This guide is going to focus entirely on items, since I am certain you can find information on the topic of farming efficieny and patterns, general playstyle and other tips and tricks from other sources (if you are interested in this, I strongly recommend the following video by Blue Span: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H0YquVeOYA&app=desktop).
From the very beginning of my Dota 2 journey, I have always been fascinated by Shadow Fiend, and his unique abilities and playstyle; it has only been very recently, however, that I have secured a firm grasp on the hero. I did this through item choice. It is what I believe is the single most important thing for a Shadow Fiend player (that and getting and much gold as possible as fast as possible :D). It is for this very reason I have decided to share my acquired knowledge with you guys, and give you a head start to becoming an amazing Shadow Fiend player.
Our very first item decision as a Shadow Fiend player comes before rune spawn: who is the enemy mid laner, and what starting items can I buy to maximise my chances of farm and survival against them? Often as a Shadow Fiend player, you want your team mates (ideally the supports) to donate 2 Tangos to you, and pick up a Wraith Band and 2 Iron Branches - this will give you an excellent balance of regen and critical starting damage to pick up those first few souls. However, you might want to bring an early Healing Salve on the courier if this regen is not sufficient.
Our second choice of starting items is the old Bottle rush. You should only be getting this if you will be in a horrible lane and want the earliest Bottle possible.
And lastly, getting an early Magic Wanfd before picking up your Bottle can sometimes give you that extra edge against an irritating nuker (the prime example being Zeus).
Early game as a Shadow Fiend is extremely straight forward, and you will need nothing more than a Bottle, Magic Wand, Ring of Aquila and your Boots of Speed. These items will provide you with an excellent source of regeneration, damage and sustainability to help you reach your first big item.
However, I cannot create a Shadow Fiend build without mentioning the holy "RTZ Midas". Although it may seem somewhat obvious when to pick up a Hand of Midas, there is much more thinking and decision making into picking up this risky item:
1. If you get couple of very early kills, or possibly free farm, getting a Hand of Midas will further increase your advantage over the enemy mid laner (as well as their whole team) and help you snowball to victory. Aim to get this within 5 minuntes.
2. If you have had an awful start, possibly dying to the enemy mid laner a couple of times, or have simply been getting a poor creep score, a Hand of Midas may well be what you need to pull yourself back into the game and catch up with enemy mid. Aim to get this as early as possible, but after your normal early game items (even at 20 minutes is fine).
3. Lastly, if you are not playing position 1 on your team (i.e. the person who needs farm the most), expect to not get much use out of the jungle, since your hard carry will need that more. Getting a Hand of Midas will help you have a high GPM whilst still allowing your carry to farm to his heart's content in your jungle. In this situation pick up the Hand of Midas as early as possible, and get farming!
Lastly, if you are extremely greedy (like me), picking up an early Helm of the Dominator will give you good farming sustainability, whilst allowing you to stack the jungle for yourself at each minute mark. N.B. This item can also be picked up if you need extra damage (in the mid game) by dominating an Alpha Wolf, or extra armour by dominating the Frost Mage.
Normally, after acquiring your early game items, a Shadow Fiend will pick up their Power Treads, a utility item and a Black King Bar. This will allow you to pull off an uninterrupted ultimate anywhere on the map, whilst providing some extra stats manipulation (PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TREAD SWITCH) and also some much needed tankability. Here are the utility items to consider:
1. Blink Dagger - Pick up this item if your team has a good blink initiator which you can follow up on.
2. Eul's Scepter of Divinity - A very useful farming item, giving you free razes (the mana regeneration covers the cost of the razes in the time period of their cooldown). I would also recommend picking this up when the enemy team have lots of solid escape abilities/items. N.B. To perform the Eul's combo correctly, wait 1 second after using Eul's before charging up your Requiem of Souls. Have fun! :D
3. Silver Edge - Only ever pick up a Silver Edge over the aforementioned utility items if the enemy team has one or more deadly passives, for example Bristleback or Phantom Assassin. N.B. Make sure you are directly on top of the enemy when you ult - be sure to cancel your Requiem if they begin to move, and reposition accordingly.
Now onto my favourite core build: the Greedy Build. I would advise only using this build if you have a lot of farm early (if you are REALLY greedy, you can pick up a Hand of Midas too! :3), or if you want to be pushing lanes out relentlessly. This build will not reach its full potential if you do not have your Boots of Travel by the 13 minute mark.
N.B. If your team does not have a half-decent Mekansm carrier, picking one up as Shadow Fiend can provide you with enough survivability, regen and pushing potential to ultimately win the game.
Now onto the reason why I believe Shadow Fiend is so amazing: late game decisions. It is so satisfying when you make that item decision, whether early on or extreme late game, which ends up winning you the game (often the RTZ Midas :D). As a Shadow Fiend player, you look at the current situation in the game, and debate whether an offensive or defensive item is required:
1. Scythe of Vyse - Surprisingly, this item can hugely benefit Shadow Fiend, allowing him and his team to target a high DPS hero, or simply a hero with an escape mechanism in a teamfight (e.g. Tiny) without fear of dying.
2. Daedalus - This item will give you the most damage output (discluding the Divine Rapier), and is a good pickup late game.
3. Assault Cuirass - An Assault Cuirass actually decreases the armour of towers, significantly increasing you and your team's puhing potential.
4. Moon Shard - This item simply increases your DPS, and can be picked up to help you snowball, or simply as a 7th slot.
5. Sange & Yasha - If your team is more orientated around the mid game, possibly a pushing strat, then Sange & Yasha will give you a good balance of damage, tank and farming. To be picked up as a teamfight item.
6. Monkey King Bar - Quite simply, Monkey King Bar is picked up to counter evasion on the enemy team, whether it is coming from an item or an ability. If you want raw damage, picking up a Daedalus instead is farbetter.
1. Butterfly - A Butterfly can be picked up either for the evasion against a hero such as Windranger, or for its balance of DPS and utility (Flutter is far better than you think!)
2. Manta Style - One for the more skilled players; a Manta Style allows you to dodge particular spells, purge debuffs and push at a faster rate.
3. Eye of Skadi - An Eye of Skadi is usually picked up for the overall stats, giving you damage, tank and the ability to spam your razes as much as you like with no worry of draining your mana pool.
4. Assault Cuirass - Although mentioned as an offensive item choice, an Assault Cuirass provides you with a ludicrous amount of armour, helping you (for example) negate Slardar's ultimate, or simply survive against Windranger!
5. Satanic - Lastly, Satanic is picked up purely for the huge survivability is provides. Not only does it give you a huge addition to your health pool, but it also gives you a second life (well that's how I like to think about it!). I would not recommend picking this up as one of your first late game items - to get a Satanic's full use, one needs a high DPS to heal up quickly. If you want early tankability, go for an Eye of Skadi instead.
And so here we reach the end of the guide. If you take one thing away from it, it should be this:
Always plan ahead, looking at how many item slots you will have available and what items will benefit you the most.
I am always thinking of what my 6 slots will be from minute 1 - but keep an open mind about item choice throughout the game, predicting what item your enemy will pick up next. For example, if you are against an Anti-Mage, expect them to pick up a Butterfly, and start working on your Monkey King Bar!
Thank you for reading, and good luck in improving your Shadow Fiend!