The Outlanders Update was a massive one. So massive that some players actually overlooked the fact that it added two new heroes to Dota 2.
Though Void Spirit is a fun new addition to the game, Snapfire is likely to have a higher impact at the professional level. However, with a unique set of spells it might be tough to figure out where she fits into the game.
Snapfire is just the fourth ranged strength hero in Dota 2, and the three that came before her all play very different roles that have shifted over the years. Her above-average stat gain makes her tankier than one would expect from a ranged hero, and spells that work off her right click suggest that she has potential as a carry.
But at her core, Snapfire is a roaming support with the ability to set up offensive maneuvers.
Snapfire’s three primary spells all have some manner of crowd control benefit.
Her Q, Scatterblast, is a solid magical nuke that deals damage in a cone-shaped AOE. It deals bonus damage to enemies close to Snapfire and has a 100% movement slow that lasts for one second. The damage can be upgraded with her level 15 talent, allowing her to deal up to 525 damage with the spell at close range. It can be upgraded again at level 25 to have an added three-second disarm.
Firesnap Cookie’s functionality came as something of a surprise. While her debut trailer hinted that the spell would be some sort of heal, the cookie instead causes an allied hero to leap forward, dealing damage and stunning enemies in an AOE. The cookie can be upgraded to give units 250 health on impact at level 15.
Lil’ Shredder, Snapfire’s E, sees her use the mounted turret on her dragon’s back. While the spell plays off her basic attack by offering increased range and attack speed, it fires six shots that deal a fixed amount of physical damage with an added attack speed debuff to enemies hit. The attack speed debuff also affects towers, making her a sneakily scary pusher.
Lil’ Shredder can be amplified in various ways. Items like Javelin give a cost-effective damage boost. The biggest upgrade comes at level 20 with her talent that allows players to swap out the fixed damage for her actual attack damage. Theoretically, this gives her some strong carry potential, but this requires much more investment.
Her Mortimer Kisses functions unique relative to other heroes in Dota 2. After being activated, her dragon shoots eight fireballs over six seconds. These fireballs deal damage over time and have a slow effect on enemies that step into their AOE. This ability can be upgraded at level 20 by doubling the slow effect, and again at level 25 shooting 16 fireballs instead of eight.
The big drawback to Mortimer Kisses is that while the spell is active, Snapfire is completely stationary. Making matters worse, she cannot shoot fireballs close to her, greatly limiting her ability to gank without a partner as the game progresses.
Snapfire has some carry potential, but she is most effectively used as a roaming support and an early to mid-game ganker. The combination of Firesnap Cookie, Scatterblast, and Lil’ Shredder gives her strong burst damage potential very early in the game.
Her spells are most effectively used by activating Lil’ Shredder while approaching an enemy.
Attack the enemy near the end of the spell’s duration, and follow up with a Firesnap Cookie stun and Scatterblast. If chained properly, Lil’ Shredder should come off cooldown after a few seconds, allowing for another volley of shots while pursuing the fleeing enemy. If done correctly, this four-spell sequence deals a whopping 1,230 damage at just level seven, and that’s without even using her ultimate.
Though armor will cut into this significantly, Blight Stone does proc with attacks from Lil’ Shredder, allowing Snapfire to burst down supports and wounded cores early on.
Maxing Lil’ Shredder by level seven is the way to go, followed by Scatterblast. Depending on team comp and farm, it may be worth foregoing Firesnap Cookie completely in favor of getting an extra level in Scatterblast.
In terms of items, Arcane Boots are a necessity for Snapfire. While Phase Boots offer greater pursuit potential and an extra bit of damage and armor, the expanded mana pool and ability to help allies with Arcane Boots is invaluable. Power Treads and Tranquil Boots are of little value.
As mentioned, an early Blight Stone will help negate enemies’ armor when attacking and also helps with her pushing ability. A naked Javelin is worth considering for Snapfire. For just 1,100 gold, each shot from Lil’ Shredder will have a 25% chance of dealing an extra 100 magical damage, which averages out to an extra 300 damage with two volleys.
Snapfire can do good work with just Arcane Boots and a Javelin, but she falls off precipitously after the mid game. Depending on the needs of the team, items like Mekansm, Pipe of Insight, and Rod of Atos are all solid options.
Snapfire’s was likely designed to be a support and she peaks between 10 and 20 minutes, which isn’t typically the timing one looks for from a carry. That said, some pro-level players have been dabbling with her as an offlane carry option.
Foremost among those players is Artur “Goblak” Kostenko. The former Natus Vincere player has been locking in Snapfire as an offlaner on a regular basis since the Outlanders Update dropped and has had a fair bit of success with her. He has also come up with a unique build for her.
While Lil’ Shredder amplifies her right-click damage, Goblak has been opting to build his carry version around Scatterblast and Firesnap Cookie, maxing the former by level seven and the latter by level nine. With Ring of Basilius, Magic Wand, and some Enchanted Mangos, he has the mana pool to very efficiently clear out creep waves and jungle camps.
From there he rushes Boots of Travel, which transforms carry Snapfire into the same sort of roaming ganker as the support version, only with a focus on magic damage and much greater efficiency. He then builds Eul’s Scepter for the mana regeneration and additional crowd control, which gives him further farming efficiency.
After this point, he starts steering into Snapfire’s natural tankiness by building Heart of Tarrasque. It isn’t until the late game that he starts building up the right-click potency that transforms Snapfire into a traditional carry with items like Monkey King Bar and Daedalus.
Snapfire has only been around for a little while at this point and has not yet been used in tournaments. Time will tell whether this build is best, but it certainly has its merits. The leveling allows for incredibly efficient farming and the itemization steers into Snapfire’s strong magic damage potential. It also allows her to be reasonably powerful at all stages of the game, something that support Snapfire loses with time.
Support Snapfire is a very solid catch-all option in the laning phase. Though she is at her best by leveling Lil’ Shredder, her other two spells offer both offensive and defensive value with almost any partner.
Mortimer Kisses has deceptively long range that can keep Snapfire safe while offering serious damage. But of course, it’s deadliest when paired with prolonged AOE disables like Enigma’s Black Hole, Faceless Void’s Chronosphere, and Magnus’ Reverse Polarity.
In a core role, Snapfire works best with a laning partner that can either amplify her magic damage or provide value by roaming or jungling. Goblak has most frequently done work with an allied Ogre Magi, Treant Protector, and Doom. Other possibilities include Skywrath Mage, Spirit Breaker, and Techies.
WIth Snapfire still relatively new to Dota 2, there isn’t a sufficiently large sample size to definitively say which heroes effectively counter her. Per Dotabuff, heroes like Troll Warlord, Crystal Maiden, Razor, Weaver, and Bristleback all stand as counters to her, but this is somewhat questionable given how all of them happen to have winrates well above 50% at the moment.
The ones that seem to be the best in this regard are the ones that are uniquely good at reaching the backlines and picking off supports. Contrary to the debut trailer for Snapfire, Batrider is mathematically the best in this regard, but heroes like Bounty Hunter, Centaur Warrunner, and Slardar also could pan out to be solid counters in the long-term.