One of my favourite heroes in the game, Slark is not only an item-independent ganker that is both fun to play and deadly in the right hands, but also potentially a powerful semi-carry that unlike many other gankers does not wear off in his DPS even in late game. Combining his high damaging, mana-cheap, lowcooldown spells with his fantastic escape abillities and his crippling stat steal makes for a strong hero that although has one specific function, namely ganking, has a versatile skill and item build that can be adjusted to any situation that arises.
Creds to SwedeyArt on Deviantart for this pic:
Little known to the inhabitants of the dry world, Dark Reef is a sunken prison where the worst of the sea-breed are sent for crimes against their fellows. It is a razor barbed warren full of murderous slithereen, treacherous Deep Ones, sociopathic meranths. In this dim labyrinth, patrolled by eels and guarded by enormous anemones, only the vicious survive. Pitched into Dark Reef for crimes unknown, Slark spent half a lifetime without kin or kindness, trusting no one, surviving through a combination of stealth and ruthlessness, keeping his thoughts and his plans to himself. When the infamous Dark Reef Dozen plotted their ill-fated breakout, they kept their plans a perfect secret, murdering anyone who could have put the pieces together--but somehow Slark discovered their scheme and made a place for himself in it. Ten of the Dozen died in the escape attempt, and two were captured, hauled back to Dark Reef, then executed for the entertainment of their fellow inmates. But Slark, the unsung thirteenth, used the commotion as cover and slipped away, never to be caught. Now a furtive resident of the carnivorous mangrove scrub that grips the southern reach of Shadeshore, Slark remains the only successful escapee from Dark Reef.
+High base damage
+Slightly above-average base movement speed
+Doesnt wear off later in the game
+Strong, cheap, low cooldown nuke combo
+Fantastic escape mechanisms and dodge abilities
+Gets quickly around the map and such has good rune control
+Not afraid of tower diving
+Passive stat steal is good lane harass and weakens his enemies
+Overall great ganking ability
+Not item dependent
+Good split pusher
-Pathetic stat gain
-Rather level dependent
-Small mana pool
-Essence shift steal doesnt last a long time
-Not a comback hero
Ability Affects Damage
No Target Enemies Magical
After a short delay, Slark sacrifices some of his life blood, purging negative buffs and dealing damage to enemy units around him and to himself. Slark only takes 50% of the damage.
Total Damage: 75/150/225/300
Cooldown 9/8/7/6 Mana 55/50/45/40
Slithereen are capable of quickly regrowing appendages, in case of critical injury, to save their own lives.
Dark Pact is to be your 2nd skill that is maxed. Although it deals a paltry 75 damage at lvl 1, its scales quite well up to a nice 300. Avoid using it to harass even due to the decreasing mana cost and the hp cost is rather high for you in the early stages of the game. When ganking a support with a stun or another crippling crowd control spell, cast it as soon as you see the enemy spell animation start or just immediatly after you Pounce. It will remove most slows, stuns, silences etc and let you be able to carry on with the kill. The delay is short and you will have minimal downtime. It also removed negative debuffs such as Track, Dust, Amplify Damage etc. The low-cooldown is helpful if you need to chase and the mana cost is expendable, even for Slark if it is to secure a kill.
Ability Affects Damage
No Target Enemy Heroes Magical
Slark leaps forward, grabbing the first hero he connects with. That unit takes damage and is leashed to Slark, and can only move a limited distance away from Slark's landing position.
Leash Radius: 325
Leash Duration: 3.5
Cooldown 20/16/12/8 Mana 75
Time in the Dark Reef made Slark a dangerous assassin; aggressive and fearless.
Your prime skill, to be maxed first. Again the damage starts low, but scales reasonably and combined with Dark Pact makes you a hard hitting nuker. There is a slight bit of skill needed to land this properly both when escaping and chasing, but nothing too difficult to master. Again it is cheap and of a low cooldown so your misplays are not critical usually. Initiate with this and following up with Dark Pact while autoattacking. It can also dodge certan spells like Sniper's Ultimate or Sven's Storm Hammer, adding to the slipperiness of Slark. Sadly for all the good this skill is, it doesnt stop channeling spells or blinking away.
Passive Enemy Heroes
Slark steals the life essence of enemy heroes with his attacks, draining each of their attributes and converting them to bonus Agility.
Strength, Agility, and Intelligence Lost: 1
Agility Gained: 3
With each strike at his adversaries, Slark's knowledge of their weaknesses improves.
This is what makes Slark a fearsome snowballer and semicarry. Not only is it a good harassing tool in-lane (taking away 19 hp and 13 mana with each hit) but it also increases Slarks damage with every gank, making him all the more terrifying on the next. Only one level is taken of this at the start as your attack speed will still be too low to fully take advantage of this and the Pounce+Dark Pact combo deals far more damage at the earlier stages. Later however this makes your enemies much easier to kill and makes them deal less damage. Slark can gain so much damage out of a team fight he can proceed to go push down towers or even kill Roshan. 120 seconds may not seem like a long time to keep the bonus, but Slark has great mobility and can move around the map quickly due to Pounce and his Ultimate
No Target Self
When used, Slark hides himself in a cloud of shadows, becoming invisible (attacking, casting spells, and using items do not reveal Slark). Passively, when not visible to the enemy team, Slark gains bonus movement speed and health regeneration.
Bonus Movement Speed: 30%/35%/40%
Health Gained per Second: 3%/5%/7%
Cooldown 65 Mana 120
The hidden Thirteenth is a slippery foe.
6.79 changes Slark's ulti around significantly. Some say it is a buff, some say it is a nert. Previously the duration was 5.5 seconds, the cooldown 25 and he could be revealed by True Sight. Although now his ulti lasts 4 seconds less and the cooldown is almost tripled, the fact he is almost invincible inside his ultimate gives him alot more freedom to choose his ganks and chase with impunity. He also can escape from almost anything now. It should be used sparingly though as 65 seconds is still time. His passive that he gains from it makes certain he requires no regenerative items whatsoever for his health. Also his movement speed with boots will be reaching upward of 475 and with certain items he can be attaining max speed, letting his wander the map in a matter of seconds, as well as increading his chasing ability inside his ultimate.
Always level Pounce and Shadow Dance whenever possible. Dark Pact and Essence Shift can be switched out for one another when the situation calls. If you have secured a few kills in the early game and so are ready to snowball, as well as your team have heroes with burst damage to replace Dark Pact, go ahead to level Essence Shift. Most often i get just one point of it though in the laning stage and max Dark Pact as games usually arent always going in my favour and i prefer solo ganking and the strong burst damage combo of my 1st and 2nd spells.
Slark is quite a versatile laner, as with other gankers like Clockwerk, Bounty Hunter and Slardar, i like to lane him mid whenever i can to get a good grip on the game and have solid rune control. Even when faced with a hero like Viper in mid, Slark is quite content with few items in the beginning and does not require many last hits, even if he does profit largely from them. He only required expirience to get his abilities up and running quickly. For this reason i dont mind staying aback from the creepwave and only go grap last hits when i know i wont take significant damage and am sure i wont get into trouble. As such i do not buy stout shield or a healing salve in mid. As soon as my bottle is up i am comfortable with rune control due to pounce and am actually ready to gank. Double damage, haste and invis runes are the best for this, though seen a regen rune is a welcome sight. Illusion runes i use just to fool the enemy by sending duplicates into other lanes, usually getting the back from the creepwave and letting my allies farm. Slark loves going mid against melee heroes without alot of burst damage or escape mechanisms such as Brewmaster, Beastmaster, Dragon Knight, Alchemist or Nightstalker during the day. Slow ranged heroes that cant CC you are also a welcome sight. There are few heroes, QoP and Puck being examples that can both burst you down and control the runes very well, as well as having good escape skills. This is also the reason Slark is not seen often in competitive play as those 2 heroes are very abundant.
In terms of offlane Slark may face more issues. Both in the case of being solo or in a dual lane it is recommended to pick up a Stout Shield as 2 heroes are more than enough to endanger Slark. 1vs1 or 2vs1 though Slark excells at destabilising the enemy. Item build is still largely the same, though a Poor Man's Shield might be viable if you are being harassed alot. Bottle is still a good choice, though slightly less and it only recommended whole heartedly if your team has wards and you have a mid like Invoker or Outworld Devourer who dont require an items like that. It also makes you sustainable in lane. On the offlane Slark can also roam the enemy jungle, being effective at kill heroes such as Enigma, Lycan, Legion Commander, Nature's Prophet and others who may be farming there.
If you are playing Slark on the easy lane that is also fine as Slark will still have the opportunities to get kills, though quite an amount smaller than from mid or offlane. Farm is good on Slark to get his cores up quickly. If with a good laning partner who has CC spells or burst such as Lion or Lina, you should be able to secure kills and harass the enemy quite effectively. Slark's carry potential is not the highest among agility carries though
Putting Slark in a trilane does have its reasons. He has good burst damage and can hold down the enemy long enough to allow for other spells to be cast to secure a kill. In these cases Stout Shield is a great item to block creep aggro and the enemy tower hits. The large downside is that without efficiency from your supports, they will be leeching alot of expirience from you which is what Slark desperately needs. Be sure your allies are heroes with good kill combinations, roaming potential or know how to properly pull when commiting to a trilane. A trilane against a dual lane or a solo is also an opportunity to get a Hand of Midas if one so desires, though costly and delays your cores, the gold and expirience it gives are incredibly beneficial and the +30 attack speed goes great with Essence Shift, with which you should be harassing every so often. Unless you are sure to get a kill or be able to get away unscathed, this applying for dual laning and soloing as well. dont harass the enemy with your SPELLS before reaching level 6. The reason is that if you dont secure are kill, Slark is squishy enough to be forced back. Tangoes and salves may help to alleviate this but level 6 is the prime time to secure a kill on your OWN lane.
Playing against a trilane as Slark is tricky. He isnt particularly tanky and cant sustain himself before level 6. Pounce goes a long way though to give him any kind of chance. The most important thing is to keep getting expirience from your lane. If you die once, max twice or just cant get within exp ranged, ABANDON your lane and go elsewhere, you are not the hero to hold this at early levels. Supports with good AOE harass are helpful to have in such a situation, such as a Keeper of the Light, though he cant do much else in such a situation apart from provide you with mana. Again Stout Shield is necessary in such ocassions and play very passive as more than likely yhe enemy will have enough to burst you down with if you wander too close.
All in all Slark isnt a bad laner, just very exp dependant. Just walk and forth to get last hits and harass with Essence Shift when you get the chance but unless you have reliable support, dont go in for a kill until you are level 6. Soloing a lane as Slark, preferably Mid, is the best way to play him.
As soon as you reach level 6, you MUST go for a gank. You can gank at earlier levels but again make sure the lane you are ganking has allies with good burst or CC. If you see a good rune such as an invis or double damage, go in for the kill, you will get it if you have the right items and support, as well as if your enemies arent at hight hp and dont have mana to stop you. When going in to ganker, make sure:
1) Your lane is pushed out
2) Your enemy cant see you leave(Shadow Dance helps reveal nearby wards as the passive wont trigger)
3) The heroes you are ganking dont have long disables, or ther mana for them that will prevent you from killing them alone
4) Your allies are aware you are coming
5) You carry a TP scroll
6) You are prepared if the enemy has an escape skill like invis
7) You have the guts to do what is needed
In the early game, 4 cheap items exist that go a long way to get you to a kill. Bottle, Boots of Speed, Orb of Venom, Magic Wand. All of these together give you the mana/hp, speed and chasing ability needed to complete a sucessful gank. More later on these items.
Keep ganking and searching for ganks constantly, dont waste time. You can maybe stay farm in a lane if there as no opportunites, but Slark is an agressive hero and should farm away. You are not a proper carry remember. It is much better to wander the map and scout. If any sticky situations arrive, you have the gear to get out. Bottle up in your ulti if you need as you most likely wont receive damage to cancel the heal. You should be slowly attaining kills overtime to get you to your core items. Even later in the game, Slark should still be all over the map searching for openings. Slark is also a good split pusher as Dark Pact deals good AoE damage and with Essence Shift stacks towers fall quick. Speedy and slippery, he can always get away. If a team fight arises, come in from behing and target supports to build up agility and then proceed to take down the carry. Position your self to avoid major damage and also so your Dark Pact hits the most enemies it can. If you get low on hp, pop Shadow Dance to heal up. Slark function very much as a guerilla fighter, he hides in the shadows, popping out to attack quickly and then retreating back again to recover.
Procedure is clear, Pounce into Dark Pact into Right Clicking, casting your spells again as necessary.
This Section is going to pretty extensive, bear with me
Iron Branches are cheap, give good stats and build into your a magic wand
Tangoes are always my regen of choice, they help cover damage taken from going in for a last hit or during a manfight. Feel free to grab another stack if you feel you are going to be needing it
Very helpful item. The stout shield not only can block enemy auto-attacks, but also tower hits when you are diving
Kinda meh to be honest. Dont like picking them up, but again there are cases where you will be laning against strong nukers
Only pick these up if you really need that extra damage. They also build into a Poor Man's Shield. Again situational really as 3Branches are enough to add to Slark's already good base damage.
I like picking this up on many agility heroes. Gives good stats for the price and can build into an Aquila if you feel you need the extra mana.
I only get this if i feel i will be needing the extra mana regen in lane. The armour bonus is outclassed by Stout Shield.
Great item overall, though not always necessary. If you are being harassed by both creeps and heroes constantly, it is a wise pickup. Will make you more surviveable in fights.
Honestly, unless you started with a Wraith Band and need mana, dont get this.
Superb item. Get is ASAP in mid. Also works on other lanes but remember its only really worth it if you have wards and your mid has little need for runes. The mana it gives is great for your cheap spells.
Boots are boots, more going fast. You shouldnt be playing Dota if you dont get these.
Really cheap item that helps with chasing. The UAM is better than any other, and builds into Skadi later. You can even get this before Boots as the slow is really that great. You will also be able to get more hits with your Essence Shift.
Burst HP and Mana, just what you need to close a kill or save your life.
Better than getting Aquila, still not all that worth it. On the other hand builds into Vlads, so might be worth picking it up for that.
Best boots there are. The attribute swtiching is great due to your bottle so you really benefit from the regen. The extra attack speed also is great for getting those stolen stats.
Im gonna add a whole chapter for this later.
Slark has no natural way to stop channeling spells such as teleports. This item makes him more survivable, gives bonus damage and the bash helps steal more stats as well as stop feeling enemies.
Your upgrade from Orb of Venom. Propably one of the best items there is for Slark. The movement and attack speed slow is significant and it boosts all his stats as well as hp and mana significantly.
The step up from Basher. Large damage boost, small strength boost as well as a guaranteed 2 sec stun to disable powerful enemies.
Mjollnir adds the most attack speed of any items in the game, greatly increasing stat steal. It is advisable to buy hyperstone first when getting it. The lighting proc is also nice for good AoE damage.
The crit comes off from your base damage which will be insanely high if you get enough hits. Just a great damage item.
Best item for an agility carry. Damage, armour, attack speed and evasion are all great to have on Slark.
Slark is a good split pusher and in the late game this not only frees up his inventory but allows him to push around the map with his Dark Pact. His Pounce and Shadow Dance are great escape tools to accomplish this.
Also gives alot of attack speed. Better than Mjollnir if you wish to get some attack speed and help your team out as well. The -armour is also good for split push.
Solution if your enemy has too much magic/pure AoE of strong disables and you need to keep active.
Regen stacks with Shadow Dance. Also gives 1100+ hp. Solid item item for survival. Unless you need ALOT of hp though, Skadi is usually better.
Good allround stats, gives mana and hp regen. Spellblock is great for ganking and split pushing. Great item to get if you have enough damage already.
Daedalus is better in terms of damage. The minibash is great though and procs alot with high attack speed. The reason to get this item though is if your enemy has evasion.
This item would be almost core. The silence and damage amplification is very good against almost any heroes but mainly supports. The mana regen is also amazing to have. Silence before Pouncing.
Increases Slarks burst damage capability. Only consider getting if you are far ahead and your enemy doesnt have alot of hp/a bkb. The stats it gives are quite redundant in the most part as well.
Orb of Venom's slow is much better on the whole than getting a Desolator. The extra damage and -armour is found better elsewhere. There are those games however where you need to push quickly to win. Only get if are going to play a passive and patient game.
2nd best UAM for Slark. The extra agility and intelligence are very helpful and the Purge helps counter heroes like Broodmother or Warlock, as well as being a great slow. The issue with this item is that there are just better choices to get overall in terms of damage items and Orb of Venom is just too good to usually pass up. Of all the Situational Rares consider this item the most. The Mana Burn is great against Wraith Knight too.
Slark is slippery and wont die easily if you are careful. If you are farmed and and to secure a win for your team immediately, get a Rapier. It is insane and will get you to the end.
There are those games where you have a bad time and there is too much physical DPS on the enemy team for you to handle. Ghost Scepter with at least let you stay alive longer in team fights and let you use your burst damage unhindered for the most part.
Contrary to the ghost sceptre, Ethereal Blade is for incredibly active games wher you steal large amounts of agility and with the help of your 2 damage abilities, you will be able to inflict massive damage on an enemy. As with Dagon, it is advised only if you are far ahead and the enemy doesnt have Magic Immunity or alot of hp.
Again for those games where you need to push to win. The soldiers themselves are good in team fights as well, providing True Sight and Mana Burn among other things.
An can be gotten from disassebling from Sange&Yasha. Again an item like Ghost Sceptre, this is to be gotten when you are behind or are having trouble with an enemy carry. Fantastic against ranged heroes like Razor, Viper, Drow Ranger, Weaver etc
Again an item for split pushing. The stats are great and just a Yasha by itself is a great item. The illusions also benefit from your bonus agility. Again this item in general is just outclassed. Skadi is the better stat provider.
Lifesteal is pretty bad as a UAM. Though with the insane damage potential of Slark, this is a great 1vs1 item if you have to stand toe-to-toe with the enemy carry.
If Slark isnt one of the main damage dealers in your team or you need to shut down an enemy carry quickly, get this. Great disable item that also ***its in ganking. Nice stats as well.
Slark doesnt need much starting items, buy it if no one else will.
Buy it if you need to, take one for the team, Slark can handle it.
Buy it before ganking a invis hero, otherwise you will just waste time.
Slark benefits greatly from vision for runes and ganks. Buy if no one else will and you have money to spare.
Deward. Also good to place one when you are pushing so any suprise ganks wont get you.
Mini Skadi in a sense. Good mix of defence and attack. Hp, dps, mana, it has all. Good for the team as well. Solid item for the price. Prefer if you are running low on money though.
Dark Pact dispells the negative armour from Slark so no downside. Mana regen and a mini-desolator for 1075 gold? Very much worth it if you are against low armour-high hp heroes like Alchemist. Buy it if you are ahead.
Game gonna take long and you feel the need to keep up? If you can farm this before 5 minutes, the extra attack speed, gold and expirience benefit Slark alot, though this is a rather passive item.
Slark is mana hungry, if you have good farm and are not going to be ganking alone for the most part, this is a good choice. The 150 mana is good for another Pounce-Pact combo and also to escape with your ultimate if needed.
If your team has atleast 2 other melee DPS dealers, this is highly recommended. This is good if you are slowly being put into a #3 role on your team and dont have too much money. HP regen, mana regen, armour, damage, non UAM lifesteal, this item is really fantastic for the price.
MORE COMING IN FUTURE, REST OF ITEMS, FRIENDS&FOES, Pushing and MORE
There are 4 core items(discounting Armlet) that frequently are built by Slark players.
The following are often built togetherMask of Madness
Now i will make a case against each of these one by one
First lets have a look at the bonuses each give:
Shadow Walk: Makes you invisible until the duration ends, or until you attack or cast a spell. While Shadow Walk is active, you move 20% faster and can move through units. If attacking to break the invisibility, you gain 150 bonus damage on that attack. Lasts 12 seconds.
+30 attack speed
Maim: Gives a chance on attack to slow for 4 seconds.
Maim Chance: 16%
Movement Speed Slow: 30%
Attack Speed Slow: 30%
+16 Attack speed
+16% Movement speed
Mask of Madness:
Berserk: Gives +100 attack speed and +30% movement speed but causes you to take extra 30% damage. Lasts 12 seconds.
Damage Block: Gives an 80% chance to block 40 damage
+6 HP regeneration
Now Armlet of Mordiggan:
Unholy Strength: Gives +31 damage, +10 attack speed, and +25 strength while active, but drains 40 HP per second. You cannot die from the health loss when the bonus strength is gone, or the health drain per second.
+7 HP regeneration
+15 Attack speed
Now lets discuss. Remember all of these items are viable, but Armlet is preferred greatly.
The reason is that Armlet has no proper downside as the health cost is regenerated by your ultimate's passive. It gives in total
25 attack speed
Lets tackle the Mask of Madness&Vanguard combo first
Armlet costs 2600 gold
Mask+Guard is 1900+2225 gold
30% bonus movement speed
100 attack speed
Remember too that Mask increases damage taken by 30% and Vanguard block chance isnt actually 80% because the item uses pseudo random distribution so in reality it blocks about 66.7% of the time. Lets calculate how many hits one can take if one receives 100 damage per second, and lets factor in health regeneration as well as the armour. Also im taking these numbers in the heat of battle when Slark does not activate Shadow Dance.
PS: correct me if im wrong but damage block is to be factored after Berserk increase
475 hp from armlet takes 100 damage, 23.1% is taken off due to 5 armour
we get a rough 23 damage taken off so we are remaining with 452, now remember the hp loss-regen and we take away another 33 so we have 419hp. In total we lost 56 hp.
250hp from vanguard. 100 damage is increased by berserk by 30. 130 damage taken. Take away 40 and another 6 for the hp regen and we subtract by 84. Now we have 166hp. In total we lost 84 hp.
Even with the block Armlet will still take another 8 hits while the Vanguard can last only for another 3.
Now lets compare the damage. Lets take a lvl 12 Slark. He has 76 base damage and a natural attack speed of 139(1.22 attacks per second)
Armlet: first lets add the bonus attack speed and damage. This gives us 154 attack speed(1.10 attacks per second) and 85 damage. Now lets activate Unholy Strength.
We get 116 damage
We get 164 attack speed (1.03 attacks per second)
Over 12 seconds that Berserk can be active we deal
Mask: Activate Berserk and we get 239 attack speed (0.71 attacks per second)
Over 12 seconds we deal
Just that raw damage right there can give some insight. Lets add the essence shift steal:
Yup the Mask wins here by 135 damage. Though be aware that 1)Armlet is 2600 while Mask and Vanguard are 4155 together. This leaves gold for another item to increase your effectiveness, 2) This is optimal timing for MoM to win, any longer and it drastically falls behind, and any shorter than 9 seconds it also loses. I didnt calculate with the extra attack speed because its a pain, but you should get the general idea of it. Even if just a Mask beats Armlet in terms of damage. Its still better to get the Armlet overall, still wins 75% of the 12seconds.
+16 Attack Speed
+16% Movement Speed
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