Necrophos is often viewed in Low skills games as a support. He is an Intelligence hero and has a heal, therefore he must be a support. Right?!
Necrophos is a potent carry who possesses a skill set that allows him to fill a niche roll in the right line up. Sustain to push, AoE Ally Heal/Enemy Damage, and the opportunity to pretty much delete a carry. Necro thrives against Strength cores or single carry drafts.
He's not particularly difficult to play either, it's more an art of understanding the mechanisms about what make Necrophos good. If you know how to tread switch and remember that you have wand charges, this guide might just be for you.
Death Pulse is Necrophos' bread and butter. Ever since sadist (A skill where you get mana and health regen stacks for every last hit/deny) was incorporated into Death Pulse, there is no reason in my mind as to why you would want to max anything else. You are actively rewarded for denying creeps to the opponent and for last hitting well. A hero kill will net you 10 stacks of 'sadist' regen and this combined with your other Arsenal of skills is VERY important. It affects invisible units and also those masked by that pesky fog of war.
The incorporation of Sadist into Death Pulse paved the way for Ghost Shroud to be introduced. The activation of this skill turns Necrophos into Ethereal Form, much like under a Ghost Scepter with him taking more magic damage (25% more), however healing and mana regeneration under this form are amplified by 75%. This can be combined with a heal to flash regen, a support popping their arcane boots when you are desperate for mana, or in lane with a magic wand. And SHRINES. Even late game as Necrophos a shrine under Ghost Shroud can make you 100% again. A support dazzle can help you and your team sustain a tower push in the early double digit minutes.
Ghost Shroud also incorporates a slow for nearby enemy heroes which is very useful to trap somebody in your rotting aura, as Necrophos struggles with mobility.
Heartstopper Aura Jungle Necrophos used to be a thing. It definitely isn't a thing anymore. It was the Jungle Legion of 6.85 or so, that kind of era. Since then Necrophos has had a change to the skill. It no longer affects ancient creeps, and does more damage at a closer radius. This provides a problem in the laning stage as you are more likely to be pushing your creepwave rather than passively harrassing your opponent. In Mid I like to still put two skill points in by level 4 and leave it as it is until everything else is done. Percentage based damage is nothing to be sniffed at however, and Heartstopper will end up doing a huge amount of damage during a scrappy fight whilst you are constantly burst healing your team into a sustained team fight the enemies quickly regret taking. Be mindful that unlike a radiance, you cannot turn it off and a good opponent will notice at that a Rotting Pontiff is nearby.
Want to tilt a stranger across the continent? Play Necrophos. Reaper's Scythe is a single target HP attack depending on how many hit points the target is missing. This is the major reason why Necrophos thrives against Strength heroes, as their strength gain and predilection for HP items gives them more HP to remove. That Dragon Knight on 60% health suddenly becomes afraid to Armlet Toggle.
Reaper's Scythe is not a Kill Steal. Ok, it can be. But as all kills under the effect of Reaper's are accredited to Necrophos, it's a guaranteed source of sadist stacks. You should have an idea of which enemy hero you want to ult, but if it's not achievable do not worry. Get a successful Ult off at the start of the fight and walk at the remaining foes in ghost form daring anybody to fight you!
Enemies who die under the effect of your ultimate will spend up to an extra 30 seconds waiting to respawn which can be game clinching late game.
Aghanims will reduce the cooldown of Reaper's Sycthe, but sadly no longer disables Buyback.
Magic Wand belongs to Necrophos like Iron Talon on a 1k Legion Commander in Strategy Time. Wand will Stay with you all game until you are seriously rich. Popping 17 Wand charges in shroud will potentially turn any engagement in an early skirmish, which leads to a kill... which leads to sadist charges which allows you to continue engaging or comfortably farming whilst the enemy is waiting to spawn again. Necrophos is about pacing your game and getting efficiency everywhere.
My esteemed Internet peers often laugh at my affinity for blademail, even when it might not be good, so I am biased. However blademail is a cost efficient item that deters an enemy from attacking you. Much like Death Prophet, an enemy team should be looking to remove you from the fight in one burst. If you can stagger them away with Death pulse, Blademail, a second Pulse and Wand under shroud, you guarantee that the enemy team will start to consider whether they can even take you down, let alone win the team fight.
Blademail also can enable kills on a hero that might well normally destroy you 1v1. Phantom Assassin, Sven, Huskar all in on you? Blademail, Shroud, Pulse, Ult!
Until recently I wasn't sure that Aghanims was core or not. It's always nice (Reducing the cooldown on Reaper's Scythe to 25 seconds) but is it really necessary? With the latest update increasing the cooldown of the ult to 100 seconds at all levels I definitely want the scepter. It's not something to rush mind, and is best got at around the time you're hitting level 18.
Apart from these three, I tend to tailor my builds for games around what the enemy has. You want to be durable and annoying. That hero nobody wants to fight but if they don't the fight will most likely be a win for you. Early Hood and Veil versus magic lineups and Shivas Guard/Lotus versus high physical damage.
Boots are also a very flexible option. I can happily concede to a lot of Necro players that almost any boots will work. (Tranquils being the worst in my opinion). My choice is treads for the simple reason: Sadist regeneration. Last hit and cast spells on Int, and reap the regeneration from CS on Agi. This build is about efficiency and that will sometimes turn the corner for you in one clutch moment. Guardian greaves are a great item but are a huge gold sink you'd rather not have to go for.
Versus Shadow Fiend Mid - This is possible my least favourite lane in Dota 2 as a Necro. (If you remove all lanes with a Lich/Huskar in). There are a few reasons for this.
1. There is so much riding on the first couple of waves. With your sadist regen and his Necromastery both you and SF are actively rewarded for each last hit AND each deny.
2. Razes. Say you want to shroud and regen? Triple Raze from Low ground. It'll happen sometime and you'll cry.
If you're going to be against him mid, make sure you have a support with you for the first two waves and block as well as you can (Let the offlaner have the rune). Once you have a second null talisman, just hit him when he comes near. If he gets ahead this game becomes VERY hard.
Versus Queen of Pain
QOPs ability to impede your already pretty garbage mobility and output huge amounts of magic damage at once make her a scary threat. You will want to get a Euls this game, especially for when she gets an Orchid.
Versus Phantom Lancer
Your Ultimate is single target, and there are loads of him! He also builds diffusal blade which can remove ghost shroud, so beware.
You hate Linkens Sphere, it stops your ultimate. Make sure you're building Atos if you're needing to pop one, it's great durability and adds well to your toolkit.
Dazzle, Omniknight and Oracle. These three can single handedly cancel your ult. Dazzle should be who you want to kill whenever you see him or wait until the grave has been forced. Same with Repel and Oracle Ultimate.
Magic Resistance - A large portion of your damage is magical. Yes there is a small window after you take +40 damage talent when your right clicks are meaningful but we're talking late game. Hoods/Pipes and Glimmer capes are especially good versus you.
Silence - Silence is horrible for any spellcasting core, and Necrophos is the same. If this is becoming a problem, pick up a Euls/Lotus Orb to deal with it.
I said earlier that Necrophos Is a potent pusher and has the ability to remove a hero from the game. What you're looking to do is remove a hero from the game and use your body advantage to take away the teams map and buildings.
My favourite hero partners for Necrophos are.
Jakiro - Amazing siege engine whose Damage over time can help secure a successful Reaper's Scythe. The ThD will help mow those towers down.
Juggernaught - A great scaling agi building hitter who also has a healing ward to assist you in the push for the enemy throne!
Legion Commander - A Reaper's Scythe can help secure an early duel to snowball LC into a team's focal point.
Abbadon - Abbadon, who also counters Necro with his shield, can provide him with burst heal in ghost shroud and is great at sustaining pushing line ups.
Necrophos is a good pick versus:
Sven - You don't care about Warcry, you just care about Sven popping God's Strength and having all that extra HP missing for you to remove entirely.
Phoenix - Phoenix depletes his own HP using his abilities which can be dangerous. Make sure to capitalise on this. You could even force the fire bird to Supernova prematurely and waste his best spell, for fear of not being able to get it off.
Armlet of Mordiggian - Heroes will be afraid to toggle around you, for fear of Reaper's but also of Heartstopper Aura.
Be a Menace.
Remember this guide is about efficiency. I like to go double null in lane into my Veil. Experiment with different items for different opponents as it is a huge swing in how you should play.
Necro is a great hero, and more importantly, a fun hero. I hope you enjoy playing him as much as me.
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