We knew he’d been coming for a while. All the model additions and particle effects smuggled in with patches, and the sneaky additions in other hero’s splash arts, but perhaps we weren’t ready for him to sneak in with another two heroes at the same time. Either way, Nyx Assassin is now live on the Dota 2 servers, and he’s just as terrifying a ganker as we might have hoped. Perhaps more so.
I’ll preface this by saying that normally I would never endorse Dagon. It’s such an odd item, and even though it gives you a nice bit of burst damage and a scaling intelligence boost.... it’s still Dagon. I feel dirty even talking about it. But somehow, through the mire of ganking and stealth, the sort-of-insane burst damage and the mana burning, Nyx Assassin makes Dagon work. As long as you can stomach buying Dagon each match, (more than once, due to the nature of the item), you can do well with Nyx.
He’s a ganker, which might have been given away by the fact his ultimate is a speed-boosting stealth that gave him ambush damage, which means that he’s well suited to heading mid. What isn’t all that well suited is him being a melee right clicker, but we’ll come to that.
The reason he’s most suited to mid, though, is in his abilities. Most team compositions throw an intelligence-heavy nuker in the mid, which is pretty much exactly what Nyx Assassin is built to be a nightmare for. Impale, your Q, is a nice long range stun that knocks up, damages, and stuns anything in a line between you and your target (although it can be cast on the ground), and serves as a great way to both disrupt or generally open up the enemy team to weakness. Because of how nicely its damage increases with each level, it’s a good bet to max out first, I’ve found.
So it’s a good utility ability, but it’s your Mana Burn that’s really going to make you a nuker’s nightmare, and also add the first bit of proper skill to Nyx. Using the enemy hero’s intelligence as a modifier, it destroys a set amount of mana, while dealing that same amount in damage to the enemy hero. Go up against an intelligence heavy hero like Lina or Zeus, and things are suddenly not looking so hot for them.
Doubly so when you take into account Spiked Carapace, which not only negates the damage of whatever it is to next hit Nyx, but also reflects it back on the caster, as well as stunning them. Which is pretty horrible when you’ve got one big nuke ability, like Sniper, Lion, Lina or even Zeus, to an extent.
Thing is, both of these things require a hell of a lot of timing, reflexes and decisiveness on the part of the Nyx player. If you hit an agility or a strength hero with Mana Burn, you may as well not bother, as it’s going to do hardly any damage. Pop Spiked Carapace at the wrong moment and you’re reflecting a basic attack instead of a Finger of Pain, and you’re very dead.
So that’s where a lot of the skill is. The rest of it is when you pull back and look at the metagame, where you need to be, when to gank. Vendetta, your ultimate, makes you invisible, gives you a nice movement boost and does a load of extra damage on your next right click attack, so long as you do it from stealth. Once you hit level six, the idea is that you roam to the best lane to gank, grab a kill, then head back to mid to wait for it to cool down before rinse repeating.
Once you get the teamfighting stage, it’s all about picking your targets, and making sure you’re in the right position to properly make the most of Impale. Going for the squishy nukes or the exposed carry is usually a good idea, although sometimes just mopping up a dangerous hero that’s low on health is just as good an idea. You’re all about the burst, and sticking around once you’ve blasted off your salvo of ambush, Impale, Mana Burn and Dagon, you are going to want to just focus on surviving until your abilities are off cooldown.
For a newbie, not to Dota 2 but to Nyx Assassin, he can feel frustrating. You can make split second decisions that weren’t quite split enough, and pick the wrong target, or the wrong moment to pop your carapace. Once you’ve got a few games under your belt, and you understand the hero, in the broad strokes, things start to become a little more rewarding. Still, from a few games, Nyx Assassin feels very much like he’s at home in the more advanced end of the ganking spectrum. Not that ganking is an easy role to begin with, mind.