K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid. Great advice, hurts my feelings every time. Dragon Knight and his kit are easy to wrap your head around, and can be used to great affect. The guide will walk through keeping things simple with a DK build, getting your job done in the offlane, taking objectives and helping your team take the win.
Dragon Knight is a no-ego off-laner. He isn’t particularly flashy, he isn’t going to be the one making crazy-risky plays that hold the balance of the world. But what he excels at is staying in his lane, staying alive, earning more EXP and gold through uptime, doing the basics right and helping the team to build into a win.
Quelling Blade. 600-130=470 Gold
Simply put, your damage early sucks. You’re going to need quelling if you want to get last-hit gold. And you want to get last hit gold. Equally important is denying the opposite carry, their safe-laner. By denying, you give your team a huge edge. If your safelane is getting more gold than theirs, well, that’s a good start to taking the win.
Gauntlets of Strength. 470-145=325 Gold
Gauntlets provide an early boost to your strength, giving you a bit more damage, and a bit more survivability. Consider sapping other starting items in order to buy two, if you’re going to build two bracers later.
Tango. 325-90=235 Gold
Sometimes taking damage early is unavoidable. Whilst you’re going to have pretty great HP regen early, grabbing a tango lets you engage more with the opposition at the start of the game. You can contest bounty runes, scout their safelane, and regen up with a tango. Again, two can be considered here if you want to move gold around.
2x Iron Branch. 235-100=135 Gold.
Gives you all round stats, which is nice early. Builds into wand which is fantastic for DK early. Can be used to consume with a tango for extra regen, though if you’re anticipating the need for this I would suggest considering three branches. Keep two for your wand, using one to eat in an emergency.
Faerie Fire 135-70=65 Gold.
Again, early, you damage simply sucks. The easier you can make getting those last hits / denials in, the better. Once the item has outlived its usefulness and you need the space, it can be eaten for HP, or just eaten in a life-saving situation.
65 Gold Surplus.
Early Game. (In Order)
“+ 5 Strength + 2 Agility + 2 Intelligence + 3 Damage + 0.75 HP Regeneration”
Bracer doesn’t require much explanation. You build your gauntlets into bracer. You get overall stats, some damage and good HP regen for the early game. You’ve increased livability and you’re staying in lane longer. Longer lane, more exp and gold. Simple.
“+ 175 Health + 1.8 Mana Regeneration + 10 Damage”
Early game our damage is really low, and we desperately need more mana regen. Enter, falcon blade.
We get a nice little boost of damage, and a JUICY 1.8 mana regen. This helps us get our fire off, reducing incoming damage, and the odd stun that comes in handy sometimes early. The extra health is a nice bonus, helping us survive the offlane.
You can get a stone for mana regen instead, but the extra damage and health make the offlane easier for you. A little more expensive than a stone, but a bit more utility. Can be swapped at your discretion. If you have decided to go double bracer, then skip the falcon and grab a stone/clarities.
Boots into Power Treads
“+ 45 Movement Speed + 10 Selected Attribute + 25 Attack Speed
Active: Switch Attribute
Switches between +10 Strength, +10 Agility, or +10 Intelligence.”
Power treads are fantastic. They’re in a great place in the meta right now, and they are so useful and versatile. Attack speed, mana regen, HP regen. Survive a gank, explore the jungle, get off more attacks, deal more damage. Fantastic.
If we skip Falcon, we might run into mana issues early without buying soul ring, or a stone for mana regen, swapping to INT treads for the pool and regen helps. Can help bridge the cap with clarities until we get more INT with out later purchases. Neutrals with help with this a lot too, if you can get your hands on mana regen.
The other option to consider is phase boots. They provide armor, which we’re lacking thus far, and provide more move speed bursts. But I cannot go past treads for their versatility and survivability. We’re playing in the offlane, we want to survive, not chase over and over. Lets go with treads.
Build Items. (In Order)
Vanguard and/or Hood of Defiance.
“Vanguard: + 250 Health + 7.0 HP Regeneration
Passive: Damage Block
Grants a 50% chance to block 70 damage from incoming attacks on melee heroes, and 35 damage on ranged.”
“Hood of Defiance: + 8.5 HP Regeneration + 20% Magic Resistance
Creates a spell shield that absorbs up to 325 magical damage. Lasts 12 seconds.”
I have a heavy preference for vanguard, but if you’re playing into a safe laner and both they and their support are casters, with the enemy team featuring more, then change to Hood of Defiance.
If you want to cover all bases, you can get both, but this pushes back your build items further into the game, and can cause gold issues. However I would suggest adapting to whatever the enemy team is doing, and what they have drafted.
Both provide huge HP regen, combined with your passive means that you will be ridiculously hard to kill. The block, or the magic resist, mean their safelaner is going to have a difficult time displacing you. Which means you can stay ontop of them, get your lane gold, and harass them plenty – giving your team an advantage. Simple.
Black King Bar.
“+ 10 Strength + 24 Damage
Grants Spell Immunity. Duration decreases with each use.”
The laning stage is over. Each team has begun taking objectives, team fights are kicking off and you want to start making an impact during these engagements. Starting with Black King Bar is a great choice. You’re getting a strength boost, you’ll be around more, and a big damage spike. Until now, you haven’t had much damage, but things are beginning to change once with BKB.
The active is invaluable, especially against a heavy caster team. You can straight ignore their spells, get nice and close and start smacking on squishies. Time this with your dragon form, and you’ll be making the enemy team think twice before trying you.
“+ 10 All Attributes + 175 Health + 175 Mana
Increases the level of your ultimate. Adds a 4th level, Black Dragon. Black Dragon has bonus Corrosive Damage, Splash Damage, and Slow amount, free pathing and grants additional Magic resistance.”
Oh yeah, it’s all coming together. Red eyes-black dragon baby.
Dragon Knight has one of the best scepters in the game, hands down. Everything that makes your dragon form potent, gets turned up to 11.
Push into teamfights with this on CD, and you can area of affect with some insane results. Between the slow, and free-pathing, no one is going to escape your black dragon wrath. Aim to spread the damage around as much as possible, and feel free to chase with your bulk and slow.
The stats are always handy, but the +10 INT and +175 mana are really going to help you tranistion away from that falcon blade. This provides that mana you need, and can be used to swap for the falcon blade if you’re running out of room in the bag.
Abyssal Blade and/or Pipe of Insight.
“Abyssal Blade:+ 25 Damage + 250 Health + 10.0 HP Regeneration + 10 Strength
Blinks to and stuns a target enemy unit for 2.0 seconds. Pierces Spell Immunity.Range: 550
Grants melee heroes a 25% chance on hit to stun the target for 1.5 seconds and deal 100 bonus physical damage. Bash chance for ranged heroes is 10%.
Passive: Damage Block:
Grants a 50% chance to block 70 damage from incoming attacks on melee heroes, and 35 damage on ranged.
“Pipe of Insight: + 8.5 HP Regeneration+ 30% Magic Resistance
Gives a shield that blocks 400 magic damage to all nearby allies. Lasts 12 seconds. Radius: 1200
Passive: Insight Aura:
Gives allied units 2.0 health regeneration and 10% magic resistance. Radius: 1200″
Depending on whether you got Vanguard or Hood earlier, this will transition into either Abyssal or Pipe. If you got both, well, then you’re going to be in some debt gold wise. But having both abyssal and pipe is going to make you a monster both damage and staying-power wise.
I tend to gravitate towards more of the vanguard into abyssal, and letting a support pick up with pipe. Even if I just leave my cloak un-upgraded for the time that I don’t need the slot. But if you picked one or the other, based on what the enemy team has drafted, and what you’re facing then you just naturally upgrade here to the next version.
We’ll start with abyssal, since I love this item. You get another easy to land stun, one that pierces spell immunity. You get a mini blink dagger. You get bash stuns. You have the block from your vanguard. You have stats that accentuate Dragon Knights influence. It’s perfect. Grab the blade. Simple.
If you want to go for a pipe, either first or alone, well you’re going to be very valuable in team fights. The aura and the active are going to help mitigate the damage from the enemy casters, but can be situationally less useful if your team has natural spell resist or have their BKB’s. For the use of BKB, I tend to not upgrade or grab cloak, and stick to vanguard into abyssal.
End Game Items / Luxury Gold Items. (No Order)
“+ 55 Damage
Your attacks reduce the target’s armor by -6 for 7.0 seconds. Armor reduction works on buildings.”
I’ve mentioned a few times now that Dragon Knight, whilst having plenty of durability and utility, lacks a lot of damage. This is where Desolator comes in. A WHOPPING +55 damage, and the passive reduces enemy armour by six! And works on buildings!
With Deso, you’re going to be taking down heroes fast, and taking down towers even faster. This item helps with securing kills, and accentuates your already fantastic ability to take towers. Grab deso, pop dragon form to keep distance and the enemy tower is no more.
“+ 60 Damage
When active, scorches enemies for 60 magical damage per second, and causes them to miss 17% of their attacks. Illusions deal 35 magical damage per second. Radius: 700″
Radiance can be considered an alternative to Desolator, in instances where you want more farm early, or they enemy team has illusion heroes. Even outside those circumstances, it can be fantastic, actually.
You’re going to be around a long time in team fights, and most often the last man standing on both sides. As such, radiance is going to get a lot of value. You’re around a long time, for those burn ticks to start adding up. You can burn away illusions with the area of affect, without having to rely on the splash from dragon form (if its on cooldown). And, even with all this, there’s the 17% miss change on top! Giving you further survivability. You will, WILL, be the last man standing.
“+ 20% Evasion + 20 Strength + 16% Status Resistance + 24% Self HP Regen and Lifesteal Amp.
Prevents a target from attacking for 3.0 seconds on melee targets, and 5.0 seconds on ranged targets.”
HH builds from Sange, and Sange is a great item that provides everything that DK wants. More strength, lifesteal, status resist. It’s all very good. We even get some evasion in there too, helping with those pesky right-clickers.
However the stats aren’t what makes HH a genuine option above the other two end game / luxury items. It’s the active that we’re here for. These completely ruins auto attack AGI heroes, and heroes that rely on lifesteal or quickly attacking as their strategy. If they can’t attack you, they can’t get health or deal damage, means they’re useless for 3-5 seconds. In that time, you and your team have killed them – removing a carry and perhaps their most important member in team fights.
Buy this as a counter-specific item.
Skills and Talents.
“Unleashes a breath of fire in front of Dragon Knight that burns enemies and reduces the damage their attacks deal.”
Skill at: 3, 8, 9, 11
We leave this until three, because of the nature of our lane. We want the disable early, to threaten a stun + gank from our mid-lane. And we want our passive early, because it’s incredible and will help us survive in the off-lane.
However we do grab on point early, because the damage reduction and the wave-clear are very helpful in the early stages of the game. However, this can be very mana-intensive, so be weary of that. For that reason, I prefer to prioritise the passive. Simple.
Once you have some items for the mana regen, we start to skill again, and get the opportunity to reduce damage at will. Wave clearing gets better, also, which is nice.
“Dragon Knight smites an enemy unit in melee range with his shield, stunning it while dealing minor damage. When in Elder Dragon Form, the cast range increases to 400.”
Skill at: 2, 13, 14, 15
Grab this early. Let the other laner know you have it early. Stun them. Once you do that, they’ll always be looking for your mid-laner to come capitalize on that stun with a gank. They wont want to get close to you, so that you can pull it off. If your support is keeping your wards up, and their wards down, it will keep them guessing whenever the mid is missing. This provides you some breathing room.
It doesn’t scale fantastic, so we wait to finish the skill until later in the game. But grabbing one point early means that we can catch with it, using dragon form for the ranged stun, and keep the safe-laner worried.
“The life blood of the Dragon improves health regeneration and strengthens armor.”
Skill at: 1, 4, 5, 7
This, this is the skill. Regardless of your utility early, in helping securing the bounty rune, I take this at 1 instead of the stun. You can choose otherwise, but once the laning starts, I don’t want to have to wait to start being a pest with my damage resist and regen. If the enemy can’t hurt you whatsoever, that can be a really demoralising start, which snowballs you into winning the lane.
I max this quickly, I want to be beefy, I want to be in my lane. I want to be a bully in my lane. I’m going to do this with Dragon Blood. It was made for off-laning.
“Provided to Elder Dragon Form. Ignites a 450 AoE area for 10 seconds, dealing 80 damage per second to enemies in it. Requires Aghanim’s Shard to be unlocked. Only available during Elder Dragon Form.”
Skill at: Enormous gold lead.
This skill is what you unlock if you purchase Aghanim’s Shard on DK. It’s pretty meh. Not a huge impact for the cost. You can certainly get through games without it. Can be situationally good with something like a Mars, or Disrupter to lock down areas and you can follow up with Fireball. Or even if you want to zone out, or escape, or something like that. I don’t know. DK’s shard isn’t very potent.
I’m not really sure it’s worth it. 1400 Gold, only available during your ult. Gold is better spent elsewhere I think, skip.
Elder Dragon Form.
“Dragon Knight takes the form of one of FOUR powerful elder dragons, increasing his speed, and Dragon Tail’s range, while granting him new powers.”
Skill at: 6,12,18, Scepter
This is where the bad-assery begins. Become a MFing dragon. You get ranged attacks. Corrosive damage. Ranged stun. Splash damage. Slow attacks. Infinite pathing. Level four elder dragon also looks very, very cool.
Can use it early to take down towers.
Use it in team fights, to ensure that you’re not kited this way and that. You don’t have to follow, if you’re ranged – use that to your advantage and save the CD if you know a teamfight is incoming.
Beginning a teamfight with your blink in abyssal, or a ranged stun, then blink in abyssal – means that you’re locking down your victim for a long time with both stuns combined. And if you grab the cooldown reduction talent, well you’re spending a lot of time in dragon form, and stunning the enemy a lot. Great utility!
Lock them down, and let the effects of elder dragon form take care of the rest. Simple.
Level 10: +2 Mana Regen.
This may seem like an odd choice, considering that I’ve recommended Falcon Blade, and how huge the damage reduction is on Breathe Fire. But, if you take the other talent, and attempt to spam the damage reduction, you flat out will not have the mana.
You may not think you will need the mana regen, and that INT treads and Falcon Blade will be enough. You’re still going to have to be careful with your mana, not terribly simple.
+2 Mana regen, combined with the falcon blade, and the INT from scepter is going to go a long way to ensuring that you simply don’t have to concern yourself with mana management. Simple.
Level 15: +400 Health.
Missing out on the damage talent? What!? When you say that DK lacks damage for much of the game, that’s crazy!?
Take the health. You’re going to want it in the offlane. Perhaps if you’re playing safelane and you can item towards health, you take the damage. But we’re playing offlane, we want to survive. We want to be there longer than anyone else. We want to soak in the exp and the gold.
The damage can come later, as I’ve suggested in the items. Worry about the sustain first, then once team fights are actually happening, we can item for damage later or simply built more utility. At 15, our primary concern doesn’t have to be how much damage our rightclicks are doing.
We want to be nigh-on unkillable. We want them enemy team to know they’re wasting their time trying to hurt us. We’re going to still be there, annoying them. Reducing their damage, attacking their towers, stunning them. If you can’t kill us, you can’t stop us taking objectives, and putting our team infront.
Level 20: +20 Strength.
You might be tempted at the cooldown reduction, as this means you can be spamming more spells, and have your dragon form uptime be much greater. And I can’t fault you for picking that option, I don’t think either talent is a bad choice here.
I find myself picking the strength more often, for the same reasons I took the +400 health. Whilst it does provide some much needed damage in the strength gain, I really love adding bulk to more bulk. You’ve taken +400 health, you’ve got vanguard by this point.
+20 strength? I’m only getting bulkier, and now I’m starting to ramp damage too. Good luck enemy team.
Having said that, cooldown reduction with Level 4 Black Dragon Scepter upgrade, is disgustingly good. Pick which way you want to play, and you wont regret either choice. I’ve just suggested strength as it’s the option I find myself choosing on the fly, most often.
Level 25: 1.8x Dragon Blood HP Regen/Armor.
The level 25 talent, for me, entirely depends on what I’ve taken at 20.
If you’ve taken the cooldown reduction, and you’re in dragon form more often, then making your ranged stun even more potent is a great decision. Grab the extended stun, spam it, keep them locked down. Lock them down close when you have to. Lock them down far when you can.
If you’re going the casting route, just make sure you have anti-silence or stun measures yourself. Utilise BKB well. Mana regen, cooldown reduction mean nothing if you’re silenced. Not Simple.
I’ve suggested strength at 20, so I’m going to continue the tankiness with the regen/armor passive talent. Simple.