Dota Best Guides


May 13th, 2008 browsing by day


Visage, the Necro’lic

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Great thanks to Beast_Pete(you can find him here) for that nice guide. I wish you good games. Let’s see how to play good with Visage, the Necro’lic

IPB Image


I’d like to greet everyone who is reading this guide. Originally I’ve written this guide because HiT0Mi stopped updating his. I learnt the basics from him so I want to thank him again for teaching me how to play this hero.
Back in 6.32b Visage was one of the scariest picks in leagues and tournaments. He was capable of farming up a Radiance, Travel and two Hearts in like 50 minutes in an even game. After that getting a Dr Aegis was a kid’s game.
Later his return-damage was nerfed (28% -> 20%), he was more easily killed and he didn’t own that hard in team fights as before. Also new viable picks came in (Chen era with early push, more ganks, less farm), that seemed to be stronger than building up your team around Visage.
In 6.50 he was redesigned into a much different hero, but with some similarities remaining to the old version. Soul Assumption was turned into a powerful passive ability, Grave Chill became a viable spell early game thanks for the lower mana cost. However, the biggest change was with Gravekeeper’s Cloak that became a team-healing aura instead of remaining a return-damage aura. In my humble opinion this remake was more of a buff than a nerf and allows Visage to become a more versatile hero.

├Pros and Cons┤


  • Good soloer (high damage, high regen)
  • Good pusher (thanks for revenants)
  • Good tank (thanks for his aura and the farming abilities)
  • His revenants help a lot in observing the map
  • Noobie-friendly (in pubs with just auto-attack you can easily get a Relic in like 15 minutes)

  • No disabling abilities (only a slow)
  • needs survivalability boost or else he gets raped easily

├Skill Build┤

IPB Image
Skill build justification:

  1. Maxing Soul Assumption first: this ability allows you to last hit and deny more easily, harass heroes with high damage and regenerate HP fast. There can be no reason to delay this passive ability that helps your early game the most, especially as it’s mostly useful in your lane and lategame in teamfights when dozens of units die around you.
  2. Taking Grave Chill as second priority: this spell became much more useful since its manacost was lowered drastically. The amount of lanecontrol it gives early game and ganking potential it offers later is undoubted. It is much more useful than your second passive ability, which becomes more useful as your HP goes up and the amount of team-clashes increase.
  3. Putting points on Gravekeeper’s Cloak instead of Attribute Bonuses: at the time you can finally decide on wether to increase your attributes or put points on Cloak, the latter is to be chosen as team collisions become more frequent and your HP becomes higher as well, therefore Cloak becomes more beneficial regarding EHP (effective health points).
  4. Revenants all the time: revenants are crucial part of both your early game rune-control and lane-control. One of the most important part in the game is controling the runes and knowing when heroes are leaving their lanes. Revenants are similar to free observer wards, so you definitely have to get them as soon as possible.

├Core Item Builds┤

dota allstar item build images(bracer, boots of travel, monkey king bar, hex, heart of tarasque, platemail, cuirass)

2* Bracers (1020)
Radiance (5325)
PlateMail (1400)
Boots of Travel (2700)
Cuirass (+4720)
Total Cost: 15165
2* Bracers (1020)
Desolator (4420)
PlateMail (1400)
Boots of Travel (2700)
Cuirass (+4720)
Total Cost: 14260

Item build justification: these two builds are identical to each other. The main difference is when to go with which build. The first one is for ideal games, when you are either let farm freely or when your allies own your opponents too much, which result in freefarm as well. An early Radiance will make a big impact on your late game inventory and will allow you to diss out more damage early on.
Desolator is a good alternative in case you are owned too much in the lane. It has much cheaper components than Radiance’s Relic and still it owns your targets. Now that Visage has no orb abilities, Corruption seems to be the best orb choice for him, especially if…
… you go with Cuirass as second main item. It allows him to tank much more. High armor and Gravekeeper’s Cloak gives a really high EHP lategame and nice auras as well. The -armor aura stacked with Corruption’s -armor is a devastating combo especially in ganks and teamfights. The high IAS plus Grave Chill’s IAS bonuses will cover your lack of attack speed, too.
Eventhough I said, Cuirass is the second main item, there is still one recipe to complete before completing the afformentioned item. Boots of Travel is an extremely useful tool in ganks and when you get ganked. It also boosts your farming and pushing potentials and is a much more benefical item to Visage than Power Treads is. Buying a Platemail before Travel could be well reasoned in case your armor isn’t high enough to survive.

2*Bracers (1020)
Mekansm (2434)
Boots of Speed (500)
Radiance (5325)
Heart of Tarrasque (5500)
Total Cost: 14779

Item build justification: this build focuses on surviving in early game, letting you “spam” revenants and giving you and your birdies a really high armor and the ever-useful AoE heal. Later on farming out Radiance will become quite easy and from that on it’s like no effort to get further more items. No need for Guinsoo as you’ll have enough mana anyway. The Meka-Heal is quite useful for your whole team in team fights and it will be really hard to kill you in ganks. This build has not been tested by me in the new version, but others said it still works. The obvious synergy is there with Cloak-heal and Meka-heal, while RoB and Mekansm give you the armor, you may focus on HP more than with the former two builds. With this build you become more of a supporter and a tank in your team, while still having a nice DPS.
├Other Items┤

Mana Regen Items
For a very long time I dissed all kind of mana regen/INT items, even Guinsoo as well. I still think, that he really does not need such items, because even in early game, you should be able to handle your manapool especially now that Grave Chill costs less and Soul Assumption became a passive skill. Guinsoo is a nice and powerful item on you as for any other INT heroes. Skadi gives a nice HP boost, but it’s way more expensive than Heart. However now that Visage lost an orb, he may gain a new one, and the Frost Attack is a nice orb paired up with Grave Chill. Linken’s gives minor HP boost compared to Heart, and although the fast-cooling spellblock could be useful it just doesn’t block enough spells and you could spend that money on much more benefical items. Guinsoo for example gives way more INT and DPS overall. Necronomicon is a nice item, as it gives both STR and INT and the nice little necro minions, however it is to be gotten by one of your supporter teammates, as for DPS and mana Guinsoo or Orchid is far superior and to health, Heart is also a superior item over Necronomicon.
Damage and IAS items
Depending on game situation and how much you own should you get further more damage or IAS. Basically you need to have at least one damage item (Desolator or Radiance) and then if you are owning much, get even more items to boost your DPS. Recommended DPS items in order: Radiance, Desolator, Assault Cuirass, Guinsoo’s Scythe of Vyse, Monkey King Bar (against teleport escapes and channelers), Buriza-do-Kyanon (especially with the Deso+Cuirass combo), Orchid Malovalence, Skadi (antiDPS+gank). Choose one depending on your situation.
Hood of Defiance, Curiass and Other Damage Reduction Items
With the new Cloak you lost your return-damage and therefore you may increase your damage-reduction. Hood of Defiance is a nice item early game against nukers, however I would much rather get HP to compensate the lack of survivalability in early game as it is useful against physical harassment as well. 2 Bracers and/or a Vit Booster is much useful for you than a Hood. Ring of Basilius, Mekansm, Assault Cuirass or a simple Platemail on the other hand are great to your health especially as the game drags on.
Black King Bar
This is a no-brainer item: if you are chain-disabled and cannot diss out enough damage because of dieing too early, then the avatar is a much needed ability for you. BKB should be gotten after your first damage item against line-ups that consist of too many disablers.


Last hit – Deny – now that Soul Assumption became a passive ability, it finally allows you to deny well even before level6. Doign both last hits and denies is ridiculously easy with Visage. For you last hits are more important, because you need to farm up fast and the only wayyour lane-opponent can prevent your Soul Assumption to proc is either making you retreat or denying his own creeps. From level 6 you can finally deny and last hit at the same time! Just order your bats to attack one creep, while you are attacking another one.
Harassing – because of the new SA, you are not able to do orb-walks anymore, but you can still harass well enough from level3. You need to make sure you’re not autoattacking your opponent, because the creeps will both attack and block you. Always attack, then move a bit to the side and then attack again, a bit like orb-walking, but not as agressively. With your high damage and your high HP regeneration, you are able to constantly harass your enemy, so don’t ever forget to do so.
Farming with Revenants – when a creep is on red/orange health, you can start hitting it with your bats and yourself. It’s nearly impossible to deny a creep that you started focusing (unless you screw up and attack too early/late). For more imformation move on to the “How to use your Revenants?” section.
Scouting with Revenants – have some of your revenants hold their position at a good ward-place. When you reach level6, then summon 2 bats and order them to move above the cliffs near the two runes. You can see the good scouting positions in a dedicated section for “Scouting with Revenants”.
Neutraling – as your revenants are going to be the focus of the creeps most of the time, you can stay out farming at the forest for a very very long time if not forever. Whenever one of them dies just summon another one to replace it. You can have your revenants farm neutrals while you are faring in a lane, but this is recommended only from level11. There’s also another exciting way of neutraling, creep pulling with your revenants. This way you can help your ally Lina or Leshrac farm a bit faster when they are going home for refilling their HP or picking up some items. For more detailed information refer to the “How to use your Revenants?” section.
Chill-Chase – at higher levels and especially if you have a Boots of Travel, chasing becomes quite easy for you. Just cast Grave Chill on one of the opponents and perform orb-walk, which will allow you to stand in the way of the fleeing rout and autoattack (chill gives IAS as well). You can as well use Grave Chill for escaping from ganks or other bad situations.
Meka-Heal – you’re probably going to have a lot of spare mana if you go for Basilius-Mekansm. When you are on low health and especially in a team fight your allies and you get dealt a lot of damage, then cast it. It’s a no-brainer. If you farm with your revenants, you might need it in early-mid game to use Mekansm on your creeps. From level16 they will rarely die while farming, so Meka-Heal is mostly useful when heroes like Leshrac or Lina nuke your bats while they don’t have magic immunity.
Multi-Farm – it means that you have to seperate your creeps from your hero. Especially useful and effective from level11 when your creeps can tank more and deal more damage. Have them neutral or farm on a lane, while you are farming elsewhere or participate in teamfights. It’s not that hard to concentrate on using them, just let them autoattack if you don’t have the micro to last hit with them while you are giving commands to your hero. If you don’t have to concentrate on your hero, then try to last hit with the revenants.


Laning 1v1 – try to concentrate mostly on last hits and denies at level1 and from level3 start performing the Orb-walk harass. If you manage to get your opponent back and eat tangos, you’ll have a free time farming in your lane. Until you reach level6, you should be sending back your opponent as much as possible, while you are collecting loads of golds. Once you have your ulti you should send two bats to scout the runes. 3 Revenants should be enough for you to collect most of the last hits and denies. It’s really hard to out-micro a Visage as those bats make it much easier to farm and deny. When you push too far away or enemies are coming to gank you then go to the forest and farm some neutrals. I prefer to solo at middle on the Sentinel side so I can get the two trolls and the kobold every minute, after two creep waves passed. When you reach level11 you should still stay at middle as you need to farm up loads of golds. If you are not ganked often, just keep going to the neutrals to evade ganks. If they try to push the middle lane then call your friends to help you out. After the push is over you are to farm on.
Laning 1v2 – this is a bit different situation than the 1v1 laning. In this case you might have an even easier time as your opponents will be on lower level and if they have no disable or not even a single nuke then basically you are free to farm. Try to harass one of them from level3 and see if does anything. If they are careful enough then don’t be agressive, they might kick you in the nuts. Especially against a lane with disables and nukes you should rather be concentrating on last hitting the creeps. This is all about farming instead fo dominating the lane-opponents.
Farming Up – if you prefer the Radiance rush and especially if you are playing against a less organized team, you may stay in your lane farming freely forever. It’s a no-brainer, just concentrate on last hits and don’t destroy the tower early on. It will push back the creeps all the time, so you don’t have to come out of the range of your tower, or at least not far away from it. From level11 you may send your bats neutralign or pushing a different lane while you are still doing the same old boring but extremely joyful last hits. Once you have Radiance you really should be performing the Multi-Farm technique as your immolation and high damage will already be enough to farm fast at a lane or in the forest.
Ganking – you are not really a ganker unless you get Guinsoo as your first major item. You don’t have a disable, but Grave Chill is an awesome ability for chasing (Chill Chase). When you can finally perform Multi-Farm then you may leave your lane to kill heroes without losing on much creeps to farm. Basically your role in a gank is to slow down the target and deal as much damage on it as possible. If you have Radiance then just stay nearby and let your immolation burn him/her to hell.
Being Ganked – this is a more complex part, so I’m going to write a lot. Evading ganks is very important, this is why bringing TP scrolls and farming in the woods with your hero is very important. Having some birdies scout or placing observer wards is crucial as well. But what are you supposed to do when you fail to notice the opponents coming for you, in time. You need to realise in the matter of 1 or 2 seconds what you are allowed to do. If you can hide behind the trees and teleport away, then do so. If you are far from a hiding spot or have no teleport scroll, then cast Grave Chill on one of the approaching heroes. Try to move away immediately so that you can either flee straigth away or juke them in the forest. Having your revenants may help you as they might get into the clicks of your opponents, so it becomes a bit difficult to focus you. Or if there’s a hook or elune’s arrow approaching then they might hit a bat instead of you.
Pushing – pushing with Visage is really easy. Especially once a BoT is applied on him his revenants push one lane, he pushes a second himself and the third is pushed by the rest of the team. When you have to join them, you just teleport in. You can put the opponents under big pressure by pushing multiple lanes and if you can keep them under strikes at their base, the revenants will push inside at another one. If one of the enemies leave to defend against the bats, you may go in 5v4. Having one bat with you all the time is recommended as it gives a huge line of sight and can keep track of your opponents’ move which is important when you try to jump on them.
5v5 Fights (Defensive) – try to push a different lane with your revenants, putting the opponents under pressure this way, so they can’t stay at your base as long as they want to. Let your AoE nukers in the front of the uphill or the side of an outer-tower so they can clear the creep waves. When the opponents initiate then jump in, so you can tank damage and return it back to your opponents and letting your Radiance burn them with immolation. Casting Grave Chill in prior of jumping in is crucial because first of all your DPS and MS will be boosted up, while the target of the spell will have a much less DPS and won’t be able to flee if you were to kill him. So to sum it up, just wait and let the opponents initiate unless you have a good initiater, and then you jump in.
5v5 Fights (Offensive) – you are quite good at initiating thanks for your tanking abilities and Grave Chill. If you are comfident enough then run in, cast Chill on their DPS hero or the hero with some nasty disables, so that your allies can follow you up and cast their ultimates. Gravekeeper’s Cloak is really powerful when you get focused between 5 enemy heroes. Nothing big difference between the defensive and offensive 5v5 Fights as you still have to initiate or run in after your initiator with a Grave Chill and meanwhile pushing with bats on another lane.

├How to Counter Visage┤

Eventhough the Necro’lic is a feared enemy in a long game, the fact is that he is an INT hero without disables which makes his survivalability quite low against disablers and chasers in early game. He is prone to ganks especially if noone is placing wards and if he is using his creeps more on farming than on scouting (which is a bad decision from the Visage player but it may happen). Of course they still help him out a lot by increasing his line of sight (LoS), but once caught by a disable and some nukes follow up, he is dead. He is item dependant, so try to gank him as many times as possible or it might cost the loss of the game.
For 1v1 situations AoE nukers or heroes with better harassing (not too much examples) are going to outlevel him. Heroes like Tinker, Leshrac, PotM, Lina, Shadow Fiend, Viper have the chance to beat him in 1v1, although only Tinker and Viper are the really feared heroes, the rest can be outplayed a bit more easily.
However if someone picks Visage, send a dual-disabling lane against him (i.g: SandK + Lina or Sven + Leshrac).
For late-game Necrolyte, chain-disable and permbashers (Void) are the ones that will be able to take him down. Necrofather’s ulti is a great spell against heroes who are stacking HP. Void is a great lategamer who can beat anyone in 1v1 fights and with his Chronosphere he is deadly in teamfights as well.
├When to pick Visage┤

In my humble opinion, Visage became a viable pick for league and tournament play after 6.50 was released. His potential of farming up items fast, scouting the whole map, giving a huge ganking advantage over the other team by the revenants, being a good ganker thanks for his target-slow and countering massive AoE line-ups… well if that’s not enough to be a league-star then nothing will ever be. In public and casual games, he is an even better hero to use.
So when to pick Visage?

  1. If fragile nukers are being picked that can be easily chased down with Grave Chill.
  2. No Viper, Tinker or Enchantress are being picked.
  3. Earthshaker is picked!
  4. If you think that the AoE damage-potential of your enemies would be too high in teamfights
  5. If you join a public game and want to win for sure

├How to use your Revenants?┤

Scouting – it’s very important that you always have at least two if not more of your bats on scout over some of the more busy areas of the map. I’m going to show some of the best places to send your bats to. Of course you may find newer and better places all the time depending on your opponents.

IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image
IPB ImageIPB ImageIPB Image

Rune-control – I have been doing this for quite some time, but Nova’s thread reminded me that this should be included in my guide as well not just in replays. If you hit the runes twice (or once with level16 bats) then you can easily control who picks it up. If you see an enemy approaching it, then hit the rune and it gets destroyed. It will be very annoying for your opponents. tongue.gif
Neutraling – during the early game while your revenants are still fragile and especially if you don’t have armor giving auras, you need to micro with your bats. If one of them falls to red-health then move it back and let another one get hit. Of course you may sacrifice one or two of them as you will be able to resummon them and their sacrifice will mean bonus health regeneration to you thanks for Soul Assumption. Later you will be able to go on your own while your bats go to the forest to own, the neutrals. Don’t send them to the ancients alone as they will be too powerful for them. With this, you can farm constantly and really fast.
Multilane-pushing – this is an easy and rewarding strategy. Select 3 or more revenants and get them push a lane, while you are pushing another one on your own or with your allies. It allows you to put your opponents under heavy pressure (less pushing, less ganking) and earn you hundreds of golds in like no time.
Microing against AoE-nukers – heroes with AoE nukes will be a nightmare for you in early game as they will terminate all your bats easily and get rich fast. With only one spell they may hit you, your bats and your creeps. You have to make sure, this doesn’t happen. Of course with Soul Assumption you will regenerate a lot of HP and get a higher damage, but it’s better if force your opponent to decide. To decide wether to hit you, your bats or your creeps. This can be done if you order your bats to – let’s say – the left, you go to the right while your creeps remain in the center position. This way your enemy needs to decide what to hit (most of the times it will be you), so you will have less creeps dieing and less gold being given to your opponents.
├Visage’s Role in the Team┤

I wouldn’t say he is a tank anymore although with Cloak he still has a high EHP, this role of him disappeared along with his return-damage. He is a pure carry with extremely great scouting and pushing powers which allow his team to gain control over the whole map very easily.
He is to solo and level up as fast as possible, so that he can summon revenants for your team. Also with a fast relic/radiance he can become unstoppable lategame, so allowing him to solo and farm a lot is crucial for your whole team.
After leaving lanes, he still needs to farm as much as possible, mainly in the forest while potentially becoming a ganker. This means, that you should stay around your allies and run around in the enemies’ forest while killing all the neutrals. Of course you are to farm on lane as well, it is up to game situation.
In team fights he is a pure DPS hero and anti-aoe element. End of discussion.
├Suggested 5v5 Line-ups┤

Line-up for 6.50 – coming in the near future
Dark Seer + Lich | Visage | Enigma + Magnus for 6.48b
I think this a very strong line-up in the current league map. The Seer+Lich lane is very tough with a slowing nuke, a pulling nuke and an AoE DoT ability. The bottom lane has a stun and a nuke for controling their lanes, while Visage is possible to dominate many kind of lanes or just simply stay alive farming up.
The ultimate combo is Vacuum+Reverse Polarity+Chain Frost+Black Hole and Visage running in dealing out a butt load of damage thanks for Grave Chill and Radiance. If some opponents are still alive, then you can easily chase them down. Especially with the now so much liked massive AoE line-ups, Visage is a thrilling hero.

FFS th_hu.png vs th_de.png hb
[ Clan/Team Name - Sentinel ]
potm.gif th_hu.png rr.angel TOP
qopa.gif th_hu.png Marco_ TOP
visa.gif th_hu.png FaP.m0ngEr MID
pugn.gif th_hu.png FaP.Covercat BOT
sven.gif th_hu.png ghjkl_ BOT
[ Clan/Team Name - Scourge ]
ursa.gif th_de.png takido.hb TOP
ssha.gif th_de.png Zulkayhren.hb TOP
sfie.gif th_de.png Monday.hb MID
tsou.gif th_de.png sncR.hb BOT
lina.gif th_de.png remqdeniz.hb BOT

FaP vs IaD clanwar – version 6.48b
Attached File FaP_vs_IaD_Visage.w3g ( 591.19k ) Number of downloads: 939

    Magnus + Dark Seer top
    Visage mid
    Lich + Magina bot
    Sven + Leshrac top
    PotM mid
    Zeus + SandK bot

This one was a friendly clan war between FaP and IaD.
I solo against Mirana. I manage to outmicro her and from level6 my revenants help in watching the runes which allows my allies to get them. Whenever the creeps push too far I go to the nearest Sentinel neutral creeps to kill them, which allows me to farm constantly. I get Ring of Basilius and Mekansm quite fast which allows me and my revenants to stay alive for a very long time and getting my Radiance at the 30th minutes mark. I call it the oldschool Visage as I used to play with this build in 6.32b. Watch how Cloak owns the Scourge once. smile.gif (not just once tongue.gif )
DotA 4v5 Visage Retech Game triheart – version 6.43b
Attached File DotA_4v5_Visage_Retech_Game_triheart.w3g ( 1.47mb ) Number of downloads: 1414

    Prophet + THD (+ Leshrac) top
    Visage mid
    Silencer bot
    Bristle + Omni top
    PotM mid
    Panda + Ogre bot

Link to the replay parsel for some interesting datas.
This game was an IH where the regular posters of the Hungarian DotA Site participated. I solo middle against Priestess fo the Moon. Unfortunately our Leshrac gets dropped at around the 12th minute, which made it clear we have really low chances to win this game, but we still wanted to continue, or else we could not rehost as some of the guys would have went to bed sleeping instead.
But this replay is still worth to watch and actually this will teach most of you the most efficiently as I manage to make a 44-40 creepstat at around the 18th minute getting my Relic a bit later and the Radiance at around the 24th minute mark. Here you can see how effective the revenants really are even on their first level. Basically I was twice as effective in farming/denying than my opponent which wouldn’t have been possible without the bat companions.
Note that my K/D ratio wasn’t 2-10 but 4-3 not dieing until about 58 mins or so. The replay parcel is off sometimes and it even mixed up the teams this time with some colours as well. It was an -sprd so I bet that’s why.
Note, that the next replay was played with previous Warcraft patches and with the 1.21b patch you can’t watch them anymore, unfortunately. Refer to this topic to see how you can watch it.
ToG vs Fakkerz scourge won – version 6.32b
Attached File ToG_vs_Fakkerz_scourge_won.w3g ( 933.26k ) Number of downloads: 1561

    Rhasta + Morph top
    Maiden mid
    Chen + Jügger bot
    Lich + SandK top
    Visage mid
    Bane + Pugna bot

This one was a group match in the Second Hungarian League.
I’m soloing against Maiden at mid and outmicro her. When I nearly had the money for Midas my hero gets stuck and I was really afraid of dying, but “luckily” I gained control back over my hero and go back for a fountain trip and buy Midas. In early game we do 2 effective ganks at mid and I am free to farm. We defend middle lane successfully and I manage to farm up for Radiance by level 14. My first death occurs at the bottom lane when we try to take out the second outer tower. After some nice kills we manage to take control over the map and destroy all their other towers. Then at the 44th min you can see a really nice kill, check it out. tongue.gif
After that kill we manage to take out their 3rd tower at top, but unfortunately our Pugna gets dropped out. From that on we won’t win any team gang bangs and we need to stay back to defend. But then suddenly everything goes upside down… thanks for the imba tank Visage.
Final item build: travel, midas, radiance, heart, heart (sacred relic in chicken, ~4300 golds in pocket).
├Questions I won’t answer┤


Q: Do images benefit from Gravekeeper’s Cloak?


A: No, they don’t. They have a fake aura.

VIII. Concluding Thoughts


If you think my guide is not working and there’s a better build and strategy please provide a replay to prove your arguments or else noone will believe you. Also I don’t want to waste my time on people that critize my guide just to critize and not for helping out me and the readers. I’m open to any build and playstyle recommendations.
├B. Latest Updates┤

  • Updated the whole guide accordingly to the changes in 6.50b (2008.04.20.)
  • Added a new build and a replay (2007.09.10.)
  • Removed some sections; added IV. Counters and Usage (2007.05.22.)
  • New replay; strategy walkthrough revamped; some further updates (2007.05.08.)
  • Many many many updates with a new replay as well (2007.01.18.)
  • Many typos fixed; made the alternative items/skill-builds more easily recognizeable (2006.11.14.)
  • Guide is complete (2006.11.13.)

├Final Words┤

I hope that I can help out many players with this guide in the tournaments and inhouses they are participating. I think that Visage is a very good pick for clan wars and IHs and I know that you, the reader will think the same way too after trying it out. Please let me know what you think about my guide. Constructive comments are always appreciated.

    Credit goes to:

  • HiT0Mi for his Visage guide which taught me how to use this hero
  • the NPC guys (Grujah, whifrA, Jagan, harby, nekdolan) for the games we played together
  • clan ToG for the cool games in the second Hungarian League
  • clan compLexity; I have always liked your strategies and gamestyles
  • theMaelk for the constructive feedback


Nessaj, the Chaos Knight

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
This guide describes playing strategy for Nessaj. It was created by really very good player NXM.NunnoX (you can find him here), huge thanks him for that.
IPB Image

Table of Contents


-Hero Overview

–A. Statistic Overview
–B. Skills Overview

-Skill build

–A. The skill build
–B. Explanation

-Item build

–A. Introduction
–B. The core build
–C. Explanation
–D. Items afterwards
–E. Rejected Items


–A. Early Game
–B. Mid Game
–C. Late Game
–D. Summary

-Good allies

-Bad enemies


-Last word


Yes, here I am, once again. Now back with a revised Enigma Nessaj guide. My interests for this hero grew a lot since I saw clan sP owning clan tPD. Clan tPD have used the most imbalanced Sentinel line-up ever known. All Sentinel’s 4/4 were in it. It means that Beastmaster, Twin Headed Dragon, Chen and Vengeful Spirit were in one team. As addition they added Enchantress in it. How the hell did sP win against one of the best DotA clans with such an imbalanced line-up? The answer is: with Chaos Knight, Teamwork and an insanely powerful but balanced Scourge line-up. Necrolyte solo, QoP solo, Venomancer, Chaos Knight and Leshrac together in a tri-lane. This line-up resulted in almost a weak Beastmaster-Twin Headed Dragon-lane, a Vengeful spirit which was useless early game and a Enchantress who became firstblooded. This game greatly increased my interest in the Chaos Knight, and I saw he was absurdly powerful.

And now, I shall make an attempt to teach you one of the best gankers in the Scourge. That is probably the first reason why sP decided to choose this hero. His ganking capabilities are unparalleled, at least at the side of the Scourge. The only hero who can rival him mid-game, as ganker, is Vengeful Spirit. Too bad for Vengeful that she isn’t a tanker nor a terrifying force mid/late game. Not that I say she is weak, far from it.

Hero Overview

Statistical Overview

Chaos Knight has below average base stats. Summed up he has 51 stat points, while the Tormented Soul has 63. Do not cry now please, Nerubian Weaver only has 44 base stat points. Nessaj his stat gain is avarage, summed up he has 6.2 stat points per level up. Our Chaos Knight may look average now, but his primary stat gain, namely Strengths, grows up with 2.9 points per level. That is quite high. His base armor is totally imbalanced, he has 4 armor.

Skills Overview

IPB Image|Chaos Bolt

Despite its terrifying ugly icon, this skill owns. Really. With a maximum stun time of 4 seconds at level 4, it is the best stun skill in the game. This is what Nessaj makes an incredible ganker.
It may look that it isn’t necessary to get this skill higher than level one. It doesn’t look that much that you are able to stun for 2 more seconds, however for a full blood ganker it is a lifetime.

A mysterious energy bolt is thrown at an enemy. It stuns for a random amount of time. Deals random damage between 1-200.
Level 1 – 1-2 seconds.
Level 2 – 1-3 seconds.
Level 3 – 1-4 seconds.
Level 4 – 2-4 seconds.
140 mana cost, 10 seconds cooldown.

IPB Image|Blink Strike

The hamburger in Nessaj’s sandwich. You have already thought Nessaj was a good ganker with only Chaos Bolt, have you not? Blink Strike makes the party complete.

As always, any form of Blink instantly results in good news. Our form of Blink is Blink Strike. It perhaps isn’t as good as the normal blink is, it still is a very good skill, especially for the Chaos Knight. Chasing has never been that easy!

Teleports to a unit and strikes it if it is a foe, dealing bonus damage.
Level 1 – deals 30 extra damage.
Level 2 – deals 60 extra damage.
Level 3 – deals 90 extra damage.
Level 4 – deals 120 extra damage.
50 mana cost, 30/20/10/5 seconds cooldown.

IPB Image|Critical Strike

This skill makes you a so darn good late gamer. By the time you attack more than once a year, this skill will do wonders. Really. 3 times normal damage isn’t a joke, not to mention that it also works on illusions! HOORAY! Anyway, this skill is not worth leveling since it will occur once a few years.

Nessaj’s mojo gives him a chance to deal bonus damage
Level 1 – 11% chance, 1.5 times normal damage.
Level 2 – 11% chance, 2 times normal damage.
Level 3 – 11% chance, 2.5 times normal damage.
Level 4 – 11% chance, 3 times normal damage.

IPB Image|Phantasm
Yeah, you have seen it correctly. A mirror image skill on a strength hero. The images summoned hereby are insanely powerful, really. The mana cost is low, they take only 200% extra damage, they gain Critical Strike and they benefit insanely from your primary attribute, namely Strengths. This skill makes you an insanely powerful late game hero, an imbalanced pusher and one of the best tower wrecking heroes. And that all packed into one skill! BUT NUNNOX, SHOULDN’t THIS SKILL BE NERFED THEN? No. Have you actually seen the enormous cooldown and the pathetic lasting time of those illusions? Those two weak things about this skill makes it such a tricky ultimate. It is hard to have a correct timing with it.

Summons several copies of the Chaos Knight from alternate dimensions. The illusions deal full damage, but take 200% extra damage.
Lasts 20 seconds.

Level 1 – Summons one image.
Level 2 – Summons two images.
Level 3 – Summons three images.
175/225/275 mana cost, 180 sec cooldown.

Skill build

A. The skill build

Level 1: Chaos Bolt
Level 2 and 3: Blink Strike
Level 4: Chaos Bolt
Level 5: Blink Strike
Level 6 and 7: Chaos Bolt
Level 8: Blink Strike
Level 9: Critical Strike
Level 10 and 11: Phantasm
Level 12 till 14: Critical Strike
Level 15: Stats
Level 16:Phanstam
Level 17 till 25: Stats

C. Explanation

Almost as cookie cutter as it could be, except that we delay the ultimate since one extra illusion which lasts 20 seconds is pathetic for that much mana.

The order of Chaos Bolt and Blink Strike may be switched. Sometimes you need Blink strike some earlier because there happens a lot of ganks and one extra seconds of stun can be less useful as 30 extra damage and 5 seconds cooldown decrease.

Critical Strike is taken when it actually starts something to do, besides early game both Chaos Bolt and Blink Strike are way, way more powerful than a Critical Strike, even when the Critical Strike would be Coup de Graçe.

Again, this skill build isn’t designed to be original or something. It is designed to be the most powerful available on the Chaos Knight. Not leveling Chaos Bolt is quite silly because a potential 3 seconds extra stun is a life time for a gank hero.

Item build

A. The core build

• IPB Image|2 Circlets of Nobility (185×2=370)
• IPB Image|2 Tangos of Essifation (80×2=160)
• IPB Image|2 Circlets of Nobility (185×2=370)
• IPB Image|Empty Bottle (700)
• IPB Image|Boots of Speed (500)
• IPB Image|4 Gauntlets of Strength (150×4=600)
• IPB Image|4 Bracer Recipes (175×4=700), which completes 4 Bracers (2040)
• IPB Image|Boots of Travel Recipe (2200), which completes Boots of Travel (2700)
• IPB Image|Vitality Booster (1100)
• IPB Image|Messerschmidts’ Reaver(3400)
• IPB Image|Heart of Terrasque Recipe (1400), which completes Heart of Terrasque (5500)

C. Explanation

This is basically all that Chaos Knight wants, needs and uses. The Chaos Knight doesn’t have any real weaknesses, except that he wants to be a tank, but can’t fulfill that task completely. The missing part about his tanking capabilities is that he doesn’t have any neutral damage reducing skills. For a part that weakness is nullified thanks to his high neutral strength grow, however that is not enough. Raw HP you need. Massing Bracers is without a doubt the best way to fix it. Bracers are not only needed for his tanking capabilities, but they are also extremely easy to farm and they cost nothing. Guess in what Nessaj is bad? Correct, in farming. He doesn’t want to and he cannot farm. In general whole Nessaj’s game is summarized into one word: Ganking.

If you think you are going to face deadly opponents, or if you feel you need strength more than intelligence, get gauntlets as first items instead of Circlets.

Oh yeah, I forgot the Empty Bottle. Well there are two simple explanations to get it: first and foremost, Empty Bottle is the ultimate gankers item, guess what you are doing 24/7? And the second, to use Empty Bottle at his full potential, runes are a must. If you capture a rune, not only you can use it later, but it also refills your bottle. And basically, all the runes, except for Illusion early game, fit extremely well on Nessaj. However I go more in-depth to this in the strategy section, SO BE WARNED.

D. Items afterwards

Basically, Nessaj wont be able to farm the previously given items because he is ganking day and night. However if you are doing very smooth, or if you can’t gank because the enemy team is guarding the Barracks, feel free to get Manta Style or another heart. Another possibly is get Cuirass, which synergizes greatly with your images. Or get Skadi if you are doing really, really fine. If not just get a Linkens. Hence, Nessaj is far from item dependant so feel free to get every item your little heart desires as long it isn’t Dagon.

Manta Style is in general a very good choice since your extremely high Strength, your above average agility grow and your Critical Strike. Not to mention that this item synergizes extremely well with your ultimate and with your playing style mid/late game, since you are pushing then all day long. However, 1. Your images are too pathetic, including the Phantasm Illusions, and 2. Delaying HoT is stupid, just plain stupid. Nessaj needs an HoT, period.

Satanic is pretty useful after Manta Style, even with those two orb effects. Your illusions will have Feedback which adds A LOT of damage and Nessaj himself will have that powerful Satanic Buff.

So in short, Manta Style is pretty standard to get after Heart. After Manta Style i would recommend the following items: Butterfly, Assault Cuirass, Satanic or another Heart.

E. Rejected Items

First and foremost, Radiance. This very nice item in general, and especially for image heroes seems perfect for Nessaj, doesn’t it? No. First, you get a Radiance on Terrorblade because your images will be sick farmers if you send them alone in the forest. How would you do that with Chaos Knight? Use your Phantasm which has 180 seconds cooldown? Second, without HoT generally are able to survive 2 seconds in team battles when you must initiate. NEXT PLOX!

Power Treads seems also quite viable on Nessaj, Nunnox. Again NO, however this NO is big. If you summary Nessaj’s play style, you will probably end by ganking. So why on earth would you replace Boots of Travel with Power Treads? Yeah ok, that 35% IAS is hawt, especially with your enormous base damage and Critical Strikie. Well please remember this golden rule, Boots of Travel is close to a must on gankers.

What about Mask of Madness? No please. Again you are not a hero killer, but a ganker. A full blood ganker is mostly of the time the hero which initiate in a battle and who start a gank. Those 25% extra damage then will be your end, period.

Battle fury is a decent item for Nessaj… But not the best. Manta Style, Linkens, HoT, Cuirass, they all are much better then this item. Hence, Battle Fury doesn’t have any direct weakness on Nessaj, but there are simply better items for him available.’

Damage items are quite silly because boosting your stats are a much better way to boost up your ganking and pushing capabilities. And they synergize very well with all your illusions, no matter if they are summoned by Manta Style or Phantasm. Another thing to note is that you already have on of the best damaging skills in the game, namely Critical Strike.

Satanic then instead of Heart? With the recent buff Satanic became obscenely powerful, especially for the Chaos Knight. Now you think two orb effects will not stack. No they wont, but your illusions will still have Feedback and you will have that powerful Satanic buff. All those things mentioned are positive. YET, Heart gives illusions SO MUCH POWER, that you shouldn’t get Satanic instead of Heart. BUT YOU CAN SATANIC AFTER MANTA AND HEART.

I think I have probably done every seemingly possible item on Nesssaj, SO YA BETTER BE HAPPY WITH IT.


A. Early game

Yeah, there we are the Strategy part. Chaos Knight isn’t the hardest hero to play, but needs good coordination and timing… and luck above all. In your early levels you should try to get a first blood which maybe should be possible when you team up with an ally. Basically it comes down this, you stun the most fragile enemy hero, like the Crystal Maiden for example. Pray to god your stun does the full 200 damage and stuns for 2 seconds. If you have this luck, your first blood is pretty close. Just run up to the enemy, don’t get hit by the tower of course, and try to hit your opponent. Now your ally should come up with his skill, like Shadow Strike or Frost Nova. Now its just a matter of enough hits and low HP. If you have already been level 2, follow up with a Blink Strike to get some more hits in. A potential first blood is basically only possible when you have a supporting ally and with luck. Nothing more, nothing less.

In general, last hit with Chaos Knight shouldn’t be a hard thing to do simply because your base damage is incredibly high, and as far as I know only rivaled by Tiny the Stone Giant. Use this to your great advantage. Of course watch out for possible harass and stuff. If you farm smooth early game, the fun starts pretty early when you can buy the Empty Bottle in the secret Secret Shop, so you can gank.

There are two golden rules when playing Chaos Knight:

  • Gank 24/7
  • Between ganks, or when you cannot gank, in case the enemy is tower hugging or like, prepare for a gank or farm some in between

Runes make or break the Chaos Knight, as far he is able to be broken at least. Now be happy, because it isn’t hard to follow this rule, so read this carefully:
You need runes, period. For ganking and to refill your Bottle which can be used in between ganks. Every 2 minutes, starting at the 2:00 minutes mark, a rune will spawn, in the south or north section of the river. If a rune has not been taken, there will not spawn a seconds rune. So if a rune lasts more than two minutes, a new rune will not spawn. However, which I learnt from Masterjoe’s guide to Runes, it is possible to get two runes at once. You must pick up a rune more than 5 seconds before the next rune is set to spawn. So when you take the first rune at 11:54, there will be another rune. However if you pick up a rune at 11:56 there will not be a second rune. So what I mean with the second golden rule? Every time a rune has been spawn, go check if it is there, so you always have a refilled bottle and a rune in the bag.

So When you know you can have two runes at once, you can do the following this: before you pick up the first rune, use all your remaining Bottle charges, pick up the rune at the north section(if it is spawn there), use the rune and eventually use one or two charge again. Gank the middle lane, use your remaining Bottle Charges, and pick up the rune at the South section and eventually gank (another) lane again.
Another possibly use is to simply put up both runes(with refill of course) so you are virtually invulnerable. Another possibly is to simply use your imagination what you can do with two runes at once. In practice, it doesn’t happen very often that you can pick up two runes, so be more than happy with one rune, as it is enough. One rune instantly means you can refill your Bottle, which means more gank. So if you use this strategy a lot, you are a fearsome ganker, you perhaps get some kills, you are an awesome teammate and, your visits to the fountain will be rare.

As told, Nessaj is a potential candidate for almost every rune. Why? Let me explain:
Illusion, basically for most heroes the worst rune. In case of Nessaj it happens to be quite useful sometimes. Pick up the rune, send your illusion to the lane which you should just left, micro him out of enemies’ harm, but in enemies’ range. Your opponents will likely tell: “Chaos Knight is there again.”. When they have told that the enemies which you wanted to gank, will likely go farm again. Guess what time it is now? Yeah indeed, GANKING TIME.
Regeneration, on every hero this might be the best rune, but for Bottle bearers it is even more. Simply because you can play as aggressively as you want the next few minutes simply because you have 3 more bottle charges and the regeneration rune itself to heal yourself. Of course you shouldn’t die when playing that aggressively:P
Haste, the best rune for gankers, Nessaj is far from an exception, if I have to explain why… There is something miss.
Invisibility, again an extremely self speaking rune. Loads of uses, but basically it comes down to this, try to predict your target his path so you can block him when it tries to run. When he tries to run, use your stun.
Double Damage, probably the best rune for Nessaj. Simply because Nessaj’s extremely high base damage and because his very high Strength.

So basically your early game comes down to this: gank 24/7. If you are not happy with this, please play an other hero. The basic rule in life: ‘Do not eat a banana as you eat an apple’, also counts for Nessaj. ‘Do not play a ganker as a farmer’.

When you have farmed the Bottle and 2 or more Bracers, your early game has come to an end. Lets move on.

B. Mid game

Gank as much as you have already done and you may have been granted some kills. If you have some kills, OR NO DEATHS, the four Bracers and the Boots of Travel should come in pretty fast. Nessaj is not a really bad farmer, he just doesn’t like it.

When you are level 11 and you have been granted with the skill Phantasm, you should gank a LITTLE less and try to destroy a tower to receive some gold and to push. For that you have Phantasm, which is an extremely good Tower sloping spell. Obviously enough, you should not go alone with your illusions to break down a tower.

In mid game, it is likely that your team will go push. You are probably not the best pusher in terms of creepkilling and stuff, but you are a very good battle initiator. It basically comes down to this: Blink Strike up to a hero, then stun him and then use Phantasm. While you do this, your team should come in and should try to destroy the hero who you have stunned.
As obvious as it might be, sometimes the previously told strategy could change somewhat. Like when there is a Crystal Maiden you shouldn’t initiate directly all time. You first should wait for a Freezing Field Maiden… But mostly of the times, you should be the initiator of a team battle because you have loads of HP…

Use all your imagination what you can do with Boots of Travel. Combined with a stun, Blink Strike ,THE HIGHEST BASE MOVESPEED and Boots of Travel, virtually NO hero can come away from your wrath. Nessaj’s base movespeed is 325, which is insanely imbalanced. Exploit this imbalance. EAR YOUR HEART OUT OF THAT SLOW TERRORBLADE.

It is wise to have the two Rune spawn spots warded. Not only for to avoid being ganked, but also to know if a rune has been spawn at the South or North Section of the river. You are a potential ward placer and buyer because you gank all game long. Playing the Chaos Knight is very similar to playing the Vengeful Spirit.

Always remember that you have Blink Strike for a reason. To initiate pushes, to unlimited ganking, and last but certainly not least, to escape dangerous situations. When you are in a dangerous situation, remember to Blink Strike on a unit, no matter if it is an allied creep or an enemy creep, as long as it keeps you out of danger.
Phantasm removes ugly damage over time spells like Poison Nova, Shadow Strike etc. But it doesn’t remove [b]triggered(spells who are TOTALLY created by Icefrog himself, not by Blizzard) spells[/b], like Rupture.

A very advanced technique but is very effective, is that you place all your images, when using Phantasm, around an enemy hero so your block his path. Mostly of the time you Blink Strike your target, then you use Chaos Bolt, Phantasm and micro all your images around/behind him so you are able to block is path. It basically comes down to the same as you did early game, when you block your own creeps to tower hug. It is a little bit hard to explain so i recommend you to watch the sP vs tPD replay, because it is shown very good over there.

When you are level 16, you have been granted level 3 of Phantasm. Now look here, with only Phantasm and your hero, you should be easily able to backdoor a tower and destroy it! When you are back dooring, pay a lot attention to the mini map, you don’t want to be ganked.

As I have told five billion times by now, gank gank gank and … gank. And some pushing in between… Well when you have farmed your BoT and a Heart of Terrasque, your Mid Game ends…

C. Late game

When late game has been started, you are virtually possible to do something else aside 24/7 ganking. Although, arguably, you are the best ganker in the hero by now because you have an virtually unlimited amount of mana to spam both Chaos Bolt and Blink strike, if used correctly anyways. This doesn’t mean you can spam your Chaos Bolt on creeps… But you know what I mean. Anyway, I told you, you shouldn’t gank anymore nonstop. That statement is somewhat false, but you have no other option. Simply because it doesn’t occur that often anymore that there are one or two heroes are simply farming. Basically, all what everyone is doing is pushing. NOW LET YOU BE ONE OF THE STRONGEST HERO IN THE GAME:). Your Critical Strike is now insanely, but I truly mean INSANELY, strong. No to mention that your three summoned illusions are also insanely, and then I truly mean INSANELY, strong. And do not forget with 4 potential heroes(your original hero + 3 summoned illusions) you can destroy builds heroes INSANELY fast.

Now, when using Blink Strike very correctly to catch up enemy heroes, it shouldn’t be a very hard deal to destroy a hero who does have a low EHP. You are an extremely powerful late game hero so use that to your advantage.

In teambattles near an enemy tower, you should use Phantasm and directly send them to that tower. Those three images rip apart the tower insanely fast. The enemy team has now two choices; One, they let your images rip apart the building but they can destroy some of your allied heroes if they are stronger. Or two, they can rip apart the images, but then they will easily die to the wrath of your team. So it is basically a win-win situation for you!

As late game is defined into one word, pushing. Now when it is late game, and you have six potential images at your side who are summoned by Phantasm and Manta Style, you become an uberly good pusher. You will not be able to remove creeps in a half second like Beastmaster+Twin Headed Dragon, but you will do very more damage over time than they do. Not to mention that they destroy buildings slow, while you destroy buildings fast. And then I really mean, fast.
Again, obviously enough, I want to tell you when you are in an enemies camp, always focus the Barracks, not the Hunter’s Hall and not the Ancient of Lore.

D. Summary

So basically playing Chaos Knight comes down to this:

  • Try a potential firstblood by laning up with your enemy
  • Farm an Empty Bottle as fast as possible
  • Now it is non stop ganking time.
  • When ganking, remember to always check the runes at the good times
  • Always remember to refill your Bottle by using the Bottle to capture a rune
  • Not directly neseccary, but perhaps try to get two runes at once.
  • Remember every two minutes, there will spawn a rune. At the north section or at the south section of the river. That place is totally random so it is wisely to place wards near the runes. Runes still respawn when they are ´warded´.
  • With the Empty Bottle, four Bracers and a Boots of Travel, you are a fearsome hero, your ganking capabilties are endless now and with level 2 of Phanstasm, tower sloping shouldn´t be that difficult anymore.
  • By the time you have farmed Heart of Terrasque, there will be nonstop pushing. Remember to always be at those pushes.
  • In pushes, it is wise to focus heroes with a low EHP, like Crystal Maiden or Slayer. They are dangerous heroes, nontheless easy to kill.
  • Always focus the Barracks if possible. Even when there is a enemy hero, atleast let your images destroy the Barrack.
  • When you have farmed a Manta Style, which doesn´t occur too often, your hero killing capabilties and your pushing capabilties are endless. Combined with a Critical Strike(which doesn´t occur on buildings’, you are a very powerful hero.
  • Sorry for overuse of the word ´gank´.