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17 Votes

Grim's Guide to Night Stalker

November 6, 2014 by ashwinthegrim
Comments: 12    |    Views: 90220    |   

Mid lane Bottle build

DotA2 Hero: Night Stalker

Hero Skills


1 3 5 7

Crippling Fear

2 12 13 14

Hunter in the Night

4 6 8 9

Dark Ascension

10 11 16


15 17 18


Hello fellas!

This is a guide to Night Stalker, a really fun hero to play once you get the hang of him. He is a really dynamic hero that gets a lot done in the early/mid game, so if you are a good Night Stalker, you will make tons of space for your carry, and give your team a solid lead in the game.

With the recent patches, I feel that this hero has dropped out of flavor, when several changes benefit him greatly, in fact. Since there aren't many guides that are up to date on Night Stalker, I thought I might make one, since he's one of my favorite mid heroes to play.

As his name suggests, Night Stalker is a totally different hero during night time, so playing this hero requires you to keep track of what time it is, when to gank aggressively, when to farm passively, and when to use your ultimate.

Night Stalker is primarily an early to mid game ganker that can really shut down your enemy team's early game. The idea with playing Night Stalker is to set your enemy on the backfoot via constant ganks, so your carry can pull ahead of the enemy carry, which will help you win mid and late game fights. When played properly, Night Stalker himself can snowball into a semi-carry during the late game, but your effectiveness will start falling off at about the 40-45 minute mark against other decently farmed carries.


Night Stalker's skill set is designed around making him effective at night - all 3 of your non-ultimate skills are extremely potent during nighttime, and your ultimate lengthens the nighttime.


This is your only nuke. With a relatively low mana cost and pretty low cooldown, it is spammable. During your early game, you can use this to last hit creeps. Feel free to spam it to get creeps so you can get your bottle really quick.

Void is a great asset during your ganks. It deals a significant amount of damage (335 at level 4), and slows the enemy by 50% for 4 seconds at night. This slow, combined with your passive, will let you chase like crazy, and secure kills easily.

The most important aspect of Void is that it mini-stuns, so you can use it to interrupt TPs and other channeling abilities. One of the huge factors that separate good Night Stalker players from bad ones is how, and when they choose to use Void. Before picking your target to gank, always check their inventory to see if they are carrying a TP scroll. If they are, DO NOT initiate with Void. The cooldown is more than enough time for the enemy to TP out. In this case, you should be running at them, and smacking them until they panic TP, and then use your Void to cancel the TP. However, if they do not have a TP, feel free to initiate with Void, and start smacking them. If it takes you more than 8 seconds to finish the enemy off, you'll have another Void to nuke them with.

I cannot stress this enough, always check the enemy's inventory before you go on a gank. If they have a TP, do not Void until they try to TP out.

Crippling Fear

This is a great silence to stop pesky supports from interfering with your gank or trying to save their teammates. Depending on the enemy team's composition, you might want to take an early point in it. During the daytime, the duration is a negligible 3 seconds, but at night time, it can devastate spell reliant heroes. At 8 seconds, it is one of the longest silences in the game, and can completely turn ganks/teamfights.

Here are a couple of scenarios on how to use Crippling Fear.

1. You are ganking the dire safe lane carry, where the enemy carry is farming with a Dazzle supporting him in lane. As usual, check for TP scrolls, and if there are none, initiate on the enemy carry with a Void to slow him down. Start chasing him, and as you are chasing him, cast Crippling Fear on the Dazzle. There goes his chances of casting Poison Touch on you (to slow down and possibly mess up your gank), or Shallow Grave to save his carry or even cast a Shadow Wave to buy an extra couple of seconds for his carry. This will give you an open window to get the kill on the safe lane carry.

TL;DR: When ganking, use your Crippling Fear on heroes that might interrupt your gank. In most cases, these will be supports - Dazzle, Shadow Demon, Shadow Shaman, Skywrath Mage, etc.

2. There is a teamfight breaking out near the Roshan pit. The enemy Tidehunter blinks into your team. If you manage to get your Crippling Fear off on him, that's a teamfight you have pretty much turned in your favor. You have not only saved your entire team from a potential Ravage, but now, that Tidehunter is a sitting duck in the middle of your team, and he doesn't even have Anchor Smash to save his life. Suddenly this fight has turned into a 5v4 for your team.

When the teamfight is ending, make sure you use it on heroes that can assist their teammates on getting away. When the enemy is disengaging after a lost teamfight, use it on their Chen to stop him from sending his carry back to base with Test of Faith or using a Hand of God.

TL;DR: During teamfights, use your Crippling Fear wisely - use it on big teamfight initiators at the start - Tidehunter's Ravage, Brewmaster's Primal Split, Enigma's Black Hole, Centaur Warrunner 's Hoof Stomp are all good examples.

Hunter in the Night

This is your only passive, and it gives you steroids during night time. When maxed, you get a 35% move speed and a 75 attack speed boost during night time. This will allow you to run across the map insanely fast, chase like no other, and get easy kills early game.

With Night Stalker's decent base armor, and with 2.25 agi growth, you'll have enough armor to tower dive to get kills during the early game. As a Night Stalker, this is your job. As soon as night time hits, you should be on the lookout for possible lone heroes that you can kill off.


Your ultimate doesn't directly give you any bonus, but it gives you nighttime-on-demand, which greatly benefits your other 3 abilities.

The way Darkness works is that, it pauses the current time for the duration of Darkness, and resumes the current time when it is over. As a result, it is ideal to use this right as night time sets in, so you prolong the night time significantly. Additionally, by using Darkness as soon as night time hits, you will have enough time for it to cooldown before the nighttime ends, allowing you to use it once again, getting even more duration for the night out of it.

I wouldn't recommend using it during daytime, because although you get the duration of night time from Darkness, the day resumes immediately after, which doesn't give you a continuous chunk of nighttime, which can be a great asset.

What Night Stalker is, and what Night Stalker isn't (Pros/Cons)

Before playing a hero, we need to be clear on what the hero can do, and what he cannot do. DotA is primarily a team-based game, so you need to know your role in the team, and play accordingly.

Night Stalker is an early game ganker.
As soon as the clock hits 4:00, if you are sitting in lane farming creeps, you are not playing Night Stalker right. The way I play Night Stalker, at about the 3:30 minute mark, I start pushing the creep wave towards the enemy tower. Once the enemy creep wave is down, I make my way towards one of the runes. Bottle up the rune, use it if needed (DD/Haste/Illusion are good examples), and start hunting. Run up to an enemy, decide if you should cast Void on him, then start smacking him. Use your silence on any supports, and get the kill on your target. If you think you can, you can get multiple kills early on.

I cannot stress this enough. As Night Stalker, it is second nature for you to tower dive. Of course, do not be suicidal in diving a tower when you are at about 150 hp, but in general, you should be ready to dive under the tower if you think you can get a kill.

Night Stalker is extremely strong during night time.
Especially during the early game, when enemy heroes are not farmed, you can take 1v2 and possibly 1v3 fights on your own. Know your strengths, and use them. The night is your ally. You are strongest during this time. Use it to your benefit. You should be getting at least 1-2 kills everytime night hits, at least during the early mid game.

Night Stalker is pretty weak during day.
Without his attack speed boosting steroid, Night Stalker's attack speed isn't something to boast about. Consequently, as daytime comes around, don't play as aggressively as you played during the night. This is the perfect opportunity to get back to base if you have to, farm lanes to get some creep gold, and build up your items in general.

However, this doesn't mean Night Stalker is useless during daytime. He is a decent right clicker, and his skills still work. They just aren't as powerful as they are during night. So, make sure you understand how strong you are during each phase of the game, and play accordingly.

Night Stalker can snowball into a semi-carry.
If you have a good early game, and solid mid game where you were constantly ganking, and your team was winning teamfights, and getting towers, you can snowball into a semi-carry. Once you have your Bottle, Phase Boots and Urn of Shadows, you can start picking up a Skull Basher and build it into an Abyssal Blade. This will give you a BKB-piercing lockdown on an enemy hero (most likely their carry). After this build up into a Heart of Tarrasque for even more sustain.

NOTE: You might want to pick up a Black King Bar depending on the enemy team. The reason I mention BKB as situational in pretty much all my posts is that, there are often times when the enemy team only has BKB piercing abilities, where the BKB really won't do much for you. In this case, you are better off not getting it.

Night Stalker is NOT a farming hero.
For the love of god, do NOT sit in lane during night time. I've seen several games lost by Night Stalker players simply because they just farmed creeps day and night. This isn't how you play the hero. For you, the only farming time is day time, which should be negligible if you use your Darkness properly.

Night Stalker should use Darkness as often as he can.
This is another pet peeve of mine that I've noticed several times. Night Stalker players not using Darkness during night time when it's off cooldown bothers me to the extreme. You are literally getting 80 seconds worth of "OP mode". Why wouldn't you use it?

Here's a thumb rule: If night time hits, and Darkness is off cooldown, use it. Period.

However, I'm not saying that Darkness should never be used during daytime. There are exceptions. If you sense a teamfight breaking out, use Darkness even if it's daytime to give you an edge during the fight. If you almost have a kill on an enemy hero during daytime, but just need that extra oomph to get it, use it during daytime, especially if said hero is a core.

Where should I lane? How should I play Night Stalker effectively?

Ideally, Night Stalker should be laning mid. This allows him to rush a Bottle, which is instrumental in ganks. Being a strength hero, Night Stalker doesn't enjoy the biggest mana pool, so constantly getting runes to refill your bottle is a godsend. With the new changes to the way runes work, it benefits Night Stalker even more since he is guaranteed a rune every 2 minutes.

When the game starts, start by picking up a set of Tangoes, two Gauntlets of Strength and an optional Healing Salve (I usually skip the salve to rush my Bottle). The two gauntlets should give you enough last hitting power, use Tangoes to stay in lane until you can get your Bottle. I won't stress about general mid lane tactics such as creep blocking, drawing creep aggro by A-clicking your enemy, etc, but I'll assume you know them. If not, google them up. As the first creeps meet each other, go for last hits to get gold. You can occasionally use Void to get a last hit if needed. This should get you a fast Bottle. Ideally, you should have the Bottle by 3 minutes. This might be delayed depending on your last hitting abilities and the harassing your enemy puts out on you. Once you have a Bottle, Boots of Speed are next on the agenda. Depending on the game, you might be able to pick these up before the first night time, or during. Regardless, once you have the Bottle, stay in lane until 3:30. At this time, push the lane out (this means, don't go for last hits alone, attack the enemy creeps in between last hits, so you push your creeps towards the enemy tower). At 4:00 your prime time has begun.

Decide where you want to find a gank. Solitary junglers, stacking supports, lanes that are pushed far out into your side are good indications of potential ganks. Once you have your target, make your way to it, use your Void appropriately (depending on TP availability), and get the kill. It shouldn't be hard getting a solo kill with a Night Stalker during night time at 4 minutes into the game. Watch out for supports that can screw you up, and silence them with Crippling Fear. Once you have the kill, you should have enough gold for Boots of Speed (if you don't already have them). Pick them up at the side shop. The night time lasts until 8:00, so keep looking out for potential targets to gank. Kill them, get gold, repeat. Killing enemies with Night Stalker is pretty straight forward, so I won't go into the details. Void them as needed, and just right click them to death. By the end of the first night, you should have your Urn of Shadows and Phase Boots completed if you have a good time. If not, you might be able to complete either one of those.

As daytime hits, play more passively. Go back to your lane and farm. If your team is pushing a tower, join forces with them and push. Farm neutrals. Wait for the next night, in general. By this time, you should have your Darkness. Ideally, when the second night time hits, you should have 1-2 levels in Darkness. As soon as the second night time hits, activate Darkness. Repeat what you did during the first night.

Item Choices


A great item for mana hungry heroes, this allows you to move from lane to lane killing heroes without returning to base. Your Void and Crippling Fear use quite a bit of mana, so having a Bottle and filling it with runes will allow you to have great presence in the game during the early/mid game.

The Bottle also doubles up as a reservoir for runes that you can use on ganks. See that juicy Rune of Double Damage, Bottle it up to get a free refill, activate it when you get close to your enemy and get the most out of the rune duration.

Urn of Shadows

Solid pick up for any ganking hero - it gains a charge whenever an enemy hero dies in a 1400 AoE. You can then use the charge either to heal yourself (or teammates) for 450 HP, or deal 150 damage to an enemy hero over 8 seconds. If you see an enemy hero running away on low HP, and it is too risky to chase them, throw an urn charge on them, and they'll burn to death. Especially early game gankers like Night Stalker and Pudge benefit a lot out of this item.

It even builds up from the two Gauntlets of Strength that you bought at the start, so nothing wasted either.

Phase Boots

This is an arguable choice. There are people that prefer Power Treads, and there are people that prefer Phase Boots. I'm a strong advocate of Phase Boots. With your movement boosting steroid at night, Phase Boots will allow you close the distance with an enemy hero a lot faster. This will help you in getting a lot more kills than the utility that Power Treads give you. Moreover, with the Bottle, you can afford the luxury of casting spells without having to tread swap, so the major upside of Power Treads is nullified.

Optional Orb of Venom

This can be a value pick up during the early game, since it provides a 12% movement slow on top of the slow from Void, which would provide even more chasing capabilities.

In my opinion, this completes your core items. Once you have Bottle, Urn of Shadows and Phase Boots, your ganking potential is insane. Anything you pick up after this would be icing on the cake.

Skull Basher

This item allows Night Stalker to have more than one way to interrupt teleports. With a 25% chance to proc a stun, your attack speed during night time will allow you to get multiple bashes on an enemy hero during a gank, so you can probably initiate with a Void at this point to benefit from the slow.

Abyssal Blade

A great upgrade to the Skull Basher, this item gives you a reliable lockdown on an enemy hero. Note that the active, Overwhelm goes through magic immunity so you can lockdown BKB'd heroes. This gives Night Stalker even more presence during teamfights, when you can keep their carry contained during their BKB.

Heart of Tarrasque

Once late game hits, you can pick up a Heart of Tarrasque for the massive boost to HP, and the damage it gives you. This will allow you to stay in fights without having to run back to base. It also makes you significantly tankier, so you should be able to eat more abuse during teamfights without having to back up.

Black King Bar

This is a situational item that can prove to be of great use during the mid game. In most cases, you would want to pick one up right after you have your Skull Basher. This item allows you to run freely during teamfights dishing out your kit without having to worry about being locked down (except for certain abilities that go through BKB, anyway).

Armlet of Mordiggian

This is an optional item that is usually picked up after Bottle, Urn of Shadows and boots of your choice. This item is usually built in combination with a Helm of the Dominator. Activating the armlet gives you a significant boost to your DPS allowing you to take down enemy heroes faster while the life steal from your helm counteracts the life drain. Moreover, the two items combined give you a hefty boost to your armor, making you even tankier.

However, I prefer not building this item, as it is a heavily mid game oriented item that falls off late game. With your already strong presence during the early and mid game, you are better off building up towards the late game, in my opinion. But, different strokes for different folks, so feel free to try it out if you want to.

Beyond this point, if the game still drags on, and you have gold, build items that go with the tone of the game. DotA is a dynamic game; there aren't any fixed item choices. Decide what you need and itemize accordingly.

Is there a heavy right clicker on the enemy team? Go for a Heaven's Halberd.
Is the enemy team strong on physical damage? Build an Assault Cuirass to beef up your team.
Are you taking a lot of damage during fights? Pick up a Blade Mail and teach them a lesson.
Do they have a Phantom Assassin or Butterfly carriers? Go into a Monkey King Bar to nullify their evasion.
Is your team significantly right click oriented? Boost them with a Vladmir's Offering.

Highly Situational

Aghanim's Scepter
I'm not a fan of the scepter upgrade to Night Stalker, so I wouldn't recommend picking it up, in general. But there are cases where it might prove useful, so I've put it down as highly situational.

This item has a novel upgrade to Night Stalker's kit. If he has at least a point in Darkness, the Aghanim's Scepter gives Night Stalker unobstructed night vision. This means, you can gain vision of high ground from low ground, gain vision across cliffs, gain vision through trees, it pretty much nullifies fog of war.

However, is it worth 4200 gold? It's arguable. There might be cases when your enemy is so good that you get juked through fog like no tomorrow. You might want to pick up a scepter. There are heroes that are highly mobile and abuse fog, and you want to get vision on them, so your team's initiators can do their work. You might want to pick up a scepter. These are a couple of scenarios in which it might be a good choice, but in general, I feel that it's a waste of 4200 gold.


As Night Stalker, your primary duty during early and mid game is to gank. Knowing which heroes on your team can help you will result in a much higher success rate. Although Night Stalker is primarily a solo ganker, having a support that can lend a hand is definitely useful.

Here are some heroes that can help you out quite a bit during ganks.

Offensive Supports:

Do you notice the common trait among those heroes? They all have a reliable stun. Any hero that can lock an enemy in place for you during night time pretty much got you a free kill.

Defensive Supports:

As though you weren't afraid to tower dive already, these supports will give you even more incentive to do so. With spells like Aphotic Shield, Repel and Living Armor on you, you can go completely ham on the enemy team during night time.

Troll mode!

Have this guy stick an Ion Shell on you during night time, and start chasing enemy heroes!!!

Coming to Foes, Night Stalker doesn't have a strong lane presence, so any offensive mid hero will crush you. Thankfully, you are like a Pudge in the sense that, even though you might lose your lane, if you can pull off a few successful ganks, you can transition well, and have an impact on the game.

However, be careful when dealing with aggressive, harass heavy mid laners. Here are a list of heroes that can make the first 3 minutes a living hell for you.

This is a very rare occurrence but some teams can put Bane mid. The thing with this hero is that, Bane is a nightmare (excuse the pun) to pretty much any right clicker. His Enfeeble will make sure that you do not get a single last hit without using Void. This inevitably delays your Bottle. Since Night Stalker is a highly timing-dependent hero, getting your items delayed can be devastating. Without an early Bottle, your early game ganks are disrupted, giving the enemy heroes time to get strong, by which time, your ability to get kills easily is severely weakened.

Panda beats any melee hero in mid, and Night Stalker is no exception. You walk up to get a last hit, his Thunder Clap hits hard on you. He can Drunken Haze you to make you miss, which hurts your CS. Since he is a tanky hero, you cannot zone him out of the lane with your Void spam, and he can get a Bottle earlier than you can, making him trade harass more effectively than you can.

Low cooldown Crypt Swarm (boosted by Witchcraft) combined with a 600 range auto attack can harass you out of lane pretty easily. Play defensive, take an early point in Crippling Fear and use it to stop her from casting Crypt Swarm as you move in for last hits.

This guy is a pain to lane against for pretty much any hero. His Berserker's Blood + Burning Spear simply cannot be contested early game. Thankfully, it's damage over time, so carry an extra set of Tangoes until you get your Bottle. Again, play defensive until you get your Bottle, and you should be fine.

Another decently hard hero to lane against. Early game Forge Spirits can harass you very well, and if you are low enough, Forge Spirits + Cold Snap is more than enough for him to get a kill on you. However, Invoker himself doesn't have strong right click until later on, so you should be able to get a reasonably timed Bottle.

Outworld Devourer
While Outworld Devourer cannot kill you outright in lane, he can make sure that you get no CS. Between Astral Imprisonment and his higher base damage (thanks to the int steal from Astral), he can deny you every single creep. Again, this delays your Bottle, which means your early game is less effective.

Another tough match up for any right click hero, Razor can steal your damage via Static Link and return it to you. Between this and Plasma Field, it can be tricky getting CS against him, but it isn't the hardest lane.

Really hard hero to lane against. Viper can harass you out of lane, and potentially get first blood with orb walking and Nethertoxin if you play careless enough. Play very defensive until you get your [[Bottle].


So, that's it. My guide to Night Stalker.

As usual, I'm looking forward to comments, criticism and input. If there's something that I missed out, let me know and I'll add it in.

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