Morphling is an agility hard carry that is most commonly known for his amazing nuke potential thanks to an item build popularised as ‘The Shotgun’. He is a versatile hero that fits well into many drafts, is mobile, very hard to kill and almost unparalled in the late game.
He has a slighly higher skill-cap than some heroes but for the most part a good Morphling player relies on positioning, judgement and foresight more so than quick, precise mechanical plays like a Puck. This meaning that after you get a good feel for the hero you will quickly improve, so don’t worry if you SUCK the first few times you play him. Persevere! Knowing when to stop morphing strength/agility, where to position with your Waveform, where to farm, what to replicate etc. All of this comes with time and practice. So give yourself a ♥♥♥♥ing break! And slowly but surely ween off the feeding…
Introduction out of the way, time to learn to play Morphling!
Background, The International and Balance Changes
Played very heavily in The International 2, Morphling (As well as Anti Mage) were considered the top-tier hard carries for competitive play. Since then Morphling has received several nerfs and more recently some slight buffs that have seen him come and go from the pro scene since TI2.
- Base damage was decreased by 6
- The AoE of Waveform was decreased from 255 to 200
- The mana cost of Morph Agility/Strength Gain was increased from 20 to 30 mana per second
- It was made impossible to cast and begin attack animations during Waveform
- Cast animation time was increased form 0.3 to 0.45 seconds
This nerf was mainly to stop the use of the Ethereal Blade and Waveform being simultneously casted as well as to make players focus on mana conservation. The weakened AoE on Waveform makes it considerably harder to hit multiple heroes and postion correctly also limiting Morphling’s tri-lane potential.
6.75 to Present:
- BAT (Base Attack Time) was improved from 1.7 to 1.6
- Cast animation time was decreased from 0.45 to 0.4 and then again from 0.4 to 0.25 seconds
These buffs are negligible. The cast animation time is similar to TI2 again and the improvement to Morphling’s BAT gives his attack speed scaling greater capability, slightly improves his ablity to trade hits and puts him in a select group of heroes with a BAT lower/higher than 1.7.
Most of you looking at this guide are going to probably be new to the hero so you don’t have to adapt or change your playstyle according to these changes. However, some of you might be more experienced players and regardless it is still important to note these changes! For the simple reason that the balance changes highlight key attributes of the hero.
In short, learn to be sparing with your mana and postion your Waveforms carefully. Do that and Morphling can still be that dominating presence he was this time last year.
Morphling, unlike most hard carries, is very dependent on active abilities to be played correctly. Most carry heroes are focused around passive abilities that enhance their right-click DPS (Damage Per Second) where as Morphling’s abilities consist of two nukes, the Morph Strength/Agility Gain ability from which he derives his name from and Replicate, a versatile spell with many uses.
Let’s go over the Skills and then we’ll look at the skill build after.
Waveform is a powerful AoE magical nuke that deals good damage on all enemy heroes hit by it.
Damage – 100 / 175 / 250 / 325
Mana Cost – 140 / 155 / 160 / 165
Range – 1000
AoE Radius – 200
Cooldown – 11 Seconds
This skill is primarily used for positioning. Whether it be to escape a gank by hiding in the treeline, traverse the map unhindered by cliffs or for chasing down a fleeing enemy hero Waveform is a good way of moving quickly and safely about the map. Waveform makes Morphling ‘invulnerable‘ for it’s duration meaning he cannot be targeted, damaged or stunned while in Waveform. This makes it incredibly useful for dodging projectiles like Magic Missile, Homing Missile, Assassinate etc.
The exception is Pudge’s Meat Hook which hits invulnerable targets and will still drag Morphling out of a Waveform, however it will not deal the damage.
A single target magical nuke that has a variety of effects depending on Morphling’s current Agility and Strength attributes.
Damage – 20 / 40 / 60 / 80 + ((0.5 / 1 / 1.5 / 2) x Agility)
Stun Duration – 0.75 / 1.5 / 2.25 / 3 Seconds
Mana Cost – 100
Range – 600 / 700 / 800 / 900
Cooldown – 10 Seconds
*Strength > Agility – 20 / 40 / 60 / 80 + ((0.25) x Agility)
**Agility > Strength – 0.25 seconds
Okay firstly that looks much more complicated than it actual is.
If Morphling’s Agility is 50% higher than his Strength the maximum nuke is done and the minimum stun*
If Morphling’s Strength is 50% higher than his Agility the maximum stun is done and the minimum nuke**
Now you know how to calculate the damage and stun components, when to use it is easy. Just use it like a nuke, but remember it also contains a stun. Use it to stop a target at range from channeling or to finish off weakened heroes. If you get in to a sticky spot shift your stats heavily in to strength, cast it on your pursuer for a 3 second stun, Waveform away and teleport out. Just be wary at all times of your stats when using this spell or you may not get your desired effect.
Morph Agility Gain | Morph Strength Gain:
A toggled spell that actively shifts Morphling’s stat points between Agility and Strength. It also gives a passive stat gain.
Points Morphed per Shift – 2
Shift Rate – 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Points per Second
Bonus Strength/Agility – 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
Mana Cost – 30 Mana per Second
This ability is Morphling’s bread and butter. It allows him to go from 1400hp to 4000hp. Each 1 point in strength equaits to 19hp. So with a level 4 Morph each second Morphling strength gains he aquires 152hp (That’s the same amount as a 7600HP hero with a Heart of Tarrasque) making him incredibly hard to kill. The idea is to generally be very active with this ability adapting to the current situation and normally it’s gut feeling what HP you feel comfortable on. Idealy in a fight you want to be heavily agility morphed so you can deal good right-click damage, perform a powerful shotgun blow, and always have the extra HP reserve to look to if things get tough. But you don’t want to be bursted down in two nukes either. Adapt to the situation. When farming you want to be generally on enough HP to survive an initiation. This skill is probably the hardest thing about the hero (arguably Replicate is) and it just takes practice to master.
Keep in mind that you can only shift base stat values, in other words the number in white on your HUD (Heads Up Display) not the green ‘+’ number.
Replicate creates an illusion of the target hero which deals out 50% damage, takes 100% damage and retains the properties that a normal illusion would. Morphling can assume it’s postion at any time for 150 mana.
Range – 700 / 1100 / 1500
Illusion Duration – 30 / 45 / 60
Mana Cost – 25
Cooldown – 80 Seconds
This skill is what gives Morphling a great deal of his maneuverability. It can be used in many ways limited only by your own ingenuity and ability to micro-manage. Primarlily it is used for 2 reasons. Firstly as a “brb”. If you feel the urge to return to base for whatever reason, quickly create a replicant of a nearby hero, teleport to base and then return to that illusion with full hp either back on your lane or wherever the best farm is at the current time. Secondly as a ‘get out of jail free’. Create a replicant before entering a team fight or gank and if ♥♥♥♥ hits the fan quickly get out of there. You can also use it to make illusions of powerful heroes, chase down enemies, dodge projectiles, deceive enemies, block, juke and dive into places you’d normally have no hope of escaping from. The use of this ability is so varied that it really is limited only by what you’re yet to think of.
This ability does not break Linken’s Speheres on allied heroes.
Firstly I’m just going to make a point that a lot of guides don’t mention. Skill builds are highly situational. Most heroes don’t have a skill build that is always going to be the best way to build the hero. A good example would be Dark Seer. Most commonly people skill Wall of Replica at 10,11 and 16. But high-action games and games where you may be playing from behind without the luxury of sitting in lane you should make the informed decision to pick up Wall of Replica earlier so you have it available for an early team fight. It just might swing things your way. My point is this: My skill build is the ‘standard’ skill build for Morphling. But it may be better to skill Replicate earlier if you think you might need it to escape a gank, or take a level in Waveform first for level 1 fights etc.
That said the following build should work nicely for most situations.
1 – Morph Agility Gain
2 – Waveform
3 – Waveform
4 – Morph Agility Gain
5 – Waveform
6 – Morph Agility Gain
7 – Waveform
8 – Morph Agility Gain
9 – Adaptive Strike
10 – Replicate
11 – Replicate
12 – Adaptive Strike
13 – Adaptive Strike
14 – Adaptive Strike
15 – Stats
16 – Replicate
17 – Stats
18 – Stats
19 – Stats
20 – Stats
21 – Stats
22 – Stats
23 – Stats
24 – Stats
25 – Stats
Okay so the build is pretty straight forward to follow and these are the main things to note.
Waveform is maxed out first by level 7 for good AoE nuke potential. It is rare there will be a time where you have not maxed Waveform by 7, the exception being if you pick up an early level of your ultimate for some reason, whether it be to switch lanes or to make a base trip, or to escape a gank in the heat of the moment.
Morph Agility Gain is skilled at level 1 by the vast majority of Morphling players in pub games because you are unlikely to need to nuke before level 2 unless you plan to 5 man rotate early or get a sneaky kill early on in a tri-lane (both of which are uncommon in a non-competitive situation, even more so in low-skill bracket games). Picking this skill up at level 1 allows you to shift some early points into agility to make last hitting that little bit easier. Usually this will give you a base damage advantage over your lane opponent or at least even the playing field. And it will cost you no mana because you can do it in the fountain! Just be careful until you hit level 2 because not having Waveform available and being on around 400-450hp will make you quite easy to kill if you get out of position. You want to have at least 50 base damage after skilling Morph Agility gain with no items yet purchased or it’s not really worth doing. This should leave you on between 9 and 13 base strength. With 3 Ironwood Branches and 1 Slippers of Agility your base damage should sit between 56 and 60. More than good enough for a safe lane farmer and making you contestable (in terms of last-hitting) in the solo-mid role against even dominant mid heroes like a Queen of Pain or Puck.
Replicate is for the most part not very good at level 1. The 30 second cooldown doesn’t feel quite long enough and gives you a downtime of 50 seconds without a replicant. Unless you plan to make early base trips, need to switch lanes early or get ganked and need an alternative escape mechanism I suggest leaving this unskilled until you reach 10 and 11 so you can have a better shift rate for Morph Agility/Strength Gain.
Adaptive Strike is a late game nuke. It gets better the more attribute points you have so scales better towards the late game. Although you can only shift your base stats, item stat values are important because once you have good additional strength your base strength can almost always sit at 1 giving you a ridiculous agility attribute. Even if that weren’t the case your base stats increase with levels, so picking this up early offers you very little to work with. Just take my word for it. Try getting it earlier one game and see if you get a benefit from it. The likelihood is that two right-click attacks will deal just as much damage, if not one.
Stats, as beautiful as they are with Morphling, are saved for last. Morphling’s abilities are all key and should be completely skilled by level 14 with the exception of Replicate. An early shotgun build will need Adaptive Strike maxed out by then and the other skills scale brilliantly.
For an easily accessible in-game version of this Skill Build refer to my Hero Guide which will prompt you what abilities to skill as you level up and give you an in-game description without the need to tab out and keep this guide handy. You can open it using the book icon in the top left corner of your screen, clicking the orange arrow in the top right of that menu and then selecting “AntiMatter’s Essence of Morphling”.
For now you will need to subscribe to the hero guide at the link below to do that, but if you use it please do rate it and share it around between friends. It’s nice to see some appreciation when you put hard work in to something, it will also give this guide a good reputation and make it easier to find my skill build on the Top 10 list inside the game. Love you guys! <3
Starting & Early-Game Item Build
Morphling’s item build, just like the skill build (and just like every other hero), is dependent on the heroes you’re facing and the way the game develops so look at what I’m showing you as a chalk guideline rather than it being, the all-deciding factor in how you build Morphling in every game you play.
My most common Morphling progression after the starting items goes something like this:
Basillius -> Boots -> Wand -> Aquila -> Treads -> Ethereal Blade -> Eye of Skadi
From then on it differs depending on the enemy carry and what my game plan is. The above item progression, as long as you’re farming well, is never going to be a bad build to follow as a standard. With those alone Morphling is a force to be reckoned with. But situationally you may want to go Linken’s Sphere first, go for a Manta Style build for stronger split-push or even get a fast Butterfly if you are really snowballing out of control. The item build should change depending on the state of play.
Having said that, I’m strongly of the opinion that the shotgun build is fantastic for the vast majority of games and you can’t really go wrong with it at a pub level. It gives you great kill potential and vastly increases your agility. With a Skadi follow up to increase your overall stats and combined with the Power Treads and Ring of Aquila you should have a powerful right click. With a little conservation of mana, you’ll find that even without the Perseverance you have enough mana to cast and stay active on the map between replicant base trips.
Even starting items, though a standard build will always be fine, can change a bit here and there.
I recommend as a standard to pick up 3 Ironwood Branches, 1 Slippers of Agility, 1 Tango and 1 Healing Salve. This build is a nice all rounder. It gives you standard lane regeneration which should be sufficient for most lanes where you expect to tank creeps or take some harassment. It also gives you a solid +3 to all stats from the branches which increase your HP by 19 points per branch and mana pool by 13 points per branch. This gives you a little extra HP for survivability and increases your all important mana pool while it’s especially precious because of how little you have. Not to mention you get a bit more base damage thanks to the +3 agility.
In some circumstances you may want to deviate a bit and pick up something different. An extra set of tangos if you expect to take harassment is never a bad idea and won’t set you back that much. Alternatively a starting Ring of Protection, while setting you back a bit in terms of damage, can allow you to get a very fast Basilius on a side lane which will offset your mana issues early on. I’ll stress that I DO NOT recommend bottle rushing in the mid scenario because if you don’t get it early enough you will straight up lose the lane because of a lack of regen. By all means get a Bottle but don’t skip regen in an effort to get it that litte bit quicker.
The items you are looking to grab in the early game laning phase are as follows: Ring of Basilus, Wraith Band, Boots of Speed, Magic Wand and Bottle. You ideally want to have the Power Treads finished in the early laning phase too.
Ring of Basilius:(+0.65 Mana Regen, +2 Armor – Both work as an ‘Aura’ in a 900 AoE)
A great item for early mana sustainability, I’d say it’s probably a must if you aren’t getting a Bottle. Of course if you have a Keeper of the Light or a Crystal Maiden depending on how stretched you feel your mana is you might not need a Basilus. If you’re unsure just pick it up, it’s cheap and if it feels like it’s putting you behind you’re probably not farming particularly well for whatever reason.
A quick side note, 33 is the magic number. A Sage’s Mask alone will actually provide more mana regen than a full Basilius if your intelligence attribute is 33 or more.
Wraith Band: (+3 Strength, +6 Agility, +3 Intelligence, +3 Damage)
To be honest it’s just something for putting your Slippers of Agility to good use. It’s a good early item and will combine with the Ring of Basilius to make a Ring of Aqulia (an extra +3 Damage and +1 Armor whilst maintaining the effects of both its components). The damage is a nice bonus and stats are always appreciated. I would not say this is as key as the Basilius but it is nice to have a little something more, especially as after the Power Treads you have that long farming period to the Ethereal Blade.
Boots of Speed: (+50 Movement Speed)
A must have item for every hero that gives a bonus to your movement speed. Morphling’s base movement speed is very low so these make up for that a bit. They build in to your Power Treads.
Magic Wand: (+3 Strength, +3 Agility, +3 Intelligence)
Best item in DotA. Not just me saying it either it’s a common opinion. It’s active provides instant burst regen of 15 HP and mana per charge up to a maximum of 15 charges. The charges are gathered as enemies cast abilities near you and then stored until you use them. There isn’t much to say about this item but it WILL save your life. A lot. Particularly useful if you’re laning against heroes that like to spam abilities (Batrider, Bristleback etc.).
Bottle: (Restores 135 HP and 70 mana)
Burst regen item favoured by mid-lane heroes for easy rune access. I wouldn’t recommend this on a side lane at pub level because bottle-crowing for extra regen will be a big detriment to your mid-laner and will probably ♥♥♥♥ off your team. However, it is a good item to get if you can safely control runes from the mid-lane because it gives you some easy mana regen and limits the necessity to build a Basilius, whilst limiting the opposing mid’s ganking potential and stayability.
Core & Mid-Game Item Build
Morphling’s core items revolve around the shotgun combo and heavy stat items (primarily in agility). You can’t morph agility/strength stat points that are gained from items. A common thing for people new to Morphling to say is that because of this stat items have no synergy with Morphling because if the gained stats can’t be shifted then why are they so useful? The reason for stat items being very good on Morphling has nothing to do with his ability (or rather inability) to shift those extra stats between strength and agility. They are good because Morphling wants to be full-agility and surviveable. What this means is that he aims to have all his base stats morphed to agility while still having a good amount of raw HP. Now without stat items this would be pretty impossible. If this is your first time trying an early shotgun instead of the standard suggested Linken’s Sphere first build you will notice that if you Morph fully to agility straight after picking up your Ethereal Blade you will have around 900HP. Not much to play with. Well by the time you have your Skadi picked up the +25 strength gives you an extra 475 raw HP. Now when you go full-agility you’ll feel a bit safer. Not to mention the +25 intelligence gives you more mana to play with and the +25 agility increases the strength of your shotgun combo, resistance to physical damage and your right-click. Stats are great!
The items that make up your core (in my opinion) are the Power Treads, Ethereal Blade and Eye of Skadi. Those items alone make Morphling a powerful right-click carry, good chaser, strong nuker and surviveable.
Power Treads: (+55 Movement Speed, +8 Selected Attribute, +30 Attack Speed)
Power Treads are the item you get early to increase your right-click damage. A boost to attack speed makes your already strong base damage a powerful tool to drive enemies out of your lane. The only upgrade viable for Morphling from his Boots of Speed aside from Boots of Travel. Get to those in a bit!
Ethereal Blade: (+40 Agility, +10 Strength, +10 Intelligence)
The Ethereal Blade is what Morphling is known for. Of course it’s in his core! Although it provides an unmatched stat boost to agility and a few more stat points to intelligence and strength the Ethereal Blade’s active is what we really want. It fires a nuke at 800 range slowing the enemy for 3 seconds by 80% and dealing damage of 75 + 2x Morphling’s agility as magical damage. This effect also makes the enemy take 40% increased magical damage for its duration. It sets up perfectly for the adaptive strike in to Waveform combination and potentially eliminates a hero immediately. The active works on allies too applying all the same effects but slowing for 4 seconds and not dealing the nuke damage. If Morphling uses the Ethereal Blade on himself he will become ethereal but will not be slowed and again won’t take the casting nuke damage. Whenever Ethereal Blade is casted the caster also becomes ethereal.
Eye of Skadi: (+25 All Attributes, 20% Attack Slow, 30% Move Slow)
This item is a wonderful winter bundle of stat points. A massive +25 to all stats is fantastic for increasing Morphling’s surviveability by providing him with an extra 475 raw HP and an increase to his mana pool by 325 points. Not to mention the +25 agility is a +25 increase to base damage, +25 increase to attack speed, some more nuke damage to the shotgun combo as well as some extra armor. Great right!? Oh yeah there’s more… The item adds a passive movement and attack speed slow to every right-click attack (treated as a unique attack modifer however on ranged heroes this does stack with the Satanic’s lifesteal, which is another unique attack modifer) which is great for going toe-to-toe with the enemy carry and also slowing fleeing enemy heroes giving you easy gap-closing potential.
Late-Game Item Build: The Luxury & The Situational
Morphling is usually the #1 role in the team, meaning you get the farm priority. As such your item choices are also priority and because of that pivotal to your team’s victory. Your team are giving you the farm, don’t let them down in your management of it as it’s a sure fired way to frustrate your allies. In a pub game you have the luxury of pretty much playing how you want at a lower MMR (match-making rating) especially. But if you are playing “try hard”, which is obviously what I’m trying to teach you in this guide, then you should always be considering which item is going to benefit you the most and improve you potential. I want to point out that though I did put the Eye of Skadi in ‘Core Items’ what I mean by that is that you should have it in one of your 6 final slots, if the game goes that far. Sometimes you may want a Manta Style or a Linken’s Sphere before the Skadi (normally you will choose between Manta Style, Linken’s Sphere and Ethereal Blade for your first major item). It really does depend on the game at hand and what you’re trying to acheive. When you’re investing 4k – 6k gold in to an item, you want it to be the right one!
My choice of items to label as situational/luxury for Morphling are Butterfly, Manta Style, Linken’s Sphere, Satanic, Daedalus, Boots of Travel, Dagon and Bottle*.
*Bottle was mentioned in the previous section and won’t be covered here in any detail.
Butterfly: (+30 Agility, +30 Damage, +35% Evasion, +30 Attack Speed)
A Butterfly, though often considered a surviability item for hard carries, provides some more fantastic stats favoured towards the agility attribute. On Morphling (or any other agility hero) this item increases both damage and attack speed by 60 making it the equivalent of a slightly lesser damage item. Additionally the extra agility gain increases the nuke damage of the shotgun combo further. Like the Eye of Skadi this is a great item for going one-on-one with the enemy carry. The 35% physical evasion is a massive difference if you hit a timing where the opposing team are still scrambling around trying to find the money for their Monkey King Bars. Your skillset alone makes you hard to kill, with an early Butterfly in your arsenal you are practically unstoppable!
Manta Style: (+26 Agility. +10 Strength, +10 Intelligence, +15 Attack Speed, +10% Movement Speed)
Again more stat bonuses with a focus on agility. The movement speed bonus, makes up for Morphling’s abysmal base movement speed of 285 and it wouldn’t be unheard of to pick up an early Yasha if the game starts to look like a farm-fest as it does increase your farm potential in terms of damage, attack speed and ability to move around a bit more between the jungle and lane. I think we’ve gone over why stats are good so yeah… Not gonna go on too much about it, but damn 26 more agility guys! Of course something we can’t neglect is the utility of the Manta Style. You can use it defensively as a purge, dodge projectiles and for that 0.1 seconds of invulnerability during the Mirror Image animation. Furthermore it can be used agressively to add more damage output on a hero you’re focusing. Normally the Manta Style should be considered based on whether you need it defensively and don’t want a Linken’s or something similar and/or if you are looking to do some tower pushing. The Manta Style excels at allowing you to push lanes even without being there and adding extra damage output for all dat tower gold.
Linken’s Sphere: (+15 All Attributes, +6 HP/sec Regen, +150% Mana Regen, +10 Damage)
In my in-game hero guide I do mention that I dislike this item. I have no good reason to it’s a personal preference of my patented agressive playstyle, global dominance and good mana management. In other words I don’t value the active Spell Block unless it’s really necessary and I can’t cope with a Manta Style. The attribute bonuses from the Eye of Skadi are better for an overall higher stat increase, the +10 damage is negligible and I don’t have a necessity for mana regen when every 50 seconds I have the option to make take a 10 second base trip to regenerate using Repicate and a Town Portal Scroll. However, personal opinion aside there are reasons why this item is still the in-game Valve item of choice, why other players still pick it up and why it is listed here as a situational.
This item is primarily chosen for it’s active and passive mana/HP regen allowing you to take less frequent base trips. The Spell Block stops a great deal of spells, even some you wouldn’t consider as “targeted”, once every 17 seconds. The full list can be found here (although bare in mind this is a DotA 1 guide and there are a few omissions/differences):
All credit goes to “Nix” for this guide, I suggest you give the whole thing a read it really is very useful information!
Against heroes with single-target spells you really want to avoid, this is a good item to consider and if you find that you struggle to conserve your mana maybe this is a good item for you too. Though again I urge you to play some games without it and see how you cope with just a Basilius for mana regeneration. Again I’ll stress I’m not saying this out of a persistence to prove this item as bad, it really isn’t. But I don’t believe it’s necessary and many of my games I won’t even get this item when I’m 6-slotted (a full inventory of 6 major items including boots).
Satanic: (+25 Strength, +20 Damage, +5 Armor, 25% Lifesteal)
A Satanic is one part of the three items that make most carries (most famously Gyrocpter and Luna) completely untouchable. The Butterfly, Satanic and Black King Bar. Note that while I don’t really recommend a Black King Bar on Morphling if you feel really scared of enemy crowd control spells it could be picked up. The reason for the Satanic being chosen on Morphling is because once at late-game Morphling’s right-click damage is insanely high so lifesteal is going to be giving you even more surviveability in team fights and general health while roaming the map and jungling. Adds a bit of damage and armor which is nice but again this item is picked up mainly for the lifesteal and +25 strength that gives you a bit more HP to play with. The active component of this item is called Unholy Rage and is a brief lifesteal increase to 175% for 3.5 seconds on a 35 second cooldown. Great for use as you start to get low in a teamfight, rewarding you for standing your ground and fighting, just watch out for disables during this short period.
Daedalus: (+81 Damage, 25% Crit Chance, 270% Crit Damage)
Now we’re getting towards the more unconventional items. A Daedalus is the only damage item I personally recommend for Morphling, the exception being a Monkey King Bar against tanky Butterfly holders. Enemy carries you can’t burst down that hold a Butterfly are something for Morphling to think about. With a late-game Daedalus Morphling can crit for around 1k damage per hit and Morphling’s Mirror Image illusions, though they won’t get the +81 damage, will get the chance to crit making them even scarier. I recommend considering this item if the enemy team is full of tanky heroes that you need to just eat through quickly. Especially if you are the only significant physical damage dealer on your team.
Late-Game Item Build: The Luxury & The Situational (continued.)
Dagon: (+16/18/20/22/24 Intelligence, +3 Strength, +3 Agility, +9 Damage)
Don’t judge me guys! Yes, I have Dagon on this list and I’m deeply sorry 🙁 I’m not even going to try and pretend this item is anything to do with the stat bonuses it gives. This item is pure nuking fun! It has synergy with Morphling because it makes the shotgun do ridiculous damage if you hit the full combination. The Dagon does a 400 damage magical nuke at level 1 and adds 100 magical damage per level up to level 5. The mana cost decreases by 20 per level starting at 180 and the cast range increases by 50 per level starting at 600. All this is on a 35 second cooldown. OK so firstly this item is not really recommended and I wouldn’t even say it’s situational really. It has great synergy with Morphling but they’re are very few cases where another item wouldn’t be a better, more logical choice.
Boring ♥♥♥♥ aside this item is fun! A Dagon 5 does 800 magical damage. On top of an ethereal target this does an extra 40% capping out at a massive 1120 magical damage! This item is good if you need to burst a hero down that you can’t quite do with the nukes you have at your disposal. If you look in the section of this guide that covers the shotgun in more detail you’ll find a staggering calculation at the amount of nuke damage Morphling can deal out with the inclusion of a Dagon 5.
Boots of Travel: (+100 Movement Speed)
The Boots of Travel used to be rushed quite early by some players to the point where Power Treads weren’t even bought at all. This tended to be more popular when Manta Style first builds were popular as it allowed Morphling to split-push quickly and rejoin his team in an instant because of the Replicate ability. I don’t think this is worth it anymore. Boots of Travel are a great item on Morphling but if you rush an Ethereal Blade then you need some element of right-click damage to get you through the early-game and Power Treads do that cost-efficently and will still benefit you through most of the game even if you do upgrade to Boots of Travel in the end. Late-game I do recommend picking these up. When to do it is up to you and the situation of the game but having the ability to be pushing one lane and then re-appear in either of the other lanes in an instant is a very powerful ability to have. Not to mention that if you use your Boots of Travel to switch locations the first time then you stil have an instant cast ability that allows you to safely jump to your replicant anywhere it might be on the map, escaping harm very easily. It also makes it very hard for the enemy to safely push towards you if they’re other lanes are pushing in as you can be there instantly. You could end up in a situation where you can avoid fighting the enemy team completely and still take their Towers, Barracks and even Throne/Ancient before they can react to you with sufficent force to stop you. Vice versa if they try to do the same to you, you can be there in an instant and still rejoin your team once you’ve dealt with the threat. And don’t forget the increase in flat movement speed is fantastic anyway, +100 is nothing to scoff about and although not worth getting for the speed boost alone this just gives you an additional reason to consider grabbing these at some point.
So now you have a good overview/summary of your options regarding item choices when playing Morphling. Again I’m going to link my in-game hero build below for your convenience, which at the moment you have to subscribe to in order to use in-game. And again (again, again, again :D) I’m going to ask you to please rate it and comment on it if you used it. Whether you liked it or not it really does help me out to have the feedback! <3
The Shotgun: Morphling’s Legacy
I’ve probably gone in to this and explained it several times throughout the guide, in fact I know I have, but due to the fact it’s the key thing people ascociate with this hero and also what made him popular I felt that the shotgun deserved it’s own in-depth section.
The shotgun is a nickname created for either Morphling’s Ethereal Blade or the nuke combination as a whole including the Ethereal Blade. It popularised this hero and saw a lot of use in the previous International. The shotgun combo is properly executed by engaging a target with your Ethereal Blade, follwing up with an Adaptive Strike and securing the kill with the Waveform if it is necessary and safe to do so (in some cases it may even reposition you to a better place for the following team fight). In some cases you may want to Waveform after Ethereal Blade to get close enough so that the ethereal target doesn’t break your sight line during your Adaptive Strike cast animation.
The best way to do this combo is to initiate while full-agility because this will not only increase the damage of the Ethereal Blade initiation but also the follow up Adaptive Strike that is amplified by the 40% magic amplification on the ethereal target. Bare in mind that your targets take bonus magical damage from everything magical not just your follow up nukes. Because of this, especially earlier on while you lack attribute item’s, you should be looking to communicate with your allies so that you have enough nukes between you to ensure your target dies. Another reason that communication is important here is because ethereal targets cannot attack or be attacked so if allied heroes like a Templar Assassin or Weaver for example engage your target as you start your combo they won’t be able to attack that hero.
Another thing to be aware of when performing the shotgun combo is your safety. When you first get the item going full-agility will probably leave you with very little HP so be extremely careful! Not only that but as much as performing this combo will allow you and your team to burst down a target quickly, upon activating the Ethereal Blade you will also become ethereal. So with quick reactions and some nasty nukes, your opponents could burst you down just as you would do to them given the chance. Also for the duration of being ethereal you can’t aid in the team fight with your standard right-click attack.
This combination is incredibly powerful and keeps getting better the later the game goes and the more attribute items you get. Eventually the combination is powerful enough to nuke down some heroes without the Waveform last hit and most heroes that are not naturally tanky will be killed with the combo. To give you an example of the amount of damage you can potentiallydish out I’ll show you some boring math that leads to a not so boring number…
A full-agility, level 25 Morphling with the following items: Power Treads, Ethereal Blade, Eye of Skadi, Butterfly, Manta Style and Dagon 5 will do the following damage with the shotgun combo. Ethereal Blade nuke will deal 75+(312*2) = 699 magical damage. The following Adaptive Strike will deal (80+(2*312))*1.4 = 985.6 magical damage. The Dagon 5 will deal 800*1.4 = 1120 magical damage. And finally the (probably unecessary) Waveform will deal 325*1.4 = 455 magical damage. In total this comes to 3259.6 magical damage! I know right… To put that into persective a target that does not have an item/ability increasing it’s magic resistance above the normal 25% will take 2444.7 pure damage. Ok so the Dagon is vastly considered a joke item, but that kind of long range nuke damage available at nearly instant cast is not really much to joke about is it? Take note that even in this situation incorporating a Dagon instead of another stat/damage item, Morphling’s damage output is still 329+39 per right click at just over 3 attacks per second WITH a passive slow and Mirror Image illusions! I’m not joking when I say, ‘This hero is nearly unmatched in the late game’.
Although kind of not relevant to the shotgun combo it is importat to note that you can use the Ethereal Blade on yourself to go ethereal if a strong physical damage hero jumps on you before you are ready to fight him, thus becoming invulnerable to attack. Also because it is self-cast you dont take the slow either. The same thing can be done to save allies in a similar situation by casting either on them directly or the opponent; however, casting on your ally will slow them and you will go ethereal too, also slowed.
So that’s an overview on the shotgun. Ensure careful decision making when using it to avoid being caught out. Other than that: Farm the gold, buy the item, kill the people.
It’s time to blow-up some supports!
Strengths & Weaknesses
Morphling’s viability in your game, like every other hero, is dependent on the enemy team’s hero choices as much as your own allies. To understand which heroes define whether Morphling would be a good choice, bad choice or indifferent first you have to understand Morphling’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Very high burst nuke damage
- High maneuverability
- Good escape mechanisms
- Versatile laning
- Good stat gain per level (Agility +3 / Str +2 / Int +1.5)
- Very strong in the late game
- Low attack range (350)
- Susceptible to being quickly burst killed
- Very mana dependant, especially early game
- Low base movement speed
- Heavily item dependent
Okay so understanding the above, the heroes we want to avoid fighting in general on the enemy team are heroes with very high burst damage, strong lockdown/silences, chasers and mana drains. In lane we want to avoid heroes with high harassment potential. So heroes with high attack range, postitional abilities and damage over time.
Friend or Foe
Anti Mage: Anti Mage is one of two late game carries that can cope with Morphling. His passive Mana Break makes Morphling’s already precious mana pool almost impossible to maintain removing his escape mechanisms completely. And with Blink on a 5 second cooldown he can pursue Morphling to the ends of the earth to ensure his time spent leaving the jungle still earns him a nice last hit bounty. Spell Shield also decreases your chance of bursting him down. In general, be wary of Anti Mage and avoid laning against him.
Phantom Lancer: Phantom Lancer is the other carry that will contently go to the late game against a Morphling. Seeing the Cancer Lancer on the enemy team, do not pick Morphling. He WILL get a Diffusal Blade. He WILL drain your mana. And he WILL kill you. Again and again and again. He’s hard to focus with the shotgun combo because of his illusions, each illusion hits you like a ton of bricks and your Waveform is not a strong enough AoE to deal with this illusion army. As soon as Phantom Lancer picks up a Diffusal Blade your game gets ♥♥♥♥♥♥, the Manta Style he will pick up later on will just be insult to injury…
Disruptor: This hero is hard to play well and to be honest it doesn’t see much play at all despite being incredibly fun and, in my opinion, very good. However, being trapped in that Static Storm is the most painful experience you will have. Unable to move or cast, you will be focused and killed in almost every team fight. Your positioning will be the death of you when Glimpsed back in to this lethal combo. Position and play very carefully against Disruptor players and almost always focus them with your shotgun combo before he brings the fight to you.
Zeus: Think carefully before you use your coveted shotgun. Zeus’ high magic burst and global nuke makes Morphling think twice before going full-agility to one shot the fair Crystal Maiden. Laning against a Zeus in the solo mid situation, is not advisable.
Lina/Lion: If you pick Morphling and you see either of these, or worse both, picked up in response. Feel free to swear at them regularly in an effort to help you cope with the stress you are in for throughout the mid-game. Both Lina and Lion’s ultimate abilities will destroy Morphling in ethereal form.
Laguna Blade – 450 / 675 / 950 (with Aghanims Scepter – 600 / 925 / 1250)
Finger of Death – 600 / 725 / 850 (with Aghanims Scepter – 725 / 875 / 1025)
Luckily Lina has no ability to break a Linken’s Sphere before casting Laguna Blade, Lion however can cancel it with a Hex or a targeted Impale.
Tinker: Laning against Tinker in the solo mid situation, similarly to a Zeus, is not advised. Heavy nuke burst and March of Machines spam will make your last-hitting experience horrible and probability of death high. Late game a Scythe of Vyse being re-armed can keep you permanently hexed.
Skywrath Mage: This angelic figure will make your life hell from start to end. The targeted 6 second silence and 36% magic amplification from Ancient Seal, stops hope of a quick escape and his ultimate Mystic Flare will deal massive single target damage (600 / 900 / 1200) especially when combined. Again, not a hero you want to be laning against in a solo mid situation or playing against at all…
Night Stalker: Early game this hero has the potential to be a nightmare for you. Crippling Fear, though only a 3 second silence during the day lasts much longer at night (5 / 6 / 7 / 8), removes all hope of escape from this very mobile ganker. And the miss chance of 40% removes your possibility of “manning up”. Not a fun hero to play against, especially if he does well early. He is also naturally tanky so a shotgun combo is not likely to be lethal.
Doom: Finally the hero that apparently hard counters everything. Doom’s 15 second ultimate will silence you, prevent you from using items and probably just straight up kill you. If you get doomed, get out. “Tuck your tail and run you mutt!”
While these heroes are particularly nasty to avoid, there are many other situations to be careful around too. Riki’s Smoke Screen, Shadow Shaman’s Hex, Drow Ranger’s Silence, Magnus’ Reverse Polarity, Outworld Devourer’s Sanity’s Eclipse, Kunka’s Tidebringer, etc. The key thing is to identify these issues early on and properly plan how to react if a stituation occurs where you have to deal with them later on.
You’ll also notice some item’s pictured above. Well those are also good Morphling counters worth mentioning, why stop at heroes right?
Bare in mind that no disable will stop you morphing strength/agility if you had it toggled BEFORE you got disabled, but get caught at the wrong moment by a holder of an Abyssal Blade, Scythe of Vyse or Orchid Malevolance and you could be in some trouble.
The Dagon is a pain in Morphling’s backside (if he has one). Not normally a viable item in competitive play but fairly common in pub games. Take note of anyone building one of these bad boys as a Dagon 5 hit while in Ethereal form will set you back a solid 1120hp! Stop it that tickles…
ARGHHH MANA BURN! Any Diffusal Blade carrier also has the potential to be an issue. nothing compared to a Phantom Lancer or Anti Mage but a hero carrying the Diffusal Blade means you have to deal with Feedback (20 / 26 mana burn per hit) slowly depleting your precious mana pool.
So now we know Morphling’s sworn enemies it’s time to find out who we really want to be partnered up with. Common sense tells you for the most part which heroes Morphling synergises well with. The rest is only limited by your creativity.
The obvious synergy is with nukers. But bare in mind that a shotgun combo will kill or near kill most heroes, high nuke damage is not necessarily a good combination with Morphling. There IS such a thing as overkill, and a Laguna Blade as well an Ethereal Blade combo might just be it. Nukes are always going to be good with an Ethereal Blade but don’t just look to combo nukes. And remember, ethereal forms don’t stack, so throwing two Ethereal Blade nukes down on one target will deal the nuke damage but won’t make the target take 80% extra magical damage, only the standard 40% damage amplification will apply.
Alternatively you’re looking for heroes that present good illusions for replication. Replicated illusions will carry all the same abilities that a standard illusion would – Mana burn, Radiance burn, Eye of Skadi orb etc. So illusions of Anti Mage, Dragon Knight and the like are particularly strong. For example an Aghanims Night Stalker illusion would keep the bonus vision range at night, making it a very useful scout.
Another example of a good hero to synergise with is Pudge. A hero that can solo gank with ease so a little help from Morphling sets up a very easy kill. Also Pudge has a repositional skill (Meat Hook) that can pull an enemy towards you giving you an easy shotgun target you couldn’t otherwise reach. Force Staffs and Magnus’ Skewer are also good ways of bringing a hero in to Morphling’s nuke range.
A good lane partner for Morphling? Well look at what Morphling lacks early on. The obvious answer is mana. So a Keeper of the Light seems like a good choice and Crystal Maiden too. Maybe you want to be agressive in your lane? Pugna synergises with Morphling all the way through the game as well as having good nuke damage in lane. In a tri-lane look for heroes like Bane and Lina. For some detailed infomation on good tri-lanes just look up another guide!
Sorry for no pretty pictures here (haha I made you actually READ this section!) but as you can see there are hundreds of reasons why heroes work well together and Morphling is no exception. I felt it might be pointless for me to put up a picture of every hero. As much as we all love looking at Crystal Maiden…
Be experimental and come up with your own ideas!
Some of you are probably thinking, “But wait Mr. AntiMatter sir. Why should I be scared of Lina? She’s got 1000hp at max throughout most of the game. A shotgun will destroy her fiery soul.” And you are correct young Dendimon. A lot of heroes that counter Morphling are squishy supports (Lina, Lion and Skywrath Mage being good examples). Grit your teeth through the early game and later on they’re just more cannon fodder for your shotgun. Some harder to chew than others, but all delicious treats.
So a short list of Morphling’s late game snacks:
Drow Ranger, Mirana, Juggernaut, Crystal Maiden, Puck, Windrunner, Vengeful Spirit, Riki, Zeus, Lina, Shadow Shaman, Tinker, Sniper, Templar Assassin (care of Refraction), Luna, Bounty Hunter, Natures Prophet, Enchantress, Jakiro, Chen, Wisp, Gyrocopter, Naga Siren, Silencer, Rubick, Disruptor, Tusk, Keeper of the Light, Skywrath Mage, Bloodseeker, Shadow Fiend, Venomancer, Bane, Lich, Lion, Witch Doctor, Faceless Void (care of Backtrack), Phantom Assassin, Clinkz, Queen of Pain, Pugna, Dazzle, Leshrac, Nyx Assassin, Slark, Batrider, Ancient Apparition, Outworld Devourer, Shadow Demon.
Oh that’s not a short list is it?… Hope you’re hungry!
In the late game every hero that is not natural very tanky or built up with tank items like a Heart of Tarrasque will likely be killed by the shotgun combo. Most of the above heroes will not even require a Waveform in the late game to confirm the kill. A simple Ethereal Blade followed with a full agility Adaptive Strike will decimate them. This gives you the ability to instantly make the fight a 5 v 4 behind the safety of your own allies, keeping your primary positioning ability off of cooldown for the potentially upcoming fight. It’s also very easy to dispatch out of position heroes without having to land a Waveform to secure the kill.
Laning Phase Introduction
Morphling as a hard carry is a primary farmer usually in the #1 role within the team, meaning that he is the hero who gets farm priority above every other hero on the team. This is because Morphling is very item dependent and with no farm will contribute almost nothing to the team. If you’re not team fighting or ganking then you should be farming, so it’s best to get in to that mind-set. He is usually placed in the safe lane and occasionally played in the solo-mid role when it’s a favourable lane.
Embrace the Anti-Mage within you and hit creeps all game long.
Like I’ve mentioned previously in this guide Morphling is versatile and can lane pretty much anywhere. In order of preference Morphling will either be going to the safe lane with a babysitting support hero or defensive tri-lane; the mid lane as a solo hero, or to the off-lane in an aggressive tri-lane. This is a guide for Morphling so like I said earlier if you want to look up more details on things like tri-lanes, ganking etc. feel free to do so, I’m sure there are guides out there, as I will only cover them briefly so that I can focus almost entirely on Morphling.
Laning Situations & How to Lane Effectively on the Safe Lane
Let’s start with the simplest and most common placement for Morphling within the team as the safe lane farmer. This means Morphling’s job is to head to the safe lane (the lane closest to your own jungle) and last hit every creep that comes charging down it.
Solo Offlane Opponent:
Ideally (and fairly often) you will come up against one solo hero as a lane opponent. Above all else your role is to not die and to maintain a good creep score (cs), in other words a good number of last hits and denies. If your opponent is a hero you can easily outlane you will not need a babysitter and your supports can freely farm the jungle and/or gank. In the event that the enemy hero is a stronger solo hero than Morphling you will need the help of either your babysitter to force the other hero out of lane and keep you from dying or your 2 support heroes, 1 of which should be sufficient to achieve the same. If you have a tri-lane one of your supports at almost all times will be pulling so you need to be confident last hitting under tower and have enough regen to stay healthy against the damage the lane creeps will dish out.
Dual Offlane Opponents:
Alternatively you could come against an opposing dual lane, fairly common in pub games though much less so as the skill level goes up and almost unheard of in Captain’s Mode and competitive play. An opposing dual lane could consist of almost anything, usually a support hero and a farm dependent hero (though normally not the enemy hard carry). In this case you want a defensive tri-lane. Very few two offlane heroes (A Clockwerk and Dark Seer has been toyed with competitively and can actually go toe-to-toe with some tri-lanes) can hinder a safe lane carry if he has 2 supports with him forcing them out of lane bearing in mind you also still have quite a high kill potential if you join the fight after getting a few easy levels. Often times in lower level play that won’t be the case and you will either have a jungling hero or a babysitter. In this event most importantly do not die and cs as comfortably as you can. Call for ganks from the mid or offlaner and make sure you don’t find yourself caught out with no mana for an escape. Technically you still have the advantage but that’s heavily reliant on their hero line up. If your babysitting support can get away with pulling (drawing your creep wave into a neutral jungle camp to deny experience) have him do so from the start. But carefully evaluate the skills your opponents have at their disposal before you attempt to pull. With a creep wave attacking you under tower they will be free to dive you for an easy kill and if they land a couple of disables they could easily succeed which will almost certainly lose you the lane. For example a good Juggernaut and a Rubick will easily force a Waveform out of you or worse kill you. They could also pressure the pull camp if your support pulls and can’t stand his ground. Your support should not die either, if he can’t hold the pull have him leave it for them to ravage. But limiting their experience gain and making them put this kind of effort in to contest the lane while you level with the benefit of easy solo experience will set you up to have a comfortable laning phase.
Agressive Tri-Lane Opponents:
Finally, most unlikely and hardest to deal with you could come up against an enemy agressive tri-lane. In this situation (excluding abandoning the lane) the only proper response is to have a good defensive tri-lane of your own and play very carefully. Tri-lane versus tri-lane situations are among the hardest and most complex situations that can occur in DotA 2. If you go up against one and make mistakes you will feed your lane and probably lose the game. In many ways your two supports should play the same way your one babysitter did against two heroes. Attempt to pull very early and do everything you can to hold it without feeding a kill. The agressive lane does not have an easy pull available to them so they have to contest it. You start on an equal footing in a tri versus tri but it’s important to remember that every successful pull you get and every creep wave of solo experience you receive puts you further and further ahead as the enemy team split their 1 lane of experience between 3 heroes. If you are free farming and not feeding kills then you are winning your lane! So play safe, because they will primarily be looking to score a kill on you to shut you down (as the carry) but will happily chew on your support heroes too.
The above information is assuming jungle camps are not blocked by enemy wards, your supports in a tri-lane should be able to deal with that, and as a babysitter the same should be the case, though it often won’t be… If you have no pull camp available, tri versus tri becomes much harder as does dual lane versus dual lane. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do about that, the fault of that relies on your supports. Your supports should almost always have one sentry ward and one observer ward purchased at start of the game just in case. You could choose to be nice and donate them some sentries when you pick up the cash. As annoying as it is, it might be necessary to win you the lane.
How to Lane Effectively on the Mid Lane
The middle lane is a place where Morphling can lane safely and farm well but before it is even considered you have to have a good idea of what hero you are going to be up against. First of all take note that Morphling is not a strong mid laner. He does not want to be ganking early on, his base damage is low, his attack range is low and his ability to harass and kill his opponent is low as well. Because of this a dominant mid lane hero like a Queen of Pain, Puck or Templar Assassin will not only make it challenging for you to farm, they will deny your experience and will probably kill you. As such laning Morphling against most true mid lane heroes is a bad idea with one exception.
If your opponent is a melee hero Morphling can win the lane. Morphling’s quality of farm is highly dependent on the first couple of creep waves. Get a good block and use your high (presumably agility morphed) base damage to ensure all the cs and beat down the enemy hero as he/she comes in to range for a last hit. If you do this you stand a good chance of farming well here and even forcing your opponent in to making rash plays or leaving the lane. Good examples of heroes Morphling can excel against in mid are Pudge, Night Stalker, Tiny and Juggernaut. Pudge’s are fairly common in all levels of pub DotA so we’ll use him as an example. A good Morphling could see a Pudge pick and take this opportunity to get easy farm and maybe even kills. Keep your Waveform off of cooldown at all times because the second you use it and put it on cooldown this is Pudge’s chance to score a kill knowing you can’t run from him. Don’t give him that chance. Harass him hard and cs efficiently. It’s a Pudge and eventually he will attempt to kill you. You are both committed as soon as Pudge goes agressive so keep calm. If he does it before he has level 6 you should win the fight. Stay near the creeps and hit the Pudge between movements making it as hard for him to find a hook as possible. If he right clicks you your creeps will beat down on him and he will start to lose the fight. Save the Waveform to ensure the kill or your escape and just position carefully shifting points into strength as apropriate to keep your HP up through the Rot (being careful at all times to save mana for a Waveform).
Getting a Bottle is down to preference, you can follow largely the same item build as you would in the safe lane but if you are winning the lane, find yourself spending a lot of mana, have good ward coverage and the opponent is not in a good position to contest runes it might be wise to pick one up all the same. I advise a mid Morphling to not rush a Bottle however, because your early cs is so important each stat item will help you confirm last hits and you need to have enough regen to ensure you can contest those early creep waves without fear of death. Carry a Town Portal Scroll and look for opportunities to kill an enemy hero choosing to dive with a Waveform pursuit. Otherwise people should be ganking for you so you can simply worry about farming and shutting down the enemy mid. Remember that a shut down mid hero’s best chance of coming back in to the game is to gank. So be on point with your missing calls. You don’t want to lose your lane simply because your allies feed a hero you previously shut down for something as simple as you not making an ss call.
How to Lane Effectively on the Offlane
Offlane wtf? Yeah I know how it reads but it makes you interested and want to read more doesn’t it? Either that or you think I’m an idiot… Probably both… Good enough either way you’ll end up reading!
The reason Morphling does well in an aggressive tri-lane (it’s technically offlaning… let it go) is because Waveform can deal damage to multiple heroes, offers escape, temporary invulnerability and chase potential. In an agressive tri-lane you are looking to secure early kills, contest the enemy pulls and shut down your opponent (the enemy carry likely to be farming there). Only enter an agressive tri-lane with Morphling if you know what you are doing, your allies know what they are doing and you are confident in your communication. Losing a tri-lane often means losing the game and agressive tri-lanes are the hardest lanes to play in. Good tri-lane heroes therefore are also a must (again look up another guide if you are unsure and want some advice on tri-laning). You will be laning with two supports and probably facing off against the enemy hard carry and two of his/her’s supports. You want to secure early kills if possible so follow your supports up on there intiations and hope their judgement is good. At the very least you want to secure as many last hits and denies as possible and if the enemy pull you MUST contest it. If you find yourself not up against a tri-lane you should probably get free farm, be able to contest pulls with ease and even kill your opponents. Just keep a wary eye for ganks headed your way. If you’re shutting down their carry, getting free farm and kills you are going to single-handedly win your team the game just by winning that one lane. The likelihood is the enemy team will recognise this pretty quickly and respond heavily so be vigilant. The only differences I would consider in item build for agressive tri-lanes is that your starting items may want to incorporate extra regen and/or a magic stick depending on your lane opponents.
Your Responsibility to the Team
Your role within your team as Morphling is to carry and carry hard. Your team are relying on you to win them the game with the items, time and space they secured for you earlier on in the game. Carry roles are generally not recommended for newer players and there are several reasons for that. A carry is the person your team does a lot of work for so that you can secure them the victory later on. You get the glory of seeing your name next to a long list of kills, buying all the fancy items and occasionally holding the Divine Rapier as a true sign of conquering the enemy team. But this comes at a price. Not mincing words at all, if you ♥♥♥♥ up, your team will lose and they will berate you for it. A carry has to be vigilant at all times to incoming ganks, team fight perfectly, all the while finding time to farm and have a great understanding of all the enemy heroes as much as his own. This guide is not meant to be for complete noobs to start playing Morphling (yes that’s what they are, but we were all there once just the same) so sorry if you read this far only to be told that. You will have learnt quite a bit reading this guide as a noob but I would suggest trying easier heroes first. Get a grasp for the game’s mechanics and gain at least a broad understanding of all the heroes first. Then feel free to come back to this guide once you have some proper DotA experience under your belt and understand the meaning of “cyka”.
As a carry Morphling is highly surviveable, has global map control through his use of Replicate, great ganking potential due to the shotgun combo and a powerful right-click. After the laning phase ends for most of your team, it doesn’t for you. Your goal is to farm on, the only difference is now you don’t have your supports holding your hand all the time. You’re all grown up and ready to start caring for yourself and later on caring for your frail teammates. You have to be aware of all that’s happening on the map so you know where you can farm, if you should be split pushing, ganking or fighting with your team. The strength of Morphling as a farming hero that is unmistakeably useful is that he is hard to gank so you should almost always be farming on a lane (because lane gold is in almost all cases more valuable than jungle farm) with a replicant tagging along with your team or in a safe place as back-up. Farming alone isn’t enough though. If you can’t be killed easily on a lane, then you can push that lane alone, right up to the enemy Barracks without a care in the world. Situationally of course you have to worry about disables and the like but again, you are hard to kill. If you remain knowledgeable of your enemies’ whereabouts and react fast and correctly if something does catch you by surprise you should be fine.
Another wise thing to do, shortly after completing your Ethereal Blade, is using it to catch the enemy unawares. Gank them! It gives you some easy gold and utilises your item to help you snowball out of control as soon as you get it. You can have a replicant patrolling the enemy jungle looking for easy pick-offs while you farm your own half of the map. Ganks open up time for your team to take towers, time to secure Roshan and time to farm. When your team are attempting to push towers you should keep a replicant with them and push a different lane, it will force a response from the enemy and when they do respond jump back to the replicant and fight with your team at an advantage. If it doesn’t force a response, don’t stop pushing! Be versatile and assertive in your play style and move all around the map, creating space for your team and frustrating theirs’ forcing reactions from them just to keep up with where you were. But don’t get cocky. If your team are pressuring another tower expecting you to turn up when ♥♥♥♥ hits the fan and the enemy initiate after killing you, your team are likely to take heavy casualties as a result. Don’t get cocky!
In team fights try and nuke down an important hero before the fight starts to give your team an early advantage in the fight. There isn’t always a situation where you can easily pick off the enemy carry or solo mid. If you see an out of position PA (Phantom Assassin) then yes blow her up. They can’t fight without there PA, but the carry isn’t always in reach. So take out the supports that are going to disable you and help the PA slay you. Take out the Enigma before he lands his Black Hole, the Sand King before his Epicentre etc. Always try and make sure the fight is a 4 v 5 before your team initiate. During the team fight, Waveform through the enemy for damage as long as it doesn’t hurt your positioning and start focusing heroes down, morphing strength when you feel threatened and morphing back when you feel safe. Keep a vigilant eye on your mana pool and your cooldowns and if you get into some trouble fall back to your replicant if you have one up. Maybe you would be better off replicating an important hero and microing it during the team fight as well; an illusion of the enemy Sniper will see him turn on his own support heroes destroying them with ease. Understand that me telling you exactly which heroes to target in a team fight I’m not watching isn’t possible, it’s instinct and you learn this over a long time. Even professional players make mistakes in team fights because of the very nature of how hectic they are and how much you have to account for. Every team fight plays out differently and you learn through practice and experience what to do in a team fight and who to target. The targets are usually determined, not by their potential impact in the fight as people commonly think (oh noes a Magnus!), but more by who gets caught out and initiated on first, if there is follow-up and if there is a response or counter-initiation from the other team.
So now you have an in-depth understanding of the hero and how he should be played. All that’s remains is practice, practice, practice. Improve your mechanics, master your decision making, turn your reactions into instincts and start winning games with this strong hard carry that is a powerful presence on the map as soon as he hits the mid-game.
Good luck, have fun and thank you for sticking with this guide right through to the end! I may have overloaded you with information but I hope that means you’ve at least learned something, or a lot of things and that I’ve convinced you to pick up Morphling so you too can understand why he is one of my favourite heroes in DotA 2.
As a sort of disclaimer, the guide ends here. But! If you enjoyed reading it and/or found it useful please do rate it, comment and share it around. I put a lot of work in to this guide and its counterpart and I want people to benefit from it and make use of it. Depending on how the reception for this guide goes I may do more “In-Depth” hero guides and maybe some other guides too. I chose to write this guide in particular because I am a confident Morphling player, enthusiastic about the hero and though I saw good basic guides I didn’t see anything as finished and thorough as what I’ve tried to achieve here. It’s my first guide and my first effort at it so it can only get better from here. All the same though, if you didn’t like it then rate it too. But tell me why in the comments below so I can at least try and improve on it! I will be proof-reading this and updating it until I am completely happy with it and as such I will be looking at the comments.
You’re looking at Version 1.0 published straight from the time I finish this sentence, I’ll be back with bigger and better things in the near future! <3