This time around, when making the Aghanim’s Tier List, we decided to separate the whole Dota roster into several parts, concentrating on DPS cores in the first blog of the series. Aghanim’s can’t be analyzed in a vacuum, since third or fourth Roshan aside, it has a price tag, hence an opportunity cost. And the opportunity costs for farming cores, utility cores and supports are very different.
For DPS cores, our tier list will follow these general guidelines:
Do keep in mind that we are talking about these heroes played in a typical first or second position, not as utility cores. There is going to be an overlap in the future and some upgrades will move up and down in the Tiers, depending on the role of the hero.
Invoker’s Agh’s is probably the only must-buy Aghanim’s in the game. The hero simply doesn’t work without it, at least not too well. There are builds with delayed upgrade and Spirit Vessel, but at one point all Invokers want to have access to a 2-second cooldown Invoke. Otherwise they are very limited in their spell usage.
This upgrade didn’t look great on paper, but it is absolutely devastating in reality. Combining two Skeleton Walks, you can potentially get a 480% increase in damage to a single target, without even using your ultimate. Clinkz is a teamfight hero now and with the upgrade he isn’t even limited by his cooldowns. Aghanim’s Stats are also pretty important for the hero—extra HP and Mana can go a long way for glass cannon characters with frequent mana problems.
There is a chance this upgrade is overrated, but so far it looks exceptionally strong. Adding an extra 100+ damage to each autoattack and ability is a massive increase in DPS, pushing power and sustain of the hero. Moreover, it makes the hero considerably less cooldown-dependant and turns her silence into a small "nuke" and slow.
The change in 7.21 that made it so Static Field procs on Nimbus lightning was largely overlooked, because the hero wasn’t in a good place. Currently, the combined damage from Lightning Bolt and Static Field make Nimbus one of the potentially strongest nukes in the game that keeps on delivering damage over and over again. Do keep in mind that while Nimbus procs Static Field, the Lightning Bolt from it does not benefit from Zeus’s spell damage amplification.
This is borderline S Tier, with the only caveat being that Ember Spirit really needs both acceleration and safety items first. In games where the enemy doesn’t have enough lockdown, it can be purchased quite early and will make the game a nightmare for the enemy, but otherwise some sort of extra survivability or a farming tool is necessary.
Two ultimates and a shorter cooldown make it so that if Bloodseeker ever gets the tempo control, it is going to be really hard for the enemy to wrestle it back. Rupture is currently weaker damage-wise than it used to be, but it is still a very strong initiation and lockdown spell.
Broodmother's Agh's can't be underestimated, since it provides the hero with a lot of mobility and extra map control. If generally the hero is capable of taking over a single lane, with the help of Agh's she can easily control two and be a lot more oppressive as a siege hero.
This can be the fourth-fifth inventory slot against heavy lockdown lineups, since with the help of Satanic it can immensely increase Gyro’s survivability. It can even be picked up slightly earlier, if you need the extra HP versus high burst lineup.
Laguna going through spell immunity solves a lot of problems against squishier targets with BKB. The burst damage is massive and has little counterplay, allowing Lina to stay a relevant nuker for a very long time. It is a generally good item that shines really bright in games against agility carries with high armor and low HP pool. Building for right-click DPS and utility is preferable otherwise.
This Agh’s is pretty similar to Gyrocopter’s. It increases the DPS of the hero without directly influencing his attack speed or damage, but it doesn’t provide potential passive lifesteal, making it slightly worse. As a DPS increase, it is still stronger than Moonshard in the later stages of the game, and can be pretty good with on-hit effects of Echo Sabre, Maelstrom or Diffusal Blade.
The hero isn’t particularly good right now, but his Agh’s is still pretty amazing. The amount of extra damage Tinker gets from this item is pretty high and unless your team desperately needs extra lockdown, it can be an amazing purchase quite early.
There are games where you absolutely need it on Ursa, but it is also generally good for boosting sustained DPS of the hero and his survivability. Lower cooldown means potential multiple uses throughout the fight.
More damage on a shorter cooldown. There is nothing exciting about this Agh’s, but it increases the damage enough to justify a relatively early purchase, especially if you are playing aggressively.
Extra familiars might not be relevant at attacking heroes in the later stages of the game, but their split-pushing power should not be underestimated. With four familiars with the help of talent, Visage can continuously weaken or kill waves across the map, prolonging the game and forcing opponent mistakes.
This is borderline B Tier for a DPS Wraith King, but seven seconds of extra life often means getting an extra kill or finishing the objective. Can be purchased to support the second DPS core on your team and should generally be avoided, if your teams still lacks damage.
Players really overvalue Aghanim’s Scepter from Alchemist. It is a late-game stalemate breaker at best and other items should take priority over it. Moreover, it no longer gives extra stats to the receiving hero, making it a lot worse.
Once again, Anti-Mage really needs his own items first, before going for the Aghanim’s Scepter. It can be occasionally purchased as an actual inventory slot against strong Buyback heroes such as Spectre or Enigma, but Anti-Mage generally thrives on being ahead in items and Aghanim’s stats do not help with maintaining his momentum.
It looks cool, and the extra stats on Dragon Form are pretty neat, but for Dragon Knight to stay relevant, he really needs a lot of other items. On top of it, the fourth level of Dragon is at its best when the BKBs are already low on charges, since the slow effects no longer pierce spell immunity.
This Agh’s is really good against illusion heroes and is probably below mediocre in other cases. It can be a necessity, but Drow shouldn’t be picked with Agh’s in mind to counter illusion-based heroes.
This a great consumable and can even be justified as an inventory slot, provided your team has enough control. Lower cooldown is great on its own, but the extra duration is also pretty great.
Spell Immunity is what makes this purchase worthwhile. When playing against teams with no hard saves or hard lockdowns, Scepter is very much justifiable, especially if you had a good early game. Otherwise it is probably better to skip the upgrade altogether, since it can be occasionally detrimental.
Luna’s Agh’s was picked up a couple of times, mostly in matchups against Terrorblade. In situations where you might not be able to become the big, scary carry, pivoting towards it as a tempo option for taking objectives can be necessary and pretty powerful.
Thinking of fifth-sixth slot on a hero with a total of 12 slots should be different, but it is a situationally excellent item that allows for constant split-push with a lot of tower pressure as well. It is not plan A most of the time, but if the game ever goes late, Aghanim’s Scepter on Lone Druid can give your team an extra win condition or force opponent mistakes.
1.4 seconds cooldown on God’s Rebuke allow the hero to be a relevant DPS core in the later stages of the game. High BAT makes it harder for Mars to build as a conventional right-clicking DPS core, but this Agh’s ensures high and sustainable amounts of damage. If this is what your team lacks, it might be a good idea, otherwise more auras is generally a better choice.
This is an interesting option for DPS Mirana, since it is also a farming tool. It is generally decent, but the choice of whether you want it or not should be made around the third-fourth slot timing. Sometimes going for extra magic damage can be worth it, even on carry or mid Mirana. Sometimes it won’t make sense.
This Aghanim’s Scepter looks weak overall. 40 seconds cooldown means that it is rare for the ability to be used twice in a fight and the stats are not particularly impressive on the hero either, but if you manage to asynchronize enemy respawn timers and apply continuous pressure, the game can quickly turn in a continuous 4v5.
Very similar to Mirana’s upgrade, the choice has to be made pretty early on this upgrade. It increases the tempo of the hero and the stats are actually pretty good on QoP, but the overall effect is more strategic than tactical.
Razor is a tanky frontliner who wants the enemy to pay attention to him, while his actual carry is uninterrupted in dealing damage. Because of it, Agh’s upgrade for the hero faded away, but in some games it can be a situational sixth slot, after all the necessary survivability items have been purchased.
The upgrade for Spectre is actually great, but once again the hero really wants all the stats she can get her hands on. It can be a situational fifth or sixth slot in games against split-pushing heroes like Furion, but otherwise should not take actual inventory space.
AoE Vortex is amazing. It is effective, it looks great and it allows Storm Spirit to initiate fights really well. It is also not necessarily in line with how the hero want to be played. Having more damage and more mana regeneration is generally going to be preferable.
As long as Tiny has enough damage, this purchase can be amazing. The problem is, even core Tiny rarely builds many DPS items until later in the game—the hero needs a lot of mobility to stay relevant. Sometimes it is going to be possible to squeeze this into the sixth slot, especially against squishier opponents.
Against multiple right-clicking cores, it is a decent upgrade and can be purchased pretty early. In most games, however, it is going to be less effective and should not be built with DPS in mind.
Not the first choice for DPS Weaver, but a good option as the first consumable before Moonshard. Gives the hero a lot of extra utility, while lower cooldown allows Weaver himself to be more aggressive.
Faceless Void is not a typical carry and his DPS is somewhat limited, but Chronosphere is among the strongest ultimates in the game, in the right lineup. Lower cooldown on ulti as a fifth-sixth slot can greatly help with transition into an actual DPS carry later on, where it can be later consumed.
This one is really weird. On one hand, a timely DD or Haste can turn the game, on the other—it is not a reliable DPS or Utility item. There are times where it can be a worthwhile purchase and has an interesting potential synergy with Alchemist, if you are lucky to get Bounty runes, but otherwise there are better, more active options.
This can be purchased if you need dispel on a 4-second cooldown or there is a very tanky hero on the enemy team, but otherwise the item is not what the hero needs.
This Agh’s doesn’t really accomplish much. Sure, it helps with landing multiple-hero Ghost Ships, but Kunkka in core position is better off having more burst damage and survivability.
Survivability is key for Leshrac past early game, when most enemies will have BKBs. The DPS increase is noticeable, but it does nothing once the enemy is spell immune and Agh’s doesn’t really help surviving through it.
Medusa needs other items and stats. Similar to how Spectre wants all the stats she can get her hands on, but without the situationally good upsides.
This can be somewhat good against Lifestealer or Gyrocopter with access to more Rage or Flak Cannon, but is otherwise not something DPS Morphling wants. Utility Morphling is not a thing yet either.
This Agh’s is pretty great, but not on a DPS-Naga. It might be worth considering before Moonshard, since illusions don’t really benefit from bonus Attack Speed.
Not particularly great, but can be a necessity if your team really needs extra save. Does nothing for DPS or survivability of the hero.
1600 range on a three second fear is great and all, but it has a 155-second cooldown. It can be used to break highground, since Terrorblade is more than capable of destroying at least one barrack in the span of three seconds, but otherwise not worth an actual inventory slot.
A disable against particularly annoying supports such as Winter Wyvern, Dazzle or Oracle and it can come in handy once in a while, but not worth a slot. If you are sacrificing a slot for a hard disable, why not go for Scythe or Abyssal instead?
It is probably slightly better than Moonshard on an illusion hero, but should not be an actual inventory slot.
It is a stalemate-breaker later in the game, but should be ignored on position one Sven until after the Moonshard is purchased and there is a refresher in the hero’s backpack.
At this point, it is hard to see what Assimilate does for your team. Extra mobility for another immobile core? A save? Free AoE slow from assimilating Pudge? It can come in handy once in a game 60+ minutes in, by allowing Lifestealer to save his teammate, but it is definitely not worth a slot.
This is essentially an item that costs 4200 gold and gives extra gold to the enemy. Can help with pushing the lanes, but with BoTs and TPs it is just not enough of a split-pushing threat to justify a purchase.
The immediate refresh of abilities on kill is pretty great, but if you are so far ahead that it comes into play multiple times in quick succession, it probably wasn’t the deciding factor. And if you have built it earlier, you are no longer as far ahead as you used to be, since stats from Agh’s do nothing to help PA deal damage.
This has the potential to look like B or even A Tier in some games, but at this point it is no longer a DPS Slark. It is a good 8th slot, but is otherwise outclassed by Refresher and Moonshard. At least in the way the hero is being currently played.
As a 7th or 8th slot, this is pretty underwhelming, but can come in handy if the game is at the Divine Rapier stage. This should not be plan A, but can be a slightly-above-average plan B.
This is very cute and better players and teams might find ways for this to look absolutely overpowered, but for the most part it is not the item TA wants until after she is six-slotted. Similar to Spectre, however, it can be pretty good against split-pushing heroes.