A More Informative But Less Qualified Guide To Kestrel by Aedridon

A More Informative But Less Qualified Guide To Kestrel

By: Aedridon
Last Updated: Sep 9, 2017
9 Votes
Build 1 of 2

Introduction Top

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.

Update 9/9/17 Autumn Season 2017:

I got Rank 8 bronze last season! Not using Kestrel, but that's good. That does mean I have to change up a few things though.

Abilities Top

Adrenaline (Heroic Perk):

Whenever Kestrel lands a basic attack,she 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...

Glimmershot (A):

Kestrel fires an arrow, landing a 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 Aftershock and 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.


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 Swift Shooter, and a pot. Reasons for Weapon Blade are obvious. Swift Shooter is to give you the boost in attack speed.

1st Back - If you farm right, you should have enough gold to purchase a Heavy Steel, Blazing Salvo and boots (in order of priority). Get scout traps, flares and pots if necessary.

Full Build - Rush a Breaking Point, followed by a Sorrowblade, but buy another Salvo first, then going for Tornado Trigger, then Tyrant's Monocle. Midway, whenever you have excess gold, purchase a Kinetic Shield, 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.

I get 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.

I get Aegis if there's a need to block something, like Forced Accord, Gauntlet, or 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.

Crystal And Weapon Paths Top

Playing Kestrel of her two paths lead to two completely different playstyles. I'm going to point out a lot, if not all, of them.


- Damage relies more on basic attacks.
- Active Camo's duration is shorter, allowing more kiting plays. Disabled duration of the ability is much shorter.
- One Shot One Kill deals way less damage.
- Playstyle is more that of a carry: staying in the backlines, maintaining proper positioning, but sticking with the team.
- Consistent damage


- Main damage source is from Glimmershot.
- Active Camo's duration is much longer, allowing for more deceptive plays. Mist also deals a lot of damage. Most of the time a mist activation plus two arrows can take out a squishy. However, the disabled duration is not reduced, meaning that you are much more vulnerable if you get caught.
- One Shot One Kill deals a lot of damage.
- Playstyle is more assassin based: Hiding behind the enemy team, engaging and killing the enemy squishies before retreating back into stealth.
- Burst damage

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 annoying Bleekos.

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.

(For weapon Kestrel, hitting your Glimmershots (the primary impact damage) just became a lot more crucial now that the damage at rank one just got shot up to 100& weapon ratio.)

Mid Game: Weapon Carry Top

Let's assume you've played the worst you could. You're 0/3. The enemy team took one gold mine. Your tower is gone. Your jungler is questioning your life choices of playing this game by spamming ? pings and your roam has decided crystal Phinn sounds like a really good idea. At that point, you should surrender, but if your team is still forging on and your roam has at least got fountain and is working his or Lyra's way to a Crucible or a and your jungler has not made the literal life changing decision to marry the enemy turret and/or crystal miner by attacking it and standing there taking the abuse like a good husband would, good. Here's some tips.

I am however, going to assume you're competent at game and common sense, but since I'm a pessimistic guy, here's a basic lesson. Your enemy has a 100g first blood + 300g gold mine + 200x2 hero kill + 75g assist + 40cs lead, you only have 30cs and maybe an assist or 2. You tell me, who has more items and more stats? Basic. Logic. Do not ever try to engage on your enemy laner when you damn well know they have a gold lead over you.

So please, for the love of Krul's dead heart, play safe. Keep your vision up. Don't ever facecheck bushes unless you either throw a flare or fired a Glimmershot or you know where they are. Keep farming. Maintain your cs. You're playing in solo queue, so that means you lack communication with your team, save for pings, so more likely than not, your team will ping to fight. DO NOT FOLLOW, if you know it's a bad idea. If your team is losing and your Taka wants to start a gold mine fight with all three members of the enemy team alive, ping to not do that. Even if they go ahead and pretend your warning ping was a ping of a mom's encouragement when she sees her daughter's "beautifully drawn" picture of herself, just ignore them, go back to your lane where it's safe and happy and continue farming. Afterwards, when your Taka is dead, proceed to mute the oncoming wave of ? pings.

The only time you should fight is when the other team does what I've just described: making a mistake. Their Ringo shopping alone when your team is closing in? You chop off his other arm and hand it to Glaive. Krul trying to take a sneaky gold mine while his team is backing? Put more holes in him than Hellrazor ever could. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that you should capitalise on their mistakes and bad decisions. Trust me, if they're ahead, they will make mistakes, most of the time by getting cocky. Every free kill without sustaining one on your team is a lead.

Meanwhile, you should be dealing damage with your basic attacks by now. A Sorrowblade and a Breaking Point usually amounts to good damage on their carry. That's good. The faster you get the enemy team to respect your damage, the better.

Now, if you actually did well, things are different. Assuming the enemy team's carry thought he or Gwen didn't have emotions and found zero hope in humanity and hence proceeded to suicide, and the enemy Lance thought this was Battle Royale and rushed a Tension Bow instead of playing roam, congratulations! This time, you're ahead. Your team is ahead! Your whole life is ahead of you!

So don't mess it up. But it's okay! I'm here to play the role of counsellor and get your life back on track, and your gameplay.

A few things to note: 1. You deal damage. Your basic attacks hurt. Your Glimmershots chunk. Your ults took out Lincoln and JFK. The enemy team is terrified to step into a bush in case you appear out of nowhere and unload hell on their faces. You are a threat, one that they don't know how to deal with.

So make use of that advantage. Group with your team. Don't go alone. Even though you deal damage, you're still squishy. You cannot handle a 3v1. You can however, fight solo. Take out carries looking to take down your turret. Ambush them from the bush. Use your stealth to get in their faces, breath down their neck and taste their fear, then as they turn around with eyes widened, you grin with malice and fire four bolts of death through their bodies, and enter the shadows once more with their lifeless corpses strewn on the ground of the Fold.

This would be a good time to advertise my writing blog, but I'll resist the temptation.

Anyways, tldr: fight solo, not when you're outnumbered. Ambush them when they don't expect it.

Mid Game: Crystal Carry Top

Playing Crystal takes you into a whole new different world. You become an assassin utilizing stealth and deception. By now, with your CP items, your stealth duration should be quite long, long enough such that you can eternally remain in stealth assuming you have unlimited energy.

Which you don't. And that is what doesn't make this ability sound super broken. "Wow. Stealthing forever? That's broken." In theory, it does sound like it is, but her energy cost of this ability, 160 at all ranks, is a huge price to pay. To put that in perspective, you have 404-492 energy. Using that ability once consumes almost half of your energy at level 1, and roughly 30% at max rank.

That's the reason why Halcyon Chargers and Clockwork is in my build: to help with the huge costs. That and your passive which reduces the cost your abilities by 10% every stack, up to 50%.

My suggestion? If you're about to go on a run through the enemy jungle, hit the treant adjacent to the tribush a few times before stealthing. Also, use the ability sparingly. Don't just recast it just because your stealth is running out, or for the bonus movement speed (unless you're walking out from base).

The next thing is to always keep track of your opponent's items. Specifically, this , this and (god forbid the enemy roam is decent) THIS . These are your item-wise worst nightmares. The minute you get spotted by a trap or a flare (look at tip 1), run away, whether it's to your team, base or crystal miner. You can try to proc the trap it if the enemy team are visible (ALL OF THEM), or they're dead, or both.

If you see the roam has purchased a Contraption, I immediately become way more passive with my stealthy adventures and stick with my team more often.

Late Game: Carry Top

Whether you're WP or CP, always stay with your team unless you're sure you're in a safe position: when you know the positions of the enemy team, or if you want to try something risky, which I will talk about now.

I know I talked about playing safe all the time, but there is a certain point in time where it's possible to go alone. I sometimes try to get a pick on the enemy carry, since Kestrel has a stun and a lot of damage, so it's possible to kill the enemy squishy, especially if I'm fed.

So I basically wait in a bush, either the tribush or the lane bush at the choke point. Note that you should not try anything if more than one person shows up. Of course, I'm assuming the game is relatively balanced and the power ceiling has been hit. Ok, so Kestrel is still a squishy hero, so 1v2 is out of the question, and 1v3 is practically begging to lower your skill tier. Lastly, make sure you have an escape plan. Either put a scout trap behind you so the enemy jungler or roam isn't flanking there, or have you and/or your team check the area beforehand. Boots and Reflex Block is pretty important as well.

So let's say you find the enemy carry venturing alone and you catch him off guard. If you don't succeed in killing him and he's sprinting away. Should you chase? I wouldn't, unless I was sure I'd be able to get out. It's highly likely his team is racing towards him asap and coming for you as well. You also have to factor in their team. Is their team a Phinn and a Reim, or a Catherine and a Taka? Think about your decisions carefully. Being the carry, your death could result in a loss in the late game.

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