The new additions of Blight Stone and Echo Sabre, along with some buffs to Armlet, have brought the best called N’aix back into the spotlight. Being one of the cheapest, if not currently the cheapest, carries in the game, he’s favoured both in pubs and in competitive games due to his ability to fight very early.
However, Lifestealer never was the “super broken” Hero type. His built-in spell immunity, plus great damage output and initiation (with the help of a teammate) allow him to burst targets down quickly. This gamestyle is effective, but there are actually plenty of ways around it.
There are two main things that can give Lifestealer a hard time; kiting through the duration of his Rage, and good physical damage.
Let’s look at a few Heroes:
: Beastmaster’s Primal Roar can stop Rage at any point of the game for a long time, unless Lifestealer invests into a Linken’s Sphere. Also, Inner Beast aura boosts the physical damage output of his whole team. Beastmaster’s not the Hero that will deal with N’aix alone, but he has more than enough setup for it.
: Centaur’s ulti can screw a Lifestealer over a lot if used properly. When N’aix tries to focus any target, Stampede ensures they can simply run away. Not that much of a direct counter, but he’s pretty good defensively.
: A Lifestealer with Amplify Damage on won’t be nearly as tanky and will have to think twice about going into five enemy Heroes just because he’s spell immune. Slardar’s bash is also a nice extra.
: Not the type you’d want to manfight. Chaos Knight’s Phantasm will not only allow him to not be focused down during Rage, but will also give him enough damage to fight back.
: Phantom Lancer can really be a problem mid-late game for N’aix. He’s ellusive enough to survive through Rage easily, it’s always hard to focus down the right one and once Rage is over he’s simply stronger.
: Besides being able to swap someone to safety, Vengeful Spirit’s Wave of Terror and Vengeance Aura will increase her team’s right-click by a lot.
: Ursa is one of the most common problems for Lifestealer. He can fight as early as him and he’s stronger in a manfight scenario. Worst case, he’ll use Enrage to survive. Once he gets a basher, Lifestealer’s life gets a lot harder. Very reliable counter.
: This one’s slightly trickier, but it works. Ensnare works on spell immune units, while Song of the Siren does not affect them. Don’t be confused, this is a good thing; Naga Siren using her Song while N’aix is Raging results in sleeping his whole team except for him. Then, Ensnare ensures he can’t get away. You’ll still need some good damage output from your team to kill N’aix before Rage ends.
: Another one who can actually manfight a Lifestealer. Troll Warlord’s permabash and damage boosting capabilities means Rage can become totally useless. Don’t try to fight a Lifestealer TOO early though; Troll is still a mid-late game Hero.
: While Slark doesn’t have any direct way of stopping N’aix until he gets a basher, he can be a real nuisance anyway. Essence Shift hurts Strength Heroes more than others, and Shadow Dance will ensure Lifestealer cannot, well, lifesteal from Slark to survive. In addition, being a good Silver Edge carrier, he can take N’aix’s Feast away for enough time to render him useless.
: Beware the Terrorblade. He has more than enough damage to take the Gollum head on, and Sunder still works on spell immune units.
: Stone Gaze is a real pain for Lifestealers. Running away is better than becoming a rock, but wasting Rage defensively is not good for N’aix.
: Thinking of tearing that poor INT Hero apart with your spell immunity? Guess again, Exorcism’s ghosts can destroy a Lifestealer before he can react. Add a Ghost Scepter or a Eul’s so he can’t lifesteal and he’s met his match.
: Winter Wyvern can be infinitely annoying, with her Cold Embrace completely negating right click damage and Winter’s curse going through spell immunity. A good WW player will make N’aix’s life hell.
Item wise, think of what stop or evade him even for a while. Basher into Abyssal will most likely be a must get for melee carries. For the rest, Ghost Scepter/Eul’s can work, but they can still be purged by a Diffusal Blade; Force Staff is most likely the safest way to go, and it can also be used to save allies.