Hey folks, and I've played the original DotA for seven years, with many of these years have been spent in the semi-competitive scene. There are two builds I will be outlining for Anti-mage. One is the cookie-cutter builds transferred from DotA 1 called 'Cookie Vanguard' and the other is a 'Battlefury Rush' build which is more risky and not recommended for newer players. The only serious way to play Anti-mage is as a hard carry and that is exactly what both builds are made for.
YouTube channel: YouTube.com/DamonPrinc3
has DotA 2 videos.
Anti-Mage is a
- Hard carry with an amazing escape mechanism.
- Hero who can be beaten in the end-game only by Spectre and Mortred with max items/levels.
- 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.
Skill sequences aren't a one size-fits all games thing and the best sequence will change from game to game. There is currently not an alternative skill sequence system so I can't put in any alternative skill sequences either. However, the skill sequences I have presented should work fine for most games.
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)
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 Vanguard, Power Treads, Battlefury, Vladmir's Offering, Butterfly and Heart of Tarrasque. I've presented you with two builds but once a player becomes experienced enough, you don't need to follow a build, you'll just know when to get these items and why.
Vanguard used to be a pubbie item but somewhere in 6.60s or late 6.50s of DotA 1, it made its way in to the metagame as player began to realize its potential on non-tank heroes early-mid game for survivability. Vanguard became a byword of heroes such as Medusa, Viper, Batrider and Anti-mage because it gave such heroes: game-changing survivability.
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 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.
Honestly, in a pub, either build has its pros and cons but I'd say if you're experienced with AM, in pubs go with the fast Bfury. A fast Battlefury has the potential to absolutely dominate a game if done correctly, but the cookie-cutter is generally preferred in more competitive games due to the safety of it. For example, in more competitive games, they will aim to gank AM as much as possible and your laning phase will be far more difficult.
This is the 'normal' or 'cookie-cutter' build if you will. Basically the fast Vanguard and Power Treads, coupled with Blink makes your Anti-mage hard to stop early-mid game, allowing you to farm your way in to the dominant mid-late game without being ganked and killed easily.
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.
Much of the strategy I've outlined above applies to this build as well so I will be focusing on the key differential aspects. This build is more of an 'advanced' build so I would not recommend it for new players. Basically, it is a rush straight for Battlefury, and 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. 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 join team fights and pushes and carry your team to victory.
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.
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.
Quelling Blade in 'Cookie Vanguard'
In the Vanguard Cookie-cutter, a Quelling Blade can also be gotten for easier farm. It's not a bad option because the 225 gold can be made up with extra farm gotten throughout the game, but it will slow down your Vanguard early.
Vladmir's Offering in 'Cookie Vanguard'
You probably won't need it due to the survivability you'll already have from Vanguard but don't completely rule it out from your build since it can help out your team if no one else is getting it and can be crucial for Roshaning.