A few disclaimers before I begin:
As you may have noticed the slightly quirky title, I am not exactly qualified to write a guide on Kestrel. The reason is mainly because I am not in a skill tier of which is recommended to write guides. I am hovering in the lowly rank of rock solid bronze.
Before you press the back button and downvote this, let me say why I am writing this. I play a lot of Kestrel, enough for me to understand her ins and outs, the numbers and tricks to exploit them.
However, in this guide, the builds and ability levels are purely my own, and I am not sure if they are recommended. They are simply what works for me and what lets me win. I'm sure other guides will help you in that area. But I do hope that I will give enough information to help you in playing Stormguard's archer.
Lastly, if you disagree with any parts of my guide, do let me know. All of this comes solely from my personal experience of playing Kestrel in low elos
Adrenaline (Heroic Perk):
Whenever Kestrel lands a basic attack, she gains 5% attack speed and reduces the cost of her abilities by 10%. This stacks up to 5 times and and wears off after 4 seconds.
Not a lot to say here. Moving on...
Kestrel fires an arrow, landing an armor-piercing basic attack on the first target in its path. The arrow then pierces through, dealing crystal damage to the target and other enemies behind it.
Kestrel can keep several arrows in reserve. After 3.3 seconds without using her bow, these arrows are automatically reloaded. Reload time is decreased based on attack speed.
Ok, firstly, note that Glimmershot is counted as a basic attack, meaning that her passive will proc from landing this ability, as well as other items like
Alternating Current. Anything that says basic attack, Glimmershot procs it, but only on the first target. That's very important.
Secondly, "using her bow" refers to her basic attacks, Glimmershot, and One Shot One Kill.
Lastly, her reload speed goes under the formula of 3.3/(1+bonus attack speed*0.5), as given by brokenmyth,net.
Active Camo (B):
Kestrel instantly vanishes from sight and gains bonus move speed. Additionally, she leaves an invisible phosphor mist at her location, revealing enemies as they walk through it. If Kestrel deals damage to an enemy hero within the mist, the mist will detonate, damaging and stunning all enemies within its area for 0.8 seconds.
Landing the primary impact of Glimmershot will reduce the cooldown by 1.5 seconds. However, Active Camo cannot be triggered while Kestrel is taking damage from an enemy hero, putting it on a 2.5 second cooldown. The length of time Active Camo is disabled is reduced by bonus weapon power.
The mist does not automatically activate when you activate the ability until after about 0.75 seconds. So activating the ability when there's an enemy next to you does not mean you should immediately attack the guy, because a) it won't stun and damage him, and b) you'll be unstealthed.
Another thing is that you do not have to land Glimmershot on an enemy in the mist to reduce the cooldown. Landing a Glimmershot on any enemy works as well.
One Shot One Kill (Ult):
After a delay, Kestrel fires a single arrow across the fold, impacting on the first enemy hero, large creature or structure in its path. When this hits an enemy hero, it reveals that hero and grants Kestrel full Adrenaline stacks. This deals 50% structures.
The base damage dealt by this ability is weapon damage. Higher ranks of this ability gain armor piercing.
IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT EVER USE THIS WHEN THERE IS A ENEMY CLOSE BY. YOU ARE EXTREMELY VULNERABLE AND VISIBLE TO THE ENEMY TEAM, MEANING THEY HAVE A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY TO DAMAGE YOU, AND THEY HAVE MORE TIME TO REACT TO DODGE YOUR SHOT.
The ability is clearly meant to snipe someone from afar, and that should be its use. That is not to say you should only use it for long range. There may come a time where using your ult at close range is a better choice, BUT. Those situations are few and far between.
Additionally, if you do hit your target, note that you will be revealed to the enemy team. Another reason why you should not try to use this ability close range. Even a bush won't hide you.
Item Choices: Weapon Top
Early game - A
Weapon Blade, a
Book Of Eulogies, and a pot. Reasons for Weapon Blade are obvious. The book provides sustain in lane. If you are confident in bullying your opposing laner, then purchase either a second Weapon Blade or a
1st Back - If you farm right, you should have enough gold to purchase a
Boots, 1 scout trap, a couple of flares and potions if required. If you manage to get a kill, add a
Full Build - Rush a
Sorrowblade, followed by
Breaking Point, getting
Blazing Salvo first, then going for
Tornado Trigger, then
Tyrant's Monocle. Midway, whenever you have excess gold, purchase a
Coat of Plates, or upgrade your boots. If you have mana issues, purchase a
Void Battery. By the end game, finish up your defence and boots.
Halcyon Chargers because the energy regeneration is good for when you're spamming abilities. However, if you feel like you won't be using them a lot, a
Journey Boots works as well for more offensive plays.
Aegis if there's a need to block something, like
Verse Of Judgement. Otherwise, a metal jacket is better.
Item Choices: Crystal Top
Early game - I get a
Weapon Blade because it helps with last hitting, a
Crystal Bit because you're going crystal, and a pot.
1st Back -
Heavy Prism because why not.
Energy Battery because you'll be engaging your fights from out of combat, meaning that you won't have discounted ability costs.
Full Build - Rush
Shatterglass because you need the damage output, followed by a
Frostburn so your Glimmershots are harder to dodge once you hit them with one, and a
Broken Myth. You can swap the order around as you need if enemies build shield or your targets can only seem to move in a straight line under fire. Get a
Clockwork to manage your energy, and finish off with your defence item and boots.
Why The Flares And Scout Traps? Top
"Oh my gosh don't you understand I'm the carry I can't buy these things I need the gold to buy more damage items. Flares and Scout traps are for roams to buy, jeez."
This topic should deserve an entire guide, but I'll condense as much information as I can into this.
As Kestrel, (Crystal Kestrel more specifically, but Kestrel nonetheless) you should note three things:
1. You're squishy and defenceless.
2. Vision reveals you during stealth.
3. Scout traps can see you, you cannot see them (sort of. Tip later on)
This means that you can laugh evilly to yourself as you sneak through the enemy jungle, but the minute a scout trap sees you, or a flare is placed under you, the enemy team is immediately notified of your position. They can ambush you, target you with
stuns and other things to kill you.
But, laying down a few traps scattered through the jungle and bushes in the lane can save your life. Throwing out a flare before walking into a bush can deny the enemy team a kill. Having vision is extremely important when you're playing Kestrel. Actually, playing Vainglory itself requires vision. Having that trap in your lane while farming can alert you of any ganks coming your way.
Then again, people in lower elos are pretty stupid. They don't usually buy vision.
Which brings me to my second point regarding vision. If you see the opposing team's roam have a
Contraption, or any of their team buying traps, it's safer to avoid invading the enemy jungle for fear of being discovered and killed. Usually when I'm playing Kestrel and I notice a contraption on the opposing team, I avoid going alone into bushes. Keep that in mind.
Tricks and Tips Top
1. You know how when you're in bushes, and your healthbar is slightly faded to show you're unseen? The same thing applies when you're in stealth. But when you can be seen, it's completely opaque. So when you're in stealth, and your healthbar suddenly becomes opaque, you know you can be seen. It's a good way to find those scout traps and/or
P.S: Don't tell anyone about this! It's a secret. To that 10 people who see this.
2. When you shoot and hit a target with your Glimmershot, it's counted as a basic attack hit, which triggers Adrenaline. So, firing a shot into a bush can tell you whether there's someone in there. Check the timer at the side of your screen and the counter. Of course, it must hit the enemy with the primary damage, not just the shatter area.
3. Active Camo reveals the area around it. It works as a scout trap-flare lovechild. You know, since its both temporary and deals damage, and reveals anyone walking past of course.
4. You don't necessarily have to hit the full shot of Glimmershot on your enemy. The shatter damage is pretty good as well. This means you can hit a ranged minion with the enemy hero behind him, and it'll still deal a good amount of damage, unless you're playing WP Kestrel, in which case it'll deal little damage.
4.5. Make sure there isn't an enemy minion right in front of you when you cast Glimmershot. You won't hit both the primary damage and the shatter damage.
Early Game: Carry Top
Usually, what many Kestrel players I see do is exploit the large early game damage Kestrel possesses. Unloading all four shots in the direction of the enemy carry, whether there are minions in the way or not. This is not a great way to harass. What you should do is maintain a good amount of cs, whilst punishing any positioning mistakes your enemy carry makes.
This means that you should try to maintain your adrenaline stacks as much as possible. Do not constantly attack the minions as this pushes your wave, opening you up to early ganks. Rather you should only last hit minions and give one attack to minions only when your timer of your stacks is about to run out. Use Glimmershot only when you see your enemy carry move into a position that is a direct shot between you and him/her, without any enemy minions blocking the path.
This is what will happen. First, the wave pushes towards you, especially if the enemy carry is a
Vox or a
Ringo. Second, you use minimal energy from any Glimmershots you may have fired since your energy costs are reduced.
Afterwards, push back, and this is where you make a decision. Technically, you should be able to win any trades. Aforementioned, Kestrel's damage output is huge with her Glimmershots alone, but many factors will affect that. Number of minions nearby, any abilities used by your enemy laner, items available (usually just a
Potion, presence of any nearby heroes, ally or enemy. Do not blindly attack your laner.
A thing I see a lot of low elo
Ringos do is spam
Twirling Silver so that their wave pushes in. Mind you, it's not a bad strategy. What is bad is that they lose a huge damage boost for any trades their enemy carry may want to do, yet they still push in without waiting for the ability to come off its cooldown. Likewise, when you're playing Kestrel, your enemy carry may try to start a trade when he sees you run out of arrows. Hence, when you do run out of arrows, retreat slightly to wait for the reload. Do not be scared you will lose your Adrenaline stacks. The latter has a duration of 4 seconds, while the reload time for Glimmershot is, at max, 3.3 seconds.
Therefore, with this in mind, try to go for trades when you know you have a significant advantage over your opponent. You can either quickly clear your opponents wave and immediately start attacking, or pretend to start a trade, then back off when your opponent has used an ability. Although most of the time, in low elos, the enemy will blindly use their abilities. So exploit that weakness and you should be able to win your lane and get a few kills too.