DOTA 2 Hero Build: Crystal Maiden

Guild of Guardians


Hardcore Gamer
Nov 4, 2018
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Longtime DOTA fans should be quite familiar with Rylai the Crystal Maiden as she has been in the roster since the early days, and she’s synonymous with the support role in the game. Any team would be pleased to have her and enemies become wary of her presence in the map. If you want to learn how to play support in this game, then she could be a good place to start.

Rylai likes freezing things, which is why she’s a good disabler that goes well with her hard support capabilities. She is also the sister of Lina the Slayer (in DOTA 2 lore), who has command over fire. Her best asset is her powerful mana regeneration aura that also helps allies with their mana problems in the early and mid game. She needs not worry about having no ammunition, so all she really needs to do is to stay alive and be effective.

She fits perfectly in the 5 position due to having little to no dependencies on both items and experience, so she doesn’t really need to farm. Her crowd control abilities are what make special, and her attack range is not too shabby either. Being both a hard support and a disabler is a good thing, and the potential to be a backup nuke when needed doesn’t hurt her reputation either. It’s this low-maintenance play and degree of flexibility that draws people to her at first.

However, all of these strengths do come at a hefty cost. For starters, she is incredibly squishy, so expect to die if your positioning is even a tad bit off. This means that she usually gets killed first in a game, especially since she also has really low movement speed, so you’ll have to be able to manage that if you’re playing her. At the very least, she doesn’t need that much gold so dying is not too painful if the respawn time is not too long.

Despite having her awesome mana regen aura, her ultimate does cost a whole load of mana, so you still need a fairly big gas tank to use it and still have enough to cast your other spells so that you’re not entirely useless afterwards. Also, even though her crowd control spells are excellent, she does not have an actual stun. She only has a slow in her Crystal Nova and a disable in her Frosbite, but no true stun.

There are quite a few holes here and there, but a good Crystal Maiden player is able to manage with them by focusing on her strengths and hopefully having the team cover for her weaknesses.

Crystal Nova (Q) – Obtain at levels 1, 4, 5, 7

A burst of damaging frost slows enemy movement and attack rate in the targeted area.

You can farm with this if you really want to, but this is mostly good for going against melee chasers and heavy hitters who are either after you and/or your teammates, or for slowing down the enemy team in a fight. It’s helpful as well in tower diving and engagements.

Frostbite (W) – Obtain at levels 2, 8-10

Encases an enemy unit in ice, prohibiting movement and attack, while dealing damage per second.

This is what makes Rylai really useful in most games, especially against enemy carries. But as mentioned, this is not a true stun, so the target can still use their spells, including Blink and other ways to either escape, slow you down, or even kill you outright.

Once you hit an opponent with Frostbite in a team fight, you can either get some distance as your teammates swoop in to finish the job or perhaps sacrifice yourself if needed so that your carries don’t take the fall instead.

Arcane Aura (E) – Obtain at levels 3, 6, 12, 13

Gives additional mana regeneration to all friendly units on the map. This bonus is doubled on Crystal Maiden.

This is what makes Rylai such a support superstar, which lets you and your teammates fill up their gas tank quickly and have more sustain in laning and everywhere else. It’s especially helpful for heroes with low mana pools and those with mana-heavy spells. It also stacks with Ring of Basilius, so you can make it even more effective as well.

Since Rylai gets double the mana regen bonus from this aura, you get to cast your crowd control whenever you want and be able to replenish after blowing most of it with the ultimate.

Freezing Field (R) – Obtain at levels 11, 20, 21

CHANNELED – Surrounds Crystal Maiden with random icy explosions that slow enemies and deal massive damage.

Perhaps only held back by how mana-heavy it is, this ultimate is quite strong indeed. It also gets stronger when you specifically equip Aghanim’s Scepter, which is an option if you need more nuking power in some games. However, it’s mostly recommended to not max this out until the late game since its mana cost doubles with each level.

Stats – Obtain at levels 14-19, 22-25

Starting Items

Iron Branch
Clarity – In case you need mana immediately.
Tango – For lane sustainability.
Healing Salve – For lane sustainability.
Sentry Ward – Your highest priority, especially when you decide to buy a courier.
Observer Ward – If you don’t have courier, get this instead.
Animal Courier

Early Game

Your main priority in item purchases is still wards for vision and counter-warding above all else. If you have enough gold left over though, you can get the following items.

Tranquil Boots – For lane sustainability.
Magic Wand – If you find yourself fighting often, then get this so you can build up charges.
Urn of Shadows – Optional item in case you have more gold left over.

Mid/Late Game

Mekansm – Gives you a strong heal and bonus stats that fit supports.
Drum of Endurance – If a teammate already has Mekansm, then get this instead since 2 Mekansms don’t stack.

Alternate Items

Bracers – Cheap HP when you need it.
Ghost Scepter – Good if you keep getting auto-attacked.
Force Staff – Good follow-up after buying Drum of Endurance.
Pipe of Insight – Expensive, but can give Rylai more defense.
Scythe of Vyse – Expensive, but gives you an additional CC.
Blink Dagger – For extra mobility via Blink.
Aghanim’s Scepter – For boosting the damage of your ultimate, making you a good nuke.
Black King Bar – If you’re really balling out of control in the game, get this and fully channel Freezing Field with little to no delay.

As a hard support, you won’t really be farming since your teammates have more need for all that gold. Instead, your main job is to maintain lane equilibrium by stacking creeps and harassing while defending to deny lane enemies of experience whenever possible.

Creep stacking lets you gain experience by having your carry do most of the work while you back him up in the laning phase.When lane is pushed nearer into the enemy side, do your best to pull the creeps back to your side so that your carry can farm on them while being in less danger of getting harassed by enemy laners and being hit by a tower.

It’s ideal for the creeps to be near enough to the tower without having it attack the creeps, which could steal the last hit from your carry. You can also attack your own minions that are at 50% health or below to deny your enemy laners so they don’t get experience and gold from it.

While most beginners wouldn’t think that a support character can gank, it’s actually not an impossibility. However, it’s not Rylai’s main priority as a hard support and must only be done when the opportunity presents itself quite clearly; your priority is still to support and ward. Remember that you must never force a gank, so proceed through this with caution.

Whenever the opportunity is available, you can roam to pressure all lanes with ganks in the early to mid game. If you see an ally initiate an engagement, you can come in and provide back-up. To make up for your terrible movement speed, you have your attack range on your side and CC when an enemy gets close to you.

If ever you do get a gank, push the tower of that lane right away. However, don’t go for the tower in the easy lane unless you’re sure since the carry does need to farm as much as he can, and farming in the enemy side is riskier. If it’s in the mid or suicide lane, then just go for it if the chance is open.