Often when a new hero releases, there is some discrepancy to their role. With Grimstroke and Dark Willow, we saw many iterations of the hero go in essentially every position. However, the trend ends with Mars as it seems apparent to players that the new hero belongs firmly in the offlane.
Making use of his front and sides damage reduction, Mars makes for a tanky strength hero sitting in the offlane. Dubbed “Bristle-front”, the hero is equipped with a sizeable damage output, alongside a repositioning stun in his arsenal. All of this makes him pretty ideal for the offlane position.
Image courtesy of: Valve
We must, of course, begin our guide with the information that we do know for certain. Building items on Mars is naturally still rather up in the air, however trends are already forming in these early days.
The general consensus is that phase boots and blink are essential kit. Drums before blink is a popular choice amongst the highest of skilled immortal players. Beyond that, flexibility with the build enters the fray. As a result of his natural resistance to damage and ability to reposition enemies, items with auras are a much more appropriate direction to take the hero. The blink is an essential part of landing multi-hero ultimates and turning around fights. A soul ring is a strong purchase to help balance any mana related issues with the hero.
Without much of a need for many essential items, Mars definitely implements the saying: “the best offence is a good defence”. Likely item candidates from immortal matches are BKB, Crimson Guard, Lotus Orb and Desolator, depending on what’s required game-to-game. The virtue of Mars being difficult to kill lends itself to an innate advantage that defensive items push. The longer you’re alive, the more damage you can produce.
Mars fan art emerged quickly. Courtesy of Reddit user u/TheXavimon. Instagram: drjavibrown
One of the enjoyable aspects of Mars is that his survivability is so thorough that there are no items that are required for the hero to come online. Blink is essential to be making the most of the hero, but he is certainly online before a blink is purchased.
The most common skill build emerging is to max out Spear of Mars by level 7. One point in Bulwark and God’s Rebuke, alongside levelling ult at 6 is the trend. Maxing Spear is beneficial for a number of reasons, however most likely the big benefit comes from the near-3 second stun. The cooldown does not change as the skill increases, but the scaling of the stun duration is significant.
Mars’s attack damage in the lower levels is not seemingly high enough to warrant putting lots of early levels in to God’s Rebuke. Realistically, by maxing God’s Rebuke later on in the game, you’re drawing out the duration of the hero’s power spikes. A 2.8 second stun and 350 damage is significant, but having similar damage without the stun by maxing Rebuke early does not seem to be worth it.
Most Mars players seem to be able to max out Rebuke around the 16-17 minute marks, at which point it seems not too difficult with a decent lane to have farmed both phase boots and drums. His talents aren’t particularly hotly contested, with the logical progression being +8 strength, +35 damage, + spear stun duration, followed by whatever is applicable for the game for his 25.
Mars is naturally a happy counter to Legion Commander and Axe, as well as being decent against Bristleback. Magic Immune targets can phase through the Arena of Blood walls, so a carry such as Lifestealer would be especially poignant against the strength hero. Nightstalker, Winter Wyvern and Batrider are also able to fly out of the arena, making them just that bit stronger against the hero.
Whilst no small pocket strats have really surfaced as of yet, we can certainly feel some forseable shenanigans with a spear, a Blink Dagger and a planted Iron Branch.
Interestingly, Mars has a 55% winrate vurses Weaver, and 57% winrate against Broodmother. It seems that the culmination of Spear of Mars and Arena of Blood provide not only a lot of damage, survivability, but also lockdown; which appears to be a major part of the new offlaner’s kit.
Header image courtesy of: Valve