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Agni is a great beginner friendly mage that provides not only high damage but also has strong ranged poke and crowd control. This guide will cover Agni in the mid lane but the information given here will still be relevant in most gamemodes.
Book of Thoth start
This start can be risky for inexperienced players but it can be very worthwhile. This start grants you a large amount of magical power right off of the bat and also some mana, which is nice. And you'll also be able to build into Book of Thoth, a high magical power item very early too. However you should be aware that this start has low sustain than other traditional mage starts- you won't have much health or mana sustain from the item you've built nor will you have much potions on hand. This makes it crucial to avoid unnecessary damage and fights and focus on farming.
Starter item starts
Sands of Time is a fantastic mage item due to the nice amount of stats it provides. Magical power, cooldown reduction, and MP5? Very great for the early game, and the cooldown reduction give it value still even past the early game.
Soul Stone is another more aggressive option but will depend on your ability to land basic attacks consistently early on, but it can be very worthwhile too.
Bumba's Mask is built for the extra sustain and also to help you clear jungle camps by yourself, with more ease, and the extra gold will help you build into more items sooner.
Book of Thoth is built here for the large amount of value you get all in one item, especially the sheer amount of magical power early game, which is very powerful. The mana is nice too.
Shoes of the Magi are chosen over Shoes of Focus since the 10 penetration allows you to have more early game, but if you really do value it, you can opt for Shoes of Focus- you can't really go wrong with it.
Spear of Desolation is the best mage item in the game due to the sheer amount of value you get. 80 magical power? Good. 20 penetration? Great! 10% cooldown reduction and a passive that reduces my cooldowns upon a kill or assist? Awesome! All of this for 2600 gold!
Obsidian Shard is built next for the penetration granted at such a low cost. You may ask, why not Spear of the Magus? True that Agni's passive can stack it easily, you will not always have it up especially in a teamfight. Plus, Agni's passive will kick in AFTER you cast Flame Wave or Rain Fire, NOT BEFORE it, meaning that you are losing a lot of the item's value because your main burst of damage isn't benefitting from the item's passive.
Rod of Tahuti is a must have for any damage mage build, and Agni is no different. The huge boost in magical power from just one item makes it a very essential pickup.
Even late game, Bancroft's Talon still maintains good value from the amount of sustain and magical power it provides. And its passive gives you an edge as you get lower in fights.
Ethereal Staff is an amazing item for both increasing your burst damage from the 90 magical power and the item's passive, and also increasing your survivability from the 200 health and 20% crowd control reduction.
Soul Reaver is mainly for having more upfront burst damage although it is more expensive than Ethereal Staff and also has no defensive stats.
Chronos Pendant isn't a bad option as it gives 80 magical power, 20% cooldown reduction, 25 MP5, and a passive which is essentially an extra 10% cooldown reduction, all in one item. This item helps Agni spam more spells and generally be even more of a nuisance. Plus with a Potion of Magical Might, you will reach the cooldown reduction stat cap.
Pythagorem's Piece is a good option if you want to give your team small stat buffs while also having decent stats yourself. Not too bad but not great.
Polynomicon isn't that bad of an item for Agni as it does increase his overall burst damage but it does require you to stay still for a bit to fire a basic attack which can be risky in a teamfight.
Gem of Isolation is a nice item since the extra slow can help lockdown and control enemies in fights, and also makes Noxious Fumes more of a threat, due to the fear of being slowed and having trouble escaping it.
Telkhines Ring is not good for Agni- don't build it. The duration of the buff lasts too little for him to make good usage out of it, after already applying his passive on enemies.
Shaman's Ring isn't good either. You will get more damage from building other items than from the 10% damage increase.
Book of the Dead isn't that bad of an item but I'd avoid it since 1) it is expensive and 2) he doesn't benefit from it nor makes as good of usage as other mages do.
Divine Ruin is a MUST BUILD if you are fighting a team with strong health sustain such as a team with Hel or Hercules. Consider swapping Spear of Desolation for it.
Doom Orb is a very risky item to build into at the moment since one death can really hurt you and you can never guarantee that you won't die. Generally I'd avoid it especially if you're new to Agni.
Warlock's Sash should be avoided. Sure the power and health is nice but it comes by so slowly, and can end up hurting you more in the long run.
Dynasty Plate Helm is a decent early game option if you fear dying physical gods. Same with Celestial Legion Helm although you would be more committed to it than Dynasty Plate Helm since you would sell the former and not the latter.
Cast Noxious Fumes AFTER Flame Wave, Path of Flames, or Rain Fire. Casting it before using an ability makes your intentions more obvious and gives your opponents more time to react.
You have exactly about a second to react after casting Flame Wave, to place down Noxious Fumes. Use this trick to perform an unexpected close range stun.
Try to keep your passive stacked up before fighting if possible. The extra damage can really come in handy.