Sand King is one of the most viable, aggressive and wtfpwnbbq initiator you can find. Well played, he will lead your team to victory with an high K:D:A score. Of all the initiators: Earthshaker, Enigma, Tidehunter, Clockwerk, Pudge, etc., he's clearly one of the best choices cause he can eastly farm, easly push back a lane, he's "tanky" with the right items and he doesn't require a 146 IQ to be played right.
Laning is the hardest part with him as he's kinda fragile, forget that's a strenght hero and play him safely. If you get your 2 bracers up fast, you'll get the strenght (the tankiness) needed to own your lane. As soon as you get your dagger, you are the most feared initiator on the battlefield.
I wouldn't recommend Sand King to starters cause he requires the map awereness skill which comes as you play more and more games. You can still use him and be sucessfull, but I wouldn't force myself to use it if I was just starting with DotA.
Game timer: -00:30
Decide if you'll lane or roam. Take one of these starting item builds.
This will give you alot of lane survivability, good farming capacities and enough regen to stay there for a while. This is how I start most of my games.
1x Observer Ward
3x Iron Branch
This will give your team wards while leaving you with enough regen to stay in lane for a while. You're only missing +1 each stats from the previous build, but you'll need to farm the circlet in order to get your 2 bracers. If you are going for this build, get wand instead of bottle.
1x Bottle (or Magic Wand not both, depends on what you started with)
1x Boots of Speed
1x Blink Dagger
Those items will give you enough survivability and the power to properly initiate team fights without any problem. This is where you'll feel Sand King is becoming a monster.
Game timer: 20:00
You should be done with your core by now. You have your Blink Dagger and you're ready to initiate the fights. Your Bottle / Magic Wand will keep your mana up and from now on your job is to GANK, GANK, GANK and GANK, I think I forgot to mention that you have to GANK! You shoudn't lane at all unless you have to push it back. Use Burrowstrike + Caustic Finale in order to farm the lane super fast.
1x Power Treads (or Phase Boots)
1x Black King Bar
Some of you will prefer Phase Boots over Power Treads cause it will be easier to follow players with those boots. I'm personnaly confident in my Burrowstrike skills to get Power Treads in order to get more HPs. Get what you feel is better for you.
Black King Bar is absolutly mendatory on Sand King as your ult isn't click and go and being stunned while using your ult, negates all the damage you could do.
Game timer: 30:00
You should be done with your Power Treads and Black King Bar. Now it's time to choose which of the luxury item will fit the game. KEEP GANG-KING.
- Heart of Tarrasque: cause you won't die anymore. Giving you alot of HP regen and flat HPs. I will concider this item if I die alot.
- Shiva's Guard: cause your ult will be that much more effective. It gives you another edge in the initiation. Also it will solve you mana problem (if you have any). I concider this item if they have alot of melee or high mobility heros
- Aghanim's Scepter: cause your ult will do alot more damage. It gives your ult more pulse and high damage as well. I concider this item if I don't need Heart of Tarrasque or Shiva's Guard.
- Force Staff: If you're having trouble with getting out of fights or if you want to initiate from far far far away. Also it's usefull to save your allies and it gives you some mana and damage at low cost. I concider this item when we get trouble leaving team fights.
Note about Force Staff: Most of the pro teams will get 2x Force Staff per game. It's a pretty cheap item to get and gives alot of needed stats. Don't get this item if you feel another hero would benefit more from it or if your farm is going too well to get bothered with this one
- Linken's Sphere: Good against Doombringer, Zeus, Bane, etc. It also beef you up and solve your mana problems.
Items to concider:
- Assault Cuirass: Aura items are always good. You can concider this item if no one will make it and if you need the extra armor.
- Vladmir's Offering: Aura again, only to help the team.
- Observer Ward: Help your support to get his last items in order to be able to support the team. Anyways after 1-2 luxury items, you're tanky enough and don't require more items.
- Gem of True Sight: By the end of the game, you'll rarely die... help your team by countering any vanish heroes, shadow blade and runes the other team can have.
Other lane items you'd want
- Quelling Blade: This is definatly a n00b item on him as the +4 stats gives you enough to out last hit/deny everyone except Spirit Breaker. You might want to get this item in lane from the side shop if you can't farm at all.
- Stout Shield: Only and Only if you're being super haressed and you'll get it from the side shop.
[Q] = Burrowstrike
[W] = Sand Storm
[E] = Caustic Finale
[R] = Epicenter
Level 1 - Burrowstrike
Level 2 - Sand Storm
Level 3 - Burrowstrike
Level 4 - Caustic Finale / Sand Storm
Level 5 - Burrowstrike
Level 6 - Epicenter
Level 7 - Burrowstrike
Level 8 - Caustic Finale / Sand Storm
Level 9 - Caustic Finale / Sand Storm
Level 10 - Caustic Finale
Level 11 - Epicenter
Level 12 - Sand Storm / Caustic Finale
Level 13 - Sand Storm / Caustic Finale
Level 14 - Sand Storm / Caustic Finale
Level 15 - Stats
Level 16 - Epicenter
Level 17+ - Stats
Some of you might want to take Sand Storm over Caustic Finale, cause it reduces the mana cost, increase the lenght and lower the cooldown. I prefer Caustic Finale cause it's a way to harass the melee carry you're probably fighting on the short lane while giving you an early edge in farming. Remember, your gold is to get dagger as soon as humanly possible. With a short combo of burrow strike and 2 melee attack you can push a full wave of creeps. I personaly use Sand Storm only to survive the 1st encounters or when I fail to detect a gank.
Caustic Finale has only one drawback, it will push the lane to your ennemies tower which means that you might get ganked by the mid lane. Communication from the mid will help and get Observer Ward as soon as possible!
Q + W : It will stun the ennemies and protect you against them. Make sure you're not using this against heroes with "arena stuns" such as Slardar and Tiny.
W + Q : You had to W your way in order to survive and now you have to get out? Use your Q and try to stun someone as you do it.
Level 6 :
R + Q + W : Initiate with your ult and Q. You'll probably need to hide in the forest to initiate this way as everyone will see you're starting your ult.
When you get your dagger :
R + [shift+dagger] + Q : Initiate a fight
Dagger + Q : Chase someone too far away from Q
Q + Dagger : Get a stun on someone and get away from the fight (make an easy kill for your carry).
W + Dagger : Get out of a trouble some place
W + Dagger + Q : Get out far far far away
W + Q + Dagger : Get out while stunning some heroes for your team
This skill needed a chapter for itself since it's an offensive, defensive, stun, amasing skill.
Use Q offensively:
Always try to stun and finish your stun INFRONT of your targets escape path. This way, you'll be able to give 2~3 extra auto attack or just block him so your carry can kill him.
Always try to line up multiple heroes.
Use Q defensively
Stucked? Need an escape path? Use it to jump in the side forest, in the jungle, up or down in the river / your base, jump on higher / lower ground.
Use Q as a stun
You see a Shadowfiend poping his ult, say no and jump for the stun! Don't forget to /laugh, /taunt after that :)
To be a good initiator you need those skills:
- Good map awareness (you'll need a good support for wards)
- Communication (get a mic)
- Good laning comprehension (to get your dagger asap)
- Know every heroes and their skills
- Know every items and their skills
How to initiate ?
- Press your talk button saying: "I'M GOING TO INITIATE ON THEM"
- Press ALT + Click on the map to ping
- Activate BKB, or wait till blink if you're safe (if you have it)
- Press R + [Shift + blink dagger + click where you want to initiate]
- Press Q on at least 2~3 heros, follow them.
- Than you can either W if you're low HP and no one has a stun in order to use your Q or dagger to get out of combat or just auto attack your way to victory while using Q on CD.
When do I initiate ?
You will have to get good vision of the mini-map in order to know WHEN to initiate. Let's say, you have 4 of your guys in the mid and 3 of them just infront and about to push, this is a good time to initiate. You have your carry near you and they're 5, this is NOT a good time to initiate. You have 5 of your men against 5 of their men + a tower, it's debatable and you'll have to find out when it's a good time and when it's not a good time.
You can ONLY initiate when you can CALL IT and when you're 110% sure your team will win this fight. If you have 2% doupt, it's cause it's not a good time to initiate.
I almost always play the short lane with Sand King, if I'm not, I will roam and mostly stay between the mid and the "Long/carry lane" and will gank none stop pulling creeps for extra XP.
The short lane is "Top for Radiant" and "Bottom for Dire". The reason you want to play the short lane is cause you have stuns that will disrupt the other teams carry. Also, you need to farm and you need to let your carry farm, which means you can't be in the same lane.
Your lane partner should be a ranged, with stun/slow, that can be agressive and doesn't require alot of farm to be good such as: Shadow Shaman, Windrunner, Zeus, Lich, Pugna, Lion, etc.
Start at your team pull creep spot. Double stack at 0:53 and than pull at 1:15. Get the most XP out of it. It should get you to lvl2 and than go gank in the lane. If it's not a kill get back at 2:15 pull get the most out out of it you'll be lvl3 and gank again. Than move to mid harass mid and go back to pull or double stack around the 5th minute. By then you should be lvl4. If it's not a kill than start adding more in Caustic Finale and try to jungle the best you can. Bottle and run control will be require. While jungling, try to stay 1 level max under your carry lane and go gank every time you feel like you can.
The only reason you want to roam is cause you have a good solo hero that can solo top or bot.
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