Dota 2 Skeleton King Guide – Builds, Items and Strategy

Said by many to be the manliest hero in dota without testicles, Ostarion the Skeleton King is a simple, yet very strong melee carry hero.

In the hands of a great player, he can easily destroy enemies and in the hands of newer players, he is still very hard to kill because of his Reincarnation, which can bring him back to the life way faster than Goku and Jesus.

The time for the King is now!

Pros and Cons

  • + 2 Lifes !
  • + High Strength makes him a lot tanky
  • + Powerful Stun and Slow
  • + Can jungle well
  • + All of his skills are great in late game
  • – Melee
  • – Some mana problems
  • – Item dependant

Browse through guide – Abilities, Builds, Items and Strategy! For more help on Dota 2, read our Beastmaster, Bountyhunter and Lich Guide.

Skeleton King Abilities

Hellfire Blast
Skeleton King fires a sphere of hellfire at an enemy unit, dealing damage and stunning, then dealing damage over time and slowing the target.

  • Slow: 15%
  • Slow Duration: 4 Seconds
  • Stun Duration: 2 Seconds
  • Total Damage: 80 / 160 / 230 / 300
  • Cooldown: 8
  • Mana: 140

Vampiric Aura
Nearby friendly melee units gain HP based on their damage dealt when attacking enemy units.

  • Lifesteal: 15%/20%/25%/30%

Critical Strike
Skeleton King gains a chance to deal bonus damage on an attack.

  • Critical Chance: 15%
  • Critical Damage: 1.25×/1.75×/2.25×/2.75×

Skeleton King’s bones reform after death, causing him to resurrect when killed in battle. Upon reincarnation, enemy units in the area will be slowed by 30%.

  • Reincarnation Time: 3 Seconds
  • Cooldown: 260/160/60
  • Mana: 140

Skeleton King – Skill Builds

Following are the skill builds you can use for Skeleton King depending on the role you are playing in the game:

Laning Skill Build

  • Level 1 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 2 – Stats
  • Level 3 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 4 – Critical Strike
  • Level 5 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 6 – Reincarnation
  • Level 7 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 8 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 9 – Critical Strike
  • Level 10 – Critical Strike
  • Level 11 – Reincarnation
  • Level 12 – Critical Strike
  • Level 13 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 14 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 15 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 16 – Reincarnation

This is the skill build that will allow you to deal the most damage and kill enemies faster. You take one (or even two) early point of stats to help with your low mana pool and later get a point in Vampiric Aura whenever you feel you can farm faster in the jungle.

You DON’T take Vampiric aura in the early game because your creeps will also get the aura, the lane will push forward, and you won’t have room to farm so save it until when you need it.

Jungling Skill Build

  • Level 1 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 2 – Hellfire Blast/Stats
  • Level 3 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 4 – Stats/Hellfire Blast
  • Level 5 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 6 – Reincarnation
  • Level 7 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 8 – Hellfire Blast
  • Level 9 – Critical Strike
  • Level 10 – Critical Strike
  • Level 11 – Reincarnation
  • Level 12 – Critical Strike
  • Level 13 – Critical Strike
  • Level 14 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 15 – Vampiric Aura
  • Level 16 – Reincarnation

Go for this skill build when you don’t have an ally, who can babysit you. You can’t kill people alone as soon as the other build, but this is a safe way of getting your farm.

Vampiric Aura allows you to take on the easy and medium creep camps in the beginning. You take a level of Hellfire Blast early to gank the enemies or to prevent them from ganking you.

Skeleton King – Recommended Items

Starting: Quelling Blade, Tangoes, Salve  and 3 Iron Branches. | Jungle start: Quelling  Blade, Stout Shield and Salve

Core: Magic Wand(or Soul Ring), Teleport Scroll, either Power Treads or Phase Boots (both of them are great, I recommend you try both) and Armlet.

Armlet provides SK with everything he needs, damage, hp, attack speed, armor and regen for a meager price tag of 2600 gold. Vampiric Aura allows you to stay in fighting shape with your Armlet on so it fits him really nice. Teleport Scroll to farm other lanes if a good wave of creeps is coming to one of your towers.

Follow-ups: Mjollnir, Desolator, Assault Cuirass, Divine Rapier, Heart of Terrasque

All of the above boost his DPS by a lot. Mjollnir and AC will give him the extra attack speed that he lacks. Mjollnir will even give you more damage through lightnings that will make him deal damage in an area and it’s static charge buff will hurt heroes that attack you really hard.

With 2 lifes (or 3 if you get an Aegis of the Immortal), you can pack Divine Rapier and not be afraid of losing it. HoT will boost your survivability by a lot, as well as AC. Both AC and Desolator will make the target’s armor go down, so that you and your team will inflict more damage

Situational: Black King Bar, Force Staff, Gem

Get these if your enemies have a lot of stuns and slows. BKB will make you immune to magic for a few seconds and will boost your damage and hp by a bit, while force will make you harder to escape from, while also giving you a means of escaping enemies, boosting your damage and attack speed, as well as giving you 170 extra mana which you really need.

For the same reason, he is a viable Divine Rapier carrier, he is also a great gem carrier, tell your allies to get a gem for you if needed.

Skeleton King Strategy

Go to the bottom lane if you are Radiant, and top lane if you are on the Dire side. If you have another farmer in those lanes go jungle instead and follow the jungle build.

Your main role is to carry your team, so farm to get your core items as fast as you can, and then keep farming, but don’t miss out on kills if you can get them!

Always manage your manapool, Hellfire Blast costs 140 mana so save it to whenever you are sure of getting a kill. Sometimes you need to save extra mana to ensure that you will Reincarnate.

This is even more important when you are facing mana burners such as Antimage, Lion and Invoker. This is the main reason why you need a Magic Wand or a Soul Ring, use them just when you are about to die to ensure you will have the required mana.

Keep in mind that some enemies can evade your Hellfire Blast. Use it when you are right next to enemies that have Force Staff or that can blink, in order to make sure it hits.

Battle Strategy for Skeleton King is pretty straight forward, Activate Armlet and Phase boots, Hellfire Blast a target and whack it until he dies. Generally focus the most squishy heroes and the ones that are the biggest threat.

Thanks for reading, and make those peasant kneel before you!