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Phantom Assassin/Guide

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Phantom Assassin Guide Header.png

Gameplay[edit]

Playstyle
Phantom Assassin minimap icon.png Phantom Assassin is a carry renowned for her chance to deliver massive critical strikes, often killing enemies with very few swings. She specializes in hunting down vulnerable heroes, slowing them with a Stifling Dagger and leaping past defenses with Phantom Strike. Like other carries, Phantom Assassin needs a decent amount of gold and items to be effective. Because of her complete dependence on landing physical crits, she is susceptible to disables and must rely on a Black King Bar icon.png Black King Bar in most teamfights.
Pros Cons
  • High burst damage.
  • Has natural evasion.
  • Has a cheap, long-range slow with good damage.
  • Fairly mobile.

Ability Builds[edit]

Generic Phantom Assassin
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Stifling Dagger icon.pngPhantom Strike icon.pngStifling Dagger icon.pngBlur icon.pngStifling Dagger icon.pngCoup de Grace icon.pngStifling Dagger icon.pngBlur icon.pngBlur icon.pngTalent icon.pngBlur icon.pngCoup de Grace icon.pngPhantom Strike icon.pngPhantom Strike icon.pngTalent icon.pngPhantom Strike icon.pngUnknown icon.pngCoup de Grace icon.pngTalent icon.pngTalent icon.png

Talents[edit]

Hero Talents
Triple Strike Stifling Dagger25+10% Coup de Grace chance
+25% Blur Evasion20-4 Armor Corruption
+25% Cleave1515% Lifesteal
+15 Damage10+225 Health
Notes:
  • This attack damage talent is added as raw attack damage, so it does not benefit illusions, and is not affected by most percentage-based damage increasing or reducing effects.
  • The health talent increases maximum health capacity, and keeps the current health percentage.
  • The lifesteal talent stacks additively with other sources of lifesteal.

Tips & Tactics[edit]

General[edit]

  • Be mindful that Phantom Assassin is largely a single-target damage hero with low disable potential, so she is unable to deal with multiple targets simultaneously. Target prioritization is key, as Phantom Assassin must precisely eliminate her foes one at a time and cannot afford to be kited.
  • Despite possessing extremely low base intelligence and intelligence growth, Phantom Assassin only has low-cost active abilities, so she rarely runs into mana problems and does not have to go out of her way to increase the size of her mana pool. As well, her small mana pool allows her to benefit disproportionately from burst mana regen, such as Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand, allied Arcane Boots icon.png Arcane Boots and Chakra Magic, letting her focus on building items to increase her damage output and carry potential.
    • Beware that this can also be used against Phantom Assassin as well, as destroying her meager mana pool with abilities like Mana Break, EMP, and Mana Drain can render her unable to cast her spells or use item active abilities in a teamfight. The same applies to abilities that manipulate her intelligence like Arcane Orb and Intelligence Steal, which also renders her extremely vulnerable to Sanity's Eclipse.
    • Be mindful that since she relies on two passive abilities for survival and damage output, Phantom Assassin is very vulnerable to break. Removing her ability to evade physical attacks, as well as dealing crits, can render her impotent in fights.
  • As with most other agility carries, Phantom Assassin is very weak against burst magical and pure damage. While she gains respectable amounts of armor through her high agility growth and can evade attacks through Blur, her mediocre strength results in a health pool that can be easily shredded by spells. This also includes items such as Blade Mail icon.png Blade Mail, which can allow enemies to turn Phantom Assassin's high physical damage output against her.
  • All of the above make building spell immunity very important on Phantom Assassin. The ability to block mana-destroying abilities, block break debuffs, and ignore magical nukes allows Phantom Assassin to survive long enough to eliminate key enemies during engagements.
  • As a hard carry, Phantom Assassin is limited in the ways that she can be laned.
    • In standard situations, Phantom Assassin is played as a safe lane carry who is safeguarded by at least one support. She spends the laning stage accumulating last-hits and surviving enemy harass, trying to farm the items she needs to begin operating independently. As she possesses a slow and nuke in Stifling Dagger and a chasing/escaping spell in Phantom Strike, she is capable of assisting her lanemates in setting up and getting kills on the enemy offlaner, and can dodge ganks fairly reliably if given an opportunity to cast Phantom Strike.
    • Depending on the lane opponent, Phantom Assassin can be played as a solo mid. While she lacks base damage and can be easy to harass when approaching for last-hits, Stifling Dagger allows her to safely get last-hits at range and harass the enemy constantly. Both Stifling Dagger and Phantom Strike can be used as disabling and initiating spells when allied supports rotate mid for ganks, and the solo experience and gold can allow Phantom Assassin to start being effective earlier on.

Abilities[edit]

Stifling Dagger[edit]

  • Stifling Dagger is a multi-purpose spell that gives Phantom Assassin the ability to deal damage outside of melee range.
  • In general, Stifling Dagger is a good ability to get last-hits with, as its long cast range lets Phantom Assassin kill enemy creeps outside of harass range. It can also be used in turn to harass lane opponents and wear down their health over time, though beware of enemies purchasing Magic Stick to counteract this in-lane.
  • Stifling Dagger's long cast range allows Phantom Assassin to damage enemies at ranges where they may think that they are safe. Among its uses are to cancel enemy regeneration, such as from Healing Salve and Clarity, which can give Phantom Assassin a laning advantage.
  • Used as a disable, Phantom Assassin can cast Stifling Dagger to slow enemies to prevent them from escaping, allowing her and her allies to kill them. As well, it can be used to cover a teammate's escape, slowing a pursuing enemy so that they cannot get within range to attack or cast disables.
  • Stifling Dagger deals a regular attack by Phantom Assassin on its target, which can inflict attack modifiers and proc chance-based modifiers at range. This allows Phantom Assassin to take greater advantage of attack modifiers than most other carries, as she can utilize them at long range against a variety of opponents.
  • Stifling Dagger can also be used as a way to disable enemies from afar due to on-hit effects of some items like Skull Basher icon.png Skull Basher. With items like these, Phantom Assassin can disable channeling spells and Town Portal Scroll icon.png Town Portal Scrolls without even being in melee range.

Phantom Strike[edit]

  • Phantom Strike teleports Phantom Assassin to the target unit, boosting her attack speed.
  • Leveling up Phantom Strike reduces its cooldown, increasing Phantom Assassin's mobility, both for chasing and escaping. Reducing the cooldown allows Phantom Assassin to continually stick to fleeing enemies and pursue them over great distances if needed.
  • As Phantom Strike can be targeted on both allies and enemies alike, it can be cast as an escape spell to get away from pursuing enemies. To this end, also keep in mind that allies do not have to be at the same elevation as Phantom Assassin, so it can be used to scale cliffs and transit trees to put terrain between Phantom Assassin and her pursuers.
  • Given its low mana cost and cooldown, Phantom Strike can be useful for boosting Phantom Assassin's attack speed when farming creeps, particularly neutral camps.
  • When used to jump on top of enemy heroes, try to combine Phantom Strike with a leading Stifling Dagger. Stifling Dagger deals small initial damage, slows, and provides vision over the target, allowing Phantom Assassin to get within range to Phantom Strike, attacking them while they are slowed and preventing them from easily kiting her. If time and range permits, try to close in to Phantom Strike range first, and jump onto the target right as Stifling Dagger connects in order to maximize the number of attacks made on the slowed enemy.
  • Be careful about which targets are chosen for Phantom Strike, and be wary about over-committing. Phantom Assassin's tremendous damage output makes it tempting to jump onto any potential target, but beware that enemies can bait her into a disadvantageous position far from allied support. As well, certain enemies with point-blank disables such as Slithereen Crush and Berserker's Call can instantly stun Phantom Assassin when she jumps on top of them, and supports with a Ghost Scepter icon.png Ghost Scepter can simply become ethereal to become immune to her attacks.
  • Combined with Helm of the Dominator, Phantom Strike can always ensure that Phantom Assassin has an escape route. Positioning a dominated creep in an area of safety while farming can allow her to instantly jump away if enemies attempt to gank her, and the creep can also be used to scout for vision as needed.
  • Be mindful that Phantom Strike does not disjoint incoming enemy projectiles. Simply putting distance between Phantom Assassin and any pursuers may not be enough to ensure safety, as targeted stuns can still follow her, and area disables like Storm Hammer, Fortune's End and Concussive Shot also run the risk of disabling the ally that Phantom Assassin jumps to.
  • When pushing, use Phantom Strike on enemy creeps to gain attack speed, then switch to attacking buildings instead.

Blur[edit]

  • Blur grants Phantom Assassin evasion against physical attacks, as well as shrouding her from enemy vision.
  • A value point in Blur in the laning stage can aid Phantom Assassin's survivability against enemy harass.
  • Beware that smart enemies almost always build Monkey King Bar icon.png Monkey King Bar or Silver Edge icon.png Silver Edge in order to counter Blur, so do not rely on it for protection against physical attacks in the late game. Regardless, it can still buy Phantom Assassin survivability in the mid game and ensure that enemies have a much harder time trying to kill her before they are able to complete them.
  • Be mindful that even if the enemy does not build Monkey King Bar, they may have ways to reliably burst down Phantom Assassin without the need to rely on physical attacks.
  • In general, Blur is best used to punish enemies for picking heroes that cannot greatly benefit from purchasing Monkey King Bar. For instance, Phantom Lancer minimap icon.png Phantom Lancer's illusions can only benefit from the True Strike and not from the raw damage, while the same applies to Chaos Knight minimap icon.png Chaos Knight. In other cases, Sven minimap icon.png Sven cannot boost the power of God's Strength as it does not provide bonus strength, and Riki minimap icon.png Riki cannot buy an agility item to increase the damage of Cloak and Dagger, which can limit their upper effectiveness once they are six-slotted.
  • Blur's ability to hide Phantom Assassin on the minimap allows her to push and farm in areas where other carries cannot do so as safely. Unless the enemy is directly checking lanes that they are not present in, they may be unaware that Phantom Assassin is in that area.
  • Blur allows Phantom Assassin to attack creeps without revealing herself as long as she is not near enemy heroes or buildings. Thus, she can safely farm large stacks of neutrals with the active.
  • Use Blur in combat to disjoint projectiles and land some attacks on the enemies during the vanish dispel delay.

Coup de Grace[edit]

  • Coup de Grace is what allows Phantom Assassin to be such a threatening hard carry, as building agility items can tremendously boost her damage output through increased attack speed for more proc chances and more attack damage for larger crits. Because decisions made during engagements are based on expectations of damage output and survivability, Phantom Assassin can throw off enemies' expectations through sudden and surprise crits, causing them to re-think how they want to engage her team.
  • When fighting, try to determine which enemy heroes can be quickly eliminated with Coup de Grace, and take them out of the picture before they can take part in the fight. Phantom Assassin's ability to deal sudden burst physical damage can allow her to eliminate squishy supports with powerful teamfight items and spells before they know what hit them.
  • Because it uses pseudo-random distribution, Coup de Grace can be hard to utilize effectively. Failing to proc the ability increases the chances of it proccing for the next attack, so stacking up a few regular attacks before engaging an enemy can increase the chances of landing an opening crit.
  • Remember that as the same crit chance is applied to Stifling Dagger, Phantom Assassin can potentially use it to deal tremendous damage at range. Mind that its distribution is kept as a separate variable from Phantom Assassin's attacks, so proccing a crit with one does not reduce the chances of proccing a crit with the other.
  • In general, it is best to build items that grant both attack speed and damage, rather than focusing on one or the other. Phantom Strike can be used to increase the proc chance in a given engagement through increased attack speed, however it cannot be relied on as a steady source of proc chance.

Items[edit]

Starting items:

  • Tango icon.png Tango provides health regeneration to help Phantom Assassin stay in lane and continue farming despite enemy harassment.
  • Healing Salve icon.png Healing Salve restores health as well.
  • Iron Branch icon.png Iron Branches give cost-effective increase to Phantom Assassin's attributes, and can builds into Magic Wand.
  • Stout Shield icon.png Stout Shield helps reduce harass damage taken from lane opponents, increasing survivability.

Early game:

  • Quelling Blade icon.png Quelling Blade increases Phantom Assassin's farming ability in the early game. Being able to last-hit more easily and kill neutral camps faster allows her to farm the items she needs to start becoming effective in a match.
  • Boots of Speed icon.png Boots of Speed are important to obtain early on. Phantom Assassin must be able to easily move in and out of range to last-hit, as well as chase or escape as needed without having to rely as much on Phantom Strike.
  • Magic Wand icon.png Magic Wand can greatly improve Phantom Assassin's survivability and effectiveness in the early game. It provides a small amount of attributes and tremendous charge storage for burst health and mana regen, both of which are crucial on an agility hero with low strength and intelligence.

Mid game:

  • Power Treads icon.png Power Treads boost Phantom Assassin's combat effectiveness and survivability greatly with added agility and attack speed. She can attribute switch to strength for more health, or intelligence for using spells, particularly for the repeated casting of Stifling Dagger.
  • Battle Fury icon.png Battle Fury allows Phantom Assassin to secure her ability to farm into the late game. The damage and cleave allow her to easily clear creeps, whether it is for farming or pushing/counter-pushing, while the health and mana regen ensure that she can always maintain her health and mana pools while farming.
  • Desolator icon.png Desolator allows Phantom Assassin to apply the armor debuff from long range with Stifling Dagger, softening up multiple targets for her team and for her own attacks. The damage boost also greatly improves the killing power of Coup de Grace, particularly when combined with the armor reduction on enemies that Phantom Assassin jumps on.
  • Black King Bar icon.png Black King Bar gives Phantom Assassin much-needed spell immunity, allowing her to ignore enemy disables and nukes as she directly engages enemies in fights. The extra health helps increase survivability, while the damage improves attack power.

Late game:

  • Abyssal Blade icon.png Abyssal Blade can be crucial for giving Phantom Assassin the lockdown and damage she needs to quickly eliminate key opponents in fights. The bash gives her a chance to stun an enemy after jumping on them with Phantom Strike, while the active allows her to instantly hard-disable any foe through spell immunity, long enough to bring them down with Coup de Grace. It also increases her survivability giving bonus health and health regeneration and blocking 40 damage from incoming attacks.
  • Satanic icon.png Satanic improves Phantom Assassin's survivability in team fights, allowing her to quickly refill health with Coup de Grace crits.

Situational items:

  • Mask of Madness icon.png Mask of Madness gives high attack speed and a source of lifesteal. Phantom Assassin's survivability is based on evasion instead of armor and her damage comes from a passive ability, partially offsetting the debuff, but not being able to use Stifling Dagger or Phantom Strike can be costly when trying to chase or flee, making this item a dangerous purchase.
  • Butterfly icon.png Butterfly greatly boosts Phantom Assassin's damage output, as well as providing additional evasion. While stacking it alongside Blur runs the risk of having both nullified by the enemy building Monkey King Bar, purchasing a Butterfly can punish certain lineups by forcing their heroes to purchase Monkey King Bar over a different item that synergizes better with their strengths.
  • Assault Cuirass icon.png Assault Cuirass greatly increases Phantom Assassin's damage output through more attack speed as well as the enemy armor reduction aura. The improved armor also greatly increases her survivability against physical damage, and the aura helps give teammates more armor and attack speed as well, which can be very useful depending on team composition.
  • Nullifier icon.png Nullifier gives damage boost and the active ability that dispels the enemy and mutes them (disabling several defensive items) as well as greatly slowing them for a long duration (synergies perfectly with Phantom Strike and Stifling Dagger combo).
  • Monkey King Bar icon.png Monkey King Bar counters enemy evasion and boosts Phantom Assassin's damage output with increased attack damage.
  • Sange and Yasha icon.png Sange and Yasha is a situationally powerful mid-game item that is easy to farm and allows Phantom Assassin to begin participating in team fights earlier. The agility and strength-based bonuses give her more damage output and health, while the movement speed makes her far more mobile, allowing her to chase and escape far more easily.
  • Eye of Skadi icon.png Eye of Skadi can boost Phantom Assassin's combat effectiveness. It grants attributes across the board, giving Phantom Assassin more health, mana, and base damage. The Cold Attack passive allows Phantom Assassin to slow enemies with her attacks and Stifling Dagger, reducing their movement speed and preventing them from easily escaping her.