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Dota 2 item and build guide - Crystal Maiden (Rylai)

Updated on April 22, 2015

"When Hell freezes over, I'll start calling it Heaven"

If you are new to Dota 2, be sure to check out my guide for beginners here..

"Born in a temperate realm, raised with her fiery older sister Lina, Rylai the Crystal Maiden soon found that her innate elemental affinity to ice created trouble for all those around her. Wellsprings and mountain rivers froze in moments if she stopped..."

Crystal Maiden is a ranged Intelligent hero who is best known for her powerful ice oriented spells. She has a plethora of powerful disabling abilities such as Frostbite and Crystal Nova. Rylai excels in the early stages of the game as her spells allow her to net easy kills. With the addition of Arcane aura, she can spam her spells with little to no consequence.

REALLY good support and lane support (thanks to spammable Nova)
REALLY slow movement speed
Strong slows and disables
REALLY squishy
Mana regen is global
You will probably die a lot
Not item dependant (besides boots which she really needs)
Easy to play

Crystal Nova (Q)

Great for harassing, has a low mana cost, good slow+damage at level 1, has a long cast range, provides vision in dangerous areas. Can also be used for farming.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • Provides 900 radius ground vision at the target area for 6 seconds.
  • Plays a sound effect during the cast time which is audible to everyone.

Frostbite (W)

Great single target lockdown and damage. Deals up to 1000 damage to natural creeps, so can be used to farm jungle for extra gold. Enemies can still cast spells when frozen, but can't blink or attack.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • Despite the visual effects, Frostbite applies its effects immediately and cannot be disjointed.
  • Frostbite reveals invisible units for its duration.
  • Frostbite deals 50 damage in 0.5 second intervals, starting immediately, resulting in 3/4/5/6 (20 against creeps) damage intervals.
  • Can deal up to 150/200/250/300 (1000 to creeps) damage (before reductions).

Arcane Aura (E)

Allows you and your team to spam spells, global, regen doubled for you.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • Stacks with all other sources of flat mana regeneration.
  • The flat mana regen bonus is not considered by percentage mana regeneration increases.
  • Regenerates up to 60/90/120/150 (120/180/240/300 on self) mana in one minute.
  • On level 4, it effectively provides slightly more mana than Arcane Boots which is used whenever it's off cooldown (137.5 opposed to 135 in 55 seconds).

Freezing Field (R)

High damage potential, huge aoe slow. High mana cost, best used in fog of war or between trees.

Advanced mechanics facts:

  • The slow is applied to all enemies within the radius.
  • Can damage units up to 1085 range away (785 spawn radius + 300 explosion radius).
  • For enemies within 485 radius, Freezing Field deals about 2000/3300/4800 (3300/4800/6000*) damage over the 10 second duration, ±1.9 explosions.
  • Every 0.1 second an explosion occurs, for a total of 100 explosions.

Skill builds


Build 1 - hard support, max Crystal nova (Q) or Frostbite (W) depending on the situation


Build 2 - burst heavy build, max Crystal nova (Q) first depending on situation

Skill build explanation

Build 1 is your typical Crystal Maiden build. One point into Crystal nova (Q) is enough for it to be effective. The extra 1.5s slow and damage is quite redundant. Frostbite (W) is maxed first for the 3s stun/root. Arcane aura (E) is maxed second so you can spam spells and be even more item independent. I don't put any points into Freezing field (R) until level 13 because of the high mana cost.

For build 2, again Frostbite (W) is maxed first. But this time I focus more on the damage side of by maxing Crystal nova (Q) second. Freezing field (R) is grabbed at level 6 for more damage, but only one level before level 14 due to high mana cost. This build is more effective is you aren't the only support in your team, and you have more farm than usual.

There is no set build for Crystal maiden, so analyze what you need your situation.

When is maxing Crystal nova (Q) better than Frostbite(W)?

  • If you are in a relatively passive lane. Having the option to harass using Crystal nova (Q) can be quite effective. This is the reason why having all spells at level 3 is crucial. It gives you the chance to decide what your lane or team needs in a certain situation.
  • Having higher levels of Crystal nova (Q) also allows you to dish out more AOE nuke damage in team fights.
  • If your lane already has enough stuns, then grabbing more levels in Crystal nova (Q) would be the preferable choice.

As a support, you should buy the following at the start of the game:

  • Animal courier (if it hasn't been bought)
  • Observer wards (if it hasn't been bought) *Comprehensive guide to warding
  • Smoke of deceit: If you are running a tri-lane this item is VERY GOOD. Because if your carry is fine in lane, you and the other support can smoke up and gank mid without being seen.

What to buy throughout the game:

  • Observer wards (should always be bought)
  • Sentry wards (situational)
  • Dust of appearance (situational)
  • Smoke of deceit (for ganking purposes)

Your core items are:

  • Boots of speed: Desperately need that movement speed.
  • Magic wand: This little item is very cost efficient and will save your life. Grab your Magic STICK early, and upgrade later.
  • Bracer: Cheap heath item and overall good stats, crucial due to CM's low heath. Can be upgraded to Drums later.

Your luxury items are:

  • Tranquil boots/Arcane boots/Power treads/Phase boots: All these boots are viable for CM. If you a low on cash, Tranquils is your friend. If your team is very mana hungry, grab Arcanes. For utility purposes, go Treads. But I personally love Phase boots as it allows me to position myself better, escape, and even initiate.
  • Drums of endurance: Great stats, extra movement speed, cost efficient, upgraded from Bracer.
  • Mekansm: Core on any support. If your team doesn't already have one, grab this. The heal will increase you and your teams survivability.
  • Force staff/Blink dagger: Will allow you to initiate and escape easier.
  • Ghost scepter/Black king bar: Even more survivability if you get focused by high physical damage carries. Don't forget about the awesome stats it provides!

place the wards at any of the red dots (one at top and one at bottom) for a rune ward
place the wards at any of the red dots (one at top and one at bottom) for a rune ward

Early game:

  • Always harass enemies if they come too close. Use your Crystal nova (Q), and start hitting them. They will start to back off, this will allow you to hit them a few times while they are running away.
  • IMPORTANT: you must learn about pulling, stacking, and warding. These three are REALLY important as a support. If in doubt about where to ward, ward the rune spot.
  • Once you have a level on Frostbite (W) and Crystal nova (Q), killing enemies should be relatively easy, provided you have a strong laning partner.
  • If you are against a solo enemy, you can easily zone them out of exp range (known as zoning, which you should learn about).
  • If your carry is farming safety in lane, consider roaming with your smoke to help other lanes.
  • Always carry a TP scroll in case your other lanes need help.

Mid game:

  • Your effectiveness will start to fall at around this stage.
  • Always make sure you and your team have plenty of map vision. So keep them wards up!
  • Stay back in team fights. You die too easily. Never initiate unless your team is close enough to back you up.

Late game:

  • Continue maintaining map control with those wards.
  • Stay with your team. And do that you were doing in mid game.
  • Try to Frostbite (W) their carry(S) if they don't have magic immunity.

  • Crystal nova (Q) provides vision and has long range, use it to scout areas if enemy heroes are missing from the map.
  • Freezing field (R) has potential to deal a massive amount damage. So consider getting it if your team has great AOE synergy.

DotaCinema's guide to Crystal Maiden

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