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47 Votes

The minimap is mine! A Purple Ghost ganking/farming guide

December 21, 2016 by Hamstertamer
Comments: 61    |    Views: 248872    |   

Build 1
Build 2
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Build 4
Build 5

Balanced mid-game value build

DotA2 Hero: Spectre

Hero Talents

+5% Dispersion
+32% Haunt Illusion Damage
+12% Spectral Dagger Slow/Bonus
+350 Health
+100 Spectral Dagger Damage
+12 Desolate Damage
+5 All Stats
-4s Spectral Dagger Cooldown


Spectre is a hard carry who relies on applying constant pressure on the enemy team with her global presence.

She has the ability to excel in both teamfights and solo pickoffs, all this while having all the free time in the world to farm on her own, since her ultimate allows her to join any fight, anywhere, just by pressing a button.

She is well known for being one of the very best late game heroes in DotA, able to decimate entire teams with the combination of her ultimate, and one of the best scaling abilities in the entire game, Dispersion. However, she can do much more than simply farm to secure your team's late game.

She is a very versatile carry who can be built in a lot of different ways, and can adapt to almost every situation. She has no rigid item build, and a lot of items are actually surprisingly good on her, giving a lot of room for experimentation, definitely the most fun part about the hero. This adaptability can make her a good pick in many lineups.

Having a very strong mid-game, significantly more so than most hard carries, since she has the ability to have high damage and chasing power even without items...her ability to gank and teamfight even early into the game should never be underestimated.

While reading I recommend the following theme song :

Have a nice read!

Pros / Cons


+ One of the hardest carries in the game. A farmed Spectre can almost win teamfights 1 vs 5
+ Fairly tanky. Dispersion makes survivability items scale really well on her
+ Global presence. Can jump instantly on any enemy hero!
+ Lots of free time to farm thanks to Haunt
+ Good ganker
+ Great teamfighter
+ Can initiate teamfights. Good synergy with other AOE initiators.
+ Counters enemy initiation (disables Blink Daggers)
+ Desolate is the strongest attack modifier for illusions in the game
+ Can be played both as a farmer and as a ganker. Great balance between fighting and farming, since she can farm and look for kills at the same time with her ultimate.
+ Doesn't need a lot of time to come online. Already very strong in the early-mid game with limited farm thanks to Desolate and Dagger
+ No, seriously, doesn't need to farm for 35 minutes to be useful. Can contribute a lot to early teamfights and defend against early push attempts. Perfectly viable as a mid-game fighting carry.


- Terrible lane presence. Can't do much in lane besides farming...or at least trying to.
- Needs a lot of babysitting from supports to secure your early farm in lane - don't expect much of that in pubs.
- Extremely easy to shut down in lane (e.g aggressive trilanes)
- Gank magnet
- Level-dependent (needs fast level 10)
- Bad agility gain. Weak right-click without Desolate (luckily she doesn't rely on it)
- Has no hard disable. Gets easily kited by mobile heroes
- Desolate bonus damage is unreliable, and easily countered (e.g illusion heroes).
- Slow farmer without an (expensive) farming item
- Long cooldown on ultimate (2 minutes). Haunt cooldown can make you vulnerable to 5-man pushes (luckily pubs suck at pushing)
- Partially countered by Black King Bar / magic immunity in general

Skills and skill build

Spectral Dagger

Spectre flings a dagger to draw a Shadow Path, dealing damage and slowing the movement speed of any enemies along the trail. Units hit by the dagger also trail a Shadow Path. While treading the path, Spectre phases through otherwise impassable terrain including up and down cliffs, and gains a movement speed boost.

Ability: Target point
Range: 2000
Path Duration: 12
Damage: 50/100/150/200
Movement Speed Change: 8%/12%/16%/20%
Mana cost: 130/140/150/160
Cooldown: 16s

- Spectral Dagger is your chasing and escape skill.

- You need to have a high level of Dagger for chasing. Low-level dagger is pretty weak. You can get away with only 2 points in it, but even then, you get kited pretty easily. That's why the skill is generally maxed second.

- Dagger is not a good nuke, the damage sucks. The movement speed and especially the free pathing is the real benefit of that skill.

- 20% slow may not sound like much but it increases your own movement speed by 20% at the same time, making a max level dagger a really strong chasing spell

- Dagger prevents enemies from juking completely. Just follow the shadow path that leads directly to your target across the trees or cliffs. It will follow invisible heroes as well.

- To escape with this skill, Dagger into impassable terrain like trees or cliffs. Dagger gives you unobstructed movement, like Batrider's Firefly or Broodmother's webs. Escape through a path that your pursuers can't follow, and then TP out.

- Dagger goes through Black King Bar (BKB blocks the damage but not the slow) and isn't blocked by Linken's Sphere either.


Deals bonus pure damage when Spectre attacks an enemy hero with no nearby allied units.

Damage Bonus: 20/35/50/65
Radius: 325

- Desolate is your *main* source of damage. The damage this skill does is ridiculous. 65 damage may not sound that good but remember that this is *pure* damage, so it can't be reduced by armor or magic resistance. So it's more like the equivalent of 100+ physical damage typically.

- Spectre's illusions have Desolate and deal the full damage. This is what makes Spectre such a good carry : Haunt and Manta Style illusions have that ability. Just compare the 65 pure damage with the 38 physical damage from Mana Break for example.

- Desolate is NOT an orb effect. It stacks perfectly with other orb effects like lifesteal, skadi, Diffusal, etc.

- The damage is dealt before Spectre's attack and Desolate cannot miss. Because of this, Spectre doesn't care that much about evasion and miss chances. Don't hesitate to manfight Phantom Assassin, Brewmaster, or Riki under his Smoke Screen - you'll still do most of your damage.

- If any other enemy is present in a 325 radius around your target, Desolate deals no damage. "any enemy" includes of course enemy heroes, but also enemy creeps, summoned units, and even illusions. Desolate is pretty unreliable, and this is why you hate illusion heroes and guys like Meepo.

- Black King Bar blocks it. You hate BKB carries too.

- Since the 6.85 patch, Desolate works on creeps! This means, this skill actually accelerates your farm, especially in the jungle. To take advantage of it, start killing the small creep in a camp, and then the big creep will melt extremely quickly to desolate procs. You can use this trick to farm extremely fast especially early game so be sure to use it.


Damage done to Spectre is reflected on her enemies, leaving her unharmed. The effect lessens with distance.

Minimum Radius: 300
Maximum Radius: 1000
Damage Reflected: 10%/14%/18%/22%
Damage Type: Same as incoming damage

- Dispersion actually negates 22% of the damage dealt to you. This skill effectively increases your HP by 28% : 1/(1-0.22)=28%. It blocks all damage types.

- The damage blocked is dealt to ALL enemies in the AOE. Damage type is the same as the damage type you take. So if you take magical damage, it reflects magical damage, but if you take physical damage, it reflects physical damage.
So, to kill you, every hero around you would have to take 28% of your maximum HP as damage, assuming you have as much armor as the target.

- Enemies at less than 300 distance from you take the full damage. Damage then decreases linearly up to a 1000 distance.

- Your illusions don't have this skill - it would be pretty broken if they did, right? ^^

- This skill works best in combination with HP items. That's why Eye of Skadi, Satanic or Heart of Tarrasque are really good items on Spectre. Once you have good max HP, don't hesitate to man up and tank some damage in teamfights.

- To give an idea, if you have 2000 HP, with this skill you have 2560 effective HP and killing you will deal 560 damage to everyone in an AOE around you. Not bad, huh?

- But now assume you have Aegis of the Immortal, or Cheese, or Satanic, to heal you back up to full after taking the damage. Now the damage it deals potentially is actually doubled, so for 2000 max HP it's more like 1120 the whole enemy team. And you'll have more than 2000 HP in the late game. So as you see the late-game potential of this skill is pretty insane.


Creates a spectral nemesis to attack each enemy hero after a short delay. At any moment during the duration, Spectre can use Reality to take the place of a given illusion.

Haunt illusions are uncontrollable, take extra damage, and deal less damage than Spectre herself. They move at 400 base movement speed and ignore terrain.

Haunt Duration: 5/6/7
Illusion Damage Dealt: 30%
Illusion Damage Taken: 100%
Mana cost: 150
Cooldown: 120s

- Haunt is both a ganking skill and a teamfight ultimate. Either you use it to pick off isolated heroes, or you use it in big teamfights to deal huge damage to the whole enemy team, with the potential to proc Desolate on every enemy hero.

- Reality can be cast on the ground, and it will target the nearest illusion.

- The illusion on which you cast Reality is destroyed and you take its position. The other illusions remain until the end of the 5/6/7 second duration.

- If you use it for ganking, you have a few seconds to assess the situation. You see the position of all enemy heroes. Is it safe to Reality in or are you just walking into a trap? Always look at the enemy heroes' positioning on the minimap before you use Reality!

- The illusions have Desolate, Diffusal Blade feedback, Radiance burn, Daedalus crit, any movement speed bonus like Yasha, evasion from Butterfly, and invis detection from Gem of True Sight.

- The illusions' offensive power scales with your agility. More agility means that the illusions get more damage and more attack speed, which also means more Desolate procs. That's why we build lots of agility on Spectre.

- The illusions move extremely fast! They have 400 *base* movement speed - compare with the 295 base MS of your hero. And they benefit from movement speed bonuses : with a Yasha and Boots of Travel, the illusions move at maximum movement speed (522). You can't run away from them!

- In teamfights, Haunt is most effective if the enemies are scattered, because you'll get more Desolate procs. If they are tightly packed, wait for your initiator like Dark seer/Sand king/Earthshaker/Invoker/etc to initiate first, and only use Haunt when they begin to spread out.

- The minimap is your best friend when you're playing Spectre. You should always know where the enemy heroes are, and whether you have a good opportunity for a Haunt. Observer Wards help a lot. Always look at the minimap when you are farming! Your solo mid Templar assassin is ganking top? Haunt! Your Crystal maiden is getting ganked by a solo Pudge? Haunt! The enemy Mirana is getting chased by your teammates and you just saw her leap? Haunt! Spectre is all about minimap awareness at ANY moment - there are so many opportunities like this, don't miss out on them!

- Simply using Haunt does not give you assist gold for a kill. You need to be near the hero who dies to get the gold, i.e you only get gold if you use Reality. You are still mentioned as an assist but you don't get gold for it. Don't waste Haunt just to get money, it doesn't work :P

- You can use it as a last resort escape mechanism if you're getting ganked.

- Haunt has a great synetgy with buyback in order to secure important teamfights. What you can do is play Spectre as a front-line tank, you don't use your ultimate but instead you just bait the enemy initiation and tank up the damage. While you soak up the damage, not only can your team deal damage of their own, but you will deal full Dispersion damage to the whole enemy team. And when you die, instantly buyback and Haunt to clean up. Doing this is the most efficient way to win those game-changing teamfights.

Skill build

Spectre's skill build is pretty straightforward and offers little options.

We want to max Spectral Dagger and Desolate first : Dagger allows you to chase enemies to secure kills, and Desolate makes you actually deal damage. Both dagger and desolate should be maxed by level 10 in every build.

It is recommended to take 1 early level in Dispersion because it gives you a lot of survivability, increasing your effective HP by 11%. However, Dispersion is a value point and scales terribly past level 1 so it's not recommended to take more than one point in it in the early game. Dispersion only starts becoming relevant once you get survivability items and it is a skill for the late game, the very late game even. In the early game you get way more out of dagger and desolate.

Since the 6.85 change, it is recommended to always max Desolate first. Desolate increases your farm by working on jungle creeps, giving you the ability to clear jungle camps even early on.

A pretty optimized build which I use a lot is to get 2 points in Spectral Dagger, and then max Desolate at 8. This way, you still get some good chasing power, and have your most important skill maxed early.

Haunt is taken at levels 6, 11 and 16. The scaling of Haunt with 1 extra second per level may not sound like much but the additional damage it can do in teamfights is still significant (especially since the illusions don't attack the first second so the actual duration is 4/5/6 seconds).

Spectre is very level dependent and really benefits from a level advantage. Anything you can do to have Spectre level up faster such as supports staying out of experience range is welcome.


Spectre has only one possible role : safe lane carry. She needs to go to the safe lane (Radiant bottom, Dire top). You are the team's carry, and you absolutely need secure farm for the first 10-15 minutes of the game. If your team already has a safe lane carry, don't pick Spectre because you'll just have a bad time ; pick a support or an offlaner instead.

Be weary that Spectre's big weakness is the laning stage. This means that you absolutely need to lane with a good support/babysitter, ideally 2 supports, in order to secure your early farm. Again, if your team doesn't have at least one support, don't pick Spectre, pick Crystal Maiden or something.

Okay, so dual lane with a support or defensive trilane with 2 supports. If you have that, the game is already looking pretty good. I mean, you could be laning with a Faceless Void...Pubs, right? :)

If you can afford to be a bit more picky, e.g if you're the captain in CM, some supports are better with Spectre than others. The best supports to lane with Spectre are defensive supports and harassing supports. Aggressive supports like Vengeful Spirit or Sand King are amazing with other aggressive carries like Chaos Knight or Sven, but with Spectre, they can't really do much, and you risk losing the lane because you can't make anything happen. Try to avoid supports who rely on getting early kills because a low-level Spectre just can't follow up.

Let's be honest : Spectre's potential to get kills at low levels is virtually zero. Spectre is a very passive carry until she hits ~ level 6. During that time, the only thing she can do is essentially sit in lane and farm. Your lane has to be a very defensive lane.
Don't take me wrong, Spectre can be a very aggressive early-game carry, but she needs *levels* before she can play aggressive, i.e she needs high levels in Spectral Dagger and in Desolate. She can't just go for first blood at level 1 like a Juggernaut can.

Here are some of the supports I think are good with Spectre. For some more info, you can look up Sando's guide on picking supports.

  • Silencer is your best friend in lane. When you put one of the worst laning heroes in the game with the best laning hero in the game, you get...actually a pretty strong lane. Silencer can harass extremely well and zone out the enemy offlaner(s). This means safe farm for you :)
    And if the enemy heroes come too near, since they are likey to be low HP, you can go for a kill.
  • Skywrath Mage, Venomancer, Necrophos : these guys can simply zone out the enemy laner(s) and keep them away from the creeps with constant harassment, also letting Spectre get last hits safely.
  • Lich, Warlock, Jakiro, Disruptor : standard harassing supports.
  • Lion, Crystal Maiden, Witch Doctor : good supports in general
  • Chen/ Enchantress/ Enigma : Having these guys in the jungle ready to gank can help you win your lane tremendously.

You have lots of options for the supports but generally remember that your aim in lane is just to farm and play defensively. You need good lane control, not early kill potential.

Experimental : You can dual lane mid with Spectre. It's actually a relatively popular strategy in competitive DotA - dual laning your Spectre mid with a support. It's a solid alternative to doing a trilane, because you'll likely end up in a 2 vs 1 mid matchup, meaning that you'll get a lot of farm, some good experience, and you will shut down the enemy solo mid pretty hard. Besides this mid position allows you for nice usage of Bottle for runes and ganks on the sidelanes.


Here is a list of good items you can get on Spectre and in which situations to get them.
Spectre has several areas that needs focusing : sustainabiity, optional farming item, tankiness, movement speed/chasing ability, and finally building as much stats as she can, since all her skills scale with her HP ( Dispersion), and ger agility ( Desolate and Haunt).
So in a few words, if it's a stat item, then it's good on Spectre.

Early game

Having good regen early is very important on Spectre because you should expect to be harassed a lot. Tango + Salve is recommended, don't go Tango + Quelling blade + Stout shield because this is too greedy and will force you to walk back to base.
Alternatively you can ask your supports for tangoes and go something like Tango + 2 Tango (Shared), and then you can get that Quelling blade.

Stout Shield is a must if laning against ranged offlaners who harass you with right-clicks like Windranger, Weaver, or especially Broodmother. Also an amazing early tank item, great for surviving early aggressive play in lane. Always get it if facing a dual lane or trilane because it can really save your life. Upgrade to Poor Man's Shield to block a huge chunk of ranged harass and to tank up significantly.

Quelling Blade is great on Spectre because her base damage sucks, it helps you get last hits and prevents the enemy offlaner(s) from denying your creeps.
Only get QB when you can actually farm the lane! This item is useless if you are getting zoned out by heavy harassment, or if the enemy offlane can actually kill you. In that case prioritize tank/regen items and forget QB.

A casual Ring of Health is a great item to get in lane.
RoH is your best option to counter constant harassment in lane. Tranquil Boots used to be an alternative but since 6.79 tranquils aren't really viable on carries anymore. If you are facing steady harassment from heroes like Phoenix, Bristleback, Necrophos, Death Prophet, Lich, Undying, etc. then RoH is the way to go.
Also, RoH gives you enough sustainability during the mid-game, so that you hardly ever will have to go back to base to heal.
Upgrades into Battle Fury, Refresher Orb or Vanguard, but essentially it's always going to be Refresher Orb.
Don't ever sell the RoH! If you need the slot you can put in in the stash and build it into refresher later.

Magic Stick/ Magic Wand are good picks on Spectre but they're only really recommended if you can make use of them during the laning stage, or if you want to fight early - if you just want to farm they're pretty useless. Stick is an absolute must if you're laning against spell spammers like Batrider, Tidehunter, Bristleback, Phantom Assassin, Skywrath Mage, Undying, etc. Recommended against dual lanes, and a no-brainer against trilanes.

A casual Bracer is the way to go if you need early-game tankability (+114 HP). Get one against heavy burst damage lanes, especially obvious "hero combo" lanes, so they can't burst you down from full HP. It's the best counter to those "tryhard" lanes like Bane+ Mirana, or Tiny+ Centaur Warrunner get the idea. Upgrades into Drum.

Hand of Midas can be a viable choice on Spectre because she is level-depedent in addition to being farm-dependent, and Midas will give her both farm and levels. Also, she's a pretty horrible farmer if you're not going Radiance, and Midas makes up for it with steady farm. She can use the attack speed well with Desolate.
However, Midas is still extremely situational and it's not recommended in most games because going Midas is only good if :
  • you are freefarming, and you can get it at 7 minutes max, and
  • you don't want to go Radiance (otherwise just rush radiance!)
Also PLEASE, for God's sake, don't ever go Hand of Midas into Radiance, this is the worst build ever, and it's only good for trolling and throwing games.

Phase Boots are generally the way to go on Spectre, because the bonus movement speed helps a lot with chasing and escaping. They're the best boots if you want to go for early kills. Also a pretty big help for last-hitting.

Power Treads can be an alternative to Phase Boots, it's more a matter of personal taste actually. No mobility, but helps you tank up a lot (+ 152 HP!) and the attack speed is great with Desolate.

Orb of Venom is a cheap item that gives you a ton of chasing potential. The 12% slow stacks perfectly with Spectral Dagger and Phase Boots for a huge movement speed advantage, making running away from you almost impossible. A must if you want to play aggressive early.

You'd be surprised at how much you can do by grabbing an early Rune of Haste or Rune of Illusion. A haste rune gives you the opportunity to chase enemies endlessly with Desolate, and an illusion rune gives you triple Desolate! These runes are almost guaranteed kills if you manage to get your hands on them.

Urn of Shadows is a great early fighting item on Spectre because Haunt allows her to be there wherever there is action. This way you'll get a ton of urn charges and be able to heal yourself as much as you want, giving you pretty much infinite sustain. Also gives some nice HP.

Morbid Mask allows you to jungle early. With Desolate and Power Treads, it's actually pretty fast. Goes into Satanic later.
Don't upgrade it to Helm of the Dominator early, there's no point. The only point of helm is to stack can't farm stacks, and the damage/armor from the item aren't needed either.

Drum of Endurance is a great choice for your first item. It gives you +9 to all stats, and a decent bonus to your movement speed ; the stats gives you the early tankability you need (+171 HP), as well as more agility and mana pool, which is a big help for your early game. And the movement speed helps you a lot for chasing running heores. Don't forget to activate the drum for chasing and escaping!
Drum is the best item to pick up if you want to play aggressively and gank in the early game ; however it's not very useful if you just want to farm.

Point Booster is possibly the most cost-efficient item in the game...and offers a solid alternative to drum.
It gives you the early tankability you need, it solves your early game mana issues, and it build into Eye of Skadi.
You can just grab one early and build it into Skadi later.

Radiance is the farming build on Spectre - it's the best item to get if you want to farm quickly, and it's the best build if you're going for the late game. It's also very strong in teamfights. However, you need to essentially be freefarming to get the Radiance in a reasonable time, and it won't be possible in every game - so choose wisely whether you want to go for it or not.
Having a Radiance allows you to :
  • Deal high damage in teamfights only by using Haunt (250/300/350 magic damage total). This is extremely strong in the mid-game, much less so in the late game.
  • Deal AOE damage in teamfights even after simply by being there
  • Farm a bit faster by clearing whole creep waves quickly
  • Farm extremely fast once you have your Manta Style, because your 2 illusions carry the burn aura and can clear creep waves and jungle camps on their own.
  • Keep the 3 lanes pushed at all times, applying constant pressure on the enemy team.
Radiance is only good if you rush it as a *first* item. Farming items should always be gotten early to make the most of them, and its usefulness in teamfights is only relevant in the early-mid game. It's good at any time to kill creeps though ^^
Try to farm it quickly in lane, without wasting too much time/money on early game items. You really need it ASAP (15-20 mins).
Then, a good usage of Radiance to farm can get you to top farm levels (700+ GPM), and can make you 6-slotted at around 50 minutes.
Be warned however that you should never, ever, get a late Radiance on Spectre. A 28-minute Radiance on Spectre is like a 25-minute Battle Fury on Anti-Mage : a complete waste of gold. This is an extremely common error in pubs, don't make this mistake.

Mid game

Yasha is a great item on agility heroes in general, and the movement speed is exactly what you need on a chasing hero like Spectre.
Upgrade it to Manta Style. Manta is one of the best items on Spectre in the game, because the illusions have Desolate...and deal the full damage from it!
Triple Desolate means that you get a bonus 65*3=195 PURE damage on each hit. On a hero with more than ~10 armor, it's actually more damage than a Divine Rapier!
Manta is your best ganking item, and it blows up lone heroes in a few hits.

Diffusal Blade applies its effect to every Haunt illusion, allowing your ultimate to damage every enemy hero, a bit like Radiance does, while being way more affordable.
This makes diffusal a cheap and cost-efficient teamfighting item for Spectre, a great pickup if you want to teamfight early a lot. For example, if you're playing against a pushing lineup, or any lineup that 5-mans a lot, it's recommended to go diffusal over manta because diffusal gives a lot of AOE damage in teamfights, while manta only deals single target damage on isolated heroes.
However, this item gives no survivability at all, so it's not a core item on the hero.
You should still buy this item whenever you're playing against Omniknight!

Late game

Eye of Skadi in hands down one of the best items on Spectre in the game.
It's purchased as a tank item as a replacement to Heart of Tarrasque - except that in contrary to heart it does much more than just give HP.
Skadi gives +725 HP, to compare with tha +1060 HP from Heart - except that Skadi also gives +3.5 armor, so actually the effective HP you get from heart and Skadi is comparable.
However, Skadi also gives +25 agility, which is a *huge* deal for Spectre who is a very agility-starved hero.
The slow prevents running away completely. And it goes through magic immunity!
Also, Skadi gives us infinite mana. It's a big help when we have a Refresher Orb.
Skadi is so good on Spectre, you can even consider stacking multiple skadis on her (yes, seriously!). There's just no other item in the game that gives so much survivability while also increasing your primary stat. Spectre is a pure stat hero, so the more stats, the better!

Butterfly is a good item on agility carries in general.
Get it if you need the evasion.
It's a great pickup if the enemy team has 3 or more right-clickers. However it's pretty useless if they have only burst damage, in which case HP items are way better.
Butterfly is a great counter to right-click heroes who can't decently get Monkey King Bar, such as PL, Naga, OD, Antimage, Ember spirit, Tiny, Invoker, Lycan, Enchantress, Chaos knight...

Skull Basher is your manfight item. Get it if you want to increase your 1 vs 1 potential by a ton. Basher will make you a better 1 v 1 hero than anything else you can get.
It's the best item to get if you want to manfight these tanky carries like Lifestealer, Sven, Huskar, Ursa, Wraith King, Alchemist, etc.
Another very useful part about basher on Spectre is the fact that it prevents enemies from escaping you with a Town Portal Scroll, even if they activate BKB beforehand!

Satanic is essentially the best late-game survivability item...if you use the active well. It heals you from low to full HP in seconds, even for a hero with terrible right-click damage like Spectre.
The synergy with Dispersion is notable, and the lifesteal stacks with Eye of Skadi.
Get it if you want to tank up even more in the late game. A well-used Satanic is far better than a Heart of Tarrasque.

After you picked up a few items, getting Refresher Orb becomes a better choice than getting more damage items : double Haunt is better than slightly improved Haunt!
Double Haunt lasts for an insane 14 seconds, essentially guaranteeing you to win any teamfight. Getting refresher usually ends the game. Alternatively, you can keep farming and use your ultimates regularly to apply an incredible amount of ganking pressure.
Since the item doesn't give any stats, you can simply leave it in your base or on a courier to free an item slot.
A great late game item.

Spectre is one of the best Aegis of the Immortal users in the game. Don't hesitate to "feed" in teamfights when you have aegis : deal full Dispersion damage, respawn, and Haunt to clean up.


Your luxury upgrade to Skull Basher. Most of the time, a basher is more than enough though, and you'll probably never get to that point.
The only thing that Abyssal Blade gives is the reliable stun on activation, but other than that it's a very cost-ineffective item.
Get this when you absolutely need the stun to lock down the enemy carry 1 vs 1.

Eat a Moon Shard when you're 6-slotted...not before. 'nuff said.

The Pig Stick deserves a mention because it is an item that counters every hero. Is there an enemy hero you can't deal with? Need an idea to counter him desperately? Here is one : turn him into a pig, and eat bacon :P
Scythe is a pretty weird item to get on a carry like Spectre and it only makes sense if you absolutely need it to shut down a hero you can't deal with.
Abyssal Blade is almost always a better choice because you get a bash and a damage bonus, while scythe gives you very little. But abyssal only makes sense if you can actually get in melee range! For some heroes it's just impossible (e.g Weaver, Anti-Mage, Storm Spirit) and "sheep" is the only option.
This is your last resort item.

Octarine Core...the ultimate luxury item. And I'm talking 8-slotted kind of luxury on an ultra-fed late game Spectre, since there's literally no reason to ever buy this item before that point.
Octarine reduces Haunt cooldown. That's it. Literally all the item does. Dispersion can NOT lifesteal so don't get your hopes up. Yes, Desolate and Radiance can technically lifesteal but it's so negligible that you can forget about it immediately.
Is it worth it?, not really. The item gives no stats, and Spectre is a pure stat-based this is just a more expensive and extremely watered down Eye of Skadi.
However it *does* make sense in the ultra-late game to buy this, since if you keep it in your stash in base, you can reduce both Haunt and Refresher Orb cooldown when you use these abilities from base.
So an ultra-luxury for 2-hour games when you're ridiculously fed and out of slots. That's it. And it's not even about carrying it...just keeping it in your stash or on a courier for the cooldown reduction.

Situational items

Never miss a single kill on an invisible hero because you didn't have Dust of Appearance.
You'll be going for solo kills on isolated heroes a lot anyways, so even if your team is smart enough to buy dust they won't be there when you need it.
Again, you need to be able to solo kill invisible heroes so stop blaming your supports and just go buy your own dust.

Ah, Vanguard...a pretty controversial item that used to be fairly bad on the hero before the 6.85 patch, but then was made viable again on her thanks to the changes to Dispersion and Desolate.
Dispersion synergizes extremely well with damage block the same way Bristleback does, since you only block the reduced damage, not the full damage. Besides the armor from the item helps as well.
This makes Vanguard/ Crimson Guard a really strong early fighting build, since the only thing Spectre needs to fight early is survivability.
Besides, rushing a full utility item like Crimson guard does *not* slow down your farm since it allows you to tank jungle creems and kill them with Desolate, allowing you to flashfarm the jungle.

Spectre isn't really a Black King Bar carry, because Haunt makes her pretty hard to focus down, also because she's generally not afraid of tanking damage with Dispersion.
Still, BKB is an absolute must in some games where the enemy team has a lot of disables. It's a big help if you're having trouble against heroes like outworld devourer, Invoker, Lion, Tinker, Huskar, Necrophos, and several others.

Not usually an item you build on carries, but Blade Mail has a good synergy with Spectre's role as a tank.
Get it if you get focused a lot, especially by squishy DPS heroes.
A great item to get if you want to screw up with Death Prophet, Tinker, Phantom Assassin, Riki, Drow Ranger, Sniper, Ursa, Invoker, Huskar...

Mask of Madness is a really fun item on Spectre that essentially gives you a Rune of Haste on demand, as well as tons of attack speed. It's the best chasing item you can dream for, just follow people around with Desolate while they can't outrun you.
Get it as a first item if you want to go for it, max Desolate at lv 7, and go gank as much as you can in the early game.
Of course, there's an obvious downside...but no pain no gain, right? :)

Monkey King Bar could almost be in the "avoid" list. You should essentially never build this.
Even if the enemy heroes have evasion, Desolate can't miss - the damage is applied before the attack. It's not worth it to build MKB just to make your physical right-click go through, if you can use manta + Desolate instead.
Besides, it's just a damage item, and damage items are horribly bad on Spectre.
Only get it if you can't rely on Desolate AND the enemy heroes have evasion...which is rather unlikely but it makes sense if you want to manfight a Phantom Lancer or Naga Siren.
Essentially it's only useful against illusion heroes who make Butterfly.
As a redeeming feature it prevents enemies from escaping you with a Town Portal Scroll.

Halberd gives you almost nothing in terms of damage, however it helps you tank up a lot and it gives you an amazing active to shut down right-clickers.
The disarm is especially good against ranged DPS heroes like Sniper, Clinkz, Drow Ranger, Viper, Templar Assassin, Morphling, Medusa, Gyrocopter...the only downside is that it gets dispelled by BKB.
Get it if you need the active to shut down right-clickers, preferably those who don't build BKB.

I never build Heart of Tarrasque on Spectre because I feel that it's essentially outclassed by Eye of Skadi and Satanic in every way on this hero. Essentialy Skadi gives strength AND agility, while heart gives only strength, making skadi more cost-efficient all around.
Still, it's a very good item on Spectre who really needs the tankiness for Dispersion. The passive heal is great to heal up between fights.

The only reason to ever build Battle Fury on Spectre is to deal with Phantom Lancer. That's it.
The Spectre versus PL matchup sucks, and bfury is actually the best item in the game to deal with PL (or, more accurately, the only decent one). Radiance is pretty useless against illusion heroes because the damage over time is too low and doesn't scale well. And Mjollnir is also pretty 'meh' against PL because the damage doesn't scale (making Bfury cleave deal up to 4 times as much AOE damage in average per hit as Mjollnir lightning, just do the math)...and please don't be that guy who thinks that the Mjollnir active does anything against PL, since he'll just use Diffusal Blade to dispel it, making the shield virtually useless against any decently played PL.
Bfury is maybe not the "optimal" farming item on Spectre, but it's still pretty decent, so you can go for it when playing against PL...since it *does* allow you to manfight PL which is awesome. Just don't buy it in other situations. Also, it's pretty bad against other illusion heroes since Naga Siren will just be split pushing not manfighting you, and Chaos Knight and Terrorblade will out-damage you easily battlefury or not.

Kind of an awkward item to build on an illusion hero, Mjollnir can still be a good option on Spectre. If you want to get it, get it first as a farming item, as an alternative to Radiance.
It's a great item for farming (while admittedly less so than Radiance+Manta), the attack speed works well with Desolate and Skull Basher, and lightning procs give you good teamfight presence. But the great part about this item is the active : cast it on yourself, jump in the middle of teamfights, and when you get focused watch the lightning fly :)

Assault Cuirass is an item that became good on the hero with the 6.85 change to Dispersion. Having high armor no longer reduces the physical damage you deal with Dispersion, while making you survive it much longer...making your overall dispersion damage output much higher. Added bonus : the negative armor aura actually increases your dispersion damage, since it's physical!
A solid pickup against a heavy physical damage lineup.

Not-so-good items

- Tranquil Boots : Tranquils on Spectre is an outdated build that doesn't work anymore. It used to be good but we're no longer in 6.78, the item has been reworked completely since then and tranquils are no longer viable on carries (why would you ever build an item that becomes useless when you farm creeps?). Could make sense if facing HEAVY harassment in lane that prevents you from farming in the first place...but even in this case there are better alternatives.

- Ring of Aquila : You might make the mistake of buying aquila on Spectre. Do not buy this item on her, ever. It's literally garbage on the hero.
You're maybe thinking "hey I build Aquila on Phantom Assassin and Troll Warlord in every game and it's great on them, it's a good item on AGI carries in general, so it has to be good on Spectre, right"?, it's really not. It's actually a waste of 1K gold on Spectre.
What does Spectre need in the early game? Survivability, chasing power, and additional farming speed. What does aquila do to help her with that? Literally nothing.
Aquila is a right-click item for physical damage dealers. You buy this item on PA or Troll because it gives good damage (+18) and some attack speed, and besides this item is the only way for these guys to get decent mana regen. However :
- Spectre doesn't need right-click damage. She's not a physical damage dealer, the direct damage she deals with right-clicks is completely irrelevant. Desolate is how Spectre deals damage, and to use it in fights she needs to be tanky, so she can be on the front lines. So she'll get way more damage output out of a survivability item that out of buffing her right-click.
- Spectre doesn't need mana regen. She can just TP back to base to heal up and the Haunt into fights, giving her infinite sustain. So only her mana pool matters, regen is wasted. Besides, if you want more mana, Point Booster is actually a far better pickup for the same price, because it gives massive HP at that stage of the game, while aquila gives almost no HP.
- But doesn't Spectre need right-click damage to get last hits in lane? Well, not even that is a valid point. Quelling Blade actually gives her MORE last-hitting potential (just do the math) for literally *one fourth* of the price of aquila. Same thing for farming jungle, quelling gives you more DPS on jungle creeps, so more farming speed, *by far*. So buying aquila just to last hit is a terrible call, just buy a QB.
Poor Man's Shield also helps the hero in her laning stage far more than aquila ever will, for way less gold.
So if that doesn't convince you about *never ever* building this item on the hero...then God help you, you just delayed your Radiance by 1K gold to buy an item that does nothing : every single stat from the item is wasted on her.
Just because it's a good item on other AGI carries doesn't make it good on Spectre - Spectre has absolutely nothing in common with other AGI carries.

- Vladmir's Offering : Some people like Vlads so much that they make it on every hero. Spectre gets absolutely nothing out of it though. Her attack damage sucks so the lifesteal is negligible, and auras like Vlads don't work on illusions. I could say "never make vlads on Spectre", but it's not completely useless because it can be a good item for the rest of your team - just realize that you're basically playing support Spectre by getting this, so at that point you might as well get a Mek.

- Daedalus : An item that seems really good on paper : crits for your hero and all your illusions, that's awesome, right? practice...not so much. Haunt illusions have a terrible outgoing damage, that got even got worse with the 6.82 nerf...and in reality the illusions having a crit will make them do about ~20 additional damage on average. That's pretty terrible. And on the hero herself...her physical damage output is pretty horrible in the first place and a crit won't make it mcuh better...Spectre isn't a physical damage dealer anyways.
Also the item gives no survivability, so no synergy with Dispersion.
Not a horrible item, but it's completely outclassed by better pickups. Only buy this if you absolutely need right-click damage for some reason, like if you want to kill that Meepo ASAP.

- Desolator : Armor reduction amplifies physical damage. That's kind of a shame...because Spectre hardly deals any physical damage in the first place! Most of her damage is pure or magical damage. Besides it gives no survivability. The item has no synergy with illusions whatsoever. Pretty much a worse version of Daedalus. Leave Deso to high physical damage dealers like Phantom Assassin, Templar Assassin, Clinkz and similar...the complete opposite of what Spectre is.

- Ethereal Blade : You can think about getting Eblade just for the stats but Butterfly is generally a far better pick. Probably only makes sense if playing against a fed Juggernaut...or to counter a Faceless Void with good reflexes :)

- Sange and Yasha : There is a SnY versus Manta Style debate on a lot of heroes, but on Spectre there's absolutely no contest. Spectre is one of the best manta carriers in the entire game, maybe arguably the best. SnY isn't a horrible item as some people say, but it's mainly an item for *strength* heroes (Lifestealer, Sven, CK, etc). When you're an agility hero who has an attack modifier like Desolate that transfers completely to illusions, you just make Manta.
While technically you can disassemble SnY to make Manta Style + Heaven's Halberd...rushing manta is still far better than this build. Like Antimage, Spectre wants her manta ASAP.

- Shiva's Guard : I've seen this item mentioned in comments, and this makes no sense at all. Shivas is literally the worst item you could ever buy on an agility carry. The Mystic Staff is a complete waste of 2700 gold, the item gives zero stats, the armor and aura are good but Assault Cuirass give armor as well, a FAR better aura, as well as useful attack speed.
Just buy an Assault Cuirass if you want armor, and buy a skadi if you want a slow. Don't even think about shivas on Spec, it's literally the worst item you could ever buy on the hero. I mean, even Bloodstone isn't as bad, that's really saying something :)

Balanced mid-game value build

This is the non- Radiance build on the hero, where you simply stack stat items. It gives the hero really strong fighting potential in the early-mid game, so that you don't have to wait until the late game to be useful. It's extremely cost-efficient, and you can go for this build in literally every game.

Of course the farming speed of this build isn't as high as the Radiance build, however it's still pretty decent, since Desolate allows for pretty fast farming in the jungle, sustained by a regen item.

It's by far the best build if you have useless supports and a terrible laning stage, since it doesn't have item timings : no matter how much you fall behind, just follow the build and you can come back. This build is the reason why Spectre is a good hero at any MMR, even in the trench tier where nobody plays support : even if you get no support in lane, you'll come back eventually if you play the hero well and the game goes late.

After the usual laning items detailed in the items section, it's recommended to buy a regen item in every game, since you spend a lot of time taking harass in lane and/or taking hits from jungle creeps. You have 3 options : Ring of Health (great in lane, builds into Vanguard or Refresher Orb), Morbid Mask (an item for jungling early), and Urn of Shadows (for a ganking playstyle). Always get one of these.

For the boots, Phase Boots are the best to get kills especially with an Orb of Venom, however Power Treads gives precious HP and give attack speed to get more Desolate. Choose your boots depending on the situation, generally go treads if facing burst damage, phase if you have an advantage and think you can get early kills easily.

When Spectre hits level 6, don't forget that she has one of the highest kill potentials in the game. She can jump literally any hero across the map and right-click her for 65 pure damage damage a hit...on top of her regular damage. Don't be that guy who AFK farms with the hero without having early game impact...just like Faceless Void, just because you're a hard carry doesn't mean that you can't get early kills. Spectre is bad in lane, but good everywhere else. So make those first Haunt ganks count, you can easily be 4-0 ten minutes into the game with this hero...and if you do that it's essentially GG.

Then for the build, we build some tankiness next with either Drum of Endurance or Point Booster. Drum is better for chasing but Point booster is cheaper and builds into Skadi - both choices are good.

Then we go either Yasha/ Manta Style for additional chasing/ganking power, or Diffusal Blade for early teamfight presence. The choice here depends on what you're playing against. Do you think that you can get solo kills? Rush manta, it literally melts isolated heroes. Is the enemy team 5-manning all the time and/or pushing your towers? Diffusal is better, since it deals good spread damage in teamfights. Always go diffusal against pushing lineups, however otherwise diffusal is optional and you can skip it.

Eye of Skadi is typically the next item, because it's just that good on her.

Buy Skull Basher if you want to manfight or cancel TP scrolls.

Spectre can farm both the lanes and the jungle thanks to Desolate, so you can just move from camps to lane and get good farm. You don't farm that fast, however you can farm literally all the time since you can join fights at any moment with Haunt. Generally prefer farming your side of the map and the jungle camps closest to your base if you're afraid of ganks.

The build comes online very quickly and it only gets better as the game goes late. It's a perfectly safe build and you can't go wrong by going for it in any situation. This is not a fallback build! Sometimes it's the best build even if you're freefarming in a cozy trilane.

But if you prefer killing creeps and not heroes, here is the...

Farming Spectre (Radiance + Manta)

This build is focused on one thing only : satisfying your burning hate for creeps. And making tons of money in the process. You can get 6-slotted at 45 minutes with this build, provided you have good farm in lane and good micro skills.

Radiance rush is the most effective farming build. The best case to go for it is if you actually win your lane and freefarm for ~15 minutes. Of course you need good supports for that...or useless enemy offlaners.

Radiance needs to be *rushed*. Please, no Vanguard into Radiance builds, it takes just too long for the radiance to come online : a late radiance is just bad because farming items need to be gotten early, when you still have time to farm with them (do you see Anti-Mages going Vanguard into Battle Fury)? Just grab the minimum items so you can actually farm the lane and not get harassed out like Ring of Health, Poor Man's Shield or Magic Wand, get plain Boots of Speed or *maybe* Power Treads (never buy Phase Boots is that build), and then go straight Sacred Relic.

But what about ganks? With no HP, aren't you going to feed the enemy gankers? Well, not really ; you don't need to tank up to avoid ganks. Best way to avoid ganks is to not be out of position : Observer Wards and map awareness. Being tanky won't prevent you from feeding, only map awareness will. If you don't have wards, then you might as well buy wards yourself because 150 gold delays your Radiance by way less than any tank item you can get!

But, what if your supports *are* actually weak, and you still lost your lane to those annoying dual/ do you get your Radiance? Don't fret : here comes the Morbid Mask build, where you can simply get your radiance from the jungle! Go Power Treads and Morbid Mask (that's it, nothing more!), and then just leave the lane that your supports lost (no point insisting, you can do nothing about that) and simply go jungle with Desolate...until you have your radiance. You can still get a <20 minute radiance pretty reliably with this build, even from a bad lane!

Ok, so we have our Radiance. Radiance is an item that's essentially good at one thing : clearing creep waves. You can clear jungle camps with it as well but clearing lanes is always more efficient. So just wander around and clear those creeps, using the wards that your supports graciously bought to avoid getting ganked.

Don't forget though : always, always use Haunt to assist your team! Because you want to farm doesn't mean that you should forget about your main job as Spectre : ALWAYS KEEP AN EYE ON THE MINIMAP! Haunt even without Reality can be a huge help to your team and will win a gank or teamfight especially with the Radiance burn. It's understandable if you don't want to reality in because you're too squishy but at least PLEASE assist with ult whenever you can.

So how's the farm going? Decent but not great? - Well this is because Radiance as a standalone farming item is just not that good. Sure you deal 50 damage per second to creeps but it's slow as hell and you always need to move around next to the creeps, not only you are exposed to ganks but it's really inefficient. You take about 10 seconds to clear a jungle camp (15 for a mud golem camp o_o), and you don't have Blink to move between camps. So there's no way you can even think of keeping up with good farmers like Anti-Mage who clears camps and waves in 3-4 hits, or Shadow Fiend and Meepo who can just two-shot them in a split second.

So there you have two options. Either you can build a big survivability item like Eye of Skadi or Heart of Tarrasque to be the unkillable Spectre on the front lines with the radiance burn...or you can build a Manta Style to farm ultra fast.

To make Radiance a good farming item, the best way is to use it with Manta Style. The Manta illusions carry the burn aura, potentially tripling your farming potential if you use them well. So we go Radiance into Manta!

Manta Style is an item that is meant to be *spammed*. With its ultra low cooldown and 20 second duration, you can have the illusions up more than half of the time. The only limitation is mana, but we're going Eye of Skadi next so it won't even be a problem anymore.

Are you in the jungle? Manta Style, split your illusions, and go farm three jungle camps at once!

Are you in a lane, and afraid of getting ganked? Manta Style, A-click one illusion on the enemy base, and it will keep farming and pushing the lane for you without any risk!

Essentially, 1 illusion = 1 free jungle camp, or 1 free creep wave. The gold you can get from that is ridiculous and it makes you one of the top farmers in the game.

So NOW the farm is going well! You can go Boots of Travel next, because it allows you to get those creeps a bit faster than Town Portal Scrolls, but it's kind of greedy so avoid doing this if you're gtting pressured. For the rest of the items, as I said Eye of Skadi next is my favorite but then you can get essentially anything you want because at that point you're just rolling in cash :=)

Have fun burning those creeps and mass spamming illusions for fun and profit!

No, seriously, how does that freaking hero carry?

Spectre can be a pretty confusing hero if you're not used to playing her. How does she carry exactly? Why is she so scary late game? How to play the early-mid game to get to that point?

So here are a few tips on how to use her skillset to its best potential.

Starting with a quote from one of the most inspirational members on Dotafire :

[One must] Bring both defense and offense together to defend in an offensive manner - Kyfoid

This is pretty much the philosophy behind Spectre's build and playstyle. In her build she needs a mix between tankyness and damage. That's why an item like Eye of Skadi is so good on her : because it's one of the rare items that gives both tankyness (725 HP) and DPS (25 agility).

Carrying = dealing lots of damage and owning the late game, especially in teamfights. Spectre carries in two ways :

- Desolate + illusions. She creates a lot of illusions from Manta Style and Haunt with a possible Refresher Orb, and all these illusions apply a 65 PURE damage nuke on each hit. In the end that's a ton of damage. This makes Spectre at the top of the charts in terms of most hero damage dealt. This scales best with stacking agility items because more AGI = more attack speed for illusions = more procs.

- Dispersion + high HP and "extra lives". Dispersion starts off really weak early game but it becomes stronger and stronger as a damage source as you gain more HP. Don't be that guy who maxes Dispersion first on Spectre, it's a late game/very late game skill. There is a point in the late game where you can just stand in the middle of teamfights like you don't care, let people focus you, and then get a free new life with Satanic, Aegis of the Immortal, Cheese or buyback. You'll have dealt like 800 damage to the whole enemy team, you tanked all the enemy fire meaning that your team dealt a lot of damage as well, so everyone is running for their lives, and you can just Haunt to clean up.

So the logic behind her build is that you need to stack agility, and you need to stack HP.

Don't go for full right-click DPS builds like Daedalus/ Mjollnir/ Monkey King Bar or such. Spectre doesn't carry with direct right-clicks and she will get outcarried easily if you play her like this.

Don't go for full tank builds like Crimson Guard/ Heart of Tarrasque/ Blade Mail either. You're not Bristleback or Axe. Unlike them you don't just need to be tanky, you need agility and you need movement speed as well, otherwise you deal no damage and you can't chase down anybody, meaning no kills.

A balanced build would be for example Drum of Endurance/ Manta Style/ Eye of Skadi/ Satanic.

As for the playstyle :

- In the early-mid game, you are basically a global ganker like Nature's Prophet, who specializes in taking down isolated heroes with your Haunt and Desolate.

- In the mid-late game, you are a temafighter who waits for your team to initiate first and then Haunts to snipe isolated heroes at the edge of the teamfight, while creating extreme confusion with illusions everywhere.

- And in the late/very late game, a bit like Pudge, you'll have snowballed into an unkillable tank that walks around with 3500 HP and twice that much in effective HP because you have Satanic...and Aegis...and buyback. Killing you deals 980 damage to the whole enemy team (again times 2 with Satanic, times 3 with aegis on top of this, times 4 with buyback on top, etc). This way you can tank up as much damage as it takes until the enemies start scattering...and then snipe them with Haunt.

This is why Spectre is so good late game, because you just can't kill her, she always comes back, and everytime you kill her you're just killing your own team ^^

Spectre in action (replays)

These two replays can give you a pretty good idea of what Spectre can do as a mid-game carry even with terrible farm and/or getting shut down in lane.

You can follow everything said here except the Tranquil boots.

Spectre is getting picked in TI4! : Newbee vs EG game 2 - TI4

A great game of EternalEnvy playing Spectre (starts at 2:10:00). Spectre solo offlane against a trilane and still doing really well. That's how it's done, kids :)

Friends, Foes and Food


Primary initiators

Spectre can initiate teamfights with Haunt, but initiating first is not always appropriate. When the enemy team is grouped up for a push, haunt won't do much damage because Desolate is nullified. Spectre hates it when the enemy heroes clump up, but a lot of initiators love it!

Spectre is best played as a secondary initiator, only using Haunt after the primary initiation from another teammate.

My favorite initiators when playing Spectre are Invoker (massive AOE burst forcing enemies to walk away), Dark Seer (full illusion chaos!) and Warlock (they HAVE to run away from the golems or they're dead anyways).

Immortality is mine!

Phoenix and Weaver deserve a special mention because they can make you literally immortal. Both have an Aghanim's Scepter upgrade that allows them to save allies from death and bring them back to full HP, allowing you to deal full Dispersion damage and then coming back to full HP instantly...a scary prospect for the enemy team :)

Map control

Being reliant on her global presence for ganking and her need to avoid ganks, Spectre needs all the map vision she can get.
Every carry needs good Observer Wards to work well, but with Spectre, it's even more important because of how much she relies on map control. Seriously, if your wards suck, go buy wards yourself, they're cheap, and it will do more for you than any damage item you can get.
Heroes with built-in map vision are your best friends : Beastmaster's hawk, Templar Assassin's traps, Bloodseeker's Thirst and Zeus's Thundergod's Wrath are great ways to know the positioning of the enemy team, and are a tremendous help for you to get pickoffs with Haunt.

Invisible heroes

For similar reasons, invisible heroes give you a lot of map vision by wandering around in places other heroes just can't go, like inside the enemy jungle. They are great partners for Haunt ganks.
Special mention to Bounty Hunter, who is your best friend. Track gives you ridiculous amounts of gold for every successful gank, not to mention insane chasing power with the bonus movement speed.

Rat Dota

Split pushers (or rats) are Spectre's best friends.

Have you ever played those long games which are all about constant split pushing and ganking, and no teamfights? Spectre loves this kind of games. Rat dota has a very interesting side effect : it splits up teams, and delays the game. A lot. Since 5-man pushing is made impossible, everyone is spread across the map, and the game ends up lasting more than 50 minutes.

This is really the kind of games in which a hero like Spectre thrives : lots of space to farm, lots of opportunities to gank, and you get to see the full strength of a late game 6-slotted Spectre. In those games, the team with the better late game wins - and it's probably yours since you picked Spectre :)

In games like this farming builds are recommended, especially since rats like Nature's Prophet and Tinker are often complete pricks who steal your farm all the time. Tell them to get away from your creeps. And compensate for the lack of farm with a Hand of Midas!

Foes (in lane)

Annoying offlaners

These offlaners are generally a pain to lane against for any melee hero who just wants to farm. They can harass you, disturb the lane equilibrium, and generally be very, very annoying. And sometimes you can even get 2 of these guys!
Poor Man's Shield, Ring of Health, Magic Wand, or even Tranquil Boots are good picks here to counter their harass. These guys require the full attention from your supports to pull constantly and zone them out of the lane - you can't do anything about them by yourself.

Aggressive trilanes

This is your worst fear as Spectre : getting an aggressive trilane against you. They can combo you from full HP and you can't do anything about it.
There's really no good solution here. If you have a trilane of your own, you can maybe win the lane but Spectre is not the best hero for that - it depends only on your supports.

If the things are really bad you can stay at a distance from the creeps and just sap experience. You won't get farm but if the enemy trilane can't get kills on you it's already a huge deal.

If you lose the lane badly, just sap experience until you get to level 6/7, and then leave the lane to join your team in other lanes. Alternatively you can go farm the mid lane. Essentially you can't do anything about your farm getting shut down but you should avoid dying at all costs.
Magic Wand and HP items like Bracer are a must.

Foes (in fights)

Illusion heroes are a pretty strong counter to Spectre.
Spectre's attack is only single target and Desolate is disabled by the presence of illusions.

You can somehow deal with Phantom Lancer and Naga Siren by getting Battle Fury, but Chaos Knight and Terrorblade can simply outcarry you 1 vs 1, and you can't do much about it. Avoid Chaos Knight when he uses his ultimate and try to burn his mana. For Terrorblade..there's really no solution here, he counters you extremely hard - he's really a hero I'd pick up a Scythe of Vyse against.

Naga Siren deserves her own section because of how bad she counters Spectre. Because yeah, besides being an illusion hero, Song of the Siren makes Haunt completely useless. The illusions spawn, they sleep for the duration of the song, and then they disappear. You just wasted your ultimate. Great :(
What can you do about this? As far as I know, nothing. It's frustrating as hell.

Anything with the "break" mechanic is a big problem to deal with. Break disables Dispersion and Desolate, removing the very skills that make you a hard carry in the first place!
Anything with a Silver Edge can be a big issue. Luckily, Manta Style dispels the break from silver edge. Buy a manta.
(note : Doom also removes your passives but if Doom has nothing better to do than doom the >3K HP Spectre after Haunt has been cast, she can survive the ult easily by walking it off and come back later, so it's probably a terrible call to doom you anyways. So Doom is not a major counter.)

Lone Druid is a pretty hard counter to Spectre.
The presence of the bear disables Desolate all the time.
And he can chase you/lock you in place easily with his entangle and basher.
You can't deal with this guy 1 vs 1, just stay away from him, focus the rest of his team instead.

The Anti-Creeps can be a problem to deal with.
He's a better 1 vs 1 hero than you. With Manta Style and Skull Basher, he can beat you up pretty hard. And he can outfarm you very easily.
Don't even try chasing him, it's not worth it.
Just avoid him in teamfights, focus the rest of his team.
How to deal with him? Well, Scythe of Vyse is pretty much your only option, although Skull Basher// Abyssal Blade can be decent if you can get in range.

Lifestealer is a mix of two things Spectre really hates : magic immunity, and anti-tank.
Manfighting him is impossible in the mid-game, he'll destroy you. Luckily enough kiting him is very easy, just stay away from the guy and focus his team instead.
Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade is without question the way to go against this guy, once you have that you can 1 v 1 him decently in late game. Your Manta Style dispels Open Wounds also.

Pretty good manfight heroes who can beat you 1 vs 1.
Either avoid them or get Skull Basher/ Abyssal Blade.
Diffusal Blade counters Ursa pretty hard because it slows him and dispels his ultimate.

Necrophos is a hard counter to Spectre.
Reaper's Scythe is probably the best anti-tank spell in the game, and the 30% additional respawn time + disabled buyback is one of the most broken things in the game right now.
Lifesteal is generally the way to go against this guy, Satanic is pretty good to stay at high HP all the time to avoid his ult. In the worst case you can get Black King Bar.

The problem with that Weaver prick is that you have no way to lock him down. He can evade you and kite you endlessly and there is nothing you can do about it.
You really need the help of your team to disable him, you can't do much about him by yourself. You can get a Gem of True Sight or a Scythe of Vyse if you're getting desperate.

Meepo is the same problem as illusion heroes. Except that he can also chainstun you endlessly with his nets, because hey, he's such a balanced hero :)
The good news is, Haunt create an illusion for every single Meepo clone, damaging them all. The bad news is, he still owns you because you have no Desolate.
Pure right-click DPS is the way to go here, with Daedalus and such. Worst case scenario, get Black King Bar.

Spectre has no stun, so enemy heroes can simply TP out to escape you. This can be pretty frustrating.
Fortunately enough, you actually deal damage. Manta Style is generally enough to deal the damage you need to burst them down before they can TP out.
Skull Basher solves that problem completely.


Spectre relies a lot on snowballing by feeding off squishy heores with no escape mechanism who are staying out of position. Here are some examples.

Squishy supports and nukers with no escape skills like these guys are your best food as Spectre. You're tanky enough to survive their burst, and you should gank them over and over, they have no way to escape you. You often see them on their own warding or dewarding so take advantage of that to snipe them.

Invisible gankers are often your best targets!
These guys are ALWAYS out of position and on their own because of their invisibility. It's just so predictable, they make it too easy!
Always carry Dust of Appearance, watch the minimap for them all the time, and countergank them repeatedly.
Special mention to Mirana. Man, I love jumping that hero. She's out of position 100% of the time, roaming in your jungle or something. Just wait for her to Leap away from your team, and ult on her right kill.
Special mention also to Riki, since Desolate goes through evasion so you can just fight him back under Smoke Screen and turn his ganks around. There's no way he can backstab you, ever, since you're always fighting back...and this makes him a sad, sad goat :)

Spectre is one of the best counters to Blink Dagger initiators. Initiating teamfights with Haunt will prevent them from using their Blink Daggers, and essentially makes them useless in teamfights since they can't get in position for their ultimates.

These ranged carries become completely useless if you jump on them - that's what Haunt/ Reality is for.
Gank them as much as you can during the whole game, and always Reality on them in teamfights.
Get Dust of Appearance if they have Shadow Blade.

These guys can move around the map and be annoying. But then, so can you. You can gank them easily with Haunt, or just by ambushing them the standard way. You may need some kind of stun like Skull Basher/ Monkey King Bar to prevent them from simply TPing out though.
Spectral Dagger makes you move through Sprout. Don't forget Dust of Appearance against Furion. Your Diffusal Blade dispels Tinker's Ghost Scepter.

Fun ways to play Spectre : troll builds!

Here's a few perfectly silly ways to play Spectre. Play her like that if you just want to screw around. Some of these could actually be semi-viable in some very situational cases but they're mainly there for trolling.
These are just for fun and no compensation will be given if anything bad happens. To be honest, I'd probably just have a laugh :=)

Again, skip this section if you just want a serious way to play the hero.

Still there? Ok, let's go for some greedy stuff that you should probably never do :

Solo mid Spectre

Spectre's ganking and snowballing potential with a level advantage can be so ridiculous in some games that it makes you want to play her as a solo mid.

But...isn't Spectre a hard carry? Isn't she supposed to farm? Well, yes, she does like farm and her late game is amazing, but just look at her skillset. Her first skill is a chasing skill. Her second skill makes her deal additional damage to an enemy who is alone. And her ulti allows her to instantly jump on any enemy hero. Well, if you ask me, that's a pretty good ganking solo mid we have there :)

So yeah, you can try playing Spectre mid and play her basically like a Night Stalker. I've done that a few times to screw around and it worked pretty well. No, I don't have the replays, they expired. But if you want an example look at this one :

EternalEnvy playing Spectre mid (starts at 2:11:00). Against a Storm. And honestly Storm is really good against melee mids. So it's doable!

But...doesn't Spectre suck in lane, especially as a solo 1 vs 1? Well yeah, she does suck in lane, but Night Stalker and Pudge suck in lane just as well and people still play them as solo mids - it's not worse than playing these guys mid.

So...what does she get out of it?

  • A level advantage, on one of the most level-dependent carries in the game. Maxing Spectral Dagger + Desolate early is incredibly strong.
  • Amazing early gank potential with a level advantage, as soon as she hits level 6
  • Decent rune control with dagger
  • Amazing synergy with Haste or Illusion runes for free kills, especially with Haunt. Bottle is an absolute must
  • Decent escape against mid ganks with dagger
  • Mid lane harassment is rather easy to counter with items, and a 1 vs 1 matchup can actually be better than a 2 vs 2 or a 3 vs 3 one. Good supports are so rare that sometimes soloing your lane is just better.

And, why should you never do it except in silly pubs?
  • She loses the lane against 95% of serious solo mids

Notice that I said "serious" solo mids. I mean, she will get destroyed by Templar Assassin, but, how well can she do against, say, Tiny? It's not that obvious. Besides, to win her lane, she just needs to not die and get decent farm - that's it, and it's not much.

Here's a few matchups that I think she can "win" :
  • Clockwerk. he's actually a good mid, but you can Spectral Dagger away from his cogs, so he'll have trouble killing you. And you can outdamage him in cogs by maxing Desolate.
  • Bloodseeker. I played that one, and it's just a farming war. The only thing BS can do is regen with Blood bath, but you don't want to harass him anyways. Phase Boots + Quelling Blade and get those creeps. He can't kill you, if he ults you just TP out or walk back to tower and trade hits with Desolate.
  • Zeus. This one is just about tanking harassment, and Spectre is not worse at it than any other hero. I also played that one with Bottle + Ring of Health + Magic Wand + Bracer and it worked ; got good farm.
  • Night Stalker. He's essentially as useless as you in lane...if he goes for a kill let him blow Void and TP out - or trade Desolate hits if he dives you.
  • Tiny : He can be pretty annoying to go against because his base damage is very high, so get Quelling Blade and Phase Boots so he can't deny your creeps. Apart from that, he can't harass you and he has no chance of killing you as long as you stay close to your creeps. Just don't fight him alone because he can one-shot you.
  • Rubick. I can't believe some people still play solo mid Rubick these days. We're not in 6.72 anymore! It used to be good, but now Fade Bolt isn't spammable at all because of the ridiculous 150 mana cost so you'll still be able to get most last hits. Quelling Blade and Phase Boots to get last hits, and Bottle/ Ring of Health to tank the harass.
  • Dragon Knight. It's just a farming war, he's as passive as you.
  • Spirit Breaker/ Nyx Assassin. They can't kill you early, they don't have enough burst. And they'll leave the lane to gank giving you free farm.
  • ] Phantom Assassin. Get Magic Wand, and if she dives you Desolate will make her regret it - it even goes through her evasion.
  • Morphling. Again, this is just a farming war
  • Meepo. He has no base damage so you can freefarm the lane. Just stay full HP at all times because his burst is pretty high.
  • Timbersaw. Who the hell plays Timber mid? There are no trees there. Timber Chain is utterly useless in the midlane because there's just no freaking tree to chain to. He can't do much besides harassing with Whirling Death, and besic regen counters it. Chakram can be dodged with good reflexes.
  • Io : I don't know who first had that genius idea of playing Wisp mid, but apart from spamming Spirits, he can't do anything there.

So yeah, only play her mid if you know you're up against a mediocre mid, but if you make it, the advantage you get from it can be gamechanging.

Roaming Spectre

It may not sound like it, but Spectre is actually one of the strongest level 1 heroes in the game, Desolate is just that good.
So if you want to play Spectre like a LoL player, get Boots of Speed first, add in an Orb of Venom if you randomed so you can chase people like Sonic the Hedgehog on crack, get Desolate level 1, and go gank straight away at the start of the game :P
Camp the rune spot at 0 minutes, and if you can snatch the rune you can probably get first blood. If you grab a haste rune you can gank the sidelanes with it.

Max Desolate at lvl 7, get Phase Boots and Urn of Shadows and go gank all the time, because who needs creeps anyways :D

Solo offlane Spectre

It's like the previous one, except that we go solo offlane simply to sap experience and then go gank.
Go solo offlane, use Spectral Dagger to hide in the trees and stay there for as long as it takes. Just hide in the trees to sap experience, and go have a coffee or something. When you get to level 6, start ganking :)

Or, you can just farm for 20 minutes. But that's just boring, right? It's way more fun to pick Spectre and call mid or feed.

Anyways, onto...


As we see Spectre is a carry who offers great versatility, and has an extremely adaptable playstyle, from rushing Yasha + Orb of Venom or Mask of Madness and going to gank straight away, to rushing Diffusal Blade for early teamfights, or going for a full farming build with Radiance and settling for a 50+ minute game. The key to playing Spectre is to know how to adapt her build to the situation, and not be stuck into a specific premade build. This versatility makes her a good pick for almost any game, as long as you can secure her biggest weakness - her laning stage.

Thanks for reading, I hope that you found this guide useful, and that you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it ;)

Any kind of constructive feedback is welcome in the comments.

Credits & changelog

Thanks to SadOnionDota (Youtube) for the Spectre theme song. Check out his channel!

The credits for the pictures go to :

  • A Spectre's Desolation by BigAzza (Deviantart)
  • Moe spectre by fruitscs (Deviantart)
  • Dota 2 Spectre by grim1234 (Deviantart)

This guide was partially inspired by these two guides I really enjoyed reading :
Spectre : the alternative guides
Spectre. - Updated -
Thanks to the authors!

Changelog :
  • 19/07/2014 : Published
  • 23/08/2014 : A few updates in friends & foes section. Added Mekansm to situational, try it out, it's pretty legit!
  • 27/09/2014 : updated for 6.82 patch
  • 4/11/2014 : New section : "No, seriously, how does that freaking hero carry?" explaining how she scales and the logic behing the builds
  • 24/10/2015 : MAJOR 6.85 UPDATE!

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