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10 Votes

Nyx Assassin - Experimental Assassin

April 30, 2015 by Bleak
Comments: 12    |    Views: 33070    |   

Experimental Solo Offlane

DotA2 Hero: Nyx Assassin

Hero Skills


2 4 8 9

Mana Burn

10 12 13 14

Spiked Carapace

1 3 5 7


6 11 16


15 17 18

Nyx Assassin

Deep in the Archive of Ultimyr, shelved between scholarly treatises on dragon cladistics and books of untranslatable spells, there is an ancient tome of entomological curiosities. Compiled by scholars, the book describes the telepathic talents of the zealot scarab, a strange species of social insect with abilities unique to all the seven planes.

Unlike most grubs of his colony, Nyx Assassin did not arise from metamorphosis with the plodding thoughts and blunted appendages common to the worker caste of his kind. For his was a special transformation, guided by the grace of Nyx. He was the chosen one, selected from the many and anointed with an extract of the queen goddess herself. Not all survive the dark blessing of the queen's chamber, but he emerged with a penetrating mind, and dagger-like claws-his razor sharp mandibles raking the air while his thoughts projected directly into the minds of those around him. Of all zealot scarabs, he alone was selected for the highest calling. After his metamorphosis, he was reborn, by grace of Nyx, with abilities which shaped him for one thing and one thing only: to kill in the name of his goddess.


Nyx Assassin is one of my favourite heroes in the early to mid game, however I often run into problems with him later on. This guide is a work in progress - an effort at maintaining his utility into the late game. Most of the things outlined in this guide are experimental, and contrary to how to play standard Nyx. I would appreciate any thoughts, or feedback.

Skill Sequence Rationale

Spiked Carapace is an incredibly underrated skill. It should pretty much always be your lvl 1 pick when you're playing in the offlane. I'm maxing it first, because it is Nyx Assassin's most powerful teamfight ability - potentially allowing you to damage and stun the entire enemy team every 14 seconds at lvl 4 if you're targeted, or within AOEs.

My lvl 2 - and second maxed - skill is Impale. It has a higher range than Mana Burn (effectively 825), can hit multiple targets, and can be used to farm during the laning phase.

Exception: If faced by heroes with high mana cost skills, and a low mana pool ( Wraith King, Sven, etc.), it can be worth it to max Mana Burn first, although you should generally still put 1 point in Impale - usually at lvl 3 - as a defensive precaution, or to setup for ganks.

Always put points in Vendetta at lvls 6, 11, and 16. At lvl 3 Vendetta's duration and cooldown are equal, allowing you to stay invisible indefinitely. You won't, but you could.

Understanding Spiked Carapace

Using Spiked Carapace correctly requires relearning some of your Dota 2 reflexes, and also a comprehensive understanding of what conditions trigger its stun.

When you're using Spiked Carapace you want to be able to put yourself into the way of danger when normally you would evade it. You can do this to kill, setup for kills, discourage harass, protect allies, cancel tps, interrupt channeled abilities, etc.

Spiked Carapace triggers on most sources of damage, including even Radiance, ultimates like Black Hole, and retroactively against damage over time (for example, stunning at cast, any time during the duration of Ignite or similar abilities).

Abilities / items that don't interact with Spiked Carapace:

Starting Items

I like to start with a Ring of Regen in addition to the other more standard Tango and Iron Branches. Nyx Assassin has one of the highest base hp regens in the game at 2.5. The extra 2 hp regen allows you to really abuse this, making it unlikely that you'll ever have to go back to the fountain in the early game. More time in lane means more farm, more experience, and more opportunities for your enemies to make mistakes. Diving a Nyx Assassin under tower is a sure way to die. The high hp regen makes it difficult to get that last bit of damage in, and between Spiked Carapace and Impale (note the order), you can end up stunned for several seconds while taking tower fire.

You will also be using that Ring of Regen to build a Force Staff.

Early Core Items

A Poor Man's Shield is really only necessary if you're taking a lot of harassment. I generally skip it whenever I think I can.

A Ring of Basilius should fulfill your minimum mana regen requirements. As with the Poor Man's Shield I will skip upgrading this to a Ring of Aquila if I can. However, if you aren't getting decent farm, the extra stats and damage can be helpful.

Note: We're effectively trading the more common Urn of Shadows here for more agility and right click damage.

Why Force Staff Instead of Blink Dagger?

To be effective, Nyx Assassin usually needs some positioning assistance, ie. a Force Staff or Blink Dagger. However, as part of this build, we are going to be skipping Arcane Boots in favour of Power Treads to make Nyx Assassin a little more formidable in terms of durability, right click, and agility to damage with our Ethereal Blade. This is going to necessitate a little more int to make use of your skills. The +10 int from your Force Staff, and switching your Power Treads to int when you need to, effectively equates to the mana gained passively from Arcane Boots, if not the bonus mana from their active use.

A Force Staff is also going to give you more utility and versatility, allowing you to contribute in different ways. We're also going to be supplementing our positioning ability by increasing our movement speed with a Yasha.

Now, I know everyone loves a Blink Dagger but - and I don't know how many times I have to say this - we're trying to play him in an entirely different style from a standard Nyx Assassin strategy. So insisting on standard items is like showing up to a basketball court with a football. Football's great, but it's not the game we're playing.

I have had a lot of success with using a Force Staff exclusively. Try it out. This guide is about experimenting. Seeing what works, what doesn't. It may end up not being effective for you, but that's ok. New strategies are being created all the time, and trying new things is how it happens.

Why Ethereal Blade Instead of Dagon?

Dagon gives Nyx Assassin a very specific utility, and that specialization is part of why he plains off in the late game, becoming at best often little more than a support hunter. Swapping Dagon for Ethereal Blade is going to give us more right click damage, attack speed, armor, and another disable/escape. And, if you decide to get Dagon afterwards for some additional burst damage, it's worth noting that Ethereal Blade + lvl 1 Dagon costs less, and does more burst damage than getting a lvl 5 Dagon alone.

Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that we're lvl 10 and have no other items aside from Ethereal Blade, Power Treads, and lvl 1 Dagon.

Agility (19 + 2.2X) + Ethereal Blade (40) + Power Treads (8)

Ethereal Blade dmg = 2(89) + 75 = 253
lvl 1 Dagon dmg = 400 + 160 (160 = 40% of 400, bonus from magic resistance reduction from Ethereal Blade) = 560

Ethereal Blade + lvl 1 Dagon = 813 dmg, 7620 g
lvl 5 Dagon = 800 dmg, 7720 g

In addition,

Ethereal Blade + lvl 1 Dagon: 247 health, 0.39 health regeneration, 6.02 armor, 43 attack speed, 338 mana, 1.04 mana regeneration, and 52 attack damage.

Compared to,

lvl 5 Dagon: 57 health, 0.09 health regeneration, 0.42 armor, 3 attack speed, 364 mana, 1.12 mana regeneration, and 12 attack damage.

Of course, farming an Ethereal Blade is more difficult than farming a Dagon. While I like it better in the long run, you shouldn't hinge your whole game on it if you aren't able to farm in the early game. Consider opting for a Diffusal Blade instead. I'll talk more about this, and other items, in the following sections.

Optional / Situational, and Synergistic Items (WIP)

Diffusal Blade is a great item on Nyx Assassin, and it's going to synergize well with this build style. You're going to be right clicking a lot more than you normally would with Nyx, and a lot of our items are adding attack speed, so Diffusal Blade's passive is going to be burning a lot of mana from enemy heroes. I think it's a really solid way for you to be contributing more for your team. It's active will also be useful in chase/escape.

Consider pairing this with a Necronomicon if reducing your enemies mana pool is going to have a drastic effect on their ability to engage, ie. they have high mana cost abilities and/or low mana pool.

If you do go with either or both of these items, Manta Style is a natural followup. These three items give you immense push/counterpush, teamfight contribution through additional damage and mana burn, and also damage absorption - the enemy team had a Juggernaut? No. They don't.

If No One Else Builds Items

I think it is a pretty good rule of thumb that just about every team should have an Urn of Shadows, Mekansm, Drum of Endurance, and Arcane Boots.

If no one else on your team is building one of these, Nyx Assassin can be a carrier for them.

Note: Even though we're trying to avoid Arcane Boots, if no one else builds them, you're kind of obligated to. Be a team player. Using a lot of this guide will be team comp dependent, so keep that in mind. If you are forced to build Arcane Boots, think about how you can make it more worth it with more active ability items.

6.84 Aghanim's Scepter

Addition to Nyx Assassin for 6.84:

"Adds a new ability, Burrow, with a one second cast time. While Burrowed, Nyx Assassin is invisible and unable to move/attack, but has 40% damage resistance, and regenerates 1.5% of his health and mana per second. Nyx Assassin's abilities also have improved properties while burrowed: Mana Burn and Impale have 50% increased cast range, Impale Cooldown is reduced from 13 to 9, and Spiked Carapace instantly stuns any enemy units within a 300 area of effect without requiring them to hurt him first. Casting Vendetta causes Burrow to end"

This change may potentially rework my build, however I won't know until I have had some time to test it. More to come soon.


I'm still working this out and testing things, but I hope that this guide was useful conceptually if nothing else.

Thanks for reading.

Change Log

4/29/15 - Added Aghanim's Scepter
1/26/15 - Added section with more detail about Spiked Carapace.
1/22/15 - Added "If No One Else Builds Items" section. Added Necronomicon to Situational / Utility Items.
1/20/15 - Published guide.

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