Hello everyone, a few months have passed since the neutral items were introduced to DotA 2 and we feel like we should create a list to explain and try to understand just how useful each item really is. The current state of affairs is that some items are game-breaking on some heroes, which means it’s very important to understand them in order to improve your chances of winning.
They are currently the most controversial part of the game and the main two criticisms are that:
The balance of the individual items is something that can be addressed easily with tweaks. However, the whole concept might require a rework to make it fair and fun for everybody involved. A good commonly suggested change is to limit neutral items to one per hero (possibly with a designated item slot).
Before we start: the items are only compared with the same tier since it wouldn’t be fair to compare a Tier 1 item with a Tier 5 item. Also, the time where the items are dropped and used is very different.
The images are clickable and reveal the information and tips about every single item.
Royal Jelly and Shovel are the best from Tier 1 simply because of their longevity of usage. Most other T1 items get replaced quickly, but the mana and HP regen provided from the Jelly is permanent and increases the efficiency of 2 heroes enormously.
Trusty Shovel: the versatility of the drops from the Shovel is a great gold boost for your team. The Healing Salves can be used in any stage of the game, same as TPs and the gold provided by the bounties are always welcome.
The Arcane Ring is a really great find that can be used in any situation, kind of like a mini Arcane Boots, increasing the farming potential because of the mana sustain. However, the item is usually dropped in the base for a better item around minute 15.
Ironwood Tree is a great stats boost that can be used by any hero: +7 to all stats for only 150 gold. It also gives you the ability to outplay the opponent by blocking their path while juking, or utilizing it on Treant to be invisible in weird spots or even on Timbersaw for Timberchains or Whirling Death.
Besides this, it is highly effective as an opponent-tilting-tool when planting a GG tree after you kill them or take a tower. This, of course, is a joke, but the reality is that psychological warfare in Dota works.
Faded Broach can be used by any hero because of the MS and Mana, which are really important early game. The MS helps you move faster from camp to camp to farm faster or even gank with the 200 mana gained.
Mango Tree would be a Tier S item if it would be understood better. It can be used as a ward on cliffs but this way you don’t gain the mangoes and the enemy can destroy it, so you have the more traditional option of putting it in the base and just getting the Mangoes with the courier. Another great use would be to place it around the Roshan Pit and have vision of it which is, in most cases, the best option even though you risk losing the mangoes.
Ocean Hearth provides 5 to all stats, which makes it a great item for the early game. However, the regen part of it is pretty hard to utilize on cores and that is why it sometimes feels better on the roamer that can move in the river from lane to lane. Because of the limited usage of the item on cores, we feel like this item is only a B Tier Item.
Keen Optic is decent on the cores for the first minutes for the mana regen but then is quickly passed on the supports, same as the Ocean Hearth.
Broom Handle fits here in our opinion since it is quickly replaced on cores and the supports don’t really care about the +12 damage or bonus attack range and the 3 armor gained doesn’t really feel that important.
Poor Man’s Shield was imba as a normal item on melee AGI heroes because of the option to start the game with it (strong in the lane). By the time you find it as a neutral item the static laning phase is over, cores want to replace it fast, and supports don’t care about it at al.
Iron Talon: the same as PMS – comes too late and has a very narrow window of usefulness.
Essence Ring is just amazing in any game, no matter the conditions. Healing 425 and gaining 425 maximum HP for 15 seconds with a 20 second CD is so much on minute 15-20 (when most heroes have between 1-1.5k HP) that it is just overpowered. You can use it for baiting or just tanking. It also helps with sustain because of the bonus intelligence and mana regen provided.
Clumsy Net feels OP also because of the extra mana regen that is valued so highly by a lot of heroes on top of the extra disable, which is always useful.
Pupil’s Gift is also extremely nice to have in your team for your midlaner or carry for the extra stats. It offers 13 extra secondary stats and is mostly used by Agility and Intelligence heroes which translates to 260 extra HP + the extra secondary stat. Items like this combined with item pooling is the reason why we see carries with 1.7k HP on minute 20.
That said, like a lot of other items, it is usually replaced in the later stages of the game by cores so the supports gain just a little more tankiness.
Imp Claw provides a little bit of physical damage to your team which is always welcome. The problem is that it has no use for the supports after it is replaced by the cores.
Vampire Fangs is a pretty underrated item in our opinion because everyone thinks of it as a core item and is usually dropped in the base after the cores are done with it. What people forget is the second part of the item, +250 night vision, which can be used to avoid smoke ganks or just gaining additional information that is always good, in every single game, especially on initiator supports.
Dragon’s Scale isn’t great since most of the times even cores avoid using it for long. The 5 HP regen isn’t that important, same as the burn damage, so it is mostly used for the 5 armor, which is a bit underwhelming at this stage of the game.
Grove Bow feels amazing on some heroes such as Drow, OD, Razor, but most of the time the 100 bonus attack range and 10 attack speed isn’t all that impressive for a 15+ minute item. Melee cores don’t want it, supports don’t want to be hit to activate the passive magic amplification because of the squishiness, so it usually gets dropped in the base.
Putting Vambrace in this Tier might be a controversial decision because it feels really great to combine 2 Wraith’s Bands, 2 Bracers or 2 Null Talisman’s, but we don’t gain a lot more besides freeing up a slot - either 10% magic resistance, 12 attack speed, or 6% spell damage. However, we lose around 510 since we can't sell the components so it might not always be worth it if you know you’ll be running out of space fast.
Ring of Aquilla used to be a Tier 1 Item but then it got moved to Tier 2 so it is automatically much worse. Overall, it feels decent but it is usually quickly replaced.
Nether Shawl peaks at efficiency on magic casters that use the 8% spell amplification while also providing magic resistance. However, the -3 armor is really disadvantageous to them and for this reason, it is not really used that much on supports also, since they can easily get killed by the enemy carry with right clicks.
Philosopher’s Stone used to be thought of as a great support item but people realized that the 60 GPM that it provides gets negated by losing the 35 attack damage that could have been used to farm an additional creep and, in theory, get the 60 gold back.
Quickening Charm gives a 13% cooldown reduction to absolutely everything and is pretty self-explanatory. Obviously, it works best on heroes with a lot of active spells/items.
Spider Legs is one of the best neutral items in the game - it can be used on any hero, especially on heroes that like an in-and-out style of fighting. It also has the option of replacing boots in case of item slot problems.
Titan Silver is always usable by cores since it offers the 2 main things they need: more damage (16% attack damage bonus) and tankiness (16% magic and status resistance).
Mind Breaker buffs your damage output from your right clicker since it gives 25 attack speed and 25 magic damage per hit while also providing some sort of control with the 2-second silence.
Telescope is a great aura item for the support to carry since it provides bonus attack and cast range while also reducing the cast time for the Scan.
Orb of Destruction is mostly used by right clickers for the armor reduction and slow but it is always great for killing Rosh or buildings.
Craggy Coat provides a good amount of armor but, in exchange, reduces the attack speed, so it can only be used by supports or cores that don’t right-click too much (like Lesh, Timber, etc.). This limits the heroes that can use it, but on the heroes that can - it's really good.
Repair Kit broken if you are defending towers, useless if you are the aggressor in the game. S or F tier (we chose B as an average). Hopefully it gets reworked.
Paladin Sword is a decent item that provides 17 damage, 17% life steal, 17% heal and regen amplification. The 17 damage isn’t so much for 25 min+, and most teams have Vlads by this point or Vampire Fangs to serve a similar purpose. It’s absolutely S-Tier on heroes like Huskar or Io, but very mediocre on every other hero.
Greater Faerie Fire: on one hand, it provides 35 damage, so it is pretty good on carries. On the other, instantly restoring 450 HP makes it a lot better on squishy heroes. The real problem, however, is that it disappears after using the 3 charges.
Enchanted Quiver is in our opinion the worst item in this Tier since it has a CD of 8 seconds and it gets triggered when hitting creeps. The 400 attack range is only for one hit, while the 270 magic damage can be mitigated by Glimmer Cape, BKB’s, and Pipe.
Spell Prism is a better version of the Quickening Charm from the last Tier and it offers 20% cooldown reduction, +12 all stats and 4 mana regen. It is similar to Octarine Core but without the spell life steal. The item can be highly effective on any hero.
Illusionist’s Cape is a highly underrated item: it provides 14 STR and 10 Agility but also has 2 additional benefits. One of them is Illusion Mastery, which amplifies the illusion’s damage by 10% for the hero that carries it and Create Illusion. You create an illusion of yourself that deals 50% damage while taking 150% damage and that’s a huge damage output in a team fight while also having the ability to push waves with no risk.
The pro tip: you can just carry the item on a support and give it to your right clicker to use and make an illusion of himself while not occupying a slot in his inventory or backpack (since it increases the CD).
Timeless Relic is mostly an item for spell casters and disablers since it amplifies the debuff duration by 25% and spell damage by 15%. This item is always great to have on your team.
Ninja Gear offers 20 agility and 30 MS while also giving you the ability to smoke only your hero. It is one of the only items that can be used by right clickers in Tier 4. Because of what it provides, it can be used to replace Boots in the late game since you don’t lose that much MS while also having more damage.
Pro Tip: Just like the Illusionist’s Cape, you can ’’burrow’’ this item to a teammate to smoke for placing wards or ganking without being spotted.
Prince’s Knife is another overlooked item. People might be misled by the +60% projectile speed that isn’t that great so they don’t really want the item. What they forget is that they can put the item on a support hero and use its Hex ability, basically gaining another lockdown for free.
Minotaur Horn provides 20 STR and the ability to BKB for 1.75 seconds on a 32 second CD. It is pretty good to dispel stuff and sometimes to initiate but the duration is pretty low. It just feels like the slot can provide more value with another item in the late game.
Magic Lamp gives 400 HP bonus and when the wearer’s HP falls under 15% they receive a 300 HP heal and a hard dispel. Basically, it is it almost like Aeon Disk but it is inferior to that because it doesn’t offer the invulnerability duration. Still could be useful on squishy supports that want to get their spells off before dying.
Havoc Hammer offers 18 STR and 30 attack damage and an active ability Havoc. It pushes enemies back while dealing some damage and slow. However, STR heroes want to get gone on and don’t want their enemies to be pushed away and that is counter-intuitive. So, most of the time, the item ends up on some support for extra survivability, which means it’s not game-breaking.
The Leveller is a pretty overrated item in our opinion since it only gives +50 attack speed and 25% more building damage for the hero that uses it. At this stage of the game (40 mins +), a lot of cores have 4/5 big items and one that offers only attack speed doesn’t feel good enough to justify the item slot.
Hyperstone gives more attack speed than this item and the bonus damage to buildings in the late game can be negligible.
Flicker provides 30 MS and can be activated on a CD of 4 seconds to dispel yourself and blink to a random spot within 600 range. It doesn’t get disabled by taking damage. While this might seem good, it is not out of the question that you teleport in the wrong spot and just get killed.
Because of this, the item is just used on supports once they get jumped on, but even in such cases, it’s not a reliable escape mechanism.
Witless Shako gives you +1k HP while losing 400 mana. Just like Flicker, this might seem amazing on paper but it is not usable on almost any core in practice because almost all heroes need the mana badly unless they have a lot of extra mana as a consequence of their build (e.g. STR/AGI carry with Shivas/Hex, etc.).
Apex is probably one of the best items in the game, giving you an 80% bonus to your primary attribute. It is best used on Agility or Strength carries. Most of the time, STR heroes gain 2.5-3k HP, magic resistance, and damage, while AGI heroes gain a lot of MS, attack speed, damage, and armor.
Ex Machina resets the CD on all items but Refresher on a 30 second CD while also giving 25 bonus armor. It is self-explanatory how good this item is: double BKB + double Hex is game-breaking, and in particularly long fights, you might be able to use 4 e.g. BKB’s in a fight, etc.
Trident combines Sange, Yasha and Kaya while gaining +33 of AGI, STR, INT, attack speed, +33% status resistance, spell damage, mana loss reduction, life steal amplification, regen amplification, and +30 MS. It is the equivalent of an ace of all trades and can be used by almost any hero.
The downside is the cost – at this stage (70 min) even some of the heroes that build S&Y/S&K/Y&K have already sold them for higher-tier items and to get it you need to purchase all components again.
Stygian Desolator is a better version of Desolator that gives 100 damage and decreases armor by 12 so it is a great damage boost for any right-clicker to help end the game.
Phoenix Ash prevents the carrier from dying while healing by half HP and refreshing all basic abilities. Even though this item is a consumable, it is almost like having another life, and at this stage of the game, it might just be enough to secure the win.
It can be used to bait the enemy to focus on you while having this item.
Fallen Sky is created by combining Meteor Hammer with Blink while gaining more stats and having the ability to stun enemies for 2 seconds and applying an upgraded Meteor Hammer upon landing. Obviously great on initiators (especially melee heroes like Centaur and Axe that can chain the stun). The drawback is that the Meteor slows down the actual Blink arrival time, which gives people some time to activate their BKBs. This might be a problem for Blink initiators with instant disables like heroes with Hex or most notably – Earthshaker with Echo Slam. The benefit is that Fallen Sky doesn’t break from damage, which means it’s a far superior escape tool compared to Blink. Moreover, it doesn’t share a CD with Blink, which means it’s theoretically possible to hold both Blink and Fallen Sky on an initiator for some in-and-out plays.
Seer Stone offers 450 bonus vision and 450 bonus cast range and because of this it can be used to initiate from smoke or break smokes and at 70 mins+, this matters a lot, being the difference from a kill or save.
Pirate Hat gives 250 attack speed and spawns a bounty rune when killing an enemy, but at this stage of the game most heroes have maxed build and there aren’t many kills since one team is stuck in the base because of the mega creeps. This means that the bounty spawn isn’t that meaningful.
Ballista provides +400 attack range and knocks back enemies for 50 every hit, just like sniper’s talent. It doesn’t offer stats or anything else and you might not have a slot for it when it drops so that’s why we feel that it is only a C Tier Item.
Book of the Dead grants +35 INT and STR with the ability to summon 6 Necro Book units that are level 3. The units don’t feel strong at this point in the game in a fight, but because of the stats and the ability to rat with them by using the courier to activate the item in the opponent’s base while they are not paying attention, it is far from useless.
Shield gives +20 all stats and has a passive
ability named Echo Shield that blocks and sends most targeted abilities back to
their caster on a 4 second CD. It is a combination of Linken and Lotus Orb,
just like Anti Mage’s Counter Spell. It is only a B Tier Item because it only
blocks one spell every 4 seconds and everyone should have a BKB or Linken at
this point of the game so it should matter that much.
Also, it is just targeted spells, so it doesn’t help vs Axe’s Call, Fissure, etc.
Fusion Rune has 3 charges with a 120 second CD that spawns every power-up rune on you. Even though it seems really good, runes can be dispelled and the charges make it worse than most other Tier 5 Items.
Force Boots offers +50% MS while unlocking the speed limit for the wearer and has an active Force ability. It dispels and pushes the user 800 units in the direction that they are facing with 6 second CD. Generally speaking an upgraded Force Staff – useful, but hardly on par with the other game-breaking items at this stage of the game.
Woodland Striders grants +50% MS and can be activated to create trees in your path for 3 seconds on a 20 second CD while the trees last 60 seconds. It also provides 70 HP regen. Fun, but not that useful. You could block the Ancient to protect it for some time if the enemies don’t have an easy way to destroy the trees or you could block your creeps in so that you create a huge wave for the final push.
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