Riki is one of my favorite heroes to play for a couple of reasons. One, he's ridiculously overpowered in the right hands. And I don't mean in the way that Earth Spirit or Phoenix are overpowered if you get great positioning and timing, or how Meepo is OP if you are a micro-god. I mean he just deals a **** ton of damage and pisses everybody off in doing so. And two, he's ridiculously easy. If you're new to the game, I suggest you try Riki because he has a low skill floor and is tons of fun to play.
In this guide I'll be trying to cover the basics in as brief a way as possible, so that you can quickly read this while in queue or during an extended pause.
This guide is also intended to be a wall of text because some users (myself included) don't really care whether or not we see flashy icons. If you're unfamiliar with the items in the game, definitely read up on them before playing as it's one of the barriers to entry for all ARTS games.
Always start with Permanent Invisibility. Always. I typically tell people not to skill their first ability until the situation you need an ability reveals itself, but for Riki it's different. With invis, you can scout out the beginning rune spots, creep-blocking wards, and turn a 2v2 fight into a first blood for your team. It also helps to secure last hits in lane. I typically max this ASAP, as when maxed there's a 2 second downtime on your stealth, effecitvely making you one of the best escape-artists in the game, and making your lane even easier to win. Some people max Backstab, which is fine, but not my style. Always get this first (did I mention always?).
Next I like to get Smoke Screen, which most people think is weird, but it makes a life-or-death difference if your lane opponents decide to get aggressive. Backstab is a very legitimate second choice, as it makes last-hitting a breeze and ups your harass or even kill potential, but I've played enough Riki to be able to time last-hitting with the two Slippers of Agility I start with. His base damage is really, really low though, so if you don't think you'll be able to get every last hit (every single one), then Backstab is the way to go. Regardless of when you pick it up, one point in your Smoke Screen is enough until everything else is maxed. If you get this second, one thing it enables you to do is to start forcing fights. Right-click your opponent enough for them to want to trade, smoke to prevent a trade, and then have your lane-mate CC them. This is a very reliable way to get an early kill in lane.
Backstab is your bread-and-butter, as is often said. It makes your damage stupid and makes you a terrible person to play against. Enemy going for a last hit? Hit them, and then laugh as when they try to turn away they take extra damage. Just line yourself to the back of the target, in basically every situation, and you're golden. Max this second or first, depending on if you want to max Permanent Invisibility second or first.
Your ultimate is Blink Strike. It gains 4/5/6 charges and is a distance-closer like no other. That's pretty much it. After you blink, you get an instant attack-command, so even if the enemy is fast, if you keep blinking to them you're always going to get an attack in. Because it teleports you behind the target, this also means your guarenteed attack is a guarenteed Backstab proc. This means even a racecar Bloodseeker can be taken out by throwing your charges on him. I actually use this as an opener in my ganks, as missing your Smoke Screen from far away is rather embarassing. Blink>Smoke>Diffusal>Kill. Be conservative with these, and try to save your charges for the kill secure. Max whenever possible, obviously.
FUN FACT: Blink Strike will teleport you on friendly units as well as enemies. This makes you even more slippery than most people know. I just played a game where my Nature's Prophet teleported to a hill by where 4 enemies were grouped up. I assassinated one and blinked out of harm's way to him. Lols were had by all.
So as you can see, Riki's skills synergize well with each other, and with his core items. Use them to their full effectiveness and I guarantee you will carry.
In all honesty, I rarely stick to this skill build as well. Your Permanent Invisibility and Backstab compete for attention, as each are useful in different ways. Put points where you feel you need them according to the pace of the game, and you'll be fine.
So you're going to start with two Slippers of Agility, a set of Tangoes, a Healing Salve and an Iron Branch. This is my standard, as it allows you to quickly build Poor Man's Shield from the side shop which will (ideally) give you an easy laning phase. You can start with the Stout Shield if you think you'll be against aggressive phys. damage dealers, but Riki's basic attack is so pathetic this extra AGI will really help with the first few last hits.
At any point you can buy Orb of Venom from the side shop if you wish, though I don't usually find myself needing it.
After Poor Man's Shield, build Power Treads from the side shop. Not much to be said here. You can build Phase Boots but I wouldn't recommend it. You shouldn't have left lane for any purchases, and you've hopefully rationed out your healing as well. Now that we have mobility, we can start to roam. Before you leave your lane, make sure to pick up one or two Town Portal Scrolls.
The next item you should start to build is your Diffusal Blade. This item is HUGE. What this item allows you to do is essentially 1v1 any hero on the map. You should be catching people out who are trying to roam or farm jungle, throwing down your Smoke Screen (especially against escape heroes like Storm/Anti-Mage) and using Diffusal's active on them, slowing them to a crawl and keeping them silenced. As they flee in terror your Backstab procs kick in and you get yet another kill. It takes a while to build, however, which is why roaming is important, and efficiency is key.
FUN FACT: Diffusal Blade can be used on Riki to remove annoying effects, notably Dust of Appearance. **** saves lives, yo.
The next item you want is Sange and Yasha, preferably building Yasha first. You run out of Diffusal Blade charges pretty quickly, so I hope you've made them count. Typically by the time I finish SnY I have one or two uses left. The Sange proc also adds a passive slow proc chance to your kit, which might save you a charge of your Diffusal Blade.
Now you want to buy the Diffusal Blade recipe to upgrade it to level 2. This will refresh your blade uses and allow you to continue being an *******, now equipped with the damage from SnY. Make sure you've used up all your charges from the level 1 Diffusal Blade first, as each one should effectively equate to one kill (with 8 charges each, this means 16 kills for your team, which adds up to a lot of $).
Here we can start to mix it up as the standard build is finished. I like to build Skull Basher here, but it sort of depends on the pace of the game. Build the following items in whatever order you feel you need to:
Skull Basher -- (eventually) --> Abyssal Blade (active stun use replaces Diffusal Blade)
Black King Bar
Eye of Skadi *(for when Diffusal becomes obsolete)
So your finished build might look a little like this:
Power Treads/Diffusal Blade/SnY/Abyssal Blade/BKB/Butterfly/EoS*
This is hardly set in stone, mind you. A lot of Riki players buy Mask of Madness to help with their gank damage after the Smoke/Diffusal combo, Drum of Endurance for similar reasons, maybe Manta Style for added escape -- it really all depends on what you need. If they have a lot of magic damage, rush your BKB; if they have a Windranger or a Phantom Assassin, swap your Skull Basher for a quick Monkey King Bar. A dynamic Riki player is a good Riki player.
So your best friends are going to be anyone with hard CC. Riki lacks any natural CC outside of his silence (the slow from smoke is **** and you know it), so having a Crystal Maiden or Shadow Shaman (my two favorites to lane with) will mean you'll be getting super fed for the first 10 minutes of the game. Anyone with CC will work, because until you get Diffusal Blade, you really can't set up kills by yourself.
Your foes are, obviously, going to be anyone with true vision. Zeus, Slardar, etc. Anyone with burst magic damage like Leshrac or Lina can also be a pain, as Riki has very high base armor but not much health. It sucks to get these matchups but it's not the worst thing in the world. If your enemy is at all competent they will buy Sentry Wards and put them in your lane. You can buy your own sentries to counter, or you can just deal with it. Believe it or not, you can get by without stealth pretty well because of your natural tankiness. If they go overboard and sentry the whole map, meaning you can't roam, you at least ****ed up their suppoort's gold income. There's nothing to do here but farm the items you would've gotten from roaming.
As I've covered, there's really not much to playing Riki. If your lane is in a fight, throw down your Smoke Screen, and win or disperse that fight. If an enemy is overextended, make them regret it. If you want to surprise your opponent, you're possibly the best hero in the game to do so.
Once you have your Diffusal Blade, you need to roam constantly. Roaming will help secure your team the mid-game, which in turn will hopefully secure you the late-game and the enemy's ancient. The roaming strat is simple:
[*] Find an enemy (alone)
[*] Blink to said enemy
[*] Throw down smoke to really **** up their escape or their chance at fighting back
[*] Diffusal that ***** to keep them ****ed up
[*] Kill enemy, and escape, stealthed, before backup arrives
[*] Type "ez" in all chat
If you get that down, you've done it! Congratulations, you've mastered one of the easiest and cheesiest heroes in the game. It only gets better from here.
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