Tinker is a very unusual hero - he requires large amounts of farm to be truly effective...but is lacking in right click damage even once he gets it...what gives? Essentially he is the ultimate utility hero - able to spam both his skills and an entire inventory's worth of active item abilities if he has a sufficiently large mana pool.
This gives Tinker a very oddly shaped set of times in the game when he is most effective, and also means that playing him is not always straight forward. We'll be looking at how to make him into a real asset to your team...
+ Fantastic burst damage
+ Great push/anti-push
+ Global Presence and Mobility (with Boots of Travel)
+ Active items great value on him
+ Can ancient stack very efficiently
- Poor general stat increase
- Slow attack animation/projectile
- Needs a lot of farm to be effective
- Long cooldowns on abilities without Rearm
- Very mana reliant
Your first nuking ability, and also your main defensive measure, Laser has more utility than it may appear. It inflicts pure damage, so is not reduced by magic resistance, making it immediately 25%+ more effective than it looks.
It's other main utility is that it blinds the target for 3 seconds, making them miss all physical attacks (they can still try to attack, which fools many players). This has obvious uses against enemies carries during fights, and can also get you out of a tight situation.
Even if you're going for a push/stacking build, it's sometimes worth putting a single point into it during the early game just to give you a basic form of escape. It's pretty expensive mana-wise for the damage though, so you have to balance this utility against the lost extra damage you could be getting from your other abilities.
Heat Seeking Missile is your other nuking power, giving you long ranged striking power against two enemy heroes. HSM has an extremely long range (2500), and will automatically target the two closest enemy heroes to your position. However, you must have vision of the target(s) when you fire or the missiles will immediately fail - this still costs you mana and cooldown time!
HSM has multiple uses - harassing enemy players, assisting kills and finishing off fleeing players. However, be careful when coming in for ganks to not use it too soon, as you'll give away your approach. You'll want to use Laser first when ganking due to it's limited range, then follow up with HSM.
HSM is great value for mana, inflicting 350 damage even at level 2 (before reductions) and 750 damage at level 4. You'll almost always want to max it first.
No, it's not yet another terrible Arnie sequel, but one of the best pushing and farming spells in the game. March of the Machines summons a horde of tiny suicidal robots to attack all enemy and neutral units in a 900 AOE.
Each robot deals its damage on contact with the first enemy unit it hits, and then disappears. This means that the direction you choose to call them in from does make a difference to how much damage they end up inflicting - as some enemy units may be sheltered behind others.
Generally you want to call the robots in at a right angle (90 degrees) to the movement of the enemy. For example, when you stack ancients with it, they will move in a kind of conga line towards you. You call in the robots from the side so that all of the ancients will be hit. If you call it in directly towards their line of movement, only the front ones would be hit.
When using Rearm to call in a second set of robots, spin round the direction 90 degrees to ensure maximum damage.
MoTM is one of only a few spells in the game to use "universal damage". This is basically magic damage (and is reduced by magic resistance) that isn't blocked by magic immunity - hence why it can be used on ancients and siege units.
Generally MoTM is used for pushing, farming and defence. Early-mid game it extremely unpleasant for enemies to be caught in it's effect for very long. This makes it very good for defending buildings.
Total Damage (if all machines hit): 2304/3456/4608/5760
Without Rearm, Tinker would essentially be a fairly standard nuking pusher, played as a support hero. However, his ultimate completely changes his playstyle and turns him into something else.
Basically, it's a Refresher Orb without the cooldown. It means that provided you have enough mana, you can continously use your abilities and item actives. Good eh?
The first big impact is that Boots of Travel become a core item - yes, you can use them constantly to jump around the map, and back to the fountain to recharge.
Rearm is a channelled ability, with the time dropping but the mana cost increasing every time you level it. You may sometimes wish to delay getting another level in it if you're struggling for items to give you the necessary mana pool.
While the builds at the top of the page are fairly standard, my rule of thumb is to get Rearm at the same time that I get access to Boots of Travel - be it level 6 or level 11.
The following items don't work with Rearm:
Manta Style does work, however reusing the active will destroy your old illusions.
I've provided 2 fairly standard Tinker builds at the top, along with one that's maybe a bit more "real game".
There are a couple of complicating factors when building a hero like this - you do want to max out 2 powers ASAP - your abilities are mana heavy, so you need to make them as effective as possible for the cost.
The flip side of this is that two of your powers have good utility at level 1 - a single level in Laser and/or March of the Machines can be very useful. One gives you an extra defensive measure, while the other can help establish lane control - making it easier to grab runes. Who's to say you won't need to defend a tower, or get an invis rune early on? (forcing an enemy to retreat through a MoTM in the narrow sidelanes is pretty horrific)
Laser vs Heat Seeking Missile is also an interesting choice - Laser does more single target damage at a lower mana cost, while Heat Seeking Missile does more total damage (to two heroes) and has a much longer range.
Generally my preference is to max HSM first - but Laser is better if you're engaging only one target - e.g. their solo mid or offlaner.
Finally we get onto the complicated issue of Rearm. You need to have this ready when your Boots of Travel arrive, and obviously this time will vary depending on how the game has played out so far. Generally the latest you'll get this is at level 10, as by then you will have 2 maxed powers and 1 point in another, plus enough mana to actually start reusing things.
When to upgrade Rearm is another tricky issue - it's no good taking that extra second off your channelling time only to find that you've got no mana to cast anything when it's finished.
My advice generally would simply be not to rush it - level 1 Rearm is perfectly fine for standard pushing and tower defence - and will usually get you out of the fountain faster than at the higher levels (the mana charge time is generally longer than the channelling time). Higher levels of Rearm are really useful when you're in ganks and team fights. Having your channelling broken and/or those crucial seconds when you're not casting do matter then.
This issue is more item limited than level dependent - if you have the extra items you need like Scythe of Vyse you'll be able to support level 2 or 3 Rearm no problem.
Tinker has an unusual role, he's not a true carry in the right click/DPS sense, but does require substantial amounts of farm to be effective. This generally makes him a "2", with a more standard carry playing in the safe lane.
Generally you have two potential laning choices - solo mid, or ancient stacking. In the case of the dire, you can also play as a part-time offlaner since the ancients are so close, either with or without a partner.
It's important to remember if you are ancient stacking that you still need to maintain map awareness, and can potentially help out nearby lanes. Your Heat Seeking Missile can easily pick off unwary enemies, and March of the Machines is great for pushing or defending a tower.
As a solo mid, you want to be able to get a Bottle and use your early game burst damage to help your lanes get kills.
Once you have your Boots of Travel, your main job is to split push - popping up all over the map, keeping the lanes under control, farming and ganking if possible.
Early Game: Nuker
At this point in the game you're very much a nuking hero, able to inflict a lot of burst damage in a short period of time. However, your mobility, right click and survivability are all pretty limited. You have to be careful about when to use your mana intensive abilities.
Make sure you have access to farm, as you've got a lot of equipment you need to buy, and you can't afford to be delayed if you're going to be effective. Securing a few kills or assists will go a long way in speeding this up, but don't take too many unnecessary risks.
Get some mana regeneration items, and then Boots of Travel as soon as possible.
Tinker can have a powerful influence on team fights, but he's very unconventional in his participation. You need to remember that you're a scientist, and the last thing you want to do is get dragged into some medieval melee. Generally keep your distance, you don't often need to be close to the fight.
Your direct role does depend on the stage of the game, and how much equipment you have. We'll break it down a little:
Early-Mid Game: (assuming core items only)
Most of these fights tend to revolve around tower pushes, although it's also possible they could break out elsewhere. Although it's tempting to arrive late and assume your Boots of Travel can get you there whenever you like, this is actually BAD.
You ideally want to arrive BEFORE the fights starts, as your early powers work best in this situation. Say the opposition are pushing a lane towards one of your towers - you can teleport there safely (they're not close enough to attack you yet), fire off your Heat Seeking Missile (your creeps give you vision), and lay down a wave of March of the Machines in advance of their creeps moving towards your tower. You have time to safely retreat, Rearm and teleport back to base to fill up again (you probably won't have enough mana yet to spam your powers twice).
What you've just done is give two enemy heroes a nasty nuke, and pretty much wiped out their creep wave. You've done it safely and been back in base recharging before their creeps reach the tower. This means you can quickly teleport back in if a team fight actually breaks out - although be careful about jumping into dangerous situations. If the enemy doesn't give up their push, you can jump back in and unload another set of rockets, machines and Laser an enemy on low health or who inflicts good physical DPS.
Be aware that this is quite a lot of burst damage, but you don't have a lot in the tank after this bar some fairly weak auto-attacks (can still be useful). Bear in mind that they can still make a difference and don't just teleport back to base immediately if you are needed there.
If you do end up arriving late at the fight for whatever reason, make sure you get your Heat Seeking Missile away ASAP once you're in range. You may even want to Rearm and do it again if that's the only influence you'll have on this fight. Be aware that Laser and March of the Machines are both handy for helping team mates escape.
If you've played Nature's Prophet much, this will be very familiar. Your global mobility allows you to head to lanes and areas of the map that would be too far and/or dangerous for anyone else to consider.
However, you still need to be extremely careful when choosing when and where to go. For efficiency, you want to be either farming/pushing or regenerating constantly. This gets you farm and experience...but you have to weigh this against the about you will lose and gift to the opposition if you die.
You have the advantage of being able to get in and out very quickly - a few seconds to teleport in (ideally do this on creeps that haven't moved into enemy sight range yet), a second or two to place March of the Machines, whatever your current Rearm time is, another few seconds to place a 2nd MoTM, and then a few seconds to channel your teleport home.
The whole procedure works out at about 10-15 seconds depending on your level of Rearm and finger speed. This isn't enough time for many other heroes to be able to get to you unless they're already in the area. Getting stunned or even mini-stunned will be enough to break your teleport out, meaning you'd have to Rearm it again (assuming you have mana).
As you can see, as a relatively squishy hero with no slow or stun, you're potentially quite vulnerable in these situations, here's my advice:
- Don't go if you have no idea where enemy heroes are. Consider how many heroes are missing, and which particular ones. Map vision and warding is pretty important to you.
- Get in and out quickly. You may not know it, but enemies might be closing in rapidly, don't hang around any longer than you have to.
- Know your limits. If the enemy team has a failed near miss or two on you, be aware. Learn to judge what you can and can't get away with. As you get more equipment, items like Scythe of Vyse or Black King Bar can make you much harder to successfully gank.
- Use your mobility. Boots of Travel have the added bonus of giving you +100 movement speed, combined with a quick Blink Dagger or Force Staff then can often be enough to get you a head start and then out of trouble.
- Use the Trees. With a Blink Dagger or Force Staff it's quite possible to send in MoTM from the relative safety of the trees round the edge of the map. Not being directly visible means you're harder to target and buys you vital extra seconds.
- Recharge Quickly. With a Bottle and Soul Ring you can replenish very quickly in the fountain - use your Soul Ring, take a bottle charge and then Rearm. Keep glugging your bottle to regen as quickly as possible so you can teleport out ASAP.
Yep, this is going to be quite a long chapter :). Items are a vital part of Tinker's playstyle and you're going to need plenty of them! Obviously active abilities are very important, but we also need to make our mana pool as big as possible to allow us to use them all as many times as possible.
A fairly cheap set of stats and regen for playing solo mid against a reasonably non-harassment focused opponent. You may have to get more consumables against others, but ideally you'll be able to get a Bottle fairly quickly.
It's up to you at this point whether to go for a Magic Wand or sell the Iron Branches - personally this depends on which heroes I'm against.
If you're ancient stacking you'll need some additional mana regeneration to fund those early March of the Machines, and a set of Observer Wards if your supports don't buy them.
You need to rush a Soul Ring as soon as possible to give you the regeneration to keep harvesting with March of the Machines.
First of all, you must have a solo mid slot or ancient stacking slot available on the team. While theoretically you could safe lane (possibly) solo, this may leave your team unbalanced as you're not a conventional carry.
You need to ensure that your team does not have too many farm dependent heroes - you'll frequently be grazing the lanes and taking that farm from other heroes.
If you do go mid, you need to be careful with the matchup - while you're comfortable against most heroes, particularly ones such as Outworld Devourer can make a real mess of you.
Generally there are 3 main reasons why you pick Tinker:
+ High early game burst damage can be lethal for squishy heroes
+ Fantastic tower defending against early-midgame pushers
+ Good counter to split pushing heroes like Nature's Prophet (be aware he has more damage in the late game)
Tinker frequently operates almost in his own little world inside games, often preferring solo farming and split pushing, but there are still allies who combine well with him.
Excellent nuking partner, able to both slow and amplify the damage that enemies will take.
Useful partner for combining Fatal Bonds with March of the Machines or Heat Seeking Missile. A wave of machines can quickly wipe out a group of creeps, causing considerable damage to a bonded hero.
The only hero who can keep up with you in terms of global mobility, this gives you team considerable split push and ganking power if used correctly. Can sometimes be problems if you mess up each other's farm or end up underpowered at team fights.
Both a bad enemy and a good friend, while Astral Imprisonment can destroy you in lane, Essence Aura's free mana recharge can be extremely helpful.
Free mana? Yes Please! Also combines well with extra magic damage and push power.
Although the combo requires good timing to land correctly, you can combine to great effect if you get it right. ( Heat Seeking Missile + Decrepify + Nether Blast + Laser)
Tinker's biggest worry is generally heroes who can ambush him effectively while out pushing lanes, or with very strong resistance to magic.
With his invisibility it's easy for him to lie in wait for you before bursting you down with his combo. His ability to reflect the damage from long range missiles and burn your mana are also pretty unpleasant.
Obviously he gets brought up a lot as OMG counter, but he's a genuine one for Tinker. Doom locks down not only your abilities, but also your items, which does really make life difficult for us. Silence is much less of a problem once you have a few items.
He can pretty scary if he starts to snowball, and presents some problems for you if not carefully handled. His strong magic resistance make Heat Seeking Missile and March of the Machines pretty ineffective against him once his health drops.
The best advice here is to remember Laser inflicts pure damage (bypassing his resistance), and also makes all his attacks miss for 3 seconds. Later on your various gadgets should make him much easier to deal with.
More lurkers who like to hunt for you, they're generally less of a problem than Nyx. While all are capable of killing you, only Shuriken Toss can actually break your teleport. Some careful item choices will generally sort you out here, and you can do some bad things to them in team fights once you have your items together.
Early game gankers can potentially give you problems, especially if they hunt in packs. As long as you're not caught off guard you can generally hold you own here, and later on can cause them real problems.
These heroes are all capable of initiating on you from quite long range, making your time in lanes away from your team more risky.
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