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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´.