Crystal Maiden is probably one of the best support heroes in Dota, if not the best. This build will guide you through what is probably known as the best way to play CM, as a support *****. This guide is not made for people who want to play selfish and get kills or farm in a lane as much as they can to look super-good with maxed items, chances are if you follow this build you wont see yourself 13-3-2 but instead 4-2-15.
This guide is made for people who want to support their team to victory by buying wards, ganking other lanes to keep carrys down, and making sure that your carry is getting all the farm he needs. This hero and guide are great for people playing with friends, its an easy way to allow your teammates to farm.
In order to correctly play this guide you must try your best to not die a lot as support heroes tend to die more than others.
There are two builds, only one of them gives you item directions, the other one shows another skill sequence that you should follow as this hero doesn't have one constant skill sequence.
Reminder Before moving on, there might be some(very few) spelling error mistakes, English is not my first language and it should not really effect the guide in any way.
Through-out the guide you will be seeing some words highlighted in the color yellow, I'm going to tell you what those words mean in this section.
Metagame- is the highest level of strategy at this point of the game / during this version. It is whats most used right now, it is a method in which the game is played (heroes, strats etc.) some points of this metagame include, trilanes, non-stop pushing with 5 pushers and no carry, using lich to babysit a carry middle, forcing 3v1 for free farm. Everytime the metagame changes most of the heroes picked change, that's why when following the competitive scene you will almost never see SF but if you turn the clock a year and a half back he is one of the most picked heroes in competitive play.
Babysit- The term babysitting is most common with support heroes. It is when you go to a lane with a carry and constantly deny creeps and harras enemy, some times you use your consumables(pots) on the carry to keep them up and alive.
EXP Deny- EXP Deny is far different than "denying", when you deny a creep in-front of your opponent they still get some of the experience back. But when you are EXP denying it literally means you are not letting them get any experience, its when you push them so far back that all they do is tower-hug and don't even get the exp from denied creeps. This is super-effective in competitive play.
Lane equilibrium - This term isn't too popular or known but it is something that you should be doing every time your in a 3v1 lane. Lane equilibrium is when the enemy player is tower-hugging and waiting for creeps to come down but suddenly notices that he/she is level 1 for the past 5 minutes because the enemy team has kept creep equilibrium by keeping all the creeps at the same level in the lane at all times. This means auto-attacking a creep every time it drops below 50% HP, this increases your carries farm and rapes the **** out of the opponent in your lane.
Map control- Simple term that means you have pushed a lot, have lots of wards up and can basically see the whole map without a problem, it allows you to dodge ganks and set up ganks. When you have "no map control" you are basically ****ed and must play as defensive as possible to stay alive.
Escape mechanism- Being able/having a spell that allows you to run away / dodge ganks easier than others. AOE stuns, Windwalk, Blink, Black King Bar, Shadow Blade, Blink Dagger, Force Staff, Mekansm.
Harrasing- The act of constantly hitting the enemy opponent in a lane usually pisses a lot of people off but it is very helpful :)
AOE= Area of effect
Ulti=Ultimate( Freezing Field)
BKB=Black king bar
Please tell me if I missed anything that you have questions on.
The first skill of Crystal Maiden is Crystal Nova this spell slows down for up to 5 seconds when maxed and gives vision to the ground that you used it on for the next few seconds. Usually I try to max this out 2nd or 3rd. Since CM does not necessarily have one skill build every game, the only time you max this is when your opponent doesn't have a lot of escape mechanism.
The second skill is Frostbite this spell disables an enemy hero for up to 3 seconds doing damage every second. This is very good when ganking because its basically a stun. Its very good against heroes like antimage and other blinkers because they are not allowed to blink while being in frostbite. I usually max this 2nd or 3rd depending on which heroes I'm going up against. Remember Linken's Sphere and Manta Style and some spells are allowed to be used during the frostbite which usually allows them to escape.
The third skill is Arcane Aura, which has come to prove to be probably one of the best aura's in the entire game. It globally regens your teammates mana while being alive. Maxing this spell first is a must, especially when playing as a support it will benefit you and your teammates a lot.
The last and final spell is Freezing Field which does AOE damage over a few seconds hitting random spots of the AOE range (keep in mind it is best used when close/next to other heroes). The reason I pick her ultimate up after all of her spells is the fact that it is channeling. You cannot just stand and ult without having the enemy team stomp you/stun you, you are very squishy and easily killed especially by carries. Another reason is its mana cost which is really huge for early game and its better to save it for your other spells. Crystal Maiden should be focusing on positioning herself in team fights rather than standing trying to ult. But nonetheless if it pulled off right the ultimate does amazing work.
Observer Ward or Animal Courier is what you should always start the games off with. Your team needs one or the other and they are a huge impact to early game(even if you don't notice it, trust me they really are).
Next, I pick up 3 Iron Branch and turn them into a Magic Wand after I pick up my boots. Remember almost every game you should be getting Magic Wand no matter what hero, it is amazing how it can help you when your in need of mana or when your getting chased/almost dying.
Boots are something that CM needs the most because she is as slow as a turtle. If you are rather new to the game and try not dying as much as others, or in other words like to play defensive then Power Treads are the boots for you. Make sure you keep them on STRENGTH so you can get all the HP that you need.
The other boots that you can get are Phase Boots these boots are usually made for people who try to rather position themselves in fights, like to move faster when ganking, and can survive even with the lower HP. The best time to get phase boots( of course you can get them whenever you want to) is when your doing very well early game by picking up a few kills or assists.
As for my early-mid game items I try to get Drum of Endurance which gives you 4 stacks that you can use that increase attack speed and movement speed of you and all the allied heroes around you. The times that you should be using these charges are
1. Running away with a very good chance of living
2. When you and your teammates are trying to take down a tower
3. When you're in a teamfight
If you use all of the charges and you feel as if you need more, you can always re-buy the recipe and it gives you 4 charges back, remember you can re-buy it as much as you want.
The other item that I usually go for(IF none of my teammates have it yet) is Mekansm which is great for team fighting, pushing towers by giving team and creeps armor and of course saving teammates/yourself when running away.
One of the best ways to gank and have a great escape mechanism is by getting a Blink Dagger which allows you to either chase up easier on your opponent, jump in middle of fights to use your ultimate or escape the enemy by slowing and blinking. This is probably one of the most recommended items on CM.
As for late game I usually try to get whats best for the team and me. Aghanim's Scepter is a great way to improve your ultimate. You should always get this item if you have been using your ultimate successfully and believe that you need more hp/mana, since it gives great attributes.
Another useful item to get is Black King Bar making yourself immune to magic for a few seconds. Its an easy way to use your ultimate but remember there are some spells, especially ultimate's that can override BKB, and it loses duration time every time you use it until it is down to 5 seconds, so it becomes less useless as the game progresses.
Situational items for CM are items that are going to allow you to survive more, especially against tanks or even nukes. Ghost Scepter is a great item when you're going against heroes such as PA, Ursa, Drow and other strong DPS's. Another great item when going against those heroes is Blade Mail since it allows you to take the damage that you are receiving but at the same time allowing them to take the damage they are doing to themselves, this is better when you have more HP. When going against a lot of mages/nukers you might want to get Hood of Defiance which is going to allow you to tank more incoming magic damage than usual.
Remember to always get Observer Ward through-out the game, and if you see an enemy team warding get Sentry Ward to counter it. When playing in higher level games get Smoke of Deceit for easier and better ganks.
- Amazing support
- Nice tits
- Gives teammates amazing mana regeneration
- Great ganker with very good disable and slow
- Amazing babysitter with Crystal nova harras
- Slow as ****(possibly slowest hero in the game with smallest starting speed]
- Weak, very easily killed needs HP to survive.
- If you mess up early game and die too many times your going to be USELESS late game is it very important you don't die a lot
- So slow that she can barley avoid getting ganked/getting dived
As stated above, when a game starts you should buy either Observer Ward or Animal Courier. When trying to pick a lane the best thing to do is follow the hard carry. You are better off lanning with the hard carry because your power to support is much greater than other heroes. You should be harrasing every chance you get in the lane, remember you are a Range hero and always use Crystal Nova to harras with. If your carry is getting loads of free farm than go gank another lane, you shouldn't be leeching his EXP at this point, especially if hes doing better than OK. If your lane is struggling call for help from the middle lane, it is very easy to gank with a crystal maiden. Remember always position yourself correctly, if you by any chance get out of position even for a few little seconds your chances of dying are going to be high especially since you are very slow and very weak on health.
Ganking shouldn't be too hard, if you have a level on Crystal Nova and Frostbite then the chances of you getting a kill/assist is pretty high.
Another important thing to do is what is called "ORB-WALKING" this doesn't necessarily go towards the heroes that have orb's for spells, basically after every attack that you throw you want to move close to the enemy hero so they don't get too far away from you when you are chasing.
I only included ranked player for early game. It shouldn't be too different from pubs but you have to try harder in this.
When playing in a higher skilled environment, you have to support the lane better. When playing in scrims you'll be doing trilanes since its still pretty popular during the metagame. Basically your captain is going to try to do a 3v1 so your carry can get as much farm as possible. But your job in this lane isn't to babysit the carry, it is rather to EXP DENY as much as you can from the hero you are going against(assuming its 3v1) and keeping Lane Equilibrium. If your carry is doing great and the lane is being kept back as much as possible, then you need to go gank. Having a smoke of deceit at this point is very valuable and it will make it 3x easier to gank the opponent.
When going against a 3v3 it is going to be the hardest time of the game. You're playing CM and the chances of you being the one aimed are very high, you have low HP and low MS which will allow you to get jumped easier, so remember to always position yourself in those kinds of lanes.
By mid-game you should never be sitting in a lane but constantly moving around to see where the enemy team is and going to gank them as much as you can. You must be constantly buying Observer Ward to get "map-control", by being able to see most of the map you are giving a huge advantage to your team and making it easier for your carry to farm. Another important thing during this metagame is pushing, after a successful gank on 1 or 2 heroes, or possibly more the first thing you are obligated to do is push(with teammates). This will benefit you a lot by giving you shared gold from towers killed (it is very hard to last hit a tower as CM) or even an easier way to get to victory.
Reminder: When you are losing the game you should be placing the wards defensively, and when you are winning, offensively. You don't need to ward the runes for 50 minutes straight, you only ward runes early game and when the enemy team has a hero that can take roshan out very early.
Crystal Maiden has a few good heroes she works extremely well with. Notice some of these heroes you don't even lane with.
The good (the one's you go well with)
Anti-Mage - If you support him well enough, he will carry you, he wont die because you are constantly healing his mana with Arcane Aura and he can blink as much as he wants.
Storm Spirit - You don't lane with this guy, but Arcane Aura is the best thing a good storm can hope for, storm's need of mana is ****ing gigantic, and the more MR he gets, the better he is.
Juggernaut - When you Frostbite and he Blade Fury's the enemy is ****ing ****ed, this strategy/lane is one of the most popular/well known lanes in Dota.
Earthshaker - In trilanes, earth shaker and CM are almost always the ones picked to support, with Arcane Aura ES's need of mana(which is huge) is greatly lowered and helps a ton, ES is also a hero that you can easily gank others with.
Ancient apparation - Cold Feet + Frostbite can basically disable an enemy hero for 6+ seconds, very good combo
The bad ( the ones to keep away from VSing)
Spectre - When I'm scrimming and I have to go against a spec as CM, I just wanna kill myself. Early game she's not a problem, but once this guy picks up Radiance your *** is ****ed, everytime he uses his ultimate he will be killing you without having to go into it.
Tiny - The infamous giant *** rock named tiny has one of the best spell-combos in Dota. The avatoss( Avalanche+ Toss) does so much damage that he will almost always 1 hit combo you with it, keep away from going against this guy.
Chaos Knight - Breaks through your Frostbite with ultimate, does ****ton of damage and is very, very fast.
Any slow/stun that is easily sent off can destroy CM such as Vengeful Spirit's magic missle, Venomancer's Venomous Gale etc.
Will be adding more to this as time progresses
Remember, Crystal Maiden isn't as simple as she looks. It is rather hard to play as her by trying to avoid dying too many times. She is one of the better support heroes but also the harder to survive heroes. I'm not going to say it is strictly made for players who know what they are doing, but by following this guide it is okay if at first you aren't doing as well as you expected. You don't need to have the most kills to be the MVP.
This build is also goes really well when playing with friends, especially when you support them.
Dresmasher made a very good point on why you should have phaseboots therefore i put it in the build and i will give him credit for that.
Also added that there isn't only one skill build for this hero so the skill chart looks really off :).
Made a huge edit on 12/16/2011.
-Changed skill section
-Changed Item section
-Changed early-game and ranked play to make more sense/better guidance
-Added a dictionary of words to understand and use in the future.
-Added abbreviations used
-Added a new skill sequence that shows maxing frostbite more.
-Added a few things to the intro.
-Added new chapter called The good and the bad(who you want on your team and who you dont want to go against)