Back from the Dead [A Skeleton King Guide]
May 20, 2012
Hello everyone, and welcome to 'Back from the Dead', my guide to the Skeleton King.
I have enjoyed playing Skeleton King immensely, and the information found in this guide has been gathered from hours of my own playtime, knowledge reaped from friends and streamers, and advice from other DOTA2 websites/forums.
Skeleton King is a hero that can be powerful in the early, mid and late game, which is why he can be so enjoyable to play, provided you do so correctly.
Note: This guide is 100% opinion, and if you disagree with some of it (all of it? ouch), then please comment and let me know why. I'm always looking for feedback, whether it is positive or negative and will amend the guide if I believe it will improve it.
Item Build & Explanation
Starting your Lane
Tango Healing Salve Clarity Iron Branch Iron Branch
& Healing Salve
to provide you with decent regeneration early on, until you get those points into Vampiric Aura
for the lifesteal.
is to keep you well supplied with mana, should you fear a gank and not have enough for your Hellfire Blast and/or Reincarnation.
are gap-fillers. Never underestimate the power of a couple of Iron Branch
, especially at the start.
or Stout Shield
The final starting item depends on two things:
1. Your lane opponent(s)
2. Your confidence in last hitting
If you're not good at last hitting, then you should probably pick up a Quelling Blade
. That said, I don't recommend melee hard carries to anyone who has trouble last hitting as it's so important.
If you're expecting a lot of harassment from the enemy, and you're lacking a good babysitter in your lane, then a Stout Shield
is the best option here.
Soul Ring Magic Wand Boots of Speed
The Soul Ring
(thanks to Numeta for the suggestion) helps solve early game Mana issues, and coupled with your Vampiric Aura
lifesteal, the amount of health swapped for mana is negligible and quickly recovered.
Note: If the support player in your lane also picks up this item, then don't pick it up yourself as the auras do not stack.
helps prevent too many mana issues for Skeleton King
at the start, and is a core pickup for 95% of heroes in my opinion, as it's so cost effective and builds off your starting branches.
As you're melee, it's important to get your Boots of Speed
relatively quickly too, as chances are you'll not just be left alone to farm and you'll have some running to do.
- Strength for survivability? Check
- Intelligence for mana? Check
- Attack Speed? Check
Nothing else to see here. Power Treads
are a must on Skeleton King
Armlet Town Portal Scroll
offers great survivability for melee carries at an affordable price, and is a pickup that I find overlooked many times when it could save a life. The regeneration and HP increase are great additions to your build, and the passive will allow you to farm far easier whilst enduring less damage.
Armlet is an amazing pickup on Skeleton King
because of how it synergizes with your Vampiric Aura
passive. The item drains health constantly while it's active, but this is countered by your lifesteal and HP regeneration from Vanguard
. A great item.
You should always be carrying a Town Portal Scroll
at this stage. It might be tempting just to die and allow your Reincarnation to revive you, but if you can save that for a teamfight and get out at the cost of a scroll, then do it and avoid the cooldown which is very high until levelled up.
Assault Cuirass Monkey King Bar Black King Bar
synergizes perfectly with Skeleton King
, and helps make a survivable hero into a monster, and very difficult to put down. Not only does it boost your own survivability, but it increases that of your teammates with the aura effects, whilst simultaneously reducing the enemy team's armour. Couple this with the incredible Attack Speed it generates, and this becomes core item #1 for Skeleton King
Monkey King Bar
is the counter to the most popular carry pickup, Butterfly
. This will prevent your attacks from missing, regardless of any enemy evasion chance, and is a must on Skeleton King who relies on his auto attacks for damage. It also has the highest damage of any item besides Divine Rapier
Black King Bar
helps keep you from being stunned, slowed and kited across the map by those frustrating ranged heroes. Activate this item about half a second before entering a teamfight, to avoid being caught out after running in.
The Laning Phase
The most important factor about the laning phase is to remain safe. Be as safe as you can, and that means not extending too far from your tower. This can be difficult, especially as a melee character as last hits can be hard to come by.
Don't misunderstand though; playing safe doesn't mean avoiding a ganking opportunity when it presents itself. Your Helfire Blast is a great stun and nuke, and coupled with a suitable laning partner, will net you a kill if the enemy is pushed up.
Note: If the lane gets pushed out too far, rather than risk death by overextension, pay a visit to the jungle and farm up the neutrals. This is made possible by Vampiric Aura and the lifesteal it provides.
If you're having trouble acquiring the items listed, and are losing your lane, then don't be afraid to pick up a couple of Bracer. They will give you a much needed stat boost and stop you from feeding the enemy carry too easily, not to mention provide even more mana for your stun.
- Crystal Maiden
- Vengeful Spirit
- Ancient Apparition
When you see Skeleton King, you might think "Oh, melee hard carry. Time to pick up a Battle Fury and spend 30 minutes mauling neutral creeps." This isn't true for him, as he differs vastly from Anti-Mage and Faceless Void and gets the majority of his gold from hero kills, even during the early game.
Why bother spending most of the game in the lane and earning gold, when you could be earning gold and denying the enemy gold at the same time? Use your stun whenever it's available, as it deals good damage and stuns the enemy for an acceptable period of time. This, coupled with your Armlet will allow you to beat down on the enemy quickly while they're unable to act.
Try and remain with 1-2 other heroes after the laning phase. You can't just sneak in, snipe a kill and go invisible to escape, so you'll likely need assistance.
That said, if there aren't any likely ganks or teamfights then stick to a lane and farm. It's imperative that Skeleton King gets his core items so that he can carry, and carry hard.
Finally, the most important thing throughout the game, from level 6 onwards, is to save 140 mana for your ultimate.
Skeleton King is a very fun hero to play, and can carry your team extremely hard if done right. Team composition is a very important thing to consider when selecting him as your hero, as he needs a great deal of gold to truly shine, and this has to come in the form of either farming safety or ganking presence.
Please don't play this hero once and then give up on him if you don't do that well. Every hero in this game takes time and experience to master, and Skeleton King is no different.
I hope you found this guide useful, and may it help you lead your team to countless victories as the Lord of Bones.