The Ides of Mars

March 7, 2019

Hardly had Mars been released, than many foretold the incoming nerfs. It wasn’t without a good reason though. His activated abilities and the insane passive that lowers the received physical damage have raised concerns. Is he going to be just too strong in competitive matchmaking in the coming days? Let’s try to figure it out together.

Mars’s strength

The passive is the first thing that meets the eye. 70% chance to block damage from the front and 35% chance to block from the sides are nothing to sneeze at. The passives of the Bristleback and the Underlord are a joke compared to it. No one has ever been so capable of diving the fountain before.

Well, jokes asides, Bulwark primarily saves Mars from being harassed on the lane. In this regard, the high turning speed of the hero will be of help. Thanks to it Mars can definitely take a punch. Besides, blocking auto attacks of a support won’t be a trouble at all.

The passive will remain efficient as the time goes by. Mars will be a first-class tank in a team fight, and he’ll easily soak some damage. Ganking him won’t be easy.

Also, the character’s abilities will help him survive enemy encounters. Each of Mars’s activated abilities hinders the movement of enemy heroes. Thus, they prevent adversaries from hurting Mars and his allies.

It’s not only survivability that is of interest

Enough with the defensive attributes of the character. His abilities are just as good when used offensively.

His abilities deal enough damage in early team fights. They will also be quite unpleasant in later team fights, since they have movement impeding properties.

How the pros play Mars

A day after the hero was released, pro players demonstrated to us various playstyles and item builds for Mars, many of them being efficient.

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Off laning suits Mars best. This is what players are normally doing when playing this hero in PuB games. The position of an offlaner is the most successful one for Mars.

Inflame, the medalist of the 7th International and a Newbee player got down to playing the hero right away. Despite a rough start, his skills and his utility build doomed the enemies.

In another match he started soloing on the easy lane. He was able to play more greedily, and he made a fully fledged core out of his hero in the late game.

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Well, it was not only on the off lane that Mars stood out from the crowd.
Moo, the medalist of the 6th International and a Complexity player played Mars as a carry and was able to ramp up very quickly. He’d succeeded in being Godlike before 20 minute mark took place.

Moo’s main weapon was not Mars’s spear. It was his shield. God’s Rebuke, the shield bash was getting more and more effective in time. Moo didn’t drop out of the game after 35 minute mark, and he easily finished the match.

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And when controlled by the champion of the 7th International, Mind Control, Mars got the taste of midlaning. The efficiency of Mars in early team fights enabled his team to quickly secure an advantage over the foes.

In this match Mars had a role that he was more accustomed to, the role of a “tanky utility hero”.

How to play against Mars?

Now that you’ve heard so many good things about Mars, a question of how to play against him arises.
Just like any other ancient mythical God, Mars has his Achilles’ heel. His passive ability doesn’t protect him from magic at all. Therefore, heroes who can deal a lot of magical damage will be able to confront him very efficiently. Well, at least they’ll be capable of doing so until Mars gets BKB or Pipe.

For the purposes of demonstration we’ve deliberately clipped an in-game episode to show you the best of Mars. Now you can watch the full clip without any censored moments.

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Illusionists have fared extremely well against Mars in the first few days, or should we say illusionists of sorts. Heroes like Meepo, for instance. They’ll have Mars surrounded and won’t let him make the most of his passive.

So what’s the verdict?

Now’s the time to answer the main question. Is Mars worthy to be nerfed? Rightly so. His strong sides completely overshadow the weak ones, and the latter can be fixed with the help of the right items. Besides, he’s got a powerful AoE nuke against illusionists, and this ability scales very well when the late game is close.

His flexibility bothers one as well. Mars will perform well regardless of which core role he takes, and his abilities will work well in any in-game situations. All of it basically cries for a nerf!

Speaking of the passive, a 70% front physical damage reduction is clearly an overkill. Needless to say how strong it can be when combined with the Lich’s ability.

One can expect to see the percentage drop down to at least 50%. But it’ll still be better than what the Bristleback has.

In short, Mars is a super nasty opponent. It’s really hard to single out his weaknesses during the match. You’ll get really tired of getting knocked back on a regular basis. He’s the only hero out there who moves his enemies around so much against their will. Not only will you get pressured by his abilities, but also by his innate stats.
So, you’ll spend the next weeks of March laning against the opponent with 60 attack damage, 3 armor and high movement speed at level 1. Actually, at this point the month can already be renamed. To do that, you’ll only need to change the “ch” for an “s”.

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