All guides: AM, SB, Weaver, Axe
7th of July 2013 - Finally updated the Guide. Added Stout Shield and removed Vanguard build but I kept the section there because it took me a while to write and I don't want to delete it =(. Bfury is really the only way to play him now. Added alternate pure-farm skill sequence in place of the Vanguard build on the Build 2 tab, BurNing style. Updated a lot of other stuff too. Split pushing added to late game strategy.
DotA is constantly evolving and the best DotA players are those that can adapt. This guide is aimed at matchmaking (obviously) and if you're reading this guide to learn how to do well with Antimage in matchmaking then this guide is for you. If you are not reading this guide to learn how to do well with Antimage in matchmaking then this Guide is not for you. I also have a dota 2 channel with tips, guides etc if you want to check it out.
I've been playing DotA for about 9 years on and off and have had DotA 1 league experience on platforms like Bored Aussie, Garena, DotAlicious etc.
Anti-Mage is a
- Hard carry with an amazing escape mechanism.
- Hero who can farm faster than any other hard carry like PA or Spec, but is weaker in the endgame with max lvls/items.
- Counter to heroes heavily reliant on mana.
- '1' hero. Meaning in any serious game, he is the hero who the team are banking on most, allowing him to get tower & hero last hits over the other 4 if possible.
- Squishy hero early-game.
Anti-Mage is not a
- Tank until late-game. A big mistake for newer Anti-Mage players is to think that because of Mana Shield, they can tank nukes to the face even early-mid game and be fine. He can't.
- Counter to heroes with a high mana pool necessarily. It's a double-edged sword as heroes with a high mana pool will still be able to cast even while being burned but will be more susceptible to Mana Void when out of mana.
Skill sequences aren't a one size-fits all games thing and the best sequence will change from game to game. I've added a second skill sequence on the second tab. The first one is for harassing when you have an easy lane, and the second one is for pure-farming when you have a hard lane.
Mana Break will give you the edge against many heroes, especially those with low mana pools but who are very reliant on mana such as Naix. Use this to harass in lane, early game. Late game, this will allow you to neutralize heroes very quickly by burning out their mana when coupled with Manta images. (triple mana burn)
Which skill sequence?
Honestly, in a pub, either skill sequence has its pros and cons. But simply put, if you have the advantage in a lane, go the harassing build. If you are struggling in the lane, go the pure farm build just to survive and farm farm farm.
Skill sequence for Anti-mage varies drastically from game to game
Note that the 'correct' skill sequence varies drastically from game to game, especially the pure farm build. What you really want to be doing is maxing out Mana Break when you actually stop 'purely' farming with Battlefury and start split pushing or even team fighting.
Purchase orders aren't a one size-fits all games thing and the best sequence will change from game to game. Some alternative items are outlined at the bottom of the page.
The key items for Anti-mage are Power Treads, Battlefury, Vladmir's Offering, Butterfly and Heart of Tarrasque.
Power Treads, despite its +10 to +8 nerf in DotA 1, is still an item which is still very much worth its cost and more. The attack speed and +8 AGI/+8 STR given for a small cost, is crucial on a hero like Anti-mage whose builds often lack early game survivability and damage. Mana boots and Phase boots just don't give as much as Treads does for less.
Battle Fury is an amazing item on Anti-mage, giving him enormously useful things such as regen to spam blink, cleave for accelerated farming and huge damage. When coupled with blink spam, it allows Anti-mage to farm like no other.
Vladmir's allows Anti-mage lifesteal while keeping his awesome mana burn, allowing him to keep his HP high and Roshan effortlessly.
Butterfly & Heart of Tarrasque
Both self-explanatory items for the late-game. I still believe Butter into Heart is the most solid choice and the correct choice for the majority of games.
I could list a whole plethora of luxury items but I won't, because I think that those who aren't following the guide to a tee and going Butter in to Heart every single game, will already know which luxury items to get. With experience you'll learn to adjust to circumstances but before then, Butter into Heart is extremely solid.
It is now pretty much the only way to play Anti-mage. This build capitalizes on the ridiculous speed Anti-mage can farm neutrals mainly with Bfury/Blink and even faster with a simple treads. It's hard to explains how such a build works so well when executed correctly so you should attempt it a few times yourself first before judging. This build works best as a solo mid with defensive play or when laning with someone babysitting you.
Boots of Speed - Battle Fury
Due to the nature of rushing items, for this build to work, you will need to be a fairly good and experienced player so that you don't simply get owned in the laning phase. You will not be laning as you traditionally do with this build due to your lack of items so play defensively, even if you have a babysitter. You want to focus on farming and not worry too much about whatever else is going on in the game. Your sole purpose early game is to nab your Battlefury at any cost. You should be focusing on farming absolutely and once again, not worry too much about whatever other ****'s going down on the map, so long as you survive and farm. As soon as you have farmed the cash for ROH, go pick it up, at either of the secret shops, depending on which lane you are in. After which, you can get a Pers or a Boots, but for the sake of simplicity I have written Boots first in the item build. Once Boots-Pers are picked up, your key Bfury isn't too far away.
'Mid to Late game'
Power Treads - Vladmir's Offering - Manta Style - Butterfly - Heart of Tarrasque - Black King Bar
As soon as you have Bfury, head to the neutrals and begin farming. Blink from camp to camp, as often as you can to accelerate your farming, and farm lanes when possible. You won't run out of mana ever with the Bfury regen. You should be able to very, very quickly be able to pick up your Manta-Vlads-Butter (Interchangeable order) by doing this. Once you have Str Treads, you will be able to help out in fights quite a bit but you should still focus on farming a Manta-Butter-Vlads. It's once you have Manta or a Butter that you should actively split push, join team fights, team pushes and try to end the game.
Anti-mage is one of the best heroes in the game at split pushing. It's difficult to explain how to split push because there are so many variables but I'll explain the basics and the rest you'll have to learn through experience. Split pushing is basically when you solo push a lane and ignore whatever else is going on the map. The idea is that while your team is 'holding off' the enemy team's push or 'parleying' with the enemy team, you can solo push down rax/s or even throne. However, the part that makes this difficult to do is that you have to take in to account the enemy TPing back and take in to the account the possibility of having infavorable trades, meaning they rax or even throne you before you can even solo rax them in return. Therefore you must remember to carry a TP so that you can return quickly to 'clean up' and ensure that you get favorable trades, or you might even need to abandon your split push and just team fight if you're solo pushing too slowly relative to the enemy team.
This build has become completely outdated but I'm going to leave this here just for memory's sake and for if anyone wants to try it. Or if it one day makes a resurgence. :D:D
Vanguard - Power Treads
You want to focus on farming and not worry too much about whatever else is going on in the game. Your role as a hard carry is to basically farm your *** off and let your teammates worry about protecting you, warding and ganking. However, to maximize your play, you will also need map awareness and laning skills which will come from practice. You want to play it very safe, at least until you get your first two items: Ring of Health then Boots. Also, do not underestimate harassing the enemy with Mana Burn, which is the reason for maxing Mana Burn quickly. Especially when you hit 5 & 7, you should be aiming to burn some mana off of them whenever you can because this is when its usefulness will peak. Note: If you're a very new player and don't really know how to harass with Mana Burn, get it anyway- the alternatives will make minimal difference and may be detrimental during possible early-mid fights.
Manta Style - Butterfly or Heart of Tarrasque components
After Vanguard and Treads are complete, you should be able to have the HP to be able to farm without getting ganked and killed too quickly. Now you want to be farming straight for Manta. Once you've farmed your Manta, you should actively participate in team fights, pushes and defences because all that's left now are your late game items. You'll want to start building towards either a Butter or a Heart depending on the situation.
Butterfly - Heart of Tarrasque - Black King Bar
You will most likely want to pick up Butterfly first because you'll simply need the damage late-game after racking up survivability. The two other usual options are Heart and BKB. Linkens I will also bring up but I don't like it. In the late game, the gold is better spent on a BKB or towards a Heart if you need survivability. BKB might sound stupid but when it gets to the late late game, there will be hexes, and oh god will hexes screw you over. If it ever gets to the point where you need a BKB, you'll know it because you'll spend most of team fights disabled. In general, you can safely go for Butter-Heart then BKB in most games when they get to the late game.
Magic Stick? Magic Wand?
I would call these two items situational/playstyle choices for AM. If you are laning against Batrider, Bristleback or Zeus I would say pick a Stick up then possibly make a Wand of it, but be warned that it will slow your key items a bit, so make certain the gold and the item slot will pay off before getting them.
Wraith Band? (outdated)
For either build, it is not unknown for players to pick up a Wraith Band amidst the farm for Van-Treads or Bfury-Treads. I personally do not advocate it because it slows these key items but it does give you a little extra damage and survivability early so it can be useful if you are getting owned early. One death saved or one kill made will make up the gold, but you won't be able to guarantee that.