Deny anything you can while last hitting only when you can't deny. While not being the most conventional way to play for a semi-carry, AA is extremely level oriented even when playing semi carry and with a stat build you really don't need much gold early game to keep up with most heroes, you just need to reach lvl 6 before your opponent in lane. Your Q should be used for survival until lvl 5, unless you need it to run away, or you feel like it can help secure a kill for yourself (with the added stat your attack power should be up near 63-70). Once you have your ult, make sure you have at least 230 mana (better if you have 360, best at 490), if your opponent has no stuns put yourself if a semi vunerable position and when you see the enemy move towards you use Q and if they keep coming at you ult. Those two abilities alone should ensure your victory, the reason you want more mana is so if they run you can wait till they return due to not being frozen and try it again (after the 3rd time is really shouldn't matter if they freeze or not, your ult should be able to finish the job regardless). After doing this you are given a choice very few heroes can honestly say they have. Stay mid and level while using your ult to help teammates win fights in there lane. By doing this you help make sure your team gets the farm they require and you get the gold you need (off hero kills and creeps). Or you can gank, which I find most effective against heroes you don't want getting too much farm and need to die early.
Mid game is your time to shine. With the added early sats and a Mek you should have decent defense so if they don't attack you first team fights should go in your favor. Remember that during this time while Mek is being built and even after you don't really have the DPS to auto attack and win but your do have enough for a win if you freeze and ult. Pick off heroes that are farming by themselves. Roam around and pick off enemy heroes when team fights aren't coming up soon or only your ult will be needed to turn the tide in fights. Once you reach lvl 11 your ult can help push creep waves. Don't be scared to use it for that purpose, with a 45 second cooldown (which starts from the tracker, not the second shot) you can usually have it back up by the end of a team fight, and by using your Q and W you can really keep the battle slow paced by freezing there carries and keeping them from wanting to initiate, till you get your ult back anyway. Getting Eul's is HUGE, it usually means by this point you have 9 mana per second regen, on top of added movement speed and a freeze that for the most part is usually guaranteed (BKB and blinks are why it's for the most part). Eul's also allows you to go after heroes with silence in 1v1's since you can go for the freeze, then when they silence you decide whether running is the best option (in which case just turn and run since they'll freeze), or fight (in which case fight, let the freeze, keep fighting, use Eul's on them after they unfreeze so you waste no time fighting while silenced, Q, W, and R. to win (Always remember to Mek if your low).
This is when you need to think about how your team is fairing. Is your Hard Carry still a threat or are they under leveled and outfarmed? Is silence too much of an issue? Do they regen too fast to kill? Are you losing all the Teamfights?
Going DPS: If your carry is under leveled and they have no hope of being a threat, while your team has no real damage dealer, and they don't have a LifeStealer or Abbadon (will explain leter) this is probably the way to go.
Maelstrom or Desolater: Maelstrom is excellent if you need to farm up some gold fast
and it cost significantly less than a Desolator, it will probably get you to
Crystalys faster and allow for faster pushing, however a Deso AA is nothing to laugh
at. With an Ice Vortex lowering your enemies Magic Resistance and a Desolater
lowering their Armor, in a team fight your team really can hold of alot (even your
undeleveled carry should pose a threat under those circumstaces), but again you won't
get gold quickly for your Crystalys, but AA can farm lanes with his ult brining an
extra 300-400 gold every 45 seconds if you can use it right, while helping push
towers, so don't go Maelstrom due to it being cheaper when your team keeps losing
team fights and it's obvious they need to just deal more damage (if they're getting
stunned to hell, then a desolater won't really help, tell them to get BKB's).
Going Ability: With the latest big update AA got a Scepter Upgrade literally making his ult a spammable AoE mini Doom. Of course going refresher means most carries will just die to your ult hitting them twice before ever being able to really do much damage to your team. This is your, "I'll make you regret not picking Silencer" build. Nothing says GG like a Cold Feet, Eul's, Ice Vortex, Ult, Refresh.
Refresh or Scepter: Scepter gives you a longer ult period, but Refresh allows for a
double ult with a double Eul's. I usually say Scepter due to it being cheaper and
your abilities having a low cooldown anyways.
Rod of Atmos: Recentlly, it has become an occasional pickup item on AA for a higher
added health, damage, and an extra slow. I still find Eul's better and really would
only get it if your opponents breeze right through your AoE slow and you have nothing
better to buy (which you should).
You'd be shocked how many heroes AA's ult counters. AA can counter in ways most people never even thought of. Here I'll explain a few counters some people have probably never though of.
Pudge: Pudge's Rot is a great ability and in a teamfight he usually leaves it on. Hitting Pudge with your Ult is pretty much telling him to turn off the rot or die because even with the Magic Resist that's still alot of damage a second to be taking when you can't heal at all, best used during his Ult when he can't turn it off after you cold feet him to guarantee he'll freeze.
Lifestealer: What's a Lifestealer who can't steal life with an armlet on? A threat, but defiantly a weaker one, especially when his magic immunity won't get rid of the freeze effect.
Abbadon: Be extremely careful around him till you get your ult. He will kill you and fast. Always make sure you get your Q in after he pops his sheild as well. Now for the reason I consider AA to be a counter for him. AA's Ult prevents all healing, including Abbadon's Ult (he loses no health though during his ult period), AA's ult will also cause the ult to start if he falls underneath the threshold, meaning you can literally make Abbadon waste his ult without him having any say in it.
These are really just a few examples of how AA can fight heroes some think of as unkillable once they get certain items and hit certain levels.
Why Observer if your Semi-Carry and where to place?
AA's ult requires vision. Your support should handle the runes and Roshan. But I never rely on them for a rune in the enemy jungle and a rune near the Ancients. These wards are essential as they allow you to know where and when your ult can be used to pick off enemy heroes (you only need brief vision to see where there going, your timing will get better the more you play as AA).
Sage's Mask Start?
It's a personal preference of mine since it builds into Eul's and AA's mana regen should be good enough once you hit lvl 5.
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