Friday, June 28, 2013

Let's Play (Part 4) Mirana


Every week or two I generally try to play a new hero to discover what it’s like playing it, and in this series of blogs I will make a post on my experiences with it.

The Celestial Starlight skin, created by Oni and Zaphk

Mirana (Princess of the Moon)

Mirana, the Princess of the Moon, is based off the character Tyrande Whisperwind in Warcraft 3, the High Priestess of the goddess Elune, and thus also leader of the Night Elves. Favoured by Elune and touched with the powers of the goddess herself, Tyrande is both a capable leader and formidable fighter. She organized the defense of Kalimdor against the initial waves of undead, and played a key role in the defense of Mount Hyjal, sacrificing the Ancestral Guardians and the World Tree to defeat Archimonde and the Burning Legion.

In DOTA2, Mirana is a cunning ranged hero that excels at helping her team set up ambushes and surprise attacks. Her high mobility and invisibility skill make her very difficult to take down.

Mirana has always had a decently good win rate and pick frequency, currently trending in the top 30% win rate and pick rate on DOTABUFF. She is difficult to master and she is often underestimated and seen as a low impact hero.


Moonlight Shadow is one of the best team buff skills in the game, giving your side a large advantage in teamfights by giving them persistent invisibility.

Her high mobility and low farm dependance make her one of the most versatile heroes in the game, able to play nearly any role in any lane.


Falls off in strength by late-game due to poor ability scaling.

A poor dueller - she relies on ambushing her opponent and winning through strength of numbers, if challenged head on in an even fight she likely has to flee.

Sacred Arrow

This skill inflicts longer stun and heavier damage the further it travels. It will do its maximum stun and damage at a range of 1500, and has a maximum range of 3000. For reference, the size of your DOTA2 viewscreen on a 16:9 monitor is very roughly 1250 tall and 2250 wide.

I'll take a moment to talk about skill design (and game design in general). This is an example of a really good skill mechanic - it takes a long time to master for the user, but playing against it is simple from the point of view of the victim (avoid the arrow!). The mechanic is concise - it can be summed up in a single line - but it has multiple uses.

1) Ambush (initiation) - firing it from out of vision range at long distance is a low probability but high reward and low risk play. If it hits you might have a kill, if it misses you haven't lost much.

2) Teamfight (extension) - in a larger clash you cannot afford to miss this skill, as both teams are committed to fighting, so you will use this as a follow up stun by firing it at an enemy that cannot evade it.

3) Backstab (assassination) - if you can sneak up behind an enemy safely under the cover of invisibility you can get into point-blank range and use Sacred Arrow and Starstorm for high burst damage. (360+525=885 damage)

A hypothetical skill with all the opposite qualities to this would be terrible design. This hypothetical bad skill mechanic would be so complicated it would take several paragraphs to explain, yet it only has one use, and is very difficult for the victim to play against because there are three diferent ways to escape from the skill and only one is viable at any particular time.


Her leap is instant cast and will disjoint projectiles heading towards her, which will allow you to dodge a variety of nasty spells. (In most cases, if a projectile is en-route to you and you leap, that projectile will miss). A large part of playing Mirana is being aware of what skills you can disjoint, and deliberately baiting the enemy into using them on you. As always bear mind that you can not disjoint Sven's Storm Bolt, Alchemist's Unstable Concoction and Phantom Lancer's Spirit Lance, but it's worth using the leap anyway - even though those projectiles follow you through your leap, it will stun / slow you at a distant, hopefully safer location.

Moonlight Shadow

If you are using this to initiate fights, make sure that no one on your team can be seen during the fade time - if someone is spotted in the fade animation, it's likely the entire enemy team will fall back to a safer position until its over, wasting your ult.

It's also a good ability to just use in a teamfight - it will allow your supports and initiators to do their jobs more effectively under the cover of invisibility (they can channel their skills while invisible), and will allow stunned or injured allies to escape. At level 3 with a fade time of only 1.5 seconds it's very difficult for the enemy to target anyone as they're fading into and out of invisibility every few seconds.


Mirana is a good pick when no one else on your team has natural invisibility or has Shadow Blade as a core item - this will force the enemies to use gold buying detection, unless they want to fight every teamfight at a big disadvantage.

Heroes with long stuns and disables will allow you to land your arrow more reliably. Some good examples are Bane's Nightmare, Nature's Prophet's Sprout, etc


None, really. Mirana's skill set is so large and versatile that there's no single aspect of her play that you would want to specifically counter.

Item build

Mirana is quite commonly built with physical damage items even though she doesn't have innate damage scaling. How big is the gap between her and other traditional carries who do have passive scaling, though?

I've put some numbers into a spreadsheet to give us an idea of how they compare - DPS output at level 25 with no items, Mirana has 153, Sniper has 213 and Drow has 267. With a late-game item loadout costing about the same - Mirana with (Phase / Midas / Mjollnir / Daedalus / Yasha / Drums) has 896 DPS, Sniper with (Treads / Midas / Shadow Blade / Mjollnir / Daedalus) has 992 DPS, Drow with (Treads / Shadow Blade / Dominator / Daedalus / Butterfly) has 1264 DPS.

While the game doesn't boil down to numbers, it's nice to know what they are. Sniper's long range and ministun can't be factored into this - neither can Drow's 60% movespeed slow and large AOE silence, or the fact that she loses her Marksmanship bonus if there's enemies close to her, or that Mirana has much better mobility and utility than either of those heroes. If you're played in the #1 farm priority position, you may as well go this route.

My personal build for Mirana however, is as follows.

Phase Boots, Aquila and Urn give her the much needed mobility and sustain she needs in her ganker role. I generally prefer to go the magic burst route with Mirana, rather than physical damage - she's simply too fragile to go up head-to-head with enemy heroes, and she doesn't have any innate scaling on physical DPS anyway, so there's no real advantage to building physical DPS on her. Building a Dagon will augment her already potent burst damage, hopefully killing fragile enemy heroes before they get a chance to use their spells. Once the Dagon is fully upgraded, the natural item progression leads to an Ethereal Blade, which helpfully also provides a good physical damage boost in the form of the the 40 agi stat which will be useful when pushing the enemy base.

Justification for Dagon - some really arbitrary modelling, assuming magic resist = physical resist at level 16. Assume a level 16 Mirana with Phase, Aquila and Urn - she has 106 damage attacking 0.93 times per second for a total of 99 DPS. If she had a Maelstrom, that would boost her DPS to 172 including the chain lightning procs. If she had a Dagon, it would boost her DPS to 112 but she would also have a 400 damage energy burst upfront, which would take 7 seconds of attacking to break even (60 DPS gap between the two builds). It's not often you get to attack the same target uninterrupted for 7 seconds, especially so for heroes that have escape mechanisms. Physical damage scales better than magic damage into the late game, but as they say, if you win the early game, they won't get to play their late game. It all depends what sort of heroes you're facing on the enemy team. Even so, even a Mjollnir compared to a Dagon 3 (for equal cost) requires 5 seconds of uninterrupted auto-attacks to break even with the 600 energy burst. (also, all other physical DPS items are inferior to Maelstrom / Mjollnir as a first item)

An early Midas doesn't go astray either, as Mirana can farm one reasonably safely while still being a contributor in teamfights. She doesn't have any particular synergies so you're free to build whatever you need at the time - Desolator if your team has other minus armor effects, MKB if the enemy has evasion, straight up Skadi if the enemy has easily kiteable melee carries (like Naix), Deadalus for pure damage, Butterfly if the enemy threat is primarily physical damage right click.