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Peppo_o'Paccio's guide to the Nether Reaches: v6.79 Pugna

June 18, 2014 by Peppo_oPaccio
Comments: 10    |    Views: 86826    |   


Build 1
Build 2
Build 3

Safe lane carry

DotA2 Hero: Pugna


Purchase Order

Sample Build

Starting Items

Early Game, Choose Boots

Situational Pre-Agh's

Then

Core Extensions (as Many as You Want)

Late Game (In Order of Preference)



Hero Skills

Nether Blast

1 3 5 7

Decrepify

2 12 13 14

Nether Ward

4 8 9 10

Life Drain

6 11 16

Talents

15 17 18

Introduction

Pugna, the Oblivion, is one of the strongest INT Heroes in terms of carry potential and single target damage: while all his abilities are very different from most of the others, his signature one is probably the Nether Ward, a (visible) ward that damages the enemy units based on the mana they spend to cast their abilities. If you consider that his ultimate, Life Drain, deals a whopping amount of single target damage (especially when the enemy is Decrepified), gives you back health and mana and has a very short cooldown, you have plenty of reasons to pick him in your games. His INT gain is the highest of all, his attack range is pretty high and, even though his HP aren't that many, building the right core item ( Aghanim's Scepter or Necronomicon) is enough.

Just to clarify, Pugna is not a support: his skills need levels to scale and be useful (a level 1 Life Drain does nothing if you're behind in levels) and Aghanim's Scepter makes him so much stronger he kind of becomes a "different" Hero. Just like Necrophos and all the mid laners, there are INT Heroes that aren't good at supporting: Pugna is one of them.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Huge range and movement speed
  • Best INT gain in the game
  • High single target damage
  • Great pusher and chaser
  • After Agh's, stuns don't bother him
  • Can be ran as a carry or in mid lane
  • Can save allies thanks to Decrepify
Cons
  • Squishy
  • Without Arcanes, low mana pool early on
  • Doesn't have any hard disable
  • Decrepify might save an enemy if used badly




Abilities


Nether Blast is a pretty average nuke: its damage and mana cost increase with levels, but its AoE and delay don't.

This is a pretty good nuke for dealing damage to structures, especially towers: that's why Pugna is often ran as a pusher, even though he has low HP.

Its damage at level 4 is pretty high already, but you can further improve it by casting Decrepify on an enemy right after using Nether Blast: since it has a 0.9 second delay before exploding, you can do this little trick.

You have to be very close to the place you want to activate Nether Blast, that's why it's sometimes useless for harassing: it might bring you to a bad spot.



The main purpose of this skill is dealing more damage with your Nether Blast or Life Drain: since the bonus damage is 50% it improves your single target DPS by a lot!

The 50% slow is also very convenient for your Life Drain: by slowing the enemy it lasts more, since they have to get 850-900 units away from you.

Remeber that you can Decrepify your Nether Ward if the enemies are going to destroy it: most of the time it's not worth it (since keeping it for getting a kill would be better), but it can really come in handy in certain situations.

Lastly, you can use it to save an ally or even yourself: if a lone enemy carry gets really dangerous, Decrepify him and run! Or, you can cast it on yourself (or the ally), provided the enemies don't have many nukes. The magical damage gets amplified only by 25% on teammates, anyway.



This skill is one of the best "passive" (that don't require enemy prediction or coordination with teammates) spells for teamfights: the bigger the mana cost of a spell is, the more damage the ward deals: on some enemies with high mana costs and low HP it can be a real threat! Just think about Skywrath Mage, Lich, Queen of Pain and all the others.

Make sure you place it before a teamfight starts: you don't want to get initiated on without using it. For the same reason, place it in a hard-to-reach spot (on high-grounds, cliffs or on your side of the tower) so that the enemies don't kill it prematurely.

As it has a huge radius (1600), don't be afraid of putting it a bit behind if there's a good spot there, especially on high grounds.

Lastly, remember that you can't directly click on the location you want to place it on, but it gets placed directly in front of you: sometimes it blocks your path or makes you unable to move, and you don't want it to happen.



Pugna's ultimate is what makes him a kind of a good INT carry: since it has a very short cooldown (22 seconds) that becomes zero when you get an Aghanim's Scepter, you should always get an Agh's if you want to carry.

Even though it costs a lot of mana at level 3, you will have to get the other levels since the damage improvement is insane: it gets even better (50% better!) with an Agh's.

As the Life Drain ends prematurely when the enemies run too far from you, you might want to Decrepify them first so that they get slowed. By doing so, the damage gets improved by 50% too (+100 at 16 with no Agh's, +150 with Agh's)!

Before using it, make sure you're very close to your enemy so that it lasts as much as possible: you can Decrepify them first (as said above) to close the gap if you want to.


Items Explanation: Carry Build

In the early matches after the 6.79 patch, competitive players used to pick and ban Pugna all the time because of his recent buffs (mana-leeching from Life Drain, more damage on Decrepified enemies, a more resistant Nether Ward) and the GPM increase that made many players build a Hand of Midas on a lot of Heroes, including supports. Since the current meta is focused more on pushing and teamfighing rather than turtling with a super hard carry, having a Hero like Pugna for the 1 role means a fast Aghanim's Scepter which, in turn, makes early pushes (~20 minutes) very strong and difficult to counter because of the Nether Ward.




Starting items









The triple Iron Branch is a good choice on a lot of Heroes: filling the empty gaps of your inventory with the most cost-effective item in the game is a good choice, especially because you'll craft all of them together.
A set of Tangos and a Healing Salve are enough for your laning phase or, at least, until you reach level 6, so that you can get HP from jungle creeps with your ultimate.
A Ring of Protection gives a bit of armor and can be turned into a Ring of Basilius from the side shop.




Mid game items









As said before, make a Ring of Basilius as soon as possible: it improves your mana regen by a noticeable amount and gives a bit more last-hitting potential. Later, after you reach level 6, you might want to sell the Ring of Protection because the Sage's Mask will give you more mana regen than a full Ring of Basilius. Also, remember to turn off the ring while laning or you'll push without noticing it.
You then have to choose your Boots: many competitive players go for Arcane Boots because the Life Drain consumes a lot of mana but, personally, I prefer going for Power Treads since Tread switching can be useful when activating abilities and the extra HP and attack speed help not only in jungle but also in teamfights.
Lastly, the most important item: Aghanim's Scepter. It makes you able to use your ultimate without having to wait for its cooldown and improves its damage by quite a lot: a level 3 Life Drain with Agh's and Decrepify does more than double damage per second in comparison to a level 3 Life Drain with no Agh's nor Decrepify.
Always start from the Point Booster as it gives you both HP and mana and, of course, it's easier to get the other components from the courier since you don't have to bring it to the secret shop.





Situational

If nobody on your team is going to get a Mekansm, buy it! Not only the extra HP regen and armor from the aura help in pushing, but having an item that heals for 250HP at 15 minutes is priceless. It delays your Agh's by a good amount of time, but having a quick Mek is probably better in any case.

Also, remember to always buy Arcane Boots when getting a Mekansm: you don't want to waste all your mana with Life Drain attempts in the middle of a fight.



Another very good item for Pugna is the Drum of Endurance: the extra stats help every Hero, but you also get a cheap aura that grants your team a bit of pushing power and more attack speed.

The Endurance is really convenient for this Hero since the movement speed increase helps his positioning when Life Draining. Don't be afraid to use it when pushing, too!

As the Drum is made from cheap components, you should consider buying it if you die too often: the improvements it gives are, as said before, quite a lot compared to its price.




Core extensions



Probably the best item you can get after the Aghanim's Scepter. Not only it grants a bit more survivability (thanks to the HP increase), but it also makes you immune to magical damage while Life Draining! Someone might argue it's not useful since Agh's sets the cooldown of the ultimate at 0, but think about this: if you get chainstunned before using your ultimate (or, worse, before placing your Nether Ward!) you'll die. So, a lot of times you'll be useless without a BKB.



The Force Staff is another pretty good item: for only 2250 gold, you can escape from tricky enemies ( Nature's Prophet, Lifestealer...) and have a slightly higher INT pool and HP regen.

While the Staff pick may seem too late to be useful, its utility is underrated: you can use it to escape, let your teammates escape, pull your enemies between your team or even push you on an enemy you'll Decrepify and Life Drain.



The Blink Dagger serves for the same purpose as the Force Staff, but it's a bit better for offensive purposes: since you get to choose the exact location you want to Blink to, Life Draining and placing Nether Wards onto cliffs is very easy with it.

This item only works in this build because, by rushing Agh's, you can make the most out of your killing potential: an unexpected Blink into your Nether Blast- Decrepify- Life Drain combo will help you snowball into late game.

Remember that you can't Blink if you're getting hit! Most of the time a Decrepify might give you enough time to Blink away from an autoattacking Hero, but don't rely on it too much.



If you think the HP from Aghanim's Scepter is not enough and you're getting fed, the Rod of Atos is exactly what you need: combining its slow with Decrepify and Life Drain can be lethal for a lot of Heroes.

This should solve most of (if not all) your mana issues, since it gives a whopping amount of intelligence (as much as a Mystic Staff) along with more HP and an active ability.





Dagon

If you're stomping really hard, a Dagon can ensure your victory: combining it with Decrepify and Nether Blast you should be able to one-shot supports with a level 2-3 Dagon if gotten fast enough.

If you manage to get a level 5 Dagon your next option could be the Ethereal Blade: since it deals damage and turns the enemy into ethereal form, you can potentially kill two people with a Nether Blast- Decrepify- Ethereal Blade-Dagon- Life Drain combo by using Decrepify on an enemy and the Ethereal Blade on the other.

Items Explanation: Pusher Build

If your team is focused on pushing with Heroes like Juggernaut, Lone Druid or Nature's Prophet and a safe lane carry is still needed, farming a Necronomicon on Pugna can make the game last very little time. After buying the common items everyone gets, building a level 3 Necronomicon makes pushing, which is already easy because of Nether Blast, even easier.




Starting items









Same starting build as above: the Tangos and Healing Salve give you enough regen to stay in lane until level 6 and the Ring of Protection will be turned into a Ring of Basilius.
As always, take as many Iron Branches as possible: turn them into a Magic Wand either before or after getting a pair of Boots.




Mid game items









Again, buy a full Ring of Basilius as soon as possible to last-hit better and have some extra armor and mana regen. Remember to turn it off when laning (very important) unless you want to push.
Your choice of Boots is the same as above: the majority of players get Arcane Boots because they help the whole team and are very useful in the early game. But, since you're building a Necronomicon that gives more INT and mana regen than an Aghanim's Scepter, you should really consider getting Power Treads even though it might be difficult to manage your mana early on.
After Boots (or before if you really need it), get a Magic Wand: the burst mana and HP it gives you can save your life or make you able to cast an extra spell.
Lastly, the core item you want to get is the Necronomicon: get it to level 3 as soon as possible so that you can start pushing with the minions; the more people in your team build a Necro, the better.





Situational

If nobody on your team is going to get a Mekansm, buy it! Not only the extra HP regen and armor from the aura help in pushing, but having an item that heals for 250HP at 15 minutes is priceless. It delays your Necro by a good amount of time, but having a quick Mek is probably better in any case.

Also, remember to always buy Arcane Boots when getting a Mekansm: you don't want to waste all your mana with Life Drain attempts in the middle of a fight.



Another very good item for Pugna is the Drum of Endurance: the extra stats help every Hero, but you also get a cheap aura that grants your team a bit of pushing power and more attack speed.

The Endurance is really convenient for this Hero since the movement speed increase helps his positioning when Life Draining. Don't be afraid to use it when pushing, too!




Core extensions



Probably the best item you can get after the Aghanim's Scepter: you won't always build it after the Necronomicon, but sometimes you'll have to. Most of the time you want to build an Agh's before, though.

Not only it grants a bit more survivability (thanks to the HP increase), but it also makes you immune to magical damage while Life Draining! Consider that if you get chainstunned before using your ultimate (or, worse, before placing your Nether Ward!) you'll probably die; so, a lot of times you'll be useless without a BKB.



The Force Staff is another pretty good item: for only 2250 gold, you can escape from tricky enemies ( Nature's Prophet, Lifestealer...) and have a slightly higher INT pool and HP regen.

While the Staff pick may seem too late to be useful, its utility is underrated: you can use it to escape, let your teammates escape, pull your enemies between your team or even push you on an enemy you'll Decrepify and Life Drain.



If you think the HP nd mana from the Necronomicon are not enough and you're getting fed, the Rod of Atos is exactly what you need: combining its slow with Decrepify and Life Drain can be lethal for a lot of Heroes.

This should solve most of (if not all) your mana issues, since it gives a whopping amount of intelligence (as much as a Mystic Staff) along with more HP and an active ability.

Items Explanation: Mid Build

Lastly, there's the typical way of playing Pugna: the mid lane. While giving free farm in the safe lane to a Hero that needs to rush an item is better, there are many other mids that need to quickly get a big item or levels in order to be effective ( Storm Spirit, Invoker, Tinker...); Pugna is no exception.
Your killing potential is pretty high if you manage to bring your enemy laner below half HP, and pushing when he's ganking is very easy and quick to do.




Starting items







This is the typical "bottle rush" build, sometimes ran with just three Iron Branches and two pieces of Tangos from the supports. Do that if you can.
As you only need (roughly) 300 more gold to buy a Bottle, you can go for the 2 minute rune as soon as you get it. For the same reason, you can be aggressive in the laning phase since you'll be able to replenish your health in 2 minutes.




Choice 2







This second choice is for when you're up against a strong mid with a high base damage: two HP regen items ( Tango and Healing Salve) make sure you won't get outlaned beforse you can get a Bottle and the Clarity is always useful when you have such a strong spell (Nether Blast).
The Mantle of Intelligence is just a "momentary" item since you'll sell it after you run out of item slots; the Iron Branches, though, can be used to make either a Magic Wand or a Mekansm.




Early game items









These items are, really, just for your laning phase: the Bottle is mandatory for 90% of mid laners and being able to get some mana regen and pick up runes is definitely important.
This time, you'll have to choose either Arcane Boots or Phase Boots: the formers are better if you're planning to get a Mekansm and your team needs them; the latters are better when you build a Drum of Endurance since the extra movement speed synergizes well with the one of the Drum and are okay when going for a Force Staff.
Lastly, finish your Magic Wand and be ready to choose a core item. Always, always send a Town Portal Scroll with the components of your Wand so that you can TP whenever your team needs help.




Core extensions



Rushing a Mekansm always benefits a team: if you're the one that's going to build it, do it quickly! You might want to buy the Buckler first since extra armor is better when you have a Bottle and it costs more.

Always remember to buy a pair of Arcane Boots if you're going to build a Meka because Pugna is already mana-intensive and adding an item that consumes even more mana requires more than the regen of a Bottle.



The Drums are a good pickup in every case, especially with a pair of Phase Boots: the extra movement speed and aura will make pushing very easy early on; the active ability gives your team a higher chance of winning teamfights.

Always start from the Bracer since it's made from cheap components and the extra HP is very helpful; don't buy another recipe if the four charges of the Drum have been used.



Another item, which is more situational, is the Force Staff: if you're doing really good in the laning phase or your team has already pushed down a tower or two, the extra positioning from the Staff can come in handy for landing very easy Nether Blast- Decrepify- Life Drain combos.

Of course, if your team already has a Mekansm and a Drum of Endurance you should always get this item, unless you really want to rush that Agh's or your teammate is a pub player that doesn't use the active of the Drums.





Get some more single target damage, enlarge your mana and HP pool and set the cooldown of your ultimate to 0: now it's time to get kills and push Tier 3 towers. Unless you have major mana problems, consider selling your Bottle if your inventory is full.

Start from the Point Booster so that you can buy the remaining components from your base.

Late Game Items

Probably the best item you can get when reaching the late stages of the game: not only it grants a bit more survivability (thanks to the HP increase), but it also makes you immune to magical damage while Life Draining!

Someone might argue it's not useful since Agh's sets the cooldown of the ultimate at 0, but think about this: if you get chainstunned before using your ultimate (or, worse, before placing your Nether Ward!) you'll die. So, a lot of times you'll be useless without a BKB.


This is considered a core extension for safe lane builds.



If you don't have one, get it as soon as possible: as said in the Abilities chapter the improvements it gives are just too useful to be overlooked: more single target damage, some stats and no cooldown on Life Drain.

A level 3 Life Drain with Agh's and Decrepify does more than double damage per second in comparison to a level 3 Life Drain with no Agh's nor Decrepify.

Always start from the Point Booster as it gives you both HP and mana and, of course, it's easier to get the other components from the courier since you don't have to bring it to the secret shop.


This is considered a core item for the carry and the mid build.



The Scythe of Vyse is probably the best item for any INT carry: as the Mystic Staff is the INT counterpart of the Eaglesong, getting an item made from it is very beneficial for Intelligence Heroes.

Most of the time you want to start building it from the Ultimate Orb; you can buy both the other components from the side shop and you get a bunch of stats that, as you shouldn't be autoattacking and your mana pool should be fine, are better than more INT.

Remember to use the Hex ability in teamfights! You can either cast it on enemies you want to Life Drain or on teamfight Heroes that, intimidated by your Nether Ward, haven't thrown their spells yet.



The other item made from a Mystic Staff: armor and HP have always been a major problem for INT Heroes, unlike STR or AGI Heroes that only miss one of them; that's why there are very few Intelligence carries. Still, Shiva's Guard defends twice as much as common armor because, other than giving you 15(!) armor, slows the enemy attack speed.

Remember to use its active ability whenever you can: again, the slow pairs well with your ultimate and ensures a full Nether Blast- Decrepify- Life Drain combo.



First, keep in mind that when I generically talk about the " Necronomicon" I mean the maxed out version: whenever you choose to buy it, get all the recipies before buying another item.

The Necronomicon Warriors are very strong pushers and can be used to reveal invisible units: use this at your advantage invoking them in chokepoints (i.e. Roshan's lair) and when pushing towers.

If you die, keep controlling the Warriors! An enemy might kill the melee one, get a ton of pure damage and, maybe, die.


This is considered a core item for the pushing-oritented build.



If you think the HP from Aghanim's Scepter is not enough and you're getting fed, the Rod of Atos is exactly what you need: combining its slow with Decrepify and Life Drain can be lethal for a lot of Heroes.

This should solve most of (if not all) your mana issues, since it gives a whopping amount of intelligence (as much as a Mystic Staff) along with more HP and an active ability.


This is considered a core extension for safe lane builds.



I personally don't like this item very much, but if the match lasts a lot more then expected and you need other items after Shiva's and Vyse, getting a Bloodstone is one of the few choices you have: the extra mana and HP help a lot; you shouldn't have problems getting charges since killing single targets with Pugna is so easy.

Remember that the more charges you have the sooner you respawn after death: try to get a couple of charges before doing something suicidal.

Talking about suicide, if you feel you have no way out because the enemies trapped you, double tap your Bloodstone! Dying without giving a kill to an enemy Hero means a lot, trust me.

If you have a pair of Arcane Boots, you should consider disassembling them.



A secondary choice instead of the Bloodstone, for when you need raw HP instead of a quicker respawn. Never buy this before getting a Shiva's, as you will need some armor to use the Heart at its best.

The HP regen it gives is quite nice, and should make you able to steal more mana than HP with Life Drain. Your mana regen, after Shiva's and maybe Vyse, should be high enough anyway.



The Heaven's Halberd is a pretty good item on Pugna for a variety of purposes: first, it gives more survivability which is never bad; then it also grants evasion and, lastly, can Maim the enemy and make Life Drain combos more effective.

Use the Disarm every time you can: as soon as the enemy carry's BKB ends, cast it on him and fight!

Always start from the Sange: it's made from relatively cheap components and gives both HP and the Maim.



This item is very situational as it takes one slot in your inventory without giving that many improvements to your late game. But, if your team is teamfight-oriented or you simply have a Hero that benefits a lot from the magical damage amplification ( Invoker, Queen of Pain, Jakiro...) it can be picked.

The Veil of Discord itself doesn't give much, but a bit of everyhing: some stats, HP regen, armor and damage.

The active ability, in fact, sets the magical resistance to enemies without items that increase magical resistance to 0: since every Hero starts with 25% resistance to magical damage, the spells will actually do as much damage as listed unless the enemies have Cloaks, a Pipe of Insight or Rubick's passive.

The range of the Magic Weakness is huge: a radius of 600 units that can be triggered from 1000 units! It's ideal for when you're waiting for one of your teammates to initiate.



I don't recommend getting this unless you're really good at using your items, since combining Eul's with a Force Staff or a Blink Dagger can be a good way to make big plays.

The extra movement speed is not so needed since yours is already high, but if you want to stack it you're free to do so.

You can combine the Cyclone with your other skills to catch an unaware enemy and, possibly, kill him.



Together with the Bloodstone and the Heart of Tarrasque, this is the third choice for survivability: I don't think it can be nearly as useful as one of the others, but if your team has another carry that is really countered by kiting (Lifestealer, Ursa, Doom...) slowing the enemy carry with autoattacks is the way to go.

Start from the Ultimate Orb, you'll have to grab some items from the secret shop and some from your base anyway.

Its slowing orb effect is very good for your Life Drain, but not as much as the nuke from Shiva's or the Hex from Vyse.

Skill Build

Pugna has only one viable skill build to maximize his usefulness: taking full points in Nether Blast by level 7 is recommended since it's your best scaling ability and will make early pushes very easy, while maxing out Nether Ward second is always nice since, by that time, teamfights should be common. Take an early point in Decrepify to save yourself (or your allies) and be able to perform a good combo or just Blast your foe, and don't forget to get Life Drain at 6, 11 and 16!
Sometimes you might want to get stats instead of other levels of Decrepify, but still, the duration increase and (especially) cooldown reduction are always welcome.


Nether Blast
Decrepify
Nether Blast
Nether Ward
Nether Blast
Life Drain
Nether Blast
Nether Ward
Nether Ward
Nether Ward
Life Drain
Decrepify
Decrepify
Decrepify
Stats
Life Drain
Stats

Friends and Foes

Friends

Even though this Hero has very strong single target damage, his contribution in teamfights is also high; plus, having another Hero with strong single target magic damage makes Decrepify even more useful. Just make sure not to lane with them if they're farm-dependent, as there's no reason to do so:





Talking about teamfight Heroes, Pugna pairs well with the followings:



As you can see, some Heroes are on both lists: they're particularly helpful. Magnus is also a very good friend because a Reverse Polarity can make you land a five-men Nether Blast.




Lastly, keep in mind that Life Drain ends if you don't have vision of the enemy (high grounds, Roshan's lair, out of your line of sight...), so those skills will come in handy to keep your ultimate up for as long as possible:

Amplify Damage



Foes

Pugna's lack of HP is really a nuisance in some cases, especially when fighting versus Heroes with burst damage. Stay away from them, since Decrepify won't save you when they are BKB'd:




But the biggest bastards are those three items:


It doesn't matter how much HP you have, how fast the enemy autoattacks or if you are BKB'd, a Skull Basher will always win the fight against you. The Pipe of Insight is a super annoying item that makes you useless, but since it doesn't last much and a Nether Blast severely reduces its active ability you shouldn't have many problems with it, especially late game.

Update History

06-18-2014: Cleaned up the item build.
12-07-2013: Added items and Hero skills in the "Friends and Foes" chapter.
12-06-2013: Written the first part of the guide.

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