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Some Idiot's Guide to Magnus

March 5, 2017 by Safecyn
Comments: 13    |    Views: 20022    |   

Build 1
Build 2

Behold My Massive Horn!

DotA2 Hero: Magnus

Purchase Order

Charge to Battle!

Charge to Bottle!

Early Game

Initiation Options

Mid-Late game Core


Hero Skills


1 3 5 7


4 8 9 11


2 13 14 16

Reverse Polarity

6 12 18


10 15

Hero Talents

+20% Empower Damage/Cleave
+1s Reverse Polarity
+10 Armor
+500 Skewer Range
+12 Strength
+75 Shockwave Damage
+25 Attack Speed
+200 Health

Some Idiot's Guide to Magnus

March 5, 2017


Hello one and everyone! Safecyn here, bringing you a guide to...


.. no?

It's just. I know you. Dotafire knows you. You writing a guide on a hero so open to innuendos is a bad idea and you KNOW it.

I am a professional good sir! I would never stoop to such low and bawdy...

Look at what the freaking build is called.

... I will not, from THIS POINT FORWARD, stoop to such low and bawdy...

Riiiight. Anyways, this was a guide?

Oh, right! Magnus! This is a hero that's been forgotten for a bit as far as the professional scene is concerned, but recently pros like Dendi have been really showing what the hero can do. It used to be that this hero was picked up primarily for his utility: he has two astounding AOE disables, a great nuke, and an insanely strong buff at his disposal, after all, but the newly added talent system has actually opened up a good path for him to be played as a proper right-click mid-laner as well! 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!

Ooga... Chakka?


  • Decently tanky with good strength gain.
  • Good base damage means good last hitting.
  • Empower is one of the best buffs in the game, and you can place it on your whole team.
  • A good Reverse Polarity can almost single-handedly win a teamfight.
  • Shockwave is a powerful AOE nuke that's cheap enough to be used for CS and harass.
  • Skewer can stick enemies onto cliffs, as I'm sure you all know.
  • Late-game damage potential can catch enemies off-guard.
  • Fun to listen to, and fun to play!
  • Mana-starved in the early to mid game (though a Bottle and good shrine usage help with this).
  • A whiffed Reverse Polarity can almost single-handedly LOSE a teamfight.
  • Kite-able, even with built in mobility.
  • Can be zoned out of lane by dominant mids like Queen of Pain and Viper, limiting farm.
  • Has a line that sounds just like General Zod from Man of Steel. Unacceptable.

Safecyn Reflects

His role, his lane, his strengths, his weaknesses, his candor, and his panache

Oho, a guest! No doubt you've seen my exploits on the Dotafire discord, and have journeyed to this far off hermitage of mine to seek my head on a silver platter! Well to you I say: Safegren! Release the hounds!

... Did we...

Yeah. We fired Safegren, remember? Something about too much cream in your coffee?

Ah, yes. Ahem. Well then. Would you like to talk about Magnus, by chance? Can I sway you to stay my execution by sharing my thoughts?

Kill him now. Please, I don't care if I'll die too, end this torture.


Magnus has been, and rightly so, thought of as a utility mid for a long, long time. RP is a spell that is so powerful you can't help but build around it, it is, in the words of the great Pyrion Flax, "late-game teamfight insurance". Provided you don't mess it up, of course.

Now, itemizing around landing and making the most of RP is still the focus of this build, but you'll notice it's a bit different than you may be used to. The classic Magnus build was something like Arcane Boots into Blink Dagger rush, then maybe a Force Staff, and Aether Lens... utility items, since building damage on a Magnus, while fun, wasn't really deemed viable. A lot of things over the last few patches have been slowly making Magnus a better right-clicker, however, and the 7.00 talents have really pushed that over the edge.

Here's the talent tree that I suggest going with this build:

Level 10: +25 attack speed.

This is actually bigger than you think it is, like my...


... MMR. Let me finish first. It's almost half a Hyperstone, and you get it for free, at level 10. Since you're going into the mid-lane (hopefully), you'll hit this level pretty quickly, especially since the reworks to leveling for 7.00.

Now... the spell-amp may seem tempting here, especially since the OTHER guy who had 15% spell-amp at level 10 was borderline OP. (No names Ember Spirit), and if they hadn't changed it so that spell amplification doesn't boost cleave damage anymore, you'd be perfectly justified in getting it! But... it doesn't. And Magnus doesn't do much in the terms of raw magical damage so... attack speed good. It'll help with farming, even.

There is, however, one time when you may want to take Spell Amplification over attack speed: if your one position carry is a stats heavy ranged hero like Morphling, Drow Ranger, or even Terrorblade, the splash damage they receive from you purchasing an Aghanim's Scepter IS subject to spell amplification! An additional 15% damage to their already Empowered strikes is uh.. pretty good. Is all I'm saying.

Level 15: 12 Strength.

Not only does this give you a solid 240 HP, but the 12 strength, when amped by Empower, is actually 18 additional damage as well. Not too shabby, and considering that you should be able to farm pretty effectively using the build laid out here, you shouldn't need a GPM talent to keep yourself relevant.

Level 20: +15% Empower Damage/Cleave.

So this is insanely good. Like, ridiculously insanely good. For starters, if we're talking scaling, this talent is like adding another level and a half to Empower after it's maxed. If we're talking power, this gives you the ability to make everyone on your team hit for 65% more damage... base damage, of course, but STILL. Y'know how Vengeful Spirit gets +20% Vengeance Aura damage at level 25? That still only gives a team-wide buff of 56% damage.

The icing on the cake, of course, is that you also get 65% CLEAVE on your melee heroes, yourself included of course. Any hero you buff that naturally builds Battle Fury like Anti-Mage or maybe an old school Juggernaut will find themselves cleaving 100% of their damage when you cast this on them. 100%! If you have a Sven on your team, he will cleave for a whopping 131% damage. Insane! Watch as he crits a creep and every hero around that creep instantly dies.

Level 25: -4s Shockwave cooldown.

By the time you've hit level 25, you're either trying to siege their high ground or defending against enemy high ground pushes. Either way, being able to spam Shockwave every three seconds is a godsend in these scenarios: you'll be able to clear out pretty much any creep wave with one cast of this and one Empower hit. It also synergizes well with Reverse Polarity: since the stun time from the spell is 3.75 seconds, you should have time to RP, Shockwave, get a few hits in, and Shockwave again before the enemies can react.

You turned this section into an actual discussion of gameplay mechanics. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Neither am I, to be honest. Anyways... hounds? Yes? They here yet?

Bark bark. Woof Woof. Neigh.

... Close enough.



Mt. Joerlak was a somewhat unstable mass, and Magnus has learned to channel its reverberations.


First and foremost, I want to call the description writers out for LAZINESS. This ability is described as, I kid you not, look at the icon if you want to double check me, a "wave of force". Super creative, Valve. I'd even give you a pass if you'd said 'wave of seismic energy' or 'earth-shattering wave' or 'sparkly line of blue electricity'. Wave of force? That's the best you've got? I'm open to help write Half-Life 3 guys, just so you know. I'm assuming the storyboard is what's taking so long.

The description gets a pass on being short, though, just because there's not much to describe here. This is an AOE nuke that damages all enemies in a line: creeps, neutrals, heroes, all of 'em. It's 300 damage at max level no matter how many targets it hits, and there's no limit to the amount of targets it CAN hit. We max this puppy first because with its short cooldown and cheap mana cost, it makes for a great last-hitting and harassing tool in mid: something that'll be super important if you've got a bad match-up.

The one thing of note about this ability is that even though the travel distance is 1150, the spell having a radius of 150 means that you can actually hit targets 1300 units away. It's that classic 'travel distance + radius' thing that we see with a lot of spells like this. This doesn't really change much, to be honest? Once you play Magnus once or twice you'll get a feeling for how far it travels and the exact numbers will serve zero purpose. Anyways, movin' on.


With a deep bellow, Magnus displays his true power.


Laziness alert again. Not only is 'displays his true power' a complete cop out for what's going on here but Magnus... he HIMSELF says this line. "Behold my true power." And it's like... ok. We get it. But what are you DOING?

I mean... can YOU think of a better description for it?

By striking with the right resonant frequency, any material can be cut through like butter.

... Nerd.


Anyways, let's get into the specifics of this skill. There's a lot of them, so we'll go to our old friend, the numbered list, to break things up. Take it away, buddy!

1) The damage increase only affects base damage... damage that comes from a hero's primary attribute, in other words. That means that the bonus damage from items like Daedalus or Divine Rapier won't be amped, but the three Skadis that your Spectre bought will.

2) The damage is dynamically updated to reflect a hero's stat changes, rather than just applied at the beginning. This means that you can tread switch to intelligence treads to conserve mana without worrying about losing out on damage because your strength was lower. It also means that heroes like Slark and Timbersaw are effective counters to this skill, since they can reduce you and your allies' base stats, thus also lowering the bonus damage that Empower grants.

3) With an 8 second cooldown and a 40 second duration, you can effectively keep 4 of your teammates constantly empowered at all times, provided you have the mana. Which you should, since it only costs 60 mana a pop at max level!

4) As touched on in the Reflects section, this cleave fully stacks with the cleave from other abilities like Battle Fury and Great Cleave. Pair with Kunkka for fun-time shenanigans.

5) You can cast this ability on more than just heroes! You can use it on melee creeps to push waves faster, or on Warlock Golems to make them hit scary hard with cleave, or on Beastmaster Hawk to... um... make it glow? Tis' only limited to your imagination.


Magnoceros horns are valuable in direct proportion to their danger to prospective merchants.


Before we start talking about this skill, I have two things to say. One, congratulations Valve! This one's ok, as far as descriptions go. It's even kind of funny! Pats on the back where they're deserved, just so you don't think I'm only negative over here.

Two, dear readers, please direct your attention to this clip.

Oh. I see. This is one of THOSE spells, huh?

Yeah. There are two things you can do with this spell to completely, 100% screw over your team: giving the enemy initiator a free ride into them, like this clip illustrates, or skewering your opponents OUT of one of your teammates' ultimates like Black Hole, Static Storm... Wukong's Command I guess? Stuff like that. Be judicious with this skill, is what I'm saying. It is a powerful, powerful weapon that can be used to throw the game at will. Anyways, on to the particulars:

1) This ability counts as a disable on the enemy heroes you hit with it, so it will cancel TPs and channelling spell. In very specific circumstances you can even use this to cancel Black Hole, but Enigma needs to be right on the edge of it and you need to hit him right in the back so... it's tricky. It's probably not worth attempting unless you've practiced it.

2) This ability slows! I know, right? It really doesn't seem like it at times, I can't even begin to list off how many times I've skewered someone trying to catch up with them and they've still just... walked away. Magnus is slow, guys.

3) The cooldown on this ability is actually a bit prohibitive: typically you'll only get to use this once in a teamfight, so I'll repeat: use it judiciously.

4) The range on this ability is quite large: it's exactly as long as max Blink Dagger range, actually. If your teammates are ganking a lone target, you can use Skewer in conjunction with Blink Dagger to 'fish' the opponent back in towards the rest of your team, rather than committing Reverse Polarity. Being able to save RP for the next big teamfight or even just the next quick pick off before taking an objective is important.


Magnus fights with the fury of the erupting Mt. Joerlak.




DE. SCRIPTION. This has nothing to do with the skill, Valve! NOTHING. This could be the description for Empower, it would make just as much sense, it has nothing to do with drawing everyone in using the magnetism of Magnus' horn.

... You done?

Yeah. Ok. I'm done. This is probably the simplest of all Magnus' skills, but it's also the most important. You pull everyone in a radius in front of your horn, and stun them for up to 3.75 seconds. It's a LONG stun. And it goes through BKB. You hit at least two of the most important heroes on the enemy team with this late game, and you can take an objective easily, or force buybacks at minimum.

It's also worth pointing out that this skill will always suck all of the enemy units directly in front of Magnus, meaning that you can use Skewer without having to change position. This does NOT mean you should use it immediately after RPing: in fact, in order to maximize the effectiveness of this skill, you should blink in, RP, cast Shockwave, right click a few times, and only when the stun is about to run out (which you can now tell with the nice little disable indicators in the game) should you skewer the enemies for additional damage and disable time. We good? Cool. On to items.

Item Progression

There are multiple different item progressions you can take with Magnus, and I don't... THINK I'll cover all of them here? It's entirely possible I'll receive a sudden flash of motivation and write something almost mind-numbingly thorough here but... most likely not.

It'll just be the regular kind of mind-numbing then.


Starting Items

This is a pretty standard build-up to start a game off with: Tango and Healing Salve for regen, and a Stout Shield to deal with harass effectively. This is prett standard stuff, and the safest starting item kit to get, especially against traditional mids like Shadow Fiend, Queen of Pain, etc. You start off with 59 average damage as Magnus, so as long as you can stay in lane, you should be able to farm effectively.

This is an alternative build that you can get when you know the lane match-up will be on the easier side: say you're against another melee hero who can't as effectively harass you. The Quelling Blade gives you a ridiculous damage advantage when last-hitting and denying, and the Enchanted Mango gives you a little bit of constant regen, plus the ability to spam spells to harass a bit more frequently. A small note: if you go this starting item build, your right clicks will do more damage than Shockwave to creeps until you get level 2 in the ability, so conserve your mana unless the creep is too far away to get to in time.

No matter the build, this is the item you're getting first, once you have the gold:

This'll keep you in lane and give you the mana to sustain your harass, and will allow you to control runes to perhaps even gank in the early game. And that's... I mean, that's why any mid hero gets bottle, to be honest. Yep. Nothing ground-breaking here.

Early Game Core

or , and maybe a

The old standard for Magnus footwear was Arcane Boots, which hails back to the old Blink Dagger rush days. And you know what? Building Arcane Boots straight into Blink Dagger is still a perfectly valid way of playing Magnus: your sacrificing some farming speed and scaling into the later parts of the game, but if you win a few teamfights off the back of that faster initiation tool, it might not matter.

For my money, though, the more reliable way of starting off is Power Treads into Echo Sabre. These two items together, between the mana regen from Echo and the ability to tread switch, keep you in the blue enough to still cast your spells often enough, and combined with Empower the attack speed from these items let you farm out waves and jungle camps at a quick clip.

If you're doing well enough, or your team has another initiator who can start fights for you to then follow up on, an early Helm of the Dominator can do wonders as well: the HP regen and attack speed aura sustains you while farming AND provides a useful teamfight aura. Also creeps. There's a lot of good ones, like Alpha Wolf for damage or Centaur for an extra AOE stun. They coo.


or , perhaps upgraded into

Blink Dagger is the classic gap-closing item for Magnus, and if you're the sole initiator for your team, it's an absolute must grab. The dream of springing in and grabbing a two, three man Reverse Polarity and winning the entire game off the back of it is... probably the reason you're playing Magnus? If I had to guess. It's very satisfying.

We do have other options available to us, however, and one that's been gaining traction and popularity is Shadow Blade, upgraded into Silver Edge. While this doesn't give you as much of a jump on players with good vision and detection set up on the map, it can still be used to grab some great RPs, with the added benefits of being an escape mechanism, a chasing mechanism since it amps your move speed, a bit of extra burst damage that you can even cleave with Empower, and giving damage and attack speed to increase your overall output. The Silver Edge upgrade option is good in the later game for the extra stats alone, but if you're against say... a Bristleback or a Viper that has an annoying passive that prevents you from taking them down quickly, you can even consider rushing it.

You can also theoretically get both of these items: just keep in mind that if you're doing that, you're most likely slotting yourself into a pure utlity role for the team, so you'd better make sure that your one position carry (and perhaps your offlaner) can make up for the damage you won't be putting out: with Empower, they kinda should be? But keep it in mind. Either way, be sure to pick up at least one of these items in every Magnus game, being able to land RP is imperative to succeeding on this hero.

Late Game Options

Black King Bar is a borderline core item on Magnus in a lot of games: you can't win a teamfight if you get stun-locked and nuked down before you can cast Reverse Polarity, after all. It's also just a pretty good item on the hero in general: the magic immunity is obviously amazing, but Magnus turns the strength that the item provides into more damage than a hero would normally get, thanks to Empower. Fun stuff.

Refresher Orb is an item that, really, I should not have to explain the value of on Magnus. Imagine, for a second, that instead of having ONE massive teamfight ultimate that can win you the game in a single, glorious instant, you have two. Ta daaaaa. Even if you manage to get a five-man wipe with your first RP, having Refresher is lets you do it again when they all buy back. Another item you should consider, if not purchase, in almost every game, should you have the gold.

Bloodthorn does a lot for Magnus. I can personally attest that once you get this and Echo Sabre, you never have mana problems. Ever. Period. It gives more attack speed and damage for a greater amount of DPS and oh... um... it does this other thing where you silence your primary target and then every time you hit them it's a guaranteed crit? And since you're a Magnus, you ahve Empower on and all of those crits get cleaved to everyone else that you managed to grab with your RP? That's good too. Its a good item.

Daedalus is LIKE a Bloodthorn, but with more damage, less versatility, and less buttons to press. If you need more consistent damage both in and out of teamfights, or if you're just feeling lazy and want to hit like a truck without pressing additional buttons, yeah. It's ok. It's not as good an item compared to others, but it's still fine.

Assault Cuirass ia a good utlity aura item that also gives Magnus a lot that he wants: armor, attack speed, and more damage via reducing the armor of his opponents. It's not QUITE as synergistic as it seems, since armor reduction doesn't actually increase cleave damage, but it's still a good item in general, and gives you some more potential to siege buildings.

Aether Lens is an item you'll only grab if you're playing hardcore utility Magnus, and leaving the damage in the hands of your teammates. It gives a solid amount of health regen and some padding for your mana pool, but the main draw here is the longer cast ranges for Skewer and Shockwave, allowing you to push enemies farther and snipe them from greater distances.

Force Staff is another utility Magnus option, giving you some added mobility even if you're under attack. Against heroes that can cancel your Blink Dagger from far away like Venomancer] or [[Zeus, you might even want to consider this as an alternate initiation option, either by shoving yourself forward, or forcing enemies out of position.

Heart of Tarrasque. This is where things get nutty. If you're going a DPS Magnus, you can grab this is as your 5th or 6th item: that 45 strength not only makes you tanky as all heck, but Empower will add 65% of that again to your damage as well, for a total of 75 additional right click damage, as well as the ability to regen insanely quickly outside of fights.

Satanic is the 'more damage, less health' option to Heart on your DPS Magnus, though you can always get both of them. It gives 50 damage by itself, plus 25 strength that becomes another 41 damage when empowered: a total of 91 damage! You can also do that lifesteal thing to sustain and not die. That's uh... that's good too.

Aghanim's Scepter is a great utility option if your primary carry is ranged: and having Empower as an aura to affect all your heroes will save you from casting it constantly. I mentioned this previously, but the splash damage that ranged heroes get from this Agh's upgrade IS increased by spell amplification, so it's worth getting the 15% spell amp talent at level 10 if you decide to go this route.

Shiva's Guard is currently sitting as my third favorite item in Dota period, so of course I'm going to give it a mention. Grabbing it will solve any and all mana and armor issues you might run across, as well as giving you an AOE nuke that will slow everyone you grab with Reverse Polarity AND an aura that takes nearly a Hyperstone worth of attack speed from the entire enemy team! It's great. Get it. It's good. Also, the blast gives flying vision so you can use it to stop people from juking you in trees.

Armlet of Mordiggian is... interesting? And experimental. In theory, this is a good mid-game item to get, giving you armor, attack speed, and a total of 81 extra damage while the active is on, provided you've got Empower on, but it's dificult to figure out where in the build-order to place it: getting it after Echo Sabre and Blink Dagger seems a bit late, but getting it in place of one of those items seems risky, seeing as Magnus has no natural way of sustaining the health loss from this item. It's... interesting, like I said. Try it out, maybe?

Try it out maybe. Best way to end an items section ever.

Daw, thanks!

Sarcasm! SAR. CASM.

Allies and Enemies


You... you done? Also, what the hell is that last thing you said?

Arc... Warden? That sounds familiar doesn't it? Hmm...


I've got nothing.

Yeah, me neither.


That's.. a lot of heroes for one section.

Magnus is good with a LOT of heroes, man. These heroes all do one simple thing though: follow up a good RP with either additional stun time or a huge damaging teamfight ultimate. Magnus' primary strength is his ability to position the enemy heroes, and every single one of these heroes has a great follow-up.

I should warn about some potential anti-synergy here though: you can very easily Skewer people out of Black Hole. Don't do that. Also, Winter's Curse stops people from taking damage, so theoretically you want to follow up a Curse WITH an RP, rather than the other way around.

This synergy should be pretty obvious: anyone who can do massive damage with just a few seconds of lockdown, and who can cleave said massive damage thanks to Empower, makes this list. Most of these heroes, you'll notice, either naturally have crits or generally build them: Troll is the exception here but... it just seems fun to cleave those ridiculously fast attacks.

And this here is just the shortlist of heroes that pair well with Aghanim's Scepter Magnus. Generally speaking, if your one position is ranged and builds a lot of stats, an Aghs on Mags works well with thags. Dragon Knight is a fun combo because you're layering splash damage with more splash damage, but if your one position is a Dragon Knight... God help you. I'm so, so sorry.


Magnus thrives best in teamfights, which makes him great in this meta. While split-pushing is kind of dying out as an overall strategy (which is a shame), Magnus can still struggle to have an impact if the enemy team can split up and pressure multiple towers quickly at the same time: even when defending highground.

Whether you're building for DPS or utility, a lot of Magnus' power is centered around his stun, Reverse Polarity. Heroes that can get rid of that stun then, and disallow any chance to capitalize on it, suuuuck. Tidehunter will instantly purge it off with Kraken Shell if he takes enough damage, guaranteeing that a Ravage will screw your team up, and Abaddon can not only save himself from the stun with Borrowed Time, but can then turn around and purge it off of someone ELSE with Aphotic Shield. Sad times.

There is possibly nothing worse and more teamfight-losing on Magnus than casting Reverse Polarity and not hitting one. These heroes can cancel your Blink Dagger from a long ways away, making it easy to slip up and completely miss it. Your teammates will yell at you. And while that's mean: they're not exactly wrong, either.


Huh. I actually finished it.

I know, right. That's not something we've been doing lately.

I feel like I need to like... really end this strongly, now. Come up with some super hilarious joke that lets everyone know the wait for the next Safecyn guide was totally worth it.

Yeah. That's probably a good idea.






God you're boring.

On a serious note, 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.

Yeah man... horns man.... y'know? Y'know man?

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