We go a long way back, Night Dude and I.
Back when I was playing against bots in a far-outdated version of Dota 1, he was my go-to guy.
When I started Dota 2, he was the first Hero I played. Obviously I was terrible, but we went places and now I like to think I'm at least competent.
As time went on, I picked up new Heroes - Invoker, Doom, Spectre, Terrorblade, and our bat-like friend started to be left behind. However, to this day, he's still one of my favourites when I just want to have fun, and rush an Armlet.
Because as we all know, there is little more fun than being a baller.
NIGHT STALKER! Well, that was a bit of a nostalgia trip. I've noticed that all the guides for Balanar on here are out-of-date and considering the buffs he's gotten recently I've decided to take matters into my own, considerably experienced hands.
Night Stalker is a mid-laning semi-carry who fulfills the #2 role on a team. He's famous for his deadly presence between 4:00-20:00 and a good Night Stalker will by the time he drops off have you cowering under your T3s, unable to even move out to stop his carry (probably a vegetable like Medusa) farming. Yep, he's one of those Heroes. Creating space on an industrial level.
Night Stalker is an interesting fellow. Likes raw meat, seeing Drow on the enemy team, and Armlets. Dislikes bats (ironically) and the Radiant having fun. To kill two birds and get stoned, he combines his likes and dislikes with his skillset.
Primary Attribute: Strength. Night Stalker's Strength and Agility gain are excellent, and while his Intelligence isn't exactly Pugna it's not bad either, considering how much you actually need. His starting stats are great, and his base damage is excellent. So, despite being underpowered during daytime, your lane shouldn't be too horrible.
It's worth noting that against most melee mids, Night Stalker can win the lane with relative ease just by out-CSing his enemy. In fact, there are few Heroes that actually can shut him down completely in mid - however, you're at a disadvantage against ranged lane-winners like Shadow Fiend, Outworld Devourer and Viper. In the case of the former two, get revenge at 4:00. Viper, however, is a prick.
So now, onto his skillset.
This is your main nuke and slow. It deals a huge amount of damage and has a powerful 50% AS and MS slow for 4 seconds. During day, the slow duration is halved, but it's still not terrible. This is maxed first.
Your silence. This spell makes it basically impossible for someone to 1v1 you at night, thanks to the crazy miss chance and long silence. At max level, it's the second longest silence in the game, beaten only by Doom. One value point is all we need, as the only thing that scales is the duration. It's probably wise to get this at level 6 over Darkness, but your game may vary. During the day it only lasts 3 seconds, which can still be enough to make a difference.
HUNTER IN THE NIGHT
This is the skill that makes you such a terror. During the day, it does... nothing. Literally nothing. But at night, especially first and second nights, it makes you the fastest Hero on the map and you hit the hardest too. Max this after Void as its increments are preferable to your silence.
Your ultimate. Balanar's greatest fear is having a fight break out during day. Your ult solves this by creating 50 seconds of night, more than enough time to participate in a fight, a gank, or get away from danger. You will be hitting level 6 during the first night, so it's not as important to get this then - I usually leave it to level 8. However, during the second day it allows you to be a bit more active if team wants to take a tower.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Darkness reduces enemy vision considerably. This includes creeps, Heroes, towers and even wards. I don't need to say how good this is. Use your ult during the nighttime just to limit enemy vision, but only do this if it will be off cooldown by the time day rolls around.
-Clearly defined times to farm and fight.
-High damage early- and mid-game.
-Good utility lategame.
-One can never have enough space.
-Gotta go fast.
-Tower diving made easy.
-Loves Crystal Maiden, on either team.
-Vulnerable to disables, especially early-game.
-Somewhat reliant on snowballing.
-Has no hard disable to lock down foes.
-Falls off in damage lategame.
-Weak laner with no noticeable rune control.
So the game has started, you've ended up with Night Stalker, and you're ready to roll. But before you can go kill things, you have to navigate the first day.
"I remember the first day..." - Night Stalker
Roll up into the midlane. There really is no other lane Night Stalker is good in. To be effective, he needs level 5, Bottle and Boots of Speed by 4:00 and unless you're solo laning this won't happen. Solo safelane might be a thing, but I wouldn't rely on that in pubs, as they tend to like dual lanes and you'll be up against an offlane which is probably unpleasant.
Your job now is to farm and stay alive. Use Void to get difficult last hits, but don't waste your mana doing this. Play safe and use your amazing base damage to get an edge in the lane. Hopefully, by night you'll be all kitted up...
Go run to get the 4-minute rune, and then (if they have wards) make it look like you went back to mid. In reality, you're going to the nearest sidelane to gank. It's pretty easy to get a double kill if your allies are competent, but you may have to dive.
Night Stalker's high base armour and health make diving very viable for him. Coordinate with your team to run at the enemy, and try and have some creeps with you so you can drop the tower aggro (by A-clicking them). First, check your target's inventory. If they have a TP scroll, save Void to interrupt it. If not, initiate with Void and run in and beat them up. Remember to cancel your animation backswing to make chasing easier.
You will spend the next four minutes fifty seconds ganking everywhere. It's advisable to get a support to farm mid while you're away, which also makes it easier to kill the enemy laner. Sometimes, you won't need help if you're against someone like Invoker or Shadow Fiend - these Heroes are food for you.
Remember that you ARE the most powerful Hero in the game at this stage. However, you can't go full YOLO mode without some backup. Dying during First Night is the worst thing that can happen. I will say, however, that dying to give your Spectre a double kill is generally worth it. I could write an essay on the psychological impacts of your actions during first night, but I'll limit it to dot points.
1. You're always missing. The enemy team has no idea where you are. Buy Smoke of Deceit to capitalise on this, or if they have wards.
2. The tower looks friendly. Enemies, especially supports, will want to hug their nearest tower, which has the effect of giving your lanes freefarm. If they aren't hugging tower, you'll be 10/0 by the next day so it won't matter if your carry is a bit behind.
3. Dying as Night Stalker makes your enemy careless. While you obviously shouldn't die, if something goes wrong and you do, the immediate impact is your enemies relaxing. As soon as you respawn, TP to a lane and resume ganking before they have a chance to realise you're alive. Boom. Double kill.
4. Your mid deserves payback. Remember that Shadow Fiend who denied all your farm? Make him suffer. At some point during night, you should gank mid once or twice. This might be on 4:00 when you get the rune (if you see your lane opponent running to a 4:00 rune, follow them. It's almost always the easiest kill of your life), or it might be getting the 6:00 rune, or maybe just if you really dislike them.
5. Unpredictability breeds fear. Don't establish a pattern to your ganks. Be completely random in your decision of where to go. This makes the enemy team worried that they are always next.
6. Teleport scrolls are shortcuts to killing streaks. So you've just ganked bot, and the enemy top lane has seen you there. They won't expect you to rotate around for at least 30 seconds and will likely get cocky. Using a teleport scroll to get up there fast will catch them by surprise and give you free kills (this works worse the higher your MMR is. This common trick is used by all gankers and at 3k and above people are used to it).
7. If you can't find a fight, force one. Your food is all hugging their tower, trying to avoid you. A Night Stalker that doesn't ball is pretty useless. So you have to force a fight. Start pushing. Trying to defend a tower at 4:45 from a Night Stalker and his buddies is about as fun as swallowing razor blades, and only slightly less fatal.
If all goes well, your boots should be finished and your Urn should be getting there or nearly done. If you got at least 4 kills, you're doing good. 7 is excellent. 11 (my personal best) is a We-****in-Won moment.
So it's daytime and your ultimate is on cooldown. Now, you farm. During the second day, you should finish or come close to finishing your Armlet and start work on your next item. When your ult is ready, try and secure an objective, be it Roshan, a tower, or disrupting the farm of their cores. During these brief interludes you are basically peaking.
Second night is where you start laying on the pressure, truly. This is the best time to get together with team and push some towers. Constrict around the enemy and limit their control of the map and the game. It's at this point in the game that Night Stalker can win or lose it for his team. The pressure is on. Smoke gank, Rosh, win fights, create space. Since you're not the #1 carry EVER, if you start tactically feeding at this point it's not too bad, unless you have a huge streak (which Night Stalker is inclined to get by merit of who he is).
Third day and night follow the same rules. Depending on how the game is going, you may or may not be level 16 during third night or fourth day, and this is when you start becoming dangerous again as the sheer uptime of Darkness is so good.
Lategame, you act as a sort of initiator, popping BKB and running at the team with Crippling Fear and Void. By now your carry should be all rosy and happy with a nice set of items, however your damage and utility are still important. Consider getting aura items such as Assault Cuirass and Vladimir's Offering, and even disables like Heaven's Halberd and Scythe of Vyse.
So, here I'll briefly go over a lot of items Night Stalker tends to build. The most important thing to do is ADAPT based on the game - if the enemy is running a Bane, then you'll likely want a Linken's Sphere. MKB is great against evasion, and Heaven's Halberd is perfect to stop a Medusa that really doesn't like you.
BOTTLE: It's a bottle. You're a mana-dependant mid.
BOOTS: You have a choice of two: Fazes or Power Treads. Each has their benefits - Power Treads scale better into lategame and grant the utility of tread switching, however Phases eliminate the common problem of being stuck behind creeps. With Lvl4 Hunter in the Night and the Phase active, Balanar reaches 520 movespeed. That's really ****ing fast. Of the two, I prefer Phases, but the choice is really up to you and how you want to play the early-game.
URN: One of the best items on a Night Stalker. Gives Strength for damage, some mana regeneration, and since you're usually participating in a lot of kills the urn charges go a long way. Announce at the start of the game you're getting one, or you may end up with two on the team, which sucks more than being stuck at 1.5k MMR.
Armlet of MordigganARMLET: Cheap damage for a Strength Hero. Armlet-toggling allows you to escape from sticky situations, and the HP loss is generally negated by Urn and Bottle. In short, it gives everything Night Stalker wants to deal some damage.
An alternate core if you don't feel confident with Armlet is Helm of the Dominator and Basher.
BASHER/ABYSSAL: Chasedown Hero, fast attack speed, build a Basher. Upgrade to Abyssal Blade later, probably your first or second extension item.
BLACK KING BAR: You are a melee right-clicker with no innate ability to dodge disables. Black King Bar is amazing on Night Stalker, and it's worth noting that the +10 Strength gives him damage, which offsets one of the things people don't like about BKB.
ASSAULT CUIRASS: Night Stalker is a natural carrier of this due to his tendency to be in the middle of fights. Makes you hit a *lot* harder, and works on towers too.
HEART/SATANIC: For when you're out of control and want to secure your absolute dominance. If the game is close, or you're behind, not great choices to be honest and you're better with something that gives more impact.
ORB OF VENOM: Cheap and adds a nice slow to secure early kills. Pretty sweet item. Builds into an Eye of Skadi, which is a nice item to get in place of Heart.
Vladimir's OfferingVLADIMIR'S OFFERING: It's good for the same reasons AC is good, but there are better items to get. Ditto Drums - there are better things to spend your gold on.
MKB: If you're up against a lot of evasion such as PA or Brew, then MKB is great. However, leave this till later as your other items are more important.
EUL'S SCEPTER OF DIVINITY: This is actually pretty good! It gives you the mana regen you need, and a secondary way to break TPs, allowing you to initiate with Void.
SCYTHE OF VYSE and HEAVEN'S HALBERD: When you're getting plowed by rivalling carries, either of these items can help a lot to lock them down.
To gank as Night Stalker, at the very least you need a general knowledge of juking spots and the vision your enemies have. The map changes and tree removal in 6.82 made it a bit harder to sneak up unexpected on your prey, but you're still fast enough that it doesn't matter too much. What does matter is running through three wards to get to where you plan on ganking. Generally, if their lane suddenly backs off, they've seen you and it's pointless to continue the gank. Move to a different lane.
Try to stay hidden within the treeline and make sure you know all the common juking spots so you don't get lost in the fog. If wards are a problem, consider smoking some deceit.
Before you pounce, check your opponent's inventory. If they don't have a TP scroll, then life is good. Initiate with Void and Crippling Fear and chase them down. If, however, they do have TPs, LIKE A TRYHARD, then you'll have to save Void to cancel it, unless you have another stun nearby to assist you. Use Crippling Fear on the target most likely to disrupt the gank. Let's say you're attacking into a Bane and a Mirana. Neither have TP scrolls. Charge in, using Void on Mirana and Crippling Fear on Bane. Mirana will Leap away, but since it's early game it's only level one and she's still slowed. You can easily catch up and tear her limb from limb - it's even easier if you have allies, in which case you've probably got a double kill heading your way.
Like all Heroes, Night Stalker counters Heroes, has synergy with others, and is countered by many others. Here, I will go over the notable ones.
That about covers all the aspects of Night Stalker's playstyle. I'll keep this section as a 'hall of fame' so people can post their Night Stalker stats and the amazing games they've had. Here's a couple of my recent-ish ones to start off:
I wish you the very best of luck and happy hunting. Go kill some supports for me :)
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