Morphling Dota Hero, The Guide

Morphling, The Guide

The Basics

* Introduction
* Tavern Location and Stats
* Abilities
* Pros and Cons


* Skill Order
* Item Build
* General Strategy/Roles


The Morphling has been one of my favorite heros ever since I started playing in version 5.34. At first glance, he looks very complicated and intimidating to play but once you figure him out, you’ll see that he’s incredibly versatile and fun. Hopefully after reading this guide, you’ll be well prepared to play him smile.gif

Tavern Location and Stats

Health: 511
Mana: 221
Damage: 34 - 43; 38.5 average
Armor: 3.7


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The Morphling dissolves into his components and surges forward, dealing damage to everything in his wake.
Level 1: 100 damage.
Level 2: 175 damage.
Level 3: 250 damage.
Level 4: 325 damage.
Mana Cost: 140/155/160/165
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Range: 1000

This is your bread and butter skill. Good Waveforming is one of the skills that will make or break your Morphling. It has tons of uses, which include initiating, farming, escaping, chasing, and harassing. All that will be covered later, in the gameplay section. Note that unlike regular Blink, you can Waveform into areas of the map you haven’t seen.

It’s one of the most damaging non-ultimate AoE nukes, being up there with Jakiro’s Dual Breath and Pugna’s Nether Blast. Not to mention that Morphling gets a Blink effect thrown in.

Also, be warned that your hero does not keep your previous orders after Waveforming. Immediately tell your Morphling to do what you need after Waveform finishes, otherwise you can easily lose a kill.

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Adaptive Strike

Blasts a target with magical energy, dealing damage or disabling the target based on the Morphling’s dominant attribute between agility and strength.
Level 1: Deals 30 + 1.4x agility in damage or stuns for 1.4 seconds and knocks back 200 distance.
Level 2: Deals 60 + 1.8x agility in damage or stuns for 1.8 seconds and knocks back 200 distance.
Level 3: Deals 90 + 2.2x agility in damage or stuns for 2.2 seconds and knocks back 200 distance.
Level 4: Deals 120 + 2.6x agility in damage or stuns for 2.6 seconds and knocks back 200 distance.
Mana Cost: 100
Cooldown: 20 seconds
Range: 600/700/800/900

If your total agility is higher than your total strength it does the damage and if your strength is higher it does the disable. If your strength and agility are equal, you’ll get both effects.

The spell is trigger based and therefore the damage/stun happens as soon as you cast the spell, not when the projectile hits. The damage is a physical attack, so its damage will be reduced by armor and not spell resistance. Because of this, while it looks like it would start to deal a huge amount of damage later in the game, it actually does relatively the same amount because people keep gaining more armor throughout the game with stats, Platemails, etc.

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The Morphling edits his physical being to fit the circumstances. He can, at will, lose some strength and gain agility, or vice versa. The process is reversible.
Level 1: 2 points per second.
Level 2: 4 points per second.
Level 3: 6 points per second.
Level 4: 8 points per second.
Mana Cost: 20 per second
Note: Throughout the guide, this ability will be referred to as “Agi/Str”, because it’s just too confusing to have a hero with the same name as one of his abilities. The activation of this ability will be referred to as Agi+ or Str+.

This is the most underestimated ability that the Morphling has. I see a lot of people leaving this out of their builds because they either don’t understand it or don’t see how good it is. It helps you to customize your Morphling exactly how you want it and also makes you extremely hard to kill.

How it Works:
When you learn Agi/Str, you get two spells, Agi+ and Str+. To turn one on, set it to “autocast” by right-clicking it; to turn it off, just take the “autocast” off again. Note that since you’re not actually casting the spell, just autocasting it, you can enable or disable it at almost any time, including while Eul’d, Shackled, stunned, etc. This also means that there is no hotkey, right-clicking is the only way to use it. The only times that you are unable to enable or disable it are during Hex, Chronosphere, Doom, and any Silence effect. However, if it’s enabled before one of these spells hits you, it will keep working for the duration of the spell. Agi+ and Str+ themselves do absolutely nothing if cast normally.

Only your hero’s regular stats can be converted with Agi/Str, anything added from Attribute Bonus or items will remain constant. For instance, this is a level 1 Morphling with an Ultimate Orb giving him +10 to all stats. This is what would happen if he activated Str+ and converted as much as agility as he could into strength -

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Each point of Strength gives 19 HP and each point of Agility gives 1% attack speed and 1/7th of an armor (and whatever your primary attribute is will give one damage). When you activate Str+, for each point of Str you gain, your current and maximum HP both increase by 19 (and the opposite also applies, with Agi+ on, you will lose 19 from your current and maximum HP per point of Agi gained). This means that the ability does not work off percents. Whether you have 1% or 100% of your HP left, when you gain or lose X Str, you will gain or lose exactly X*19 health.

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The Morphling has the unique ability to replicate any target friendly or enemy hero. Although the image only deals 50% damage, the Morphling can morph into it at any time, instantly taking its position
Level 1: The image lasts 30 seconds.
Level 2: The image lasts 45 seconds.
Level 3: The image lasts 60 seconds.
Mana Cost: 200
Cooldown: 120 seconds

The copy is an illusion that deals 50% damage and takes 100% damage (unlike most images, which deal 40% and take 300%).

Images don’t benefit from +damage items like Sacred Relic, the only thing that they benefit from is stats. Morphling has some of the best stats you can find, but there’s a catch - you cannot target yourself with Replicate. You can, however, get around this problem by picking up an Illusion Rune or using Manta Style and targeting one of the images. Not only will this image do lots of damage, but it will also take the same amount of damage that you do, making it very hard to tell which Morphing is real.

Pros and Cons of The Morphling


* Plays effectively in any lane
* Very good stat growth
* Three amazing survival abilities and a stun. The Morphling DOES. NOT. DIE.
* Massive tank
* Great farmer in mid/late game
* Changes colors!


* Very mana intensive hero with a very mediocre mana pool
* Horrible 285 movespeed
* Some of the worst base damage in the game, only Techies and Luna have worse
* Short range of 350 (at least he’s not melee, right?)
* Takes quite a few games to get used to
* Waveform tends to screw up your commands

Game Play

Standard Skill Build

This is the build that I usually use. A lot of it can be customized to your personal preference, but this one does work well.

1. Waveform
2. Stats
3. Waveform
4. Stats
5. Waveform
6. Adaptive Strike
7. Waveform
8. Adaptive Strike
9. Adaptive Strike
10. Adaptive Strike
11. Agi/Str
12. Agi/Str
13. Replicate
14. Stats
15. Agi/Str
16. Stats
17. Stats
18. Stats
19. Replicate
20. Replicate
21-24. Stats
25. Agi/Str

Waveform is your most important skill, so always get it as soon as possible (levels 1/3/5/7). Since Morphling’s starting damage and mana is so terrible, taking the two early points in stats help out a lot.

Then it’s generally a good idea to level up your Adaptive Strike so that you can deal out a lot of damage quickly during midgame ganks.

Agi/Str can be gotten earlier (like at 6, 8, and/or 9) if you find that you want the early survivability or if you want to be using Adaptive Strike as a stun. Generally though, the potential tanking power that it gives you isn’t very useful until larger fights start happening in the mid and lategame. I only use the first three points because I find that if I’m taking enough damage to need the fourth point, I’m just utterly screwed anyways. If you like getting the fourth point, go ahead, it’s up to you.

While Replicate would be nice to have in the early parts of the game, there is simply no way the Morphling can support the 200 mana that it takes to cast. We get it in the mid or lategame, when we can afford the cost.

Learner’s Skill Build

If you’re having a lot of problems with the above skill build and tend to die a lot, try out this build. It has much less mana to use on Waveform, but it will keep you alive.

1. Waveform
2. Agi/Str
3. Waveform
4. Agi/Str
5. Waveform
6. Stats
7. Waveform
8. Stats
9. Stats
10. Agi/Str
11. Adaptive Strike
12. Adaptive Strike
13. Adaptive Strike
14. Adaptive Strike
15. Replicate
16. Agi/Str
17. Replicate
18. Replicate
19-25. Stats

Basically this build gets to very early points in Agi/Str as something of a safety feature to keep you alive. It picks up the third one pretty early at level 10 and adds in the fourth as well at level 16.

Adaptive Strike has to get moved back to later levels, because without stopping to get some stats first, the mana would just be complete unmanageable.

Item Build:

Your starting items are mostly up to you, just as long as you get some stats and regeneration, not Boots. Some ideas -

* 2 Circlets, 2 Tangos
* 1 Circlet, 1 Branch, 2 Tangos, 2 Clarities
* 3 Tangos, 2 Clarities, 3 Ironwood Branches

Obviously if you randomed into him, you’ll have a good 250 or so more gold to play with. Grab a Chicken or just some extra stat and regen items.

The Core Items:

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Circlet of Nobility (4 x 185) + 3 Slippers of Agility (4 x 150) + 3 Wraith Band Recipe (4 x 125) --> 3 Wraith Band = 1380
The Morphling needs one major thing - stats. Lots and lots of stats. Whether you want agility or strength, the Wraith bands provide it on the cheap. Ideally, we’d just never stop buying them, but in order to keep item slots open for other items, we’ll only buy three.

Those of you who have read this guide in the past are aware that I used to say that Bracers are better than Wraith Bands. Back then they were equal in price, but now that the Wraith Band is 50 gold cheaper, I consider it to be the superior item.

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Void Stone = 900
The key to the Morphling’s success during the early and midgame basically just comes down to casting lots of Waveforms. Voidstone gives you all the mana that you need and while we won’t be upgrading it into anything, it’s still a key item to buy. You can get it before or after the Wraith Bands, it just depends how the game is going.

Note - You can make it into a complete Perseverance if you want, but I usually find the HP regeneration to be largely a waste of gold. Better to work on purchasing more powerful items unless you really need the Ring of Health.

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Boots of Speed (500) + Scroll of Town Portal (135) = 635
Obviously you’ll need to get Boots at some point, but don’t get them before the Wraiths and the Void. A TP Scroll is always a nice thing to carry, it lets you make quick escapes or quickly get to another lane to help out.

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Boots of Travel = Boots of Speed (obtained) + Boots of Travel Recipe (2200) = 2200
After the Wraiths and Boots, I always go for Travel. With a Voidstone giving you mana for plenty of Waves and good stats from the Wraith Bands, the Morphling can be a pretty big threat. However, this advantage won’t last forever, so Travel helps you to stay in the action while getting lots of chances to farm up big items for later on in the game.

This completes your core items. From there, you have two choices of builds - image combo or no image combo.

Image Combo:
Without a doubt, massing images with Manta Style + Replicate is an incredibly powerful strategy. The main problem with it has always been that Manta causes Skadi’s Frost to stop working, so the strategy leaves you without a good way to chase people. Luckily, we a solution to that problem.

If you’re new to the Morphling, however, it might be best to start with a non-image build (see the next section). They’re still quite good and they’re definitely not as difficult to play.

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Diffusal Blade = Blade of Alacrity (1000) + Robe of the Magi (450) + Diffusal Blade Recipe (1550) = 3000
Orb effect
A precursor to Manta Style, Diffusal Blade should be the first of the large items that you buy. It’s great for the midgame as a ganking item, due to Purge’s amazing slow effect. It also counters scary spells like Repel, Godstrength, and Infernal.

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Manta Style = Diffusal Blade (obtained) + Vitality Booster (1100) + Manta Style Recipe (1400) = 2500
Orb effect
Don’t finish your Manta Style until you are out of Purges, because they are the only slow effect you will have for a long time. Anyways, the trick here is to activate Manta for two images which deal 40% damage and then Replicate one of those for an image that deals 50% damage, giving a total of 130% additional damage. It makes you easily one of the most dangerous lategame heros.

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Eye of Skadi = 2 Ultimate Orb (2 x 2300) + Point Booster (1200) + Eye of Skadi Recipe (1250) = 7050
Orb effect
Ranged images, like we’ll be getting from Manta Style and Replicate, only benefit from one thing: stats (no, they don’t even burn mana, only the real hero does). Skadi gives lots and lots of stats and of course, it has that wonderful slow effect that makes chasing so easy.

Those of you who are familiar with how orb effects interact are probably very confused right now, because you know that a Feedback effect like Diffusal or Manta makes Skadi not work. So. . .

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Mask of Death = 900
Orb effect
All that you need to do in order to get Skadi to work is put on an orb effect that works with Skadi but removes your Feedback. Lifesteal, Chain Lightning, and Maim all work. However, a Maelstrom costs over 2000 more gold than Mask of Death and who needs Maim when you have Skadi slow? The point is to have a cheap item that makes your Skadi function and Mask of Death fits the bill.

But wait. Cheap? I’m sure some of you are questioning the intelligence of the build already - there’s no way that you’ll easily farm up 3 Wraiths, Void, Travel, Diffusal, Manta, Skadi, and Mask of Death within any normal game. That’s quite true, but the parts of the build are all good at the times which you get them. Early game the Wraiths and a Void are what you need to have good stats and constant spells. Midgame you can gank effectively with Diffusal Blade. Lategame you get great DPS from Manta Style and more stats from the pieces of Skadi. Getting to the triple-orb point isn’t the goal at all, it’s just a very effective build if you happen to have a game that goes on for that long.

Just incase the game drags on and on, here are the items that you would theoretically put in the remaining item slots -

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Satanic = Messerchmidt’s Reaver (3200) + Helm of the Dominator (1850) + Satanic Recipe (1100) = 6150
Orb effect
The new Satanic is quite nice, 40% lifesteal is huge. Skadi + Satanic basically turns you into a ranged N’aix with a bunch of spells that are actually useful (as well as massive damage from the 3 images), which is quite brutal.

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Buriza-do Kyanon = Blades of Attack (650) + Broadsword (1200) + Crystalis Recipe (500) + Demon Edge (2600) + Buriza-do Kyanon Recipe (1250) = 6200
Your images can score criticals, so a Buriza is really the biggest damage boost that you can buy.

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The Butterfly = Eaglehorn (3400) + Quarterstaff (1150) + Butterfly Recipe (1800) = 6350
A huge amount of stats, attack speed, and damage all rolled up into one item slot. The evasion helps to make the Morphling even more of an amazing tank.

Of course, filling up your inventory with Travel, Manta, Skadi, Satanic, Buriza, and Butterfly is a completely absurd goal. Most games will end around the point of Manta or Skadi, but in the event of an extremely long game, those 6 items produce the best results.

Lone Morphling Build:
Basically you can get most of the same items that you would for an Image Morphling, but without the Manta Style or triple orb effects. The one additional item that works is -

Mjollnir = Boots of Elvenskin (450) + Mithril Hammer (1610) + Maelstrom Recipe (1300) + Eaglehorn (3400) = 6760
Orb effect
An interesting item, though quite expensive. It works especially well against image heros such as Naga Siren or Phantom Lancer, if you have an Axe on your team, if your enemies have almost no casters, or if you just need to be the tank yourself.

Black King Bar = Ogre Axe (1000) + Broadsword (1200) + Black King Bar Recipe (1600) = 3800
It’s a lot easier to quickly throw a bunch of disables into a Morphling when he’s not surrounded by images. If that’s a problem, BKB is generally the solution.

Basically as a non-image Morphling, you should be aiming for one or two of the aforementioned items. If you end up with even more cash to spend, get more of them, they work well together. Some easy combos to try -

* Skadi + Satanic -> A simple “N’aix style” build. Most heros won’t be able to fight against it or run from it. Note - Get the Reaver first, Helm of the Dominator doesn’t give enough Lifesteal to be worthwhile.
* Skadi + Buriza or Mjollnir -> Heavy damage combined with a slow.
* Mjollnir + Butterfly -> If your team needs a tank, this is how to do it. Static yourself, Wave into the middle of a fight, and start taking hits.

Bad and Overrated Items:
Most of this stuff you should never buy, although there are some exceptions.

Linken’s Sphere = 5500
If you have a Perseverance and an Ultimate Orb, it’s usually in your best interest to leave the Persev as it is and put the Ultimate Orb towards a Skadi. Spellblock and an extra bit of regen isn’t worth putting yourself farther from having a Skadi.

Power Treads = 1530
Morphling already has enough attack speed and the bonus movespeed is pretty low, so this isn’t going to be worth it. Travel is a key item on Morphling, don’t skip it.

Sange and Yasha = 5100
Skadi is a better item for slowing (you don’t need both) and Mask of Death is cheaper as a third orb effect to make your Skadi work with Manta. Only get S&Y if you’re having a terrible game and can’t farm anything else.

Bloodstone = 5075
Please don’t ever get one. It gives health equivalent to 24 stats and then some additional mana, which is really pathetic when you think about how a 2775 gold cheaper Ultimate orb gives you 20 stats and can actually turn into items that do something. Besides, the last thing you should plan to do as a lategame hero with four survival abilities is to die.

Assault Cuirass = 6320
If there’s one thing the Morphling has no shortage of, it’s attack speed and armor. Leave it to someone else to buy one for your team.

Hood of Defiance = 2850
Most of the time that I’m having trouble with spells, I’d rather just use Str+ a bit and put the gold towards a BKB instead. Don’t get one unless you really have to (or if you’re against a Doombringer).

Heart of Tarrasque = Messerchmidt’s Reaver (3200) + Vitality Booster (1100) + Heart of Tarrasque Recipe (1200) = 5500
For only 850 extra gold, you can get a Butterfly, which provides 10 more stats (since agi and str are basically the same for Morphling) and 30% evasion. Another way to look at it is that Heart gives 51 strength for 900 more gold than 2 Ultimate Orbs, which give you 40 strength, 20 intelligence, and turn into Skadi. Either way you look at it, Heart is awful.

Hand of Midas = Gloves of Haste (610) + Hand of Midas Recipe (1400) = 2010
For a hero that has extremely strained mana already, Midas just doesn’t work out very well. Since you have to rush for it to make the most use out of it, you get your Voidstone and stat items later. Then you have to start using the Midas, which strains your mana even more.

General Strategy/Roles:

This section is all about the general role that your Morphling should be playing over the course of the game. All the fun combat tricks you can pull off with him will be covered later.

Earlygame (Levels 1 - 8):

Until you are level 5, I can’t stress something enough - be passive. Morphling has some of the worst base damage in the game, mediocre range, and barely enough mana for one or two Waveforms. Don’t try to pick up kills at this point unless your opponents screw up and get low on health, or your lane partner has some good spells to back you up with. Basically just try to farm up your Wraith Bands and Void Stone so that you’ll become a real threat.

Once it’s level 3, Waveform will finally be worth its mana cost. From that point on, make good use of it to take control of your lane and farm up your core items. You can occasionally grab kills with level 2 Waveform, but that requires good allies or stupid enemies, don’t use it unless a really good opportunity comes up.

At this point in the game, the Morphling is basically a caster. Most of your damage will be dealt with Waveform, so make good use of it and your mana. If you run out of mana, you’re basically useless, keep that in mind.

Mid-game: (Levels 9 - 15):

There will be lots of ganking and smaller team fights going on at this point. Since Morph is still a good caster in the midgame, you should be helping out with all of this, but you shouldn’t spend all your time constantly running around ganking or you won’t be farmed up for the lategame. This is why having Travel is key - it lets you move around the map quickly, so that you can keep up with the action while still having plenty of time to farm. Also, try to get to your Diffusal Blade during this time, since the Purge is extremely useful as a chasing spell.

When ganking with the Morphling, the first thing you should do is Waveform in right behind the enemy. If there are multiple enemies, try to angle you Wave so that you hit all of them. Wave is still your strongest asset, so the faster you cast it, the faster it cools for a second use (which might be needed to finish a chase or if enemy backup arrives). Since your range is so bad, as long as your target is in range, just keep attacking them - save Adaptive Strike as a last resort for if they’re getting away.

If your team really doesn’t have any good stuns, you may need to provide the disable for ganks. Use Str+ to get your strength equal or just slightly above your agility in order to use Adaptive Strike as a stun. Since the numbers can get a bit messy it can be hard to tell at a glance which attribute is higher, in FAQ section there’s an explanation of how to tell quickly. When using Adaptive as a stun, make sure to Waveform to a position where the knockback will push your target into the open arms of your team.

Late-game: (Level 16+):

By now your role as a caster is pretty much over. Adaptive Strike will still do pretty solid damage, but Waveform will mostly be used to move in and out of battle quickly or to catch up to people, instead of as a heavy damage spell. You should be farming up pieces of bigger items like Manta and Skadi, so that you’ll remain dangerous in combat.

Once you have Manta, save your Replicate for getting a third Morphling image. However, before Manta, in a team fight you should Replicate whoever on your team that you expect will get focused first. The Replication will cause a bit of confusion and buy them some time to stay alive.

If you’re the strongest hero on your team, you should wait to enter fights until someone else goes in first, so that you’re not soaking up all the damage. However, if your team has some other lategame hero like a stacked Viper or Visage, feel free to Waveform into the battle first to draw the attention away from them. Str+ will allow you to do a lot of tanking for them.

Manta/Replicate Usage:
It takes a good second or two of time to use Manta, then Replicate it, then select all your Morphlings for use, so you had better be quick about getting it all done right when the battle starts. However, don’t cast it all too quickly, because both Manta and Replicate had long cooldowns, so if the opponents bait you to use them and then back off for a minute, it could be costly.

Also, while it’ll only take an observant enemy a few seconds to figure out which Morphling is real (it’s the only one that changes colors), don’t make it any easier for them. That means that you shouldn’t use Waveform unless you have to, because it points out your real Morphling and separates it from the group of images. Keep all of your Morphlings together so that they don’t know which one to focus on. Only Waveform if you really need it to escape or to catch someone.

While it’s nice to use your great damage output to kill heros, while pushing keep in mind that you can drop a tower or rax extremely quickly. Feel free to take out key buildings while your allies act as a distraction. Remember, in the end, DotA is won by who’s base is left standing.

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