Phantom Lancer/Guide

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Phantom Lancer Guide Header.png

Gameplay[edit]

Playstyle
Phantom Lancer minimap icon.png Phantom Lancer is an exceptional carry who outnumbers and overwhelms his targets with armies of illusions. With the ability to charge at his opponents, the Phantom Lancer is relatively mobile, and can disappear briefly from the battlefield to confuse or avoid his enemies. Indistinguishable from his clones, enemies often have a hard time targeting the real Phantom Lancer during fights. However, the Phantom Lancer's illusions can be destroyed by area of effect abilities, rendering him less effective as a result.
Pros Cons
  • Creates confusion with large numbers of illusions.
  • Excellent disjoint and dispel mechanism with Doppelganger.
  • Good chase potential with Phantom Rush.
  • Fast, clean attack animation.
  • Dependent on illusions.
  • Weak against AoE abilities.
  • Low health.
  • No burst damage.

Generic/Carry Phantom Lancer[edit]

Phantom Lancer is traditionally played as the farming core in the safelane, harassing opponents with Spirit Lance, but mostly focusing on getting last hits and keeping his lane static close to his tier 1 tower. His great base damage, base agility and attack animation makes it easy to control the lane, denying at will without missing any last hits.

Every Phantom Lancer build should probably include an early Wraith Band icon.png Wraith Band. A carry Phantom Lancer can skip Magic Stick icon.png Magic Stick entirely versus a weak offlane, keep his Boots of Speed icon.png Boots of Speed and immediately rush a Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade.

Mid/Ganker Phantom Lancer[edit]

Thanks to his great base damage and attack animation, Phantom Lancer can easily get last hits in the middle lane. Get an early level of Phantom Rush to make it even easier to finish off that ranged creep, or to start harassing the enemy mid-laner.

Start off with a Stout Shield icon.png Stout Shield to give you some good damage block which will allow you to trade hits better versus the opponent, and rush a Bottle (Full) icon.png Bottle to keep your mana up while you spam Spirit Lance. A mid Phantom Lancer may want a couple of items to help tank him up before getting his Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade, such as an upgraded Power Treads icon.png Power Treads or Vladmir's Offering icon.png Vladmir's Offering.

Split-pusher/Survivor Phantom Lancer[edit]

This style could be identical to the generic Phantom Lancer, but it assumes you're against heavy AoE line-ups against which you're sure to die from for most of the game. Many people rightfully pick Zeus minimap icon.png Zeus or Bristleback minimap icon.png Bristleback to counter Phantom Lancer. In these cases, upgrade your Magic Stick icon.png Magic Stick to a full Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand.

For survival, you can rush a Vanguard icon.png Vanguard, and since the goal is to split-push and not fight, quickly upgrade your boots into Boots of Travel 1 icon.png Boots of Travel. Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade could come as late as a fifth or sixth item, after Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand, Wraith Band icon.png Wraith Band, Boots of Travel 1 icon.png Boots of Travel, Vanguard icon.png Vanguard, and another tanky item.

Ability Builds[edit]

Generic/Carry Phantom Lancer
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Spirit Lance icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngTalent icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngTalent icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngUnknown icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png
Mid/Ganker Phantom Lancer
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Spirit Lance icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngTalent icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngTalent icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngUnknown icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png
Split-pusher/Survivor Phantom Lancer
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Doppelganger icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngSpirit Lance icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngTalent icon.pngDoppelganger icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngTalent icon.pngPhantom Rush icon.pngUnknown icon.pngJuxtapose icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png

Talents[edit]

Hero Talents
+30% Critical Strike (2x)25-6s Doppelganger CD
+5 Max Juxtapose Illusions20+500 Phantom Rush Range
+125 Spirit Lance Damage15+250 Health
+20 Attack Speed1020% Evasion
Notes:
  • The evasion talent stacks multiplicatively with other sources of evasion.
  • The health talent increases maximum health capacity, and keeps the current health percentage.

Tips & Tactics[edit]

General[edit]

  • As with other illusion-dependent heroes, Phantom Lancer should build items that provide stats and passive buffs rather than raw damage or attack speed, because those stats and buffs are transferred to his illusions.
  • Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade is the most important item for Phantom Lancer. In the early game, most of his damage against heroes will come from Diffusal Blade's mana burn.
    • A hero with mana will take more damage from Phantom Lancer than one who is out of mana, meaning that Phantom Lancer starts off dealing more damage, and less once the target's mana is drained.
    • Because of this, Phantom Lancer sometimes has difficulties finishing off tough, retreating enemies like Timbersaw minimap icon.png Timbersaw when they are already out of mana.
    • When fighting heroes with low mana like Sven minimap icon.png Sven, Phantom Lancer will do less damage overall because the target's small mana pool is quickly depleted.
  • Phantom Lancer's illusion army will often overwhelm new to mid-level players, causing them to attack the wrong target and waste their abilities. However, this should not be your primary strategy, because more experienced players are usually able to discover the real Phantom Lancer by observing the amount of damage being dealt (most illusions take more damage), debuff status, as well as player movement patterns.
  • With enough micromanagement, you can deceive enemies by controlling illusions independently, and moving in ways you might move Phantom Lancer himself.
  • Moving illusions together in clumps usually tells enemies that they are illusions.
  • During smaller teamfights, staying inside a big group of illusions can make it harder for enemies to find the real Phantom Lancer.
    • However, this tactic can backfire if enemy nukers target the entire group with AoE abilities. Make sure no nukers are nearby before grouping up.
  • Remember to move Phantom Lancer himself when manipulating his illusions. A good tactic for newer players is to issue a distant move command for Phantom Lancer, while moving his illusions to trick the pursuing enemies.
  • Though attack speed is still important on Phantom Lancer, it is not needed as much due to his ability to create attacking illusions.
  • Get teammates to use buffs and abilities on an illusion to confuse enemies, such as Shallow Grave. This tactic is highly situational.
  • Illusions are counted as heroes in a target check, but they sometimes receive effects intended for units, letting the enemy tell them apart straight away.
    • For example, Witch Doctor minimap icon.png Witch Doctor's Paralyzing Cask will stun Phantom Lancer's illusions by 5 seconds, but only stun Phantom Lancer himself for 1 second.
  • When choosing an item build, remember that not all passive item abilities are shared with illusions.
  • Read the Illusions article for a full understanding of how illusions work.
  • Phantom Lancer is a moderately good ganker, but still needs to farm items for the late game. Try to balance the two roles depending on what opportunities are present on the map.
  • Phantom Lancer has no strong disables, instead relying on speed and slows to catch up to his opponents.
  • Phantom Lancer is a decent split pusher, especially in the late game. Take advantage of this whenever you aren't fighting.
  • Phantom Lancer excels in long, drawn-out fights, which give him lots of time to wear down his opponents' mana and spawn more illusions.

Abilities[edit]

Spirit Lance[edit]

  • Spirit Lance is Phantom Lancer's generic nuke. Use it during the early game to supplement his damage during ganks and for harassment.
  • Use Spirit Lance during the laning phase to intimidate enemy laners, especially vulnerable supports.
  • Using Spirit Lance to get last hits can be worth it if Phantom Lancer is not farming well.
  • The illusion spawned from Spirit Lance has the same properties as every other illusion. It will burn the enemy's mana once you have Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade, and spawn further illusions with Juxtapose.
  • Don't hesitate to use Spirit Lance on a squishy support in the back line rather than on the enemy carry you're currently focusing. Once you're farmed enough, it could force the support to back off by itself, or waste his precious AoE disable on the illusion army that gathered up around him.
  • If Phantom Lancer is too weak to join a fight, use Spirit Lance repeatedly from the edges to send an illusion to help your allies. The illusion could spawn an army of illusions by itself to confuse and mislead enemies, as well as burn their mana.
  • Spirit Lance's projectile is slow and very visible, and thus easily disjointed. Avoid wasting it on heroes who can dodge the projectile, such as Puck minimap icon.png Puck.
  • Spirit Lance's deceptively long cast range can be used to finish off an enemy during teamfights.
  • Spirit Lance's short cooldown means it can be used to initiate and finish off fleeing opponents.
  • Use Spirit Lance on an enemy who is just about to move out of vision, such as up high ground or into the trees. The illusion that spawns next to them will grant vision.
  • If your illusion is not attacking its target after impact, check your game settings. Do not have the Illusions → Never auto-attack option turned on when playing Phantom Lancer. But, while trying to juke with Doppelganger, you don't want use the Illusions → Always auto-attack option either, as the opponent will immediately spot which is the real hero. Find the compromise.

Doppelganger[edit]

Doppelganger's short cast time allows Phantom Lancer to easily dodge Fortune's End.
  • Doppelganger has a very short 0.1 second cast time, making it easy to dodge attacks and disjoint projectiles with. This is its most important purpose, and will save Phantom Lancer from many disables and deaths.
    • Because of its low cast time, Doppelganger can dodge an enemy disable right after being cycloned with Eul's Scepter of Divinity icon.png Eul's Scepter of Divinity, provided the enemy didn't time their follow-up disable perfectly. In the best case scenario, it can even allow you to immediately turn a gank around with your spawned illusions.
    • In the early game, enemy initiators do not yet have a Blink Dagger icon.png Blink Dagger, and must walk up to their targets before initiating. Use Doppelganger when you see them coming.
    • Unless you're very confident with its cast range, click right next to you when trying to dodge an attack, as clicking further away could cause Phantom Lancer to walk before using Doppelganger, and miss the dodge window.
    • Enemies like Earthshaker minimap icon.png Earthshaker will often wait until you to have spawned an illusion army before initiating. If you believe that someone is about to jump you because you're surrounded by yourselves, don't hesitate to pre-emptively use Doppelganger, as you might be able to dodge a poorly-timed Echo Slam.
    • Pay close attention to the Wrath of Nature that's bouncing around your illusions, and use Doppelganger to dodge the attack before it bounces on you.
    • Keep an eye on your team's health to guess when Zeus minimap icon.png Zeus will try to finish you or an ally off with Thundergod's Wrath. Though it takes good timing, it can also be dodged with Doppelganger.
    • Use Doppelganger to escape from large area nukes, such as Call Down.
  • Doppelganger applies a basic dispel on cast. As its cost is also very low, use it freely in lane to get rid of pesky damage-over-time abilities like Shadow Word or Poison Touch.
  • Use Doppelganger to move through cliffs and other terrain obstacles, such as the barrier from Fissure.
  • Doppelganger gathers any and all illusions within a 900 range radius from Phantom Lancer's point of origin, and will reappear alongside him at the targeted area. With enough illusions, it is possible to surround your opponent upon reappearance, similar to Chaos Knight minimap icon.png Chaos Knight's interaction with illusions and Reality Rift.
  • Doppelganger destroys trees in a rather large 200 AoE around Phantom Lancer and each of his illusions, allowing you to create shortcuts in the jungle and easily find an opponent that's hiding in the trees.
  • Enemies have no way to tell which is the real Phantom Lancer after Doppelganger, and one of the spawned illusions actually takes 100% damage, the same as Phantom Lancer himself.
    • In desperate situations, try to lure enemies into chasing an illusion by keeping yourself immobile and running way with the illusion.
    • Set a control group for the illusion that takes 100% damage (which is brighter than other illusions) to make this easier.
  • Doppelganger's 8 second illusion duration is not long, but it's long enough to scout Roshan, bait an enemy's initiation, or detonate Proximity Mines.
  • In some offensive situations, such as when ganking a single target, Doppelganger can be used right away so the two illusions will begin spawning more illusions sooner through Juxtapose.

Phantom Rush[edit]

  • Once Phantom Rush starts, Phantom Lancer will not stop until he either reaches the target, loses vision of the target, gets disabled, or is given a move command.
  • Be careful not to inadvertently initiate with Phantom Rush, or charge into a bad situation. Cancel the rush with a move command if necessary.
  • You may toggle Phantom Rush off in the laning stage to last hit reliably and preserve positioning of Phantom Lancer.
  • Phantom Rush's extra movement speed makes it a good chasing mechanism against heroes with movement speed buffs, like Surge, Shukuchi, Stampede, or even Shapeshift.
  • Phantom Lancer cannot be slowed during Phantom Rush. Use it to charge to and between enemies in teamfights, picking off supports and dying heroes.
  • At level 3, Phantom Rush has a longer cast range than Spirit Lance, making it a better initiation tool in some scenarios.
  • Early levels in Phantom Rush can be useful for a ganking or mid Phantom Lancer.
  • In some situations, Phantom Rush can be used as an escape tool, if there is an enemy target close enough for you to rush, and is far from the rest of the enemy team.
  • With talent, Phantom Rush becomes an extremely long ranged charge, allowing Phantom Lancer to run to any enemy during a teamfight, and chase down fleeing stragglers.
  • Mind the low cooldown of Phantom Rush at its highest level. Phantom Lancer wants to keep boosting his agility with Phantom Rush to increase his damage output when pushing, taking Roshan, or ganking.

Juxtapose[edit]

  • Like every passive, Juxtapose is disabled by break, such as from Silver Edge icon.png Silver Edge. When this happens, Phantom Lancer loses the ability to passively spawn illusions, and becomes very vulnerable to single target abilities like Primal Roar or Doom.
  • Take note that the illusions spawned last for 8 seconds when Juxtapose is triggered by Phantom Lancer, while illusions only last for 4 seconds when triggered by other illusions. As such, while it is possible to push multiple lanes with items like Manta Style icon.png Manta Style, the pushing effect would only be momentary due to how short the time limit is for spawned illusions.
  • All illusions spawned through Juxtapose provide a fixed bounty of 5 gold and experience when they are destroyed. Though this is only a fraction of the average bounties from lane and jungle creeps, the large amount of illusions that can be spawned from Juxtapose can give opponents with area-of-effect and crowd control abilities a gold and experience advantage, especially in the early game when Phantom Lancer's stats is not high enough to allow his illusions to take a beating.
  • Juxtapose continues to produce illusions even when the enemy has activated Glyph of Fortification on their creeps. The large number of illusions may help Phantom Lancer deal a bit more damage on buildings.
  • More tips needed.

Items[edit]

Starting items:

  • Tango icon.png Tango helps keep Phantom Lancer longer alive during the early game.
  • Healing Salve icon.png Healing Salve is a standard regeneration item, useful for any hero to stay longer in lane.
  • Enchanted Mango icon.png Enchanted Mango helps Phantom Lancer endure harassment, and can be consumed to get off one last Spirit Lance or Doppelganger.
  • Iron Branch icon.png Iron Branch provides an extremely cost effective increase to his attributes, and can later be built into a Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand.

Early game:

  • Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand is a useful tool for keeping Phantom Lancer alive, especially when being ganked. It also provides a little more mana to use an extra Spirit Lance or Doppelganger.
  • Boots of Speed icon.png Boots of Speed grant bonus movement speed to keep up with the enemies.
  • Infused Raindrop icon.png Infused Raindrop provides some protection against magical damage, as well as giving mana regeneration to sustain abilities.

Mid game:

  • Power Treads icon.png Power Treads give Phantom Lancer attack speed and attributes, which illusions can take advantage of.
  • Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade is one of the most effective items on Phantom Lancer, as its mana burn works on all of his illusions, allowing Phantom Lancer to quickly deplete an opponent's mana pool.
    • The mana burn damage is not affected by the illusions' attack damage penalty, therefore greatly increasing his damage output the more illusions are spawned.
    • The extra agility increases Phantom Lancer's as well as his illusions' attack damage and attack speed.
    • The active ability slows enemies, and combined with Phantom Rush, helps him and his illusions chase down enemies.
  • Manta Style icon.png Manta Style can dispel debuffs from Phantom Lancer, and provides him with a second disjoint mechanism. It can also be used to create extra illusions, which last longer and hit harder, and can multiply on their own with Juxtapose. Extra illusions are especially useful for split pushing.

Late game:

  • Eye of Skadi icon.png Eye of Skadi's passive slow benefits illusions, and works together with Diffusal Blade 1 icon.png Diffusal Blade's mana burn, rendering enemies helpless and unable to escape Phantom Lancer.
  • Heart of Tarrasque icon.png Heart of Tarrasque provides Phantom Lancer with a large amount of much-needed HP, which carries over to his illusions, thus making them harder to kill. Phantom Lancer's natural elusiveness will make it easy for him to blend in with his illusions and regenerate mid-fight.
  • Butterfly icon.png Butterfly is a damage item that is a worthwhile late-game pickup on most agility carries. Illusions will also benefit from the evasion, making them and Phantom Lancer himself much more durable.

Situational items:

  • Vanguard icon.png Vanguard makes Phantom Lancer significantly tankier, and is useful for split pushing. For late game teamfights, it can be upgraded into an Abyssal Blade icon.png Abyssal Blade.
  • Sange and Yasha icon.png Sange and Yasha provides strength and agility, both of which are useful on Phantom Lancer, as well as his illusions. However, it is not recommended if Phantom Lancer already has a Manta Style icon.png Manta Style, as the speed bonus from Yasha icon.png Yasha does not stack.
  • Daedalus icon.png Daedalus is the final damage item that can be purchased if Phantom Lancer is struggling against tankier heroes. His illusions will also receive the critical strike bonus.
  • Radiance (Active) icon.png Radiance makes Phantom Lancer an intimidating pusher, as the burn damage aura works on his illusions, and enemies are unlikely to move out of its range due to Phantom Rush and Spirit Lance. The minor blind effect also helps Phantom Lancer stay alive.
  • Boots of Travel 1 icon.png Boots of Travel makes Phantom Lancer a powerful split-pusher in the late game, and also allows him to return to base after generating an illusion army to push down lanes.
  • Abyssal Blade icon.png Abyssal Blade allows Phantom Lancer to stun targets, giving him the time to land multiple hits and generate illusions.
  • Monkey King Bar icon.png Monkey King Bar should be purchased against evasion heroes, or in the late game as a luxury item. It provides a decent attack damage and procs magical damage.
  • Black King Bar icon.png Black King Bar is less common on Phantom Lancer than on other carries, but is sometimes necessary against enemies with numerous disables.