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Dota 2: Agility heroes with better Aghanim's Shard upgrades than Scepter

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Aghanim's Scepter and Aghanim's Shard are two of the most game-changing items in Dota 2, as they can either greatly improve a given hero's abilities or grant them a new one altogether.

Once a hero acquires an ability upgrade from an Aghanim's Scepter or Shard, they'll hit a massive power spike that can secure their team a victory or spark an unlikely comeback.

With Aghanim's Scepter being the more expensive item at 4,200 gold, compared to Aghanim's Shard at just 1,400, most would assume that the Scepter ability upgrade is better due to its price. But that is not always the case — some Shard upgrades are equal or even outright superior to their counterparts.

Let's take a look at all the agility heroes whose Aghanim's Shard upgrades are better than the ones they get from Aghanim's Scepter. You can also check our previous list for strength heroes here.

(Note: This information is for Dota 2's 7.31 update)

Bloodseeker

Aghanim's Shard or Scepter? Well, for Bloodseeker, that's a no-brainer (Photo: Valve Software)
Aghanim's Shard or Scepter? Well, for Bloodseeker, that's a no-brainer (Photo: Valve Software)

Aghanim’s Shard upgrade:

Upgraded Bloodrage: Bloodrage attacks now deal 2.0% of the target’s max health as pure damage and heals Bloodseeker for that amount. Only works for Bloodseeker.

Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade:

Blood Mist (new ability): Bloodseeker sprays his blood continuously in the area around him, damaging himself to damage and slow his enemies. While active, Thirst's healing is increased. Cannot be turned off while on cooldown.

To be quite frank, neither of Bloodseeker’s Aghanim's upgrades is particularly impressive. However, out of the two upgrades players can purchase, the Shard is the superior option.

Bloodseeker’s Shard upgrades Bloodrage by providing 2% of the enemy’s max health as damage. The damage dealt is pure and also heals Bloodseeker.

It can be a decent amount of damage when facing tanky cores such as Centaur Warrunner or Tidehunter. Tanky heroes usually have some form of damage mitigation, so the fact that the damage is pure and cannot be reduced is a solid point for the Shard.

The extra healing helps Bloodseeker sustain himself in fights, too.

The Shard’s value really relies on two things — how tanky enemies are, and can Bloodseeker attack his enemies?

With those things in mind, Aghanim’s Shard for Bloodseeker is a decent late game upgrade for the hero. It’s not amazing, but it’s useful enough to warrant a spot in the hero’s item build.

Bloodseeker’s Aghanim Scepter upgrade, on the other hand, is one of the worst in the entire game.

Blood Mist deals 5% of an enemy’s max health as magic damage, this damage does not pierce magic immunity. Enemies are also slowed by 25% and Thirst heals Bloodseeker for 50% more. While the spell is active, Bloodseeker takes 5% of his health in pure damage.

Blood Mist has several issues that make it a terrible spell in general. Firstly it deals pure damage to the user and magic damage to enemies. Heroes have an innate 25% magic resistance that can be increased with items. This means that Bloodseeker will deal more damage to himself than enemies during Bloodmist.

Another issue facing the spell is that 5% of Bloodseeker’s health is oftentimes a lot more than 5% of an enemy support’s health. The 25% slow is a nice touch and the extra healing can be game-winning if used right before an enemy hero is about to die.

When comparing the Shard and the Scepter, the Shard is far superior. The Shard deals 2% pure damage to enemies while healing Bloodseeker for the same amount. Blood Mist damages the user while dealing less damage to enemies. Blood Mist’s heal relies entirely on securing kills, while Shard provides healing with every attack Strygwyr lands.

It’s a no contest, the Shard is superior in every way while being a third of the cost.

Skip the Scepter unless it lands from Roshan, but even then there are usually allies with far superior upgrades.

Bounty Hunter

(Photo: Valve Software)
(Photo: Valve Software)

Aghanim’s Shard upgrade:

Upgraded Shadow Walk: Shadow Walk has a reduced cooldown grants damage reduction while invisible. Attacking to break invisibility will stun the target.

Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade:

Upgraded Shuriken Toss: Increases cast range and applies Jinada on hit.

This will be one of the more controversial entries in the list, as the Aghanim's Scepter upgrade for Bounty Hunter is the hero’s most bought item in the current patch.

However, despite being widely purchased, the item only has a 56% win rate. There are multiple cheaper items such as Lotus Orb, Boots of Bearing, and Sange and Yasha that all have an above 60% win rate.

Bounty Hunter’s Aghanim's Scepter is one of the weakest Scepter upgrades in the game. Among all heroes, it doesn’t even make it to the top 95 when it comes to win rate.

Applying Jinada to Shuriken Toss significantly increases the spell’s damage. The extra gold steal is also helpful at all stages of the game. These are all nice bonuses, so the Scepter must be good right?

Unfortunately, it’s not.

To get the max value out of the Scepter upgrade, Bounty Hunter needs to place multiple Tracks on enemy heroes for the Shuriken to bounce to them.

This takes a while to set up and becomes harder to do in the late game when fights can happen at any moment. It takes 16 seconds to place five tracks and enemies won’t give you that luxury.

Another issue is that Track becomes easier to dispel as the game goes on. Enemies will buy Eul’s Scepter of Divinity, Lotus Orb, and Black King Bar to remove it. There are also 36 spells with basic dispel and 15 spells with strong dispels — all capable of removing Track.

The total extra gold stolen is negligible, there are better options for damage and Track is less useful as the game goes on. Overall, it is a weak Scepter upgrade, especially when compared to Bounty Hunter’s Shard.

The Aghanim's Shard upgrades Shadow Walk to provide 35% damage reduction, stun enemies for one second when breaking invisibility, and reduces cooldown by five seconds.

Bounty Hunter is often used as a scout for his team and it’s common for the hero to walk into an enemy Sentry Ward and lose his life. With the Shard, enemies will need to use a lot more resources to bring him down, making it an incredible defensive option to have in the game.

The Shard also provides the hero with a stun, something he definitely needs.

With careful timing, Bounty Hunter can stun enemies for two seconds if he uses Shadow Walk again after stunning them initially. The five-second cooldown reduction is just icing on the cake.

Pangolier

(Photo: Valve Software)
(Photo: Valve Software)

Aghanim’s Shard upgrade:

Roll Up (new ability): Pangolier curls into an immobile protective ball, gaining magic immunity and allowing him to turn. Can be cast during Rolling Thunder to temporarily hit the brakes. Can cast Rolling Thunder and Shield Crash during Roll Up. If enemies attack Pangolier during this, he will roll away from the attacker, applying Rolling Thunder damage/stun if there are enemies in the way.

Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade:

Upgraded Shield Crash: Causes Shield Crash to cast a 2-attack Swashbuckle in every 90 degrees around your hero.

While the previous two heroes had relatively bad Aghanim's Scepter upgrades, Pangolier’s Scepter provides a solid increase to the hero’s damage output and survivability.

Shield Crash provides two procs of Swashbuckle that deal the spell’s damage. It’s an extra 170 damage on one target, buffed to 230 with the level 20 talent. Shield Crash also gains a chance to Disarm enemies and reduce their armor, courtesy of Lucky Shot.

It’s a very good Scepter upgrade. The only issue is that Pangolier is often picked for his ability to disable opponents and rarely for his damage output, which is the main focus of the upgrade.

Pangolier also has more important core items to purchase first, such as Eul’s Scepter, Blink Dagger, and of course, Aghanim’s Shard.

Roll up is an incredibly versatile ability for Pangolier.

It allows him to turn during Rolling Thunder if he misses his opponents, enables the hero to stick in one spot to stun enemies, provides magic immunity, debuffs negative effects, and moves Pangolier away from enemies when struck.

Aghanim gave Pangolier two great upgrades, but of the two, it is the Shard that comes out on top.

Slark

(Photo: Valve Software)
(Photo: Valve Software)

Aghanim’s Shard upgrade:

Depth Shroud (new ability): Creates a cloud at the target location. All allies inside the radius are hidden and affected by Shadow Dance.

Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade:

Upgraded Pounce: Provides charges and increases range.

Similar to Pangolier, both of Aghanim’s upgrades are useful for Slark, but the Shard is the far better option.

Aghanim’s Scepter gives Slark two Pounce charges with increased range and speed. The extra charge helps Slark chase enemies down, escape from bad situations, and provides further lockdown.

The thing is, Slark isn’t lacking mobility to justify purchasing his Aghanim’s Scepter. The hero’s ultimate provides him with a massive amount of movement speed. Slark is also a natural Silver Edge builder, which provides him with even more mobility options.

It’s not a bad upgrade, but Slark needs other items more than extra mobility, such as his Aghanim’s Shard.

Depth Shroud is an amazing ability that allows Slark to save allies in a 300 area-of-effect.

Depth Shroud also provides units inside it with a huge amount of health regeneration. The spell has a generous 800 cast range, making it easy to land.

That said, Depth Shroud does come with a lengthy 75-second cooldown, but that’s its only weakness.

An interesting part of the spell is that it can cancel the effects of certain enemy abilities, such as Legion Commander’s Duel.

For 1,400 gold, Aghanim’s Shard has insane value for Slark, far more than the much more expensive Scepter upgrade.

Ursa

(Photo: Valve Software)
(Photo: Valve Software)

Aghanim’s Shard upgrade:

Upgraded Earthshock: Earthshock applies a 1.5-second Enrage on Ursa when cast.

Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade:

Upgraded Enrage: Reduces cooldown and allows Ursa to use Enrage while disabled.

Ursa’s Aghanim Scepter upgrade allows him to use Enrage while disabled. This is situationally a great item against certain lineups.

When facing enemies such as Faceless Void and Magnus, Ursa has no way of avoiding their ultimates. With the upgraded Enrage, he can simply use it while caught in their spells to avoid most of the incoming damage.

Ursa has a solid Scepter upgradem but it’s his Shard that deserves all the attention.

A free Enrage every eight seconds is fantastic. The Shard allows Ursa to leap into the fray without having to worry about the effects of the initial stuns the enemies throw at him.

The Shard gets even better with the right talents. Ursa can have 80% damage reduction and 65% status resistance for 30% of the time, making it near impossible for enemies to control him during a fight.

Both upgrades are useful for Ursa, but of the two, it is the Shard that has become a core pickup for the hero, while the Scepter is only situationally useful.

This piece is the second of a three-part series on Dota 2 heroes whose Aghanim's Shard upgrades are better than their Aghanim's Scepter counterparts. You can check our list for Strength heroes here. Look out for our list for Intelligence heroes coming out soon.

Otomo is a long-time gaming enthusiast and caster. He has been playing games since he was 10 and is the biggest Dota 2 fan.

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