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Morphling is a hero commonly played as a mid or a carry. It is a very survivable character that takes a lot of time to scale as a carry but can be descent as a roaming mid. What’s interesting about Morphling is that it can switch between agility and strength at will. That way, he can become the ultimate glass cannon or a tanky nuisance.
In this Morphling Dota Guide, we will take a look at hero’s spells, optimal builds, and talents.
Key Info Up Front
Morphling can escape from various predicaments. It is a short-ranged agility hero that, unlike other carries, relies on its spell damage to make an impact.
Health: 640 Damage: 33 – 42 Movement speed: 280 Strength: 22 + 3
Mana: 303 Armor: 2 Attack speed: 1.19 attacks per second Agility: 24 + 3.9
Intelligence: 19 + 1.8
Spells and abilities: Waveform, Adaptive Strike (Agility), Adaptive Strike (Strength), Attribute Shift, Morph
Special abilities: N/A
Strengths: Extremely elusive, can adapt to various situations, carry who has one of the better magic nukes
Weaknesses: Slow movement speed, can fall off, later on, doesn’t have much mana
Morphling can make the most impact during the mid-game. After using Waveform to come closer to an enemy, the hero will cast Ether Blast, a spell that you get by purchasing Ethereal Blade.
This ability is tailor-made for Morphling; it deals magic damage based on the hero’s main attribute (in this case, agility). So, before using it, Morphling will utilize Attribute Shift to switch a lot of its strength into agility, thus increasing the stat exponentially.
But it doesn’t end there. As Ether Blast also makes the target ethereal (a state during which the target cannot take physical damage but takes increased magic damage), Morphling can follow the first nuke with his innate ability Adaptive Strike (Agility) to seal the kill.
To better understand this mechanic, let’s first go over the spells.
Without Waveform, Morphling would be a very hard hero to use. His low movement speed can be really stifling at times, but luckily, with this spell, he can both initiate fights and escape from them. Basically, the hero will turn himself into the water and wave forward. During this time, the hero is invulnerable and will pass through enemies. The wave deals 75/150/225/300 magic damage to everyone it touches.
Waveform allows the hero to travel a distance of 1,000 units (1,250 with talent), helping him get into an attack range. Morphling’s natural range is 350, which is why the hero sometimes strangles against long-range carries and spellcasters.
Waveform is also good for farming. At level 20, the hero gets a talent allowing him to attack every target that he waves through. That way, he can destroy a whole wave (no pun intended) of creeps in an instant.
Adaptive Strike (Agility)
Adaptive Strike (Agility) is a spell that can only be used when the hero’s agility is higher than his strength. Otherwise, the hero will cast Adaptive Strike (Strength).
This is a single target magic spell that damages the opponents based on the hero’s agility multiplier. The minimum multiplier is 0.5, and the maximum is 1/1.5/2/2.5. In other words, if Morphling has 100 agility, level 4 Adaptive strike (Agility) will deal 100 x 2.5 = 250 magic damage. There is also minor base damage on top of that.
Although the basic spell is pretty decent, what makes it great is the beforementioned Ethereal Blast. When combined, they are a great tool for farming low-health supports. If you manage to surprise an enemy without relying on Waveform, you can use Waveform as the 3rd spell in the chain (i.e., Ether Blast into Adaptive strike (Agility) into Waveform.
Often, Morphling players make a mistake by turning too much of their strength into agility. Even though this helps with nuking opponents, it makes them vulnerable during that time.
Adaptive Strike (Strength)
This is the second version of the spell. You get both Adaptive strike (Agility) and Adaptive strike (Strength) by leveling up the same ability. However, you cannot use them simultaneously. Even if you quickly switch to strength after using Adaptive strike (Agility), thus allowing yourself to cast Adaptive strike (Strength), there will still be a 3-second cooldown.
Unlike Adaptive strike (Agility) that focuses on magic damage, Adaptive strike (Strength) has long stun. The incantation also knocks back opponents. It is commonly used as an escape mechanism.
Attribute Shift is the crucial ability for Morphling’s kit. You can use it to turn strength into agility and vice versa. In other words, Morphling can go from full offense to full defense.
You use the ability by toggling it on and off. Each second it’s toggled on, the hero will lose mana. You can stop toggling at any point and remain on the current stats. By investing additional points, the shift interval will be quicker, and it will swap a larger number of stats. Although this might seem irrelevant, it can be a difference between life and death.
Morphling often abuses this ability to restore health. For example, they will reduce their strength points to a minimum, making it easier to heal themselves or lifesteal. Utilizing Attribute Shift the right way is what separates average Morphling players from great.
Morph is another spell that fits the theme of the hero. Morphling can replicate any enemy. To be precise, he will have the same blue water color as before, but his shape will turn into that of a targeted hero. If you buy Aghanim’s Scepter, you can cast this spell on allies, as well.
Of course, this change is not only esthetic but serves an important purpose. With Morph, the hero will gain access to the target’s basic abilities at a reduced mana cost. He can also shift between this new form and his previous form at will.
Although you might ask yourself, “Why would he shift in the first place?” there is a valid reason for doing so. When you turn into another hero, you also gain access to their heals, disables, buffs, and everything in between.
For example, the most popular Morph is into Gyrocopter. This hero has a spell called Flak Cannon that provides the hero with AOE auto-attacks. Morphling will turn into Gyrocopter, activate the spell while in this new form, turn back to Morphling, and start attacking enemies in a radius with a much greater base agility damage.
According to the Dota 2 classification, Morphling is one of the hardest heroes to master. This makes sense as there are numerous Morph combinations you can experiment with. Sometimes, turning into a certain hero can provide a major, unexpected advantage to you and your team.
If you love pushing yourself to the limits, pick this hero. It will test your reflexes, intelligence, and knowledge of the game. Although you will likely fail numerous times, as you get better, playing Morphling will become a real treat.
Morphling’s laning phase can be very different depending on whether you’re in mid lane or safe lane.
While in the mid lane, you will almost always prioritize Ethereal Blade. Your hero will quickly get levels, and with appropriate runes, you can start making a quick impact on the battlefield. Playing a greedy build as a mid Morphling is usually counterproductive as you will already have a carry that needs farm.
In other words, this role is ideal if you wish to experiment a bit. After Ethereal Blade, mid Morphlings often like to build into magic damage, but you can also go for physical damage build (if you have enough space for farming, that is).
Safe lane Morphling is played like most other carries. Instead of Ethereal Blade, you can go for something else as the first item, like Morbid Mask into Dragon Lance. Sometimes, Morphling players get Mask of Madness as an early game item that would help them farm.
Whether played as a carry or mid lane, the hero will be very survivable.
At level one, you should get Attribute Shift to help you with the last hits. This will be the only point in the ability until later on. For level two, you should get Waveform, followed by Adaptive Strike. At level 4, you will start maxing Waveform, so you have that extra magic damage in the early game.
Unless you go for Ethereal Blade, the hero would need at least two items to become effective. It is one of these characters that annoy his team to no end. But to be honest, Ethereal Blade is his best item. With it, you can break open the game quickly and make space for other allied heroes.
At the same time, Morphling is one of the worst heroes if you’re playing from behind. He is not that great at farming as some other carries and usually needs regeneration/lifesteal items that don’t provide damage. You will never make items like Maelstrom on this hero, although his high agility-based damage does help.
Ideally, you should have other sources of magic resistance reduction on the team. Morphling is awesome with Pugna, Ancient Apparition, Skywrath Mage, and other heroes with debuffs. Like any other ranged hero, he can easily push towers after winning a teamfight.
With Waveform, you can reach support lines and blast them out. However, you should try to stay far back until the enemy casts their first barrage of spells. Besides Manta Style and sometimes Linken’s Sphere, Morphlings rarely buy defensive items during the mid-game.
Morphling is not that good against illusion heroes. So, depending on the enemies’ lineup, you might wish to finish the game earlier. But, if you’re going against a single-target core, Morphling is actually better as you approach late game and durations of Black King Bars go down.
Although Black King Bar is not a popular item on the hero, you might want to consider buying it at one point. Due to his low attack range, Morphling is somewhere between melee and ranged hero, and you need to wave in to attack enemies. This exposes you to enemy spells.
Butterfly and Eye of Skadi are incredible pickups for the hero in the late game. Keep in mind that you benefit from anything that has stats. Morphling players rarely buy damage items like Daedalus. However, you might be forced to purchase Monkey King Bar depending on the opponent’s lineup.
Itemization (Core items)
There are situations where Morphlings don’t buy Ethereal Blade. However, this item can turn otherwise useless mid game hero into a potent assassin. The only potential issue is that you will also turn ethereal for its duration. That is, you will also be susceptible to magic damage, which makes you prone to magic damage during first teamfights. This can be remedied later on with a Black King Bar purchase.
Besides being very slow and requiring lots of mana, attack range is the hero’s third big weakness. Although you will always be disadvantaged, especially against someone like Sniper, Dragon Lance should help a bit. The item also provides lots of strength and agility, both of which are crucial for the character.
If Dragon Lance helps with range, Manta Style helps with mobility. The item will give you much-needed movement speed, and it will also increase your mana pool. During the mid game, this will be your best method of removing debuffs. Given that many Morphlings never get a Black King Bar (very common in lower-tiers), you will have to rely on the item for survivability.
Eye of Skadi
Eye of Skadi is the ultimate hero vs. hero item. The movement and attack slow are amazing, and lifestealing/healing reduction will work in any game. We can safely say that the item is better on Morphling than some other heroes as he benefits more from the stats.
Another great anti-carry item, Butterfly provides massive defense through its evasion. It becomes more potent as the late game approaches when it becomes harder to nuke carries with spells. However, we cannot neglect its offensive characteristics. With 25 damage, 30 agility, and an additional 30 attack speed, it works very well with Adaptive Strike.
Aghanim’s Scepter is somewhere between optional and core item. In some games, it will be very potent. In others, it will be a glorified stat booster. Anyway, whether or not you should pick Aghanim’s depends on the enemies’ lineup.
Itemization (Optional items)
In theory, Linken’s Sphere is a great item for the hero. It provides lots of stats and abundant regeneration. Furthermore, it has Spellblock feature that adds to the hero’s survivability.
Regardless, the item often feels underwhelming. It is often bought as the first item, so you would have increased health and mana regeneration. Even if you get it, you won’t feel as if the hero has become stronger, nor will it accelerate your farm. Furthermore, you will need another item just so you can contribute on the map.
Black King Bar
Often, Morphlings skip this item altogether. However, it is worth noting that Black King Bar is a bit better on this hero than some other agility carries. This is because you can utilize its strength component to gain more damage.
Monkey King Bar
As mentioned, this is a highly situational item. Its Pierce proc is important if you’re going against heroes with evasion. Damage and attack speed are nice additions, but unfortunately, it doesn’t give you any stats.
If you get a Satanic, it will probably be later in the game, as a 4th or 5th purchase. The item is especially awesome if you bought Morbid Mask or Mask of Madness earlier in the game. It will provide some extra stats and a very potent lifesteal that would allow you to match up against many carries.
Like Monkey King Bar, Daedalus is often seen as a subpar purchase. While the damage is incredible, it doesn’t give you any stats. Morphlings commonly get this item when the opponents get too tanky, and there is no other way to take them down.
Boots of Travel
Boots of Travel is a very unusual item for a carry. Although most carries will get it during very late game, as a method of teleporting on the map, getting it early is an unnecessary expense. However, these boots are a bit more common on Morphling. First off, they help his sluggish movement speed.
Secondly, it helps a bit with farming speed as it allows you to teleport around. Also, given that the carry focuses on magic damage in the earlier portions of the match, the minor stats from other boots are not as important.
Level 10 (+250 Waveform range OR +15% magic resistance)
Both of these skills are very useful in their own regard. While Waveform range is more popular, we cannot neglect the magic resistance buff. Basically, Waveform is your bread and butter when it comes to mobility. Any minor boost will go a long way. At the same time, given that Morphling doesn’t often buy Black King Bar or buys it later on, magic resistance talent should provide great survivability in the early portions of the game.
Level 15 (+15 agility OR +16 seconds Morph duration)
Agility is amazing on the hero. When you reach level 15, you will have Ethereal Blade and probably an additional item on top of that. This talent will allow you to one-shot targets for a bit longer. Morph duration is especially important for certain builds. Of course, the talent is especially useful in games where you buy Aghanim’s Scepter.
Level 20 (Waveform attacks targets in its path OR +20 strength)
With the first talent, you will be able to farm creeps instantaneously. Given that Waveform does 300 magic damage at level 4, this additional auto-attack will provide just enough damage to kill off waves.
Talent can be nice in fights if you have items like Eye of Skadi, as this would instantly debuff opponents along its path. Strength has its merits as well, especially if we consider you can turn it into agility.
Level 25 (Attribute Shift while stunned OR 2 Waveform charges)
Back in the day, Morphling was really strong because he could shift agility into strength while disabled. In other words, it was really hard to gank him and nuke him. The feature was somewhat broken in the laning and mid game, so it was removed. With this talent, you can use it once again.
However, given that the hero will be very tanky by the late game, this feature is no longer as impressive. So, a lot of players opt to go with 2 Waveform charges, a talent which is especially great if you took other Waveform talents.
Question: Can Morphling copy Invoker?
Answer: Morphling can copy any allied hero in the game and any opposing hero with Aghanim’s Scepter. When he Morphs into Invoker, he will get all the spells that the hero currently has but will not be able to Invoke new ones.
Question: How do you fight against Morphling?
Answer: This hero has a very low mana pool, which makes him susceptible to mana-burning abilities. Furthermore, he is rather weak against strong disables in the early game and struggles against illusion-based carries.
Question: Does Ancient Apparition counter Morphling?
Answer: Ancient Apparition is considered as a strong counter to Morphling. Basically, if you hit Ice Blast on Morphling, we won’t be able to regenerate or shift attributes. As players often shift most of their strength into agility, they will be very susceptible to shattering.
Morphling Dota Guide: Last Considerations
As of late, the hero has lost a bit of his shine. Back in the day, players would take mid Morphling, get fast levels and Ethereal Blade, and simply dominate games. For me, he is still a cool pickup due to his complexity. No matter what, it is always a challenge playing him.
So, if you’re a big fan of surfing, Morphling is the right choice for you. Unfortunately, your opponents will likely drown in all that water.