Assassins typically are a difficult class to balance, because they need to have the ability to quickly kill single targets, but also have to allow the enemy team to counterplay in some way. As such, it’s a given that high burst, single-target damage is one of the assassin class’s pros, but the cons are varied; as such, don’t be misled by a long negative list compared to the positives, as I’m leaving out the number 1 positive for almost every assassin. That being said, I hope you find an assassin or two whom you like, and without further ado, let’s begin.
The Greek Weaver, since her rework, has some of the hardest and fastest basic attacks in the game. With three of the five elements to her kit dedicated to autos, landing them is obviously a must. To do so, she has a number of tools to help her close in on her enemy, notably her ultimate, which makes her much faster and unhittable as she closes in, either as an engage or as a chase. She excels at fighting in the jungle, or anywhere where she can use her 3 to reveal and slow enemies. While under this effect, they are attacked by spiders and leave a trail which gives her speed and slow immunity. Once you start boxing her, it’s difficult both to win and to escape, so targets will need their allies to come to her aid.
On the other hand, Arachne doesn’t fare so well in groups. Almost entirely reliant on single target damage, she needs to pick off targets who are isolated, or quickly get in and out while her target’s teammates are busy fighting her own allies. She has no instant crowd control, so most enemies with a dash or leap have a short window to get away, before she lands all three hits with her 2. Furthermore, her only escape mechanism, her ult, has a short start-up period, making her vulnerable to damage (but not crowd control) prior to making a getaway.
If you prefer fighting alone to teamfights, getting quick kills to gradually snowball, try out Arachne.
The Mayan Goddess of the Moon has one of the most mechanically unique sets of abilities to date. Her mount gives her excellent travel speed and incurs no cooldown if cancelled, allowing her to run in and jump out if necessary. She is powerful at all stages provided she gets the first hit, and can combo her 2, 3, and 4 in a number of ways. Her 4 provides her a with a powerful counter to enemies who rely on a non-ult jump or teleport to escape, as it will pull them right back into the action, almost guaranteeing a kill. Additionally, her ult and passive grant her a lot of built in damage and attack speed.
The weaker part of Awilix’s kit is mostly just slightly delayed damage and punishability. While her auto attacks are strong in their own right, a lot of her damage output, especially early-to-mid game is her 2 when used on the 3rd hit (when the targeter shows the AOE effect). This means that for the highest damage, Awilix needs to hit twice before casting Feather Step, and while that isn’t a lot of time, the split second between one attack and two can mean all the difference to an assassin. Lastly, if she uses the leap on her 1, the ability goes on cooldown and she loses both the ability to jump and the movement speed increase until it’s available, so if she casts it offensively, she is easily punished.
Awilix is a god that focuses on hitting first and hitting hard before making your escape. If this sounds like fun to you, give her a shot.
The Hindu Great Devourer has a lot of damage and chase built into his kit. With a move/attack speed boost on his passive, a leap, and a slow/cripple, he is very difficult to escape from. Throw in protection shred on his leap and bonus true damage from his 3, and he becomes nearly as formidable against tanks as against squishies. During his ult his auto-attacks damage all enemies in a cone, allowing him to shred through several gods at once.
However, Bakasura lacks practically any ranged attack, so if you do manage to escape from you, he’s got no way to execute you from a distance. Secondly, his only heal and protection buff comes from killing a minion, so if an enemy fights him in the jungle with no nearby creeps, he has no way to sustain himself unless he has a lifesteal item. Lastly, he has only one leap, so if he uses it to engage, he is reliant on his high movespeed to escape. Thus, despite his great all-in, if he fails to kill his target he is highly vulnerable.
If you like the feeling of devouring your enemies, big or small, Bakasura is probably the god for you.
The Egyptian Goddess of Cats has quite a bit of range and a lot of damage-over-time potential that allows her to jump in, strike quickly, and jump out. Her passive wounds targets after hitting them with a non-ult ability, amplifying the next non-ult ability’s damage, so comboing 1 or 3 into 2 will do a massive amount of damage over time, increased even more by your cats who will relentlessly chase enemies hit by 2. If used correctly, her cats can bodyblock enemies, trapping those who can’t go through or over other units.
Conversely, Bastet’s second jump can only be executed in a short window after the first, so keeping her stunned, crippled, or silenced for the duration will nullify her escape and leave her vulnerable. Alternatively, enemies can group up where she initially pounced from, cutting off her escape. Her Cat Call, her highest kill potential, can be countered in a number of ways. Level 2 or 3 Sprint or any level of Beads will remove their slow, allowing most enemies to walk away. They aren’t impossible to jump away from either, and high A.O.E. damage will kill the cats quickly. She lacks any crowd control aside from slows, so in straight up fights, she will struggle against those who have any.
If you prefer jumping in and out, letting cats and DOT do most of the work, it doesn’t get much better than Bastet.
The Norse Unbound [Wolf] is a nightmare if allowed to have his way. His kit is chock full of utility and rather high damage, including lifesteal, physical power, a leap/stun, CC immunity, movespeed, and his unique “Bite & Carry’ CC which allows you to pull an enemy out of their team and into yours. His ult can even double his protections if used with full runes, allowing him to be ridiculously tanky with only a few tank items. Brutalize (3) is a powerful damage and chase tool, guaranteeing a 4-hit attack chain if you hit an enemy with the first strike. Leaps (including teleports) will break the attack chain, but dashes will not, making him very potent against enemies who rely on dashes or ground speed to escape.
The downside to Fenrir’s kit is that a lot of his utility that is necessary for success in teamfights relies on having full runes. With runes, his 1 will stun, his 2 buffs will be increased, his 3 will do AOE damage, and his 4 will grant the aforementioned double protections; the problem is, he can only choose one at a time. For optimal use, you would stack your passive between each ability cast, but you rarely have the opportunity to basic attack 6 times, meaning he usually has to choose one or two abilities to empower (unless he gets a kill, which sets his passive to full runes). As such, he loses out on a lot of his potential utility. His ultimate is the perfect example of a hit-or-miss. If you successfully land a grab and make it back to your allies, whomever you got is almost certainly dead. However, you are subject to be bursted down or kited while trying to bite, especially if you don’t get the protections bonus from runes. Even after you grab someone, they have the opportunity to cleanse, ending your ultimate.
Fenrir is a good choice for players who enjoy having a lot of utility to adapt to a number of situation.
The Mayan Howler Monkey God is a nuisance to the enemies at best, a demon at worst. In addition to high mobility and an incredibly powerful ultimate (regardless of whether it’s used for a single kill or in a teamfight), he has free crit chance, a rare stat that makes gives him immense power against squishy targets. After an ability, he has 30% additional crit chance on the next attack (note: can only be used twice in 2 seconds, so for best efficiency, space out your abilities if possible). He can either build more crit damage (Deathbringer and Malice for a whopping 70% crit chance, hitting for 250% damage + 75% of your physical power over time, also try switching Malice with Rage or even buying all 3) or he can take the 30% crit as it is and build lots of penetration and shred (Titan’s Bane/Executioner/Jotunn’s Wrath, increasing your squishy crushing and extending it to all but the tankiest of tanks- just be sure not to go over the penetration cap). Find a build path that works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment with him.
The primary downside of Hun Batz is a pretty binary kit. He lacks very much utility, so it’s very easy for the enemy to predict how he will use his abilities and therefore to counter him. He lacks that unpredictability that is partially the reason assassins are terrifying, so level-headed opponents who can react quickly is a Hun Batz’s greatest threat. An assassin with few tricks up his sleeve will struggle against a coordinated team.
Play Hun Batz if you enjoy a simple kit with complex build paths, allowing you to leap around the battlefield critting enemies to death.
The Hindu Goddess of Destruction excels at just that: destroying your enemies entirely. A late game hypercarry, Kali possesses a number of tools that give her excellent snowball potential. To begin with, she has a passive that allows her to instantly heal after killing a “marked” god. Landing the last hit will heal her by 80% of her health and randomly select a new target for which she can do the same. Helping her do this is her ultimate, which makes her immune to death and most CC (but not to damage or stuns) for several seconds, allowing her to safely dive towers and teams in order to get her target, secure the nearly-full heal, and leap out or continue her killing spree. Additionally, she has a number of free stats from abilities, including penetration to her marked enemy, lifesteal from her 2, and physical power from her 3.
The problem with Kali is that she entirely dependent on snowballing a fight. She has the tools to kill a single target quickly, survive death, and start all over, but it requires her to get a last hit on her marked target. If the target happens to be a tank, you are faced with the decision of taking out the squishies and not getting the heal, or attempting to take out the tank first and risking death before you get the kill. Furthermore, one of the greatest curses of her passive is that she gets no heal if she doesn’t get the last hit, and while she has plenty of tools to do so and her allies can see who is marked, it is bound to happen (especially when playing with people you don’t know) that an ally takes a kill, denying you your reset and practically condemning you. Thus, she can be incredibly frustrating if your allies are uncooperative (PSA: be forgiving please! As frustrating as it is, someone who steals a kill on your marked target will likely NOT want to give you the next one if you flame them for it. A friendly reminder is much more likely to make them cooperate!)
If you like to go all in and fight to the brink of death, then do it all over again, Kali is the best pick for you.
The Norse Trickster God, as the name would suggest, is very tricky to play against. Thanks to his stealth, a rare ability in this game, he can sneak behind enemies and quickly assassinate his squishy targets with a 4-3 combo, or simply jump in with his ult and use his 1 to slip away safely. He can also taunt minions and pets in an area, which doesn’t seem like a huge plus until you are a single minion shot away. Thanks to his stealth, his teleport, and even his minion taunt, he’s immensely slippery and hard to kill despite his squishiness.
Loki’s weakness is of course that he lacks multi-target damage. His best bet is to kill a high-value target and run away until his abilities come back up, and if he can’t do that, he’s in major trouble. Related to this, he has no reliable poke tools. He has to wait in the wings until a fight starts, then jump in when opportunity knocks. Because of this, he is rarely with his team, leaving him vulnerable to being picked off if the enemies manage to lock him down before he can stealth. As such, he needs to have excellent positioning, staying out of sight, getting in, and getting back out of sight without being followed, all of which is a lot harder than it sounds.
If you like sneaking around and killing people in one hit, Loki may be the god for you.
The Roman Messenger of the Gods is a fast, speed-filled kit. To start off, his passive grants him damage on his next hit based on distance travelled, as well as free physical power based on his bonus movement speed. His first ability does fast, long range AOE poke, but is most powerful because it procs on-hit effects including the passive bonus and crits, allowing him to make great use of the Golden Bow item, which will proc individually on each enemy he hits, creating a massive splash of damage. His 2 makes him a strong boxer and tower pusher, and his 3 allows him to pick off enemies and toss them wherever he likes. His ult, has a great number of uses, either as an engage, an escape, or a powerful ganking tool, and it can cover a great distance in the blink of an eye.
The weakness of Mercury lies in his vulnerability. Despite his excellent poke, most of his damage will come from punching people really fast. As such, in order to remain true to his hypercarry potential, he needs to get in close. Once he’s there, however, he can be countered from escaping in several ways. His dash stops when it hits an enemy, so his usual escape tool can be body-blocked to keep him in place (as a general note, hitting people with 3 makes him immobile and therefore very vulnerable, even when used on purpose), and his ult, if saved for use as an escape, is often ineffective in the jungle, and requires a short charge-up period to travel significant distance during which he can be CC’d or killed. In-short, if things don’t go well for Mercury, he lacks a reliable way to get out safely, so he’s a very high risk, very high reward character (even more so than most assassins).
If you like going fast and killing fast, Mercury will be a very fun god for you.
The Greek Goddess of Vengeance is a very strong counter to a number of gods, namely semi-tanky ones without a good escape. Much of her kit involves taking stats from the enemy, either by reducing their power (and gaining it herself- note: she only gains half the power if her target is magical) or stealing their protections and gaining them herself. This allows her to constantly be tipping the scales in her favor, by becoming tankier than bruisers, and reducing their damage as well. Additionally, she has two dashes (on one ability) to gain a lot of distance in conjunction with two powerful slows, and she also has a shield to help keep her alive in the thick of it. Also, her ult at max level reduces its target’s health by half (post-protections), which makes her incredibly potent against full health enemies. Keep in mind that you don’t have to target the person you ult, so you can steal a lot of tankiness from a tank and then use that newfound toughness to survive as you go after squishies.
As already mentioned, Nemesis excels against semi-tanks and bruisers, usually immobile characters who struggle to escape from the two slows, much less the dashes and movespeed increase on her end. However, this strength comes at the cost of some power against mobile, squishier enemies. Any character who can ignore slows (via cleanse, sprint, Winged Blade< etc.) will be much harder to kill, and since squishies rely less on protections and health, Nemesis’s ult doesn’t hit them as hard. She is a mid-game monster but once enemies can group up to protect their immobile buddies, it becomes harder for her to chase them relentlessly thanks to their backup. Her slightly lower burst and different method of assassinating is reflected by the fact that she was originally considered a warrior, and while they eventually decided she was more suitable as an assassin, she still has some qualities reminiscent of the warrior class.
If you like to counter an enemy and practically negate them from the game by using their own strengths against them, Nemesis is a good choice for you.
Ne Zha Card
The Chinese 3rd Lotus Prince has a lot of unique skills that make him very powerful against enemy carries. He has strong health regen from his passive, helping him stay in the game longer, and quite powerful poke from his 1. When he decides to go all in, his Flaming Spear grants him critical strike chance, a powerful and rare stat, and his 3 and 4 both reflect that with their ability to crit. It is those very two moves that form his bread and butter combo: lock someone down with your Armillary Sash, then ult them. If it doesn’t kill them, it will at least keep them out of the fight for several seconds.
Ne Zha does have a couple weaknesses. First of all, his passive stacks reset on death, so dying once makes it harder for him to survive in the future, opening up the possibility for a vicious cycle of death. Secondly, his combo can be countered quite hard, because the enemy can cleanse once they are hit by the sash, preventing the knock-up from the ult and remaining in the fight. Ne Zha must carefully pick targets who don’t have available CC immunity or else much of his assassination potential will be in vain. Even if he does manage to land an ult, his unique process of taking his target out of the fight while killing them can sometimes work against him. If your allies below are defeated, or simply aren’t present, it gives the enemies time to surround you so they can kill you once you land.
Ne Zha excels at poking the enemies from a distance until opportunity knocks and he pulls a high-value target out of the fight; if that sounds great to you, give him a try.
The Egyptian Goddess of Venom is in many ways the quintessential assassin. Her kit is chock full of tools to make sure she gets a kill and escapes safely. To get in or out of fights, she can lie in wait using Ambush, dash in with Deathbane, or even do both to gain a lot of distance. From there, she can cast her 2 to infect potentially two enemies with madness, at which point she can do what she must to get a kill and then use whatever escape she still has to reposition. If she uses her ult, the enemy very likely will have taken their Last Breath; dealing True Damage and having 100% healing reduction, it takes some quick math: how much damage does the move do, and how much health do they have? If the first is greater than the second, there is virtually no way they survive, aside from using damage immunity. Throw in the percent-health damage from her passive and the protection-reduction on 1, and not even tanks are safe.
For all the techniques Serqet has, she’s got a couple of weaknesses. She’s hard to escape from because of her two mobility skills, but if she uses one to jump in on the enemy, the enemy dashes away, and if she uses her second to chase, she is now likely far from whatever allies she has and without any reliable escapes, leaving her vulnerable. Her ult, in addition to being cleansed while she’s stunning, also requires her to be immobile, giving enemy teammates a window, albeit brief, to attack and hopefully kill her. As such, the targets she can safely ult are somewhat limited to those who are slightly away from the group.
Serqet perfectly communicates the feeling of a deadly scorpion lying in wait, poisoning the enemy and walking away harmlessly as their health ticks away. Give her a chance if that’s your style.
The Greek Hand of Death is, true to his lore, death incarnate. Unlike many assassins, he is at his strongest within the first few minutes of the game. Having very strong sustain from his 1 and passive, the silence and bonus speed + penetration only serve to help him chase down the unfortunate enemy who takes a Death Scythe to the face. Should they escape, they are still not safe, as low health enemies are revealed to him and vulnerable to his ultimate, which allows him to fly after fleeing enemies, executing them if they are below a health threshold. As an added bonus, his mana costs are very low, allowing him to use his abilities frequently.
However, Thanatos falls off in a number of ways. Namely, his 1 deals far less damage at the end of the game and even with the free movespeed and penetration from 2, he lacks the hard CC and an escape to safely kill targets who are amongst their team. He relies on enemies who fall out of position, or on his ult. Be warned, though, that low health targets receive a warning when you are ulting for them, and if they have fast reaction time, there is a split second in which they can dash, leap, or Aegis to avoid the execute. Even if you do land the kill, you are likely behind or in the midst of enemy lines without an escape. In fact, his ult, when used as an escape tool, requires a start-up, so he must use it fairly early on if he wants to be airborne in time, and then his best killing tool is on cooldown.
If you like delivering your enemies an early death with an oppressive early game, Thanatos is the best assassin for you, hopefully snowballing your team to a quick win.
The Norse God of Thunder is the very best god for bringing down the hammer on the enemy team. First, an important notice: his passive grants him protections for every nearby enemy (up to 3), making him stronger than usual when against a group. Having a powerful poke tool as well as a quick teleport from his 1, and a long range stun from his 2, he can combo a stun into a Mjolnir’s Attunement teleport, then start the Berserker Barrage, all of which does high damage at all stages of the game. Perhaps his greatest and most iconic ability, however, is his ultimate, Anvil of Dawn, sending him up to the air where he can survey the area for weaklings to crush. Slamming down on an enemy deals high damage and stuns, opening them up for a full spell rotation that all but ensures their death, and it doesn’t even matter how many enemies you land on; three or five will die just as fast as one with his barrage of AOE. The ult can get him into lane from beyond the range of normal wards, forcing laners to play with increased care while you’re missing.
Thor’s primary weakness is that his sole source of ranged damage and his best gap closer serves as his only escape (besides his ult, which has a slow start-up and he ordinarily wouldn’t want to waste on running). After he uses Mjolnir’s attunement to poke or jump in, he’s vulnerable to damage. His Berserker Barrage, his highest damage tool, can be cancelled with a stun (but not a knock-up!), greatly reducing his kill potential. As you can see, the trick against Thor is knowing when to hit him to capitalize on his shortcomings. Furthermore, with an eye in the sky an enemy can see Thor and avoid his ult with a dash, an Aegis, or even a CC immunity which will not reduce the damage but will allow them to walk away without suffering a full combo.
Thor is the best pick for you if you like dunking, spinning-to-win, and just generally coming into a fight like a one-man wrecking crew.
Those are all of the Assassins as of 1/27/15. They typically are played in the jungle, but as always feel free to try some unique things, and check guides for a more in-depth look at a god you like and the different ways to play them. Good luck, and have fun!