Balanar the Nightstalker
Nightstalker (or Balanar as Dota1 players know him as) is a strength Dire hero is excels at flying around the map and ganking like crazy. During the day Nightstalker is a typical strength hero, slow but a heavy hitter but nighttime is where he really shines as he gains a huge attack and movement speed boost which allows him to chase down targets, tear them to shreds and then disappear again before anyone knows what's happened.
Played right and Nightstalker is an invaluable hero to have in your arsenal and on your team and will have people rage-quitting like there's no tomorrow.
Void is a damaging nuke which slows a single enemy target. Void deals 90/160/225/335 damage and slows movement speed by 50% and attack speed by 35%. During the day this last for 2 seconds but at night it doubles to 4 seconds. As Nightstalker's main damage tool early on and a crucial slowing tool at night max this ASAP. Note: Void interrupts channeling so don't be afraid if the enemy spot you coming and try to retaliate with a hard-hitting spell like Sand King's Epicenter.
Crippling Fear silences single targets and causes them to miss on attacks. During the day the miss rate is 10% and the silence lasts for 3 seconds. At night the miss rate is greatly increased to 40% and the silence and duration are 5/6/7/8 with each respective level. I generally leave this skill until last as I don't rely on it that much in the early stages of the game. However if the enemy team is mage/nuker heavy it wouldn't hurt to pick a point up. In the later stages of the game it is useful for preventing targets from using any spells to escape from you. Note: I'm not sure if this cancels out escaping items like Force Staff, someone leave the answer in the comments if they know.
Hunter In The Night
This is the skill which makes Nightstalker so beautifully broken. This is a passive skill which increases your move speed by 20/25/30/35% and your attack speed by 30/45/60/75. Max this along with Void as soon as you can as without it Nightstalker is useless. This skill will only be activated AT NIGHT.
Nightstalker's power lies in the night, this skill allows you to make it night for 25/50/80 seconds. Nuff said. Though useful at level 6 the night time duration isn't that long so leave it until later then you can level it in succession at levels 10 and 11. Darkness will freeze the current time so use it at night to prolong the darkness or use it when you quickly need to escape or catch an enemy with their pants down.
The starting items for Nightstalker are pretty standard, some health regen and some Gauntlets of Strength. I tend to use a bit of my remaining gold on a clarity incase I overspam Void but you can replace them out for Branches if you prefer.
Your focus in the early game will be to get your movement speed and damage up as quickly as possible. Try to farm well and pick up Power Treads and turn your Gauntlets into Bracers. The Bracers will give you some extra stat points which are forever useful and the Power Treads will give you movement speed, attack speed and boost your strength which means more damage,health and regen. If you have farmed really well or picked up a kill early try to squeeze in a Morbid Mask for some lifesteal. You really want to get these 3 items before the first nightfall.
*After or during your ganking spree, see Play Style later for more details*
During mid game you want to turn your Morbid Mask into a Vladmir's Offering to give you some much needed lifesteal. The next item you want to shoot for is Sange and Yasha. Sange
and Yasha is a brilliant item for Nightstalker as it will give him strength, damage, movement speed, attack speed and the chance to maim which will slow targets movement and attack speed by 40% for 3 seconds. If things are going well start to build a Skull Basher by picking up a Javelin or Belt of Strength. If things have gone extremely well pick the Skull Basher up completely.
After your other items are complete aim for finishing off your Skull Basher (if you haven't already) this will give you some good damage and a 25% chance to stun the target for 1.4 seconds. When your attacking as fast as Nightstalker does at night this will activate often which will make escaping from your near impossible. If you can upgrade this to an Abyssal Blade, this will allow you to stun the target outright using its active ability while still keeping the 25% stun chance. It will also give you +100 damage which is insane. Grabbing an Assault Cuirass in this stage of the game is useful for the later team fights as it gives you and your team more attack speed and armour while decreasing the enemy's armour at the same time. If your having trouble in the earlier stages of the game pick this up before your Skull Basher for the added survivability. The final item is Aghanim's Scepter, this isn't necessary for Nightstalker because it could be replaced with more strength like a Heart of Tarrasque however it gives you unobstructed nightvision which means trees and terrain wont block your sight and as Nightstalker has 1800 nightvision it is incredibly useful for scouting and keeping an eye on the enemy. The stat boosts are useful too.
During the early stages focus on your farming and getting your Power Treads and Bracers, your aim is to do this before the first nightfall. At the very least grab a pair of Boots and finish your Bracers. Don't overspam Void as you don't have much mana to play with but if your lane partner has a stun or a disable go for the kill. Be wary that you aren't that powerful during the day and therefore are an easy target (wiser players will know you can be a threat so will attempt to shut you down). When the first night comes its time to play.
First Night-Mid Game
When the wolf howls its time to go kill things, heal up if necessary then leave your lane and go roaming. Don't let your lane enemies see that you've gone else they may warn their team mates. This can be avoided by taking a longer route through the woods (which won't matter thanks to your movement speed) or simply killing them to get them out of the way. Your best targets are squishy rangers who sit at the back so go for them right off the bat. You will generally follow a pattern of going top-middle-bottom-middle-top or vise-versa depending on what lane you started in. Make sure that your team mates know your roaming by pinging or telling them if your on team-speak, you can be undone if you dive on an enemy and your team mates aren't there to back you up in case things go sour.
During the late game you should be sufficiently leveled enough that you can activate Darkness fairly often keeping you at max strength (remember to activate it at night to freeze the current time, doing this right could lead to almost perma-night status). As long as your build is going well you will continue to snowball and just keep tearing the enemy apart. As you continue to thrive they will target you in order to put you down so keep moving at all times, even in team fights don't stand still and make yourself a sitting target for disables and stuns. Even though your own life is essential, don't abandon your team mates when they need you, your are tough so can take a beating on their behalf if they need you to. Nightstalker can fit into the role of Hyper-Carry which means that he can take on the entire team himself if hes had a decent game. Though true, I don't recommend nor condone it, DOTA is a team game, help your team so they can help you.
Nightstalker is extremely powerful if you have good farm and kills, don't be afraid to have a cheeky steal if necessary.
With the right items Nightstalker is virtually impossible to get away from if you catch an enemy on their own.
Nightstalker is a typical snowball-type hero, once he gets going its very difficult to pin him down again.
Though getting good items is essential to any hero, Nightstalker can function on small builds such as Power Treads, Vladmir's Offering and Sange and Yasha.
Nightstalker can function in many roles like Carry,Nuker and Tank/Initiator.
Nightstalker excels at night but is severely weakened during the day making you a target for ganks, if the enemy can shut you down they will do.
Though Nightstalker is fast,strong and can silence if you are caught by a team of stunners/disablers your attacks may backfire on you, be wary of team compositions and know what your up against.
You need farm. Period. If your team mate is stealing it give them hell until they back off.
Omniknight: Me and one of my Clan mates tried this several times and it worked out well thanks to Omniknight's support skills. This will do well against a double melee lane but will struggle against rangers.
Rubick: Rubick's Telekinesis and Fade Bolt help Nightstalker pick up kills easily and prevents enemies from escaping. A valuable ally but keep him protected as he is the softer of the two of you.
Windrunner: Windrunner's Shackleshot will help keep enemies pinned while you claw away at them, her Powershot will also help finish off wounded enemies who manage to escape your grasp. Thanks to her Wind Run you can worry less about protecting her.
Any stunner/disabler: The recurring theme for Nightstalker is that if the opponent is trapped he can screw them up easily. Anyone with a stun or a disable will be useful with Nightstalker however weaker team mates may be jumped first, leaving you alone so be wary.
Zeus: Zeus is nice and squishy, so fighting him isn't the issue, its his Thundergod's Wrath which f*cks you up. Many a time I've been playing against a Zeus, dived in, killed his friends and as I've got away to heal KABOOM I'm turned to ashes. Be careful when playing against him.
Anti-Mage: Anti-Mage isn't as physically strong as Nightstalker but he is just as fast and is fast all of the time unlike you. This combined with Mana Burn can be a real danger, especially if Anti-Mage has been fed. Not only will he be dealing damage, he'll be burning your precious mana (dealing more damage as he does it) and then Mana Voiding you to deliver the killing blow. If you manage to get the jump on him, silence him first so he can't Blink away.
Stunners/Disablers: As well as being Nightstalkers best allies, they are also his biggest weakness. As you can only silence one target at a time if most of the enemy team has stuns or disables they can force you back every time you try to attack. If they are soft targets they will merely run away however 9/10 if they manage to stun-lock you they will attempt to kill you.
I don't normally do this but Nightstalker is one of my favourite and best played heroes so I thought I'd share some of my best moments with him.
First match first win
First Triple Kill
5 kills in the first nightfall, without using Darkness and with only Treads and Bracers (unfortunately not Ultra Kill/Rampage)
65-70% win rate when playing Nightstalker
140-65-110 kill-death-assist ratio (approx)
4 matches undefeated until first loss when playing Nightstalker
Thats my greatest hits with Nightstalker, share yours in the comments :D