The dark mage Samuel was fostered in Trostan, first a student of the grumpy winter mage Reim and then later Lyra, in the Mage Guild of Gythia.
He can control large areas with his abilities but can be easily caught if he’s played too aggressively. Samuel is best suited for laning, though many have found he can roam well in the hands of a capable player.
Malice & Verdict
Samuel fires two quick shots from his wands at a target location that impact on the first enemy hit. He can move between the shots. If Samuel is standing inside the field from Drifting Dark, this ability is empowered. While empowered, the shots move faster, travel farther, deal additional damage and burst upon impact dealing damage in a small area.
Priority: Level this first. Max this first. Get it into overdrive asap.
Samuel’s bread-and-butter skill. When you first tap on it you’ll see a typical targeting circle. Tap anywhere within the circle, and Samuel will fire two shots at that spot. Bear in mind that you are not indicating direction with that second tap – you are indicating the exact spot Samuel will shoot at. After he’s fired the first bolt, you can tap anywhere to move him, and he will fire the second regardless.
Notes: Malice & Verdict can be blocked by minions, so try not to use it when there are too many targets. It’s also not a spammable ability due to Samuel’s energy-hungry nature. Use it sparingly when you have the space to poke, and avoid wasting it on minions unless you have core items already built.
Samuel creates a large field of darkness that slowly drifts forward, damaging enemies who stand inside it. If Samuel also stands inside, he heals for a small amount for each affected target.
Priority: Put 1 point in here at lv2, and 1 more point in when Malice & Verdict is lv4. In overdrive, Drifting Dark moves faster, so it’s best not to max it till late game.
Drifting Dark is a particularly flexible skill. You can use it in a variety of ways: CC the enemy, aid your escape, or aid your offense. Like Malice & Verdict, you tap once to select the skill and then indicate the direction in which it will move.
Notes: In the early game, you can use it to bully the enemy laner, as it can easily block off half the lane. While Malice & Verdict gains power when you stand in Drifting Dark, be careful about when you use this combination. Your first instinct may be to cast Drifting Dark in the direction of the enemy and chase them, but this may well kill you.
Depending on how the team fight is going, it might be better to cast it in the direction in which you are fleeing, to aid your escape while poking the chasing enemies. If you’re hiding in the grass, you can sometimes send a Drifting Dark upwards to the enemy turret to kill a retreating enemy at low health. It’s all very situational, so use it how you see fit, and don’t always charge along with it.
Ultimate. After a short delay, Samuel summons a phantasm at the target location, which puts nearby enemies to sleep. Enemies inflicted are unable to move or act.
Dealing direct damage to a sleeping enemy with an attack or ability will wake them up.
Priority: Sink at least 2 points into this quickly, so that you can use it for mid game team fights. You can max Oblivion first before Drifting Dark or the other way around if you can handle the increased movement speed of DD.
Notes: Samuel’s ultimate is not for busting enemies down. It’s a precious utility skill that can make or break team fights. When deciding whether to use this ability, consider two things: is the enemy alone, and are their allies coming?
If there are two enemies, target either the carry or the roamer. Putting the former to sleep will give you time to pick off the roamer, and putting the latter to sleep will disable support for the enemy carry. Try to coordinate with your team where you can, since they will wake prematurely if one of your allies attacks the sleeping enemy.
If Taka or Skye is in the enemy team: be very careful. These two heroes can easily destroy Samuel. Try not to engage them one on one. Put Oblivion on them so that you can finish off the other carry and then focus fire on the remaining one with your team.
Heroic Perk. Every 6 seconds, Samuel’s next basic attack fires a bolt of dark power at the target, dealing 50-160 (+60% CP) bonus crystal damage. Samuel then draws that power back to himself, restoring 50-160 health and 50-160 energy. The restorative effects are only 25% as effective against non-heroes.
Notes: Samuel’s Heroic Perk is important in his kit. It turns his next basic attack into a lightning bolt that steals health and energy as well as does damage. But only its damage scales with his level. Where possible, try to poke the enemy laner when it’s up. You can also use it to sustain yourself during team fights.
+150 Crystal Power
Pure CP. Pure power. Rush this first.
+70 Crystal Power, +10% Shield Pierce
Amplify all crystal damage by 10% for each second you are in combat with enemy heroes, turrets, or Kraken. After 5 seconds, lose a stack each second. Max 3 stacks.
Rush this second after Shatterglass. Why Broken Myth over Frostburn? Having a 10% Shield Pierce allows you to do more damage against enemies with shields or Aegis. Coupled with the crystal damage stacks, you can deal almost 100 more CP damage than if you took Frostburn second.
+200 Max Health, +15% Cooldown Speed, +250 Max Energy, +4 Energy Recharge
Passive: +0.5 move speed. (Does not stack with other boots.), Travel.
Activate: Sprint for 3s (50s cooldown).
Get this third. Now you’ll have more energy, faster CD, and you have a means of escaping bad team fights. Or chasing down that annoying carry.
+125 Shield, +30 Armor, +200 Max Health
Activate: Reflex Block (35s cooldown)
Samuel is still a squishy aggressive hero, so always build Aegis and Metal Jacket after the three core items. This will help him last longer, especially with a well-timed Reflex Block.
+35 Shield, +170 Armor
Same as Aegis: Metal Jacket gives you a bit more survival during hectic team fights.
+100 Crystal Power
Passive: Dealing crystal damage to enemy heroes will also slow for 1.5s; target can’t be affected by Frostburn again for 2 seconds thereafter. Slows by 10% + 1% per 10 crystal power. Max 35% slow.
Frostburn’s slow is great for keeping enemies in Drifting Dark a little longer, and also allows your allies to chase down low-health heroes.
Eve of Harvest
+10% Crystal Lifesteal, +55 Crystal Power, +250 Max Energy, +5 Energy Recharge
While Eve of Harvest looks like the perfect answer to Samuel’s energy-hungry kit, it doesn’t need to be rushed. If you time your use of Corrupted Genius well, you can sustain yourself in lane during early game. It’s during team fights that Eve starts to shine, allowing you to use your kit more often to take down the enemy team. As such, it’s still essential, but not one of the main few you should rush unless the situation calls for it.
+300 Max Energy, +4 Energy Recharge
Activate: The last ability to be put on cooldown is refreshed (115% of the ability’s cooldown + 10s cooldown).
If you find you’re still running out of energy too quickly, Echo helps. And it also gives you a free extra ultimate if your first Oblivion misses.
+85 Armor, +35 Shield
Activate: Maim nearby enemies, lowering their attack speed by 50% of their total for 4s in a 4-meter range. (20s cooldown)
Get Atlas Pauldron if you’re going up against two WP carries. You’ll need the extra armour to survive. The active can help you last in team fights.
+50% Cooldown Acceleration, +250% Max Energy, +7.4 Energy Recharge
Clockwork better suits a high-energy build. If you do use Clockwork for the faster CD and energy, swap out Shatterglass for it. Try not to swap Frostburn with Clockwork as that slow is still far more useful than Clockwork’s benefits.
If you’re feeling unsure, start with two potions and one Crystal Bit. Why not Energy Battery? Some swear by it, but I favour raw damage for poking.
Generally, if I’m up against the likes of Petal or Phinn in lane or working with friends, I go with two Crystal Bits instead. This is normally for jungle Samuel due to its relative safety, so it’s not advised in serious play unless you’re sure your team can back you up, as this leaves you with little defence if your enemy laner plays aggressively. But the damage boost helps greatly when it comes to poking in the early game – you can score kills if they’re caught off guard.
Pay attention to Corrupted Genius and try to save it for the enemy laner. Once it’s up, try to poke them, as this recovers both your health and energy for free. While Corrupted Genius is on cooldown, feel free to last-hit minions while waiting.
You can afford to play aggressive with the enemy due to your range, though be careful with heroes like Skye in lane, especially when you’re at half health or lower. With Skye for instance, keep out of range of her Forward Barrage. Always watch the minimap; if the enemy roamer seems to be missing, you may want to be careful.
Play defensive against heroes like Taka, Alpha and Koshka, who can easily close the gap and rip through you. Try not to engage them alone – or target them first in team fights.
You should have core items by now. If you still don’t have Shatterglass, rush that asap or you won’t do enough damage. Watch what the enemy builds: if they have a WP build on their side, get Atlas Pauldron and Metal Jacket. If there’s no WP, you can focus on more support with items like Fountain of Renewal, or rack up that energy recharge with Echo or Clockwork.
In team fights, stay behind as much as possible, and combo Malice & Verdict, followed by Oblivion, and then Drifting Dark. Alternatively, save your ultimate for fleeing opponents – or to interrupt an ultimate. The sleep inflicted on them could make the life or death difference between a mere victory or an Ace.
You’re either built for the Ace now or on the losing end. Rush the towers, summon the Kraken, deny the enemy and rack up those kills. Go own the Halcyon Fold, brother.
Top image credit: Super Evil Megacorp
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