Some Idiot's Guide to Ancient Apparition
June 26, 2016
Hello one and everyone! Safecyn here, bringing you a guide to...
Doesn't that ever get old?
Wh... what do you mean?
That intro. You've started your guides with the same couple of sentences like... eight or nine times now. You don't think it's starting to get stale?
Oh no. Oh no no no...
It's just... I was afraid of this. I'm starting to get old, y'know? Like, FEAR old. What if I've become too set in my ways? I even end every guide the same way too...
First world problems.
Yeah... but you know what? We can fix this. Let's start over. And.. hmm... you do the intro this time.
Enh? Really? You're ok with that?
We can try it. I'm open minded enough.
Heh. Alright then, scrub. I'll show you how to REALLY start a guide.
Yo what's up everybody? PSPC the Pub-Stomping Pub Crawler is here with the one and only guide you'll EVER need to play Ancient Apparition. SICK LORE DROP, NOW.
Kaldr, the Ancient Apparition, is an image projected from outside time. He springs from the cold, infinite void that both predates the universe and awaits its end. Kaldr is, Kaldr was, Kaldr shall be… and what we perceive, powerful as it appears to us, is but the faintest faded echo of the true, eternal Kaldr. Some believe that as the cosmos ages and approaches its final moments, the brightness and power of Kaldr will also intensify—that the Ancient Apparition will grow younger and stronger as eternity's end draws nigh. His grip of ice will bring all matter to a stop, his image will cast a light too terrible to behold. An Apparition no longer!
So basically he's some chilly Cthulhian deity thing or whatever and he's gonna be around when everything else is dead which is HARD. CORE. But that's all flavor test and stuff, you wanna know how to PUB STOMP with this hero, so let's get this guide a freaking rolling!
I uh... I don't actually... know how to play AA is the thing. He seems boring and difficult and the one time I played him I just ended up getting killed a whole lot.
Ah. I see. Well you tried your best. Have no regrets.
It's definitely a superior intro, though. That's all I technically signed up for.
Oh believe me, I was taking notes the whole time. You've literally opened my eyes to a whole new realm of possibilities. Literally. For real.
Dang straight. Anyways, this was a guide?
Oh, right! Ancient Apparition! This guy's an Ice Blast, you'll love playing him. His voicework might be just kind of average, and he might not have a whole lot of cool looking cosmetics, but damn is it satisfying to execute on his skills successfully. His skills are so good that he's almost completely item independent, enabling him to play a hard five role better than nearly any other hero in the game. So yeah, definitely give him a try.
And do remember, this guide is just suggestions based on my own experiences and understanding of the game, and shouldn't be followed to the letter. Being able to adapt to your specific game is what separates the pros from us rank amateurs. Feedback is appreciated, as long as it's constructive!
Impressive pecs, but your core needs some work, bruh.
His role, his lane, his strengths, his weaknesses, his candor, and his panache
Oh my, a guest? Well this is a surprise... I just sent Safewob out to fetch biscuits, too. Shame you came when you did, he'll have an awful long walk from the SEA region to here... doubt he'll arrive before you leave. Please though, make yourself at home, I don't mind entertaining if you don't mind waiting!
Why? Why is this a thing? Did I feed couriers in a past life or something, that I'm punished like this?
Doubtlessly. At least this go 'round you only feed yourself!
Ah, I see you've come to discuss the Ancient Apparition. Perhaps curious as to how to best use him, yes? How to be DDC and get 1337 triple kills with fantastically placed Ice Blasts? How to carry the rest of your scrub teammates on your back?
Yeah... since I'm here, I'm curious too. How do you do that with AA?
It's quite simple, really. You don't.
OMG WORTHLESS HERO.
As usual, you couldn't be more wrong good sir. When I say that AA cannot carry the team on his back, I don't mean he's useless... rather that even an incredibly skilled player can do very little with him alone. All of his abilities are designed to complement and reward teamwork rather than individual skill, you see. An Ancient Apparition
is an enabler for the rest of his team to shine: a sinister threat that will go uncredited and unnoticed when played perfectly, except for those rare moments when you snipe someone with a long range Ice Blast
Sounds like a horrible pub hero, actually.
To some extent, though as long as you communicate well enough I find most teammates are capable of understanding how to capitalize on your skills. I would encourage newer players from trying this hero at first, however: he's incredibly squishy and requires good knowledge of the map both for getting those sick ultimates off and avoiding being blown up: you want to be a bit further from your team than you normally would on other heroes. When grouped up and looking to take a teamfight, try staying about a river's width away from the rest of your team: that should give you a decently sized Ice Blast
while still remaining in range to use your other abilities.
That's.... shockingly solid advice. And while we're on the...
Eh? Who is... WOB? You're BACK? Quick, the segment's almost over. Put those biscuits down and say something about AA.
AA: impossible to play on 238+ ping.
Y.... yeah. We'll uh... We'll play on the Japan server next time, buddy.
So I've become an editor on Dotafire since the last time I wrote a guide.
Right? Anyways, because of that, I no longer have to write all of the abilities' numbers down, because I can always go in and edit them in the database if they're wrong! I... I like this. This will make this section much easier to write.
Get on with already.
This may be the mother of all unreliable stuns, and is one of the more obvious proofs of my earlier point that Ancient Apparition
is weak by himself, but amazing with teammates. This is a 3.5 second stun with 50% uptime at level 4... but the enemy can just walk away from the area you cast it in. They get four full seconds to do it too.
Paired with a second stun, however: a ganking partner like Vengeful Spirit
, or even Kunkka], this ability becomes an insane amount of crowd control that does a fair bit of damage to boot. The slow from [[Ice Vortex, which we'll get to in a minute, can help land this skill (while boosting it's damage as well), but won't guarantee it. Also: this thing is basically useless against anyone with a Force Staff
or mobility skill so... yeah. Teamwork needed to get the most out of it. If you have a solid ganking partner and can help snowball the game with early kills, max this first even if you're five position.
One final thing to note that does often get overlooked at first glance is that the cast range of this ability also increases with each level, rather than just the damage and stun duration. I know it's listed right there, but a lot of spells don't work like this in Dota, so I feel it's extra important to point out.
This is another one of those 'I literally just found out about this while writing this guide' things, isn't it?
M-maybe. No, what? Yes, maybe, n-no. No! Shut up.
This ability is good. Really good. This ability, in fact, is the ACTUAL reason that the six million dollar Echo Slam
was so amazing to watch.
USA! USA! USA!
Yeah... that was a great way to finish TI. Anyways, this ability is what it says on the tin: it slows opponents and amplifies magic damage. It also gives a small area of vision, which is useful for scouting the rosh pit or highground.
One of the things you need to get used to when playing Ancient Apparition
is just how low the cooldown of this ability is: 4 seconds! And it lasts for 16, so you can have a total of 3 of these out at any given time, with a fourth going up as the first one you laid dies. These vortexes provide a lot of benefit in teamfights, which is why AA is best played close to his team but with good positioning, rather than sitting in fountain waiting to ult.
The magic amplification this ability gives is actually insane: at max level, this reduces the majority of heroes to a mere 2.5%
magic resistance! This, combined with the slow, is why we max this first in the majority of games: this ability reigns supreme when nukes are still the primary source of dealing damage. For visual proof, and a nice break from reading my boring ramblings, look here.
The reason I recommend getting this at level one instead of your stun or slow is... pretty simple, to be honest. This one ability gives you 150
magic damage, by yourself, over the course of three attacks. It affects everyone on your team though, so if you contest the rune as a group and cast this on everyone, it turns into 750
magic damage. At level 1.
It's... really good? And the way that the number of attacks AND damage scales with levels makes it relevant throughout mid game. Just to lay it bare, the scaling goes 150/240/350/480
if you only buff yourself, and 750/1200/1750/2400
if you were to hit all your allies in a teamfight.
Mechanical notes as well:
1) You can click the buff icon to remove this spell: this is actually important to do when you're attacking towers, magical damage doesn't help you push faster, so you don't want to keep the attack speed penalty on you.
2) As an important reminder, yes, this DOES incur an attack speed penalty on who you buff. This is why we put off maxing this until 10: the raw damage is too good to pass up at level one, but -20 attack speed will be significant until heroes get at least one good attack speed item online, even just Power Treads
3) Ancient Apparition
is always affected by this spell, even if you don't include him in your targeting AOE. So don't feel like you need to stand nearby your teammates to get the most out of this.
4) This buff will fully affect ALL Meepo
clones. Yes. Just... yes. Doesn't affect illusions though, so this is the only real abuse you can do with it.
This skill is actually insane. If I told you that there was a hero in the game who had a global range AOE nuke that did 994 magical damage plus 12% of a hero's max HP as BKB-piercing PURE damage, you'd likely chant 'OS FRONG'.
The hell is a frong?
It's a frog that's wrong, obviously. Do you even portmanteau, bro?
Anyways, this skill is the reason why AA can contribute to teamfights while not being anywhere near them: I made it out to be a little more over-powered than it is, but nothing I said is wrong: though it's more accurate to say that this skill causes enemies to automatically die at 12% of their health, instead of saying it does pure damage.
Important Mechanical Notes:
1) Even if you don't hit with the blast, as long as you send the second ball through an opponent, they'll be hit with the debuff. This is... important, actually: the debuff that causes shattering at low health and prevents healing is the most important part, as cool as sniping with the blast is.
2) Just to draw attention to it specifically, this skill PREVENTS HEALING for up to 17 seconds if you get Aghanim's Scepter
. This makes Ancient Apparition
an incredibly potent counter to heroes that rely on regeneration to survive fights like Alchemist
, and Slark
. Sooo weird how Ancient Apparition
gets picked up constantly in professional matches, it's not like we EVER see those heroes these days, amirite?
If someone's reading this after TI6, that could actually be right.
Then only 6.87/6.88 kids will understand. I'm fine with this.
3) The AOE of this ability gets wider the longer the ball travels. The trade-off between how long it takes the ball to reach its destination and how wide the area becomes is something you'll need to master to become an effective AA player, but as general advice, don't only use your ultimate to go for those huge cross-map snipes: if you're ganking one person and can guarantee landing your ultimate on them from close range, do it.
4) This skill gives vision across the map as it flies, and then on impact, so it can be used to scout the map and gather information as well. If Ancient Apparition
gets nerfed (though I feel he's perfectly balanced right now) this is probably where OS Frong would start.
That goes a lot quicker when I don't have to write out all the stats and then highlight green individually, doesn't it?
That used to be the time I got to sleep, though.
Boo freakin' hoo.
Ancient Apparition is by and large an item independent hero, especially when played as a five role, so there's not a whole lot to discuss here. I'll go into more detail about the 'battle build' (#2), but here's a brief rundown on the five position:
You can spend the majority of your starting gold on sustain, Observer Wards, and the Animal Courier
. You're even a hero that can buy an early set of Sentry Ward
s to deal with invisible laners like Bounty Hunter
: in fact, against either of these two heroes, be sure to put one of your sentries in the mid lane to help ward off ganks!
and Brown Boots is enough to get you by, and if you aren't contesting last hits like a good support, it's probably all you'll be able to afford. Don't be afraid to buy Smoke of Deceit
and try for a two man gank if you've got another support on your team with a decent stun: great way to get on track for your next big item which is, of course:
Hand of Midas
. Ancient Apparition
may be item dependent, but one thing he does require is levels. Despite what Kaldr may tell you himself, he is a frail, frail old ice cream cone, and can be pushed out of experience range rather easily in the laning phase. He also can't really farm well unless given a lane to himself for a little: something that probably won't happen in a lot of pub matches, to be honest.
Because of the hero's dependence on levels, Ancient Apparition
is also almost always THE number one priority hero for getting Tome of Knowledge
when it becomes available. Even when not playing five position AA! Only a few heroes like Invoker
get higher priority than you, and even then: they tend to be able to get levels via farming and killing.
Now, for the matter of boots. I personally recommend Power Treads
in the vast majority of games: leave them on strength to make sure you don't get blown up as quickly. The attack speed boost even mitigates the loss from Chilling Touch
, allowing you to dish out that damage at a faster clip.
That being said? Both Arcane Boots
and Tranquil Boots
are perfectly legitimate choices depending on the game: get Arcanes if your team needs extra mana sustain for early snowballing cores and get Tranquils if you find yourself getting harassed and forced back to base too often. In fact, since Ancient Apparition
IS so item dependent, you could technically get both. IN FACT, you could even pioneer an amazing '5 boots + Aghs' build on the hero and become a famous pubstar, provided you win with it of course.
I... I say that as a joke, but it doesn't ACTUALLY sound bad, now that I think of it. Mostly because any game where AA can afford to buy Guardian Greaves
AND Boots of Travel
is probably in the bag anyways.
This is the item, ladies and gentleman. I know it may not SEEM like a lot on paper, 7 addition seconds of debuff, oh boy. But that's SEVEN seconds where the enemy cannot heal, even if they go back to base, take 32 damage per second, and will instantly shatter at 12% health... assuming your level 16, of course. If you Midas'd your way up here, that's a pretty safe assumption, but you never know.
At this point, the onus is on you to land those big ults that help turn fights. It's only on a forty second cooldown remember, so use it to scout rosh and push out lanes when it looks like you've got some down time, but when a teamfight seems on the horizon, make sure to hold it. It's a game winning spell, Ice Blast
, it really is.
So that's the five position item progression, ignoring, of course, all of the Observers, Sentries, Dust, and other items that you WILL be buying: five position AA should not be asking anyone to buy support items 'until they get X' because... you don't need X. That's the whole point of you.
There is a second way to play Ancient Apparition, however: one more in line with other supports, and one that can be used if, somehow, you find yourself going mid with the hero. This build is as follows:
First, a note: even on your five position AA, it may be best in your game to get either Eul's or Force before rushing into Agh's. Particularly against heroes like Lifestealer
, and Riki
a Force Staff
can save your neck long enough to let you contribute to teamfights, so do get that. You could even build it into Hurricane Pike
if you start rolling in money later on: stat game best game, amirite?
No one says that.
players do. Anyways, let's talk about these three items then, and why they go well with AA's kit.
, as mentioned before, gives you the escape mechanism that AA so obviously lacks, as well as some HP regen for sustain. The extra intelligence pads your mana pool a bit, which is good because how expensive it can be to cast all of your spells in quick succession.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity
is a good mix of defensive and offensive capabilities. With it, you can cast Cold Feet
on someone, then cyclone them into the air, and almost guarantee that your stun will hit when they come down. The timing window for this takes a little getting used to, but it's similar to Lina
and her Eul's/ Light Strike Array
combo: once you get it, you'll know it for life.
Additionally, it gives you intelligence and mana regeneration, allowing you to cast more spells to kill more heroes to win more games, and even gives you movement speed. Considering AA's base movement speed is only 295, this is a HUGE boon and an immense aid to your positioning, as well as your ability to escape fights. Finally, you can cyclone YOURSELF to avoid AOE spells or purge silences, which do kind of wreck you considering you have four active abilities.
Snap, good advice. "People who cast spells don't like silences." Real enlightening. This is all it takes to get to 3K, huh?
Lastly, we have Aether Lens
. I know this seems a little silly, since the cast range of Ice Blast
is GLOBAL, after all, but the cast range increase it gives to ALL your other abilities is incredibly powerful, allowing you to contribute to fights while staying more firmly in the backline. The fact that it amps your spell damage to boot is just icing on the cake.
For the Ancient Apparition
that has everything:
is a great support item, though it's been nerfed pretty heavily since its release. The ability to give yourself or your core increased magic resistance and invisibility for a few seconds is never to be underrated, and... the attack speed is nice too, I suppose?
is what you get if you're consistently being jumped on by high mobility right click heroes. Anti-Mage
, Faceless Void
, and Juggernaut
with a Blink Dagger
all come to mind: if you buy this to counter Jugg's Omnislash
, you might even force him into a Diffusal Blade
and Drum of Endurance
are both useful aura items that help with early game fighting and pushing. Drum gives more stats, regeneration, and that awesome movement speed amp to help you be NOT a sitting duck, while Mekansm
gives your team that powerful AOE heal and armor aura. If you're going to get one of these, do it early in the game when it will have the most impact, otherwise skip them.
is always an item you CAN pick up: the added strength is nice and the minions are great for pushing. Typically, though, you'll be staying away from this, unless you absolutely NEED it against invisible heroes, or if your team is resorting to five-man necro strats to get rid of that Techies
minefield that's stopping you from winning even with mega creeps.
Pipe of Insight
is another item you CAN pick up, but probably won't. In games where you're against Sand King
, or Zeus
and there isn't another pipe holder on the team, it's worth looking at though. Heck, now that pipe has no stacking penalty, you can get it in the late game even IF someone on your team already has one.
Rod of Atos
is actually a GREAT luxury item on AA. The cripple active makes landing your Cold Feet
stun almost a guarantee, considering that that plus Ice Vortex
gives a 90% slow for four seconds, coincidentally how long the enemy needs to stay in place. The stats are also great for keeping you casting spells and stopping you from being blown up.
is ok, though hard to properly pull off. The correct way to use it in most scenarios will be to throw out Ice Blast
, wait the full 17 seconds for the debuff to wear off, and then hit it again, but this is... pretty hard to do. Amazing if you can, though, and a downright game changer.
Scythe of Vyse
is good on basically any hero because who doesn't want more lockdown, am I right? Ancient Apparition
is no different in this regard, and the item even gives him much needed stats and mana regen.
Veil of Discord
is a bit cheesy, but I like it. As has been mentioned previously, Veil + Ice Vortex will reduce the vast majority of Dota heroes to 2.5% magic resistance, and the armor and regen are great for survivability and sustain as well. Good stats too. All around great item these days.
gives you armor and intelligence, which are both nice things to have on AA. More importantly, though, it gives you an ice blast to go with your Ice Blast
so you can chill while you chill.
Go die in a fire.
ICE puns, you moron. ICE PUNS.
Dagon is, of course, the silliest one of all, but it DOES synergize pretty well with the reduced resistance that comes from Ice Vortex
. The 'shotgun build' listed in Build #4 on the top won't work very often and may get you reported, but DAMN is it hella fun. And this is just a game, after all. You're allowed to have fun sometimes.
That is not the attitude of an MLG champ.
I'm too old to be one of those anyways. REKT.
Yes... yes you are.
Allies and Enemies
Hey. Hey Mr. Pub-Stomping Pub Crawler. Want to hear a joke?
Why did Ancient Apparition not go to prom?
Let me guess... he had no BODY to go with?
No, it's because he's a cold, lonely shade of a being that we can't even begin to fathom, and the concept of love and joy is as equally mysterious to him as he is to us.
... oh. Well that's kinda sad actually.
Yeah, also he has no hips to grind with, BAZOINK.
I hate you.
Any hero that does a huge amount of magical damage and can build Veil of Discord
combos insanely well with Ancient Apparition
's Ice Vortex
and Ice Blast
. At level 6, Zeus/AA is a threat that makes any team fight scary to take: it can and will wreck you from across the map if you're not careful.
Sand King as a Veil carrier? Cuttleboss is not going to like that.
He'll live, I'm sure.
Heroes that can provide some method of reliable lockdown will help Ancient Apparition
get the full benefit out of Cold Feet
. Shadow Shaman
and the huge disable time on Shackles
makes for a particularly great ganking combo, especially since both the damage from it and Ether Shock
will be amplified by Ice Vortex
The Wraith King
synergy is also worth mentioning here: the 75% slow that comes from Reincarnation
is perfect for setting up an amazing Ice Blast
from across the map, at which point your king can clean up the garbage that dared try and bury him in the first place.
These heroes are able to get a heck of a lot out of Chilling Touch
: both Ursa
can utilize the damage without worrying about the attack speed debuff, and Meepo
, as mentioned earlier, gets the added damage on every single one of his clones. It's kinda good. If you have a Meepo
player in your stack, I highly recommend giving this combo a shot.
combo is also insane for punishing melee offlaners. Earthshock
+ Ice Vortex
is a huge amount of slow at early levels, coupled with a Overpower
/ Chilling Touch
combo is easy first blood at level 2.
Heroes that can sneak around the back of your team and take advantage of Ancient Apparition
's tendency to try and be more separated for good Ice Blast
uses are the bane of your existence. Carry plenty of sentries to ward spots you think you'll be hanging back in, and always carry dust so at the very least these heroes will be punished if you get picked off.
Any hero that can burst you down quickly with nukes is a hero to watch out for: remember that ice cream melts pretty quickly when it's hot outside!
So... nukes are hot or... what?
Just roll with it. Queen of Pain
is a double thorn in your side because thanks to Blink
, you'll rarely if ever land a stun on her.
Blink initiators that can get the jump on you are also an issue for Ancient Apparition
, again because of how squishy he is. A huge warning for Spectre
as well... Desolate
will punish you for being separate from your team big time.
Before we wrap things up, I'd like to set all joking aside and be serious-cyn for a moment here.
This is my tenth guide for Dotafire. I know, right? Since I've started, some of the heroes I've made guides for have come into and left the meta, and others have been altered to the point where my guides are shamefully out of date. As I keep cranking these out, that's going to happen, so if there's a guide of mine you want me to pay special attention to and update to the current patch, please feel free to reach out to me via PM and I'll put in the work.
Additionally, I'll be at TI6 this year! As a spectator, of course, I'm nowhere near a large enough personality on the Dota 2 scene to have been invited for any official reason, but... that doesn't mean if you're going as well, you can't stop by and say hi! I'm a broad-shouldered guy with a red chinstrap beard and I'll be with one of the tallest people you'll ever see in your life (Safebulb!). If you see us, feel free to say hi! We can chill. Watch some dotes. Safechar might even know some good spots to go outside of the tournament since he's a Seattle native. WHO KNOWS? We're all honestly very friendly, so don't be nervous.
And as always, thanks all of you for reading this guide. I'm open to suggestions and constructive criticism, so feel free to call me out on what I messed up! Safecyn, signing out.
Oh hai. I'm Kaldr. Brr!