Dota 2: Best Starting Items For Every Role (7.31/7.31b)

Dota 2 is an incredibly complex game, and part of that complexity is starting items as well as item builds as a whole. A poor lane can turn a winnable game into an unwinnable game, so players should optimize their chances of winning the lane whenever possible, even if it sacrifices some raw efficiency in the long term. On the other hand, a vast number of items can be bought using the starting 600 gold, so it's not clear which are the best and when.

Starting items have changed drastically over the years. Once, when Stout Shield existed in the game, it was nearly mandatory for melee heroes to have one along with a (more expensive) Quelling Blade and regen. Other patches included oddities like Quelling Blades destroying wards or regen being bought in bulk at the start.

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The current philosophy around starting items is maximizing stats while having sufficient regen and being as efficient as possible. Optimally, every item bought at the start should be upgradable into something else since selling these items incurs a net loss in gold. On the other hand, sometimes building purposefully short-term items in Dota 2 can provide a long-term advantage that more than makes up for the selling discount.

Note that like all things Dota 2, updates, meta developments, and situations can call for different starting items.

The first thing that every hero should think about is whether the Magic Stick will be good in the lane they're going to. Magic Stick and its upgrade Magic Wand are some of the most efficient items in the game if the enemy heroes provide lots of charges. Examples of heroes that a Magic Stick should always be purchased against are Bristleback, Batrider, and Zeus; basically, any hero with spammable spells in Dota 2 in the early game. Of course, Magic Stick and Magic Wand are still fine purchases past the starting items, but having them against the heroes that provide lots of charges will make the lane significantly easier.

An important part of the starting items is ensuring that players' heroes can survive the lane, and health and mana regeneration are critical for this. Some heroes need more regen than others, and supports should almost always have a Healing Salve on hand for their cores, but outside of extreme cases, all heroes should be purchasing at least a set of Tangos. It's worth noting that players shouldn't spend too much on regen; the courier can always ship out more early on in the lane if needed.

Stat items become less efficient the more they cost, so an important part of many starting item choices is maximizing the hero's right-click damage with these early-game stat items. Examples include Gauntlets of Strength, Slippers of Agility, Mantles of Intelligence, Iron Branches, and Circlets. Players should try to buy the stat items that are appropriate for their hero and build them into items they're going to use, such as Bracers, Wraith Bands, or Null Talismans. While heroes can technically afford these upgraded items right away, they're less efficient to purchase than their components and thus should be purchased to save inventory slots.

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Quelling Blade is the most efficient damage item in the game for hitting creeps, and almost every melee core should be buying a Quelling Blade as a result unless their max damage numbers are already high. Ranged heroes get half of the benefit of the Quelling Blade and often prefer the simple attribute items, but they can't go wrong with the item since it's still the most efficient damage item even at half the effect.

There are a number of items that can be purchased at the start of the game but are only purchased when the situation makes sense. For example, when laning against a Nature's Prophet, it might make sense for supports to buy a Quelling Blade to cut the trees created by Sprout. As another example, Orb of Venom and Blight Stone are items that are bought when aggressive laning is expected since they slow the opponent and reduce their armor, respectively. Beyond that, items such as Fluffy Hat, Sage's Mask, Ring of Regen, Gloves of Haste, and Crown are generally inefficient compared to the cheap stat items but maybe worth purchasing if they build into an item the hero wants, such as a Falcon Blade or Tranquil Boots. Finally, some supports can get away with buying a Ring of Basilius, Headdress, or Buckler if the inventory slots are important, the item builds into something the support wants, and the benefit is strong for both heroes.

Most supports should come to lane with at least a Sentry Ward; they can be used to either block an opponent's pull camp or de-ward an opponent's block. More can be purchased if there's a hero that requires it, such as a Sand King or Weaver. Additionally, cores can sometimes buy a Sentry Ward if they know they can destroy an enemy's Observer Ward since it's profitable. Finally, midlaners frequently take one of the Observer Wards to allow them to attack uphill in the midlane and know where the runes are.

With these tips, players should be able to make a list of the useful items in their lane but may not be able to fit it all into the starting budget. At this point, players should consider which items will have the most impact immediately and later on and then condense that list into the 600 gold budget.

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If players aren't sure, a solid core item build for general use is:

  • 1 set of Tangos
  • 2 of the hero's attribute items (Gauntlets, Slippers, or Mantles)
  • 2 Iron Branches
  • 1 Quelling Blade

This will be turned into 2 of the hero's small stat items (Bracer, Wraith Band, Null Talisman) and a Magic Wand while providing plenty of damage to 'last hit' effectively.

A solid support item build for general use is:

  • 1 set of Tangos
  • 1 Healing Salve
  • 1 Sentry Ward
  • 1 Observer Ward
  • 1 Circlet
  • 1 Iron Branch
  • 2 Enchanted Mangos

This will be turned into a single small stat item and a Magic Wand while providing plenty of regeneration to keep the support in the lane to help the core.

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