Which is better for supposed tanky heroes like razor, Axe, Cent or Viper?

The default suggested item for razor is Mekansm, and forums are mentioning that even AXE is better off with Mek. but the thing is you won't always have mana for other skills when you activate Mek(no mana for culling blade)

So why not vanguard? you can lead on with it and turn it into Crimson Guard. Looking at the stats though, all that guard has is 250 hp more plus sure block of 50 dmg when activated. Mek heals 250 hp as well..

In the long run is Mek all you need or does crimson Guard do a better job?

Ultimaately my question is this, is it worth it to just stick to mekanism or go vanguard and invest until crimson guard?


Dota is always situational so let's compare the two items and ask ourselves some questions before picking :

For the mekansm


  • AOE Burst heal + AOE health regen aura
  • Cheap components (easy to build)
  • Buckler has great utility for a low manacost

Drawbacks :

  • High mana cost
  • Loses its usefullness as the game progress (when your teamate gain more HP)

Before getting it ask yourself :

  • Will anyone else get a Mek ? If no and you are the only potential Mek carrier then you should probably go for it however...
  • ...does your hero have the manapool to use mekansm ? Since the recent Mekansm nerf the item is quite mana intensive. Many strength hero won't be able to use it aswell as another spell so getting it at all cost without being able to use it is pointless.
  • Am I mid ? You can get it if you forsee early figths/push.
  • Am I safelane ? If you plan on leaving the safelane early then you can get it. If you don't then don't built it since the main benefit of the Mekansm is the AOE heal (so using it with your team is better). Unless Mek is core on your hero (or built really often), if you need survivability you can get bracers (into drums later), or a vanguard.

For the Vanguard / Crimson Guard

Advantage (Crimsong Guard) :

  • Lots of tankiness (HP, Damage block, health regen)
  • Built from vanguard (usefull for natural Vanguard carrier)
  • Free mana AOE armor boost + damage block

Drawbacks (Crimson Guard) :

  • Less damage block for ranged Heroes
  • Vanuard is cost efficient on very few hero
  • Does nothing against magic damage
  • Loses its usefullness in the lategame

Before getting it ask yourself :

  • Does the enemy team has huge auto-attack damage for the early and mid game ? If their damages is mostly magical nuke then upgrading your Vanguard into a Crimson Guard might not worth it. If they do have lots of physical damage then the Crimson Guard bcome really cost efficient for the mid-game. In anycase the item falls in utility later in the game.
  • Is my hero naturally tanky ? (Bristleback, Centaur etc.) If yes then getting an early vanguard can be a huge advantage for your team. You can now tank and get focused in early fights and still survive while your team can dish the damage. It also let you tank/dive tower more easily.
  • Is my hero ranged ? Vanguard usefullness greatly decrease with a ranged character. That's why you see Mekansm on Razor/Viper instead of the old "classic" Vanguard.

In a nutshell

The timing at which you get the Mekansm usually match the timing at which you get the Vanguard (gold cost are similar). At that point your main concern should be which items is the most effective in my situation. Most of the time a Mekansm will be better but if your hero mana pool doesnt allow you to use it every fights then getting a Vanguard for the same cost will allow you to man up and tank more damage. Upgrading this Vanguard into a later Crimson Guard is not always a good idea : it depends on what kind of damage you will face so think about twice before spending 1625 gold on an item that wouldn't reveal usefull.

  • Just to further agree with the opening statement "DotA is always situational", my thoughts: 1) On the considerations of getting a meka, I disagree that the lane you're in should be a significant consideration. "Using it with your team", yes, I agree, that should be a consideration, but the timing of even an early mek would be shifting out of the laning stage anyway. 2) as for manapool: if you're not sure if you should get a mek, as any hero with a lower mana pool, depending on who your team is going up against and you being the only viable carrier, you might just itemize for mana slightly <3 – enche Dec 3 '14 at 19:59

Like many things in DOTA, it's very situational and more often than not decided on who you are laning against.

If you are playing melee and going against ranged in lane, a shield is pretty much essential. This naturally progresses into a vanguard and CG.

If you are playing razor / viper who are more able to stay out of ranged right clicks, then mek is more likely going to be beneficial.

You also need to look at other very useful Mek carriers on the team and decide if they are better off carrying a mek and you building CG

You also need to bear in mind that to get the +2 armor aura you need to activate the item. Crimson Guard allows you to do that prior to a team fight for 0 mana but Mek doesn't (because then you don't have the heal mid-team fight)


There may be a logical reasoning for your question, however, these are still situational.

The reason why Razor and Viper gets mekansm is because these are the types of heroes who can easily farm meka at the early stage which is very advantageous for team fight. Vanguard in the early stage is not hat effective for these heroes because all you need to do is orb walk (run and attack). These heroes does not require too much mana for other skills and if they do, they can supplement it with aquila which is an agi type ring. These heroes need survivabilty and I think, mekansm is best for them.

Next thing is why centaur is good with mekansm and not vangurad. Since the time that dagger was buffed (no mana cost), centaur only has 2 skills with mana. Meaning, he still has spare for meka. Also, centaur does not get easily focused in team matches (because he is very tanky), so vanguard is no use for him. But, for now, I rarely see cent with meka because there are other heroes on the team who can get meka.

Last is that, why axe should be vanguard and not meka. The main reason why you have an axe on your team with vanguard is because you want somebody to tank for your team. You might wonder, "so what if axe has vangaurd, we can just kite him and run around". The advantage of being an axe is on his "Berserkers Call". You force your enemies to focus on attacking you. This alone explains why you need more life and damage reduction. Also, in my opinion, axe should not get meka. Why? Do you happened to experience on a situation when an enemy axe jumps on your team mates and you have the sense on attacking the axe also to burst them? Yes, it's also with the mind games. Axe may not have the opportunity to activate the mekansm. This situation also applies to centaur, that's why I also centaur rarely gets meka.

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