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Armageddon Comes ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) 2: Recycling Guide Titles

December 25, 2016 by Terathiel
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Hero Build

DotA2 Hero: Chaos Knight


Purchase Order

Starting Items (Variable)

Early Game

Transition

Lategame

Why can't I hold all this money



Hero Skills

Chaos Bolt

1 3 5 7

Reality Rift

2 4 6 8

Chaos Strike

9 13 14 16

Phantasm

11 12 18

Talents

10 15

Hero Talents

Reality Rift​ pierces Spell Immunity
25
+20% Cooldown Reduction
+120 Gold/Min
20
+12 All Stats
+20 Movement Speed
15
+10 Strength
+15 Attack Speed
10
+8 Intelligence

Introduction

Oh boy, did 7.00 bring some changes with it. Lots of really cool, interesting stuff, more options, for the fifth or sixth major patch in the row yet MORE massive buffs to supports, borrowing talent trees from Heroes of the Storm, and a UI that forces me to wear magnifying glasses over my headset when playing Dota!

It's been... interesting, to say the least.

Which brings me to Chaos Knight.

On his own, the hero didn't have that many changes - a new Aghs, reworking of his crit and his Rift, and a fairly diverse talent tree that offers a lot of choices on a game-by-game basis. It's more what changed around Chaos Knight that had the biggest impact on the hero.

This guide seeks to address all these elements of change, and explore the possibility of a new role, unique to this hero; the roaming #1 carry.

It... sounds much better when I get to explaining it, okay?

The Idea

I can hear in my head the collective groan of people when I use the words 'roaming' and '#1 carry' in the same sentence to describe the same hero. That said, it's a bit different from the normal roaming style, and as with every specialised, strange strat works best with a team that can take advantage of the opportunities it creates. Before I describe the playstyle of this, I'll first go over why this has suddenly become a thing, and why it can work.

Previously, you would very rarely see a roaming CK, but this was almost exclusively a meme build, like the roaming Omni/Sven combo. It'd catch pubs off guard, but wouldn't be shaking any metas in the pro scene. Now, though, there have been a lot of small changes that, together, have made roaming in general much stronger, and especially benefited Chaos Knight.

1. The Hero Changes


For the sake of completion, I'll go over these first, even though they are arguably the least important part of this.

Reality Rift was changed - it still pulls you and the target into range of each other, but instead of granting 60/100/140/180 bonus damage, will now reduce armour by 1/3/5/7. What this means is that you have a reliable way to amplify damage, as opposed to praying for Chaos Strike crits. Rift + Stun is a powerful initiation combo, which combined with another roamer and of course whoever's in the lane, will provide powerful disabling capabilities and amplify a huge amount of Physical damage.

And... that's really all the changes to the idea of Chaos Knight as a roamer. The Chaos Strike changes come in too late to affect roaming, and the Aghs isn't coming in early either. There will be a spell section later, so I'll leave the discussion of those things until later.

2. The Map Changes


The jungles were changed. A lot. This itself doesn't affect Chaos Knight, since he was never a hero that cleared the whole jungle anyway, but it's worth bearing in mind for his allies, and there are certain ways to abuse the new spawn timers.

Additionally, there were two new additions; a Bounty Rune spot in each of the four jungles (so two per side), which provides a steady influx of gold to the team, and of course the Shrines, which provide spot regeneration on a five minute cooldown. Both of these were pretty big buffs to roamers in general, with the Bounty Rune spawns ensuring they kept up better with gold, and the two Shrines allowing them to stay in the field for longer. You're going to spend a decent amount of time early-game in the jungle, especially if your ganks don't work out, so having the Shrines is very beneficial to this extent.

3. Other Hero Changes


Chaos Knight was changed - not buffed or nerfed, changed. However, there were a lot of buffs going out, and as luck would have it, they fell particularly heavily on some of CK's best allies.

Firstly, Crystal Maiden, who is the absolute best accompanying support for Chaos Knight in this style. She always was his best support - eased his mana issues, provided terrifying kill potential in lane - well, now, it's even better. I'll get into the why and the details of this further down, but it's worth noting that a buff to her is a minor indirect buff to CK.

Secondly, and lesserly of course, you have the likes of Ancient Apparition and Leshrac, heroes who worked well with Chaos Knight and can also roam. Mostly, these buffs came in the form of talent trees, so I'll not go over every hero... suffice to say, a lot of supports that worked well with CK before, now work even better with him.

The big question: "Why?"


Well, here we go, now I have to justify my position.

So the general idea is based around Chaos Knight's early game roaming potential, and the steady influx of gold and experience afforded to roamers now meaning that you can get a reasonable amount of farm early-game even with minimal kills. Chaos Knight as a carry already worked with very little farm, only really needing an Armlet to start tearing heroes apart, and that's not a particularly big ask. It goes further, though - what this build basically does is create a transitioning fourth core role. Since your safelane carry (CK) is going to be roaming, you've got a free lane to farm, meaning you can set one of your supports in there to get early gold and experience, ideally giving a solid lead.

On top of this, Chaos Knight gets a level 20 talent that boosts his gold gain significantly, easing the hero's biggest issue, which is the ability to farm for the lategame. So the goal of this build is twofold; firstly, be a disruptive roaming presence while ensuring your own farm; secondly, to open up free farming space on the map for a fourth hero on your team to get gold; and finally, to transition into a hard carry build as quickly as possible, farming up to Chaos Knight's utterly terrifying lategame.

Attributes, Skills and Talents

Chaos Knight's a pretty simple hero, who is tanky enough to be forgiving, doesn't require intense micromanagement or reflexes, and is generally a fairly easy hero to play. This doesn't mean he loses any effectiveness, however; with and/or against the right lineup, CK is pretty terrifying.

Hero Stats



Chaos Knight, as his name suggests, works with a lot of RNG. He has the largest damage spread in the game - his attacks can hit for 15 (!) lower or higher than the number on the screen shows. Compare this to Spectre's spread of 4, and Shadow Fiend's spread of 6... it's unreliable and can cause issues when last hitting. Lategame, it's pretty meaningless as 15 is a tiny fraction of your damage... but early on, the huge spread can even impact hero killing.

His starting stats are kinda ****, 20/14/16, but his Strength and Agility gains are rather good at 2.9/2.1. However, with only 1.2 Intelligence gain, he has a lot of mana problems until the lategame!

Aside from that, his base movement speed (325) is excellent, his attack animation is a decent 0.5, and his BAT is the standard 1.7. His cast point of 0.4 is a touch long, and is especially noticeable when trying to cast Reality Rift on an enemy jumping in and out of fog... but it could be worse.

Abilities



Chaos Bolt


Type:
Targets:


Active
Enemy Units
Throws a mysterious bolt of energy at the target unit. It stuns for a random duration and deals random damage.

Level

1


2


3


4

Mana

140


140


140


140

Cooldown

10


10


10


10

Range

500


500


500


500

Min Stun

1


1


1


2

Max Stun

2


3


4


4

Damage

75-200


100-225


125-250


150-275

Notes:
  • Damage and stun are inversely related.
  • The stun duration is not strictly the exact duration shown - it can be something like 2.36.

This spell is Part 1 of your bread-and-butter combo. It's maxed first, as of all your skills it grants you the most kill potential, especially when combined with another disable. At level 1, the damage is HUGE, and the low cooldown means lategame you can toss them out at will. Before then, there is no way you've got the mana, sadly.


Reality Rift


Type:
Targets:


Active
Enemy Units
Teleports you, any images you have and the target unit to a random point along the line between the two of you. Reduces the armour of the target struck.

Level

1


2


3


4

Mana

50


50


50


50

Cooldown

24


18


12


6

Range

550


600


650


700

Armour Reduction

1


3


5


7

Illusion Pull Radius

1375


1375


1375


1375

Buff Duration

1.2


1.2


1.2


1.2

Notes:
  • Doesn't interrupt channels, nor does it disjoint projectiles.
  • Armour reduction is applied on Chaos Knight's attack landing.
  • Can place you between 30% and 80% of the distance along the line.
  • Causes CK and his illusions to issue an attack order against the target.

Part Two of the combo. While the skill was changed in 7.00, its usage is pretty much the same. Aside from making CK an absolute ***** to try and kite, the armour reduction is substantial, especially early game. The combo starts with casting Reality Rift, hitting once, and following up with Chaos Bolt - or just casting the stun, if the target has a blink/escape. It's maxed second to provide even more early-game killing power. Lategame, it's your chasing/anti-kiting tool, and it's damn good at it.


Chaos Strike


Type:
Affects:


Passive
Self
Chaos Knight's mojo gives him a chance to critically strike, granting 65% lifesteal on the attack.

Level

1


2


3


4

Chance

12%


12%


12%


12%

Critical Damage

125%


175%


225%


275%

Lifesteal

65%


65%


65%


65%

Notes:
  • Like all other crit, fully works on illusions.

This skill was also changed with the new patch, losing its armour reduction (which was transferred to Reality Rift) but gaining two new features in return - lifesteal, which is good for both sustain while farming and bursts of HP gain in teamfights, and the chance to proc was increased by 2%. This doesn't sound like much of an increase, but considering that it applies to illusions, an extra 2% on each unit can make a pretty big difference. Should your ganks just flat-out fail and you get destroyed, consider maxing this and going into jungle. It works surprisingly well.


Phantasm


Type:
Affects:


Active
Self
Summons several phantasmal copies of the Chaos Knight from alternate dimensions. There is a 50% chance an extra phantasm will be summoned. The phantasms deal full damage, but take double damage.

Level

1


2


3

Manacost

125


200


275

No. of Illusions

1


2


3

Illusion damage dealt

100%


100%


100%

Illusion damage taken

200%


200%


200%

Notes:
  • The illusions last for 42 seconds.
  • Chaos Knight is invulnerable, hidden and spell immune during the split time, allowing for dodging projectiles.

Your glorious ultimate! This isn't gotten until level 11, as Chaos Knight simply doesn't have the mana beforehand. However, the illusions hit hard. This spell is the reason CK gets stats, as illusions only benefit from base damage. The duration is just long enough to win a fight, and then take a tower/set of barracks. However, it has a very long downtime, even moreso than Terrorblade... and you without Phantasm are less scary than Terrorblade without Metamorphosis.

Talents



Chaos Knight's talents, by and large, are fairly boring, but functional, and serve to plump up the hero considerably.

Level 10: +15 attack speed OR +7 Intelligence


A fairly boring, statsy comparison - as a carry Chaos Knight, most of the time it's better to take the attack speed, since as long as you have got mana for your ult and your combo, you'll be fine. Plus, the attack speed scales better, whereas the Intelligence is wasted in the lategame.

Level 15: +15 movement speed OR +10 Strength


A less easy choice, and a much more interesting one - however, when factoring in illusions, +10 Strength drastically overtakes increased movement speed, since each illusion benefits fully from it, and most of Chaos Knight's movement in a teamfight will be via Reality Rift.

Level 20: +120 gold per minute OR +12 all stats


This is the first situational choice, and is entirely dependent on the current game state. If you're in a commanding position, and want to end the game quickly, the stats will serve better - if, however, you need more items, the additional gold will go a long way, since it's very rare to see a Chaos Knight ever NOT need more gold to buy items. Bear in mind that your Hand of Midas will accelerate your levels, so that +120 GPM will come online earlier than a lot of other heroes' level 20 talents.

Level 25: Reality Rift pierces Spell Immunity OR +20% cooldown reduction


As good as it sounds to make even BKB users unable to escape your clutches, 99% of the time, 20% cooldown reduction is just too good. Chaos Knight's biggest lategame weakness is his downtime (it's the entire reason Octarine Core is so good on him), and not only does that talent alleviate it, 20% cooldown reduction and an Octarine Core reduce the cooldown of Reality Rift to a paltry 3.6 seconds, essentially meaning that you don't need to take boots into a teamfight, allowing for 6 dedicated carry items on a hero designed to be functional with 3 or 4. Additionally, it reduces item cooldowns, which in your case is Boots of Travel, Manta Style and Scythe of Vyse/ Abyssal Blade.
quick maths corner

Early Game

The advantage of roaming your #1 is, that if the roaming completely fails, you're perfectly able to fall back to a lane and the support/utility hero that was farming that lane goes and does other things more appropriate to their role. In this case, you're just playing a fairly standard game of Carry Chaos Knight. There are roughly five different kinds of lanes you can come across as a safelane carry, and which one you're in will drastically alter how you play that lane:

In a Trilane v Solo Offlaner


Incredibly rare in pubs because pubs love their dual lanes, but this is the ideal situation, giving Chaos Knight almost certain freefarm, and if the offlaner gets cocky he's probably dead. However, unless he overextends, most offlaners are hard to shut down, either through escapes ( Dark Seer, Magnus), sheer tankiness ( Bristleback, Tidehunter), or a combination thereof ( Clockwerk). If a kill can't happen, do what a carry likes to do: hit creeps. Successful zoning by your supports ensures you'll have a good time.

In a 2v2 situation


Unlike a Spectre or Faceless Void, Chaos Knight can thrive in these lanes as long as he has a good partner. Take what farm you can, but it's likely going to be contested, so try and get as many kills as you possibly can. Teamwork will be required to beat the other two, so communicate with your support!

1v1 safelane


You're probably at a disadvantage in this one, but in most cases you'll have a support or two roaming in a situation like this, meaning you can call backup. Play like the 2v2 situation listed above, but exercise more caution if you feel your opponent can kill or severely hurt you.

Trilane v Trilane


These are exceptionally rare, even in the pro meta. This is a lot like a 2v2 situation, but you've probably got the advantage, because tri v tri is all about scoring kills... which is what Chaos Knight is good at.

Solo against 2 or 3


Bemoan the ******* who picked a jungler.

Like most things in Dota, laning as Chaos Knight is a variable thing and the dynamic of your lane will change often; it's up to you, as a carry player, to learn how to adapt to this and to act accordingly. Laning, however, is not what this guide is about - we're roaming, aren't we?

Game start - 1 minute


There are two ways you can start a roaming game with this hero; one of them is simple - lane until level 2, then go roaming with both Chaos Bolt and Reality Rift. It's a lot easier to get kills when you've got both spells at your disposal. This is by far the simplest, but can be difficult to coordinate in pubs - if, however, you're stacked, people will see your Chaos Knight farming safelane, and won't be expecting you to suddenly disappear and reappear, ganking their mid. The surprise factor is one of the strongest features of this style of play.

If, however, you're not laning until two, it's not the end of the world. Chaos Knight can secure kills with just a stun at level 1, but it's a lot more work and considerably riskier, so it's generally worthwhile to attain Reality Rift before moving.

Firstly, move into either of the jungles, and try to pick up the rune. The extra 100 gold at the start gets you a lot closer to either Wind Lace or Orb of Venom, both of which are valuable items for roaming and early engagements. To get level 2, requisition one of your supports to help you clear jungle camps. This is another why Crystal Maiden is so incredibly potent in tandem with Chaos Knight - her Frostbite will kill even the largest jungle creep even at level 1, meaning that it's very easy to get level 2 on CK quickly. If you don't have a pocket Maiden, though, don't worry too much - you can still farm up a level without many problems. The first 30 seconds after the creeps spawn are pretty vital - since jungle camps spawn every two minutes, it's vital to clear at least one, and preferably two, camps before they pop back up at the 1:00 mark. Try not to share experience - level 2 can be attained with solo experience if you clear the large Satyr camp, and any large camp + a small or medium camp will get level 2 otherwise.

1:00 - 2:00


There's no set guide I could possibly give for where you should go, but after hitting level 2, it's time to move and try and secure a kill somewhere. The reason this is done so quickly is because you want to be there for the bounty rune spawn at 2:00. Ideally, you get kills - if you don't, again, it's not a huge deal. A lot of your early income will be coming from bounty runes and occasional jungle camps. After nerfs, Iron Talon is a lot worse, but it's still quite good on Chaos Knight for clearing a jungle camp during a bit of downtime.

2:00 - Midgame


Keep roaming, picking up bounty runes, and farming when applicable. Unpredictability is the key to this playstyle - you might want to rotate back to farming a lane briefly and let the support who was there go gank or bully mid. Farming the jungle is also a good idea, with your Iron Talon and your roaming buddy, to get some extra experience. Make good use of the Shrines as well - coordinate with your team when you want to use them, and try and maximise their usage.

Midas should come at roughly 10-12 minutes in an average game, and in an exceptional game it can come as early as 8. I tend to get Midas before upgrading to Power Treads, because 950 gold is a lot for a roamer who's rushing a very timing-dependant item. Regardless, once you've got Midas (or even before, if you want to play it safe), it's time to settle back into a more passive farming role to complete your core items.

The Mid-Game

Here is when your playstyle moves from a supporting style to a carry style. Hand of Midas will provide passive gold and experience gain, and allow you to continue gaining gold even if continually skirmishing. From here on out, your playstyle becomes very much a traditional Chaos Knight game - use your ultimate to secure objectives and fights, and when it's down, seek to find pickoffs or push lanes, farming the jungle when none of these are great options. Establishing a farming pattern and knowing how to travel around the map is an important skill for any carry, less so on Chaos Knight due to his slow farming, but still important to know.

The item progression in the midgame is fairly standard - Armlet of Mordiggan is your core of cores, granting a vast amount of Strength and attack speed to both you and your illusions, at a very cost-efficient price. The armour, health regeneration, and ability to cheat death with armlet-toggling is just gravy. After that, I'll usually work on Yasha into Manta Style, though there are some games where you'll want to get Heart of Tarrasque very quickly.

Your gold and experience acceleration from Hand of Midas will get you very quickly to level 20, if the game isn't a trainwreck, and then you can pick up your level 20 talent, which is +12 stats if you're ending the game in the next 10 minutes, or +120GPM if you're not. This choice is the most important you'll make all game, and can win or lose it for you.

Late-Game and Transitioning

Previously, Chaos Knight had a problem transitioning from the midgame to the lategame.

What do I mean by that?

Well, CK builds focus on cost-efficient midgame items to compensate for his slow farming speed. However, building items like Drums of Endurance and Armlet of Mordiggan meant that you'd experience a dip of power at a point when enemy heroes were getting more farm, and you were still struggling to finish your Heart. However, going Hand of Midas and picking +120GPM on a talent means that you're now generating enough income to smooth out this progression and seamlessly transition into the lategame. This is why your choice of level 20 talent is so important - if you misjudge, sacrificing 120 GPM for a moderate stats boost is going to hurt when you need to finish your item extensions and save for buyback.

So, assuming you're getting the transition right, what happens then?

Well, Chaos Knight does an absolutely absurd amount of damage even without a lot of items. And, he doesn't need to build for durability like Terrorblade, another hero who shares this trait of massive innate damage, does. Therefore, it's well worth devoting an item slot to an item that will enable you to deal damage, or provide utility for your team. Pretty much the perfect item for this is Scythe of Vyse.

Sheepstick, as the Scythe is affectionately referred to, is a very potent item. It grants a boatload of Intelligence and mana regeneration, not so much easing Chaos Knight's mana problems as flat-out removing them. The active is also incredibly powerful. The question with this item is more 'when' to build it rather than 'should' you build it. If you need damage, then it's not an item that'll fill that need - you're better opting for something like Butterfly or Assault Cuirass, which grants a huge amount of attack speed and also potent defences from physical damage.

The lategame for Chaos Knight has always been about building the right item for the right situation, something I'll be going over in the Items section (duh). That said, there are a few things you need to know about how you play in the lategame;

[*]Spam Manta Style as much as your mana will allow. Split-pushing is incredibly important in the lategame - if your lanes are pushed out, and you lose a teamfight, it buys precious time to clear those waves down to your base. Also, split-pushing will put a lot of chip damage on towers, and quite often with some heroes (not usually Chaos Knight) results in entire towers or lanes of barracks falling.
[*]Stay in positions where you can escape from, or avoid, ganks. Buyback is a very important and very finite resource in the lategame; losing it to a silly positioning error is both embarrassing and costly. Use Manta illusions, rather than yourself, to clear lanes, unless you are completely safe. Much of what is 'safe' is determined by ward vision, so an eye on the minimap at all times is vital.
[*]Likewise, getting pickoffs of your own can be game-winning.
[*]Teamfights in the lategame are very much a matter of bait-and-switch, baiting and forcing out important ultimates at inopportune moments and striking when they're down. Guess what? You can do this with illusions. It's unlikely to happen, but if it does, seize the opportunity. Chaos Knight himself doesn't really have to worry about getting his ultimate baited much anymore, since he can send the illusions pushing a lane and slaughtering anything in their path, and only has 30 seconds of downtime. Trading your ultimate for a Ravage or Black Hole is well in your favour.

The Ultra-Late: How Hard can you Carry?

Scaling is an interesting thing in Dota. While there are heroes who can potentially scale to levels where they are quite literally unfightable, the limitations of 6 item slots prevent this.

I'm of the mind that there is a definite hierarchy of 'hard carries', ranging from 1 down to however many there are. It's not a particularly reliable list all the time, because it's only taking the carry itself in a vacuum, but it offers a good baseline that can then be adapted for game situations.

With the addition of the 3-slot Backpack, this hypothetical hierarchy was shaken up quite a lot. Since Boots are a necessity lategame for teleport and map movement purposes, there were realistically only 5 slots carries had to play with. Now, there are certain heroes who can fight without Boots in the lategame, and since they can now move things in and out of the Backpack... there's a lot more scaling available to those heroes.

Chaos Knight just so happens to be one of them. I previously ranked him seventh hardest carry in a vacuum; now, I'd bump him up to five. In front of Medusa. That's how big the backpack change was to heroes who only needed boots to move around the map.

This means that, in a game where you actually can fully slot yourself, you've probably won unless you or your team makes/has made a horrible mistake at some point. To be real, the kind of ultra-lategame scenario where carries are reaching 8-9 slots are extremely rare and probably don't even merit as long a chapter as I'm going to write, especially considering it plays the same as a regular lategame scenario.

There are only four heroes I rank above Chaos Knight in the lategame; they are, in order, Faceless Void, Spectre, Terrorblade, and Morphling. While CK matches up pretty well against Morph, he can have troubles against Terrorblade due to losing DPS battles against him, killing Spectre will also kill your team, and Faceless Void is bar none the most disruptive force in the lategame that perfectly suits the drawn-out nature of lategame teamfights.

Other heroes Chaos Knight will struggle against are:

Phantom Lancer - picking out the real PL is very difficult, and while your illusions are finite, his are not. Aghanim's Sceptre on PL will also make short work of your army, and build up his own. It's not too bad a matchup, but definitely play smart against him.

Naga Siren - Naga's specialty is choking out the enemy and locking them in their base while it slowly crumbles around them. Chaos Knight, with his lacklustre wave clear, is especially vulnerable to this.

Lion - Will instantly pop your illusions with Mana Drain, and his level 25 talent makes it an area spell. It's really not fair, so I'd advocate not picking CK against Lion.

Itemisation - General Intuition

Given how flexible his slots can be, Chaos Knight does not have a completely strict item priority. What I believe is more important to know is why you buy certain items on him, which then allows you to consider your current game situation and alter purchase orders based on that.

Illusions



Hopefully, after reading the Attributes, Skills and Talents section above, you'll have a good idea of how Chaos Knight functions and how his skills work. He's part of the exclusive, cancery club known as 'illusion heroes', who are probably the most complained-about demographic of heroes. Usually this complaining comes from supports, who are somehow still whining after about 6 major patches of constant buffs?

Knowing the properties of illusions is vital to understanding Chaos Knight's item choices. Illusions are the best-scaling damage steroids in the entire game, which is why practically every hard carry in the game has some illusion synergy. However, they are only imperfect copies of the main hero, so not everything applies to them:

Illusions fully benefit from:


Illusions partially benefit from:


Illusions do not benefit from:


So, given that Chaos Knight's biggest damage steroid comes from his powerful illusions, build around these criteria. Avoid items like Divine Rapier and Satanic.

Illusions will get the buff from Armlet of Mordiggian but for some reason NOT the health drain - making it an excellent cost-efficient item that's been core on Chaos Knight since forever basically.

Obviously, illusions have a lot of weird interactions, especially with hero passives, but none of those affect Chaos Knight illusions so it's not really worth getting into. Believe it or not, 7.00 simplified illusion properties, since previously you'd have some attack speed and magic resistance sources working for illusions, while some did not. Again, this goes back to Warcraft 3 engine code, but as it's now irrelevant information I'll not bother explaining.

Critical Strike


Obviously, the only source of crit you worry about on Chaos Knight is your passive, Chaos Strike. This is your secondary damage steroid, and it is mercifully a lot less convoluted than illusions. It averages out at each level to a DPS increase of 3%/9%/15%/21%, and the lifesteal stacks additively with any you may also receive (which would only be a lifesteal aura from your team, as building lifesteal on Chaos Knight himself is a poor decision, see illusions above). This is also the one exception to the rule of 'lifesteal doesn't work on illusions' - one of your Phantasms that crit will gain life from the attack, and since this interaction is quite likely intentional, it's because this probably isn't technically a lifesteal effect.
irrelevant programming theory

Regardless, Chaos Strike is a fairly weak steroid, but because it's a crit, it fully applies to illusions and if you get lucky, will provide some scary burst damage.
As with all crits, it scales with DPS in general, so you've no need to prioritise damage or attack speed and instead should build around your illusion steroid.

Durability


How much damage you (and your illusions) can soak up will dictate very much the outcome of a game. This is going to be a pretty mathy section, so I'll have a TL;DR at the start if you want to skip ahead.

TL;DR: You'll get plenty of durability from your standard item choices, so don't worry too much. Evasion and Agility provides the best defence for your illusions. Don't go out of your way to build Health.

Ok, in a more longer form now:

Chaos Knight is naturally a very tanky hero. By that, I mean he has good Strength and Agility gain, so he's going to pick up a lot of HP and armour just from levels. However, he also deals a lot of damage, so he has the advantage that his items make his strengths more pronounced rather than compensating for his weaknesses.

Contrary to both appearances and popular belief, armour does not actually have diminishing returns. Well, it does... but it doesn't. Each point of armour increases a hero's effective hit points, EHP for short, by 6%. Further explanation on how this works can be seen if we take the stats of a level 25 Chaos Knight with no items at all. Disregarding all talents, he has 1980 hit points.

However, he also has 11 armour, giving him 40% Physical resistance. "But Tera," you say, "You said it didn't diminish! 11 times 6 is 66, not 40!" and then I'm going to waggle my fingers about like the memelord I am and say "that's where you're wrong kiddo". While the actual number doesn't line up, 11 armour will still give you 66% increased EHP against physical damage. Like so:

effective HP = Total HP / damage multiplier

In this case, damage multiplier is its own equation, represented as:
Damage multiplier = (1 - 0.06 x armour) / (1 + [0.06 x armour])

So taking CK's armour of 11, we get
(1 - [0.06 x 11]) / (1 + [0.06 x 11])
which equals 0.60 damage multiplier - or, more simply, damage multiplier is how much physical damage you're taking, if you don't feel like doing long equations with three too many brackets to be publically decent.

Therefore, his effective hit points against physical damage are
1980 / 0.60 which equals 3300

11 armour is 66% increased EHP against physical... 1980 x 1.66 is 3286 - so, as you can see, the formula holds true, and in fact is slightly OVER 6%.

Therefore, armour's pretty valuable, and it's generally accepted that after a set amount of Health (around 2000-2500) it's better to focus on armour over raw HP as a defence against Physical damage. Chaos Knight easily reaches and then surpasses this with items - because, as an illusion hero, it's best to prioritise stats, and, well, stats tend to increase your Health a lot.

That said, in the lategame, Physical damage is king for the overwhelmingly vast majority of games and heroes. Thus, a certain detour to pick up armour is needed. Even though stats does give armour, you're not Terrorblade who reaches 40 armour just from his Agility - Chaos Knight will peak out at 25ish armour in a pure stats build. This is under 60% Physical resistance, so it may well not be enough, and this is what makes dedicated raw armour items so attractive. However, these do not affect your illusions at all - so another option is Evasion. Balancing your purchased stats and judging what you need most is an important part of playing Chaos Knight.

Itemisation - The Specifics

With the in-depths out of the way, here are some common items bought on Chaos Knight and why they can be good... or not so good.

Boots of Choice



With Chaos Knight, you've got a choice of two different kinds of booties:
I'd consider these the standard boots for CK due to their generally all-purpose nature - they give a nice chunk of attack speed for the early game, the Strength advantages you with regards to survivability, and of course the most important aspect - tread switching, which if done correctly makes your mana go a LOT further. I'll usually go for Midas before upgrading from brown boots, but alter that as game dictates.

However, in some games, you'll be up against a team you really don't want to be fighting - like some ******* Dark Seer Magnus Gyrocopter combo - and then you'll be looking for something else. In a case like that, Travels are a possibility, as they allow you to split push and free an item slot for a TP scroll. Note that I generally recommend sticking with treads - and this is ME saying this, I go BoTs on almost every carry in the game - as 75 mana every ~50 seconds is a large tax on Chaos Knight's poor mana pool. Lategame you pick these up of course, but since you're not a big-time split-pusher, and slots aren't a problem with the Backpack, they're a late pick-up.

Every Other Item


Nerfed, but still a decent farm accelerant in the early game. Not as much of an auto-pickup as it was before since the damage increase doesn't scale and you get a lot of gold from roaming with bounty runes, but it can make the jungle a lot easier if your ganks don't go as planned.

Yep, it's the item this guide is built around. I've been over why you get this before, but just to recap; roaming allows you to pick up bounties and take jungle camps on the side, and Midas accelerates your experience to your level 20 GPM talent.

The core of cores on this hero, really. Armlet gives everything CK desires - armour, regen, attack speed. In addition, the active is a LOT of Strength... that transfers to your illusions, who don't suffer the Health loss. Activate Armlet, cast Phantasm, deactivate Armlet and sic 'em. The +25 Strength translates to +125 damage all up - scary stuff indeed! Armlet toggling is also good for saving your life in a pinch, and is well worth practicing.

So, I see basically no situation in which this item isn't in CK's 6-slot inventory. It gives him on-demand illusions that work to mitigate his long downtime, and as a stat item it naturally beefs up illusions. While the mana can be prohibitive, good mana management fixes this. Finally, it allows him to split push and siege with great effectiveness, which is a really important characteristic of a lategame carry.

Chaos Knight is one of perhaps three Heroes on which Heart is better than Eye of Skadi. It's +200 damage instead of +40, and while it gives less DPS and EHP than Skadi, the regeneration allows you to keep Armlet on indefinitely which speeds up your farm and improves your fighting more than enough to compensate. The huge chunk of Health it provides also means that your illusions - and you, of course - are even harder to take down. With only 4 or 5 slots filled, CK is pushing 4k HP and 25 armour, making you one of the game's tankiest heroes.

Wut? Sheepstick as core on CK? Well... yes, actually. It's almost essential against Anti-Mage and Storm Spirit, meaning that you can actually deal with them. It gives you another disable whilst Chaos Bolt is on cooldown... oh, and infinite mana which is most certainly a desirable aspect! Since CK doesn't lack for damage or durability, you can fully afford to build a Sheepstick as a 4th or 5th item.

The only real reason you get this item is for the cooldown reduction, as a 5th or 6th item. Almost removing your hero's downtime makes this an outstanding lategame choice and allows you to keep the pressure on at all times.

Despite not affecting illusions in any way, Abyssal Blade is a legitimate item on Chaos Knight, because of - you guessed it - the disable. Locking Heroes down for extended periods lategame is a very important factor, especially against Terrorblade, who will Sunder you, or against Morphling, who will ***** out.

Which of these you choose is based again on what your game requires. They're roughly equivalent on offence, with Assault Cuirass doing slightly more against heroes and considerably more against towers, but Butterfly offers far improved durability for your illusions. The best aspect of Butterfly is its ability to force a rivalling carry to alter their item progression to pick up a counter for evasion, which can set them back an entire slot. Both of these are good, though, so go for whichever you prefer.

For when YOU are up against evasion. Because you don't actually need many core items to do your job, it's OK to blow a slot on MKB - breezing off Octarine or Sheepstick for it isn't the end of the world.

It's a very poor item on an illusion hero, and Chaos Knight is no exception. Still, against some teams that have just that many disables, you'll have to get it if you want to avoid being chainstunned.

Rejected


You don't need the lifesteal because of Chaos Strike, and it gives less DPS and tank than Heart or Skadi. Also confers very little to illusions.

Diffusal has been heavily nerfed on illusions, and wasn't that great on Chaos Knight to begin with. Against Omniknight, it's necessary, but if possible get an ally to build it rather than you.

Allies and Enemies

One of the good things is that Chaos Knight doesn't have a lot of counters unlike most illusion Heroes, mostly because he's Strength and able to eat up nukes unlike, say, Terrorblade or Phantom Lancer. Still, there are a few heroes to be aware of in your interactions:

Foes


God, this guy is an *******. Sure, if you can catch him, he's going to melt... but the problem is catching him. Activate Fire Remnant allows him to escape your clutches every time, and his Sleight of Fist with battlefury is going to tear you and your team a new one. Don't stack up.
Sure, you don't really care about the damage from Echo Slam... but any of your nearby allies will. This guy's a problem mainly because he has 50 years of AoE stun to lock you down.
AoE disables? Check. Percentage based damage? Check. Honestly not the worst, because you destroy him without Black Hole, but you can often find yourself dying to his ult and his E.
High area damage, and he cuts down your primary attribute. A good Timber is seriously nasty to deal with as a CK.
Whaaaaat? Squishy burstable heroes on this list? Well, yeah. Both Mana Drain and Life Drain, as well as Hex, instantly destroy illusions. Pop. A protracted engagement against these two tends to end in disaster.
Although you're a harder carry than her these days, Stone Gaze will instantly pop your illusions. Not as bad a thing to worry about lategame, as Phantasm will have a shorter cooldown than Stone Gaze, but it can drag a game on for a very long time, or make you throw it.

Friends


Absolutely your best roaming partner, or lane partner if you don't want to roam. She allows you to farm the jungle faster, the mana regen aura enables you to have a much higher activity time, Rylai herself is also an incredible roamer, and you can protect her in dives. Lategame, she offers area damage you lack, and even more disables for you to go to town.
Another decent roaming partner - kind of a budget Crystal Maiden, but he gives you infinite mana, helps you jungle, and you can set up a good Illuminate. Reality Rift + Mana Leak is also an underrated combo.
What's better than CK illusions? More CK illusions! Rat dota abounds. These illusions are just as tanky as your regular ones, and deal 75% damage - considering they last what, 14 seconds? This is pretty good. Also applies a 50% damage amplification to some poor sap, as if you needed it.

Other good allies include fellow roamers, offlaners/midlaners who can take advantage of incoming ganks. Since Chaos Knight is almost always seen in dual-core lineups, cores who can take advantage of the massive distraction and in-your-face offence you provide are also strong - like Sniper, Necrophos or Arc Warden.

Conclusion

So there goes the thing which is even weirder than Slahser's Way - Terathiel's Roaming #1 Chaos Knight. I've been playing this a good amount (when I haven't been picking Troll Warlord to counter the endless Monkey Kings...) and it's seen solid success, even in unorganised pubs where it's hard to take advantage of getting proper farm on four choice heroes. No doubt I'll refine this if and when I take it into Captain's Mode, but until then, I'll leave this in the public for your testing.

If you want to discuss something you've read in here, or get further elaboration, I can usually be found ****posting on Dotafire's Discord server under the same name as on the site. Or, I'll answer comments here.

Uh... so long, or something? See you soon? I don't know. Witty closing remark.

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