BoardOM: Tank Mganga
Updated: Feb 10, 2019
In this segment, we will be exploring the not-so-popular heroes and/or out-of-the-box builds or playstyles. While very effective, meta heroes or builds, can tend to become a little boring after some time. This led me to find fellow theorycrafters who are willing to share their guides to the community especially for those who want to try out different stuff and break the game's monotony.
DISCLAIMER: The builds featured here are not made by AoV Academy (or SquirrelNation) unless so specified. They are either from players in the community who I contacted to have their work featured or just submitted by those who want to contribute. All credits are to the respective owners/makers, so questions should be addressed to them for clarity.
I took interest on Mganga after reading Zeitzbach's tank mganga guide reddit post. Unfortunately back then, I lacked the arcana for properly testing it out. Also, a friend decided to pick him up as a main and I don't want to overlap our hero pool so I decided to focus on other heroes instead. Mganga ended up buried under my will-try-this-in-the-future hero pile. These past few days, while checking old mails, I saw the tank mganga reddit link that I sent to myself (yeah, I do that instead of bookmarking) and that kind of rekindled my liking to try him out. It just so happened that there was another Mganga reddit guide by The_Zer0Myth that came about. Reading that finalized my decision to pick him up since I now have the arcana needed. The ideas for this writeup are from those two posts. I'd suggest reading through them as they're very informative. Thanks to The_Zer0Myth and Zeitzbach for sharing their thoughts and for showing what the demon jester is capable of.
Mganga is classified as a support mage. As a designated support/roam, he is hamstrung by his item dependence; while as a mage, he is limited by his lack of CC and mobility and his short effective range. Adding to these limitations are his lack of burst and his item dependence, thus needing to ramp up to late game.
Still, a properly played Mganga can singlehandedly edge out a teamfight win with his DPS and zoning potential. His sustained damage output and ability to heal teammates gives some slight advantage in prolonged staredowns.
One thing that makes him stand out is his level 1 power. With good utilization of his S1 charges and autos, he can easily cheese the opposing laner. A good jungler in the team can then take advantage of this. At levels 2-3, you and your opponent both have two skills but your passive gives you a slight edge in trades (unless you are facing a hero with an attack-enhancing passive). Just dodge skillshots and sneak in some autos, and you're good. Otherwise, you can just play it safe especially that other mages have better burst and higher range than Mganga. If played sidelane against melee heroes, the matchup is heavily in Mganga's favor as he can just poke with autos and zone them out with S1. He can also just drop the S1 on top of him if the melee laner decides to go hand-to-hand. Come level 4, Mganga gains some burst and outplay potential with his ult, but would still need to play safely as his lack of escape skills makes him susceptible to ganks.
All in all, what separates a good from a bad Mganga is positioning. When ahead, his fast clears can allow him to roam and make some plays. When behind, he really needs to play it safe and stay very near the turret and farm it out until he gets significant items. In teamfights, he has to build up his poison stacks for his ult burst. Thus, he needs to survive long enough to be able to accomplish this. This is why he needs to build tanky and position properly to get his stacks in.
Zeitbach's old item build was defensive boots rush, followed by Frosty's Revenge. This was pre-rework. These items are then followed by Berith's Agony, Frost Cape, Hecate's Diadem, and topped off with Staff of Nuul.
The_Zer0Myth's item build is more or less the same but has Medallion of Troy for magic resistance since Frosty's Revenge no longer gives MDef. Aside from Medallion, Mail of Pain can also be used as a substitute against heavy AD. Holy of Holies is also a good option especially if you want to add more damage to the table.
Arcanas are as shown in the image -- 10x Indomitable, 5x Benevolence, 5x Guerilla, and 10x Flurry for a good balance of early tankiness/slight sustain, attack speed, and penetration. Attack speed helps in stacking up Mganga's passive early game and if it comes to just trading autos, you'd end up outtrading your opponent early game, which is a big advantage if you can juke your opponent's skillshots and get some autos in.
Frosty's Revenge is Mganga's first item power spike in this build, giving him movespeed for roam, some beefiness, and slows which would help a lot with ganks.
Frost Cape is your early teamfight item. You can now maximize your slows with the Pool Slow+ Frosty's+ Frost Cape autos. The armor and HP also makes you extremely difficult to kill, especially when ahead.
Berith's Agony gives extra armor and AP. Not particularly special, but it is effective as a hybrid item. In conjunction with your slows and pools, the passive will almost always be of use since Mganga deals sustained damage anyway.
Hecate's Diadem improves his damage. Boosts his heals too and synergizes well with Holy of Holies.
Holy of Holies was not in the list but I added it upon testing. Helps a lot if you need damage in the team while giving you HP.
Mail of Pain/Medallion of Troy are for burst protection. Choose one depending on situation. Mail of Pain is better than The Aegis because it has far greater EHP, and you have enough slows already.
Tome of the Reaper can be considered against a heavy healing team.
Lane-wise, Mganga plays like a regular mage - clearing waves and roaming if able. You might want to try to abuse his early laning phase. As already mentioned, his passive gives him an edge and allows him to bully the opposing laner provided that he can close in. Trading or harassing with him is trickier against other mages since he can't really poke because of his range. He has to step closer for Fortunate Gift (S2) and Toxic (S1), while dodging possible skillshots, and then sneak in some autos. Try to maximize the amount of time the enemy will be standing on Toxic. With Frosty's, it would be easier. This is why it's an important powerspike for Mganga and has to be completed as his first major item (after T2 boots) immediately. You can also drop Toxic in front of a fleeing enemy which can somehow serve as a CC of sorts as he/she has to skirt around it.
You have to be careful with positioning as Mganga lacks escapes outside of Flicker. Getting ganked deep beyond the lane's halfline more often that not will give a kill to the enemy team, so you'd have to be wary of the map before overstepping your boundaries. It's rather easy to get overexcited with Mganga especially when you see your opponent's HP trickling away.
LOW LEVEL CHEESE: You can try the level 1 cheese mentioned above with S1 and autos in order to kill or send the opposing laner home. Try to position the S1 where the enemy can stay on top of it longer.
To maximize the number of hits on Toxic, wait for the enemy minions to position to attack. They stay in place when attacking and this will allow you to hit more poison ticks. Don't hesitate to use your ult on minion waves. Just mentally count the stacks and detonate away. With its fast cooldown, it would probably be up by the time you reach a lane for a gank.
Rushing Frosty's Revenge is vital but remember to build your items according to the situation. Since you are basically a tank, try to get the defensive items first. If you need MDef, you don't need to wait for 6th item Medallion. You can just buy its component, Belt of Clarity, to get some MDef and sustain or even finish Medallion if need be. You don't want to get bursted down before you can Detonate your stacks. After then, you can proceed to building up your AP items.
In teamfights, utilize your S1 for zoning. Enemies will always try to avoid stepping on it. You can even place it in between the enemy's front and back lines to divide the enemy team. This could leave their tanks in a compromised situation without covering fire. Monitor the enemies for stacks, and be patient with building up stacks. But if you have 5 stacks on enemy carries, just detonate away and don't try to wait for the whole enemy team to max out stacks too (unless they're standing on your S1). It's always better to outright kill the threat on the enemy team as it also ensures the safety of your team.
Don't tunnel vision on enemy carries. You might be tanky but that doesn't mean that you can just simply walk in to the enemy team and take down their carries. Try to find a good spot where you can hit multiple enemies and allies with S2. The healing it provides may not be that huge but it can help some with damage mitigation. Healing value also increases with stacks. It's okay to target the enemy tankline as Mganga can shred tanks with his build. Just drop an S1 behind their tankline to zone out their carries and cut the escape route of the tanks too.
Mganga can have troubles against very mobile heroes. His S1 requires a target to stay still to maximize its ticks. Heroes with very long ranges are also problematic as Mganga's effectiveness is from within his auto range where he can easily build up stacks. Against these matchups, smart use of brushes can help. Also, try to ask for a gank especially if the opponent overextends. Usually, it only requires good CC to allow Mganga to kill an opponent.
Mganga excels with beefy frontliners with good CC and marksmen with slows in their kit like Tel-Annas. They can enable Mganga to quickly build up stacks. Also, Mganga's heal can help his frontliners to shrug off some damage. I remember one game where me an Ybneth were able to 2v5 the enemy. He just kept on peeling for me while I spammed skills and autos. The opponents tried to focus me but I was too tanky to burst while Ybneth just kept on CC'ing the body blocking them. We ended up winning the teamfight because of our sheer tankiness.
As a mage, Mganga flies low under the radar and seems to be outclassed by the meta mages. I think this is understandable given his limitations. Honestly, I've had issues with teammates locking Mganga in the past. My initial reaction would be all is lost even though I have experienced getting teamed up with a good Mganga too. I feel that I don't have issues with him anymore as playing him changed my views. I guess I was just one of those players that got used to mages being bursty (I still prefer burst though). Since I don't have any midlaner, I'd probably end up going with him. It would require lots and lots of practice though.
As always, observe, formulate, adapt.
For those who have some out-of-the-box builds in mind that want to get featured, you can reach me via my Facebook page (please leave a like while you’re at it). If you managed to reach this part and punch through my wall of texts, thank you so much!