A guide to Magnus

by Dennis Gonzales Apr 20 2017
Thumbnail image courtesy of Valve

Magnus is core a hero best known for his control in the mid lane thanks to his strong nuke, as well as his ability to turn games on their head with a single good ultimate. However, more recently he's been shifted from the mid role to the offlane.

More recently he's been shifted from the mid role to the offlane, which seemed perfect for the "Son of Magnus" himself, OG's s4, since he plays in the offlane, but he hasn't played him much at all in competitive. Instead it's the top Chinese teams that have given Magnus a lot of priority, especially Newbee's kpii and Invictus Gaming's Xxs, using him to great effect at the Dota 2 Asia Championship 2017 LAN Finals.

At that event, Magnus was the most prioritized hero of the tournament, banned over twice as many times as he was picked and finished the tournament with a 60% win rate. As such, he's a hero that needs to be in every offlaner's repertoire.

Here's our guide to playing Magnus, the Magnoceros.


Similar to Puck's shift to the offlane, Magnus is likely one of the safest offlaners in the game. He has a long-range area of effect nuke with Shockwave, a strong escape tool with Skewer and thanks to Empower, one of the strongest steroid abilities in the game, he has no problem clearing the offlane jungle camps.

Last, but definitely not least, is Reverse Polarity. A high impact initiation tool that has the potential to single-handedly win big teamfights, but could have the reverse effect if misused. With a two-minute cooldown, it's worth being picky about its usage.

You'll also want to be pretty picky when it comes to your mana usage as Magnus has a pretty low intelligence growth, even though his base INT is decent.

With his kit, Magnus has the ability to become a decent right-click core in his own right, but blow for blow he's outstripped by other carries with similar farm. The role of an offlane Magnus is to enable the real hard carries on his team.

With intelligent and tempered usage of his abilities, Magnus is one of the most important heroes on the field.

Skill Build

Magnus' skill build in the offlane has largely remained unchanged in comparison to his build in the mid lane and you can generally follow the same build in 90% of your games.

Take an early value point in Skewer as your escape tool, maxing Shockwave first, maxing Empower second and taking Reverse Polarity whenever possible.

Variation in this build comes from the need for Skewer. If you plan on sticking around in the lane, take it. But if you plan on dipping into the jungle more often than not, prioritizing Empower could help you take camps faster. However, even in that case, the safety of having Skewer is too good to pass.


Like any initiator hero, mobility is a critical portion of your item build. To get there quickly with Magnus' kit requires an early investment into mana regeneration. In the mid lane this is achieved through a Bottle, but offlane Magnus prefers Arcane Boots.

With those two core items, Magnus' kit is greatly enabled and there are a number of different paths his build could pursue from there.

Early Game

Magnus' starting build is about as simple as it could get. A set of Tangos and a Poor Man's Shield. It's a build that both kpii and Xxs use in a majority of their games.

From here you'll want to pick up at least a Quelling Blade, which can be upgraded to an Iron Talon at your preference, then build your Arcane Boots.

If you can get value out of them, pick up a Magic Stick or Magic Wand. Infused Raindrops can be fit into the starting items at any point, as well as additional Tangos or Clarity Potions.

Mid Game

After your early game items your highest priority will be a Blink Dagger and you'll want to hit a timing as early as possible, ideally 11 minutes.

From here, both Xxs and kpii often build a Hand of Midas, which seems a little backwards considering Magnus' ability to farm, but you have to remember that your farm priority comes third after your mid laner and safe laner. Not only that, but you benefit far less from farm than your other cores, as such, you'll want to leave farm for your other cores while still progressing your own items. Hence Midas.

From here you'll generally want another way of enhancing your initiation. Force Staff is a good way of extending your initiation range, while Shadow Blade allows you to catch the enemy off guard if they're not vigilant with Sentry Wards. Definitely don't be shy about getting both items too. Xxs mixes it up, while kpii almost always gets a Shadow Blade, at least.

Late Game

Your late game items will be heavily dependent on the requirements of the team or if you need to counter something from the enemy team. This can range from a Mekansm into an eventual Guardian Greaves, a logical choice given your Arcane Boots and farming ability. Or a Pipe of Insight against magic damage or a Shiva's Guard against physical damage.

One late game extension always worth considering, arguably above all other options, is a Refresher Orb and this is true for most heroes with long cooldown ultimates. A strong double Reverse Polarity initiation can destroy just about any lineup, and even just knowing a Magnus has a Refresher is enough for any team to take pause when approaching the high ground.

Skill Tree

Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
+15% Spell Amp +12 STR +40 Movement Speed -4s Shockwave CD
+25 Attack Speed +90 GPM +10% Empower Damage -35s Respawn Time

Magnus' Level 10 talents appear to be a toss up when looking at Xxs and kpii's builds. Xxs always takes the 15 percent spell amplification, while kpii always takes the +25 attack speed. This may be related to their item builds as kpii almost always gets a Shadow Blade, and the extra attack speed would synergize well with Shadow Blade's extra attack damage. However, if you're looking for pure value, the spell amp talent bonus is one of the highest of its type in the game.

At Level 15, normally a +12 STR bonus would be a no brainer, but in an offlane Magnus' case, you'll want as much farm possible, without taking from your other cores. And since you're the initiator you'll be going headlong into fights and your survival is less important than getting a good initiation.

At Level 20, the 10% Empower damage upgrade is simply too good to pass up, this brings both the bonus damage and cleave damage up from 50 percent to 60 percent. The +40 movement speed is nice, but pales in comparison to the Empower bonus.

Finally, at Level 25 take the four second Shockwave cooldown, since respawn time bonuses are generally trash, especially for Magnus, who is fairly reliant on his long two-minute ultimate cooldown.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev Discipline Priest Pharah. You can follow him on Twitter.