One of my interests about Dota 2 is the depth and the fact that there is no single way to play a particular hero, prompting me to try various builds that could be unorthordox but useful and realistic, or even come out with my own philosophies for building heroes. One interesting thing I found is that there are certain items that are superior to others in various aspects, and there are items which are just simply good to have on any situation. For this Top 10 here there are no particular metric to determine why are they better or worse to each other on the list and is based on my own subjective experiences along with its general popularity and efficiency (or the bang for buck factor). So for all intents and purposes, just take this list as a fun read and make sure to consider them (ino particular order, really) when building your heroes, it could be all you need to step up your game.
This list discounts consumables and Gem of True Sight.
Bottle is nothing special, really. It is just that good and simple at what it does: healing and mana replenishing. It comes with 3 charges per refill, each charge restoring 135 health and 70 mana. It allows any hero to stay long in the field without having to go back to the fountain that often, allowing them to be constantly on the move by replenishing them through bottle-crowing or runes. They could be using that bit of extra mana for spells to farm creeps or prepare for ganks, or even survive a situation that is almost certain death. There are two other features that make this item very good to have on at least 2 heroes on the team.
First is the ability to store runes, which is more than restoring the bottle charges. Most runes are essentially ultimate tier buffs and having the option to activate them when needed instead of instantly activating them after getting them makes a world of difference in the game. A saved up Haste rune can easily allow the hero to pull off very efficient ganks or escapes and throwing off the enemy’s calculation (professional player from Team Secret, S4, is very known for this), or simply for securing a rune again. A saved up Double Damage can be all you need to take down that tower quickly, or win a fight by simply overpowering opponents with doubled raw damage and gets even better late game. Then, there is saved up Regeneration runes which are usually 10 times more effective if given the option to activate them at another moment instead of on the spot. These facts alone are enough to secure Bottle a spot on this list.
Its almost cheating as Bottle functions like a consumable, but it doesn’t get very high up on my list for valid reasons. First, it is rather expensive for something that doesn’t give other bonuses outside the charges and rune storage. Secondly, it is not useful for more than 2 heroes on the team. There really aren’t any valid reason to get more than 2 bottles on the team until Icefrog introduces extra rune spawns on the map.
#9 Lotus Orb
The price tag is 4050 and it gives mediocre stats for that price tag (10 armor still makes a rather big difference though). Its here purely due to how ridiculous the active is. Echo Shell recasts an entire single target spell back to its caster.
There is nothing like it in the game.
So what does Echo Shell can do in practice? It instantly disrupts any teamfight plans your enemy has or force them to wait out the 6 second duration. Just cast it on any high priority target and most, even the most experienced players will go through a cognitive lag on decision making. Do I cast that stun if I am going to be stunned for the same duration? Do I still cast Cyclone if it means I am going to get Cyclone-ed myself as well? It also cancels single target channeling spells like Bane’s Fiend’s Grip (due to Echo Shell recasting another Fiend Grip at Bane). It punishes poor decision making by the enemy team. Many fights have been won simply due to their Lina instantly dying to a recasted Laguna Blade, or Hexing themselves and rendered unable to cast other spells, or Storm Spirits getting their own Vortex recasted onto them. The list of sad stories can just continue for all eternity as long this ability exists.
It is arguable if this item is actually situational. Single target spells are usually very strong and effective (for balancing purposes), they don’t really miss once casted and their effects, be it damage or disables, are generally stronger than AoE counterparts. It is simply not realistic to get a lineup for 5 heroes without essential single target spells. Unlike Linken’s Spell Block, Echo Shell recasts every single mono-target spell at their original casters, making it difficult to work around other than waiting it out or rethink the teamfight plan. It also have certain less-known properties, one being if the Lotus Orb holder has Aghanim Scepter, a reflected ultimate spell will be of the upgraded version. This item just works miracles, and 4k is a fair price for that.
Downsides? Well, it relies a lot on the holder using it on the right ally, which makes this item very exciting to discuss in theory, but challenging in practice. The most experienced Lotus Orb user can get this 24/7 on any hero and have decent results, while inexperienced ones will be better off investing in other stuff rather than make poor use of it, which can be punishing since it doesn’t block spells. Use rightly its the single most ridiculous item in the game, misusing it however makes this a 4K gold sink. It still probably the most entertaining item ever in game though.
#8 Blade Mail
Like this item? I hope you do. The reason this item is even above Lotus is that Blade Mail is probably the most economic item for the impact it gives, right now. For 2.2k gold it gives very sweet stats, ranging from a bit of INT to some raw damage and armor, which all hero can happily use. Then there is the Damage Reflect active, which returns all damage taken to the attacking unit. It might not sound impressive in paper, but this makes every enemy do some extra math before they gank you. Will they survive their own attacking spells? Or will they risk getting annihilated from enemy reinforcements after being weakened by returned damage? In general there are two ways to use it, one is just simply use it against attacking heroes who deal more damage than their own HP, especially of the glass cannon variety. Sometimes it can be the only way to kill off farmed carries such as Phantom Assassin or Shadow Fiend without relying too much on your team. The other way is to get it as a team, and turn it on together to instantly destroy the attacking hero by clumping up and tanking AoE nukes together. Imagine a QoP firing off a Sonic Wave at at least 3 Blade Mails, which is enough to slay the (possibly farmed) QoP outright. Even a support Lina might just kill herself by hitting 3 Blade Mails with Light Strike Array. This alone makes Blade Mail an item that never really gets useless.
Theory aside, this item isn’t exactly miraculous in practice. As a bottom line, get this if you are not sure of what to get next. I myself have got quite a number of wins by getting multiple Blade Mails and winning one critical fight. It actually requires more mistakes on the enemy’s part more than good decisions on the user’s part, making it theoretically good to have it on almost any and every hero, but in practice there are other items more essential to individual heroes, even though damage return can annoy every single hero all day. Just keep this set of armor in your mind whenever you are lost on what to do next.
#7 Eul’s Scepter of Divinity
For the last couple of months we see a surge in popularity of this item (after going unnoticed for centuries) named after one of the original creators of DotA…and IceFrog hammered it back to the ground.
Lets look at this scepter, 2.8k gold, large amount of mana and regeneration, +40 movement speed and one of the most versatile actives in game: Cyclone, which sends a target flying into the air for 2 seconds.
Cyclone can be used for canceling TPs, setting up difficult skillshots and combos, delaying enemy movement and creating space by using it on yourself.
This thing right here is the very epitome of divine. Eul’s Scepter is probably the single most versatile item in the game.
It makes holders move faster and having most of their mana issues solved, simply by having one. Cyclone can work wonders for ones gameplay: a true master of Cyclone can leave no room from for any hero in the game to escape combos once Cyclone-ed up. It can also serve as an escape mechanism of sorts if casted on yourself, removing yourself out of harms way for 2 seconds, which can be precious time for you and your allies to react. I have used it myself on certain heroes such as Morphling and Weaver as a Linken Sphere replacement, which works by using self-Cyclone as a active Spell Block, relying on reflexes to save up the other 2k or so gold for Linken’s.
Once upon a time, this thing had no drawbacks other than not being too useful late game. Right now, it has a massive 175 mana cost on Cyclone, which is sadly underwhelming for that cost. This makes it no longer too useful for heroes that do not have a big mana pool on their own. At the moment, Euls’s is situational at best for most heroes, but remain great pickups for nukers,
#6 Glimmer Cape
One of the latest additions to the shop, Glimmer Cape’s most outstanding aspect is the price. For barely 2k, you get an active invisibility enchantment, Glimmer, that is usable on allies. The invisibilty has a rather short duration, but incredibly short fade time and has an extra 55% magic resistance buff on top of that. This makes Glimmer one of the best get-out-of-jail card with the near instant invisibility and magic resistance to halve off the damage dealt by spells. It can also be used offensively for initiations and for the price it is probably the best item in the game for that. If the enemy is armed without True Sight, there is a solid chance that most channeling spells can get through uninterrupted for a good 4-5 seconds. Along with the latest support items, it comes with the feature to cloak others under Glimmer, giving it even more reasons in the world to buy it. It is no wonder invisibility cloaks are the new in-thing nowadays.
#5 Eye of Skadi
Right at the middle of all the utility items in this list lies an item with no active ability. It is here simply because it is the single best item in the game, or allow me to reword that: the best item you can get to make the most out your limited item slots. The Eye of Skadi.
It gives massive amounts of statistical bonus, +25 to all STR, AGI and INT, and further bonus 250 HP and mana on top of that. In terms of survivability, it gives a massive 725 bonus HP (to put things into perspective, Heart of Tarrasque gives 1060 HP, which is only perk aside from the regeneration). For spell casting purposes, that is an extra 525 extra mana. Finally in terms of offensive uses, it has 25 attack damage and attack speed plus the best buff placer in the game, Cold Attack.
If you look at this properly, the single item can instantly fix multiple weaknesses of many heroes, most of them being carries. The reason heroes like Slark and Troll Warlord rose to popularity is actually due to this item giving them so much survivability and ease of damage output due to the slow from Cold Attack. These fragile glass cannon heroes become practically flawless by having this item. This item just makes playing carries enter “easy mode”, and for that is deserves this spot. It doesn’t get any higher with that 5.6k price tag and horrible buildup though.
#4 Force Staff
Well, you push others with this, both friendly or foe. Could be used for initiation, chasing, escape, helping allies initiate, helping allies chase, helping allies escape, screwing up enemies positioning in one million ways: push them into spells or mines, force them to trigger Rupture, make them miss stuff due to changed angles.
Did I leave out anything? Oh, all at a price of 2250 gold and consists of small useful parts, especially a ring of regen which can be picked up rather early in the lane. For the longest time it has been the best support item to exist. It does have some rather significant downsides: it doesn’t give significant stats, and Force is actually very difficult to use well without communication with allies. The direction that the units face needs to be given attention to, and screwing up this small part can be disastrous. And some people have trust issues in Dota 2, especially when it comes to fountain camping.
#3 Blink Dagger
There shouldn’t be much argument here. Blink Dagger is one of the most game changing item in the game for any hero. Any hero becomes twice if not thrice as threatening from the increased mobility from Blink, which instantly teleports up to 1.2k units with no cost, and a short 12 second cooldown. It is core on a lot of heroes and a viable extension item or luxury for others. Words cannot describe how good Blink is and you simply have to get it and practice with it in order to appreciate it. It is simple, no complicated predictions and input needed, press Blink and click to instantly appear somewhere within 1.2k range, although having good FPS and reaction time can help. Most of the biggest plays, such as stuns and nukes that catch out the whole team, can only be realistically achieved with Blinking into the right position. Every good Dota 2 player understands how powerful this item is and learns to perfect its use. As an added bonus, it disjoints projectiles if timed correctly.
Downsides? it is rather comparable to certain other items in game, such as Force Staff and Shadow Blade. Unlike Shadow Blade, you don’t scout with Blink. Blink forces you to confront enemies and it forces reaction from enemies, punishing poor Blink plays, well Shadow Walk is much more safer as it allows buffer time from friendly allies and the user to plan out the gank. Force Staff has a much shorter distance and much more difficult to use, making it less suitable to initiate with. However, Blink gets disabled upon hero damage and is much less reliable to use as a escape mechanism. Also, Blink is more of an extra spell rather than an item as it gives no other bonuses other than Blink, for a whole 2250 gold. This amount of gold can be more than worth it since it rewards good plays, at the same time keep in mind that it punishes bad plays too.
#2 Black King Bar
This thing comes by many names, BKB, The Argument Invalid Button, bitch king’s booty. Gotten by 90% of the game’s carry population (source: my ass, 2015) for one reason: magic immunity. This thing when activated negates most forms of magic and in a game where damage and disables far outweighs the health pool, magic immunity makes a world of difference. A lot of normally powerful heroes are simply stumped against this when activated: Outworld Devourer, Lion, Leshrac, Zeus, Skywrath Mage etc and a lot of DPS carries teamfight presence relies entirely on this too, such as Phantom Assasin, Ursa, Luna, Troll Warlord and many others, as without the immunity they will just outright melt to spells or kited to the end of days.
This would have been first place based in Avatar alone, but it doesn’t exactly make heroes impervious to spells. The truth is right now there are a ton of magic effects that penetrates it, ranging from big teamfighting ultimates like Black Hole, Reverse Polarity, Fiend’s Grip, upgraded Laguna Blade, to regular spells like Naga Siren’s Ensare. It is no longer as almighty as it used to be, although it is still a staple pickup for most carry heroes. It is seen as a more defensive item that can delay getting big DPS items and its duration gets shorter over time. It has so much drawbacks nowadays that a lot of players choose to not rely on it. However, in terms of practicality it is still one of the best item pickups in the game for aby hero.
The best items are always the simplest. Mekansm is a testament to that. I mean who would have thought in Dota 2 the most impactful move in a teamfight is to simply burst heal everyone in an area instantly and give 2 armor on top of that, which will instantly tip a fight in their favor. In fact, the early advantage of a game usually goes to the team with the earliest Mekansm and those that are good enough to make good use of it, be it pushing or turning a teamfight around. Nearly every team would have a core position hero that farms it as soon as possible for every game. This is the raw power of Mekansm, an item that is normally seen as a support item but gotten by even core heroes. This was so problematic that it got a steep increase in manacost, forcing less intelligent (lower mana pool) heroes to forgo it. But even that wasn’t enough to stop teams from rushing it.
It now got a upgrade in the form of Guardian Greaves, which costs way more than Mek but having a stronger active and serves as a combination of Mek and Arcane Boots, in one slot. On top of the heal, it now purges debuffs upon activation and restores mana with no cost. This addition gave even more reason for teams to get Mek and is one of the reasons I rank Mek as number 1 on my list.
#0 Scythe of Vyse
…just kidding. I mean, how could a “best item list” not have Hex?
Let’s not discuss the price, not discuss the horrendous buildup. This is the best INT item in the game and the active Hex is amongst the game’s most dreaded spells. Like come on, why do I even need to go into why a spell with no projectile that can render any hero harmless for 3.5 seconds is great? With this ability being part of an item, it gives every hero in the game access to it. Let a game go long enough, and suddenly that Crystal Maiden who has long lost her usefulness becomes a big threat again because she can turn an unwary farmed carry into a goddamn sheep. A sheep can’t win fights no matter how hard it tries.
That concludes our little list here. Honestly, don’t take my opinions on the rankings too seriously, although I am rather confident I didn’t leave much out. Do let me know if you find this sort of info helpful in any ways 🙂