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A guide to Ability Draft

February 3, 2014 by spare145
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What is Ability Draft

Ability Draft is the new mode you unlock at level 5. Here, everyone is assigned a random hero. You will be given some time to look over the abilities and heroes, and then you get to go in turn (5 seconds per ability, which is incredibly short, so if you're not prepared, you will time out and get a random ability) picking which abilities you want for your hero.

The ability pool will be from the heroes being played, plus 2 heroes not being played. This means there will be (10 + 2) * 4 = 48 abilities in the pool. Since there are only 10 players, there will be exactly 8 (2 heroes' worth) of skills not picked up at the end of the draft after everyone has picked.

List of Heroes not currently in Ability Draft

Correct me if I'm wrong or missed any, but these heroes don't seem to be in the draft currently.

Ember Spirit
Earth Spirit
Templar Assassin
Troll Warlord
Shadow Demon
Lone Druid
Ogre Magi

How do I pick my abilities?

In this guide, if you do not know what an ability does, you can hover your mouse over the image to get a description.

The first thing to notice is what is your heroes' primary attribute? Picking lots of mana intensive spells for a strength hero may cause you to not even be able to use every one of your spell before running out of MP. Whereas trying to tank with an intelligence hero is equally a bad idea (ie cogs would be a really bad skill on an intelligence hero).

The next thing to notice is whether your hero is ranged or melee. Melee heroes will undoubtedly need some skills to help them get in close (such as Slark's pounce). Whereas for ranged heroes picking skills that require them to get in close would be bad (such as dragon tail without dragon form).

Finally, take note of your hero's movement speed. Here's a chart of the movement speeds. Slower heroes will require more mobility items (Shadowblade, phase boots) or skills unless you enjoy being kited around the map.

Generally though, you should always get at least 1 reliable stun, and 1 escape/chasing skill. By reliable stun, I mean that there isn't a long delay before the stun actually occurs (like Lina' Light strike array). It would be even better if you could net another secondary stun, but they'll usually be gone by the 3rd pick.

Abilities and Lanes

Solo laning abilities

Solo laning comes down to having good escape mechanisms. Bonus points if you have a stun if they decide to tower dive you.

Jungling abilities

Note to junglers: just because you're jungling that doesn't mean you should ignore everything that's going on in lane. For example, come out for occasional ganks, and help out if they're tower diving your team-mate.

Middle Laning

Ask yourself the follow questions: Do I have abilities that allow me to efficiently gank and prevent escape during those ganks, such as Bloodseeker's Rupture? Do I have any abilities that allow for Rune control? Am I ranged, or have abilities that allow me to harrass my enemy, such as Outworld Devourer's Astral Imprisonment?

Ability item combinations

Certain abilities synergies with specific items very well. Of course, it still depends on the rest of your ability and hero build, but here are some general guide lines.

Blink dagger skills

There's a reason many of the heroes with these abilities have blink dagger as a core. If you don't have Clockwerk's Hookshot, blink dagger is a must if you get Power Cogs. You can replace blink dagger with a shadow blade for Duel.

Threads skills

You don't need any more mobility when you have these skills. Consider going threads, or boots of travel.

Refresher Orb skills

A refresher to alleviate the long cooldown of these skills.

Boots of travel skill

If you're familiar with playing with tinker, you know that his ultimate along with boots of travel allow you to teleport to any allied building/ allied creep wave.

Blood stone skill

As these ablities use a high amount of mana or can be spammed indefinitely, a bloodstone would be a good pickup.

Aghanim's Scepter skills

Abilities that greatly benefit from Scepter.

Ability tier

These are just my opinion and are by no means any official results.

God tier ability:

Best ability in game. Period. Snab this skill before anyone else. This is THE reason Nature's Prophet is so good, but when you combined it with a hero with decent stat gain and good killing skills, you get an unstoppable monster.

Tier 1 abilities:

This ability is the reason Weaver is so hard to kill. Gives you amazing chasing, escaping and harrassing ability. What more can I say?

Combined with a chasing or disable skill (such as cogs) so they don't break the link, you can steal up to 224 damage in a fight. That's 2/3 of a divine rapier. Since you have to last for 8 seconds, a tanky build is recommended.

Say hello to one of the best disables of the game, along with snowball potential. This ability is highly sought after, and will usually be gone if you don't get to pick early.

Why is frost arrow/ poison attack so good? It's because using it gives a ranged attack even if you're a melee hero when you manually cast it. If you don't auto-cast it, it's still melee range though. This gives melee heroes much needed range AND it slows. Though if you are not a melee hero, then these skills are not as good.

This skill has some serious potential since it's essentially a free aegis. Can be used to bait others into thinking they'll get a kill, only to reincarnate and kill them immediately afterwards. With the new slow buff to reincarnate, this skill is better than ever. However, this skill is countered by Anti-mage's mana break. Be wary of picking this skill if an anti-mage is in the pool.

If you thought this skill was good on Weaver, wait till you try it on someone more tanky.

Allows you to hit the entire team at once. Especially good when combined with one hit skills such as Tusk's Walrus Punch, Bounty's Jinada, Phantom Lancer's Juxtapose.

Essentially a heart of Terresque when you're not seen. And it gives you 4 seconds of invulnerability. Best paired with an invisibility skill.

Global heal, low MP cost, AND it heals towers. Enough said.

No one in your team will ever have mana problems again. Great support skill.

This skill slows the enemy's auto-attacks so much, you are basically immune to auto-attacks.

Again, a support skill. You are better off having a support use these abilities while the DPS of the team does damage. Combine with Dark Seer's vacuum for maximal effect. Highly recommended for an intelligence hero, along with refresher orb.

Tier 2 abilities:

Like Poison Attack and Frost Arrow, by manually casting these, you can give a melee hero ranged attacks. Though they fall short of the former due to not slowing. Glaives of Wisdom is best used on a melee intelligence hero like dark seer.

Gives melee heroes range, except unlike Drow's Frost Arrow or Viper's Poison Attack, it does not slow. For ranged heroes, it gives you more range. Best when you don't have other abilities that have a lower range, rely on auto-attacks, or when you mostly have passives.

When combined with any stun, this spell guarantees that the enemy cannot escape (except maybe via TP scroll). Unlike other spells that prevent escape (such as Bloodseeker's Rupture, or Slark's Pounce), this spell works on the entire team, and as such you can use it for to escape as well by placing it behind you. This skill goes especially well with Spirit Breaker's Charge, where you can charge them, and then set up the field immediately after stunning them.

This skill is so good, it is wasted on windrunner. You can use it to become a massive evasion tank, or to make some quick getaways/ chases.

Anti-mage's blink is better than Queen of Pain's because it cooldowns faster. Excellent mobility skill if you haven't picked up any of the tier 1 movement skills.

Especially good if you pair it up with an ability that makes it impossible to escape like rupture.

Why is Chronosphere tier 2? It's because Faceless Void can move in your Choronosphere freely without getting frozen. This is really bad if void is on the enemy team, especially with the new patch, since Void gets super movement speed inside the sphere. It is also very hard to use as you can freeze your own teammates. However, if Faceless Void is on your team, and you're not playing as him, this skill allows both you, and your team-mate to move freely inside the sphere, making it an excellent pickup.

Permanent InvisibilityBecause of the new patch, you don't get revealed when you use abilities. This means you can build a spell spamming Riki build, and assassinate people out of nowhere.

At early levels it gives you a silence, and at later levels it gives you 220% damage. The bad thing is you're forced to select more passive skills due to the silencing effect.

blood bathWith the new patch, you now get the full heal if heroes die near you even if you don't get the kill. Good for melee heroes who are always close to the target. Not so good for ranged.

These are the reliable stuns/disables I was talking about. They are ranged, and have no chance of missing from a delay (i.e. Torrent).

Strength hero builds



Jinada can be replaced with any other critical skill such as Doom's Devour (if you devour an Alpha Wolf), Brewmaster's Drunken Brawler, Wraith King - Mortal Strike, Juggernaut's Blade Dance. TideBringer can be replaced by any multi-hit skill such as Gyrocopter's Flak Cannon or Medusa's Split Shot. With just enchant totem and Grow, you will be able to deal 1k damage. Combined with a critical skill and multi-hit skill, you have a chance to OHKO the entire team.

Sticky Napalm

Untested. Sticky Napalm increases damage per hit of all abilities, and these abilities hit very often. Shaman's Shackles is also apparently a good choice.

Agility hero builds

The perma-stun Huskar

Time lock may be replaced with Sladar's Bash ability. With Berserker's Blood, and Time Lock, you will be stunning them so much when your HP is low, they won't even be able to move. As if that wasn't enough, with shallow grave, you can keep up that scary DPS for an additional 5 seconds at 1 HP. The last slot goes to Lycan's Shapeshift for a reliable way to escape or chase someone down. You can replace it if you have no problems chasing someone down.

Toggle abuse

Voodoo Restoration can be replaced with ball lightning. Overload can be replaced with other abilities that trigger upon spell cast, such as Outworld Devourer's Essence Aura (if you have mana skills). The idea is that every time you toggle you trigger Fiery Soul, and increase your attack speed, so by spamming that toggle button you instantly gain max attack speed, and/or an overload on every attack.

Intelligence hero builds

The teleporting Lina:

Fill the last skill with any reliable stun/disable. Laguna blade may be replaced with Lion's Finger of Death. Teleportation + heavy magic nuke is so good. Nature's prophet's biggest problem was that he was weak as hell, but getting heavy nukes solves this problem. You will be surprised how many people walk around in sight with HP low enough for you to 1 hit them with Finger of Death. As an example, I had a 21-1 K/D record with Nature's Prophet:

Hellfire blast
Dragon Slave
Laguna Blade

I didn't have thirst, but just those skills alone made it possible for me to stomp everyone.

The invisible death prophet:

Add a stun in there so you can lock people in place for your ghosts to attack them. Essentially a shadow blade Death Prophet build except with a lot more movement speed and no shadow blade.

The snowballing Silencer:

The intelligence steal sticks on Silencer so if you are playing as Silencer, you will get STR, INT, and damage every time you get a kill with duel. Snowball away!

Impetus machine Gun:

Impetus does damage based on how far the opponent is, and take aim increases your range.

Infinite stun storm spirit

Spam ball lightning over and over again by moving to essentially the same spot. With just aftershock, you can lock the entire team in permanent stun for so long, they will be killed off just by the ball lightning damage alone. Combined with essence aura for unlimited spamming power.

Useless skills/ Bad heroes

Bad heroes

There are some heroes who have a very bad stat gain due to their overpowered abilities, but this is not reflected in this mode. Such heroes include:

Nyx Assassin
Skywrath Mage

So what do you do when you get a hero with bad stat gain? Your best option is to get back some of the skills that make your hero overpowered, or focus on spells that have fixed damage, or support rather than carry.

Useless skills

There are some skills that are useless because they require other skills which you may not be able to get:

Phantom Edge without Juxtapose
Darkness without Nightstalker skills
Witchcraft without Death Prophet skills (though it still gives movement speed if you want that)
Eclipse without Lucent Beam

Change log

Guide started, and incomplete,but probably too lazy to edit it ever again.

Added more builds based on comments and experience. Fixed some minor stuff.

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