level 2 (6 to 9 hits) as well as reducing its cooldown, and giving you a much bigger health and mana pool to freely use your Healing Ward. It depends on the pace of the game and enemy hero composition, but sometime it may be better to skip the Aghanim's and go straight for late game items.

 Realistically it doesn't matter too much what items you buy now, but in general, here are some good builds.

4) Vladmir's Offering and Urn into a "Push" build - the idea is that you build a Desolator and Assault Cuirass to stack armor debuff effects in order to win the game early with stronger pushes. You get the DPS trifecta in this build (Lifesteal from Vladmirs, Damage from Desolator, Attack speed from Assault Cuirass)

5) Battlefury into a "Dueller" build - with the accelerated farm you build a Butterfly, Helm of the Dominator and Skull Basher. You also get the DPS trifecta in this build (Lifesteal from Helm, Damage from Battlefury, Attack Speed from Butterfly) and you further get a hero lockdown in the form of the Skull Basher, which extends into an Abyssal Blade.