The first time we understood the full impact of correct itemization was when we lost to an enemy Egersis Ranger with Frantic Mask. We had three units on the board versus their one. It seemed like a no brainer, but the Ranger kept shooting and surviving nonetheless. The next round was even worse, as our opponents completed an Egersis synergy with the Evil Knight.
Applying similar tactics during the following game, we got the upper-hand. We were winning against all but one opponent. As a last resort, we decided to pick up Storm Shaman, with no synergy at all, because we knew he had a huge AoE disable that will silence opposing units. We also gave him a beautiful Magicka Crystal to ensure he gets to cast his ultimate as fast as possible.
The result? We made a huge comeback from 12 health and won the game.
How Items Work
As we mentioned in our game review, which units you buy and combine can have a momentous impact on your round performance. It’s not just classes, but also races that can synergize with one another, so you want to have plenty of gold accumulated in your stash to enable purchases at any time. For more information about the game’s economy, feel free to check our dedicated guide to making money in Auto Chess.
Luckily, items don’t have to be bought with gold. Instead, you get them from killing NPC mobs at levels 1 through 3. After that, creep waves keep spawning every 5 levels starting with the 10th, so at round 10, 15, 20, and so on. Just like in our example, which items go on what heroes can be game-changing, since they have the potential to enhance their survivability and/or damage by a lot.
Let’s start with the basics of itemization. Two of the most common items you’re likely to get in the first three waves are the Broken Sword and the Bone Claw.
As you may have noticed, when you click on an item in the encyclopedia, you can also view its possible upgrades. These are more powerful pieces that can be crafted with the help of one or several additional items. When you have two items that can be combined, the game will prompt a window where you can do it. This is not always a good idea, as you’ll later see. However, in this instance, our Dragon Knight can absolutely benefit from more health and mana regen.
The reason for this is that his ultimate turns him into a powerful dragon that has a ranged attack with 100 more damage, as well as DoT orb effect from the latter. We want him to survive and cast his ability as fast as possible.
Other units, such as the Taboo Witcher or Egersis Ranger, don’t have mana or a cast-able ability. Theirs is a passive skill that often has a permanent effect, thereby rendering any manga-related items completely useless. In the Ranger’s case, her passive is Marksmanship and it gives her 20% attack speed and 20% damage to herself, both of which go up to 30% at Rank 2 and 40% at Rank 3.
While the Ranger can benefit from the Crystal Sword upgrade immensely, since her rapid fire rate will likely trigger that critical damage repeatedly, a front-line unit will fare better with something that increases their ability to stay alive and take damage. For instance, Blade Mail, which can be made from a Broken Sword and a Cattlehide Armour, permanently returns a whopping 20% of received damage to the enemy, aside from giving a noteworthy boost to armour and attack.
On a hero like Redaxe Chief, whose taunt ability forces nearby champions to attack him, the Blade Mail is a truly game-changing item. Even in DotA2, Axe with Blade Mail is a mandatory build. This synergy between ultimate and itemization is often the reason why, in the mid- and late-game, some players fall behind without any chance of a comeback.
Here’s another powerful example in this respect. Phantom Queen’s ultimate, Scream of Devil, does 200 damage (300 on Rank 2 and 400 on Rank 3) of magical damage to any unit within 3 grids of her. The cue here is “magical damage”.
Even as early as round 3 you can get items that lower your opponents’ magical resistance, thus boosting the former. One such example is the Cappa, which reduces the magical resistance of your piece’s target by 20% for 5 seconds. On a champion like PQ, this item can easily enable her to completely wreck your opponents’ backline. Cappa’s upgrade, Voodoo Staff, is even more powerful. Other heroes with notable damage-dealing abilities include the Pirate Captain, the Flamming Wizard, and the Storm Shaman.
As was the case with our very own Storm Shaman, being able to cast one’s ability faster might be more important than the amount of damage that is done. In this particular instance, the SS’s Static Storm ability can silence opponents in a huge AoE for 2.5 (3.5/4.5 respectively) seconds. It might not seem like much, but we guarantee that even a couple of seconds of not casting can expose a unit to enemy attacks and have it killed before it gets a chance to anything. This is why Orb of Regen is so powerful on the Shaman.
Imagine what he could do if he had two of them, which build into an Orb of Refresh that resets your ability’s CD as soon as it’s cast.
Recovering Items from Units
The reason why itemization is so important is because you cannot simply un-equip items. The only way to do so is to sell a unit, which will put the item(s) back in your inventory, but is almost never a desirable outcome. Be extremely careful what heroes you choose to receive certain items, because you can even break good units with good items.
The Frantic Mask, which would be awesome on a Ranger, can easily render your Shaman useless. It might be tempting to make it because of its stats and orb effect, but on a champion with a castable ultimate, it is extremely counter-productive.
However, on a unit like the Berserker, the Mask will offer an incredible advantage, particularly given the fact that with each attack on the same unit, his attack speed is increased by 15% up to a tremendous 90% more attack speed. This champion can end up being un-killable with the correct itemization.
Now that you know the basics of Auto Chess items, you can go ahead and take on the leaderboard. It will take some time before you get the hang of it, but, once you do, we guarantee you’ll love the game for all its complexity. Sure, the RNG gods might make you go an entire game without getting a 3-star hero, but you can’t win them all. Also, when you end up on the luckier end of the hero draw, there’s just no end to how much fun you can have with synergies.