Nu Wa Build Ideas

Latest posts by Shane Martin (see all)

Nu Wa is a ranged mage, fighting for the Chinese pantheon. In the Conquest game mode, she’s typically a mid-laner, but I can see a world where she’s taken into the support role, as she has some utility with her big stun and moving stealth zone.

As is pretty standard for ranged magic-wielders, she has excellent wave-clear, but unfortunately, she doesn’t have the most dynamic playstyle.  Even so, being someone who loves spell-slingers in any game, Nu Wa was a must-play for me, and I’m glad I tried her out because she’s one of my most played mages right now.

Though her gameplay is relatively one-dimensional, the many items available in Smite allow for some diversity in your build path. That said, it is about time that I gave you the rundown of my general build for her, including a few niche items that you can play around with as you see fit.

Standard Build

To lay it out up front (and built in the following order):

  1. Conduit Gem (into Archmage’s Gem at level 20)
  2. Chronos’ Pendant
  3. Soul Gem
  4. Spear of Desolation
  5. Divine Ruin
  6. Nimble Rod of Tahuti

This is by no means a hard and fast build, but it is generally a good place to start. As you play Nu Wa more, you’ll naturally be swapping certain items in and out at your leisure and as the situation demands, but there is a rule of thumb here: always make sure you are capped out at 40% cooldown reduction (CDR).

Nu Wa’s entire kit revolves around her Clay Soldiers/Shining Metal combo, which explodes her minions for an awesome area-of-effect (AOE) stun. You want that up as often as possible. Outside of this, there’s not much she can do other than create a moving stealth zone (that, frankly, really doesn’t do all that much damage) or ult.

With that in mind, unless you’re remarkably ahead, your early-mid game items should be CDR-focused (except for buying Conduit Gem for 700 gold). That way, you can be effective in team fights by spamming your stun-combo as soon as possible. Now, let’s look at these items individually and why you should build them on Nu Wa.

Starter Item: Conduit Gem

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+25 Magical Power
+100 Mana
+10 MP5

PASSIVE – Every second you gain a stack of Arcane Energy, causing your next damaging ability to deal an additional 2 True Damage and remove all stacks.

Conduit Gem is a great starter item for Nu Wa because of its stacking buff, which works extremely well with your ultimate ability.

The upgrade of choice here, Archmage’s Gem, functions similarly, adding a great deal of damage to her ultimate, which is particularly helpful if you’re not physically present for a team fight and all you can do is ult from afar. Just bear in mind that this starter item is a more aggressive one.

Alternative Starter Item: Sands of Time

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+25 Magical Power
+10 MP5
+10% Cooldown Reduction

PASSIVE – This item grants 2 MP5 per 10% of your missing Mana.

Sands of Time is the safer choice, especially upon upgrading it to The Alternate Timeline at level 20, which provides an on-the-spot resurrection every 6 minutes. I would recommend taking this instead of Conduit Gem for two reasons:

  1. You’re new to the god and still getting a feel for the safe positioning required to play her since she has no reliable escape like Scylla or Hades. However, while Nu Wa’s ultimate can be used as an escape, it is not the most efficient way to get out of a hairy situation, as your enemy can simply wait for you to come back to the ground.
  2. The enemy team has an insane amount of dive-gods (assassins, warriors, or tanks that can jump on you without a second thought) who have made it their personal mission to prevent you from playing the game. And make no mistake, they will do that, more so in a higher level of play. Particular gods to watch out for are those with a gap-close of greater range than your basic abilities, such as Thor, Thanatos, or Mercury who can ult you from across the map.

Chronos’ Pendant

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Cost – 2,700

+90 Magical Power
+20 MP5
+20% Cooldown Reduction

PASSIVE – Every 10s the Pendant activates, subtracting 1s from all of your abilities currently on cooldown.

With her playstyle in mind, you want Nu Wa’s big stun combo up as often as possible, meaning that rushing 40% CDR is a must. No matter what, Chronos’ Pendant is her staple item thanks to the nice 20% CDR it provides. It has a nice chunk of Magical Power too, and its passive gives you even more CDR.

Soul Gem

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Cost – 2300

+80 Magical Power
+150 Health
+12% Magical Lifesteal
+10% Cooldown Reduction

PASSIVE – On successful hit of an Ability you gain 1 stack. At 4 Stacks your next Ability that damages an enemy God will deal bonus damage equal to 25% of your Magical Power, and will heal yourself and allies within 20 units for 30% of your Magical Power and will consume the 4 stacks.

This is an excellent choice for Nu Wa, as it gives you lifesteal and health (for some survivability), 10% CDR, and a stacking damage buff that works super well with Conduit Gem. The best utilization of this passive is with your ultimate ability, so after accruing the four stacks, spend the “bonus damage equal to 25% of your Magical Power” with your ultimate. If that’s on cooldown, spend the stacks on your Shining Metal ability instead.

Also, Soul Gem is one of the cheaper items for mages, so you get quite a bit of bang for your buck here.

Spear of Desolation

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Cost – 2600

+110 Magical Power
+12 Magical Penetration
+10% Cooldown Reduction

PASSIVE – Earning a Kill or Assist subtracts 2s from all standard Abilities currently on Cooldown, as well as 6s on ultimate Abilities currently on cooldown.

Heaps of Magical Power, Magic Pen, 10% CDR, and a passive that gives even more CDR? Need I say more?

If you’re following the build-path thus far, there’s no hard-and-fast reason to build Soul Gem before Spear of Desolation, but let me explain why I do it in this order:

  1. It’s 300 gold cheaper, which means quicker access to stats.
  2. It gives health and lifesteal, which improves Nu Wa’s survivability in the early game when she’s at her weakest.

Nu Wa is one of the many gods in the game who has a rough early game and takes some time to come online. So, Soul Gem’s lifesteal will help you stay in lane longer, allowing you to soak up more experience and gold. However, if you’re in a game where you’re leagues ahead of the enemy and confident in yourself, then, by all means, build Spear of Desolation first. You’ll certainly hit harder.

A Couple of Points Regarding Maxing out CDR:

  1. Staff of Myrddin (2,600 gold) is a decent alternative to either Spear of Desolation or Soul Gem. But, simply put, it just isn’t as good as either on Nu Wa. It has less Magical Power and Magic Pen than Spear of Desolation and doesn’t give health or lifesteal. Furthermore, its passive, which gives a temporary 70% CDR buff (8 seconds long) after casting your ultimate, isn’t worth it. As Nu Wa, you shouldn’t be ulting in the middle of a fight unless your life is on the line. Therefore, while this buff can be great on other gods, it’s not the best for Nu Wa.
  2. If you opt to take Sands of Time as your starter item, it gives you 10% CDR, removing the need to buy one of the other 10% CDR-giving items. If I had to pick, I would drop Spear of Desolation in this case since Soul Gem’s lifesteal, health, and stacking buff have too much value for Nu Wa. But, it’s really a matter of preference.
  3. You *can* build a tanky item that gives 10% CDR instead of Spear of Desolation, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Nu Wa, though she can certainly pump out damage in the late game, does not have a great deal of it when compared to other mages (her utility makes up for this). If you build a tanky item, some of her damage output will be forfeited.

Divine Ruin

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Cost – 2300

+100 Magical Power
+12 Magical Penetration

PASSIVE – Enemies hit by your Abilities have 40% reduced Healing and Regeneration for 6 seconds.

Divine Ruin is not a must per se, but it is certainly useful thanks to its flat Magical Power and Magic Pen. Granted, there are other items with higher stats in this regard, but Divine Ruin is a magic wielder’s staple anti-heal item (it’s also one of the cheaper items in general). So, if the enemy is chock full of gods that heal a lot (I’m looking at you, Aphrodite) this is a no-brainer for sure.

Nimble Rod of Tahuti

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Cost – 3600

+120 Magical Power
+30 MP5
+10% Magical Penetration

PASSIVE – Basic Attacks and Abilities gain 25% additional Magical Power against targets below 50% Health.
GLYPH – For every 40 Magical Power you have, you gain 2% Attack Speed.

This is probably the most optional item of my build, but I’ve got it up there for two main reasons.

  1. The flat Magical Power and Magic Pen, coupled with the increased damage to targets below 50% health, makes executing squishy targets very efficient and very fun. It also makes handling sticky tanks a bit easier.
  2. The attack speed provided by the glyph allows you to proc Nu Wa’s passive more often, which roots any enemy every sixth successful basic attack.

This is undoubtedly one of the more expensive items in the gold shop, hence why I usually buy it last.

Alternative Non-CDR Items:

The following items are great options if you don’t want to build Divine Ruin and/or Nimble Rod of Tahuti, or if you have the extra gear slot to build a non-CDR item because you decided to go with Sands of Time as your starter item.

Obsidian Shard

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Cost – 2450

+100 Magical Power
+20% Magical Penetration

PASSIVE – Your first ability cast gains 10% Magical Penetration. This can only occur once every 10 seconds.

I would highly recommend picking up Obsidian Shard, especially if you picked Sands of Time as your starter item and have the extra non-CDR item spot to spare. The flat Magical Power and Magic Pen are super helpful, but the passive adds yet another buff easily applicable to Nu Wa’s ultimate. Just imagine: Conduit Gem and Soul Gem fully stacked up and ready to be spent, plus another 10% Magic Pen. At full build, that ult cast will hurt big time.

Soul Reaver

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Cost – 2650

+95 Magical Power
+300 Mana

PASSIVE – Your abilities deal an additional 2% of the target’s maximum Health as Magical Damage. If the target has over 2000 Health, your ability bonus damage scales up. This effect reaches a maximum of 9% Maximum Health damage at 2750 Health. Subsequent hits on the same target do half the bonus damage for the next 3s.

While Mana isn’t the most important stat for Nu Wa, as she’s not super mana-hungry at any stage of the game, Soul Reaver’s passive can prove effective. The value here lies in its tank-shredding potential.

Indeed, Nu Wa doesn’t have the most consistent output of damage (she’s more bursty if anything), but it is possible to see a team with 4 tanks or warriors and 1 support in a normal game trolling around (yes, I have experienced this; no, I did not win). In that scenario (or one similar) Soul Reaver is definitely worth the gold.

Spear of the Magus

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Cost – 2550

+110 Magical Power
+12% Magical Lifesteal
+12 Magical Penetration

PASSIVE – Any god you damage becomes marked and debuffed to take 7.5% increased damage from all sources for 7s.

This item could be helpful, but more often than not, I find it a budget version of better items for Nu Wa. Sure the flat Magical Power and Magic Pen are nice, but there are more efficient ways to get those stats. Like Soul Reaver, the main reason to take this item would be for its passive, though keep in mind that it can only affect one god at a time, which doesn’t compliment Nu Wa’s big AOE damage too well.

I bring this item up because it can be surprisingly effective in the Duels game mode (1v1s), as the drawback of the passive is no longer a drawback since there’s only one enemy for you to hit.

So, if you’re looking to build this item, I would swap Divine Ruin out for it (in Duels), as anti-heal doesn’t matter as much in a who-can-blow-up-who-first competition. Of course, if the god you’re dueling is a warrior or guardian with ample heals, stick to Divine Ruin instead.

Warlock’s Staff

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+95 Magical Power
+150 Health
+200 Mana
+10% Magical Penetration

PASSIVE – You permanently gain +1 Health and +0.8 Magical Power per Stack, and receive 5 Stacks for a god kill and 1 Stack per minion kill. (Max. 75 Stacks)

This is the last item I want to mention, but only because it can serve as a great defensive choice. Your damage will suffer slightly, but the extra health from Warlock’s Staff is nothing to scoff at.

However, to guarantee you gain the most value, you should pick this item up early to get it stacking as soon as possible. Therein lies the major con: it forces you to put off building an early CDR item, delaying Nu Wa’s maximum damage potential to a later point in the game.

This is not to say that you can’t build this item second, third, or even fourth. But, if you do, then there is less of a guarantee that you get the max 75 stacks (since you don’t know when the game will end), making the damage and CDR sacrifices less worth it. So, if you can, in each game, decide to build Warlock’s Staff sooner rather than later.

Alternative Build Strategies

The Big Ultimate Build

Nu Wa ulting

As I mentioned before, the most effective way to play Nu Wa is with 40% CDR so you can get as many stun-combos off as possible. However, if you’re just looking for a fun time and want to hit really hard with your ultimate, then this build is the way to go:

  1. Conduit Gem (into Archmage’s Gem at level 20)
  2. Spear of Desolation
  3. Soul Gem
  4. Soul Reaver
  5. Obsidian Shard
  6. Calamitous Rod of Tahuti (this is the alternative glyph to Rod of Tahuti that calls down a meteor on your target instead of giving you bonus attack speed)

Though this build essentially puts all your eggs in one basket, it can certainly prove to be effective with an absurdly hard-hitting ultimate (or stun-combo).

Granted, it’s no Poseidon Kraken, but the passive buffs of all these items (stacking and immediate) allow Nu Wa’s ultimate ability to come down with a brutal vengeance. Just remember that CDR is of no concern here (you only get 20% between Spear of Desolation and Soul Gem), making your cooldowns noticeably longer, and causing you to be less useful in a drawn-out team fight.

However, I can see this build working into a team with no front-liners or supports, something that is quite common in the Arena game mode, or even Slash. A game like that will not see team fights going on for more than a few seconds, since your enemies will either pop you and your team in an instant, or you and your team will pop them in an instant.

The Ring Build

This build certainly spices things up a little bit, making Nu Wa an on-hit mage instead of a burst mage and reliant on high attack speed. The build is as follows:

  1. Death’s Toll (into Death’s Temper at level 20)
  2. Demonic Grip
  3. Ring of Hecate
  4. Hastened Ring
  5. Telkhines Ring
  6. Nimble Rod of Tahuti

Your actual abilities will not be that powerful, but with this auto-attack-focused build, the aim is to proc your passive root as often as possible. There is a lot of attack speed in this build, and while this is merely a template, by all means, feel free to swap out one or two of the rings (items 2-5) for situational or more practical items like Chronos’ Pendant.

Nu Wa is not necessarily designed to be an on-hit mage (like Poseidon or Olorun can be), but it is possible to pull this build off solely because of her passive, so give it a try if you want!

Relic Options

Considering how immobile Nu Wa is, it pays to stick to defensive relics. That said, the two I typically go for are:

  1. Aegis Amulet (evolved into Aegis of Acceleration for the extra movement speed)
  2. Purification Beads (evolved into Temporal Beads for the extra CDR)

When it comes to which of these relics you should pick up first, that is totally up to you and the situation you’re in. If you’re against gods with heavy crowd-control (cc), like Ares or Da Ji, then pick up the Purification Beads first. If you’re against gods with massive burst damage, like Poseidon or Anubis, then pick up Aegis Amulet first. If you’re up against both, then flip a coin.

The only alternative relic I’d recommend is Magic Shell (either evolution is viable), but I can’t in good conscience recommend an offensive relic, as Nu Wa is far too squishy and immobile to make that feasible.


Question: Is Nu Wa Viable in Joust?

Answer: Viable? Yes. The most effective? Not as much. I say that because Joust inherently nerfs her ultimate ability, reducing the number of people she hits from 5 to 3. In addition to providing a decent amount of damage, her ultimate provides vision of all enemy gods.

But, considering there are only 3 opponents in Joust, plus the fact that the map is smaller than other maps (which makes getting vision on your enemies easier), there’s not as much value.

Also, she isn’t the most heavy-hitting mage in the game, and with only two other teammates, high damage output is more important than it is in Slash or Conquest. This is, by no means, a way to say that Nu Wa provides no value in Joust. Simply put, you can take her into this 3v3 game mode, just know that there are better alternatives in terms of mages.

Question: Is Building 40% CDR Necessary on Nu Wa?

Answer: To play her competitively, yes. The hard-hitting ultimate build will not be all that reliable against a well-constructed enemy team, as the ways to counter it are plentiful (Aegis Amulet, for example). The 40% CDR is essential to making you relevant in team fights, for the more stuns (and damage) you can pump out, the better. If you’re unbelievably behind, you can always pick up a defensive item like Magi’s Cloak or Warlock’s Staff, but you should always aim to build the 40% CDR, even if you have to wait until your last item to reach that goal.

Question: Is Nu Wa Easy to Play?

Answer: For sure. Nu Wa’s base kit is straightforward, and she is even classified as an easy god to play on the Smite website. However, she has no mobility, making her easy prey for assassins and the like.

Positioning is probably one of the hardest things to do as a ranged god (be it mage or hunter), and Nu Wa demands excellent positioning, especially in higher-level play where there is a big red target on your back. While it is true that her ultimate can be used as an escape, it is by no means a reliable one.

Nu Wa Build Ideas: Conclusion

All in all, Nu Wa is an easy god to play, and except for particular circumstances, she has a relatively straightforward build path to follow.

CDR is the most crucial aspect for Nu Wa, as she needs to be throwing out as many AOE stuns as possible to make up for the fact that she has less base damage than other burst mages like Zeus of Poseidon. Thanks to the many mage items in the gold shop, there is still room for variance in your build-path, especially with non-CDR items.

However, the most crucial decision comes with your starter item; Conduit Gem is incredible for an offensive playstyle, but Sands of Time is one of the best defensive items for mages without sacrificing damage, so choose wisely!

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