Bounty Hunter is absolutely worth talking about. The hero is among the most popular and successful heroes in the game right now, even in the highest level games. While initially it looked like his new Shard is to credit for Bounty Hunter’s sudden resurgence, the case might not be as simple. Perhaps the hero was pretty good all along, and the Shard merely presented an opportunity for players to notice BH.
Ever since Valve reworked Track back in patch 7.20 more than two years ago, Bounty Hunter has struggled with his identity. The hero lost all his potential when it came to team economy acceleration and essentially, at the time, became a less survivable Nyx Assassin or an inferior teamfight-wise Treant Protector. A scout with little to no utility, low teamfight presence and, for some reason, heavily boosted damage.
There were attempts to leverage this extra damage the hero received: greedier offlane Bounty Hunters and even position one Bounty Hunters were picked once in a while, even in the professional scene. However it was never the default pick, it was a curveball to throw during the draft and even then a rarely successful one.
Now, two years later, with the introduction of Aghanim’s Shard, Bounty Hunter gets to relieve at least some of his former glory, providing his teammates with extra movement speed and vision. Does he really want to, though, or is the hero better off being a slightly egotistical position three or four?
While the hero is incredibly versatile, there are several things in common among most Bounty Hunter players. In higher level games, Bounty Hunter typically goes to the offlane, be it as a three or a four. This makes most sense since it allows BH to continuously apply economic pressure on the enemy carry.
At level three, Bounty Hunter frequently goes for a second level of Jinada and given a 9-second cooldown and 20 gold steal, it can realistically translate into a ~200 GPM delta, as long as BH gets to hit their opponent. Five Jinada hits every minute make you gain 100 and the enemy lose 100 gold.
Naturally, it is an almost ideal scenario, where you get to hit the enemy carry over and over again, but even hitting their supports should prove beneficial. This is largely made possible by Bounty Hunter’s base stats: 600 HP with 7.5 armor, 320 Movement Speed, and ~55 attack damage are slightly unfair, frankly.
After two levels of Jinada, most players still max out Shuriken Toss. This makes the most sense, especially on position four Bounty Hunter who is less likely to participate in fights directly. 375 magic damage is really nothing to scoff at: it translates to 300 damage after regular reductions and early on it is roughly 25% of enemy support HP. Given the bounces, it can be pretty useful in the early team fights, hence why it is favored over extra levels in Jinada.
Finally, and it is almost mandatory for successful Bounty Hunter games, he has to take +20 MS as his level 10 talent. Bounty Hunter is an already fast hero, but with extra MS from Talent, Track, and potential Drum, he can be pretty much impossible to catch.
While there is at least some semblance of agreement on Bounty Hunter’s skill build, when it comes to item build there is none. And it is a good thing and possibly one of the hero’s biggest strengths.
The hero can build most items in the game and be effective with them. Track and Jinada gold also ensure a good Bounty Hunter player will get the necessary items in a timely manner, while they are still relevant.
Naturally, he won’t be as good of a Pipe carrier as Underlord, and he won’t be as menacing with Solar Crest as Visage, but the fact that Bounty Hunter can pick and choose is worth a lot. Make smart decisions and solve problems with your item purchases. This is what being a utility hero is about.
You need extra catch? Rod of Atos isn’t a particularly stupid idea, especially if you can use it to set up for your other teammates. Dealing with heavy heals and regen? Go for Spirit Vessel and allow your mid player to skip it in favor of better scaling. Need some save? Force Staff is always a decent choice. Your team could really use extra vision and MS? Well, Shard is a pretty good option.
The two most important things is to think and communicate. First is to make sure you are making correct item choices, second is to ensure your teammates didn’t come to the same exact correct conclusion to prevent redundancies.
Finally, let’s talk about what we would consider a mostly bad idea for higher-level games: DPS Bounty Hunter. It sounds alright on paper and there is some scaling damage in BH’s toolkit, but for the most part it is not worth it.
BH has decent stats, but they are definitely not amazing, especially Agility-wise: he loses to ~75% of all Agility heroes in terms of AGI growth. The 200% guaranteed crit is also amazing on paper, before you factor in that in a theoretical 1v1 scenario first Track is going to be dispelled with Manta, second with BKB, and third with Minotaur’s Horn. We are exaggerating, surely, but it doesn’t change the fact that Track is a very unreliable DPS steroid.
And before people start asking: no, Aghanim’s Scepter is not a utility purchase. It is also trying to fit Bounty Hunter into a damage-dealing archetype. It is not solving any problems and any game won with Aghanim’s Scepter probably would have been won without. Unless, of course, your team severely lacks any DPS, which is a rare occurrence in any skill bracket.
Bounty Hunter is among the most fun support heroes to play since his kit allows for a natural item progression and it opens up a ton of enticing possibilities. Understanding which options are preferable in which game is essential for Bounty Hunter’s success and that means he is also among the best heroes in the game to learn Dota theory.
What are your thoughts on Bounty Hunter? Do you disagree with us that DPS Bounty Hunter should be forgotten and if so, what would your build be? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.