New Meta: Magic Damage Ember Spirit

The introduction of the talent trees was a big step for Dota. While the system is still in its infancy, with some talents having less of an impact than expected, the possibilities with it are vast.

For the majority of heroes, the talent system was more or less a simple upgrade—the core playstyle of the hero was enhanced, rather than altered. For others, however, it opened a way for completely new builds, with the hero having two distinct choices.

The most notable developments of the early 7.xx era so far was the magic damage Ember Spirit. This build is not viable without the choice of the crucial talents, yet when played correctly can be both surprising and devastating.

Magic Damage Ember Spirit

The idea of a “caster” Ember has been floating for quite a while. Until recently, however, it was simply a gimmick—the Battlefury build provided a lot more utility, more reliable damage, better outpush and split-push.

Understanding the Changelog

7.00 changed a lot for the hero. We had a potential nerf to the cleave build, with the cleave mechanic itself and the Sleight of Fist Sleight of Fist reworks. The ability did become more reliable, since all attacks from Sleight of Fist now occur, as if Ember Spirit is standing in front of the target, from the direction of the casting location. But this change also limited the amount of damage he deals to the front line of the enemy team.

This reliability is definitely a double-edged sword—Ember can now more reliably try to focus the back rows of the enemy team, deciding himself, where he will deal the most damage. At the same time, the enemy team has access to the same information and can position themselves better, to minimize the effectiveness of cleave damage. The latter can be rather hard for an uncoordinated pub team to pull off, but in the pro-scene even huge AoE ultimates such as Song of the Siren Song of the Siren were successfully played against, with teams spreading just well enough, not to get caught in some AoE follow-up.

Aside from the cleave rework, the hero has also received numerous buffs to his magic damage output. Some of these are optional, hiding behind a talent choice, yet some are universal. Most notably, the hero now deals 50% more damage from each remnant, when using level 3 Activate Fire Remnant Activate Fire Remnant, allowing for 900 damage AoE nukes, before magic amp and reductions.

The new way

The magic damage Ember Spirit is exactly what the title suggests. The hero deals a lot of physical damage by design, however, in most games by top players, almost 75% of damage they dealt was magical.

The talent progression for this build is more or less self-explanatory. At level 10 it prioritizes +15% magic damage. At level 15, the choice generally goes in favor of the stats, as opposed to somewhat redundant movement speed. Level 20 is a big jump, with a massive cooldown reduction of 15%. Finally, at level 25, the build usually goes for the extra duration on Searing Chains Searing Chains. Extra damage absorption can be a decent choice, however it does not directly increase the DPS and utility of the hero.

With this build, the hero becomes more of a nuisance, than he ever was—cooldown reduction coupled with extra magic damage, makes for a highly elusive target, which deals a respectable amount of damage without the need to actually attack its target. But that is not all.

The itemization of the hero has also completely changed. Boots of Travel are still the best choice for the hero, but they are not as prioritized in the early game, with Veil of Discord Veil of Discord being the first core item of the build.

The item in its current state fills the void left by the rework of Drum of Endurance Drum of Endurance. It is a strong and cheap early game item, packed with amazing stats. It already gained in popularity, back when Death Prophet Death Prophet was reigning supreme in the mid lane, but has fallen out of favor since—there wasn’t a strong hero, who could fit it into their regular build. The magic damage Ember single handedly returned the item into the spotlight.

The active component of the Veil is often undervalued, but the 25% magic damage increase is a strong tool, regardless of the stage of the game. Since it debuffs the targets, rather than amp the magic damage from the source, it works exceptionally well in combination with other nukers. It also allows Ember Spirit to farm incredibly fast and even taking ancient stacks is not completely out of the question.

The typical follow-up to the early Veil is Boots of Travel and Blink Dagger. Magic damage Ember Spirit typically needs to use his remnants offensively, rather than defensively, leaving him with less escape and mobility options than the hero is used to. Hence, the Blink Dagger is purchased slightly earlier, compared to typical builds.

As the game progresses, this build starts to fall of slightly—the burn damage from the Flame Guard Flame Guard becomes less impactful, and the Searing Chains upgrade is still some time away. This is the time, where Maelstrom Maelstrom generally comes into play—with the cooldown reduction talent, Ember Spirit can use Sleight of Fist every 5.1 seconds. The proc chance of 25% is generally high enough to guarantee a proc on a wave of creeps and heroes, adding decent damage into the mix. It also allows you to save Flame Guard for when you absolutely need it, instead of using it to split-push—at this point creeps die almost as fast as with a Battlefury build.

After this, the Octarine Core Octarine Core is almost always a worthwhile purchase. Despite cooldown reduction stacking multiplicatively, instead of additively, it is still a major upgrade to the spell usage of the hero. For one, it reduces the cooldown of Sleight of Fist to ridiculous 3.825s, allowing the hero to safely outpush all enemy aggression, staying invulnerable. The cooldown of Searing Chains with this build is also reduced to 5.1s, and this number is very important, since it is only 0.1s longer than the effect of the Searing Chains with the talent upgrade.


Late into the game, Ember Spirit becomes elusive, constantly disabling targets with a decent damage output. In fact, when the build is “complete” and the hero has reached level 25, he can almost permanently control two targets, while staying almost completely safe—the SoF+Searing Chains combo allows for that.

At this point, he essentially has 4 core item slots: Boots of Travel, Blink Dagger, Maelstrom/Mjollnir and Octarine Core. The other two can be filled with essentially anything—Veil of Discord at this point has often already served its purpose. You can go for extra survivability and self-dispel with Manta Style Manta Style, Black King Bar Black King Bar or even Eul's Scepter of Divinity Eul's Scepter of Divinity. You can go for extra right-click damage, to transition into a more conservative, hybrid core. Radiance can be a good addition as well, but it generally should be fit in earlier, since it loses its value, as the game progresses. You can even go for a burst combo of Dagon+Ethereal Blade. The options are quite extensive, and purchasing the appropriate gear for the occasion is a must.

That said, late-game is also the time when this build starts to fall off and becomes weaker than the cleave counterpart. If you do not manage to close the game in time, you are almost guaranteed to face hard carries, who will be able to largely ignore your magic damage, while being better at taking the objectives. Moreover, even with several items boosting survivability, Ember Spirit is still a very squishy hero with an incredibly poor stats growth.

The enemy is also a lot more likely to have answers to your infinite Searing Chains combo—cores will have BKBs, supports and utility heroes might find money for a Lotus Orb and the actual distance between you and the enemy becomes much smaller, when half the enemy team has Force Staffs and Blink Daggers. Once you are caught in a disable—you are almost certainly dead, and this is true regardless of the build for Ember Spirit. The cleave one, at this point, simply has better chances of killing the enemy team before they kill him.

Closing Thoughts

7.xx Dota seems to shape a tempo meta once again. The team in the driver’s seat is more likely to keep on dominating, courtesy of extra benefits being ahead provides. Getting into this seat, therefore, often becomes a priority.

Magic damage Ember Spirit is a tempo play—he comes online much faster, with good stat-boosting items and high damage output. He is not as easily killed, as the cleave one, since he can boast almost 7 extra armor and some extra HP. And he is almost as good when it comes to split-pushing and being a macro nuisance.

That said, he still suffers from the usual problems tempo heroes have—he will eventually fall off. Ideally, you want to finish the game before this happens, but coordinating with a team of random players can be a daunting task and you do not deal nearly enough damage to structures to win the game on your own. So, when you try this build, try to communicate with your team more and ask them to group up and push for victory, while you still can.

More from The Dotabuff Blog

    Первый !!!


      2nd to post




          4th 123456




              Stupid talent tree. Some heroes are way too imbalance.


                Dumb article


                  gg will try


                    Не первый)


                      WIN WIN WIN!


                        Сливает только всем игры в пабе

                        ITS ISPEP MANE

                          Radiance is nice too.


                            Master Sing was first who played this ember.He was playing with radiance and octarine


                              fuck first trash russian


                                Ебал таких на миду


                                  Nice article but trash build

                                  SEC ACC ROAD TO 3K

                                    GG DOTA


                                      I have been using this build exclusively with ember lately and have won 4 out of 5 games with it. If you have another nuker or high magic damage hero in your team its becomes almost unbeatable in early teamfights.

                                      Паша Динамит

                                        Why i'm playing with this game?


                                          @Vladeeeeeek - ебака грозный. У тебя же профиль открыт, ты сыграл всего 10 игр, причём действительно один раз штормом против магического эмбера на миду.
                                          ЛУЛз только в том, что ты ему проиграл.

                                          кавай в крови

                                            10-2 on this ember

                                            Cheap Laugh Guy

                                              WTF is Maelstrom coming back because the meta emphasize on fighting more than farming?


                                                The nerf is coming... "7.02" 10% Magic damage amp. Lvl 15 and cooldown reduction removed, for sure...


                                                  6 Battlefury ember is the best!


                                                    singsing was not the first one to try it
                                                    it was someone like sumail i think who started it off by going veil

                                                    The Half-Blood Prince

                                                      veil ember is trash




                                                          Recenty played against an ember with this kind of build with me being necrophos. He has a good start until I got my Euls, he cant do shit anymore after his flameguard got dispelled my teammates rekt him.

                                                          M C T

                                                            ember TRASH


                                                              normal players buy necronomicon and atos, veil is obsolete


                                                                3 HoT + 1 battlefury + 1 Batterfly + 1 Divine Rapier = ez rampage

                                                                Brock Hall

                                                                  Can't add to much to the article as I'm not an Ember player, but I love that the article was written. It's great to have this kind of theory crafting as it opens up dialogues and is valuable information for player growth (studying is part of playing). Seriously, props to Dotabuff for keeping this kind of thing up.

                                                                  Now here's my opinion:

                                                                  This seems like a highly situational build that could be used as a surprise or as a backup strategy in case traditional counters to Ember are picked. However, looking at how Ember plays mechanically, zipping around the map, rooting players and doing dmg in a small aoe? That's Storm Spirit. If you're picking Ember, you probably should plan to NOT use this build unless there is a very specific reason to. If you want to do the magic damage tempo controlling stuff with high mobility, what would make this a better choice than Storm?


                                                                    @brock hall: because ember can go online faster than storm, and potentially kill 2+ heroes in lane, whilst storm can only focus on one. with this build, ember can also clear creepwave better without much items (veil+flameguard). this build suits well for objective taking aimed to finish game before 40 minutes, and not for late game scenarios.

                                                                    I'm going back to UT

                                                                      Well, at least it is not + 6 Treants

                                                                      while (false);

                                                                        For some reasons Chinese players prefer to build blade mail instead of veil.


                                                                          Great article!!!!! ty


                                                                            I don't get how people think this build is trash when its so fucking good. i played magic ember and went 30/7 although it was just a 2k game i had to sell some stuff and build right click in late game though. still lost the game


                                                                              Автор вообще ебанутый, какой нахуй маг урон у эмбера

                                                                              Cheap Laugh Guy

                                                                                Magic Ember is strong. Just met one in my smurf, he was probably some 4k smurf too and rekt my team real hard 33/7
                                                                                But I'm sure I can handle him if I was mid
                                                                                But that proves that Ember can be a solo pubstomper like old ArcWarden
                                                                                Just need to master him.

                                                                                Old Ironsides

                                                                                  Lost three games in a row due to some dumb shit peruvian doing this build and failing hard. gg


                                                                                    Magic Ember is so cool right now.
                                                                                    Раки, которые это отрицают, просто смешны

                                                                                    YoRHa No.2 Type B

                                                                                      I love how people who shit on this post are all below 3k mmr. LUL.
                                                                                      Gitgud first before shitposting.

                                                                                      Brock Hall


                                                                                        I get that it's an early game window build but it still seems like a cheese strat. I can see it being effective, but only if you take your opponent off guard. I feel like there are a lot of other effective, safe choices that would accomplish the same goal. The extra creep wave speed is something to chew on for sure though.

                                                                                        *FarizTampan 2nd.FFC

                                                                                          Despite cooldown reduction stacking multiplicatively, instead of additively

                                                                                          THANKS FOR THIS INFORMATION
                                                                                          VERY NICE ARTICLE


                                                                                            @Brock Hall
                                                                                            You just need to understand that this build comes from pro scene, and the reason is that bf ember is already not that effective in pro games due to much better coordination. There is probably no reason that it should be better on 2k mmr where majority of pub players live.
                                                                                            On the other hand there are millions of great low mmr pub builds that work superb in pubs but are of no value in pro scene. You just don't need to copy builds from top players - sometimes they are not suited for your games.

                                                                                            *FarizTampan 2nd.FFC

                                                                                              btw very nice article , good job kawai and dotabuff

                                                                                              did u know all the pros read this article too
                                                                                              since this dotabuff is known all over the world

                                                                                              rush veil on ember on his teammates , fit better to amplify magic damage
                                                                                              especially in tandem with AA skill 2 or bloodseeker skill 1 or EE max skill 3 first
                                                                                              no one want to tank this ember
                                                                                              u know magic damage reduction is stack additively , its like 1,15(talent) * 1,25(veil) * 1,15(ice vortex) = +65% amplify skill 1 n 3

                                                                                              and 2 maelstorm is better if u want this build , since it will proc more often than 1 maelstorm (beside radiance build)
                                                                                              u guys focus on magical damage right ? so , abuse it
                                                                                              u can kill 100% 1 wave creep with 1 cast of SoF

                                                                                              oracle can rape this ember type build , he can purge skill 1 n skill 3 all day long
                                                                                              no skill 3 no magic damage

                                                                                              *FarizTampan 2nd.FFC

                                                                                                since a long time ago , veil discord is a massive boost for magical damage
                                                                                                u can feel how hurt zeus hit + veil
                                                                                                u can see how EG win TI with skill 2 ice vortex + Echo in roshan pit

                                                                                                the main culprit is veil discord i think
                                                                                                ember magical damage without veil can fail hard

                                                                                                and radiance build , with radiance alone , mainly on alche n spec , already a pain in the ass
                                                                                                especially +15% magical talent +25% veil
                                                                                                no one can stand without BKB against this build (in early game)


                                                                                                  Consistently 40k+ dmg with this build LUL. It's sad how underrated is perma searing chains 1-2 heroes.