Stop Rushing Arcane Boots On Every Pos 5, You Goblins.
I’ve been coaching for a few years now, and this is probably the #1 question I get asked, and I’ve typed it out in so many different ways to different people that I may as well just get one longform version of it out of the way. Plus, we’re between seasons and you guys are a bunch of thirsty content fiends.
First off, we’re going to talk about why it’s (usually) not worth it to buy Arcane Boots over Tranquil Boots on your typical 5 hero.
Tranquil Boots in general are the dream item for any 5. They have a low overall cost, easy buildup with cheap components, valuable components to have before you even finish the boots, they sustain you actively throughout the game, and give you an additional 25 movement speed over Brown Boots/Arcane Boots/Treads/Phase(technically). The movement speed is exceptionally valuable, as you’re in a role that needs to move around the map manually a lot to place vision, and often gets punished by having tp on cooldown.
Arcane Boots, on the other hand, come with a hefty cost increase, have a significant opportunity investment, and require you to buy what is probably the worst item in the game in a vacuum. In exchange, it gives you no additional movement speed and no additional mana, just an active.
So when are Arcanes actually better than Tranquils? Specifically, in cases where you’re playing a hero that can benefit enough from what it does actually give you to justify the cost.
While forking over the vast majority of your networth for +250 mana pool is the worst deal on the planet, some heroes do have trouble casting multiple rounds of their spells in fights due to high manacost abilities. Shadow Shaman is probably the most notable example of this. That said, careful mana management will get you further than buying arcanes every game ever will. If you started a fight on less than full mana, you would have had the vast majority of the benefit of +250 manapool by having the foresight to pop a clarity 30 seconds before. Throwing an unnecessary nuke at a clearly dead hero means one less spell you could have had as the fight drags on another 20 seconds. Popping a nearly full wand at low mana will give you that same +250 mana burst, while costing half as much, and possibly saving your ass in the process.
Arcane Boots active spammed off cooldown (which you won’t do if you want to at least pretend you’re using it to try to give your teammates extra mana) functionally gives around 3 mana/second. Not bad, but you’re a 5, and clarities/raindrops exist. The only way to get value out of this regen is to be spending a lot of time using spammable waveclear spells, which very well may be your job in certain games. Heroes like Jakiro, Grimstroke, and Wyvern can get a lot of benefit from this. Heroes like Bane, Undying, and Venge basically never will.
Team Mana Sustain
The active suddenly looks a lot more promising when you’re popping it next to your teammates — you’re doubling, tripling, or quadrupling the effect. To get significant value out of the active, it requires sticking together and moving as a team. This makes it valuable to back up early aggressive heroes and fast pushers to keep them playing at high tempo, especially when combined with a hero that can translate that mana sustain into hp sustain, like Necro, Omni, or Abbadon. Dazzle is a good example of this, both because he tends to stick with his team and he wants to spam E as much as possible to push/sustain.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’re playing against Invoker, Nyx, or PL, consider Arcane Boots.
That sounds like a lot of reasons to buy Arcanes, sure. But you don’t evaluate anything in Dota in a vacuum — any time you spend money or time on something, you’re actively choosing not to buy or do something else (as an aside, it’s probably my biggest pet peeve while coaching when I ask someone why they bought something and they respond with what the item does. I know what the item does, the question I was really asking was why didn’t you buy something else). 900 gold is A LOT of money for a 5 to commit to, and it’s fairly difficult to actually accrue 900 gold in a reasonable amount of time unless you’re rolling your opponents and getting a lot of tower/kill gold, or you’re actively not buying sentries/salves/smokes in the lane/early game. For less money and easy buildup, you can have what tends to be my early 5 core:
You’ve got some mana regen to help you sustain (plus the occasional clarity) comfortably, you’ve got an early stick that helps you build charges fast for that burst mana you were theoretically needing arcanes for, you’re moving about as much faster as a core does with a Yasha, and you’ll require roughly 1 more spell to be killed by the average lineup in the earlygame, which makes the difference more often than you’d think. Here are some heroes in my pool that I tend to play without arcanes that I do sometimes see them on:
Warlock: Seriously, you need to cast like 1 500ish mana combo every 3 minutes, passive regen + a clarity keeps you topped off just fine.
Shadow Demon: Yea, he can theoretically spam waves with poison, but it comes up a lot less often than you’d think, and your other cooldowns are too long to use multiple times in most fights.
Bane: You can’t farm for shit even if you tried, you’re incredibly positioning dependent, and your spells aren’t really spammable in fights. I don’t care if you want Aether Lens, stop buying Arcanes.
Jakiro: Personal preference, and even I end up with them sometimes when I’m shoving waves a lot. Just saying he’s playable without them.
So it’s very hero dependent and sometimes game-dependent. I tend not to buy Arcanes on Shadow Demon, but I definitely would against Invoker. I tend not to on Jakiro, but in X game I have a hate team moment and decide to afk splitpush for 20 minutes. In general though, I would say that Arcanes are the exception, not the rule. If you don’t have a SPECIFIC reason to buy them, just buy tranquils.
That’s probably enough griping for now, you guys get the idea. I kinda like this coaching format, it’s a lot easier to reach more people here. I tend to do most of my coaching either in LD2L team servers or in DMs, so anything I say reaches like 1–6 people. Coaching channel answers are a bit better, but stuff still gets buried there by people who for some reason are still allowed to speak.
Feel free to reach out to me in #coaching or DMs anytime, I’ll do my best to answer any questions or point you to someone who can. I’m not as scary as I seem from casts, I promise. Thanks for reading, and swear to god if you ever buy 2 energy boosters, I will convince Scrub to snipe your next 10 games.