Think about what you believe to be the best neutral creep in Dota 2. Most will point to the Centaur Conqueror for its classic Hoof Stomps, the Alpha Wolf for its powerful Packleader’s Aura, or even the new Dark Troll Summoner for its ridiculous pushing potential.
But instead, it’s one humble creep from the small camp that’s making a strong case as the game’s most broken neutral creep—the once-overlooked Harpy Scout.
7.31 made Harpy Scout a mobile ward
The new Dota 2 7.31 patch gave Harpy Scout, previously just passive fodder, a new ability: Take Off. The new skill gives the creep flying movement and vision, at the cost of a movement speed slow and five mana drain every second.
The Harpy Scout is arguably even better than a normal Observer Ward due to its flying vision. It has 1800 vision range, both day and night (most heroes have reduced 1800/800 day/night vision). Wards have ground vision, so unless they’re put on the common cliff spots that are easy to guess for enemies, it’s likely that some of its vision will be limited.
But the creep can simply fly up cliffs and high grounds, plopping themselves in vision blocking areas like trees and even the Roshan pit, making it even tougher for the enemy team to find it and kill it.
In this clip from game two between Tundra Esports and Nigma Galaxy on March 29 in the DPC Europe Tour 2 Division 1, Tundra’s Harpy Scout simply sat in the trees, undetectable to Nigma. Tundra moved in to take an easy fight, with both supports dying unanswered.
In comparison with another flying unit—Beastmaster’s Hawk—the Harpy Scout has twice its vision range at max level, and can move around as needed. Of course, Call of the Wild Hawk is still much more spammable, but the large vision range for the Scout can be beneficial to keep it out of harm’s way in contested areas.
That’s good and all, but the Scout can’t fly forever, since mana limitations are meant to be, well, limitations. After all, you can’t just infinitely sustain something that uses mana, right?
Helm of the Dominator makes Harpy Scout free-to-use
Helm of the Dominator gives dominated creeps four mana regeneration. Coupled with the Harpy Scout’s base one mana regen, the mana drain—which costs five mana per second—is nullified.
What you get is a self-sustaining mobile ward that’s extremely difficult to kill with its increased health, armor, and ability to fly over unpathable terrain. It’s little wonder that so many support players are opting for a non-traditional item simply for the Harpy Scout.
Plus, even if the Harpy Scout dies, it actually gives less gold and experience than an Observer. Of course, they are not as easily accessible as a ward, so they are more valuable because of scarcity and possible difficulty in finding them.
Regardless, pro teams seem to have quickly caught on to the potential of this flying radar. Notably, Artour “Arteezy” Babaev has elected to publish one of his rare tweets about how broken the Harpy Scout is, while Aydin “iNSaNiA” Sarkohi echoed the sentiment.
How will it get nerfed?
This strategy will get nerfed. It just depends on when.
It’s possible that the Scout’s ability will be removed entirely, but it’s more likely that only the flying vision part—the real problem—will be axed. Unobstructed sight is a powerful ability reserved for just a few heroes, with many heroes getting it removed from their kits, including Winter Wyvern in 6.78 and Batrider in 7.23.
Another way to nerf Take Off will be to reduce the unit’s vision range. It’s one of two neutral units in the game to have 1800/1800 day/night vision, while Slark is the only hero with those attributes. Reducing both stats will make the Harpy less effective, but still viable enough for teams who really strive for a vision advantage.