[Divine] How to play Phantom Assassin!
September 10, 2020
Through a process of divination, children are selected for upbringing by the Sisters of the Veil, an order that considers assassination a sacred part of the natural order. The Veiled Sisters identify targets through meditation and oracular utterances. They accept no contracts, and never seem to pursue targets for political or mercenary reasons. Their killings bear no relation to any recognizable agenda, and can seem to be completely random: A figure of great power is no more likely to be eliminated than a peasant or a well digger. Whatever pattern the killings may contain, it is known only to them. They treat their victims as sacrifices, and death at their hand is considered an honor. Raised with no identity except that of their order, any Phantom Assassin can take the place of any other; their number is not known. Perhaps there are many, perhaps there are few. Nothing is known of what lies under the Phantom Veil. Except that this one, from time to time, when none are near enough to hear, is known to stir her veils with the forbidden whisper of her own name: Mortred.
This is the fifth guide I've ever created and I wanted to start with a short introduction about myself and the hero featured in this guide, Mortred, the Phantom Assassin
I've been the Community Manager of DOTAFire since March 4th 2014 and I've started playing Warcraft III's DotA map back in 2007. In 2012 I've joined DOTAFire and a month later I've received a Steam invitation to play DotA 2 BETA, at the time you needed an invitation to play so I had to wait for a while to get one. :D
Right now I have over 3.500 hours played and I'm trying my best to climb up my MMR, currently sitting at about 5.000 MMR. I've used to play competitively years ago in some amateur 6.000 - 7.000 MMR teams and didn't focus too much on ranked matchmaking at the time, so hopefully whenever I have the chance to play I'll be able to improve more!
Alright, enough information about myself, let's go back to Phantom Assassin
! She's one of the most popular heroes in the game since she's relatively easy to play and thanks to her ability to deal great amounts of physical damage.
has a very well-rounded skill set that grants her a slow, mobility, evasion and one of the strongest critical strikes in the game. Even though she's all about physical damage, her burst damage potential is outstanding in comparison to the other physical damage dealers. She's famous for being able to one-shot heroes and for dominating in solo fights, her "clutch crits" some times turning the tables.
Thanks to her versatility, she can be played both on the safe lane and on the mid lane since she can adapt and farm safely in most circumstances. Right now in more than 65% of matches she's played on the safe lane with a success rate of 51% while on the mid lane she's played only in approximately 15% of matches with a success rate of 54%. I haven't mentioned the offlane because it's not a lane nor a role that fits her too well, to be more specific she's been played on the offlane in only 13% of matches with a winrate of 49%. However, this is DotA, feel free to be creative and play your own way!
Pros & Cons
When to pick Phantom Assassin?
- Strong physical damage output
- Great burst damage potential
- Strong at every stage of the game
- Can farm from a safe distance
- Difficult to kill by regular attacks
- Relies on critical strike
- Item dependent
- Weak against multiple targets
- Weak against disables and magic damage
- Relatively easy to counter
Taking all of the above into consideration, you should pick Phantom Assassin
when your team requires a hard carry that is able to deal heavy amounts of physical and burst damage, preferably focused on single targets. As mentioned before, she's all about physical damage meaning she's the strongest against targets with low armor ( Io
). Make sure not to pick her against heroes that naturally have high amounts of armor ( Timbersaw
, Dragon Knight
) since they're going to be a pain to take down.
Since Phantom Assassin
is naturally strong against regular attacks thanks to her passive ability Blur
, she's going to be strong against heroes that rely mostly on their regular attacks ( Drow Ranger
). Based on the examples just mentioned, she's also great against heroes who are able to easily escape, since she can continue chasing effectively using her Phantom Strike
Strong physical damage dealer and strong against physical damage dealers, great! Let's not forget that disables and magic damage overall are still a great threat to Phantom Assassin
. Make sure to be careful around magic damage dealers and heavy disablers, since they're in most cases going to be focusing you. Some problematic heroes in this case can be Lion
Make sure to keep all of these aspects in mind even since the picking phase! Core heroes like Phantom Assassin
tend to get counter picked and focused starting from the early game so they don't snowball and get out of their control.
Skill & Item Build
Alright, let's discuss the skill build displayed above. The skill build that we're going to talk about is the most common one among ranked matches, but feel free to make adjustments to your liking.
We're going to start by placing a point in each ability till level 4 with priority on Stifling Dagger
, since it's the ability that will help you chase, harass and safely farm if required. The ability you want to max out first, as you've probably anticipated, is Stifling Dagger
, which is going to be your go-to ability in each encounter. It's important to keep in mind that Stifling Dagger
deals damage based on your attack damage plus a base damage value, meaning the stronger you'll get and the more attack damage you'll have, the more dangerous this ability will become, take advantage of that!
Moving on, the most effective follow up has proven to be maxing out Phantom Strike
. It enables Phantom Assassin
to efficiently and effectively chase her foes and jump from one enemy to another in fights to deliver her deadly hits. One quick remark, remember that Phantom Strike
can be used on allied units too, so don't hesitate to blink to your teammates whenever you're in danger and you need to retreat. Since Phantom Strike
can be used through magic immunity, items like Black King Bar
and abilities such as Rage
won't be a problem for you.
And the ability that makes you a pain to heroes that rely on regular attacks, Blur
, is going to be maxed out last since only a point early does more than enough. This ability will greatly boost your durability and your strength against physical damage dealers. It can also be used to traverse the map safely while avoiding wards, enabling you to surprise and ambush enemies. Great to also farm neutral and ancient creeps, as while this passive is active, creeps cannot attack you back!
And yes, of course, always put a point into your ultimate whenever you have the chance, it's the ability that makes Phantom Assassin
a true assassin!
Okay, let's move on to Phantom Assassin
's talents and which options are the strongest.
At level 10 we have to choose between -1s Stiffling Dagger cooldown and +175 health. The bonus health is nice, as it increases your durability and makes you tougher to kill. The cooldown reduction will make Stiffling Dagger available every 5 seconds, which can be pretty strong in combination with the Triple Stiffling Dagger talent from level 25. I would go for the cooldown reduction in most cases, but go for the health bonus if you feel like you're too squishy!
At level 15 we have to pick between +350 Phantom Strike
Cast Range and 12% lifesteal. This one is a tough one, but personally I would go for the lifesteal talent. The bonus range on Phantom Strike
is great in situations where you need more mobility and chasing potential. There are also situations when lifesteal is not that strong and picking it wouldn't be very efficient, such as matches where you're against Ancient Apparition
that negates lifesteal with Ice Blast
or when enemies are building Spirit Vessel
that also reduces the effectiveness of lifesteal. Basically, it's up to you to decide what you need most in your match!
At level 20 we have to pick between 35% Blur
evasion and -3 armor corruption. If the enemies are heavily armored and you've also built Desolator
, then feel free to pick the armor corruption talent. However, if the enemies are dealing heavy damage mostly through basic attacks, consider picking the extra evasion since it's going to greatly decrease their damage output. Very effective when the enemies aren't building Monkey King Bar
And now the final pick, the level 25 talent! We have to make a choice between triple strike Stifling Dagger
and +100% Coup de Grace
damage. I would personally go for the triple Stifling Dagger
in any scenario, since it can critical strike and it also applies on hit effects. For instance, imagine hitting all the enemy supports with the Stifling Dagger
, it could critical strike and instantly take them down or force them to retreat, and if you have items such as Skull Basher
, their effects also apply on the targets hit by your Stifling Dagger
s. I find it much better, but feel free to go for the extra critical strike damage if you're feeling lucky!
Remember that ALL talents will be unlocked once you reach level 30!
Let's begin with the starting items:
Two sets should be enough to provide you with early regeneration. Feel free to buy more or ask your support for some extra if you need to.|
Will provide you with some extra stats and can be upgraded into Magic Wand easily. Can also be planted and consumed with Tango for extra regeneration when needed.|
Will provide you with some extra stats and can be upgraded into Wraith Band easily.|
That's everything to say about the starting items, let's discuss further the core items:
Grants movement speed and increases your attack damage. Make sure to use the phase active ability pretty much at all times!|
Great item to always have on most heroes, as it's going to be a lifesaver throughout the game. Gives you some emergency health and mana when needed, based on the available charges. This item will surely be bought by enemies as your Stifling Daggers will always give them free charges!|
Great item for control. Keeps your enemies in place and gives you a little bit of extra damage. Can later be upgraded to Abyssal Blade.|
Extra damage and armor reduction, what could be better for Phantom Assassin? This is one of the most iconic items on Mortred and it should be picked up in every situation!|
Black King Bar
Since you're weak against disables and magic damage, this is going to make your life much easier. You're going to be an almost unstoppable force when you have your magic immunity active, but beware because some heroes like Bane, Beastmaster and Batrider can still deal with you even when magic immune.|
That's all about the core items, let's move on to the luxury items that you're going to pick up based on match up and preference:
Boots of Travel
The highest movement speed you can get from any boots plus the ability to teleport to allied structures and units. This is great since you can be where and when your team needs you. Be creative and map aware, because Boots of Travel enables you to have a greater dominance and presence over the map.|
One of the best agility items in the game, the Butterfly offers agility, damage, attack speed and even more evasion for Phantom Assassin. Very strong item that has a win rate of over 75% when picked up by Mortred!|
The best item to keep enemies under control, you will have the chance to stun your target per attack while you also have the possibility to use the active ability to keep your target stunned. Great pick against heroes like Anti-Mage and Queen of Pain.|
More stats, attack speed and movement speed! A good pick whenever you need some extra pushing power and when you're against silences. The active ability of Manta Style removes most silences like Orchid Malevolence, strong pick!|
More damage, armor and health regeneration, everything that Phantom Assassin needs! It will greatly increase your damage output while making you more durable, but even better, it will grant you an active ability that dispels and slows the target you use it on, very powerful active.|
If you're having a hard time staying alive in fights, one of the best and most expensive options is Satanic. It will increase your damage, health and life steal greatly. Activating Satanic will grant you 200% life steal, meaning that a critical strike of 1.000 for instance would heal you for 2.000 health, amazing!|
If you're confident and all your other items are ready, feel brave and pick up a Divine Rapier. It will tremendously increase your damage output and it will make your critical strikes one shot almost everyone. It also grants true strike, meaning your attacks will never miss. Be careful and sure of this pick up, because losing it might turn the game around against your team!|
Eye of Skadi
With a win rate of over 75%, the Eye of Skadi is a very strong item that greatly boosts your stats, health and mana. Great item when you need more durability and some extra way to slow your enemies.|
Damage, regeneration, and most importantly cleave that will greatly increase the speed of your farm. Also, great against multiple stacked enemy heroes, the cleave crits will be devastating! Good against heroes such as Meepo and Phantom Lancer.|
In the early game, no matter if you're choosing to go mid or safe lane, your main objective is to farm as much as possible and to survive. If you're going to get killed, you're going to lose a lot of time when you could've been farming and getting experience, or simply gaining passive gold from staying alive. It's a very important aspect to stay alive even if you're not able to greatly farm or gain experience, because the passive gold gathered is better than losing it all when getting killed.
If you're having a hard time, try to stay safe and farm using your Stifling Dagger
. Time your Stifling Dagger
with your allied creeps attacks, getting the right timing is important since you won't want to be using your mana on missing last hits. Be careful, practice, do your best and farm them all!
Since you got both a slow and a mean of getting to your enemies, you can play aggressive if you have a support to do so. If your enemy laner is getting out of position, call on to your support and try to setup a kill. Use Stifling Dagger
to slow your target and deal some nice starting damage and attack as much as possible. Once your target starts getting away, use your Phantom Strike
to get close in order to catch up and finish off the target. In case the scenario is otherwise and you're getting chased, don't forget that you can use Phantom Strike
as a way to retreat since you can use it to blink to your allied creeps and heroes.
Since you're going to have one point in Blur
starting with level 4, you're going to be able to efficiently trade attacks with the enemy laner since you're going to surely hit and deal damage while they are most probably going to miss a good amount of their attacks. Use this to your advantage and harass as much as possible! If you're not having problems farming, you can use your Stifling Dagger
to chip off your target slowly until they are low enough for you to jump in with Phantom Strike
and get the kill.
Once you've reached level 6 and you got a point in Coup de Grace
, the real fun begins! You're going to be dealing great amounts of damage so early in the game whenever a critical strike happens that any single target is going to be in danger when engaged by you. Make sure to take advantage of your great physical damage when dealing with heroes with low armor. Most of the time in the early stages you're going to focus on the lonely supports that are easy to take down, but beware since they're going to be the ones with the disables, don't blink in a fight if you're not sure you can get the kill and fall back safely!
Even if you have a strong kill potential, make sure to use your time efficiently and to not waste it. Some players tend to roam the map once their ultimate is ready in order to find kills, but in most cases they are not gaining as much farm and experience as they should have. Focus on your lane and forest and get some of your core items before moving around the map! Make sure to not waste time, if you've tried to kill an enemy hero around the map and it wasn't successful, farm the nearby creeps or neutrals in order to make up for the time you've invested in trying to get the kill. Make sure to do so safely!
Since Phantom Assassin
is the strongest in the early stages due to her enemies not having much armor, it is best to get your core items quickly, especially your Desolator
which will help you melt your enemies. Having a tough start and not farming efficiently will reduce your potential and make the rest of the game more difficult, be careful and remember not to die!
As the game progresses and you get more items, you're going to be the number one threat to your enemies and they'll do everything that they can to take you down before you're able to deal your damage. Make sure to play smart and not give your enemies free kills. Stay around your team and don't be the one to go in first when the enemies are together. Your strongest ability is to take down enemies quickly so make sure in later fights to focus the most high value hero of your enemy team. In some cases, it's better to take down quickly the hero that deals the most damage out of the enemy team, but some times a simple support can be the highest threat due to their abilities ( Winter Wyvern
for her Winter's Curse
, for instance).
There are going to be scenarios when the enemy team has stronger team fight and you won't be able to properly fight them. In this case, you're going to have to focus on getting kills on enemy heroes that are alone or out of position. See a lonely support on the map? Kill him and then fight. The enemy carry is split pushing? Smoke and get him killed before initiating on the enemy team. Having the numeric advantage is important and playing smart based on circumstances is important. This can also be used for objectives, once you've gotten a kill or two and your team is alive, you can get towers or Roshan.
Talking about objectives, I've mentioned this in almost all of my guides, once you've successfully won a fight it's crucial to do something with the time when the enemies are dead! Get towers, barracks, Roshan, remove the enemy wards and place your own, use the time you have as much as possible to gain even more advantage from winning the fight! Time and timing is everything in DotA!
Play, practice and learn from every match, don't play a single match without thinking what could've been done better!
Thank you for reading!
Thank you for reading my guide!
Thanks you for reading and please let me know what if you have any question or suggestion!
I hope you've enjoyed my fifth guide and I'll make sure to keep this guide updated as soon as the patches are released.
Good luck and have fun criting!