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20 Votes

It's A Good Thing Arnold Schwarzenegger Isn't A Playable DotA Hero | A DibsMid Guide

September 2, 2012 by DibsMid
Comments: 18    |    Views: 58056    |   

Build 1
Build 2

Gank-tastic Setup

DotA2 Hero: Night Stalker

Hero Skills

Heart of Darkness (Innate)


1 3 5 7

Crippling Fear

10 12 13 14

Hunter in the Night

2 4 6 9

Dark Ascension

8 11 16


15 17 18

It's A Good Thing Arnold Schwarzenegger Isn't A Playable DotA Hero | A DibsMid Guide

September 2, 2012


artwork by Adam Beamish

Before we begin, this is a guide that specifically focuses on playing in a solo middle lane. These are my personal builds that I have used in pub matches and know they work from experience, but they are only pubs. It might work for higher levels of play, but I wouldn't know. So here is my guide to my favorite strength hero Balanar, the Night Stalker

Hero Introduction

Hero Intro
Balanar name should be changed from "Night Staker" to "Night ****sEveryoneUp-er". He is one of those heroes that has the honor of being deemed a "pub-stomper" by those who have faced a competent Night Stalker player. In my opinion he is the strongest early game ganker in the game. Once the first night hits and if the enemy team isn't turtling, then they are already feeding you and they don't even know it yet. Even if they are turtling, you still may have opportunities to get kills on them. This will require more teamwork and smart plays though to achieve kills, yet the smarter move may be to let them sit back and lose out on the gold and experience. Turtling is when the enemy heroes in lane stay next to their tower no matter where the creep wave is, so they can remain safe (from you).


+ Extremely strong early ganker

+ Has a slow and a silence

+ Has a strong low cooldown nuke

+ With good rune control has no mana problems

+ Not item dependent (except for a few items required before first night)

+ Extremely high starting armor (good lane staying power)

Cons and Solutions

Problem: Dependent on Day and Night Cycle

Solution: Make it Night

Problem: Not the strongest late game hero
Solution: End the game before the late game

Problem: Too good of a hero
Solution: Play worse

Problem: You can get over confident playing as him
Solution: Don't bite off more than you can chew

Problem: Hard getting core items before first night laning against a strong ranged hero ( Invoker, Tinker)
Solution: Get better at lane control and last hitting


This is what brings home the bacon, always max this out first. A nuke that has a short cooldown on it and slows the enemy down. The duration is longer at night than it is during the day, but will always deal the same amount of damage. Depending on the situtation, you may use it on the target hero to secure the kill or the other enemy to keep them from getting away. This should also be used in lane to harass, if you have bottle charges and are consistant at getting runes. It forces them to use their regen items or go back to base. If they don't do either of these, you've easily got a kill. Try never to waste the mana gotten from bottle charges. If you need some health and you have full mana, use a void or two before popping that bottle charge.

Crippling Fear
This is what makes blinkers and invisible heroes (other than that damn Broodmother) absolutely loathe you. At night, it is one of the longest silences in the game at 9 seconds. That is a lot of time for you to kill someone. A less important factor, but also underrated factor is that it adds a percent chance to miss attacks. This is great on a tanky target that may stay and attack instead of run away, saving you hp and making it so you don't have to go back to fountain nearly as much. When this is leveled depends on who you are laning against and the rest of the enemy team composition. If you are laning against a low hp intelligence hero, especially one with good CC, it's a good idea to get an early point into this. If there are invis heroes, blink heroes, or strong disable heroes that you will be ganking on, a single point in this at level two will be pretty much necessary.

Hunter in the Night
This is how you are everywhere at once on the first night. This lets you rune ***** way better, it lets you tower dive, it lets you gank top and bottom almost right after each other, it lets you smack a hoe that thinks they can run from you. This is how you dominate right off the bat at the first night.

The skill that makes Night Stalker feared even during the day. Instantly setting the sun, if that's not impressive I don't know what is. Although most new people to Balanar think it is just to change the night to the day, but a far more important function is to extend the night cycle. When this skill is used, it completely stops the timer on the day and night clock. To put it simply, use this every single chance you get during the night, because it makes the night much, MUCH longer. When it is getting close to daytime, preferrably save it until you get a gauge of the time left till day and the cooldown on the ulti and to be able to coordinate them. During the day, use this skill only when a kill is guaranteed, if and only if you use this skill. Another time to save it would for a big teamfight. That silence goes a long way on a strong enemy disabler. When you decide to get this is up to you. Sometimes getting it early is better to keep your reign of terror last longer. Usually when you are absolutely dominating early game you do this, as you don't need those extra points into Hunter in the Night just yet. Otherwise put it off and max out Hunter in the Night first, as those early kills are more important than keeping the night longer.

Gameplay Introduction

The game of DOTA is very complex and with every game the way you play should be different, depending on the composition of your team and the enemy team. This guide is to give you an idea of how to play the hero and a tool to start from, but not a set in stone way to play the hero every time.

Important Disclaimer: Balanar is a ROAMING HERO, once the first night hits, you are playing badly and wrong if you are staying in lane and farming

The name of the game for Night Stalker is ganking. Gank gank gank. The only time you should be in lane is if the enemy team is hardcore turtling there is absolutely zero chance for a gank. If this is the case, then you are doing your job as a Night Stalker by inspiring fear in them. Your team is winning the lanes, getting free gold and experience while denying it from the team. For the possibility of the enemy team to be turtling and getting farm in the safe lane, they must be pulling. Ward that camp, wait for the hero to come along and pull, there are opportunities for gankage all over the place. I do understand in public matches that not everyone on your team will have good lane control, or know how to double stack pull. This makes turtling more effective for the other team and makes you have a ****ty nighttime.

Early and Mid game Balanar uses a simple three step process.

  1. Use trickery and smarts to fool your opponents
  2. Gank
  3. Kill everyone and get fed

Using a combination of your insane speed, the runes, and TP scrolls, you can completely fool the enemy team to make them think they know where your going, who you are trying to gank, and when you will be there. Use the vision of creeps and enemy wards if you know they have them to give away your position. Run around out of vision toward the opposite target and operate a gank with surgical precision.

Story Time: You are on the Dire side. You are in the mid lane and night hits, so you decide to go gank the top lane because they have pushed too far forward and you want to eat their faces. As you are running by the rune spot, the enemy team makes a mad dash for their own tower. So now you know they have that warded. So you decide to commit, and cause a little damage before running back into the river, past the same ward and into the middle lane for a couple last hits,. They feel they are safe since you are in the middle lane and they push again. So now you run past the rune spot again and get spotted, and they begin to run back toward their tower. You now gave your teammates a safe environment to farm up, and instead of following the river you go into your forest near the tower. As soon as you get out of vision of the Observer Ward you TP to the bottom lane, making sure not to be seen by the enemy creeps. The enemy has been stacking and pulling so your creep wave is pressed toward the tower and you wait in the jungle and coordinate with your team to gank. THUD!! BIFF!! KAPOW!!! ....... DOUBLE KILL!!

*One Final note, To be the fear of the night you are supposed to be, you MUST control the runes. No if ands or buts. GET THAT RUNE EVERY 2 MINUTES. It won't be hard at night with that speed of your. During the day rune conrol is less important since you won't be using your skills so often. Without rune control you will:
  1. Have to return to base (and miss out on ganking opportunities, I don't think so)
  2. Constantly be running on low mana (making your ganks suck)
  3. Tower diving will almost always be an automatic return to base
  4. Less pressure on the other team, which means less lane domination for your team
  5. Miss out on the DD rune? No way. Get those runes.

These are the runes and their benefit to Night Stalker

This makes you even faster, not like you really need the speed, but who is gonna complain. This is a very effective rune to have bottled since it can be used in a multitude of situations. The main benefit is you gain incredible chasing power and makes you a tower diving machine. Pop this off with low health heroes that just barely get away and they will be toast in no time. This is also a great tool for faking out the enemy team in a similar way the story above describes, only without using a TP scroll. The third is for a miraculous escape. You get in a sticky situation and you get stunned under the tower, taking too much tower damage. Pop the haste and GTFO. It is also a very good rune to gank the middle lane by yourself, since diving the tower is pretty much going to happen.

Never a bad rune for anyone, when you have this abuse your skills and tower diving abilities, then use the regen and its like nothing ever happened, except for a kill or two. Just make sure you survive long enough to be able to use this, and watch out for DOT (damage over time) spells ( Queen of Pain's Shadow Strike, Axe's Battle Hunger) when at low health because it will deactivate the regen rune as soon as you take damage.

Great for setting up ganks. It also lets you bypass and wards you know the enemy team has set up to catch them completely off guard. Make sure to use this rune out of sight of any wards or creeps to make sure they don't see you go invisible, and give you the most surprise on the attack. Also can be used the case where you get caught over extending and are low on health and about to die. Basically a single use Shadow Blade.

Double Damage
My favorite rune. Since you already deal a high amount of damage with your right click early on, this rune just make you silly strong. Use it when starting a gank and try to fit at least two ganks into its duration. This is an extremely powerful rune to use on a squishy mid hero, since you cut through them like butter.

Better than most people think it is. Always good for scouting runes, but is an effective ganking tool when used intelligently. My favorite strategy is to use it in the mid lane and make it look as if the 2 minute cooldown on the bottle was up. Then pretend to clumsily leave two illusions behind you as you attack creeps. One of those illusions is you though, and the one attacking creeps is your illusion. Then send this illusion on a fake gank towards one of the lanes, making the mid hero think he is now safe. As soon as he over extends just the slightest amount, make him feel stupid. There are many ways you can fool the enemy hero into thinking you are an illusion, so test out different ways. Another tactic that is really hard and takes quite a bit of skill and micro is surrounding a hero with creeps and your illusions, that hero is a dead man walking.

Starting Out

Always block the creeps. Lane control is necessary with Night Stalker, especially when facing off against a ranged mid hero. That 30% miss chance is such a strong advantage for last hitting, denying, and lane staying power.

The Gauntlets of Strength will give you last hitting power, an HP boost, and will be used to make your Urn of Shadows. Iron Branches for more last hitting and for a general stat boost. Then your basic regen with a set of Tangos and a Healing Salve. I never stray from this initial starting build.

Some people like to include a Quelling Blade in their starting item build for better last hitting. I believe that it is completely unneeded in pub games on him, as you have more than enough last hitting power already. Getting a Quelling Blade will only make your last hitting sloppier on him and other characters. If you just improve your last hitting you will be much better off.

Early Game

>> >> >>

NEVER leave the lane until you have your Bottle and Boots of Speed. Well, almost never. Just don't do it unless there seems to be an extenutating circumstance and it is imperative you leave.

Bottle is absolutely essential, get this as fast as you can. This will give you an edge against ranged heroes as their harass will be insignificant. This in conjunction with grabbing the runes consistently will keep you in lane to get your boots, and if you are lucky your urn before the first night.

Boots of Speed
The boots of speed are also a required item before the first night as you will need the speed to gank effectively, and to dive towers if need be.

Urn of Shadows
With constant ganking and constant kills, you will be able to rack up Urn charges, keeping you out and ganking more without having to go back to base. It is far more useful to use on yourself or a teammate to heal, but if an enemy hero is almost dead and you think he will get away, throw a charge on him to insure the kill. Remember that you get 2 charges for an enemy death when the urn is empty, so don't be afraid to use those charges.

Phase Boots
The Phase Boots added to your already insane movement speed at night will keep transit time down and ganks aplenty. They are also helpful for getting around during the day since you are pretty slow then.

Power Treads
Power Treads are always an option on him but if you are doing a decent job getting runes, the stat boost to strength isn't as necessary.

Before the first night, all you do is farm up your Bottle and boots. Do not get forced out of your lane by harass. Be careful if you are low on regen items and the enemy is laying down good harass on you. Using Void to pick up some last hits isn't a bad idea in a situation where you don't think you will make it to your boots and bottle on time. If it turns night and you don't have your boots yet (you should without a doubt have a bottle), you can attempt a gank and buy your boots at a side shop instead of waiting for the courier to bring them to you.

Night means GANK. In between ganks, do not sit in lane for more than a couple seconds to grab some CS (creep score, i.e. last hits) and let the enemy team know where you are. Then drop off the radar and go gank some more. Prioritize your ganks, aiming for shutting down the hard carry as much as possible, yet not neglecting the other lanes and becoming predictable. Being unpredictable is what keeps your enemies confused and scared. Also think about who your allies in lane are, a lane with a Lion and a skeleton king will be much easier to gank in than a lane with a solo Lone Druid or solo Broodmother.

Instill a fear into you enemies, make them scared to leave the safety of the tower. Night stalker is a good hero when farmed, but it is better if you get less kills and win both the side lanes for your team. Take kills from supports and leave kills for your harder carries. This is not always true but in pub matches it is almost always the case to do this.

Mid Game

Most all items after the mid game are situational items, yet there are some that are far more beneficial than others
Black King Bar
BKB is easily one of the best items in the game due to its active magic immunity ability. The bonus to your strength and damage are good too, but being able to run through most disables takes your killing power to another level. It gives you stronger ganking power, team fighting power, and an escape mechanism if ever caught off guard. If you get heavily fed in the early game you will be a priority target and will get focused by a good team, and BKB makes you incredibly hard to get focused.
Skull Basher
This item adds a good amount of damage and a little bit of strength, and has a 25% chance to bash. A good fun item for when you are dominating pub games, but not for most games which have two evenly matched teams. If you have very little disables on your team, getting this item to upgrade it to an Abyssal Blade for its 2 second disable may not be a bad idea (this stun from Abyssal Blade will go through magic immunity). This is expensive though and other items are probably of greater use to you.
Armlet of Mordiggian
This gives Night Stalker all the things he needs to be a better ganker. Extra Damage, Armor, Attack Speed, and HP regen. But the best part of this item is the active. When the active is used, is basically a free Reaver. You get an insane 25 bonus strength, 31 bonus damage, and a little extra 10 bonus attack speed, all for only 2600 gold. If it seems too good to be true, it's because it is. When active, it will drain 37 HP per second, and must be used carefully. It also adds another button to think about pressing, so for beginners it's not recommmended. This pairs very well with a lifesteal though, as the lost HP is regenerated by attacking.
Helm of the Dominator
This is at item I only get if I am going for Armlet AND am planning on getting a Satanic, which is only if I am required to be the hard carry. The lifesteal is what it is gotten for, but the damage and armor bonus are nice.
Vladmir's Offering
A much better lifesteal item if you are planning on getting one for Night Stalker. The aura is very, VERY good for your team. The bonus armor aura helps in early team fights, boosting the survivability of everyone. The lifesteal aura is great for a team that is heavy on the melee heroes. The bonus mana regen aura is very not that helpful on a Night Stalker for your team since he will be roaming, not staying in a lane to constantly be giving the aura. The greatest aura for late game is the 15% damage increase aura. It is not that noticeable in the earlier stages of the game because a 15% increase to your damage isn't that much, but once you have levels and high damage stats, that 15% is very significant, making you better for your teammates in the later stages of the where your skills are not nearly as effective. This I would say is core on a late game support Night Stalker, unless someone on your team already has one.
You get good survivability from this item. This is an item that should be gotten if you are having a hard time surviving, and your farm throughout the early game was not that decent. This is a very safe item to get, and a great item for newer players. In my personal opinion is not needed if you are a smart player and know your way around the game.
Aghanim's Scepter
A very unique effect is given by Scepter, it gives Night Stalker complete unobstructed vision during the night. So when you and your team couldn't normally see because of trees or changes in elevation, now you can. Why is this good you ask? It is near impossible for you or anyone with you to get ganked due to the fact you are a giant ward. It makes ganking other heroes much easier too, and makes it impossible for them to juke in the trees. This is a fantastic item for a Support Night Stalker IF there is strong team play and you are not the designated carry. It is infamous for being the "legal map hack"

During the mid game your goal is still to gank lone heroes, especially the carries you shut down that are now trying to make up for missed gold. This is a stage where team fights begin to happen much more frequently, and your goal is to silence a priority target (Initiator/Strong Stunner/Burst Damage), chase down fleeing heroes, and kill everyone, or feed kills to your teams carries if you aren't one of them.

During the day, save your Darkness for team fights or absolutely guaranteed kills. During the night, use it as much as possible to keep the night going.

During the day you are quite weak so stick with your team, but during the night you are still a terror. Just not as much of one as you were in the early game. Ganking by yourself will be much harder so try to bring along a partner or two to help you, preferably ones that can stun.

This point in the game is when you must decide if you are going to be playing late game Carry Night Stalker or late game Support Night Stalker, depending on both your team composition and how well you did during the first night. You can be some mix of both if you did your well after your first night, but I would recommend sticking to one or the other until you have more experience with the hero. Carry Night Stalker will be getting kills and farming up in between those kills, getting corresponding carry items. A support Night Stalker will be getting gold when possible, but never stealing from the carries, and usually grabbing Scepter as soon as possible.

Late Game

Abyssal Blade
Great item to grab if you got a Skull Basher earlier in the game. Gives you a chance for stun as well as an active stun that goes through magic immunity. Great item to grab if you are the carry on the team and of course if you had already gotten a Skull Basher.
Assault Cuirass
A good late game item for a Support Night Stalker, as it increases your survivability and gives out a team armor buff, and an enemy team armor debuff. Works on a team with strong auto attackers. Also works well if the enemy team has highly armored heroes. The best when you have both those. Increases your attack speed which is always a nice thing to have more of.
Heart of Tarrasque
Great for if you are needed to be tanky, usually in a situation when . I have found that it combines very well with a radiance. It helps you keep from returning to base for health after a big team fight or an escaped gank, keeping you pushing and killing. Radiance plus Hearts combo lets you easily tank and quickly kill the Mega Creeps if one or two of your barracks have fallen, so it is a decent item if you are being forced to turtle.
Good for pushing and counter pushing, as well as a game where team fights tend to be longer than usual. Longer team fights mean more damage from the burn aura and therefore more killing. The more squishy heroes they have the better this is, but if there were lots of squishies and you have radiance, you should have already dominated them in early to mid game and are going to win soon. If they have a heavy pushing team, with a Broodmother and/or a Nature's Prophet, this might be the item to go for. There are many better carries for radiance, such as Weaver, Spectre, or Lone Druid, so if they are on your team make sure they get it before you do. This does not mean get multiple Radiances per team, that is a BIG mistake. The burn damage does not stack therefore it is a big waste of a bunch of gold. This means if there is a better potential carrier for Radiance, let them buy it and do not buy it yourself.
Gives you INSANE lifesteal. Good upgrade from Helm of the Dominator and alternative to getting a Heart of Tarrasque. Only get this as a hard carry, preferably with a BKB so you can heal when your HP is low without being interrupted by a stun.
Monkey King Bar
Any damage item will be good for a Hard Carry Night Stalker. This is especially good as a counter to a hero that has or is going for a Butterfly. I don't ever get it but I put it on the list because it is an "acceptable" item to get for a carry Night Stalker.
Another good damage item for a Hard Carry Night Stalker, gives a critical strike. Not too much to say about this one, similar to MKB. Not a big item for me, even if a Hard Carry.
I just personally like this item a lot. Gives you damage and great attack speed. Another item that is great against a heavy push strat, as you can clear creep waves pretty quickly. The active is pretty good too if you are getting focused. Another item that isn't that great to get on him but I just personally like the item. Want to make that clear, that it's not the item, it's just me.
Boots of Travel
If you are up against a Tinker or a Nature's Prophet and it's late game, your phase boots or treads aren't doing much for you. If you are losing the game in regards to map control, Boots of Travel are a great item to counter this. Along with a Mjollnir and/or Radiance, this would give you some mad pushing power. ONLY get these in extreme circumstances, I have won losing games before because I got these, but also have lost close games because I wasted my gold on them. Always be careful what you spend your gold on.

Carry Night Stalker: If your on the offensive, have your team initiate, pop your BKB (if you have one), and attack. Use your skills when needed. If you are on the defensive, save your BKB for when they initiate, use skills, and attack. At this point of the game it is more about experience then having a set in stone way to play.

Support Night Stalker: Stick with your team, use your abilities on priority targets, and stay alive. Again, at this point it's more about understanding the game than understanding the hero.

Allies and Enemies

Since Juggernaut is deadly effective very early in the game with his Blade Fury, your strong disable and ganking abilities will easily get the Juggernaut fed, and give you a strong advantage against your team during the mid game. Juggernaut is quite dependent on an early lead to be effective later in the game, so do your best to prioritize ganking the lane he is in and making sure to give him the kills.

Heroes that have strong stuns or disables early game will almost guarantee you successful ganks, with a little bit of team work of course. It will also help the team composition since Night Stalker doesn't have any stuns. Good examples would be Lina, Sand King, Lion, and Shadow Shaman.

Shadow Shaman
Shadow Shaman gets a special place on this list as he is an amazing pusher/disabler that works very well with Night Stalker. First off, his Shackles ensures a kill if you come to gank. His pushing power makes of for Night Stalker's lack of pushing power. A chain silence between Night Stalker and Shadow Shaman can keep any initiator from starting anything until it's too late. And to top it all off, two powerful early game nukes just demolish the enemy in conjunction.

Wisp is a very unique character, and all of his skills benefit you throughout the game. His Tether can be hard to stay in range of because it gives you even more movement speed, but the added regen, especially for mana, is superb. Not as useful early in the game but much better when you move from ganking to team fighting. Overcharge makes you even harder to kill when the games moves into the later game. It is his ultimate Relocate that works so well in conjunction with you. You get to go anywhere on the map for 12 seconds, which is more than enough time to pull off a successful gank with your skill set.


Jungling Heroes
Most jungling heroes are quite weak during the early game. Lycanthrope is incredibly weak early game, even into the first night, so a gank on him is imperative early game. He may have his ultimate up so be careful of wasting mana and time on him. Lifestealer is a pretty easy jungle hero to kill if you get a silence off on him first so he cannot use Rage and Open Wounds on you. Nature's Prophet can get easily ganked in the woods as you can silence him and you can cancel his TP with your Void. Enchantress and Chen are pretty squishy in the early game, you just gotta watch out for the creeps they are controlling as they are pretty strong, especially early game.

Squishy Heroes
Squishy heroes are easy to gank for you because they go down so quickly. Giving you easy gold and easy experience in the early game. If you catch them alone at any time of the game, they are pretty much history.
Blinking Heroes
Blinking Heroes are easy to gank once you silence them. Most often blinking heroes are squishy, early game especially, therefore if you get rid of that escape mechanism, they are bacon ready to be eaten.

Invisibility Heroes
Heroes who have an active ability to become invisible ( Clinkz, Bounty Hunter) are very squishy early game and is similar to the blinking heroes. Get rid of their escape mechanism and they are fodder.


If you get caught over extending and he uses his ultimate on you, you're toast. In this case, your speed will work against you destroying your health if you don't notice right away. The use of caution around a Bloodseeker can keep you from death, but it is a notable mention on this list of enemies.

Strong Ranged Mid Heroes
Invoker, Tinker, and Queen of Pain are all mid heroes that will harass you out of the lane and keep you from getting your 'before first night' core. It is really hard to lane against these heroes if they are controlled by good players, and may set back your ganking time by a decent amount of time.

Heroes with Tracking Abilities
Slardar and Bounty Hunter are the two that come to mind. If they can have true sight of you for any amount of time, it can really hinder your ganking in the beginning of the game as the enemy team will always know where you are. If they see you, that usually means an unsuccessful gank. More of an annoyance and a slight setback than an actual counter, but worth mentioning.


I'm really not much for conclusions; they are almost always the reason I got bad grades on essays that I write for school. Feel free to call out any errors I've made and I'll change them as soon as possible. I am a firm believer in constructive criticism as a powerful learning tool, so go at it. There is a fine line between constructive criticism and being a Negative Nancy though, so respect that line (i.e. Don't be an *******). Also if there is anything I could add that I have missed, be sure to let me know.


Realize though that these scores are not only dependent my skill level, but the skill level of the rest of my team and the enemy team. These are all of my Night Stalker games that I played while making this guide, and also a couple random good ones from before that.


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