Guide was written by PieMonger, thanks for that.
Pie: In this guide we will discuss what may very well be my favorite hero, the Anti-Mage. The fondness I have for this character can hardly be expressed in words; this is the hero I learned DotA with as well as the hero that would keep me attached to this game long after I believed I’d tire of it. His existence spans the whole of DotA-Allstars from its beginnings although he has been changed time and time again as the game has developed, starting as Eul the Mageslayer and working his way toward his present incarnation.
Banj: I have edited this guide in the hope that I can update Pieâ€™s work and make it something more suited to the current â€œmetagameâ€. In my opinion and from my experience, the antimage is a hero who is firstly, obscenely powerful at around level 8-9. And secondly, very strong very late on. Once he has maxed blink and break, he is an extremely powerful ganker. And he rips up peopleâ€™s mana. My build focuses on getting Magina to his â€œpeakâ€ with items which help him do more damage as quickly as possible as well as bulking up so that survival is possible.
Table of Contents
To skip directly to a section, type Ctrl + F then type what you see in the table of contents. For example, if you want to go to Skill Build then just type â€œIII. Skill Buildâ€
I. Hero Concept
- Hero Concept
- Skill Descriptions
- Skill Build
- Item Build: Core
- Item Build: Late Game Options, Criticism of Other Builds
- Using Blink
- Obvious Things
- Lane Choice
- How to Engage
- Mana Management
- Mind Games
- Enemy Analysis
- Large Battles and Ganks
- Gameplay Walkthrough: Putting Tactics To Use
As we move further what I explain here will become clearer. What I intend to do now is clarify how I think the Anti-Mage should be played and why some other tactics simply aren’t viable.
The AM’s abilities are all designed to allow him to either easily kill a hero in equal combat or to crush a foe in conditions that are in Magina’s favor. He is a predator, one that capitalizes upon and feeds off of the weak in order to satisfy his essential needs. A good Anti-Mage is one that is relentless in his pursuit of other heroes – if a target presents itself he always takes advantage of it.
I often see players who farm all game. Their intention is to use Blink to escape danger and acquire powerful equipment as quickly as possible so that they can dominate later on. The Anti-Mage is not a carry hero in the sense that Clinkz or the Troll Warlord is. Huge quantities of damage items will not give you the same kind of output that ranged carries are able to achieve (due the AM’s low BAT and high AGI you’ll still be able to stomp face late in the game, but again not to the extent of heroes who are built solely to farm and destroy later on) Attempting to play him in this way is foolish and wastes tons of potential. Mana Break is a skill whose power is obscene the moment it is maxed but tapers off greatly as the game progresses. Mana Break is useless if you’re sitting in a lane hitting creeps. That said, he is nonetheless phat lategame and whores stuff up, but you can whore stuff up early as well as late.
The Anti-Mage is innately offensively strong through Break and Void. Building this offensive power up early game is the way to go. At the same time, building up his defence is also necessary.
Note that the Anti-Mage is indeed one of the hardest heroes to use in DotA. You have to have a very strong grasp of the game and of all of the heroes in it before you can play him at his best. This guide will attempt to assist you in this but the best way to improve is to practice.
II. Skill Explanations
Mana Break is your primary offensive ability. This skill allows you to deal exceptionally large amounts of damage with little investment as well as severely debilitate any hero that your blade meets. It is what makes your enemies fear you and is what allows your ultimate ability to function. When attacking heroes the damage dealt per hit with Mana Break is reduced by 40%. Therefore, level 4 Mana Break only does 38 damage per hit. However, the amount of mana burnt remains constant.
Each attack burns mana based on spell level.
Level 1 – 16 mana per hit.
Level 2 – 32 mana per hit.
Level 3 – 48 mana per hit.
Level 4 – 64 mana per hit.
Blink is infamous for being one of the most versatile and powerful skills in the game. This along with Mana Break makes up the focal point of your hero. Blink gives the Anti-Mage maneuverability that is unmatched by any other hero. Proper Blink usage is what can make or break an Anti-Mage.
Short distance teleportation that allows one to move in and out of combat.
Costs 60 mana.
Level 1 – 12 second cooldown.
Level 2 – 9 second cooldown.
Level 3 – 7 second cooldown.
Level 4 – 5 second cooldown.
Nifty is the word that sums up this ability. Although extremely useful this is a skill that requires little mention, just watch as Finger of Death only scratches you and leave it at that.
Magina channels a powerful warding magic, damping the negative effects of spells.
Level 1 – Reduces magic damage by 10%.
Level 2 – Reduces magic damage by 20%.
Level 3 – Reduces magic damage by 30%.
Level 4 – Reduces magic damage by 40%.
Probably the skill that newbie players manage to botch up more than any other, Mana Void will be the source of many of your kills throughout the game. To explain it better let us look at a Pugna with 1200 mana. If this Pugna has 1200/1200 mana then Mana Void will do no damage to him. If Pugna has 600/1200 mana then level 3 Mana Void will do approximately 600 damage, as Pugna is missing 600 mana and Mana Void deals damage per each point of mana missing. If Pugna has 0/1200 mana then Mana Void will deal a whopping 1200 damage.
The power of this skill increases greatly as the game progresses. Early in the game it will often only have the potential to deal 200 damage to heroes like the Centaur but later will be an instant kill for unwary Intelligence heroes and still deal a good chunk of damage to any hero, Intelligence or not Intelligence.
This ability is really your finishing move. It is your fatality, so to speak. After youâ€™ve burnt away all of your enemyâ€™s mana with Break and after heâ€™s foolishly wasted his spells on you to get you off of him you finish him off with Void.
Note that Mana Void also stuns the hero for a very short period. This can, surprisingly, turn the tide of a battle during the early part of the game as well as cancel channeling spells and things of that sort. Let me assure you that the mana cost of all three levels of this skill will become very, very familiar to you after playing this hero. I’ll probably remember them when I’m in the nursing home screaming for a diaper change.
Creates a powerful void in an enemy unit caused by a lack of mana. For each mana point missing, the unit takes damage.
Level 1 – .6 damage per mana point missing. 175 mana cost.
III. Skill Build
Level 2 – .85 damage per mana point missing. 225 mana cost
Level 3 – 1.1 damage per mana point missing. 275 mana cost.
Level 1- Blink
Level 2- Mana Break
Level 3- Mana Break
Level 4- Stats
Level 5- Mana Break
Level 6- Mana Void
Level 7- Mana Break
Level 8- Blink
Level 9- Blink
Level 10- Blink
Level 11- Mana Void
Level 12-14- Stats/Spellshield
Level 15- Stats
Level 16- Mana Void
Mana Break is essential for dealing any kind of damage and is maxed first. Blink is necessary for just about everything the Anti-Mage does; one point is placed in it early. Because you’re horribly fragile early in the game you should only need to use Blink sporadically if an enemy gives you a very easy opportunity to kill him or if you need to run. You need to farm to Vanguard/Hood/Linkens before you can do stuff, so you can get Stats and farm early. The extra stats give you extra mana for when you do need to Blink. Maxing Blink early is still viable, however and I tend to only take one level of stats to max early chasing potential. Max SS as you feel necessary, most likely it will be taken at 12-15 though.
Spell shield is normally necesary, however there will be occasions when it isn’t really needed, on these occasions don’t bother until later on, I haven’t played an anti-mage game in memory where the enemy haven’t had some sort of decent spelldamage though…
IV. Item Build: Core
-4-6 Tangoes + Branches
-Complete Power Treads
-Another one of those damage items OR Heart of Tarrasque OR Assault Cuirass
Ok. Here goes:
Tangoes and Branches are obvious. Linkens, hood and Vanguard all give some form of regen, which is key to magina, they also supply you with some kind of resistance. I used to always get vanguard or hood, but now I’m really inclined to linkens, it costs less than before, the perseverence is better than it was, the 20 sec spellblock cooldown is GROSSLY powerful on magina, you get permablink you get hp, you get mana, you get damage. It is a lot more expepensive than the other options, but I really feel that, especially if the enemy team are packing some kind of targetable spells, it is not an option to be overlooked.
Vanguard is a cheaper form of hp and regen, it gives damageblock, which is nice, but the regen is relatively poor (although recently buffed), and the damage + permablink are certainly missing.
Hood is taken as a method of not being ripped to shreds by casters like Zeus, Lina and the like, I am now partial to one of the other two options over Hood, although it certainly has its place, it is also cheaper than linkens. if disables and singletarget spells are the problem then Linkens is a no-brainer though.
Treads are obvious, you have Blink for maneuverabiliy, the dps you obtain from it combined with your wraiths and burn means casters hate you. Your -ms is sufficient with treads, it will be at 385, and as you Semi-Rush them you will not suffer from enemies all having BoT. If you don’t have BoT… w/e Get it lategame when you have more ias.
The recent buff to treads makes them even more powerful, I leave it to the player’s discretion as to whether they use strength or agility treads, personally I have them on agility because I like the extra damage + attackspeed, If my hp is insufficiant and I’m killing people easily I could obviously turn them to strengthtreads instead.
Wraith bands give damage and mana and strength.
-TP scrolls are highlighted, as there is nothing more scary than a surprise Magina. Your ally is ganked by a crystal maiden and a lina. The crystal maiden and lina towerdive your ally, tower is raping them, and they are using mana like crazy trying to kill your ally. Most likely your ally will die. However, you have tped in, and the enemies now suffer a couple of hits, one of them then dies to your void, while the other is hunted all the way back, and most likely killed. TP SCROLLS LADS. THEY SAVE LIVES. Always have 2 on your person.
Now that Bfly is cheaper (new 1/4staff), i’m discinclined to get anything else. Sometimes MKB COULD work but butterfly is honestly the best option. You get evasion and tonnes of attackspeed = niiiice.
After the core damage item I would almost always recommend a heart, you need hp badly as Antimage.
V. Item Build: Late Game Options, Criticism of Other Builds
After the obvious heart during the lategame there are a few choices of items. I have recently been really taken by battlefury anti-mage, the extra farm is sort of funny and it’s really good for pushing and farming up the money for buyingback, it is NOT to be underrated at any cost as a lategame option.
A Buriza would seem to be obvious in terms of extra damage, critical strike is going to be a real boost when “the shit hits the pan” and you have to outcarry someone, and I would never choose to ignore it as a choice very late in the game.
Vladmirs offering is lifesteal, now that it is %age based, very cheap, and you have a lot of agility based damage I think that it’s a real option. However, I would not consider it to be as powerful as a Buriza, Battlefury or Basher very late in the game.
Basher is a ridicululously underrated item. This is partly due to the stereotypical pubbers who take 2 bashers earlygame on heroes like Magina and Troll. This isn’t how we use bashers. My “basher build” takes place after I have all of my core items. It is a very lategame option which allows you, with your innately high agility gain, low attack cooldown and butterfly + treads, to SLOW an enemy by around 25-35%, reduce the enemy DPS, and break channeling ultimates. It is the ultimate in lategame anti-DPS item, there have beeen games where a Basher has broken the game, completely shutting down an enemy DPS option and .. yeah owning stuff.
This is some Math done with help from the Mech people to help illustrate the Power of Basher on an anti-mage lategame.
As a magina you have a lower attackcooldown, however you have a smaller chance to bash.
At level 25 with Agility treads, Butterfly, Heart, Linkens, Basher and a TP scroll you will have:
89+75 agility and 65% ias resulting in 164 + 65 229 ias.
1.45/1+2.29 = 0.441 game seconds per attack.
Assuming bash occurs once every 6.66 hits this results in a 1.1 second stun every 2.94 seconds.
1.1/3.1 resulting in approximately a 37.5% chance of slow.
A conservative estimate of slow % (taking into account bash overlap etc) would be 27.5-37.5% at this point in the game. That’s better than an eye of skadi, and cheaper aswell as reducing their DPS by 100% during these bashes
VII. Using Blink
Blink is one of the most important and simplest tactics for an Anti-Mage player to learn. There are a number of things to keep in mind when using Blink for both offensive and defensive purposes.
First we will look at Blink as how one would on any hero other than the AM. How you would use it to move around the map, its range, etc. First let us observe the max range that Blink allows you to travel:
The range is really quite impressive, about 1000 or so. However, if you click beyond Blink’s range you will only be about to travel about 800 with it. People frequently tend to underestimate how far they can go with Blink and fail to use all of the Anti-Mageâ€™s potential as a result. Using this range we can now look at how we can traverse areas with Blink. First let us look at the river area:
(I got frustrated getting this one perfectly)
Blinking over big patches of ugly landscape is something that you will be doing all the time. No hero can pursue you if you do these maneuvers correctly. Blinking from the river to the Sentinel Secret Shop, for example, will throw off just about any predator. Basically, using Blink to traverse obstacles is a great escape tool. Whoop, up the cliff you go. Whoop, over the trees. Only Blink (and skills like it I guess, pfft) can do this.
This is something that is difficult to illustrate with just a screenshot. Blink allows you to easily escape the wrath of a tower and generally come off with about 100 HP missing. Notice how it looks as though the tower has struck me right when I used Blink. However, I did not take any damage. The perfect timing for a tower blink is usually right after the first tower projectile has hit you and right before when the second is about to hit you. At this point your Blink will traverse much of the tower’s range as well as dodge a shot. Now, the latter part of this maneuver is the less important one. Dodging the tower projectile is superficial at best. What’s important is getting around the tower in the quickest manner possible.
The final and most difficult Blink tactic is dodging spells. As mentioned in tower blinking it is possible to avoid a projectile if you Blink just before it hits you. Amazingly enough this can be done to avoid spells like Storm Bolt. This is incredibly difficult to do. In some cases it is almost impossible to do. The easiest time to do it is when you’re running away from the projectile. This is when it will take more time to reach you and give you more time to Blink out of the way of it. If you’re running toward Sven, for example, his Bolt will reach you in about a couple milliseconds.
Some abilities look dodgable but aren’t. Impale is frustrating in that if Lion targets you and you Blink behind him the spikes will actually come out from behind him and hit you. The first time this happened to me so long ago I nearly vomited in my rage (vomit is my response to most things). Here are just some notable targeted spells that can be dodged:
- Storm Bolt, Magic Missile, etc
- Shadow Strike
- Omnislash (gross)
- Assassinate (gross)
- Spirit Lance
- Spawn Spiderling
- Shruiken Toss
*Spell that I’ve never avoided before, maybe possible but questioned
That about covers all of your general Blink tactics. Using Blink to engage enemy heroes and to chase will be discussed later.
VIII. Obvious Things
Farming: Don’t sit there and mindlessly whack creeps. Stay back, wait for an enemy or allied creep to reach low HP and come forward and whack it, killing it and giving you the gold/denying your enemy. Repeat. Note that the caster creep has mana. This means that you do a lot more damage to it with Mana Break. If you’re farming alone then just walk up to the caster creep and kill it in three/four hits. Note that Mana Break does not work on allied units that you attack, so when denying your own caster creep don’t factor Mana Break into your timing.
Animation Canceling: The Demon Hunter model’s attack animation is easily canceled so that you don’t waste time sitting there doing your little spin. Those of you who play ladder (well) as Night Elf probably are pretty good at doing this. When last hitting creeps, move your hero out of danger the moment you hear the sound of your blade striking the unit. By doing this you save yourself a half second where you wouldâ€™ve been beaten on while spinning around in a circle.
When chasing a hero, move your hero forward with the enemy youâ€™re chasing the moment you hear the sound of you thwacking your target. This will cause you to waste less time attacking and more time keeping up with your target. This requires practice above all else. If you play ladder then practice doing this with Night Elf.
If you have your Treads early on, you can actually keep up with enemies whilst attacking them, your attack is THAT easy to cancel. So bear this in mind, it also frees up blink, in case shit goes down, or in case you need to blink ahead for the kill.
Traveling With Blink: Blink can be used to quickly go from point A to point B. Early game this is most likely not the greatest idea, as your blink is better used offensively/defensively, and youâ€™re probably not travelling anywhere. But later on, this is perfectly fine.
Creep Blocking: At the start of the game, donâ€™t immediately go to your lane. Wait in front of the tower defending the barracks and when the creeps come out, put your body in front of them to slow them down, periodically hitting the H key for Hold then moving again immediately after. This is somewhat easier for the Anti-Mage to do because heâ€™s naturally fast. By doing this the creeps will clash closer to your tower, which is good.
Generally, blocking sent bottom and scourge top is a bad idea. Or at least, overblocking them is bad. The optimal area for the creeps to clash is just infront of tower’s range; if the tower is able to hit the enemy creeps it will end up pushing them right up near the enemy tower.
IX. Lane Choice
Anti-Mage is actually a pretty allright solo, in most cases he will need to be played fairly defensively, but fairly often you can get a lot of farming done, and get a fast level 9 in order to reach your peak quickly. This is done by using Blink to escape danger after nabbing a last-hit.
That said, laning with allied disablers or healing/support heroes is probably better, as other heroes will handle solos better, and you wonâ€™t be shutting down any soloes early game.
Crystal Maiden- Frost Bite and Frost Nova combined with Blink and Break can rip apart a hero.
Rhasta- Shackles. Little more needs to be said.
Furion- Sprout leaves a hero unable to escape your blade for an obscenely long amount of time. Although it doesn’t keep the enemy from hitting you it’s a great asset to you all the same.
Omniknight- Repel means that casters no longer can damage you. Blink and Break just got easier.
Chen- Chen’s slow and damage amplification spell is just lovely and his creeps will boost your movespeed for chasing as well as provide even more disables for you.
You get the idea. There are others but these are just some sample heroes.
The only problem with these heroes is that theyâ€™re made of paper and so are you. If you do hit enemy disables, you will go down fast in most cases. However, all of these lanes are of a decent level, and should survive most enemies and have huge damage dealing potential.
In the next section we will cover how to use these disables to your advantage. You may have noticed that in this section I use the term “Blink and Break” (no, I don’t take credit for inventing this term). What Blink and Break means will also be explained. Covering a solo lane will also be explained later in the guide.
X. How To Engage
This section will cover how to use Blink to attack a target hero. This section is most useful when read with the ones after it. Surprise! Blink is your primary active offensive ability. You will use it to gank, to harass, to chase, or just to attack some smut of a hero. We will be looking at all of these in this section except how to chase.
We use Blink to bring ourselves within range of a target. With it we can close the gap between any hero and catch them off guard. Nothing is safe from the Anti-Mage. Mana Break is the reason that heroes will fear you Blinking towards them. The exceptionally large amount of damage you deal per hit as well as the mana you burn will nearly always force your enemy to back away from you provided you Blink at the right time and do it correctly.
You shouldnâ€™t be the one who retreats after Blinking in. If youâ€™re forced to move back first then you did it wrong. Stand and fight, donâ€™t be a coward because a coward does not play a good Anti-Mage. The only time you should move back is if against an Agility hero and you deplete all of his mana. Remember that you have Mana Void up your sleeve and that heroes tend to get scared when they see they canâ€™t use their spells anymore.
No, Iâ€™m not saying that you should never ever be the one who retreats when you do Blink and Break. If you do it badly and itâ€™s apparent that youâ€™re getting your shit ruined then move back. Learn from your mistake though. You chose the wrong target or Blinked in at the wrong time.
First rule: always Blink BEHIND your target. Not in front of your target. Not to the side of your target. Behind. Always behind. Why? Because when your enemy tries to run away you will be there in the way. He’ll have to move around your big fat body in order to retreat to safety. This can give you numerous extra hits on the hero which equates to 1. more mana burned and 2. more damage dealt. Here we go with what not to do:
Note that this is an example of doing Blink and Break incorrectly. The Lich uses Nova on my ally after a little tussle and begins to move back. I Blink in just a second too late and am unable to cut the Lich off with my body and I only succeed in hitting him once which is not enough. This is why Blinking in behind your target is important.
It’s one of the simplest concepts you will have to know. Let’s not complicate it any further and move on.
When do we Blink toward an enemy? The sad news is that although Break does a crapload of damage there are a good handful of heroes that can do more damage. Of course, they can’t do more damage when you put them into a situation that is tilted against their favor. You can do this easily with Blink.
Note that from here these tactics are primarily used during the early game.
First and foremost, of course, is waiting for your ally to disable then Blinking in. Surprise, when the Lich is Shackled for three years it doesn’t matter how disgusting his Frost Nova is, you’re going to beat the hell out of him. Use your allies to your advantage.
There’s another, less pretty way of using your allies to damage your enemy. This is done when your ally sucks. He gets Boots of Elvenskin first, he attack-moves, you know the guy. Your enemy is going to focus on killing your newb ally for some free money. When, for example, the Lich casts Frost Nova on your garbage Mortred ally immediately Blink in and lay down the hurt. The Lich has nothing to defend himself with. He suffers as a result.
If you don’t have an ally to help you then you’ll have to be more creative in using Blink and Break. If you’re 1v1 against a crappy player with a crappy hero then it’s a simple matter of Blinking in behind. If you’re 2v1, for example, however, you won’t be able to do this. The #1 best time to employ Blink and Break in a 2v1 lane is at your tower when the enemy creeps have just been cleared and your creeps are moving into the lane. Your enemy will probably be moving back right now and you Blinking in will throw him off. Usually even if he has the capacity to defend himself against you he’ll just run away anyway. This is a very good thing. Here’s an example:
Note that my HP is less than Visage’s and the fact that he’s, well, Visage. If I had attempted this in any other situation I’d get ruined. However, by Blinking when my creeps are moving in I gain the advantage.
Finally let’s look at which heroes you should and should not engage with Blink and Break. First, melee heroes. You don’t need Blink to harass a melee hero. All you do is whack him when he comes near the creeps. Repeat. If actually trying to kill the hero (either he’s low on HP/mana or you have an ally with you) then use Blink. In these cases it doesn’t matter what he is since you’re just trying to smack him down. So really there aren’t any melee heroes worth specifically mentioning in this section.
Ranged heroes are different. You can only harass ranged heroes with Blink and Break. Obviously. Some ranged heroes can fight back against this. In fact, a lot of ranged heroes can. The easiest ranged heroes to just freely Blink and Break against are Agility heroes. What can Clinkz do? Deny the hell out of him until he finds himself having to fight the AM at melee range, then he’s forced to Windwalk. What can Drow do? You get the idea. Most Agility heroes lack a mechanism to take you down once you’re in their face. So get in their faces often.
Some exceptions to this rule: Viper, because he’s cheese. Vengeful Spirit because of her powerful nuke. Venomancer because heâ€™s really more of a caster than an AGI hero. Not Luna Moonfang because sheâ€™s weaksauce. Some other problems might present themselves depending on the situation. Trust me, you’ll know when Blink and Break doesn’t work on a hero because you’ll get your shit ruined.
Intelligence heroes are an entirely different story. Engaging an Intelligence hero with Blink and Break by yourself is a very delicate affair. There are so many variables, possibilities and exceptions that there’s no way I can list them all. Let’s just look at a few specifics to give you an idea.
Zeus- Whether you can attack Zeus or not depends on his own condition more than anything else, which will be covered in greater detail later. You really can only attack a Zeus player when he’s weak in terms of HP or mana because he can nuke you into the ground. This also depends on whether or not you have Mana Void. Even is he is very weak, a good zeus will have arcane ring or another item to boost his mana and will juke you out somewhere while nuking you. His damage potential is enormous, so itâ€™s probably best just to leave him alone unless you have a lot of allies. The amount of times Iâ€™ve ganked zeus or seen him ganked and come out with double/triple kills and just tp away is horrible.
Lich- Lich can only be attacked when Nova is cooling down. Do not Blink in right when he Novas you because you will be slowed and he will laugh at you. Wait for him to use his Nova on something stupid and leap at your advantage. Finally, don’t solo against a Lich. Ever.
Pugna- Pugna stomps you early. I know that sounds pathetic but it’s true. Later in the game as we will discuss he’s a joke to you but right now all he needs is a level in Decrepify and he’s set against you. A competent Pugna will hurt you badly if you attempt to engage him.
Death Prophet- Should be attacked as quickly as possible before she can whittle you down with Carrion Swarm.
Etc, etc. This is why practice is important. You need to learn the nuances of every hero so that you know how they should each be dealt with.
This part right here is very important. If you are ever forced to run away before your enemy then you did Blink and Break at the wrong time. Your enemy should always be the one who moves back, not you. If you move first your enemy will beat on you as you retreat and you’ll lose more HP than he does. This is how you will learn which heroes you should and should not try to Blink and Break against.
You need to time your Blink in accordance to when the creeps clash. If you attack a hero as his creeps are moving in theyâ€™ll start hitting you and youâ€™ll be forced to run or die. Itâ€™s hilariously stupid when an AM player mistimes like this. Donâ€™t do it.
That’s it for Blink and Break.
XI. Mana Management
Note that most of this discussion is focused on the early game. Later the amount of mana that Break depletes will mostly be utilized to incapacitate low mana pool heroes like the Skeleton King and to physically damage heroes
Mana plays the biggest role in Magina’s play. However, what makes your mana conundrum so unique is that you’re not just managing your own mana, you’re managing your enemy’s mana too. This is one of the most important, complex, and intuitive parts of the Anti-Mage’s play. It’s also one of the reasons that I find him so fun. Let’s move on.
A good Anti-Mage player checks his enemy’s mana pool. In fact, a good player in general checks his enemy’s mana pool but for the Anti-Mage this becomes essential. He needs to know if his enemy can disable him or not, how many hits it will take to render him unable to use his disable, how much damage Mana Void will do and how long it will be until the enemy is out of mana.
Some people donâ€™t realize that Mana Break is a disable. In many cases it is a far more powerful one than those such as Hex. When you deplete a hero like Lion of his mana he loses his capacity to do, well, anything, and you can keep him this way for as long as you want until he is forced to heal. We will now discuss how you should manipulate your enemyâ€™s mana with Break.
An Anti-Mage generally WANTS his ranged Agility enemies to have mana. Why? Because the mana that the AM burns from these heroes is his way of damaging them. Mana Void is weak against Agility heroes but Mana Break is still exceptionally powerful provided there is mana there to burn. If the hero has no mana then the AM can do no damage and will be outclassed. This creates a delicate balance. If an Agility hero has full HP and no mana then you can’t beat him. If he has full HP and some remaining mana then he becomes a feasible target to you. If he has only a bit of HP but no mana then you can just Blink in, thwack him a few times then use Mana Void. Etc, etc.
On the other hand there are heroes that the Anti-Mage does NOT want to have mana, ever. For example, the Sand King. Burrowstrike hurts. A lot. The fewer times the Sand King can use Burrowstrike the happier you are. You want to deplete his mana as quickly as possible to render him impotent. The same goes for the Earthshaker. Strength heroes with ugly damaging spells tend to fall under this category, and can be easily rendered impotent simply by whacking them when they move forward to farm.
The Intelligence hero’s mana pool is the most delicate of them all. The ideal, beautiful situation is when you can deplete an Intelligence hero’s mana to 0, wait for that mana to regenerate until he ALMOST can use one of his spells on you then Blink in again and deplete his mana again. Continue this until you can kill him with Mana Void. The Intelligence hero’s mana pool is important because you need to know which spells he can use on you before he runs out of mana and how quickly his spells will deplete his mana. This means you need to know the mana cost of most of the spells in the game. I know, gross. Let’s get started, Storm Bolt’s mana cost is 140! Death Pulse costs 185 mana! Laguna Blade costs 280 mana! Level 4 Voodoo is 200 mana! You don’t need to know these values by heart but having a general idea will greatly increase your ability to deal with any hero.
Oh how important mana is. Mana Break is the reason that Intelligence heroes fear you early if you play your cards right. If you get the chance to burn their mana away through smart Blink and Break use then it’s a simple matter of kicking them around until they die or have to leave the lane. As much as I prattle on about INT heroes being able to slaughter you early throughout this guide (trust me, they can) they’re going to be afraid of you if you can play the AM well. All you have to do is properly execute Blink and Break a couple of times and your enemy is nothing to you.
Moving away from the complicated things, let’s focus on the Anti-Mage’s mana pool instead. You remember that I said you will probably memorize Mana Void’s mana costs before very long. 175, 225, 275. They’re easy! This is because your mana is also a very delicate force. How many times you can Blink before you run out of mana, how many times you can Blink before you can’t Mana Void, there are so many things to keep track of! Keep in mind that once you finish Linken’s Sphere you never have to worry about mana again, but until then you have to be very careful. You have to make your Blinks count. You have to watch your mana pool as you chase a hero and calculate as you aim your Blinks. It’s not easy to do, but it’s fun.
XII. Mind Games
An Anti-Mage doesnâ€™t just defeat his enemy by being physically more powerful. There is another way to establish dominance and this is through psychological manipulation. This is primarily done using Blink and Break, once again.
Mana Break is a truly powerful ability. People tend to not realize this until theyâ€™re subjected to it, then the devastation that it causes becomes very real to them. People fear a good Anti-Mage and this reaction only gives you more strength, for an enemy that is afraid of you will lose his ability to fight you.
You establish mental dominance with Blink and Break, although you have to know how to Blink and Break well. Just doing it once successfully will begin the process of putting your foe into submission. On the opposite end of the spectrum is if you fail to correctly utilize Blink and Break then your enemy gains confidence against you. This is why itâ€™s so important to master Blink and Break. We do not want a confident enemy. We want an enemy who is afraid.
Youâ€™ll know that you control your foe by how he farms. He wonâ€™t want to get hit by Blink and Break again and will begin to farm by hiding in the Fog and popping out occasionally to get a creep kill. He fails to realize that a good Anti-Mage player will always catch him. This is a good time to perform Blink and Break in a different manner if it is possible: sneak into the forest and suddenly Blink in behind your paranoid target. By doing this youâ€™ve only furthered established the fact that you are the one what is in control. The more your enemy realizes that he canâ€™t control when he engages you the weaker he becomes.
A submissive enemy will begin to play worse as the game progresses. You know when youâ€™ve truly defeated him when he no longer puts any effort into escaping you. You achieve this by attacking him relentlessly. Whenever he appears alone, chase him down and kill him. In large battles target him first. Thatâ€™s when you have turned the game into a 5v4.
XIII. Enemy Analysis
This section attempts to cover which heroes you should be hunting and when you should be hunting certain heroes depending on what point of the game you’re in.
First let’s look at the early game. Right now, as stated before, your easiest targets are low HP Agility heroes. They have no method of outgunning you once you engage them and lose their health extremely quickly because of Break. Strength heroes, although also generally lacking a way of attacking you once you engage them are very difficult to kill (perfect example: Pudge). They can often suffer through your Break with a good deal of HP to spare and then you have no way of dealing significant damage to them. Intelligence heroes at this point are the worst. The Anti-Mage at this point is inadequately named because most INT heroes you attempt to attack by yourself will rip you apart. Just try Blinking toward a Lich. He’ll Nova you then float away chuckling to himself. The only way you can attack an Intelligence hero early is with an ally to aid or to distract. I can’t and won’t provide you with a complete list, but heroes that can severely debilitate you are the ones you shouldn’t try to attack. Lich, Pugna, Lion, etc. These heroes should only be engaged once they do something stupid, for example if Lion randomly Impales you then goes back to farm. In cases like these make him pay for being dumb.
The mid game changes things. The mid game is interesting in that virtually every hero suddenly moves onto equal footing in terms of who you should be hunting or not. At this point your target choice depends most upon how your enemies did earlier on. This will be discussed in greater detail shortly.
Late game there is a sudden shift in your easy targets. Intelligence heroes suddenly become hilariously easy kills (often being instant frags if they waste too much of their mana) and most Agility heroes can easily outdamage you if you haven’t beaten them down early on. Strength heroes remain much the same as they did before. You tend to be unable to kill them but you render them unable to kill you.
Now let’s move away from the heroes themselves and instead focus on the players that control them. A good Anti-Mage, as said, always leaps upon his potential advantages in order to sustain himself. When a player on the other team sucks it’s time to capitalize off of it. If the enemy Zeus did badly early then proceed to kill him over and over and over and over and over because there is NOTHING he can do about it. Capitalize off of his weakness, lay into him. If youâ€™re able to easily kill a hero without any aid from your allies then this is the best possible kill you can attain. Aim for crappy players. Crappy players are your friend.
This really shows just how unique of a hero that Magina is. The way his easy targets shift so violently as the game progresses is a phenomenon that is specific to the Anti-Mage alone.
After you Blink in behind a target with the intent to kill him you will likely have to keep up with the hero after he tries to run. There are numerous things to keep in mind when doing this.
First is knowing how to Blink in pursuit of a target. Like before in the Engaging section the goal is to put yourself in front of your enemy so he has to go around you. This is easy to do in the most fundamental sense but to do it perfectly becomes extremely difficult. The perfect Blink to catch an enemy has been coined the “Blink catch”.
The Blink catch requires you to Blink and appear right in front of your target. If done perfectly he will actually get stuck on you and you can proceed to whack him an extremely large number of times before he can pull away. This is absolutely disgusting and devastating when done correctly. It also doesn’t happen often, but I’ve managed to obtain an example for your pleasure:
Notice how my hero is overlapping the enemy Juggernaut. By blinking perfectly so that I land so close in front of him that I’m on top of him I force my foe to go around me in the most painful way possible. The successful use of this technique ensures that I take him down.
Just Blinking ahead of your target every time the cooldown is up is foolish, wasteful, and is likely to cause you to miss the kill. When Blinking to chase it is most important that you stay as close to your target as possible. If you Blink too far ahead your enemy will just turn around and run the other way and you’ll miss the kill. Don’t Blink at a point where your target can just change his route and get away from you while laughing his ass off. Blink in such a way that your enemy can’t juke you easily.
Finally let’s cover the idea of Blinking through towers to pursue enemies. This is one of the most interesting topics that we will cover in this guide. The reason we get Vanguard is partly so that we can do this without getting killed. A good Anti-Mage is willing to tower dive for a kill and knows when and when not to do it. He also knows how to do it right.
Doing this correctly requires you to know what your enemy is about to do. If you remember earlier we covered the idea of “tower blinking”. This is all well and good if your enemy is just charging past the tower to get to base but early especially this probably won’t happen. Most smart players know that the tower will kill you quickly and will lure you into it. If your enemy stops right at the tower and you just go ahead and do the tower blink you’ll get thwacked by the tower a few times and your enemy will easily escape your blade. If the enemy hero stops at the tower then stop with him (stop with him outside the tower’s range, don’t chill there while it beats on you). There’s a good chance that upon seeing you stop he’ll just keep running. If he does this then wait about a second then execute the tower blink maneuver, timing your Blink so that, as always, you appear right in front of him. If the enemy stays at the tower you need to decide within about .5 seconds if you can kill him and escape. This is why you need to keep track of his mana and health as well as your own while you chase. If, for example, the Lion you’re pursuing has the mana to Hex you it’s possible you’ll die before he does. Quickly make the decision then Blink in at him or concede defeat. Call for an ally to come in from behind or something if you can’t get the kill.
XV. Large Battles and Ganks
This section will very quickly cover how you should fight when there are numerous heroes on the field of battle. Whether it’s an ugly gank or a push up the mid lane you’ll want to keep the following information in your mind.
Simply put, the Anti-Mage is probably the worst at initiating battles in the entire game. You Blink into a group of heroes, you get disabled, you die. You Blink into a group of heroes, you turn on the BKB that you have, you get focused, you die. This is also one of the reasons why we don’t rush Aegis Rapier, because it’s very easy to focus and incapacitate an Anti-Mage if a team is determined to do so.
Your mindset should be to Blink in after the shit has hit the fan. Wait for a hero to expend his arsenal of spells then Blink in and proceed to attack a few times and finish with Mana Void. Aim for Intelligence heroes first and foremost because Mana Void will kill them extremely quickly. For example, you can almost instantly kill your typical Death Prophet after she’s let loose her Exorcism and a couple of Carrion Swarms.
The same thing goes for ganking a hero or pair of heroes. Always be the last one that enters the fight. Never be the one who allows himself to absorb the damage and the disables.
That’s really all there is to say about entering big fights. Use the knowledge attained earlier in the guide along with this to fill out what you should be doing in these situations.
XVI. Gameplay Walkthrough: Putting Tactics To Use
This section will quickly overview when you should be doing certain things and how you should be using the tactics we’ve covered in specific situations. We will not be going into detail on the things covered earlier here, so if something I say confuses you then you didn’t read closely enough before.
If you’re with a friend, go duallane, it’s nice if you have a babysit hero in your lane, like warlock or shadowpriest. This owns for you as you can farm freely and yoru ally can heal you.
You can also solo most lanes, tinker is horrible, but you can manage near anything if you blink well. The idea is, you farm carefully, take a creep, then blink back out of their harass.
Farm normally until level 3. Begin looking for Blink and Break opportunities once Break is level 2. It does a lot of damage now. Use your allies to your advantage and remember which heroes you should and should not Blink and Break against. Decide now what defensive items you will be going. Whether or not bracers will be necessary, and what the main sources of enemy damage are.
If you laned correctly then you should be able to establish strong control. Heroes without mana are sad heroes, heroes who donâ€™t use mana are heroes that probably donâ€™t have anything that can hurt you. If you laned incorrectly then your early game is going to suck. An AM who is forced to passively farm throughout his early game is an AM who is bored and an AM who probably wonâ€™t do as well.
Keep doing the same thing until level 6. Once you’re level 6 you have Mana Void. Start looking more actively for a way to kill the enemy in your lane if it’s possible. You may have to chase far now to get a kill but realize that going near a tower at this point is very dangerous. If you’re going to do it then do it right.
Level 7 maximizes the power of your Mana Break. You deal damage more quickly than virtually any other hero in the game. Start looking for ganking opportunities. Walk over to a lane, have your ally attack the hero then quickly Blink in behind. Whack a few times (hopefully you’ll have a disable to help) and finish with Void if necessary. I know you’re thinking that the mini-stun on Mana Void means nothing. I know that many of you fail to take advantage of it. When you use Mana Void use it right next to your target if you can so you can get an extra hit in while he’s ministunned. Don’t hesitate when you use Mana Void. Either decide to use it and use it or don’t use it and back off. Be decisive.
If youâ€™ve blinked into an enemy and itâ€™s 1v1, use mana break to interrupt a spell animation, or an attack animation. It may not seem much, but it can tip the balance.
This, honestly, is the time in the game that you’ll be most likely to die the most. You might be overaggressive in getting a kill, you might Blink and Break at the wrong time, you might get chain-nuked, etc. Your HP sucks, your Blink isn’t maxed, you don’t have Spell Shield, this is the time that you’re the most fragile. Nonetheless, YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO DIE OR GO BACK REPEATEDLY EARLY WHILE YOUR ENEMY REMAINS IN HIS LANE AND FARMS. This is the worst way an AM can botch up his early game. Don’t be a cheapskate and avoid getting that Ring of Health when you obviously need it.
Get your Vanguard and some Boots up. Gank or farm dpending on what owns the most for you. Destroy anyone who tries to farm in your lane with burn of doom. Laser people with no mana with your void, blatently KS, you need it more than your allies. Blink and Break. Blink and Break. With yoru wraiths and treads you own even more. yada yada.
Just keep ganking. Squeeze out your Mana Break for all it’s worth. Gank the pants off of heroes that have no way of getting away from you. You know Zeus? Yeah, him. Make him pay if he nuked you a lot early. Towers shouldn’t do very much damage to you anymore so chase heroes more aggressively.
Participate in pushes when they happen. This build seeks to allow you to participate in big battles early at your greatest capacity. Farm Master Flex Magina can’t do what you can do. In teamfights, focus mana dependant heroes, before teamfights, HUNT THAT SANDKING. If he solo initiates on you, ++ for your team. If you burn enough of his mana, ++ for your team. Interrupt ulties which channel with void, regardless of weather or not itâ€™s going to do a lot of damage.
Make your money by killing heroes.. Gank, gank some more. Use the tactics talked about in this guide. Chase past towers, use disables to your advantage, if an Intelligence hero stupidly uses all his mana to farm then Blink in, whack a couple times, Void. Gross.
Really this part of the game revolves almost entirely upon how good you are at ganking. Coordinate with your team, use Blink to minimize your deaths and kill as many heroes as you can. Make money, gain levels and make people fear you. Be careful though, disables own you still, so watch out for that rhasta and bane etc. You are Rambo, but you are not God.
You are a nice source of dps, you can go toe to toe with most heroes by now, gank enemies, abuse blink, make those kills which means your team can push. FIND THAT SANDKING. STOP HIS ULTI. Stuff like that. If you feel the need you can take a timeout to farm some, towards your butterfly and heart.
One last thing, the balance I find with AM, is that, although ganking is nice, items are still required. Once you find the balance between ganking and farming you will be that much better of a player.