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The Ultimate Necrophos Guide (Dota 2)

Updated on April 22, 2015

"Behold the Pope of Pestilence."

Necrophos is my most played hero on Dota 2, and is the hero I feel mechanically best with. Although I am not a professional player, I have 4200 solo MMR and play Necro at a very high skill level. So I decided to create a comprehensive guide for my favorite hero. I've played Necro in all 5 positions and mid is by far the best lane for him. He's still playable as the safe lane carry or as a solo offlane. But please DO NOT PLAY HIM AS A SUPPORT.

What's different about Necro is that he doesn't fall into a specific role in Dota 2. By first glance, he seems to fit into the support role, given his healing capabilities. However, diving deeper into his skills we can see he's a much higher potential.

Can control a lane easily
Desperately needs levels early on
Strong teamfighter
Low base damage
Very tanky if built correctly
Positioning is crucial
Very high burst damage
Low armour

Death Pulse (Q)

This skill is great for fighting, farming, pushing. Please don't just spam this skill when farming, keep notice of the mana cost, it's mana expensive. During the laning phase, make sure anytime you use this spell you achieve all 3 at the same time: harass the enemy, heal yourself, get last hits. In teamfights you want to spam this spell as much as possible to deal damage and heal you and your team.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • The pulses travel at a speed of 400 and cannot be disjointed.
  • Affects invisible units and units in Fog of War.
  • Interrupts Necrophos' channeling spells upon cast (I'll talk about why this is important in Reaper's Scythe section)

Heartstopper Aura (W)

In theory, heroes in Dota 2 have a minimum of roughly 500 HP at level 1, therefore Heartstopper will deal at least 3HP per second. Now consider the fact that tangoes heal at 7 HP per second. Just by standing near your enemy, you will negate almost half of their healing and have a constant harass. In late game this spell gets even better when enemies have more HP and can theoretically kill a hero in 67 seconds.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • The debuff from Heartstopper Aura lingers for 0.5 seconds
  • The health loss from Heartstopper Aura is not considered damage, so it does not trigger any on-damage events.
  • Affected enemy units will only have a visible status debuff when they have vision over Necrophos. When he's not visible to them, the status debuff is invisible.

Sadist (E)

Great way to sustain mana while you farm, and works for denying. This skill is a huge deal in teamfights, and the reason why Necro is considered a tank. At level 4, it will heal 240 HP and 600 mana every time you get a kill on a hero. It heals you and replinishes mana, allowing you to spam more Death Pulses, which means more heals, more damage, and potentially more kills, continuing the cycle. This skill is what allows Necro to snowball out of control in a teamfight.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • Each stacks work fully independent from each other. They do not refresh each other, but share a status buff. The number of current stacks is visible on the buff.
  • Each stacks can restore a total of 6/12/18/24 health and 12/24/36/60 mana.
  • Hero kills add 10 stacks at once, regenerating a total of 60/120/180/240 health and 120/240/360/600 mana from that.

Reaper's Scythe (R)

A nuke that scales greatly no matter how late the game goes AND increases enemy respawn time. There is so much packed into this skill, you get damage, a stun, and mechanic only used by this hero (respawn times). Now, at level 1 the damage is not great (needs to be at 23% HP for a clean kill) but it's still great setting up kill, with Reaper's Scythe->Death Pulse->auto attacks.

In a team fight, it is very important you get a clean kill with Reaper's Scythe even if it involves kill stealing an ally. This ensures the enemy suffers from increased respawn time, and that you snowball in a team fight.

One small but very important note about this skill; it has a cast time of 1.8 seconds! You want to cancel this cast time as soon as possible, which can be done by simply moving as soon as the spell animation or by casting Death Pulse.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • Damage is calculated and dealt at the end of the stun duration
  • Can instantly kill a hero when it is at 23%/31%/40% (31%/40%/47% with Aghanim's Scepter) health, considering basic 25% magic resistance only and no other sources of magic resistance.


Death Pulse (Q) should always be maxed first no matter what build to maximize your nuke damage potential. You may opt out of leveling Heartstopper (W) entirely if you feel you need more mana from Sadist (E) in the laning phase. But I like to put at least one point for the annoying harrass and the enemy will generally be less aggressive towards you.

I've read some guides that suggested adding more than 1 point into Heartstopper (W) early on, please don't do this. It scales horribly in early game. Lets do the maths at an enemy with 1000 HP (average for level 6-10 heroes), that's 6/9/12/15 damage per second. This damage is a joke when a teamfight breaks out. It is much better investing your points into your other skills that are relevant besides the laning phase.

Start of the game

Middle lane:

Necro has very low base damage (44), which means its harder to last hit compared to other mid heroes. Which is why I like to build Null Talisman (provides 9 damage) first and tangos (preferably pulled from your teammates).

Safe lane:

Due do access to the side shop, I like to start with Ring of Protection, branches, and tangos. The ring is built into a Ring of Basilius (from side shop) for the extra damage and mana regen. The armour from the ring is great for your Effective HP (EHP) with Death Pulse. I'll talk more about EHP further down.

Offlane (Solo, go with Safe lane build if duo lane):

With any unconventional offlane, I like to start with boots and tangos. His heal and mana pool is simply not enough to sustain such a harsh lane. With boots you can safely get experience and possibly last hits if you're lucky. If you hover over Heartstopper, you can see the range (1200) which is exactly the same as the experience range. This is probably the best tool you have as an offlaner. Focus on getting as much exp as possible, don't die.

Before you get your core item

Between your starting item and your core item, you want a Magic Stick (or Magic Wand if you decide to upgrade it). This is THE item to get for necro in the early game. He is always in the middle of a fight (if you aren't, then you should be!), which means more charges.

Your core item

What is Effective HP (EHP)?

Armor works really well with any type of heal due to the nature of Effective Hit Points (EHP). Without diving too deep into the math of things, your HP is more effective with more armour, and your armour is more effective with more HP. Think of your heals as raw HP. You can read more about it here.

Basically, your heal(s) will be more effective if you have more armor.

Now your next item really depends on how well you are doing in the lane. You need to be able change your item build depending on the tempo of the match.

Are you absolutely dominating your lane?

  • Get Phase Boots into a fast Blink Dagger and start ganking (you should be at least level 6-7 before you start doing this though). Phase boots will allow you to further control your lane, and blink dagger will make you the centre of fights.

Are at a stalemate with the enemy mid?

  • Get normal boots into a fast Mekansm. The components of a Mek alone will make you incredibly hard to kill and guarantee your safety from ganks.
  • You want to make a teamfight happen as soon as you get your Mekansm. It is not a support item, it is a fighting item. People underestimate how tanky Necro is with Mek+Death Pulses+Sadist. You will have a crazy amount of EHP. Use this to your advantage.

Are you getting destroyed in your lane?

  • Get as many cost effective items as you can; Boots, Wand, Bottle, Ring of Basilius, or any type of cheap armor.
  • Farm the jungle, kill, work towards any core item: blink, mek, scepter, dagon, atos. I find Mekansm the most effective when I'm behind.

These builds are always interchangeable, you could also build a Mek into dagger or vice versa. I prefer phase boots as my boots, treads is also a good option if you can tread switch. Tranquils is ok, arcane boots is a big no no.

More core items to consider

From there you can get either of these items, not in any particular order:

Aghanim's Scepter:

  • Never a bad choice as your 2nd major item. Increases your hp, mana, ult damage, all the good stuff. Also stop enemies from buying back. HUGE deal. You want this item at some time in the game.

Rod of Atos:

  • An underrated item, I've experimented with this item a few times. I feel it isn't as effective as the other core items suggested. Still a solid pick for extra HP and mana.


  • Great for the extra burst, very gimmicky, one trick pony, needs a blink dagger or atos to use effectively. High skilled players will never allow you to get close enough to use this item with your ult. Get this if your team has no burst/nuke damage to help with Reaper's Sycthe.

Scythe of Vyse:

  • Solid pickup in any team to shut down carries, great for extra stats.

Shiva's Guard:

  • On paper this item is made more Necro; armour, mana, attack/movement slow, aoe nuke. But I feel if you don't rush this, its effects become diminishing without HP. The EHP from your heels are not as effective later on in the game, so it heavily relies on your HP. So either get it early, or very late when you have more HP with a Heart or Skadi.

Heart of Tarrasque/Eye of Skadi:

  • I've had trouble deciding which of the 2 I like better, they both give roughly the same amount of raw HP (725, Skadi vs 1060, Heart). But Skadi provides more EHP due to the stats it provides plus the attack/movement slow. However Hearts provides out of combat regen which is useful when sieging.

Refresher Orb:

  • If you are going ultra late game, this is the item you want for sure. Having 2 enemy heroes banished to the shadow realm is a guarantee win.

Purge's Guide To Safe Lane Necrophos

What is your MMR?

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