Hello, and welcome to my guide to one of the (in my opinion) most underrated supports in the game. Ancient Apparition (or AA) has an arsenal of magical damage utility spells, that can change the tide of a team fight, and freeze the enemy in their tracks (or give them cold feet... or, any other bad pun you can think of). Below, we'll talk about the basics, and the need-to-know's about playing AA. I'll be using basic Ancient Apparition information, so if you're new to the game/playing AA, then I'd like to redirect you to the wiki's page, right here: http://dota2.gamepedia.com/Ancient_Apparition
AA has his own niche in the game, and while I said he's very underrated (which he is), he's a rather situational pick and probably shouldn't be picked in every game, and he's not very good for MMR grinding. However, when picked in the right situation, he can make the enemy's life absolutely miserable. Here's a brief summary of his skills.
Cold Feet is, just like the hero, pretty underrated. However, it's also pretty useless without any other setup spells/abilities early game. It is worth mentioning that, while it does deal a decent amount of damage, it shouldn't be considered a nuke at all. It deals a total of 225 damage (after the base 25% magic resistance), roughly the same Lina's Dragon Slave. It's pretty substantial early game, but the 3 second stun is the more relevant part late game. However, heroes can walk out of the "you're about to be frozen range" without any trouble. Even the slow from your Icy Vortex won't be enough. You almost always need a follow up stun or disable. However, you do put the enemy in a predicament. They either have to stick around and fight, or leave the short perimeter for a little while, and give you some space. Use it to zone early game, but mind your mana, as you're quite dependent on it, and you don't have much of it. Also, as of 6.87, the cooldown on this spell is optimal, and the cast range improves upon leveling, so I'd say maxing this first is even more viable.
Icy Vortex has three uses, and I'll rank them in usefulness, from greatest to least: the magic resistance, as literally the rest of your skillset is magic damage. Then the slow. It's pretty big early game, not Venomancer or anything, but it'll definitely keep your enemies out of that area. Throw one down behind you if you're being chased, and the enemy will have to awkwardly weave around it, or just eat the slow. Then there's the vision. I'm not saying you shouldn't use this spell for the vision. It's got a 4 seconds cooldown, and it's range is huge, so feel free to slap these around while you're sieging highground, dewarding, or checking Rosh. Or it you're suspecting a gank, put one down around the lane or rune, and stop the enemy cold (WOW MORE PUNS).
Holy ****, everyone forgets this spell late game. Early game, a free bonus 113 right click damage is massive, especially when you're fighting for the rune or just simply zoning the offlaner. It's worth the 20 attack speed slow for the bonus right click damage. However, it's also worth nothing that it doesn't stack with crits, such as Walrus Punch! or Juggernaut's crit. Late game (when it's maxed), it gives you and your team a bonus 640 right click damage PER HERO. Times that by 5 and you have 3200 added right click damage if your team all uses them. However, all these perks are balanced out by the stupidly long cooldown and the fact that it'll eat up all of your mana if you're using it constantly early game.
Ice Blast it the name of the game for AA. If you can't land a single one of these, I'd practice in a lobby against bots, especially since their movements are pretty unpredictable. But if you whiff a vital Ice Blast in a team fight or airball it on an escaping target, it could change the tides of the game. Ice Blast counters so many heroes, it's not even funny. However, in the same vein, it's worth noting that a lot of the same heroes can COUNTER Ice Blast themselves, but I'll go into depth in that later. It has quite a confusing tooltip, so I'll break it down here. Ancient Apparition launches a tracer straight from him across the map, in a chosen direction. Once you cast the release sub-spell that replaces Ice Blast after you use it, Ancient Apparition will then fire the actual Ice Blast, and it will land in the area shown by the tracer thereafter. The farther you shoot the Tracer, the larger the AoE of the burst. Heroes hit by the second blast, but not in the designated area do not take the nuke damage, but the "frostbitten debuff" will still be placed upon them. Heroes hit in the designated area take a nuke damage (188/263/338), and also are given the frostbitten debuff. Heroes with the Frostbitten debuff cannot be healed, and they also take damage over time. If they drop below a certain HP Threshold, they will "shatter", or just simply die, similar to Axe's Culling Blade. And when I said no healing, I meant NO HEALING. No SHADOW WAVE, no PURIFICATION. No, no lifesteal, no fountain regen, NO NOTHING. It can't be purged, and the only way to avoid the damage is by going spell immune or just going invulnerable. Top all that off with a 40 second cooldown, and you've got yourself one heck of an ultimate. This spell is what gives AA such a small, but important niche. It outright counters heroes who depend on healing, such as Dazzle and Abbadon, but it's still good in any various given situations. It's also particularly good with any disables, or even your own Cold Feet. But as mentioned before, this is a skillshot, and it will take practice. Just have practice and good judgement, and you should be fine.
As far as skill builds, it depends on your team comp. If you have heavy magic damage nukers, like Zeus or Viper, consider maxing Vortex. If you're roaming a lot, max Cold Feet. I generally level Chilling touch first for the easy lane harass, but then quickly level the others. Invest in a 3/1/1, 1/3/1, or a 2/2/1 build before 6. Beyond that, it doesn't really matter. Max Cold feet for the nuke, or Icy Vortex for the Magic Amplification. Chilling Touch should be maxed last, and sitting on 1 level of it is generally enough early game.
As any item choice in any game of Dota, it all depends on your lineup. There are no arguably "core" items on AA, but there are a couple good ones worth naming.
Eul's is probably the best item for AA, in my opinion. Ancient Apparition is absolutely crippled by two things: Silences, and your low base mana/mana regen. Eul's covers both of these things. It also happens to combo well with Cold Feet, as it can basically guarantee a Cold Feet stun on a hero given they don't have any Mobility Items/Spells. A common pickoff combo is Cold Feet into Eul's into Icy Vortex where they land into Ice Blast. Finish them off with a few right clicks, and more than likely, there pretty close to dead. This works better in late game, but you can burst down squishy supports with this combo late game.
As far as starting items go, if you're solo supporting, buy Courier and 2 Wards, and feel free to give one to your mid/offlaner. Then get your Tango's and Salve, and finish it all off with either a mango, clarities, or iron branches, or any of these interchangeably. If someone else bought wards/courier, then I'd definitely buy a mango as well as clarities/iron branches. Grab a smoke if you're feeling an early gank, and that's about it. Nothing too out-of-the-ordinary.
Early game, your Boots of Choice are gonna be Arcanes or Tranquils. If you need the mana because you're using them to zone a whole lot, go for Arcanes. If you're roaming and need the HP regen and armor, go for Tranqs. Treads are alright and offset your squishiness, as well as your right click deduction for chilling touch, but they're not the best. Urn/Bracer are alright. Grab an Urn if your team needs survivability, and grab a bracer if your team already has an Urn/Doesn't need one. Stick/Wand are good too, as per norm. Windlace is also nice because it builds into Eul's and also offsets your slow movement speed.
Ancient Apparition's gameplay can change depending on how your items buildup. Here's a couple handy items.
Veil of Discord + Icy Vortex = INSANE MAGIC DAMAGE. We're talking +30% Bonus Magical damage. That's HUGE, especially if they take a Disruptor ulti or Lion's Finger to the face. If your team has respectable magic damage, this is definitely a solid pickup. It's also good for teamfights.
Glimmer Cape is pretty much your standard go to survival item for any support, aside from Ghost Scepter. HECK, WHY NOT GET BOTH. Generally, you don't need to, but there are certain cases where both are nice. Get Glimmer if you need Magic Resistance, or need a quick escape.
Ghost Scepter is also nice for survivability, especially against those right click carries, like Juggernaut, Slark, or Legion Commander. Yeah... that's about it.
An early Mekanism can be a great attribute to your team, but I'd generally let someone else pick it up. But if they entire enemy team is physical damage, your entire team is squishy, and your team has yet to get a Mek, sure, why not?
Force Staff is a great escape, it gives you decent int, O̶R̶ ̶Y̶O̶U̶ ̶C̶A̶N̶ ̶F̶O̶R̶C̶E̶ ̶S̶T̶A̶F̶F̶ ̶P̶E̶O̶P̶L̶E̶ ̶I̶N̶T̶O̶ ̶I̶C̶E̶ ̶B̶L̶A̶S̶T̶ ̶B̶E̶C̶A̶U̶S̶E̶ ̶Y̶O̶U̶'̶R̶E̶ ̶P̶R̶O̶ ̶R̶I̶G̶H̶T̶?̶ Not much else needs to be said about this one. Blink is also a decent pickup, but Force Staff is much better in most scenarios.
Atos+Cold Feet. 'Nuff Said. It also makes Ice Blast easier to land but ̶Y̶O̶U̶'̶R̶E̶ ̶P̶R̶O̶ ̶R̶I̶G̶H̶T̶?̶
Your spells already have a ridiculous range, and you don't need the damage amp that much, but if you REALLY don't want to get near a fight, I suppose Aether Lens is a good choice? It's honestly not the best, since your spells already have ludicrous range.
Now before you get all butt hurt because I didn't add Midas on this list, here it is.Hand of Midas honestly seems tacky to me, but in the long run, it can be a worthwhile pickup. AA suffers from having no way to flash farm. Most supports have some nuke that they can spam on creep waves or farm the jungle up with real quick. AA has Cold Feet and chilling touch, which don't really work all that well. Hand of Midas will give you some nice reliable gold, and will help you buildup into those nice luxury items such as Agh's. It's not my go to item on AA however.
You generally don't pick up any of these items unless your game is running over 60 minutes, but whatever
As soon as I didn't mention Agh's in the mid-game category, I knew some of you would be throwing a fit and closing out of this guide. Agh's, as much as it pains me to say it, is not core on AA. It increases the duration of the Frostbitten debuff, which increases the damage substantially, but that's about it. Veil increases ALL Magical Damage from all inputs, so I think it's a better go-to item, but Agh's is good as well.
Also, AA needs something to increase his survivability, so I guess Agh's is good at that?
Shiva's provides a nice slow, gives AA more survivability, and increases your int. Why not?
If Eul's has served it's purpose for the early game, I personally like to sell it and go for a sheep. It provides even better mana regen, gets you a cold feet stun, but totally renders the target useless. I'm not saying always sell your Eul's for this item, as Eul's can be used to wipe off many negative debuffs, but it is a viable option in some scenarios.
Linken's Sphere gives you good stats, good regen, and good survivability. Buy it against teams with strong, single target disables. You can also substitute this with a Lotus Orb, but Linken's is generally better.
If you've got a Ghost Scepter and a billion gold to spend, why not buy an E-Blade? It gives more magic damage amp, so it's all not all that bad, and if combo's well with the aforementioned Eul's + Cold Feet + Ice Blast combo, overall improving your pickoff and gank potential.
Great Magic/Nuking potential
Has a global ultimate
Prevents all healing
Insane range of all of his spells
Huge Damage Amp
Slow Movement Speed
Low Mana Pool for a mana dependent hero
Has no reliable stun
Has a very important skillshot that's easy to miss
No Escape, making him an easy pickoff
Pretty Level Dependent
Anyone with a solid disable or high magic damage compliment Ancient Apparition pretty well. Lion, Lina, and Shadow Shaman all combo quite well. Earthshaker gets a special mention all because of Universe at TI5. Seriously though, they both specialize in dealing AoE magical damage, and AA amplifies that. Heroes who have global spells that give vision for an AA blast. Zeus, Wisp, and Bloodseeker are all pretty good at this. Shoutout to Viper, because of his arsenal of slows, as well as his insane Magic Damage. Meepo + AA is also a common pub combo, as Net+Cold Feet is an almost guaranteed stun, Icy Vortex amplifies Poof's damage by a considerable amount, and Chilling Touch affects ALL Meepo's. As said before, Ancient Apparition is a situational pick, and if your team does not have many slows or disables, it can be quite difficult to land a Cold Feet or Ice Blast. Now, just because you don't have quite the right allies doesn't mean you shouldn't pick AA. Ancient Apparition counters numerous heroes, and picking AA to counter that hero is totally legit.
As said before, many heroes you counter also can counter you, in some form. Heroes with a heal, such as Dazzle, Omniknight, and Abbadon are all common medics. However, Dazzle can save an ally from Ice Blast with Shallow Grave, and Omniknight can stop all Ice Blast damage with repel, however, the Frostbitten shatter threshold will remain. Abbadon can stop Ice Blast damage with Aphotic Shield. He can't heal off of Borrowed time if he's Ice Blasted, but he technically cannot be harmed by it either. Oracle gets a special mention, because you can kill a False Promised hero if they're below the shatter threshold and they get hit by your massive snowball. However, Oracle can stop all magical damage with Fate's Edict. Also, Ice Blast with on a False Promised target has some interesting reactions. As mentioned, Ice Blast can kill a target below the given threshold, but Oracle can heal the Frostbitten target. Remember when I said you can't heal off of Ice Blast? I lied. Oracle is the exception to the rule. The False Promise heal prioritizes higher than the Ice Blast "Frostbitten Buff". So if Oracle heals a hero enough while they're Ice Blasted and False Promised, if that hero has healed enough during the Promise, and it ends, they will be healed during Ice Blast. Thanks Valve. Lifestealer relies on a lot of Lifesteal, and without it, he's pretty flimsy. However, he does have Rage to negate Ice Blast damage, so there's that. Ice Blast stops Slark's regen off of Shadow Dance, and it can't be purged. However, Slark can purge off Cold Feet, and he has a mobility spell to escape it. Dark Pact can also purge Cold Feet. The two heroes that arguably that AA TOTALLY counters are Huskar and Alchemist. Huskar relies a lot on Inner Vitality, Armlet, and Lifesteal to stay alive on not kill himself. If he gets Ice Blast, he pretty much has to stop fighting for 8/9/10 seconds (or 17 with Agh's). and try not to shatter. Alch is a pretty weak hero without Chemical Rage, and guess what? Ice Blast totally stops all regen off of Chemical Rage. Pretty neat, huh? Also, you counter Mek and Heart carriers, since they can't heal/regen off of either of them. Also, stocking up on HP raises the shatter threshold, making AA a serious threat to Heart carriers like Centaur and Bristleback.
Any heroes with strong single target disables or long lasting silences can be quite troublesome. Heroes with high burst damage can take advantage of your squishiness. Zeus and Lion are both good at this. Heroes that can jump on your are also a pain. Slark and Storm come to mind.
AA, when picked in the right scenario, can be a real threat to the opposing team ,as well as a great attribute to your allies. He has his own niche in the game, and he fulfills it quite well. Just make sure you're using your skills in the right scenario's, and you'll be fiddling with your enemie's mind. I feel like I'm missing some bad pun opportunities though...
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