These starting items will lead you towards firstly buying a magic wand, the gauntlets will contribute to either a Bracer (if you feel the need to boost your stats early on) or to an urn of shadows which gives a small strength boost, a useful heal and some needed mana regen. Finally the Quelling Blade will hasten your farming and provide a damage boost allowing you to last hit sooner and more effectively.
Early - Mid Items
Power Treads should take priority over all early items to compensate for Dragon Knights slow movement speed (get these after your wand). It's a toss up for the next item to buy depending on your situation, if you're finding yourself constantly low on health through attempted ganks or team fights (which shouldn't be the case) then you might find getting the Urn of Shadows first to be more useful, especially due to its low cost; but not only does the Helm of the Dominator provide bonus damage, armour and 15% lifesteal you will have the ability to take control of a strong neutral creep which should be used to stack ancient creeps on the minute mark.
During late game Dragon Night will more than likely be the initiator of your team, popping your ult and charging into battle is a common thing to do with DK, many people for this very reason choose to purchase a Black King Bar (BKB) to provide themselves with some very useful magic protection while in the fray of battle. Upgrading to a Satanic is a must, the passive 25% lifesteal and active 175% lifesteal will easily provide you with enough heals to survive most incoming damage. The choice to buy a Vanguard should be made if you find yourself being singled out by the opposing team, it simply will add more tankyness to DK.
The first skill to level is Dragon Tail, one level in this is both essential and adequate enough to not be leveled again until level 12; the reason for this is that a 2.5 second stun is long enough and a 0.25 second increase in this just can't take priority over your other abilities.
Dragon Blood should be maxed as early as possible as its effects are most effective early game (Armour & HP Regen Boost), putting points in this early allows you to shake off enemy harassment and essentially allows you to stay in the fray much longer than without it.
One point of Breathe Fire at level 4 will suffice for that extra damage when taking enemy heroes down, this takes the back seat compared to Dragon Blood due to the lack of mana regen and the importance of survivability early game rather than killing enemy heroes.
Finally Elder Dragon Form should be levelled at every opportunity as it literally turns you into a beast for a hefty 60 seconds.
Last hitting is as important as ever with Dragon Knight, incorporating a dual role of pushing a short lane while jungling will allow you to farm your *** off. An important aspect of jungling for DK is to use your Helm of the Dominator to take control of a strong neutral creep; you're then tasked with pulling the ancient creeps nearest you away from their spawn at around the 53 second mark of each minute, this will allow another group to spawn; once 3-4 groups have been collected you can farm a tidy sum of gold (This technique will require level 11 as the level 2 Elder Dragon has the splash damage required to take down the groups of creeps).
Early game Dragon Knight is a versatile Carry as he can acts more as a kind of Support role where tanking enemy hits and stunning heroes takes priority over providing damage. As you reach level 10 - 11 your Carry qualities begin to emerge, with a fully levelled Breathe Fire and an ult with splash damage + speed & damage boost you should find yourself in the position to initiate and tank some damage. You will benefit more from farming on your own rather than participating in every team fight, of course don't ignore situations where you're obviously needed; but if it can be avoided you should wait to participate until you have a BKB or even Satanic (depending on your rate of farm).
Essentially when playing Dragon Night your role is to stay alive, you don't have massive armour to dish out a ton of damage (not that i'm saying you can't :P) but realistically your job is to be there, take the hits, laugh in their face, slow.....rinse and repeat.
Edit 26/01/2012 - Added Medallion of Courage.
I've found that in my more recent games that I sway more towards the medallion over the Urn for the additional armour and armour reduction to enemies during fights.
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