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Playing Spectre in 'Dota 2'

Spectre is ready to carry!
Spectre is ready to carry!Andrew DiCenso

One of the more interesting and rarer choices in 'Dota 2' is Spectre, a durable agility hero that functions as a hard carry for the team and an excellent ganker and counter-ganker. Spectre’s abilities allow her to become incredibly mobile, making it easy for her to instantly pinpoint and eliminate lone heroes while tanking and even reflecting back damage at her foes. She isn’t a newbie friendly choice but with practice she can become one of the most fun and helpful carries.

Spectre’s abilities are Spectral Dagger, Desolate, Dispersion, and Haunt. Casting Dagger will cause a small amount of damage to the enemy while more drawing a shadow path from Spectre to the target. The trademark black line will follow the target for its duration and slow any hero who touches it. Spectre gains bonus movement speed while moving on the path and can even ignore terrain, meaning she can glide effortlessly over hills and through trees. This ability facilitates ganking, escaping, and in some circumstances you can even cast it into the distance to scout. If a hero turns invisible after Dagger has been placed on it, the path will still follow it, allowing you to keep tabs on them.

Desolate is an interesting passive that allows Spectre to deal bonus damage when attacking a lone opponent, making Spectre ideally suited to picking off junglers or stray heroes without support. Maxed out, this ability can grant a bonus of 65 on top of Spectre’s normal attack.

Dispersion is Spectre’s second passive, allowing her to reflect up to 22 percent of damage done to her back on nearby enemies. This effect lessens with distance, meaning that heroes who are farther away will have less damage reflected back on them. The ability makes Spectre incredibly robust and punishes heroes who try to close in on her.

Haunt is Spectre’s ultimate ability and allows her to create a spectral nemesis for each enemy hero on the map, regardless of their location. These copies of Spectre cannot be controlled and take increased damage. Once a player has put a point in this ability they will also gain the associated “Reality” skill, allowing Spectre to inhabit any of her ghostly creations on the map. This ability is incredibly versatile. Spectre can use her ultimate and then quickly inhabit one of her ghosts to essentially teleport next to an enemy all the way across the map, allowing her an unsurpassed ability to close with her targets. Quickly following up with Dagger will then make it hard for your target to escape and Dispersion will make killing you difficult should the enemy stand and fight.

In terms of building the character I prefer to put my first point into Dispersion, as Spectre’s early mana pool is so low that spamming Dagger a mere two times will eliminate your mana entirely. Farm is very important to Spectre so try to nab the middle lane where you won’t have to share gold and experience with a buddy; they’ll thank you for it later when you’re saving their hides.

Pick up a Quelling Blade, some Tango, and Ring of Protection to start off. Put your second point into Dagger and your third into Desolate. Your fourth and fifth points will go into Dagger and then your sixth will activate your Haunt ability. I like to work on getting Phase Boots, Stout Shield and Ring of Aquila during this period. Magic Wand can be subbed for Aquila if for some reason you are forced to be on a lane with a caster. If you feel like you need a little more mana, you can pick up Power Treads and switch it intelligence. If the enemy is pushing towers or ganging up early this is the preferred option as it will let you cast your abilities more frequently.

If your team hasn’t warded the map or got a courier you should politely ask the most suitable allied hero to do this. If you’re not rude about it, odds are people will be willing to help out. Newer players often don’t know that certain characters are expected to do this. Phrase your desire for wards in the form of a polite question such as: “Is it possible for you to get wards since your hero is a support?”

Once you hit level six and have your ultimate you can start thinking about ganking, or being in a position to save your friends. Spectre is unique in that playing her requires you to become practiced in observing the other lanes and what your friends are doing. If it becomes obvious that one of your allied heroes is going to get jumped, quickly cast your ultimate and then use Reality on the ghost nearest to the poor sucker trying to kill your ally. It’s a great move that can turn a sure victory for the enemy team into a resounding success for yours. As you appear, cast your Dagger on the enemy. Not only does this help you but the slow debuff it applies will let your buddy escape if he needs to. If an enemy is retreating from a team-fight with low health you can also just cast the ultimate and let your haunts do the work by themselves. This is best done when your target has low health but is surrounded by allies that could cause you some real harm. Haunt has a high recharge period so always use it with a plan.

The Haunt/Reality/Dagger combo is also excellent for ambushing, and is wonderfully beautiful for eliminating nasty characters who like to farm in the jungle areas early in the match. Since you’re one of the hardest carries in the game, don’t worry about being greedy and take the kill for yourself whenever possible.

Let’s say Spectre is ambushed and it’s clear that she’s not going to win the fight. Cast your ultimate then use Reality to teleport to an enemy hero across the map. While this is a risky maneuver many times the enemy hero is so absorbed with their lane that you can teleport and quickly run away. Dagger is also helpful if you have it available. If you’re not going to win, cast dagger behind you and use the speed increase it gives you to bug out before they can bring you down. Spectre, unlike character such as Sniper, is a carry that actively aid other players and benefit from doing so. In my experience Spectre’s ability to teleport to the defense of an ally in the blink of an eye quickly gains the team’s good favor. Expect many commends for your helpfulness alone.

As you transition to your core items you’ll want to start by building Vanguard, which will allow you tank and protect you from those pesky ranged heroes who will try to push you off your lane. After that, build yourself a Diffusal Blade. Diffusal Blade’s active allows you to slow an enemy while removing all of its buffs. Casting on an enemy you’ve just used Reality to teleport to will make it near impossible for it to run. Additionally, the item’s passive will buff your damage and allow your attacks to whittle down your opponents mana. The item comes with a tidy agility and intelligence bonus that will also affect your haunts. Since the items functions on charges, you’ll need to buy another recipe for more uses of the active if you run out.

After you max out Dagger at level seven spend your next three points maxing out Desolate so you can maximize your use of Haunt. Add another point into Haunt at level eleven. After you get your Vanguard and Diffusal Blade completed I like to go for Heart of Tarrasque, a pricy item that grants you forty strength, three hundred extra health and the ability to heal out of combat like it’s going out of style. The item will make you incredibly durable and even taking a few seconds out of combat will recover massive amounts of your health, allowing you to soak up damage and come back for more.

Max out Dispersion at levels twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. Your fifteenth will go to your stats category and sixteenth into maxing Haunt out. Everything from then on will be buffing your stats as you build your items.

The final items that will round out your build will be Radiance. Radiance is expensive but it will give you an area-of-effect aura that will burn anyone for fifty damage a second. There’s nothing quite like chasing someone and doing damage to them without lifting a finger. A hefty sixty five extra damage can’t hurt either. Radiance also has the fun effect of making pesky invisible heroes useless. Being near you will cause them to take damage and be shown on the map. If you manage to cast Dagger on them you can use the burn effect of Radiance to simply follow them and kill them slowly. Just follow the little black line and ruin their day.

After this point, assuming you haven’t won, you can pick from a long list of attractive items to make Spectre even more deadly. Manta Style is a common choice that allows you to create two illusions of your character. Casting it after use the Haunt/Reality combo will only amplify your damage while making you harder to target. The item also comes with bonuses to strength, agility, intelligence, attack and movement speed. If things are going south, you can substitute this for Radiance.

If you feel like being a complete jerk you can build Daedalus and become the destroyer of worlds, but keep in mind that many games you're simply not going to be in a position to have an additional high-level item. If you're behind on a build you may have to adjust. If you want, you can pick up Daedalus instead of Radiance. If you have your ultimate ready feel free to take some time in the jungle, as you can easily help your allies across the map should the need arise.

Here’s a condensed summary:

Level 1 — Dispersion (Quelling Blade, Ring of Protection, Tango. Get Dagger first if you're worried.)

Level 2 — Spectral Dagger

Level 3 — Desolate

Level 4, 5 — Spectral Dagger

Level 6 — Haunt

Level 7 — Dagger

Level 8, 9, 10 —Desolate (Phase Boots, Stout Shield, Ring of Aquila/Magic Wand)

Level 11— Haunt

Level 12, 13, 14— Dispersion

Level 15— Stats

Level 16— Haunt (Vanguard, Diffusal Blade)

Level 17 through 25 — Stats (Heart of Tarrasque, Radiance/Manta Style/Daedalus)