In the right hands, Sand King is one of the most effective initiators in the game. Sand King is only a semi item dependent hero but is deadly when core items are purchased. In a team fight, Sand King's Ult (Epicenter) is one of the strongest DPS skills which can decimate vulnerable enemies. The most important investment, blind dagger, can completely sweep an opposing line-up and can turn an enemies push into their own demise. Once you have mastered the timing of the Epi-Blink process, Sand King can be a potential game changing hero.
Tango - This item is completely optional. May players prefer getting 2-3 Ironwood Branch's for early game stats but I personally enjoy applying early game pressure to opposing heroes so Tango benefits me greatly.
Healing Salve - This is important for early game survivability and replenishes your health after initiating in early game harassment. Or being harassed that is.
Clarity - This item is very important to bring into lane with Sand King due to his mana dependability before having Arcane Boots.
Town Portal Scroll - Always carry around Town Portal Scroll's with you because your job is a ganker, initiator and team fighter. You must carry this to travel around the map in times of need. THIS IS HOW YOU PICK UP EARLY KILLS WHEN YOU GET EPICENTER!
Early/Mid Game Items:
Bottle - This item is a part of build #2 and is optional. In my opinion bottle is used by newer players because it is easier to manage than urn or magic wand. Bottle provides immediate health and mana restoration for Sand King - which can be useful at lower level. If you decide to use bottle, go straight for blink dagger after arcane boots and leave out the urn. If you decide to use urn of shadows do not waste your gold on bottle.
Arcane Boots - This item is where the fun begins. You should be at least level 6-7 at this point. Arcane boots provides Sand King with the base mana and the active mana replenish that he needs. With Arcane boots you are now ready to initiate opposing heroes with the Burrow Strike / Epicenter combination. (This combo is recommended for heroes who do not have escape skills or disabling stuns. Don't push your luck until you have purchased the blink dagger.)
Urn of Shadows - Sand King is an initiator and takes damage frequently. Sand King is also a hero that can provide support for others by healing them with the Urn of Shadows. More experienced players are recommended to pick urn of shadows over the bottle.
Blink Dagger - The life of Sand King. Without a blink dagger, Sand King CANNOT be used to its full potential. Use the blink dagger to initiate team fights. It is important to warn your team that you will be initiating! After calling your initiation, channel epicenter - blink into the group of enemies - borrow strike. You should try to land your stun (burrow strike) on as many target heroes as possible.
Aghanim's Scepter - Scepter will add +10 of all attributes and much needed health and mana for Sand King. The main use of scepter is the two extra pulses and the reduced cool down for Sand King's epicenter. The cool down reduction will allow you to initiate more often - therefor team pushing and team fights will be in your favor.
Veil of Discord - Many people overlook the importance of the Veil of Discord. Not only providing stats and HP regin, the Veil of Discord has an active that increases the amount of magic damage enemies take within a radius by 25% for 25 seconds. That is enough to sway the result of a team engagement. DO NOT underestimate the Veil of Discord.
Extensions / Optional (No Particular Order)
Heart of Tarrasque - A great item for Sand King taking into account that as an initiator he will get beat-up in team fights. The extra health and regin with give him that "Tanky" feel.
Shiva's Guard - Slows enemies movement speed in a small AOE. This can be useful as an initiating melee hero.
Black King Bar - This item can save your life in a team fight. Black King Bar is a great addition to the epi-blink combination for Sand King. I find it more effective to build Veil of Discord over Black King Bar because the Blink Dagger already allows you to channel you epicenter without interruption.
Assault Cuirass - A core item with many melee heroes. This can provide Sand King with defense, making him more durable in battle. A little on the pricey side (This is why this item is considered luxury for Sand King)
Vanguard - A quick pickup late game after your core items are complete. That 250 bonus hp with +6 regin can make a lot of difference.
Radiance - The active can break up a team fight. The damage isn't really as important for Sand King as it would be for other heroes.
Burrow Strike - A great stun, imitation device, and escape skill all build into one. Burrow strike is the main focus when using Sand King. Level this skill up as quickly as possible to gank and engage in battle. Remember that burrow strike stuns all enemies that it passes through - works in a straight line of cast.
Sand Storm - This skill can be an excellent farming mechanism. I get one skill point of sandstorm at level two so that I can harass in lane and cause a distraction to enemy harassment. Later, when maxed, sandstorm can be deadly in team fights. DPS ADDS UP!
Caustic Finale - Ridiculous farm later game. Decimates waves of creeps even though Sand King's auto attack is horrendous. I would get one skill point in caustic finale at level four so that you can provide melee harassment to opposing heroes also fighting for the line of creeps. Max this skill out after level seven for expedited farm.
Epicenter - What Sand King is famous for. This skill is one of the most deadliest in group fights. Upgraded with scepter, epicenter can cause mass destruction. Blink dagger is used for initiation with this skill. After blinking in, burrow strike is immediately casted so that enemy heroes are stunned inside the channeled epicenter. If used correctly team fights will result in your teams favor a majority of the time.
Epicenter + Blink Dagger + Burrow Strike Combo:
Press R + [ blink dagger + click where you want to initiate] Then press Q to stun 2-3 enemies ideally.
+ Easy to farm for a melee hero
+ Blink dagger / Burrow strike / Sand storm escape mechanisms
+ Great team fight initiator
+ 300 Base movement speed
+ Can take on the support role
-Ult Requires a channel and can be interrupted
-Early game mana dependency
-Auto attack well below average
-Opposing players will target you in a team fight, you will have a lot of assists
+Use epicenter to initiate a team engagement
+Use sand storm when level 2+ to farm neutrals
+Provide support for team mates - Arcane for mana - Urn for health
+Use caustic finale for last hitting creeps
+Make sure your team is aware when your Ult is ready for use
+Make sure to carry around a Town Portal Scroll
-Force your ult into groups of 3+ enemies if you are alone (It spells D-E-A-T-H)
-Don't let your mana drop below 300 or 400 if you plan to fight
-Try to channel your alt near heroes that can disable such as Lion
-Channel sand storm in lane when opponents have AOE stuns or damage spells
-Get cocky with epicenter, it is not a guaranteed kill - especially later into the game
This is my first guide. I have always been a fan of the initiation role in DOTA. Sand King AKA the King of initiation is a very versatile hero that is not totally item dependent. Core items should be strictly followed as they assist you in your role of initiation.
These two builds are my personal preference with the hero Sand King. I am not saying they are the perfect build for everyone's individual playing style. I have found both build #1 and build #1 to be very effective for my style of play.
Sand King is generally an easy hero to learn but can take skill to master and to bring forth his true potential as a ganker and an initiator.
Good Luck! I hope this guide helps! Feedback Appreciated!
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