Magnus is a gigantic magnoceros. He’s also the newest addition to Dota 2’s roster. With a passion for dominating team fights, whenever the enemy picks up Magnus, things get a little tense. I see “Magnus missing”, I start to fear the fog of war. At any moment a huge, behemoth of death could be charging through the trees and give me a quick trip back to the fountain. Played correctly, Magnus could be the best initiator in the game.
In the ability department Magnus excels at moving in straight lines. It’s all down to Shockwave and Skewer.
Shockwave is a relatively cheap ranged nuke that travels in a line from where you cast it. When maxed out, anything that gets in its way is hit for 300 damage. Plus, with an eight second cooldown at max level, it’s super spammable, provided you have the mana to keep it up.
Skewer is another straight line skill that makes Magnus fun to play. Activating Skewer sends you charging forward, impaling any enemies that don’t dive out of your path. This forces the enemy to be dragged to the end position of the skill where they take damage and get slowed for 40%. Already you can see the many ways you can use this skill, and why it’s so useful. You can drag enemies into your team, drag enemies away from a weak ally, escape ganks by charging up/down cliffs and initiate by charging through the trees.
Empower is an actively cast buff that gives an ally bonus damage and a cleave on hit. The duration and cooldown is enough to support several allies with this meaning any melee heroes will love you. It can also be great for farming lanes and the jungle where a hero wouldn’t normally be able too.
Reverse Polarity is an AoE ultimate which draws all the enemies caught into the center before applying damage and a stun. At max levels the damage becomes a moderate 300 but the silver lining is the four second stun in which your team can go nuts. Since the enemies will be bunched up this synergises well with Empower on yourself and your allies to maximise the damage while they're stunned.
His main role is as an initiator, but he does have the potential to be a carry with enough farm. I tend to prefer to play Magnus in the mid lane so that he can get as much gold and xp in the laning phase. Naturally a bottle helps out his mana problems as well as making the most of using the runes to gank the side lanes. You should never be looking for kills while laning in mid, instead focusing on last hitting and denying. However if your opponent is out of position feel free to punish him for it. Don’t be afraid to use Shockwave to last hit if going into melee range is too risky.
If the team prefers it, he can happily lane in either side lanes. Using his Shockwave to harass the enemy is quite effective as well as trying to force enemies into tower range with Skewer.
Skilling Magnus is fairly straightforward, with minor variations based on team composition and which lane you choose. Almost always skill Skewer first as it’s a great escape ability to get out of those first blood blunders. It can also help you achieve the very same thing. From there you want to focus on maxing Shockwave first to help with harassing/ganking. Picking up Empower around level four is not a bad idea either if you want some more farming power, or you have a melee carry hungry for gold. You should max Empower after Shockwave, leaving Skewer last. Skill your ultimate, Reverse Polarity at the normal levels.
In the item department, a good start is three ironwood branches, two tangos and either a quelling blade or stout shield. If there is more than two carries in your team then you should go towards a supportive item build. If not then feel free to build up those big items. Getting a bottle or magic wand will help you spam Shockwave so get either depending on your lane. Power Treads compliment Magnus very well but don’t fret on getting Arcane Boots if the team needs it.
Your first major item is a Blink Dagger which makes Skewer all that more effective. You can blink in front of a fleeing foe and drag him back into the clutches of your team. It’s also handy for landing that all important ultimate. After that Drums of Endurance is a great item for its cost, a nice movement speed increase for your team as well as the small attack speed boost.
If things are going well then start going for a Battlefury: it stacks with your Empower buff for some cleavage goodness. You will be clearing creeps and the jungle in a couple of strikes resulting in a huge increase to your gold per minute. This allows you to get the luxury items that will make you nearly unstoppable.
Assault Cuirass is never a bad idea, giving you a huge attack speed boost and more armour for your team. Also this will make your cleaves hit that little bit harder with the minus armour aura. A Heart of Tarrasque will buff up your health pool by a big chunk, allowing you to take more hits when you charge headfirst into the enemy ranks. Daedalus gives you the ability to crit, combining this with your high attack speed will kill squishy supports near instantly.
A special mention goes to Refreshers Orb which, if you do get your hands on one, you have pretty much won. With all your abilities refreshed, you’re now capable (mana depending) on 1760 damage with an eight second stun ultimate. Go figure.
Friends of Magnus are heroes with more stuns and disables, allowing him to land all his abilities with ease. Any melee carry heroes that benefit from his Empower ability will love him for all the extra damage and farm. AoE heavy heroes will laugh as they land them with ease thanks to Reverse Polarity. On the flip side any hero that can silence and prevent combos are brutal against Magnus. Namely Silencer, Naga Siren and Disrupter who all have an ability to stop you in your tracks.
I've played all the great initiators, Tidehunter, Sand King, Earthshaker etc. But nothing gives me greater pleasure than watching a enemy team fall to pieces at the hand of Magnus. In the hands of a skilled player, he is feared greatly in the Dota community. The sheer paranoia and dread of him being missing on the map alone is a testament to his power. Keep your eye on this hero, not taking him seriously will easily get yourself and your team killed. And that’s bad.