Dota 2 Lion Guide – Builds, Items and Strategy

By   /   Aug 31, 2012


Lion is a very straightforward hero that can be useful in every game with his ability to deal a ton of burst damage through Finger of Death while having some control over the enemies with his remaining spells.

He is a ranged intelligence hero that doesn’t need items to be effective, so he can be a great pick if your team needs a support.

His combo is feared by all other fragile heroes since Lion can instantly kill them. He can perform really well even in the hands of unexperienced players since he is relatively easy to play. He went to hell and back multiple times, here is Lion, the Demon Witch!

With his Sacrifice, he can win lanes by denying EXP, making him out level the opponents. His ultimate Chain Frost, makes him a force to be reckoned with in team fights.

For more help on Dota 2, read our Phantom Assassin, Ogri Magi and Enchantress Guide.

Pros and Cons

  • +Ranged hero with 600 range
  • +Item independant
  • +Great disabler
  • +Versatile
  • -Slow movement speed
  • -Fragile hero due to low hp and low armor
  • -Most likely the first target for enemies to kill

Dota 2 – Lion Abilities

Earth Spikes
Rock spikes burst from the earth along a straight path. Enemy units are hurled into the air, then are stunned and take damage when they fall.

  • Duration: 1.02/1.52/2.02/2.52
  • Damage: 60/130/200/260
  • Manacost: 100/120/145/170
  • Cooldown: 12 seconds

Lion’s basic nuke and stun. It has an aoe so you can stun multiple enemies if you line it right.

Hex
Transforms an enemy unit into a harmless beast, with all special abilities disabled.

  • Duration: 1.75/2.5/3.25/4
  • Manacost: 125/150/175/200
  • Cooldown: 15 seconds

4 seconds you make the enemy hop around as a frog. That’s right, it is the longest hex duration in the game.

Mana Drain
CHANNELED – Absorbs the magical energies of a target enemy unit by taking mana from it every second.

  • Range: 600/650/700/750
  • Channel Time: 4
  • Mana per Second: 20/40/60/120
  • Manacost: 25
  • Cooldown: 25/20/15/10 seconds

Another way to disable an enemy is to leave him without mana. This spell can be used on ranged creeps (who have mana like heroes) and if you use it on an enemy illusion, it will disappear.

Finger of Death
Rips at an enemy unit, trying to turn it inside-out. Deals massive damage.

  • Damage: 500/650/850
  • Manacost: 200/420/650
  • Cooldown: 150/90/55 seconds

Lion’s big red bolt of death. As you can see it does a TON of instant damage so you can kill a lot of heroes with it. It has a Scepter upgrade but currently it is one of the worst upgrades in the game.

Dota 2 – Lion Skill Builds

Normal Stun + Hex Build

  • Level 1 – Earth Spike
  • Level 2 – Hex
  • Level 3 – Earth Spike
  • Level 4 – Hex
  • Level 5 – Earth Spike
  • Level 6 – Finger of Death
  • Level 7 – Earth Spike
  • Level 8 – Hex
  • Level 9 – Hex
  • Level 10 – Stats
  • Level 11 – Finger of Death
  • Level 12 – Frost Armor
  • Level 13 – Stats
  • Level 14 – Stats
  • Level 15 – Stats
  • Level 16 – Finger of Death

This is the standard build that most Lions go for, you take Spikes at level one since it is the best spell in case a level one fight breaks out.

You get both your disables maxed at level 9, which add up to almost 7 seconds that the enemy can’t do anything only due to 2 spells.  Earth Spikes is maxed first because of the damage.

With this build, you don’t take Mana Drain because it needs so many levels to drain a significant amount of mana. And stats gives Lion a really needed boost to his survivability, while giving him a nice mana boost.

An exception to this is when the enemy has an illusion hero like Chaos Knight, or has a Manta Style, since Mana Drain instantly kills an illusion, you can take a single level of it.

The ultimate Finger of Death is obviously taken whenever possible, the damage and cooldown reduction is too good to pass.

Stun + Mana Drain Build

  • Level 1 – Earth Spike
  • Level 2 – Mana Drain
  • Level 3 – Earth Spike
  • Level 4 – Mana Drain
  • Level 5 – Earth Spike
  • Level 6 – Finger of Death
  • Level 7 – Earth Spike
  • Level 8 – Mana Drain
  • Level 9 – Mana Drain
  • Level 10 – Hex
  • Level 11 – Finger of Death
  • Level 12 – Hex
  • Level 13 – Hex
  • Level 14 – Hex
  • Level 15 – Stats
  • Level 16 – Finger of Death

This is also a very viable build in case there are very mana dependent heroes on the other team with small manapools, especially against Skeleton King and Medusa (who is not yet introduced).

It is also strongest when you can afford to spam your stun and then drain mana from the enemy hero so it won’t do much on the lane if the enemy always stays back or if the enemy’s lane dominance is too much, since they will just turn around and kill you.

The downside of this build when compared to the other one is a lack of disable time until you get 14 and since you didn’t take stats you have almost 200hp less at this point.

Recommended Items

Starting: Courier, 3xBranch, Salve, Tango, Clarity

Lion can and should afford the courier for his team. These items will ensure he has a nice start and the clarity is there to help you use Spike an extra time or to give to your ally in the lane.

Core: Flying Courier, Observer Wards, TPscroll, Boots of Speed, Magic Wand and Bracer

These are the items basic items that Lion needs in the early stages of the game. Always carry a teleport scroll to help your allies when they get ganked. Sometimes they will give you free kills. Magic Wand and Bracer will make Lion a little bit stronger.

Common good options: Mekanism, Drum of Endurance, Force Staff/Dagger, Boots Upgrade, (Bottle), Dagon, Ghost Scepter

Lion players will generally want to get one or two of these items, they are cheap to make and don’t require much farm. Mekanism gives a nice heal and armor buff to the entire team so it’s a nice option in case you aren’t getting bursted down instantly.

Drum gives you some nice stats. FS and Dagger give you positioning to land all of your skills and to escape.

About the choice of boots, with the standard build you might want to get some mana items so you should get either Arcane Boots or a Bottle.

If you think you can manage without Arcane, you can get either Phase Boots which gives you better mobility or Tranquil Boots which are cheaper and give some hp regeneration.

Dagon can be a good choice if you can get it early in the game. With Dagon and Finger you can instantly deal over 1k damage and your killing threshold just got bumped a lot higher. Just don’t Kill steal with it!

Ghost Scepter against right click heroes. If the game goes really well for you, you can upgrade it to Ethereal Blade, which boosts all magical damage by 40%! When paired with Dagon you will even be able to kill very strong heroes in the late game.

Luxury: Scythe of Vyse, Boots of Travel, Shiva’s Guard
Get these if the game is lasting well over 50 minutes and you are a rich Lion.

Dota 2 Lion Strategy

There are a lot of ways to play Lion due to his versatility, probably the most optimal is to babysit a carry hero on a safe lane, but he can also solo the mid lane and grab all the runes or he can be played as a roamer, going around the map and getting some kills.

Lion has a very good attack range and a nice animation, abuse this to be aggressive while laning. With the Mana Drain build you can even spam your Spikes and then drain the enemy right after so that they won’t have mana to use their spells on you.

Once you get level 6, you should be looking around to kill someone with your 500 damage Finger of Death, most heroes have around 600-800hp at this point so your ulti along with Spikes is very strong at this point.

As said before, Mana Drain is great against enemies that either have low manapools, or that absolutely rely on their manapool (heroes such as Storm and Leshrac). But the opposite is also the same, there are enemies that will laugh at your mana draining attempts, enemies such as Outworld Destroyer or Keeper of the Light, or even teams that have 2 or more Arcane Boots. Learn when to take the skill.

Keep wards up on the map so that you and yourself benefit from having better map control

Sometimes a common mistake players do, is using Finger of Death to kill enemies that could be killed with auto-attacks/allied nukes. If possible keep your Finger to kill some other enemy and don’t kill steal from allies that need more gold than you.

As a Lion, you should maximize your disable time between Hex and Spikes. If you use Hex first, count to 4 and use Spikes after this to ensure that the target is disabled for the longest duration possible. Don’t stack Hex on top of your stun or vice-versa.

At late game, the enemies you can kill is drastically reduced but there are still some key heroes that don’t usually get mass hp items, heroes such as Invoker or Queen of Pain, that you can still take out of fights with your combo.

You should not only use your spells to kill the Maiden, but if you can, target these more dangerous foes and thus your team has a very higher chance of winning fights!