Guide to Azwraith, the Phantom Lancer Dota Hero, The Guide

Guide to Azwraith, the Phantom Lancer

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Table of Contents

1. Preface/ Useless Junk
2. About Images
3. Statistics and History
4. Hero Abilities
5. Skill & Item Builds
________5a. Skill Build
____________5ab.Explanation of Skills
________5b. Item Build
___________5ba. Explanation of Items
6. Gameplay
________6a. Early Game
________6b. Middle Game
________6c. Late Game
________6d. Strategies you MUST KNOW!
________6e. Summaries of Several Main Points Made in the Guide
7. Conclusion

1. Preface/Good Junk

This guide has only been tested in public and IH games so far. I rarely see a Phantom Lancer in TDAs or even public games.

First and foremost, you need to know when is a good time to pick Azwraith as your hero. If the enemy team picks any of these characters, you should NOT pick the Phantom Lancer or risk getting pummeled into the ground all game.
  • Queen of Pain (Scream of Pain, Sonic Wave, combined with early game harassment)
  • Earthshaker (Fissure, Enchant Totem, and Echo Slam combined with Aftershock will crush you)
  • Twin Headed Dragon (Barraging Dual Breath will own you most of the game, Macropyre, and Ice Path)
  • Any other hero that revolves around AoE nukes.
These heroes will utterly dominate you throughout the game.

Phantom Lancer (PL) has been one of my favorite characters throughout my DotA experienc who is infamous for the sheer numbers of images he can output. But then, Juxtapose was nerfed a while back so his images only lasted for 15 seconds (after a previous 30), and can barely last the travel from one wave of creeps to the next. Needless to say, I was devastated and did not play Phantom Lancer for a long time. Despite this setback, after I had randomed him again, it revitalized my love for the hero and I was inspired to create an in-depth guide that recommended my style of playing. This guide isn't meant to be unique, innovative, or new in anyway. Manta is great with ths character! This is and has been the item choice of most people for a long time. A lot of people rush into maxing Juxtapose early, on the sole absurd basis that it is important to have weak, fragile images that appear every few minutes. Or maybe it is so they can have level 4 Juxtapose ready with his level 2 ultimate, so they can have weak, fragile images, and sacrificing your only nuke/slow, or escape mechanism. He is STILL an amazing pusher and has nice hero-killing capabilities. Strong PL players are quick-witted, clever, and creative.

PL is terribly underrated. Moreover, he is very item dependent so screwing up your early game will most likely ruin you. However, when he reaches his core item, he is one of the most, if not THE most, powerful late game heroes in the game.

His picture is based on Final Fantasy X's Kimahri Ronso who is basically a really grumpy horned blue lion who got his horn cut off and shunned from his horned-blue-lion people.

IPB Image FFX Screenie.

2. About Images

The most common misconceptions about PL root from the most basic DotA concept. What items work on this hero? The most beneficial items will be those that make you stronger, while also building up power in images. Some items work with images, and the rest unfortunately do not. It is vital that you know which work so you do not waste time and gold.

I will summarize the key points that associate with PL. If you want to read more info about images, or if you just want proof, then go to THIS link (It's a sticky; props to Gray the Grayte).
  • + Damage (direct damage) items do NOT work on images (Divine Rapier and Radiance damage will NOT work with images)
  • Bashers do NOT work! This includes MKB, including the + Damage
  • Feedback (from Diffusal Blade and Manta) 100% WORKS.
  • Evasion (Butterfly and Radiance) DOES work (stacks with diminishing returns).
  • + Stats giving items WORKS (HoT, Skadi, Linkens).
  • Direct HP and MP items WORK (Soul Booster, Point Booster, etc.)
  • Skadi's Frost attack does NOT work.
  • Corruption does NOT work (Deso).
  • Lifesteal does NOT work (Satanic, MoM, Vladmirs).
  • Chain Lightning (Maelstorm/Mojo) does NOT work.
  • Hyperstone DOES NOT WORK!
  • Critical strike DOES work
  • Radiance's immolation effect WORKS (but if you have 4 images, there won't be 4x40= 160 DPS)
  • Maim (S&Y) does NOT work.
  • Cleave (Battlefury) does NOT work.

  • The animation might activate, but the effect will NOT trigger. For example, Lifesteal will give PL the glowy animation, but the images will not steal any life. Moreover for Bash, there will be the swirly blue thing above the target's head, but he will still be able to move (although it is a bit more complicated and will be elaborated further in the item section).
Images have the same collision size as your model, so naturally 8 images will be an extreme roadblock. We can use this to our advantage in chasing enemies, or blocking them to allow your allies to escape. In your (and your allies') view the "real you" has a normal appearance, and all illusions are tinted blue. To the enemies, the illusions look exactly as what the "real you" and has the same inventory and stats.

3. Statistics and History

IPB Image Azwraith - The Phantom Lancer (6.43b)

Although his true name is unknown to his allies, Azwraith's assigned name tells you enough. Like the Angel of Death, Azrael, he fights to rid the world of those who choose to embrace undeath. He is able to appear and disappear at will like a wraith, often appearing in many places at once. Azwraith is more than capable of dispatching the undead using his lance, each blow sending them closer to the spirit-realm. This lance is the source of his astounding ability to duplicate himself, whenever it draws blood he can use their life to create weaker copies of himself.

Range: 100 (Melee)
Move Speed: 290
Primary: Agility
Strength: 18 + 1.5
Agility: 23 + 2.8
Intelligence: 21 + 2.0

Damage: 45 - 67
HP: 492
Mana: 273
HP Regen: 0.79
Mana Regen: 0.65
Attack Speed: 1.38 (+ 23% IAS)= 1.6974
Armor: 2.2

Just looking at his starting stats, he has mediocre HP and MP, average MS, and is melee. However, he has strong agility/level. At level 25, he will have strength 54, agility 90, intelligence 57, HP 1176, and MP 741.

4. Hero Abilities

IPB Image Spirit Lance (T)

Throws a magical lance at a target, slicing it and slowing it down for 3 seconds.
Level 1 - Deals 110 damage and Cripples for 10%.
Level 2 - Deals 150 damage and Cripples for 20%.
Level 3 - Deals 215 damage and Cripples for 30%.
Level 4 - Deals 310 damage and Cripples for 40%.
Mana Cost: 140
Cooldown: 9


Your only nuke, as well as your only slow. 40% slow and 310 damage is good for harassing and slowing for a chase. Maxing this out is necessary if you want to be more helpful in team battles and if you want to have more hero killing capability. The mini-stun is useful for countering channeling spells. It has a short cooldown of 9 seconds.

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Do not skip this skill. Do not underestimate this skill.


IPB Image Doppelwalk (W)

Allows the Phantom Lancer to become invisible for a period of time, leaving behind a duplicate of himself to confuse enemies. 10% movement bonus at all levels.
Lasts 12 seconds.

Level 1 - 150 mana. 30 sec cooldown
Level 2 - 120 mana. 25 sec cooldown
Level 3 - 90 mana. 20 sec cooldown
Level 4 - 60 mana. 15 sec cooldown

Mana Cost: 150/ 120/ 90/ 60


Your escape mechanism; it lasts 12 seconds, and has a cooldown of 15 seconds. You go into a Windwalk, and leave behind one mirror image that deals 25% damage and takes 300% damage. This image lasts 20 seconds. It is like a Windwalk, but better. A gem makes it harder for you, but won't screw you over, like with Clinkz, or Bounty Hunter. In a battle, when you use Doppelwalk, you leave an image of yourself; So that way they can't see you very easily. You are slightly transparent, and in all the chaos, can manage to get away. Sharp eyes can see you, but can't catch you.

Basically, when you level this skill up, all you're doing is lowering the MP cost and cooldown. However, this is a good thing because the skill has the same strength at all levels, and at the last level, you can spam it whenever needed. Nevertheless, some prefer to take one level of this and use the other 3 points as stats to buffer out HP and MP problems early game while maxing it out mid game. This is also viable (especially if you are against tough match ups early game). In 6.36, they halved the cooldown to 15 seconds at level 4. Now, you can rely on Doppelwalk unconditionally as an escape tool.

Doppelwalk can be used in various ways: ganking, running, or deceiving the enemy.

IPB Image Juxtapose (X)

Whenever the Phantom Lancer attacks he will randomly create a duplicate of himself. Limit of 8 images.
Duplicates last 15 seconds, deals 25% damage and takes 300% damage.
Level 1 - 3% chance.
Level 2 - 6% chance.
Level 3 - 9% chance.
Level 4 - 12% chance.
Mana Cost: N/A
Cooldown: N/A


This passive skill gives you a 12% chance to generate an image that lasts 15 seconds on each physical attack. This is the skill that allows you to farm, push, and hero-kill very well during middle to late game. Juxtapose distinguishes PL over other image heroes with its sheer numbers.

IPB ImagePhantom Edge (D)

Gives the Phantom Lancer an edge in combat by allowing him to evade attacks and increasing Juxtapose's image generation. Additionally, it enables his images (including Juxtapose image, Doppelwalk image, and Manta Style image) to generate their own images.
Level 1 - 5% evade, 3% chance illusions will duplicate, 2% increase in Juxtapose.
Level 2 - 10% evade, 5% chance illusions will duplicate, 4% increase in Juxtapose.
Level 3 - 15% evade, 7% chance illusions will duplicate, 6% increase in Juxtapose.
Mana Cost: N/A
Cooldown: N/A


This skill combos well with Juxtapose. It makes level 4 Juxtapose and level 3 Phantom Edge make an 18% on each attack that creates an image. Additionally, it enables his images (including Juxtapose image, Doppelwalk image, Manta Style image, Illusion Rune image, and Replicate image) a 7% chance for illusions to duplicate. The 15% evasion is always a bonus.

5. Skill & Item Builds

5a. Skill Build

1. Spirit Lance
2. Doppelwalk
3. Spirit Lance
4. Doppelwalk
5. Spirit Lance
6. Doppelwalk
7. Spirit Lance
8. Doppelwalk
9. Phantom Edge
10. Juxtapose
11. Phantom Edge
12. Juxtapose
13. Juxtapose
14. Juxtapose
15. Stats
16. Phantom Edge
17-25. Stats

5ab.Explanation of Skills

The skill build is definitely the most flexible aspect of PL. Depending on you play-style you may want to be an assassin like me by learning all the active skills first, or you may want to play a reserved farmer who will emerge as a late game powerhouse when the time is right by racking up Stats as a priority and delaying other skills later. There are also hybrids in between. My guide will focus on the first because I believe it's more fun and, frankly, effective. A guide on farming is boring anyways. I will mention the other builds if you are interested. On to the Juxtapose issue.

A lot of people skip Spirit Lance early game. Why? If your answer is "I want to have level 4 Juxtapose and my ownage ultimate," then get out. There are a lot of reasons to NOT skip Spirit Lance, and there are NO reasons to get Juxtapose so early. Don't get me wrong. Juxtapose is game breaking skill, just not early-game. Still doubting? Do we need evidence?

Juxtapose: Don't Get It Early-Game

1. On the off chance that you even create an image (very, very, VERY hard to create one), it will die in 4-5 hits, as well as disappearing in 15 seconds; Which gives you no time to: Micro/Farm, harass, confuse, or hero kill.
2. Images do a whopping 15-21 damage per hit (Azwraith Level 7;Juxtapose level 4)!
3. You give up your only Nuke/Slow.

So, by maxing out your only escape mechanism, and only nuke/slow first, you will do the following throughout the game.

1. Hero-kill more effectively with Spirit Lance.
2. Run away more effectively with Doppelwalk.
3. Hero-kill more effectively with Doppelwalk.
4. Survive more effectively early-game.

For the better part of your early to middle game, your main job is to spam Spirit Lance.

Why get more than one level of Doppelwalk?

I know that Doppelwalk doesn't change at all at level 1-4, other than MP cost and a shortened cooldown. But, in order to really use Doppelwalk well, you have to have enough MP to support it. 150 MP is most of your MP pool for early-game. If you only get one level of Doppelwalk, and put the rest in stats (while still maxing Spirit Lance), then you would have stronger images, and slightly more MP, but you lose a lot of early to middle game potential in messing with the enemies' heads. I prefer the the active play style of using Doppelwalk whenever needed, similar to a Bounty Hunter gameplay, but taking one level and then stats is definitely a viable alternative.

As of 6.36, level 4 Doppelwalk cuts its cooldown in half, as well as receiving the same MP reducing bonus.

Why do you max out Spirit Lance before Doppelwalk?

First of all, you have to realize that it's just one level's difference. Second, as you should have read, Doppelwalk has the same effect at every level, while Spirit Lance gets stronger every level. So, naturally the logical choice would to be to max out Spirit Lance first. If you argue that you need an escape mechanism at level 1, incapacitate yourself.

Why do you get Phantom Edge so early?

I find that images generate much faster with two levels of Phantom Edge and maxed Juxtapose. It can be argued that getting Attribute Bonus instead is more effective with providing extra stats for images. Even though the small dodge percentage can be neglected, in this period of the game spells are flying, tempers and hormones flaring, and ganks/revenge being plotted. Also, in this period of the game you will have almost obtained Diffusal Blade, giving your images the Feedback orb. This greatly adds to your DPS. And since Phantom Edge significantly helps generate images and acts as a filler until Juxtapose and Diffusal, I prefer taking it earlier. However, Stats in substitution for Phantom Edge is not a bad idea either.

5b. Item Build

1. Circlets x2 + Tangoes
2. Bottle and Bracers x2
3. Diffusal Blade and Boots of Speed
4. Vitality Booster
*5. Manta Style
6. Boots of Travel
7. Butterfly/Heart of Tarrasque
8. Heart of Tarrasque/ Butterfly

* Manta can be delayed if you have not used all your Purge charges yet.

5ba.Explanation of Items

Starting items are focused on cheap stats and regeneration. Bottle is great for quickly regenerating HP and MP. This will allow you to play much more aggressively, similar to a Bounty Hunter like style by constantly Doppelwalking and backstabbing with your superior slowing nuke. Also, you can use images to scout for runes. Diffusal Blade is priority to crank up your DPS and so you can start ganking. But since you're so fragile, we get early game regen, HP, and MP before it. Bracers and Bottle are perfect for you. After getting Diffusal, the order of the items can be swapped around, as usually you don't want to proceed into forming Manta until after depleting all the Purge charges. Use those purge charges to gank your way to the next expensive items such as Boots of Travel and Butterfly.

Did you know?

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10 Charges --> 600 Range
4 Second Duration --> 12 Second Cooldown

Purge can remove buffs and debuffs. So...

If you Purge the enemy, he will be slowed, and all his buffs will be removed (e.g. Broodmother with Insatiable Hunger, Sven with God's Strength)
Purge goes through Naix' Rage.
You can use Purge on any units with Repel on it. It will slow him and remove Repel.
Purge's cooldown is very short (12 seconds), so you can use it more than once in a battle to get the kill.

You can purge your allies.
Purge removes debuffs (like Vodoo from Lion, Rhasta, or Guinsoo's Sythe of Vyse) from allies AND enemies. So, if you're ally sheeps someone, don't Purge them right away, or the debuff will fade.
You can purge your allies when they are cycloned by Eul's Sceptor, removing the debuff. Careful, this also works on enemies.
Purge can trigger Harbringer's Essence Aura.

Purge will destroy any summons (e.g Warlock's Infernals). Purging Infernals will give you free 200 gold if Warlock has maxed out Rain of Chaos, as well as stopping an annoying rock-monster from making your base belong to him.

Don't hesitate to use your charges. Often, I find myself with 7 charges left and have already bought Boots of Travel and Vitality Booster (and a lot of the times more).

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When you use Manta's active skill, it makes you invulnerable for a few seconds. Thus, you can use it for dodging incoming spells and projectiles. This requires some practice though, but once you do it you will be able to dodge powerful spells like Chain Frost (and look cool). It also removes debuffs like poison, and tracking skills. But it will not remove effects such as Rupture.


The Radiance fad has made its way to PL. I conclude that Manta is a superior item to Radiance. I have tested this.

While Radiance is suggested by some because it jump starts late game dominance, PL benefits so much from his images that it is too good to pass up on Manta. Moreover direct damage items are very hard to farm up to, requiring huge pieces to complete the recipe (Sacred Relic and Demon Edge).

Strategies involving Radiance are not that profound. Most involve mindlessly launching images into enemies to "harass" them with Immolation. This is unrealistic. The images die much too quickly and deal too little damage over a small period of time. Immolation is much better to be relied upon as unconditional damage over a longer stretch of time.

The progression for Manta makes it a much better core item than Radiance. Radiance does not give PL anything that Manta will not. You are already a very good farmer mid-late game. Radiance will give more damage hero killing most of the time. Diffusal is better for ganks, and allows PL to be useful earlier. Manta is better for pushing.

Concerning direct damage items in general:

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Just don't do it.

Q: Does evasion stack?
A: No. Higher chance evasion overrides lower chance evasion. However, Faceless Void's Backtrack and Avatar of Vengeance's Dispersion stacks with evasion, with diminishing returns, in the sense of avoiding damage. Use the formula 1 - ( 1 - A ) * ( 1 - B ), where A and B is your chance to evade, as well as your chance to backtrack or disperse.

How about Power Treads...

IPB ImageIPB Image

I'm just going to throw out some pros and cons of each items to attempt to remain objective (lol).

Azwraith is pretty slow, and since Doppelwalk isn't exactly the longest lasting invisiblility skill, the MS will help in escaping (paired with Spirit Lance). It gives much needed mobility.

Teleport is very useful in ganking mid game combined with Spirit Lance and Purge.
Teleport is devastating with Manta Style. Pushing is key late game, and BoT is a major factor of pushing.

Treads' IAS will eventually become obsolete, and since PL is a late game hero, buying it just sets back getting bigger, and better items.

The new agility attribute bonus is nice, but BoT boosts your pushing and defending power, increasing mobility in general.

There are many strategies opened with BoT, but almost no strategies with Power Treads.

Some people argue that Power Treads' 30% IAS will allow the enemy to spot the "real" PL easily, but even experienced players cannot spot 30% IAS in 7 images and 8 creeps.

Why not Buriza d00d?


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+75 dmg,
Effect: Critical strike (20%, 2.2x).
6200 gold

It's actually easy to explain why Buriza is NOT the best choice (even if you really want to kill heroes and look cool).

1. It is easy to spot the "real" Azwraith with AoE, but it's even easier if the "real" Azwraith is attacking with +75 more damage than his images.
2. Image-wise, it's 6200 gold... 6200 gold, for Critical Strike.
3. Demon Edge has one of the worst gold-damage ratios in the game.
4. The focus of Phantom Lancer should be pushing, not hero killing during late game. Buriza is useless at pushing (other than killing creeps a little faster), thus, Buriza is not the item for PL.

How about Linken's Sphere?

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Linken's is actually on the more viable side of items. But only after you get Manta. Linkens gives PL a boost of stats that he really needs. It allows him to survive better, and images will trigger Linken's effect.

Here is a list of what Linkens blocks and such. Click Here!

Yes, it'll help with some disables, but PL's main counter is AoE spells. Since Linkens will not block any AoE spells, then it will not help you there.

It is nice for survivability, since it gives you str, agility, and intelligence to buff up your images. It also opens the way to getting the otherwise unnecessary Perseverance early game (which I think is expensive given its benefits). However, AoE is the problem, thus Heart of Tarrasque is the better option. Tanking these nukes are important in many ways. Even the regen from Heart goes into images. Linkens is a good choice though, and is rarely used on PL. Sometimes, I get Manta, then replacing Eaglehorn/Butterfly with Ultimate Orb/Linkens. This also makes Perseverance a viable choice for early game regen and spamming of Doppelwalk and Spirit Lance, although is not as useful as the mighty Bottle.

Input on Cranium Bashers

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QUOTE(Malle @ Mar 1 2006, 05:27 PM) *

Illusions can bash, but it works in a really strange way. First of, they won't deal any bonus damage.
Secondly, if an image bashes a target, it will only be a fake bash. Everything will look as it would if a real hero bashed the target, but the target can still move and attack. If a real hero bashes the target while he is in such a "Fake bash state", the fake bash state will be prolonged. Vice versa, if a hero makes a real bash on the target, and an image bashes the target, the real bash will be prolonged.

Okay. So technically you could achieve a really long bash with your images. However, reading the above quote, to achieve this "perma-bash" the actual Azwraith (non-illusion) would need to initiate the bash. So, by generating the maximum amount of images, 8, you have a 1/9 chance of initiating the bash, which is about 11%. Your images will have a 89% of starting the bashing. This math is based on the foolish assumption that all 9 of you attack at the exact same time. One can argue that you may not always have 8 illusions with you, increasing the chances of the real PL starting the bash, but with maxed Juxtapose and Phantom Edge, it is highly likely that you will have at least 4 images generated in the first 2 to 3 seconds. With this, the images have an 80% chance of initiating the bash (4/5). This math might be wrong, feel free to correct me if you're feeling confident.

Moreover, by getting a basher, you are delaying getting other items such as Diffusal, Boots of Travel (which you will probably replace with treads) and Manta. Basher does not help you in pushing at all, as the increased damage will not go into your images. The bottom line is: It is not worth it.

Why not mass Hyperstones?

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If this is what you had in mind, then no. Even getting one Hyperstone is not allowed. The IAS does NOT go into PL's images. So, even without an AoE nuke, the enemy can just look for the PL that is attacking 3 times faster than the others. Also, 55% IAS is not worth the 2300 gold paid. This gold is much better spent on other core items (Manta, Butterfly, etc.)

Alternative Items

Whether you prefer an alternative build, or have fallen behind in levels and gold, there is always an alternative route you can take to try to get back on track.

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A cheap and efficient way of boosting your (and your images') damage, as well as providing a small movement increase.

It can be stuck into the main build before getting Diffusal or after Manta to buff your images.

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Allowing you to obtain Perseverance early game to spam spells, and stay in your lane longer: Linken's Sphere. A strong item on PL that gives +15 to all stats (also buffs up images). The spell negation animation will trigger if a targeted spell is used on an illusion, causing confusion. It is easier to obtain than Heart of Tarrasque, and Butterfly.

If you want to get Linkens. You should get Perseverance early game (around the time you get your Bracers). Get Ultimate Orb and complete Linkens after Manta.

6. Gameplay

Ahh... the Strategy section. The section that makes or breaks a guide. Unfortunately, the most typing in the whole guide.

6a. Early Game

During early game, here is what you do. FARM! That's all there is to say. You have nothing to do early game, other then to farm. Get last hits and deny whenever you can. When an enemy hangs back to accumulate experience, denying is priority over last hitting. When last hitting, the moment you hear the sound of your physical attack, right click back. This is one of the many forms of the oh-so-helpful animation canceling. It saves a little time, rather just standing there stupidly waiting for your lance to swing completely through (reducing the amount of time the enemy has to nuke/attack you). When you have level 3 or 4 Doppelwalk, here's what you do when an enemy approaches you.

When an intelligence hero approaches you
, you Doppelwalk IMMEDIATELY, and get the hell out of the way (step away from the area of your fake). Most intelligence heroes feel they have the responsibility to harass you. Whether it's an Impale, or Light Strike Array, it is important to avoid all damage possible. And finally, once they have used up their arsenal of stuns, and nukes, use Spirit Lance. Now those pesky harassers have become the harassed. You can follow up with a few hits until the slow wears off (at your own risk). How can you tell if an enemy is trying to target you with a nuke? The enemy will most likely run up or past the line of creeps fighting. This is how to dodge AoE spells.

To dodge targeted skills (Storm Bolt, Chain Frost, Chain Lightning), you have to have good timing, and a wide knowledge of the movements and animations of each character. Therefore, this strategy was made for pros. However, there's no harm in trying, as if you do get hit with the nuke, you will most likely want to Doppelwalk and run anyways. When you see the spell flying towards you, press "W" to activate Doppelwalk before it hits you. This will make it so you and your image don't get damaged (or stunned). Practice this whenever possible, don't get discouraged if you fail or mistime it.

Moving on, you should have gone to about #3 in the item build by the end of early game. If not, you're behind, and you're going to spend a lot of the game trying to catch up. This is the time to consider changing your build to accommodate your situation (read the alternative items). Try not to fall behind.

So you're doing well; lane control, hero killing, and farming like a pro. Now is the time to watch out for ganks. The worst thing that can happen to you early game is die, denying of valuable experience and gold. So, that being said, don't die. So, that being fresh in our minds, remember to call missing heroes in your lane. That usually keeps everyone happy, and allows you to yell at your team if you almost die from a gank, without sounding like a hypocrite.

At around level 6, people start using their ultimates, which of you are stripped away from. Remember, how you dodge nukes? Well, this is the same concept. There are two scenarios. One is that you are in a battle, and they are about to use their ultimate. Another is that you want to make them waste their ultimate, so you are safe for a period of time.

In a battle, to avoid massive damage from ultimates such as, Finger of Death or Laguana Blade, you must have knowledge of all enemies and their skills (which isn't hard if you've played with or against all the characters). Usually, these ultimates make their appearances as a last hit; 2/10 players use this ultimate right away. So, using this to your advantage, when you and the enemy commence in a fight, both of you should have around the same HP. When you are in the low yellow HP, Doppelwalk. They will probably use their ultimate on you, emptying their arsenal. If it is an AoE ultimate, then get out of the way. Otherwise, proceed to Spirit Lance, and attack. He are probably dead. If not, chase them until Spirit Lance is out of cooldown. You have to be smart about the chase though, always think twice about diving past a tower. This strategy works all through the game.

Heros such as Goblin Techies and Bane Elemental depend on their skills, and ultimates. PL is the bane (bad pun) of their skills. This is because most Techies waste their time planting Remote Mines, hoping to get a kill, or two. Or they plant Land Mines, hoping for some unlucky wanderer to hit them. All you have to do is create an illusion (using Doppelwalk, or send a Juxtapose image), and move it towards the mine patch. And there you have it, Techies just wasted a lot of time. Proceed to laugh in all chat. Bane's ultimate can be devastating for you. Lucky for you, you have Doppelwalk. When you see Bane trying to kill you, Doppelwalk RIGHT AWAY. He will probably use Fiend's Grip, and good thing for you, he only has one disable without his ultimate. PL > Ultimate dependant heros.

Here's a scenario with Luna (whose hero revolves around her ultimate and single target nuke) and I walking by each other.

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I spot Luna, Luna spots me.
2: I quickly Doppelwalk.
3: Luna uses her Ultimate (the owl doesn't show up in the screenshot)
4: I taunt her at a safe distance.

You might say: But she'll just wait for her cooldown to do this again. It doesn't help anyone but you.

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Drow and Luna duke it out, but Luna's normal Nukes reign supreme on the low HP Drow. Luckily she just wasted her Ultimate on me. Drow runs towards her teammate and creep wave, baiting Luna with her.
6: All is at a happy ending, and Drow gets the kill.

PL is NOT an early game character. Most likely, not even a mid-game character. Most people know that he doesn't start dominating until late game. So, remembering this, do not Rambo 2 enemies at the same time. If you see a hero in red, don't chase pass the tower. You CAN get a lucky kill, but it WILL be based entirely on luck; at least early game. You really have no place in your team except for your slow. Farming is key in early game, same goes for any late game hero.

You can get hero kills early game though.

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1: Omniknight was running in to help Slardar. I Spirit Lance him.
2: I kill Omniknight before he can heal himself, and move to help Tidehunter.
3: With me, a few creeps, Tidehunter, and the tower attacking Slardar, Tidehunter manages to get the kill.

6b. Middle Game

By now you should have Diffusal Blade. If not, you didn't request a lane change early enough and should consider the alternative items listed before. Now, you should have enough HP to maintain a lane, and you can go hero killing agility and intelligence based heroes. Farming is still important, but not as huge as in early game. Now is your chance to earn a little extra gold and experience by, Hero Killing!

How? First you find a low HP character that is alone(usually agility or intelligence). Use the backstabbing areas (the areas in the forest, where they can't see you). Run behind the enemy; Do NOT run into the enemy, run towards the path in which he will run back to (he will probably run towards his tower/fountain). Spirit Lance, and proceed to DOPPELWALK. He will probably use his disable/stun; Move out of the way if it's an AoE. Attack him a few times and emerge from invisibility, and Purge. Keep attacking, and Spirit Lance, yet again. This should finish him off. Feel free to use your purges if you feel it is necessary.

Why do this in that order? Backstabbing is important in herokilling. They are MUCH more likely to die if they don't see you coming, then if you charge them. Spirit Lance is for the slow. Doppelwalk is for avoiding the stun for damage and falling behind. Doppelwalk also makes the opponent stay a little longer, because once they hit the illusion, they will think they can win. Purging is for an extra slow, to attack and wait for the Spirit Lance cooldown. Do not forget to attack normally though. If you're lucky you may get a few illusions triggered as well as burning MP.

Don't forget to use your strongest weapon. Deception.

IPB Image

I see Ursa with his buffs running towards me to backstab.
2: I Doppelwalk, Ursa doesn't notice.
3: Ursa uses half his buffs on one creep, then uses the rest on the image.
4: When I see the image at low yellow HP, I use Spirit Lance (not shown in image). Now I have my creeps, myself, and 1 illusion attacking him.
5: My illusion got the last hit, and I collected my well-deserved bounty.

Again, this is a scenario of deception.

IPB Image

I lure Pudge into using his Hook. He then uses his Dismember to "finish me off" (not shown on images).
2: Six seconds later, I'm on his tail. He knows which PL is the real one, since I Spirit Lanced him to catch up. Unfortunately, he used Hook and Dismember to kill my illusion.
3: I Purge him for further pounding.
4: Pudge realizes he's screwed, and begins to suicide with Rot. By now, he has no MP to do anything else.
5: I finish him off with Spirit Lance before he can suicide.

Use ALL of your Purge charges. 10 charges should be about 6-7 kills. Use them wisely

So after you finally used up all the Purge charges, and farmed Manta Style at around level 15-17, you have a whole new set of strategies.
From here on, you will start to own. Since the nerf to the length of the images' survival time, the images disappear right before you engage the next creep wave. So, when you are pushing a lane, you should be triggering at least 5-6 images very quickly. If not, curse your luck. Also, you should be getting most, if not all gold from every creep in your lane. You don't even have to micro your last hits. Just auto-attacking works fine (although selecting all your images and focus firing one creep at a time usually works better). When you are near the tower, your images will probably disappear right when you reach it, or get 1 or 2 hits. First, you create 2 images with Manta. Then, you attack the tower. When the enemy creep wave reaches you, attack it. This should create plenty of images for you to destroy the tower. Be aware of heroes coming for you, though.

Hero killing goes down a step, but that's only because not many heroes like to solo 8 Azwraiths. For the most part, you will be left alone. Be sure to help your team. Mid game is also when every player has an ally with them. If you do come in a hero killing situation, then...

Spirit Lance, and hope your ally has a stun. While in that period, Manta. Proceed to beating the computer animated body fluids out of the enemy. Spirit Lance whenever your cooldown is ready, as that is your only slow. If the situation is 1v1, they will probably get away in red HP with a warning of "don't try that again." If it's 2v1, then either your ally or you will get the kill. If it's 2v2, you may get 1 kill, or 2. Just remember to attack the same enemy as your ally. Make sure you kill the hero that can put out the most damage first (intelligence, agility, then strength). Tell your team the priority of heroes to focus fire on.

When you're not hero-killing, you should be concentrating on casual pushing. This is second major source of gold, and it is good for the team. And Juxtapose sure makes you good at it. By casual pushing I don't mean pushing to the second tower. Only push further than 3/5 of the lane if you think you can get a tower. Otherwise, you are just feeding the enemy creeps to kill, and providing them gold.

6c. Late Game

Eaglehorn should be bought. More damage and attack speed for pushing. People will rightfully be afraid of you. They will avoid the lane you are in, without bringing an two allies, or one AoE stunner. Still, late game your objective is to push when you are able to, and when in team battles, you send in your images to focus fire the most dangerous enemy and create chaos. Not only does pushing win the game, but it brings in quite the gold accumulation. You should have HoT in no time.

For the most part, you can't do anything, but push. Hero kills will usually come to you. When the other team pushes, you should participate in helping your team defend. You can't Roshan, because Juxtapose doesn't work with him. So you will be about useless. So, when your team decides to Roshan, then you push, while they Rosh, to not arouse any suspicions. This also keeps the enemies distracted and busy.

Every strategy in middle game should still be used late game. Pushing, creeping, and hero killing should be easier. As long as you have Butterfly by level 20-22, then you have a very high percentage of winning; unless your enemies are fed.

When your team decides to push, tell them that you're going to push another lane. This makes it extremely hard to defend, and the whole enemy team will most likely go to the lane that your team is pushing in, leaving you wide open to wreak havoc on their towers/barracks.

Heart of Tarrasque will make you an unbelievably awesome tank. You won't believe how well this works until you try it.

This post has been edited by dalejn: Nov 9 2007, 07:31 AM

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6d. Strategies you MUST KNOW!

I had put some major strategies in those giant clumps of texts. In case you're lazy (naaah) you can just read these. You MUST know these to bring out the full ability of PL. These don't include the obvious strategies such as Doppelwalk running. Please read ALL of the inanely named strategies.

Beginner's Strategies
: Very easy to learn. These are the basics.
Intermediate Strategies: Not too hard. These are normal strategies that can be learned by trying them once or twice, and you should be able to catch on.
Expert's Strategies: The next level of game-play. It's difficulty range is hard to very hard. Even I can't do some of these strategies. These require many games of practice to master.

Beginner's Level Strategies

Don't Bother Me - I Can't Touch Him Anyways

The art of spamming Doppelwalk. Late game, the enemy will realize that you will just Doppelwalk away if they try to kill you. SO when you are pushing, the enemy team will think "I won't get the kill if I try to stop him, and some of my teammates'll go and stop him anyways." By the time you get to the second or last tower, it will prompt the enemy to think "Oh crap, we gotta do a 5 man backstab." But by then, you will already be gone (hopefully).

The Doppelwalk Backstab

The enemy decides to attack you. You won't take that from him. You attack him once or twice, then Doppelwalk. Normal level players will see that the Doppelwalk image is in yellow-red HP, and use his stun/disable on the image. Experienced players will immediately realize it is an image, because it is taking too much damage, or dealing too little. If it is the former, run behind him and Spirit Lance. Then, chase while attacking. If it is an experienced player, Spirit Lance from a distance behind your creep wave. The point of this is to harass the enemy, and show him that you're capable of clever tricks (and maybe get a lucky kill).

Bam You're Dead

Mid-Late game, you can generate images insanely fast when you are attacking the same target with more than 1000 HP, such as heroes. Thus, when you are hero killing, should attack an enemy creep, and Doppelwalk. Run behind the enemy hero, and use Spirit Lance, quickly followed by using Manta Style. Attack, and 2-3 images should generate. Concentrate on surrounding the enemy. If you don't have Manta, Diffusal Blade works as well, except after the Spirit Lance, just use Purge when the slow wears off. I see many players just right click attack with all their images on a target. NO! This will just allow the enemy to run straight to their fountain, with 8 Azwraiths tailgating him, tripping over their own feet. You should select half of your images (including the "real" you), and right-click attack the enemy. And you should select the other half to run ahead of the enemy. Use that half to block off the target and hold position. With this strategy, it is like a 15 second disable. The enemy cannot move anywhere while they are getting pounded and MP is being drained by the second.

Where'd He Go?

So you're in trouble. You just toughed out a 3 man gank, but you're running for your life. You see that your Doppelwalk is available, but there is an enemy with a gem cutting you off. No problem! Doppelwalk, and immediately walk into the forest. There are many spots in the forest that have a path, and have enough space in them for you to run into. This conceals yourself, as it uses fog of war to your advantage. Then, select your Doppelwalk image and pretend that it's the real you. Keep running the path that the enemy expects you to. Now, you have two options. If you have BoT or a TP scroll, then use one. If not, then wait until they find your Doppelwalk image and attack it, then run the hell outa there (not towards the Doppelwalk image obviously). If they are really persistent you can do this again (Doppelwalk in the forest, sending the illusion around the creeps away from you so the enemy sees you and will hopefully chase that illusion).

The Basic Push

The most basic way to push is to attack the creeps, and use the images generated to attack the tower. To do this, when you reach a tower, your images from the last creep wave should have already disappeared. Thus, activate Manta Style, and attack the creeps. You should generate 4-5 images. Then, select all your images, and attack the tower. Based on the sheer number of images attacking the tower, you will likely get the gold.

Intermediate Strategies

Animation Canceling with Spirit Lance

Normally when using Spirit Lance, you jump in the air and the lance flies out mid way. This takes about one second for the animation to finish. By canceling your animation, you cut that second short, allowing yourself to chase the target sooner. To do this, first use Spirit Lance. When you are in the middle of your casting animation, right click towards the target to chase, or right click behind you do a hit and run. The essence of this is to waste no time of the slow, or to shorten that one second of vulnerability towards nukes. If you don't do this, you're an immobile target for nukers and slowers.

This is a slide of pictures that show a partial section of the full animation.

IPB Image

With animation canceling, you can get out of the animation in about between slides 1 and 2.
It is VERY important to animation cancel if you want to be able to catch up.

Countering a Gem

Lost your edge? Running away from the entire enemy team? No problems. Manta Style. Send one image in one direction, one in another, and the real one in another. This is made easy by selecting all of your people and right-clicking into the fountain. Then, send one one direction, press Tab, send the other into another direction, etc. Usually you shouldn't send the "real" you to a path towards the fountain, as that would be obvious (or would it?). Another way is when you are just finished killing a hero, and don't have much HP, but have 6 or 7 images, you send 2 images (one set includes the "real" you) in different directions. This strategy REALLY helps when your enemy has a gem. Gems only see invisible units, and can not indicate which of the illusions are actually you. By instinct, you may want to Doppelwalk immediately, but when the enemy has a gem he knows 100% that you are the one he should attack. So, by using the above strategy, he will be confused as which one to follow, greatly increasing the chances of escape.

Push and Pull

This is a very important strategy for pushing. When you are attacking the tower with those 8 images, and you see 2 or three heroes coming after you. A lot of the times, I see PL send themselves (the real one) straight into the enemy. Their justification for this is they are "running." That is definitely not what you are to do. Send an image running in a direction where the enemy, or the least number of enemies are not. They will chase that one, thinking it is you. Meanwhile, you and the rest of your images are pounding that tower to rubble. Once the tower is destroyed, your image you sent as bait should be dead. Then you should use the strategy above, or just Doppelwalk out if the enemy doesn't have truesight.

Spell Dodging with Manta

Spell dodging Manta is a useful utility. For example, Lich targets his ultimate at you. When his slow moving animation is about to reach you, activate Manta. The spell animation takes about 1-1.5 seconds, and in that time you are INVULNERABLE! This is great because not only did you waste his ultimate, but you saved damage that would have been dealt to allies around you!

Countering AoE Nukes

Avoiding AoE spells is important for PL. AoE spells make it so the enemy is immediately able to spot which one is the "real" you. Thus, when you see a hero, awaiting your masses of images to come, show him who's the boss. Send in 2-4 images. When they reach the hero, send them directly at him. He will probably use his AoE spell right there. Then, follow up with the rest of your images, and yourself, and use Spirit Lance, Purge or whatever to get the kill.

Expert's Strategies

I can't do some of these, so don't be discouraged. Keep practicing! These strategies are not difficult themselves, but challenging in a way that you need to mix in a lot of the intermediate or even beginner strategies for these to be executed successfuly.


Laning against the dreaded Enchantress is not as bad as you might think. Impetus moves very slowly. You have around 1 to 1.5 seconds to Dopeldodge. Other possible to spells you can dodge are: Stormbolt, Magic Missile, Chaos Bolt, Shadow Strike, Viper Strike, Assassinate, etc.

Experts have memorized the animations in which characters go through when they are casting a spell. For example, when Zeus waves his hand strangely, then he is casting Arc Lightning. When Sniper is standing still, and you see an Assassinate icon in your buff tray, he is casting Assassinate. When Lion moves his staff upwards, then he is about to cast Impale, which will probably be followed by a Finger of Death. When Pugna stands still, doing nothing, then he is casting Nether Blast. So what does remembering animations do to help you? Well, in the middle of their animation, you can recognize that they're going to cast a spell, and Doppelwalk. This will dodge targeted spells, but AoE spells might hit you. A part of this strategy that I am still perfecting is dodging AoE spells. You have to recognize the animation quite early, and right when you Doppelwalk, you have to move your invisible self out of the AoE. This is hard especially when you have so little time to do this, but it is possible.

Hero Blocking

Hero blocking is incredibly useful in chasing. For example, you attack a target with 4 images. Spirit Lance. Select yourself and an image and right click the target hero. Then, select the remaining illusions and right click in front of the target's path. This should be easy with BoT and with the target Spirit Lanced. When a target it Purged, you should take the opportunity to position a few images ahead of him. If you generate more images, separate them evenly, sending some to attack the target, and some to block him. Hero blocking also allows your teammates to catch up. Hopefully they have a disable that you lack.

He's Everywhere!

When you have BoT, go and push a lane. If you can, kill a tower. The enemies should be coming to you. When you have 5-8 images, use your Boots of Travel to teleport to another lane. Push that lane. Your images in the previous lane will continue to generate images and you can use them to keep pushing that lane. Meanwhile, you are in your new lane. This can become problematic if you are swarmed by the enemy, so you should implement the other strategies of escaping. This works well when you teleport to the farthest lane. For example, you are pushing top and teleport bottom, or you are pushing bottom, and you teleport top.

The Defending Push

Keeping in mind that you are not a good defender because you need to somehow set off a chain reaction of images to be effective. On a 5v5 match. The enemy team decides to do a 5 man push. Tell your team to have 4 people defend. Buy a TP scroll, and use your BoT teleport to go to the lane that is closest to their base. Push that lane, hard. Sometimes they will not realize that you are pushing. Sometimes, it takes one of your teammates saying "look at your top lane, idiots" to realize that you are already attacking their barracks. Not only will you send them running/TPing back to defend their base, but you fended them off in pushing your base, while doing damage to theirs. Use running techniques to get away into the forest/concealed spot, and use your TP scroll.

Scouring the Map

In a team push, it is your job to use your images to check the gank/ambushing spots. You should send 1 image to each of these spots. This will help your team prepare, and give them an advantage in the battle. This is hard, because you must be good at micro-managing to be able to do this fast enough, before you images expire. Don't forget to send an image to run behind you, to check for incoming enemies from the behind.

Also, never forget to check the rune locations.

Here's an example of me sending my illusions everywhere, and I find myself face-to-face with Slardar that has Double Damage.

IPB Image

I completely waste Slardar's Double Damage, and he runs off before my whole team shows up.


If you are doing well, then the enemies should be very afraid of you. Especially if there is only one hero there. Send one image towards that enemy, and keep chasing. If he does not move, try to use your hero killing strategies to kill him. If he does move, than that's less of a worry for you. If there are 2-3 heros, send in 3-4 images, and attack. However, you should send the four images to focus-fire on one hero (try to go for the intelligence one). If they don't move, send in the rest of your battalion and go for the kill. By then, the other 1 or 2 should be running scared.

6e. Summaries of Several Main Points Made in the Guide

Early Game: FARM!
Middle Game: FARM! HEROKILL! Help in team battles.
Late Game: PUSH! PUSH! PUSH!

Learn which orbs/item effects work on PL, and which don't!
Use ALL of your Purge charges before forming Manta.
Learn all the strategies above. Each one has its own use. I bet there's a lot more. Let's see if you can discover some new ones.

Push even while your team may be Roshaning.
Counter pushes are good.
Push a SEPERATE lane that your teammates are pushing (late game).
IAS items are NOT for you.
Direct damge items are NOT for you.

7. Conclusion

Here's where I go "I had fun writing this, blah, blah, blah." Yeah, dalejn is a busy man. So I (IAteGodzilla) will be taking over this guide. I'll be attaching a replay ... eventually.

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