Lina Inverse is a character very close to my heart. She is normally played as a great nuker/ganker or support and functions very well in that role. I have seen other carry guides for lina but they all seem to revolve around item and skill builds that don't take advantage of her carry potential early enough. Others involve her jumping right into items like Desolator without concentrating on stats for survivability. Let me set the record straight, this build is for high skill games. If you are routinely able to get away with buying no strength aside from your Magic Wand until you buy your Ultimate Orb for your Scythe of Vyse, you are either much better than your matchmaking level or you are not in a high skill game. This is a carry build for games where the enemy team has the ability to recognize that you are the cause of death on their team and will try to focus you as a result. That being said if you have a really good early game at any skill level and find that you have the gold to purchase a big piece of a late game item as opposed to a Bracer or another stat heavy early game item then by all means purchase that early Ultimate Orb.
Removed Force Staff(no IAS)
Added Ghost Scepter to Situational
Added Ethereal to luxury(for lulz ult stick build)
General Updates due to changes to the hero and the game
Lina has a weird role in the dota 2 metagame. As a support or a disabler she is a pretty good pick when she builds mana boots and/or mekansm because of her spammable disable and low item dependence but I really can't think of a game where I wouldn't prefer a crystal maiden/venomancer or a lion to fill those roles since they don't have to build as many items to be functional as a support or a disabler. In my opinion Lina is much better suited as a spam caster/attack damage carry with her insane passive and this guide is going to illustrate how to take advantage of it.
Here is a match that you can watch where I carried pretty hard with Lina. I went pretty heavy on disable to counter the other teams channeled spells but as you can see I did buy support items early before it became apparent that I would be the main carry. Check it out if you want to critique my strategy.
This was just a good game with lina where the build was more reactionary to the game.
Just because you are planning on carrying doesn't mean that your team isn't going to depend on you to either buy courier or wards. Lina doesn't need expensive items to start carrying since most of the work early is done by her passive skill. Buy Animal Courier or Observer Ward, 2 Iron Branch, 1 Tango, 1 Healing Salve, 2 Clarity if you are going to the hard lane. Occasionally I find myself buying the courier and going to the hard lane. In situations like that make sure the other support gives you a ward and then fill up with 2 Iron Branch, a Tango, a Healing Salve, and 2 Clarity. I cannot stress enough that regen and efficient stats are ALWAYS the way to go early on lina if not most heroes in the game. You can get 2 stacks of tangos if you need the inventory space but remember that differentiating your health regen between tangos and salves is beneficial in that a salve heals 55 more hp than a stack of tangos and heals you much faster so you can go back to laning quickly after taking a lot of harassment.
At level 4 get your first level of Fiery Soul. I'd like you to take a look at that passive for a moment. It stacks up to three times and at level 1 each stack gives you 40 attack speed. To put that into perspective a Hyperstone which costs 2000 gold gives you 55 attack speed. This is a ridiculous increase and early on when you don't have very much attack speed built it adds a ton of hurt to each nuke you throw out if you right click right after. Be sure to cancel lina's backswing in favor of walking toward the enemy while you do this as it will allow you to get an extra 1 or 2 attacks off per nuke if they try to run. After level four prioritize Dragon Slave followed by Fiery Soul and make sure to level Laguna Blade at 6, 11, and 16 as usual. Honestly you may find that in some situations you need to get stats before you level up Light Strike Array. This is ok. Sometimes you don't have enough money to have relevant auto attack damage and buy stat items for survivability. Leaving Light Strike Array at level one for longer reduces your dependence on mana regen while still buffing the **** out of your Fiery Soul and having the same stun duration. This is an example of skill building reactively and should definitely be considered in a small portion of games.
Last hitting with lina is hard at first. She has the longest windup on her auto attack in the game at 3/4 of a second before she throws it and you are going to notice this absurd delay when you try for creep kills/denies. Luckily most of your gold is going to come from ganks so concentrate more on denies and harassment. One of the benefits from having such a huge delay in her attack animation is that when you are harassing the enemy heroes they will often be unaware of how long it takes you to throw one of those attacks and as a result will stick around until 1 or 2 projectiles have traveled all the way to them. By that time your next attack is already on its way and will usually hit them as they run away and are 700+ units away from you. Basically just get as much harassment off on the weaker of the opposing heroes in your lane as possible and wait it out until you hit level three and grab lvl 2 Dragon Slave. At this point you will be able to nuke effectively if you find the opportunity to gank the opposing lane or if mid decides to tower dive( Dragon Slave is great for hitting people hiding in the trees on the radiant long lane under the tier 1 tower) Dragon Slave has a ridiculous range. The ability says its range is 800 units but that is the cast range. The actual range of the spell is a whopping 1275 units. To put this into perspective during the daytime you can see up to 1800 units(with lina) in any direction with unobstructed vision and 800 units at night. I usually ballpark the range on the go by measuring it as 2/3 of my day vision and 3/2 my night vision. It's also low mana cost at level 2 so don't worry about using it once per creep wave or so. Just wait for the enemy hero to walk to the creep wave to last hit and take advantage of that stationary moment by nuking them and landing a couple auto attacks. This will most likely be way more harassment than they were expecting to take and you should be able to very effectively control your lane. It is worth mentioning that Dragon Slave's width shrinks at the end of the effective range from a radius of 275 units to 200. This makes it a more of a skillshot but no more difficult to land than powershot. By the time you get your ultimate you will be more than ready to gank another lane.
Carry a Town Portal Scroll, hell, carry two Town Portal Scrolls. The item is stupidly affordable now, and is necessary for reactive play individually and as a team. If you see that a tower is getting pushed or there are 3 top and you are having an easy time in your lane, pop in to help with a teleport. Not only will you probably get an easy kill with your ridiculous early nuke and attack speed but you will most likely be able to easily push the tower after that since by this time you should have Phase Boots and you will be able to quickly dps down a tower by using Fiery Soul which should be active a lot since you should be trying to stun any defending heroes under their tower with your low mana cost Light Strike Array(there's a reason you kept it at level 1) With this kind of "safe" ganking/pushing strategy along with a moderate amount of last hits you should be able to pick up a couple Sage's Mask or even a full Oblivion Staff early so you'll be regenning enough mana to stun frequently and keep fiery soul active. If you find you need more health during this phase buy a Bracer but if you are having an easy time then go straight for the Orchid Malevolence. Once you have it ganking should be incredibly simple. Pick an opposing team carry/support that is missing a little bit of health, silence them, ult them, hit them with wave, cancel the spellcast backswing and then orb walk them until you know the extra damage from Orchid Malevolence will finish them off. Easy Peasy.
SIDE NOTE: Orchid Malevolence is a fantastic semi carry item for intelligence heroes but it is especially good on lina. In addition to providing her with consistent attack speed to synergize with Fiery Soul it also gives her a silence and more than enough mana regen to support her spells with her stun kept at level one. Not only does it do that but if you ult while someone is silenced by orchid they will take an extra 25% damage from that Laguna Blade at the end of the silence. This is basically as good as the ult stick increase( Aghanim's Scepter gives you a 1250 nuke with level 3 Laguna Blade, orchid gives you a 1187.5 nuke) Not only that but ANY damage caused during the silence will be amplified so provided you hit with Dragon Slave, Light Strike Array, or auto attack in addition to Laguna Blade then it will be more worth it than Aghanim's Scepter. Remember that if you needed stats you bought a Bracer and may have upgraded it to a Drum of Endurance which provides great mid game stats in addition to synergizing with Fiery Soul. Also Orchid Malevolence is composed of much cheaper parts so you will be able to proactively get rid of your unreliable gold on a regular basis.
This is the period where you decide what to buy based on how good your farm has been and what your team needs. I can usually narrow my item choices at this stage to starting my Scythe of Vyse with an Ultimate Orb, buying a Force Staff, or if the game is going poorly buying a Void Stone to build into a Eul's Scepter of Divinity for banish/extra movespeed and survivability. If you are doing significant damage but the enemy team has been successfully focusing you in teamfights then get the Force Staff for a fast getaway into some easily targeted stuns while on the defensive. In addition the Force Staff gives you good attack speed and damage. Scythe of Vyse is the ideal choice in almost every game if you can build it fast enough. It counters carries well and gives you a huge boost to your damage and statistics while turning you into a true disabler. It is my favorite item to get but it is not a realistic goal in games where you find it hard to hold onto your money. If you need stats over an escape mechanism or a banish then you can start on an Aghanim's Scepter(get the points booster first obviously followed by the ogre club) or in situations where you are being focused by a comparably farmed real carry you can grab a Ghost Scepter. This is a crucial part of the game because these are the items that are going to allow you to continue to be effective even if you are being actively countered. This is the point where the game will either turn around and you will start to be useless or you will come into your own and be a force to be reckoned with until late game.
SIDE NOTE: I added Ghost scepter because sometimes the 2.5 second banish from Eul's isn't the most appropriate for the enemy lineup as a survivability tool.
By this time you have a silence, crazy auto attack speed and damage, decent stats, and either pseudo disable, an escape mechanism, or true single target anti carry disable. You are a monster. At this point if you see someone in the jungle alone you should kill them easily every time. Sheep with Scythe of Vyse or banish with Eul's Scepter of Divinity into stun followed by silence from Orchid Malevolence, Laguna Blade, Dragon Slave, and some auto attacks while you have Phase Boots active should kill anyone who didn't outfarm you by a ridiculous degree. In teamfights keep your disable/escape off cooldown for when their carry tries to focus you and silence their disable/support while keeping up the aoe damage/crowd control. I cannot explain how good it feels to be jumped on by a carry while you are trying to teamfight and then turning around, sheeping them, and watching them melt from your attack speed and damage. It is truly cathartic.
As far as the situational items go, they are pretty self explanatory. Monkey King Bar or Mjollnir are great for obvious reasons, but don't give stat bonuses. Aghanim's Scepter just adds to the ******ed damage you can do while someone is silenced, not to mention if they're ethereal and silenced. Eye of Skadi gives you more anti carry while beefing the **** out of your health pool. Special mention goes to Black King Bar for those games where YOU start being the target of the opposing teams disables because of how hard you are carrying. By this stage in the game you have reached your full potential and are mostly building to counter and keep their carry from reaching their full potential and outcarrying your fragile intelligence stacking self.
Lina is more than capable of carrying well into late game as long as you have spent your time and money wisely to both buff yourself and counter the opposing teams carry. Experiment with this build and leave me feedback in the comments. Also let me know if you would like to see more in depth guides like this from me in the future! Also feel free to link your match IDs so I can see how you extinguish your foes.
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