Crixalis, the Sand King, is a versatile initiator known for his powerful stun and AoE ultimate. This arachnid has phenomenal early and mid game presence that slowly diminishes as the game progresses. Despite his relative squishiness, he is a master of escaping thanks to his skills and itemization. As a support, he requires little to become quite powerful as a result of a kit with little scaling. This guide will provide an in depth explanation on how support Sand King is best played. It should be noted that Sand King is not suggested for beginner players as his kit is moderately difficult to use.
Level 1- Burrowstrike
Level 2- Sand Storm
Level 3- Burrowstrike
Level 4- Sand Storm
Level 5- Burrowstrike
Level 6- Epicenter
Level 7- Burrowstrike
Level 8- Stats
Level 9- Stats
Level 10- Stats
Level 11- Epicenter
Level 12- Stats
Level 13- Stats
Level 14- Stats
Level 15- Stats
Level 16- Epicenter
Burrowstrike is a 2.17 second stun with a very short starting range. Units hit by Burrowstrike will be launched into the air for half a second followed by the full stun. Due to the fact the range is only 350 units initially, Burrowstrike is very important to skill first. During early game, having a hero who can stun or slow an enemy hero is very useful as to allow Crixalis to get in range to use Burrowstrike. Burrowstrike can also be used to escape from enemies.
Sand Storm is a channeled ability that causes Sand King to go invisible and damages heroes in a 525 radius. Also, after the channeling ends (regardless if cancelled or not), Sand King remains invisible for 1.5 seconds. While a non-support Crixalis can use this in lane to force out opposing heroes or farming camps, support Crixalis has less uses for Sand Storm. This is why only two skill points is suggested. Mostly, Sand Storm is used to survive against opposing enemies. One can simply sit there and channel Sand Storm or they can cancel it right after activation and use the extra invisibility to escape. Sand Storm can also dodge projectiles such as Queen of Pain's Shadow Strike.
Caustic Finale is a passive ability that applies a debuff on enemies that causes a damaging explosion when the enemy dies. This ability is also very strong on non-support Sand King as it can help push lanes, increase farm speed, and force melee heroes out of lane. Sadly, stats are far more beneficial on support Sand King who cannot easily afford items that increase his tankyness or improve his mana regeneration.
Epicenter is an incredibly powerful ultimate with a two second channeling time that deals AoE damage and applies an AoE (attack and movement) slow over time. The damage and slow occur through pulses that gradually increase in radius. The number of pulses and the cooldown of this ultimate increase and decrease respectively while the damage and slow stay constant at all levels. While the damage is negated by magic immunity, the slow is not. It should also be noted that Epicenter pulses will continue from the point of death if Sand King dies during the ultimate.
Pretty straight forward starting build. If another hero has already bought Animal Courier then buy Observer Ward. If not, buy the courier.
Arcane Boots are a borderline necessity on support Sand King. Phase Boots are an option but I would not advise buying them over Arcane Boots unless you have a couple heroes on your team who already bought them.
Bracer is an item i would strongly suggest buying as Sand King has the third lowest starting strength of any stength hero.
Blink Dagger is integral to Sand King just like it is for many other initiators. With the change to the mana cost of BD (now costing 0 mana), this item can now be bought before finishing arcanes.
Black King Bar is a very good item that needs to always be considered after Blink Dagger. Against a team with many disables or magic damage, this item is a must.
Force Staff provides Sand King along with the entire team some extra mobility. The health regeneration and intelligence are also nice.
Shiva's Guard provides a lot of armor which Sand King can definitely use. The aura is also very helpful but the best part of this item is the active. The damage and slow has remarkable synergy with Sand King's Epicenter.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity makes Sand King much faster while also fixing his mana troubles. The active can be used after channeling Epicenter and can be used after Burrowstrike to prevent getting killed.
Aghanim's Scepter gives Sand King useful stats and a moderately useful boost to his ultimate. Consider all other options before purchasing this.
Veil of Discord gives Sand King a decent amount of armor and solid health regeneration. With a magic heavy lineup, this item should seriously be considered.
Drum of Endurance is an incredibly cost effective item and may be bought provided no other heroes on your team already have bought it.
Vladmir's Offering can be bought mid to late game as the damage bonus is incredibly strong later.
Urn of Shadows should be bought instead of bracer and before Blink Dagger if anything. Do not buy if a teammate intends to buy one. If early aggression is intended, but this item. If not, then typically avoid this item.
When playing Sand King as a support, there are two objectives. Assure your carry can get farmed and seek kills. This means trying to kill the enemies in lane along with roaming to other lanes and finding kills there. For playing in lane, you need to know whether to play aggressively or defensively which requires significant game knowledge. If unaware, it is advised to play defensively. The priority is making sure your carry gets farm so do not take last hits. Just be ready to Burrowstrike your enemies if they engage and Sand Storm to get yourself out. Sitting in lane the entire time is not the best option though. Buy a smoke and smoke up or wait for nighttime and try to find an enemy who is too far out.
With successful ganks and good play in lane, you should be looking at a fast Blink Dagger. If not, that is just fine as Sand King is not a hero who relies on getting ahead early. His Stun proves useful throughout the entire game and Epicenter always does a respectable amount of damage along with providing a useful slow. Once blink Dagger is purchased though, it is all about team fights and pick offs. For team fights, channel your ultimate out of enemy sight. Once the channeling is finished, blink towards your enemy and Burrowstrike. When not in team fights, work with teammates to find isolated enemies. A blink stun combination can lead to easy kills.
Burrowstrike into Epicenter is a powerful combination that provides excellent kill potential especially early. The idea is to stun an enemy with Burrowstrike, immediately begin channeling Epicenter, and then following around the enemy until they die. While it is rather simple, there are a few things to note. Firstly, at level six, this combination requires 305 mana and does 660 damage after magic resistance to your standard hero. Secondly, it is advised you channel behind heroes who can cancel your channeling to prevent a rather embarassing failed Epicenter. Thirdly, do not attempt this against who can easily escape such as those with Blink abilities or can become magic immune. And lastly, this combination should scarcely be executed past early game as your damage will be insufficient and Epicenter is too crucial for one pick off.
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