Looking at high level pub trends this week, we noticed how Spectre is slowly creeping into the meta. It doesn’t look like an easy process and neither does it feel like a good idea to recommend the hero for regular pub players right now, but we are certain the hero is one minor buff away from being very powerful. Today, we will attempt to prepare our readers for this potential development.
Skill and item builds on Spectre right now are a thing of beauty: they are chaotic, unpredictable and most of them can be justified. Just looking at our guides page for the hero raises a ton of interesting questions. Let’s try to answer at least some of them.
Why do most highest level pub players and professional players, including 萧瑟 max out Spectral Dagger into Dispersion, like in the XG vs PSG.LGD DPC match? The build is either 2-0-4-1 or 4-0-2-1 by level seven.
We think this is a farm-maximization route: between neutral items and Dispersion damage mitigation, Spectre can start taking jungle creeps early on, allowing her to stay off the map, hence out of harm’s way. She still joins teamfights when Haunt is available, but her typical contribution early on is mostly vision and off-tanking. With Dispersion level four and the level ten “+5 Stats” talent the hero can be very tanky early on.
It is also the most reliable build: it doesn’t have an edge of its own, but it allows Spectre to secure her own early game, stay at almost full HP at all times and be completely independent. If your goal is to secure your item timings, this is probably the way to go, hence the popularity on the pro-scene and high level pubs, where players are typically more proactive and will try to punish a greedy hero like Spectre.
The “default” 4-1-1-1 build makes a lot of sense for a Hybrid aggressive and passive play. Many will wonder, how much of a difference can one extra level of Dispersion make and the answer is: quite a lot. It is a 4% extra damage and damage mitigation for each level, so on a relatively healthy ~1300 HP Spectre at level ten each point of Dispersion is potential extra 50 damage in an AoE on top of extra survivability. That is before potential regeneration and heal effects.
For Desolate to compete with it, you need three hits on an isolated target, which is a pretty straightforward and easy to meet condition. We absolutely think that this is a viable approach to the game, as long as you can actually afford to Reality in and hit heroes. Extra 21 Pure damage is no joke, though do give the pro way a try at least a couple of times: perhaps you will like it more.
Verdict: 4-0-2-1 into 4-0-4-1 should be the default, 2-0-4-1 if there is an abnormal amount of pressure, you lost the early game and need to recover. For when the game starts off great and you can actually punish enemy heroes in your lane as well as throughout the game, 4-1-1-1 is the way to go: a bit greedy, but can pay off greatly if early aggression works out.
Talent-wise, going for stats at Level 10 is the default option for most players, high level or otherwise. At Level 15 taking the Dagger damage is optimal for Aghanim’s rush builds, while Desolate damage is generally better for Manta rush builds. Going for extra health at level 20 is close to non-negotiable, while both level 25 talents are viable and have their merits. We think that the Haunt damage is better for Aghanim’s games, while the Dispersion one is better in Radiance ones.
With skill builds there are three distinct options and all of them make a lot of sense, however when it comes to item builds Spectre gets very tricky and extremely confusing. The only constant is Power Treads, Magic Wand and, usually, one laning stage Wraith Band.
There are three distinct popular choices for early game: Blade Mail, Yasha or Diffusal Blade. The first two are acceleration items, while the last one is a hyper-aggressive one. Diffusal Blade is not particularly popular in the pro-level pubs, as it doesn’t accelerate Spectre’s farm and the hero typically doesn’t want to fight early on. In general high level pubs and below, it can be a good item for when you are on the offensive. It pairs nicely with a 4-1-1-1 build.
Looking at stats, we think that the Yasha build is a default one, while the Blade Mail one is a “bad game” adaptation. There is almost no price difference between items and Blade Mail actually accelerates Spectre faster, but it doesn’t have a progression. However, there is also a trend of it being followed up by Radiance so it could be less of a “bad game” item and more of a “good Radiance game” item.
Identifying a good Radiance game is hard, but in general build Radiance if and only if:
- You don’t need an early Skadi to counter healing, regenerating or lifestealing heroes
- Your starting Blade Mail has some uncontrollable enemy damage to reflect
- You will have trouble hitting enemy heroes, e.g. Pugna, Wyvern and Necrophos.
- Enemy has exceptionally high armor, making Magic damage preferable. Though Terrorblade is an exception for obvious reasons.
- You are better off kiting the enemy carry, rather than manfighting them
It is hard to understand when, where and why build Radiance, but always think it through before committing to a starting build.
Starting Yasha is usually built into Manta Style, with the Eye of Skadi and Aghanim’s progression. The order of these items depends on the game.
This is a typical, right clicking carry build. Spectre is not a strong 1v1 fighting hero, but courtesy of her abilities, she rarely needs to be one and this build leverages the hero’s natural tankiness and Desolate damage to quickly kill supports, before concentrating on tankier targets.
Shadow Step having low cooldown is what allows Spectre to actually play tempo and can flip the hero’s identity on its head. If you are ahead enough it is also an easy way to force enemy supports out of the fight or proc an Aeon Disks and, in some scenarios, Linken’s.
Late game Spectres typically go for Abyssal Blade or Butterfly. The first option is for when you can manfight the enemy carry or you need extra lockdown for an elusive enemy core. The latter is for when you need to kill off enemy supports as quickly as possible, while creating extra chaos during the fights.
Heart of Tarrasque, once a staple on the hero, is a very rare purchase and if you need extra survivability a very late-game full duration BKB can be an interesting idea, though most high level pub players opt for Refresher instead, as it greatly amplifies Spectre’s damage output and can allow for some devastating Buyback into second Haunt plays.
With the DPC Tour ending soon and, fingers crossed, us getting a balance patch, there is a good chance Spectre will see some changes: the hero’s been absent from the professional scene for a very long time and isn’t making a ton of waves in pubs either.
We are also almost positive that if there are changes to the hero, they are going to be positive. As we said, the hero doesn’t feel particularly powerful right now. When the say comes, though, all of us are going to be ready.