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Community Guide to Nessaj

Table of Contents
  1. Alt+Tab Mini-Guide
  2. The Big Picture
  3. Spells
  4. Skill Build
  5. Item Build
    1. Starting Items
    2. Core Items
    3. Possible Extension Items
    4. Situational Items
    5. Luxury Items
    6. Rejected Items
  6. Gameplay
    1. Laning
    2. Ganking
    3. Beyond Ganking
  7. Replays
  8. Credits

Alt+Tab Mini-Guide



Extension Options: [ Situational: ]


Gameplay Tips:
  • Play conservatively while you farm your core or at least boots + bottle.
  • Gank a lot once you have your core (minimum boots + bottle).
  • (Generate images), Rift in, Chaos Bolt, autoattack, (Rift again).
  • Manage your mana carefully.
  • Do not farm passively for too long.
  • Use your ult to push buildings and in team fights.

The Big Picture
Nessaj is a roamer and ganker. He has the highest starting movespeed in the game, a skill for getting within melee range of an opponent and a stun that has a random duration combined with a random damage nuke; if you get lucky, it can be devastating. Given his skills, he is tailor-made to be a ganker. He can also be a tower pusher with his images, but this is a secondary role due to the long cd of his ultimate. Gank, kill and refill. Repeat the cycle. This should be your routine.
  • Early in the game, Nessaj needs to farm and be conservative. If an opportunity for a kill arises in lane, it should be taken, but farming safely takes priority.
  • Once you get to mid-game (at least boots and bottle), you are in your prime and should be much more aggressive. Roam the map and gank everything. Two common mistakes to avoid are spending too much time farming and bad mana management.
  • After the ganking phase, you should push by either forcing team clashes at buildings and using your ultimate to deal more damage during the fight and after (to the building) or by pushing apart from your team and razing buildings with your ult.

When to pick Nessaj:
  1. Your team needs a hardcore ganker with a bit of HP and not so much item dependence.
  2. Your team needs a hero who can dominate the middle game with some DPS and stomp on the agility carries.
  3. There are not too many AOE damagers in the opposition.

When to avoid picking Nessaj:
  1. You're playing with a team that does not rely on ganking.
  2. You're playing with a team that relies on using AOE damage and winning team battles.
  3. You dislike heroes who have to be aggressive and dive in to kill the enemies.
  4. You do not have well developed map awareness and would often get killed by chasing too deep into enemy territory.
  5. You find controlling Armlet difficult.

For a full description of the hero's skills and statistics, check out the hero page.
Chaos Bolt
- Casting Range: 500
- Mana Cost: 140
- Cooldown: 10 seconds

Does a random amount of damage (1-200) and stuns for a random period of time between 1-2s / 1-3s / 1-4s / 2-4s
FYI, this skill is based on Storm Bolt.

A powerful ranged disable, this spell is what makes Nessaj an amazing ganker. Chaos bolt can be devastating when you get lucky. A long stun or high damage is quite strong at early and mid stages of the game, making Nessaj a potent ganker. However, his mana constrains him greatly. As a result, Nessaj should only gank with an ally early on. The spell isn't very reliable, so the outcome of a gank is often decided by the duration of the stun. Keep this in mind and be ready to stop chasing if you got unlucky. If your enemy has a stun or an escape ability, you should initiate with Chaos Bolt.

The 500 range limit of Chaos Bolt

Reality Rift
- Casting Range: 550/600/650/700
- Mana Cost: 50
- Cooldown: 24/18/12/6 seconds

This spell is targeted on an enemy unit. Nessaj, his illusions, and the enemy are all teleported to a point between them - it's more likely that they end up near the center than at one of the extremes. It also gives you 25/50/75/100 bonus attack damage for one attack.

Use this spell to close the distance between you and your target and start hitting him. In general, you should Reality Rift to initiate a gank, unless your opponent has an escape skill or a stun. Reality Rift has a short cooldown once it's maxed, so you can use it again to chase (and deal bonus damage) after Chaos Bolt wears off.

The 700 range limit of Reality Rift

Critical Strike
Gives 11% chance to deal 1.5/2/2.5/3 times damage. This represents an average of 5.5%/11%/16.5%/22% increase in DPS. Note that images gain the ability to critical as well.

Right-click enemy and hope for crit procs :P. Note that every attack you don't critical, it becomes more likely that your next attack will, due to pseudo-random distribution (see: PRD Article).

- Mana Cost: 175/225/275
- Cooldown: 180/160/140 seconds

Creates 1/2/3 Illusions that take 200% normal damage and deal 100% damage and last for 20 seconds. Casting this removes most buffs and very briefly makes him invulnerable (can dodge most spells). For more information on illusions, see Mechanics: Illusions.

This spell is very powerful, increasing Nessaj's damage-output by up to 300%. It's very useful for destroying buildings and killing disabled heroes quickly as well as creating confusion in team-battles. The illusions are very beefy but last for a short time, so don't waste Phantasm by chasing heroes with the illusions. Phantasm has a long cooldown, so try to save it for team fights and pushes.

Skill Build
1. Chaos Bolt
2. Reality Rift
3. Chaos Bolt
4. Reality Rift
5. Chaos Bolt
6. Reality Rift
7. Chaos Bolt
8. Reality Rift
9. Stats
11. Phantasm
12. Critical Strike
13. Critical Strike
14. Critical Strike
15. Critical Strike
16. Phantasm
17-25. Stats

Bolt is maxed earlier than Reality Rift in order to maximize ganking potential. Each level of Chaos Bolt increases the average stun duration by .5 seconds, starting from 1.5 seonds. The first 3 levels of Chaos Bolt inrease the maximum duration (as well as decrease the probability of getting shorter stuns), while the last level grants you some consistency by guaranteeing a 2 second minimum.

Maxing Reality Rift next improves Nessaj's mobility by reducing the cd on Rift and dealing some extra damage. Due to Nessaj's high ms, only the first Rift is crucial to get within melee distance. Further Rifts help if you are being juked or if you were disabled and left behind. The last level is important because it lets you Rift twice during a normal gank.

Phantasm is put off until level 11 when you can get 2 images because it's too costly and ineffective early on. Illusion based heroes thrive on spawning many images at once (Naga Siren, Phantom Lancer and Terror Blade) to create confusion. With a high cooldown and only one image spawn early on, Nessaj cannot really be considered a standard image hero. You're better off improving your ganking skills to net kills for your team.

Stats at level 9 in the build is optional, but recommended over a single level of Critical Strike (the next take being 3 levels later), which is failry negligible (5.5% DPS increase). The stats help a little bit with Nessaj's mana issues in mid-game.

Item Build
Starting Items:


You get stats and plenty of healing for lane-staying, since you need to farm up your core to be a ganker/semi-carry. 3 Branches are superior to a second Gauntlet because it gives 3 agility and 3 intelligence as well. The branches will later be upgraded to make Magic Wand, while the Gauntlet will be turned into a Bracer.

Get a QB as soon as possible from the side shop to make farming easier.

Core Items:


As a strength hero who spends a lot of time ganking, Bottle and Wand go a long way towards supplying Nessaj's mana demand. Magic Wand provides invaluable burst regen during fights and Bottle prepares you for the next gank and allows you to use runes more effectively. Power Treads increase your DPS and HP; they also provide enough of an ms boost due to your innately high ms. Switching treads to intelligence mode should be kept in mind if it will allow you to get off an additional spell (note that your mana pool's percentage will remain the same during a switch, so it will often only give you a small amount of mana).

Carry TPs and replenish at side shops too. You are a ganker.

Even though you roam the map, you are also a semi-carry, do not buy wards. Ask a supporter to buy wards (you could place them) to make it easier for you to refill your bottle. It falls to you to make good use of the runes and gank well.

Possible Extension Items:
Armlet is a solid extension item on almost any strength hero that plans on doing a lot of attacking. For strength heroes, it provides the most cost efficient damage in the game. For 2850 gold you gain an item that, when activated, gives you 65 damage, 15 attack speed, 25 str, 5 armor and 3 health regen. Of course when activated it also drains health, so be aware of this during long chases. Armlet should be your default extension item, unless you've farmed a lot early on and can immediately afford a high tier extension such as manta style. Even then, you may want to consider the Armlet due to the large DPS boost it provides.
Note: Make sure you have Armlet on when you generate images through Phantasm or Manta. They will gain the strength, but do not get the degen. If needed, you can turn it off immediately after to avoid degen.
A powerful item on many heroes, Manta Style is an excellent exntension to the core items. It synergizes well with Armlet for images (see Armlet note above) and later with HoT or Satanic for further strength. Though the active ability is fairly mp intensive, the added stats and bonus move speed offset this disadvantage.

Helm of the Dominator is another solid extension item on Nessaj. Because of the great effectiveness of this item, it's commonly seen on many carries and semi-carries. It cost only 1850 gold, can be fully built from a side shop, offering 20 damage, 5 armor, life steal (helps control armlet degen) and the powerful ability to dominate creeps.
With a Centaur, Ursa or Dark Troll warlord, you substantially increase your ganking ability by lengthening your disable time and adding some more damage.

Situational Items:
While Diffusal is not the best item on Nessaj (due to his ultimate's long cd), he can be a solid Diffusal carrier when it's needed to counter someone (e.g. Omniknight). Purge serves to counter the threat and greatly aids ganks with a slow to follow his Chaos Bolt. As an added bonus, Diffusalís agility bonus boosts the DPS of your Phantasm images.
Note: Melee images get the full benefits of feedback.
The Black King Bar is always a useful item, especially if the opposing team has a lot of nukes/disables. Coupled with Nessaj's large strength growth, magic immunity makes Nessaj extremely difficult to kill. It adds a decent amount of strength and damage as well.
With that being said, BKB remains situational due to Nessaj's role in fights. Chaos Bolt is significant even if you get stunned afterward. Stunning the real Nessaj doesn't stop the images from dealing 100% damage. Additionally, Phantasm and Manta both provide ways to remove negative debuffs and cause confusion about who the enemy should target to limit Nessaj's damage received. BKB should be considered when the enemy team has a large number of disables or when you are the main carry for your team.

Luxury Items:
Heart is always an option worth considering after you've gotten an extension item or two. A single heart gives you more than 1000 raw HP, a little extra damage, as well as 2% HP regeneration outside of battle. Coupled with Nessaj's excellent strength growth, Heart makes him a very tough hero to take down via damage alone.
Note that a HoT should never be rushed on Nessaj. The Reaver is expensive and hard to farm; rushing HoT holds him back from maximizing his prime: ganking and mid-game.

The natural upgrade to Helm of the Dominator. It doesn't boost your HP as much as a Heart, but has other benefits. It saves a slot (compared to having gotten HotD and getting Heart), provides you with 25% lifesteal, 5 armor, 20 damage, 25 strength and an active ability that makes your lifesteal go through the roof at a whopping 150% rate for the short duration of 3.5 seconds. It doesn't benefit Nessaj's illusions as much as Heart of Tarrasque, but it gives more offensive power, and - if you don't get disabled - more in-battle survivability. In general, Satanic should only be purchased in conjunction with Armlet and/or BKB for the following reasons:
  • Lifesteal makes coping with the degen from Armlet a lot easier.
  • Armlet will give away your main hero anyway when you use Phantasm; thus it won't matter if enemies can identify your main hero via the lifesteal as well.
  • Satanic's orb will override Diffusal's orb.
  • Satanic provides lesser benefits than HoT to your images. As such, getting Manta style suggests HoT as a luxury. With that being said, if you got both an Armlet and Manta, either choice is reasonable.
  • BKB guarantees you the ability to use your 150% lifesteal for the full duration. In terms of in-battle survivability, Satanic combined with BKB is vastly superior to HoT on Nessaj (not the illusions).
Trading in your Treads for BoT heavily boosts your pushing abilities. It also makes you faster than just about everyone else due to your chart-topping base ms. Do not get these early on as it will delay your strong mid-game too much.

Assault Cuirass should only be gotten very late in the game after having gotten at least one other luxury item. The only thing Nessaj's illusions benefit from here is the armor reduction aura. It grants +40 attack speed, +10 armor, an attack speed aura and 2 armor auras, giving +5 armor to allies and reducing enemies' armor by 5.
Nessaj can use the attack speed since he hits hard but relatively slowly. The armor auras affect buildings as well, so it definitely assists pushing base towers and rax, which should be the goal at this stage of the game anyway. At this point in the game, you should really be trying to end it; one benefit of AC is that each of the item's in its buildup is useful. Unless the game drags very long or you're exceptionally fed/farmed, you probably wont get to finish this item.

Rejected Items:
A very fast radiance on anyone is crazy. With that being said, Nessaj doesn't have a particularly easy time farming it or make himself a menace with it, so it doesn't make sense. You won't be able to fulfill your role as a ganker, because you'll have to be conservative so you don't lose any gold. You'll end up ricing too long, and you'll miss out on ganking mid-game, which is supposed to be Nessaj's shining time.

Usurping the orb effect that should be for either Lifesteal or Feedback is very bad. SnY's bonuses don't do much for Nessaj: He already has high movespeed as well as Reality Rift. Strength is covered by any of Armlet, BKB, Heart and Satanic. Manta gives more stats to your images than SnY, while being more useful. SnY is also expensive compared to better-suiting items like Armlet, Manta, even BKB. SnY is normally an item for heroes to fall back on, if they failed to farm the big item. However, all of Nessaj's core items have comparably affordable parts for the most part. On Nessaj, SnY does not become a fallback item, but rather, a more expensive, less effective, and orb-conflicting one.

Battlefury. Its stats make it seem like a good item for Nessaj, but it doesnít work well on him for a number of reasons. Nessaj can use the mana regen, but because itís percent-based and Nessaj has low intel gain (16 starting and only 1.2 gain!), he won't get much from it early on. While cleaved critical hits do make farming easier, Nessaj should not spend a lot of time farming - an item that encourages farming is bad for Nessaj. Battlefury provides no stats or attack speed, meaning you need another item to further enhance farming. Then there's the fact that Battlefury costs more than the modest core extensions listed for far lesser effect. Images gain nothing from it either; no cleave or direct damage. Mana problems can be handled with proper skill use and Bottle + Wand while Armlet or Manta provide better damage, making Battlefury a subpar item.

Due in part to Reality Rift, Basher might seem like a decent item on paper, but it's actually a poor investment on him. The bonuses granted by Basher are minimal compared to other items in the same price range. (Armlet, Diffusal, etc). Illusions do not gain any benefits from Basher; since the last remake, they do not even proc fake bashes (which used to prolong bashes, but not initiate it). Basher is only useful on a few heroes with high attack speed and chasing abilities. Nessaj's low attack speed and many more effective and higher-priority items make Basher a bad choice for Nessaj.

Nessaj should play conservatively during the laning phase. He should spend his time farming for his core. Nessaj should generally lane with a ranged ally. If his ally has a disable or slow, opportunities for kills can arise in lane.

Take advantage of opportunities that arise in lane, but play conservatively and do not force it; your mana pool is extremely constraining at this point in the game. You should lane at least until you have boots and bottle.

Once you have items somewhere between boots+bottle and your entire core, it's time to find yourself a target. Keep in mind that, unlike many other gankers, Nessaj has a very low mana pool and low burst damage. This should inform the ganks you go for; in particular, you should almost always gank with allies and only go for sure kills.

Abuse the fog of war and try to approach from behind. When you reach your destination, quickly analyze the situation: Important things to consider include allied slows/stuns/disables/nukes, the target's lane partner, the inventories of all heroes involved, enemies missing from the mini map and HP/mana levels (you can and should analyze these as you are traveling to the destination). Proceed by informing your allies of your intentions with a ping and target. Remember that managing mana is important; take only ganks that will grant your team a kill.

Be sure to bottle any runes you come across. While they're all useful, Double Damage and Illusions are the most helpful for ganks.

Try to enter a gank from areas of low visibility (hills, jungle, night). In most cases, you should Reality Rift in, attack once or twice and then cast Chaos Bolt. Obviously, you'll have to adapt as necessary to the enemy's disable or escape skills and to your allies' help. If you get unlucky with a short stun duration, use your judgment to decide whether or not to chase (incoming TPs, health levels, distance to tower). After a successful gank, stay and farm a few creeps while you look for your next victim.

When there are two targets, the gank is a little more tricky; again, analyze the situation. The only significant difference is that sometimes it is better to stun one opponent (to prevent interference - usually heroes with long/many disables or nukes) while attacking the other.

Beyond Ganking:
At some point, the game will move away from ganking. You will then have to transition into the role of a DPSer with a nice stun. Once you have a couple of levels of your ultimate, you can push down buildings with ease (preferably after one or more enemies have been killed). There are two ways to leverage this ability:

The first is to push with your team and threaten a building. In this case, you are trying to force a team clash. Once the team clash occurs, you should bolt someone and rift in. If possible, spawn your images just before this for maximum chaos, but ulting right after rifting is good too. If your team has sufficient initialization, save bolt for later. At this point, you don't do much beyond auto-attacking. The images do not last very long, but it is more than enough for a team fight and razing the building afterward.

The other option is to have your team push one lane while you push another. Your ultimate will allow you to easily destroy any undefended building you come across. If enemies do come, your images can be left attacking the building for heavy damage while you yourself escape. If it's a lone enemy, you can even stun them while you continue taking the building down. This strategy's most successful scenarios are: 1) all 5 enemy heroes go to meet your 4 allies (your team retreats while you raze a building); 2) more than one hero comes to deal with you (your team gains an advantage in the clash).

If your team does not have a harder carry than Nessaj, you should aim to end the game as early as possible - Nessaj is decent late-game, but mid-game is his strongest phase.

Inhouse with Nessaj solo mid; v6.64
Download here
Bans: (DarkMedina First) | | | | | | |

Picks: (DarkMedina First) | | | | |

DarkMedina, Sentinel

Akhee, Scourge

In this game DarkMedina plays a solo mid Chaos Knight with roaming support from VS. With proper timing of Chaos Bolt and Magic Missile, they both score several kills on Spectre and Lich very early on. As the game progresses from the laning phase to the ganking phase, Nessaj begins moving rapidly from lane to lane with his teammates to score kills. When his team starts to push, he takes a lane that is unattended to quickly gain gold and experience. Although Phantasm isn't used at all for the first thirty minutes, the strength of 100% damage illusions is clear during the top and bot pushes at the end. In this game, DarkMedina gets both Diffusal blade and Manta, followed by a Reaver to later turn into a Heart.

Pride: DrAg13 vs Puppey; v6.63b
Download here
Bans: (DRAg13 First) | | | | | | |

Picks: (DRAg13 First) | | | | |

DRAg13, Sentinel

Puppey, Scourge

Here RoX.KIS.Santa(controlling Chaos Knight) and tw]amartnt (controlling PotM face off against Dirge and Warlock. Though they quickly get first blood, both Dirge and Warlock's healing abilities are quick to be showcased. The Chaos Knight is forced to be a little more cautious or risk being overwhelmed. The Sentinel takes the lead in the early to mid game, and destroys the mid barracks, shortly followed by the bottom lane rax. With the top lane threatened, the Scourge begin to step up the offensive. There are multiple ganks, running team fights and close escapes by all players. Can the Scourge stage a comeback?

This guide is called a "Community Guide" for a reason. It was made by a number of playdota community members in the strategy forums. Val, Swiftkick, kawumm, DaemonLasher, leomon235 and gwho contributed sections to the guide. Special thanks to deviantART members unrealsmoker (Gallery) and kayllena (Gallery) for the art in the guide.

gwho, Sykik, Miklotov and Val edited the guide to ensure consistency, reasonable grammar etc. CoCoNoir, DarkMedina, Azazel, Baconnaise, sauphich, mxt, DarkArcana, 3955elits, neversaynever, ^Eternity^, Azlan, oblio, clickrush, Milktog, YaNK_FaN, rowingtech09, Lycan, Cosmic, Kirino, Miklotov, Thrashera, EternityPala, noobiezur and TheOtherGuy helped by taking part in the discussion while the guide was being made. Also, thanks to HordeOfTroll for some decent trolling during the guide-making process.

Nessaj the Chaos Knight
Author: Val
Map Vers.: 6.64

Community Guide to Nessaj

Community Guide to Nessaj

Date Posted: 11/12/09
Last Comment:31/10/2012
Total Votes: 188
Current Rating: 8.17
Views: 512669

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