|128px|| Zephyr has been changed substantially and I have updated this guide accordingly. Previously, he was an intelligence hero. Now he is an agility hero. His ultimate now works properly and is fairly useful in team fights. With the agility change, he becomes slightly more powerful. I would say he is still merely a mid-tier hero, an off-tank, highly item-dependent but at the same time capable of stacking gold by midgame and having some items before others. He is a situational pick and cannot be successfully played in competitive settings without the proper support from your team and excellent map awareness on your part. Well-played, his role is to tip the scales and dominate teamfights late-game as well as provide an opportunity for a good laning hero to get more XP while you are jungling.
This guide principally focuses on a hybrid build focusing on tanking but including some damage.
- Leap - Can be used to escape combat or enter combat. Use sparingly, especially early - you're somewhat fragile and will die easily in teamfights until mid-end game. Very careful use can cut off escapes by pushing people back a small distance. Adds mobility while jungling - know when and where to leap to maximize the distance the enemy heroes will have to travel to get to you, and where you can cut them off to save your fleeing teammates.
- Cyclone - Defining skill and why a jungle strategy works early on. Cyclones now last longer, improving farming capabilities.
- Wind Shield - Defense skill, adds evasion. Self-explanatory. Keep up all the time after level 14. Situational use until then. Recently changed to be less effective but less expensive. This change helps early game, hurts late game.
- Wind Control - Now fixed, is a solid ultimate, but again, you're dependent on others to dish out most damage. You should not be the only hero in the area when you cast this. You should enter after others and drop it once the enemy has committed. Can be countered by an area stun. Complements a team doing a lot of physical damage very well, especially those heroes with bash abilities (Chronos, Pestilence, Rampage, heroes w/ Savage Mace). It can also result in a very fast kill of Kongor with your entire team present, but, again, that's a situational use and you should be aware of enemy heroes' position before you spend your ultimate on a neutral.
This is a fairly general build for Zephyr. I don't foresee a lot of situations where you'd need to vary this. You CAN take stats instead of ulty until you decide you need it, but you should be leaving the jungle periodically just to keep the enemy on their toes and offer support. You can drop the ulty in a fight and immediately go back to jungling afterwards. One or two levels of stats is not going to make a big difference. Take the ulty when you can.
You can jungle at level 1 if you really want to, but Zephyr is not Ophelia/Legionnaire. You need to build up Cyclone first. I suggest laning until level 4 and then going into the jungle. Leap is taken first to avoid being first-blooded or to help get a first blood if the enemy is very stupid (you are not an early ganker and the range/damage is terrible initially, don't be stupid). I would suggest training it 10-11-16, in exchange for stats. So that would be Lane 1-4 --> Jungle 4-11 --> Jungle+Ganks 11-20 --> Teamfights/wave farming 20 to End.
The only really different thing I do is delay wind shield. There's not enough mana early on now that he's not an INT hero. Later, you should keep it active 24/7.
|14||Wind Shield (Maxed)|
|16||Wind Control (Maxed)|
The first item you build should be an Iron Shield. It adds defense for jungling while adding to your primary stat, agility. You will benefit from this item the whole game.
- 64px X2 = 180
- Early on, you're not going to be able to survive by eating your cyclones. Eat trees for a complete, well-balanced meal.
- 64px X1 = 150
- For the Iron Shield you're going to build.
- 64px - 225
- You need to last hit. This helps you do it. Later on you can drop it in the fountain.
Total Cost = 465
Early game items are Iron Shield, Steamboots and Shaman's Headdress. Complete your Iron Shield and get anything else you can, but get into the Jungle ASAP. I suggest grabbing a Trinket or two first, and then getting your boots. You are not going to be efficient enough to need to zip around your first few levels in the Jungle, and you won't benefit much from headdress until you start supporting ganks.
"HEY, NOBODY ON THE ENEMY TEAM DOES MUCH MAGIC DAMAGE!" - Well, I suppose this is remotely possible, despite being unlikely. In this case, feel free to build a Barbed Armor or some sort of useful aura if someone else isn't already and forget the Headdress/Barrier Idol. But this build will be assuming you are acting as a general sort of gank supporter/pusher, not the main tank or the main carry, but supplementing and supporting both. Will people focus you to justify the barbed armor? I don't think so. It's not that great anyway, but it swaps places in build armor very smoothly (approx same cost as headdress), so, whatever. I haven't tried it much. The Intelligence is nice to have.
Note there are no boots early game. If you find yourself running to and fro, you're doing it wrong. You shouldn't make more than one trip back to the fountain before you get boots. If you're getting epically harassed in lane, leave lane. If your neutral spawns are unlucky, camp the easy spawns and swing into the mid lane a little bit.
- 64px X1 = 250
- To complete Iron Shield. Buy from outpost ASAP.
- 64px - 125
- 2 BOOTS 2 FURIOUS, oh look I have an Iron Shield
- 64px X2 = 700
- Headdress components. Buy before other components. Once you have these, or even one, get the hell out of the lane.
- 64px - 950
- Armor, HP, hooray.
- 65px - 400
- And lo, he donned the Shaman's Headdress, and it was good.
Total Cost = 2075
Once you have your HP issue taken care of, it's time to address speed. Which boots should you get? I don't think it matters that much, honestly, but I prefer steamboots because you get some HP/Mana out of the deal, as well as a tiny bit more speed. You don't need unitwalking because you can leap. That said, if you like phasing, be my guest. I'm not going to include component order from here out, it should be pretty obvious. I'd tune the boots to INT initially since you'll be moving into the time you want wind shield up, and then AGI for when you leave the jungle. STR is never needed, your HP regen should be fine with your defense at this point.
After boots, it's time to make yourself useful to your team with the mock. This way your presence in fights is accompanied by two area damage effects. You will now be a focus of the enemy team, which is why you should usually not be the one to initiate. But, if you're willing to die, you can do it. Consider running in and leaping out if you think you can catch them without leap.
- 64px - 1490
- God, you have so many boots, you queer old owl, you. You don't even have proper feet.
- 64px - 5150
- IT BURNS
Total Cost = 6640
Oh snap. If you've made it this far, time to have some fun. Get the Barrier Idol for team support, and the heart for survivability in teamfights as well as a late damage buff. If you like, go for something like Wingbow and Slash to add damage. If you find yourself in an undesired carry role because Chronos and Pestilence have been hitting the bong again, now is the time to speed-farm stuff you need for that. Other items to consider: Nullfire Blade (ganking), Wingbow (carrying), Sacrificial Stone (for very drawn-out games)
- 64px - 1490
- You already have the Headdress, this takes it to the next level and buffs the whole team against magic. Obviously doesn't apply if you skipped Headdress for Helm. Consider Shrunken Head instead.
- 64px - 5500
- Survivability and damage increase since you're AGI. 10% to all damage, including Mock, Leap, Cyclones, Melee, etc. This should be your last item unless you're stalemated. All other items are situational.
Total Cost = 6990
Lane until 4-6. Hopefully your laning partner will allow you to lasthit most creeps since he's going to have the whole lane in a few minutes anyway. Purchase items from the outpost, get into the jungle and avoid being ganked. Watch the minimap, carry homecoming stones, and keep your finger on leap. Know at which points you can leap significant obstacles to avoid ganks. ABOVE ALL ELSE, DO NOT DIE IN YOUR OWN JUNGLE. This will screw your gold generation and ruin your entire strategy. It is better to fall slightly behind than to give the enemy a kill. If they waste their time in your jungle, they are not getting gold somewhere else and you are still contributing by causing them to waste time there. When in doubt, leap and run to a nearby outside tower where a teammate is present. You will be protected and may even be able to leech some xp/gold while waiting for the enemy to show up on the map again. If this becomes a problem, consider buying wards if you don't have a stealth hero or someone like tree/sand wraith to provide map sight. Drop one at the ramp to the river by the rune and another at the entrance to your jungle from the top/bottom lane. Assuming your mid tower is still up, this will provide you fairly good security. If there is a stealth hero around, you may want to get Bound Eye to be extra careful.
Jungling. You need to be efficient at this at the same time you're being careful. You want to maximize your Gold and XP/minute to the nth degree so you come out competitive when you rejoin the lane battles and ganks later on. If you have a choice in how you use your mana, keep wind shield up and occasionally eat your cyclones to keep you in the game. Ideally, show up to a 3 or more creep camp and get them into the red, pop cyclones, and then finish them. You'll be near full health, decent mana, and still have cyclones that otherwise would have come up against your limit. This can maximize your time in the jungle and keep you ready to enter lane at any time.
I'm still working on an 'ideal' order to cycle through the camps, but it's kind of pointless - do it according to the situation. Start with the medium camp near you, shield and leap in (since you don't have cyclones), kill, and proceed through the rest saving leap for escape, not initiate. Cycle your cyclones as needed. Your cyclones do not effect Wild Hunters, the bane of Zephyr, but you need to clear them anyway. Early on, ignore them and deal with others and then use your cyclones to heal yourself while fighting them. When you are attacking a creep camp, use auto-attack on the strongest creep. Your cyclones will hit everything, so this should result in the creeps dying at approximately the same time, in the fastest manner possible, and should place you in the middle of the camp. In creep waves, you want to place yourself between the ranged creep and the melee creeps, and attack the ranged creep first. Then last hit as needed.
If your strategy is making you rich, hooray! Continue on your build order, keep neutraling as above. You are going to need to support a tower push and defense here and there. Go in, use the ulty, kill and escape. Do not linger anywhere very long except to support a push that will result in kills/tower kills. You can go in against the tower first with your shield up, and if your ulty is still up, you can drop it to speedkill the tower a la Defiler. If you're late getting towers down, you can sneak out of the jungle and nail one and head right back in while the other guys are pushing another lane. Be ready to execute a leap/TP out.
As for ganking, you should aim for your teammates to stun and kill mobile blinking heroes first. Kill Valkyrie, Hag, Magmus, Magebane, etc else they will leap out of your ulty. You should be getting at least two in the ulty radius anyway, but you want to kill at least two, not just one. Other than that, you want to focus AOE stunners - again, Magmus, along with Pyromancer, Hellbringer, Madman, etc. Get in, and win or lose, get out fast.
Enemy heroes who know what they're doing, particularly melee heroes, are going to build the savage mace to counter you if they view you as a threat. Yes, Savage Mace's proc passes through evasion. Oh no. What do you do? Nothing. They just spent 5000 gold to counter Zephyr and not someone else on your team (ie, your main carry/tank). You win. Just don't be the first guy to land in front of them, and drop the ulty before they can drop the savage. Keep focusing their dmg/nukers, even if it's the tank with the mace. You shouldn't be worrying about tanks while your ulty is going unless they're the last ones left anyway. You can also exit towards the tail end of your ulty if you're that worried about it. Remember, unless you are having an extraordinary game and your other carry has dc'd or failed, you are not carrying the game. If you are, adjust your build accordingly. Wingbow's evasion does not STACK, but does proc separately for ranged attacks, since wind shield reflects them rather than evading them. So, build that, and possibly lifesteal as well, and hope the other team blows or that you can just get so farmed on neutrals and creep waves that they can do nothing but gnash their teeth in fury as you farm you way to victory. This usually will not work. For the nth time, you're not front-line. You're reinforcements.
On that note, this guide assumes quite a bit. Zephyr is a hard hero to play properly and almost impossible when on a lousy team. Only when he's left totally alone can he hope to carry a team that isn't complementary. Don't pick Zephyr unless you think you can make him fit.
AVOID PLAYING WITH: Ophelia, Legionnaire. This jungle ain't big enough for both of us.
Pestilence - Hard-counters stealth heroes and is a good carry for you to support, and benefits immensely from your ulty in that he bashes and does good damage. Probably your bestest friend. <3
Hammerstorm - He initiates, you leap and ulty. He ulties and goes absolutely batshit.
Pebbles - He initiates, you leap and ulty. His base damage crushes everything.
Chronos - He's the real carry. He should be in the other lane since he's not going to do well soloing. The problem here is that he often needs some neutrals and you're hogging them all. Jerk. But his leap plus your leap/ulty is pretty hilarious. Either one of you opening with an ulty to delay the enemy is fine. Better for it to be him. Just sit on the border of the sphere and drop your ulty before it expires and then move in and clean house.
Keeper of the Forest - Stacking your ulty on top of his is, again, hilarious, especially if one of you already has mock.
Voodoo Jester - your ulty increases the attack speed of his ulty. Trust me, this is worth trying at least once, especially with the three-way boosted ulty. PEWPEWPEW. He fires cocktail, you leap and ulty, he cursed grounds and ulties. GENOCIDE. Good luck setting that one up, though.
COUNTERS FOR ZEPHYR:
Stealth - Get Eye, be paranoid. But still the easiest way to screw up Zephyr's day. NH's cloud is the worst since all your abilities are active. If he's smart, he'll wait until your neutraling and your shield drops, and poof. Run and leap over trees in the direction of help/tower.
Nukers - They can outlane you early quite easily, esp. if you aren't laning with a ranged hero. Watch out for Pyro and Vindicator in particular. Pyro can pretty much zap you to death unless you're near full health and Vindicator means you aren't leaping anywhere. Thankfully Vindicator is probably not going to wander around your jungle very much and won't build stealth items. If you see a nuker entering your jungle, the stealth hero is probably already there. LEAP.
That's it. Mix and match to your liking.