Boush the Tinker's diminutive race is known for its intelligence, its cunning, and its prickly relationship with magic. As a matter of pride, they survive by their wits, and use only those powers of nature that may be unlocked through rational methodologies. Even this forbearance has led to a great deal of trouble, as Boush can attest. Once a key investigator of natural law, Boush the Tinker led a vast intellectual investigation into the workings of nature, founding a subterranean laboratory in the rumored, mist-wreathed wastes of the Violet Plateau. While scorning mages for the dangers they visit upon the world, Boush and his Tinker associates haughtily wrenched open a portal to some realm beyond comprehension and ushered in some nightmares of their own. A black mist rose from the cavernous interior of the Violet Plateau, shrouding it in permanent darkness from which sounds of horror perpetually emanate. Boush escaped with only his wits and the contraptions he carried, the sole Tinker to survive the Violet Plateau Incident.
Tinker has his clear up- and downsides. It's important that you're aware of these when playing him, so that you can get the best out of the hero and make it seem as if he has none of the down sides. Throughout this guide you will learn how to work around those downsides
The blind is a big deal. Use it early for when a right clicker dives you or to get an edge in last hitting when you feel safe. In teamfights, always target the enemy right clicker. When ganked, decide between Laser or March of the Machines first for which will help you most.
Heat Seeking Missile
Launches a pair of rockets at the nearest visible enemy heroes within 2500 range.
When using this build you need to be constantly looking for kills with a +1 when you get your Boots of Travel and even before that. This build is especially good when you have roaming supports that can kill the enemy mid laner in the early game.
> > max
Kind of an oldschool build that used to focus on farming ancients to get a really fast Boots of Travel + Blink Dagger. Heavily nerfed due to changes to the ancients and jungle but still kind of viable if the game is very slow paced and/or your team has a split-push strategy.
2 levels in
> > max
My personal favorite build. You maximize your solo kill potential in the early levels, which is when you're strongest due to your poor stat growth compared to other heroes. Meanwhile you barely lose any farm because your March of the Machines will still be maxed by level 10, which is just after you probably got your Boots of Travel. At this point you can start focussing on farming the map on a global scale as well as participate in teamfights when necessary.
This build doesn't focus on your potential to burst down heroes, nor on your ability to flash farm, but rather on your ability to win a true 1v1 lane. If you see the enemy has no really good roamers and you might have an edge over the enemy mid, go for this build. Between Laser blind, the damage from it and the AOE damage from March of the Machines, your opponent will barely find any last hits without losing a chunk of his hp. Turn your 1v1 advantage into a quick win by punishing the enemy mid at every turn in mid-game, where he will start go get desperate for farm and make mistakes on which you can capitalize every time.
Your role in the game is heavily (if not completely) dependent on which items you have. That's why I'll run through the items while also explaining what role you will need to fulfil when you get it.
Null Talisman (Cost: 470 gold)
Get this item to make your last hitting easier in the early levels as well as being able to harass the enemy laner more with both Laser and right clicks.
Tango (Cost: 125 gold)
Some regen for the early levels for when you get harassed back or tank too much creep aggro. Your range is decent and Laser is a really good early game spell, so you won't need too much of this probably.
Ask your supports to pool these. If you don't get any from them, consider getting a Healing Salve or save for a Bottle depending on your lane matchup and skill build.
Soul Ring (Cost: 785 gold)
There's several things you can do from the moment you get this:
Harass or get a kill. Before you get soul ring all you really want to do is get the edge in last hitting with Laser.
Farm the jungle. Before this moment you can double stack some camps if your supports aren't doing it for you, but don't really try to take them down yet.
Stacks mana on top of your full mana pool, but it doesn't regen on top of it. This means you don't want to use soul ring in base, since you will just get 150 mana faster, but you will also lose that mana when the buff wears out, even when you fully regenerated.
Boots of Travel (Cost: 2450 gold)
THE signature item for Tinker. The buildup towards this item can be hard, which is why you want to make the best use of the first couple of levels and then mostly try to survive until you get this, because you won't get anything - stats or otherwise - until you farm up that 2k gold for the recipe. Once you get it though, it starts to get really scary for the enemy. You can start fighting, split-pushing and farming at a ridiculous pace. If you haven't leveled Rearm yet by this point, make sure to get it asap or anticipate by leveling Rearm right before you get them. Your early game is over when you get this item, let's hope for the enemy theirs is too.
The TP time of Boots of Travel also does not increase when you TP onto a tower an ally tp'd on.
As long as you're not level 25, don't TP back to base as long as the creeps you just marched aren't dead. You need to stay for the XP.
Similar to Teleport, you can use Boots of Travel in combination with Rearm to scare enemies away from the lane.
Blink Dagger (Cost: 2250 gold)
Tinker has 2 true core items: Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger. After this it becomes a lot more situational, depending a lot on your role in the game. When before this you were a global presence, now you're a global invisible presence. Push out lanes from the trees, chase by rearming Blink Dagger, Farm faster by blinking between jungle camps, Blink out after rearming the cooldown when you're taking damage, etc.
You almost always want to shift queue your blink dagger when TP'ing into a lane so the enemy chance has no chance of catching you.
Bottle (Cost: 650 gold)
Considered by many to be a must-have early game item on Tinker. I personally don't find myself getting it often because it slows down my Boots of Travel without giving much in return. I'm not often short on mana and also often don't have time to go get the runes between marching down neutrals and farming the lane. Bottle crowing is also not something that is still done very often. If you really want it for the regen in the fountain after you get your Boots of Travel you can still get it then. The point is you want to get those as soon as possible. It is core in the Harassing build however, in which you won't leave the lane often early, except when you use March of the Machines just before running to get the rune.
Aether Lens (Cost: 2350 gold)
A core item for any build that wants to be strong throughout the game (balanced build), focusses on nuking people (nuke build) down or is more early game oriented (harassing build). Also synergizes really well with Aghanim's Scepter.
Bloodstone (Cost: 5000 gold)
An item that heavily accelerates your farm when you get it because it allows you to farm more lanes and camps before you have to go back and regen. This is the reason it's core in case you're still going for the Farming build. It can also help you sustain longer in teamfights, which is why it's also part of the Harassing build in which you want to fight continuously and relentlessly. Also allows you to save a slot by using up your Soul Ring.
Boots of Travel 2 (Recipe cost: 2000 gold)
The logical follow-up to Boots of Travel. Get this when you're 6 slotted (or even more). A reason to get this earlier is if you have a pick-off strategy in which heroes have to go deep into enemy territory to find a kill but you don't have summons or creeps (think Slark, Spirit Breaker, Legion Commander, Batrider, etc.).
Aghanim's Scepter (Cost: 4200 gold)
Makes Laser bounce to nearby heroes (and ILLUSIONS, clones and creep-heroes) in a 650 radius.
Great teamfight item. Can give a huge power swing for your team. Especially amazing against multiple right click heroes and heroes with Illusions that like to fight in close quarters ( Terrorblade, Phantom Lancer, Chaos Knight, Ursa, etc.). I consider this a core extension when you've bought an Aether Lens (or the other way around in that you should always get Aether Lens if you plan on getting this).
Scythe of Vyse (Cost: 5725 gold)
This should almost always be part of your full 6 slotted item build because it allows you to take an enemy core out of fight with blink sheep initiation as well as allows you to chain-sheep any hero you encounter in a 1v1 kill, making it a 100% kill if he doesn't get help or isn't that tanky that you run out of mana.
Ethereal Blade (Cost: 4700 gold)
There are 2 big reasons to get this:
When you're (and maybe your allies too) focussing on nuking down heroes. In this situation you'll often pair the purchase with Dagon 5 and maybe Aghanim's Scepter.
As an extension of Ghost Scepter in case you're worried about right clickers (often right clickers who have a basher).
The biggest single-target nuke item you can get. Almost always bought in conjunction with Ethereal Blade. Personally, I'm going to prefer getting a Dagon 1 and then a Scythe of Vyse in most cases because the cooldown reduction from upgrading Dagon 1 is lost on Tinker. However, if you can't nuke down your target with Dagon 1 + Scythe of Vyse because of a mana shortage, do consider upgrading it if said target is very important in fights since the mana cost also decreases significantly.
Shiva's Guard (Cost: 4750 gold)
An item that is great for Tinker in almost every situation. Relevant if you need something to push out lanes even faster than you already do, but also very good in teamfights, especially against right click carry's. Given that it's good in almost every situation, you might want to contemplate if another item wouldn't be more prudent before you buy it. For instance getting a Linken's Sphere to push out lanes and give you more sustain or an Ethereal Blade to help against those right clickers.
Black King Bar (Cost: 3975 gold)
You get this mostly if you want to avoid non-single target stuns that don't pierce magic immunity so you can Rearm your Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger to TP out safely. Take this over Linken's Sphere for the obvious reasons but also when you teamfight more than you split push. This is also an amazing backpack item for Tinker since you can't Rearm it. In general though, Tinker is probably one of the best heroes in the game to make use of the backpack, because he can switch out items and always have them available depending on whether he's teamfighting, pushing or something else.
Linken's Sphere (Cost: 4900 gold)
A great item for split-pushing because it saves you from the first single-target initiation as well as gives a lot of stats and regen for sustainability, allowing you to push more lanes without returning to base. A second reason to get this is to block strong single target BKB-piercing initiations such as Flaming Lasso, Primal Roar, Fiend's Grip, Doom, etc.
Lotus Orb (Cost: 4950 gold)
When you're not getting a BKB but you want something to purge off silences, this is pretty much the best item you can get.
Force Staff (Cost: 2250 gold)
Gives you another way of creating space between you and your enemies. All of your skills have a pretty large range, so you don't ever need to be very close to enemies. You'll often want to choose between this and a Ghost Scepter when you want to kite right clickers with a bash.
The number one item counter versus Tinker since he has 2 skills which he can barely control who it hits and is very squishy. As Tinker, consider getting Eul's and/or a Black King Bar of your own to keep yourself from dying (or having to TP back to base whenever you march).
Anti-Mage: The moment he gets Manta Style you can't use Laser anymore to get out and especially when he gets a Skull Basher escaping is impossible. Your other 2 spells also don't do much due to his Spell Shield. You also can't chase him or escape because of his Blink.
Counters you until you get your Blink Dagger at the very least. One of the best roamers in the game and since you have no escape in the early game, he's going to make your life miserable, even buying Smoke of Deceit to make sure his ganks on you succeed.
Laser doesn't counter him in lane as it does with most heroes, Lightning Bolt does a ministun to cancel your TP or Rearm and Thundergod's Wrath finds you in the trees, but those aren't the main reason Zeus counters you. Once he gets Aghanim's Scepter, Nimbus just makes your life a living hell. Every time it's off cooldown, you're pretty much dead since you can't Rearm, can't TP and it reveals you wherever you are. If you're in the trees at that time, you're stuck and done for.
Both heroes that are good at and need to get early last hits so they can proceed to stomp the game with the early lead they have gotten. Both heroes are very squishy at the start as well. These just happen to be the things Tinker is good against. Laser starves them for farm and by the time you're level 4 you have kill potential on them if they're not careful.
Tinker has very long range skills, but needs vision to hit them. Thirst makes this happen. Tinker is also really good at getting all heroes low, but sometimes lacks the mana or reach to finish them up. That's where racecar Bloodseeker comes in.
An invisible Call of the wild: Hawk to teleport onto and kill lone heroes deep behind enemy lines? Sign me up. In general, Beastmaster is also really good at split pushing, just like Tinker.
Don't forget that Tinker is a really high skill cap hero, especially APM wise, because he often has 10 active abilities with no real cooldown in a game. Even practicing against bots works because of this. Hone your skills and Tinker becomes one of those heroes who can win games on his own.
Please discuss any notes I made and possible improvements while also giving tips of your own if you have them.
The roles, skill builds and item builds, as well as a lot of the notes are my opinion on matters and should not be seen as a must do or don't. Also remember that almost every single build or role is situationally possible.