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8 Votes

Slark: the hit and run murloc

February 11, 2013 by moistointment
Comments: 12    |    Views: 13942    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4


DotA2 Hero: Slark

Hero Skills

Dark Pact

4 9 10 12


1 3 5 7

Essence Shift

2 8 13 14

Shadow Dance

6 11 16


15 17 18

My credentials

I am very far from an expert on Slark. But I have done a lot of research into him and have compiled my findings into this guide. I have played some games where I get 23+ kills, and others where I failed miserably (aoe heavy nukes=better get your BKB or you lose)

this guide is primarily for my own benefit as a place to store all the info I find. I also enjoy tweaking the item builds. So if you find this guide useful, great! I welcome feedback and criticism as I hope to improve my own skills at Slark

Summary of gameplay

Slark is a squishy, guerilla warfare fighter. When you engage an enemy, attack as long as you can then sneak away into the darkness. Don't be afraid to flee, regen to full health, then try again! Your ability to kill is not nearly as important as your ability to flee and return moments later with full health. Combine that with effective item use and teamwork and you have a very fun, very fast moving hero!

All your item choices should focus around the hit and run strategy, so damage and survival items are king. Any item that provides both should be considered on Slark.

Build 1: "Survival+ganking" is a balanced build that helps you stay alive, but also helps you gank well. The medalion provides good mana and attack skills

Build 2: "Damage Build" gets high damage output early game. Mask of maddness should be used during your ultimate and basher helps catch runners.

Build 3: "Shadow blade build" Helps you gank any hero 1 vs 1. It also helps you survive much longer. Remember to use Dark Pact right before you sneak away to dispel any Dust of Appearance

Explanation of skill build

At the early stages of the game, Slark should play similar to riki: focus on getting to level 6! If you have a definite kill combo with your lane partner and you know you can finish, go for it. But your main objective in the early game is to survive till level 6 while farming as much as you can. (I once went up against a sniper/silencer combo. It was literally 0 farm till level 6)

Choosing your second level skill

I recommend always geting Pounce first. But what about the level 2 skill? Which should you max out first? Here's how I decide.

1. If you're laning against melee, get Essence Shift as your second skill. You'll be able to stay close and steal their stats. You get stronger, and they get weaker

2. If you're laning against a dot spammer, like Venomancer, Disruptor, or Silencer, get Dark Pact as your second skill. It helps you purge their dots off of you. Just be sure to account for the damage done to you when choosing whether to purge or let the dots tick for their duration.

3. If you are laning with an ally with stun, it can be a toss up. I recomend you go with Essence Shift, solely because you're squishy. You need to save your precious health until level 6 when you can start regenerating it.

I recommend taking one level of Dark Pact then maxing Essence Shift, but here are the pros and cons of each
(early game)
  • Great when laning against melee heroes. Steal their stats while you harrass
  • Helps you do more damage
  • Gives temporary armor increase
  • Doesn't use up your mana, which is sparse before you gear up
  • Doesn't help against ranged harass
  • Lose out on purge ability
  • Stacks usually drop until level 3
(early game)
  • Clears enemy dots and saves your precious hp
  • Does decent damage to the enemy
  • Helps you farm faster due to aoe
  • Damages you, who already has low suvivability
  • Chance to miss and damage self for no reason
  • Easy for enemy to see it coming and dodge

Explanation of Build 1: Survival+ganking

This is a balanced build, which gives survivability and damage potential. We take Pounce first, to help combo a kill and escape if need be. Essence Shift gets taken at level 2, assuming we can do any kind of meaningful harass on the enemy. Pounce continues to get leveled up and then level 4 sees 1 level of Dark Pact. I like to get Essence Shift to level 2, then max Dark Pact. Level 2 of Essence Shift is enough to move through team fights and retain your stats, but not enough to go across the map for a gank. Also, you'll be able to jungle using Dark Pact, so it gets maxed once we have level 2 of Essence Shift


Item build

In the early stages of the game, Slark needs to focus on survival. He is very weak until he gets Shadow Dance and has constant mana problems early on. So, our items need to compliment that, as well as his hit and run nature. Basically all of these items improve his survivability and damage output

Stout Shield vs Quelling Blade vs Ring of Protection: You need to look at your enemy team and decide who you guess you'll lane against.

If you will lane against fellow melee heroes, get Quelling Blade for last hits.

If you will lane with someone with a stun, get Stout Shield for surviving combo kills.

If you will lane against someone with good harass (like Sniper), get Ring of Protection and just survive till level 6. You won't get much farm and should probably call for ganks to help you get a level advantage. Once you hit level 6, initiate on your harrassers, then sneak away with Shadow Dance. Heal up and repeat till they are forced from lane

Power Treads: They are the only logical choice for boots. His passive regen makes Tranquil Boots worthless and his ulti movement speed negates the need for Phase Boots. Boots of Travel get bought later, when you want to chain gank. Power Treads gives increase to your damage, as well as your regen (int) and survival (str) in early-mid game.

Medallion of Courage: Often overlooked, this item is cheap, provides mana regen, and increases your armor. Dark Pact can also remove the armor debuf which occurs when you use this item on an enemy hero. Simply start Dark Pact and pounce in on your enemy. Use the Medallion of Courage as soon as you land and Dark Pact should go off, removing your debuff. You get +6 armor, enemy loses 6 armor

Orchid Malevolence: This powerful weapon makes you certain death to casters. I can't tell you how effective this item is. It cause Slark to be nearly unbeatable in a 1 vs 1 situation! It also helps you target those pesky supports in team fights. Take a look at all the benefits that it gives you.

  • You'll never run out of mana again. (For when you really need your ult to escape!)
  • It GREATLY increases your damage. +30 damage and +30 attack speed. That's awesome!
  • A super long silence that synergizes with your combo
  • +25% damage to silenced enemies

Black King Bar: Once you get to this point in your item build, you're pretty powerful. People will start focusing you. Add this to your combo to prevent loads of damage, before you sneak off with your ulti. Here's the adjusted combo.
Dark Pact=> Pounce=> Medallion of Courage => Black King Bar=> Orchid Malevolence=> Shadow Dance
Feel free to use Black King Bar before you leap in if your enemies are quick on the draw when you Pounce in.


Here are some general principles for playing Slark

Use dark pact to remove debuffs

Please note that Dark Pact is currently hit or miss on the debuffs that it will dispel. The list of debuffs that will remain through Dark Pact is quite long, and I doubt they are on purpose. Hopefully, the devs will correct this and help this incredibly squishy hero. Ignore the rest of this sub-section until I can complile a list of what Dark Pact does and does not remove.

If you're facing a dot spammer, such as Silencer or Disruptor, be sure to get level 1 of Dark Pact first. This spell will deal 32.5 damage to you, cost 55 mana, and remove their dot. Remember that Dark Pact takes 2 seconds to cast, so take that into account when considering whether to cancel a debuff with Dark Pact. Also remember that the highest level of Dark Pact does 150 damage to you. If that case, it would be useful against ultimates that deal dot damage, like Venomancer or Ancient Apparition. Keeping Dark Pact at level 1 will also help in the mid-range levels, like 6-12 where your enemy can level up their dot ability to max, while you still are able to cancel their dot for minimal damage and mana. Whenever possible, purge your debuffs in such a way that you can damage the enemy. A great strategy is to cast Dark Pact right when you see a stun flying towards you. If you're fast enough, the stun will hit you, then Dark Pact will explode and you'll be unstunned! It's tricky and requires split second timing. Here's a few good other debuffs to think about
Bounty Hunter's Track
Slardar's amplify damage
Axe's Battle Hunger (cast before he does)
Lifestealer's Open Wounds
Alchemist's Unstable Concoction (used as soon as you see the mixture start flying)
Any stun where you're fast enough to cast when you see it
Bloodseeker's Rupture
Any silence where you can cast before they do
Roots from heroes like Lone Druid and Crystal Maiden
Warlock's Fatal Bonds


Use Dark Pact to remove the Medallion of Courage debuff

Press Dark Pact, then quickly use your Medallion of Courage on the enemy. Once Dark Pact goes off, it will remove your -6 armor debuff. Think about it, you have +6 armor and your enemy is down 6 armor. This combo creates a 12 armor difference that wouldn't exist otherwise.


Combo your initiations

Dark Pact=> Pounce> Medallion of Courage=> Orchid Malevolence=>(stuns from allies if possible)=> Shadow Dance
After you reach your ulti, you have to decide if you can finish your enemy, or if you need to run. Keep in mind that the enemy sees a dark cloud around you, so you need to sneak to safety. you will run much quicker than your enemy, but you have 5.5 seconds to get somewhere safe during your ulti


Embrace the hit and run

Essence Shift allows you to steadily get stronger with every melee hit. Be mindful of your timer on this and get it as high as you can! It's not uncommon to get 100+ extra agility from this skill! So, spread out your attacks, especially after you get level 16. Kill your enemy in the top lane, then sprint to the bottom lane and kill people there. Here is where boots of travel can come in handy.


Detect wards with your ulti, Shadow Dance

Your ulti places a passive buff on you when you are unseen by the enemy. By monitoring this buff, you can tell when the enemy has wards in the area. Of course, you'll need some form of truesight to kill the ward, but this skill can literally change the game. Ward vision is key to some victories, so be sure to watch your buff all the time. When you sprint past common ward sites, like the river and forks in the road, glace up at your buff. Yet another really cool use for Slark


Leap over obstacles with Pounce

Pounce essential functions like a force staff for you. Don't forget you can leap over trees and cliffs with this skill. It will also destroy trees in an area around you when you land, so take that into account when judging distances. Just remember that you always leap the direction you're facing

Using your Shadow Blade

Use your Shadow Blade at the beggining of your combo to get alot of quick damage on your enemy before they know what's happening.
Shadow Blade=>Right click attack to get bonus damage=> Dark Pact=> Pounce=> Shadow Dance

The cool thing is that your Shadow Blade will be available at the end of your combo. You can sneak away, or wait till the very end of its duration and restart your combo.

Enemies and allies


Meepo: Poof is deadly to Slark. It cause lots of aoe right next to the hero. It doesn't matter if you go invisible, meepo simple poofs all his clones and deals enough damage to kill you. Counter with Black King Bar

Clockwerk: The main skill that frustrated here is Power Cogs. It knocks you back when you touch it, so you can't leap over it. It also drains your precious mana in the early game. More than once, I've pounced in on a Clockwerk, only have him trap me with his Power Cogs, which drained my mana too low to ulti. Counter with a ranged ally who can lay into Clockwerk while you melee him.

Jakiro: jakiro is dangerous due to his Ice Path+ Macropyre combo. If you pounced in and leashed him, you're squishy enough to get killed by this hero solo

Spirit Breaker: I find this the most annoying hero, along with Pudge to fight. Obvious, Spirit Breaker can perma stun you and prevent you from getting away. A simple Dust of Appearance will allow this strength hero to kill you quickly


Any hero with a disable: Allies with stuns are great friends to Slark. You can initiate with pounce, wail away on the enemy, then your ally stuns as the enemy begins to run, or counter you. Hopefully, your pounce will come off cooldown soon after the stun wears off and you can repeat your pounce.

My replays

Here are some game ids of me playing slark. Let me say up front that I make a lot of mistakes in them! I know! But i also get some pretty good kills. Feel free to watch them and give suggestions

Went for ring of basilius first. Enemies in my lane were not very good and didn't have purgable debuffs, so I went Essence Shift as my 2nd skill. Also notices how templar assasin can kill slark very easily. He is squishy, so be careful

Morphling is a friend of mine, and he told me to take last hits. I didn't argue, lol! Went queling blade first cause I thought there was a high probability that I'd lane against melee. I died alot in this game, but still had a good number of kills


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