Phantom Assassin is one the strongest and most exploding Dota 2 carry heroes.
In this in-depth guide, I will show you how to dominate public matches with PA’s game-changing critical strikes!
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Dota 2 Phantom Assassin Hero Guide:
Phantom Assassin (PA) is one of my best heroes for several reasons, but the reason I love her the most is her ability to be able to carry public games by herself – she is one of the very few heroes in the game that can effectively 1 vs 5. Even if she doesn’t get a rampage, she has the ability to almost always come out of fights, makes kills and escapes at the end of it. Renowned for her chance to deliver massive crits, PA can own enemies with very few swings once farmed.
She does, however, need a decent amount of gold/items to be effective and almost always needs a Black King Bar (BKB). Being one of the best PA players in the world (ranked for PA), this hero guide will take you one step further to becoming a strong PA player. 😉
Laning Choices for Phantom Assassin:
As a hard carry, PA is limited in the ways that she can be laned:
Playing PA on the Safelane:
In standard situations, PA 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 lane mates in setting up and getting kills on the enemy offlaner and can dodge ganks fairly reliably if given an opportunity to cast Phantom Strike.
Playing PA on the Midlane:
Depending on the lane opponent, PA can be played as a solo mid – one of my favorite ways to play PA! 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 PA to start being effective earlier on.
Phantom Assassin Laning
& Playstyle Guide:
PA Early Game Guide:
While it is important to remember throughout the guide, items need to be tailored/changed depending on specific enemy heroes & items, the build that I explain is an excellent standard generic build for most PA games.
In the early game, PA’s main focus show be towards last hits – without core items, PA will be very ineffective in fights.
Go for Quelling Blade, Tangos (pooled from your supports if you are playing PA mid), Slippers of Agility and a Circlet.
During the laning phase, focus on last hits and get two Wraith Bands and Power Treads after which you should put your head down and farm your Battlefury(sometimes it might not be the best game for a Battlefury in which case you can go straight to your Desolator, however, if doing this I would recommend getting 3 Wraithbands for the extra DPS).
PA Mid Game Guide:
Mid game is where you can really start fighting – focus should still be on farming as at this stage you don’t have the suitability without your BKB, however, you need to keep an eye on the mini-map for opportunities where you can get easy kills by cleaning up fights your teammates are taking. The aim in the mid-game is to farm your Desolator (if you went Battlefury first) and then BKB. These are your core items before you really start coming online as a hero. After this is where you really shine…
- Power Treads boost PA’s combat effectiveness and suitability 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.
- Battlefury (BF) allows PA 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 allows PA to apply the armor debuff from long range with Stifling Dagger, softening up multiple targets for her team and 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.
- BKB gives PA 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.
PA Late Game Guide:
Late game becomes very situational to the heroes you are playing against and the items they have. The following is my recommended 6 slot build:
- Abyssal Blade
- Monkey King Bar (MKB)
Based on the situation you can also substitute and MKB and/or Abyssal Blade for the following items:
- Nullifer – as a high physical damage hero, enemies will often get Ghost Scepter to avoid your high damage. Using Nullifier on the Ghost Scepter will dispel the target enemy.
- Assault Cuirass – when playing vs a team with high armor or tanky heroes, AC is often a good choice to help dish out that extra damage when you crit. Enemies will also often build high armor when vs PA to reduce your damage dealt. An AC is a good way to counter this!
Talent Tree Tips
for Phantom Assassin:
Level 10, +15 Damage – being a damage dealer and the primary carry, this should always be your default choice.
level 15, 15% Lifesteal – this is your absolute MUST talent. PA needs good lifesteal to be able to sustain in fights. Lifesteal also works great with your ultimate, giving you large amounts of HP/heals each time you Crit! Getting the lifesteal talent will also allow you to not focus on items to provide lifesteal and better using the item slots for other items. Extra tip: Once you get this talent and you have a Deso, you can solo Roshan!
Level 20, -4 Armor Corruption – in my opinion this is the best choice here as it provides even more damage by reducing the enemies armor. This stacks with your Desolator as well. I tend not to go for the +30 Blur Evasion purely because you already have 50% Blur. Most enemy carries will build a MKB or Silver Edge which will render this talent almost pointless.
Level 25, Triple Stifling Dagger – both talents can work here, it really comes down to the situation in-game. Almost 75% of the time however this would be the best choice. 3 daggers that can Crit late game is just insane in team fights especially since daggers get the cleave from Battlefury! Also, when defending waves – this will almost clear the whole wave alone (as you will cleave with your Battlefury as well).
Key Factors to win with
Being a great PA player is all about understanding the right time to enter the fight. Position yourself in the fog and and be patient. Your weakness is always crowd control and high nuke heroes – so these should always be your first target. Due to your Blur once these enemies are out of the equation, you can then almost certainly win the physical battle.
Let your team go in front and wait for the high nuke/crowd control enemies (often the supports) to show themselves. Pop that BKB and jump straight on them (taking them out).
Remember to use your skills defensively as well as to kite – this is your key. PA has 3 abilities allowing her to easily kite/avoid enemies. Dagger to slow, Blur to become invisible (similar to smoke) and Phantom Strike to blink/jump around. Your Phantom Strike can also be used on neutral creeps and Teammates, so keep this in mind! 😉
Lastly, look for opportunities to life-steal of neutrals. Sometimes it is best to run from the fight when low on HP, kill a neutral camp (using your 15% life-steal you will be back to full HP) and then rejoin the battle!
Synergies, Combos and Friends
- Slardar and Vengeful Spirit: More -armor!
- Witch Doctor’s Maledict adds huge pure damage together with your Crit.
- Magnus’ Empower greatly enhances PA’s Crit damage, as well as giving her cleaving attack. It also speeds up PA’s ability to farm. Reverse Polarity groups up enemies into one spot, combined with Battlefury and/or Empower, PA will shred through multiple heroes in a blink of an eye. 😉
- Beastmaster gives PA greater attack speed, increasing her chances of landing Crits!
Find all of the Dota 2 hero combos here.
Counters and Bans
- Axe generally will always be an issue with Blademail – key here is to bait Axe and to wait for the usage of Blademail before you engage in fights. Use your dagger to kite Axe.
- Broodmother is evil until you get a Battlefury, then its “come to be spiders”).
- Lina, Lion, Sky and other high nukers can make your hard life, keep your head down and farm that BKB…then go say hello! 🙂
- Razor’s Static Link is a direct counter to your damage, bait the static link/kite Razor.
Conclusion and Advice:
As with most other agility carries, PA 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.
Therefore, building a BKB for spell immunity is critical on PA. The ability to block mana-destroying abilities, block break debuffs, and ignore magical nukes allow PA to survive long enough to eliminate key enemies during engagements. Her life-steal talent together with Blur counts up so that physical damage dealers will only tickle PA! 😉
I hope you had fun reading and that your PA will now be much stronger!