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Dota 2

Dota 2 7.35b: Why Vlad’s Morphling is Rising in Popularity

Patrick Bonifacio

The new metagame brought about by Dota 2 Patch 7.35b includes one particularly interesting development: Vlad’s Morphling. This is of course in reference to Morphling buying Vladmir’s Offering as an early-to-midgame item, which to the average Dota 2 player may not be such an obvious choice.

Dota 2 Morphling Splash

via Valve

This build was pioneered by Entity’s Alimzhan “watson” Islambekov, after discovering just how potent the build can be. So, why then is this build currently on the rise, and what does it bring to the table for a hero like Morphling? Read on to find out and learn how to exploit this meta development for yourself.

Recipe Changes

Vladmir’s Offering received a fairly significant buff in 7.35b, with the 250 gold recipe from its previous incarnation now gone entirely. This reduces its total cost from 2,450 gold to 2,200 gold — which is always welcome for a farm-dependent carry like Morphling. Getting Vlad’s at around the 10 to 11-minute mark is now quite viable for Morphling as a result.

It can also now be disassembled, which is actually the much bigger deal for Morphling. Two of the four components in Vladmir’s Offering are also components in other useful items; said components being Morbid Mask and Blades of Attack. Morbid Mask can go into Satanic in the late game if Morphling needs more lifesteal, while Blades of Attack can build into Crystalys then either Khanda or Daedalus. More on Khanda later.

Cost-Effective Farming Tool

Morphling has always gravitated towards cost-effective mana regeneration and lifesteal in order to sustain his farm in the early game. Things like Falcon Blade and Morbid Mask would be standard on the hero in the previous patch, as Morphling depends on the damage output from both Waveform (Q) and the bonus agility from Attribute Shift (D) in order to farm.

But considering the fact that Vladmir’s Offering is only 175 gold more expensive than Falcon Blade and Morbid Mask combined, it is much more favorable as an item choice than the aforementioned pairing. Vlad’s gives Morphling way more bang for the buck: a similar amount of mana regen, lifesteal, and most importantly, percentage based bonus damage.

It’s hard to overstate the significance of that last point. Morphling is the one hero in the entire game that benefits the most from multiplicative attack damage bonuses by virtue of his theoretically infinite agility. Attribute Shift allows him to hit absurd levels in that regard, which means that he gets a ton of value from the bonus damage aura.

This in turn feeds the lifesteal component directly, which means Morphling can farm jungle camps without having to worry about sustaining his health through the early game. All in all, Vladmir’s Offering is just the perfect early item for Morphling.

Shotgun Morphling Returns

Now, back to Khanda as we mentioned before. This item is ridiculous on Morphling, as he relies a lot on Adaptive Strike — a single target spell — to deal quick bursts of damage in a teamfight. Khanda makes Adaptive Strike so much more frightening, as the item adds a big chunk of Morphling’s attack damage (which as discussed is theoretically infinite thanks to Attribute Shift) to the damage output of Adaptive Strike.

In contrast to the old “shotgun” Morphling build, which involved buying Ethereal Blade in order to boost the damage of Adaptive Strike, Khanda is just a better choice overall these days due to the change to Ether Blast in 7.31. What’s more, Khanda gives Morphling some extra oomph in his auto attacks thanks to the built-in Critical Strike — as if he needed even more ways to pump out damage in the late game.

Khanda is kind of a trap item for heroes such as Sniper, but rest assured that it isn’t just a meme on Morphling. As for the item progression order, you’ll want to get your Vlad’s first, then get a Manta Style for the extra stats and ability to purge off debuffs, then disassemble your Vlad’s to turn it into a Crystalys.

Phylactery comes thereafter as it’s the primary component in Khanda. From there, you can assess whether or not you need to build the remaining Morbid Mask into Satanic, depending on the opposing team’s draft.

Honorable Mention: Aghanim’s Shard

To top all of this off, we can’t go without at least touching upon Morphling’s incredible Aghanim’s Shard. It seems rather innocuous at first glance: Morphling can use Attribute Shift while stunned if he has the Shard upgrade unlocked. Certainly nothing flashy compared to some of the crazier upgrades out there.

But when you realize that this Shard allows you to use Attribute Shift even inside something like Chronosphere or Black Hole, then the game changes entirely from there. It becomes nigh impossible to kill Morphling in the late game thanks to this, even with some inescapable abilities like the two mentioned in the previous sentence.

Just something to think about if you need an extra layer of protection against disables. Note that this is not meant to be a replacement for Black King Bar, as you will still take magic damage and potentially get slowed during teamfights without it. If you need to, buy a BKB. As always, it can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

And there you have it: Vlad’s Morphling and all the details that tell us why this build has been picking up steam over the last several days. The item progression in the build is just so natural and makes so much sense, so it’s easy to transition from the old style of Morphling to this new age one fueled by Vladmir’s Offering and Khanda.

Of course, there still exists the usual caveat: Morphling is a very, very mechanically demanding hero and requires razor sharp game sense from the player. If you don’t know how to play Morphling at the basic level, we recommend practicing the hero in unranked games before you head into ranked matches with it. Otherwise, there is a pretty good chance you might end up griefing your own team or making the wrong judgment calls in the heat of battle.