- A LOT of physical damage.
- They instantly jump to the enemy backlines, which is a quick way to nuke the enemy squishy damage dealers.
- Diverse units and secondary synergies to choose from.
After having published a chronological Dota Auto Chess strategy guide which talks about most openers and mid-late game transition strats, I thought I would be a good idea to talk a bit more in-depth about individual strategies.
I’ll start off with Assassins since they are some of the most unique and fun units to play - who doesn’t love huge crits!
You are building for the six Assassins bonus – 15% chance for 4.5x crit + 15% chance for 3.5x crit, which is a ~90% DPS increase on average. If you are lucky with your crits, your assassins will nuke down the units they are focusing before said units have any chance to use their abilities.
This leaves you with 4 free unit slots which you usually want to use to activate additional synergies and equally importantly – to get disables and tanks.
Bounty Hunter: the opening unit, great single-target DPS. Cheap and easy to upgrade, but not that powerful in the late game. Might want to keep him with two stars if you are running out of bench space. He makes the Goblin-Mech opening the easiest of them all.
Morphling: subjectively the worst assassin thanks to his very slow attacks. He makes it possible to go for the Element synergy which we’ll discuss below. Avoid him otherwise if you could, but if you’re getting him often still buy him. A two-three star Morph is still better than 1-star assassins.
Queen of Pain: QoP will be your main damage dealer in the mid game. Being your only Demon, she’ll deal high attack damage, which means she’ll charge her low CD AoE fast. Upgrade her whenever possible. It’s a good idea to keep her immediately behind the frontline tanks. This way she won’t jump to the backlines, which will allow her to hit more units with Scream of Pain reliably.
Viper: Assassins are squishy so you could have trouble against creep rounds. Viper is your best tool to deal with them – his ultimate is amazing versus creeps, so try to upgrade him if possible.
Phantom Assassin: Even more crits. Very high single-target physical damage. She is squishy, but you can help her out by possibly going for the (3) Elves bonus. Good unit to try to get to three stars.
Templar Assassin: she is an assassin and deals very high damage,
but she is also very survivable thanks to her Refraction. Usually, you want to use her on the frontlines.
Give her mana regen items (Crown, Void Stone) to ensure she uses Refraction as
quickly (and often) as possible. Getting her to three stars would be hard, but
she is a powerhouse even with two stars.
Slark (temporarily removed): Slark makes it easy to get the (2), or even (4) Naga synergy, which is crucial against compositions with a lot of magic damage. His stats and ability, however, are not amazing. You usually want to prioritize other Assassins until the late game when you need the Naga magic resistance more.
Sand King (temporarily removed): The only source of crowd control from all Assassins. He also makes it easy to get the (2) Beast bonus (+10% physical damage). He doesn’t deal too much damage and is tanky (high armor), so keep him on the frontline to charge his mana faster. Also, position him to the side (not in the middle) of the board. This way he’ll often use Burrowstrike diagonally, hitting more units. Another unit you might want to keep on lvl2 if you are running out of Bench space – he’s primary contribution is his Tribals and stun.
Riki (temporarily removed): very squishy (especially on one Star), but has a strong AoE ability that gives a lot of utility - silence and miss chance. This makes him good with items like Void Stone to help him cast it faster. The Satyr tribal conceals your Bench from opponents, which is an interesting mechanic on high-level play, but nothing game-breaking.
Generally speaking, to be a very good Dota Auto Chess player you need to have a plethora of strategies ready in your mind. You need to choose which one to go for based on the rolls you are getting and on the choices of your opponents. Because of this, blindly "forcing" any strategy right from the start of the game is generally speaking a bad plan.
That said, Assassins are one of the strats you can decide to go for relatively early thanks to two things:
6 Assassins are incredibly strong in the mid game but could start falling off in the late game against tanky compositions and most importantly - strong CC units like Medusa and Tide.
You need to maintain a good win streak in the mid game, but then around lvl8 you need to make a decision: Do you all-in and start spending your gold in order to lvl-up your units as fast as possible, or do you continue to play the long, steady economy game towards lvl10?
If you are facing dangerous comps (Warriors, Trolls, Knights) and you don't like your super-late game chances, you don't have the luxury to wait. Start spending your gold in order to upgrade your units before your opponents do in order to start winning rounds decisively and inflict heavy HP damage. 6 Assassins + 2-3 Tanks/Stuns is a very strong comp and you might be able to eliminate opponents before they are able to reach lvl10.
The two opening strategies below are the two most common ones and quite often they would be sufficient to win you games with Assassins. Of course, alternatives are possible.
Thanks to Bounty Hunter, Goblin + Mech is the easiest and arguably most-reliable opener. You want to get the (3) Goblin, (2) Mech and (3) Assassin synergies as fast as possible. This should get you through the early-mid game because the Goblins will provide the tankiness, the assassins – the damage.
The disadvantage of this opener is that you would most likely have to sell-off your Goblins/Mechs in the late game in favor of more useful units (usually tanks with Crowd Control). If you have a three-star Goblin/Mech (ideally Timber), it’s possible to preserve the (3) Goblin bonus by buying an Alchemist, who is a great tank for Assassin strats because of his ability, which reduces armor. This way you’ll have the 3-star Mech + Alch + Bounty Hunter for the (3) Goblin synergy.
Frontline: Timber, Clock, QoP (immediately behind Clock and Timber)
Backline: Bounty, Phantom Assassin, Viper
Synergies: (3) Assassins, (3) Goblins, (2) Mech, (1) Demon
Frontline: Timber, Alchemist, Tidehunter, Templar Assassin
Backline: Bounty, Queen of Pain, Phantom Assassin, Viper, Slark
Synergies: (6) Assassins, (3) Goblin, (2) Nagas, (1) Demon
The 10th unit can either be another Mech for the (2) bonus, or an unrelated unit with some form of useful control like Disruptor, Medusa, Kunkka, etc. If you don’t have QoP, get Doom.
druid opener is another one that could work easily. It compensates for not
having as strong of a synergy bonus by upgrading the druids to a high level
quickly and easily. In the late game, you’d
usually want to sell off some of your druids to replace with more powerful
units, but it’s possible to save Treant or Furion in order to go for the (3)
Elves evasion bonus. Lone Druid combined with Sand King also provides the (2)
Beast damage bonus.
Frontline: Furion, Treant, Sand King
Backline: Ench, QoP, PA
Synergies: (3) Elves, (3) Assassins, (2) Beasts, (1) Demon
Lone Druid, Sand King, Medusa
Backline: Queen of Pain, Phantom Assassin, Viper, Slark, Templar Assassin
Synergies: (6) Assassins, (3) Elves, (2) Nagas, (2) Beasts, (1) Demon
The strategies below are a bit harder to pull off but could work situationally and have potential.
The biggest weakness of an Assassin strategy is that it has a hard time dealing with a tanky physical damage strategy. A Warriors strat is a hard-counter to an Assassins strat and if you don’t try something unconventional you will simply lose to a guy with a good Warrior lineup (unless you get very lucky with rolls).
A possible way to try to deal with this is going for a (4) Elements strategy:
Frontline: Tiny, Morphling
Backline: Razor (in front of the Assassins), Queen of Pain, Viper, Slark
Synergies: (3) Assassins, (2) Elements, (1) Demon
Sand King, Enigma, Tidehunter
Backline: Razor, Queen of Pain, Morphling, Viper, Slark, Phantom Assassin
Synergies: (6) Assassins, (4) Elements, (2) Nagas, (1) Demon
Tide (or Medusa) is the last unit you should go for – if you are fighting Warriors, the (4) Elements bonus is more important than the (2) Naga bonus.
The logic is that the (4) Elements synergy will buy your Assassins a lot of time to deal damage because it will give them a lot of survivability (and control) against the enemy auto-attacks. Moreover, this late-game lineup deals much more magic and pure damage compared to a normal Assassins lineup thanks to the abilities of Enigma, Razor, QoP, Morph, and even Viper.
The biggest weakness of this strategy is the hard opener. Tiny and Morph are low-value units and could lose you some rounds. Hopefully, the AoE damage from Razor and the 3 Assassins would be able to carry you. It's worth mentioning that Tiny's Toss is not as terrible with Assassins as in other lineups because your Assassins can jump after the Tossed target to finish it off.
Assassins don’t usually struggle against Magic DMG strategies because it’s easy to get the (2) Nagas bonus in the late game. In addition, the way assassins jump to the backline and deal high nuke damage right from the start means they are good at killing squishy spellcasters.
That said, if you see that opponents are hard-committing to Mages, it might be a good idea to go for all 4 Nagas.
Get a Slardar in the early-mid game to combine him with Slark for a fast (2) Nagas bonus. Upgrading a Slardar is not a waste – he has great stats and his armor reduction ability synergize very well with the crits of Assassins. To ensure the early game, you can even go for a (3) Warrior frontline (like in the example below) but bear in mind that you will have to sell the other two warriors sooner rather than later, so don't try to upgrade them over two stars.
In the late game go for Medusa + Tide to get the (4) Naga bonus and you should have no trouble whatsoever versus magic damage.
Frontline: Slardar, Jugger, Axe
Backline: Bounty Hunger, QuP, Slark
Synergies: (3) Assassins, (3) Warrirors, (2) Orcs, (2) Nagas, (1) Demon
Frontline: Slardar, Tidehunter, Medusa, Sand King
Backline: Bounty Hunter, Queen of Pain, Slark, Viper, Phantom Assassin
Synergies: (6) Assassins, (4) Nagas, (1) Demon
Since two Assassins are Elves, it’s theoretically possible to go for a (6) Elves + (6) Assassins lineup as a way to deal with physical damage lineups. This is usually done from a Druids opening which transitions into Elves and Assassins. Moreover, unlike the strats above which work with 9 units, you need all 10 unit slots to get both bonuses, which is a tough ask in some games.
Another disadvantage is that although both (6) tribal bonuses are individually very powerful, they don’t synergize particularly well. The Elves bonus works only on the Elve,s and the Assassins bonus – only on the Assassins. Having a three-star Phantom Assassin and ideally, even Templar Assassin is pretty much needed because they are the only two units who benefit from both tribals.
Lastly, you don’t have space for control units like Tidehunter, which is another big disadvantage not only because of the control but because of the (2) Naga bonus. Get Sand King in order to have at least some control in the lineup.
Frontline: Furion, Treant Protector, Anti-Mage
Backline: Bounty Hunter, Queen of Pain, Phantom Assassin
Synergies: (3) Elves, (3) Assassins, (1) Demon
Treant, Anti-Mage, Templar Assassin,
Backline: Bounty Hunter, Queen of Pain, Phantom Assassin, Windranger, Riki
Synergies: (6) Assassins, (6) Elves, (1) Demon
Thanks for reading! I hope you found this guide useful and interesting. If you did, you can give us a follow on our social media linked in the footer below to get notified when we post our upcoming Dota Auto Chess guides! Warriors is next!