- One of the best tanks
- Full splash frost attack
- Excellent regen and armor
- Relatively easy to use
- Good aoe/farming skill
- A great pusher/defender thanks to EDF
- Low mana pool
- Slow attack speed
- Mediocre attack damage
- 250 range stun
Breathes fire at enemy units, which deals damage.
Level 1 - 75 damage.
Level 2 - 150 damage.
Level 3 - 225 damage.
Level 4 - 300 damage.
Cooldown: 12 seconds.
Level 1: 100 mana, 12 sec cooldown.
Level 2: 110 mana, 12 sec cooldown.
Level 3: 120 mana, 12 sec cooldown.
Level 4: 130 mana, 12 sec cooldown.
You should always max this skill out first because it is your way of killing/harassing early and farming throughout the game. DK is lucky to have an aoe farming skill and this is spell is why some try to play him as a caster . In a tough lane where you lose a lot of HP or might die from last hitting, you can continue to farm and harass back with breathe fire. To make sure you do not waste mana, always make sure you kill a creep with the spell and hit all the heroes in the lane. I generally click behind the creep when using this to harass and in the direction of the hero I want it to hit. If both your opponents are slightly seperated, then click behind the creep and roughly half way between the heroes to make sure your aoe hits all the targets. Breathe fire can also be used to help take down towers early by clearing the enemy creeps, so the enemy tower targets your creeps and not you. When going for a kill you should either use breathe fire right away, or save it for a potential killing blow. Generally an ally will use a ranged stun, then you run in and extend the stun time with dragons tail, and when the stuns wear off and they are out of melee range you should use breathe fire to try and finish them. Just like with most spells in the game, breathe fire does lose effectiveness as the game drags on, but it is still good for clearing creeps mid to late game. All my replays show how to use breathe fire effectively and that is the best way to learn besides trying it yourself.
Knight Davion bashes a melee-range enemy target with the fury of a dragon's tail swipe. Stuns the target and deals minor damage.
Level 1 - Deals 25 damage, stuns for 2.5 seconds.
Level 2 - Deals 50 damage, stuns for 2.75 seconds.
Level 3 - Deals 75 damage, stuns for 3 seconds.
Level 4 - Deals 100 damage, stuns for 3.25 seconds.
Cooldown: 9 seconds.
Level 1: 100 mana, 9 sec cooldown.
Level 2: 100 mana, 9 sec cooldown.
Level 3: 100 mana, 9 sec cooldown.
Level 4: 100 mana, 9 sec cooldown.
The time in which you get this skill entirely and I mean ENTIRELY depends on if you have a lane partner or not. There are some circumstances where if you are soloing you might get this skill if you need it to cancel a hero with a channeling spell, but besides this you generally only get it early if you have a lane partner with another disable or slow. I want to make the point either way that if you do get this skill early game, get it at level 1 for stunning a careless hero at your tower or in combo with a partner's stun or slow. With the very low increase in damage and stun time only invest 1 point in this skill until later in the game. Late game this skill will be very powerful with your frost attack in level 3 EDF and other partners disables. The only down side to this skill besides the low damage is the low range on the stun. Dragon tail only has 250 range, but it does not have a casting time so you can immediately do another action after stunning someone.
Grants Dragon Knight blood from his ancient ancestral dragon heritage, which increases health regeneration and armor.
Level 1 - Increases hp regen by 1 and armor by 2.
Level 2 - Increases hp regen by 2 and armor by 4.
Level 3 - Increases hp regen by 3 and armor by 6.
Level 4 - Increases hp regen by 4 and armor by 8.
If for whatever reason you are not getting this skill early game, YOU ARE AN IDIOT! This skill is what makes you a real nuisance to opponents who want you to get out of their lane. Whatever you do, you will want to max out this skill second only because breathe fire takes higher priority over picking more survivability (duh). Dragon blood relieves you from having to invest in some regen and armor items that other heroes need to get to be able to survive until they get their first main item. However, you still may need to get more regen or HP if you are against nukers or chain stunners.
Elder Dragon Form
Transforms the Dragon Knight into a powerful elder dragon. Gives 25 movement speed boost. Lasts 60 seconds.
Level 1 - Transform into a Green Dragon with a corrosive breath attack.
Level 2 - Transform into a Red Dragon with a splash attack.
Level 3 - Transform into a Blue Dragon with an extremely powerful frost attack.
Cooldown: 115 seconds.
Level 1: 50 mana, 115 sec cooldown.
Level 2: 50 mana, 115 sec cooldown.
Level 3: 50 mana, 115 sec cooldown.
Elder Dragon Form has received a huge buff in 6.51 by reducing the mana cost to 50, and the cool down now much less. That means late game you will only spend 55 seconds out of dragon form at any time. When the mana cost was 100 for level 1, many people used to skip getting it until level 10/11 because they felt EDF 1 was weak. Well now it is pretty much spamable and it is still one of the best tower killing abilities in the game. Thus, there is no real legitimate excuse for not getting this skill. In 6.52 the animation was improved as well, so no one can complain about it having the worst attack animation in the game anymore. Even if you are not going to get the chance to take down towers before level 11, you should still get this when defending your tower for a ranged attack. Also, it still can serve the purpose of an escape mechanism, which I have done many times to save my ass. Either way, the skill still works the same, but for only 50 mana it is great for pushing, defending, or just spamming now. EDF 1 can also be a great way to harass back against enemies because it deals 100 poison damage over 5 seconds. The bonus damage that is dealt to towers when attacking them with EDF 1 is based off the skill of corrosive breath from ladder, so it does not do damage over time to towers.
Level 2 EDF is much better than EDF level 1 when it comes to clearing creep waves, but losing corrosive breath sometimes does suck though. At this point in the game you and your team should be pushing a lane together and with this form of EDF you can let your creeps tank the tower while you mindlessly focus a tower down. With the splash damage from your attacks if the creeps fight each other by their tower you will damage most of the creeps while still damaging the tower. If you have the option of attacking creeps by a tower and attacking the tower you should be focusing the tower, because your splash will not hurt the tower if you attack the creeps. The other likely situation where you will use this skill is if their team decides to push one of your towers first. If this happens just stay by your tower and attack the creep wave/heroes from a distance so that you can splash as many of them as possible. This will buy you time for your partners to get there and perhaps push them back in frustration when your allies arrive. If you still have half the timer or a little less left on EDF just go and neutral if everyone is whoring your experience or moving out to kill their creeps would put you in danger of getting ganked by their heroes.
Level 3 EDF is one of the best ultimates in the game in my opinion. You basically have a built in Eye of Skadi with full splash damage and a huge gain in movement speed that allows you to chase almost anyone down if you manage to hit them with your frost attack. In large team fights you will find the frost attack greatly aids your partners in both escaping and focusing down multiple heroes at once. At this point in the game you will be a major player and your survivability goes up dramatically, as well as your lane presence. I used to tell people to not waste this skill in the past because it had a 200 mana cost and you might need it will defending or pushing. Well, times have changed and now the skill got a huge buff that means after 50 mana and 60 seconds of use you can use it again 55 seconds later. I still recommend not wasting it to neutral, but now you can use this skill much more readily with DK's low mana pool.
If you have a partner with a reliable stun or slow:
If you are solo or have a partner without a reliable disable:
Skill build justification:
To clear up any confusion about what skill to pick first, it mostly depends on what hero you are laned with, although choosing stun first will work in all lanes. In summary, if you are laned with someone with a stun or a strong slow, then you should get dragon's tail first. If you are with someone who just has an aoe spell or aoe slow, lich for example, then either get dragons blood as your first skill for regen, or breathe fire. Whatever you do, you should always max out breathe fire first, get EDF asap, and max out dragons blood 2nd for the regen and surivability it offers.
If you are in a lane with another stunner, or better yet enigma, then you should have no problem getting a few kills early or even getting first blood. Just do not waste mana on breathe fire until you at least have level 2 of that skill because level 1 skills do shit damage.
I know many people dislike EDF level 1, but it is important to get it asap. If you kill a hero or both heroes at center with the use of EDF and a creep wave to absorb the tower hits, you will be able to take down a tower and give your team +200 and most likely +400ish gold for yourself. If you take down one hero or injury one or both of their heroes you should be able to use the creeps as fodder and take down the tower. Generally if you use EDF at the right times you can take down a tower with 2 uses or less.
Ironwood Branch (57)
Ancient Tango of Essification (90)
sapphire water (100 - optional)
Sobi Mask (325) + Ring of Protection (175)
Bracers 1-2 (510 - optional)
Boots of Speed (500)
Hood of Defiance (2350 - optional)
Scroll of Town Patrol (135)Items I suggest in AR:
Items I suggest in AP, SD, or RD:
Starter Item Justification:
Courier is essential to your success so always buy one or share one with your allies. You need to stay in your lane at all possible times, so leaving to go buy items is a waste when a courier is only 225 gold.
I find that 2 sets of tangos really enhances your early game ability to last hit and deny without worrying about your health. Flasks of Sapphire Water are a decent choice as well, but your health will not always be low enough to justify using one of them. I generally buy them after I run out of tangos, or when my health is so low that a quick rendevous with my chicken is all I need to stay in the fight.
I suggest getting 2-3 branches (depending on game type) because it is an inexpensive way to give a few more stats early and they can be readily sold or destroyed if you need more room in your inventory. If you are a player that cannot go without buying bracers, then just spend the gold on a circlet instead of branches. I, however, usually go without bracers because DK does have a solid HP pool early game and his bonus armor and regen help too.
If you have the money a sobi mask is good to buy along with your tangos, courier, and branches I suggest it because it will let you harass your enemies as soon as you hit level 3. Once you upgrade this into ring of basilus it will provide you with sufficient mana regen for the whole game. If you want more regen, then a void stone or another sobi mask is the best way to spend your money later.
If you feel that you need more HP during the start of the game until you buy your reaver for your satanic, then purchase 1-2 bracers and/or strength treads. Against heroes that have spell combos that have very high cool downs and damage this might be the way to go instead of spending 2,000 or so on a hood. Otherwise you do not need to get any if you play it safe, rely on your regen ability from helm of iron will and dragon's blood, and life steal from mask of death/helm of the dominator.
Hood of Defiance is for those situations where you are against spell spamming heroes and the regen from your helm of iron will and Dragon's Blood is not enough. If there are 3+ spell-spamming heroes on the other team then you might want to invest in this item so in team fights you can take the pressure off your teammates by tanking nukes. Against heroes like Luna that has a very high damage ultimate this is very helpful in ensuring you survive, although stunning and running out of line of sight is the ideal way to avoid her ultimate.
The Core Item:
Helm of Iron Will (950) + Mask of Death (900) + Messerschmidts Reaver (3200) + Satanic Scroll (1100) = 6,150
Helm of the Dominator is an item that you should utilize to its full capacity. Any creep in the forest that has an aoe stun, slow, or ensnare is your friend. DK's general problem is that he needs someone to initiate a stun, but with a dominated troll warlord you can easily get a 1.5 second ensnare on the enemy. Once you get this item it will enable you to neutral most of the creep camps in the forest, excluding the double ursa camp. Luckily for us they buffed HotD by giving it +20 damage and cutting the mana cost of dominating creeps down to 75 (it used to be 150 I believe). The times this item will come in handy is when your creeps have pushed well into enemy territory and you notice many of their team members are M.I.A.. This will allow you to keep farming gold and experience so that you can later complete this item. With the introduction of Armlet of Mordiggian you can either purchase the armlet right after completeing your HotD or wait until you have completed your satanic. If you buy the armlet before completeing your satanic you will get an opportunity to continue using forest creeps to enhance your team presence. Unlike vanguard or buying other regen items, HotD allows you to neutral freely while not delaying your build into the core item of satanic. I added several replays that show how to effectively use HotD to neutral when your team has pushed well into enemy territory and how to abuse stunning/slowing creeps.
But WHY satanic?
Satanic is a great build up to an already useful early game item, helm of the dominator. The main thing you will aim for is buying your reaver by the time you hit level 16 in the game. If you do this, then generally you are on par for farming time and have not wasted too much time running around the map. Hang on to your HotD for as long as dominated creeps are still effective. There will come a time in the game when the creeps die so quick that you cannot even get to use them, or you need to reduce inventory space. When this happens, you should upgrade to satanic for the addtional damage and life steal.
The reason I so strongly support satanic is because it offers more than just damage, unlike armlet on its own, radiance, or battlefury. DK I find is more formidable when he has HP along with damage, thus satanic is a solid choice. The damage is also comperable to radiance, bfury, and armlet, even though it does cost a bit more. The longer the game lasts, the more effective Satanic will become because DK is already hard to take down because of his armor. When you factor in life steal and his aoe slow he can become nearly unkillable if you have power treads, satanic, and a bkb or a heart. The most important reason for going satanic is it's viability in all situations. By completing this item, you put off buying any more HP items almost indefinately. Satanic does not, however, make you invincible. One must realize that life steal only increases your survivability if you are able to attack.
In the following section I am going to highlight some potential items to complete before or after your satanic. The options include Hand of Midas, Power Treads, Boots of Travel, Black King Bar, Armlet of Mordiggian, Heart of Tarrasque, Buriza-do Kyanon, Radiance, Linken's Sphere, Orchid Malevolence, Assault Cuirass, and Monkey King Bar. Some of the items I get nearly ever game, whereas, other items I reserve for only rare circumstances.
Other Potential Items:
Hand of Midas
If you are in a tough lane, you will probably not be able to afford this item without paying dearly for it. However, if you are able to last hit frequently, are soloing, or dominating your lane then this is a great way to improve your mid to late game. I do not suggest getting this item if you cannot delay a regen item or movement speed. If you are having a good early game, get this, if not then just do the normal build.
Armlet of Mordiggian
I have sufficiently tested this item to know it can be a powerful combo with lifesteal. If you get this item, you need to have helm of the dominator or satanic complete. A helm of the dominator when you're attacking creeps will be enough life steal to counterbalance the -35 hp/sec. Technically, the negative regeneration is only –32 hp/sec because you still get the +3 hp/sec from the Helm of Iron Will. If you get this item before your satanic it gives you more opportunity to roam the forest for stunners/disablers. It also makes you a more formidable hero earlier, but has the potential to put you behind if you have an unlucky streak and die several times. I have added replays of getting this item before and after purchasing my reaver for Satanic. I find that this item is most effective when you get it after satanic because you can farm it much faster at that point in the game. It also gives you huge boosts in damage that leads to more life steal and in some cases is better than a hyperstone for damage.
The choice between power treads and boots of travel really just comes down to personal preference. If you need map mobility, then boots of travel might be the better choice. However, if you are defending most of the game or not traveling cross map very often then power treads might be the better choice. If you decide to go power treads, purchase them after your helm of the dominator and before your reaver. I used to only get boots of travel, but I find the bonus 10 strength and attack speed can really help you become a killer earlier. Also, between the frost attack on EDF and the bonus move speed there isn't really a chance anyone is out running you regardless of what move speed item you purchase.
Boots of Travel
You should purchase this item when your team has pushed all the way across the map and you need the mobility to get there. If your team is on the verge of finishing the game or making a break through, then boots of travel are essential to your ability to finish up the game. Another time to get this item after satanic is if you could use it to improve your farming drastically. If your team has lost all of their towers in top, bottom, and mid lanes then you should spend the gold on an item that will improve your dps/survivability. The great thing about boots of travel with level 3 EDF is that you will be one of the fastest heroes in the game and it will be very hard for anyone to escape you (especially after the nerf to dagger XD).
This is the item that I normally get as my 2nd core item because it synergizes best with DK than pretty much any other item listed above. The attack speed increase allows you to kill heroes quicker while improving your survivability through life steal and the really great armor bonus. Not to mention that the attack speed aura is great for your allies and since you are so difficult to eradicate you will almost always be able to stay in combat to support your allies. Most likely you will not be able to afford this item until level 20+, so after purchasing your hyperstone I suggest you move onto another core item like heart, BoT, buriza, or armlet. Basically this item will boost your armor to between 66-72% reduction, which is great late game with life steal and is really effective vs. heroes that have high crit damage.
Heart of Tarrasque
It only makes sense to get this item if you are the tank for your team because the 1k hp bonus and the massive regen and mediocre attack damage boost are all quite helpful. If I get boots of travel before completing my assault cuirass I normally will get this item because without it you might not have enough HP to stay indefinitely in the battle.
If you are looking to boost your damage quite a bit and want more lane presence then this might be the best item for you to get. I personally do not get this item very often, unless I am dominating and have already purchased my reaver for a satanic. Generally, bkb armlet, hyperstone, boots of travel, or heart take precedence over this item for me. Radiance tends to get weaker as the game goes along, thus if you cannot complete it quickly after satanic, there are usually better options to buy.
I do not recommend rushing this item after your Satanic because you will not have good enough attack speed or high enough damage to make this the most useful item right after your satanic. If you buy a armlet, hyperstone, heart, radiance, BKB, or MKB then this item will be worth getting. This item can be great, but it is not essential on DK and needs another item to boost damage or attack speed significantly. The reason I suggest getting it later is because the damage boost late game (say 50+ mins in) will be game breaking and DK needs mobility, survivability, and attack speed before a damage item like this.
Monkey King Bar
Being that you already have a stun, you don't really need to get this. This item does give you some ridiculous damage though, and combined with life steal you will be a scary dpser for teams who do not have enough disables to keep you down. If you prefer huge damage items over survivability ones then this item can be worthwhile, but I do not recommend it over buriza for damage. I leave this item for my 6th slot, and have yet to have a game last long enough to complete my entire build.
Black King Bar
If you are facing a team that seems to slow/stun you the entire fight, then you might want to get this item. It does give a decent damage boost, but the 9 seconds of magic immunity can be very helpful in team fights that generally do not last much longer then that. Another time this item might be useful is against heroes like tree or destroyer so you can avoid their deadly ults. If you ever have a poor early game, or cannot farm 3200 gold for your reaver in time, then this is a good potential item to buy after your HotD.
This item has gotten much better over the past two patches because of the decrease in price and the 18 sec spell block. Against a team of single target stunners/nukers this item might be the best choice for your funds if you already completed your satanic. I know some players like having more regen early in the game, especially mana regen, and likens is a good way to get regen early and use those items for something useful later on.
This item has gotten a lot of discussion on the strategy forums about its viability on DK. I have used it before and found it can be a worthwhile investment. This item works well against heroes with game breaking ults, blinkers, or heroes with an invisibility skill that always seem to escape. If you decide to purchase this item, I suggest you get some serious HP beforehand, otherwise you will be little more than a support hero for your team. Therefore, wait until you have purchased a reaver or a reaver and strength treads. The downside to this item is that it gives way more mana and mana regen than DK needs, but in some situations it can be quite useful.
Items not to get
Sange and Yasha (5,100)
Yes, it is a good item on DK, but orb effects do not stack so we don't get this. It does improve IAS, but so does hyperstone, which is better. The movement speed is decent, but boots of travel or power treads and EDF cover that pretty well. If you weren't going Satanic I would not flame you for going this item, but I think Satanic is a better item for a tank hero like DK.
For some reason this item is popular in pubs, which I don't understand at all. I assume they get it because they like pererverance for regen and they decided to complete the item for damage. For starters the splash damage is useless when you have EDF that has FULL splash damage. Secondly, if you want damage so bad finish your satanic or get a radiance. Some of you are probably thinking right now, well I get it for mana regen noob! Ugh... If you truly feel you do not have enough mana regen from stats and ring of basilius then get a void stone, another sobi mask, or a robe of the magi for an orchids or likens or what have you. The fact of the matter is a void stone gives you the mana to spam breathe fire which is more cost efficient than a battle fury for clearing creeps. If you decide to get this item I will personally come to your house and murder your family Chris Benoit style.
I see a lot of people getting this and say they are becoming a defensive hero because of it. DK should not get this item, EVER. You already have high armor that works as a decent damage block, so all DK needs is strength. Bracers, power treads, and reavers are a far better choice for DK because they offer him damage as well. DK is not like axe, bristle back, or centaur who actually benefit greatly from getting a vanguard. Axe has counter helix that works well with vanguard, bristle back has quill spray and bristle back for damage, and centaur has return and greater strength to provide damage. DK does not have any passive skill that gives him damage to make it worth getting a vanguard. All that vanguard does is delay you from getting better items and having enough damage to carry your team later.
For some reason people get this item on DK thinking it will give them better life steal, even though they spend most of their time fighting in EDF form. Vlad's life steal is a melee aura and that is all the justification you need to not waste money on this item.
You do not have the mana to support using this item and that's really the whole reason you shouldn't get it. Besides, you have high regeneration and you are going for satanic for life steal so why delay that?
Cranium Basher (3,220)
Are you playing a 1v1 game? If so you are refering to the wrong guide because this is a team based build.
Guinsoo's Scythe of Vyse (5,900)
They really changed this item around in 6.50 and now it is not as viable as it used to be. I think it now supplies way more mana than you need without giving much else. It is great for intel heroes now, but besides giving +10 to all stats, it is not so great for non intel heroes. However, if your team does need another disable, then guinsoo is still an option. If your team just needs a way to deal with blinkers, invis heroes, or heroes with powerful spell combos, then you are better off getting an orchid's.
The Ideal Build
This is the build I aim for most of my games, with substitutions made when necessary. A significant number of people requested that I clarify the items that I usually go on DK, and I suppose this does summarize what I attempt to achieve every game. I have never completed the entire build and I will probably never see the day when I do. However, in one of the replays I have posted for 1.22 I was able to finish satanic, heart, power treads, buriza, and a hyperstone by the end of the game. Please take note that this is not the ideal build for all situations, for example, if the other team has tons of disables and slows, then you should include a bkb and/or a linkens. Either way, I hope this clarifies a few things for my viewers.
It is essential that you choose the middle lane whenever possible. You will not be spending a great deal of time at the neutrals early, but it is important that you can keep farming without any delay and be able to hop back in the lane to defend a tower. I suggest going mid lane whenever possible because the hill going into the river will give you a better chance of last hitting against a ranged hero without being punished severely for it. If you have a lane partner with a disable or a slow, then get dragon tail as your first skill. If your partner does not have any reliable disable or slow, or if you are solo, then get breathe fire and dragons blood. That is unless getting level 1 of your stun will be necessary to save you in the laning phase of the game.
If for some reason your allies are douche bags and do not let you go mid, then go bottom for sent or top for scourge. It is important that you be in a lane that is near your tower and neutrals that you can creep/dominate later.
Early Game level 1-10
Before I divulge into the specific strategy I am going to set up some priorities to clarify a few things.
Use your mana wisely
Defend your tower!
Destroy enemy towers whenever possible
Check runes for potential ganks
You should save your mana primarily for harassing enemy heroes while killing creeps at the same time with breathe fire early game. The more creep kills you can get with a breathe fire while hitting the enemy hero(es) in your lane the better. If one of your allies is coming for a gank soon, then conserve your mana for when they arrive. You should also conserve your mana if the enemy hero is going to try and push your tower to give his team tower gold or they are going to dive your tower in an effort to kill you.
Mid lane is the best lane for DK because he can easily kill off the green neutrals close to the tower while the creeps push well into enemy territory. However, do not spend so much time neutraling that you let your mid tower fall. Losing the mid tower on either side of the map opens your team up to more ganking. Also, losing towers in mid lane means that someone is almost always stuck in that lane pushing the creeps back and that means it is less likely you can defend a tower in another lane. This also makes it much more difficult to team push because the creep waves are harder to take down.
If you are in a dual lane with a fellow stunner, be sure to save mana for a stun whenever possible. 4+ seconds of stun in a row can be deadly early game and even shut down many strong lane combos. The only time you should struggle early game is before you reach level 6. EDF level 1 gives you a green dragon with corrosive breath as its passive. Against aggressive lanes, you can fight back very effectively by hitting them whenever possible. The poison does 100 magic damage over time and when combined with your attack damage, will hurt the enemy for at least 120 damage. If an opponent is being stupid and letting you get him low with your poison, then save up for a breathe fire and use it when they are just about out of attack range. I have gotten many kills by playing these kind of mind games with people and predicting how much hp the poison will drain.
I do not suggest bottle for DK, but that does not exclude you from checking the runes. Runes appear every 2 minutes in game time, starting at the 2 minute mark. So in RD you should check for the rune at the 2 min mark before the creeps spawn or at least have one of your allies do that. When you do pick up runes, look for opportunities to either push a tower or get a kill. Haste and invisibility runes are a very easy way to get a kill in an allies lane and double damage and image runes are great for taking down towers. Taking down towers is the best way to get gold with DK early game because a tier 1 tower is at least 350 gold in your coffers.
Mid Game level 11-16
Defend your base
Team push their base
Finish your satanic/begin your next core item
Remember dota is won by destroying the enemy base, not how many hero kills one team has. That is why it is of the utmost importance to make sure you do not lose your barracks. As I mentioned before, losing towers means it is more difficult to organize a team push when the enemy creeps are always in your territory and are harder to take down. You will find that EDF is a great way to defend your base during a team push because the aoe clears the creeps quickly, while the ranged attack keeps you a safe distance away.
Hopefully through ganks and taking down the enemy towers you will have the advantage of map control. This makes organizing a team push easier and does not require your team to get a kill before being able to successfully team push. During team pushes you should sit back with the ranged heroes on your team to do the majority of your attacking. Use Breathe fire initially and/or at the end of the fight to kill heroes. Save your stun for the dps heroes that tend to go after intel and other support heroes on your team. Your stun is not meant for initiating, so use it to defend your allies that support you.
Most games you will have purchased your reaver around the same time you reach level 16. Due to the indirect nerf to satanic, you no longer life steal off of your splash damage, so delaying the satanic recipe is a potential option. I usually delay the recipe until I complete my 2nd core item or find that dominating creeps is no longer helping the team. Eventually in team fights the creeps you dominate will die so quick you might only get 1 spell off and by this point it is usually time to open another inventory slot by finishing your satanic.
Late game level 16+
Protect your barracks at all costs
Farm as much as possible when not pushing
Use EDF on ganks, offensive, and defensive pushes
It should come as no surprise that the most important goal late game is to defend your barracks. If you lose barracks and cannot counter-push to even up the barracks lost per side then winning will become very difficult even for DK.
DK really becomes a farming fiend mid/late game once he gets splash damage in EDF form. This is the reason DK becomes so damn difficult to eradicate late game and why you can usually keep up in items with most other carries in the game. You should not fall into a cookie cutter build though when playing DK. There are a lot of choices to make when deciding your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. items after Satanic. You need to conform to the role that your team requires of you. The best item for initially boosting DPS is a hyperstone because you can make use of the attack speed because EDF 3 has a nice slow that keeps the enemy in range. If your team needs you to tank for them, then a heart will probably be the best item. If you need more hp and attack damage and/or getting raped by nukes every fight then a BKB might be the best choice. Either way, you can see that depending on the situation the best item to get will vary a lot.
As the game progresses on you will find that EDF level 3 and life steal becomes increasingly better. The biggest problem you will face on offensive or defensive pushes is that your allies tend to die much quicker than you do. Do your best to use your frost splash attack on as many heroes as you can at once. Conserve your stuns for chasing down enemies and protecting your allies that support you. Even late game you should not initiate most of the time unless you are chasing an enemy down. The best thing you can do to carry your team is to stay alive and keep attacking from a distance. Unlike most tanks, your main goal isn’t just to soak up damage.
By the time you obtain your 3rd and 4th core items you will probably notice that there aren’t a whole lot of people who can kill you. Most dps heroes cannot touch you because you slow them, life steal, have high armor (70% reduction), and have disables, which most other carry heroes lack. Generally the only time DK will lose a close match late game is when you become cocky and try to take on more than you can handle. Once you obtain your 3rd core item, it is a good idea to always have enough cash saved that you can buy back if necessary. There are some heroes that can out carry you late game, but there really aren’t many heroes that can kill you late game unless you let them.
These heroes all have one thing in common besides being ranged. They all have a stun or disable that can be a great way of initiating for DK. Their stuns or disables give DK enough time to get in close to land another 2.5 seconds of stun time. These are the optimal heroes to lane with because they are ranged and can all initiate for DK giving both of you the chance to score kills early and often. Enigma deserves special mention because of his ability to mini stun the enemy over 4 seconds at levels 2-3 and 6 seconds at level 4. This gives DK more time to react than any of the other disables, except for maybe furions. However, with furions disable it does not do damage like Enigma's does. Both furion and enigma are probably the best partners because of their long disables and edbolons/treants that can help in pushing.
In terms of lane partners, I would avoid the double melee lanes with undying and brood mother. Brood mother is alright in a lane with you until they get wards, then the chances of brood getting close enough to slow them until you can get a stun off are very low. If you really want to dominate lanes and score your team tower gold early you are best having furion, enigma, rhasta, or warlock in your lane. These heroes all help you kill the enemy to some extent and have summons that can help take down a tower quick. Syllabear, visage, and chen (if he has summons) can be good allies for taking down towers, but less effective at helping both of you score kills early. Syllabear needs luck to get an entangle on the enemy so you can stun them; visage's slow is not a very high % until level 4, but visage does offer good pushing ability with reverents; and chen has a decent slow at level 4, but he can be more helpful if he mind controls a troll warlord to initiate so you can stun.
All of these heroes are good lanners that can help you get kills and get in more last hit/denies early. If you cannot lane with a ranged disabler all of these heroes will make for a decent lane partner.
If you can, avoid laning with heroes that do not have a decent slow or disable, such as sniper, enchantress, silencer, etc. Most of the time, the heroes that do not make great lane partners are those that are your team’s solo anyways. DK is not a great baby sitter, so let warlock, dazzle, or viper do that instead of you.
What if I get stuck soloing?
If you get stuck soloing, then you're best off not getting any skill points in stun and just using breathe fire and dragons blood to last hit and harass. Generally you will never get close enough to get a stun off or the only time will be is when they chase you next to your tower. In either of these cases you are normally against ranged intel or agil heroes mid who have fairly low HP. With some breathe fire harassment you will not only stay ahead in level, be able to farm, but you will also be likely to send them back to the well.
If there is one hero that counters DK pretty well all game, it is enchantress. Early game she makes last hitting hell with impetus, thus you get stuck using breathe fire to farm/harass her. Unlike many other good ranged harassers, enchantress is not going to have to heal at any point because of her heal. Also, enchantress with an early hand of midas can keep equally farmed with you throughout the game. Hand of midas and her enchant skill also counters your use of dominated creeps badly. Impetus's damage is pure, thus even when used against you late game it will not be reduced by your high armor. Impetus is also good against you if you use EDF because it turns you into a ranged hero, which enchant's impetus is based on her range from you .
Now with EDF and your stun, you could get close, but enchantress's slow (enchant) keeps you from getting close enough to stun. Even if you do get a stun off, she will probably out DPS you and then you are stuck running from her. When you get level 16, you have a better chance against her because your frost attack slows her in return. However, she still can still keep some distance because of enchant's slow and a guinsoo, which most enchant players get. So once again, by the time you even get in close enough to stun, it is likely you are too injured to finish the job.
Enchant's weakness is slows and burst damage, which you only have the one counter by level 16. Her nature's attendants will keep her alive against you all game because breathe fire does not give DK enough burst damage to take her out. Also, when DK goes for attack speed items later, her passive ultimate reduces your already slow attack speed. By the end of a normal game you will still probably not be able to kill her without help, and she might not be able to kill you, but you'll be stuck running everytime.
All of the heroes in the above pictures are pretty solid counters of DK early. They punish DK more than most other heroes when he goes in for last hits. In some cases, these heroes make it virtually impossible to last hit, except when creeps are pushed to your tower. Now I do not consider these heroes great counters all game long though because most of them lose effectiveness vs. you late game. Against nukers your HP pool eventually grows so much that their nukes are not enough to repel you. Against axe, panda, and slardar you tend to out farm them most games and EDF 3 with your longer stun and high armor keeps you from worrying about these heroes as much later.
Besides those heroes, in a 1v1 situation there is not much to worry about. Even with the above 5 heroes you can still farm fairly well to keep on par early/mid game. What you should really worry about is a hero combo that can make your life hell. These combos are as follows, 2 slowers are the worst, a slower and a stunner are equally bad, and 2 stunners can be a pain for basically any hero, yourself included. 2 Nukers can also be a problem for DK early, but with a healer as a lane partner, a hood of defiance, or just playing it safe you can deal with them fairly easily. Nukers are also a bit fragile and your counter harassment can keep them low HP as well. If you're against nukers they will lose effectiveness against you as the game drags on and your regen/high HP makes you fairly good against nukers compared to many other strength heroes. Against most combos if you have a competant partner you should be able to hold your own.
Now I could include extreme dps and basher heroes in here as late game heroes to fear, however, that is pretty common for just about every hero in dota. You have a long duration stun and a frost attack that can make sure you keep your distance from such heroes. Thus, I do not consider extreme dps and basher heroes to be a great counter to you even late game.