June 23, 2013 - Updated to 6.78b. It has no Dota 2 counterpart for now. Comment if you want one.
Originally Posted by SM|1sm
Wow. He stated at the beginning that this was the guide of a pubber, not a competitive player. But the guide is totally relevant to competitive play, too. Apart from the fact that they rather mix-and-match the items that Melderv suggested, depending on how the game is going, they get pretty much everything Mel suggested.
This guide was written by a Filipino whose native language is not English. As SM|1sm already pointed out, although this is a pubber's guide to Morphling, all his items are viable in competitive matches as well. You forget that Morphling is incredibly versatile, and my choices might not appeal to everyone.
I don't play Morphling much anymore, but there is no doubt when I say he is an excellent Hero that is able to "adapt" to any situation, pun intended. I recently edited this guide to look much more like my newer guides (Pudge, Meepo, and Traxex).
This is the first of my alt-tab series guides, which are not actually alt-tab guides. I hope you enjoy them.
History: This is Morphling's history in a table starting from 6.70.
Adaptive Strike rescaled from (0.75/1.5/2.25/3.0x Agility) to (20/40/60/80 + up to 0.5/1/1.5/2.0x Agility).
Armor reduced by 2. Replicate now has a visual time (Player only) that counts down its duration. Morph now has a visual effect (different for AGI and for STR) that can be seen by both teams.
Fixed a rare bug with Morph Replicate allowing you to endlessly teleport to the middle of the map.
Base agility increased by 5. Adaptive Strike cooldown decreased from 20 to 10.
Morph passively grants 3/4/5/6 STR and AGI. Waveform now properly dodges projectiles.
Cast animation time increased from 0.3 to 0.45. Morph manacost increased from 20 to 30 mana per second. Base damage decreased by 6. Waveform AoE decreased from 255 to 200. Waveform no longer allows you to start attacking/casting before it is completed.
This guide does not detail competitive play. I'm not qualified to give useful opinions on such. This is purely a pubber's point of view on Morphling, but that's not to say I'm degrading my guide.
Morphling is the kind of Hero that you pick if you want to own hard with your team. He is not the Hero to pick if you don't farm well. Although you can take advantage of a few mistakes your enemies make early, that's not enough to justify a win later on. Morphling is quite item dependent as a ranged AGI carry Hero, and learning how to get those items is a core skill when playing Morphling.
Here are a few reasons why to pick Morphling for that game:
You want to have a good game with cooperative teammates. Morphling is not a 1v5 Hero, because nobody is. When you pick Morphling, make sure your teammates are not picking Heroes that are going to compete with his farm. Although he may farm well, all the extra burden is going to be heavy later on.
You like playing mindgames. Waveform is an easy juke skill, and with Replicate, you can easily form mindgames with your Hero.
You want a hard-hitter with an escape mechanism. Morphling may have two in hand, which you can also use to whack enemies with.
You like Heroes that are useful at all stages in the game. If you farm well, you can carry the team to victory. If you focus more on player skill rather than total farm, you can use early-middle game to your advantage by being a ganker.
Morphling can carry the games he ganks on, if done correctly. In a few seconds, he can start tanking after taking out a fragile carry or supporter. It all depends on how you want to do it.
Carry: However, you can't do this all on a failing game. To be a farmer, you need to get your core as soon as possible. That involves last hitting well early so that you can get your Boots of Travel, and using Waveform to farm and avoid getting killed rather than risking a rambo kill (i.e., killing but getting killed in the process).
Ganker: As a ganker, you may have to utilize Waveform by itself coupled with good teammates to reach the farm you need. Although effective early game, you'll just be useless later on if the failed ganks outnumber the successful ones. When you play ganker, make sure your teammates are likely to respond, which should be hard if you don't know the people you're playing with.
Tank: More rarely, to be a tanker, you'll have to sacrifice a few damage items. You'll be a lot more risky and you might have to initiate clashes by entering with Waveform. You'll be using a lot more mindgames with Replicate, and you'll also be using it to escape after tanking a good portion of the enemy damage, only to return as a semi-carry after Morphing a few STR points to AGI.
Background Story: The Morphling, nature's magnum opus, the pinnacle of evolution, can force his liquid body to flow over opponents in a massive wave, forcibly moving himself as well as injuring his enemies. At a whim he may change the composition of his body, trading strength for agility and vice versa. Capable of manipulating his energy into either disable or damage based on his strongest attribute, the Morphling's most disturbing ability creates a literal clone of a chosen target, forcing them to face their own reflection as he crushes them in their confusion.
The Morphling edits his physical being to fit the circumstances. He can, at will, lose some strength and gain agility, or vice versa. The process is reversible.
2 points every second. +3 STR and AGI.
4 points every second. +4 STR and AGI.
6 points every second. +5 STR and AGI.
8 points every second. +6 STR and AGI.
Adds 3/4/5/6 STR and AGI depending on the level of Morph.
Even if Morphling is disabled, when set on Autocast, it will continue to move the stats.
Bonus STR or AGI from items can't be converted, remember this.
Most people who are unfamiliar with Morphling tend to forget that they have Morph on autocast. This is very expensive for his mana and may cause some unexpected deaths or situations, so don't forget!
There are two numbers for the cooldown. The first one is for the autocast, and the second is for the manual cast.
The visual effect for Morph can be seen by both teams.
Replicate - (Active, Single-Target, Affects Heroes and Illusions)
The Morphling has the unique ability to replicate any target friendly or enemy hero. Although it only deals 50% damage, the hero can morph into his replication, instantly taking its position.
Creates an Illusion of the target unit.
Creates an Illusion of the target unit.
Creates an Illusion of the target unit.
The Illusion receives 100% damage, which means there is no way to tell if it is real or not simply by damaging it.
The Illusion deals 50% of the original's damage.
When the Illusion is created, this skill is temporarily replaced by another skill (called Morph Replicate) until the illusion disappears.
A practical way of using this is for teleporting, if you can imagine how. Replicate an ally, set aside, use a TP scroll, do whatever you have to do, and then use Morph Replicate and control the map.
As an escape mechanism, you can use this skill to prepare for a clash you are uncertain of winning. Just use Morph Replicate when you are in danger of dying, as long as the Illusion is still there, mind you.
For mind games, use a Replicate of an ally to fool enemies into thinking the illusion is real, wasting their skills.
For stealing item effects, Replicate a holder of Radiance to gain its effects.
For taking advantage of passive skills, Replicate Axe to obtain an Illusion that can tank as he uses Counter Helix.
You cannot target yourself at all with this skill, even Manta Style illusions.
The Illusion has all the properties of a standard Illusion, such as being destroyed by Hex or Purge.
Completely blocked by Linken's Sphere (on enemies, of course).
Justification (Flexibility): This is an experimental build with the goal of achieving the most flexible type of Morphling. It can be adjusted according to every situation. You can adjust it your liking, beyond the two obvious changes you can make.
Waveform is maxed first as it is clearly his best skill. It will be his damage source from early to middle game, while still being useful as a utility spell for ganking and escaping. It costs 165 mana, so we only take Adaptive Strike as his second skill to interrupt.
His manapool is quite low, Stats offer a good fix to this. So only take Adaptive Strike early if your allies' stuns are too valuable to waste on a channeling Hero. Otherwise, head directly for Stats up to Level 8, or give one point to Morph for a +3 boost to STR and AGI plus the option to use the skill, as explained next.
Morph costs 30 mana, and we only need 1 level of it for now, taken at Level 8. You can switch it with one point of Stats early on, since it adds +3 to STR and AGI on the first level anyway. It will be useful for manipulating your stats slightly. You then level the rest of Adaptive Strike during 12-15 because that's where it'll be likely to be effective.
Replicate is taken at Level 10 and 11. Although it is not as important, utilize it during those times!
If you have not yet read what I have been trying to imply earlier in my foreword, this skill build is not meant to restrict your gameplay. Flexibility is Morphling's greatest asset, and to provide only one skill build to use limits his potential. I've elaborated on the Miscellaneous portion about situations involving a change in the skill build, but so far, this is the most common build that I personally use.
Note:Adaptive Strike is taken early only when there is a need for interrupting channeling spells and that's it. Otherwise, go for Stats.
I have four core builds, all extremely different from each other to emphasize Morphling's flexibiliy as an asset. Let me list down some of their qualities below. Their respective build progressions are noted underneath their justifications to save space.
Not to be confused with the mythical creature Manticore, this build is focused on maximum dps output as early as possible. Manta Style is the centerpiece of this build, and it involves making full use of the illusions to deal damage as the prime cooie cutter build.
Ethereal Blade is the sniper rifle of Morphling in this build, equipped magical Adaptive Strike ammunition to slay his enemies from afar. This build focuses on instant kills over fragile support/disabler Heroes instead of achieving a widespread dps like Manta Core.
The first Orb Effect build proposed, SnY-Diffusal Core is the build to get for ganker Morphlings who intend to maximize AGI use instead of raw damage output. The Maim and Purge is there to chase when needed.
Skadi Rush is a proposed build for experienced players who are keen with their farming at early stages. It involves rushing Eye of Skadi as their first item right after getting their basic needs. There is very little room for error in this one.
Boots of Travel is the best choice, but it is not the best by too much. It excels only very little above Power Treads, but because of the map control and farming power it gives, it is generally suited for a hard carry such as Morphling. Do not mind my putting Boots of Travel as a core item for three of my builds because I chose it for simplicity. Power Treads is still an option every time.
Power Treads is the second best boots but it doesn't stray far from the above. The general questions you should be asking yourself before you get this instead should be: Am I dying too much? Do I need to focus on survivability rather than farming? Do I need to adjust to the enemy's gameplay? And finally, can I use Power Treads better than Boots of Travel in this situation? If you answer yes to at least two of those, then by all means, get this item.
Manta Style is still a decent item on Morphling, despite the recent nerf on it with ranged Heroes, and the fact that Morphling cannot Replicate his own illusions. Why?
Manta Style is just the DPS item to get when you want to own in clashes in general. The DPS is quite good even after the nerf, and it's the item to get when you want to dish out a whole lot of DPS, rather than burst damage. You can still have the best of both worlds, but in the end, Manta Style is still the preferable build.
Linken's Sphere is always there as an option. You can get Manta Style first and then Linken's Sphere. But almost always, if you're going for this type of Morphling, Linken's Sphere will be gotten first. It solves mana problems and gives you a good boost for stats, not to mention the Spell Block ability.
Magic Wand is, of course, part of the core build. I'll discuss the other items to get along with the core later on.
Ethereal Blade Core
Justification: Not much difference with the first build, yes? Boots of Travel is still present as a farming amplifier, as well as Linken's Sphere as a mana-giver and spell-blocker. Magic Wand is present for ganking styles.
The main difference is obviously the Ethereal Blade. Before, this item was not gotten due to the fact that Adaptive Strike dealt Physical damage.
Ethereal Blade is now one of the better items, if not one of the best, on Morphling. This is the main fight between the builds. Adaptive Strike deals Magical damage, amplified by the Ethereal form of the enemy. The Eaglehorn that is part of the item build only gives more damage. However, in 6.71, the multiplier was significantly reduced from 3.0x to 2.0x, so it's become less effective.
You might argue that the items still retain the DPS that Manta Style gives (40 AGI is not something you can ignore). But the downside to this that Ghost Scepter,a part of the build, does nothing for Morphling for the cost (aside from stats, obviously). Eaglehorn is not that easy to farm either. Manta Style comes in manageable parts that give you what you need when you need it.
As a full summary, if you can farm the items while still being useful, get Ethereal Blade. It can take out support Heroes in a relatively short time. It looks good on paper; the damage dealt is superb. Except that fights don't go the way you want them to. It's good to note that you might want to focus on a carry, but that carry will always build BKB in order to be useful. I'm not saying enemy carries are in a perma-BKB state, but it's something to keep in mind.
The burst damage is the reason for this item. If you prefer more clash usefulness, get Manta Style. If you want to take out a significant support Hero (maybe as significant as a carry Hero), get this item. I hope I discussed everything about the two builds.
Justification: Again, the type of boots don't differ much from the two builds. The odd combination of items might look weird, but it's more for a cookie cutter Morphling.
Sange and Yasha's Greater Maim (nor Sange's Lesser Maim) is not an Orb Effect anymore, which makes it awesome when paired with an existing Orb Effect that I chose to be a Diffusal Blade. Sange and Yasha boosts up your tanking and hitting capabilities decently, with a passive chance to slow to boot.
Diffusal Blade can be upgraded cheaply, which makes it all the more powerful should you even run out of charges. The combination of Maims and Purges will make it quite tough for even those with escape mechanisms to get away from you. Not only that, Purge can also solve other problems that can be eliminated by it. Feedback as your Orb Effect will also allows you to significantly increase your DPS.
Magic Wand is there as always, because I trust it, and so should you. You'll see.
2x Blade of Alacrity
Robe of the Magi
Sange and Yasha
Sange and Yasha
2x Blade of Alacrity
Robe of the Magi
Justification: This type Power Treads is gotten to cut costs, but feel free to replace it with Boots of Travel if the game is going to last longer than expected.
Eye of Skadi's Frost Attack is key to this build. In fact, it's the inspiration. Then again, the damage is likened to something like The Butterfly, which makes it a strong first item, albeit the differences aren't very strong. It suits all Morphling's key points, and it is best coupled with lifesteal. Players who aren't focused on farming should try another build.
Satanic is a suitable follow-up, but that's up to you.
Magic Wand is there for good measure. You should get this first before you try rushing Eye of Skadi. You'll be naked when you do it, so it's best to get something to cover the important parts.
Scroll of Town Portal is to be gotten mainly to avoid deaths, but also because you no longer have teleports via Boots of Travel.
2x Ultimate Orb
Orb of Venom
Eye of Skadi
Orb of Venom
2x Ultimate Orb
Eye of Skadi
Justification:Empty Bottle is an item to get if you're taking the middle lane. Morphling middle lane is somewhat decent. You're hard to kill, but you'll take your time killing as well. Waveform will mostly be used to farm/harass instead of killing, so mana can be gotten from runes instead.
Justification: If you're on the side lanes, it's good to get one or two of these Wraith Bands at the most. This gives plenty of stats for the cheap price. Over Bracers, this can give the better damage for the cost of some survivability.
Justification: Again, if you're on the side lanes, and you're doing well, you might consider getting Poor Man's Shield instead of building the Slippers of Agility into a Wraith Band. Why? This gives considerable amount of tanking capabilities for a cheap price. You don't need a Vanguard, but this might help save costs, if you're feeling confident, that is. All it would take is a Stout Shield to finish.
Justification:Black King Bar is the substitute item after Ethereal Blade. It removes the Ethereal form from you and allows you to attack even after using Ethereal Blade. If you can still get it, why not? It gives you physical and magical immunity combined with your earlier items. Replace Linken's Sphere with this on the Ethereal Blade core build.
Justification:Diffusal Blade's components are nice. It gives a hefty boost to Morphling's AGI and solves his mana issues with INT. They're easy to farm and the Purge is good. If you're not facing any single-target disablers, go get this instead of Linken's Sphere for the Manta Style build. Ranged illusions don't benefit from the Feedback orb effect, but the DPS is still justified. The Purge doesn't hurt, and it can be upgraded for even more stats and a Purge refill. This item is core for the third build, but optional for the first and second builds.
Keep in mind that when you're facing Heroes you can counter with Purge, you should get this. Notable mentions are Rogue Knight (Warcry and God's Strength) and Warlock (Rain of Chaos).
Justification: Morphling is a good carrier of the Gem of True Sight. He can also sponsor it if he must. With two good escape mechanisms at hand, the Gem can be kept relatively safer than with any other carry.
Justification:Observer Wards and Sentry Wards can be bought by Morphling if there is no one to buy it. If all it takes is a little espionage to win a battle, Morphling can pay for it if necessary. Likewise with the Dust of Appearance, since Morphling is in the middle of everything. He can activate it with the best position. Flying Courier is bought when you take the middle lane. In pubs, everyone wants to have their own courier. If your teammates can share, it would be advisable to go for stats instead.
Justification:The Butterfly is the one of the best luxury items on any AGI Hero. The Evasion is well-justified, as well as the AGI gain. Not much needs to be said.
Justification:Heart of Tarrasque is the ultimate tanking item. Expensive, and quite taxing to build, it gives % regeneration out of battle which makes using Replicate and coming back for more fun very easy. If you're not facing hardcore carries that could be defeated with Evasion, the pure tanking power of this item is a good substitute.
Justification: Lifesteal needs to be considered for any carry, and Satanic is the most luxurious of all. Get it if you rely on your DPS for survivability rather than your HP. If you're dishing out enough damage but is lacking on HP right after, this is the item to get. Get this only if you didn't get Diffusal Blade.
Justification: This is the focus of another build, so getting it for another isn't usually worth it (unless very endgame where people burn money). For its cost, it gives an equal boost to the stats. You'll mainly get it for its slow, and since you're a ranged Hero, if you can afford it, get it with lifesteal. Eye of Skadi is not a bad luxury item, so it remains a decent choice if you can save enough money for the bigger pieces. To get Orb of Venom or not early is a decision that's not to be made by that time. Get this only if you didn't get Diffusal Blade, too.
Keep in mind that I only placed them here because of purely logical reasons. Morphling is quite a flexible Hero that can fit a lot of roles. These items can still be gotten.
Rejected items are not forbidden items. They just contradict common sense. Think of it this way, getting Aghanim's Scepter on someone who can't use it. I don't place them here, because that obviously belongs to a different section (if I had to name it, it would be Idiotic Items), but there's no point in doing that.
These are items that MIGHT be useful, but just don't make the cut. They are rejected not because they are wrong, or because they are dumb, but rather because they don't use Morphling to his full potential. You can get these items, although they are just not as efficient.
Justification:Dagon is not a good item for Morphling. He has no mana to spare, and all the other stats are wasted (the INT with the damage). It's a fun item for me. It might work on less serious games.
Justification:Mask of Madness makes Morphling more fragile, and the attack speed does not compensate. Helm of the Dominator is a better choice, which can be upgraded into the luxury item called Satanic.
Justification:Maelstrom and Mjollnir gives Chain Lightning, a chance-based orb that helps you farm. But Morphling has Boots of Travel and Waveform for that. He has no deficiency in AoE. Mjollnir's active seems nifty, but not the Hyperstone used to make it.
Justification:Stygian Desolator's Corruption orb effect no longer synergizes with Adaptive Strike's previous Physical damage. Morphling is no longer the ideal carry to hold this type of orb not only because of that, but he doesn't utilize the raw damage as much.
Justification:Assault Cuirass is quite an expensive item to build. The armor-reduction path no longer works as well as it used to, and the attack speed build for Morphling is wasted. He also gains enough Armor from his own AGI, so the EHP gained from the raw Armor on this item is not utilized much.
Justification: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Morphling is a well-suited Radiance holder. He can't make use of it much aside from utilizing Waveform to keep it safe and running. The raw damage from this skill might help if he rushes it very, very fast. But after the 30-minute mark, stop trying to rice this item as it's no longer as effective as it would have been.
Justification:Monkey King Bar is only suited against an Evasive (literally) AGI carry enemy. The attack speed and damage is nice, but it's somewhat expensive, and it's all you're building if you go for it first. You can neither tank nor be as effective if the game lasts any longer.
Justification:Buriza-do Kyanon, and its prerequisite, Crystalys, is discouraged for the same reasons as Monkey King Bar. It's all you're going to build after you finish it, and you'll be inefficient if the game lasts any longer. It provides raw power, but not the survivability to take advantage of it.
Items: It is fairly easy to manage Morphling in a middle lane. What you do is you get the safest consumables that you need in order to farm up a 600-gold Empty Bottle. The downsides to Morphling middle lanes are that you can't control your lane. You have whatever you are given. Against a good solo such as Tinker or orbwalker such as Viper, you pretty much resort to scraping any last hits you might get.
Against burst damage solos, it's advisable not to get any mana regeneration. Instead, focus on a single Healing Salve and a single batch of Tangos. With four Ironwood Branches to last hit, that's all you're gonna really need (assuming you bought an Animal Courier).
Lane Control: If you think you're going against someone who's going to control the lane a lot, maybe against another farmer such as Shadow Fiend, or an annoying solo like Obsidian Destroyer, get two Clarity Potions instead of the Healing Salve. You'd be a lot more on the offensive because you know by themselves they can't kill you. You'll use Waveform to harass while last hitting and retreat back to safety.
Farming: Farming is as simple as pie. Walk up to the enemy wave, making sure you're not going to get killed in the process, get near the Hero, which will expect you, and Wave back to your original position, killing creeps in the process.
Etiquette:Common middle lane etiquette applies (calling missing Heroes, calling rune locations). If it's getting risky, I always buy an Empty Bottle before upgrading to the Flying Courier. Or, you might need a Flying Courier first to deliver more consumables if you're getting pummeled on a lot. It's your choice.
You can only gank depending on what rune you take. Double Damage, Invisibility, Haste, and Regeneration can be used to gank (only when you could bottle the Regeneration rune though). You don't have a stun, and you're going to be relying on the damage from Waveform to kill, so coordinate with your allies. If you get lllusion, you can fake that you're not missing by sending one back to your lane. Other mindgames include sending it to a dual-stun enemy lane to fake a fail gang.
Get to a high level as you farm. Don't move around too much because you'd have another person gang for you. By yourself, you can't roam, but ganking is an option.
Keep yourself safe and avoid getting deaths. Don't tower dive with Waveform unless you're confident. Just use common sense.
Call missing Heroes and be aware if you're known to be missing or not.
Since you buy the Empty Bottle, too, once you have it, you can start efficiently ganking. Don't just gank for the sake of trying. Secure a kill or don't move at all, because you'd let no one defend your lane.
A side lane is much easier for Morphling. He can be given the pull-lane or the other lane. The pull-lanes are Sentinel Bottom and Scourge Top. He doesn't need them, because with a partner, he can score the first blood kill by using Waveform correctly. The damage is more than most nukes, and combine it with another damage-dealing stun, and you'll get some kills more often than not. Focus on your enemy's mistakes because on your own, you're still quite inefficient.
The problem with these lanes is that it takes a while to be effective. But that's alright. You have a different priority now: to farm. Getting your core items is essential as you're nothing but a Waveforming Hero without them.
Items: Items taken during a side lane are two Slippers of Agility, two Ironwood Branches, a batch of Tangos, and 2 Clarity Potions (or 1 Healing Salve). This provides safer last hits using your shorter range.
Some players I've encountered, including myself, will make sure to get two Wraith Bands and so they sacrifice the Ironwood Branches and Slippers of Agility for two Circlets of Nobility. They then proceed to buy the Slippers of Agility at the side shops. Good idea for a substitute, but do this only if you're not getting the Poor Man's Shield very early. This provides survivability over prioritizing last hits.
First Blood Attempt
A first blood attempt is usually possible. The maximum range of Waveform is given at the start. Usually, though, these are attempted with three disables, but since Morphling has none, a likely scenario would be that Morphling had acquired a Double Damage rune at the start, with at least one disabler present. Aside from that, most first blood attempts are made with different Heroes, not Morphling. However, it's something to consider.
Harassing with Waveform is quite easy. If the melee enemy comes up to you in order to attack, you can damage them while escaping with Waveform. Seems easy enough. If you look at the skill build, you'll likely be having only Waveform as your skill. That makes looking at your mana (if you have enough) easier.
The most likely harassing scenario is that you'd be taking two creeps (or at least one) as you Waveform towards the enemy. This, however, is expected from a Morphling. They'll try to avoid being in a straight line from you and the creep wave. And if they expect a Waveform coming, they might tank it in order to counter-attack with their own disables, so be wary when using Waveform to come close.
This is just stating the obvious.
Whether be it a 5v5 clash or a small 3v3 clash, or something insignificant, your target is the more fragile Hero. You always dispatch the tank last, because who tries killing a tank first? That's their purpose. What any sane Hero should do is deviate from the enemy plan.
Harass: A single Waveform in the earlier stages is enough to severely weaken a Hero and be your positioning skill. There are two scenarios in which using Waveform as your initiating skill would be good. One, you have disablers present. Waveform will deal damage as early as possible so that you don't spend time wondering if the Hero would have died or not if you'd attacked. Two, you're the one ganking. You hardly walk up to the Hero and attack. You surge towards him and attack.
Chase: The only reason that you'd use Waveform to chase is that if your disabler stuns too shortly and if the enemy can reposition himself despite everything. It's best to save Waveform as your last skill to ensure the kill rather than going all-out in an effort to save time for a failed gank.
Hit People: In clashes, it would be a good idea to hit as many people as possible, or at least your target. It's not uncommon for a Waveform to miss, especially if it's expected. A bad Morphling would try to Waveform alone without the assurance of help from allies. Judge the situation correctly, and decide if your Waveform would be a cue for your allies' entrance, or just a stupid move that would get yourself killed.
Here are your targets: the supporter/disabler, the nuker, the carry, the tank. Morphling can dispatch a supporter with burst damage or hold out a clash with DPS, depending on which item build you're going for. Commonly, you'd just try to pick the right targets and focus on them.
Using Adaptive Strike
Obviously, you can cancel teleports and other channeling spells like Illuminate or Upheaval. Most importantly, you can cancel Black Hole, Fiend's Grip, Dismember, and Freezing Field, at a safe distance.
100-300 units is not much, but it can be used to divert enemies towards your allies if you position yourself in a good manner. Be careful when using this to chase, because if this doesn't kill the fleeing unit, you probably won't get another chance.
You can save allies with this spell. A melee AoE disabler can be knocked away from a fleeing ally using this spell. Centaur Warchief and Axe comes into mind.
Finally, you can cancel consumables like Healing Salve and Clarity Potion. Although you might want to save it for Salves only. Unless necessary, your 100 mana might be more important than their 100 mana.
One level of Morph is stated in the skill build. Using Morph would only be likely because you're readjusting your stats ahead of time. 2 STR to AGI and vice versa would take a lot of time to be effective, and so using Morph in between clashes might be irresponsible, especially if you just leave it on autocast.
8 STR to AGI and vice versa, however, is quicker and you can feel it happening. Using Morph this way would mean that you had already dumped your DPS on the spot and trying to switch to become a tank after you've made a flexible escape.
However, with 6.74's addition of 3/4/5/6 STR and AGI according to Morph's level, it is beneficial to grab 1 point of Morph early on for the +3 stat boost as well as the option to use the very versatile skill.
One last use is a counter-gank measure. If you have enough mana, just switch it on instantly to STR and start running. You'll need to have enough for both this and Waveform though, so keep that in mind.
Using Replicate Offensively
If you've got an Axe, you can use Replicate on him to take advantage of passive effects. Likewise, if the enemy had Radiance, you'd be using Replicate on that guy. Just some common sense when using Replicate offensively.
If your ally is vital to the team clash, and is a likely target for a gang, use Replicate, but make sure he's not seen. This requires some communication, because using Replicate on an ally to bait would mean that the original has to hide somewhere to ensure realism.
Another use is sending a replicate ahead of someone you're trying to gank. If the target tries to escape when you start the gank, you can Morph Replicate and catch up.
One final use is Replicating an allied tank and just as the illusion is about to die, you take its place with the help of allies. It's called a counter-gang, and should be familiar to you.
Using Replicate Defensively
Replicate an ally and order the illusion to stay somewhere safe, either back to the fountain area or towards an empty lane. This is usually done before an obvious clash, but it can be done on the fly if you're planning ahead.
You can then use Morph Replicate to go back to the fountain to heal and then use Boots of Travel to teleport to an empty lane, or farm the empty lane first before going back. This is just an efficient use of Replicate to farm and escape at the same time.
If you die though, your replicate dies as well. Keep that in mind.
Getting stuck on purpose in order to escape is something that you should know. Whether be it a patch of trees no one can get to, or a high cliff that would lose enemy vision, these places are locations you should be aware of at all times. At times, this may be because of error, and you might just get lucky.
You have three means of getting out. Using Waveform again once it's on cooldown is the second quickest, and usually the most convenient. Next is using Boots of Travel, an item you should have as your core. Finally, Replicating someone and taking the illusion's place. A fourth one is using the command -unstuck, but then you'd waste valuable time.
Which Pair of Upgraded Boots?
Power Treads is discouraged. The increase in attack speed is negligible compared to the map control and farming Boots of Travel gives you. Also, it suffered a recent nerf and gives an even less reason to get. The only reason to get this is if you're having a hard time saving up for Boots of Travel and are facing many burst damage Heroes. The stats would give you an edge.
One concern from a registered member sent me a PM about selling early Power Treads some time in the game to buy Boots of Travel. This is my response. Selling something is never a good idea if there's no assurance of victory. There's too much loss involved. It's [theoretically] more cost-efficient to just buy TP every time. You will never gain back the money you lost, even if you spent time farming it back, because then you'd sacrifice time. But yes, given his already expensive build, it's highly discouraged.
Phase Boots damage and active (Phase) does not benefit you much. You have 4 active skills and all of them would disrupt Phase. Not to mention you are not much of a chaser and the raw damage does not benefit you when compared to the map control.
Arcane Boots would solve all your mana problems, but not your farming problems. You'd have a tough time getting around. Although you would most likely have a Waveform ready at all times, it's not merely enough to count on when farming and escaping. This item is usually meant for support Heroes because of its AoE. Have them use it and you can benefit from it without building it.
Adaptive Strike Early?
The damage is not enough and stats would serve you better. The additional management in manacosts would hurt you more than you think. Adaptive Strike has always been reserved early as an interrupt rather than a nuke. It would be effective to get only during the middle-late stages.
Morph takes up quite a lot of mana to maintain outside of the fountain. The quick benefit from stats early would mean you're sacrificing one thing for the other, when you somewhat need both (STR/AGI) in order to survive early. One level of Morph is enough, and it adds +3 to both STR and AGI!
A quote from the author in this thread: For issues regarding Morph early, my justifications are stated on the Miscellaneous portion. Short, but this guide is not even restrictive. You can take Morph early, I never prevented you from doing so, only discouraged you. Facing tri-lanes and whatnot, Morph is a situational skill and so are all his others.
Skipping Replicate would be fine before Boots of Travel. The added efficiency of a replicate combined with a Boots of Travel would be needed, and so skipping Replicate that far would mean using Morphling never to his full potential.
This conclusion will be of the entire guide as my final words. Nothing on strategy anymore, since everything is summarized into neat sections that would detail everything that you would need to know in a jiffy.
This guide is not fully informative, but it does provide the necessary information quickly and concisely. It's a good reference guide to the many possibilities of Morphling, with good reasons that justify their potential in the actual game.
I made this guide in my free time in a single day. I'd continue updating it as Morphling and DotA itself is changed. Soon, I'd post a replay, either of me or my friends, doing this guide that I've made that could be of valuable reference to you guys.
Thanks for reading my guide, and I hope you discovered a new Hero. To all the newbies out there, keep playing, don't let losing discourage you, but don't let DotA take over your life. It's just a game, and there are more important things out there waiting for you. Such as DotA 2.
Final Words: My Alt-Tab series of strategy guides are meant to display as much helpful information as possible without the unnecessary portions. They are not meant for Spotlight guides, with their fancy pictures and video tutorials. That is, in my opinion, extremely time-consuming. It deviates from my purpose, which is to have fun while writing this guide to communicate with others in the DotA community. I like to maintain clean and simple updated works which are just as rich in content as most good guides are.
I'd like to thank you, my dear reader. I'd like to thank my friends who have supported me a lot, but never as Morphling, not yet at least. Thanks IceFrog and all of DotA's developers and beta testers for such a nice game. This guide is short but sweet and it's for all of you.
On a personal note, I have no specific people to thank, except probably dsbnnoob, The Rev, who always used Morphling in my casual games.
October 27, 2010 - Started and finished the guide.
November 4, 2010 - Guide published. Edited the formatting of the guide, specifically the Morphling's Skills, Item Builds, General Strategy, and Miscellaneous. Added more information to Morph early from one of my posts.
November 5, 2010 - Added more information to Foreword, Skill Build, Credits, and which upgraded boots to take.
November 9, 2010 - Added replay from a pub game on the same day.
December 18, 2010 - Added a banner I made for the guide.
December 25, 2010 - Updated to 6.70, Merry Christmas!
January 23, 2011 - Updated to 6.71.
February 22, 2011 - Added some minor stuff.
May 1, 2011 - Updated fully to 6.72.
May 5, 2011 - Updated fully to 6.72b.
May 10, 2011 - Added a new core item build and updated a few things. 6.72b ready.
June 14, 2011 - Updated fully to 6.72c.
April 22, 2012 - Updated to 6.74c.
June 23, 2013 - Updated to 6.78b. It has no Dota 2 counterpart for now. Comment if you want one.