Dota 2 Item Guide: Blade Mail

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Image Credit: Valve Corporation

Our new Dota 2 Item Guide series will focus on some of the most important items in the game. Today we’re taking a better look at Blade Mail.

Every game of Dota 2 is quite different so building the same items over and over is usually not a good idea. Various factors play a key role in itemization like:

  • The enemy line up
  • Your team’s line up
  • Having a lead/Losing the lead
  • Enemy item builds

Sometimes it won’t be worth getting a Battle Fury on your carry since the game might be over in 10 minutes. Enemies might have a lot of magic damage/crowd control, so a Black King Bar is more than necessary and so on. With our new series, we'll be inspecting some of the most bought Dota 2 items. Today’s topic will be all about Blade Mail.

Axe Dota 2
Have you seen Axe without a Blade Mail? (Image credit: Valve Corporation)

Blade Mail

Let’s start with a couple of facts about Blade Mail:

  • Added in patch – 6.00
  • Total cost – 2050 gold
  • Grants – 7 armor, 28 attack damage
  • Damage Return Passive – Return 20% of attack damage plus 20
  • Active – Returns 100% of attack damage and 80% of spell damage over the next 4.5 seconds (cooldown 25 seconds)

The price of the individual components is rather low with Broadsword being the most expensive one sitting at 1000 gold. In most cases, you’ll be able to easily assemble the item.

Blade Mail was always hard to balance as it was either overpowered and seen in every game or borderline useless. The item was changed 27 times since patch 6.00 which might seem like a lot but actually isn’t. Out of those 27, only two changed it in a major way. From patch 6.58 to 7.27 Blade Mail used to have an active that returned 100% of all incoming damage (even through spell immunity). With the 7.27 update, a lot has changed.

Most importantly the item’s active no longer returns damage to magic immune heroes. As a result, Black King Bar became a direct counter to Blade Mail. That’s not all though. The item no longer grants 8 intelligence but now has a passive component that returns 20% of any taken attack damage plus a flat 20 damage. This makes it a good farming tool for heroes like Spectre that already have a damage return ability in their kit. Just get a huge stack and clear it in no time.

The active component (costs 25 mana) of Blade Mail now increases the damage return by an additional 80%. Once used anyone hitting you will receive 100% of the attack damage and 80% of the spell damage done to you back. Blade Mail will NOT return damage to:

  • Techies mines
  • Witch Doctor’s Death Ward
  • Venomancer’s Plague Wards

The damage has to be directly coming from the hero or it won’t be returned.

When to Get It?

There are two main reasons to get a Blade Mail. The first one is facing a lot of area of effect damage coming from squishy heroes. The second is if you’re one of these heroes:

  • Spectre
  • Axe
  • Legion Commander
  • Bristleback
  • Clockwerk
  • Spirit Breaker
  • Centaur Warrunner

With the exception of Spectre these are all strength heroes but all of them have the health pool to make good use of the active (and survive). Using Blade Mail after you initiate will pretty much guarantee the enemy team won’t focus you for the next 4.5 seconds. This will only work before your enemies get a BKB but even then, it’s a good tradeoff if you manage to make them use it.

Overall, Blade Mail remains a mostly situation item that can often give you the edge against certain lineups or with certain heroes. Tune in next time when we’ll continue with another popular Dota 2 item.

Stay tuned for more Dota 2 news and check EarlyGame or the EarlyGame YouTube channel for everything gaming and esports.

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