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7 Votes

Slark: Nightcrawler - Snowballer!

June 28, 2013 by Az7y
Comments: 12    |    Views: 32752    |   

Build 1
Build 2

The Solo-Mid Ganker :

DotA2 Hero: Slark

Hero Skills

Dark Pact

2 8 9 10


1 3 5 7

Essence Shift

4 13 15 17

Shadow Dance

6 11 16


12 14 18



Greetings! My name is Aditya 'Az7y' Vaidya, and I've been playing DotA around 1 year. I'm not a very good or experienced player, but I'm good at understanding the mechanics of the game, and applying it to my gameplay; this guide is perceptional. Since I'm not an experienced player, if you do find any mistakes in my explanation, skill/item build, please provide suggestions in the comment box. I would like to apply that to my guide, as well as gameplay, on a trial-error basis. Open to suggestions, constructive criticism, judgement or anything which enlightens me.

DotAbuff Statistics: Az7y
Slark Statistics: My Slark




Slark is an agility hero, who excels at solo, ganking, snowballing & carrying to some extent, using his lean-mean skillsets at his disposal. Mostly seen as being played a Solo-Mid role in Western scene, it can work out almost everywhere on the map. He's like a toad, very versatile in his movements, and you can be too, with it's playstyle.


Pros & Cons:

Every hero has it's upsides & downsides, this hero has a fair inclination towards more positives than negatives, which is why, it's considered a professional clan pick.

Pros :

  • Extremely mobile.
  • Fairly good chaser & for initiating ganks.
  • Ward detection is possible, if you are observant.
  • Not highly farm dependent.
  • Good early-mid game, and also late game, depending on farm.
  • Has 3 escape abilities.
  • Fairly good amount of nuke damage. Not fully rightclick dependant.
  • Has 1800 night vision.
  • Versatile item build.
Cons :
  • Very squishy in terms of raw hit points.
  • Has a comparatively lower stat-gain than other carries. Depends on his skill for agility gain.
  • Requires high amount of levels. Not very useful as a Tri-Lane carry.
  • It's not one of the best carries, and your team might require a primary hard-carry.
  • He can be restricted by wards or gem pretty heavily.


Abilities & it's usage:

Dark Pact : Dark Pact is a fairly good amount of nuke damage, to secure kills. It has a very short cooldown, and can be spammed twice or thrice throughout the gank, although, he takes some part of the damage to himself. It's also used to purge off debuffs, for example: Track, Amplify Damage, Chaos Bolt, Maledict etc. Not to mention, also Dust of Appearance. Hence, it can be used as a damage source, as well as a good escape mechnanism.

Pounce : A fairly good chasing ability which also disables the unit for some period of time from going further away, allowing you to deal a couple of rightclicks as well as deal the full damage output of Dark Pact. It's also a fairly good escape mechanism, as you can avoid projectiles, or simply Pounce through a cliff, escaping death in many ways.

Essence Shift : This skill, temporarily, steals stats from enemies, converts it into agility & uses it for a specific period of time. This skill is not to be maxed first, since it doesn't really scale a whole lot. A level in this skill point is required early on.

Shadow Dance : An active, as well as passive skill. It's passive allows you to gain a percent of your current HP constantly if you are out of enemy's vision range, it includes Observer Ward, Track, Thrist & day/night vision. It also cannot be used for doing neutral creeps, since the effect is dispelled while hitting creeps. It also provides you very high buff to your movement speed. It can be used for understanding the vision of enemy wards & dewarding them, or informing team to be careful around that area.
While, the active skill makes you completely invisible, avoiding any kind of revealing while attacking in any way. Your movement speed becomes 522. You gain HP while being in enemy range. Dust/Sentry/Gem can reveal you, althoug Dusts can be avoided using Dark Pact in it's duration.

Item Significance:

Slark has quite the versatility in his item progression. It's one of those very few heros which can be played with vast amount of item variance. Here, I'll go through each & every item & it's signficance for slark, including the ones which I do not like.


The Starting Build:

Iron Branch : A very obvious early game stat item. Do not underestimate it's potential. It's the best item in the game, for cost-per-benefit perspective. If given a choice, I would store 1000+ Iron Branch in my invetory.

Stout Shield : As a meele hero, you might want to get this instead of a [Quelling Blade]] since Slark has a good base damage for last hitting, but low HP pool. It also helps in early phase of ganking/securing a kill.

Tango and Healing Salve : As a slark, you need a good amount of regeneration items till you get your level 6. It's your choice to select the quantity. I, myself, go on a greedy build with just one set of tango to get my early bottle.


The Core Build::

Bottle : A very decent item choice, considering you're playing as Mid & going to get max amount of rune control. If nobody has warded it up for you, just go and ward it yourself. Self-service is a choice. Slark benefits a lot from Bottle since he can keep upto enemy's constant harassment & deal with it, by outlaning your opponent, or forcing him back.

Poor Man's Shield : It's a pretty good item to tower-dive/tank creeps/tank a couple of extra rightclicks and survive. Buying it will enhance your ganking capability, which Slark excels at.

Quelling Blade : I don't personally prefer one. Slark has good base damage & doesn't require it. You might want to take it if you're going to be farming in an easy lane. As a Mid, I'd prefer Poor Man's Shield over Quelling Blade.

Magic Wand : A ganker's bread & butter. The best item you can get for the cost, for it always finds a way to save your ***.

Diffusal Blade : Many people do not like this item choice. I do. I think Agility is the best type of build for Slark, since Agility is a perfect combination of Armor-Damage-AttackSpeed. The sixteen charges generally mean 10-12 kills, for you & your team. It's the best early game choice. Building a Manta Style later will just help you mana burn efficiently & fast, like an Anti-Mage.

Manta Style : Many people prefer Sange and Yasha over Manta Style. I'll make a new chapter about it's significance. I'll just say that Manta does a lot more than what any other item could do, for Slark.

Butterfly : It's the best item you can get if you're facing against a couple or more rightclick carries. It works amazingly well with Slark since Slark benefits a lot from Agility, attack speed & butterfly also boosts Manta Style illusion damage per second.

Abyssal Blade : Usually, if you're going for the Agility build, Abyssal Blade should be skipped till 4th or 5th slot. This is, because Abyssal Blade/ Skull Basher does not necessarily secure a kill. It's a lot chance dependant & you can't always use it on specific time, unless you have the whole Abyssal Blade done, which is an issue for a ganker like Slark since he isn't going to farm in a single game, for his 3800.

Black King Bar : Very situatial. I don't think Slark requires it unless it's a 5v5 gank, with around 35 - 50 mins in the game, where a person has gem & you have no choice but to kill him using your B.K.B, since you have no escape.

Eye of Skadi : Slark is a STAT based hero, like Morphling & Riki. He needs his agility. He needs his HP pool & his constant flow of mana requirement, since he uses a lot of spells in a single gank.


Hand of Midas : As a constant ganker, I wouldn't recommend this; but on a safe-lane, farming a Hand of Midas can be a very efficient way of getting the lack of EXP up & the extra gold throughout the game. Although, your role is ganking & not doing NCS.

Drum of Endurance : A very sweet stat item on Slark. Make one if nobody on your team is making. What Slark lacks is HP. The bonus movement speed is helpful, since it gives movement speed in %, and not a fixed amount. Hence, it stacks with your ultimate.

Armlet of Mordiggian : Very situational. Armlet is one of the best cost-efficient items in DotA, as per my knowledge. It also works well with his ultimate, since he can maintain his HP while using it & away from ganks. But it all comes down to how good your "Armlet-Toggle" is.

Mjollnir : If you're going to need quite the farm, in case you're the solo carry of the team. Just go for it. AS makes your AGI stronger per hero-hit, and the amount of farm obtained by Mjollnir is enormous. Even higher than a Battlefury, at times.

Monkey King Bar : Sweet item choice against carries with miss chance, or skills like Smoke, Brewmaster's skills, Phantom Assassin, etc.

Orchid Malevolence : Not necessarily the best item choice for every game. Consider a game with Windrunner, Queen of Pain, Crystal Maiden & Storm Spirit, with additional Anti-Mage. Whom is Slark going to gank, considering Slark is bad against blinks & escapes? None. Orchid Malevolence can help you secure kills, with extra addition of 300+280 converted into Orchid damage. Usually, heros with Blink have a lower HP & are easier to kill with Silence.

Shadow Blade : I'm just going to mention it because I've seen people abusing Shadow Blade on almost every hero & performing the snowball correctly. Although, being said that, I don't think this hero necessarily requires it. It's just your choice, once again. I think one can benefit more from an early Diffusal Blade.

Heart of Tarrasque : A Slark with a Heart is harder to kill than a Treant Protector with six. The reason being, his ultimate does stack with heart & the regeneration is enormous. His escape abilities combined with Heart makes him almost invurnerable, provided he's given atleast 1 - 2 seconds to react within chain-stuns. This item can be made only as a 5th - 6th slot & not as a primary item. Eye of Skadi is just better than Heart of Tarrasque in terms of raw HP & stats.

Restricted items::

Mask of Madness : This item is usuall seen on a Slark. I don't understand it's significance, as of yet. Yes. Attack speed is a good deal for Slark, but why not just get a Yasha instead, if that's your goal? Why waste 2000 gold on Lifesteal which doesn't make a difference on Slark since he has negligible early game damage, which means he's stealing less Life points. It's a very risky build for a innately squishy hero like Slark.

Vanguard : This item. I hate this item. There's no item as worthless as a Vanguard in the whole game of DotA. I made a test. A legit test. You can test it out.
Consider: Slark with Vanguard vs Slark with Mekansm.
Vanguard is harder to build than Mekansm which costs almost the same, since Mekansm is made from various small items which are easily acquired.
The Slark with Mekansm wins with 10% of his HP remaining (If you do not activate Mekansm, and 30% HP remaining if you activate it.) Please do not make Vanguard on Slark or just about any hero, unless Icefrog decides to buff it, atleast a bit. Just avoid that item choice.

Battle Fury : I don't think anyone makes it, but if it's your new SingSing idea, please skip it. Worthless item, especially for a sweet ganker like Slark. On another notice, also don't make it on Bounty Hunter. Please don't. Everytime I see someone making it with a Bounty Hunter, I cry a bit & quit DotA 2. *Tears*

Etheral Blade : The AGI gain & nuke potential is nice & all, but ultimately, you're a right click hero. Your job is definitely not to sit for several seconds idle because you can't hit a target. The Pounce is meant for you to rightclick several times, especially in a late scenario. I would recommend skipping this. With Morphling it's different, since your Adaptive Strike scales extensively, but doesn't work a lot with Pounce or Dark Pact.


With all of these items in mind, the best way to build your Slark, is by understanding the items possessed, and basic abilities of your & your opponent team. Understand. Relate. Improvise. Execute. There is nothing like, 'The perfect build'. There is only 'The perfect build for a specific game'. Think about yours.

Manta Style vs Sange And Yasha:

I'll discuss a comparison between the two items, and suggest the one which is better, for the hero.


Significance of Sange and Yasha:

  • Lower in cost. (950 gold)
  • Cheapter components required, hence, easy to build.
  • Higher movement speed. (12%, while Manta Style has 10%.)
  • Has a chance to slow the enemy.
  • 6 more STR.

Significance of Manta Style:

  • Illusions can add upto 65% of your total damage output when activated.
  • 10 more AGI & 10 more INT.
  • Manta can be popped up in case of dodging dangerous spells.
  • The illusions itself can create confusion, in a team fight.
  • Illusions, themselves, can be sent to push lanes/towers effectively.
  • Manta Style stacks with Diffusal Blade, i.e: Manaburn for illusions.
  • Manta Style stacks with Radiance, i.e: Effect for burn.

Verdict: Manta Style
  • Slark benefits larly from the illusion damage, since he holds a hero in a specific position for his illusions to rightclick, several times.
  • Slark is basically countered by Silence, Orchid Malevolence and chain stuns. Manta Style can help free him from all these dangerous set of skills.
  • Slark does not care much about the slow, since he has an infinite chasing ability, if played properly.
  • If you're going Diffusal, Manta Style helps tons.
  • Essence Shift stacks with Manta Style illusions, and they get damage directly from it.

ShadowBlade vs Diffusal Blade vs Basher

All three of them have similar cost, and either of them is picked up early game to ensure kills, for Slark to snowball effectively. Let's find out which one has better chances of securing a kill:


Significance of Shadow Blade:

  • Can be used for initiation as well as escape.
  • The chance of missing a Pounce is near zero.
  • With his innate 3 escape mechanisms + Shadowblade, Slark becomes almost invurnerable. Forces out your enemies to invest in Sentry Ward, Dust of Appearance & Gem of Truesight.
  • Can be used to dodge specific skills such as Venomous Gale.

Significance of Diffusal Blade:

  • Increases damage potential directly, with each autoattack stealing stats and burning mana.
  • Burning mana can result in shortage of mana for mass nukes for most INT heros.
  • Purge can be used to cancel rune benefits, Ghost Scepter, Silence off himself immediately available for offense.
  • The sixteen charges are lethal for a support as well a carry. Usually, for him, it death. A 3.75 second leash combined with a Purge charge is very hard to avoid through, even with a mid-range blink.
  • Scales better than ShadowBlade & Skull Basher damagewise.

Significance of Skull Basher:

  • Chance dependant.
  • Is less viable as a second or third slot, since lesser the attack speed, lesser the chance of getting a bash.
  • Can be upgraded later into an Abyssal Blade, the ultimate lockdown.
  • Can be more effective against Black King Bar or magic immunity.

Verdict: Diffusal Blade
  • Scales better till the lategame, than Shadow Blade.
  • The sixteen charges almost mean 10-12 kills, for you if used correctly.
  • Mana burn stacks with Manta Style if you get one, in the later phase.
  • The INT as well as AGI is more important than direct damage, for Slark.

Rune Prioritization:

Some runes are beneficial, while some are not. Let's have a quick look up!


Illusion Rune: This is definitely your rune if you're going to bottle it up. If not, do not pick it up. With a Bottle], you can store it for the next gank. [[Pounce + Dark Pact + Bottle makes your combo almost like a Manta Style initiate.

Invisibility Rune : Can be used to initiate with a pounce undetected, which means, you can use your perfect timing to set up a well-executed gank. This usually secures a kill.

Regeneration Rune : HP wise, it's not that useful, since you have your ultimate, although, just to maintain your mana pool, it can be taken. Take it only if nobody else needs it more than you do.

Double Damage Rune : This is your rune. Take it only till the mid game, or late game, if you're the primary carry. Pounce and couple of right clicks secure a kill.

Haste Rune : A dream for gankers. Usually can take a kill or even two, with low cooldowns of Pounce and Dark Pact it's easier to hunt down a couple of heros with some or no support.


Considering most runes help Slark, it's beneficial for Slark to get a quick bottle to get proper access of these runes at your disposal.

Major Threats to Slark:

Doom bringer : Can be a big deal for a low HP pool hero like Slark if he is targetted with Doom in every single gank.
Counter: Linkin's Sphere.

Bloodseeker : Bloodrage & Rupture can be a disaster for Slark.
Counter: Linkin's Sphere & Dark Pact for Bloodrage.

Queen of Pain : She's not someone a Slark can kill easily; on the other hand, Queen of Pain can chase Slark to death using her high damage nukes.
Counter: Orchid Malevolence & Black King Bar

Slardar : Amplify Damage can annoy you, since it has low cooldown. It also reveals you from your ultimate. Pouncing on Slardar makes him easier for you to stun him.
Counter: Linkin's Sphere, Dark Pact or Black King Bar.

Bounty Hunter : Same as Slardar with reveal ability. Not easy to gank, yet he can't kill you that easily either.
Counter: Linkin's Sphere, Manta Style & Dark Pact.

Meepo : As stupid as it sounds, a Meepo can destroy a Slark with proper initiation in seconds.
Counter: None.

Anti-Mage : You can't gank him. He can mana burn you to restricting your usage of abilities in a near-death situation.
Counter: Butterfly & Orchid Malevolence

Bane : The ultimate disable. A nightmare for every hero with low health.
Counter: None.

Phantom Lancer : You cannot out-carry him. He can diffuse you to death. That's as good as a Silence.
Counter: Mjllinor, Pounce ignores illusions & is only targetted to the real one. Can be used as an identification.

Storm Spirit : Hard to kill. Easy for him to follow.
Counter: Orchid Malevolence.

Weaver: Same as any other escape, also he has the ultimate escape, Time Lapse, a jail-free ticket.
Counter: None.

Zeus: High damaging nukes. His second skill also reveals you if used in a nearby range.
Counter: Black King Bar

Nightstalker: He has high mobility to catch you. A high nuke-slow & a silence. Can kill you with a combo.
Counter: None.

Skywrath Mage: High damage nukes followed by a high scaling silence.
Counter: None.

Troll Warlord: Can bash you down. Gives you a miss-chance. Is strong to kill.
Counter: Monkey King Bar

Gem of True Sight : Obvious killer!
Counter: None.

Dust of Appearance: Slows. Same as gem.
Counter: Dark Pact

Sentry Ward : Same as gem.
Counter: None.

Track : Reveals with movement speed buff for the enemy.
Counter: Dark Pact

Amplify Damage : Reveals with armor reduction.
Counter: Dark Pact

Thank you & welcome!

I hope my guide helped you in understanding basic mechanics & how you can apply it to your gameplay. My item build & Skilled build is not stubborn, there is nothing you 'MUST' do, or 'MUST NOT', in a game. It all is perceptional. Adjust my guide according to your gameplay, your favorite experiences, and improve.

Analyze -> Understand -> Execute -> Repeat -> Improvise -> Adjust -> Innovate.

Thank you for your time, I hope I've been helpful. Have fun playing Slark.

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