After writing a couple of guides ( check them out here and here) I decided to write this guide because I have been thinking of making a series of Dota 2 guides and after checking out the current win percentages of heroes I found out that poor AM has only 40% win rate, one of the lowest in the game in fact.
A very sad fact for such a powerful hero which is why AM is my first guide in this series that aims to improve player understanding of certain heroes with very low win percentages.
Please keep in mind that this guide is for version 6.81. Some tactics and items mentioned here may not work in other versions. Also this guide is written for Pub players and may not apply to higher levels of play.
So lets begin our talk on AM.
As you can see, AM has some...well bad stats to be completely honest. His starting strength is decent but tapers off very fast due to his low strength gain making him quite fragile in that regard. Agility is fine for him and he has decent Agi growth as well. Lastly his Intelligence is good enough for his spells, AM doesn't spend much anyways so his small mana pool is fine.
Overall though due to his really poor strength gain AM has a lower stat growth than average. The average stat gain in Dota 2 right now is 6.1 stats per level while AM only gains 5.8, still its a minor difference and more than made up for by his powerful skill set.
Anti-Mage has a base movement speed of 315 which is one of the fastest in the game. Luna currently holds the highest MS in the game at 330 but AM is still blazingly fast early game.
AM has a base armor of 2 which means he will not be able to handle much harass early game, not a factor later one when his Agi gain kicks in but early on AM players need to be careful of physical attacks.
Lastly AM has one of the best Basic Attack Times at 1.45, because of this very high attack speed AM is well suited for items that proc a lot (like Basher and Crits)
Anti-Mage has a very versatile set of skills that suit him perfectly for his role as the...Anti-mage
1. Mana Break.
A modified technique of the Turstarkuri monks' peaceful ways is to turn magical energies on their owner.
Ah Mana Break, what a great orb effect, with every hit that AM lands enemy heroes are drained of their mana. Its a really simple passive really with not much to add to it.
60% of the mana burned is dealt in damage. So at level 4 you're adding an extra 38 damage to every attack, this is also useful early game for harassing and makes last hitting ranged creeps (who have mana) very easy to do.
In his encounter with the Dead Gods, Anti-Mage learned the value of being elusive.
Blink used to be a much stronger spell when it had a 3 second cooldown back in the old days, nevertheless its still an incredibly versatile spell that can be used for chasing, escaping and moving around. In almost all cases Blink should be the first skill maxed out for its reduced cooldown increased range and the fact that its mana cost remains the same.
Be sure to master blink as it can be used to dodge a lot of spells, if you see a projectile coming your way simple blink and you'll dodge it.
|Yes its a Dota 1 image, sorry.|
3. Spell Shield.
Years of meditation and obsession with revenge have hardened Anti-Mage's skin against mystical opponents.
A really simple passive as well, Anti-Mage takes less magic damage. Yeah that's about it really.'
All heroes (except Meepo and visage) have a base magic resistance of 25%, with Spell Shield maxed AM will have 62% Magic resistance in total, allowing you to shrug off Finger of Death....well most of it.
4. Mana Void.
After bringing enemies to their knees, Anti-Mage punishes them for their use of the arcane arts.
Anti-Mage has a very powerful Ultimate in the form of Mana Void, it looks a little confusing but its actually quite simple, for every point of mana missing, AM will deal damage to the enemy hero and a prety large AOE around him (aroudn 500 aoe).
Obviously this makes enemies with big mana pools great targets for AM to use Mana Void on, Heroes like Skywrath Mage and Enigma are perfect targets as they have to use a lot of mana to cast their spells.
The damage as mentioned before is applied in an AOE so try to make sure that your primary target is near his allies so they take the same amount of damage he does. Here's an example of how powerful Mana Void can be.
Mana Void also performs a mini-stun on the enemy, this isn't a big deal since its just 0.3 seconds but it does go through Magic Immunity, meaning you can stop enemies from teleporting or casting channeling spells even if they activate BKB.
2. Spell Shield or Mana Break
3. Spell Shield or Mana Break
6. Mana void
11. Mana Void
12-14. Mana break.
15. Stats or Spell Shield
16. Mana Void.
17-25. Depends on enemy lineup.
This skill build is quite open really, but it does have a few core rules to stick to.
1- Always take Blink at level 1, no exceptions, you have no idea what you will face in the lane and Blink allows you to chase, harass and escape depending on the situation you face.
2. Have a point in each skill by level 3, Mana break allows you to last hit range creeps easily and harass your enemies. While Spell Shield Makes you much more durable against Magic damage which you will face a lot of in the laning stage.
3. Take points in Stats, AM is fragile and doesn't need his other skills much early on, having 3 points in stats by level 7 makes you much more durable.
4. Max out blink by level 10, why? because around this time you should have your Battlefury and with a maxed out Blink you can clear camps very fast and move on to the next camp without having to walk around and waste time.
5. Take Mana Void whenever you can, its too good to skip.
6. After level 11, look at your enemies and decided what you will need to face them, if Magic is still an issue then further points in Spell Shield will help, however usually by this time Mana Break is the better skill since you are close to Manta Style and need your images to do as much Mana Burn as possible.
7. After level 16 its up to you again what to take, Stats or Spell Shield, honestly I find that one point in Spell Shield is usually quite enough, but if magic is a problem then don't hesitate to go for more Spell Shield.
Anti-Mage has a very good cookie-cutter build that usually will be enough for every game.
Pretty basic starting item build, Quelling Blade is a must because it allows you to get every single last hit, some people choose to skip it but I find it too useful to give up and against harassers and your ally supports. Because lets face it half the time you will lane with some Idiot Rubick who will try to steal your last hits. Quelling blade helps against both enemies and allies.
One branch early for a tiny bit of stats, you wont really need more than that since you will be getting stats naturally from your skill build, but feel free to replace Magic Stick with more branches if you must.
One tango obviously for early regen. As for whether or not to buy Magic Stick, consult the image below.
Power Treads are the best boots for AM, they give him some life, AS and allow him to Tread switch when he needs to, They should be replaced later on with Boots of Travels in the super late game.
Magic stick should be upgraded to Magic wand, it doesn't cost much and is well worth it for the extra Stats and charges.
ALWAYS carry a TP scroll, some people think it delays their farm too much to buy TP scrolls, well you know what delays farm even more? dying, and TP scrolls can prevent that so have one with you at all times.
Your first big Item should always be a Battlefury, it offers tremendous regen powers which will allow you to Blink to your heart's content as well as regen life, it offers really good damage but the best part is that it allows you to farm Neutrals extremely fast, really increasing your gold per minute by a lot.
After getting your Bfury the rest of the items shouldn't take too long to get. Manta Style is perfect for AM as it offers him a lot of speed and some life, but the best part is the Illusions who also gain your Mana Burn skill, allowing them to do a ton of damage and really drain enemy heroes of their Spells.
Also using Manta Style gets rid of the debuffs, so if you're silenced and cant blink, just use Manta and the silence will be removed.
After finishing your Manta, check to see what you are facing to decide your next set of items.
Butterfly or Heart will be the main choice here, of course its great to go both but which one first?
Butterfly is great against strong physical DPS like PA, Void and Troll, where the evasion is incredibly useful. However see if any of your enemies are making a Monkey King Bar which really reduces the effectiveness of Butterfly.
If your enemies are making or have an MKB, get a heart then, AM does a lot of damage so what he needs now is more HP to live with. Heart is also more useful than Butterfly when facing enemies who do Pure damage like Obsidan Harbinger.
Lastly if you get both and the enemy team is pushing hard then you will need Boots of Travels so you can split push very effectively and TP to defend if you're ever needed.
One of the things that you should consider when playing any hero is that there is no one perfect item and skill build, when you encounter certain situations its best to adjust your item build to fit the enemies you're facing.
Basher is a decent item for people who dont like to go Manta, it provides some life and decent lockdown so its an Ok item but not much more than that. Very good on AM with his fast attack speed. The upgrade to abyssal goes through BKB so its worth it if you're facing a lot of magic immune enemies.
MKB is useful if your enemies build evasive items or when facing certain heroes like PA, Panda and any other hero with either a passive evade or a skill that reduces your chances of landing a hit. However Manta can usually remove debuffs that give you any sort of miss chance so MKB is really only useful against enemies with evasion.
SNY give a bit of everything and work well if you go for Basher, SNY is great for when you are getting ganked a lot and cant save up to buy bigger items. It comes in cheap useful pieces so its worth getting if you're behind. You can make your own item builds with AM as he is really versatile. Though I recommend sticking to the one I mentioned above and only looking into alternative items when you have to.
So why does AM have such a bad win rate?
If you're getting harassed too much and cant get your farm, consider changing your item build to be far more defensive, its always good to add the above items because they allow you to play far more defensive as well as jungle if you have to in the early game. Don't be afraid to mix things up if you have to.
Also if your team is losing bad then staying in the jungle and farming is no longer a viable strategy, games dont pause and wait for you to finish your six slot items so if you are forced to defend, then go and defend.
If your allies dive in for a kill wait and see if you can get the last hit, Blink has a long cooldown early game and you don't want to blink yourself into 5 enemies for no reason.
Your role in the mid game has not changed much but you should have Bfury by now which allows you to farm the jungle and let other heroes farm the lane if they can. Split pushing is also an option now since you can clear creeps fast and Teleport out of there before enemies are able to kill you.
You can team fight now since you do some damage, in team fights focus first on heroes with small mana pools but strong spells like Tide Hunter, Sand King and Earthshaker. These heroes can cause a lot of damage but don't have much mana so you can drain them easily.
Use Mana Void during this stage after you activate Manta and drain enemies, focus on Int heroes with naturally large mana pools like Pugna and Tinker. Late game AM is one of the strongest heroes in the game so if you can last till the late game you should be able to win this. Watch your enemy items and adjust accordingly and you'll do fine.
Credits to the people below for their help in writing this guide:
Zelover for his ideas on how to be more flexible with Anti-Mage.