UPDATED June 29
This is my personal guide to the full ice TB build. I will not put a skill order because I believe one has to adapt during a game. Generally I tend to favor these priorities :
1- Rain of ice (RoI) - Nice AOE damage and your only ranged stand alone spell.
2- Permafrost - For fleeing, slowing down fleeing ennemies and mana regen
3- Ice Nova - for disabling towers, stunning DG and incapacitating ennemy DG minions. And most importantly, interrupting potions and enemies teleporting.
4- Shatter - Used for Nova + RoI combo and interrupting spells / preventing use of abilities
Rain of Ice II is a skill you should have as soon as possible (rank 4) because it allows you to take out a basic creep wave (minautors + archers) in one shot.
First real choice kicks in at level 5, where you have to choose between Ice Nova and Permafrost II (I usually go for the latter for the nice mana regen, especially combined with the Fire aura bonus).
The use of shatter
I would not focus on shatter early game because it uses a lot of mana for little result. Remember that when you use shatter, you consume the ice nova and RoI debuffs on the ennemy (speed reduction and attack speed reduction). Frost TB is about controlling a fight, so you want those effects to apply as long as possible.
I use shatter only in 3 situations : when I'm 100% to get a kill with it, late game when I have at at max rank with the RoI tree maxed out for triple effect, and that really hurts, or when I want to interrupt someone.
Shatter is one of the best interrupts in the game. Huge range, instant cast and you get to increase cooldowns which is a HUGE tactical advantage if you time it right. This ability has no effect on spells ready to use, but affect spells on cooldown. Let me explain with an example. Sedna is pissing you off healing every 6 sec ? Let her do a first heal, then start focusing her. After 2-3 sec, stun, RoI + shatter her. You'll do a nice burst damage and you will prevent her from using her heal for between 5 and 7 sec, which is reallyyyyyyyy long. If your team mates are focusing her, there's no way she'll survive (her priests will still be frozen most likely).
Use shatter to interrupt potions and teleports, and other long casts (Rook's hammer slam, Erebus' Mass stun, Fire TB Fireball etc...)
Things you need to understand before playing (ice) TB :
- You are VERY squishy at the beginning.
- Very mana dependent early in the game, so don't waste a RoI to kill a mob wave if you got time to kill them with autoattack.
- never ever try to 2v1. Run. True at every level.
1 - Analyze and game start
This phase starts even before the game is launched. Look at the ennemy DG and start preparing your strategy. If enemy teams have Regulus or UB for instance, you will need Armor and Health items early as well as a couple of combat potions. CHECK SPEED OF ENEMY DG.
2 - Early game
Buy the boots of speed and head out. Try to level up as fast as possible. This is relatively easy for TB, thanks to his high weapon damage and AOE spell Rain of Ice. Thats why it's obviously the first skill you should train up. Go to a creep spot, kill a wave with a RoI, switch to fire for improved mana regen, wait, switch back to ice when creep shows up, kill it, repeat etc... Depending on the map, try to cap undefended flags in between waves for more XP / War score. Avoid 1v1 until at least level 5 (Frost Nova)
If you're camping at a flag waiting for creep and a DG shows up, fall back a bit in range of a friendly tower, wait for creep wave, kill it, fall back etc. If more than 1 DG show up, run and choose another spot for leveling. You can also help support killing an enemy DG easily by staying hidden in the FOW, waiting for your teammate to get him into low health, than approach him (permafrost slowing effect) and RoI him for dps, usually dealing the killing blow.
DG you definitely want to avoid early on are UB (spit, big range and hurts really bad) and Regulus (higher range than you and snipe).
2 - Mid game
One of the nicest abilities of the Ice TB is the possibility to disable ennemy towers with Frost Nova. Take out single towers in between creep waves for better end game pushing. You can now try to take on enemy DG. Remember that longer fights usually disadvantage you, so you want to kill your enemy quickly.
Switch to fire when your ennemy is still out of range, and switch immediately back to ice to get the improved weapon damage bonus. Open combat with RoI, so the ennemy's healthbar take a nice drop and his reinforcements/minions die (usually, if you have maxed RoiI for your level). Then just hit him with your normal weapon (with dmg bonus from switch) until your RoI is up again. Ideally get him to 30% life. The initial RoI + Permafrost attack rate malus help sustaining incoming DG damage. If the enemy DG health is low enough, Frost Nova him + RoI + Shatter. If he's not dead yet, he usually starts running. Thanks to permafrost and boots (see items below) you should be able to finnish him. If you have a Regulus in your team, now is the time to call for snipe support.
3 - End game
I believe that ice TB kick ass in late game, because he can be 3 or 4 levels ahead of other DG. Also, thanks to the permafrost and Ice nova, you can easily cap ennemy portals, lock them and run away. Freeze the defending towers with nova, cap flag, lock, defend / run. Also the debuffs provided by your Frost Nova and RoI are a big help in group fights.
You're also a nightmare for most general DG, as you can instapop their minions. Yes Erebus, I'm talking about you Oh yes, and tower Rooks tend to hate you too when you just walk into their farm and freeze it for 10 sec. At level 15 get the biting chill for x3 shatter effect. In group fights, you'll be finisher and preventing other DG from retreating.
UPDATED v1.1 : Getting your weaknesses covered (items)
Favor Items: I'd say there are 3 choices, based on your play style and team lineup.
- Blood of the Fallen (800 HP +5HP/sec) is just the best non artifact HP-wise item in game. I'd go for this one if you start playing TB or if you don't have any support DG in your team.
- Staff of Renewal (+200 HP +175 Mana and -20% cooldown). Cooldown bonus makes a huge difference. I'd say this should be your standard choice, especially if you have support on your team.
- Swift Anklet - +15% speed. I'll detail that in my special build at the end of this guide.
Must have item : boots of speed (1.000g, boots, early game).If you dont have speed you'll be focused most of the time.
Seriously, the 10% speed boots + Permafrost is the best way to get out when you're getting ganked. Good players will be fast so don't stay close unless you have to (ice nova).
I suggest playing the ice TB with only 1 mana item : Vlemish Faceguard +1050 mana, +15 mana/sec (1.750g). the reason is quite simple. You need 3 item slots for HP/armor or you'll just die all the time. Use your mana carefully, make full use of Fire aura + Permafrost mana regen bonus and you should be alright.
Buy the Nimoth Chest Armor (1.500g, +500 Health +750 Armor) as soon as you can, even before vlemish faceguard. It will provide a nice 30% damage reduction which will allow you to stay a bit longer in combat and even risk chasing a DG near his towers. After that, I get unbreakable boots (1.500g +600HP, +800 Mana, +5HP/sec) and Groffling Warplate (5.200g, +675 Health, +1200 Armor, 1% chance on hit to gain a shield that absorbs 300 damage for 10 seconds). You should have all these items by level 10, so you'll have around 5.000 HP and roughly 45% damage reduction.
Late game item replacement :
Vlemsih Faceguard ---> Hungarling's Crown
Boots of Speed ---> Journeyman Treads
Nimroth Chest ---> Gold plate
I personally don't have much money left for trinkets, but Wand of Speed is always a good choice. Always have HP potions and TP scrolls. TP scrolls are vital for your team mates. Just wait for a 1v1 to engage near a friendly flag, TP in a get a kill !
Also, with the HoL nerf, the Magnus Rod (3250g, -50% on spell costs for 5 sec every 15 sec, +50% mana regen) is a really good choice. Casting at half price is always good if you have only one mana item, and the passive 50% mana regen kicks ass.
As for artifacts, I usually don't use them because i'd rather spend that money for citadel upgrades.
I hope you enjoyed reading that guide as much as I enjoyed writing it (during a long and boring night shift at work). If you're still not convinced of playing an Ice built TB, let me try this : it's the only DG that says "Ice, ice, baby"....
Speedy Icy, the fastest Torch Bearer in Mexico
This is my current TB build. I just love it. Suited for 3v3 or more players. Play it with friends or people you trust, cause it requires teamplay. It's based on Speed + HP. Get Swift Anklet + Boots of speed at the beginning for awesome 7.5 speed right at start. Speed is great because :
- You can get to cap flags faster
- You can go assist your friends faster
- You can chase ennemy DG with Permafrost aura
- You have no problems fleeing if needed (always watch out for Spit and Snipe)
- You can run back to base faster to regen.
After that, focus on HP and armor items, just as described in the items section.
Playstyle : Thanks to your speed you can cap flags pretty fast. Use it. Then try to level up fast and us eyour speed to surprise ennemies engaged with your team mates. Ideally, i have the guy currently fighting stun the target so I have time to rush in, hit frost nova, get back cast RoI and spamm autoattack.
Also, if you manage your mana correctly, you can harrass enemy DG by closing in, casting RoI, and running back. After a couple of times they will be pissed off and either start pursuing you or switching lanes.
Good ennemy players will be very fast too, (especially Beasts and Oaks), so always try and keep those at bay and max out Permafrost for your level. If you want to be sure, get a Wand of Speed.
Always carry at least 1 TP scroll for the "guess who's coming for dinner" effect. Make sure to get flag locks as soon as your team buys giants and go cap portals.