After giving a shout out to our favorite Aghanim’s Shards last time around, it is time to call out the ones we feel are sub-par. There can be many reasons for why we think a specific Shard can be a bad investment: it might simply be weak, it might have too high of an opportunity cost, it might be too specific to be purchased in most games or it might not fit the hero at all, at least in the hero’s most viable playstyle. Today we are going to look at five such shards that will need either significant direct buffs or the meta to change to become viable.
It is easy to differentiate between a Magnus player and a non-Magnus player, even in the professional scene. The cleanliness with which turn-around Reverse Polarity is executed or how a player like Ceb combos Skewer into Shockwave mini-pull are what make the hero exciting.
However, there is a lot of work behind this elegance: anyone who has actually attempted to pull it off should know that while doing these tricks isn’t impossibly hard, doing them consistently under different circumstances and in hectic team fights is an entirely different thing. Perhaps it is the reason Valve now allows you to “buy skill” for 1400 gold, but we would strongly advise against it.
For your money, you essentially get what the strongest Magnus players get for free, through training and dedication. You also get 200 damage and <1 second of disable, which are largely irrelevant. Don’t go for this scam and either find a different hero to play or, better yet, learn playing Magnus. The hero is absolutely worth it.
Grimstroke’s Shard is a pretty straightforward DoT with some extra MS and AS slow. With a massive cast range, decently low cooldown, and appropriate mana cost, it is definitely not weak. The problem is justifying the purchase on a support who typically really wants Aether Lens and at least one save item as soon as possible.
Grimstroke exists in two states: pre-Lens, where he wants to get his hands on it as soon as possible since it opens up so many different options. And post-Lens + Save item, where Grimstroke can start thinking about saving up for something game-changing, be it Aghanim’s Scepter vs. strong agility cores, Ethereal Blade, Scythe of Vyse, or sometimes even Halberd.
Getting a DoT slow, no matter how decent it is, does not in any way fit into this picture. It is not a quality change for the hero. It will not give answers to potential questions asked by the enemy lineup. In a sense, it is way too generic to be useful and doesn’t solve any particular problems.
Ice Spire health was doubled and its radius was increased by 20% in the last patch and it is still easily one of the most questionable purchases in the entire game. It does sound “below average, but not useless” on paper, but we assure you — it is, in fact, pretty bad.
The idea is you always have a target for Frost Shield and Chain Frost bounces. It kind of makes sense. With Chain Frost, if you are facing a lone enemy, you can bounce your ultimate with Ice Spire. You can also bridge the gap between two distant enemies with Ice Spire so that Chain Frost continues bouncing. All in all, at least in this regard, it is hyper-situational, but can be useful. Though nothing is preventing the enemy from delta-splitting from the Spire itself.
The Frost Shield interaction is probably even less useful. If, as Lich, you have no teammates around to cast Frost Shield on and make use of, you probably have some serious problems. There is a reason Lich wins 50%+ of his games in Divine-, but then drops to ~43% win rate in Divine+. In the current meta, the hero is only as good as your enemy is bad, and his Aghanim’s Shard does nothing to help with it.
Tinker’s Shard could only work on Tinker for obvious reasons: it assumes having access to Rearm. It also doesn’t really work on Tinker, because Tinker is a hero who is all about bursting down enemies as fast as possible, before they get a chance to retaliate. If you are getting hit as Tinker, you’ve probably lost already.
There are a couple of uses for it. The obvious one is preventing your Blink from getting broken in a fight, but then Shift-queuing Blink after Rearm in the direction you are facing should do the trick and in case of some annoying DoTs with a high tick rate, you can’t make do without BKB or Eul’s anyways.
The other one is covering your whole team with a Defense Matrix for extra protection. It isn’t a bad idea and would be interesting to explore if the Cast Range on Defense Matrix wasn’t 400 units.
It will be problematic to cast it during fights since Tinker wants to stay as far away from the action as possible. It is similarly problematic to cast it pre-fight, since while Defense Matrix itself isn’t too mana-hungry, Rearm is. Tinker will need a trip to base after several Matrices, and given a pretty short duration on Matrix his team will have to fight without Tinker for some time or the whole process is just pointless.
And before people ask: Lens and Cast Range talent are not enough to make it work.
There are many more Aghanim's Shards that are still in need of some buffs, but we believe the ones we discussed today most accurately describe the problems associated with some Shard purchases. It doesn't mean they are never good and as with anything Dota, there is always some hyper-specific scenario that will make them look absolutely godlike, but for the majority of your games, they are not worth it. Share your thoughts on which Shards you think need a buff or even a complete rework.