Dota 2 Item and Build Guide: Sand King (Crixalis)

Updated on February 16, 2017

"I will show you fear in a handful of sand..."

If you are new to Dota 2, be sure to check out my guide for beginners here..

"The sands of the Scintillant Waste are alive and sentient--the whole vast desert speaks to itself, thinking thoughts only such a vastness can conceive. But when it needs must find a form to communicate with those of more limited scope, it frees a fragment of itself, and fills a carapace..."

Sand King is a melee Strength hero that can deal high amounts of magical damage through his Burrowstrike and his ultimate, Epicenter. He also has two abilities that allow him to dodge projectiles, making him very deadly in the hands of professional players. He is one of the most versatile heroes in the game as he can push, initiate, support, roam, gank, and even semi-carry if he can pull it off. Although Crixalis is relatively easy to learn, he is not an easy hero to master.

Fun hero if you can combo
Quite squishy
Lots of escape mechanisms
Needs more farm compared to other supports
Relatively easy to farm with
Mana hungry
Powerful spells
Hard to master
[Q] Burrowstrike
[W] Sand Storm
[E] Caustic Finale
[R] Epicenter
One of the best stuns in the game
Great escape mechanism
Has potential for lots of damage
Can easily get team wipes with this
Zero cast time, which means it's pretty much an instant stun.
Ok for farming
Mainly used to farm
Need to know when to use it
Short range at low levels
Easily countered with sentry wards
Great in 1v1 situations
Combos really well with a Blink dagger
Can be used to initiate or escape


  • Burrowstrike:
    • Hit units will fly for 0.52 seconds before the real stun is applied.
  • Sand Storm:
    • Sand Storm can be used to dodge projectiles.
    • Because of Epicenters channeling time the invisibility from Sand Storm is directly removed if activating the ultimate.
  • Caustic Finale:
    • Exploding units leave no corpse.
    • Mechanical units take damage if in radius, the debuff however does not apply to them.
  • Epicenter:
    • Sand King channels for 2 seconds before activating this ability. Stopping the channeling will waste the cooldown and mana required for the ability.
    • The radius of the pulses is 275 / 325 / 375 / 425 / 475 / 525 / 575 / 650 / 675 / 700.
    • Should Sand King die during the damage phase all remaining pulses will be cast at his last location.
    • Deals a total of 660/880/1100 damage.
    • The slow goes through magic immunity, but the damage does not.

Skill build

Build 1 - standard build
Build 2 - solo lane

Skill build explanation

For build 1, Burrowstrike (Q) should ALWAYS be maxed first. You need the extra range for initiating. Level 1 Sand storm (W) is enough because all you want is the 1.5s invisible time. Grabbing a level into Caustic finale (E) should be enough to farm creeps.

Sand storm (W) vs Caustic finale (E)

  • This is where things can be a bit flexible. If you need shorter cooldown on Sand storm (W) because there's a lot of action going on, max it second. If things are a bit passive or you're in a 1v1 situation, and you want to farm faster, max Caustic finale (E) second.

For build 2, you want the extra damage from Caustic finale (E) to harass, farm, and potentially score some kills. Make sure you attack each creep and follow it up with a Burrowstrike (Q) to maximize your explosion damage.

How to use Blink dagger on Sand King:

"Epicenter-blink combo":

  1. Channel Epicenter (R) (preferably somewhere the enemies can't see you).
  2. As soon as channel finishes, IMMEDIATELY blink into the fight and stun with Burrowstrike (Q). This can also be done by holding shift and blink.

When chasing:

  1. Blink to get closer to enemy.
  2. Stun with Burrowstrike (Q).

When escaping:

  1. Use Sand storm (W).
  2. Stun enemies with Burrowstrike (Q) (Optional)
  3. Blink to safety.

For positioning (harder to do):

  1. Blink to a location where you can stun at least 2 enemy heroes

Since Sand King is consider as support as well an initiator, don't forget to get a courier and wards if your supports haven't already gotten one.

Early game items:

  • Magic wand/Magic stick: This little item is very cost efficient and will save your life. Grab your Magic STICK early, and upgrade later.
  • Bracer(s)/Urn of shadows: Either one of these is great for increasing your survivability. Urn is favorable if you are going to be participating in ganks early on. Bracer can be upgraded to Drums later.

Core items for Sand King:

  • Arcane boots/Phase boots/Power treads: Any of these boots can be viable with Sand King. Arcanes will solve his mana problems. Phase will allow you to chase/imitate easier. Treads will help you tank up a bit.
  • Blink dagger: Absolute core on Sand King. You NEED this for team fights.

Luxury items:

  • Drums of Endurance: Great pick up on any hero. If you bought a bracer early on, then upgrade it to Drums after your dagger.
  • Veil of discord: Even more magical damage. Also increases your team magical damage.
  • Aghanim's scepter: Makes you more tanky, also allows you to use your ultimate more frequently.
  • Black king bar: Lets you use Epicenter (R) in the middle of team fights without getting cancelled by stuns.
  • Shiva's guard: Combos well with Epicenter (R).

Don't have a Blink dagger? Have no fear, "Epi-strike" is here!

If the enemy is facing away from you, quickly Burrowstrike (Q) him/her. Immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY channel Epicentre (R). The enemy won't have enough time to turn around to stun or hex you (Because of turn rates). You will always get your Epicenter (R) off with this method

  • Note: This will NOT work if they are facing towards you.

Early game:

  • Even though you are a support, you still need farm to be effective. So don't lane with a hard carry that needs a lot of farm.
  • You can setup easy kills if the enemy is caught out of position, thanks to your zero cast time with Burrowstrike (Q)
  • If you are against melee enemies, your Caustic finale (E) would be devastating for them.
  • Remember, Burrowstrike (Q) and Sand storm (W) can be used to dodge spells. This is very important if enemies try to gank you.

Mid game:

  • The game should now revolve around you ganking and winning team fights.
  • You have your level 4 Burrowstrike (Q), you have your Epicenter (R). You should be in those team fights whenever they are happening. So ALWAYS carry a TP scroll.
  • Having a Blink dagger will boost your killing potential tremendously
  • At this stage, you should always be aiming to stun AT LEAST 2 heroes every time you Burrowstrike (Q). So positioning is very important for Sand King.

Late game:

  • You start to lose your effectiveness at this stage. But you are still important to the team.
  • Do what you were doing in mid game, but pay more attention to where the enemies are.
  • You should never initiate, unless they are grouped together. Instead, try follow up on your team.
  • You should only initiate when defending or pushing the base.

  • Sand King is one of a few heroes with 2 abilities that are capable of disjointing projectiles. Use them wisely.
  • If you're pushing, and you have Burrowstrike (Q) and Caustic finale (E) maxed, if you attack one of the melee creeps, then burrow strike towards the ranged creep so every creep is hit, attacking the ranged creep once will clear the entire wave.
  • After initiating Sand storm (W) will protect you from auto attacks as well as deal damage to any enemy who stays in the area.

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        primepeng 3 years ago

        tx for sharing. I have found out sand king suited me and become my favourite hero. it is also easy to use, and I didn't even have to learn from others or read guides, and learn the basic skills and tactic directly from playing it. I learned something new here though