Guide is based exclusively on my personal expirience and to be used at your own risk.
It does not depend on your starting lane setup and it is assumed that you are playing solo (you don’t have a wisp buddy to make your life easy). The build is entirely focused on utilizing blink dagger and making heavy impact on the early-midgame. Also after giving it some thought I would say this guide is somewhat advanced, because most of the stuff that goes without saying here is not actually that obvious.
Before we move onto the build, let’s figure out some basic gameplay decisions.
First of all I’m going to point out some popular beliefs about N’aix, which are complete ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥:
- Lifestealer steals lifes, he does not jungle. You can easily get 00:30 double ursa double alpha wolfs and ghosts, which would mean you’ve fallen behind, and expecting people to carry your underleveled ♥♥♥ does not fit into this builds purpose. Chen can jungle, Enchantress can jungle, N’aix can not. I’m going to leave figuring out the differences to you. (If life is hard and you are jungling after all, look up choke point jungling and get 2 stout shields, one for each hand)
- Lifestealer is not a hardcarry. This might sound shocking but 6 slot void, pa or whatever is going to murder you, so you dont play macro games with them. It does not mean that you’re not farm dependant.
- Fast midas is a bad choice in most of the situations, first slot midas is always a bad choice.
For 50 extra gold you can go for drums and stick, I’m not even going to put the stat comparsion list on.
If you’re going fast midas usually it is going to be starting items into boots+orb of venom+stick into midas. It can be easily completed 6 minutes in while giving you a better setup.
Second, some important rules to follow, some are not really dependant on the hero you choose:
- Dota is not a movie, you never watch it. If you ever want to win, you will have to sweat like a ♥♥♥♥♥.
- You will not be stopping the creeps most of the time, fight for the 00:00 rune, it is the number one priority. It will guarantee you fb in most of the cases.
- Never skill anything until the very moment of using it. This does not go for stats but you won’t be skilling them first 14 levels anyway. N’aix has an extremely powerful skillset (who doesn’t) so every point will make the difference, and the game situation changes continuously.
- AFK farming is the worst decision. You will have to learn to farm while being part of every fight on the map, that’s the way it goes. Take those 10 seconds to kill the ancients every time you’re passing by, and do your best to lasthit every tower. Lasthitting every creep in the lane goes without saying.
- Most of cases, DO NOT use infest for initiation. You will be able to use the nuke anyway, else is wasted utility.
When going to the lane, always aim for the safe lane to get your core as soon as possible. And by safe lane I do not mean the short one, I mean the one you will be able to control better. N’aix is no more a king of triples, try to avoid that ♥♥♥♥. Do try to draw some roamer’s attention to your lane for some easy kills. Laning solo while ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ all over your opponent is the perfect scenario, for the extra exp.
This is where the introduction section ends.
The not-so-obvious stuff part.
Some people who read this might actually have under 2k games played so I guess I should add some useful advice in this section, random thoughts mostly.
When you go shortlane, it is vital that you do not push it. Means the wave stays where it first started fighting for as long as you dont push the t1 tower. This can be easily done getting 8 lasthits per wave, 4 on enemy creeps and 4 on yours. Just make sure that ranged creeps of each wave bring each other down to half health. This obviously is harder to maintain in case you kill your lane opponent every minute cause you will draw aggro, but as long as they stay level 2 until the t1 is gone you’re fine.
Lane control is the next priority. Your shortlane is called “hardlane” for them for a reason, ♥♥♥♥ing act like it! Like I’ve already mentioned, make sure they get as little expirience as possible, preferably zero. This means enemy hero does not stand in a 1200 aoe around where the creep dies. In most cases you can do it solo if you’ve gotten first blood, if not – you will need some roamer’s help. If none is to be expected, atleast deny every allied creep you can.
If some poor soul wants to hardsupport you and for some reason you’ve failed to convince him not to, make sure he farms the medium camp instead of sharing your lane exp. As soon as you get pb and helm of iron will, you should push the t1, clear out your jungle and go for the ancients. It is best if you start killing them around 9 minute mark. Make sure to tell the support to take the lane every time you’re gone so he can see his ♥♥♥♥ing boots and level 5 until the game ends.
All the time you are moving from ancients to towers, you are roaming. Your roaming starts at 00:00 by hopefully getting the rune. That would mean, most of the time, that your solomid is busy perfectly executing creepstop, that’s why if you got anything that’s not regen, you should try to fb mid. Note that it will only work if your mid is atleast competent AND you can block enemy hero movement while attacking.
If you’re ahead and farming, always look for extra kills and tower pushes. One pretty basic thing is looking at your minimap, you should do that all the time your are not microing your hero. All the stuff is happening there, not on the screen. Scouting their jungle in case of a 10 minute midas furion also provides a free kill. You are supposed to have your lumbering axe at that time.
Not yours you silly goose! Always check enemy hero inventories when you catch them out of fog.
It is absolutely important to keep track of every item that will stop you from killing people: mekansm, yolo scepter, forcestaff, orchid or hex and so on. Also keep note of their auras. If the fiveman doto has already started and their team is ac+vlads ahead, you should probably choose to skip some fighting if possible.
As for your items, check out the itembuild section or the build itself. What goes naturally is geting as comfortable with them as your own limbs. Phase boots, magic wand, blink and armlet usage has to be polished to the state where you use it properly without thinking of it. These are pretty much the core mechanics of any build or hero.
Vision and detection
You’re the person getting the most farm on the map and the least free slots. Buy the wards and drop them out of stash every time you need them. This will ensure that the poor ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥s can afford their boots and tp scrolls, and if your caring presense goes for long enough, even such luxury stuff like forcestaffs and mekansms. This might help them stop getting themselves dead.
The gem and dusts you should also buy yourself obviously, and in most of the cases you shouldnt trust gem to anyone cause you are the initiator. Your standard setup in case the enemy team has that one catlady is pb+basher+armlet+blink+ac/drums+gem.
Skill build order.
There is no fixed order, it goes differently every game.
Level one you skill open wounds most of the time. The typical situations include picking up haste/dd/invis 00:00, killing the clueless offlaner with someones help or just getting fb in general. In rare situations can be used defensively.
If you need the immunity for a tp-out or some direct stun evasion, you skill rage.
If none of the mentioned ♥♥♥♥ happened, you don’t skill anything and wait for level 2 to skill feast and an appropriate active. Level 3 you skill the remaining active or feast if the game went wild and you had to skip it first two levels. After that you have the following priority: infest>open wounds>rage>feast. Infest is skilled 11 and 16 due to the damage increase. Next goes the slow for the cooldown reduction. Last goes the rage for the AS increase. I never actually tried going stats over feast, might do that later on.
Feast has the lowest priority due to the lowest benefit for one skillpoint investment.
When getting a really early basher, you might want to stop wounds at 2/4 and max out rage first.
Finishing up with some separate skill advices, mostly for completely new players:
- Skilling this once gives you a free tp-out given you have 150 mana to spare and no bkb-piercing CC in the proximity, one of the reasons it’s vital to have a tp at all times.
- Don’t forget that the skill has two important components and a considerable cooldown. Make sure you won’t need to avoid CC when using it for the AS. Can also be used to speed up ancients or roshan farming.
- It’s your usual magic immunity so it’s going to dispel most of the buffs. Keep that in mind so you don’t dispel a rune at low levels when not needed, that sort of stuff.
Feast does not work on Roshan.
- The initial slow is 70% lasting 2 seconds, then it fades out over the duration. For slowing purpose try to cast it after manta/fs/eul was used.
- The lifesteal works on roshan, also works for any allied hero for all sources of damage.
- Already mentioned twice, infest ganks are a ♥♥♥♥ idea, most of the time. If you’re not completely sure about it, you might lose a ton of time and even get killed if the engagement was ♥♥♥♥ed up.
You can always use it to nuke banished or unreachable hero because of the huge aoe.
- Heal will only trigger if Consume is activated.
- The cooldown is low so don’t forget to use it on large camp creeps to heal up and grab fast exp at level 6. Also makes diving safe and easy at lvl 6 if reached on a lane with an advantage.
You can also escape the fight in an allied hero or wait for a blink cooldown or arrive in a creepwave to ambush a splitpusher, what the ♥♥♥♥ ever, use your imagination.
Item build order.
The following goes for having 603 gold at the start, guess why.
GG branch – called so for a reason, all extra money goes here.
Stout shield – you get this every game with no exceptions. You will either get harassed or take creep aggro.
Regen – I usually go for tango and salve because all kinds of ♥♥♥♥ tend to happen. If you can see into the future you can take one of them or two of the same kind depending on it.
Quelling blade – lowest priority but you should always have it all the time you can spare a slot. It speeds up neutrals and ancients farming, core against furion until you get your blink and helps you lasthit the first creepwaves. If you can’t spare the starting money, get it from the sideshop asap.
Sentry wards – a clueles offlane gondar is a free firstblood, never skip on it. Most of them are clueless. Also get this against weaver and probably treant in case you have someone to support you with a stun. Has higher priority than quelling blade and gg branches.
After you haven’t missed a single lasthit off first several waves you get boots, orb of venom and astick. These are core even against a team of five windrunners. With this setup nothing stop your from getting fb.
Boots have highest purchase priority, and the boots of choice for any hero who fights in melee early in the game are phase boots. If this is for some rason new for you, phase boots are called so because the most important property on them is a 50% uptime phase which makes you ignore unit collision thus preventing you from being body-blocked in melee. PT should be picked in like 5% of the games, it’s a lategame/autismal jungling item.
I hope I do not have to explain in detail why armlet is mandatory. Stats + toggling opportnity makes it obvious. Usually you go straight for it. If laning didn’t go as clean as you had wished for, go for drums after getting helm of iron will, then finish the armlet.
After having armlet+pb+wand+drums+orb+2 tp scrolls, you are looking to replace orb with basher.
Now for the fun part, depending on the game situation you go either for ac into blink, or straight forblink.
I can’t stress how important blink on naix is heavily enough. Just try it and see the difference.
Situational and lategame stuff:
After getting your core, since you are going to be diving a lot, you will need armor. Best choice is obviously ac. The item which compliments it the most is desolator. If you need to focus on nuking power, go straight for abyssal, skipping ac+deso. Usually ac+deso is a more safe decision for a less one-sided game. If you’re balling too hard, go straight for abyssal with disassembling it into rapier later on if you so wish.
This item setup covers up most of the game situations I’ve encountered.
If you can get it 6 minutes into the game, you might go for it. If it is any later, usually skipping it and going for core makes more sense. What you have to understand is that midas does not boost your gold, it is only used to boost your expirience. A common scenario would be selling it right after getting level 16 and getting armor or blink.
To sum it up, 15 minute armlet drums pb is a solid timing. 20-22 minute core is what you should be attempting to do. If you manage to have it in time and play properly, the game should be easily won. The important thing is not to overcommit and find a perfect balance between farming and diving, in case the enemy team is not utterly ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ and has decent cooperation.
Everything listed above is my preferred build, it is more optional than that. Consider getting urn of shadows and medallion of courage as your early items if the situation suggests so. Also depending on the game setup you might not need armor reduction at all (thats pretty rare though), that’s when you can skip AC and deso and go for Mjollnir and Abyssal straight from armlet. Just make sure someone gets Vlads and Mek so you dont end up with 3 armor.
For more (less) detailed info see the build link in the description.
One last important thing to point out: dota is a fun game, go play some. This guide does not cover even a small part of all my lifestealer gameplay aspects, all the minor stuff you should be able to figure out on your own.
Oh, and feel free to leave any feedback in the comments.