Slark is a really fun hero to play with a lot of short cool down spells so you will always be active. With his ultimate you can move and heal up very quickly allowing you to constantly pick fights. The Nightcrawler is an escape artist and generally will go in and out of team fights as his moves become available. He can easily play a ganker and transfer into a carry with the help of Essence Shift. This is not the only way to build Slark but from my experience it is a very effective and reliable way to build him. This is my first guide so I would appreciate any opinions regarding the build and any feedback on the guide itself.
Dark Pact (Q) - Dark Pact is maxed out first as it is an effective tool for farming, escaping, and dealing burst damage. Each rank increases the damage by 75 as well as reducing the cool down and mana cost making it much more powerful, spammable, and easier on your mana pool. This skill should be used simultaneously with pounce if the enemy does not have a stun so as to deal its damage right after making contact with the enemy. If the enemy has a stun or a spell that puts a horrible debuff (such as Venomous Gale or Track) on you then use Dark Pact right before you think they will use it or as the spell is traveling so as to purge anything off of you. After being maxed out this can be used on lane creeps to farm waves almost instantly.
Pounce (W) - One level of pounce is picked up at level one because the leap will help you escape and initiate while the leash will secure you kills. It is leveled beyond rank one after Dark Pact because it costs more mana, has a longer cool down, and deals slightly less damage than dark pact at each level and it only affects a single target. the leap and leash remain constant in effectiveness at each rank and therefore it is ok to finish skilling it later. Pounce should be used to initiate, chase, escape, and stop pursuers to ensure weakened teammates get to safety.
Essence Shift (E) - This is what allows Slark to become a carry as it steals one strength, agility, and intelligence from the target on each of Slark's autoattacks and turns them into 3 agility for Slark. This means that as you attack someone they will become weaker in every regard and you will get stronger. Pick up one rank of Essence Shift at level four as you begin to gain a higher attack speed so in fights you can steal stats. Further ranks only increase how long the enemy's stats and your stats are altered and therefore are not necessary early on. This ability makes items that increase attack speed more effective on Slark and thus you will pretty much always want power treads and a butterfly. Slark can soften up a tank or enfeeble a carry's attacks with his right clicks if he has a fast enough attack speed. With enough stacks, Slark will have enough armor, damage, and attack speed to become a one man army in the late game.
Shadow Dance (R) - Skill Slark's ultimate whenever it becomes available as it enables him to cross the map in mere seconds and never have to go back to the fountain for health again with its passive. Its active ability also makes it possible for Slark to assassinate helpless foes with ease. While ganking, use it upon leashing an opponent with Pounce and right click away as your victim stands there helplessly. In team fights it is well used after sustaining some damage and after dealing some as a way to regain all of your health in the middle of a battle or to escape with increased health regen and move speed. The passive may be used effectively for spotting wards as the buff will be removed if the enemy has sight of you. This way you can inform your team if and where the enemy team has wards. If it is buggy and the passive buff icon isn't showing then pay attention to your move speed and hp regen to tell if there is a ward. In the late game enter combat whenever Shadow Dance's active ability is off cool down and stack up on agility with Essence Shift. After a series of hit-and-run engagements you will have a high enough agility to dispatch foes very quickly while being able to participate in sustained combat.
Starting Items - At the start you will probably want to buy a Stout Shield and Tangos to provide you with some survivability and regen to last you until you get your ultimate. A Quelling Blade is great for improving your farm at low levels and scales with its percent based increase, although stat boosting items can be chosen instead. Buy ironwood branches if you fear harassment and later build them into a wand.
Early Items - If you are laned against nukers or are getting harassed by ranged heroes build a Magic Wand to help with your health, the mana gain will also come in handy when ganking. If your early farm goes well with little harass them go straight for Power Treads. The attack speed from the boots synergizes well with Essence Shift and the mana from int mode is invaluable as you are likely to run low if you don't have a support with Arcane Boots. Orb of Venom is a good pickup early on because it is inexpensive and a 12% movement speed slow on attack is very nice for chasing. After these, purchase a Quarterstaff for its attack speed and a Talisman of Evasion to help you survive fights. If you do not plan on building a Shadow Blade then buy a Medallion of Courage as it will help you pull off ganks.
Main Items - Later in the game you will be able to farm very quickly and what you spend your gold on will depend on who your enemies are playing as and how they are playing. Here I will describe each item and its purpose in detail.
Butterfly - There could not be a more perfect item for Slark than the Butterfly. Its +30 agility and +30 attack speed will make Slark steal stats incredibly fast and, with the addition of +30 damage and 35% evasion, will enable Slark to slay opponents in open combat. Pretty much always build a Butterfly.
Shadow Blade - You may look at this item and think it seems nooblike because he already has movement speed, stealth, and escape mechanisms. However, under scrutiny, Shadow Blade makes as much sense on Slark as any other hero. The passive damage and attack speed will greatly increase his combat effectiveness and the shadow walk ability will add greater escape and initiation to his arsenal. While shadow walk is active Slark will benefit from his ultimate's passive even when he would normally be seen by the enemy. This means that he can catch up to anyone and ensure his pounce lands while being able to scout like no other, making this a vital item to the ganking Slark. With a Shadow Blade you can run in under shadow walk and initiate then use Slark's ulti when low to regen while continuing the fight, then when you are low again you can use shadow walk to regen again and either continue alternating between your ulti and Shadow Blade to continuously fight or escape under shadow walk so that you don't leave a trail. This weapon synergizes perfectly with both Essence Shift and Shadow Dance. I usually get it after I buy my Quarterstaff and Talisman of Evasion but before the Eaglesong so that I can gank efficiently, however you can finish either first. The only reason not to get one is if you notice your opponents are working to counter you with gems and sentries.
Eye of Skadi - The mana and stats given by Eye of Skadi will benefit Slark, but the movement and attack speed slow will render foes powerless against him. 30% movement speed slow on attack will eliminate the chance of escape while the 20% attack speed slow will enable Slark to deal a lot of damage without fear of taking much himself. Build up from your Orb of Venom if you find yourself making tons of gold.
Skullbasher - The Skullbasher serves essentially the same purpose as the Eye of Skadi in that the chance to stun will prevent foes from fleeing or striking back in a similar way to the attack and movement speed slow of the Eye. Although Skullbasher gives less stats than the Eye, it does give you a lot of damage and is cheaper than the Eye. Build this if you need a damage boost and don't have the gold for an Eye of Skadi.
Crystalys - If you find yourself lacking in damage or if you have extra gold and want to ensure more kills then get a Crystalys. It simply helps you kill things faster and isn't that expensive, however it is a luxury.
Linken's Sphere - If your opponents are doing their best to counter and focus you down then you may want a Linken's Sphere. It provides some welcome stats and regen and when the instance of magic immunity is added to your array of escape moves it will render you nearly impossible to kill. While it may not help you kill people quickly it can save you and allow you to support your team more by soaking up a spell and draining your victims stats uninhibited.
There are other items that seem like they would work well on Slark such as Diffusal Blade but I have yet to try them so suggestions are welcome.
As a farm dependent hero you should try to solo the easy lane or if not then lane with a disabler who will not compete for last hits. After reaching level six and buying your early items you should begin to roam and gank as needed.
Slark is not a simple right clicker, he needs to pounce, purge, ult, and run away when his ult is about to expire. When his moves are off their cool downs again then repeat the process until Slark gets buff enough to score kills. Do not stay in big fights.
When to Pick Slark:
Slark is best chosen when the enemy team has some squishy heroes or heroes who lack escape abilities on it. Because Slark is very dependent on his spells he does not like enemies that can silence him or drain his mana. Also enemies with blink spells can escape Pounce making them tough to kill. Slark does not give a damn about Track, Amplify Damage, or Dust of Appearance.
Often times people will pick Bounty Hunter or Slardar thinking they can counter Slark. Don't worry, you can purge their ultimates off no problem. I welcome these enemies as they are fooled into thinking they have the advantage and will likely make mistakes. Other enemies are likely to buy Dust of Appearance to try and kill you. You can purge this off of yourself as well while the enemy wastes their gold. Sentry Wards are more of a threat but if you notice the enemy can see you despite being invisible you can quickly Pounce out of the Sentry's range.
Slark's Biggest Enemies:
While Silencer and Nightstalker are somewhat threatening with their silences, Slark has ways to avoid them. Slark can usually outrun Nightstalker and either use Dark Pact or Shadow Dance to avoid Nightstalker's silence and slow but if you do not act quickly, you can end up an easy kill. When faced with Silencer it is best to stay away from any fighting while affected by a silence, otherwise you can try and time Dark Pact so that it removes any of his silences quickly. Doombringer will destroy you if he targets you with Doom as you will be unable to use any spells, your ultimate's passive will not help you, and it cannot be purged with a well timed Dark Pact. All the while Doombringer can pop his move speed and chase you. Queen of Pain can use her aoe spells to hurt Slark while he is invisible and she can blink out of his leash. Antimage can also blink out of leash and if he gets the chance he will drain all your mana leaving you helpless. Bloodseeker is perhaps the best counter to Slark because of Thirst. Slark has a small health pool and it can drop very quickly before you escape. Thirst enables Bloodseeker and his team to see any enemy that is below 50% health in a huge radius, while giving Bloodseeker max movement speed. This means that Slark will not move fast, he will not regenerate health, and he cannot purge his way out. If you are at 25% health or below then even going invisible cannot help you.
Again this is not the only way to play this hero and if you have anything to say about this guide please say it. Thanks for reading my guide and I hope it helps you have as much fun playing Slark as I have.
(P.S. Someone please tell me how to link items, spells, and heroes into the text to make this guide more visually appealing. Thank you!)
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