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How and Why You Should Play Mid Snapfire

Patrick Bonifacio  | 
Snapfire

Although initially pushed by Valve as a support, Snapfire has been making the rounds in the pro scene as a potent mid hero. (Photo courtesy Valve)

The sweet but almost sinister grandma Snapfire has had a great debut year in Dota 2 (yes, it’s been nearly a year since she and Void Spirit were introduced), having been a top pick upon her arrival at best and a more than decent choice at worst. Her kit naturally lends well to playing her in the soft support role, thanks to her ability to clear creep waves and her above average scaling for a hero of her design.

The metagame of Patch 7.27d as of late, however, has been notable for one unorthodox method of playing Snapfire: that being placing her in the solo mid role. It does sound like a total meme build — but upon careful consideration of her abilities and the things that make Snapfire who she is as a hero, it all starts to make sense.

So if you’d like to add this off-beat strategy to your arsenal, bear with us for a bit — it’s about to get a little silly. Saddle up and read on to find out how to play Snapfire in the second position!

An Old Lady’s Scepter

The one thing that really makes this build tick (just like a lot of other unusual builds on heroes that enable them to play other roles) is Snapfire’s Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade called Gobble Up (D). For those not in the know, it works kind of like Lifestealer’s own Scepter upgrade: Snapfire can have her mount Mortimer swallow an ally whole, protecting them from any incoming damage or harmful effects for three seconds.

During this time, Mortimer can Spit Out (F) the allied unit up to 3,000 units away, dealing 400 magic damage on impact and applying a 1.5 second stun as well as a slow and damage over time debuff on all enemy units caught in its impact radius of 400 units. It’s essentially an expensive version of Tiny’s Toss — but with some amazing distinct advantages.

A 40 second cooldown and a reasonable mana cost of 150 allows Snapfire to spam this ability with ease, which also means that she can set up ganks and teamfights very often upon obtaining the Scepter. This solves the problem of Mortimer’s Kisses being too easy to play around thanks to its long cooldown, and makes it so that Snapfire herself isn’t so dependent on something that can be heavily exploited by the enemy team.

Moreover, it can be combined with her Scatterblast (Q) to push down creep waves for some extra gold and map pressure. This is because creeps can be used as ammo for Spit Out; it doesn’t always have to be a friendly hero. Snapfire can therefore simply walk up to a lane, melt any incoming creeps for some money and experience, then hop away with the jump from Firesnap Cookie (W).

Pairing her up with heroes that can really make use of the ability is of course key to ensuring maximum effectiveness. Think of picks that appreciate long range mobility like Legion Commander, Faceless Void, Earthshaker, and Centaur Warrunner. Unsuspecting enemy heroes can suddenly find themselves locked down for ages without even knowing what hit them, which basically leads to free kills.

All in all, her Scepter upgrade just ignores a lot of the rules and conventions of Dota. It allows her to pull off plays that most of the roster could never, from distances that are frankly unfair when you consider how many other characteristics the ability has. It’s a long range gap closer, lockdown spell, damage over time ability, and more all in one package. While it does cost 4,200 gold, it is definitely worth every single coin.

Right Down the Middle

But this Scepter upgrade alone doesn’t justify placing her in the middle lane. After all, not even support Sniper is assigned to this role — so what is it that makes her a good mid hero in the first place?

The answer lies mostly in the two aforementioned non-ultimate spells. Both Scatterblast and Firesnap Cookie allow Snapfire to play the farming mid style well, which involves nuking the wave as often as possible and retreating to the jungle to farm some more. This makes rushing the Aghanim’s Scepter a pretty simple task of pushing the wave in order to force your lane opponent to defend their tower rather than harass you or even kill you outright. For the first two or so creep waves, the sheer mana efficiency of Scatterblast in particular makes it easy to secure last hits on ranged creeps which is very important to do.

Not that doing either of those things is easy for them, mind you. Snapfire is actually quite tanky even in the early game, thanks to her great base strength and health values. Her base armor is nothing to sneeze at either at three points to start with. These characteristics help Snapfire post up in the lane against most heroes without having to fear getting whittled down much. Her staying power is crazy, and she’d be much weaker in the middle lane without it.

Protecting her own tier 1 tower is also made less challenging by her two nukes. The creep wave will basically never touch the tower unless she’s playing against someone like Shadow Fiend, and even then she clears jungle camps so quickly that she can easily run back to the lane to defend the tower if necessary.

Shredding Them to Pieces

There’s also one more dimension to Snapfire’s gameplay when putting her in a core role: the fact that Lil’ Shredder (E) applies on-hit effects and that it has a Level 20 talent that makes it use your attack damage. Yes, this means that things like Critical Strike from Daedalus, Chain Lightning from Mjolnir, and even Pierce from Monkey King Bar all work with the ability — as well as the bonus damage granted by these items.

This makes Snapfire a terrifying late game hero who isn’t just there to spew Mortimer’s Kisses globs from a distance. Oh no, this grandma can actually fight head on with a surprising amount of physical damage at her disposal. Fueled by the incredible farming pace brought about by Scepter and her first two abilities, Snapfire can race her way to items that most right click carries would gun for as well.

Lil’ Shredder’s 12 second cooldown at max level enables Snapfire to put out a ton of damage regularly in teamfights — especially prolonged ones where her large health pool can really come into play. That said, your goal as the Snapfire player with this build in mind is not to just jump headfirst into engagements and shoot people down. Your spellcasting is still more important even in the late game when core heroes have Black King Bar in tow. You can still have a large impact in the game even with magic immunity in play, thanks to Firesnap Cookie and Gobble Up serving as ally-saving abilities.

The Dusty Trail

The prospect of going up against strong traditional mid heroes as Snapfire can be intimidating, but the overall gameplan is actually more straightforward than it would seem initially. You don’t have to get fancy with her in the middle lane — just keep it simple and push waves down to keep your opponent from even thinking about running you down.

You’ll want to start with the usual early game stat items after receiving two Tangoes from your supports. Buy two Iron Branches, a Circlet, Gauntlets of Strength, and a Faerie Fire. Once the creeps spawn (hopefully your team was able to secure Bounty Runes), immediately send out a Healing Salve with your courier. Then you’ll want to work on getting a Bottle, which is essential to keeping yourself topped up since your mana pool is quite small.

As said earlier in this guide, the first two creep waves are crucial. Get a feel for Snapfire’s limited attack range and pull creep aggro as necessary. Don’t hesitate to use Scatterblast in order to secure the ranged creep for maximum efficiency in gold and experience. Getting it denied by your lane opponent will set you back significantly, so try your best to time the cast right. Remember that Scatterblast has a pretty hefty cast animation of around 0.4 seconds, so you’ll want to wind it up somewhat in advance.

Upon buying your Bottle, you’ll want to give yourself some space by regularly nuking down the wave. Get up close to the melee creeps and blast away for that sweet point-blank damage bonus on Scatterblast. If your opponent has no reliable wave clearing abilities early on, then Scatterblast becomes so much more effective. Keep them pinned to their side of the river, then retreat to the jungle in order to continue your farm.

Doing so also gives you plenty of room to contest the runes, since your opponent will likely be busy defending their tower to even bother. If they don’t, then they will have to accept that their tower might take chip damage. They also lose out on gold and experience that way. If they do get the runes, then you’ll have to spend on some Clarities — but we suggest doing this even with regular Bottle use. Keep ferrying them out as needed, Clarities directly influence how quickly you are able to farm.

Ridin’ Out

Going into the mid game, you’ll want to rush Aghanim’s Scepter as quickly as possible, though we recommend at least buying Boots of Speed and a Magic Wand before that. Boots of Speed is pretty self-explanatory and also increases your farming speed indirectly, while Magic Wand can save you in a pinch if you suddenly get ganked while jungling. All the while, keep maxing out Scatterblast and Firesnap Cookie. Lil’ Shredder isn’t really useful at all before the 30 minute mark, so you can safely leave it alone.

Snapfire

Of course, Mortimer’s Kisses should be taken at every level it is available. This is because you’ll want to fight as soon as it’s off cooldown in order to put pressure on the map early and often. Whenever the spell is usable, you’ll want to either use a Town Portal Scroll to a lane where there is a ganking opportunity, or grab a rune and run to a lane in order to engage the enemy team. Bottom line is that you want to use it every time it’s there.

As for talents, we recommend going for the following:

  • +15 Movement Speed
  • +60 Scatterblast Damage
  • Lil’ Shredder Uses Your Attack Damage
  • 3x Lil’ Shredder Multishot

Once you get your Scepter, the fun really begins. Look for opportunities to toss your teammates onto unaware enemy heroes and set up for easy kills. In case there are none, like when the enemy team is playing defensively or your other cores need to chill for a little bit, use Spit Out to clear creep waves in the blink of an eye. Doing so will help ensure that your opponents stay on the back foot, and that your team maintains the advantage going into the late game.

To facilitate this, we strongly suggest buying Boots of Travel. The item allows you to go from wave to wave more often than with a normal TP Scroll (since the cooldown is shortened by Boots of Travel) or join teamfights almost instantly. The cooldown also lines up perfectly with that of Gobble Up at 40 seconds. An easy choice when it comes to other core items.

Guns Blazing

From there, it’s time to grab the big guns — the carry items. Monkey King Bar is typically the best choice in this regard, as it has a high proc rate that is only made better by the rapid attack rate of Lil’ Shredder. Heroes with evasion are especially good targets for you this way, and should be your focus after getting your spells off in teamfights.

Daedalus is another good option, particularly against heroes with large health pools that you need to cleave down to size quickly. Think strength heroes like Doom and Pudge who have naturally low armor values but a lot of health regeneration to work with. Daedalus needing attack speed paired with it is also solved entirely by Lil’ Shredder’s fixed attack rate, making this a natural choice for Snapfire.

Mjolnir meanwhile is there to help deal with illusion-based heroes like Terrorblade and Phantom Lancer. It’s not quite as effective with Lil’ Shredder though due to its rather low proc chance, but is still good for allowing yourself or your teammates to stand their ground against illusions. There are better options overall, but Mjolnir has its niche.

Last but certainly not the least is Divine Rapier. If you really need to close out a game or just deal an absurd amount of physical DPS, this item is for you. The built-in True Strike also makes heroes like Phantom Assassin kneel before you. The item is very risky though, so make sure to cover all the bases and let your teammates know your intent before buying a Rapier.


And that’s pretty much it. Simple gameplan with a bit of flexibility in the late game, and a laning phase that isn’t easy for other mid heroes to punish. All you really have to do is get your Scepter as soon as possible by farming with your two area of effect nukes, then leverage the item’s power by terrorizing your opponents as often as you can. From there you can transition to a carry role, supplementing your hard carry’s damage with your own.

Trust in Beatrix Snapfire’s prowess as a mid laner, and you will be handsomely rewarded. Now get out there and get ‘er done!

Patrick has been playing Dota since the dawn of time, having started with the original custom game for WarCraft III. He primarily plays safe lane and solo mid, preferring to leave the glorious task of playing support to others.