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14 Votes

Swift as the Wolves of Icewrack: A guide to Crystal Maiden [Updated for 6.84]

May 6, 2015 by Bunkansee
Comments: 62    |    Views: 99052    |   

Build 1
Build 2
Build 3
Build 4


DotA2 Hero: Crystal Maiden

Hero Skills

Crystal Nova

2 5 7 8


1 4 9 10

Arcane Aura

3 6 13 14

Freezing Field

11 12 16


15 17 18



  • Changed frostbite skill description to the most recent update.
  • Added Changelog
  • Changed to 6.84
  • Added new build


Updated! Added:
"How to Lane Correctly"
Removed color for now.
Total overhaul of the items section, looks much better now!

Hey, this is my first ever guide so please go easy on me :3
Crystal Maiden is (in my opinion) one of the best supports in the game, she has great skills for securing early game kills and a really powerful ult, that if used properly, can be devastating. However, amongst these good thing she has lots of weaknesses. She is extremely fragile, and can become a prime target due to this, thus you have to be very careful with her. She lacks any escape mechanism and is extremely slow, with a run speed of 280. Thus she is "Swift as the Wolves of Icewrack"

Her lore:
Born in a temperate realm, raised with her fiery older sister Lina, Rylai the Crystal Maiden soon found that her innate elemental affinity to ice created trouble for all those around her. Wellsprings and mountain rivers froze in moments if she stopped to rest nearby; ripening crops were bitten by frost, and fruiting orchards turned to mazes of ice and came crashing down, spoiled. When their exasperated parents packed Lina off to the equator, Rylai found herself banished to the cold northern realm of Icewrack, where she was taken in by an Ice Wizard who had carved himself a hermitage at the crown of the Blueheart Glacier. After long study, the wizard pronounced her ready for solitary practice and left her to take his place, descending into the glacier to hibernate for a thousand years. Her mastery of the Frozen Arts has only deepened since that time, and now her skills are unmatched.

Pros / Cons


    Good slows
    Easy to use single target lockdown
    High damage early game
    Good kill potential early game
    Very powerful ult
    Easy to learn, hard to master

    Very squishy
    Hard to position ult
    Damage doesn't scale all that well into late game
    Really slow
    Bad animation
    Really low base attack damage

My new build explained

So as the game has got updated I have experimented new builds all the time, I added my most recent build to one of the build tabs at the top.

Early game I like to get an Enchanted Mango as well as standard Tangos and a Clarity. Crystal Maiden's mana pool is quite low early game, and being able to get enough mana to cast another spell instantly is really huge.

Mid game I buy Tranquil Boots (explained in item section below), Blink Dagger, as it gives amazing positioning for Freezing Field, as well as being able to chase, escape, and jump on weak enemies. I really like buying a Point Booster now, as it gives much needed mana, and health, for a relatively cheap amount. This is more doable, since now sentry wards and observer wards stack in one slot, so item slots are not as in demand as before.

I very often prefer to buy Aghanim's Scepter before Black King Bar now, for several reasons.

1. It increases damage, so even though you may be channeling for less duration, damage loss will be relatively minor.

2. IF you ult, and bkb without any lockdown, people can just run away from you, Aghanim's Scepter fixes this by increasing the slow to a MASSIVE 50%

3. IF you use both Crystal Nova and Freezing Field with Aghanim's Scepter, it will slow the enemies in the are by 100%! Since both slows stack, this is easily accomplished, and even if you don't deal a huge amount of damage, the slow is instantly applied to anyone in the area once cast, and the 100/100 slow is invaluable to your team winning the fight.

Black King Bar is definitely valuable later on, but I see no reason to buy it before aghs, since the stats and Freezing Field upgrade are much more valuable than the magic immunity, if you can position yourself good enough, you can wait for the first few stuns to be thrown out by the enemy, before you blink in. This way, they have less ways to disable your ultimate.

Sometimes I will buy Point Booster before Blink Dagger if the game isn't going well, however if I have a large amount of income, I will buy Blink Dagger first always.

Glimmer Cape is a nice purchase, but after the mana cost addition, it is not viable early game, since you already suffer from mana problems as it is. Consider as a late game/ mid game core.

Octarine Core is a situational late game purchase, costing way too much gold to even consider early, it is still worth considering super late game. It will life steal 25% of all of the damage you deal with spells, and this is mainly looking at your ultimate. Being able to heal off of Freezing Field is huge, and will allow you to effectively survive longer in fights. It also decreases the cooldowns of your spells, which makes Crystal Nova have about an 11 second cooldown, Frostbite will have an insane 4.5 second cooldown, and Freezing Field will have about a 70 second cooldown. It's something to consider late game

Crystal Nova in my opinion, should be maxed first, because it scales so well, and the fact a single value point isn't worth it anymore.

Frostbite is maxed second, because getting both your cc effects strong before bkbs are bought is great.

I mostly always will max Arcane Aura last, I am not a huge fan of this ability personally. With one skill point, you get 1 mana regen for your team, and 2 for yourself. Take note, this is slightly more than a Ring of Basilius will provide, not to mention it stacks freely, so if someone were to pick up a basilius, they would get 1.65 mana regen, not to mention base regen, and regen gained from int, and % gains. If you forsee yourself getting lots of experience quickly, there is no problem maxing, or getting more levels of Arcane Aura, but maxing your other two abilities, provides you with much more damage, and lockdown for your team.

I like to get Freezing Field at level 6, because it has such a short cooldown now you can use it freely for solo kills in lane. I did some math, at level 6 you have a base mana pool of 396.5 (may have done some calculations wrong.) to use level 3 Crystal Nova, level 1 Frostbite and level 1 Freezing Field, you need 455 mana. Lets say we have a Magic Wand, this increases our mana to 448.5, very very slightly under the amount we need, say we have a bracer too. This would bring us to 487.5 mana, more than we need for all 3 spells. Not to mention we would have about 2.5 mana regen by now. It's close to being enough, and with a few small items you have enough mana to use all 3.


Starting Items

An animal courier is a perquisite of any support, sometimes one support will buy a courier and the other will buy wards, be prepared to buy both however, and don't spend all of you starting money on stat boosting items.

Another requirement for supports, wards reveal an area around where they are place, this can be used in the river, to look for runes; or around your lane to avoid being ganked by the enemy.

Tango is a nice cheap healing item which restores your health over a period of time. You want these to restore your health from harassment, or to get yourself out of a tight spot.
Always buy some sort of healing items before you leave the base.

Clarities restore your mana pool over time, similarly to tango. They restore your mana at a rather slow pace, and make sure the enemy doesn't attack you when you are restoring mana, or the effect will be canceled.

Sentry wards act similar to observer wards, in the sense the reveal areas. These are different however, as they won't reveal things in the fog of war, but instead reveal invisible units. You might want to pick these up if you are laning against an invisible hero, or to reveal enemy wards to "counter ward".

A cheap way to boost your stats, get a couple of these accordingly.

Early Game

This is a good early game pick up, as it will boost you strength (thus boosting your health) and your other stats a little bit.

The magic wand is a pick up you only get in certain situations. It gains a charge whenever a nearby enemy casts a magic spell, each charge restores 15 health and mana. As you can probably tell, this can help get you out of a lot of tight spots, but first check who you're laning against. If they will be spamming spells buy it! If they are more of a right-click hero, like sniper, it is probably best to not buy one. And spend the money on something else.

These are my preferred boots of choice, they give you a large amount of hp-regen and a large amount of movement speed, which is something you will need. The hp-regen and 30 movement speed is lost if you get attack, or attack someone else. The move speed and hp-regen does not get canceled if you cast a spell.

The other option of boots are phase boots, they give you some movement speed, and bonus damage. The active makes you move faster and walk through allied units for a short time, making them handy for escaping. I personally feel that the extra damage is a little wasted on Crytsal Maiden.

Get this around the 4-5 minute mark of the game, or slightly later if you are struggling for money. This improves the previously purchased courier so it now moves faster, and has a built in haste rune which you can activate to make the courier move faster for a short time.

And again, buy more wards!

Mid Game

This is one of my favourite items to buy on Crystal Maiden. It gives a large boost to all stats, some extra damage, and move speed and attack speed in a radius around you. So this benefits you and all allies.

Urn of Shadows works similarly to the magic wand, except it gains charger from nearby enemy deaths. It requires a charge in order to work, and it will heal a target ally or yourself over time. It gives you a small boost to strength and mana regeneration also.

Buy more wards again!

Late/End Game

The Black King Bar is almost a necessity for Crystal Maiden, it greatly increases her survivor-ability and has a nifty active which gives her magic immunity for a short duration. This is very handy for pulling off your ultimate, as then you can't be interrupted as easily.

This is a great item on Crytsal Maiden, it increases her intelligence, mana regen and most importantly, move speed. The active traps an enemy unit in a whirlwind, preventing them from being attack or attacking. This can be handy when you need to stop an enemy unit in its tracks, or to help yourself get to safety, remember, it can also be used n yourself, use this to dodge incoming attack or spell which could be the death of you.

Situational Items

Reveals invisible enemies in an area around you, buy accordingly.

Gives you physical damage immunity resistance for a short duration.

Gives a large armour boost, a large intelligence boost, and an active which slows all nearby enemies and damages them.

Makes you and all nearby allied units become invisible until the duration runs out, or you come into a certain range of an enemy hero.

Gives you a large intelligence boost and some bonus health, has an active slow which can be cast on an enemy unit.

Gives you a huge health boost, and gives you a chance to avoid attacks, a great survivor-ability item. Has a chance to maim a target, which slows them, and has an active which makes a target unable to attack for a short duration

Gives you a large boost to all stats, health and mana, and upgrades your ultimate, increasing the damage and the slow.

Reveals all invisiblle units in an area around the holder, the gem is dropped on death and can be picked up by enemy and allied units, passing the invisibility revelation onto them.

Core Items

Blink dagger is an amazing item which allows the user to teleport, or blink to the target location, this is very handy for initiating your ultimate, by blinking into the battle and decimating all in its wake.

Similar to blink dagger, you can use this to push you, a target ally or enemy in the direction they are facing, can be used for escapes and initiations, it also gives a boost to intelligence and a small boost to health regen.

Mekansm is an item which grants you bonus armour, bonus attributes, and health regen in an area around you. Its active heals all nearby allied units and gives them an armour bonus for a duration, this is a handy teamfight item, but it is often better for a tankier hero such as viper to pick on up.


Pipe of insight is another great teamfight item, it grants the holder, 8 hp regen and 30% magic resistance. It gives 4 hp regen in an area around it, and also has an active which shields all nearby allies from 400 magic damage.

Boots of travel grant the holder an extra 100 move speed, and they have an active which allows you to teleport to any allied unit or structure. Buy these if you need to get around a lot faster than you are.

This isn't a bad item for Crystal, the extra magic damage is great for teamfights, and what's more deadly than your ultimate? +25% damage ultimate!

Extremely Optional/Trololo

Okay, so not the recommended item for Crystal but hey, if you're rolling in cash it might be fun to grab for the lels.


The skill order is listed above, so I don't need to tell you about that. However here is what the skills are good for, and their stats:

Crystal Nova is great for pushing, harassing and dealing nice damage early on. You should use this on escaping foes, or to initiate fights.

Frostbite is great for securing early kills. Make sure to tell your lane partner who you intend to use it on and when. That way they can help get the kill.

Arcane Aura gives a great global mana regen!

Now. The hardest skill to use with Crystal Maiden. Freezing Field. You have to position this perfectly. Don't just run it to the middle of a fight and start casting. As you will die before anything of use can be done. The best place to use this is where enemies cannot see you. Eg. In or out of the rosh pit, up and down slopes. You can however sneak up behind the enemy, blink or force staff in and use bkb to initiate the fight.

Here are the stats for the skills:

An AoE nuke that slows movement speed and attack speed in an area.
Range: 700

Radius: 400

Duration: 4.5

Damage: 100/150/200/250

Movement Speed Slow: 20/30/40/50%

Attack Speed Slow: 20/30/40/50

The air temperature around Rylai drops rapidly, chilling all around her to the core.
Cooldown: 15 Mana Cost: 100/120/140/160
Notes: This ability is really useful early game for its damage and movement speed and attack speed slow. Don't hesitate to cast it frequently during laning phase. It has a decently long cooldown however so take note of that. It also gives vision of the area it is cast in, so it could be used to scout small areas.

A single target lockdown skill which prevents movement but still allows the casting of spells. It deals moderate damage per half second.

Range: 500

Duration: 1.5/2/2.5/3

Damage Per Half Second: 50

Max Damage: 150/200/250/300

Rylai channels winds from the Blueheart Glacier, imprisoning attackers in thick blocks of ice.

Cooldown: 9/8/7/6 Mana Cost: 115/125/140/150
Notes: If this ability is used on an enemy that turns invisible during the effects of frostbite, they will be revealed until it is over. This can also be used on creeps, which lasts 10 seconds. This is a good way to earn a bit of gold with Crystal Maiden.

A super useful global aura that grants mana regen which is doubled on Crystal Maiden herself.

Radius: Global

Mana Regeneration: 1/1.5/2/2.5

Cold temperatures promote the essence of magic, causing Rylai's presence to allow spell usage in abundance.

Note: The mana regen is doubled on Crystal Maiden

A really powerful ult that is channeled, meaning it can be interrupted by stuns.

Radius: 835

Explosion Radius: 230

Slow: 30% (50%*)

Damage: 105/170/250 (170/250/310*) *Aghanims Upgrades

Cooldown: 90 Mana Cost: 200/400/600
Once the place of her exile, Icewrack has become an anchor for Rylai's frigid onslaught.

Notes: The slow is both attack and move speed. The ability can be interrupted by stuns. Using a BKB is really effective, as it will allow Crystal Maiden to survive being interrupted by stuns.

How to Lane Correctly

Next we need to talk about how to play Crystal Maiden in the lane, first off: Do not auto-attack!!1!!11 The amount of supports I see in my level matches just auto attacking creeps is crazy, you can throw in a couple of right-clicks to help your carry get last hits, but don't auto attack, it pushes your lane; which in turn provides the enemy with safe farm under their tower. If you are pushing however, it is fine to auto attack.

Harass enemies: Harassing means hitting an enemy hero a couple of times any time they come to get last hits or come close to you in general. What it does is it pushes them away from creeps, so they can't get farm and your carry can get last hits more safely. It also opens opportunities to bag kills for you or your carry.

Deny: Denying means to press "a" (default key) and clicking on an allied creep close to death, which will "deny it". This provides the enemy with less experience than if the creeps died normally, and prevents them from getting a gold reward. Prioritize denying over attacking enemy creeps. This way, your carry can focus on last hitting, and can worry less about denying. Crystal Maiden is one of the harder heroes to deny with, due to her bad base damage and appalling animation.

Now on how to use skills in lane.

Use Crystal Nova to harass enemies. Do not use it early game on creeps, as it will push the lane. (which I told you about) If you are chasing an enemy, make use of it's range, since the radius is 400, this means it can hit enemies an extra 200 units away. Since it has a nice slow, use it for chasing, or slowing enemies who are chasing you or your carry.

Frostbite is one of your best kill-securing tools in your arsenal. Ping to your teammate or tell them in chat who you intend to use it on and when. This way, your carry can take down the enemy more easily. Don't be afraid to finish off low health enemies, as long as you have been helping get the kill, it doesn't matter who gets it.

Arcane Aura should be leveled depending on who you are laning with/against. Usually 2 points is enough but if you have a very spell dependent hero, you might want to add an extra point or so to make sure they can use spells more often.

Freezing Field should mainly be used in teammfights, later on in the game. However, if you come out behind your careless and vulnerable enemies, it can be used to easily net kills, remember, you need to be careful while using it, if possible get enemies to use disables and stuns before you cast. Also, the ability has a long cooldown, the cooldown won't matter early game as much, but late game save it for fights, as it can really swing the game in your favour.

Stacking creeps, creeps in the forest respawn every minute, providing there isn't anyone or anything in the camp. If you pull them out of the camp before the minute mark, and they stay out before the minute mark, you will find two groups of creeps in that camp now, you can repeat this process a few times. The point of doing this is for your carry to be able to gain a lot of experience and gold from the creeps in the camp, as there will be more of them than usual. Allies with a cleave or splash attack benefit from this more than others I would say.

Other than this, there are three very key things to do.

Once you have enough money, buy boots. This really helps get kills, and prevent deaths, as Crystal Maiden has awful move speed.

Next, ward. Preferably ward before the game starts, so you don't have to abandon your carry in lane. Buy sentries to counter ward, and reveal hidden enemies so you don't have to worry about dying as much.

Finally, be careful. Don't run under the tower to kill enemies if you don't think you'll be able to, and don't engage unless your carry is there with you.

Maxing Frostbite First

I know I already did a maxing aura frostbit section, but since some people enjoy maxing frostbite first n all occasions let me tell you why I don't do it. You lose your burst, Q is a big asset to your arsenal and losing the high burst it is capable of producing is a waste, since the burst damage isn't terribly high, saving it for last is a mistake. Late game it's usefulness is only going to decline more, so having it available at it's prime is essential. But, surely frostbite becomes less useful late game too, so why would I not max that first instead?
Well first of all, frostbite is primarily useful for the disable, the damage is a plus of course, but as with any magic damage it's going to become worse towards the end, however, even in late game, a 3 second disable is still very useful, whereas a 250 damage nuke is not as useful, yes there is the slow, but that slowing nuke is so much more handy early on and less useful later on, whereas throughout pretty much all of the game, stuns and disables are always nice to have, especially a ministun and 3 second root. You can of course max frostbite first and then you will have a much longer disable, but you lose some of your solo kill potential. If I see a squishy drow ranger at 1/2 hp early on, and I have maxed my Crystal Nova first, chances are I might be able to shut her down myself.

Max Aura/Frostbite

Since some people have asked about this build, I would like to tell you about what I like about it and what I don't.

Good long disable early
Mana so you and your lane partner can spam for days
Some kill potential since you will have a longer disable and your ally will have more mana leftover.

Low burst damage, looses a lot of early game damage potential.
Not much more than a walking mana pool and diSable, you have very low amounts of damage and a short slow.

All in all it's not the build I would use. It looses a lot of her early damage, and this is what makes up Crystal Maiden. If you have a very very mana dependent hero on your team or lane, you might want to do this, but you do lose a little kill potential since you lose your burst damage. If you are in a trilane with heroes with disables, this could be a perfectly good build, since you have the mana to use disables often and you have up to a 3 second disable.

Roaming Support

Roaming supports are supports who don't have a designated go-to lane, but instead walk, or roam, between different lanes to try and pick up kills for their team. Roaming supports can be insanely game changing, picking up those extra early kills for their team easily. Here are the pros and cons, and then I will go over the new item build.

A scary foe, will make all the lanes worried when you go missing.
If you do well, gain a huge advantage for you team.
Get lots of gold, the more assists/kills you get the more money you and your team will get.
Shut down enemy carrys, carrys like Medusa who need bucket loads of farm can get destroyed enough so they are as useless as anything later on.

Low level disadvantage, since you are not earning much exp from creeps, you will be a significantly lower level that most other heroes.
Base, you will need to go back to base pretty frequently, since if you buy boots at the start have no money for regen.
Can screw up ganks easily. Make a big mistake and you can end up feeding the enemy Spectre a triple kill.

Now for the item build. I chose for boots first because cm has really really bad speed, and because of this will have trouble chasing and roaming, the boots also provide a decent advantage over enemies due to the fact she will be moving faster than most. Smoke is so she can move into a lane without being spotted by a ward, chances are, the enemy support already warded their lane, so be careful and smoke gank to get kills without being seen.
As for early game, urn is great since you can be picking up many kills and assists, thus getting many urn charges, you can also use these charges to deal some decent DoT damage to enemies who only just escaped your gank with low hp.
Boot choices are either phase or tranquils. Both provide some benifits, Tranquils will provide more speed, and really really nice regen between lanes, so you can refill on HP before going to gank. Phase give you a decent active move speed boost and more right click damage, so you can easily finish off foes.
Buy wards and more dust as needed.
Mid game, try to get your blink asap, it will help with ganks as well as chasing and picking off enemies. Euls is great as it makes you super speed maiden, and also gives a really handy active. More wards and if ganks still need to happen, dust. Drums for amazing all round stats and an increase to super super fast maiden.
Boots of travel for EXTREME SPORTS maiden, also helps with dealing with pushes, ganking and all round helping your team. BKB for magic immunity in fights, and wards if needed.
Buy other situational items from the first section as the situation demands.

Creeping / Jungling

This is going to be a slightly short section, but I just want to say, you can use Frostbite on large jungle creeps with Crystal Maiden to get a bit of extra cash and exp. The reason you can do this is because Frostbite lasts for 10 seconds on creeps. So it would deal 700 damage, which isn't half bad! Just use the skill when you are stacking camps, and pulling camps. Rylai needs money too you know!

Team Work

Crystal Maiden is very reliant on teammates to do well, so you will need good co-ordination and communication. Make sure in team-fights to always pull of your ult whenever is a good time, and in laning phase make sure you ping or tell your allies who to go for. You work well with heroes who require a little bit of positioning for their stuns:


The most likely of these you will be with is Kunkka but you may have a tri-lane with Lina too. Use Frostbite then Crystal Nova you should be able to kill an enemy easily with your allies help, but remember you always need them with you, Rylai is extremely squishy and slow, make sure you hang around your team and help them get kills whenever possible.

Friends and Foes!

Here is a list of crystal maidens best buddies and worst enemies.

Heroes with high burst damage and low cooldown nukes can be very annoying for you:
Skywrath Mage
Nyx Assassin

Heroes with long stuns or disables can disable you long enough to get a kill:
Shadow Shaman

Heroes with slows and high base damage:
Templar Assassin

Heroes who can throw out stuns left right and centre to disrupt your ult:
Shadow Shaman

Heroes who can silence and cancel your ult:
Drow Ranger
Skywrath Mage

I think now you get the point, any hero which is capable of outputting a lot of damage quickly can be a nightmare.

But here are some friends!

Heroes who have (an) ability/abilities that need set-up:
Skywrath Mage

Heroes who can output a large amount of damage quickly:
Luna ( Eclipse with Frostbite is insanely powerful)

Heroes who need to be babysat through a large portion of the game:

My New Thoughts on Blink Dagger

So since the recent changes to Crystal Maiden I have found that blink dagger has become an even better pick up, since the ultimate radius got pretty massively increased, blink helps you position it so much better. I used to like force much more, and I'm not saying force staff isn't good on her, but I much prefer the superior positioning power that blink dagger provides.

When I made this guide I was using force staff over blink dagger all the time, since I figured all I needed to be able to do was get close to people and use my ult. But now that the radius has been buffed, you can literally blink into trees on the side of the lane and channel your ult and hit everything across the lane.

I just thought I would update my thoughts on blink dagger, I think it is really good, and I have even been trying to get it as soon as possible in most games.


Thanks for reading this guide! This was my first ever guide so help on what to fix would be nice. (Special thanks to TheSofa for helping me with coding and pictures etc.... check out their stuff!)

To Summarize:

    She is squishy, so positioning is key.
    Great passive that is useful to all and every teammate.
    Strong ult, but be careful when using it.
    Great damage early game.
    Great kill potential early game.
    Slightly weak late game, but her ult makes up for it.


New Update!

In the new patch (6.82) (I think?) Crystal Maiden got a couple of nice new buffs so here is what has changed:

Frostbite bit now deals 50 damage, ever .5 seconds instead of 70 every 1. This mean the damage scales like this: 150/200/250/300. As you can see, the damage scales extraordinarily well, deals high damage at lvl 1 and higher at max, considering these changes, might it be a better idea to get MORE points into frostbite earlier? I'm not sure whether I would change the build too much, but maybe sacrificing maxing the crystal nova for an extra point into frostbite wouldn't be too bad.

Her ultimate also got a slight explosion radius buff, it's nothing too changing, but it means there is a higher chance of an enemy getting hit by an ice shard, which in itself, is nothing to complain about. (radius increased from 230 to 250.)

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