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Phantom Assassin, the Let's Go kill towers build (6.87)

May 15, 2016 by Croofe
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Mid-Game Dominance

DotA2 Hero: Phantom Assassin

Purchase Order

Potentially Ideal

Starting items

Early Game

Choose your flavor (Choose one or both)



Late Game


Hero Skills

Stifling Dagger

1 3 5 7

Phantom Strike

2 8 9 10


4 12 13 14

Coup de Grace

6 11 16


15 17 18

Phantom Assassin, the Let's Go kill towers build (6.87)

May 15, 2016


Phantom Assassin is one of my favorite heroes due to her simplicity, yet one you have to strategize before going on-the-face to the enemy.

While the Blur ability is nerfed a bit with the buff to true strike and nukes, she has received a powerful buff to Stifling Dagger, mainly because she has 15% chance to deal potential 1k physical nuke damage just by pressing Q when she reaches level 16.

Her weaknesses are nukes while in late game, true strikes. As the player, we can mitigate the first, but not the later one. Which is why she falls in late game to harder carries. Her strength also comes in forms of Critical Strikes, which she has in spades and thus damage items are not her primary concern, but one we will capitalize on early game. Also with the changes to items like Abyssal Blade, she have another build to play her safely.

Due to these facts, this guide aims to make her very strong in mid game while not falling (much) in late game. This also means we want to take objectives in moderate pace in an early game and pull all of the brakes by mid game.

When to use this build

This build is intended for Phantom Assassin to be active early. As early as level 8 if possible. Which at that time she already has items to make her survive in clashes.

That aside, you want to take PA and use this build when you have a mid that can be the spearhead in team fights, like Shadow Fiend, Death Prophet, or have awesome distractor in fights like Axe.

This build is also a powerful early game anti-gank because of your high effective HP.

If you face a line of gankers in enemy team consider picking this build and make them waste space and time trying to gank you but you survive every time.


Phantom Assassin has very straightforward abilities so I won't cover them except their special interactions. Mainly about her Q ability: Stifling Dagger. Although if you want to refresh about her abilities, hover over these:

Stifling Dagger

Phantom Strike


Coup de Grace

Stifling Dagger stacks with her ult, that is very obvious. But let's take a deeper look at it.

Stifling Dagger deals physical damage now on 6.87. It is reduced by armor but scales VERY well with items because the damage is based on her attack damage (base attack + bonuses). The ability also brings any UAM and chance based procs (maim, bash, etc).

It means when you throw your dagger you will:
  • Deal absurd damage when you have Double Damage (if crits, don't be surprised if you one shot the enemy with this).

  • Has 25% to bash opponents when you have Skull Basher from absurd distances.
  • Damage is amplified with armor reduction from Blight Stone and Desolator.
  • Bring any active UAM.

All of these from 1200 units range. Neat huh? Just pray they don't proc crits when enemies pop Blade Mail.

This ability is also very good to get last hits even when getting zoned out by your lane enemy. Also very good to use as harassment towards enemy support that usually have low armor.


Maxing Stifling Dagger first is priority. The damage scaling is too good to be ignored.

Pick Phantom Strike at level 2 for easy escape to friendly creep wave or an ally hero. Also good to snag kills in lane but only use it for killing when you are sure you will survive.

Pick Blur at level 4 for some effective HP and a semi safety to farm in Jungle as your presence is not detected on mini map unless enemy hero is near. Also a good ability to detect invisible heroes when you go jungle.

Pick Coup de Grace whenever it's available. The ability is self explanatory.

At level 8 to 14, you can mix and match between Phantom Strike and Blur. If the enemy likes to use nukes, Max W because taking more E is just useless. If facing minus armor enemies, Max E first before W. Mix and match depending on your enemies when they have a little bit of both.


Starting Items

Starting items are usual. Some regen for surviving on lanes. Ring of Protection for quick Ring of Basilius and thus more Dagger spam. Stout Shield for later upgrade to Vanguard.

Consider buying a Quelling Blade for easy last hits. Works for Stifling Dagger when attacking creeps with it.

If you get shutdown hard in lane (when dagger spam to creeps is also dangerous), buy Iron Talon by disassembling Ring of Basilius and starts jungling while taking 2 early level of Blur to survive jungle. Buy Ring of Health to dismiss any needs for further regen from courier and farm until you get Power Treads and Vanguard.

Early Game

For early game we buy Ring of Basilius, Blight Stone, and Power Treads.

Ring of Basilius for dagger spam, and later for pushing. Turn off when in laning phase so you don't push the lane. Upgrade this to Ring of Aquila if someone else in the team plans to buy Vladmir's Offering, otherwise keep it. RoA will delay the items we want in next section.

Even if you don't upgrade at all, keep that Ring of Basilius as long as possible. It's good for pushing lanes.

Blight Stone for cheap damage utility to units and buildings alike. Later it upgrades to Desolator.

Power Treads instead of Phase Boots because we want the tankiness against nukes rather than going glass cannon since if we can prevent buying Black King Bar, we don't buy said item. Keep it to strength in fights, change to Agi when right clicking creeps, and change to Int when you cast abilities to farm.

Then let's go the next section where you guys will criticize my build...



Oooh I know what you guys thinking...


Well for you people out there thinking like that... News flash: Black King Bar is pricey as hell. It costs 3975 gold! And you probably need a lifesteal for Phantom Assassin to go jungle which at the very least cost of 900 gold. Totalling 4875 gold of passive farming. Too much gold needed when you want to be active at 15 minute mark.

Vanguard meanwhile gives more ultility at price cost of 2225 gold.

First and foremost it gives:
  • 250 HP
  • 8 HP Regeneration
  • 100% chance to block 32 Damage.

It seems simple and probably doesn't give much, but in early game it does huge.

+250 HP means she can tank one extra nuke that otherwise will kill her.

The damage block gives her the ability to cut creep wave from enemy lanes. Combined with Blur effect, she can do this sneakily and will be safe until the enemy get notification that their tower is attacked by your own creeps.

The damage block also gives her the ability to jungle with minimum damage received and the extra HP regen will return it back quickly. Thus, she effectively bypass the need for lifesteal.

Also the HP regen means she can be active in farming jungle after pushes or fights.

Ultimately, it only consumes one slot! One! You can fill any spare slot for useful ultility item (After TP scroll of course) like wards, smoke, etc when your support asks you to bring one.

Next is...


I know, I know, I just said we don't need lifesteal in like 3 paragraphs above, But Vlad is not just for you, It's also for your team... And creeps.

+4 Armor, 15% Base damage bonus? Life steal all for your teammates? Yes please.

Rush this instead of Vanguard when you don't need to tank or your teammates can tank the enemy nukes. Vlad will give them better chance to survive on right click attacks after nukes (which means more nukes from them).

Most importantly, Vlad works with Corrupt (Desolator) UAM, another reason to avoid buying other form of lifesteal. Make sure to buy Morbid Mask last before recipe as the lifesteal is blocked by Blight Stone.

Getting both Vanguard and Vladmir's Offering is not a bad idea. They make Phantom Assassin so tanky at the cost of low damage. Get these two first when your team can wipe the enemies without much damage input from you or your team likes to run minus armor heroes like Slardar, Vengeful Spirit, Dazzle that can enhance your damage.

Returning to finish one of these two after Desolator is not bad either, because you will benefit much from them.

Core items


Since we want mid game dominance, Desolator is the cheapest right click damage item and have powerful synergy with Stifling Dagger and Coup de Grace, works on towers as well for extra pushing speed.

Extension Items




Having a Skull Basher is a given when you already buy Vanguard. Later it upgrades into Abyssal Blade. Although Abyssal has a price of 1550 gold for just recipe (very costly recipe) which is why Abyssal Blade can be delayed until you run out of space or the game demands it.

Diffusal Blade is probably the most interesting choice. Why Diffusal?

First, it purges. The Purge effect can be used to "clean" yourself from Silver Edge's Break effect, or Bloodthorn's Soul Rend or even silences. But most likely, you will use it for offensive to prevent enemies escaping. The Agility stats means more damage and more attack speed. The purge also stops Ghost Scepter (which an item they will most likely buy considering how destructive you are), no more safety in Ghost Form for the enemies.

Sadly, the Mana Burn is a mere bonus damage and considered separate damage instance (meaning doesn't stack with your crits), but otherwise welcomed. Well, if Mana Burn stacks with your crits, I guess Butterfly is useless for Phantom Assassin.

The Item is cheap, a mere 3150 Gold. Cheaper than even Eagle Song (which costs 3200 Gold) but gives better stats and easier to build. For Extra 700 gold, you get extra 10 Agi stats and 5 Int when upgrading the diffusal.

For a total 3850 Gold, you get same stats as Butterfly. Of course, in late game situation Butterfly is superior, but it's an uphill battle to get said item. One can say, for PA, Diffusal Blade is a bootlegged version of Butterfly.

Next is Manta Style.

Manta deserves a special mention in this side. First of all, it's easy to build. It also gives powerful Agi stats (more damage), decent health, extra movement speed, and most importantly the self purging when using its active (the illusions created from this can also mana burn the enemy when you have Diffusal Blade. The active is more of the No-charge cost version of Diffusal Blade, but only able to cast to self and has some cooldown. The illusion when crits, deal some decent damage, don't underestimate this.

Late Game




So, you somehow are not able to end the game when you have Diffusal Blade or Manta Style... don't worry, PA still has more options.

Assault Cuirass is a powerful item to push T3 towers. Extra armor for your creeps and friendly heroes (+9 when you have Vladmir's Offering) and minus armor aura (-5) for enemies and towers. -12 Armor (AC stacks with Deso) is no joke when you have crazy crits backing you up, and towers will melt under your attacks. Don't dismiss the attack speed bonus as well.

Monkey King Bar is only needed when enemies have evasion in their team. The damage is good, but Assault Cuirass delivers better utility.

Abyssal Blade is the ultimate item when facing heroes with good right click attack speed or BAT (base attack time) and have Monkey King Bar to back them up (use the active to stun them up). Another primary reason is that it saves an item slot for more late game items. Although Facing one MKB heroes is fine, but when facing many... look at situational items.

Consider selling Diffusal Blade in exchange of Eye of Skadi when the game goes super late. Despite the UAM doesn't stack, the stats you gain makes up for it. Besides Stifling Dagger already done most of the job of slowing down enemies.

Situational Items





Get Hand of Midas under 7 minutes! Meaning you probably can only get this when you have first blood or your allies often come to your lane to gank or set up kills (or somehow someway you get free farm). Getting this has crazy requirements, but you don't want to delay your items. Always skip this if you cannot fulfill that requirement.

Next is Hood of Defiance.

I know... you are going to cry for my blood once more.


Hood of Defiance is dirt cheap. Only costs 1750 gold, less than half from Black King Bar. Of course it comes at the cost of unable to block stuns, but it can mitigate major magic damage. Read the item's active. It's that powerful. Especially when against heroes like Necrophos, Zeus, Lina, Ancient Apparition or any heroes that has crazy nukes but don't have amazing crowd control. Later (and I mean LATER), it can be upgraded to Pipe of Insight. It can also be said, Hood of Defiance is the bootlegged version of Black King Bar

Also, it doesn't matter now if in one team has two Pipes. There is no cooldown to get the actives from one pipe to another.

Like I stated above, get Black King Bar when the enemy has many stuns and loves to put them on you. Don't get both however, they are redundant. Definitely buy this when YOU are the one that has to put down Enchantress.

Last, but not least, is Silver Edge. If you read at my Abyssal Blade section, then this is the situational I mentioned about. Here is why:

The best way to to get away from Monkey King Bar is to not get seen.










Jokes aside, I'm serious when I say invincibility is the best counter to MKB. No enemies can right-click attack you when you are not visible to them, it's just Dota logic.

Also it gives extra benefit. Go invis with the active, wait for your team to distract them, wade through their team, attack the most dangerous enemy, then use Phantom Strike. Bam they're dead. You can even be the last "to enter" the battle to smoke the troublesome guy out.

What you hate are not melee MKB carriers, but the ranged ones like Sniper, Viper, or Dragon Knight. Especially DK, I hate that guy so much. So stupidly tanky, stupid regen, stupid stun duration, stupid dragon form, stupid no cast time abilities. Holy hell, I hate that guy.

Though I love it when my teammates git good with that guy. 4head.

*cough* *cough*

Rants aside, Phantom Assassin usually does not suffer from getting kited due to Stifling Dagger and Phantom Strike, but she still does suffer from it when the enemy RANGED carry waits you to use Phantom Strike on his ally then proceed to strike you down. (If facing melee carry, you can always switch target without getting kited because they have to come close to you as well). Hence the need for invincibility on demand to search that damn annoying guy and smoke him out.

There is more utility to Silver Edge than countering MKBs. It can also be used to wade battlefield to search those troublesome supports in the back line like Witch Doctor, Ancient Apparition, Enigma that waits for opportune moment to cast their abilities, then kills them before they are able to do so.

Although this applies in general, not just as a PA. Silver Edge is a potent tool when facing a 3-2 line up. Meaning 3 heroes on the front, 2 back line heroes (or I usually point them as the smoothers) backing them up or vice versa. In these line up, the ones that are dangerous are not the carry (if melee) or even the tankers, it's the back line heroes, especially in early game because most of the time they have dangerous ultimates that will rekt your team. Invincibility will give the benefit to search for them or even surprise them because back line heroes most of the time are easy to kill.

That's why in certain game, Blink Dagger maybe ideal to some heroes, but Silver Edge can do better.

Although you probably wonder, doesn't Shadow Blade offers the same? at cheaper cost as well...

My answer will be because Silver Edge has decent stats, but most importantly it can be disassembled. (Some heroes in some games better just have the Shadow Blade and not Silver Edge and save the gold for some better items, but this item is good on Phantom Assassin)

Silver Edge is now made from Shadow Blade and Ultimate Orb (6.87). This means, you can get Manta Style faster by using Silver Edge's Ultimate Orb and only has to farm Yasha and the recipe. Silver Edge can be farmed again at later time, and should be done so because it gives powerful stats and Break Effect can bring victory in late game.

Besides, who expect a late game Silver Edge when most of the game the enemies are used to visible or blinking heroes??

Enemies and Allies


This build puts Phantom Assassin into an independent strong front liner while also giving some benefits to her team. She works well with practically any heroes with some exceptions like perhaps Faceless Void because of his Chronosphere.

However, there is one item that will always be your ally in anyway possible:

If an ally builds one, he is your bestest friend. No ifs or buts. HE IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. The item is far from ideal for PA, and the mana cost is too big to even be used by your tiny mana pool. But when an ally has it, she nearly becomes god like in early game.

Mekansm will save your pretty ***, count on it, especially when you want to put early game dominance.

If some heroes like Tidehunter wants to build Blink Dagger, stop him and ask him to build Mekansm. Because you will be in the front line, baiting enemies to come for you, get some hit, get healed by mekansm, then Tidehunter use tentacle rape for you to finish the job. He doesn't need to do surprise tentacle rape when you already bait the enemy to the ideal position. And he can spend the money for Aghanim's Scepter because of AoE minus armor nuke.

A special mentioned hero:

Purist Thunderwrath maybe your arch-enemy in lore, but you are best friends in lanes and fights.

His Purification is a lesser mekansm and sync well with you who will most likely be in the enemy's face.

With Repel you have portable BKB, thought don't count on it so much, it has very low cast range.


Her strongest counter when using this build most likely candidate is Spectre because of her Desolate ignoring evasion and Dispersion just ****s your team up. Dragon Knight is also a strong counter when he buys Silver Edge, because his stun is instant and long duration. Sven is also a dangerous enemy when they have repositioning heroes like Magnus and Dark Seer. His Great Cleave will put you down without even touching you directly.

Two heroes deserve special mention that can counter your *** to next sunday:


Phoenix has become the most dangerous hero because that chicken bird will fry you to crisp with Sun Ray. With the 6.87 patch many people loves maxing Sun Ray first over Fire Spirits, making the bird your most deadly opponent from the early game!

Sun Ray is pure damage so no amount of protection will save you, and the only thing counter this is Black King Bar. BUY IT WHEN FACING PHOENIX, IT'S MANDATORY.

ALSO THE EGG, DON'T FORGET THE EGG IN EARLY GAME. You can't cast Phantom Strike on the egg, making you a sitting duck trying to destroy the egg with your pitiful attack speed.

Timbersaw is already a counter to her because of his pure damage skills. Becomes even more dangerous because the buff to Blade Mail.

Of course the most dangerous counter to her now is this one item:

Blade Mail will and always will be your downfall, no matter what shape and form, especially with the recent buff in 6.87. If an enemy has this item, IGNORE him until the item is on cooldown. And when you have the mistake to throw a dagger at him and he pops Blade Mail, PRAY IT DOESN'T CRIT BECAUSE BKB WON'T SAVE YOUR *** NOW.

The second item is Monkey King Bar but it's obvious and I have given some ways to deal with this item in earlier section.

Viable Items but I do not recommend

This is my thoughts to certain items, you may agree or disagree depends on you.

These items are:




Butterfly is good but countered by Monkey King Bar. With Blur, you already incite most enemies to buy Monkey King Bar making this item less than ideal. This item is trumped by Eye of Skadi when being seen this way.

Sange and Yasha probably the most viable here, but one I still did not recommend. SnY doesn't offer anything beside stats, some health (+16 Strength), some damage (+32 attack damage: +16 from bonus, +16 from Agi stats), attack speed bonus (+32 attack speed: +16 from bonus, +16 from Agi stats), and Maim ability, which in my honest opinion not that much needed because you have allies in battle and have QW abilities to catch up. It's good, but that's it.

The item is just good, not great.

The health bonus is tremendous, but we don't need that much since we are already tanky enough with Vanguard. The Agi stas are good, but there is something better. And most importantly, it cannot purge negative buffs, so buying this item can get her getting kited when enemies cast slows on you or even silence you to prevent escape or fighting back with Phantom Strike and also forces you to buy Black King Bar in later stages.

Manta Style meanwhile purges negative buffs, so less dependent on Black King Bar. Gives Strength but not overwhelmingly so. Giving less damage for you, but compensated by being able to summon illusions, and also gives better attack speed (+41 attack speed: +26 from stats, +15 from bonus). The utility is just far, far better.

Manta also can be build from some parts of Silver Edge, making her more open to options. Sange however offers no benefit at all to her, even when disassembling SnY for Manta. Most that you can do is selling that item, and that is what I call inefficiency. When going mid game dominance, inefficiency is your worst enemy.

While of course some games may demand more health and that extra 'oomph' to kill enemies, most of the time, you want Manta Style. Besides, the cost difference between these two items are mere 850 gold.

Third is Heaven's Halberd, it falls the same way as Butterfly but far worse because the item doesn't give many benefits for its costs.

Ideal Line-Up

Dota 2 is a team game no matter how you see it.


In this build, Phantom Assassin and your mid player should be the spearhead in fights where your two supports or casters deal damage from mid or back line

It doesn't matter who the heroes are, but what you want your team composed similar to this (this is an example and should not be taken as point of justification):

-- Position 1 (Main Carry): Phantom Assassin (you)
-- Position 2 (Mid / secondary carry): Shadow Fiend / Lina / Invoker / Dragon Knight
-- Position 3 (Offlaner, solo or otherwise): Tidehunter / Dark Seer / Mirana / Slardar / Enchantress / Nature's Prophet
-- Position 4 (Support that needs some items (ex: Blink Dagger) to be effective / Jungler / Roaming): Lion / Axe / Sand King / Vengeful Spirit
-- Position 5 (Your babysitter and map warder): Witch Doctor / Ancient Apparition / Omniknight / Skywrath Mage / Io / Shadow Shaman

These are an example of good line up for general gameplay when surrounding you, cover many bases like:

  • High win chance of clash potential (Major damage from cores SF/Lina/Invoker and non-cores (WD/AA/Sky) nukes and heals for any hiccups like Mekansm heals from Tidehunter or Dark Seer)
  • Strong ganking potential from Lina/Invoker/Mirana/Axe/Vengeful Spirit
  • Strong Zoning from Skywrath Mage and potential set up from Lion and Sand King to ensure good farm.
  • Good damage enhancement from Slardar/Shadow Fiend/Vengeful Spirit on your team.

When your Vanguard, Power Treads, Blight Stone, Ring of Basilius done (at 15~16 minute mark), hopefully your team already has item like this:

-- Position 1: As listed above.
-- Position 2: Any item he needs to kill enemies, (ex: Eul's Scepter of Divinity for Lina or Shadow Fiend)
-- Position 3: Mekansm (If Pos 3 hero can deliver much better with Blink Dagger or any other item, then the duty of getting Mekansm falls to your Pos 4)
-- Position 4: Urn of Shadows or Mekansm
-- Position 5: Do you expect this position 5 hero to have anything? He already spends money on wards, dewards, and smokes without any kind of farming... don't push him farther. But if he get kills and surprisingly rich for a pos 5 hero, ask him to get Urn instead of Position 4, because most of the time, Position 4 deliver better performance when he has the item he needs.

The line up is leaning very heavily on pushes at least when being seen from the item side. Mekansm, Vladmir's Offering, Urn of Shadows, all leans towards survival, which is what you want, because you can push tier 2 towers easily and dominate most map when you survive clashes and enemies are not there to stop you.

However this line up also has powerful team fights to support pushes after fighting. Which many games usually goes like this now.

This is the current meta after all.


Long live Phantom Assassin and her naked arcana body suit!! Them jiggles man....

Comment and feedback please!! Some critiques are appreciated, and if convincing I'll add changes to this build.

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