Lina Inverse is a hero that I have been playing since her implementation some years ago. Since that time I have fought against and alongside heroes that today have drastically been changed or removed entirely from the world of DotA, although some remain largely the same. Lina herself has changed little yet my view of how to maximize her power has altered greatly parallel to how I and my play environment has changed.
At this time I believe that I am able to play this hero with maximum effectiveness. The build I used has been changed drastically over time and now I am under the impression that I can play Lina Inverse at her best. I wish to share my build and experiences with others so that they may also develop a better understanding of the potential that this hero holds.
This guide was not meant to be short. I try to be as concise as possible as I do not like to ramble but, simply put, you can't just skim through this and expect to get everything out of it. Before commenting on this guide or even playing the build outlined please read the guide in its entirety. Thanks in advance.
Table of Contents
I. Hero Overview
- Stat Overview
- Skill Descriptions
- Skill List
- Skill Explanations
- Item Build
- Build Explanation
- General Concept
- Items Not To Get
1. Early Game
- Levels 1-2
- Levels 3, 4 and 5
- Levels 6-9
- Levels 10-12
- Levels 13-1
V. Notable Enemies
VI. Misc. Notes
I. Hero Overview
To put it as swiftly as possible, Lina's stats are mediocre. Her movespeed is above average, her Strength gain is poor as well as her Agility gain and her Intelligence gain is extremely high. Her attack animation is exceptionally slow along with her spell animations and her base armor/Strength are both low.
AoE nuke that moves out from the hero like Shockwave. Relatively self-explanatory. However, many players underestimate the size of the spell's radius. In order to quell these false beliefs, I've constructed a crude diagram to show the actual range of Dragon Slave.
The first line perpendicular to Lina with the X through it shows where I targeted the spell. The second line shows how far the spell actually goes. Like Carrion Swarm, Dragon Slave goes a lot farther than one initially expects. This is important to note, especially when using it to finish off a fleeing hero or to harass the enemy in your lane. The two lines running parallel to Lina's sight simply show how large the area of the spell is. The area stays relatively constant, although the animation looks as though it would be much smaller coming out of Lina then becoming bigger as it moves.
As you play Lina you should learn that simply clicking on the hero that you wish to strike with Dragon Slave is not the most efficient way of using the spell. Rather, by learning how far the spell goes relative to where you target it you should be able to cast it from a much safer distance. By using the image given above and practicing this will soon come easy to you. When first I played this hero I underestimated the range of Dragon Slave, then as time went on I began to overestimate it instead. I do pretty well with it now but it's taken me a while to get used to it. It will for you too.
Level 1 - Deals 90 damage. (68 with hero reduction) 90 mana cost.
Level 2 - Deals 150 damage. (94 with hero reduction) 105 mana cost.
Level 3 - Deals 210 damage. (158 with hero reduction) 125 mana cost.
Level 4 - Deals 280 damage. (210 with hero reduction) 140 mana cost.
8.5 second cooldown.
Light Strike Array (LSA)
Light Strike Array is Lina's only disable. It's characterized best by it being one of the very few aimable AoE non-ultimate disables and its relative difficulty of use. Here's an example of the spell's range:
What does this show? This is the farthest you can cast Light Strike Array without forcing Lina to move from her initial position. It's the farthest the spell can go. This is a useful thing to keep in the back of your mind as you play. You're obviously not going to memorize the range of this spell BUT this will give you a good mental image.
First I want to say that screenshots will not help you learn this spell. Replays will not help you learn this spell. Text will not help you learn this spell. Electroshock to your brain will not help you learn this spell. Practice is the only way you will become proficient with Light Strike Array. Period. That's it. With every game you will improve, at first quite noticeably and then marginally as you practice. Practice is the word. It's a beautiful word and it's a beautiful thing.
As you play you'll be able to hit with this spell with almost perfect consistency. Only by playing will you be able to gauge how fast your enemy is moving relative to where you are, how fast it takes Lina to cast the spell and how far away is too far away to hit with Light Strike Array. I have the potential to post dozens of screenshots showing me aiming, hitting, and missing with this spell and none of them will help you in the least. It's just too intuitive to be learned by example, it can only be acquired through practice.
The only thing to keep in mind is that early it's very difficult to hit with this spell, as your foe is going to be most alert at this point in the game. The best way to score an LSA hit early is to chain it with an allied disable or slow or to use it defensively when an enemy is attacking you. Otherwise it's very difficult to do.
Light Strike Array destroys trees, which means you can use it to dismantle Eyes in the Forest or to eliminate Furion's Sprout. On the other hand, be careful that you don't cancel out ally Furion's 5 second disable with your 1.5 second one.
Level 1 - Deals 90 damage. (68 with hero reduction) 90 mana cost.
Level 2 - Deals 150 damage. (94 with reduction) 100 mana cost.
Level 3 - Deals 210 damage. (158 with reduction) 110 mana cost.
Level 4 - Deals 280 damage. (210 with reduction) 125 mana cost.
Stuns for 1.6 seconds. 10 second cooldown.
Ultimate is what sets Lina apart from most heroes of her kind. Once this spell is sufficiently leveled it becomes a permanent (and sizeable) IAS increase as long as you remember to keep it activated.
Level 1 - 10% increase for 20 seconds.
Level 2 - 20% increase for 25 seconds.
Level 3 - 30% increase for 30 seconds.
Level 4 - 50% increase for 30 seconds.
A simple spell that deals extremely high damage to a single target, Laguna Blade is a powerful fixture in Lina Inverse’s arsenal. This spell will be the source of many of your kills for a large portion of the game. Note that there is a significant cooldown decrease when levels 2 and 3 of Laguna Blade are learned, and a very minor one (not listed here) when Aghamin's is purchased.
Level 1 - Deals 450 damage. (338 with hero reduction) 2 minute 30 seconds cooldown(!!). 280 mana cost.
Level 2 - Deals 675 damage. (506 with reduction) 1 minute 30 seconds cooldown. 420 mana cost.
Level 3 - Deals 950 damage. (713 with reduction) 55 second cooldown. 680 mana cost.
II. Skill Build
Level 1- Light Strike Array
Level 2- Dragon Slave
Level 3- Dragon Slave
Level 4- Light Strike Array
Level 5- Dragon Slave
Level 6- Laguna Blade
Level 7- Dragon Slave
Level 8- Light Strike Array
Level 9- Light Strike Array
Level 10- Stats
Level 11- Laguna Blade
Level 12-15- Stats
Level 16- Laguna Blade
Level 17-20- Ultimate
Dragon Slave and Light Strike Array are Lina's primary early game abilities. They're necessary in order for her to establish lane control, gank enemy heroes and basically do anything throughout the entire game. Hence, they are maxed first and foremost.
Ultimate is taken during the latter part of the game, as up until very late you'll want Stats over it in order to increase your mana and HP. IAS is only useful when you have damage, remember that. Laguna Blade is obviously maxed as quickly as possible; although the mana cost is high the obscene amount of instant damage it does allows us to easily nab a kill early, albeit by sacrificing a good deal of mana. This is why it's taken at level 6 and not 10.
III. Item Build
4x Ancient Tango of Essifation, 1x Mantle of Intelligence, 3x Ironwood Branches, 2x Clarity Potion
Bottle, Boots of Speed
2x Null Talismans
Boots of Travel
Pointbooster, Void Stone
Guinsoos (Mystic Staff, Ultimate Orb)
The early game itembuilid gives a nice amount of mana for a couple of stuns + slaves before your bottle. Later on Nulls are made, or bracers if the enemy are packing heroes like NightStalker and Pudge.
After this a bottle is purchased, although it was nerfed in the last patch, the usefullness is not diminished if you are rune camping, and this is what I do with my Lina.
The blink nerf makes the dagger a lot less useful to Lina, as such, a fast set of Travels are the best aid to your ganking, meaning you can be all over the map and are faster than most other heroes.
A pointbooster and a voidstone provide you with some necessary mana regeneration and augments your manapool and hitpoints, both items lead on to your lategame build.
Guinsoo uses Ultimate orb and Mystic staff, and as such gives you a massive manapool, aswell as some necessary hp. Obviously the 3 second hex is the main point of the item, and this allows you to initiate more easily, disable key DPS heroes, instantly cancel channelling spells, and stop teleports.
The idea of these items is to augment Lina's power as a ganking hero. Bottle-camping runes is somethign we're probably all familiar with, but it allows for very powerful ganks and almost permanent lane staying. She needs little if anything to perform her job well but the added mobility of Travels allows her to zip around the map and land her stun more easily, also allowing her to escape more effectively.
Guinsoo provides your team with hex and gives your hero more mana (which you really, really need).
Items after these can vary immensely, from physical damage builds (desolator + buriza), to a build more focused on taking heroes out fast (refresher). However, two things remain relatively constant:
You will need a platemail at this stage of the game.
Aganhims is going to make you pretty Nasty
As with all item builds this is very situational, if you're not going to get your guinsoos then turn that voidstone into a euls. If the 2200 gold isn't coming fast enough; build some cheaper items instead. If your team has mass-caster and you can push early, go for an arcane ring. However, this build is good enough to be staple, and should do you well most of the time
IV. Gameplay Strategy: Early, Mid and Late Game
Levels 1 and 2
Laning with an ally is highly recommended. It is very important that you utilize your nukes to their fullest potential early on, and the only way to do that is to lane with a powerful ally. Soloing is possible in some situations but it's simply not optimal. The best allies you can have are the ones that let you use Light Strike Array freely - namely, disablers. The hero that should come to mind first is the Crystal Maiden, and in cases like these you will want to max out Light Strike Array first so that you can chain it. Rhasta, Storm Bolting heroes, the Naga Siren, basically anyone with a readily accessible stun. General nukes are nice too. Simply blow up the nearest hero with a chained Bolt + Dragon Slave + Laguna Blade. You should get the idea. Examples of allies:
Perhaps the prototypical lane mate for Lina Inverse, the CM comes equipped with a initiative disable, a finishing slow, and a buttload of burst damage to boot. The Lina + Rylai combo is the most common method of using Lina in higher level play, and this is because Bite + LSA + Slave + Nova is very powerful.
Lina is a gank hero, VS is a gank hero, what's not to love?! Missile will serve as a great initiative spell so that you can hit with LSA, then follow with Slave and physical attacks. On top of this, Swap serves as a powerful killing tool, bringing the enemy in your range so that you can immediately LSA after Venge thwacks with her stun.
The Sand King is probably the prime example of a strong lane mate for virtually... any caster hero. Have him intitiate with Burrowstrike, then follow with LSA and Dragon Slave.
I haven't ACTUALLY done this combo before but yeesh, who doesn't the THD lane well with? The slow from Breath should be all you need to score a hit with Light Strike Array, and from there the damage has been done. An early leveling of Ice Path will allow for even easier use of LSA, although I think that getting Path so early is STUPID.
Voodoo or Impale can be used to initiate, then LSA comes right afterward along with Dragon Slave. The Demon Witch is very, very much like Lina Inverse in nearly every aspect, right down to having an identical ultimate. Yes, Finger of Death and Laguna Blade at the same time is pretty darned nifty.
If you are with a powerful ally you should attack a hero at level 2. Have your ally disable, follow with Light Strike Array, whack and use Dragon Slave. Repeat. As your nukes level this will only become more and more damaging, although even at level 2 with the Crystal Maiden or a tri-lane you can kill pretty much everything that gets close enough.
Note that Lina has a poor attack animation that will make competing for last hits somewhat difficult. If possible, move closer to the creeps so that your projectile reaches them more quickly. Unfortunately, against most heroes this won't be possible, but if your enemies are weak then feel free to do this.
Staying close to your creeps also gives you the opportunity to use LSA in an offensive manner. Again, however, in most cases moving close like this will just get you killed. However, if it can be done then you can hit with Light Strike Array before the enemy even realizes it because you don't have to move in closer. This is nice because usually you have to rely on an allied stun in order to hit with LSA due to the cast time, but if you're already close enough to use LSA right where you're standing then the hero won't be able to get away in time.
How does Lina solo a lane effectively? I could say she doesn't and that heroes like Viper are going to rip you apart but that's not very helpful. Granted, it is pretty likely that soloing against Viper will get you ripped apart but there are ways to minimize your losses. First of all, you'll want to have a very strong grasp of Lina's attack animation if you're thinking of soloing against a strong hero. In fact, it's necessary that you do. Secondly you need to maximize your Dragon Slave's potential. Get creep kills that you would have otherwise missed and put pressure on your enemy. DON'T TARGET THE HERO, TARGET IN FRONT OF THE HERO OR YOU'LL GET BEATEN ON WHEN YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE. Don't miss either, make sure you make your mana points count. Lastly, gain an advantage through your nuking power. If Viper tries to kill you when he only has 3/4 HP then insta-gib him with LSA + Dragon Slave + Laguna Blade + whack. Make him fear your Laguna Blade. He knows that he's dead if he hits a certain amount of HP. Keep whittling him down and make him edgy.
Levels 3, 4 and 5
Dragon Slave can be used sporadically to chip away at your enemy's hit points and to snipe low HP creeps if you're soloing a lane or with a weak ally. However, if paired with another strong early game hero it is possible to deal extremely large amounts of damage by chaining nukes and disables. For example, your ally the Crystal Maiden casts Frost Bite. Immediately you cast Light Strike Array and Dragon Slave, then the Crystal Maiden uses Frost Nova and you both attack your target. By doing this you can kill an unwary enemy instantly. This is Lina's job at this stage in the game, so make as much use of your two nukes as possible.
The idea here (and before) is to establish total lane control through massive burst damage- every time the enemy hero gets near you chain nukes on him and he dies. If you're able to do this successfully the lane you inhabit will be locked down, and the hero who is forced to remain there against you will suffer greatly.
If you are without a strong ally then Light Strike Array is best used only for defensive purposes, as it is very difficult to aim against a fully-alert enemy hero at this stage in the game and you really can’t do much with the stun by itself anyway. Dragon Slave can still be used to nab creep kills and deal damage to your enemy. Speaking of which...
Targeting a hero directly with Dragon Slave foolishly ignores the impressive range that the spell has.
This is how you're expected to use Dragon Slave most of the time. This image shows just about the maximum range the spell can go and just how lovely it is not to have to go within 500 range to harrass with it.
This is the kind of manuever that makes you feel good to be alive. Perfect aim with Dragon Slave, brilliantly intuitive tower dive, animation cancel that puts you out of harm's way practically by the time Clinkz is dead. Precision that makes 4k players jealous.
I'm bringing this up again because it's important. Targeting the enemy hero with Dragon Slave is so very, very newbish. Now obviously if a hero is right up in front of you at melee range then feel free to just target him, but if you're sniping him then putting yourself into harm's way by targeting the hero rather than in front of him is stupid.
Level 6 means that another weapon is added to your arsenal: Laguna Blade. With it you can quickly annihilate your target with your ally's help or use it as a finishing move after whittling your enemy down with Dragon Slave and your physical attack. The mana requirement is steep however, numbering at 280 at a point in the game where few (if any) spells reach that cost.
Don't hesitate to pay a visit to another lane and try for a gank. Coming in from the forest is a feasible way to score an LSA hit or you can simply chain it together with a disable, then finish off your enemy with Dragon Slave and/or Laguna Blade. The most important part of the early game is, again, lane control. This means laning with a strong ally like the Crystal Maiden and chaining your nukes whenever an opportunityopens up.
Levels 10, 11, 12
Gank. Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank Gank. Have an ally initiate because Light Strike Array is clumsy, then come in and unleash the full fury of your spell-casting power. Use Laguna Blade last because it costs a lot and you want to avoid wasting mana if possible. Still, don't be hesitant to do so; the cooldown is short. Just don't use it simply because you want the kill. That's stupid.
Hopefully you have or are approaching your Blink Dagger shortly. This item should greatly increase your ganking ability through the mobility it adds. Now you can have an ally disable, then immediately Blink in and hit with LSA + Slave + Laguna Blade. This is useful because it eliminates any possiblity of error or chance for your enemy to escape. You can also get the jump on lonely, weak enemy heroes and insta-gib him with a combination of nukes, something that was difficult if not impossible before without Blink. Lastly, you can use the item to escape ugly situations that would've caused your death. Lovely!
Levels 13, 14, 15, 16
Not much changes at this point in the game. Just keep ganking, milk your nukes for all they're worth because they're what your hero is. Laguna Blade costs even more (680 mana!) but your mana pool is massive now, numbering at 1000+ at level 16 at the bare minimum (and you should be moving to Eul's now). Laguna Blade's cooldown decreases which is a very big plus.
Pushes may happen now and it’s important to know how to deal with them. Dragon Slave is useful in that you can cast it from a safe distance provided you understand the range (refer to diagram in Skill Descriptions) and it's a nice way to whittle the HP of your enemies and to kill the advancing creeps, much like Carrion Swarm. Be careful when doing this though, as it's possible you'll get ambushed and quickly slaughtered. Just watch your map, keep a finger on Blink and don't be stupid.
Light Strike Array is a powerful tool if used properly. If your enemies are foolish and bunch together you can cause a lot of turmoil with a well-placed LSA. If you're able to coordinate a gank well on a large group of enemies then use Blink to quickly get close enough and chain your two AoE nukes, then blast a hero with Laguna Blade.
Laguna Blade has the potential to take a hero out of combat the moment the battle begins. Immediately zapping a Shadow Fiend with few HP boosting items means he has to retreat or die the moment an AoE spell is thrown. A Clinkz who fails to position himself properly can be killed almost instantly at around level 16. If no opportunities arise like this then just use Laguna Blade as a finisher.
It's likely that a number of heroes will be more able to defend against your nukes at this point in the game, but on the other hand a well-played Lina should have stomped enough face to make the enemy team weak, sniveling and pathetic by now. Laguna Blade also simply does too much damage to ever be ignored no matter how late the game goes (the removal of Aegis only further accentuates this) even if it does weaken somewhat. Aghamin's will only serve to make it more powerful.
Lina's nukes weaken as the game goes on, but they're never useless. LSA is always an AoE disable and damage is still damage. The sooner the game ends for Lina the better, but remember that you're never truly useless.
V. Notable Enemies
The thing about Pudge is that it's very easy for him to kill you and almost impossible for you to kill him. You're a tempting target for a good Pudge player and it's important to be extremely watchful if you're playing against one. Once you reach the later part of the game he's a joke to you; the important thing is to not let him keep you down with his early game combo.
The Oblivion is a very powerful hero in general and most dangerous to you because of Nether Ward for relatively obvious reasons. On the other end of the spectrum is his extremely low HP pool which will make nuking him an easy task provided you don't kill yourself in the process because of his Ward. A good Pugna will know how to keep himself out of harm's way and keep you under the influence of his Ward- this is what you'll have to watch out for most.
I've disliked this hero since his ultra-buggy incarnation back in the 5.xx versions (who didn't love Epicenter randomly and inexplicibly dealing 4000 damage?) and I don't like him now. His hit points are painfully high and Burrowstrike is a very, very powerful skill. This hero out-maneuvers, out-tanks and very nearly outguns you and will always be a threat to you. Rule 1: realize that Epicenter will always go off before you can hit with LSA.
Another hero that's frightening to virtually everyone and just as much so for you if not more. He sports more hit points than your nukes can hope to bring down and his powerful Brain Sap will only widen this gap. Fiend's Grip decimates any hero and you're no exception to this rule. Remember that the easiest way to kill Atrophos is to put him in a 2v1 situation.
Sporting a great deal more hit points than would be expected from an Agility hero, a powerful telenuke and notorious damage per second without the need of any expensive items, the Morphling is a danger to just about everyone. There's little to say about him in particular other than the fact that he's, well, powerful. Be careful.
VI. Misc Notes
- Lina's defining aspect of her gameplay is her nukes. Dragon Slave, LSA and Laguna Blade are your primary offensive mechanisms for a very large portion of the game as well as Dragon Slave being a useful farming mechanism.
- Lina sucks later in the game. Don't sit around and farm when you should be ganking and getting the game to end for you as soon as possible. No matter how many items you farm there will be heroes that slaughter you late in the game, so make the game end before that point is reached.
- Lina Inverse requires a lot of skill to use effectively, because her nukes require you to... aim and stuff. Lazy players may be better off with QoP, but no hero can control a lane with a competent ally like Lina can. Practice with Light Strike Array, practice! If you don't perform well at first using this strategy don't be discouraged, just keep practicing and it will open up to you.
I'll (probably) add a replay at some point, and if not then this guide WON'T BE PREMIUM NO MOAR, OH GOD.
VIII. In Closing
I obviously wrote this to cater to you, the reader, and I'd be more than willing to answer any questions or respond to any suggestions you might have. Realize, however, that I've been doing this strategy for quite a while now and it's going to take quite a bit for me to alter something.
I understand that a sort of mathcraft fad has arisen in this forum. I don't like mathcraft. Mathcraft is limited. Many items that are justified by numbers are or aren't useful for other, more obvious reasons. I notice that people tend to complicate a lot of things when the answer to their conflicts is right in front of them. For example, Battlefury. Battlefury sucks. Do you want to know how I know this? Because I've used it, many times, since it was introduced, and it sucks. It sucks after the buff, too. It's just bad. See how easy that is? So other than spell damage after reduction there will be no math in this guide. Math is for smart people anyway, we're video game players.
This guide looks a lot better now that it's shorter, agleed?! I may add screenshots for ganking with Blink and LSA in the future, but I don't believe that's necessary.