Redefinder's guide to Anub'arak
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I decided to make a concise guide for Nerubian Assassin since all others are outdated. Many new changes came out in the new dota version. This hero was buffed in the most recent dota version. His ultimate cooldown was decreased which made his gameplay more flexible. Also, there are some things in those guides which I feel have been missed out, for example I haven't seen a word about Ethereal Blade. I will try to cover everything about NA's gameplay, item build and skills here. Note that this guide is for dota 1. Mechanics in dota 2 aren't completely identical to dota 1. It's either because it's an intended war 3 engine limitation fix or a bug (still beta...).
So what is NA's role? It's the all powerful burst-damage dealer. In other words, he is a caster. The interesting fact is that he is an Agility hero but specializes in killing with spells. He is not useless in late game though. He has a scaling mana burn spell which deals damage according to the enemy's intelligence, that's why he is mostly played against a team of casters and carries. However he can support nonetheless, by providing a long stun as well. He is also a good mid hero because of his "rune whoring" and ganking capability.
To play NA you need to have:
- Basic knowledge of Dota, NA is not newbie friendly. Most of his spells require coordination and proper targeting.
- Microing skills and Mana Management, all of NA's spells are active, this is not some right-click hero like Skeleton King. You will find it somewhat difficult to use these spells until you've mastered them.
- Map awareness, you won't be able to gank succesfully without this.
- Reflexes, similarly to Phase Shift, Spiked Carapace requires some fast fingers and reflexes to use effectively.
- And of course some Experience with playing this hero. Nobody can become a pro in only one day.
The Nerubian Assassin starts off by wearing his opponents down early on, Burning their Mana for damage, keeping them fairly useless and vulnerable. With a Vendetta against living things, he can become invisible, travel faster, and deal great damage to the next thing he hits. Following up with his powerful line stunning impale and then Mana Burn is a combo most will instantly fall victim to--hard to see it coming and difficult to escape. His Scarabs can spy the lay of the land to alert him to danger or his next victim.
Anub'arak was once the greatest champion of the Nerubians, but fell in the Second War of the Spider. He was resurrected by the Lich King Ner'zhul, who promised him eternal undeath in exchange for his unswerving loyalty. When threatened, he shoots these spikes through enemies, maiming and disorienting them. He channels his dark powers into a bolt of disarming negative energy, and those who witness him blending into the shadows of the frozen tundra have never lived to tell the tale.
● Good stats gain
● Scaling Mana Burn spell
● Can one-shot 99% of all intelligence heroes
● Low cooldown on all spells
● Best invisibility in the game (0 sec fade time and invi ends AFTER attack is made)
● Long disable (his impale disable is second longest of all impale spells in the game)
● Fairly good ms
● High base hp regeneration
● Has Blademail and Refraction
● Badass model ;)
● Fragile without survivability items like HoT, Vanguard
● Wards fuck up his element of surprise in ganks
● Useless when silenced (he can still use items though)
● Can't clear creep waves too easily
● Mana dependent
● Melee for a caster hero
1. Impale lvl 1
Get it to ensure a first blood or prevent a first blood.
2. Spiked Carapace lvl 1
Used to deal with spells and harasses early game.
3. Mana Burn lvl 1
It hurts heroes (int ones even more) and they will lose their mana. Cast this spell occasionally to harass and prevent the enemy from nuking you. With the recent buff to NA it's actually worth maxing Mana Burn now as you get both the low lower cooldown and mana cost.
4. Impale lvl 2
Disable gets longer. We max this spell so we can have a long disable when we gank the enemy at level 6 with your ultimate.
5. Impale lvl 3
We max Impale to increase stun duration as well as damage.
6. Vendetta lvl 1
Skill the ultimate and go for a kill. It's important that the enemy doesn't see you casting this skill, else they will run away at their tower. Here's a trick, go near your tower, cast Vendetta, approach your target, hit with Vendetta and Impale + Mana Burn, then auto attack for the remaining stun duration. You can follow the enemy and cast SC at the right moment if he should escape.
7. Impale lvl 4
Now it will disable for 2.77 seconds (0.52 fly duration + 2.25 stun). The damage of this spell, however, is lower than other nukes (260).
8. Mana Burn lvl 2
You only need 1 point of SC until later. The benefits that Mana Burn gives now are greater than just the stun time increase in SC.
9. Mana Burn lvl 3
Maxing it. It slowly becomes a cheap, spammable efficient spell. Use it to shut down low mana pool heroes, damage high mana pool heroes, kill a fleeing hero. Sometimes you may have to check for the enemy's mana if it has casted a spell or two as Mana Burn won't do anything if the hero's mana is already depleted.
10. Mana Burn lvl 4
Maxed. 100 mana cost for possibly a 250 or more damage nuke on int heroes. Also use Mana Burn (once or twice before Vendetta + combo) to weaken heroes so they get low enough to be killed by your combo!
11. Vendetta lvl 2
Increase in damage, lower cooldown but however duration is greatly increased. It was 20 before now it's 35. Gives you extra time to stay unnoticed while going for a gank.
12. Spiked Carapace lvl 2
Stun gets longer, everything else remains the same. Survivability increases and kill ability slightly increases.
13. Spiked Carapace lvl 3
We max it.
14. Spiked Carapace lvl 4
Now with a 2.4 second stun and a nuke which grants 2.77 seconds stun you can chain-disable an enemy for up to 5.17 seconds which is no joke.
Stats is the only skill available at this level.
16. Vendetta lvl 3
With a decrease in cooldown and increase in duration, the cooldown of this skill is now equal to its duration. Besides ganking, you can now constantly use it to roam the map with increased move speed and remain unseen in the minimap.
This is all there is left.
Note: This is the most optimal build but you can take Mana Burn at level 2 instead of SC if: you're not in a position/situation to reflect anything and you rely on Mana Burn to get the kill against the running enemy; the lineup you're up against doesn't have anything significantly beneficial to reflect.
Ganker/Burst Damage Dealer. This is the most successful role, imo. You will get kills, just don't go abusing your high damage spells and start kill stealing. If you're ganking along with teammates, disable the target first and kill with your spells only if you think he's going to escape. You will be farming very little throughout the game and focus on ganking. The mid lane is best for this kind of role, since you'll level up very fast and have direct access to top and bot for ganking. But if there are other rune dependant heroes like Pudge, Nevermore, ect. then you would just want to leave the lane to them and go top/bot.
Support. In this case, you're supporting your carry. Stick to that lane where your carry is farming and activate Spiked Carapace from time to time whenever a spell is thrown at you. Don't steal the creeps from your carry, he needs the farm more than you do. Occasionaly last hit creeps.
Choosing a lane
Ever since 6.74, NA can no longer scout, rune whore and take on mid like a boss like he used to anymore. Sad but true. You can still go for bottle early game but that part of NA is lost. Mid is a good option and has several advantages, access to two rune spots, more experience means you'll reach lvl 6 faster and start ganking sooner.
Early Game. This is the farming phase of the game for NA and although he is a ganker, he still needs to farm his core items. So your performance in this phase will affect your future gameplay. Last hit creeps and deny to shorten your opponent's exp. If you are using a bottle, for example if you lack hp but are at full mana cast a nuke at the enemy hero (Impale or Mana Burn) and then use your bottle. This is called Mana Management. Quickly take the rune you spotted to refill your bottle. When you hit level 6 you may want to attempt a kill on the mid hero. Assuming you have harassed him a lot he will lack hp, this will make it easier to kill him (especially if he's a str hero). The important part here is, don't let him notice you used Vendetta. Get away from creeps sight range and cast it there. Approach the enemy, hit with Vendetta and immediately cast Impale, now during the stun time first cast Mana Burn. Now for the second important part, don't just activate SC like a dumbass, wait until he decides to retaliate with a spell (wait for a spell or casting animation). Doing it the wrong way would mean that the enemy will just wait for the 4.5 seconds to pass and then use his spell. This will surely kill your target or at least giving him a trip to his base, thus underleveling him.
Mid Game. It's time to gank all around the map. You should leave the farming to your carry now and just gank. Choose your targets carefully, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there an ally with powerful nukes/disables who can help?
- Is the target at full, half or red hp?
- Is the target near or away his tower?
- Does the target have an escape mechanism, say, some sort of invi and I don't have dust?
Check your mana before you gank. Look at your mana pool and think - will you have enough mana for a succesful gank? Also when you gank with Vendetta take in notice the cooldown of your spells. Is Impale/Mana Burn on cooldown? For example, if you have used Impale and it's on cooldown wait for the cooldown to finish and then break invisibility. Vendetta's main purpose is to gank so try not to use it for a different purpose at levels 1-2 of it. Calculate the odds, see if you can stun more targets with Impale and escape, if going invisible to survive is a must, then in that case use Vendetta to escape.
Late Game. This phase of the game will wary depending on how well you did the last two phases. If you have farmed luxury items like Ethereal Blade, Heart of Tarrasque, Linken then it won't be a problem one-shotting carries and int heroes and in some rare cases even tanks too. Mana Burn will now be like a secondary Dagon with very low cooldown, spam it if you can't kill with only one cast of it. Assuming you have Ethereal Blade now, your combo should be slightly different: Vendetta then Impale then the rest. But "Why Impale before Ethereal Blast, its damage is magical?" you ask. Well, it's safer to cast Impale before Ethereal Blast, between the time of your casts, in those miliseconds the enemy can react and escape you. You can choose to cast Impale after Ethereal Blast but I recommend in most cases that you do it this way if you haven't practiced this combo already. Otherwise, if you have practiced the combo I suggest this: there's a 0.52 second gap that should be followed to apply Ethereal Blast before Impale's damage takes place. It should be in the following order: Impale + a quickly casted Ethereal Blast + other.
As said earlier, there are two ways of usage of Impale: Targeted (clicking the unit itself) and Non-targeted (clicking the ground).
It's a lot easier to land a targeted Impale because your hero will turn around if the target moves for the duration of your casting animation and the spikes will always go at the direction of your target. You will want to use this type only when you want to kill a single target, preferably after Vendetta. There are downsides to this method, if you lose sight of the target (by invisibility or fog of war) during the 1.1 secs casting animation Impale will be canceled. Moreover, a Targeted Impale is blocked by Linken (the spikes will pass through the hero as if he was magic immune, doing nothing).
Moving onto Non-Targeted Impale, a more reliable choice. It's used when it comes to pushing and defending and if targeted on the ground right it can nuke a whole creepwave. It can save yourself or your allies from a whole team by providing a long stun. It's not blocked by linken and last but not least you can finish off a hero who went invisible. In teamfights, try to get all/most of your targets in a line, by that I mean moving to an ideal position where all/most targets can be stunned, then cast Impale on the ground. Here are some other cases in which you will want to use a non-targeted Impale:
Impale casted from up a cliff. Click on the ground and not on the target as it might exceed the 500 range (the max range which the spikes travel is 700).
Casted at roshan. Usually to delay the other team from killing roshan or make them think you are coming with your team so they would retreat.
When creeps move, right before they attack/face other creeps and regroup they move out in a line, this makes it easier for you to stun all creeps with Impale.
This is a useful technique. It consists of fighting the enemy to reduce his hp a value low enough through Impale + SC and later in the game with Mana Burn but keep your own hp on a safe level. The enemy will think it will be okay but what will surprise him will be your Vendetta. It's also safer because if backup arrives to help the hero during the process, you have your Vendetta ready to escape. Just look at this gif.
Dealing with truesight
This is the basic "attack from the bushes" combo to deal with truesight. For some targets you don't need your Vendetta, calculate whether you can kill without your ult. Works brilliantly against heroes who have high mobility/escape mechs (Storm Spirit, Weaver come to mind) but think they can stay safe with gem. Surprise them from the fog with your ranged combo. Keep in mind that you are revealed when you cast spells or ranged attacks to an enemy but that won't be a problem since he will be stunned by Impale before he even sees you're there.
Always chain-stun Impale and SC. If you can away with just SC on, activate it. If you're followed by a band of heroes use a ground Impale and stun as many as possible. When SC is on cooldown use Impale while waiting for SC's cooldown to end and vice versa. It's important that you don't waste either skills, an experienced NA who knows what he's doing can be very hard to take down. Never use Vendetta until the last moment your life is truly in danger, this is also part of mana management. That Vendetta you would have wasted when you could have escaped with SC might have gotten you a kill half a minute later. Ghost Scepter also has a very nice synergy with SC, they can't attack you but if they nuke you they will take the bonus damage.
Sometimes you just can't click that Dagon or Ethereal Blade in your inventory fast enough to land that final killing blow, you need to click the item and click the hero then. That will take no more than 2 seconds. OK. But what if you have less than a second to cast that ability, say in a teamfight you are about to be stunned? Then you will be forced to watch how your enemy evades you and you wasted your precious mana for nothing.
Fear not, there's a solution to this. Use a hotkey program. I recommend downloading this useful tool - warkey. With it you'll be able to cast your mighty combo in ~1 second.
Usage: Here's what I do - set the hotkeys for the first two inventory slots 'Q' and '1' respectively. You can then place Dagon and Ethereal Blade (or any other item) to those exact slots and cast those items with ease. Happy ownage!
Synergy: Vendetta hits extra hard on a target with Amplify damage. Amplify damage gives such a big bonus to Vendetta's damage (8/14/20 armor) that you can solo kill targets early. Same thing goes for Medallion of Courage and other -armor items/heroes that Vendetta benefits greatly from early-mid game before heroes get their armor increased, whether it will be from items or skills.
Synergy: Not a full list but you get the idea - heroes with strong nukes and disables. A special mention from these would be Pugna which places the Ethereal buff on the enemy for free early. No one can survive your wrath!
He's as terrifying to you as much he is to intelligence heroes. As NA has a high mana pool, his ulty will rape you. Furthermore, his passive reduces all the magic you do him by a huge amount. 50% bonus magic resistance is just HUGE. And do I have to mention that every hero has a 25% base magic resistance? That's 62.5% in total, after calculations. Stay away from this guy, disable him with Impale and let the carries/dpsers in your team handle him. SC can block his ultimate, hard to predict but possible nonetheless.
Naix can slow you, then go magic immune and dps you to death.
How to counter: He relies on physical damage to kill. To counter, simply activate Ghost Form when you are slowed. When ganking him make sure he is disabled as his Rage can interrupt your combo and the Ghost Form debuff is removed if he goes magic immune. You can also activate Vendetta to escape, provided he doesn't have any truesight. Don't bother activating SC while he's magic immune as neither the stun nor damage from it go through magic immunity.
Huskar is the most mana independent hero in the game, with only 1 spell that requires mana. Also, his int gain is low so Mana Burn will always go minimal damage. And his Burning spears + Berserker's Blood is terrifying early game as he can kill you within seconds. Do not fear him too much though as there are a few ways to counter this guy.
How to counter: Spiked Carapace just adds one more counter to one of the many counters on huskar's list, when he's charging activate SC and watch as his hp goes from full to half and you aren't effected at all, except for the slow. You don't need to buy blade mail anymore to counter Huskar but you can make it for the lulz to return 200% of the damage from his ulty. Another counter is Linken, it completely blocks his ultimate. And as a last counter I would say it's Ghost Scepter or Ethereal Blade. The ghost form from them will stop his physical dps and will further improve the taken/reflected Lifebreak damage, DO activate Ghost Form + SC for even more damage when given an opportunity.
Techies Mines can ruin your ganks and you will constantly be afraid of mines whenever you go somewhere without any Truesight. Moreover, this guy can suicide, making your effort to kill him meaningless.
How to counter:
Mana Burn shuts down techies early game and lowers his puny hp so NA is a good counter to techies. Even though with Spiked Carapace, it's not a good idea to walk over mines as you will block the damage from only one mine. Do walk over mines if techies is somewhere on the map with low hp though. If techies tries to plant a mine at your creeps/tower to farm/push the lane, punish him with SC. If his hp is low enough after that, follow up with Vendetta + Combo.
They have 2 things in common. Nets that make you stay where you are and high dps output.
How to counter: Ghost Form immediately removes both type of nets and makes you immune to them for its duration.
They all have skills which grant truesight over you. Even though you will gank most of the time with Vendetta, it becomes a problem when you need to escape, they chase you with high ms and also make you squishier.
How to counter: Gank them before they have a chance to do anything.
Ghost Form can counter part of their magics (Slithereen Crush deals physical damage) and can be used for a quick escape combined with a tp scroll. E.g. when you are Ruptured by BS activate Ghost Form and use your tp scroll to teleport to base.
Her combo, if activated at the right time can block ALL of your burst damage. This skill was buffed recently - 6 layers up from 5. She can also dish out a lot of damage with Desolator on you. Her traps have a long casting rage so if she has a gem you're in trouble. Psi Blades can also annoy the hell out of you in early game.
How to counter: Don't give her a chance to activate Refraction. Just rape her before she can do anything. If you are unsure of whether she had activated Refraction or not click her and check for the buff. Also keep in mind that Diffusal Blade's Purge removes Refraction.
Silencer is a pain in the ass to lane against with most heroes but not with NA. His high int gain makes him a victim to Mana Burn.
How to counter: Spiked Carapace counters both CotS and his reworked Last word with one simple cast. SC will dispel CotS and at the same time return the damage from Last word. If you are under any of both of his spells do not hesitate to cast SC immediately.
I think Puck deserves a special mention here.
How to counter:
This can screw up your ganks. As soon as the enemy sees you're invisible he will just nuke and run away or you will get gangbanged by the whole other team.
How to counter: With a Gem of Truesight you can see the wards and destroy them or you can ask your team to buy sentry wards for counter-warding.
Sooner or later the enemy will buy this item to counter you. There's not much you can do about this than just kill the hero and destroy his gem. Don't worry though, this item has a long stock cooldown in the shop (10 mins) so it will take a long time before it can be re-bought.
This item partially reduces magic damage from all your spells (except Vendetta) which is why it's such a bad counter for you, it makes your combo non-lethal. Targets carrying this should have the lowest priority in your ganks.
Linken will block one of your targeted spells. It's not as bad as Hood though because you can easily set it on cooldown with Mana Burn before assaulting an enemy.
How to counter: Set Linken on cooldown by using Mana Burn. 4 seconds later you are all over your enemy.
Returns all of the burst damage you do (after reductions) back at you as pure damage.
How to counter: Casting Hex with Scythe of Vyse will remove the spikes but the damage will still return until its duration is up so don't get fooled. Having activated a BKB will stop the damage return, however BKB is not recommended on NA. Or you can simply wait for its duration to finish. An interesting thing to know is that if you have Spiked Carapace on and you nuke the target you will not be damaged but instead the target will take double damage from that nuke/attack. Very useful when the target doesn't focus you but thinks he can scare you off with Blademail. Why this happens is simple, Blademail returns damage which triggers Spiked Carapace which then reflects the reflected damage and causes a triggered heal to occur.