Medusa Build Ideas

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Medusa is one of the strongest, fastest-farming carries in Dota 2. Mystic Snake gives her the ability to nuke waves and opponents, and together with Split Shot, she can quickly kill off jungle and ancient creeps. Although she is not as agile as Slark or Anti-Mage, Mana Shield gives Medusa so much defense that she can simply stand and dish out punishment.

This Medusa Dota Guide will focus on hero’s spells, optimal item builds, and how to transition from early to late game.

Key Info Up Front

Medusa is a ranged agility hero that relies on mana for defense and multitarget toggle attack for offense. Although the hero lacks mobility and is very item dependant, she is one of the strongest late game carries in Dota 2.

  • Health: 540                         Damage: 48-54                    Movement speed: 275                                         Strenth: 17 + 1.5
  • Mana: 351                           Armor: 2                              Attack speed: 0.72 attacks per second                Agility: 22 + 3.4
  • Intelligence: 23 + 3.4
  • Spells and abilities: Split Shot, Mystic Snake, Mana Shield, Stone Gaze
  • Special abilities: N/A
  • Strengths: One of the best late game carries, great crowd control, scales well with attribute points
  • Weaknesses: Slow movement speed, lack of escape mechanism, very item dependent

Optimal Medusa Builds

Medusa’s optimal build will be highly dependent on the situation. The biggest issue with the hero is finding the fine balance between defense and offense. Although you would like to build some stat items, you want to have enough damage so that the opponents cannot ignore you. Otherwise, enemies will simply focus on your allies, leaving you as the last one standing.

Leveling is a bit easier. Here are spells and abilities you should get:

  • Level 1: Mystic Snake
  • Level 2: Mana Shield
  • Level 3: Mystic Snake
  • Level 4: Split Shot
  • Level 5: Mystic Snake
  • Level 6: Stone Gaze
  • Level 7: Mystic Snake
  • Level 8: Split Shot
  • Level 9: Split Shot
  • Level 10: Split Shot
  • Level 11: Mana Shield
  • Level 12: Stone Gaze
  • Level 13: Mana Shield
  • Level 14: Mana Shield
  • Level 15: Stats rest of the way (take 3rd point in Stone Gaze at level 18)

Here are the optimal item and talent ideas depending on the situation:

Offensive Build

Early game items: Phase Boots, Magic Stick, Dragon Lance

Mid game items: Manta Style, Daedalus

Late game items: Butterfly, Eye of Skadi, Divine Rapier

Talents: +15 damage, +30 attack speed, +2 seconds Stone Gaze duration, Split Shot benefits from attack modifiers

Defensive Build

Early game items: Power Treads, Magic Stick, Dragon Lance

Mid game items: Linken’s Sphere, Manta Style

Late game items: Hurricane Pike, Butterfly, Eye of Skadi

Talents: +15 evasion, -1.5 seconds Mystic Snake cooldown, +30% Mystic Snake mana gain, +75 intelligence

Hybrid Build

Early game items: Power Treads, Magic Stick, Dragon Lance

Mid game items: Manta Style, Hurricane Pike

Late game items: Daedalus, Butterfly, Eye of Skadi,

Talents: +15 evasion, +30 attack speed, +2 seconds Stone Gaze duration, Split Shot benefits from attack modifiers

Basic Spells

Medusa has a very versatile spell kit. She has a solid defense, crowd control, magic damage, and AOE auto-attack. Executing her spells during teamfights is not that hard. It mainly comes down to pressing Stone Gaze at the right time so that the enemies have to run away or stay close and get petrified.

Due to innate tankiness, she doesn’t have to worry about her positioning that much (unlike some other ranged carries like Sniper and Drow Ranger). She is great for both sieging and high ground defense, and even if you’re at a major disadvantage, there is still a chance you will win the game with this hero on your team.

Split Shot

Although Mystic Snake is good for farming, Split Shot is considered the hero’s main farming ability. It is a toggle ability that turns your regular attack into 5 arrows with lowered damage.

While the primary arrow will still get all the regular damage effects (like Critical Strike from Daedalus or Chain Lightning proc from Malestrom), the other arrows will not. This is why most players opt for stat items, as there will be no loss to the total attack damage.

A great feature of Split Shot is that it increases the range of the other 4 arrows by 150. That way, Medusa can cover much more ground around her, hitting distant targets. In most cases, you will have this skill toggled on. The only time you would want to turn it off is when there is just one enemy hero remaining.

Mystic Snake

Mystic Snake is a snake-like projectile that bounces off up to 6 enemies, increasing its damage with each subsequent jump. On top of that, the enemies will be slowed, and you will drain their mana as a percentage of their total mana.

Although its base damage is rather small, 200 at level 4, it can increase significantly if you cast it correctly. At the 6th jump, it will deal whopping 550 damage, which is a lot for a basic spell. Instead of casting it on an enemy hero, you should cast it on one of the nearby enemies. As long as your focus target is close to your initial target, it should eventually land on the focus target. Ideally, it should bounce several times before landing.

Keep in mind that the spell can land on an enemy just once. If you build Aghanim’s Scepter, your Mystic Snake will gain petrify effect, which works similar to the spell’s magic damage (starts at 1.3 second petrify duration, which increases by 0.2 seconds per bounce). This upgrade provides the hero with some additional control during teamfights.

Mystic Snake’s mana drain is another great perk. At level 4, it will restore Medusa’s mana equal to 20% of a target’s total mana. You gain mana for every enemy you hit. This effect works well with Mana Shield, effectively restoring mana lost due to the enemy’s attacks.

Mana Shield

Mana Shield is another hero’s toggle ability. When you turn it on, Medusa uses her mana pool to protect herself from the incoming damage. Keep in mind that the shield will block only 70% of damage, while the remaining 30% will go against the hero’s current health.

As you put more points in the skill, the block percentage increases. At level 1, you will block 1.3 damage per 1 point of mana. At level 4, you will block 2.5 damage per point of mana. So, at the 4th level, 100 mana will function as 250 effective health.

Another great benefit of the skill is that it passively increases your mana pool.

Stone Gaze (Ultimate)

Medusa’s ultimate spell gives the hero a nice teamfight presence. When you click on Stone Gaze, she will start channeling a spell around her for up to 6 seconds (on 3rd level), increasing her own movement speed while reducing enemies’ movement and attack speed, as well as turn rate. Although the spell is channeled, it cannot be interrupted, and it will continue working even if a hero is disabled.

But this isn’t the main benefit of the spell. If a hero is facing Medusa for 2 seconds while Stone Gaze is active, he or she will become petrified for 3 seconds. While petrified, the hero will be considered stunned, and they will take up to 50% more physical damage.

The beauty of Stone Gaze is that it forces enemies to turn away from you. Although they won’t be petrified, and they won’t take extra damage, Medusa can still attack them while the spell lasts. Depending on the opponents’ positioning, the spell might even force them to scatter for 6 seconds.

It is also worth noting that the spell goes through Black King Bar. Stone Gaze is especially potent if you have other physical damage dealers in your team.

Cold Blooded (granted by Aghanim’s Shard)

This is a nice passive ability that adds to the hero’s defensive prowess. Whenever Medusa is targeted with a single-target spell, she will release a non-bouncing Mystic Snake at the enemy who attacked her.

The Shard is especially good if you have Aghanim’s Scepter upgrade, as it will add petrify effect to the spell (like it would do for Mystic Snake). Cold Blooded will also steal some mana, thus restoring the hero’s Mana Shield. Unfortunately, the fact it has a 12-second cooldown makes it highly situational.

Medusa has a strong teamfight presence, with numerous nifty spells. She is heavily reliant on her mana pool, which makes her susceptible to mana draining/mana burning heroes as well as illusion-based carries with Diffusal Blade.

But, if you have a nice game and your team provides enough space, you can start having an enormous impact at around 25, 30 minutes. Even if the match goes later, Medusa will be able to outcarry most of the heroes.


Due to the hero’s innate farming ability, you don’t need a perfect laning phase. However, Medusa would require jungle and ancient stacks to get back to the game.

Mystic Snake is the first thing you want to max. It gives you the ability to spam the waves while simultaneously stealing mana from the enemies. With this spell, your mana pool should always be close to the maximum, which is important if enemies rotate towards your lane. If that happens, you can simply turn on Mana Shield and survive situations where most other carries would die.

During the laning phase, you won’t need Split Shot. Although this ability is crucial for farming, you can get the first point at level 4. Before that, you should get two points in Mystic Snake and one point in Mana Shield. Getting more than one point in Mana Shield is redundant during this phase and will hurt your farming capability. Before maxing Mana Shield, you should get 4 points in both Mystic Snake and Split Shot.

Although spamming Mystic Snake is usually the right play, you can sometimes push the lane too far ahead. That would make you prone to ganks. At the same time, pushing the lane will give you more time to go to a nearby small jungle camp and get an extra farm.

Mid game

Playing Medusa in mid game can be relatively tricky. Like many other carries, you would want to get some farm before joining. However, you need to remember that Stone Gaze and especially Mystic Snake are very potent during this phase.

Most Medusa’s are reluctant to join these early teamfights and prefer going woods. The standard mindset is that you need at least two items to start fighting. However, given that these two items are usually defensive, their addition rarely makes a difference in terms of damage output.

The only reason why you should wait to join teamfights is if you think that the hero will get nuked. This can completely backtrack you in the long run. But, if you think that you’ll survive, perhaps its better to join and add some utility and magic damage.

During mid game, you should continue farming woods. Split Shot allows you to kill several camps simultaneously, which is much better than going for one or two waves of lane creeps and exposing yourself to potential smoke ganks. If you play it safe, you can get farmed and easily transition to later stages of the game.

Late Game

Medusa is very potent in the late game and should be able to win against most carries. Even if you’re going against illusion-based Diffusal Blade carriers, which are considered Medusa’s counters, you can beat them by building Black King Bar and Hurricane Pike.

Among others, this hero is considered one of the best Divine Rapier carriers. As her physical damage output scales well with stat items or simple damage items (that is, items without modifiers), this is a match made in heaven. Also, the range on her Split Shot makes her one of the best high-ground defenders.

The only potential problem is her lack of mobility. In theory, teams can run circles around her and disable her while killing off her team. No matter what, it is very important for Medusa to stay with teammates. Furthermore, you should usually be in front as you can take a lot of punishment.

Itemization (Core Items)

Manta Style

Manta Style is one of the most common items for the hero. It gives her descent stats, lots of agility, attack speed, and movement speed. You can also use it for purging certain debuffs. As the game progresses, your illusions will become really tough, which is another potential benefit.

Dragon Lance and Hurricane Pike

A lot of players will start the game with Dragon Lance. Besides nice stats, the item also increases the hero’s attack range, which is crucial for her radial Split Shot. By improving it to Hurricane Pike, you will gain some extra stats and additional mobility.


Butterfly is simply amazing on this hero. In fact, Medusa is one of the top Butterfly carriers in the game. The agility and damage bonuses work well with Split Shot. The same can be said for attack speed. Although the item doesn’t provide health, mana, strength, or intelligence, all of which are crucial for Medusa’s survivability, she gets 35% evasion, which is crucial when she gets jumped by enemy carry.

Eye of Skadi

Eye of Skadi is the only attack-modifying item worth taking as a core item. First off, it provides a lot of stats to the hero. It is also very good when fighting one-on-one against enemy carries as it reduces their attack and movement speed, as well as regeneration, heal, and lifesteal effects. Unfortunately, it sometimes feels lackluster as it doesn’t provide enough damage.

Itemization (Optional Items)


Maelstrom was briefly a popular item on the hero. It works by increasing Medusa’s farm rate and provides more damage during teamfights. It is especially great if you build several attack speed items. If you reach level 25 and take the talent that adds modifiers to Split Shot, you can make several lightning procs with each auto-attack.

Linken’s Sphere

Linken’s Sphere was always the most popular pub item, although not that common in professional games. Like the previous two, it gives the hero a lot of stats and improves her defensive capabilities. The regeneration is a nice bonus. Unfortunately, it can sometimes feel a bit useless because the Spellblock feature can easily be circumvented, and you don’t get a lot of offense from it.


In the last few patches, Daedalus has become a bit more popular as a core/optional item. The item gives Medusa much more damage, and while the effect doesn’t transfer to other arrows, you will still have a Critical Strike on your primary auto-attack.

Black King Bar

Often, you don’t want to build Black King Bar. The hero has a lot of damage as it is, and you want to tank some of the enemy attacks during teamfights. However, if you’re constantly disabled, this item is a must. Black King Bar is also important when going against mana-burning enemies.

Divine Rapier

Divine Rapier is the best example of a situational item. Unlike many other heroes, where you buy Divine Rapier as a last-ditch effort, it is actually a common purchase on Medusa. Given that the item has straight damage without modifiers, it will do wonders for its Split Shot.

Talent Builds

Level 10 (+15 evasion OR +15 damage)

As mentioned, building Medusa is a fine balance of offense and defense, and you can clearly see this through her first talent. The evasion buff is pretty nice, especially if you don’t wish to buy Butterfly. However, taking +15 damage will help you a lot during early to mid game farming.

Level 15 (-1.5 seconds Mystic Snake cooldown OR +30 attack speed)

Mystic Snake provides so much utility for this hero. It is also a good source of damage during mid game. So, having a lower cooldown can help a bit, although it isn’t anything revolutionary. On the other hand, attack speed can be great if you decide to buy Maelstrom.

Level 20 (+2 seconds Stone Gaze duration OR +30% Mystic Snake mana gain)

Mana gain talent provides a 150% increase of this particular feature. This makes it great during prolonged fights. Also, the enemy heroes will really feel the loss of mana. On the other hand, a longer Stone Gaze duration can easily turn the fight for you, as you are more likely to petrify the opponents.

Level 25 (Split Shot benefits from attack modifiers OR +75 intelligence)

If you have one or two items with attack modifiers, the first talent can go a long way. I’ve already mentioned the impact on Maelstrom, but the same can be said for Daedalus and Eye of Skadi. On the other hand, the increase in intelligence is very important for your Mana Shield. I would give an advantage to Split Shot talent, though.


Question: How do you kill Medusa?

Answer: The best way to kill Medusa is by removing her mana. She is highly dependent on Mana Shield, and given that she doesn’t have an escape mechanism, she will quickly die without it.

Question: Does break work on Medusa’s Mana Shield?

Answer: Mana Shield is not a passive but instead a toggle ability. So, using items and abilities with break mechanic will not disable this ability.

Question: Does Medusa’s ultimate go through Black King Bar?

Answer: Stone Gaze’s slow, petrify, and extra physical damage will affect enemies even if they activate Black King Bar.

Medusa Build Ideas: Last Considerations

If you like farming, Medusa is the right hero for you. Although she isn’t as explosive as Phantom Assassin, Chaos Knight, or Sven, and you usually don’t get that many kills, Medusa is a steady presence on the battlefield. In this particular patch, this is a very strong pickup.

Even if you lose both early and mid-game, there is still a chance to win the match. On top of that, you can experiment a lot with different builds.

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