Tips for countering Mars

Five tips for countering Mars, Dota 2's latest hero

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If Mars is sewing havoc on the battlefield in your pubs, you'll benefit from these tips for turning back the challenge of Zeus' son.
Written by David O’KeefePublished on
Mars, the first son of heaven is the most recent addition to Dota 2's roster and he’s debuted with a splash. He is currently the third most-picked hero in pubs and with a win rate above 50 percent in all skill brackets and over 56 percent in Divine ranks, you can see why.
Equipped with a versatile disable, formidable wave clearing power, impressive tankiness from the front and flanks that caused the game's community to aptly nickname him "Bristlefront" and a powerful teamfight control ultimate, Mars' kit makes him a well-rounded threat who also doesn't suffer from being intimidatingly complex.
Luckily, we have some advice for you on how to deal with him.

5. Get out of jail free

Mars' ultimate, Arena of Blood, locks you inside a coliseum with the spawn of a God. Phantasmagorical gladiators at the edges will knock anyone fleeing back towards the centre, forcing you to confront Mars.
Not every hero is subject to Mars' domain, however. Pangolier's rolling thunder does not treat the walls of the arena as terrain to ricochet off of and it renders him magic immune which prevents him from being pushed back inside. Similarly, all three of the Spirit brothers can simply use their mobility spells to roll, remnant, or zip out.
Heroes who can fly, like Bat Rider during Firefly, Winter Wyvern during Arctic Burn, or Night Stalker during Dark Ascension, can simply flap their wings and go home if they find themselves trapped by Mars.
Additionally, if you aren't playing any of these heroes, you could always build a Black King Bar. When in doubt, a BKB will let you out (but a Force Staff will do nothing to help you).

4. As Ivan Drago once said, you must break him

Break is a status that will completely disable passive benefits, and the source of Mars' tankiness comes from a passive ability that reduces the damage done by physical attacks from the front.
It's a hard commodity to come by, but both Doom and Shadow Demon can inflict it with the help of an Aghanim's Scepter. Alternatively, Viper is free to spam his virulent Nether Toxin in pools at Mars' feet to inflict the status.
You aren't going to be getting an Aghs on Doom or Shadow Demon every game, though, and you might not want to spam Viper every other game. Luckily, there's still the Silver Edge you can fall back on to make Mars' defenses a little less impregnable.

3. Render him harmless

Mars might be a tanky beast of an offlaner with above average stats in almost every category, but his base intelligence, intelligence scaling, and mana pool are all in the dumpster. Prey on that weakness to turn him into a creep.
Natural Diffusal Blade builders are among his biggest counters. Phantom Lancer, for example, ruins Mars' day. It seems counter-intuitive that hoards of low damage illusions jabbing at his shield with glorified toothpicks would prove so effective against him, but one of PL's earliest core items is a Diffusal Blade, and it doesn't take long to run the first son of heaven out of mana completely which takes him almost entirely out of the game even while he's walking and talking.
Heroes like Riki, Weaver, and Meepo have proven strong against him as well for the same reason. Anti Mage and Lion both offer similar benefits while the former can easily escape from Mars' ultimate and the latter offers great control and magical burst damage. Speaking of which…

2. Bring the (queen of) pain

Mars can stand and trade against right-clickers all day long and come away from a fight feeling fresh as a daisy. What he hates are heroes who can serve up massive amounts of magical damage. Pugna is a powerful pick against him. Puck has a get out of jail free card in the form of jaunting towards their Illusory Orb and they also bring the magic damage pain. Likewise, Queen of Pain has a built-in escape mechanism and plenty of ways to make Mars' life miserable.

1. Choose from our arsenal of counter picks

Dotabuff has a section for each hero in the game with constantly updated statistics that give you a window into what works right now against a given hero, so that’s your first port of call.
Against Mars it's Timbersaw, Outworld Devourer, Lone Druid, Phantom Lancer and Tinker that have the most pronounced advantages right now. Tinker is tricky to lock down and offers plenty of burst magical damage and Lone Druid can always hit Mars with at least one unit on his vulnerable side and can cause Mars to run in fear, exposing his back.
Outworld Devourer's Orb meanwhile ignores Mars' shield, he steals intelligence from him which further limits his mana pool, and he deals almost entirely pure or magical damage.
Although Timbersaw surprisingly cannot simply escape the Arena with a Timber Chain, his Reactive Armor means he can trade hits with Mars just fine. Additionally, Timbersaw is not a right-clicker. His damage is a mix of pure and magical.
There are a whole host of unfavourable matchups to employ against Mars, and failing that you can keep some of the other advice in this guide in mind when facing him. Good luck!