"I once shot an ant off a worm's backside, but only aimed to wound."
Windrunner is a ranged intelligence hero who is usually played as a support or a semi-carry. Her namesake, Windrun, gives her incredible survivability. Her Powershot is strong and reliable, letting her do damage to enemies in a line and sometimes snipe heroes down. A well-positioned Shackleshot can be very powerful if she catches multiple heroes with it. With Focus Fire, she can overwhelm heroes and towers with a huge burst of attacks.
- Ability: Target Unit
- Affects: Enemy Heroes
- Shackle Duration: 1.5 / 2.25 / 3 / 3.75
- Mana Cost: 90 / 100 / 110 / 120
- Cooldown: 12
Shackleshot sends out an arrow which will do a mere mini-stun and no damage to the target if there's nothing behind it. However, if the targeted unit has a tree or another hostile unit behind it, it will bound the two objects together, stunning any enemy unit including the target tied by it. It can be a bit difficult to land, but if you do land a full shackleshot, especially on 2 enemy heroes, then your team has an all but guaranteed kill.
- Ability: Channeled, Target Point
- Damage Type: Magical
- Damage: 120 / 200 / 280 / 360
- Range: 1825
- Mana Cost: 90 / 100 / 110 / 120
- Cooldown: 9
Powershot has a 1-second channeling time, after which you will launch a powerful arrow in the direction of the targeted area, hitting enemies in its path and destroying trees. Every time it passes through a target its damage will be reduced by 10%. The arrow is still released of manually canceled before it finishes channeling, though the damage is lesser. This spell is a very effective damaging skillshot, being able to wound mulitple heroes in one shot. It is also useful for scouting, since it grants vision around it. You can even use to snipe down enemies in the trees or in the fog-of-war.
- Ability: No Target
- Move Speed Bonus: 50%
- Enemy Slow: 8% / 16% / 24% / 36%
- Duration: 2.75 / 3.5 / 4.25 / 5
- Mana Cost: 100
- Cooldown: 15
Windrun gives you increased move speed as well as 100% evasion against physical attacks while slowing the movement of nearby enemies. This is why Windrunner is considered one of the most-survivable intelligence heroes in the game. The speed boost and evasion can let her get away from a dangerous situation. the speed bonus is also useful for positioning yourself to land an effective Shackleshot or Powershot.
- Ability: Target Unit
- Affects: Enemies
- Damage Reduction: 50% / 40% / 30%
- Mana Cost: 200 / 300 / 400
- Cooldown: 60
- Scepter Cooldown: 15
Focus Fire gives you maximum attack speed on the targeted enemy unit or building for 20 seconds, though your damage will be reduced, including the effects from Unique Attack Modifiers and items. The speed will be lost when you switch targets. This ability isn't used very often, since Windrunner is more of a spellcaster than a dps dealer. It is a useful spell for pushing down towers, and is often used for that purpose.
Aghanim's Scepter can be bought by Windrunner and will decrease Focus Fire's cooldown and removes the damage reduction for unique attack modifiers and items.
Skill and Item Builds
Suggested Skill Build
Windrunner's versatility means that there are quite a few ways to skill her abilities. The most common one is for when she plays a solo short/suicide lane role, which is why she is commonly picked.
Solo suicide lane build
Always get Windrun at level 1 so you are able to survive the suicide lane and escape from enemy ganks. Then, proceed to max out Powershot and Shackleshot, but focus a bit more on Powershot for its harassment, pushing power and the ability to destroy trees. Shackleshot is to be maxed second, then max Windrun last. Focus Fire should be skipped until level 10 or later because it doesn't fit Windrunner's playstyle and doesn't becomes useful until later in the game.
Suggested Item Build
As Windrunner often plays the solo short lane role, it can be a bit difficult to get gold without placing oneself in danger.
When starting out, get some consumables, Iron Branches and maybe some Mantles of Intelligence. Get a courier or wards if you're one of the supports.
Go for a Magic Stick into a Magic Wand for counter-ganks, a Boots of Speed for your eventual boot upgrade. Try to go for a Mekansm or your boot upgrade during this stage of the game. You might also want to pick up a Ring of Basilius for early pushes, mana regeneration and armor.
A Mekansm is a cost-efficient and highly effective item if you're a support, useful during pushes and teamfights. A Force Staff is also a good item that helps you position yourself for your spells, gives you an additional escape mechanism and grants you a nice bonus in your intelligence.
Phase Boots are the most common choice for Windrunners as it is cheaper than others, gives you better mobility, damage and help you position your Shackleshots and Powershots. Tranquil Boots is a cheaper upgrade that can be dissasembled to build a Mekansm later on. Arcane Boots are also a viable choice if you really need more mana regen and Power Treads give you versatility and a slight increase in survivability.
An Orchid Malevolence or a Scythe of Vyse give you great disables as well as granting you lots of mana regeneration, as long as you can afford it. An Eul's Scepter is a cheaper choice that also gives you more movement speed. A Linken's Sphere is another great luxury item, as its Spell Block combined with the evasion from your Windrun will let you shake off a lot of damage.
Getting an Aghanim's Scepter is not recommended on Windrunner unless you get a Unique Attack Modifier. If you manage to get enough gold to get items that grant Unique Attack Modifiers such as a Helm of the Dominator, a Maelstrom or even a Desolator, you might consider going for it. Having an upgraded Focus Fire along with a Unique Attack Modifier will give you enough damage to contest carries.
Windrunner is versatile enough to fit in most lanes, from being a lane support for a carry to solo mid. However, the most common lane you'll find yourself in when playing her is the short lane, also called offlaning, which is Radiant's top and Dire's bottom. Your ability to escape enables you to survive the aptly-nicknamed suicide lane without a lane partner, which will occur if your team decides to run a trilane or a jungler.
Going up against multiple enemy heroes alone is very dangerous, especially since you'll be fighting in enemy territory very often if you offlane. Try to save Windrun for very dire situations, and remember that it only lets you dodge physical attacks, not spells. The fact that you're a ranged hero lets you last-hit from a distance. Powershot is very useful at this stage for harassing the enemy, getting last-hits safely and for destroying trees when juking. If you're offlaning on the Dire side you can also pull and farm ancient creeps for some extra income, but your poor damage and health during this stage of the game means you'll need to slowly chip their health down and constantly kite them to kill them.
You might want to buy Observer Wards to block creep pulling attempts by the enemy supports, while also potentially revealing incoming gankers. Remember that you are outnumbered and rather frail, so if you do get ganked, get to your faction's tower for protection, use trees and Powershots for juking, use Windrun if you really need it and Shackleshot to slow enemies down.
Your Powershot remains a great source of damage throughout the mid-game, being a spammable nuke that hits multiple enemies during teamfights while also being a good pushing tool. In teamfights, try to land a Shackleshot on two heroes at once, or even just tie one to a tree or a creep. It is wonderful for crowd control so that your team can pick them off or concentrate on the remaining enemies. Windrun is useful as ever especially if you're targeted by the enemy carry, but remember that it offers no protection against powerful magical spells, which is very prominent during this stage of the game. If you have a point in Focus Fire, use it to speed up the destruction of an enemy tower, but be aware of hiw much mana it consumes.
By this stage of the game, your Powershot damage will be less significant, but your Shackleshot is still as useful as ever for crowd control, especially if you can catch the enemy carry with it. Depending on your role and how much farm you get, you will be contributing differently during this stage of the game. You should mostly be supporting your teammates with Shackleshots and any items you have, but if you did get enough damage-boosting items you can also play the role of a semi-carry by helping your carry take down enemies using right-click attacks. Focus Fire is great for boosting your dps against tanky heroes, which will be more common by this time.
A successful Shackleshot sets up easy Powershots for you, since it will usually hold enemies down long enough for you to find a perfect angle and launch a full shot. Windrun helps you get into position to pull off Shackleshots and Powershots, while it can also help you chase down a moving unit with Focus Fire active.
Just about any hero synergyzes well with Windrunner due to her versatility. Her Shackleshot in particular helps set up subsequent stuns or other AoE spells. Omniknight is a notably good teammate to have, as his Repel combined with Windrunner's Windrun will effectively make her invincible.
The best counters to Windrunner is to have good disables or powerful magic spells, since Windrun only evades physical attacks. Like any other spellcaster, Windrunner is also very vulnerable to heroes with silencing or mana-draining abilities.