One of the least recognized characters in Dota, Riki has been considered a powerful pick only once back in the 6.50s, when his Backstab dealt magic damage, resulting in huge burst with Diffusal, and true sight AoE was generally nerfed. Other than that, he hasn’t seen the light of day much.
In 6.86, his two trademarks, Permanent Invisibility and Backstab are now 1 skill, Blink Strike was turned back to what it used to be, and his ulti is now a whole new spell. . . or is it?
The idea of Cloak and Dagger (don’t mind the cheesy name) was to merge two skills that weren’t exactly powerful into a single ability, allowing Riki to get some better progression; indeed, leveling Backstab first would hurt his very concept of roaming around the map unseen, while leveling Invisibility would diminish his damage. While this sounds pretty good for him at first, note that the two skills’ benefits themselves got nerfed a bit. Backstab deals a little less damage, while Invisibility doesn’t provide the extra HP regeneration.
Blink Strike is again a regular skill without charges, reaching up to a mere 4 second cooldown, which allows him to Backstab more often and chase effectively. However, with his INT base and gain being nothing less that horrible, a few blinks, a smoke and his new active ult can deplete his mana quickly.
Smoke Screen can arguably be called his most dangerous skill in general. It also got nerfed a bit, not slowing turn rates anymore, and a single Force Staff can still counter it.
If you think you’ve heard Tricks of the Trade somewhere before, let me give you a hint:
Sleight of Fist.
Yes, they’re pretty much the same skill with a few alterations.
When Tricks first came out, it could hit creeps as well. This resulted in obvious Sleight of Fist shenanigans, with Battle Fury and Daedalus, destroying multiple unit pushes, as well as Riki’s concept. Why be an assassin when you can be a terminator? Now, it only hits Heroes.
So, is this new Stealth Assassin (to tell him apart from the infamous Open Assassins) worth our time?
He hasn’t had much luck as a roamer, even with his 2-in-1 skill, mainly because he needs levels and farm to be effective. Grabbing a few kills early at best just doesn’t cut it anymore if the Hero doesn’t stay relevant throughout the whole game, so it’s better to play him as a core.
He’s still countered heavily by True Sight, apparently, and an offlane would also hinder his farm a lot. Since he’s too item-dependant, perhaps his best opportunity would be his old position, as a carry. His lack of direct clash potential made him a questionable carry, unless your opponents were half your skill, or you’d snowballed really hard. That’s where Tricks of the Trade kicks in, as a means to actually be able to somewhat team fight. Is this enough though?
Short version, no, it’s not. Judging if a hero is valid for a role always happens in comparison to other heroes, and the Tricks vs Sleight duel is inevitable. Personally, I see zero reasons to have the former instead of the latter. I’ve played against both, and Ember Spirit can Cleave everything in sight for +80 damage twice in 6 seconds. He also does so faster most of the time. While Riki deals more attacks in a single cast, he really needs to get setup to deal full damage. Also, having lost his ability to damage creeps with this, Ember is definitely more dangerous. People have to push highground in order to win, and that’s the place where Xin shines, while Riki cries alone in the corner.
In the end, our poor satyr still can’t stand up to the beasts of modern age.