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5 Votes

All Flesh Is Sand

November 25, 2013 by blanning
Comments: 12    |    Views: 13910    |   

General PUB Match

DotA2 Hero: Sand King

Hero Skills


1 4 5 7

Sand Storm

2 8 9 10

Caustic Finale

3 12 13 14


6 11 16


15 17 18


First off, I am not a pro. I have played around 350 PUB matches with a variety of heroes. My only credentials to write this are that I win more often than I lose and that there is only 1 other Sand King guide out there and it is somewhat limited in scope.

This is a PUB matches guide, and should not be taken to serious team games as much of what goes in here will not work in that scenario. I present Sand King as an initiator/diabler/semi-carry and NOT as a support. That is a role that he often gets forced into, but not one that I feel he fills well, at least in most PUB matches.

With that out of the way, Sand King is one of the easiest heroes to be successful with as you are just getting used to DOTA 2. He is not the most OP by any means, but will give you a better than average track record if you play him right and can be tons of fun along the way.

Pros / Cons


  • Great initiator
  • Durable
  • Some invisibility advantages
  • Strong pushing presence
  • Effective harrasser

  • Slow attack speed
  • Item dependent to be effective
  • Vulnerable to AOE magic and silences
  • Mana bound early game


All items are subject to situation and who you are up against for me except the starting out Boots of Speed and Tango. I play a somewhat aggressive harassing style as much as my health will allow so the mobility of Boots of Speed is essential, and the health from Tango is vital to keeping you in lane. I almost never go to fountain early game because it hurts your farm too much and puts you behind.

NOTE: If your team does not have supports, or if they are refusing to fill their role as supports then you need to man up and skip the Boots of Speed until after you have gotten an Animal Courier and possibly even Observer Wards.

As to justifying my other picks and their order (please comment and share, I have tried a number of things and this works best for me so far, but that does not mean it could not be improved on, significantly)...

Arcane Boots

~ Not only provide a slight speed bump (5 points over your original purchase of Boots of Speed), but the extra 250 mana and the burst AOE mana are essential to using your skills to the best effect. Sand Storm is quite cost effective at only 60 mana out of the gate (and improving with each level), but Burrowstrike, your most versatile skill, starts at 110 and only gets worse, so you will need this mana bump desperately and early on if you are going to keep the pressure on.

Urn of Shadows

~ Further helps your mana woes, but more importantly provides 6 strength and catches 2 charges for each hero you kill or are near when your team kills. Each charge heals you or a teammate for 400HP over 8 seconds, or deals 150 damage do an enemy over 8 seconds.

NOTE: you will need to coordinate purchasing this with the rest of your team, it is fine to have several of them, but not everyone should get one since only the closest urn to the dying enemy gets charges.

NOTE: if running low on mana then get the Sage's Mask to start this off before you finish your Arcane Boots.

Blink Dagger

~ Arguably the most OP item that Sand King can carry. 2 things to note though...

  1. If you have been injured (from pretty much any source) in the last 3 seconds you will not be able to use Blink Dagger
  2. It only helps if you actually USE it. So put it in whatever key slot you can get to most easily and make sure to practice using it regularly and quickly, when you need it you will most likely be in a hurry.

Veil of Discord

~ This is an item that I had not used much until someone suggested it in the comments, but it is a great fit for Sand King and particularly for this build. If I go for Veil of Discord I generally skip Aghanim's Scepter because they fill much the same role for your ult, Veil of Discord just does it better and with better side bonuses. The only downside is that you have to remember to turn it on.

Aghanim's Scepter

~ Some might choose to get this before Blink Dagger but due to the difficulty of landing Sand King's ult ( Epicenter) without Blink Dagger on opponents who are anything like competent I tend to prefer this order.

All in all Aghanim's Scepter is decent for Sand King, but not monumental like it is for some heroes. You get 2 more pulses and 20 seconds less cooldown time out of it. Of course there are also that stat boosts (+10 to all attributes, 200 health, 150 mana) which are nothing to sneeze at, but certainly not the most cost effective in the game either. If you are able to land ults, this is a great bump to their power. If you are getting interrupted a lot and not getting them off, might want to skip it for now and spend the money where it can do you some more practical good.


~ I usually only get either this or Heart of Tarrasque but not both due to cost. (Usually the game is decided before you can get both). Which you choose is largely a matter of preference and how the game has been going up to this point. Radiance synergies really well with Sand Storm and if you are not getting either AOE silenced or True Sight discovered out of Sand Storm this can be a great way to control some serious territory. Just Burrow Strike in, turn on Sand Storm and Radiance, and then let your team mop up. This combo will let your team totally dominate team fights unless the enemy has a very effective counter.

NOTE: I know that many people do not like Radiance, it has had a long fall from it's previous popularity. But in spite of the many (and they are many) reasons to not like it as a matter of cost vs. effectiveness, if you are playing a team that is not using Sentry Ward/ Gem of True Sight/ Dust of Appearance to good effect, then Radiance combined with your Sand Storm can absolutely dominate any team fight. This is situational, so if they ARE using some kind of True Sight to good effect, skip it and focus on things that will not be so easily countered.

Heart of Tarrasque

~ By the time I can afford this the 40 strength it provides usually bumps me up to around 3000 health. Heart of Tarrasque's 2% health regen is putting out around 60 health per second in regen. Between the large health pool and this regen Sand King is one of the more tanky heroes in most games ( Pudge, Bristleback, and Tiny being some of the few who might be straight up more tanky than you are). NOTE: this regen effect is disabled when you take damage (6 seconds from melee and 4 from ranged damage), but with Sand Storm, Burrowstrike, and Blink Dagger getting clear of the fray for a few seconds to heal up is rarely a problem.

Shiva's Gaurd

~ This item is not in itself that awesome, and often gets overlooked. But when you combine it's passive with your Sand Storm, and particularly with Radiance as well, it completely dominates teamfights. The active slow (40% for 4 seconds) also allows you to stack after your 2.17 second stun from Burrow Strike making for an easy 6 seconds of stun or slow in which to totally wreck the enemy team's day.

This is a truly late game item for my build that I will often not get around to unless the game runs quite long. But especially when everyone is maxed out and things are at something of a standoff, those extra few seconds of slow, or that little edge of attack slow on the enemy is just enough to tip the balance.

Situational Items

Animal Courier

~ While I personally do not think that Sand King makes a particularly good supporter in most situations, you will eventually end up finding yourself in a match where there is no one better to fill that role. If that is the case then come to grips with the fact that you are not a true carry and can therefore best afford to be set back by playing support for the good of the team. So, buy the Animal Courier do it first and make sure everyone knows you are gonna do it during the close of Hero picks so that none of the hard carrys have to be set back in their farming to cover this necessity.

NOTE: If someone just got a gank and can afford to upgrade the courier that is fine, but if you are playing a support Sand King then it is really your job, so make sure it gets done as soon as the clock allows.

Observer Ward

~ In those cases where you are playing as a support, then the wards fall to you as well, or at least the first set and half of the rest of them for the duration of the game. Keep and eye on the clock and make a point of either placing them, or at least purchasing them and leaving on the courier for whoever is mid and has a chance to place them.

I cannot overstate the importance of having information on what the enemy is doing, who is moving on the river, and where the runes are when the pop. Knowledge IS truly power. This is a worthwhile investment for the team so do not hesitate from making it.

Black King Bar

~ Do not let the cost of this item intimidate you. If your enemies are using lots of AOE spells and interrupts to keep you from getting your combos or ultimate off, then start getting this immediately after Blink Dagger. It will set back much of your luxury build, but none of that will help you any if you cannot get any skills off in the first place.

Gem Of True Sight

~ Gem is even more situational than most in this situational list. Particularly if you have other invisibility using heroes on your team (particularly Riki or Bounty Hunter) your enemies may use lots of Sentry Wards to counter their abilities, and your Sand Storm. IF that is true AND you are being successful at escaping and not dying much, then (and only then) Gem of True Sight is a worthwhile investment to help you clear out enemy wards and protect everyone on the team. If there is a more durable hero on your team even consider buying it and then giving it to them so that it is not lost the enemy.

Vladmir's Offering

~ Offering is another support oriented situational item that can work well with Sand King. On his own yo will be getting, or at least close to, enough kills that your Urn of Shadows will supply your health needs making Vladmir's Offering much less cost effective. But if you are trying to support your team you will quickly run out of heals from Urn and may need the additional LifeSteal from Offering as well as the other perks that it offers to those around you.

Skills Overview and Usage

This guide is not a straight up strength build of Sand King, so your skills are super important. You have to be able to get them off in this build. If you are getting constantly silenced consider getting a Black King Bar right after Blink Dagger so that you can still be effective.


~ A combo skill that provides the ability to initiate, stun, nuke, and escape. You will find yourself using this constantly once you get used to it and learn to make the most of it's versatility.

The 2.17 second stun is not awesome, but it is enough to get either your Sand Storm or Epicenter off depending on the situation, and certainly enough for the rest of your team to get to ground zero and pop their stuns and nukes.

If you are initiating with Burrowstrike then make sure you are hitting the enemy on the furthest side of the pack from where you start, that way you stun as many of them along the way as possible. If the enemy team is running as one tight mob, use Blink Dagger to get close enough to pop Burrowstrike and get the whole team. Even if you are alone you can often get these off, pop Sand Storm for a second or two, and then Blink Dagger back out before anyone can recover and collect themselves enough to stun you in return.

Sand Storm

~ Yet another awesome skill of Sand King. With it's super low mana cost (just 60 to start and all the way down to 30 at level 4) and a cooldown of only 10 seconds at level 4 you should be using this at every opportunity as well. Unless someone on the enemy team has Gem of True Sight or you pop it too close to a tower Sand Storm gives you at least a few seconds of immunity while your opponents get their act together, and all the while you are dealing damage to everyone in your radius. This skill is often underrated due to the ease with which it is countered with True Sight, but it's real power is not in invisibility, but in a powerful AOE effect that can endure for an incredible period of time when maxed. Popping this in the middle of a team fight will do more overall damage than anything else you can do other than Epicenter itself.

NOTE: If you are out of tower range and no one on the other team has Gem or True Sight then you have a few seconds, but there are other things that will get you if you are popping this off without your team's support too often. ( Sentry Ward, Dust of Appearance, and Necronomicon all give true sight as well and WILL be used against you. Also note that and AOE stun or AOE silence will pull you out of channeling Sand Storm and leave you vulnerable).

This clears out creep waves quite quickly if you pop it in the middle of the clash, and I even use it when maxxed to keep enemy creeps from destroying my creeps when pushing towers if I am not directly opposed by an opponent.

Caustic Finale

~ particularly useful when fighting creeps and pushing as it gives you a nice AOE splash that few opponents remember to stay clear of. This is another great way to clear creep waves as once you take down one or two the rest usually just melt from the AOE chain. Unless you are getting tons of free farm early on focus on other things before this.


~ Sand King's ult is at once amazingly OP to anything in it's radius, and also so short lived and hindered by the need to channel for 2 seconds that it is often very hard to use effectively. Early on save it for those times when you can Burrowstrike into a crowd and then set it off while everyone is stunned.

Later, once I have my Blink Dagger I will often channel it while out of sight, and then blink into a crowd in order to be sure that I do not get interrupted during channeling.

This is one of the rather frustrating ults in the game sometimes as it is either a massive success, or a massive failure, and rarely anything in the middle. You will find yourself totally wasting it from time to time, but keep on with it as that difficult to land success of a total team wipe from one ability is just too awesome to not try for at every opportunity. And even it you miss it, you can always Sand Storm and hide while you wait to Blink Dagger back to safety.

General Gameplay / Teamwork

This build of Sand King focuses on him as an initiator and disabler. That should affect every area of your game so that you are helping your team as much as possible and not simply trying to turn yourself into a carry. (And thereby rob necessary farm and gold from heroes better suited to being the main carry).

Early Lane Work

Right out of the gate when laning make sure that you do not steal a perfect farming position from one of your carries. If you have a good support in the safe lane, be sure to offer that slot to a carry first. They need the farm much more than you do to pull off the initiator role. If you find yourself with a carry in any lane, then do your best to stick to denying and support and only grab those last hits or ganks that would be totally lost other wise. If you are helping out well then your assist gold and the occasional gank should be plenty and you will really give your main carry a leg up by playing to support them and not competing with their farming.

Mid Game

This is usually when the shift happens from laning to pushing towers hard (possibly the L2 towers if your team has done well so far) and when you start to group up consistently. This is where Sand King really starts to shine. It is too early for anyone to have many luxury items so you have a lot more freedom at this point.

If there is a group, make sure you are there. You do not want to miss a chance to initiate, disable, and then drain so that the rest of your team can get a wipe out of it. This should be either a Blink Dagger in followed by a Burrowstrike or just a Burrowstrike in. If you have enough support and good positioning, try for an Epicenter, if not Sand Storm and make sure your team has every advantage.

If you do this well your team will win several teamfights decisively and you will end up well ahead pushing into the final part of the game, heavy pushing for their ancient.

Heavy Pushing

This phase will go one of two ways generally, either....


You initiated well and your team made the most of it meaning you have a good position tower wise and a significant level/item lead. If this is the case then you are in good shape to continue essentially the same tactics as you follow the lead of your carries (who should have hit their power band by now) and push on to victory.



Someone (or maybe all of you) did not quite pull off the mid game and now you are behind on towers, levels, and items. This is not an unrecoverable position, but it needs care. Your team now needs to be more spread out and playing defense. That being the case pick the hardest carry on the other team that you think your team can take, and then try to time your initiations on them for when they are pushing and maybe a little too far out.

In this situation your opponents are gold rich and Sand Storm becomes very dangerous for you because SOMEONE will counter somehow it and gank you. So focus on initiating and disabling and then get back. Your Burrow Strike has a relatively short cooldown and in many cases you can open with it, fall back, and then use it again to help wrap things up. DO NOT try and tank the whole team, even with Epicenter you will almost certainly end up doing your team more harm than good. Look for places where you can initiate into a situation where you decisively outnumber your opponents. If they are already ahead in the game then a 1 for 1 kill ratio favors them heavily and you cannot afford to feed them any more.


This guide is my first, and is still very much a work in progress, so please comment and help me improve it. I will be adding more sections and updating it as time goes on and my skills with Sand King improve and the community gives their collective wisdom.

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