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The Nerubian Assassin

Created by Shortpigg on 2010-07-01
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Shortpigg's entry for Dotactics 2010. Nerubian Assassin is one of my personal favorite heroes. He's capable of sneaking up on a non-tank hero and eliminate the player in one series of casts and attack. He excels at mid game as a ganker, and he can also be a mediocre carry if necessary. However, I will usually build him as a support for late game because you can still use your combos effectively to get kills or guarantee kills for your team so stacking damage isn't necessary to be effective late game. I'm basically writing this guide because the most recent guide on this website for NA is from 2006, but since it happens to also be time for the Dotatics 2010, I would like to make this my entry into the competition and see where I can go. This guide focuses on a 5v5 DotA non-em mode game, but I believe it can be easily adapted to suit games with lesser number of people. Those of you playing easy mode should just stop and switch.

Anub`arak - The Nerubian Assassin

Range: | Move Speed: 300
Primary: AGI
Str: 18 + 2 | Agi: 19 + 2.2 | Int: 18 + 2.1
Damage: 49 – 53 | HP: 492 | Mana: 234
HP Regen: 0.79 | Mana Regen: 0.73
Attack Speed: 0.70 | Armor: 4
Impale (E)
Slams the ground with massive claws, shooting spiked tendrils out in a straight line, dealing damage and hurling enemy ground units into the air in their wake.
Level 1 - 80 damage, .75 second stun.
Level 2 - 140 damage, 1.25 second stun.
Level 3 - 200 damage, 1.75 second stun.
Level 4 - 260 damage, 2.25 second stun.
• Damage type: magical
• The wave of tendrils moves at 1600 units per second.
• Hit units will fly for 0.52 seconds before the real stun is applied.
• Casting range: 500
• Area of Effect: 150
Mana Cost: 95/115/135/155
Cooldown: 11
Comment: It's a spell that will follow the hero if you click it, but you can also just click a spot to cast it towards the point. Creeps/heroes don't take full damage until they fall back down to the ground.

Mana Burn
Mana Burn (R)
Sends a bolt of negative energy that burns a target enemy unit's mana based on its Intelligence. Burned mana combusts, dealing damage to the target equal to the amount of mana burned.
Level 1 - Burns Mana equal to 4 times the target's Intelligence.
Level 2 - Burns Mana equal to 4 times the target's Intelligence.
Level 3 - Burns Mana equal to 4 times the target's Intelligence.
Level 4 - Burns Mana equal to 4 times the target's Intelligence.
• Damage type: magical
• Damage dealt is proportional to mana lost
• Casting range: 600
Mana Cost: 90/110/130/150
Cooldown: 35/25/15/5
Comment: I don't recommend leveling this skill past level 1 until later because I don't feel the reduce cooldown is worth the extra mana cost, and early on, NA won't have the mana to spam the spell anyways. Each level of mana burn will still do the same amount of damage and burn the same amount of mana regardless of the level of the skill.
Urna Swarm
Urna Swarm (W)
Raises a Scarab from a corpse. The Scarab can burrow to hide itself, or use Infestation to silence and deal damage over time in an AoE.
Level 1 - Maximum of 2 Scarabs.
Level 2 - Maximum of 3 Scarabs.
Level 3 - Maximum of 4 Scarabs.
Level 4 - Maximum of 5 Scarabs.
• Scarabs have 450 movement speed, 200 HP, 6 armor, 1400/1400 normal vision, 400/400 burrowed vision, and 26-38 bounty.
• Scarabs are immune to magic.
• Infestation silences and deals 40 non-stacking damage per second in a 300 AoE for 3 seconds.
• Burrowed Scarabs are invisible and immobile.
• If you order infestation to be cast while having multiple Scarabs selected, only one will cast instead of all of them.
• Casting range: 900
Mana Cost: 40/30/20/10
Cooldown: 26/19/12/5 Seconds
Comment: Basically the same usefulness of wards, except it never dies, and it can cast an aoe silence. The aoe silence thing is a lot more useful if you're good at micromanaging. I'm personally not that amazing so I really just use them as wards and occasional silences.
Vendetta (V)
The Nerubian Assassin turns invisible for a short period of time, and can break his invisibility with an incredibly damaging attack.
Level 1 - Deals 225 backstab damage, 10% movement speed, lasts for 20 seconds.
Level 2 - Deals 375 backstab damage, 15% movement speed, lasts for 35 seconds.
Level 3 - Deals 525 backstab damage, 20% movement speed, lasts for 50 seconds.
• Damage type: normal
• If Nerubian Assassin's invisibility expires, the bonus damage will not be dealt to the next target.
• Nerubian Assasin is revealed when he damages the target, not at the beginning of his attack.
Mana Cost: 160/210/260
Cooldown: 90/75/60
Comment: Windwalk+backstab, you can use it to escape, but I mostly use it to engage combat. The backstab damage is reduced by armor More will be mentioned in the guide
Skill Build

Skill Build:

1. Mana Burn
2. Impale
3. Impale
4. Urna Swarm
5. Impale
6. Vendetta
7. Impale
8. Stats
9. Stats
10. Stats
11. Vendetta
12. Stats
13. Urna Swarm
14. Urna Swarm
15. Stats
16. Vendetta
17. Urna Swarm
18. Stats
19. Mana Burn
20. Mana Burn
21. Mana Burn
22. Stats
23. Stats
24. Stats
25. Stats
Item Build

Item Build:

1.View Details for Dagon
13/15/17/19/21 Intelligence
3 All Attributes
9 Damage

Active: Energy Burst
- Deals 400/500/600/700/800 damage to a target unit
- Manacost: 180/160/140/120/100
- Cooldown: 35/30/25/20/15 seconds
- Cast range: 600/650/700/750/800

Note: Buy recipe to upgrade Dagon (up to 5 levels)

Null Talisman + Staff of Wizardry + Dagon Recipe Scroll
2.View Details for Empty Bottle
Empty Bottle
Active: Regenerate
Restores 135 HP and 70 mana over 3 seconds. Effect ends if you take damage. When used, Magic Bottle 3/3 changes to 2/3, 2/3 changes to 1/3, and 1/3 changes to Empty Bottle. Can't be used when Empty Bottle. 0.5 second cooldown.
Active: Rune Capture
Stores a rune in an Empty Bottle. When a rune is used, this item is refilled to Magic Bottle 3/3. Stored runes are automatically used after 120 seconds. Can't be drop if it has a rune stored.
Note: This item is refilled to Magic Bottle 3/3 when near the fountain.
Skill Build

Early Game:

If you want your basic information about the hero like stat growth, just read the top of the page.

If the game mode is AP, you'll find NA in the Scourge (Agility) building, and other game modes just vary. Regardless of the game mode (except captain), I usually recommend waiting for the other team and your teammates to pick their heroes before you make your decision. Since NA is an able ganker for early/mid game and good support and crowd control in late game, NA will usually be a decent fit into your team. If some or all of the following circumstances apply, then I highly recommend picking NA:

  • The other team has pick quite a few agility or intelligence heroes (meaning low health and armor)
  • Your team doesn't need a carry or a tank
  • Your team needs a stun
  • There are no other heavy gankers/bottle users on your team

I want to elaborate a bit on this. If there are other gankers (pudge, tinker, mirana, zeus, vengeful spirit, and others) on your team, then there will be compeition for who gets to take mid solo, and if two heroes who both need to abuse rune/bottle to dominate are on the same team, there is a good chance neither of you will get the runes that you need. This won't always be the case because some people don't understand how much more powerful these gankers become by utilizing mid and controlling the runes. If it doesn't appear like your teammate who picked a ganking hero understands this concept, it still isn't a bad idea to pick NA and follow this strategy guide. Although if there are more than one of these nuking/ganking heroes, then I would recommend picking a tank or carry, depending on your team's needs.

On the other hand, there are also some situations that will make playing NA a bit more harder, so if these following apply, picking NA might be a bad idea. However, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll do awful so use your own judgment.

Squee and Spleen - The Goblin Techies

Goblin Techies:

This guy is a pain in the ass for you for many reasons. First, your scarabs can be destroyed by him if he places mines at where they are, regardless of whether they're invisible or not. If techies just places a bunch of mines and bombs at the runes, it could really fuck over your rune control, although you can try and use scarabs to trigger the bombs. Also, any good techies will place bombs at places where ganks might pass by, it's a very high potential that you will suddenly die while trying to gank someone because of bombs placed by him. To counter this guy, you need to have a gem with you, but good techies are extremely annoying to play against. If the techies sucks, then he'll just be food for you.

Nortrom - The Silencer

  • Silencer is on the other team.

This isn't necessarily a huge problem, but it is kind of annoying because you won't be able to chain spells as easily with his ass around. However, dagon is an item so you can cast it while silenced, and if you cast vendetta, you can just wait.

  • If the other team consists mainly of strength heroes (high health/armor)

This is probably the most important of all the negatives I'm listing. If the other team has a bunch of str heroes, chaining spells to kill these guys will be almost impossible.

Rooftrellen - The Treant Protector

  • If treant is picked by the other team

Treant, with those sentinels, will make ganking more difficult for you.

Gondar - The Bounty HunterSlardar - The Slithereen GuardStrygwyr - The Bloodseeker

  • If Gondar, Slar, and/or Bloodseeker is picked by the other team

These three guys have abilities that prevent invisibility which isn't necessarily a huge problem since Vendetta's main purpose is to gank, not escape. It does become a pain however, when you do need to use it to escape and amp damage or track is on you (this will become more of a problem at late game when you can't one-shot people, especially if you're against slar). Bloodseeker is only a pain when you are detected by his thrist.

Magina - The Anti-Mage

  • If Anti-Mage (Magina) is picked

It should be pretty apparent why AM is a pain in the ass for NA. Since NA is built as a semi-caster, he has a decent mana pool so it make him vulnerable to AM's ult. Also, if AM takes away NA's mana, then NA becomes useless. And finally, AM is extremely difficult to gank because of his passive that reduces magic damage and his blink.

Anyways, so you chose NA as your hero for a game...

If you're in a 5v5 DotA match, and you didn't random NA, then I recommend buying a bottle right off the bat     

Empty Bottle
However, there some players who feel bottle is not necessary right at the beginning, and they also dislike the lack of stats given by buying just the bottle. If you are one of these players, then you should purchase a chicken, some tangos/clarity potions, and then some misc. stat items like branches to potentially make magic wand or slippers and circlets to make wraith bands (or bracers or nulls, I think nulls or bracers are the way to go by the way). Building a poorman's shield isn't terrible either.

Magic WandLesser Clarity PotionAncient Tango of EssifationAnimal CourierIronwood BranchGauntlets of Ogre StrengthSlippers of AgilityMantle of IntelligenceCirclet of NobilityStout Shield
It is absolutely imperative that you get the chicken if you don't get bottle in the beginning, because the chicken will eventually deliever your bottle to you. This should happen pretty quickly. The goal is to have it by 4 or 6 mins because you want to be able to establish rune control pretty quickly.

It's important to note regardless of which starting set of items you chose to buy, getting a bottle is still vital to being effective for this strategy. Also, regardless of what items you buy, you should try to take mid lane, preferably solo.

If you randomed NA, your options are basically the same, but I recommend buying a chicken and a branch if you plan to start with bottle.
DagonBoots of Speed
When using NA, the items to farm for during early game are dagon and boots of speed. Focus on getting the dagon once you buy boots of speed. I don't recommend finishing your boots at this point so I'll discuss boot choices in the mid-game section.

Normally, when you go the mid lane, you'll be paired against a lone range hero. Sometimes it's another gank like the ones I described above, but it's usually just some range hero. The following guide is pretty general, but it works best against a solo range hero. When it's a solo melee, it's pretty much the same strategy, but you have to be careful especially if it's a strength hero since they'll usually have more health. When you're laning against two heroes, you have to be less aggressive, particularly if you don't have a partner, and make sure you focus your mana burn on the one with more dangerous skills (nukes/stuns).

The following are basically how I would play if I managed to get mid solo. If you aren't solo, then the times mentioned in this guide won't match up with you, but it's still the same principle.
From level 1-6:

From the my skill build, you can see I level mana burn right off the bat. As soon as the enemy hero is visible, you should cast mana burn. Whenever the cooldown for mana burn is up, then you should try to use it again, but make sure the enemy has more than 4x his int in mana to get the full effect of mana burn. The range on mana burn is pretty long so doing so should be pretty simple.

Focus on last hitting and denying, and the reason for doing so should be obvious to everyone.

Once you hit level 3, you should have level 2 impale, and it should be right around 1:45 into the game. Start impaling the enemy in order to make him lose health. When you're trying to impale the enemy hero, you should try to position yourself so that the creeps are also stunned along with your target, and the impale should be also timed to help clear some creeps to earn gold. If at all possible, try to stun the hero when he's the only one standing so your creeps will also attack him. Your timing and position is kind of important for these first few impales, but as long as you hit the hero, it isn't a big deal. If you impale him and you have a clear path to the enemy hero, you should try to nail a few attacks on him. While doing this, you will most likely lose health, but just start using your bottle at the right time to restore your health and mana. Repeat this until your bottle runs out, or if you didn't get a bottle right off the bat, just standing back and use some regen items.

If you did get a bottle however, once it runs out, it should be about the two minute mark. Rush to one of rune spawn locations and try to get rune. If you don't get lucky on the first try, quickly run to the other rune spawn location. I'm going to assume you know where the rune spawns, but I do want to mention a few things about runes and controlling them.

  • Runes spawn every 2 minutes, the first one spawns at 0:00 into the actual game (so the time spent picking heroes doesn't count)
  • If there is a rune already at the location where the rune was going to spawn, the rune will not spawn. It does not matter if the other rune spawn spot is empty.

Sometime it helps to head towards the spawn spot a few seconds before so you can grab the rune as soon as it spawns. I want to stress that you shouldn't make it obvious that you're going to try and get a rune. Some players will notice this and try to gank you when you try to get the rune or even get the rune before you do. Sometimes your lane opponent will also have a bottle, in situations like this you should watch for which rune spawn he goes for and go to the opposite side and hope you get lucky. If you managed to get the rune, replenish your mana and health. Continue to harass the enemy with spells since you have really high mana regen due to the bottle. I don't recommend spamming your spell everytime it's up, but using it enough to harass and potentially create situations where you could get the kill. Time your spells to match the amount of mana regen you're getting from your bottle. For example, if you have two charges left in your bottle as a rune is about to spawn, then spam your spells and bottle since you'll most likely get a rune very shortly afterwards.

Once you hit level 4, you should have the skill urna swarm. Immediately raise two scarabs and move them to to the spawn locations of the runes. Make them burrow so they can't be see. These scarabs will make controlling the rune considerably easier than it was. You should have your bottle already or soon if you chose to buy a chicken in the beginning instead of a bottle by the way. If you chose, you can just have one scarab at one of the rune spawn points, and send the other scarab into the jungle or something to scout. One really good location to place the scarab while you're still laning is at the your opponent's ledge. This way you gain vision of him even when he's up at higher grounds, and you can sneak a silence on him. Just make sure you don't put the scarab too close to the tower.  You can still tell where the runes are spawning even if you only a scarab at one rune spawn because if it's not at where your scarab burrowed, then it's at the other spawn spot. However, I personally don't do this for a few reasons. First, by having a scarab at both rune spawns, you have better rune control because you can tell if someone took the rune. If there is only 1 scarab at one spawn point, then someone may potentially take the rune from the spot where you don't have a scarab before you reach it. Also, the two rune spawn locations are actually pretty good areas to have scarabs because you can watch for enemy movement towards you easier since the river is like the main path between places.

Once you hit level 6, you gain windwalk (extra speed and no collision) and a backstab damage from your ult. This makes ganking much easier because you can now chain spells. Until you build dagon, your sequence of ganking should be like this. You start off by attacking the hero you want to attack while in Vendetta to get the backstab damage and so he can't see you. Where you are when you make your first strike is kind of important. You usually want to be in the direction that your target is most likely going to run to, or in a location where the chances of you getting aggro from creeps or being harmed is less likely.  As soon as you attack, you impale the hero, and hit him a couple of times. Keep hitting the hero until he can be killed or almost killed by your mana burn, then mana burn him and kill. Since mana burn has a long range, you should save it as a finisher once they move out of your attack range. Instead of wasting the time to cast mana burn, the time can be used to simply attack the hero. However, there are situations where using mana burn is necessary to prevent the enemy from using their skills (silence, stun, windwalk, and such) Coordinating these ganks with your teammates isn't absolutely necessary, especially if you start your combo when the hero isn't at full health, but it helps a lot.

Besides having endless health and mana by abusing bottle, you also get the benefits of each rune that you get. The regen and illusion runes are maily used to fill up the bottle. Whenever I get a regen rune, I will either use it replenish cause I have low health and mana (if you have low health, you should use your mana somehow), or try to gank and then use it afterwards. I use illusions to just basically push. Invisibility runes allow you to sneak up on players, and haste makes it impossible for them to run away from you. Double damage is extremely useful for impales because you can deal twice the damage with each hit you while the enemy is stunned.

Controlling the runes is extremely important, and each time you get a rune, take a look at the hero(es) in the two lanes around surrounding the rune you got (top/mid or bot/mid). When looking at these heroes, a few things to look for are:

  • What skills do(es) the hero(es) have? Any windwalks or stuns?
  • How much health and mana does the hero have
  • What type of hero it is (int, str, or agi)
  • The positions and number of creeps

You should also make sure you have enough mana to combo your spells.
Vendetta (level 1)+Impale (level 4) + Mana Burn (level 1)= 405 mana total

This combo will currently do around 400 damage + mana burn (which varies depending on the target's int)+any potential hits you land.

I'm going to assume that if you're reading this, you know the basics of dota. This means you should be able to make your own personal judgement about who is better to gank since a lot of things are situational. However, a few basic guidelines are:

  • usually avoid the heroes that have windwalk (gondar, weaver, clinkz), unless you can kill them before they can react
  • go for the one with the stun or other forms of crowd control, especially if you can eliminate them in one shot
  • int and agi heroes usually have less health and armor than str heroes
  • a hero with no or low mana can't cast spells, if it's low mana, mana burn quickly
  • position yourself to benefit the most from your impale.
  • most importantly, always go for the one you can finish with backstab, impale, and a few quick hits while the target is stunned (this will usually be like a half health int hero). Even though it's usually not the best to try and gank strength heroes, in early game, it isn't as big of a problem as it is later since they're still low level, thus low health.

Here are couple of pictures demonstrating this

After you past level 7, I will usually ignore leveling urna swarm and mana burn and level stats. The reason I don't level mana burn is mentioned under the skill explanation. Leveling stats becomes even more important if you went with a bottle in the beginning because it gives you extra mana to help you gank. If you feel that having urna swarm will be more beneficial to you than the extra stats, you can level it instead of stats. I consider the swarms to be mid game though, so I'll have more on them the next section.

One quick thing about Vendetta, at level 6, it doesn't last that long and its cooldown also isn't too short. At this point in time, try to save Vendetta for ganks and not escape, but if it's necessary, use it to escape. It's better to have to wait to gank than it is to die. Don't forget it gives you extra movement speed and zero collision.

Once you manage to farm dagon, I consider early game to be over. Hopefully this occurs around 18 minutes into the game, and you should be past level 11.

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162 By crazyjane 2010-10-06

lol im glad shortpigg, cuz i was "this close" to going farouq on

161 By Shortpigg 2010-10-06

To 156 and 157,

I was being sarcastic. Hand of Midas on NA? Are you seriously going to need that. Noobzter's build is awful, but I don't think he was serious.

160 By Bribe 2010-10-05

Unless of course the user is dumb enough to try to rape some pretty tanky hero. But yes, she can perform the kills and just go away. Maybe she cant disappear, but she can make it. Now stop the fkn stuff, discussion is over.

159 By Bribe 2010-10-05

Unless of course the user is dumb enough to try to rape some pretty tanky hero. But yes, she can perform the kills and just go away. Maybe she cant disappear, but she can make it. Now stop the fkn stuff, discussion is over.

158 By Bribe 2010-10-05

Lolz, looks like my comment raised a pretty hump in here xD My point as i said earlier, is not that this hero is UBER WEAK, its just that i find him not that useful. He just doesnt suit my game play. If you like him, go ahead, he is right there in Scourge Tavern, pick him.
One post interested me though.
Yes, Mid game Lina is a combo killer, count her skills and damage of those skills. She sees a lone her without escape mechanism , she gets out Array, Slave, And ult.

157 By Reigarde 2010-10-05

@156, it is a viable build considering his explanation . it does give you more damage in cheaper parts as well as an overall better crit rate .

most na's don't carry and thus it wouldn't be effective to get buriza . isnt there a mkb/buriza comparison thread somewhere ?

156 By crazyjane 2010-10-05

nerub's late game carrying ability left with hi spiky carapass, thats what allowed him to carry against monster like mort and naga, he would cut them to peices with heart,blademail, and butterfly.

@155 did you just say 2 crystalis? this comment is a little suprising coming from a hopefully experienced dota player...

and flamming like farouq is way lame...

155 By Shortpigg 2010-10-05


Your item build is awful. Instead of a buriza, you should be getting two crystalis, it's cheaper and gives more damage.

You don't need maelstrom for attack speed. Hand of Midas is superior, and it gives you the creep killing ability.

154 By biel6666 2010-10-05

I really feel that this guy needs a buff

153 By noobzter101 2010-10-05

hmmm... is my item build below ok? for my skill build, I max out mana burn and impale first, get vendetta any time possible, then stats then urna swarm, cuz I cant control them well except for wards

152 By noobzter101 2010-10-05

I don't put dagon on this guy. I get int treads, bottle, maelstrom, perseverance, 2 wraith bands early-mid game. late game, I have battlefury, mjollnir, butterfly, int treads, heart and any other item(buriza is an option)

151 By gilliancapati 2010-10-04


150 By BlackMaiden24 2010-10-04

(")_(")This is Bunny. Copy and paste bunny into
your signature to help him gain world domination

149 By Shortpigg 2010-09-24

Can you close comments or something?

I'm going to look through and find the important comments and update the guide, but these idiotic arguments are not necessary at all. This discussion about the name of assassin and how other heroes can carry better is worse than the guy who kept talking about mana burn.

148 By Farouq 2010-09-24

Drow has +45 agility(+45aspd) from ulti, combine with trueshot aura + image from manta style (that have +45aspd from his ulti) with good item, Drow output damage if very insane, especially if you have venge's command aura in your team

But NA has????
impale, mana burn, ursa swarm, vendetta ???
vendetta is based physical
in late game with opponent carry has high armor, vendetta only do 40% damage
impale? mana burn?
are you Mr.Bean???

147 By Farouq 2010-09-24

Siren has agility grown 21+2,75
his image combine with 45% chance 1,5 crit damage is pain in the ass ; especially with manta+diffusal+taras,she can be nightmare for you

Spectre has dispersion(make her one of the best tanker in dota world)

Void troll sladar n barathum is permabasher, in late game, they make you cry

Void has backtrack; disable area 5 second
Troll has Blind (make you miss miss miss if u dont have MKB); fervor(+100 aspd) ; battle trance(+140aspd in 8 sec)

146 By Farouq 2010-09-24

PA has agitily grown 23+3,15 ; phantom strike (give her +100aspd for 3attack) ; free 30% evasion ; n her ulti is pain in the ass

Medusa has Mana shield(that make her one of the best tanker in the dota world) ; stone gaze ; n split shot is imba toooo (hit 300% damage in one shot)

PL has high base damage ; agility grown 23+2,8 ; illusion n phantom edge(increase his spell resistance, make him very tanky vs hero based spell damage in late game)

145 By Farouq 2010-09-24

Read my comment

NA agility grown (+2,2)is average,same with spectre(+2,2) broodmother(+2,2) medusa(+2,5) SF(+2,4) n drow(+1,9)

but what make NA is not lategame carry
is NA skills is not for late game

NA skills nothing compare with PA,Medusa,PL,siren,spectre,void,troll,and even drow,barathum,sladar skills at late game

his role is early/mid

oke chase CLOSED
change the topic

144 By Shortpigg 2010-09-23

Why are these ridiculous arguments taking place?

143 By silentzero 2010-09-23

since when the heck did the term "assassin" supposed to be a hero who rapes everything. You totally lack some common sense and have poor role judgement seeing as you seem to not know how hero ROLES are supposed to be.

Nuker/Ganker wins early-mid but lacks potential for late game to keep it balanced
Carry rapes everything late game

try to guess where NA fits then

Can Lina pop out of someone's back, do some huge combo and kill then get out quickly w/o getting noticed like the term "assassin"?