So... you picked Dragon Knight.
Boy, I hope you know how to play DotA 2 (and obviously the original, since this game is in beta and you should probably have a good census and how to play the first one), because this guide isn't gonna mess around and talk about how you should literally play Dragon Knight. This guide will, however, tell you why I chose those items, why I chose that build order, why why why.
So let's stop wasting time and get right into it, eh? This is my first guide too, so be gentle.
One of the first things you might have noticed with this build is the leveling of Breathe Fire at levels 3, 4, 5, and 7. Some people might have responded, "uh wut, his shield stun is what makes him good dumbass", and you know what, I completely agree. But my problem with leveling shield earlier than Breathe Fire for the purpose of a longer stun is that you're not going to do any more damage than you would if you just had Breathe Fire leveled first.
I mean, think about it. Davion already has one of the longest stuns in the game at level 1 at a solid 2.5 seconds. Breathe Fire gives you a nuke that adds massive damage to your already long stun early game. Tie this into your first item of Quelling Blade, and you have some good farm as well if you have a solid lane partner helping you get to the trenches.
As well, this is a solid way of finishing off heroes, as you deal around 250-300 instant damage. During 2.5 seconds of stun early game and your strong auto attack? I have a lot of fun because of this fact.
If you are having trouble with harassment though, I would recommend switching from Breathe Fire to Dragon Blood for more survivability in lane to get your farm from the creeps better.
Stun? For 2.5 seconds? AT LEVEL 1? GOD YES.
Honestly, that's all I can really say about this skill other than the fact that it's a long *** stun, and even longer at later levels. It's why you level it so late: longer stuns are better off later in the game. Although they would certainly make things easier early game, you're better off leveling your other skills.
Another thing to point out is that as of the recent updates, you have a boosted range on your stun when in Elder Dragon Form. This is great for slapping the **** out of melee carries that get too close to the creeps. Seriously, this really boosted DK's ability to punish people that get too close, so use it well.
A skill that lets you regenerate health and have extra armor? Oh my god, how are you not loving this hero by now?
Basically the leveling of this skill is determined by the enemy team and how you're doing in the lane. Most of your farm will come from the lane until you get your lifesteal from your Morbid Mask/Helm of the Dominator, in which you then farm from the jungle, the lane, and ancient creeps (I'll establish on this very important fact later).
So basically what I have to say is, if you're having trouble staying at high life/alive, get this skill before Breathe Fire. It's detrimental that you get gold and get good items, pronto.
Elder Dragon Form
You turn into a wrecking machine for 60 seconds, and then you become even more of a wrecking machine at later levels. By now you should be ****ing yourself over this godly hero. Each form increases your movespeed to 315 and attack range to 500, and each form has a special addition to it as well.
At the first level, you get Corrosive Breath, which basically makes heroes that run away from you drop on their face because of the poison. 20 damage per second over 5 seconds = good times.
Your next level gives you splash damage, WHICH WILL HELP YOUR FARM EXPONENTIALLY. I cannot stress this enough. I'll elaborate on it later in the items section, but what you should have is a bunch of stacked ancients creeps (3-4 stacks) that will give you a ton of gold in a measly amount of time. This will help in getting your items real fast. This also helps in team battles when you can just auto attack everything while they focus on you, but you cannot be killed, because that's just how Dragon Knight works.
Your last level finally makes you realize why DotA 2 is so much fun. 315 base movespeed, 14 bonus base damage, 500 attack range, 1.7 Base Attack Time, 0.5/0.4 attack animation and has Splash Attack (same as lvl 2) and has the skill: Frost Breath that slows units for 30% movement speed and 20% attack speed, lasting 3 seconds? Plus all your items from farming earlier on? Just hit your attack key and click to the enemies base: you are near unstoppable.
Quelling Blade to get some good lane farm, Tangos because they'll probably try to harass you (rofl), Gauntlet of Strength to build into Urn of Shadows, and two Iron Branches, because GG. I do not honestly know why you would start his early game any differently than this.
Building into Urn of Shadows for early game is something I've found really useful instead of Bracers or any other item. You get a bit of extra mana regeneration, but the most important aspect is the quick healing that it does. This will help your lane partner stay there instead of heading back to base after wasting your enemy, and heal you as well if you somehow manage to get hurt (once again, lol). Staying in your lane and getting farm is crucial. You can't waste time going back to base: you gotta become that massive tank carry ASAP, and the Urn helps you do just that.
Power Treads is obvious, you don't need extra damage from Phase Boots, teleporting to other lanes from the Boots of Travel, mana from Arcane Boots, or those new weird boots I haven't found a use for yet. You need attack speed and the extra +10 to any of your stats. COOL NOTE: If you're always running out of mana for your two skills, why don't you switch your boots to +10 intelligence? I don't entirely recommend it, but I've often found myself doing exactly this just so I can Ult, Stun, and breathe some ******** fire on those *****es. Don't be afraid!
Your Morbid Mask is eventually for your Mask of the Dominator, which will basically help your farm explode into godlike status. I'll finally talk about that in my next item section, so stay tuned if you've read this far.
HELM OF THE ***********ING DOMINATOR WILL MAKE YOU UNSTOPPABLE IF USED PROPERLY.
There it is, caps and all. Not only does this give you more armor, lifesteal, and damage, but it's ability is what you should be focused on itself. I want you to use this item to dominate one of the strongest jungle creeps (ex. minotaur), assign him to a control group and send him to the Ancient Creep camp. Around this time you should be anywhere from level 9 or 10. Then I want you to stack those ancient creeps to around three stacks. By that time you should have gotten to level 11. Remember that Elder Dragon Form level 2 gives you splash damage? HELL YEAH, GO RAPE THOSE CREEPS AND GET A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF GOLD.
Now begins the CHOO CHOOOOO, as long as you keep on stacking those creeps and getting like 600 gold per 3 minutes. That and hero kills will help you farm into Heart of Tarrasque, and pairing that with your leveling of Dragon Blood will make you into a killing machine, because they'll target you (being a dragon on screen makes that enemy team be like "quick target that dude"), but they can't kill you. Have fun and go build into your late game.
Build your Helm of the Dominator into a Satanic will make late team battles a whole lot easier. By now they could have caught up to your level and could start actually dealing damage. But with your now 25% lifesteal and then 200% lifesteal when activated? Plus this goes with your splash damage? Yeah... they'll rage soon enough.
Assault Cuirass simply makes it easier for you to attack even faster and make the enemy's armor and attack speed lower as well? Their base should be in ruins. Honestly this isn't a must have for late game, you could have other items, but I just prefer this for the attack speed.
Black King Bar is a great item for Dragon Knight, don't get me wrong. But this is super situational: you should get this only when faced against a stun/target heavy enemy team so you can stop if. If that is this case, you should get this earlier on, I would say before Heart of Terrasque (when you start farming dem ancients). It isn't absolutely necessary, but it still is a great item to have in the right cases.
This is a purely preference item, I think. I never liked Armlet to begin with, but I know other people live by it. I don't take it because I'd rather go directly into Heart of Terrasque first, and by then I'm farming heroes, so I just upgrade into the very luxurious items instead of getting Armlet at all. Situational? Yeah, I guess, it's just an item I don't really like, so that is why I put it in this place.
Having trouble with those AOE magic enemy teams? Get this instead of Heart/Satanic, and you and your team should be better off. Make sure that no one else on your team is building it at this time though. This is once again a situational item, and not entirely necessary, although having it would make you an even bigger tank to begin with.
I don't think many people think of getting Radiance on Dragon Knight, but I would consider it giving that the enemy team should be focusing you at one point in a 5v5 team fight, but since you stay alive so long and deal splash damage as well. Extra damage plus a passive 40 dps? I think it's pretty good honestly.
You're so farmed anyway, so why not deal EVEN MORE damage in case it turns out to be a drawn out battle. There's nothing more to be said about this honestly. This is basically just an obvious replacement to Assault Cuirass if you don't want to get that.
In Your Lane
Last hit, last hit, last hit. Hopefully you have a ranged hero helping you in lane, because you will be needing that gold and experience. Don't forget to deny as well, but if your partner is smart, he'll take care of that for you, as well as harassing the enemy team if they get too close. Remember that your stun is especially useful in smacking your enemies around if they get way too close trying to farm, but use it cautiously, as it will take a while for that mana to regenerate if it's still early game. Your stun also helps you to escape from enemy ganks if it happens, considering that you have a lot of health anyway to just keep on running away. AND ALWAYS remember that activating your ult gives you extra range on your stun! It's soooooooo good.
In the Mid Game
Your mid game consists of you farming off of the lane, jungle, and ancient creeps (and heroes, if they're stupid). Always remember to stack your ancients, and whenever the enemy team tries to take it themselves, punish them for stepping on your turf. Your massive farm from this point makes you unstoppable later on. Does most of your game come from this point? Yes. I think it does.
In the 5v5 Battles
Make sure you ult! You become a machine once you ult. Also remember to stun the most dangerous enemy on their team, whether it's a caster or DPS. Then go with your team on whoever they're focusing, as getting it from 5v5 to 5v4 could be a deciding factor in the game. So, tl;dr: ult, stun, and fight.
Honestly, I never really played a lot of Dragon Knight until I recognized his ability as a team player in DotA 2. His way of just smashing everything in his path but being absolutely detrimental in team fights is something that I just like in a hero.
So, concluding my first guide, which I basically wrote in two days from scratch: Dragon Knight played properly turns into a wrecking machine. It's not as easy as picking Anti-Mage or Huskar, but with a bit of background knowledge and focus, Dragon Knight can put these two heroes to shame. As well, this guide is only meant to be a starting point and not followed exactly to the point: I try to make it as general as possible, but there are always different situations and he should be skilled and built accordingly!
So good luck and godspeed, and thanks for reading this guide!