I've seen a lot of bad advice regarding Slardar lately. As of patch 6.80, he's been buffed, and should see more play in the near future.
In pubs, which typically run a 2-1-2 setup, Slardar can find a place in a dual-offlane situation. His main problem is that he just doesn't fit well in a full-carry role, nor is he a particularly strong mid, nor can he support very well.
In the pro scene, Slardar's been used a few times as a roamer, and he does decently well in this role, as he has a very good skill-set (chase/stun/damage), and if successful, can transition into a semi-carry.
Edit: Note that in the Pro scene, Slardar is used mainly as an initiator, and needs a Blink Dagger ASAP.
This guide discussed how to pick, build and gear him, and why.
+ abilities are well-rounded, useful and easy to use
+ stat growth is good (2.8 / 2.4 / 1.5)
+ his stun still damages through BKB (physical dmg)
- ultimate is a single-target debuff that can be purged (BKB/Manta/Diffusal)
- escape skill causes him to take more damage Sprint
- difficult to find a place to lane him in competitive Dota
Pick Slardar When:
- You need an initiator and more carry
- You need a carry that peaks a bit earlier than some of the hard carries
- You need a roamer
- You need a tank
- You face low-armor enemies
- You are running an armor-reduction strategy or line-up
- You need a carry for a dual-offlane (2-1-2 setup)
- You intend to get ahead early and snowball with aggression
Do NOT pick Slardar when:
- You don't have any synergy with other physical damage (e.g. no Dazzle, Alchemist)
- The only reason you'd him is to counter an invis/stealth hero
- You need a late-game hard carry
- You need a lane support
I'm not going to go over Slardar's skills in detail, because they aren't that complex. It is, however, worth mentioning that:
I'm going to make two separate sections for pub items and competitive items, because pubs are so much more flexible.
Aside from the usual Boots of Speed and possibly a Magic Wand, the first major item a competitive player wants on Slardar is a Blink Dagger.
After that, you're going to work towards a utility item that shuts down the enemy carry, such as a Heaven's Halberd, or an item that buffs your team's damage, such as an Assault Cuirass, or you're going to go for a defensive item for your team, like Pipe of Insight.
If all those items are covered or inappropriate, you may end up getting your own Black King Bar against a lockdown-heavy team, or you might pick up a Helm of the Dominator to help with stacking, or even a Vladmir's Offering to buff your team.
It is said that it doesn't matter what items you build in a pub, but that said, there are a few items that work better on Slardar than others.
The main "problem" you're trying to solve on Slardar is lack of attack speed. Attack speed gives more Bashes, which gives more damage. Slardar's stats scale quite well, but he could use some hp and mana regen for laning and roaming.
Armlet of Mordiggian is a terrific item for Strength carries who want a powerful mid-game boost. However, you should really offset the hp drain by getting a lifesteal item, such as a Mask of Madness(MoM) or a Helm of the Dominator(HoD). The MoM isn't that bad a pickup on Slardar, because the extra damage taken from Sprint and MoM don't stack. And, even with the increase in damage taken, most heroes can't trade hits with Slardar once you have Amplify Damage up and you're Bashing them in the face.
I'm still testing this theory, but I think Slardar could be a good candidate for a mid hero, using him as a ganker, and then snowballing into an early-peak carry.
I've done well vs. other melee heroes as Slardar, because they don't expect the physical damage that Slardar can dish out.
There's been a movement lately to some unusual solo off-laners, such as Faceless Void. Could Slardar be another of those candidates? He's tanky, with high starting EHP, and an escape skill in Sprint. Levels are very valuable for him, although he doesn't really have a good way to catch up on farm, unlike Tidehunter, who can now farm ancients. He also doesn't have a really teamfight-changing ultimate, although an early ultimate on him CAN allow him to get solo pick-offs on supports, or help his team take down tanky heroes.
The main problem with Slardar as an off-laner is that he needs a Blink Dagger quickly, so he can initiate, but he won't get much farm as the solo off-laner.
Slardar's best friends are heroes that also have armor reduction, or can buff Slardar's right-click. Dazzle and Vengeful Spirit are two very good lane-mates and teammates for Slardar.
Edit: As pointed out in the comments, any Agility-based right-click carry's damage is buffed greatly by Amplify Damage.
Slardar's worst enemies are those with lockdown that prevent him from repeatedly bashing enemies in the face ( Shadow Shaman, Bane and Lion, or those who go BKB as an early core item, which removes Amplify Damage, such as Luna, Sven or Lifestealer with his magic immunity.
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