On Anti-Mage, the Aghanim’s Scepter and the Linken’s Sphere are great situational items to boost your survivability. Let’s find out which one you should prefer.
The Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade was introduced with the Dota 2 patch 7.00, and never changed. It upgrades Spell Shield adding a Spell Block and Spell Reflection effect with a 12 seconds cooldown.
Spell Block is a passive ability that blocks most single targeted skill and item effects.
Spell Reflection is a passive ability that re-casts most single targeted skills and item effects back to the original caster.
In short, the Aghanim on Anti-Mage is a hybrid between a Linken’s Sphere and a Lotus Orb.
12 seconds cooldown, but it starts only after blocking a spell, not when reflecting it.
The abilities provided by the Linken’s Sphere and the Lotus Orb only work when Spell Shield is on cooldown. The enemy must first proc your passive, and then the item.
The cooldown is influenced by any effect that can manipulate it, such as the Octarine Core's cooldown reduction.
Spell Shield is a passive skill, and thus is disabled by the Silver Edge, while the Linken’s Sphere isn’t affected by it.
Your Spell Reflection also grants the Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade to the re-casted ability.
Aghanim’s Scepter or Linken’s Sphere
Less cooldown. 12 seconds against the 13 of the Linken.
More health points. The Aghanim gives a total of 375 health, the Linken 300.
It also grants Spell Reflection. The Linken is easily activated by many spells, while the Aghanim will reflect some of them and keep up the Spell Block protection. Reflecting a spell doesn’t put the ability on cooldown.
It is cheaper. 4200 gold versus 4850
Spell Block can be used on allies and isn’t disabled by the Silver Edge.
More hp and mana regeneration. Generally useful, particularly if you don’t have the Power Treads as mana regen can be an issue without Treads switching.
Better statistics. +15 to all stats, the Aghanim gives +10. More agility also means more damage, attack speed, and armor.
The Linken is a better pick if we consider only the bonuses and the Spell Block effect, but the Aghanim also provides Spell Reflection. Due to this extra perk, they behave differently against some spells.
For example, the Linken’s Sphere blocks abilities such as Legion Commander’s Duel, Doom Bringer’s Doom, and Necrophos’ Reaper's Scythe, while the Aghanim’s Scepter reflects them on the caster. Furthermore, the spells reflected acquire the Aghanim’s upgrade, if they have any.
Ultimately, selecting the right items depends from the opponents you are facing. Never buy the Aghanim's Scepter if you are against a Silver Edge user!
Do not forget that you can use both, and that Spell Shield has priority. Very situationally, you will want this extra layer of protection to boost your survival chances against certain heroes.
Still, Anti-Mage requires different items to be effective, so you won’t always have the chance to sacrifice one or two inventory slots for them.
Spell Immunity or Spell Block
The Black King Bar is the best option in most games and is exceptionally effective in teamfight. You know exactly when the spell immunity is necessary to do your work.
The Linken’s Sphere or the Aghanim’s Scepter are more useful against specified single targeted abilities. Also, they are very convenient if you are suddenly ganked while split-pushing.
If the opponents are smart and well-coordinated, there won't be the time to activate your BKB or blink away, and here Spell Block is a lifesaver. In particular, If you have both items, the enemy team must utilize multiple spells to break through your defenses.
There isn't a standard item build
During November, we saw Anti-Mage picked in 50 competitive matches. Pro players bought a total of 15 BKBs, 12 Aghanims, and 11 Linkens.
Anti-Mage has a rather standard itemization, especially for the core items. Instead, you can't put the ones explained in this article in a generalized build.
You need to evaluate the abilities at disposal of the enemy team, and pick the right items for the game.