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Arc Warden, the Micro-Manager

December 20, 2015 by Zancron
Comments: 0    |    Views: 8396    |   

Build 1
Build 2


DotA2 Hero: Arc Warden

Purchase Order

Starting Set

Iron Branch
Iron Branch
Observer and Sentry Wards
Animal Courier


Hand of Midas
Boots of Speed
Enchanted Mango
Healing Salve


Scythe of Vyse
Refresher Orb
Arcane Boots
Dagon 1
Boots of Travel
Blade Mail
Aether Lens
Urn of Shadows
Rod of Atos
Medallion of Courage
Divine Rapier

Other Options

Abyssal Blade
Blink Dagger
Drum of Endurance
Eul's Scepter of Divinity
Ethereal Blade
Force Staff
Glimmer Cape
Heaven's Halberd
Manta Style
Shiva's Guard

Hero Skills


3 8 9 10

Magnetic Field


Spark Wraith

1 4 5 7 12 13 14

Tempest Double

6 11 16




Before the beginning of all, there existed a presence: a primordial mind, infinite, awesome, and set to inscrutable purpose. As the universe thundered into being, this mind was fragmented and scattered. Two among its greater fragments--who would come to be named Radiant and Dire--found themselves locked in vicious opposition, and began twisting all of creation to serve their conflict.
As war and cataclysm threatened the nascent cosmos, the will of a third fragment made itself known. Naming itself Zet, this intellect sought to resolve the disharmony and return all to perfect unity. Appalled by its kin's conflicting nature, Zet gathered the sum of its power. In a sudden flash, it overwhelmed its siblings, and fused the warring aspects into a stellar sphere before hurling them into the darkness to orbit a nondescript world. Harmony was restored, though only the barest fraction of Zet's strength remained. Setting its gaze on the prison, Zet chose to use its weakened power to serve as watchful warden until time's end. For uncounted aeons, this vigil stood.

Life flourished upon the world below, oblivious to the dangers imprisoned within the softly glowing moon, or of Zet's struggles to contain them. As the captives' eternal clash reverberated within, the surface of the prison shuddered, over time beginning to crack. Ultimately, Zet's depleted power proved insufficient to contain the breach, and at last the moon was shattered. The prison's ancient inhabitants had escaped to sow their conflict anew.

Flung to the farthest reaches by the prison's explosion, Zet was transformed by the dissonant energies of its former captives. No longer of single form and thought, its presence had become split among many--some lesser, some greater--each connected by a fleeting arc of consciousness. Struggling to suppress its own disunity, Zet sped toward the burgeoning conflict of its siblings, bending its fractured wills toward a singular conclusion: the aspects of the primordial mind must be made to reunite, or all must be destroyed lest the conflict spread further…


Hi. So this guide is fairly sloppy right now, but I'm going to try and get all the information down before adding visuals and cleaning it up because I feel like that's more helpful. I hope you understand!

Zet the Arc Warden is a new hero who is almost undoubtedly going to undergo rapid changes throughout the next couple of patches. He has one of the potentially strongest early nuke in the game in terms of DPS (Spark Wraith), potentially one of the best slows, and arguably the best damage reduction skill in the game... and he can use each one twice by level 6. And they're all incredibly unreliable if used wrong. But DOTA 2 is a game balanced around the professional scene. This means that even though 95% of pubs players probably won't be able to play him effectively (micromanaging, am I right?) he will almost undoubtedly get nerfed rather than buffed.

Arc Warden can do many things. He can act as a subpar Techies, he can slow enemies, he can push, split-push, counter-push, single-target nuke (mid-late game), and can heal(ish). It's a lot of diversity for the hero, and for that reason people are having a hard time figuring out what role to give him.

I am of the opinion that Zet should be a support - position 4, to be exact. The utility that each of his abilities provides at level 1 and his ability to play catchup with an early-ish Midas (similar to what Ancient Apparition would do) is amazingly efficient. He DOES transition fairly well into the mid-late game as a carry, but I find that you won't transition better than another carry unless you're already ahead in terms of farm and objectives - a "win-more" hero, if you will.

However, Zet can be any positions 2-4. I don't believe that he can be position 5 because Zet with very little farm means no on-time Midas, and Zet with no Midas means no farm at all. It means he's a double-slow, double-nuke, double-"evasion bubble" hero who can't do much else, and while that's still good, none of his skills are reliable enough to pick him over most other position 5's like Dazzle or Shadow Shaman who can do a lot more with less farm.

Zet also has awful stat gain. Position 1 Zet wouldn't be able to compete against most other position 1 carries in the early-late game unless you're already ahead. Having two of an item is good, but he'll get outcarried.

The main reason he should be a support is because of how INCREDIBLY HARD he's countered by Bounty Hunter and Rubick. Assuming equal skill levels, if you play carry Arc Warden, you have to pick/ban both of those heroes. And at that point your team is centered around protecting your Arc Warden pick rather than countering the enemy team's picks or strategy, and that's how you lose games. I'll go over the reason why later - though in pubs, you may not have to worry about it.


-Can ensure a 0:00 rune
-Incredibly versatile - good pick early on in draft
-Double Midas
-Double every other item
-Great pusher, anti-pusher, ganker, and nuker
-Very potentially powerful skills

-Terrible stat gain
-Versatile - people don't know how to play him
-Requires some early farm for Midas
-When he's countered by a hero, he's countered HARD. Read: don't go near enemy Rubicks or Bounty Hunters
-Very unreliable skills
-Micro is hard. #1 con for most people



Infuses a lone enemy unit with swirling, volatile energy, slowing its movement speed and dealing damage over time. The effect is muted if another enemy unit is near the target.
Cast Time: 0.3+0.77
Cast Range: 600/700/800/900
Search Radius: 225
Damage per Second: 15/30/45/60
Move Speed Slow: 50%
Duration: 6
Cooldown 20 Mana 75

Partially blocked by Spell Immunity. Cannot target spell immune units. Slows and attempts to damage spell immune units. Nearby spell immune units around the target do not mute the effects. Blocked by Linken's Sphere. Cannot be dispelled.
Ability Affects Damage
Target unit: Enemies. Magical
An infinitesimal fraction of the power which imprisoned the Ancients.

This skill is very interesting. In the early game, either your opponent must stay by the lane creeps and potentially get ganked, or they take the 50% slow and DoT to the face. Or, in the rare instance in pubs that the second person in the lane knows what they're doing, it forces the enemy heroes to group up, which means they're more vulnerable to AoE and stuns. In the mid-late game, it can force teamfights or ganks. Use this with Spark Wraith to make sure the Spark Wraith lands.

Magnetic Field:
Generates a circular distortion field of magnetic energy that grants evasion and attack speed bonuses to allied heroes and buildings within.
Cast Time: 0.3+0
Cast Range: 900
Effect Radius: 275
Dodge Chance: 100%
Attack Speed Bonus: 50/60/70/80
Duration: 3.5/4/4.5/5
Cooldown 50 Mana 110
Partially usable by illusions. Evasion affects illusions, attack speed does not. Not blocked by Spell Immunity. Cannot be dispelled.
Target Area Allied Heroes
Ability Affects Target Area: Allied Heroes
Time and space are of little consequence to one as old as Zet.

Another very interesting skill. Use it on towers to prevent pushes or buildings. Don't forget about the attack speed increase, either; if the enemy is diving a tower, it could make the difference. The fact that it gives 100% evasion at level 1 makes it incredibly useful with only a single point in the skill.

Spark Wraith:
Summons a Spark Wraith that slowly materializes and patrols a targeted area until an enemy comes within its range. Once a target has been found the wraith fuses with them, dealing magical damage.
Cast Time: 0.3+0.76
Cast Range: 2000
Search Radius: 375
Activation Delay: 3
Damage: 150/200/250/300
Wraith Duration: 53
Cooldown 4 Mana 100/110/120/130
Targets AREA, affects DAMAGE
Blocked by Spell Immunity. Does not react on nearby spell immune units. If already targeted unit turns spell immune, attempts to deal damage on contact.
Lesser fragments of Zet's original self. Not blocked by Linkins Sphere.

300 damage, 4 second cooldown, 2000 range, 50 second duration. You didn't read that wrong. If they're set up on high ground, the enemy can't see them, either. Just keep in mind that it takes 3 seconds to seek an enemy, and it seeks the first enemy that enters its radius. Try to keep it out of the way of creeps. Place it ahead of the enemy if you're chasing and in front of you if you're running. Use it to drive the enemy away from their tower.

Tempest Double
Briefly refocusing its fractured elements into a single form, the Arc Warden is able to create a perfect electrical duplication of itself. The duplicate can use all of Arc Warden's current items and spells. When the duplicate is created, all of its available items and normal abilities are off cooldown.
Cast Time: 0+0
Current Health and Mana as Cost: 30%/15%/0%
Number of Doubles: 1
Duration: 20
Cooldown 65/60/55
No target/self. Pure.
Warped by the power of its peers, Arc Warden becomes what it despises most: disharmony.

The skill that makes Arc Warden broken (for now). Remember that this takes all your items off cooldown (except for things like Refresher) even if you just used them. Use this skill to abuse Midas and regen items like Bottle, Mango, and Healing Salve. Use the skill and then have the copy use the copied regen items on the original Arc Warden. It copies item charges - diffusal, Urn, bottle - so keep that in mind. The copy also won't drop Rapier or Gem upon death.

Starting Items

I am of the belief that early item builds are 100% dependent on a person's playstyle. Some people will want 8 tangos so they lane despite harass, some people want five mangos because eat mango win game. Before going through mine, I want to explain what I do at the beginning of each game with Arc Warden.

Each game, I go to the 0:00 bounty rune and place 3 Spark Wraiths around 40 seconds before the rune will spawn. It essentially assures the rune for myself. Then I'll activate the clarity and return to lane.

Thus, I choose two iron branches, one set of tangos, and a clariy as a lane support. Tangos to keep up harass, iron branches because they're really good and now they can be planted, and a clarity to regen mana after the 0:00 bounty rune.
***I'm currently unsure if Spark Wraiths block neutral camps, but if they do, I will also be using one to block the enemy pull camp at the 0:20 mark or so after regen'ing with my clarity after the bounty rune if I'm an offlane support.***

As a mid, I'll get one set of tangos and 2x Iron Branches to lane with or tangos + Wraith Band. If you feel you need more last hitting power, get Faerie Fire, Slippers of Agility, or (instead of branches) a Wraith Band. It's totally up to personal preference. Remember that Arc Warden is an agility hero despite his ****py stat gain, so he benefits most from Slippers/Wraith Band rather than a Null Talisman, even though you may want that later to build it into Dagon. Null Talisman building into Dagon won't be relevant for probably at least 15 minutes, so don't get it over Wraith Band.

An Orb of Venom is always good if you're trying to get first blood. If you random'd Arc Warden (and happen to look at this part of the guide before the game starts) then go for Brown Boots + Orb of Venom, and then buy Tangos. Then go as 5 into their jungle before the game starts and get some first blood.

Don't play Arc Warden as an offlaner who plans on staying in-lane. He has no means of getting effective farm. If he's in the offlane, either lane him with an actual offlaner or go gank with him.

Buy wards and the courier as you need them. Always buy the courier if nobody else will because it's more beneficial to have one than it is to have Midas 30 seconds earlier.

Core Items

Midas. Midas midas midas. Imagine a world where Midas has an almost halved cooldown. Every 100 seconds, you can use it once, as per normal, and every 65 seconds, you can use your Ult, and use Midas again. I'm not going to do that math (if somebody else wants to I'll put it here and give you the credit) but it's good enough to give me a higher GPM than most people in my game despite being a support and despite not really trying to farm. You want Midas as early as possible - ideally before 12 minutes - but anytime before 20 minutes is acceptable at a pubs level.

When you start to rush Midas is very different depending on your level of play. On the pro scene, you probably won't want to rush Gloves of Haste into recipe for Hand of Midas because rotations come efficiently and often, and you'll need boots to cope with them and you'll probably have to rotate as well. But in your average pubs game, the laning phase lasts 10+ minutes and the only rotation you typically have to worry about is from mid. This means that if your lane partner isn't feeding, you can feasibly go straight from your starting items to Hand of Midas. Keep in mind that this is a fairly greedy build and you may also have to take some farm from your carry (remember, you shouldn't be the position 1 carry on your team so you shouldn't be the carry in the safelane as Arc Warden).

If you rush straight to Midas, you should play more defensively in terms of ganking and harass. And since you're a support, you should be harassing the enemy so your carry gets farm, which is why typically you don't go straight to Midas and, instead, you get other items like boots or a healing salve. Something that I often get is an Urn of Shadows. Arc Warden's ult copies the number of charges in the urn so if you get an urn and get a gank or lane kill, it makes things much easier on you and your carry especially once your ult comes up at level 6.

If you are mid, go for a bottle and brown boots before you get Midas unless you're planning on sitting in your lane for 8 minutes farming (don't do that unless you're getting constant kills on their mid). Arc Warden has a tremendous ability to gank in the form of his slow and Spark Wraiths, so don't waste the first 6-7 minutes of the game trying to get last hits against enemy mids who have actually decent stat gains. They'll be out last-hitting you anyways if they're of an equal skill level and if you didn't go for Wraith Band + Tangos.

As a support, go for Arcane boots after Midas if your allies are mana starved. Build it into an Aether Lens later if you want, otherwise, a Mango + Healing Salve or just a bottle will do the same thing for your own hero.

Regardless you want some form of regen in order to mitigate the early HP and mana cost of your ultimate and Spark Wraiths. I prefer getting a bottle now that you can get it from the side shop. Get runes if you can by using Spark Wraiths over them.

Finally... Extensions

This is the reason why your allies are all feeding in pubs. You have Midas, you have brown boots, and you have some form of regen... now what? It's the small period of time during which Arc Warden is least useful, and most people make the mistake of trying to build Dagon 5 or Necrobook 3 immediately after Midas. In some situations that can be good, especially if you get Midas pre-10 minutes, but you are a hero with ****py stat gain who currently has a Midas, an item that only benefit your right clicking ability and your farm that you haven't used yet.

What you get next is very situational. If you went mid and did decently, you'll have Midas pre-10 minutes. Then you can start building into whatever fits your team's composition best. Do you need more push or right click damage? Go ahead and start that Necrobook 3. Is there a specific enemy who is decimating your team? Get a Sheepstick, it'll be amazing all game long. Having trouble landing your slow and Spark Wraiths at the same time? Get a Rod of Atos for an extra slow and some tankiness, or a Diffusal Blade for damage and a slow/purge along with easy Agility. An Urn is always a good, cheap item and you could get infinite urn charges with your ultimate.

The mistake that I often see with pubs Arc Wardens, though, is that they will stay in this stage of vulnerability between Hand of Midas and their next item for so long that the Arc Warden becomes useless. You'll have Midas by 10 minutes and Scythe of Vyse at 30 and that's 20 minutes during which you're an unreliable slow, nuke, and a tiny bubble of evasion that during the midgame just encourages AoE casters like Queen of Pain to scream all over your team. Now obviously that's a bit of an over-exaggeration, but the point is don't be useless.

What's even worse is when you're an Arc Warden and you're behind, and you go for the big item anyways. Let's say you fed the enemy mid and you got Midas at 12 minutes, so now you're going to build a Dagon 5 to show that Shadow Fiend who's boss... But you just built a Hand of Midas and you're already behind in the early game. This means that while your enemy is getting further and further ahead in their item progression, you're essentially in the same spot you were before because Midas only offers you farm.

You have to make it to the point where Midas becomes beneficial. It's much easier to do this with Arc Warden's ultimate when compared to other heroes with Midas, but building a second huge item is going to lose you the game before you're able to finish it. So if you're really behind and you aren't a support, build an Urn or a Medallion of Courage or something before going for the Scythe of Vyse.

If you're a support, this problem is easily solved. Buy wards, smoke, TPs, and dust. Be efficient with your time - stack camps, organize ganks, etc. This is the main reason why I think Arc Warden is best as a support. He can get all of the wards, smoke, dust, and TPs and still have the money to build toward the bigger items like Sheepstick and Dagon.

Also, when he stacks camps, use Midas to take out the small Centaur or Hellbear creeps, thus decreasing the magic protection aura of the camp and letting heroes like Shadow Fiend and Lina clear it out faster.

That being said, there are situations when you should get Sheepstick or Necrobook or Dagon rather than Medallion of Courage or Urn or some other cheap item. Namely, if you think you'll have the money for them in time for them to be useful. It's completely a judgment call.

The reason I think Midas is an absolute must on Arc Warden is because I don't think there's another item that is as efficient as Midas is on Arc Warden. If you think that getting another item will boost your farm/hinder the enemy's farm more significantly than the boost provided by Midas, then be my guest and buy a Dagon. Just remember that you'll have to get a kill pretty much every 50 seconds to make up for the gold that Midas would be giving you in that time.

...And that legitimately does mean to do that. If you think you can win a previously unwinnable teamfight by buying an early Necrobook 3 over Midas then by all means do so.

Specific Item Choices

I'll go over specific item choices here.

Sheepstick - great disable for the entire game, useful if a specific hero is giving you trouble or just to turn the tide of a teamfight.

Refresher - typically only useful after you get a few items on Arc Warden. Then, use it to have THREE of everything! (refresh Arc Warden ult, use it again, then have two Arc Warden illusions up at the same time).

Necrobook - DPS, push, permanent truesight at level 3.

Dagon - nuke an enemy down twice

Blade Mail - send your illusion into the middle of an enemy's high-damage AoE spell with its Blade Mail on to deal some good damage on that enemy hero.

Aether Lens - better range and damage for skills and items

Divine Rapier - doesn't drop on death of the illusion


Hero Counters

Doom obviously counters Arc Warden because Doom counters everything, but especially because not being able to use any of your items or skills is a death sentence for Arc Warden.

Anybody who can kill Arc Warden via DPS before he's able to get his abilities or items off is another obvious counter - for example, Faceless Void and his Chronosphere.

Rubick and Bounty Hunter. Rubick can steal Arc Warden's ultimate, clone himself, and use double-stun, double-nuke, and he can then Spell Steal yet another ability with the clone Rubick.

This may change in a near patch, but currently when Bounty Hunter tracks an Arc Warden clone/illusion, when it dies, Bounty Hunter and his allies get track gold. Yeah. It's dumb and it kills Arc Warden. Try to ban/pick BH and Rubick whenever you pick him, but if you get countered and you're just a support then it's not as big of a deal.

Tricks and Allies

-Put Spark Wraiths on the 0:00 rune to pretty much ensure either a kill or a rune

-Put Spark Wraiths on high ground and when enemies run up it, they won't be able to see them until it's too late. Put enough of them in the same place and it'll flat out kill the enemy as if it's a Techies mine.

-Use Arc Warden's slow in conjunction with a teammate who has an AoE stun so enemies group up and then get hit by it.

-Plant the Spark Wraiths under the enemy's tower to keep them away from it

-Use Magnetic Field to protect your towers from enemy attacks

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