Riki is an extremely frail, extremely mobile burst damage carry. He also has stealth, but think of that as less something you should excessively play around and more as just "something else you do".
When built to do so, Riki is one of the fastest farming heroes in Dota, on par with heroes like Antimage, Meepo, and Arc Warden. That said, he can only do this once he picks up an item. Unlike other heroes of that sort (like Alch or AM), Riki is quite strong in the early game due to his low cost spells, good base stats, and high mobility.
You're too squishy to stand on the front lines of fights for any extended period of time, so your role in teamfights is to access priority targets, burst them, and get out.
The closest heroes I would compare him to are Ember Spirit and Puck (though Riki lacks the lockdown those two offer).
Now, I'm only Legend 3, so don't expect me to win you TI, but I have a 63.8% win rate over 174 games as Riki, so I feel like I mostly know what I'm talking about with this hero specifically.
In general, Riki is countered by nuke damage, tanks, lockdown, push strats, evasion, and pre-16 minute deathball.
Spells that can be set up to automatically trap Riki once his E ends are particularly brutal (this is a large part of why Underlord is such a bad matchup). Fortunately, these can be beaten if we get enough farm. Buy a blink dagger and blink in the same direction you were facing when you entered Tricks, and you can escape most of these disables (the only exception I've found is Chronosphere, and I'm not entirely sure why).
Detection is very annoying, but not inherently unbeatable (Zeus, Bounty, and Slardar are terrible matchups, but their detection is only one reason why).
Riki counters frail heroes, heroes that channels spells, immobile heroes, mobile heroes, heroes with telegraphed spells (including detonating debuffs), and summon/illusion based heroes.
When picking Riki, keep in mind your limits as a hero.
- You can't hit towers safely, so you must pick another hero that can do so.
- Even though you can fight, want to mostly farm until you get your second item at the 22-24 minute mark, so you need allies that create space for you to do so and don't want an excessively greedy midlaner like Alchemist.
- While you often end up dealing the most damage in the game, you cannot usually manfight another carry in the late game, and certain tanks are an issue for you. Because of this, you can't be the only damage dealer on your team (there's a time and a place for Earth Spirit mid, but this really isn't it).
- Smoke+Basher is great and all, but you really do need a proper stunning hero.
Smoke Screen is a silence that ignores Linkens, immediately reapplies after a dispel, and gives some miss chance. It's nowhere near as good as it used to be, but it's still a good ability that stops a lot of heroes. You can use it during Tricks of the Trade, and it's useful for taking large stacks before you're strong. This spell defines a lot of your matchups against escape reliant heroes (Ember, Storm, and Void spirits), dispel reliant heroes (Ursa, Slark, Tidehunter), and every support that's too poor to afford a BKB but still can't survive a silence. Additionally, the cast range is longer than you'd expect and using it doesn't break your stealth, so throwing it at people randomly and then running away can induce enemies into using their Dusts when you aren't even in range. Take it early if you feel like it's necessary (say you're laning against Puck and Void Spirit), but you don't normally need it until a bit later in the game, and since it doesn't help you farm quickly I normally skip this spell until level 11.
Blink Strike blinks you to a target unit, does minor damage, and then instantly queues up an attack if it was an enemy (two charges). The nuke is dealt immediately, separate from the attack, so if you cancel the windup after arriving you deal a little bit of damage without revealing yourself, which can be useful for securing last hits. The "not revealing" part of that used to be more important when you had stealth pre-6, but those days are behind us. As a side effect of Blink Strike, Riki is a great hero against spell block and spell reflect. If a hero buys Linkens, Riki can break it with one charge and still close the gap. If a hero has Lotus Orb on them, Riki can use Blink Strike to kind of "tug" them back about a hundred units at the cost of some health (minor, but still useful). If they have both, we get to see my favorite interaction in Dota.
- Riki casts Blink Strike.
- Linken's Sphere blocks Riki's cast of Blink Strike.
- Lotus orb sees this Blink Strike and replicates it.
- The targeted enemy instantly teleports behind Riki against their will.
- The enemy Lina gets reported for griefing.
This pierces spell immunity and linken's sphere. It works against Linkens+Lotus, QoP 25+Lotus, and Mirror Shield, but not Anti-Mage E (the spell is simply nullified in that case, not even triggering his Aghs shard illusion). With the talent (which is mandatory), the cast range of this targeted Pudge hook is 1375.
The spell starts off mediocre but gets much stronger when maxed out. I take it at level 1 since it's better than Tricks 99% of the time and max it ASAP.
Tricks of the Trade blinks you to a target location and phase shifts you before randomly attacking a random enemy within range from behind up to four times over two seconds. If you buy a Scepter, the cast range goes up considerably and you hit two targets. Your ult is your most iconic spell, but this is your most important. Every 12 seconds (8 in the late game) you can jump into the fray and get eight backstabs from total safety if you catch at least two targets, regardless of who you're actually hitting. The attacks are from behind and trigger all on-hit effects, but ignore attack speed, so this shapes the build (and makes Enchantress cry). Keep in mind that the attacks being from behind means that a Battle Fury Cleave will eminate in front of them, so a BF+Aghs combo does the most damage if the two targets are facing each other.
Battlefury isn't just a farming item, it's an incredible tool for making this spell into a strong teamfight tool. That said, it's incredible for farming. Post BF, you clear creep waves in one use of Tricks, and if that lane doesn't have a sentry you don't even show on the map (save for the conspicuous disappearance of a creep wave). You can easily clear stacks, and the combination of all this raw damage with the mobility from Tricks+Blink Strike means you can clear your entire main jungle every minute if you have the vision to blink strike where you need to (which can be accomplished with tree cutting and defensive wards).
Keep in mind you are completely invulnerable in Tricks. Global Silence will miss you (though an allied Hand of God won't), dusts won't connect, and any delayed action spells nothing to you as long as you're Tricked out when they expire, so things like Glimpse, Cold Feet, and Last Word are basically worthless. Additionally, you can use items while inside Tricks of the Trade and you will exit Tricks as the action resolves; you exit Tricks spell immune if you BKB, and if you use Blink Dagger you exit tricks a thousand units away, ignoring the Pit of Malice at your feet.
Oh, right. The aghs also lets you target allies to ride along with them. This used to be important, but nowadays it's mostly used to turn allied mobility/TP scrolls into a taxi service, like a knockoff Lifestealer.
Sleep Dart can be obtained with an Aghs Shard, and it applies Naga's sleep to the target for three seconds before applying a minor damage and slow. This spell stops your teammates from being able to damage the target, but it also stops enemies from being able to help them; Pudge hooks sail through them, they can't be targeted for any spells, and things like Omniknight uit will just miss them. There are some exceptions (Dazzle E can hit them as a secondary target, Mek can hit them, Vacuum can hit, an Aghs Naga Net can hit, likely some others) but the interaction is mostly consistent. Even against a Lotus Orb, the fact Riki is invisible means he automatically disjoints it if he isn't on top of a Sentry. While it's not instant, its speed, range, and likelihood of being used out of stealth make it an incredible tool for picks (even against heroes like Puck or Ember who can dodge it), since it always catches them off guard. The other important thing to keep in mind is that this spell cannot be dispelled, so it's perfect for making Slark cry. The only downside is that the debuff says "Stunned", so your dumbass teammates will always waste their spells on somebody that is completely invulnerable rather than wait until they're targetable again. This spell makes it so the buddy system doesn't work against Riki (dart one guy, burst his buddy, burst the first guy), and upgrades him from "elusive" to "borderline unchasable".
Cloak and Dagger is a passive that gives you stealth if you haven't auto attacked recently and gives bonus damage based on your agility when attacking from behind. Illusions benefit from the stealth, but not the backstab damage (audio aside). Attacks are determined as backstabs or not at the beginning of the attack, which is why Blink Strike will always result in a backstab even if they turn around in the time it takes you to hit. You can freely use spells and items without breaking stealth as long as you avoid attacking. Tricks of the Trade attacks appear to put the stealth on CD, but in reality they don't. Speaking of CD's, this isn't technically one of those. Being visible doesn't interact with Time Dialation, Quicksilver Amulet, or any source of cooldown reduction.
It's best to avoid playing around your invisibility most of the time, since doing risky shit and dying to a random sentry in the river is really bad as a carry. It's mostly useful to keep your position ambiguous while you wait on CD's.
The two downsides to this spell are:
- If you get dusted you can't turn it off, so you have to find attack targets or you're slowed.
- Stacking/pulling camps after 6 is incredibly annoying (not impossible, just a pain in the ass).
It's also really good in Ability Draft, since it's balanced around Riki's dogshit agility gain.
- Your base movement speed is high
- Your base health regeneration is high
- Your base attack damage is high
- Your HP pool is low
- Your mana pool and regen are low (but we don't care since our early game spells only cost 50 mana and buy stick)
- Your base attack speed is low
- All of your attribute gains are low
This means that we are a resilient little shit in the early game and we can easily trade/chase/retreat with auto attacks, but we are vulnerable to burst damage, farm the jungle very slowly if we don't get our items, and will never be able to manfight another carry with comparable farm.
In most games, I start with
- 2x Branch
Against spell spam I'll swap some stats for a stick, and against high kill threat I'll swap slippers for either a circlet or 2x faerie fires (backpacking my salve).
Every Game, you want to get the following items early on.
- Provides all the mana regen you need and pads out the amount of raw amount of health you have in a pinch, lessening your vulnerability to burst. Maybe skip this for now if you are against a solo offlane Wraith King.
- Ring of Health
- A level 4 Riki with just Ring has 11.5 HP regen. This is more than an Antimage of equivalent level with an active Tango, and it's forever. You're already resilient to poke, this makes you almost impossible to kill without extreme nuke damage (especially combined with tower aura, stick, and your starting regen).
- Brown Boots
- We have kill potential if our support does something or the other support slips up, and this accentuates that.
A lot of Riki's make the mistake of stopping with those items and rushing straight to battlefury (including me, formerly). While you can absolutely get away with this, it's rarely the right call.
If you have a particularly easy lane, you want one or two early game items to secure that lead and murderize them.
If you have a hard lane, you need early game items just to avoid getting killed in the duration of stuns, or to jungle at a meager (but reasonable) rate when you're forced out of lane pre-BF.
The only times a naked BF is straight up better than getting items is if neither lane has any kill potential, even with some items, even with the mid/4 coming in (maybe a game with Riki+Warlock against Pheonix+Omni), or as a response to a particularly strong timing that you think is going to come in right before a BF timing with items that would massively delay your BF, and you think you can get a close call by going straight for it (maybe an Alch hitting radiance at 12 minutes, and then deciding to deathball down your top tower with his Necro Beastmaster before he starts farming further). Even those are pretty fucking dubious, though.
These items can also be good choices early on.
- Wraith Band
- Kinda obvious. A level 4 Riki with just Wraith band has 8 armor and 70 base damage, making you incredibly good at trading hits. The attack speed and slight bulk are also nice. Don't get more than one, as you will run out of slots immediately.
- Much more situational, only purchased out of desperation/fear. Against Beastmaster and a nuking support, you'll need this plus STR treads just to have a chance of surviving Roar.
- Purchased almost every game when we want to free up inventory slots. Remains relevant until way later on.
- Orb of Venom
- Purchased if it would enable kill potential. A level 6 Riki with Wraith Band and two branches can deal ~550 damage in a full rotation (blink > stab > blink > stab > tricks/cancel > stab), assuming you only get normal hits in following your mobility spells (maybe they're a Tiny or ES who started boots). With an orb of venom and boots, we can increase this tremendously to enable a lot of early kill potential as long as they aren't the type of lane to hard punish that (ie maybe don't do this to Treant+Axe).
- Orb of Corrosion
- Purchased against heroes where not only does the slow make the difference, but they're low armor. For example, the other day I fought an offlane Winter Wyvern, a hero with dogshit movement speed and two starting armor. She had a bad time. Don't underestimate the +1 second slow duration, it's quite significant. Just keep in mind that this item is expensive as hell, and can easily delay your Battle Fury by 2-3 minutes even if you get kills with it.
- Power Treads
- You're gonna buy them anyway. I get the temptation to skip them for an earlier BF, I really do, but please don't. You need them to jungle if you're forced out early, they're good for fighting, they help a lot with last hitting under tower (fixes your shit attack speed), and they're gonna be the first thing you buy after BF anyways.
- Remember to Tread Switch for Blink Strike/smoke, but don't do it for Tricks since you can't switch to AGI again for the attacks. Also switch to STR if you get silenced to increase your chances of survival.
- Again, a desperation/fear purchase.
- Vanguard (pure speculation here)
- THEORETICALLY, this could be good against Offlane Broodmother (and in all likelihood, only against offlane Broodmother). Disassemble it to finish your Battlefury, then save the Vit booster as a token of your regret (maybe get an abyssal third item, or get an Octarine Core as a fifth item way down the line).
As with all heroes, don't be afraid to ferry in a Salve if needed (though with your Regen, will you need it?).
Your first major timing to look in almost every game is Battle Fury, which should come around 15 minutes on average (maybe 19 in a bad lane, or if you went super overboard on early game items).
Alternatively, if you have a mid Alch to create space for, you can go Meteor Hammer > Diffusal Blade. It's very similar to the normal style of Riki, only you have a farming tool in meme hammer, good regen, and the ability to push towers. Also, in the trenches where nobody wards, you can land the active on unsuspecting victims, since the audio doesn't play if you cast it from stealth. You're diverging from the normal build here, so lets bring it back to Battle Fury.
With this timing, shove in your lane if it's safe to do so and then move to the jungle. With BF+Band+Treads, you can literally clear every camp in the jungle every minute, as long as you spam spells and have vision of the camps.
You can fight with your current strength (with BF and your minor stat items, you do a lot of damage), but only join fights if you know you're not gonna die.
Bounce between the jungle, any free creep waves hitting your towers, and securing kills on the tail end of teamfights until your next item.
When you hit level 10, take the attack speed. You have enough regen, and this amps your early farm.
At 15, take the attack damage. We're a carry, and baseline smoke is enough.
Your next item is Aghs (though something like Daedelus second is an option). I know it got nerfed pretty hard, but I thought this was a pretty legit item back in 7.27, and in some ways even the nerfed version is still better than what we had back then (6 total stabs for 7.27 Aghs, 8 for live as long as you hit two people).
With this, which should come at around the 23 minute mark, I would consider you ready to start grouping with your team.
While you are great in fights right now, there are two things I want you to always keep in mind.
- Never take a fair fight against somebody that can fight back. You're squishy as hell, have relatively low attack speed, and don't hit particularly hard when hitting from the front. Your role in teamfights is to cleanly go in, burst people, and get back out. Don't run dick first into a Gust and die, be careful, be patient, and wait on your CD's.
- You are one of the fastest farmers in Dota, and you scale very well. You should absolutely group with your team, but NEVER stop farming. Because you can kill any jungle camp/creep wave in seconds with cleaved backstabs and have more than enough mobility to reach a large number of these gold piles, it's very common to go over 700 GPM, with my personal best being 949.
At level 20, take the range talent. The backstab damage is good, but this is just mandatory. A 1375 range blink means that no one is ever out of reach, including the oblivious fucking allied TA that could have saved your life if she had just walked 15 units closer in that last fight.
All items past this point are situational. Look at your games on an individual basis and take your pick.
- Backstab damage can cleave, granting insane amounts of AOE burst damage in fights.
- Skull Basher
- Some good bulk and damage, as well as finally giving you some actual lockdown.
- Abyssal BLade
- A natural extension of Skull Basher, and a necessary pickup against heroes like Puck.
- Blink Dagger
- Some might say this is overkill, but I say NAY!!!
- This used to just be the thing I bought to counter Underlord, but now that Blink Upgrades exist as strong lategame options, I love this.
- Use Blink Strike and Tricks to get onto the enemy high ground and do a ton of burst damage, then use Blink Dagger before the last hit of Tricks to leave the base before they even have a chance to do so (don't do it against Faceless Void).
- Your farm is already insane, but this makes it even better. Another blink.
- Swift Blink
- Gives a lot of damage and mobility, as well as making your manfighting (temporarily) not complete dogshit (still don't do it for more than a couple seconds though).
- Allows you to sell your boots in the extreme late game.
- Arcane Blink
- No damage, but lowers your downtime in fights by a ton.
- A reluctant buy, but sometimes necessary against heroes like Shadow Fiend.
- Heroes like Beastmaster, Doom, Bat, and Bane can necessitate this.
- Aeon Disc
- If you are a massive pussy and you're afraid of getting bursted before you can do anything about it, especially if Linkens does nothing.
- Makes each Tricks hit do another 121 damage, plus evasion in case you get pinned down. Not bad.
- Budget damage. Good against heroes with shit armor like Alch, especially if you have allied minus armor or an Orb of Corrosion from the early game.
- Dispels silences once. Your illusions are kinda shit, but we're not buying this because we want to.
- Hard counters every defensive support item, including Aeon.
- Also works against some spells you wouldn't expect, like Windrun and Rocket Barrage.
- Mage Slayer
- In 7.28c, this item is complete and utter Trash. Don't buy it. That said, I find it highly likely that Icefrog will buff it in 7.29, and since Riki attacks multiple heroes I can totally see this being a viable selfless pickup next patch.
- The obvious answer to evasion. You don't attack very quickly, though, so not much damage will come out from the on-hit, and if you low-roll on procs against something like a Windranger in your Tricks of the Trade you'll really feel it.
- Eye of Skadi
- Some solid bulk
- Mana (good against OD)
- Slows to keep people in Tricks and stop the enemy carry from killing your non-invulnerable weaknling allies as quickly
- Regen reduction
- Octarine Core
- Raw HP
- Reduces downtime in fights, which is your biggest weakness
- Also gives cast range, which is very nice
- Divine Rapier
- Because I'm a real man, this is my go-to against Evasion. You're borderline impossible to kill if you don't fuck up (in most matchups), you desperately need to counter Evasion, and this could let you deal with certain high armor heroes to boot, so why the hell not?
- Unironically a common purchase. Please don't die.
- Another Battle Fury
- Against Meepo, this is hilarious.
At level 25, take the Tricks CD. It's no contest.
"The Techies Special" stage of the game
So you've gone past 60 minutes. What now?
- Check enemy inventories for Mirror Shield. If a core has it, great! Make them regret it.
- Buy Moon Shard for the other cores, since they'll use it better than you.
- Aghs Blessing will free up a slot, so you can replace it with a lot of things. Maybe more damage, maybe that Octarine you looked at longingly, maybe that BKB your team has been bitching at you to get for the last 20 minutes.
- Your level 30 is actually quite big, since by this point we'll have enough AGI for the backstab talent to be significant.
- While not saving for Buyback is terrible, if you're confident you can use it to win, buying out on Riki isn't as bad as buying out on other heroes due to how hard it is to kill him. Just for the love of god don't buy out in ranked, get caught, and then blame me because you decided to farm enemy mud golems with no vision at 71 minutes.
- You have great pick potential, and that can easily win you the game at this stage, but getting baited will do the exact opposite. More than ever, be fucking careful.
- If the enemy has Mega Creeps, don't worry. It's not over. You can easily deal with them as long as you stay alive.
- How to deal with Alchemist, Wraith King, Riki and Juggernaut?
- How to deal with 4 popular Herald-Bracket Heroes, Wraith King, Riki, Juggernaut and Alchemist?
- Scrub Immortal Riki Guide
More about Dota 2Post: "A guide to safelane Riki" specifically for the game Dota 2. Other useful information about this game:
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