-Good effective ganks
-Great at escaping
-Can rejoin/sustain team fights through his ultimate's healing, Shadow Dance
-Can join team fights very quickly through his ultimate's movement speed bonus
-Gets stronger as the fight goes on
-Can reveal that a ward is near by with the passive portion of his ultimate, Shadow Dance
-Can remove most debuffs with his Q, Dark Pact
-Very short cooldowns
-Very low base stats
-Low stat growth
-Can run into mana issues quickly
-Highly susceptible to nukes
-Highly susceptible to aoe CC
-Gem and sight wards ruin his ultimate
-His Pounce ability is one of the more difficult abilities of the game to land properly to utilize the damage/snare
Slark is a fragile ganker with a unique ability kit that allows him to slip in and out of fights with ease.
Slark's Q, Dark Pact, can remove most debuffs from himself (which is why Dust of Appearance is near useless against him) and deal a decent amount of magic aoe damage; you self inflict half of this damage on each use (300 to them 150 to self when maxed).
The next ability Slark has is Pounce his W; Pounce is a multi purpose ability that can be used offensively or defensively. Offensively, Pounce deals up to 280 damage and then tethers the target to the area for 3.5 seconds. Do note, however, that movement abilities like blinks and leaps can break the tether. Defensively, Pounce can be used to escape from bad situations or in order to exit the fighting so you may heal with your ultimate, Shadow Dance.
Essence Shift, which is Slark's E and is passive, removes 1 of each stat on the enemy and gives you 3 agility per stack; basically, the longer Slark hits someone, the stronger he gets and the weaker they get (each stack has its own independent timer for wearing off). Further ranks extend the duration that the stats are stolen. If an enemy dies, they regain their lost stats; however, Slark keeps the stacks until they run out or if he dies.
Shadow Dance, Slark's ultimate, has a passive and an active component to it that allows him to heal at a superb rate when he is out of sight of the enemy. At max rank this ability heals him for 7% of his max hp every second! It also gives him bonus movement speed. You can tell where the enemy has wards because the regeneration and movement speed will be disabled. The passive component of the ability is the heal when out of sight; while the active use makes Slark become a dark cloud that can't be targeted by the enemy ,without true sight, which then activates his passive heal and movespeed component too (Abilities and attacking do not break the "stealth").
There is constant debate between maxing Dark Pact or Pounce first and much of it boils down to preference.
Leveling Dark Pact over Pounce:
+More AoE damage
+Can purge debuffs more often
-You sacrifice more health more often
-Longer cooldown on your escape/chase ability
-Going Dark Pact makes you more vulnerable to being killed/ganked due to the health loss
Leveling Pounce over Dark Pact
+Sacrifice less health
-Less AoE damage (this means slower farming as well)
-Less frequent purges of debuffs
Essence Shift is less useful early because most of your damage will come from your abilities. You also don't have the attack speed necessary to really build up stacks nor the durability to stay in fights and autoattack. Late game, however, the bonus agility will make taking objectives and moving from skirmish to skirmish much easier. It also makes Slark deceptively tanky because of the bonus armor that the agility grants him.
His ultimate, Shadow Dance, should be taken whenever possible. It makes him extremely hard to harass out of lane, and the bonus movement speed lets him move across the map with ease, whether it's to gank, escape, or control runes. The active portion makes him extremely hard to lock down or focus during fights, though area disables will still hit him. It's on a short cooldown, though the mana cost is rather hefty considering Slark's limited mana pool.
Slarks' Q, Dark Pact, is a delayed AoE that delivers rapid pulses of magic damage to both himself and everything around him in a small AoE. More specifically, it deals 10 pulses in 0.1 second intervals over a the period of one second, 1.5 seconds after the ability is cast. It deals half damage to himself, but it can't kill him. It also purges most debuffs. The timing is thus situational.
The most common use is simply to do damage. Hit Q, go up next to an enemy, and sit next to them for the duration of the pulse. In combination with his Pounce ability, this can do quite a bit of burst damage. Since the damage is not all delivered in one instant, you may need to make sure you follow their movement instead of auto attacking.
Another common use is to purge debuffs such as Bounty Hunter's Track, Dust of Appearance, or Crystal Maiden's Crystal Nova, etc. These debuffs do not make you lose control of your character and are thus very simple to purge. Hit Q, watch the debuff disappear.
You can also remove debuffs like stuns and silences. Doing so requires you to time your Dark Pact. Too early, and you'll lose health for free; too late, and you'll eat the full stun.
Good laning partners for Slark are as follows:
-Meepo (If they can actually play him well :) )
While this guide shows Stout Shield and a Ring of Protection both may not be necessary. These are both strong starting items for Slark to cut down on early poke but ultimately it depends on the lane you will be facing.
Early laning items:
-Ring of Basilius is a great item for slark since it builds out of that ring of protection and it gives him much needed mana regen. This ring can later be built into a Ring of Aquila which provides more stats and the mana regen. Ring of Basilius can also go into a Vladimirs Offering if the situation warrants it.
-Poor Man's Shield is a cheap upgrade for your Stout Shield that provides additional stats for his low base values.
-Boots of Speed allows you to be the mobile and slippery hero that Slark is and allows you to be able to keep up with the enemy while using Dark Pact.
-Drum of Endurance gives Slark a much needed mana pool and provides additional stats (primarily health) while also giving him move speed and attack speed which are two very good bonuses for him.
-Black King Bar, This will be your go to item just about everygame unless you are so far ahead and they have nothing that even remotely counters im in the afore mentioned Foe List. BKB allows you to be unafraid of those high nukers, aoe stunners, or mana burners.
His primary role: Ganking items:
Sange and Yasha is normally an item to cringe at but in Slark's case it provides him with versatility and everything he needs/wants (attack speed, move speed, health, and a slow). Sange and Yasha can also be split up into two different items to adapt to the current game at hand. Most likely you will be wanting to split the SnY into a Heaven's Halberd. Heaven's Halberd is a great item for Slark when you are playing as a semi-carry ganker because it allows you to disable the enemy's carry or any high threat target to your team.
Heart of Tarrasque is good item for a slark that is performing as the farmed carry for his team. Why Heart you might ask? Slark's Essence Shift is the answer to that; Essence Shift will ramp Slark's attack speed, armor, and damage up through out the whole fight and Heart allows you to stay in the fray almost indefinitely due to the amount of health he gains from it. Heart will also provide hp regen when he isn't being hit and his ult synergises very well with it for obscene health regeneration (somewhere around 300hps). With that much sustain and durability gained from being able to continually attack his Essence Shift stacks become out of control.
Mjollnir is a good item on Slark for building up Essence Shift quickly while also providing additional damage via chain lightning. The use on Mjollnir also provides another strong offensive/defensive ability (more lightning!) which synergises with the tankyness Heart of Tarrasque provides.
Mask of Madness is a tricky item for Slark. While MoM gives a great attack and moves peed steroid it makes him take an additional 30% damage for the use duration.
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