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A guide to Oracle

by Dennis Gonzales Feb 22
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Oracle was considered one of the stronger support picks towards the end of the 6.8x patch cycle and had similar draft priority in the competitive scene as the likes of Rubick or Ogre Magi.

This was despite numerous nerfs from the 6.88x hotfixes. It was only with the advent of 7.00 that his priority has fallen off, even though he's received a few of indirect buffs.

Oracle's no longer in vogue in the competitive scene, but he should still be a staple for any support player. Here's a quick guide on Nerif, the Oracle.

Playstyle

Every single one of your non-ultimate abilities is able to be cast on both allies and enemies with each serving a different purpose, some with potentially detrimental effects if used improperly. This makes Oracle one of the hardest heroes to grasp, but also one of the most versatile if played effectively.

Healing is a core mechanic to Oracle's playstyle, but he also has deceptively high burst potential, which has led to him being played in the mid lane every so often. Oracle's lack of hard crowd control and his mana costs are his biggest downfall, something you'll have to make up for with smart positioning, smarter usage of your skills and proper coordination with your team.

Skill Build

Purifying Flames (E) is your bread and butter and should be maxed first. When cast on a target it does a large burst of damage and will also place a stackable Heal-over-Time (HoT) which lasts nine seconds and heals for slightly more than the damage dealt. The effect is exactly the same on allies and enemies. Used by itself, it's your main form of burst damage thanks to it's 2.25 second cooldown, but its key usage is how it interacts with Oracle's other skills.

Fortune's End (Q) is your other damaging spell and should be maxed second. The spell fires a fast-travelling projectile from Oracle which explodes into a small area-of-effect (AoE), causing all damage and secondary effects. The first of which is a quasi-root effect that lasts longer the more the spell is channeled up to 2.5 seconds, while the other effect is a basic dispel.

Fortune's End is not a root even though it functions like one. It simply sets your target's movement speed to 0 for its duration. So Oracle does not benefit from the slew of root buffs in 7.00, sadly.

Fortune's End can be used defensively, too. The spell's damage and move reduction do not trigger on allies, nor does it dispel beneficial buffs. If any enemies happen to be in the AoE, they take the spell's full effects. Used offensively, the damage and move reduction are self-explanatory, while the dispel effect can also cancel the HoT from Purifying Flames, meaning you can take chunks out of heroes with an E-E-Q combo.

Fate's Edict (W) will be maxed last, but a value point early on is always recommended, if not mandatory. The spell disarms the target for its duration and simultaneously sets their magic resistance to 100%, which means they can still be targeted by spells, but they simply take no damage.

This is easily one of the riskiest spells to use in hairy fights. You might think you're helping your carry by making him immune to magic damage, but you also completely negate his ability to right-click.

The opposite can also be true. You might think you're helping the team by disabling the enemy carry, but he could also be your team's primary target and they just wasted Finger of Death, Laguna Blade or whatever else in what should have been a clean pick. Communication is key when using Fate's Edict properly.

It's pretty safe to use on enemy heroes when you have a team that deals mostly physical damage, such as Dazzle and Bristleback. And it's generally safe to use on your allies when they mainly rely on spells, such as Death Prophet or Tinker.

If nothing else: never cast it during hectic teamfights and only use it to eat the burst damage from Purifying Flames to turn it purely into a heal. At Level 1 you can only sneak in one Purifying Flames, but at Level 2 and up you can get in two casts. Purifying Flames' healing-per-mana efficiency goes up the more it's leveled. When paired with Fate's Edict, it's one of the best single-target heals in the game.

On the topic of healing, Purifying Flames never causes fatal damage on allies, meaning if your target is nearly dead anyways, or at 1HP thanks to Dazzle's Shallow Grave, you can spam a few Purifying Flames on the target to top them up. Though this is understandably risky.

Last but not least is your ultimate, False Promise. When cast on an ally it applies a strong dispel and locks the target's health at its current value, while delaying any and all incoming damage and healing effects. At the end of the buff's duration, all damage and healing is calculated on the target simultaneously.

While being able to delay a hero's death for 7-9 seconds is powerful by itself, especially if you save a core who can kill a hero or two within that time, the buff also doubles all forms of healing the target receives. Not only can you temporarily save an ally from certain death, but you have the potential to bring them back up to full health to wreak more havoc.

Itemization

Oracle is almost always utilized as a hard support in competitive play, so you'll be concerned less with your items and more concerned with how you ward and how you coordinate with your team. You'll maybe get your upgraded boots and upgrade your Magic Stick to a Magic Wand. It's nothing sexy, but you'll win games.

In theory, if you had the farm of a position 4 or could scrounge up a Hand of Midas, Oracle has quite a few options he could build towards. But even with farm, between wards, Smoke and TPs, you're scarce for inventory space as well. Core-acles will naturally have more options, but the viable items between both roles are similar enough.

Because you have abilities that synergize so well with healing, you should think about building some healing items, pair with a team that will or have a composition that has built-in healing already.

Against competent teams, Oracle will likely be the highest priority target in fights and you'll want to build items that help you not die, or at least die less.

Starting and Early Game

Your starting items will be the standard fare for a support: a mix of Wards and a Courier between your other support, Tangos and a few Clarities.

Throughout the laning phase, you will eventually pick up a Magic Stick and your Boots of Speed while maintaining proper map vision and making rotations with Smoke of Deceits. Wind Lace is also a solid pick up for your roaming and can build into an eventual Eul's Scepter.

Mid Game

In the mid game, you'll still be doing your support thing with Wards and Smokes, but eventually you'll find the farm for your boots upgrade. Typically this will be an Arcane Boots, but some pros prefer Tranquil Boots for the extra movement speed and the extra armor. Arcanes also have the added benefit of being able to be disassembled for an Aether Lens.

Consider upgrading your Magic Stick into a Magic Wand as it's a cheap way to add a bit more stats and stock more charges. Another way of adding some much needed health is to build an Urn of Shadows. Its active is particularly more effective for Oracle in 7.00.

In previous versions of Dota, an Urn HoT would be canceled by an auto-attack even if the target was affected by False Promise. However, this interaction has now been fixed in 7.00 and the Urn HoT persists throughout the False Promise duration. This is also true for Healing Salves and it may be worth to keep a cheeky one in your inventory. A full duration Urn charge under False Promise heals 800 HP, on top of any other heals that would be on your ally, so definitely consider an Urn if no one on your team is building one already.

As mentioned earlier, Aether Lens is a natural progression for the Arcane Boots built earlier and the extra 220 cast range will help you keep your distance during fights.

Because Oracle has almost no farming mechanics, a core Oracle may want to pick up a Hand of Midas along the way.

A Mekansm is an obvious choice as it synergizes so well with False Promise. Additionally, if you decide to forgo an Aether Lens, your Arcane Boots and Mekansm can later be built into an even stronger Guardian Greaves.

Eul's Scepter is a solid pick up if you can afford it, and if you bought a Wind Lace earlier, you've already incurred some of the cost. The mana regeneration alone is a boost to your mana-heavy kit, while the extra movement speed will help pad your average moment speed. Moreover, the active Cyclone ability is a defensive and offensive tool since it can dispel the Purifying Flame HoT, and you can channel Fortune's End on a Cycloned hero.

Previous versions of Oracle's False Promise ultimate also made your target ally invisible, which forced the enemy team to invest in detection. This component of False Promise was removed a long while ago, but you can give your enemies a sense of nostalgia with a Glimmer Cape. This helps ensure your False Promise target takes less damage, but it's also useful outside of your False Promise timings.

Medallion of Courage is always a good pickup for all support heroes, as the active gives you a lot of options. Buff an ally, debuff an enemy or debuff Roshan to kill quicker. The extra mana regeneration is also key.

When you absolutely have to not take any damage from anything, a casual Ghost Scepter coupled with Fate's Edict makes you immune to all damage for a cool four seconds. But also consider one if you simply get focused by the physical carries.

Late Game

At some point investing in mobility will be a good option. If you're a support Oracle, you'll probably want a Force Staff as you can use it to save allies and pop it if you come under fire, which you will.

If you're running a core Oracle consider a Blink Dagger instead of a Force since you'll be casting False Promise on yourself, whereas as a support you'd want to save it for your cores. Because False Promise delays damage taken, your Blink doesn't go on cooldown when you take damage. This is, of course, also true when you use False Promise on allies with Blink Daggers.

If you build a Medallion and have some spare gold, a solid choice is a Solar Crest, which makes every aspect of Medallion that much better. Guardian Greaves are also a natural progression, if you have a Mekansm and hold on to your Arcane Boots. The 1,700 gold recipe is a hefty price tag, but it's well worth the extra aura and item slot.

Aghanim's Scepter is an absolutely greedy choice, but what it gives you outside of your stats is a one second cooldown on Purifying Flames, down from 2.25 seconds, as well as a faster cast point 0.1 seconds down from 0.3. This is a pretty significant increase in burst, if you can cast fast enough and if you have mana to spare, but you will have to be mindful of how many HoTs you stack on the enemy before you dispell.

Ethereal Blade is a decent choice if you really want to blow someone up, especially if you already have an Agh's Scepter, but the Ether Blast is also useful as a defensive tool, moreso when combined with Fate's Edict.

If you're thinking Mjollnir, think again. Because Oracle has one of the best Base Attack Times in the game, he benefits much more from Attack Speed bonuses. If you happen to have a lot of gold lying around and are stomping, Mjoll is a fun and clownly pick up for Oracle that works surprisingly well.

Skill Tree

LVL 10 LVL 15 LVL 20 LVL 25
XP +20% GPM +60 INT +20 False Promise duration +2
Respawn Time -20s HP +200 Move Speed +25 Cast Range +250

In competitive play, there's a clear preference towards the reduced respawn time at Level 10. This is despite the fact that the 20 percent XP gain bonus is one of the best at the level bracket, but that option is likely better geared towards core players.

Like the Level 10 branch, there's a clear preference in the Level 15 branch in competitive play. Almost all supports choose the GPM +60 bonus as you'll likely melt anyways if you're initiated, but core players will want the extra 200 health.

Level 20 is where there's some variation, as the extra 25 movement speed seems more geared towards supports, but more pros tend to take the 20 extra intelligence (INT). This is likely to support Oracle's hefty mana costs and to make up for his average stat growth.

Level 25 is where there's the least data on competitive Oracle choices. Most games end before supports can get to this point. The extra 250 cast range is likely the best overall choice and it stacks with an Aether Lens. The extra two-second False Promise duration is about a 22 percent buff, up to 11 seconds from nine seconds and may not have a big impact in most games.

Laning

As a support, you'll be pulling, stacking, warding, zoning and dying. Your ganking potential is likely at it's highest when you're Level 7 and have Purifying Flames maxed, dealing about 810 magical damage for 300 mana in the span of about three seconds. About the same damage as a Laguna Blade for less than half the mana, though over a much longer period of time.

Before that though, with Level 2 Purifying Flames, if you use it on your own ranged creep you can out damage the HoT with your right-click and simply deny the creep, ala Lich. This is a powerful tool to control the creep wave equilibrium and it's not used enough.

Generally speaking, try not to leave any Purifying Flames HoTs unpurged on an enemy hero, as you'll end up healing them for more damage than you did, while simply wasting your own mana.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oraclea P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.

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