|Morphling is a carry hero who switches between damage dealer and resilient survivor. With an Ethereal Blade, Morphling can deal extremely high burst damage, often taking out an enemy instantly. However, he suffers from item and level dependency, as well as a low mana pool and low movement speed.|
Morphling typically enters the game with a sensitive laning phase. His short auto attack range and extremely low base damage require him to shift early points into agility early on to keep up in last hits, leaving him fragile for the first few levels. As he gains levels, however, his Waveform evolves into a potent area-of-effect nuke which can easily grab him kills to accelerate his farm. Additionally, early points in Attribute Shift allow him escape out of danger so long he is not silenced.
In order to transition to the mid-game safely, however, Morphling requires a significant amount of mana and mana regeneration to keep up. All four of his spells are demanding on mana, but a healthy supply of it will allow him to escape, gank, split push, and adapt to all manners of fighting with impunity. This is typically why Linken's Sphere is a strong item to pick up on him. He benefits from the attributes it provides and Perseverance gives him early game sustenance. The spell block is invaluable; the strongest silences and hexes in the game are instant and targeted, giving him enough reaction time to Waveform out of very dangerous situations. However, an early Bottle and good use of Morph Replicate and Boots of Travel can provide sustainability and a huge amount of mobility to farm faster. This is especially powerful when paired with Keeper of the Light, who can supply mana and Recall Morphling around the map.
Carry Morphling typically transitions into the mid-game in two primary ways. The first is through the Shotgun build, where one can purchase an Ethereal Blade. In combination with Adaptive Strike, this allows him to shut down fragile targets with ease, especially in games where the enemy team is often separated. The second is a more defensive, farming oriented build with Manta Style, which allows him to split push and dispel debuffs with ease. In the late game, Morphling has many options. With a full set of stat-heavy items, he boasts the strongest natural auto-attack speed and damage in the game, making items such as Satanic, Daedalus, and Monkey King Bar very profitable on him. He also makes incredible use of every stat on Eye of Skadi and Butterfly, two must-have late game items which allow him to go toe-to-toe with even the hardest of carries.
Despite his strengths as a scaling carry, Morphling is a difficult carry to play from behind. Waveform is an expensive spell and he has no in-built sustain to farm jungle creeps easily, and Adaptive Strike requires levels and items to become an effective nuke. In addition, his lack of multiple-target damage makes it difficult for him to join larger teamfights in the early or mid game. Careful consideration needs to be made when picking him into your team. For example, you can consider choosing magic-heavy team compositions to abuse his Ethereal Blade magic damage amplification, a split-push composition, or a composition which is heavy on initiation power so he can unload his damage without risk.
Support Morphling is a build which maxes Adaptive Strike early on to leverage its 3 second stun and 900 cast range. An Adaptive Strike with this power is unlocked as early as level 7, allowing Morphling to contribute as an extremely powerful early-game ganker. Because of this, a solo lane (typically offlane) suits support Morphling the best. The sooner he can attain his levels, the sooner he can disrupt other lanes. With some gold, support Morphling can build initiation items like Eul's Scepter of Divinity, Blink Dagger, Force Staff, Shadow Blade, and so on.
This Role also revolves more around his Morph ultimate, because it'll consider potential enemies to morph into and use their own abilities against them, in a similar fashion of what a Rubick can do. However, at first levels, Morph has a very long cool down, so using it requires a careful planning, but it's extremely powerful when used preemptively.
During lane phase, Morphling can keep harassing with right clicks, using Waveform to catch up or evade, and then using Adaptive Strike (Strength) to settle a long duration stun when needed, reminding that the stun also has a considerable knock back. Used with Waveform to proper position yourself, you can push back an enemy that's running from your team by Waveforming in front of him. Otherwise, you'll push the enemy away, which is useful when you are the one running away or if the enemy is closing in an ally next to you, and your stun will push the enemy away from your ally. Careful not to push the enemy closer, when your ally may get killed.
Items for the support role should include those that increases your mana pool and diminishes expenses, such as Kaya or Aether Lens (so you can use more Adaptive Strikes in a conflict, spam Waveform if needed, and use Morph and your target's abilities, specially those whose abilities are too mana-consuming), and mobility and mana regen, like Eul's Scepter of Divinity and Force Staff (to allow locking down a target, properly positioning for Adaptive Strike (Strength) and defending allies or escaping ganks).
- As a carry, Morphling should maximize Waveform and Attribute Shift early. usually skipping his ultimate early.
- Putting the first point into Attribute Shift while in the fountain allows him to shift extra points into agility, making it easier to last hit.
- Attribute Shift should be maxed out over Waveform against an aggressive lane, as higher level morph gives him health faster.
- Morph's first level is short lived and has a short cast range, giving it minimal utility in the early game.
- In some cases, taking the spell early can be useful to gain an instant escape or enable a temporary relocation to another lane or the fountain, but keep in mind the high mana cost of jumping to the illusion's location
- As a carry, Adaptive Strike (Agility) is primarily used to deal damage with a large pool of agility, making it weak in the early game.
- In a game with uncontested farm (eg. a successful trilane), it can be preferable to skip one or two points in Morph in order to max out Adaptive Strike faster.
- Like carry Morphling, the first point is usually put into Attribute Shift, but a supporting Morphling will shift towards strength, increasing his survivability and preparing for a stunning Adaptive Strike (Strength).
- Attribute Shift's higher levels can be delayed for a supporting Morphling.
- Waveform's scaling only increases damage and mana cost, and so the value point is enough to gain the mobility value from the spell.
- Adaptive Strike (Strength)'s early value in a supporting Morphling lies in the long stun available with more strength, giving plenty of time for allies to kill off the target.
- An early point of Morph is valuable for support Morphling, allowing him to use the enemy ability against them, including some with disabling or potential killing values.
|+2 Multishot Adaptive Strike||25||2 Waveform Charges|
|Waveform Attacks Targets||20||Morph Targets Allies|
|+30 Attack Speed||15||+15s Morph Duration|
|+300 Waveform Range||10||+10 Agility|
Tips & Tactics
- Early on, go mid or have a support keep you safe in the safe lane while you farm.
- Focus on farming up items. Only go for kills if you know you can get it.
- Morphling functions better as a carry in teams with a strong front line. This allows him to remain in the fight with a high amount of agility and hence right click or Adaptive Strike (Agility) damage, without feeling the pressure of being focused. Although he is good at soaking damage through Attribute Shift (Strength Gain) and items such as Linken's Sphere and Eye of Skadi, he is much more useful as your team's primary source of consistent damage.
- Shotgun Morphling describes a playstyle of using Ethereal Blade in conjunction with Adaptive Strike (Agility), Waveform, and maximum agility from Attribute Shift to deal tremendous amount of magical damage to a single target.
- The build works by having Ethereal Blade amplify magical damage and provide bonus agility to stack with Attribute Shift, scaling up Adaptive Strike (Agility)'s damage. With Ethereal Blade purchased early enough, Morphling can pick off all but the most durable of heroes. However, the effectiveness of this build falls off once enemy heroes tank up, get spell immunity, or start to group.
- If you feel this item has outlived its usefulness, consider disassembling it to make a Butterfly. However, also consider Morphling's normally short-ranged attacks, even in the late game, Ethereal Blade and Adaptive Strike (Agility) can still effectively kill an enemy support at the start of a fight.
- Use Waveform to escape from ganks early game. If going for kills, use it after using Adaptive Strike to aim more reliably.
- Assuming you have the regeneration and mana pool, you can use Waveform to speed up farming while going for those big items.
- Morphling's early game damage is relatively high with Waveform and decent physical attacks through Morph. Consider laning with an aggressive support to grab some early game kills so you can accelerate your farm and reach your late game faster.
- Waveform's travel speed is slightly higher than the projectile of Etherial Blade, meaning that while you can use the item during Waveform, you should use the item before Waveform if you wish to amplify the damage of the ability.
- Given that you can attack or cast abilities while in Waveform, you can use this to close in a disabler enemy and use Morph while still in Waveform, reappearing already in the shape of your foe and able to use the disabler's ability against your target, then morphing back to finish off your foe.
- As Adaptive Strike (Agility) scales with attributes, it should not be leveled until after Waveform is maxed and should be the last ability maxed out.
- When wanting to maximize the damage, shift to full agility.
- This is your primary damage spell after you finish Ethereal Blade.
- If needing to escape, use it after shifted to mostly strength.
- You do not need to go full strength in order to maximize the stun, merely having Strength being 50% larger than Agility is enough.
- If well aimed, you can actually push enemies onto places without means to leave, unless using teleportation, similar as using Telekinesis or Skewer.
- As Attribute Shift gives +3 to both Agility and Strength with one level, you should get this ability at level 1.
- Know when to Attribute Shift between agility and strength. During the laning stage, put enough points into agility to easily gain last hits, but keep enough in strength to survive ganks. Basically, Morph to agility when farming creeps, while use strength to escape.
- If you are low on health and being chased or targeted, use Attribute Shift to increase your health and health regeneration to increase the difficulty of killing you.
- When Attribute Shift agility, both maximum and current HP will lower by 20 for each point shifted, but this cannot kill Morphling directly.
- Since Attribute Shift has a toggle ability, it will continue to function even while silenced; provided the ability was toggled on prior to being silenced.
- The current state of Attribute Shift is preserved through death. Upon respawning, take care to Attribute Shift before teleporting to lane.
- When going back to base consider Attribute Shift some agility into strength in case of enemies with global abilities such as Zeus and Ancient Apparition or even Clockwerk and Nature's Prophet.
- You can actually 'heal' Morphling with this ability. When you are ganked and damaged getting too low on health even when fully shifting to Strength, you can shift to Agility all the way to 1 Strength and start shifting to Strength again, regaining Health lost. Of course, using this strategy requires you are out of reach, of view or under cover to allow going low on Strength, because it'll mean that you'll be temporarily with 1 health point, until shifting Strength points back to regain some health.
- Also, whenever you are going to heal Morphling, keep Strength points the lowest possible, so that in proportion the healing will be more efficient. I.e.: when using wand, tangos, healing potions.
- A good use for this is in games against an enemy Techies, going about places you suspect are mined, you shift attributes to Strength, to soak potential massive damage, to avoid having to Waveform through trees or cliffs, then you shift back to Agility when you are sure you're safe.
- Morph into an enemy target to use their non-ultimate abilities.
- Morph does not copy target's items, but you can still use your own items.
- Consider Morph a good opportunity to soak damage, before morphing back to Morphling's original form, granting its preview health. Beware that when Morphling is impersonating another hero, he cannot shift attributes to save himself, so Morph back before getting killed.
- Morph is very effective when used against disablers or harassers. For example, in laning stage against Batrider, one can Morph into Batrider and use his own spells against him, specially if Batrider shows intention upon running over Morphling with Firefly and Sticky Napalm. Given that Morph's Health and Mana return after morphing back, one can try to take down Batrider as much as possible, before morphing back and ensuring the kill with Waveform or Adaptive Strike. Another example is against Lion, where Morph can use Hex or Earth Spike to disable a target, even Lion himself, then burst down the foe after morphing back.
- Morph works almost like a Refresher Orb when copying allies, except for their ultimates. But used wisely, can be really powerful. For example, trying to pin down a hero with blink or escape mechanism such as Slark, Monkey King or Anti-Mage, having a Disruptor as ally, if the enemy is not taken down at first and try to run away, Disruptor can use Glimpse to bring the enemy back, and, if the enemy runs away again, Morphling can use Glimpse again. Strategies around this sort of use are very broad. Also having allies or foes with escape mechanisms, Morphling can use those abilities to chase or flee from a potentially dangerous gank.
- Morph copying Anti-Mage, either as an enemy or an ally, can abuse Mana Break and Blink, specially if Morphling carries a Manta Style. If allied with Anti-Mage, they can simply burst down a target's health and mana in a blink.
- If during the lane phase there is no potential in copying your opposing hero's abilities, you may consider postponing acquiring Morph to later levels and focus on the rest of Morphling's abilites.
- If playing a support role, copying allied heroes such as Phoenix, Shadow Shaman, Lion, Mirana or Skywrath Mage can really amplify your team's disabling capabilities or magical damage output. A strong tanker can be easily taken down by two Sun Ray cast at the same time, for example.
- If tagging along Shadow Demon, Shadow Demon can make copies of Morphling with Disruption which can also Morph into Shadow Demon and make two copies from one of his own copies controlled by Shadow Demon, making up to four Morphling copies. If there's a Manta Style on Morphling as well, there will be six Morphling copies, as a very strong pushing potential.
- Always consider using Morph immediately after you perform a non-lethal shotgun combo, specially if the target has high magical capabilities, with normal abilities able to dish out good damage, so you can morph into your foe and still use the Ethereal Blade's magnified damage with more magical damage, if you are not willing to waste Waveform. Also important against disablers, so you can disable your foe to get time to finish them off when you are able to right click again.
- Tango should always be picked up to give you sustain. If heading mid consider asking the supports to pool you Tangos.
- Iron Branch gives cost efficient attributes and can be built into a Magic Wand.
- Ring of Protection improves Morphling's rather low starting armor, and can make an early Ring of Basilius for more damage and mana regeneration.
- Wraith Band should be considered if going mid rather than safe lane.
- Boots of Speed are necessary on Morphling to improve his slow 285 base movement speed.
- Infused Raindrop brings mana regeneration and protection against magical damage nukes.
- Magic Stick provides burst health and mana for sustain.
- Ring of Aquila provides damage, mana regeneration, and armor.
- Power Treads provide an affordable source of attributes. The cost of his abilities can be mitigated by casting on intelligence, and they can also provide agility or strength for more offensive or defensive power without needing to use Attribute Shift.
- Linken's Sphere is a common early item for Morphling, providing a modest amount of attributes and regeneration, as well as giving protection against point-target spells, making it even harder for him to be successfully ganked during farming.
- Ethereal Blade is a the most important and unique pickup for Morphling, and he is the strongest hero for this item in the game. Often referred to as "Shotgun Morphling", Ethereal Blade allows to very quickly deal a very large amount of magic damage to a single target by using the E-Blade active, Adaptive Strike, and Waveform in quick succession while morphed to high agility.
- Ethereal blade provides a large amount of agility and greatly amplifies magical damage to a target. This is best gotten as the first or second major item on Morphling, as its effectiveness falls off once enemy heroes tank up, get BKBs, or start to group up.
- If you feel this item has outlived its usefulness, consider disassembling it to make a Butterfly. Keep in mind it scales really well with Morphling and can still output loads of damage late game. Considering Morphling's normally short-ranged attacks, even in the late game the Ethereal Blade and Adaptive strike can effectively kill an enemy support at the start of a fight.
- Black King Bar is a vital item for late-game teamfights, providing Morphling with time to deal his damage without being disabled.
- Eye of Skadi is the largest source of total attributes available in one item, providing a large amount of HP even when fully shifted to agility.
- Dragon Lance is a cheap source of attributes, and gives valuable attack range to improve Morphling's early fights. Later, it may be upgraded to Hurricane Pike for additional mobility, mana, and health regeneration, or it can be disassembled to make Black King Bar and/or Yasha.
- Butterfly gives a very large amount of attack damage and evasion, and so is most effective for a build focused on attacks instead of Adaptive Strike.
- Satanic allows Morphling to use his high DPS to rapidly heal himself full, via the active. However, if you get stunned while trying to lifesteal, you can still be very easily killed, so it should be paired with Black King Bar or used against teams with little lockdown potential.
- Manta Style gives ability to purge silences and debuffs and synergizes well with his escape mechanisms.
- Diffusal Blade provides modest attributes, and allows his attacks to burn mana. Сan be effective if facing mana-related heroes (Medusa, Storm Spirit etc).