Tinker is a ranged intelligence hero and one of the most unique of all. In the right hands Tinker can be extremely fun and rewarding to play. Famous for his risky but potentially rewarding play-style he has been a staple of high MMR DOTA as well as professional games. With his massive arsenal of weapons, he can wreak havoc over the entire map. A good Tinker player is a force to be reckoned with as he brings vast amounts of damage and chaos into any fight. Due to his extreme mobility, aggressive play style and one of the best base defence spells in the game, Tinker is never a bad addition to your team.
While each of Tinker’s spells is rather straightforward on their own, Tinker is by no means a simple hero. Proper Tinker execution requires understanding of damage types, positioning, resource management and map awareness. While your damage potential is great, Tinker is also one of the squishiest heroes in the game. This has appropriately earned him the nickname of a “Glass cannon” hero. While it’s possible to single-handedly win fights, one wrong step will spell your demise. Thus, it’s important to understand your strengths and weaknesses or risk falling behind.
Extremely simple, but also extremely potent. This spell can single-handedly win you a lot of laning stages. Use it on the enemy hero to deal damage while denying and securing creeps. Unless they have a cheap, spammable spell to secure last hits with, most heroes will struggle securing any farm.
Laser deals Pure damage, making it very useful against heroes with high magic resistance such as Anti mage. It’s also great at dealing with heroes that rely heavily on their right clicks such as Phantom Assassin, Ursa etc. The blindness lasts for 6 seconds on creeps, so it can be used on a siege creep both to remove its attack output and weaken it.
During the laning stage you will want to use it to trade favourably as well as secure last hits and denies. For just harassing the opponent it’s better to use missiles due to its better mana to damage ratio.
With it’s incredible cast range one of the best harassing spells in the game. At lvl 1 it deals a whopping 125 magical damage for only 80 mana. Thus, it can be spammed to ensure your opponent is always low health. The efficiency of this spell is so high that Yapzor has even played Tinker as a position 4 support for Team Secret.
In the laning stage you want to spam it off cooldown. Buying a couple of mangoes during laning stage will ensure you have sufficient mana to work with.
During teamfights this will often be a majority of your damage, as it can be spammed from a secure place. Spamming missiles also requires virtually no skill as your DPS rotation becomes “W R W R W R W- Teleport to base”. This approach can effectively be used before you have purchased a Blink dagger, in order to offer cover fire for your team.
March of the Machines
Your main farming tool with a deceptively high possible damage output. While each robot only deals a small amount of damage, their value comes from their high numbers. Anyone foolish enough to dare fight in multiple marches will soon regret doing so.
To maximize the damage, you want to spam marches perpendicular (90°angle) to each other. This will ensure anyone walking through the march will be bombarded by explosions from all sides. When farming creep waves, 2 marches is usually enough. Against stacked jungle camps you will want to consider using 3 waves and kiting creeps through them. ¸
Important to note, March has a very long back swing animation which needs to be cancelled in order to efficiently play Tinker. Otherwise you may end up stuck in animation when trying to blink away after casting.
Tinker ultimate ability and the one that enables his unique play-stile. While being able to refresh his spells is already enough to make him amazing, refreshing the cooldowns of most items allows you to be an extremely mobile, as well as potent damage dealer. Make sure to be mindful of your button presses. Otherwise you may queue up Rearm after Rearm, effectively wasting both time and mana.
Bottle will heal with a flat and will get refilled at your fountain. Therefore, move items to your stash or backpack in order to reduce the size of your mana pool, increasing the effectiveness of the flat regeneration and allowing you to get back into action faster.
Lvl 10: The cast range should be taken for more mobility with Blink Dagger, as well as safer positioning when casting items such as Scythe of Vyse. The +8 % Spell Amplification talent can be taken when you are the sole damage dealer on your team. Increasing your already vast arsenal of weapons can do wonders. Especially when going for aggressive item builds such as Dagon + Eblade.
Lvl 15: The +9% manacost talent can be absolutely ludicrous when combined with a Kaya or Bloodstone. It will ensure you get a lot more spells out before having to go back to base to refill your resources. +2.5s march duration can be considered when your job is to prevent pushes. The added duration talent also synergyses extremely well with the lvl 20 marches talent.
Lvl 20: The +8 Armor talent should only be gotten if you are getting jumped often. Against Spectres or similar, the armor bonus will ensure you have more time to react and cast your saving items. In all other cases, I’d recommend going for the +8 March talent as by this point BKB’s will be shorter duration. Therefore, running through marches will be even more punishing, especially with some spell amplification.
Lvl 25: Heat seeking missiles +0.25s Ministun is the better talent in almost all cases. This will ensure heroes can’t teleport away from fights or cast any channelled abilities. It will also delay heroes from using their abilities. Forcing them to replay their cast animation may give you the needed time to get additional spells off. +80 Laser is weaker since at this point you won’t be casting Laser that often at all. Thus, it’s better to skip it until you get it at lvl 30.
There are 2 valid approaches to Tinker’s skill builds when playing mid. Either more points in Laser and Missiles, or maxing March early. Since March is your main farming tool it will enable you to secure farm in both lane and jungle. Few heroes can stand inside a maxed march at lvl 7 to deny creeps. Thus, you will secure an early Boots of Travel, which will propel your farming speed even further.
Maxing Laser and Missiles will ensure your mid opponent is having a miserable time. This build will slow down your farm, but it may be worth it to delay the opponent’s farm as well. The 1st approach will secure your item timings and is thus the recommended one.
Yapzor played Tinker as a position 4 for Team Secret vs Team Spirit. His skill build focused on laser and rockets to trade with Misha’s Jakiro. He even delayed Rearm until Lvl 11 as he only got boots of travel at 15min.
For starting items you want to go stat heavy with 2 pooled tangoes. 2x Mantle of Inteligence, a circlet, faeri fire and a branch should give you plenty to work with in the early laning stage. Your early game items are going to be Bottle and Soul Ring. Finishing Null talismans can be done later if needed, as the 210g recipe delays your other items.
Your first big item will always be Boots of Travel. With them you become a global threat with near infinite mana and health. You can simultaneously push-out mid, defend bottom and then join top for a gank extremely quickly. When farming efficiently and winning mid you will be getting your BoT’s around the 9min mark, while anything until 12min is considered decent.
Contrary to popular belief, skipping Soul Ring is not going to speed up your boots of travel. Soul ring in combination with Rearm and March will boost your farming speed.
Adapt to the game at hand
Blink dagger is your main mobility extension, but can (and should) be replaced by a force staff when playing against Clockwerk or Zeus with Nimbus. After that, Aether Lens can give you more mana and cast range, while Kaya is great for more damage. Aghanim’s sceptre is very good when all you need is more AOE damage.
Scythe of Vyse is one of the most overpowered items on Tinker, as you can permanently disable an opponent by recasting Hex on them. Shiva’s guard offers flying vision when blinking into fights, as well as the slow. Bloodstone’s active can be refreshed, making you extremely hard to take down. Ghost scepter is your 1 button counter to right-click heroes. Shadow blade and Glimmer cape can be considered when you want to be hidden from single target abilities.
E-blade can be purchased as a standalone item, as it will allow you to either disable enemy right clickers, amp up your teammates’ damage, or save them from getting jumped. The same logic works for Lotus orb as well. Pushing the enemy base with Lotus orb buffs on multiple heroes can make it extremely difficult to defend.
Dagon + E-blade build
Dagon and E-blade can deal massive damage, but with its high gold cost, your opponents will have ample time to think of counters to it. Thus, unless you can make it work by repeatedly killing your opponents, it’s better to go for other items.
When to pick Tinker
Tinker can dominate most mid matchups, and counters many agility heroes due to their low health pools. Unless you are certain in your abilities, you will want to avoid playing Tinker into heroes with either scouting abilities such as Clockwerk’s Flare or Beastmaster’s Hawk, or heroes with long reach such as Storm Spirit and Spectre. Storm and Spectre can always find Tinker. Thus, it’s important to adapt your item builds. A Scythe of vyse rush can help deal with Storm. Against heroes such as Spectre it’s important to play aggressively to limit their farm.
Picking Tinker versus heroes such as Terrorblade will hinder their farming speed, as they cannot show on lane.
Due to Tinker’s huge damage potential, it’s important to play him with teammates. Those that offer disables such as Bane, Tidehunter or Enigma make your life easier. Beastmaster and Bounty Hunter can offer a lot of vision making aggressive plays more rewarding. Especially considering you can use Boots of Travel to teleport onto the Hawk.
How to play Tinker?
Playing Tinker is going to require a decently high APM, as well as ability to multi task. You will be constantly looking at the mini-map. Teleporting to the wrong part of the map will ensure your demise. When pushing out lanes, care must be taken to avoid being jumped on by the enemy. Tinker is a very frail hero who, despite his mobility, can be easily killed if caught and disabled.
Use Laser to blind your opponent. This will enable you to secure last hits and denies, unless they use an ability to secure the creep. Use March to push out waves that spawn at the 30s mark. It’s very important to either secure runes with your bottle, or stack jungle camps. Your goal will primarily be to secure your own farm over shutting your opponent down. This is due to Tinker having an extremely large power spike with Boots of Travel.
When farming jungle with March, make sure to hit multiple camps at once. This can easily be done by angling the March. This will net you more gold and experience, boosting your farm. Tinker’s abilty to farm Ancient camps was nerfed a while ago, but he can still effectively clear the Prowler Ancient camp. Thus, scouting which camp has spawned can be done if you have some spare time.
Unless you find an opportune Haste rune, you generally won’t be ganking the side lanes early on.
After Boots of Travel
Now that you have become a global presence, it’s important to use it to help other lanes. Make sure to teleport to lanes that have kill potential and help them out. When there are no kills to be gotten, make sure to keep pushing out the mid lane and farming jungle. The moment you buy your Blink Dagger you become an extremely strong force. Using your Blink timing you can start pressuring towers as well as split push the map. Your ability to hide in trees means without proper abilities, you will be invulnerable to ganks. There are 4 common wards to spot split pushing Tinkers. You can learn more about them in our Warding guide.
Teamfighting as Tinker
Unless you have already purchased your Scythe of vyse, you do not want to initiate teamfights. Let other heroes handle that. Your job will mainly be offering fire support. Spam your rockets to disable Blink daggers. Place Marches to punish heroes running in to help their ally.
Teleport to a nearby creep wave or Tower if available. Don’t jump in until the big spells have been used. If there is a Storm spirit, make sure he has already used his initial jump before showing yourself. The same goes for similar heroes such as Clockwerk, Doom, Bane, Shadow Shaman or Anti-mage.
When playing against a Spectre, you can sit in fountain, and teleport out to help your team after Haunt has been used. Spectre with just a Manta can make quick work of Tinker, and once she has a Nullifier or Skull Basher not even Ghost Scepter or BKB will save you.
Tinker is one of the most micro intensive heroes in the game of DOTA 2. With his insanely high skill ceiling it takes a long time to master him, but the benefits are plenty. With his multiple different item builds it’s possible to adapt to any game. Though he has been traditionaly played in the mid lane, we are seeing some new emerging builds with support Tinker. As a very versatile hero he can get a lot of work done. Especially in the current meta that favours playing around your teammates. Always be on the lookout for possible engagements as that will eventually lead you to winning and gaining more MMR. Since Tinker heavily relies on vision and playing the map, don’t forget to check out our Warding guide as well as where to place them.