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#Basic guide to Phantom Lancer, by nix


Table of contents
Build overview
Build explanation (Skills)
Build explanation (Items)
General Strategy

Intro: This guide is my first guide, so any constructive comments will not go unappreciated. I'm going to try and keep this brief. I wrote this guide for players who have a good basic knowledge of the game and who would like some good basic ideas for Azwraith. This guide is not for higher-level play, and I only have experience with online public games. I wrote this guide with the assumption that you have read and understood the Learners guide. The tips in this guide are clearly guidelines to help get you started.
(Note: In this guide, the words Illusion and Image are used interchangeably.)

Build overview:

At a glance:
Azwraith, the Phantom Lancer is a melee agility hero with excellent stat growth. All of his skills revolve around the creation of illusions, weaker images of himself, and with them he puts out a lot of damage.

From the start Azwraith has poor health, so until you've got a good level of Doppelwalk (possibly the best survival skill in the game! More on this later) you're going to need to focus on staying alive, while farming. Your hero is excellent later in the game and, chances are, your opponents know this and will try and take you down early. If you have an opportunity to farm, farm! Stay in your lane and farm up your core items (Bracers Boots Diffusal). After you have Diffusal you can jungle if you want.

Why no early Juxtapose or Phantom Edge? Early game your damage output won't be very impressive, naturally. By this logic, any Juxtapose illusions you create are going to dish out pathetic numbers and in most cases, Juxtapose isn't worth investing in until you have completed a Diffusal Blade. You could argue that having lots of illusions helps confuse the enemy and helps you survive, however that's the whole point of getting Doppelwalk early.

Build explanation

{click the skill images to see their data at the hero database}

Spirit Lance
: This is a ranged nuke that does many things. First, it deals decent damage to a single target. Second, it slows the target considerably, which is excellent for chasing or escaping (3 sec slow, 7 sec cooldown). Third, it spawns an illusion that immediately follows and attacks the target for a few seconds. Naturally, this skill is what harassing is all about. You should start using it occasionally from level 5 onward in the lane to keep your opponents in check. When you have many illusions around you and you're worried about giving your true self away, this skill won't betray your location because it animates from every nearby illusion simultaneously. Additionally, once Spirit Lance is thrown, it will hit the enemy guaranteed, even if they become invisible or run into the fog. You can also use this skill when trying to escape a gank in order to slow the most dangerous enemy. Of course it's also helpful for slowing when you're the ganker. In short, this skill is amazingly functional.

: In the right hands, Doppelwalk is better than Windwalk, flat out. As Azwraith's 2nd active skill, it is widely considered to be one of the best survivability skills in the game, and it doubles as one of the best mind-game skills in the game. It makes you invisible, gives you a speed boost, and leaves a decoy in your place for quite some time. The decoy, called a "Doppelwalk Illusion" lasts 30 seconds, one and a half times as the Juxtapose illusions.
Once you have level 4 Doppelwalk, you should be using it all the time, thanks to it's excellent manacost and cooldown.

-Use this skill to bait your opponents into wasting their cooldowns.
-Use this skill to escape a dangerous situation.
-Use this skill over and over when youíre being chased.
-Use this skill to pretend to be in one lane while really heading to another for a gank.
-If someone's running at you head on, use it.
-If the other team has many heroes missing, use it.
-If you suspect you're the target of an imminent gank, for pete's sake USE IT ASAP.
-ALWAYS ShiftQueue this skill when teleporting to a tower to defend so that your opponents will assume your illusion is you.

I can go on and on about this skill and all of its wonderful applications but really, using this skill takes a lot of improvisation and practise, especially depending on the other team's knowledge of the game and the heroes they're using.
Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a Laguna Blade wasted on one of your Doppelwalk illusions.

Juxtapose: This skill is passive, so I won't be explaining how to use it but I'll tell you how it works. Each time you attack, there's a chance that an illusion will appear next to your target and begin attacking the target as well. The illusion only lasts 20 seconds and does relatively low damage by itself, but after level 16 when the proc chance is highest, you'll nearly always be fighting alongside 4 or 5 images of yourself. The best part of this skill is when you have Diffusal Blade: on melee units such as the Phantom Lancer, Feedback works on illusions (more on this in item build). That's right. Mass Feedback! However, you may have trouble bringing your illusions from one creep wave to the next before they expire, unless Azwraith has enough move speed or can down a creep wave quickly. Juxtapose is also very helpful in Jungling, which will be explained further down.

Phantom Edge: This skill buffs Juxtapose's proc rate, gives a chance for Juxtapose illusions to Juxtapose themselves, and gives you a bit of magic resistance. It's a handy passive buff, and it's definitely necessary once you have some Juxtapose. You probably won't notice the improvements it provides all that much, however, you'd certainly miss this skill if you didn't have it. Basically, this skill improves everything in general.



Starter items: Your starting items are up to you. I like to go with [9 Tangos and 5 Branches], or [6 Tangos, 2 Circlets and 1 Branch]. The latter option is better if you're following this guide and getting Bracers or Wraith Bands.
Bracers: These give you the early stats you need. Lots of EHP, some mana, some armor, some IAS, some damage. If you're prone to dying a lot early game, get two. If you're doing fine with one Bracer, then don't bother getting a second and move right on to Diffusal. If you're naturally a cautious player earlygame and you promise to be careful in your playstyle, get Wraith Bands instead.
Boots of Speed: Get these for chasing, fleeing, and saving yourself time. Get these to later upgrade to Boots of Travel. But mostly, get these because everyone else gets them.
Diffusal Blade: This item is vital. For one, the Purge it offers is a second slow, helping you chase down and kill midgame, though be sure not to waste both your slows at the same time. Diffusal's second function is that the damage from the agility it gives helps your illusions damage. The most important element this item offers is the Feedback orb effect. Let me explain:
Each time you hit an enemy with this orb effect, they lose 20 mana and 20 health (36 when upgraded), on top of your regular damage. The reason you want this item is because melee Feedback works normally with your illusions. This means that your illusions deal out 20 (or 36) bonus damage each (that's 100 to 180 bonus damage for 5 illusions), and each time they attack, the enemy loses mana for each illusion. With a high enough level of Juxtapose and Phantom Edge, your illusions will quickly surround anyone you target and tear them to bits. The Diffusal effectively gives you massive mana burn. Unfortunately later in the game, when team fights start to happen more than ganks, the Feedback isn't as relative anymore, so use your Purges liberally and when you have enough gold and only once you are out of charges upgrade your Diffusal Blade for more Purge charges and more Feedback.


Yasha This helps your IAS, DPS, and MS. These are all helpful to both you and your images. You should definitely later upgrade it to a Manta Style.
Boots of Travel These will be your boots of choice. They allow for some incredible pushing power. They also help your Juxtapose illusions get from one creep wave to the next without expiring. Combined with Yasha and Doppelwalk, you will be very nimble. If you're chasing, these give you the speed you need to hunt someone down. In an escape, these give you the speed you need, and if you can juke for long enough they'll let you port out.
Mantastyle It helps your EHP and your illusions' HP, and it gives you more illusions. It gives you better DPS for you and your illusions, and will help scale yourself for later in the game. It allows you to dodge many projectiles and remove many debuffs. It allows for pushing multiple lanes, or one lane very VERY fast.
Butterfly Somewhat obvious, gives you more of what you use most. Get it for damage, survivability, attack speed, better illusions, better everything.

Other items:

Vladmir's Offering This item helps your teammates in many different ways. It does not help your illusions, but it could make you and your images more intimidating. If you're doing poorly in a lane, with Vlads you don't have to return to your fountain, you can just go heal by jungling and letting your illusions tank the damage while you leech. The lifesteal aura stacks well with Feedback. The extra mana regen helps cover your chasing with Spirit Lance spam. If youíre main DPS on your team, someone else should be getting this item. If you're having no survival trouble at all, it is better to skip Vlad's and get a Diffusal first, then focus on better DPS items.
Perseverance Perseverance gives you some nice health regen to help farming and surviving, and nice mana regen to help harass your lane opponents with Spirit Lance to keep them in check, or during a long escape you can Doppelwalk to your heart's content without worrying about mana. If you bought a Ring of Health (or even a void stone?) early in the game, be sure to upgrade it into a Perseverance because the bonuses it gives is more than worth what you pay for. And, more importantly, it's a component for another noteworthy item, the Linken's Sphere.
Linken's Sphere If you need more survivability, this is your defensive item of choice. You already have some spell resistance due to Phantom Edge, so a Hood would not stack very efficiently. Linken's complements Doppelwalk very well. The passive spell block can prevent a critical stun or some serious nukes, for example, Rupture, Doom, Magic Missile, Overgrowth to name a few. The stats help your illusions, too.
Heart of Tarrasque Another option if you're looking for survivability. If you get this item, you won't need to take trips back to the fountain, even after a near-death and you can push or farm without worry. The massive bonus HP it provides also beefs up your illusions.
Radiance This item is definitely not the best high-end item for Azwraith, but it has some merit. The aura works on your illusions (but doesn't stack), and thereby improves all your skills slightly, especially Spirit Lance in chasing. This item is incredibly hard to make, however, and when you're pushing lategame, you get less hits on the enemy meaning less chance for Juxtapose to proc. Also, the damage this adds does not add to your illusions' attack damage despite what the numbers may show.

Avoid items like Cranium Basher (on Azwraith it's detrimental and never worth it), Battle Fury, and any orb effect items apart from Diffusal. Also, if you're looking to increase your damage output, avoid direct IAS and damage increase items such as Hyperstone or Demon Edge, because the bare attack speed or damage will not carry over to your illusions.

General Strategy

Azwraith's earlygame role is to farm. Your team will rely on you later. If you don't farm earlygame, you're screwed. At low level, you can't jungle, you can't gank (unless you get a good lane partner), you can't do much. So obviously the goal is to level up as quickly as possible. Last hitting and denying goes without saying. Keep your head up, stay aware of the map. Don't die. Don't dive past a tower. Thatís not your job and itís not worth the risk.

Azwraith's midgame role is to farm some more, and to gank lone heroes once you have a Diffusal. There isn't much to be said here. Use and abuse Doppelwalk in every confrontation, and be sure to keep farming. Don't die.
∑ Jungling : There are many reasons why a player would farm in the forest, and I'm not going to go over them in this guide. However, if you do decide to Jungle, going midgame is best: jungling midgame can help you set up ganks in nearby lanes, and by midgame, you should have your Diffusal. In order to kill a neutral creep camp effectively with Azwraith, you should use your illusions to tank the creeps' damage. To engage the creep camp, either Spirit Lance and dive in after they start hitting your illusion, or engage the creeps head on and once you have a Juxtapose illusion popped up, back off the fight for about a second and the creeps will lay off you and start focusing on the illusions, giving you a chance to take their gold, and exp without taking any damage at all.

Azwraith's lategame role is to push and to carry. Use your Travels to switch lanes quickly, attack and proc up some illusions, and send them flying down the lane. When the enemy comes to defend, Doppelwalk and switch lanes.
In big lategame team clashes, Azwraith has no AoE so your job will be to hit the hero your team is focusing on, thereby amassing a platoon of images. You should be dealing great damage. Your job by your presence alone is to overwhelm the other team with confusing illusions. And finally, your job is to chase down any stragglers from the other team that are getting away. And don't die. Always have enough mana leftover for a Doppelwalk.

Azwraith counters a hero like Bane Elemental or Demon Witch very well. Midgame, these heroes rely heavily on mana and single-target nukes. Doppelwalking early wastes their cooldowns. Mass Feedback drops them like flies.
How do you beat a good Phantom Lancer? Gank early, I guess. What do you care? Youíre reading this guide to play as him. I suppose I should mention that Earthshaker loves to see all your illusions on the screen to maximize the damage from his ult, and he has no problems dealing with many illusions because of his AoE theme. However, if you can surprise him, hopefully you can get his mana down with your Diffusal.


- Pub Azwraith Replay
Version: 6.63b (Latest) | Patch 1.24b (Latest)
This is a public replay of the standard build in action played by a skilled opponent PL. I have yet to review this replay for a detailed analysis, I'll probably do that between classes this week ;P
Expect it soon.

If anyone would like to send me higher-level play replays with a similar build, please do so!

I hope you enjoy reading this guide as much as I've enjoyed writing it. Like I said, it's the first version of the first guide I've ever taken the time to write for any game, so please comment on anything.

After that, go play!

Thanks to everyone who commented with helpful remarks!
Written by nix on 18th May 2009.
Last revised on Oct 14 2009.

Azwraith the Phantom Lancer
Author: nix
Map Vers.: 6.64

The concise Phantom Lancer

The concise Phantom Lancer

Date Posted: 10/08/09
Last Comment:11/04/2012
Total Votes: 75
Current Rating: 8.01
Views: 107465

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