SlashStrike’s Guide to Ember Spirit (Revised)

Xin, the Ember Spirit

1. Introduction

Hi, I’m SlashStrike, and I’m bringing you my renewed guide to Ember Spirit. He’s been one of my favourite heroes for a long time. 7.00 gave the hero many buffs and introduced talents that give Ember very different strengths and changed his available playstyles a lot. Despite this, people have the tendency to jump on a set build which they go for every game, but that is a silly thing to do with one of the most versatile heroes in the game.

If you’re looking for a guide that will tell you to buy x items and level y skills so that you can thoughtlessly repeat the same thing, this guide is not for you. If you want to understand the hero well and know about different builds, when to go for which one and to be able to adapt to the game, then keep on reading.

Lastly, with each passing version of Dota the concept of ‘bad skill and item build’ has been fading further away. Every build has different strengths and weaknesses and is therefore best suited for a particular play style, and awful for another play style. The introduction of many items and talents means that pretty much every hero is capable of many different play styles. Some play styles will have a higher winrate than others, but this could be for a variety of reasons. One play style can win you every 4k mmr solo queue game, but will lose you most 6k mmr solo queue games. One play style can win you competitive games with your team vs another team, but lose you most 5k mmr solo queue games, etc. So, bottom line, if you want to be a good and experienced player, try your best to innovate and experiment with new builds, because it will make you unpredictable and prepare you for any situation and decrease the chance that you are unable to adapt to an unusual game.

My Ember “Credentials”

According to Dotabuff I have 257 pubs played with Ember (the majority being solo ranked), and 19 competitive / “esports” games with him (including this win versus Alliance: https://www.dotabuff.com/matches/3049397146).

Unfortunately I’m not in the top 100 rankings for the hero on Dotabuff – from what I can see it says the ‘division’ of my games is too low, although the alleged #1 Ember player, Aui_2000, only has ~50 unranked party pubs played on the hero and 0 competitive games, so their system seems flawed. Dotabuff hero rankings aren’t really to be taken too seriously, but I feel it’s worth pointing out.

Disclaimer

I am in no way implying that I was the first to come up with any of these builds, or that I ‘invented’ anything to do with Ember. I am simply the person writing it down.

The Format

Nobody’s gonna watch a 2 hour video, and nobody wants to read several thousand words of raw text. This guide finds a middle ground – the basis is textual, but there are many short clips accompanying it, in which I explain and demonstrate exactly what is being discussed in the text. Look for little hyperlinks like this one: vid throughout the text, they’ll take you to a part of the video that’s relevant to the context. If you want to follow along the text, then keep clicking the links and pausing the video once you’ve seen the particular segment, but you can of course choose to watch the entire video fully here:

Lastly, if you want to see me play Ember Spirit or other heroes live at 8000+ MMR, you can check out my twitch channel as well as see my game history with him.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Significant 7.00 Changes
  3. Characteristics & Statistics
  4. Skill Builds
  5. Item Builds
  6. Laning Stage & Match-ups
  7. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos
  8. To Farm, or to Gank
  9. Closing Words

2. Significant 7.00 Changes

  • Gigantic buff to roots and therefore Searing Chains
  • 10% spell amp talent at level 10
  • +0/50/100 Fire Remnant damage vid
  • 20% Cooldown Reduction talent at level 25
  • +10 armor talent at level 20
  • Searing Chains now reveal invisible units

3. Characteristics & Statistics

Pros

  • Extremely mobile
  • Godlike talents
  • Good farmer
  • Strong at all stages of the game
  • Very hard to kill
  • Versatile playstyle

Cons

  • Weak laning stage versus some heroes
  • Low stat gain
  • Becomes item dependent after early game
19 + 2.0 22 + 1.8 20 + 1.8
Level 1 16 25
Hit Points 511 1119 1803
Mana 260 637 1079
Damage 52‒56 81‒85 115‒119
Armor 1.08 5.14 9.93
Attacks / Second 0.71 0.88 1.08
Movement Speed 310
Turn Rate 0.6
Sight Range 1800/800
Attack Range Melee
Missile Speed Instant
Attack Duration 0.4+0.3
Base Attack Time 1.7
Collision Size 24

(Thanks to Dota2wiki for the table)

His starting stats are decent, but his stat gains are terrible – this is to compensate for the hero’s powerful skillset. His movement speed is a great above average 310. His turnrate is in the middle of the pack at 0.6, to a small extent balancing his instant cast point, which is the hero’s defining aspect and also what makes his spells so powerful. His attack damage is slightly below average and attack point is average, but he is very pleasant to last-hit with due to his animation. His main weakness is his terrible base armor of 1, which is what you typically find on tanky strength heroes that build into armor items, not on a mobile agility carry. This used to be a problem in older patches with older builds, but now thanks to many armor items being viable on him, this is no longer an issue. Furthermore, if there’s any hero good at avoiding damage in fights, it’s Ember.

4. Skill Builds

Ember Spirit has one of the most flexible skill builds. This is because each of his spells scale extremely well, meaning there are no defining ‘value points’ that you can find in other heroes (i.e. spells with 50%+ of their potency at level 1).

To expand further on this, take for example DK’s stun, starting at 2.5 seconds and only increasing by 0.25 seconds as you level it, meaning a 10%, 9% and 8% increase per level. Or Phoenix’ Dive, which starts at 10 dps increasing by 20 per level. While the damage triples from level 1 to 2, you’re still adding nothing but a very small amount of extra damage to a spell primarily used for slowing or re-positioning.

Some spells scale best up to a certain level, such as Sniper’s headshot – you get the full slow from level one, but the damage starts off at 15 and increases by 25 each level, meaning you get 166%, 62.5% and 38.5% damage increase, which is why level 2 can also be considered the ‘value point’.

Ember’s skills scale in a very interesting way in the sense that there are no clear value levels or 1 point wonders, meaning the skill build is extremely adaptable to each game. Let’s take an in-depth look at each spell.

Searing Chains

Ember Spirit unleashes fiery bolas that wrap around nearby enemies, anchoring them in place and dealing damage each second.

Cast Time: 0+0.87

Search Radius: 400

Max Targets: 2

Damage per Second: 80/60/120/100

Total Damage: 80/120/240/300

Duration: 1/2/2/3

Cooldown: 14/12/10/8 Manacost: 110

Important aspects:

  • Despite the visual effects, the effects are applied instantly and can’t be disjointed.
  • The 2 units rooted are completely random, with no priorities.
  • Affected units can still turn, cast spells, use items and attack. Affected units receive a stop command upon getting rooted – what differentiates this from a ministun is that when you cancel a spell / command with Searing Chains, the enemy has to re-cast or re-issue it.
  • Roots the targets, preventing them from moving and casting certain mobility spells.
  • Interrupts channeling spells of the target upon ensnaring, but affected units can channel spells during it (keep in mind when jumping on CM/WD/Enigma etc.)
  • Provides True Sight over the targets. Does not provide True Sight if the root was applied during the fade time of invisibility spells.
  • Does not target invisible or fogged units – this means careful use when chasing someone through trees and up cliffs – you have to wait ~0.1 sec after using SoF for the vision to arrive before using Searing Chains.
  • Deals damage in 1 second intervals, starting 1 second after cast.
  • Cooldown with talent only: 6.4
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine: 4.8
  • Cooldown with talent + arcane: 4.0
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine + arcane: 2.4

Scaling:

  • 100% duration and 50% damage increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 0% duration and 100% damage increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 50% duration and 25% damage increase from level 3 -> 4.

This is usually the spell you’re going to max out second, since the duration is the same at levels 2 and 3, and you usually want more points in Flame Guard earlier on to tank up. However, sometimes when facing low-damage nukes, what you could do is buff up your level 2 Flame Guard with some raindrops, allowing you to get the level 4 chains by level 7.

Sleight of Fist

Ember Spirit dashes around with blazing speed, attacking all enemies in the targeted area of effect, then returning to his start location. Deals bonus damage to heroes, and less damage to creeps.

Cast Time: 0+0.7

Cast Range: 700

Effect Radius: 250/350/450/550

Hero Attack Damage Bonus: 20/40/60/80

Creep Attack Damage Reduction: 50%

Cooldown: 30/22/14/6 Manacost: 50

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit is invulnerable, and his model cannot be selected during Sleight of Fist. However, it does not disjoint projectiles, meaning both spells and attacks can still hit you after you are done bouncing around. If you collide with them during Sleight of Fist, they will effectively be ‘dodged’ as they hit you while you are invulnerable. This is not entirely reliable, since the jumping order is random.
  • Targets are determined upon cast. The targets have a flaming sword above their heads as an indicator, which disappears once Ember Spirit slashes them.
  • This means that units entering the targeted area after cast are not hit, and units which were in the area upon cast and leave the area will be hit, no matter how far they moved.
  • Does not mark or jump on invisible units. When a marked unit goes invisible, it will be fully skipped if it’s still invisible on his turn. Units in fog are fully affected.
  • Jumps in 0.2 second intervals. The jumps are randomly between all marked units, there are no priorities. The damage is dealt immediately upon each jump. *Note: the cooldown on the Chain Lightning proc from both Maelstrom and Mjollnir is 0.2 seconds as well, meaning that every SoF hit has a chance of proccing them.
  • Ember Spirit can cast spells and use items during Sleight of Fist. Can be great for that long-range Eul’s
  • The damage is based on Ember Spirit’s attack damage + the stated damage when jumping on heroes, or – 50% when jumping on creeps. This means that the +80 damage is also taken into account for critical strikes.
  • Bashes, critical hits, mini-bashes and all attack modifiers / orb effects fully apply or have a chance to trigger on each slash.
  • If Sleight of Fist is cast during the fade time of Shadow Blade, each target will receive the bonus backstab damage. Furthermore, upon completing the Sleight of Fist, Ember Spirit will be invisible.
  • When Ember Spirit is disarmed, he will deal no damage on slashes, since he cannot attack. He also can miss, and damage reduction will affect the damage.
  • After all marked targets have been slashed, Ember Spirit will return to his position he had upon casting Sleight of Fist. That position is marked by a remnant for the duration.
  • Sleight of Fist is not canceled when Ember Spirit gets moved by e.g. a teleport, but it does get cancelled by activating Fire Remnant.
  • Cooldown with talent only: 4.8
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine: 3.6
  • Cooldown with talent + arcane: 3.0
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine + arcane: 1.8

Scaling:

  • 27% CD reduction and 40% radius increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 36% CD reduction and 29% radius increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 57% CD reduction and 22% radius increase from level 3 -> 4.

The radius increase does not change much with each level, but clearly level 3 to 4 is the biggest value point because the cooldown is decreased by more than 50%, which is when the spell finally becomes spammable. For this reason, you could get 1 point early to have the occasional dodge or long-reach chains, but once you start levelling it you need to stick to it until it is level 4. This definitely means maxing it before getting your second talent. There is no game in which it’s better to grab the level 15 talent while leaving SoF at level 3.

While it’s a very strong spell, it is usually the one you will be maxing last since it’s the only one that doesn’t benefit from your spell amp talent.

Flame Guard

Ember Spirit surrounds himself with a ring of fire that consumes incoming magic damage, leaving him unharmed. Flame Guard deals damage per second in an area around Ember Spirit while Flame Guard is active. If the shield is broken, the damage is also lost.

Cast Time: 0+1.07

Damage Radius: 400

Damage per Second: 30/40/50/60

Magic Damage Absorbed: 50/200/350/500

Duration: 8/12/16/20

Cooldown: 35 Manacost: 80/90/100/110

Important aspects:

  • Flame Guard blocks damage before any reductions. The only exception here is spell immunity, during which it does not block any magic damage.
  • Deals 6/8/10/12 damage in 0.2 seconds intervals, starting 0.2 seconds after cast.
  • Can be dispelled and purged (this includes not only the purge from Diffusal Blade and SD’s ultimate but also the Cyclone from Eul’s Scepter of Divinity, Invoker’s Tornado, and a devoured / dominated purge satyr neutral creep)
  • Cooldown with talent only: 28
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine: 21
  • Cooldown with talent + arcane: 17.5
  • Cooldown with talent + octarine + arcane: 10.5

Scaling:

  • 300% absorption increase and 33% DPS increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 75% absorption increase and 25% DPS increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 43% absorption increase and 20% DPS increase from level 3 -> 4.

Something that is immediately apparent is the huge increase from level 1 to 2, meaning again that you definitely want at least two points in this spell, pretty much always by level 4-5. After that, it highly depends on the enemy heroes. The main reason to level this spell up is not to deal more damage because as shown it scales poorly, but rather to make sure the shield stays up and does not get nuked down. If you’re up against a lot of physical damage, it’s often a good idea to keep the shield at level 2 or 3 and max out your other spells first. If you’re up against big nukes, you want the shield maxed so that it does not drop to one dragon slave or one lightning bolt. However, keep in mind that the duration also scales, so if you have a very early pair of BoT’s and are planning to do a lot of split-pushing, you need level 4 of this spell so that you can reliably clear 2 waves with it and not just 1.

Fire Remnant

Ember Spirit generates Fire Remnant charges every 35 seconds, with a max of 3 charges. Releasing a charge sends a Fire Remnant that runs to the target location at 2.5x Ember Spirit’s speed. Using Activate Fire Remnant, Ember Spirit can dash out to his Remnants, exploding them for area of effect damage. The targeted Remnant will be arrived at last.

Cast Time: 0+0.53

Cast Range: 1500

Max Charges: 3

Charge Replenish Time: 35

Remnant Duration: 45

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit gets all 3 charges immediately upon learning Fire Remnant
  • Fire Remnants move to their targeted location at a speed of 250% of Ember Spirit’s movement speed. The speed is set upon cast and does not adapt.
  • Since Fire Remants last for 45 seconds and the replenish time is 35 seconds, it is possible to have 4 (5) remnants up on the map at a time.
  • Every time a Fire Remnant is placed, Ember Spirit gets a status buff, showing the duration of the remnant. The status buff disappears once the Remnant expires or is used.
  • Fire Remnants deal no damage when they expire.
  • Fire Remnants are visible to everyone.
  • Charge replenish time with talent only: 28
  • Charge replenish time with talent + octarine: 21
  • Charge replenish time with talent + arcane: 17.5
  • Charge replenish time with talent + octarine + arcane: 10.5

Activate Fire Remnant

Select the Fire Remnant to arrive at.

Cast Time: 0+1.07

Cast Range: Global

Remnant Damage Radius: 450

Remnant Damage: 100/200/300

Cooldown: 0 Manacost: 150

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit moves to a Fire Remnant with a speed of 1300, or reaches it in 0.4 seconds, whichever is faster.
  • Always costs 150 mana, no matter if Ember Spirit has to travel to 1, 2, 3 or 4 Fire Remnants.
  • While traveling, Ember Spirit can attack, cast spells and use items.
  • Using Sleight of Fist or Blink Dagger while traveling will cause him to stop traveling and lose the invulnerability, and then instantly get moved to the next remnant.
  • Always travels to the Fire Remnant furthest away from the targeted point first.
  • The damage is dealt around each Fire Remnant upon reaching them.
  • Destroys trees within 200 radius around Ember Spirit while he’s traveling to a remnant. Though at high speeds, some trees may be skipped.
  • Can be targeted through the minimap.

Scaling:

  • 100% Damage increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 50% Damage increase from level 2 -> 3.

What used to be the worst-scaling spell in the game now actually gives you incredible magic burst damage in the lategame. You still have to be extremely careful about using all your remaining remnants for burst damage because it leaves you very immobile and vulnerable. Also, keep in mind the giant cooldown before you get your lvl 25 talent and octarine core – with a triple remnant you can kill a lot of heroes in the early game, and while that’s worth doing to kill a core SF for example, it’s usually not worth it for a support Ogre, because it will take 105 seconds for you to have all 3 remnants back up again and have the same kind of damage and mobility available.

Talents

Ember’s talents are still quite straight forward, since 3 of them are no-brainers and only one of them really requires thinking. Spell amp at level 10, armor bonus at level 20, and cooldown reduction at level 25. They are simply superior to their counterparts and what they allow you to do is just going to be stronger in (almost) any matchup and with any item or skill build. Of course, feel free to use your head in extremely unusual cases, for example you might want to take the extra Flame Guard absorption if for some reason you’re up against a Zeus+Veno and neither of them bought a Eul’s.

Level 10 talent explanation

“But what if I have a Magnus and a Wisp on my team and I go for Power Treads into Desolator, wouldn’t the +dmg talent be better then??” 

In the famous words of N0tail as heard in Combo Wakamaka’s video, “Dota is a weird game… everything can work can work can work… “But it might be better to then just play a Jugger or most other melee cores that aren’t Ember.

Level 20 talent explanation

Extra Flame Guard damage block seems nice at first until you consider it practically. First and foremost – by the time you reach level 20, it is very likely that even a team with 0 purges has purchased at least one HotD with a purge creep, Diffusal Blade, or Eul’s Scepter, removing your Flame Guard regardless of its block capacity. Secondly, by the time you are level 20 you will have a maxed SoF and several core items, meaning that the majority of magical damage spells should never even hit you since you are nearing peak mobility. Physical damage is your biggest weakness, whether you bought a Veil or not, and +10 armor helps immensely.

Level 25 talent explanation

While +2s Searing Chains is obviously really really good, CDR is just better. Once again, by the time you’re level 25, enemy heroes will have a ton of ways to get out of your Chains (bkb, manta, lotus, euls, greaves) which they will use as soon as they get chained, meaning extra duration is irrelevant, but being able to quickly re-apply the chains once their defensive items are on cooldown is incredibly valuable. And that’s ignoring the fact that CDR is amazing for your 3 other spells as well as your BoT’s and any other active items.

Level 15 talent reasoning

The interesting one, however, is the level 15 talent. Most people opt for the stats because they are planning to buy a Blink early, which makes movement speed rather obsolete. This leaves their Ember with 310 base + 100 from BoT = 410 MS. However, if you go for a Eul’s Scepter right after BoT, then re-buy the windlace (selling the PMS then Bottle for future items) and take the MS talent, you end up with 310 base + 100 from BoT + 40 from Eul’s + 20 from windlace + 20 from the talent = 490 MS at all times. Any MS buff from your team (bloodlust, Bara aura, drums aura, track, dominated kobold) brings you (near) to max. This allows you to forego the blink and maneuver a lot easier in fights. Of course you lack the instant initiation of blink, but you are able to bait and kite a lot better, and it also makes your Remnants faster as they fly at (490 x 2.5 =) 1225 ms as opposed to (410 x 2.5 =) 1025 ms. Why this is important is explained more in-depth later under ‘Spell Use, Item Use and Combos’.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re doing a lot of dangerous split-pushing (enemies have heroes with good catch) and / or you do NOT have another reliable jump->disable hero on your team, you will need a Blink Dagger.

If the enemies have few / no heroes with great catch, and you already have a jump->disable hero on your team (Slardar, SK, Axe, etc.), skipping the blink can be the better choice.

Exemplary skill build

  1. Searing Chains
  2. Flame Guard
  3. Flame Guard
  4. Searing Chains
  5. Flame Guard
  6. Fire Remnant
  7. Flame Guard
  8. Sleight of Fist
  9. Searing Chains
  10. Searing Chains
  11. Talent
  12. Fire Remnant
  13. Sleight of Fist
  14. Sleight of Fist
  15. Sleight of Fist
  16. Talent
  17. Etc.

I would have preferred to not add such a skill build, because it seems like a step-by-step rule set that must be followed, which is not the case. There will inevitably be people commenting that this is the ‘wrong’ skill build. However, I am sure many people want to just see what a regular skill build is like, afraid to ‘mess it up’. The truth is that when you play Ember on the mid lane you level up very fast, and deciding what you level up should always be done in the moment according to your immediate goals vid.

For example, you may want to take a point in SoF at level 5, to make a solo kill happen before you’re level 6. You may even want to take it at level 2, to surprise the enemy and set up your teammates’ gank with a very early SoF+Chains.

You may want level 2 Chains at level 3 because you just levelled up and will be able to chain him at the tower for some harass, or you may want level 2 Flame Guard at level 3 because you want to push out the lane and go for the rune.

You may want level 4 Chains at level 10, delaying the spell amp talent by 1 level in favour of the additional second of root. Or you may skip the early point in SoF altogether so you can have Chains and Flame Guard maxed by 10 together with the talent.

You may end up maxing SoF by level 9, because you only put two points in the guard and chains, since they have little magical damage to break your Flame Guard with. Or, you may end up maxing it at 15 because you really want to have your level 4 Chains and Guard ready earlier, using your ultimate to run people down.

In niche cases, against a Skywrath mid for example, you could even max SoF by 7 with two points in Chains, skipping the Flame Guard until later because it would break immediately to Sky’s spells, and relying on the long-range physical damage harass from SoF to bully Skywrath out of the lane, and with some luck dodge his Arcane Bolts. Or you could max the Flame Guard regardless and simply use it to creep-skip behind his tower once you hit level 6.

One thing to point out though, is that the 4th point in SoF is always better than whichever level 15 talent you go for. This is because SoF goes from being okay to amazing from levels 3 to 4, while neither of the level 15 talents are super important.

Lastly, against a team that is very difficult to kill early on with your magical damage burst (e.g. a Jugger, Pudge, Visage, Invoker) you can opt to delay the level 10 talent, latter points in Flame Guard as well as the second point in Fire Remnant, just so you can max SoF earlier (for example 4-4-3-1 at level 12 or even 4-4-2-1 at level 11).

5. Item Builds

Starting Items

  • 2x pooled tangoes
  • Branch
  • Faerie Fire
  • PMS

Ask a support to pool you 2 tangoes, buy a Poor Man’s Shield, an Ironwood Branch, and a Faerie Fire. You can swap the Poor Man’s Shield for a magic stick + stout shield against some spell spammers like Zeus, Batrider and Skywrath. After you pick up the bounty rune, ferry yourself a salve with the courier. If you’re looking to just passively farm and not really contest the lane much or fight, you can get a quelling blade + stout shield instead of a PMS. Get Bottle as soon as possible and Boots after, preferably with a TP. As you’re nearing level 6, with a TP you can start making instant trips to base and back to lane.

Early Game

Poor Man's Shield icon.pngBoots of Speed icon.pngBottle (Full) icon.pngTown Portal Scroll icon.pngInfused Raindrop icon.pngWind Lace icon.png

  • PMS
  • Boots
  • Bottle
  • TP scroll
  • Windlace / Raindrops

Bottle and Boots should not need any explanation.

TP scrolls are generally a no-brainer on any mid that is capable of ganking and counterganking, but Ember has an amazing additional use of them thanks to his ultimate, allowing you to leave a remnant, TP home, heal, fill up your bottle, buy items, and come back to lane in the matter of seconds.

The magic stick is optional depending on the enemy heroes and can be skipped.

Raindrops are great because their damage block triggers before Flame Guards’, so they essentially increase your Flame Guard capacity at all levels.

Windlace is just an item you should have if you have the empty slot for it (even if you may end up selling it soon), which you almost always will have since BoT eliminates the need for a TP scroll-slot.

Core

Boots of Travel 1 icon.png+Veil of Discord icon.pngorRing of Aquila (Active) icon.pngorEnergy Booster icon.png

Veil is still a great item on Ember. The stats are simply perfect for him. It completely solves your low-armor weakness and gives you a great manapool to work with, all the while having a very easy build-up. It’s worth considering how much your team benefits from the magic damage boost, but in a game where you’re not really countered and have easy solo kill targets, go for it. However, the spell amp talent nerf combined with the fact that people improved at picking, itemising and playing against Ember, leads to the need for some flexibility.

Aquila is still nice and can be seen as a mini-veil, giving 1/4th of the manapool and half the armor for half the cost, but boosting early split-push capability thanks to the armor aura. This is the choice for games in which you’re going to be mostly avoiding fights in the early game and pressuring towers from very early on. You’ll often need to pair this with a Magic Wand so that you don’t run into mana issues.

A third option is to go Arcane Boots. Costing even less than RoA, they give you no stats but even more mana than Veil. You can then disassemble them to complete your BoT’s, and keep the Energy Booster for the lategame when you’ll inevitably buy an Octarine Core at some point. You won’t run into slot issues since BoT’s eliminate the need for TP scrolls and the huge mana pool boost means magic wand isn’t necessary either. It’s unusual, but I have tried this build and like it a lot, with its biggest strength being that it leads to much quicker BoT’s and subsequently everything that follows, compared to the other builds. So, in conclusion, I would suggest the following as core:

Bottle, Veil / Aquila / Energy Booster, PMS, Boots of Travel. Notice how these are only 4 items and you are left with 2 empty slots, in most games 3 even because the PMS is not that important after the laning stage. This leaves you with the ability to carry multiple cheap but high-value items until you replace each with a bigger item.

Dust is something you should always have if there are invis heroes on the enemy team, and versus some you might want sentries instead (for example a Nyx or Shadowblade SF ganking you while you’re split pushing).

Both Wind Lace and Raindrops are amazing as well, as mentioned before. A back-up magic stick/wand can save your life or give you the slight mana boost for an extra kill, and is always great versus spell spammers.

Lastly, special mention goes out to Orb of Venom and Blight Stone – both these items become extremely powerful for their price thanks to your Sleight of Fist allowing you to apply them consistently on multiple targets. Blight Stone just boosts damage (also on towers when (split)pushing), while OoV not only slows by 12% but also cancels Blink Daggers and Salves. These are especially effective when paired with a skill build that maxes SoF earlier than usual.

The reason you don’t see these items on many heroes is that most don’t build early BoT, and therefore need not only an extra slot for a TP scroll but also don’t have the mobility to let them regen often, meaning they need to carry more regeneration / sustain items. The biggest cost of OoV and Blight Stone is essentially the slot they use up, not the gold. Because Ember has an unusually high amount of slots to work with in the midgame, it is a mistake to not fill them with any of these.

“What about Drums?”

I do not recommend Drums because while the MS is nice, it is once again inferior to Veil in terms of mana-pool boost and tankiness, since drums gives no armor. The active ability of Veil is also much stronger and not charge-based. Drums do give mana regeneration while Veil does not, but on a hero like Ember who is able to make frequent trips back to base, a larger manapool is more valuable than higher mana regeneration. Drums also cost far more than Aquila and Arcane Boots without offering significant benefits over them.

“No Treads or Phase?”

While both are not necessarily bad, they are early-game items, which means you would want to get them before the core Veil/Arcane/RoA. But as mentioned before, delaying the core is not a good idea because neither Treads nor Phase will give you the same amount of stats and over-all offensive and defensive benefit. Once you have your core, you don’t lack stats so it simply doesn’t make sense to get another early game item as your boot choice, especially when BoT’s are what allow Ember to be one of the best split-pushers and creep-skippers in the game.

Maelstrom over Battlefury? vid

Maelstrom is much cheaper, gets boosted by your talent as well as your Veil, and eventually upgrades into Mjollnir which deals far more damage than Battlefury. Obviously the lightning damage is magical and gets blocked by BKB, but since Ember is so incredibly mobile it is very easy to back off once the enemy does use their BKB and simply wait it out. Furthermore, it is stronger than physical damage versus most cores, because unlike armor which they gain from stats, magic resistance can only be gotten through a hood (pipe) or glimmer cape, and the majority of carries will not buy either.

Luxury

Black King Bar, Blink Dagger, Maelstrom, Eul’s Scepter, Manta Style, Linken’s Sphere, Blade Mail, Lotus Orb, Octarine Core, Mjollnir, Eye of Skadi, Shiva’s Guard, Ethereal Blade, Scythe of Vyse, Bloodthorn, Radiance

blink_dagger_icon

Though it may seem strange, BKB is not a defensive item on Ember, but an aggressive one. With Ember it is not difficult to dodge spells with slow missile speed. You are only vulnerable to instant disables such as hexes or long range stuns, against which a BKB does not help much, because if you couldn’t get your SoF/ult off you probably wouldn’t get off the BKB either. In those cases you would rather get an Octarine/Shivas/Skadi for a direct EHP boost, or a Eul’s / Manta / Linken’s / Lotus for more elusiveness. The purpose of a BKB on Ember is to enable you to charge headfirst into fights, which magic immunity allows only versus line-ups with low physical damage (teams with Zeus, Spectre, Skywrath, AA, Disruptor, etc.) Do not buy this as your second item unless you are far ahead and able to force fights with it, because if it does not get you kills it will heavily stunt your item progression. You may find that it is a must in the lategame versus some heroes that have a very easy time stunning you for ages, like Nyx Assassin.

Blink Dagger is an item that bought a tad too often on Ember Spirit. While it is never bad to have, it’s also not always the optimal choice. If your team is heavily lacking any other form of initiation and/or you are forced to split-push and play very cautiously around fights, then it may be necessary to pick up early. Its weakness is that it stunts your damage output since it gives you neither damage or mana. Pro teams often have their Embers pick one up early as they are better able to utilize the initiation and generally move together in a more efficient way, allowing the added mobility to really shine. For pubs, however, you are sometimes better off getting items that allow you to fight and farm without relying on your team too much, at least in the early to mid game.

Maelstrom gives you that extra punch in midgame fights, boosts your waveclear speed and builds nicely into the Mjollnir you will inevitably want later on in the game. Usually you will be buying this as a 3rd or 4th item, after BoT+Core(+1)

Eul’s Scepter is often an amazing pick-up as it gives you a lot more mana to work with, crazy movement speed coupled with your BoT’s (and talent + windlace if you have the slots) making you even more mobile and elusive, and gives you not only another defensive ability (that also removes debuffs and silences), but also another disable. Normally people can simply TP out when you chain them, but if you have a Eul’s they can’t – this is absolutely huge when it comes to catching an enemy split-pusher and setting them up for your team . In fights, you can chain 2 people and cyclone a 3rd, allowing you to control over half their team. Keep in mind you can cast it not only while flying to a Remnant but even during SoF, meaning that (provided you have vision) with quick fingers you can get it off from a very far and safe distance.

Manta Style as well as Linken’s Sphere are both stat-heavy items great versus strong single target disables such as Storm Spirit’s (inevitable) Orchid, Beastmaster’s Primal Roar, Doombringer’s Doom, Legion Commander’s Duel, Batrider’s Lasso, etc. Linken’s is the slightly more defensive of the two, giving you a fairly large reaction window and allowing you to splitpush safely as even a linken’s break immediately into a disable is likely to give you enough time to just zip out. Keep in mind it is fairly useless versus blink->aoe disable initiators such as Axe, Centaur, Slardar and the likes. Unlike Manta, it increases your mana regeneration which is useful for prolonged fights, especially in the late-game when the cooldown on your spells is very short. Manta has a different type of utility, making your splitpush stronger thanks to the bonus agility and illusions. The MS bonus also works nicely with your BoT’s, MS Talent and and potentially Eul’s and/or Windlace.

For a hero as elusive as Ember, having illusions is great for messing with the enemy team, since you can constantly send them around to scout. Because killing an Ember requires an instant jump and chain-lockdown, they are more likely to waste spells on the illusions. If they fail several times and stop committing so hard, they may also be slow to jump on the real you. Keep in mind of course that the Flame Guard does reveal that you’re the real hero.

The active of Manta also dispels tons of debuffs, most notably any non-area lingering silence, making it the ultimate counter to Orchid. A special mention goes to Slardar’s Corrosive Haze, which is hard to dodge in fights and definitely hurts you as an already low on armor hero. Of course, Lotus Orb is also a great item for the same purposes, giving you less damage but more regeneration and armor, with the added utility of being able to cast it on a sieging allied Luna/Weaver/etc., just like Linken’s.

Blade Mail synergizes very nicely with your talents, but most importantly it allows you to actually stay in the thick of action, either being untouched and free to do what you want or dealing ludicrous amounts of damage and quickly taking down enemy heroes with you. More importantly, it lets you go for solo chases and pick-offs on heroes that would otherwise be able to manfight you and force you away.

Octarine Core is pretty much a must for lategame Ember – the large HP boost and spell vamp increases your survivability a ton, and even though it no longer gives any mana regeneration to go with the huge manapool increase, it allows you to go to base and re-fill your mana more frequently. It also increases your damage output more than most items obviously by virtue of decreasing the cooldown on your 4 spells which all deal damage. How early you get this depends mostly on whether you desperately need other items first – you very rarely want to get it straight after Veil though, most often you’ll need at least one, probably two other mid-range item first, such as Maelstrom, Eul’s, Linken’s, etc.

A Mjollnir is extremely powerful as it not only increases the lightning damage from 120 to 150, but also triples the number of bounces from 4 to 12. With a Mjollnir you can easily clear waves even when you are 2 rax down on that lane, and the active once again is really nice to put on any sieging or initiating core on your team. This is the single item that increases your damage output the most.

While lately overshadowed by Octarine, it can be a good idea some games to get an Eye of Skadi. It gives you more HP as well as some armor, but more importantly the 35% MS and 45% AS slow is also incredibly powerful, giving you solid control versus magic immune targets, which is the one thing Ember lacks. As Ember is a melee hero, the slow from Skadi lasts 5 seconds, meaning that with the 6(5.1) second cooldown on SoF you can keep applying it almost constantly. Buy this when you do not lack burst damage, but simply need to kite the enemy’s BKB cores (usually melee) in order to win the fight, usually as a 3rd item but sometimes as a 2nd. It is especially powerful versus immobile melee heroes heavily relying on high MS, such as Bristleback, Tiny, Juggernaut, Troll, etc.

Shiva’s Guard and Ethereal Blade are both items that simply become strong on Ember thanks to his spell amp and cooldown reductions. Each of them increases your teamfight presence both offensively as well as defensively, and can be great versus heavy physical damage line-ups. E-Blade is the more situational of the two since it’s single target and gives passive bonuses, whereas Shiva’s is good in the majority of games.

Scythe of Vyse can be a great late-game pick-up if you are having trouble locking down elusive heroes that are able to escape your root. While it’s nice that your chains keep the polymorphed unit in place, they are all dispelled by even weak dispels. However, when you have your talent and Octa-core, the cooldown of hex becomes so low (~14 seconds down from 25) that this is less of an issue. Definitely a good 5th/6th slot pick-up.

Bloodthorn is a great lategame 5th/6th slot item. It will greatly increase your team’s ability to burst down a single target, finally solve any mana issues you might still be having, and also force the enemy supports to use their Lotus Orbs on themselves when you silence them, even though they originally bought them to remove your Chains from their cores. This item already has a low base cooldown, but with your talent + Octarine it turns into a disgusting ~8 second cd which just absolutely insane considering the 5 second duration. The raw right-click damage boost is also not to be underestimated, since there will often come a point in the lategame when you’re doing some ratting and hitting buildings.

Radiance, while being quite powerful, has a terrible buildup. Mjollnir gives you better wave-clear vid, more damage in fights, and is just as good if not better at cancelling Blink Daggers (doesn’t hit invis, but hits a much bigger radius). The one advantage that Radiance offers over it is the miss chance, which is mostly only valuable versus teams with loads of right-click damage that is unlikely to buy BKB – think Visage, Lone Druid, Beastmaster, Bristleback, Lycan, Terrorblade, etc. However, as you notice, the majority of these are summons or illusions, meaning that straight-up killing them with Mjollnir is usually more effective than relying on miss chance. Another important point is that Radiance has an abysmal build-up and gives you literally 0 benefit until you finish it. Mjollnir, on the other hand, builds very nicely from the cheap mid-game Maelstrom, which even allows you to pick up a different item or two along the way and only finish the Mjollnir once you really need the additional damage.

“But < insert good player here > bought Radiance on Ember! Are you saying he’s a bad player and doesn’t know what he’s doing?!”

Once again quoting the famous words of N0tail, “Dota is a weird game… everything can work can work can work… “So do what you think is best, because at the end of the day if it works for you, it doesn’t have to work for other people. That’s why every player is different.

Why not x?

The -armor from Desolator is great when applied in an AoE, because it boosts the physical damage of your team, but in practice, getting utility items allowing you to disable more enemies more frequently and without running out of mana is far more likely to let your team deal more damage. Furthermore, it does not boost your farming speed, nor give you any survivability, nor significantly improve your wave-clear ability. Also important to note that despite the -armor debuff lasting 15 seconds, you can only re-apply it reliably once every 6 seconds with a SoF, making it weak versus any heroes with dispels (Slark, Abaddon, Legion, PL, manta-carriers, etc.) which people often pick versus Ember in the first place to counter the Searing Chains.

Daedalus used to be a very popular pick-up on Ember, but now that the magical damage is simply superior, there is no situation in which Daedalus is the best item to go for vid. Even in the lategame as a 6th item, you will already have a Mjollnir and the crits don’t benefit from the lightning damage, meaning you are better off getting any other item. 

Similarly Divine Rapier used to be great, but is now simply inferior to the magical damage and mana-giving item builds. Considering the difference in damage is marginal and situational compared to other items, buying an item that drops upon death is simply not worth it.

Basher has a cooldown of 2 seconds. If it did not, it would easily be the most powerful item, giving you a ranged pseudo aoe bkb-piercing stun.

Butterfly is not terrible but hardly ever the best choice. The evasion is its main selling point, and it is rather useless as on Ember you want to avoid getting hit at all using SoF and Remnants. The only time you desperately need evasion is versus many summons, but at that point you’d rather get a Radiance which would make them miss versus your entire team and also burn them.

6. Laning Stage & Match-ups

Your goal in the laning stage depends on the enemy you’re facing. Generally speaking, if they have a way to break / be immune to your Flame Guard, you should be pulling the creeps to yourself mostly focusing on getting farm, and then trying to push the lane when you can get runes. If they cannot easily break your Flame Guard, you should control the lane. Pull the creeps to your high-ground, forcing the enemy to step into the river where they are in danger of getting killed – if they stay back defensively, simply out-last-hit them. Solid knowledge of the enemy hero is crucial in order to know exactly which spells at what level you can tank with your Flame Guard. Once you hit level 6, the lane should become much, much easier.

You can try to kill the hero with a triple remnant, but make sure to create and get ready for the opportunity before you’re level 6, and then go the split-second you level up, because if you wait, most players will immediately adjust their positioning and deny you the chance of a kill.

Even if you don’t get the kill, you can outlast your enemy by trading hits and using a remnant to heal, refill your bottle and come back to lane. If you get a great rune or see a kill opportunity on a side-lane, don’t hesitate to TP and gank, since at this point you are much stronger than those dual or tri-laning, likely 2 or 3 levels above them.

If for any reason you’re unable to lane (very bad match-up, ganked a lot, far behind, etc.) you can always go for some creep skipping between the enemy tier 1 and 2 as long as you leave a Remnant behind vid.

Lanaya is an extremely strong laner that flat out wins the lane versus many heroes by outfarming them as well as harassing them and having solid kill potential. While she cannot remove your Flameguard, she can easily kill you through it. This is a very volatile lane as both heroes have solid kill potential against each other, but in the absence of aggression TA will easily outfarm the Ember Spirit through her superior damage. The main thing you should aim to do is dodge her Meld hit by getting an early point in SoF, doing this can let you win the trade in hits. Another weakness you can exploit is her low attack range which is shorter than the radius of Flame Guard and Searing Chains (both 400), meaning you can kite and damage her while avoiding her hits. However, don’t make the mistake of keeping Flame Guard level 1 just because she has no magical damage. At level 1, it does not deal enough damage to burn Refraction charges, meaning it will damage her but her Refraction will stay up and block your right-clicks or Searing Chains damage instances. Lastly, keep in mind that Searing Chains don’t hit invisible units, so be very careful not to miss them as she Melds.

Used to be a strong counter to Ember, this lane is definitely in Storm’s favour, but not as one sided as it may seem. Simply don’t get hit by remnants during the first few waves and focus on getting the cs you can, mostly ignoring denies due to his overload. Of course, if you can bait and maneuver around the Static Remnants while running at him, it is possible to get a kill, but it relies on the Storm making a mistake. Dodging a Remnant with SoF is also an option, but unlikely to get you a kill since your other spells are likely to be underleveled then. Having played a lot of Storm will be extremely helpful in this matchup. After the laning stage, Ember obviously counters Storm heavily as the root prevents Ball Lightning, so it is not necessary to win the lane.

Another dominant anti-melee laner that Ember is actually not that bad against. Get an early point in SoF to dodge her Shadowstrikes / Screams of Pain, and she should not be able to dive you as long as you have Flame Guard up. Her turn rate is slow and you have 10 MS on her, meaning you can run at her to harass with Chains and right clicks, forcing a blink out. She is also quite squishy and Searing Chains disables blink, meaning that you have solid kill potential at level 6. Avoid using level 2 Flame Guard when she has level 3 Scream, as this is the only point at which it will immediately break.

Similar to QoP, except having much stronger harass at the expense of no blink. Dodge her spells and try to get farm – some Linas will use Dragon Slave a lot to get cs and harass you, which is predictable and can be side-stepped. Be very careful with the LSA, as it landing allows her to get in 2-3 right clicks which will hurt a ton. You can attempt a kill at level 5 with a 2-0-3 build, but it is risky as you rely on her missing her stun. If you go 2-1-2 to dodge the stun with SoF, a single level 3 Dragon Slave will break your Flame Guard, ruining any opportunities for a kill. Dragon Slave has a starting radius of 275, and with a 1200 movement speed it will take (550/1200) ~0.46 seconds to pass through you, meaning that it can only be dodged with a 3-4+ unit SoF. However, if she is surrounded by 3 creeps you will be unable to chain. Ideally you can attempt the kill at level 6 and onwards, tanking the Dragon Slave (level 4 = 320 damage) with Flame Guard (level 3 = 350 absorb) and saving the SoF to dodge her LSA. A smart Lina may attempt to Laguna you right after the Dragon Slave instead of using LSA, but the Laguna can be dodged as well using SoF.

Searing Chains disable Phase Shift, which is why many Pucks will skip it during the laning stage versus an Ember. Another reason for this is that due to the scaling of Puck’s spells (70/140/210/280 and 100/160/220/280 damage), assuming he does not level Phase Shift, using both of them will always be enough to break your Flame Guard (70 > 50, 70+160 or 140+100 > 200, 140+220 or 210+160 > 350). Of course, this also means that every time he uses either of them to farm or push the lane, you have a window of opportunity to dive him.

Again, one of the stronger laners that Ember is actually quite good against – his Thunderclap has a fairly obvious casting animation, so if you see him about to cast it just pop your Flame Guard to absorb the damage and harass the Brew (keep in mind the levels of clap’s 100/175/250/300 damage and your 50/200/350/500 shield). A smart Brew may also cancel his animation to bait out your Flame Guard – if this happens, run at him to make use of the damage and force him to clap in order to escape. His physical hits are strong but nothing serious – the only way he can kill you is if he claps you before the shield, and you are both next to the creeps meaning you can’t chain him reliably. Once you have level 6 you can leave a Remnant behind and dive him in order to force his Primal Split, and then zip away once he uses it.

A decent lane for Ember, just make sure you get a magic stick and focus on csing, ignore denies due to Arc Lightning’s high damage. You can use the Flame Guard to mitigate some damage in case you’re low on HP but full on mana and want to use bottle. When you hit level 6 you can try to get a kill, but make sure to pop Flame Guard after his bolt or it will get removed and you will have no damage. You can keep raindrops in your backpack and only make them active when you want to go for a kill so your Flame Guard stays up longer – otherwise you’ll lose them very quickly to Arc Lightning harass.

Quite tough to deal with for any melee. Use creep aggro to get what cs you can while keeping your distance. The link range is fairly long and even if he gets it off for just two seconds that would be enough to out last-hit you. If he somehow fails his link, get aggressive on him while it’s on cooldown. You have great killing potential if a support ganks, and you can also attempt a kill at level 6, but just keep in mind that if you don’t burst him with magical damage you will have no right clicks to seal the deal and he’ll be whipping you for red numbers.

vid Similar to Razor, but more difficult to deal with. Will easily out last-hit you even with just one point in Nethertoxin, and the orb-walking means he can push you back to the tower without taking any aggro. Thanks to his Corrosive Skin it is highly unlikely that you will kill him, and if you don’t burst him he can just kite you down afterwards. The lane is very one-sided, but come mid game the Viper cannot do anything to you as you splitpush and bounce around during teamfights.

Fairly easy lane if he goes for Quas Wex, just make sure that you always use Flameguard after his Tornado and/or before the EMP, because the Tornado removes it (counts as a dispel) and it will easily tank the EMP, also making you lose less mana as you cast a spell. The EMP can additionally also be dodged with SOF, as long as you’re aware of the timing.

An Exort Quas Invoker will be more difficult to deal with as he deals heavy physical damage, and is likely to still get a single point in Wex for Tornado in case you decide to dive him. Getting a solo-kill isn’t really possible unless he screws up badly, so simply get what you can out of the lane or get a support to gank him.

Fairly easy lane – you can dodge/absorb the Powershots, push the lane faster if a rune is about to spawn, and compete well for last-hits despite WR’s great attack simply because you’re melee. Being a squishy int hero she is also very killable, just make sure to not waste time missing your attacks when she inevitably uses Windrun as you chain her, but rather move to position between her and her tower, setting up for a potential bodyblock that could get you the kill. Of course, be wary of getting shackled under the tower. A 3-0-2-1 build at level 6 will give you more damage, and the lower level Flame Guard should not be an issue as it is very easy to dodge Powershot if you have initiated and are right next to her.

This lane actually favours Ember a lot in the first 3 or so levels, but how it’s played over-all depends heavily on OD’s skill-build. If he goes for max Astral (0-3-2), he won’t be able to contest CS or harass you without casting it, and once he’s used it, he’s a rather easy kill. Keep in mind that even if the Astral will pop your Flame Guard, the dps still works during the Astral, meaning that if OD wants to get some cs he will still take a fair bit of damage since his attack range is low.

If he goes for an early orb-spam build (1-1-2 with double null), you should try to get the most out of the lane and deny as much as possible for those first few levels. After that, simply keep pushing the lane with Flame Guard and keep taking runes to regenerate.

If the Sniper is babysat by a support (like he often is), there is very little you can do 1v2 other than get exp, perhaps the occasional last-hit and call for a gank. Still, you are good versus Sniper later on in the game since you have so many ways of closing the distance on him. You should never get hit by Assassinate as you can dodge it with both SoF and Fire Remnant. If the Sniper is entirely alone, however, you can try to kill him as soon as you have level 2 Flame Guard, since his low level Shrapnel will take forever to break through it. Many Sniper’s go 2-1-0 at level 3, meaning their attack range will still be fairly low and leave them vulnerable.

There are very few heroes that can hold their own in a 1 versus 1 scenario facing a Shadow Fiend on the mid lane. Two razes at any level will be enough to bring down your shield. However, SF is squishy so if you manage to get close to him and then activate your Flame Guard, only the z / q raze will not be enough to bring it down and you could score a kill. Of course, if the SF plays passively by just pushing out the lane, there is not much you can do other than farm at your tower or jump him when you see he’s about to raze the creeps. Similarly to Sniper, he will often have some fat Ogre babysitting him.

7. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos

When going for a kill on the enemy mid, create a situation in which the Searing Chains are guaranteed to hit – either by running past the enemy creepwave and isolating the hero, or by activating flame guard as the creeps are low hp, killing them while engaging on the enemy. While you should get very familiar with the radius over time, it can still be useful to hover over the skill to see the circle on the ground in order to get those tip-of-the-edge chains. Lastly, you can take a risk and attempt to Chain the enemy with more than 1 creep around. Whether it lands or not is entirely up to the DotA gods, but if it does it will definitely catch your opponent off-guard.

In the early game, Flame Guard is your only farming spell as SoF deals pathetic damage to creeps without a Maelstrom, which means you can’t go wrong with maxing it even if you sacrifice some aggression, as it will allow you to keep up your farm and not fall behind despite a lack of kills. You can use it to farm stacks or several creepwaves. When pushing, you can also use it to clear out the creepwave while you’re hitting the tower, and it provides a nice buffer of EHP in case you get initiated upon.

-> The Sleight of Fist -> Searing Chains sequence is the most basic combo you need to reliably hit if you want to play Ember anywhere close to effectively. It is not difficult, just go into a lobby, practice it 20 times and you’re golden. Landing the combo on someone in the fog (example) is slightly more difficult since the Chains need vision to latch, and SoF on a single target will only give you vision for an extremely short duration, meaning that if you mess up the timing the Chains will miss. The main difference is that you need to wait around a tenth of a second before using Chains after SoF, unlike when you have vision on the target and you can simply press both as fast as possible. Once again, however, a few attempts in a lobby and the consistency with which you land it will get a lot better. Lastly, when chasing a target with creeps around that you want to SoF+Chain, position the SoF AoE-circle indicator in such a way that only the hero is in it (example). Keep in mind however that the AoE of the Chains is still 400, so even if you only SoF your hero target, they might still latch onto creeps if they are close enough.

->

When using Fire Remnant to chase (i.e. throwing it and jumping into it), make sure that you wait a bit before you dive into it (example). This is because moving into a close-range Remnant will be done with an MS of 1300, always faster than the 2.5x your base MS that the Remnant will be flying at. The Fire Remnant has a casting range of 1500. With BoT you will have 410 MS, meaning that the Remnant will fly at (410 * 2.5) 1025 MS, taking (1500/1025) ~1.46 seconds to reach the targeted point. Moving into the Remnant at 1300 MS means it will take you only (1500/1300) ~1.15 seconds to reach the targeted point. Therefore you want to wait (1.46-1.15) ~0.3 seconds before starting to move into the remnant, which translates to when the Remnant is about (0.3 * 900) ~270 units away from you. This is, of course, if you want to jump all the way to the maximum 1500 range. If your enemy is closer, you can start moving into the Remnant earlier and you will reach it before it has reached the targeted point.

If you went for the higher movement speed build, with BoT+Eul’s+Wind Lace+Talent you will have 490 MS, meaning that the Remnant will fly at (490 * 2.5) 1225 MS, taking (1500/1225) ~1.22 seconds to reach the targeted point. Moving into the Remnant at 1300 MS means it will take you only (1500/1300) ~1.15 seconds to reach the targeted point. Therefore you only need to wait (1.22-1.15) ~0.1 seconds before starting to move into the remnant, which translates to when the Remnant is about (0.1 * 900) ~90 units away from you. In simpler words, almost as soon as you release it.

->->

Fire Remnant’s travel speed is equal to 250% of your current movement speed, as established earlier. This means that if you are very slowed down in the middle of a teamfight and need to remnant out, shooting it will be ineffective as it will take far too long to reach where you want it to (example). However, if you use your Fire Remnant during a SoF (example), you will fire it from a SoF position, potentially allowing you to get away.

->

If you want to get out of a bad situation with a previously placed Remnant (for example during a teamfight or when split-pushing) keep in mind that despite the instant cast you still need to turn and face your Remnant before you can jump to it, which with Ember’s turnrate takes 0.15 seconds for 180°. To avoid this, you can use SoF in front of you which will go off instantly as you won’t need to turn, and then Remnant out during the SoF (example).

Lastly, if you are about to die and have Remnants left, always drop one before you die. It’s very important to make this a habit. In the early game, if you respawn in less than 45 seconds you can travel back to the Remnant and immediately be in a good position to farm or fight, without using a TP scroll. Ideally you want to leave it at the edge of the trees so that it is just outside enemy vision, but will not leave you stuck in the trees when you travel to it (example).

Furthermore, you always have the option to buyback and get into the fight again instantly by jumping into the remnant (example).

Since you can pick up items while travelling to a Remnant, it can be a very safe way to take runes without putting yourself at danger (example). Keep in mind that Remnants can be targeted through the minimap, making long-distance jumps easier to manage.

8. To Farm, or to Gank

This depends on your team. If you are the only hero with lategame damage, your draft sucks, but you should still adapt and focus on farming and playing safe, meaning you make sure you don’t die and don’t go for solo kills on supports if they put your life in danger. Going for an early Maelstrom into Mjollnir is somewhat mandatory in this case.

Ideally, you have a harder carry on your team and your goal is to make space and be the secondary damage dealer. This gives you more freedom to pressure the enemy – naturally, you should still avoid death because you are extremely difficult to kill as long as you use your spells well. Make sure you get your Veil/Arcane/RoA at a decent time, meaning around ~11/8/9 minutes. After you get it, you will usually be the strongest hero on the map and should look to force fights. Because leaving Remnants behind is such a huge safety net, you should look to farm more dangerously past the river, freeing up the safer farm for your team. Of course, doing this does require solid map awareness and reflexes. Make sure to use your exceptional mobility to also grab a lot of bounty runes – not only do they sustain you with your bottle, they can accelerate your gold and experience gain a lot.

Lastly, make sure you clear waves and push lanes! Do that as much as you can. Pushing waves is what Dota is all about, by clearing creep waves and pushing a lane you create space for your team, keep your towers alive, and get information on the whereabouts of the enemy team (if they are defending you see them, if they’re not defending you know they’re up to something). Ember is one of if not the best and safest wave-clearers and creep-skippers in the game vid. If you get good at pushing waves consistently without dying and while managing to keep your mana, HP and TP ready for potential fights, I guarantee you’ll climb MMR in no time.

9. Closing Words

That’s it for the guide! I hope you found it informative – if you did and wish to see more from me in the future you can support me by following me on this blog, twitter, facebook, youtube and of course twitch.

If you have any requests for the future guides feel free to send me a message on any platform.

Good luck and remember – balance, in all things.

A new Approach to Coaching and Streaming

Hi I’m SlashStrike (not slahser), some of you may know me from some hero guides I’ve posted here before. I started playing Dota back in 2007, when there were nearly no guides to speak of, and there sure as hell wasn’t any coaching. I’ve learned a lot of things the hard way, and am now on the European leaderboards with over 7000 solo mmr as well as experience in competitive (semi)pro dota.

The best way to improve is to either play with people better than you, or watch people better than you. I’m combining the two by publicly streaming coaching sessions. Not only does this allow viewers to learn from the knowledge shared during coaching, it is also an easy way to see what a coaching session is all about and let you decide whether you would be interested in one as well.

Of course, when you’re watching a stream, one of the best parts is being able to interact with the streamer – but when you spend money on a coaching session, you expect to have the full attention of the coach, and not to have him read twitch chat. We’re solving this by having a moderator that will read twitch chat and look for good questions. He will then relay the question to me so I can answer it for the benefit of not only the rest of the viewers, but also the client themselves.

As a client you can either tell me what exactly you want to improve on, or we can follow the general plan of working on laning, skill and item builds, decision making, map movement, game sense, and attitude.

We can do this by using the coaching function (you queue with me as a coach or vice versa), by going over a replay, playing 1 v 1 match-ups, or even queuing together. If you can’t or just don’t want to speak, you can also simply send me your replay(s) and I will go over them while explaining everything in detail on the stream.

Another advantage of having everything streamed is that you can always refer back to the VODs (which will be uploaded on youtube) later!

Each coaching session lasts 50 minutes and costs 10€ or 11.50$ (queue-time does not count)

I also offer team coaching, in which I will focus less on individual mistakes and more on team-wide decision making and coordination. Since these things cannot be learned even in high-mmr pubs but only in high level scrims, the price for team coaching is a bit higher.

Each team coaching session lasts 50 minutes and costs 15€ or 17$

Everyone that purchases a session will also gain access to a private Discord server which can be used to ask questions outside of coaching hours, to chat with other clients, and to even organize inhouse games.

More info as well as scheduling and how to sign up can be found in this document:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FvJrHIzqKap6d9NbAg5DqIXgHoNqrtJMpWNFTeVG3FA/edit

 

SlashStrike’s Guide to Legion Commander

Tresdin, the Legion Commander

1. Introduction

Hi, I’m SlashStrike (not the same person as slahser), and I’m bringing you my guide to solo mid Legion Commander. I find her to be one of the most underrated heroes in the game, and not understood too well either.

Everyone has seen plenty of offlane LC being played, with that also being pretty much the only position she has seen competitive play in. However, this guide will be about solo mid LC, which is where I believe the hero has most potential, making great use of the exp and farm, and being a solid rune contester.

If you want to see me play Legion Commander or other heroes live at ~7000 MMR, you can check out my twitch channel as well as see my game history with her on dotabuff.

Lastly, section 6 is a video, as it is easier to visually demonstrate how exactly to pull off a successful duel pick-off in various situations.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Characteristics & Statistics
  3. Skill Builds
  4. Item Builds
  5. Laning Stage & Match-ups
  6. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos
  7. When to Pick LC
  8. Gameplay
  9. Closing Words

2. Characteristics & Statistics

Pros

  • Tanky
  • Good farmer
  • Extremely high solo kill potential
  • Has a strong dispel
  • Forces enemies to stick together

Cons

  • Melee
  • Mediocre laning stage versus some heroes
  • Relies on snowballing with duel damage to an extent
  • Becomes item dependent after early game
Strength
26 + 2.6
Agility
18 + 1.7
Intelligence
20 + 2.2
Level Base 1 16 25
Hit Points 150 644 1423 2209
Mana 0 260 715 1206
Damage 31‒35 57‒61 98‒102 139‒143
Armor 0 2.52 6.37 11.03
Attacks / Second 0.58 0.69 0.85 1.04
Movement Speed 320
Turn Rate 0.5
Sight Range 1800/800
Attack Range Melee
Missile Speed Instant
Attack Duration 0.46+0.64
Base Attack Time 1.7
Collision Size 24

(Thanks to Dota2wiki for the table)

Her starting stats as well as stat-gains are great in terms of Strength and Intelligence, with only agility slightly lacking. However, this is fine because the hero has two spells that help her hit faster. Her movement speed is very high at 320, which is somewhat unusual for a hero that also has an MS-boosting spell. Her turn rate is mediocre at 0.5, to a small extent balancing her high movement speed. Her cast-point is not bad but not as fast as you’d like it to be, meaning it can be a bit difficult to get all your spells off in the correct order. Her attack damage is slightly above average and attack point is average, but with just a quelling blade it is almost impossible to get your last-hits denied. Her level 1 armor at 2.5 is also pretty good for a melee hero that starts with so much strength.


3. Skill Builds

A solo mid Legion Commander’s skill-build is fairly straightforward. There is of course some slight variation possible, but you will find yourself levelling your skills in the same way in 95% of games. Lastly, the scaling on all her spells is very linear and logical, so they have no significant value-point levels past level 1.


Overwhelming Odds

Turns the enemies’ numbers against them, dealing damage and granting you bonus movement speed per unit or per hero. Deals bonus damage to illusions and summoned units as a percent of their current health.

Cast Time: 0.3+0 

Cast Range: 1000

Radius: 330

Base Damage: 40/80/120/160

Damage per Creep: 14/16/18/20

Damage per Hero: 20/35/50/65

Summoned Units Damage: 25% of Current Health

Move Speed Bonus per Creep: 3%

Move Speed Bonus per Hero: 9%

Speed Duration: 7

Cooldown: 18 Manacost: 100

Important aspects:

  • Summoned unit bonus damage is dealt before normal spell damage.
  • Lone Druid’s Spirit Bear, Primal Split spirits and creeps dominated by Enchant, Holy Persuasion and Helm of the Dominator count as creeps and don’t take the summoned units damage.
  • One part of the spell’s sound effect plays during the cast animation.

While the damage doesn’t seem to scale that well, and you get all other bonuses fully from level 1, this is a spell you still definitely want maxed out by level 7. The damage is really not to be underestimated early on. Assuming 1 hero and 4 creeps, at level 4 it will deal 305 damage, which is not amazing, but quite good considering the massive casting range. As soon as there are more heroes and creeps, the damage goes up a lot.

If there’s a big fight and you manage to hit 5 heroes and 7 creeps, that’s 625 damage in an aoe which is absolutely massive. Granted, that situation will rarely arise, but it is not uncommon to hit a few heroes and get an average of 400 damage per cast, which is very good for a 100-mana nuke.

People tend to not spread out versus an LC, making this one of the strongest de-pushing spells, especially versus summoners. It also wrecks illusions at any stage of the game. It deals 25% of their current hp as damage, meaning that a typical illusion that takes 300% damage will lose (25×3) 75% of its health, and then also take the nuke damage, often insta-killing it.

Lastly, this spell is perfect for cancelling blink-daggers from a very long range as you are about to initiate on someone with your own blink-duel.


Press the Attack

Removes debuffs and disables from the target friendly unit, and grants bonus attack speed and health regen for a short time.

Cast Time: 0.3+0.83

Cast range: 800

Health Regen Bonus: 30/40/50/60

Attack Speed Bonus: 60/80/100/120

Duration: 5

Cooldown: 16/15/14/13 Manacost: 110

Important aspects:

  • Applies a strong dispel on the target upon cast.
  • Restores health in form of health regeneration, so it regenerates 3/4/5/6 health in 0.1 second intervals.
  • Regenerates a total of 150/200/250/300 Health.

Fairly simple skill with plenty of application. You want this maxed out after Overwhelming Odds because the attack-speed boost is what will help you win duels. Great spell to sustain on the lane as well, since using it together with a bottle charge will restore 285 hp at the cost of only 40 mana.

It has a very high casting range which makes it great for saving allies in teamfights – being a strong dispel, it removes a large amount of not only debuffs but also disables, including all stuns. There is of course a huge list of exceptions that cannot be dispelled, such as AA’s Ice Blast, Dazzle’s Weave, Viper’s Viper strike, etc. – some of them you have to memorize, but a good rule of thumb is that it does not dispel some long-duration ultimate-level debuffs, nor anything that covers an area for a period of time.

NOTICE: It cannot be cast on magic immune targets, so make sure you cast this on yourself before you pop bkb.


Moment of Courage

When attacked, Legion Commander has a chance to immediately attack again with bonus lifesteal.

Proc Chance: 25%

Lifesteal: 55%/65%/75%/85%

Cooldown: 2.7/2.1/1.5/0.9

Important aspects:

  • Fully stacks with all other sources of lifesteal.
  • Cannot lifesteal off of siege creeps, wards, buildings and allied units.
  • When this ability triggers while Legion Commander is currently performing an attack, an extra attack is instantly thrown in, without interrupting her current attack.
  • This instant attack does not count as a regular attack. This means it does not proc Return, Reactive Armor and  Counter Helix.
  • However, it does proc every form of attack modifier.
  • When this ability triggers while not attacking, a buff will be placed on her, which gives her next attack maximum attack speed. The buff lasts for 1 second or until the next attack.
  • Uses Pseudo-random distribution.

The scaling of this spell recently got changed, making it a little bit weaker in the mid-game, but a whole lot better on the lane. With a 25% chance of proccing from level 1, simply attacking the enemy mid and aggroing all 4 creeps gives you a near-guaranteed proc, which is a very quick hit for harass that also heals you a little bit.

Later on in the game, the lifesteal is huge, and is what gives you higher EHP during duels, allowing you to take on enemies with more damage.


Duel

Legion Commander and the target enemy hero are forced to attack each other for a short duration. Neither hero can use items or abilities. If either hero dies during the duration, the hero winning the Duel gains permanent bonus damage.

Cast Time: 0.3+0

Cast Range: 150

Winner Attack Damage Bonus: 10/14/18

Duel Duration: 4/4.75/5.5 (Permanent)

Cooldown: 50 Manacost: 75

Important aspects:

  • The loser of the duel is the hero that dies while under the buff. There is no victor if both heroes are alive at the end of the duration, and no damage bonus is granted.
  • The dueling units do not have to do the last hit to win the Duel. Allies may interfere.
  • Silences and mutes both, Legion Commander and the target.
  • Dueling units fully ignore disarm
  • If a dueling unit becomes ethereal, it still attacks the Duel target, and can still be attacked by the Duel target (though still won’t be damaged by the physical attacks).
  • If a dueling unit gets hexed or disarmed by Frostbite or Overgrowth, it stops attacking for its duration. However, if Duel is cast on an already hexed unit or a unit disarmed by Frostbite or Overgrowth, it attacks.
  • Forces Batrider and Timbersaw (and Rubick) to attack even while having Flaming Lasso or Chakram active.
  • When a unit is affected by Berserker’s Call or W/inter’s Curse and Duel, Duel will always have priority.
  • Casting Force Staff or Geomagnetic Grip on a dueling unit will have no effect, wasting the mana and cooldown.
  • When a dueling unit is defeated and has Aegis of the Immortal or Reincarnation, the victor still gets the bonus damage.
  • When Legion Commander dies to the shatter of Ice Blast, the dueled enemy will not get bonus damage. If the Duel target dies to it instead, Tresdin will get the damage.
  • Duel can be cast on illusions. However, defeating them grants no bonus damage. But if the illusion is victorious, it gets the bonus damage, which is useless for the illusion.

Finally we get to LC’s defining spell, the ultimate that makes this hero so unique. Duel is what allows you to solo kill any hero if you are even slightly ahead, and almost any hero if you are a bit behind.

There are four types of duels.

  1. You and your target are isolated. This is most often the preferred situation, because it means no ally is going to disable them and prevent them from hitting you and taking blademail damage, and of course no enemy is going to interfere and disable you. It is important to be able to estimate whether you can win the duel on your own or not, but that is something that simply comes with experience. It is ABSOLUTELY 100% MANDATORY to click on the enemy hero first before dueling in order to check what items, status etc. they have so that you are sure of your duel win.
  1. Your target is alone, but you have allies with you. This is often the ‘easy duel’, however it depends on your allies and some can actually end up saving the enemy. Having your ally Lion finger the duel target – great, he dies faster. Having your ally Lion hex the duel target – horrible, he is no longer hitting you and therefore not taking blademail damage nor proccing your MoC. Congratulations Lion, you just saved the enemy. Having your ally Lion impale the duel target – depends. If it’s early game, sure. If you are able to deal more than the 260 Impale damage through blademail and MoC in the 2 seconds the stun would last (i.e. the game is past ~15-20 minutes) then it’s a bad idea.
  1. It’s a 5 on 5 clash, and you are using Duel to initiate. Duel is not the ideal initiation spell, although it can definitely serve as one. Only do this if you are sure you won’t die during the duel, which often means having a BKB and therefore not getting blown up. It’s ok if the enemies have defensive spells to save the duel target and he doesn’t end up dying – your goal was to initiate the teamfight and what’s important is whether your team wins the fight.
  1. You are alone, but your duel target has allies around him. There are very rare situations in which this is a good idea, but when they do arise there is no reason to not take advantage of them. Usually this is when you have 2-3 enemy heroes around but only one of them can disable and/or significantly damage you through BKB. You duel that guy and kill him while the other two stand around waiting for your BKB to expire. At that point you need to get out quickly, either by shadowblade-ing away if they have no detection or TP-ing away, but be careful as the latter means you need to win the duel quite quickly in order to have enough magic immunity duration left to TP out safely. All things considered, it is still a risky maneauver and should only be attempted to kill a core – the risk outweighs the benefits if the target is a support.

The cooldown is very short so unless a fight is about to break out, do not hesitate to use it on a for-sure dead target just to get the bonus damage.

While getting damage from a duel win is the ideal scenario, you should also not hesitate to use it purely as a disable to for example set-up an arrow or buy time for your supports to move in and get a kill on the enemy mid you would otherwise never have gotten.

Lastly, according to IceFrog, the victorious player has to announce ‘WINNER!’ in all chat. Source: http://www.playdota.com/heroes/legion-commander

Exemplary Skill Build

  1. Overwhelming Odds
  2. Moment of Courage
  3. Overwhelming Odds / Press the Attack
  4. Press the Attack / Overwhelming Odds
  5. Overwhelming Odds
  6. Duel
  7. Overwhelming Odds
  8. Press the Attack
  9. Press the Attack
  10. Press the Attack
  11. Duel
  12. Moment of Courage
  13. Moment of Courage
  14. Moment of Courage
  15. Stats
  16. Duel

The skill-build for LC is fairly standard and you will rarely deviate from it. If you are being pressured on the lane, you want to take PtA at level 3 in order to heal up a bit – otherwise just keep maxing OO since it’s your main harass and last-hitting tool. PtA is maxed before MoC because it simply has far more functionality as it can be cast on allies, does not rely on units hitting you, and boosts your damage during a duel more than a maxed-out MoC would.

Duel is obviously taken any chance you get because getting more damage per duel win is a huge plus.


4. Item Builds

Starting Items

Ask a support to pool you 2 tangos, buy a quelling blade and a stout shield. If no one pools you just buy the tangos, it’s not fatal. Thanks to your high base damage, with a quelling blade you should be virtually uncontested in last-hits, which is very important because farming is your main goal mid. You can swap the stout shield for a magic stick against some spell spammers like Zeus, Batrider and Skywrath. If you suspect you’re going to be taking a lot of harass, pick up a salve as well. Get Bottle as soon as possible and Boots after.

Early Game

While rushing blink with brown boots may seem tempting, the truth is that power treads give you a huge safety net in terms of being able to fall back momentarily into the jungle in order to finish up your blink dagger. Between tread-toggling, bottle, PtA and the lifesteal from MoC you have so much sustain that you should rarely need to go back to base. Treads also heavily increase your chances of winning a duel, and in some cases you might find one without a blink dagger. Conversely, if you have a blink but no power treads, you might be able to find more duels earlier but be unable to win them.

Phase boots are a big no-no – they allow you to run up to people and duel them before you get your blink, but that only works on heroes with no disables, no defensive spells and no escape mechanisms. Yeah, there aren’t many such heroes. Treads are far superior for farming for obvious reasons. Furthermore, once you get your blink you won’t need the MS boost and will really wish you had power treads instead of phase since they amount to a lot more damage during the duel. Phase Boots are suitable for the more situational sidelane LC+Wisp combo, because then they allow you to reach max MS combined with OO and Tether, and the Overcharge makes up for the lack of attack speed.

TP scrolls are generally a no-brainer on any mid that is capable of ganking and counterganking, but LC is one of the few mids that cannot effectively tp-react without a blink dagger, which is something to keep in mind.

Core

This is the absolute core that will be the best choice in 95% of games.

With these items your solo kill potential is extremely high, you have solid damage, attack speed, armor, hp, mana, and mobility. This means that despite the build being centered around getting solo pick-offs, you can still farm fast and sustain yourself easily with it thanks to LC’s skillset. It is for these farming purposes that I would recommend keeping the Quelling blade as long as possible, and getting rid of the stout shield instead as soon as the laning stage is over.

Normally you should always be tread-switching to int before casting a spell, agi when regening and strength when you need damage. However, since LC’s usual combo of PtA->Blademail->(BKB->)OO->Blink->Duel is quite a lot of clicks and needs to be done very fast, it is better if you just keep them on strength for maximum damage and to make sure you cast everything correctly as quickly as possible, without worrying too much about tread toggling. You’d rather lose out on 100 mana than mess up or be too slow and lose out on a kill opportunity.

Luxury

BKB will commonly be necessary after your core since clashes involving multiple heroes will become more common. Occasionally you might be able to skip it, but most of the time having a BKB at this stage of the game means you are pretty much immortal during the duel, since whatever physical damage they have would most likely not be enough to kill you through the PtA and MoC healing. Of course, be wary of heavy physical damage line-ups involving heroes such as Visage, Drow, SF, Venge, etc. If those heroes have BKB’s of their own, they can ignore your blademail and right click you down during the duel.

Shadow Blade probably seems surprising, considering a Blink Dagger is part of your core. However, these two items actually work very well together. Think of the Shadow Blade as a Smoke of Deceit on demand, with no charges, that also gives you some damage and attack speed. The idea is that you blink out of invisibility, giving you a much higher chance of surprising your enemy. With nothing but a blink, you are likely to pass through observer wards on your way to finding a pick off on for example an enemy farming his safelane. However, without a blink, you are likely to pass through sentry wards commonly on the lane itself if you attempt to walk up to him with shadowblade. Having both shadowblade and dagger lets you blink out of invisibility giving you the strongest initiation and essentially the most stealthy way of moving around the map and finding pick-offs. The only way you could get caught is if they have both observers as well as sentry wards around the lane, which is incredibly costly to keep up throughout the game.

Since Legion has in fact little to offer other than right-clicks, evasion counters her quite hard. With the somewhat recent introduction of Solar Crest, evasion is available not only for agility carries but also supports, and pressing one button on their duelled ally is an easy way to make duels much harder to pull off for you. So, despite Daedalus giving more damage against non-evasion targets, getting an MKB is the wiser choice as enemies will inevitably start picking up evasion items as the game progresses.

Mjollnir is a great item on Legion not only because MoC gives you additional chances to proc the chain lightning, but also because it is an item that gives you massive AoE teamfight presence during your single-target duel. Your duel target WILL be hitting you, and most likely enemies as well, meaning the static lightning buff will also be proccing like crazy together with the chain lightning. Not to be underestimated is also the lightning’s ability to cancel blink daggers, since both the lightnings it triggers have bounce ranges of 900(!), with the static charge hitting 5 people per proc, and the lightning bouncing between 8 people. Lastly, it also greatly speeds up your farming.

Assault Cuirass is an effective all-round item giving you both great defense in terms of armor as well as offense in terms of -armor and attack speed. Easily the best item when it comes to damaging structures, as the auras benefit both your team and your creeps, making it good for highground sieging as well as split-pushing. When facing the aforementioned heavy physical damage line-ups it is a bit of a must. Versus line-ups with a more balanced damage type output, having both this and a BKB should make you nothing short of unkillable.

Abyssal Blade may seem a little counter-productive at first in the sense that by bashing your enemy you are preventing them from hitting you during duel and therefore getting less MoC procs and Blademail return-damage, but the one huge advantage this item gives you is the active. Duel has a short but definitely not instant cast-time, and versus good players with quick fingers it can be very difficult to Duel before a bkb, doppelganger, sleight of fist, manta, etc. gets used. Here’s where the instant stun from the Abyssal blade comes in very handy and gives you that guaranteed follow-up duel. It can also be used as a Linken’s breaker that pierces BKB.

Silver Edge is nice in theory, but as explained under shadowblade, the point is to blink out of invisibility, meaning the break will not be applied. An alternative method would be to blink in, immediately go invisible to apply the break and then duel. That however gives the enemy plenty of time to react and is a very unreliable way of initiating. Furthermore, the heroes that you would want to apply break on are pretty much limited to those with innate evasion/blind/backtrack, i.e. PA, Void, Brewmaster and Broodmother. Those heroes hit hard and are very susceptible to blademail, making it far more effective than Silver Edge. Lastly, by the time they get their BKB’s they will be able to purge off the break effect, as getting it on them and duelling before they use it is just relying on enemy bad play. While it can be good situationally, I still see this as a situational item for LC.

Armlet is an item that in theory works beautifully with LC, but I personally dislike for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it makes your combo even more difficult and the chances of you messing something up increase, since you’d have to armlet->pta->blademail->bkb->OO->blink->duel all ideally in the span of a second, which is just not something you can rely on. Secondly, it’s another relatively small-cost item that will leave you in a bad spot when it comes to scaling into the lategame, since you already have blink blademail boots tp and possibly a bkb, and you’d rather work towards a 5k+ gold item.

Daedalus is fairly straightforward. It simply boosts your damage a lot. However, remember that it scales with the damage you already have, meaning it might be the most damage you can get out of a single item for your 5th or 6th slot, but not that effective as a 1st or 2nd luxury item. Also remember it literally gives you nothing but single-target physical damage, making it less versatile than items such as Mjollnir, AC, Abyssal, etc.

Skadi is usually not going to be the item of choice. I would recommend it over heart in the case that you simply need to tank up, because it gives you far better rounded stats, and due to your high lifesteal from MoC, the heart regen should not be that necessary. Having a Skadi is also pretty much the only way to be able to afford a refresher mana-cost-wise. All in all, a snowballing item you could pick up in the case that you have more than enough damage but are afraid of dying and want to eventually get a refresher.

Ever since its cost got reduced, Desolator is an incredible damage item considering the cost. As the -armor also works on structures, it is a great pushing item similar to AC. However, the main problem with this item is that it does not upgrade into anything, and simply falls off at a certain point in the game. Also, similarly to Daedalus, it does not give you any defensive or utility benefits whatsoever.

Satanic’s lifesteal actually stacks with MoC fully, meaning that you can easily be healing for close to a thousand HP per second during a lategame duel. Like any strength hero that heavily relies on hitting people, Satanic is not a terrible choice, but usually quite redundant given the aforementioned lifesteal from MoC. If you do pick this up, it should most likely be as a 5th or 6th item, at the point where you have enough damage but simply cannot stay alive versus multiple enemy cores dealing heavy physical damage to you.

Refresher – double blink, double bkb, double duel – what’s not to like? You’ll find that upon successfully initiating a winning fight with duel, enemies will start retreating, and at that point you will want nothing more than to have another duel at your disposal. In the very lategame, having a second BKB can also be extremely valuable. Just be careful with the manacost because it is difficult for a Legion to afford unless you are close to level 25. Also, if you do pick this up, remember that if you are quick enough you can refresh blink dagger and immediately blink even if you have just taken damage.

Heart is as mentioned before not that great on Legion because you already have insane lifesteal to keep your HP high. The only situations in which HoT is really good is when you are having a 5on5 standoff at the enemy highground while you chip away at the tower a little bit with every creep wave, and continously poke with long-range spells. That’s when having the sustain from a heart can be very useful.

Heaven’s Halberd seems very counter-intuitive at first, until you realize you are not going to be disarming your duel target because duelling heroes ignore disarm anyway. It is an item which is always bought as an answer to certain heroes, and Legion simply happens to make fairly good use of the stats. Consider it versus Slark (Dark Pact doesn’t remove the disarm), Medusa, Sniper, Viper, WR, etc. – pretty much anyone that relies heavily on right-clicking and doesn’t build a bkb every game. With that being said, it is still an item you would rather avoid and it’s usually only bought if you are behind. It can serve as a Linken’s breaker, of course, but the manacost of 100 is quite a lot higher than Forcestaff’s 25.

Force Staff – the cheapest Linken’s breaker available, and you’ll find that smart players will often purchase Linken’s against you if their hero can work it into their build (think Lina, SF, Slark, Weaver, Morph, Ember). Of course, also gives you decent utility outside of breaking Linken’s spheres. If you, for some reason, have Blink, BKB, Shadowblade and Forcestaff, you won’t be hitting very hard but you sure as hell should never die.

Lastly, the big sword, the Divine Rapier. As mentioned before, Legion is all about right-clicking. Sometimes, if you are struggling to seal the game and are likely to lose in the long run, a Rapier could be the trump card you need. No hero can really survive a duel if you have a divine rapier, regardless of evasion/bashes/etc.


5. Laning Stage & Match-ups

Your goal in the laning stage is mostly just to farm. You can look to trade hits, get runes but mostly focus on getting farm. You have no disables prior to level 6, and even then duel has a melee casting range, so it is highly unlikely you can get a kill against a competent enemy. If you’re facing a ranged hero (generally squishy), you should look to control the lane, run at them to force them back (as they don’t want to trade hits with you due to your MoC), and out-last-hit them by virtue of being melee. Don’t hesitate to use OO every creepwave if you can snag a last-hit and harass the enemy at the same time. Also use it to get movementspeed and push the lane when you want to go for the rune.

Additionally, remember to stack the hard-camp (slightly easier on Radiant), which can be done very easily thanks to the high casting range of OO. Later you can clear it once again using OO, giving you a safe source for the last ~400 gold of your blink dagger.

If you get a great rune (DD/Haste/Invis) and/or see a kill opportunity on a side-lane, you can consider rotating, but keep in mind that the safe play is to simply farm until you have your Treads+Blink, which you should be able to get around the ~12-13 minute mark easily assuming you haven’t gotten kills nor died. Going for ganks can be great if they work out, giving you an even faster item timing, but it can also delay your game a lot. The risk is there, and it’s up to you – this is where your game sense is the deciding factor.


Lanaya is an extremely strong laner that flat out wins the lane versus many heroes by outfarming them as well as harassing them and having solid kill potential. Legion is actually one of the best heroes to lane with against a TA. She cannot man-fight you that easily because the creep aggro will hurt her refraction while help you trigger MoC. Since you’re melee, it should be much easier to dodge psi-blade hits and simply force her back by trading hits. Every time you are certain her Refraction is down, harass her with OO. If she meld-strikes you or slows you with a trap, simply dispel it with PtA.


One of the worst heroes you can face – this guy just dominates melee’s on mid. Whatever you do, don’t tank his remnants. Just try to get whatever farm you can and avoid getting aggressive. He has high base armor and you will 100% lose any kind of trade if you get hit by even one remnant. Fortunately, you are strong against this guy later on in the game, as he’s an easy duel kill.


Legion is hands down one of the best mids against QoP, and in fact one of the few heroes good against her. You can dispel her shadowstrike with your PtA, you can simply run at her and force her back since she is squishy and cannot trade hits, and you can out-cs her since you are melee. Later on, she’s also an incredibly tasty duel target.


Definitely a difficult lane. Dodging Dragon Slave is pretty much impossible since you’re melee, and if you get hit by an LSA you’re gonna eat a lot of damage. Once again, stay back and farm – your best bet is to get aggressive when you have the MS from using OO, as it allows you to easily dodge her stun and run at her for some harass.


Squishy hero, and since OO has no travel time you should be able to easily bait out his phase shift and then hit him with it. His spells do not deal that much damage so he should have no way of harassing you out of the lane, meaning you can outfarm him.


A lane definitely in your favour. Don’t even try to deny, just focus on getting every cs you can since Zeus should have no way of denying you farm either. If he oversteps just run at him and harass him a bit. Once you get level 6 you can even solo him since he’s one of the few mids with neither a disable nor an escape mechanism.


Another lane that should definitely be in your advantage – you can dispel both the coldsnap as well as the armor reduction from his forge spirits. If he goes Quas Wex just spam out your spells and make sure you have no mana for him to burn – his damage will be low and you can outfarm him. If he goes Quas Exort then use OO and run down his forged spirit, then run at him to force him away like other squishy ranged mid-laners.


Slightly more difficult lane – her damage, animation and BAT are so good that she can still contest you heavily in cs, as well as harass you a lot. You have virtually no chance of ever killing her unless she runs out of mana or wastes windrun. Just focus on your farm, and be ready to sacrifice some cs in order to not drop too low in HP and risk dying.


Since you’re a strong strength-based, mana-independent hero, you should not get dominated as hard as other heroes do. It will still be difficult to get cs in between the imprisonments and he will get high damage to contest you, but as long as you’re efficient with your bottle he should not be able to kill you, and will still lose manfights thanks to MoC.


There are very few heroes that can hold their own in a 1 versus 1 scenario facing a Shadow Fiend on the mid lane, and Legion is not one of them. You have no way of dealing with the heavy damage from the razes, you cannot push as hard as he can, you cannot win a right-click manfight, and you cannot out-cs him due to necromastery. This is an extremely one-sided lane you should avoid at all costs, unless you have roaming supports dedicated to shutting down the SF.


Tough lane for any hero, especially a melee one. However, you can use the MS boost from OO to dodge his split earth, and to an extent resist his lightning spam harass with PtA and bottle. You should still be able to cs without him denying you, but make sure to always dodge the split earth, even if it means sacrificing last-hits. If you don’t, you will simply end up taking far too much damage and get zoned.


6. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos


7. When to pick Legion Commander

Good allies

Pretty simple, these are heroes that can help you win duels from a long range or even globally, either by boosting your damage or simply dealing damage themselves. Special mention to Silencer, who can pop his ultimate when you Duel someone to prevent any kind of pesky spell-casting interference.

Bad allies

These are just a few heroes you want to avoid having on your team when you pick LC, but even if you do have them it’s not fatal. I once played with a Treant who kept using living armor on me every time I dueled someone. When their damage gets blocked, blademail doesn’t reflect it. No duels were won that game.

Good versus

Slippery squishy heroes that hit hard are your ideal targets. Nothing more satisfying than watching a carry farm up a storm and then kill himself as you duel him with your blademail on. Also great versus illusion-based heroes due to OO effectively clearing them, but no so great versus PL because duelling the right one is very difficult thanks to doppelganger.

Special mention goes to two heroes: Bristleback – he’s very tanky and usually you can’t solo him, but Duel forces him to face you and can be a good way of countering his passive in a teamfight. Tide is also very tanky but once again Kraken Shell does not dispel duel, meaning you can burst him down before he can Ravage.

Bad versus

These heroes simply make it very difficult to win a duel because they can prevent the death of their allies one way or another. It is worth noting though that you still get the duel damage bonus by killing Wraith King even if he has Reincarnation up. Tusk is particularly bad to face because he can hide people in his snowball for up to 4(!) seconds, as well as heavily decrease your damage output with Sigil, which you can’t really bring down since you’re a melee hero. Special mention to LD who has his damage on his bear while the main hero is super tanky, meaning you can’t win a duel against him unless you have very high damage.


8. Gameplay

Early Game

You will find that opponents do not have many ways to react to a duel pick-off, but a lack of damage is usually what prevents you from getting kills with it within the duration, meaning you often need allies or a low-hp target to actually get early duel wins. Focus on farming up your power treads and blink dagger, after which you should definitely start looking to join fights and get some duel damage going. DD runes are your best friends, as they pretty much guarantee you a duel kill.

Mid Game

This is when LC shines. This is when you will ideally start racking up the duel damage. With your core of treads-blademail-blink you can solo kill a lot of heroes from full HP, with the exception of extremely tanky heroes with low single-target right-click damage (think Bristleback, DK, Lone Druid, Medusa, etc.) Of course, this is why LC is not ideal versus these heroes. However, pretty much anyone else should be food as their supports do not yet have their glimmercapes/solar crests and blink daggers/force staffs to quickly show up and help their ally.

Keep farming of course, but ideally you should have a harder carry on your team, meaning you can start sacrificing farm in order to create pressure and set yourself up for pick-offs. Try to anticipate the enemy’s movement. Do you have a massive creepwave moving down into the enemy team’s safelane that their Anti-Mage will be undoubtedly going for? Make sure you are there first, hiding in the trees and waiting for him to show up, and then get the easy pick-off. There’s nothing more satisfying than sitting poised in the fog and waiting 20 seconds for your target to come to you. Even you jump at the tower and die in order to get a duel kill on the carry, it’s worth it because you have a farmer of your own and you still got the duel damage out of it, as well as forcing enemy rotations, freeing up the map for the rest of your team.

Late Game

By now you will find that your blademail becomes more and more valuable as it allows you to continue solo killing cores that naturally have built more damage items as their farm progressed.

Supports should be kill-able in ~2-3 second duels at this point, except those that have a solar crest – this item turns the squishy dazzle/venge/visage into a hardly killable annoying support with 30% evasion and +10 armor. They don’t deal any significant damage you can reflect either, so suddenly they are no longer food. Furthermore, if you do jump a core, even if you would technically be able to kill them in a full 5.5 second duel, good enemies will immediately react with TP’s and turn the tables if you are not able to secure the duel win quickly enough.

At this stage, you should still be looking for pick-offs, but not jumping at the first opportunity. Even if the entire enemy team is showing except one support, that support could be sitting behind the carry you want to jump. You get baited, disabled, and suddenly are 1v2 deep in enemy territory. If you can find the support, jump him instead, kill him quickly and get out, provided that the enemy carry has no way of chasing you down.

Keep your farm up and just transition into a lategame physical damage dealer. You kill ancients, roshan and towers extremely fast. You also hit really hard so don’t make the mistake of not right-clicking outside of casting duel. If a support gets stunned during a fight, you can often just right click them down without casting duel, saving it for another key target in the same fight.


9. Closing Words

So, all in all, LC is a severely underrated hero that I believe a lot of people misunderstand and do not play to her full potential. That’s it for the guide! I hope you found it informative, and feel ready to go and d-d-d-d-d-DUEL!

If you enjoyed it and wish to support me, you can do so by following me on this blog, twitterfacebook, youtube and of course twitch.

Aghanim’s Scepter Analysis

Introduction

Hi guys, SlashStrike here (not the same person as slahser), and this time I’m bringing you an analysis of the item Aghanim’s Scepter. I still haven’t stopped writing guides on heroes, this is just an analytic piece inspired by the recent addition of many Agh’s upgrades. Here’s a strawpoll (http://strawpoll.me/4074849) – I posted this in my last guide as well and I got a fair amount of responses, but since the top two are so incredibly closely tied, I’m hoping to reach a more decisive result with a few more opinions.

Since I’m not making any money by writing this, I’m shamelessly plugging my stream over at http://www.twitch.tv/slashstrike – it’s got an arcana contest, follower and donation notifications, a moobot, cool music and of course some high 6k – low 7k gameplay! If you enjoy this or my other guides, make sure to tune in.

Patch 6.84 increased the list of heroes with an Agh’s upgrade to a total of 76 out of 110. Some upgrades are great, some heroes still have Agh’s as part of their undisputed core, some upgrades remain bad, and a few, including the newly-added Legion Commander upgrade, are absolutely useless.

Far too often I see players (occasionally even pros) build an Agh’s when it is far from the best choice. I believe this is because the item’s stats are well-rounded and the value of the ultimate upgrade cannot easily be deduced, rendering the item deceptively better in people’s eyes than it actually is.

People that argue for why an item is good will commonly use reasoning such as ‘it gives you a little bit of this and a little bit of that, which is nice on x hero’. An item is always ‘decent’, because it provides you something, it will obviously not make your hero weaker. In the case of Aghanim’s Scepter, HP, Mana and stats are never ‘bad’, but the item of choice should always be the best possible for the given situation – if it is not, then the item-choice is incorrect.

Table of Contents

  1. Tier-list
  2. The stats that Agh’s provides
  3. What makes an Agh’s upgrade good?
  4. Examples of core Agh’s
  5. Examples of good Agh’s
  6. Examples of situational Agh’s
  7. Examples of bad Agh’s
  8. The few absolutely useless Agh’s
  9. Closing Words

1. Tier-list

Some of these are of course slightly debate-able, especially the ones that were recently added and have not been sufficiently experimented with (we can’t really already determine whether Morph’s upgrade is ‘Good’ or ‘Situational’), but it should give you a clear general idea on where each hero stands with their respective Agh’s upgrade, and therefore how commonly the item should be purchased on them.

Core Tier

  1. Witch Doctor
  2. Tiny
  3. Treant Protector
  4. Disruptor
  5. Ancient Apparition
  6. Lina
  7. Visage
  8. Chen
  9. Enchantress
  10. Meepo
  11. Earth Spirit
  12. Timbersaw
  13. Venomancer
  14. Viper
  15. Warlock
  16. Windranger
  17. Centaur
  18. Necrophos
  19. Techies
  20. Doom

Good Tier

  1. Alchemist
  2. Razor
  3. Faceless Void
  4. Queen of Pain
  5. Axe
  6. Brewmaster
  7. Clockwerk
  8. Night Stalker
  9. Puck
  10. Shadow Demon
  11. Morphling
  12. Weaver
  13. Nyx Assassin
  14. Keeper of the Light
  15. Leshrac
  16. Omniknight
  17. Pugna
  18. Rubick
  19. Shadow Shaman
  20. Wraith King
  21. Zeus
  22. Ogre Magi

Situational Tier

  1. Lion
  2. Bane Elemental
  3. Lich
  4. Enigma
  5. Phoenix
  6. Beastmaster
  7. Dark Seer
  8. Elder Titan
  9. Naga Siren
  10. Juggernaut
  11. Lone Druid
  12. Outworld Devourer
  13. Pudge
  14. Spirit Breaker
  15. Silencer
  16. Abaddon
  17. Jakiro
  18. Tusk
  19. Undying

Bad Tier

  1. Dazzle
  2. Sand King
  3. Luna
  4. Lifestealer
  5. Nature’s Prophet
  6. Invoker
  7. Gyrocopter
  8. Huskar
  9. Sven
  10. Tinker
  11. Vengeful Spirit
  12. Skywrath Mage

Useless Tier

  1. Earthshaker
  2. Legion Commander
  3. Crystal Maiden

Heroes Without Aghs

  1. Kunkka
  2. Dragon Knight
  3. Wisp
  4. Bristleback
  5. Slardar
  6. Tidehunter
  7. Lycan
  8. Chaos Knight
  9. Magnus
  10. Anti-Mage
  11. Drow Ranger
  12. Mirana
  13. Phantom Lancer
  14. Rikimaru
  15. Sniper
  16. Templar Assassin
  17. Bounty Hunter
  18. Ursa
  19. Troll Warlord
  20. Ember Spirit
  21. Bloodseeker
  22. Shadow Fiend
  23. Phantom Assassin
  24. Clinkz
  25. Broodmother
  26. Spectre
  27. Slark
  28. Medusa
  29. Terrorblade
  30. Oracle
  31. Death Prophet
  32. Batrider
  33. Winter Wyvern
  34. Storm Spirit

2. The stats Agh’s provides

Before discussing the upgrade itself, it’s very important to look at what the actual stats are that the item gives you, and for what cost. This is something that must be understood about the Aghanim’s Scepter: the stats it gives you are absolutely terrible for the cost. For reference, a Skadi costs only 35% more but gives you nearly 3x better stats. If you want just mana and HP, pick up a Rod of Atos for 1100 less gold, and so on.

The stats are an okay boost for most heroes, HP is obviously never useless, but they are simply an extra, and should very rarely contribute to justifying the purchase. Many core int heroes (QoP, Lina, Zeus, Puck) have good upgrades, but almost never buy Aghs as their first major item because it only increases their manapool, not their mana regen. This means that it doesn’t help them speed up their farm like a Euls, Orchid or Bloodstone would.

3. What makes an Agh’s upgrade good

An Aghs upgrade is good if it adds a new element to the ultimate that is effective and can be relied on, enabling a new playstyle for the hero, or simply improves the ultimate’s numbers by a huge amount. However, once again, the hero that the Aghanim upgrade is for largely determines just how good the upgrade needs to be to make the purchase worth it. Most great Aghanim upgrades are for supports who are fairly item independent. While many carries have arguably stronger Aghanim upgrades, they are foregoing a damage / stat item by buying the Aghs, meaning that it is often not worth the money on them despite the upgrade itself being good, because they are sacrificing right-click damage output, which is usually what their role is.

4. Examples of core Agh’s

Taking a look at the 20 heroes in the ‘core tier’, about half of them are most commonly played as supports, whereas the other half are often cores. The reasons why these upgrades are good enough to make Aghanim’s Scepter considered ‘core’ are different.

For the support heroes, it simply allows them to scale and stay relevant in the lategame.

  • WD turns from a walking cask with a heal into a monstrous physical damage dealer that can easily provide more DPS than your carry.
  • AA’s ultimate only gets its duration increased, but unlike damage, HP freeze becomes more relevant the later the game goes due to the increasing number of sources of healing (most notably Lifesteal)
  • Disruptor’s ultimate goes from being countered by BKB’s to preventing BKB’s, making him a huge threat as well.
  • Treant provides incredible vision, gives him global presence, etc.

In the case of Tiny, Meepo and Windrunner, Aghs just happens to be the best way for them to increase their physical DPS, giving them a similar amount or more than other damage items, while also providing them with a decent stat bonus (that they wouldn’t get from an MKB/Daedalus/Deso).

5. Examples of good Agh’s

These upgrades are quite powerful and provide a unique boost that cannot be provided by any other item, so it is often a solid choice. However, the hero can definitely also be built and played equally if not more effectively without ever getting an Agh’s, therefore it is not a must-buy. This is arguably where all Agh’s upgrades should ideally be.

  • Razor’s Agh’s upgrade allows his ult to hit buildings, turning him into a powerful pusher. However, if the team already has strong enough building damage (e.g. carry Lycan, supports Rhasta and Leshrac), Razor can also be built as a durable anti-carry / ‘tank’ that simply sits on the front line and creates space in fights, going for items such as Mek, AC, Drums, S&Y, Skadi, BKB, etc.
  • Puck’s Aghs upgrade turns his ultimate into a powerful counter to melee BKB-carriers, strong versus heroes such as PA, Antimage, Tiny, Lifestealer, etc. However, it is not as effective versus carries with longer range that are less reliant on positioning, or those that can break the coil without getting stunned (e.g. Slark, Void, Morph, Storm), in which case the Puck is better off going for other items like Scythe of Vyse, Shiva’s Guard, Dagon, Ethereal Blade, etc.
  • Queen of Pain’s Agh’s Upgrade drastically reduces the cooldown on her ultimate and improves the damage slightly, making it good in a line-ups that wants to fight often. However, building into Orchid, Scythe of Vyse, BKB, AC, Necronomicon, Shivas, Refresher, etc. also results in a powerful QoP, with the only drawback being a longer cooldown on which to wait before looking for a fight.

6. Examples of situational Agh’s

This section is for upgrades that are usually not worth the Agh’s purchase, but can sometimes be the best choice in order to counter a specific hero/line-up or when playing the hero in an unusual position.

  • A carry Juggernaut is often better off going for damage items because they will inevitably increase his Omnislash damage as well as make him far more powerful when it is on cooldown. However, a Juggernaut played in a 2nd/3rd position as a tanky front-liner, maxing his Blade Fury and Healing Ward, can make great use of the stats as well as have a better up-time on the Omnislash, which would be his main damage source in fights.
  • The Naga Siren Agh’s upgrade can be quite powerful but obviously only fits her if she is being played as a support, as it is a defensive team-oriented upgrade.
  • Lion’s upgrade is quite underwhelming because in most cases, heroes will not be clumping up so incredibly narrowly so as to allow you to hit more than one target. The damage increase is also quite small, meaning you’re better off going for a Veil or Ethereal Blade if that’s your main motive, whereas the cooldown going from an already low 40 to 20 seconds can hardly be made use of considering how incredibly much mana the ultimate costs, even if you are spamming mana drain. However, if you have a Magnus/Darkseer/Enigma on the team, it is a great choice because the likely-hood of hitting multiple people is increased a lot.

7. Examples of bad Agh’s

These are upgrades that are so incredibly niche you’d only find yourself considering the purchase once every 100 games, and even then there would probably still be a better choice.

  • Sand King’s strength lategame comes from his powerful short-cooldown AoE stun, so it makes more sense to build utility items that allow him to survive and get more stuns off in one fight. While a well-timed Epicenter can be devastating, it hardly becomes stronger with Agh’s since it only boosts the damage by 220. Furthermore, that damage is not instant and requires your enemies to be standing in the radius for 2.5 seconds, turning the spell into more of a DoT than a nuke. The -20 second cooldown is all right but again something you would rarely want to spend 4.2k gold on when that could be a Forcestaff/Eul’s/BKB/Veil etc.
  • Luna, Lifestealer, Gyro, Sven and Nature’s Prophet are all going to get much more value out of carry / damage items. They all have skillsets that scale well with increased attack speed and damage. Even if you run them as supports, they’re better off going for utility items because that Agh’s will be coming very late, and while an upgraded Luna ult deals decent damage, it’s nowhere near as strong as an upgraded WD ult for example.
  • In Invoker’s case, the Aghs stats as well as the upgrade aren’t necessarily bad, but there are simply better item choices in almost any case. A mana regeneration item is mandatory to sustain the multiple mana-costly spells, i.e. a Eul’s, Orchid or Scythe of Vyse. Furthermore, as soon as he gets to level 17, Invoker is limited by his long spell cooldowns and not by the 5 second cooldown on Invoke. Getting utility items allows him to land those spells more effectively, or getting damage items lets him transition into a physical damage dealer.

8. The few absolutely useless Agh’s

These few heroes have upgrades so terrible that there is no game in which you should buy Agh’s on them.

  • Earthshaker’s Echoslam is all about the instant stun, and high damage potential in the case of many units. Agh’s only increases the damage from heroes, but barely. A good Echo hitting 3 enemy heroes will deal 120/165/210 additional damage if you have an Agh’s, i.e. literally nothing. If the enemies are clumped up enough to allow you to hit 5 of them, chances are you’re going to win the fight whether you have an Agh’s or not (even then, the extra damage is only 350 at max level). If you’re facing a Meepo, it’s still not worth it because he builds tanky and has extra base magic resistance – you’re better off building mobility and utility items and countering him by disabling and kiting him. Illusion based heroes that face Earthshaker are not going to clump up with their team.
  • The only time Legion has trouble killing the target during the duel is in the very early game, exactly when you will not have Agh’s. The entire point of Duel is locking someone down and picking them off quickly – there is no reason to build Agh’s with lackluster stats so you can win a 10 second duel when you can just build a damage item, farm faster, hit harder and win the duel in <5 seconds.
  • Crystal Maiden’s ult is strong enough, the problem is actually getting to channel it and not getting immediately blown up.

9. Closing words

That’s it for the analysis! I hope you found it informative – if you did and wish to see more from me in the future you can support me by following me on this blog, twitterfacebook, youtube and of course twitch.

If you have any requests for the future guides feel free to send me a message on any platform.

Good luck and remember – balance, in all things.

SlashStrike’s Guide on Skill-Builds

Introduction

Hi guys, SlashStrike here (not the same person as slahser), and this time I’m bringing you a guide on skill-builds. I haven’t stopped writing guides on heroes, this is just a different general guide. In fact, here’s a strawpoll (http://strawpoll.me/4074849) through which you can help decide on what hero my next guide is going to be on. Since I’m not making any money by writing this, I’m shamelessly plugging my stream over at http://www.twitch.tv/slashstrike – it’s got follower and donation notifications, a moobot, cool music and of course some high 6k – low 7k gameplay! If you enjoy this or my other guides, make sure to tune in. Back to skill-builds.

I believe this is a significant aspect of DotA that is simply not discussed enough. Casters do point out skill-builds from time to time, but often provide uninformed analysis, trying to reach the conclusion of whether a build is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or whether they agree or disagree with it. A skill-build can hardly be disagreed with (as long as there’s at least 1 level in each spell) – it is simply an indication of the playstyle that the player (and team) has chosen to go for. Now, that playstyle – that is something that the caster can choose to agree or disagree with.

A topical example would be Fear’s Spectre versus NiP the other day (http://www.dotabuff.com/matches/1381989928). He took stats at levels 5, 7, 8, 10, and 12, while maxing Spectral Dagger with only 1 point in his other abilities. The caster said he disagreed with it, which I think is an uninformed statement to make (don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to call out the caster here). This is because Fear had also gone for the Phase-Aquila-MoM build, which translating to his playstyle meant that he was mostly hitting lane creeps, neutral creeps and ancients in the early game, until he finished his Radiance at 20 minutes. Now, how useful are Desolate and Dispersion for farming creeps? They aren’t, at all. And it is evident that this is exactly what Fear had in mind, because as soon as he was about to finish his Radiance (20 minutes in), he also got to level 13 and started levelling his spells instead of stats.

Nowadays, skill-builds in DotA are a lot more flexible than they used to be. There are fewer heroes that follow the same skill-build every game, more heroes that can adapt to the game, and of course more carries that incorporate early stats as part of their skill-build. But over-all, with teams becoming more efficient at getting levels on even their lowest-priority supports, players feel more comfortable experimenting with their skill-build in the early levels.

As for heroes that do take a lot of farm, they are subsequently expected to level up a lot faster, and therefore can afford to level up skills according to the immediate state of the game. Your skill-build dictates how you can most effectively play your game, and will probably decide how well you do on your lane, how quickly you can farm afterwards, and whether you have enough damage and disable for that kill or not.

Table of Contents

  1. What makes a skill-build good/bad
  2. Playstyle
  3. Skill Scaling
  4. What does a skill offer?
  5. Unique Effects
  6. Closing Words


1. What makes a skill-build good?

A good skill-build is one that allows you to play your hero to the fullest potential. There should be no case in which you wish you had a higher level of another skill. If you find yourself not making good use of a skill soon after you have put a point in it, then your skill-build is not as effective as it could be. Most of all, however, it depends on the playstyle you will go for in your given game. There are far more good skill-builds than there are bad skill-builds.

Ok then, what makes a skill-build bad?

A bad skill-build is quite apparent most of the time. Were you unable to set up a kill as a support Earthshaker because the 1.0 second stun on your level 1 Fissure wasn’t long enough? That’s an indication that maxing Enchant Totem first was a terrible idea and your skill-build is bad. Did you pick Dazzle to sustain the push, but are then unable to do so because Dazzle is maxing Poison Touch and Shallow Grave with no / too little points in Shadow Wave? Again, an example of a bad skill-build, because it limits the hero’s ability to bring to the table that which he is meant to offer – in this case, a spammable heal.

2. Playstyle

As everyone knows, there are many heroes that can do well in different roles. Often, their skill build is adapted to this.

For example, take a Naga Siren that is played in the typical farming hard-carry style – Riptide and Mirror Images are maxed out because they speed up farming, while only a single point or often none at all are put into Ensnare, as the Naga is not looking to fight any heroes early on. While this could be a regrettable decision if the Naga misses a kill on a target that just teleports away, that situation is unlikely to arise because a Naga that has gone for that skill-build will be more focused on chasing creeps, and not heroes. A support Naga Siren, however, is more likely to level up the Ensnare since it’s her only disable apart from the ultimate, and gives her ganking potential.

Another case would be Lina – when played mid, players often max out Dragon Slave and then Fiery Soul, leaving only one point in Light Strike Array and then maxing that last. This is because thanks to a mid-Lina’s level advantage, her right-clicks are more significant in the early game (making the AS from Fiery Soul more valuable), and it also allows her to pressure the enemy tier 1 mid tower. A support Lina on the other hand often only takes one or no points of Fiery Soul, and chooses to max out Light Strike Array, because the two nukes are going to be her main contribution to the team, not her physical attacks.

However, the reason this section is called playstyle and not role, is because there can also be different playstyles for the same hero fulfilling the same role.

For instance, Axe is nearly always played as a position 3 initiator that takes some jungle farm to secure his blink. Because farming the blink is so important, Counter Helix is maxed out first in 95% of games. It makes sense since levelling Counter Helix improves his kill potential and damage by roughly the same amount that levelling the other spells would, but it is the only spell that helps him farm.

In some cases you will see the Axe skip Battle Hunger entirely and just max out his Berserker’s Call alongside the Counter Helix – this is often when he is zoned from the lane and unable to assert any pressure until after farming his Blink Dagger, at which point having a level 4 Berserker’s Call will be much better than having Battle Hunger.

Yet let’s say the enemy team went for an aggressive tri-lane and Axe is left to face the enemy offlaner in a 1on1, or he’s simply up against a rather weak dual lane that cannot zone him effectively – in this case, we often see Axes pick up at least one point of Battle Hunger because it gives them very early kill potential.

Most skills grant all their effects starting at level 1, meaning that a 1-1-1 build at level 3 is generally good on most heroes. There are still many exceptions to this, of course.

One of these exceptions would be a Witch Doctor that is supporting. His skill build has decent variety – Paralyzing Cask is generally maxed out first, but then some max Voodoo Restoration along-side it, while some skip / leave it at level 1 and choose to max out Maledict. The difference between the two is fairly simple – does the team need more healing or more damage early on? It is also important to note whether the enemy offlaner can effectively be zoned and/or killed without Maledict. However, a level 1 Maledict is one of the weakest abilities in the game because it provides literally nothing other than damage, and the damage is negligible until higher levels, meaning it is better to either max it or not skill it at all – unlike with many other spells, getting just 1 level in it gives you very little benefit.

3. Skill Scaling

I briefly touched upon this concept in my previously released Ember Spirit guide, so those of you who read it may remember these examples from there.

A term that is very important to define and understand, is the so-called ‘value point’. The value point of a skill is the level at which you get the largest increase in the spells potency. Most skills with an obvious value point have it at level 1, and they are also known as ‘1-point-wonders’.

For instance, take Yurnero, the Juggernaut – Often his Bladefury is left at level 1 because it grants you the full 5 second magic immunity, and the total damage only increases by 100 each level, starting at 400. This means you get a 25%, 20% and 16% damage increase per level, and a slight cooldown reduction. A more extreme example of a 1 point wonder would be DK’s stun, starting at 2.5 seconds and only increasing by 0.25 seconds as you level it, meaning 10%, 9% and 8% per level.

While fewer, there are also skills that have a clear value point that is not at level 1.

For example, Sniper’s Headshot – you get the full slow from level one, but the damage starts off at 15 and increases by 25 each level, meaning you get a 166%, 62.5% and 38.5% damage increase, which is why level 2 can also be considered the ‘value point’. Another example of this would be Bounty Hunter’s Shuriken Toss – with the damage increasing by 100%, 25% and then 30%, level 2 is also obviously the level giving most value for your skill point.

This is once again a very important concept to understand when deciding how to level your skills. A regular skill with regular scaling may not have any clear value points, but it is evident that every next skill-point put into it gives you less in return.

Case in point, Phantom Lancer’s Spirit Lance – 100/150/200/250 damage, 10/20/30/40% slow, 2/4/6/8 second illusion duration. Important to note that the slow duration is a constant 3.25 seconds. Very simple stuff. However, let’s take a look at the percentage increase with each level.

  • 50% damage, 100% slow and 100% duration increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 33% damage, 50% slow and 50% duration increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 25% damage, 33% slow and 33% duration increase from level 3 -> 4.

Clearly, the skill improves massively from level 1 to 2, then not so much from level 2 to 3, and then only a little bit from level 3 to 4. On a hero such as Lancer that relies on right-clicks for most of his damage, and being an illusion-based carry that likes stats so much, it makes sense to keep Spirit Lance at level 2 or 3 and take stats in favor of maxing it out. Does this mean maxing it out is bad and is going to lose you the game? Of course not. Intricate as DotA may be, a 10% difference in amount of slow, or the 38 hp, 26 mana and 2 damage you do or do not get from a point in stats is hardly going to dictate the course of the game. Nonetheless, at the end of the day every little bit counts towards the end result, which is how you use your hero and what you can accomplish with it.

Never forget to look carefully at how a certain skill scales, because there are many that would surprise you. For example, ZeusArc Lightning. It deals 85/100/115/145 damage, bouncing 5/7/9/15 times. Notice that little jump at the end?

  • 17.7% damage, 28.6% bounce increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 15.0% damage, 22.2% bounce increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 26.1% damage, 66.6% bounce increase from level 3 -> 4.

Clearly, levelling from 3 to 4 is a great boost compared to the other points. This is why you either keep it at level 1, or max it all the way once you start putting more skill points into it. It also explains the different variants we have been seeing lately, of some Zeus players leaving one point in Arc Lightning and maxing out Static Field, and other Zeus players leaving one point in Static Field and maxing out Arc Lightning.

Lastly, it is important to note that many big AoE ultimates do not scale well enough to warrant levelling them over your other spells.

For example, the benefit of having a Puck‘s level 2 Dream Coil over a level 1 Dream Coil is quite small compared to getting that level 4 Phase Shift and reaching un-killable status an entire level earlier. “But what if you don’t get the kill because Dream Coil’s stun didn’t last long enough?” By the time you’re level 11, a 0.75 second stun should never make the difference between getting a kill or not. If it does, it means your initiation and gameplan is far too shaky and unreliable.

Same goes for Magnus’ Reverse Polarity – the stun only increases by 0.75 per level, and while that is certainly valuable and worth taking over stats, it’s not worth taking over an extra level in Empower which is what’s going to boost your carry’s farmrate and damage in teamfights.

Another mention goes to Enigma’s Black Hole. Not only does the duration stay the same, the manacost is increased massively with each level, essentially making it detrimental to level it past level 1 until you really have more than enough mana.

4. What does a skill offer?

This is an important aspect when deciding how many skill-points to put into it, and when. There’s a difference between skill effects, i.e. what the skill does (damage, heal, buff, vision) and skill utilities, i.e. what the skill can be used for (farm, push, scout). Of course, most skills are made up of several effects. Often some skills, or some heroes’ skill-sets that are considered very strong, are made up of many effects, i.e. they ‘do a lot’.

Take for example the skillset of Troll Warlord versus that of Antimage.

Troll’s skills buff his armor, HP, MS, AS, BAT, and damage, offer him two nukes (help him farm), a slow, a miss chance debuff, stun potential, a buff to his whole team making it easier to take objectives, and give him global combo presence with heroes such as Legion Commander, Spirit Breaker, Clockwerk, Void, etc.

Antimage’s skills buff his magic resistance, boost his damage versus heroes (but not if they BKB), give him mobility (helps him farm), and potential for a big AoE nuke + ministun.

Just from the difference in length between the two sentences, it is obvious why Troll is more versatile and better in 95% of cases.

The term ‘nuke‘ refers to a spell that simply deals damage in one burst (often magical). Nukes are generally the most versatile. They help you farm, they are useful in any engagement, and they help you wave-clear when pushing/split-pushing/defending. Spells that are pure nukes (i.e. do nothing but deal damage) are almost always maxed out first, because they are most effective in the early game, do not scale well, but allow the hero to farm. Examples – Magnus’ Shockwave, Shadow Fiend’s Shadow Raze, Lina’s Dragon Slave, Death Prophet’s Crypt Swarm, etc.

For pretty much any core, maxing out the spell that helps you farm first is your safest bet. You may be sacrificing a little bit of your offensive capabilities, but in the event that there are no kill opportunities you can always fall back on farming.

Skipping a spell entirely is generally ill-advised, because whatever effect the spell gives you can be made decent use of with just 1 point in it, whereas you are otherwise entirely skipping out on it. The exception to this rule clearly is when the spell gives you nothing but negligible damage and/or debuff, which as mentioned earlier is the case with Witch Doctor’s Maledict. Further examples of one-dimensional skills that can be skipped entirely are Bane Elemental’s Enfeeble, Medusa’s Mystic Snake, Silencer’s Curse of the Silent, and Ancient Apparition’s Cold Feet.

5. Unique Effects

A special mention to some skills that have unique effects that cannot be achieved with any other skill. If the enemy bans these heroes, it becomes rather evident what kind of heroes they are looking to pick up. There are probably some more, these are just some of the most prominent ones.

Ancient Apparition’s Ice Blast – prevents healing, incredibly powerful versus heroes that rely on heals/regeneration (Wisp, Slark, Necro, Chen, etc.)

Treant Protector’s Living Armor – heals structures, essentially rendering slow sieges useless and forcing the enemy to fully commit if they want to take a tower.

Wraith King’s Reincarnation – the ideal carry versus long-cooldown skills, a strong counter to lineups relying on skills such as Black Hole, Chronosphere, Doom, Ravage, etc.

Silencer’s Global Silence – the only global disable in the game. Incredibly hard to fight against, and games usually end up revolving around its cooldown.

Night Stalker’s Darkness – the only skill that reduces all enemy vision, including that of wards. Powerful in chaotic fights and ideal versus line-ups that like a clean 5 on 5 teamfight and rely on none of their heroes getting picked off.

6. Closing Words

That’s it for the guide! I hope you found it informative – if you did and wish to see more from me in the future you can support me by following me on this blog, twitterfacebook, youtube and of course twitch.

If you have any requests for the future guides feel free to send me a message on any platform.

Good luck and remember – balance, in all things.

SlashStrike’s Guide to Ember Spirit

Xin, the Ember Spirit

1. Introduction

Hi, I’m SlashStrike (not the same person as slahser), and I’m bringing you my guide to Ember Spirit. I believe very few people truly understand this hero, because everyone I have seen play him opts for the same item and skillbuilds every single game, which is a shame because he is a very versatile hero.

If you’re looking for a guide that will tell you to buy x items and level y skills so that you can thoughtlessly repeat the same thing, this guide is not for you. If you want to understand the hero well and know about different builds, when to go for which one and to be able to adapt to the game, then keep on reading.

The Format

Watching a 40 minute video is painful, and nobody wants to read several thousand words of raw text. This guide finds a middle ground – the basis is textual, but there is a video accompanying it. Throughout the text you will find links to certain times of the video, in which I demonstrate exactly what is being discussed in the text. At the end of this guide you can see the full video embedded, in case you want to look through it again.

Lastly, if you want to see me play Ember Spirit or other heroes live at 6500+ MMR, you can check out my twitch channel as well as see my game history with him.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Characteristics & Statistics
  3. Skill Builds
  4. Item Builds
  5. Laning Stage & Match-ups
  6. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos
  7. To Farm, or to Gank
  8. Closing Words

2. Characteristics & Statistics

Pros

  • Very mobile
  • Good farmer
  • Strong at all stages of the game
  • Extremely hard to kill
  • Versatile playstyle

Cons

  • Melee
  • Weak laning stage versus some heroes
  • Becomes item dependent after early game
Strength
19 + 2.0
Agility
22 + 1.8
Intelligence
20 + 1.8
Level 1 16 25
Hit Points 511 1119 1803
Mana 260 637 1079
Damage 52‒56 81‒85 115‒119
Armor 1.08 5.14 9.93
Attacks / Second 0.71 0.88 1.08
Movement Speed 310
Turn Rate 0.6
Sight Range 1800/800
Attack Range Melee
Missile Speed Instant
Attack Duration 0.4+0.3
Base Attack Time 1.7
Collision Size 24
(Thanks to Dota2wiki for the table)

His starting stats are decent, but his stat gains are terrible – this is to compensate for the hero’s powerful skillset. His movement speed is a great above average 310. His turnrate is in the middle of the pack at 0.6, to a small extent balancing his instant cast point, which is the hero’s defining aspect and also what makes his spells so powerful. His attack damage is slightly below average and attack point is average, but he is very pleasant to last-hit with due to his animation. His main weakness is his terrible base armor of 1, which is what you typically find on tanky strength heroes that build into armor items, not on a mobile agility carry. However, if there’s any hero good at avoiding damage in fights, it’s Ember.


3. Skill Builds

Ember Spirit has one of the most flexible skill builds. This is because each of his spells except his ultimate scale extremely well, meaning there are no defining ‘value points’ that you can find in other heroes (i.e. spells with 50%+ of their potency at level 1).

To expand further on this, take for example Jugger – Often his Bladefury is left at level 1 because it grants you the full 5 second magic immunity, and the total damage only increases by 100 each level, starting at 400. This means you get a 25%, 20% and 16% damage increase per level, and a slight cooldown reduction. A more extreme example of a 1 point wonder would be DK’s stun, starting at 2.5 seconds and only increasing by 0.25 seconds as you level it, meaning 10%, 9% and 8% per level.

Some spells scale best up to a certain level, such as Sniper’s headshot – you get the full slow from level one, but the damage starts off at 15 and increases by 25 each level, meaning you get 166%, 62.5% and 38.5% damage increase, which is why level 2 can also be considered the ‘value point’. Another example of this would be Bounty’s shuriken toss – with the damage increasing by 100%, 25% and then 30%, level 2 is also obviously the level giving most value for your skill point.

Ember’s skills scale in a very interesting way in the sense that there are no clear value levels or 1 point wonders, meaning the skill build is extremely adaptable to each game. Let’s take an in-depth look at each spell.


Searing Chains

Ember Spirit unleashes fiery bolas that wrap around nearby enemies, anchoring them in place and dealing damage each second.

Cast Time: 0+0.87
Search Radius: 400
Max Targets: 2
Damage per Second: 80/60/120/100
Total Damage: 80/120/240/300
Duration: 1/2/2/3

Cooldown: 14/12/10/8 Manacost: 110

Important aspects:

  • Despite the visual effects, the effects are applied instantly and can’t be disjointed.
  • The 2 units rooted are completely random, with no priorities.
  • Affected units can still turn, cast spells, use items and attack. Affected units receive a stop command upon getting rooted – what differentiates this from a ministun is that when you cancel a spell / command with Searing Chains, the enemy has to re-cast or re-issue it.
  • Disables AM’s Blink, QoP’s Blink, Furion’s Teleportation, Bara’s Charge, Puck’s Phase Shift and Blink Dagger (despite not immediately dealing damage).
  • Interrupts channeling spells of the target upon ensnaring, but affected units can channel spells during it (keep in mind when jumping on CM/WD/Enigma etc.)
  • Searing Chains does not reveal invisible units for the duration.
  • Does not target invisible or fogged units – this means careful use when chasing someone through trees and up cliffs. A remnant can be useful to give you vision and guarantee the chains connecting.
  • Deals damage in 1 second intervals, starting 1 second after cast.

Scaling:

  • 100% duration and 50% damage increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 0% duration and 100% damage increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 50% duration and 25% damage increase from level 3 -> 4.

You always want level 2 of this skill asap, almost always when your hero is level 3 or 4. If your main need is burst damage, you keep the spell at level 3. If your main need is disable, you keep it at level 2 or you commit and max it to level 4.


Sleight of Fist

Ember Spirit dashes around with blazing speed, attacking all enemies in the targeted area of effect, then returning to his start location. Deals bonus damage to heroes, and less damage to creeps.

Cast Time: 0+0.7
Cast Range: 700
Effect Radius: 250/350/450/550
Hero Attack Damage Bonus: 20/40/60/80
Creep Attack Damage Reduction: 50%

Cooldown: 30/22/14/6 Manacost: 50

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit is invulnerable, and his model cannot be selected during Sleight of Fist. However, it does not disjoint projectiles, meaning both spells and attacks can still hit you after you are done bouncing around. If you collide with them during Sleight of Fist, they will effectively be ‘dodged’ as they hit you while you are invulnerable. This is not entirely reliable, since the jumping order is random.
  • Targets are determined upon cast. The targets have a flaming sword above their heads as an indicator, which disappears once Ember Spirit slashes them.
  • This means that units entering the targeted area after cast are not hit, and units which were in the area upon cast and leave the area will be hit, no matter how far they moved.
  • Does not mark or jump on invisible units. When a marked unit goes invisible, it will be fully skipped if it’s still invisible on his turn. Units in fog are fully affected.
  • Jumps in 0.2 second intervals. The jumps are randomly between all marked units, there are no priorities. The damage is dealt immediately upon each jump.
  • Ember Spirit can cast spells and use items during Sleight of Fist.
  • The damage is based on Ember Spirit’s attack damage + the stated damage when jumping on heroes, or – 50% when jumping on creeps. This means that the +80 damage is also taken into account for critical strikes.
  • Bashes, critical hits, mini-bashes and all attack modifiers / orb effects fully apply or have a chance to trigger on each slash.
  • If Sleight of Fist is cast during the fade time of Shadow Blade, each target will receive the bonus backstab damage. Furthermore, upon completing the Sleight of Fist, Ember Spirit will be invisible.
  • When Ember Spirit is disarmed, he will deal no damage on slashes, since he cannot attack. He also can miss, and damage reduction will affect the damage.
  • After all marked targets have been slashed, Ember Spirit will return to his position he had upon casting Sleight of Fist. That position is marked by a remnant for the duration.
  • Sleight of Fist is not canceled when Ember Spirit gets moved by e.g. a teleport or by activating Fire Remnant.

Scaling:

  • 27% CD reduction and 40% radius increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 36% CD reduction and 29% radius increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 57% CD reduction and 22% radius increase from level 3 -> 4.

The radius increase does not change much with each level, but clearly level 3 to 4 is the biggest value point because the cooldown is decreased by more than 50%, which is when the spell finally becomes spammable. For this reason, you could get 1 point early to have the occasional dodge or long-reach chains, but once you start levelling it you need to stick to it until it is level 4.


Flame Guard

Ember Spirit surrounds himself with a ring of fire that consumes incoming magic damage, leaving him unharmed. Flame Guard deals damage per second in an area around Ember Spirit while Flame Guard is active. If the shield is broken, the damage is also lost.

Cast Time: 0+1.07
Damage Radius: 400
Damage per Second: 30/40/50/60
Magic Damage Absorbed: 50/200/350/500
Duration: 8/12/16/20

Cooldown: 35 Manacost: 80/90/100/110

Important aspects:

  • Flame Guard blocks damage before any reductions. The only exception here is spell immunity, during which it does not block any magic damage.
  • Deals 6/8/10/12 damage in 0.2 seconds intervals, starting 0.2 seconds after cast.
  • Can be dispelled and purged (this includes not only the purge from Diffusal Blade and SD’s ultimate but also the Cyclone from Eul’s Scepter of Divinity, as well as Invoker’s Tornado)

Scaling:

  • 400% absorption increase and 33% DPS increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 75% absorption increase and 25% DPS increase from level 2 -> 3.
  • 43% absorption increase and 20% DPS increase from level 3 -> 4.

Something that is immediately apparent is the huge increase from level 1 to 2, meaning again that you definitely want at least two points in this spell, almost always by level 4-5. After that, it highly depends on the enemy heroes. The main reason to level this spell up is not to deal more damage because as shown it scales poorly, but rather to make sure the shield stays up and does not get nuked down. If you’re up against a lot of physical damage, it’s often a good idea to keep the shield at level 2 or 3 and max out your other spells first. If you’re up against big nukes, you want the shield maxed so that it does not drop to one dragon slave or one lightning bolt.


Fire Remnant

Ember Spirit generates Fire Remnant charges every 35 seconds, with a max of 3 charges. Releasing a charge sends a Fire Remnant that runs to the target location at 2.5x Ember Spirit’s speed. Using Activate Fire Remnant, Ember Spirit can dash out to his Remnants, exploding them for area of effect damage. The targeted Remnant will be arrived at last.

Cast Time: 0+0.53
Cast Range: 1500
Max Charges: 3
Charge Replenish Time: 35
Remnant Duration: 45

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit gets all 3 charges immediately upon learning Fire Remnant
  • Fire Remnants move to their targeted location at a speed of 250% of Ember Spirit’s movement speed. The speed is set upon cast and does not adapt.
  • Sínce Fire Remants last for 45 seconds and the replenish time is 35 seconds, it is possible to have 4 remnants up on the map at a time.
  • Every time a Fire Remnant is placed, Ember Spirit gets a status buff, showing the duration of the remnant. The status buff disappears once the Remnant expires or is used.
  • Fire Remnants deal no damage when they expire.
  • Fire Remnants have a 400 radius flying vision and are visible to everyone.

Activate Fire Remnant

Select the Fire Remnant to arrive at.

Cast Time: 0+1.07
Cast Range: Global
Remnant Damage Radius: 450
Remnant Damage: 100/150/200

Cooldown: 0 Manacost: 150

Important aspects:

  • Ember Spirit moves to a Fire Remnant with a speed of 1300, or reaches it in 0.4 seconds, whichever is faster.
  • Always costs 150 mana, no matter if Ember Spirit has to travel to 1, 2, 3 or 4 Fire Remnants.
  • While traveling, Ember Spirit can attack, cast spells and use items.
  • Using Sleight of Fist or Blink Dagger while traveling will cause him to stop traveling and lose the invulnerability, and then instantly get moved to the next remnant.
  • Always travels to the Fire Remnant furthest away from the targeted point first.
  • The damage is dealt around each Fire Remnant upon reaching them.
  • Destroys trees within 200 radius around Ember Spirit while he’s traveling to a remnant. Though at high speeds, some trees may be skipped.
  • Can be targeted through the minimap.

Scaling:

  • 50% Damage increase from level 1 -> 2.
  • 33% Damage increase from level 2 -> 3.

This is probably the worst scaling ultimate in the game. While a triple-remnant burst is likely to net you a kill as soon as you hit level 6, by the time midgame rolls around and you’re level 11, you will almost never want to triple remnant for burst damage. The +50/100/150 damage gained from leveling the spell will be negligible at that point, and considering how well your other skills scale, it is recommended to max everything by 13 and then take stats instead of levelling the ultimate.

Exemplary skill build

  1. Searing Chains
  2. Flame Guard
  3. Searing Chains / Flame Guard
  4. Searing Chains / Flame Guard
  5. Flame Guard
  6. Fire Remnant
  7. Flame Guard
  8. Sleight of Fist
  9. Searing Chains
  10. Sleight of Fist
  11. Sleight of Fist
  12. Sleight of Fist
  13. Searing Chains
  14. Stats
  15. Stats
  16. etc.

I would have preferred to not add such a skill build, because it seems like a step-by-step rule set that must be followed, which is not the case. However, I am sure many people want to just see what a regular skill build is like, afraid to ‘mess it up’. The truth is that when you play Ember on the mid lane you level up very fast, and deciding what you level up should always be done in the moment according to your immediate goals.

For example, you may want to take a point in SoF at level 5, to make a solo kill happen before you’re level 6. You may even want to take it at level 2, to surprise the enemy and set up your teammates’ gank with a very early SoF+Chains. You may want level 2 Chains at level 3 because you just levelled up and will be able to chain him at the tower for some harass, or you may want level 2 Flame Guard at level 3 because you want to push out the lane and go for the rune.

You may end up maxing SoF by level 9, because you only put two points in the guard and chains, since they have little magical damage to break your Flame Guard with. Or, you may end up maxing it at 13 because you really want to have your level 4 Chains and Guard ready earlier, using your ultimate to run people down. In extreme cases, against a Skywrath mid for example, you could max SoF by 7 with two points in Chains, skipping the Flame Guard until later because it would break immediately to Sky’s spells, and relying on the long-range physical damage harass from SoF to bully Skywrath out of the lane, and with some luck dodge his Arcane Bolts.


4. Item Builds

Starting Items

Ask a support to pool you 2 tangos, buy a salve, 2 branches and a stout shield. If no one pools you just buy the tangos, it’s not fatal. You can swap the stout shield for a magic stick against some spell spammers like Zeus, Batrider and Skywrath. If the enemies have a Nature’s Prophet, you should consider getting a set of tangos instead of the salve, so you always have one ready in case he ganks you with sprout. Get Bottle as soon as possible and Boots after, preferably with a TP. As you’re nearing level 6, with a TP you can start making instant trips to base and back to lane.

Early Game

Bottle and Boots should not need any explanation.

The Ring of Basilius may seem surprising – the armor it gives you, together with Stout Shield, remedies your greatest weakness (as you become fairly resistant to physical hits), gives you a nice +6 damage, some much needed mana regeneration as well as control of the lane and the ability to push if the enemy mid leaves to gank.

TP scrolls are generally a no-brainer on any mid that is capable of ganking and counterganking, but Ember has an amazing additional use of them thanks to his ultimate, allowing you to leave a remnant, TP home, heal, fill up your bottle, buy items, and come back to lane in the matter of seconds.

The magic stick is optional depending on the enemy heroes and can be skipped.

Core

OROR

Bottle, Battlefury / Maelstrom, Power Treads / Phase, TP Scroll and Ring of Aquila

This is the absolute core that will be the best choice in 95% of games.

“What?! Ring of Aquila, no Drums of Endurance?!”

According to dotabuff, in the past week Drums have been most purchased on Ember Spirit, with a total of ~160,000 matches. Compare this to only ~14,000 games with Ring of Aquila, bought more often even on Windrunner than on Ember. The current general opinion is evident, but I disagree with it. Without getting into a full-fledged comparison between the two, I will explain why RoA is core and mention why Drums are not recommended.

First of all, RoA is one of the most cost efficient items in the game right now, meaning that you get more out of your 1010 gold through a RoA than any other item, in a single slot. It gives you a total of 18 damage, which is a very nice early game boost that makes your attacks hurt significantly. The mana regen and extra stats are a nice bonus. The aura gives you the potential to pressure the tower hard as soon as the enemy mid leaves, something that you can do more safely with Ember than with any other mid hero by virtue of being able to instantly zip away to a remnant previously placed next to your tower. But most importantly, it is the only armor-giving item that is useful in the early game on Ember, and armor is something you desperately need, as Ember has the second lowest starting armor out of any agility hero (after Drow, but she is ranged).

I do not recommend Drums because while the MS is nice, it is not worth the cost on a hero that is already so mobile and good at chasing, and the HP is not as effective because you already have Flame Guard to buff you up versus magical damage, but are still weak to physical with Drums only giving you 1 armor compared to the 4 from Aquila. Lastly, the main reason is that they simply cost too much for an early game item, effectively delaying your first major farming item.

Treads sometimes over Phase?!

Like on any hero that uses Bottle, Tread switching becomes even more efficient. It takes some time to get used to the tread switching as it is quite intensive on an already mechanically demanding hero such as Ember, but the bonuses are great. They give you the extra mana when you need it, the bonus damage when needed, and make you much tankier in fights.

Attack speed is colossally underrated on Ember Spirit, as you definitely spend time right-clicking people in fights, especially before SoF is maxed, but still even after. Treads also enable you to farm faster once you get your farming item, as well as take towers faster when pushing. The bonus MS from the Phase active is nice for chasing, but is lost when you use any spell or item, something which Ember does a lot. Phase do give you more damage for your SoF, of course. When you switch to int before casting SoF, remember to switch back to agility during the SoF, if you are hitting multiple and the timing allows it.

With that being said, in some games I still prefer Phaseboots. For example, when dealing with many summons that you could phase through, or simply when you’re planning to fight and gank more than you’re planning on pushing and farming.

Maelstrom sometimes over Battlefury?

Maelstrom is much cheaper, and while it does not scale nearly as well into the lategame, in the first 20 minutes the lightning packs a way stronger punch than the cleave, especially against high-armor and low HP targets such as Terrorblade, Bounty, Riki, etc. If you are dominating it is very feasible to get this item along with your core completed before 15 minutes, whereas a good Battlefury timing would be a few minutes later. Also, the lightning bounce range is much higher than that of the cleave, making it more effective versus mobile ranged heroes that are unlikely to clump up, as well as effective at cancelling blinks from a very long distance.

Maelstrom can also be a better option if you are falling behind. If you find yourself struggling to amass gold and unlikely to finish a Battlefury any time soon, a Maelstrom as a cheaper alternative will help you catch up in farm and have more impact in early fights.

Luxury

Black King Bar, Shadow Blade, Manta Style, Eye of Skadi, Monkey King Bar, Daedalus, Desolator, Second Battlefury, Second Maelstrom, Mjollnir, Divine Rapier

Though it may seem strange, BKB is not a defensive item on Ember, but an aggressive one. With Ember it is not difficult to dodge spells with slow missile speed. You are only vulnerable to instant disables such as hexes or long range stuns, against which a BKB does not help much, because if you couldn’t get your SoF/ult off you probably wouldn’t get off the BKB either. In those cases you would rather get a Skadi for a direct HP boost, or a Shadow Blade / Manta / Linken’s for more elusiveness. The purpose of a BKB on Ember is to enable you to charge headfirst into fights, which magic immunity allows only versus line-ups with low physical damage (teams with Zeus, Spectre, Skywrath, AA, Disruptor, etc.) Do not buy this as your second item unless you are far ahead and able to force fights with it, because if it does not get you kills it will heavily stunt your item progression.

Shadow Blade probably seems surprising. As you may have noticed in the “Important aspects” of SoF, casting the spell during Shadow Blade’s fade time results in the bonus 175 backstab damage being applied to every SoF target, and subsequently leaves you invisible after the SoF ends. The bonus damage works extremely well with a Battlefury as it is cleaved, gives you great burst albeit on a cooldown, but more importantly also granting you invisibility on a hero that is already very difficult to pin down. Simply initiating with the Shadow Walk is an alternative way to use the item, leaving you with more remnants to use during the fight. I would not recommend picking this up if you already have an invisibility hero on your team that the enemy team is buying detection for. If this is not the case however, it can be a very good choice after your first farming item.

Manta Style as well as Linken’s Sphere are both stat-heavy items great versus strong single target disables such as Storm Spirit’s (inevitable) Orchid, Beastmaster’s Primal Roar, Doombringer’s Doom, Legion Commander’s Duel, Batrider’s Lasso, etc. Linken’s is the slightly more defensive of the two, giving you a fairly large reaction window and allowing you to splitpush safely as even a linken’s break immediately into a disable is likely to give you enough time to just zip out. Keep in mind it is fairly useless versus blink->aoe disable initiators such as Axe, Centaur, Slardar and the likes, as well as heroes that simply nuke or hit you without relying on hard lockdown. Manta has greater offensive use, giving you more agility as well as making your splitpush stronger through the illusions. The active dispels tons of debuffs, most notably any non lingering silence, making it the ultimate counter to Orchid. A special mention goes to Vengeful Spirit’s Wave of Terror, which is hard to dodge in fights and definitely hurts you as an already low on armor hero. Lastly, be aware that you can cast Manta during SoF. While difficult to pull off, a SoF+Chains+Manta combo can leave your enemy chained with two illusions beating on him, useful for finishing off stragglers from a distance.

A very solid choice for a second item is Eye of Skadi. With it giving you a massive 725 HP boost, it becomes practically impossible to chain-disable and burst you down. The 35% MS and 45% AS slow is also incredibly powerful, giving you some control versus magic immune targets. As Ember is a melee hero, the slow from Skadi lasts 5 seconds, meaning that with the 6 second cooldown on SoF you can keep applying it ~85% of the time. Buy this when you do not lack burst damage, but simply need to not get bursted down in order to win the fight, usually as a 3rd item but sometimes as a 2nd. It is especially powerful versus immobile melee heroes heavily relying on high MS, such as Bristleback, Tiny, Juggernaut, Troll, etc.

The true strike component of Monkey King Bar is a must when dealing with PA, and should almost always be purchased up versus common Butterfly users such as Shadow Fiend, Anti-Mage, Terrorblade, etc. This is because Sleight of Fist can miss, and as Ember you heavily rely on it connecting every time because through it you hit infrequently and therefore need to make it count. When facing heroes that could potentially go for a Butterfly, it is a good idea to get the Demon Edge first, and then go into either Daedalus or MKB depending on whether they get the Butterfly or not. Keep in mind, however, that the MKB proc bonus damage is not cleaved by Battlefury, and similarly the Lightning proc bonus damage does not contribute to the Daedalus critical hits, meaning that Maelstrom+MKB and Battlefury+Daedalus are generally speaking the most effective combinations. This of course does not mean that you cannot go Battlefury+MKB if the enemies have evasion, or Maelstrom+Daedalus if they have none.

Daedalus is fairly straightforward. It simply gives you more damage on SoF. A nice thing you may have noticed under the important aspects of SoF, is that the bonus 20/40/60/80 damage on SoF hit contributes to the critical strike, essentially turning into a bonus ~200 damage given by SoF on critical hits. Still, Daedalus is one of the most one dimensional items, as it gives you literally nothing but more damage, and arguably a bit of a surprise factor thanks to the chance of a crit, something that can however also be seen negatively as it is unreliable. Every other item has some additional utility, and even the MKB offers mini-stuns, true strike as well as some AS. Nevertheless, since Daedalus essentially increases your damage on average by 35%, it scales unlike other items meaning it becomes a better choice as your damage grows.

The -armor from Desolator is great when applied in an AoE, and therefore is seen by many as a great choice. However, it does not boost your farming speed and therefore should not be picked up as a first item, and does not give you any survivability either, unlike other potential second items such as Manta, Shadow Blade, Skadi, etc. Also important to note that despite the -armor debuff lasting 15 seconds, you can only re-apply it reliably once every 6 seconds with a SoF, making it weak versus any heroes with dispels (Slark, Abaddon, Legion, PL, manta-carriers, etc.) Lastly, at 4100 gold it is after all a mid-game item, and unless you win fast with it you would wish you had gone for something else.

A second Battlefury is quite an investment, but can easily be the most efficient damage item given the right circumstances. For example, it is amazing versus Meepo (one of his hardest counters), line-ups with triple melee cores that often clump up, or line ups with many high HP summons such as Warlock’s 1/2/4 golems, Lycan’s wolf+necro army, Brewmaster’s pandas, Visage’s familiars, Chen’s (ancient) creep army, and most illusion heroes, especially a CK, because his illusions are very tanky but always clumped up and on a long cooldown.

second Maelstrom serves a completely different purpose. First of all, the cost of two Maelstroms is much lower (5600) than of two Battlefuries (8700), once again meaning it is an early game investment ideal when snowballing. Obviously, they do not stack fully because only one Maelstrom can proc on a single hit, but having two raises the chance from 25% to ~44%, which is a significant difference, meaning that a 10-unit SoF will on average proc 4 to 5 lightnings, as opposed to the 2 to 3 from a single Maelstrom. Once again, they are quite cheap and have an easy build up, meaning it is not very risky to buy two, giving you the cheapest two-item combination for wave-clearing (except versus high HP / magic immune summons) and significant teamfight damage. Keep in mind there is some anti-synergy between Maelstroms and Skadi, as the lightning triggering means that the slow will not apply.

Generally speaking, go for a second Battlefury only when dealing with high HP summons, otherwise keep it at one. If you went for a Maelstrom, you should usually get a second one as you benefit hugely from the increased chance, and the low cost & easy build up are perfect for snowballing with big midgame damage while keeping your farm up.

Boots of Travel are obviously great on Ember, giving you amazing mobility. Some like getting them early instead of Treads or Phase, but I strongly advise against it, as similarly to Drums it is 2000 gold going towards an item that slightly increases  your farming speed (not as much as Battlefury/Maelstrom), but gives you absolutely zero survivability and damage. One can argue that it saves money on TP’s, but spending 100 gold 5, 10 even 15 times during the early game is still to be preferred over an instant 2000 gold investment. Furthermore, many more towers are up in the early game meaning TP scrolls are more effective and BoT’s are rather unnecessary. Nevertheless, as towers start going down and the game progresses, they are a solid purchase that gives you great map presence and split-push potential. I would generally recommend them at the earliest after you have your farming item as well as your first luxury item.

Mjollnir is extremely situational as it only increases the lightning damage by 30 and total bounces by 4, which is not bad but not nearly worth 2900 additional gold. The only reason you would want to upgrade your Maelstrom is if you can make great use of the active (i.e. have an Axe/Bristle/Legion on the team), and/or are already maxing out your inventory. Even then, it is rarely the best choice. Never buy more than one Mjollnir because the active will be wasted and the static lightning damage will be falling off that late into the game – simply sell the second Maelstrom if you find yourself six-slotted.

Lastly, the big sword, the Divine Rapier. Despite being hard to pin down as Ember, once you are, you are likely to die. While huge amounts of damage obviously works well with SoF, I would generally not buy the item as it is a huge risk. If you do end up buying it in a lategame scenario, it is most effective with Battlefuries and Daedalus(es) for obvious reasons. The Chinese often ran this style of Ember, but I believe it is far from the best way to play him, because it simply places too much emphasis on cautious and precise mechanical play in order to make proper use of the item. A strong Ember Spirit player can be much more dominant and impactful in the midgame with items that do not force the wielder to play more cautiously. With that being said, Ember is still one of the better Rapier carriers, and so if the game is likely to be lost without a major trump card, the Divine Rapier could be what you need.

Why not x?

Basher has a cooldown of 2 seconds. If it did not, it would easily be the most powerful item, giving you a ranged pseudo aoe bkb-piercing stun.

Radiance has a terrible buildup and would burn only for 1 second per 5 targets during a SoF. If you’re hitting 10+ targets you’d rather have something else. By the time you get it you wont be able to stay in the middle of the fight if you spent 5k gold on an item giving you 0 survivability.

Butterfly is not terrible but hardly ever the best choice. The evasion is its main selling point, and it is rather useless as on Ember you will avoid getting hit at all using SoF and remnants.


5. Laning Stage & Match-ups

Your goal in the laning stage depends on the enemy you’re facing. Generally speaking, if it is a melee hero (often tanky), you can look to trade hits, get runes but mostly focus on getting farm. If it is a ranged hero (generally squishy), you should look to control the lane, out-last-hit them by virtue of being melee, and create opportunities for a kill. Solid knowledge of the enemy hero is crucial in order to know exactly which spells at what level you can tank with your Flame Guard. Once you hit level 6, the lane should become much, much easier.

You can try to kill the hero with a triple remnant, but make sure to create and get ready for the opportunity before you’re level 6, and then go the split-second you level up, because if you wait, most players will immediately adjust their positioning and deny you the chance of a kill.

Even if you don’t get the kill, you can outlast your enemy by trading hits and using a remnant to heal, refill your bottle and come back to lane. If you get a great rune or see a kill opportunity on a side-lane, don’t hesitate to TP and gank, since at this point you are much stronger than those dual or tri-laning, likely 2 or 3 levels above them. For further details on when exactly to go for a gank, you can check out my article on ganking here: https://slashstrikedota.wordpress.com/2015/03/06/climbing-the-ladder-chapter-2-ganking/


Lanaya is an extremely strong laner that flat out wins the lane versus many heroes by outfarming them as well as harassing them and having solid kill potential. While she cannot remove your Flameguard, she can easily kill you through it. This is a very volatile lane as both heroes have solid kill potential against each other, but in the absence of aggression TA will easily outfarm the Ember Spirit through her superior damage. One weakness you can exploit is her low attack range which is shorter than the radius of Flame Guard and Searing Chains (both 400), meaning you can kite and damage her while avoiding her hits. Keep in mind that Searing Chains don’t hit invisible units, so be very careful not to miss them as she Melds.


Commonly seen as a strong counter to Ember, this lane is definitely in Storm’s favour, but not as one sided as it may seem. Simply don’t get hit by remnants during the first few waves and focus on getting the cs you can, mostly ignoring denies due to his overload. Go for some harass at level 3 which is the sweet spot at which level 2 Flame Guard blocks 200 magical damage while a level 1 Static Remnant + level 2 Overload (which is what 95% of Storms will have levelled) will deal 140+50 = 190 magical damage, just under the threshold to break your Flame Guard. Of course, if you can bait and maneuver around the Static Remnants while running at him, it is possible to get a kill. Having played a lot of Storm will be extremely helpful in this matchup. Lastly, it is extremely easy to kill the Storm with a Skywrath ganking your lane, so if your Ember gets counterpicked immediately by a Storm, you can ask your teammates to get Skywrath as a support and destroy him on mid.


Another dominant anti-melee laner that Ember is actually not that bad against. Get an early point in SoF to dodge her Shadowstrikes / Screams of Pain, and she should not be able to dive you as long as you have Flame Guard up. Her turn rate is slow and you have 10 MS on her, meaning you can run at her to harass with Chains and right clicks, forcing a blink out. She is also quite squishy and Searing Chains disables blink, meaning that you have solid kill potential at level 6. Avoid using level 2 Flame Guard when she has level 3 Scream, as this is the only point at which it will immediately break.


Similar to QoP, except having much stronger harass at the expense of no blink. Dodge her spells and try to get farm – some Linas will use Dragon Slave a lot to get cs and harass you, which is predictable and can be side-stepped. Be very careful with the LSA, as it landing allows her to get in 2-3 right clicks which will hurt a ton. You can attempt a kill at level 5 with a 2-0-3 build, but it is risky as you rely on her missing her stun. If you go 2-1-2 to dodge the stun with SoF, a single level 3 Dragon Slave will break your Flame Guard, ruining any opportunities for a kill. Dragon Slave has a starting radius of 275, and with a 1200 movement speed it will take (550/1200) ~0.46 seconds to pass through you, meaning that it can only be dodged with a 3-4+ unit SoF. However, if she is surrounded by 3 creeps you will be unable to chain. Ideally you can attempt the kill at level 6 and onwards, tanking the Dragon Slave (level 4 = 320 damage) with Flame Guard (level 3 = 350 absorb) and saving the SoF to dodge her LSA. A smart Lina may attempt to Laguna you right after the Dragon Slave instead of using LSA, but the Laguna can be dodged as well using SoF.


Searing Chains disable Phase Shift, which is why many Pucks will skip it during the laning stage versus an Ember. Another reason for this is that due to the scaling of Puck’s spells (70/140/210/280 damage for both), assuming he does not level Phase Shift, using both of them will always be enough to break your Flame Guard (70 > 50, 70+140 > 200, 210+140 = 350). Of course, this also means that every time he uses either of them to farm or push the lane, you have a window of opportunity to dive him.


Again, one of the strongest laners that Ember is actually quite good against – his Thunderclap has a fairly obvious casting animation, so if you see him about to cast it just pop your Flame Guard to absorb the damage and harass the Brew (keep in mind the levels of clap’s 100/175/250/300 damage and your 50/200/350/500 shield). A smart Brew may also cancel his animation to bait out your Flame Guard – if this happens, run at him to make use of the damage and force him to clap in order to escape. His physical hits are strong but nothing serious – the only way he can kill you is if he claps you before the shield, and you are both next to the creeps meaning you can’t chain him reliably. Once you have level 6 you can leave a Remnant behind and dive him in order to force his Primal Split, and then zip away once he uses it.


A decent lane for Ember, just make sure you get a magic stick and focus on csing, ignore denies due to Arc Lightning’s high damage. You can use the Flame Guard to mitigate some damage in case you’re low on HP but full on mana and want to use bottle. When you hit level 6 you can try to get a kill, but make sure to pop Flame Guard after his bolt or it will get removed and you will have no damage.


Quite tough to deal with for any melee. Use creep aggro to get what cs you can while keeping your distance. The link range is fairly long and even if he gets it off for just two seconds that would be enough to out last-hit you. If he somehow fails his link, get aggressive on him while it’s on cooldown. You have great killing potential if a support ganks, and you can also attempt a kill at level 6, but just keep in mind that if you don’t burst him with magical damage you will have no right clicks to seal the deal and he’ll be whipping you for red numbers.


Similar to Razor, but more difficult to deal with. Will easily out last-hit you even with just one point in Nethertoxin, and the orb-walking means he can push you back to the tower without taking any aggro. Thanks to his Corrosive Skin it is highly unlikely that you will kill him, and if you don’t burst him he can just kite you down afterwards. The lane is very one-sided, but come mid game the Viper cannot do anything to you as you splitpush and bounce around during teamfights.


Fairly easy lane if he goes for Quas Wex, just make sure that you always use Flameguard after his Tornado and/or before the EMP, because the Tornado removes it (counts as a dispel) and it will easily thank the EMP, also making you lose less mana as you cast a spell. The EMP can additionally also be dodged with SOF, as long as you’re aware of the timing.

An Exort Quas Invoker will be more difficult to deal with as he deals heavy physical damage. However, he is more killable due to the lack of a defensive Tornado/Ghost Walk, and since your Remnant+Flame Guard damage is aoe it will also take out his Forged Spirits and let you chain him for a potential kill.


Fairly easy lane – you can dodge/absorb the Powershots, push the lane faster if a rune is about to spawn, and compete well for last-hits despite WR’s great attack simply because you’re melee. Being a squishy int hero she is also very killable, just make sure to not waste time missing your attacks when she inevitably uses Windrun as you chain her, but rather move to position between her and her tower, setting up for a potential bodyblock that could get you the kill. Of course, be wary of getting shackled under the tower. A 3-0-2-1 build at level 6 will give you more damage, and the lower level Flame Guard should not be an issue as it is very easy to dodge Powershot if you have initiated and are right next to her.


Somewhat similar to Razor and Viper – he has the lane advantage and will probably out last-hit you, but cannot do a whole lot after that. Leave your Flame Guard at level 2 because even early Arcane Orb hits won’t bring it down as they deal pure and not magical damage. This is one of the heroes I like upgrading my Stout Shield to a PMS against (of course still getting the aquila) to give me more physical resistance and a bit of extra damage in order to compete for last hits. Getting a solo kill is only possible if his imprisonment is on cd, but in that case you won’t have the mana to use all 3 spells. You can however attempt to outplay him by jumping and then cancelling his Astral casting animation once with Searing Chains, and another time with SoF. SoF will however obviously not work if he simply imprisons himself, in which case the chain damage will also be dodged and the kill becomes unlikely. Keep in mind that a player experienced with Ember will know about his spells’ properties and simply spam-click imprisonment on the same spot, making your command-cancelling less effective.


If the Sniper is babysat by a support (like he so often is), there is very little you can do 1v2 other than get exp, perhaps the occasional last-hit and call for a gank. Still, you are good versus Sniper later on in the game since you have so many ways of closing the distance on him. You should never get hit by Assassinate as you can dodge it with both SoF and Fire Remnant. If the Sniper is entirely alone, however, you can try to kill him as soon as you have level 2 Flame Guard, since his low level Shrapnel will take forever to break through it. Many Sniper’s go 2-1-0 at level 3, meaning their attack range will still be fairly low and leave them vulnerable.


There are very few heroes that can hold their own in a 1 versus 1 scenario facing a Shadow Fiend on the mid lane, and none of them are melee. Two razes at any level will be enough to bring down your shield. However, SF is squishy so if you manage to get close to him and then activate your Flame Guard, only the z / q raze will not be enough to bring it down and you could score a kill. Of course, if the SF plays passively by just pushing out the lane, there is not much you can do other than farm at your tower or jump him when you see he’s about to raze the creeps.


6. Spell Use, Item Use and Combos

When going for a kill on the enemy mid, create a situation in which the Searing Chains are guaranteed to hit – either by running past the enemy creepwave and isolating the hero, or by activating flame guard as the creeps are low hp, killing them while engaging on the enemy. While you should get very familiar with the radius over time, it can still be useful to hover over the skill to see the circle on the ground in order to get those tip-of-the-edge chains. Lastly, you can take a risk and attempt to Chain the enemy with more than 1 creep around. Whether it lands or not is entirely up to the DotA gods, but if it does it will definitely catch your opponent off-guard.

In the early game, Flame Guard is your only farming spell as SoF deals pathetic damage to creeps without a Battlefury/Maelstrom, which means you can’t go wrong with maxing it even if you sacrifice some aggression, as it will allow you to keep up your farm and not fall behind despite a lack of kills. You can use it to farm stacks or several creepwaves. When pushing, you can also use it to clear out the creepwave while you’re hitting the tower, and it provides a nice buffer of EHP in case you get initiated upon.

->-> The Sleight of Fist -> Searing Chains sequence is the most basic combo you need to reliably hit if you want to play Ember anywhere close to effectively. It is not difficult, just go into a lobby, practice it 20 times and you’re golden. Same goes for the slightly more difficult Shadow Walk -> Sleight of Fist -> Searing Chains (example), as well as the Sleight of Fist -> Searing Chains -> Manta (example) combos, which essentially just add an additional button, with the order of Manta and Chains being irrelevant in the latter. No matter how good you get at it, you will occasionally fuck it up. Whether that’s once every 20, 50, 100 or 500 tries is what determines how mechanically consistent you are. Landing the combo on someone in the fog (example) is slightly more difficult since the Chains need vision to latch, and SoF on a single target will only give you vision for an extremely short duration, meaning that if you mess up the timing the Chains will miss. The main difference is that you need to wait around a tenth of a second before using Chains after SoF, unlike when you have vision on the target and you can simply press both as fast as possible. Once again, however, a few attempts in a lobby and the consistency with which you land it will get a lot better. Lastly, when chasing a target with creeps around that you want to SoF+Chain, position the SoF AoE-circle indicator in such a way that only the hero is in it (example). Keep in mind however that the AoE of the Chains is still 400, so even if you only SoF your hero target, they might still latch onto creeps if they are close enough.

->

When using Fire Remnant to chase (i.e. throwing it and jumping into it), make sure that you wait a bit before you dive into it (example), because moving into a close-range Remnant will be done with an MS of 1300, always faster than the 2.5x your base MS that the Remnant will be flying at. The Fire Remnant has a casting range of 1500. With either Phase or Treads you will have 360 MS, meaning that the Remnant will fly at (360 * 2.5) 900 MS, taking (1500/900) ~1.67 seconds to reach the targeted point. Moving into the Remnant at 1300 MS means it will take you only (1500/1300) ~1.15 seconds to reach the targeted point. Therefore you want to wait (1.67-1.15) ~0.5 seconds before starting to move into the remnant, which translates to when the Remnant is about (0.5 * 900) ~450 units away from you. This is, of course, if you want to jump all the way to the maximum 1500 range. If your enemy is closer, you can start moving into the Remnant earlier and you will reach it before it has reached the targeted point.

->->

Fire Remnant’s travel speed is equal to 250% of your current movement speed, as established earlier. This means that if you are very slowed down in the middle of a teamfight and need to remnant out, shooting it will be ineffective as it will take far too long to reach where you want it to (example). However, if you use your Fire Remnant during a SoF (example), you will fire it from a SoF position, potentially allowing you to get away.

->

If you want to get out of a bad situation with a previously placed Remnant (for example during a teamfight or when split-pushing) keep in mind that despite the instant cast you still need to turn and face your Remnant before you can jump to it, which with Ember’s turnrate takes 0.15 seconds for 180°. To avoid this, you can use SoF in front of you which will go off instantly as you won’t need to turn, and then Remnant out during the SoF (example). However, be careful as travelling to a Remnant takes 0.4 seconds – if it is completed while you are still slashing, the SoF will override it and you will end up where you casted the SoF, with your Remnant gone (example). As each SoF hit takes 0.2 seconds, you want to start travelling to your Remnant when there are about 2 targets left. Once again, practicing this in a lobby will go a long way in your execution.

Lastly, if you are about to die and have Remnants left, always drop one before you die. It’s very important to make this a habit. In the early game, if you respawn in less than 45 seconds you can travel back to the Remnant and immediately be in a good position to farm or fight, without using a TP scroll. Ideally you want to leave it at the edge of the trees so that it is just outside enemy vision, but will not leave you stuck in the trees when you travel to it (example).

Furthermore, if a fight breaks out during the early game consider buying back and going into the Remnant (example). When the buyback costs <400 gold in the early game, getting just one kill out of it makes it worth it as you can also go back to farming faster. However, be very cautious because dying back so early will put you very far behind. Also keep in mind your Flame Guard will probably be on cooldown.

Since you can pick up items while travelling to a Remnant, it can be a very safe way to take runes without putting yourself at danger (<em><a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djxIkCn2eaI&amp;t=1m16s”>example</a></em&gt;). Keep in mind that Remnants can be targeted through the minimap, making long-distance jumps easier to manage.

7. To Farm, or to Gank

This depends on your team. If you are the only hero with lategame physical damage, your draft sucks, but you should still adapt and focus on farming and playing safe, meaning you make sure you don’t die and don’t go for solo kills on supports if they put your life in danger. Going Battlefury over Maelstroms is somewhat mandatory in this case.

Ideally, you have a harder carry on your team and your goal is to make space and be the secondary damage dealer. This gives you more freedom to pressure the enemy – of course, you should still avoid death because you are extremely difficult to kill as long as you use your spells well. Make sure you get your first farming item at a decent time, meaning before ~18 minutes for a Maelstrom and before ~21 minutes for a Battlefury. After you get them, you should look to find a balance between farming and fighting. Because leaving Remnants behind is such a huge safety net, you should look to farm more dangerously past the river, freeing up the safer farm for your team. Of course, doing this does require excellent map awareness and solid reflexes.

8. Closing Words

That’s it for the guide! I hope you found it informative – if you did and wish to see more from me in the future you can support me by following me on this blog, twitterfacebook, youtube and of course twitch.

If you have any requests for the future guides feel free to send me a message on any platform.

Good luck and remember – balance, in all things.

The Video