Hello! I'm Fumbles16 and this is my basic guide for Sand King. Sand King is a fairly easy hero to play in Dota 2, but who needs some explanation on how to execute his skills for newer players who want to try him out.
Sand King is a Ganker and Initiator who excels in surprising the enemy, dealing massive damage with his ultimate, and stunning enemies so that your carries can finish them off.
This hero should be played as a support, meaning that you will be buying and placing wards for your team, as well as building common support items from time to time. However, he is definitely not passive in his supporting role, and requires a lot of timing, placement, and skill-usage to be fully effective on his team.
As with all of Dota's heroes, there are certain times to pick and not pick Sand King. I'll give a brief list for each which will make it simpler when choosing your hero.
Pick Sand King If:
Your team lacks disables.
You have plenty of carries (which happens a lot in pub matches)
You need a fairly mobile hero
You have good communication and can execute ganks well with your team
Do NOT pick Sand King if:
The opposing team has a lot of silences ( Drow Ranger, Death Prophet)
The opposing team has AoE Stuns ( Slardar, Centaur Warrunner , Sven)
The opposing team is disable-heavy in general ( Lion)
The opposing team has natural true sight abilities ( Bounty Hunter, Slardar)
Sand King only works if he can get his spells off. A silence, especially a 6 second one from Drow Ranger, will completely take you out of most teamfights or cause you to resort to fleeing. Sand King is NOT a right-clicking hero by any means, and can't rely on his auto-attack to get him out of tight spots. Mana Burners can also be a problem, since you have a relatively low mana pool and need every ounce to be effective.
These are fairly simple. Clarity and health restoration will keep you from hauling yourself to the fountain as much, and the other stuff is for stats and build into a Bracer. This will usually get you by until you start building early-game items, but you may need to refill your Tango and Clarity supply occasionally.
Optional: You may need to buy the Animal Courier, no big deal. You're a support, and nobody really likes buying it in pubs. Just take it over your stat-uppers and get them with your first courier call (you'll need it for your Bracer recipe anyway). Don't be afraid to upgrade it later, too. It's only a few hundred gold for both and your mid-laner will thank you.
If you expect to face a lot of harassment from heroes like Sniper, etc, a Stout Shield is a smart purchase. If you lane with another melee hero (which isn't usually the best choice), this is almost a must. Never buy a Quelling Blade. It's a waste of gold because you aren't a carry/don't need early farm, and shouldn't really be worried about last hitting.
First off you need to finish your Bracer and invest in some Boots of Speed, for obvious reasons. If you can, it's best to upgrade your boots to Arcane Boots soon after. Be sure you buy some Observer Wards and keep a TP scroll on you to protect you and your lane partner from early ganks. If you have a level 1 invis hero like Broodmother or Bounty Hunter, grab some dust and sentries asap.
The last thing to build before your core is an Urn of Shadows. This item is not absolutely necessary, however. If someone like Spirit Breaker or Night Stalker is already going to build one, then save your gold for a Blink Dagger. Also, if your lane is going badly and you probably aren't going to net any kills before the first teamfight, I'd go ahead and hold off on it.
Pretty short list, huh? These are really the only two items that Sand King absolutely must have to function, which is what core really is. The Blink Dagger gives you mobility and also makes it 100% easier to set up your ultimate. Combined with Burrowstrike, you really can cross a lot of ground in only a second and escape/enter any situation with ease.
Aghanim's Scepter is rarely a true core item on any hero, but it really helps Sand King a lot. It increases damage (through number of pulses) and decreases the dragging cooldown time.
It's usually best to hold off on these until you have your core items, because none of them offer you the same amount of usefulness. Your Bracer can easily be built into a Drum of Endurance, which is good for stats and has a fairly useful active ability. Pipe of Insight gives you a bit more regeneration and magic resistance, and has an active that every team should have. If nobody else plans to build it, you should. Vlad's has several pros for a very cheap price, and gives a great buff to your carries if they have unique attack modifiers that aren't lifesteal. If you have mostly ranged teammates or your carries naturally build lifesteal, just save your gold.
Mekansm will rarely be built. There are a lot of hard supports that don't have a ganking role to fill like you who need to build it instead. However, every team must have one of these for teamfight buffing, and if nobody will build it, you need to. It's relatively cheap, but can still cut into your core gold. (If you have to build this, it will likely be before you finish your scepter)
Veil of Discord gets a special mention because a lot of people build this as core on Sand King. The only problem is that trying to land its active while also making sure your timing and blink placement are accurate can get a bit tricky. I much prefer to let someone else build this and cast it for you so all you need to do is activate and blink in. However, if you have some spare gold it's definitely a worthwhile item that also gives some great stats.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity is actually a fantastic item on Sand King, but won't be built much. It's pretty cheap for all it offers (Mana regen, movespeed, a great active), and is a pretty good choice for the first item after your core is complete. You can use the active to hold them in place for the rest of your team, or to begin channeling your ultimate if you decide to use it on them. It can also take out enemy carries for a bit in a teamfight, or save you from damage while your Blink Dagger/ Burrowstrike recharges.
If you buy wards and the like for the whole game like you're supposed to, you'll be lucky to ever see one of these. For you to afford them, you pretty much have to be dominating the game and swimming in gold. However, the time could come when you can afford them in the final stages of the game.
Assault Cuirass is a fantastic aura to give your team, but is often built by carries. Attack Speed and Armor buffs, enough said.
Black King Bar is that item that is useful on basically every hero in the game. Gives you more muscle and some great magic immunity that will make channeling your ult a bit easier. Buy if you have trouble with disablers.
Shiva's Guard is my armor of choice for Sand King. The active is a great slowing nuke with a massive AoE, and the boost it gives your mana pool is exceptional. Also gives you a nice bit of armor.
Linken's Sphere is what I prefer over BKB. You get regen, stats, and every 17 seconds you block one targeted spell. This means that if you rush into battle with your ult in full fury, you only laugh when Sven shoots his Storm Hammer at you only to find that it failed. It's one less active you have to think about before going into a teamfight. If there's only one or two major disables on their team, I'd go with this instead of BKB.
Heaven's Halberd gives you evasion and strength, plus a nifty maim ability. Not a bad pick if your enemies are right-clickers who focus you down in seconds. You can also pick one unlucky carry on their team and disarm them for a few seconds. Great for messing with Slardar and Drow Ranger, both of whom counter you terribly well.
Heart of Tarrasque is great for strength heroes, but honestly is one of the last luxury items I'd consider. Yes, you can sandstorm to hide (provided there's no true sight on the enemy team lol) and recover a ton of health and be ready to go again, but there are just better options out there. If, however, you find you need some extra strength and regen, by all means.
Boots of Travel are the natural choice after you have your mana problems solved. In the late game your Arcane Boots don't help as much as they did, and having the ability to be anywhere at a moment's notice takes higher precedence. The movespeed is a pretty great addition, too.
Orchid Malevolence is kind of the offensive counterpart to Shiva's Guard. You still mend your mana problems, but you get a silence and damage amplifier instead of an armor buff and attack slow aura. It's really good for single-target ganks, and for shutting down enemy casters.
I won't go into detail on damage, cooldown, and mana cost because all of that is available up top. I just want to give a brief overview of what each ability needs to be used for, and how it synergizes with your items.
Burrowstrike- This is the skill you will use the most as Sand King. Learn it and love it. It can be used to gank, escape, or initiate, and delivers a nice bit of damage as well. Usually you want to use this to tackle down fleeing enemies so that your carry can snag a kill. Do NOT use this to snipe kills away from carries. That's pretty much the opposite of your job, so don't be greedy. It's common to use this skill to enter and exit your Sand Storm as an escape mechanism, but once you have your blink that isn't all that necessary.
This is a Unit or Point Targeting skill, so aiming is really easy. If you have one hero alone, just select and click to strike them. If there's a group, it's usually better to click the ground in the middle of them so you stun them all. A well-placed strike can take a whole team out for a few seconds and really help in early teamfights.
Sand Storm- This isn't really the most useful skill. I've gone entire matches without ever activating it. It's mostly for an escape, but only works until the enemy wisens up and gets dust/sentries/gem. In anything but the lowest level pub matches, the enemy will get dust and sentries as soon as they see a Sand King, because you will be that easy of a kill. Check your enemies' item slots for dust and sentries before you even think about using this skill as a last ditch escape effort, because you're better off running if they're carrying those. The damage isn't really worth mentioning, so I won't. Oh, whoops.
Caustic Finale- A severely underrated farming tool and Sand King's lone passive ability. Basically, every unit you attack gets a nice dose of venom injected into them. When that unit dies, they explode and deliver burst damage in a small AoE around them. It pretty much lets you push and farm when you aren't pulverizing the enemy team with your next skill.
Epicenter- This is why you pick Sand King! After channeling for two seconds, you start pounding the ground like Donkey Kong and leaving a path of destruction in your wake. The key part of this skill is actually getting it off. You'll be tempted to move or blink early before the ability is channeled completely, which will cancel it, wasting your mana and leaving you with a long cooldown.
The usual tactic is to channel, let the pulses begin and then immediately blink into the middle of the enemies. The slow will mean they have a hard time getting away from the massive damage, and since you have a pretty good-sized AoE to work with, the rest of your team will have an easy time contributing damage to them. You want to hide out of range or out of sight until your channeling is complete.
The skill delivers its full damage to everyone caught in the AoE, unlike other skills such as Skywrath Mage's ultimate which divides the damage between heroes. This means that the more heroes you hit with this skill, the better!
Around level 6 you can use this skill to kill one or two heroes and it isn't really considered a waste. Late and mid game you need to save it for the teamfights, but since those don't usually happen as early as level 6, you can usually afford at least one on a single target. Just try and make sure you do secure a kill if you use it, it's painful to use it and come up empty-handed.
The pulses will continue if you get stunned or silenced, but if either of those happens while you're channeling the skill will be canceled.
You can auto-attack while using Epicenter, but it's best to stay alongside the likely fleeing targets so they stay in range of your damage and slow. If you auto-attack you run the risk of falling behind afterward, and it's best to let other team members attack them instead.
Throughout the match you need to be buying and placing wards. If there are any heroes on the enemy team have invisibility abilities ( Clinkz, Riki) or even build Shadow Blade as a core item ( Sniper, Kunkka), you need to keep Dust of Appearance on you at all times. Your carries won't have the item space to keep it with them, and it's just your job as a support to keep the invisible heroes VISIBLE!
Warding is one of the most important aspects of Dota 2 and gives a ton of benefits to your team. It will leave you a little strapped for cash, but your team will thank you. Keep the runes warded early, and then place them around the map as needed as the game creeps on.
This guide gives a great look at warding as a whole, and I'll include the map they offer in this guide for easy access:
Every hero in Dota 2 has certain other heroes that they synergize with, or are countered by. Sand King is no exception.
Leshrac- He needs a little help landing his Split Earth ability, and that's where your Burrowstrike comes in. Both stuns and their damages, plus his Diabolic Edict will make for a very easy kill in early levels. Once you both have your ultimates, you can deal a ton of damage in an area around you with them both active.
Lina, Centaur Warrunner , Slardar, etc- Basically anyone who needs help landing their disables. Stunlocking is a very effective way to net some early kills, and yours is a lot easier to land than others.
Tidehunter, Enigma, Magnus- Heroes who can deliver big AoE stuns or group enemies together will make landing your ult that much easier. After a Black Hole you can basically just walk right up to the group of enemies and make them take the full brunt of your ultimate.
Lich- His ultimate, when timed right, can keep a group of enemies together taking damage and slows for a number of bounces, and if you can get in the middle of them with your ultimate they will drop like flies.
Naga Siren- Her ult is wonderful for setting your Epicenter up. Pretty basic, but don't activate your ult until hers is finished. Anyone under her song is immune to damage until it's over.
Drow Ranger- You're kind of soft by strength hero standards, and she delivers massive damage even at level 6. The biggest threat, however, is her ridiculous Silence. She will silence you and then proceed to shoot you to death.
Death Prophet- Same deal as Drow, but her damage is through spamming spells. Her AoE silence can shut you up and interrupt your channels, so watch out. Also, her nuke will hit you in your Sandstorm and leave you defenseless.
Silencer- Global Silence and mana burn, plus he tends to deal quite a bit of damage late game. Pretty obvious.
Bounty Hunter- Good luck getting away once he uses Track on you. Gold for everyone! (except you)
Pudge- His combo can cut you down pretty quick if you can't blink away in time.
Kunkka- If you try to hide in a sandstorm he will raise a gush of water right up beneath you while the rest of his team picks you apart. This goes for anyone with AoE stuns like Lina. His cleave will also decimate you if you try to hide.
Legion Commander- If she Duels you, you can only use your auto-attack which is pretty weak. Very weak compared to hers, anyway. The rest of the team also gets free shots on you while the duel is happening.
This guide will be edited and expanded upon in the future, but the main stuff is there for now. All comments are welcome, because I'm sure something got left out. For now..
This Guide Needs:
More in-depth look at friends and foes
Lane strategy chapter
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