I am very far from an expert on Slark. But I have done a lot of research into him and have compiled my findings into this guide. I have played some games where I get 23+ kills, and others where I failed miserably (aoe heavy nukes=better get your BKB or you lose)
this guide is primarily for my own benefit as a place to store all the info I find. I also enjoy tweaking the item builds. So if you find this guide useful, great! I welcome feedback and criticism as I hope to improve my own skills at Slark
Explanation of skill build
At the early stages of the game, Slark should play similar to riki: focus on getting to level 6! If you have a definite kill combo with your lane partner and you know you can finish, go for it. But your main objective in the early game is to survive till level 6 while farming as much as you can. (I once went up against a sniper/silencer combo. It was literally 0 farm till level 6)
Choosing your second level skill
I recommend always geting Pounce
first. But what about the level 2 skill? Which should you max out first? Here's how I decide.
1. If you're laning against melee, get Essence Shift
as your second skill. You'll be able to stay close and steal their stats. You get stronger, and they get weaker
2. If you're laning against a dot spammer, like Venomancer
, or Silencer
, get Dark Pact
as your second skill. It helps you purge their dots off of you. Just be sure to account for the damage done to you when choosing whether to purge or let the dots tick for their duration.
3. If you are laning with an ally with stun, it can be a toss up. I recomend you go with Essence Shift
, solely because you're squishy. You need to save your precious health until level 6 when you can start regenerating it.
I recommend taking one level of Dark Pact
then maxing Essence Shift
, but here are the pros and cons of each
- Great when laning against melee heroes. Steal their stats while you harrass
- Helps you do more damage
- Gives temporary armor increase
- Doesn't use up your mana, which is sparse before you gear up
- Doesn't help against ranged harass
- Lose out on purge ability
- Stacks usually drop until level 3
- Clears enemy dots and saves your precious hp
- Does decent damage to the enemy
- Helps you farm faster due to aoe
- Damages you, who already has low suvivability
- Chance to miss and damage self for no reason
- Easy for enemy to see it coming and dodge
Explanation of Build 1: Survival+ganking
This is a balanced build, which gives survivability and damage potential. We take Pounce
first, to help combo a kill and escape if need be. Essence Shift
gets taken at level 2, assuming we can do any kind of meaningful harass on the enemy. Pounce
continues to get leveled up and then level 4 sees 1 level of Dark Pact
. I like to get Essence Shift
to level 2, then max Dark Pact
. Level 2 of Essence Shift
is enough to move through team fights and retain your stats, but not enough to go across the map for a gank. Also, you'll be able to jungle using Dark Pact
, so it gets maxed once we have level 2 of Essence Shift
In the early stages of the game, Slark needs to focus on survival. He is very weak until he gets Shadow Dance and has constant mana problems early on. So, our items need to compliment that, as well as his hit and run nature. Basically all of these items improve his survivability and damage output
Stout Shield vs Quelling Blade vs Ring of Protection: You need to look at your enemy team and decide who you guess you'll lane against.
If you will lane against fellow melee heroes, get Quelling Blade for last hits.
If you will lane with someone with a stun, get Stout Shield for surviving combo kills.
If you will lane against someone with good harass (like Sniper), get Ring of Protection and just survive till level 6. You won't get much farm and should probably call for ganks to help you get a level advantage. Once you hit level 6, initiate on your harrassers, then sneak away with Shadow Dance. Heal up and repeat till they are forced from lane
Power Treads: They are the only logical choice for boots. His passive regen makes Tranquil Boots worthless and his ulti movement speed negates the need for Phase Boots. Boots of Travel get bought later, when you want to chain gank. Power Treads gives increase to your damage, as well as your regen (int) and survival (str) in early-mid game.
Medallion of Courage: Often overlooked, this item is cheap, provides mana regen, and increases your armor. Dark Pact can also remove the armor debuf which occurs when you use this item on an enemy hero. Simply start Dark Pact and pounce in on your enemy. Use the Medallion of Courage as soon as you land and Dark Pact should go off, removing your debuff. You get +6 armor, enemy loses 6 armor
Orchid Malevolence: This powerful weapon makes you certain death to casters. I can't tell you how effective this item is. It cause Slark to be nearly unbeatable in a 1 vs 1 situation! It also helps you target those pesky supports in team fights. Take a look at all the benefits that it gives you.
Black King Bar
- You'll never run out of mana again. (For when you really need your ult to escape!)
- It GREATLY increases your damage. +30 damage and +30 attack speed. That's awesome!
- A super long silence that synergizes with your combo
- +25% damage to silenced enemies
: Once you get to this point in your item build, you're pretty powerful. People will start focusing you. Add this to your combo to prevent loads of damage, before you sneak off with your ulti. Here's the adjusted combo.
=> Medallion of Courage
=> Black King Bar
=> Orchid Malevolence
=> Shadow Dance
Feel free to use Black King Bar
before you leap in if your enemies are quick on the draw when you Pounce
Here are some general principles for playing Slark
Use dark pact to remove debuffs
Please note that Dark Pact
is currently hit or miss on the debuffs that it will dispel. The list of debuffs that will remain through Dark Pact
is quite long, and I doubt they are on purpose. Hopefully, the devs will correct this and help this incredibly squishy hero. Ignore the rest of this sub-section until I can complile a list of what Dark Pact
does and does not remove.
If you're facing a dot spammer, such as Silencer
, be sure to get level 1 of Dark Pact
first. This spell will deal 32.5 damage to you, cost 55 mana, and remove their dot. Remember that Dark Pact
takes 2 seconds to cast, so take that into account when considering whether to cancel a debuff with Dark Pact
. Also remember that the highest level of Dark Pact
does 150 damage to you. If that case, it would be useful against ultimates that deal dot damage, like Venomancer
or Ancient Apparition
. Keeping Dark Pact
at level 1 will also help in the mid-range levels, like 6-12 where your enemy can level up their dot ability to max, while you still are able to cancel their dot for minimal damage and mana. Whenever possible, purge your debuffs in such a way that you can damage the enemy. A great strategy is to cast Dark Pact
right when you see a stun flying towards you. If you're fast enough, the stun will hit you, then Dark Pact
will explode and you'll be unstunned! It's tricky and requires split second timing. Here's a few good other debuffs to think about
's Amplify Damage
's Battle Hunger
(cast before he does)
's Open Wounds
's Unstable Concoction
(used as soon as you see the mixture start flying)
Any stun where you're fast enough to cast when you see it
Any silence where you can cast before they do
Roots from heroes like Lone Druid
and Crystal Maiden
's Fatal Bonds
Press Dark Pact
, then quickly use your Medallion of Courage
on the enemy. Once Dark Pact
goes off, it will remove your -6 armor debuff. Think about it, you have +6 armor and your enemy is down 6 armor. This combo creates a 12 armor difference that wouldn't exist otherwise.
Combo your initiations
> Medallion of Courage
=> Orchid Malevolence
=>(stuns from allies if possible)=> Shadow Dance
After you reach your ulti, you have to decide if you can finish your enemy, or if you need to run. Keep in mind that the enemy sees a dark cloud around you, so you need to sneak to safety. you will run much quicker than your enemy, but you have 5.5 seconds to get somewhere safe during your ulti
Embrace the hit and run
allows you to steadily get stronger with every melee hit. Be mindful of your timer on this and get it as high as you can! It's not uncommon to get 100+ extra agility from this skill! So, spread out your attacks, especially after you get level 16. Kill your enemy in the top lane, then sprint to the bottom lane and kill people there. Here is where boots of travel can come in handy.
Detect wards with your ulti, Shadow Dance
Your ulti places a passive buff on you when you are unseen by the enemy. By monitoring this buff, you can tell when the enemy has wards in the area. Of course, you'll need some form of truesight to kill the ward, but this skill can literally change the game. Ward vision is key to some victories, so be sure to watch your buff all the time. When you sprint past common ward sites, like the river and forks in the road, glace up at your buff. Yet another really cool use for Slark
Leap over obstacles with Pounce
essential functions like a force staff for you. Don't forget you can leap over trees and cliffs with this skill. It will also destroy trees in an area around you when you land, so take that into account when judging distances. Just remember that you always leap the direction you're facing
Use your Shadow Blade
at the beggining of your combo to get alot of quick damage on your enemy before they know what's happening.
=>Right click attack to get bonus damage=> Dark Pact
=> Shadow Dance
The cool thing is that your Shadow Blade
will be available at the end of your combo. You can sneak away, or wait till the very end of its duration and restart your combo.
Enemies and allies
is deadly to Slark
. It cause lots of aoe right next to the hero. It doesn't matter if you go invisible, meepo simple poofs all his clones and deals enough damage to kill you. Counter with Black King Bar
: The main skill that frustrated here is Power Cogs
. It knocks you back when you touch it, so you can't leap over it. It also drains your precious mana in the early game. More than once, I've pounced in on a Clockwerk
, only have him trap me with his Power Cogs
, which drained my mana too low to ulti. Counter with a ranged ally who can lay into Clockwerk
while you melee him.
: jakiro is dangerous due to his Ice Path
combo. If you pounced in and leashed him, you're squishy enough to get killed by this hero solo
: I find this the most annoying hero, along with Pudge
to fight. Obvious, Spirit Breaker
can perma stun you and prevent you from getting away. A simple Dust of Appearance
will allow this strength hero to kill you quickly
Any hero with a disable: Allies with stuns are great friends to Slark
. You can initiate with pounce, wail away on the enemy, then your ally stuns as the enemy begins to run, or counter you. Hopefully, your pounce will come off cooldown soon after the stun wears off and you can repeat your pounce.
Here are some game ids of me playing slark. Let me say up front that I make a lot of mistakes in them! I know! But i also get some pretty good kills. Feel free to watch them and give suggestions
Went for ring of basilius first. Enemies in my lane were not very good and didn't have purgable debuffs, so I went Essence Shift as my 2nd skill. Also notices how templar assasin can kill slark very easily. He is squishy, so be careful
Morphling is a friend of mine, and he told me to take last hits. I didn't argue, lol! Went queling blade first cause I thought there was a high probability that I'd lane against melee. I died alot in this game, but still had a good number of kills