Monday, 8 July 2013

Dota 2 Skywrath Mage Guide.

This guide has been updated for patch 6.81 although Skywrath hasn't been changed much except to have 10 more movement speed.

Hello everyone and welcome to my second guide for a Dota 2 hero. I am interested in heroes with low win rates and after checking the current hero list it turns out poor Skywrath only has a 46.5% win rate, a very low number for such a  powerful hero.

Skywrath is one of the strongest Int heroes in the game, possessing 3 nukes and a very powerful spell that both amplifies magic damage as well as silences, he has a very strong skill set that can wreck havoc on the enemy team. However due to being very fragile and the fact that he requires quite a few items with active abilities to be truly successful makes him not suitable for new players.


Looking at his stats you can tell early on that Skywrath has pathetic Strength and Agility and they wont improve much with levels either as his stat gains is quite bad although patch 6.79 improved his int gain and now he has a respectable 5.9 stat growth per level. He has excellent Int though which is very useful for his expensive spells but his lack of other attributes means survivability will be an issue throughout the game.

He starts out with less than one armor so again remember that you are fragile in all stages of the game. Skywrath does however have an excellent attack animation which is good for last hitting although I recommend simply using arcane bolt to win a lane. He has high movement speed of 325 (thanks 6.81) which is really good, combined with his long range spells means you should be able to avoid most of the damage in a fight.
Skill set.

Arcane Bolt

Skywrath's bread and butter skill is this. It deals a lot of damage throughout all stages of the game as it scales with Skywrath's int. It has a 2 second cooldown at max level and 70 manacost which makes it very spammable. This skill's only flaw is its very slow movement speed of just 500 ms, meaning faster heroes can outrun it.

Because of its very short cooldown its useful against Linken's Sphere since you can use this spell to remove the magic block so other more useful spells can be applied on the enemy.

Concussive Shot

Sky has very versatile spells and while AB provides the damage he needs, Concussive Shot provides him with a strong long range AOE slow. with 1600 range and 40% slow, enemies will have a lot of trouble escaping from you. Flaw of this spell though is its weak scaling, it only does 240 damage at max level and the cooldown reduction while nice, usually makes me question leveling it up at all.
Ancient Seal

Sky seriously has too many good spells, AS synergizes so well with this hero. Silencing for 6 seconds is huge on any hero and that by itself is enough to max it out but the additional 36% magic damage amplification is just icing on the cake. Considering how all of Sky's damage is magic this is insanely good on him as well as improving the magic damage of all your allies.

Mystic Flare

Sky's ultimate ability and what an ultimate it is, causing massive magic damage in a very small AOE. The damage is divided by the number of heroes in the area over 2 seconds, often times its best to target just one hero as the damage from this spell can outright kill one enemy but isn't as lethal against a group of clumped up opponents.

Creeps and Illusions are not counted, only real heroes take damage from this so you don't have to worry about random creeps walking in. Still the problem of this spell is keeping them there for the whole duration, but if you have any sort of stunner on your team it isn't that big of an issue. The bigger problem though is the massive Manacost this spell will take, so always make sure you have enough mana to cast it. Lastly this spell is not so good against 4-5 enemies as the damage becomes really weak ( 240 damage if its 5 enemies, 300 if its 4). So always aim to get 2 or 3 enemies in it only, otherwise you'll deal less damage than a Magnus Shockwave.

Skill build.

Skywrath's skill set allows you to experiment with quite a few builds yet from my experience the best way to go is usually something like this.

1. Arcane Bolt/Concussive Shot
2. Arcane Bolt/Concussive Shot
3. Ancient Seal
4. Arcane Bolt
5. Arcane Bolt
6. Mystic Flare
7. Arcane Bolt
8. Ancient Seal
9. Ancient Seal
10. Ancient Seal
11. Mystic Flare
12. Stats
13. Stats
14. Stats
15. Stats
16. Mystic Flare
17-22. Stats
23-25. Concussive Shot

Skill Build justification.

1. At level 1 you'll have to decide between Arcane Bolt and Concussive shot, Bolt is taken if you're going to the mid lane as its great for harassing and last hitting. While Concussive Shot is the more useful skill if you're in a tri-lane as it offers a very powerful 4 second slow at level 1. Either way you should have one point in each at level 2

2. Taking Ancient Seal at level 3 is early but it does provide a very useful 3 second silence, if you're mid lane though you can afford to delay taking it till level 4 since the extra level of arcane bolt is more useful for last hitting and harassing.

3. Always take your ulti whenever you can, the damage it gives is fantastic and should never be skipped over.

4. Max out Arcane Bolt by 7, the cooldown gets lowered to 2 seconds meaning you can spam it a lot in a fight and it only costs 70 mana so there wont be any problems here.

5. Now comes the big issue, the most used build according to DotaBuff has players maxing out Concussive Shot by 10, this is (in my opinion) a very bad idea. AS Has a very useful slow and long range, upgrading it doesn't provide much more except for lowering the cooldown slightly and giving you a bit more damage, both of these things are insignificant when compared to Ancient Seal's scaling as it gives more magic damage and a longer silence, its way better to max it out than Concussive Shot.

6. Honestly I think Concussive Shot is a one point skill, it simply does not scale as well as Sky's other skills and therefore I believe stats are more useful to max out, they provide life, mana and more damage through improving Sky's Int. This is more personal preference but you really don't need more than one point in CS.

Item build.

Skywrath can use pretty much any item that improves his Intelligence since that's what he really needs, however the items you buy should fit the situation you're in, so see what enemies you're facing and choose your items accordingly.

Tier 1 Items.

These are early game items that you should try to get as they are cheap and provide decent stats that you could use.

Magic stick is probably the most cost-efficent item in the game to begin with and while its debatable whether you should upgrade it or not to magic wand, the stick itself is very useful and you should get it anyways.

Very cheap boost to your stats, Nulls give you some extra damage both through your normal attacks and by making arcane bolt just a bit stronger, Bracers are more useful if you are worried about dying and want to be a bit more tanky.

I love this item on almost every hero, the cheap regen is fantastic and the extra 6 strength will bulk you up quite a lot, it doesnt provide any Int sadly but the ability to get charges is really useful.

The choice of boots for Skywrath although usually I don't upgrade my boots into anything since with your massive Int gain you don't really need them. But regardless if you're going to upgrade then Arcane is the way to go, they give you a huge manapool as well as providing useful mana regen for both you and your allies.

Tier 2 Items.

These are slightly more expensive than tier 1 items of course but provide a lot more stats. Most of these items come with some sort of active ability and you should try to get at least 1-2 of these in every game.

An excellent defensive item for you, while Skywrath has good range and movement speed, you will be caught out of position sometimes no matter how good you are, if you're facing strong DPS enemies who can only deal physical damage ( Void, Ursa, Troll) then this item becomes quite worth it. Usually though it leaves you too weak to magic damage, often you'll use it to avoid Ursa but get fingered by lion instead.

Mostly a support item really and more fitting for a tri-lane Skywrath who cant farm better items, nonetheless its still a very good item if you're behind or simply if you want to upgrade your bracer.

This is an excellent item for Skywrath no matter how you play him, it provides a bit of Int which is always good and some small regen, but the real point of this item is its active ability is really good. Whether you're chasing enemies or using it to save allies, for its price its too good to pass up and I always buy it.

I cant say i have tried this item myself yet, but on paper it looks perfect since it provides everything Skywrath could ask for, good int and regen and some nice armor to tank you up. The active ability reduces magic resistance of any enemy caught in its AOE which works great since this hero is all about magic damage.

Have you noticed a trend with the items I recommend on Skywrath yet? almost all provide Int because that's what you need. Euls is an excellent addition to your arsenal because the cyclone ability can help you avoid damage as well as using it to position enemies right on top of a Mystic flare. The bonus stats and mana regen it provides means you should almost never have mana problems anymore. +40 MS is also nothing to laugh about.

My personal build on Skywrath is to mix Force Staff with Rod of Atos, its simply a fantastic combo, Atos has probably the best slow you can get, 4 seconds of a 60% slow will allow you to land your ulti on anyone without needing help from your allies, it has a short cooldown of only 16 seconds and also provides a huge 325 HP boost. All in all its one of the best items you can get.

I recommend any combination of tier 2 items but my personal preference is to always go for Force staff + Rod of Atos when I can, if not I fall back on Drums and Euls since they are slightly cheaper and come in smaller pieces. Ghost Scepter is rarely useful unless you are facing an all physical line-up which almost never happens.

Tier 3 Items. 

These are the most expensive and best items you can go for, getting as many of those in one game should always be your goal.

Obviously the best item  any Intelligence hero can go for, Giving the highest Int per game as well as a devastating ability in the form of Hex, you cant go wrong if you get it. Sadly its high price means that most often its simply too difficult to aim for unless you're playing Skywrath in a farming role. Support Mages will have to skip this 95% of the time.

Excellent boost to the stats you want, both Strength and Intelligence are improved with this item and you can use the Necro units very well thanks to your slow. I would recommend this more when facing Invisible heroes, enemy mages or you simply want more life, other than that though the other items in tier 3 are better. Either way though the minions are awesome.

Another item I am a bit hesitant to put in the list here. Dagon though can provide huge nuking power even though it comes at a giant cost ( 7730 at level 5) If you're going Dagon its often best to get one or two levels of it only and not upgrade it fully, since it takes 2700 gold to get a 400 damage nuke but it will take you 7730 gold to get 800 damage out of it, I don't think its worth it to upgrade on most heroes but with ancient seal you can get 1088 damage from a level 5 dagon which can kill a lot of non-strength heroes in one shot.

Sick and tired of getting killed in 3 hits by Void? will no worries anymore you can now just get a Shiva for your problems. Providing 30 int which is second only to Scyth of Vys it also gives huge armor for you and the passive and active abilities are incredible for keeping you alive longer as well as dealing a bit more AOE damage. 

 As damaging as Skywrath is, he is completely useless if he dies early or is somehow unable to cast any spells, if you're facing so many stuns and silences that you are unable to do anything then you should get BKB as it allows you to avoid all these problems, it may not improve your offensive abilities but by making you more durable and immune to disables you are more likely to fire off all your spells and be useful than if you farmed a Hex but die 2 seconds into every fight.

It also stops Pugna's nether ward which is always useful.

While I am not exactly a fan of Bloodstone and Soulbooster, my friend ZeLover from Playdota brought up that if you do make Arcane boots, its easy late game to simply disassemble them and use 2300 gold to make a Soulbooster which is great for your HP and mana pools, and I cant argue with that logic. So if you feel like you have enough Active items, go for it.

I always recommend getting Scyth first if you can, there is simply no better alternative to it in the game, however skip if you're facing an enemy Riki or Bounty Hunter and get Necro 3 instead, they give almost as good stats and the minion DPS is huge. Dagon can almost be considered a tier 2 item due to how cheap lv 1 is and it can really nuke people down easily. Shiva's will allow you to stay in battles a lot longer so think about it if you're dying a lot but somehow still have a lot of money ( how do you do that?)

Lastly most of the items I recommend have some sort of Active ability, its best to practice games with just 1 or 2 of them before adding more as you already have 4 spells to use + whatever items you have, so don't be afraid to use simpler items with no active abilities (Linken) if you get overwhelmed. Items with active abilities are almost useless if you don't use them and having 6 of them tends to be very confusing. 

Rejected Items.

Because of how versatile he is, Skywrath can be played in a great many roles and due to that people like to experiment with different items on him, regardless though in almost all cases you should not get him any of these items.

Skywrath needs a big mana pool for all his spells, so Soul Ring would be awesome right?
Wrong, you simply do not have the HP pool to support frequent uses of this item, it doesn't provide enough mana and any benefit it gives you in the laning phase will be gone by the time you reach level 9 or 10, costing you almost 1k in gold you can use to get much better items.

Not bad items at all, but unless you're playing a support Skywrath you simply don't need these items, Meka is better on someone else and costs you too much mana to use, mana better spent spamming Arcane Bolt while Pipe provides no useful stat whatsoever.

Not a bad item per say, but you already have a Silence and a damage amplifier, you don't need more. For a little bit more gold you can get a Hex instead.

Useless item, you will usually not have the mana pool to use Mystic flare twice in one fight, it will cost you exactly 1975 mana to do that and you don't need it. You'll do a lot more spamming your other spellsand items than getting a Refresher.

While Bloodstone is actually a good item if you're having trouble using all your items in one fight (Force Staff, Atos, Hex, Shiva) and don't wish to add more items with active abilities, its not as good as Linkens and doesn't provide you with any Int for Arcane bolt. The regen is also overkill although the HP is nice, its still not enough to warrant buying this item.


Early Game.

When the game starts you should already have an idea of where you are laning, the laning stage determines a lot for Skywrath so knowing whether you are going to support someone or solo a lane is crucial. If you go for the mid lane then take arcane bolt and use it to late hit and harass, Skywrath does 103 damage with a level 1 arcane bolt meaning you should never miss a last hit with it.

Rune control is not quite as vital for you as it is for others, you have a large mana pool and AB costs very little so you'll do fine with just a sage mask and a few Intelligence items. However you should still ask someone to ward the runes just so the other mid lane doesn't get them instead of you.

If you're playing as a support then buy the courier for your team and even the wards if no one else does. You're a support so getting wards and supporting your team should be your goal, not farming Hex. Get a level of concussive shot and stack and pull the neutral creeps. Skywrath is extremely fragile so its better that he does the neutral pulls rather than someone whose more tanky and useful in the lane like a Jakiro or VS.

 Mid Game.

Once you acquire a significant level advantage and have your ultimate, you should move around the map and gank for your allies. While its nice to sit in mid lane and farm, that's not really your role in this game. Helping your allies secure some kills will go a long way to winning the game, plus Skywrath is one of the best gankers in the game, capable of outputting huge damage in just a few seconds by spamming Arcane Bolt and casting Mystic Flare.

Late Game.

Late game is all about teamfights and positioning, at this point you should have whatever core items you need so if your supports cant afford to have wards up then be sure to do it yourself. In teamfights you should hang back, you have huge range on all your spells and should use that to your advantage and not walk ahead of your team. 

Ancient Seal's value increases as the game goes on, so be sure to use it on the best target you can find and to use it early, its very useful on a Puck who wants to initiate but it barely does anything on an enemy Viper whose about to die, so picking the right target to silence is crucial. Other than that focus on landing all your other spells and items as best you can, there really isn't much to say about team fights except to be careful, fight from a distance and spam your spells as best you can.


Here are some replays I attach on playing Skywrath, do note that I am not a great player myself and do a lot of mistakes yet still managed to do decent in both these games.

Game 1 Match ID 226724732
Game 2 Match ID 222834923

Got any questions?

I'd love to hear from anyone if they have any thing to ask or which hero I should make a guide for next, any feedback would be greatly apreciated. 

Sven2k from Playdota for his advice on many item choices, this guide wouldn't be as good without him.