VVGH and Welcome to my guide for Ne Zha, The Child Third Lotus Prince. In this, I go through my preferred build for the Boy Wonder. I'll give some of my tips, tricks and leveling idea's I've come across with my time playing as this headstrong child. I'll also go through some of the Pro's and Con's of using Ne Zha, and I'll touch on what to expect to encounter and what can happen if things go wrong for you.
Ne Zha is best used in the jungle however he can work in the solo lane depending on his match up.
In the Jungle there are are few things to keep in mind. Here are the top things you should keep in mind.
Bumba's Mask is an item that is required for any person taking on the jungle role. This item gives you extra damage against all jungle camps in the form of True Damage. Your basics will deal an extra 15 damage, and your abilities will deal an extra 15% in damage. Despite the gold sharing attributes of this item being removed for season 4, it still provides great sustain and damage against jungle camps and this is why you'll often see other roles besides Jungle taking up this item in addition to their other starter item since this is now only 500 gold instead of 800. Currently as of 4.3, only the person closest to the jungle camps minions when they die will get the benefit of this item. This benefit is some healing, some mana restoration (25 per camp monster) and a bit of extra gold (4 per camp monster).
Be aware of the map and player movements. Your eyes have to be constantly flickering between the map and the area around you. Since you can only see directly whats in front of you, map awareness is a very important aspect, especially for jungle players where sight is extremely limited. In Smite, you'll see enemies on the map who are close behind you even if you can't see them on your screen.
Jungle players are usually assassins. Keeping this in mind, you'll see most assassins thrive in the jungle as most have 1, and in some cases, even 2 moves that allow them to move with extreme haste. Ne Zha has two such abilities, one of them being his ultimate ability, Wind Fire Wheels. The other ability is Armillary Sash however this ability is reliant on hitting an enemy player. Awilix has a mount, Suko, that has no duration and gives her an extreme forward movement speed boost with an optional jump. Most other assassins will have a leap, like Bakasura, or a dash, like Ratatoskr. Loki has a vanish that increases his movement speed and makes him immune to slows.
Assassins are capable of extremely high single target player damage and can control fights in 1 vs 1 situations like no other gods in the game. This is because of abilities that root or stun, such as Serqet's Cobra's Kiss and Last Breath, or Awilix and her ultimate, Feather Step.
A few mages can act as a Jungle Player, such as Ao Kuang, who's ultimate, King of the Eastern Seas, gives him a good, nearly cross map, jump if he land's his execute, and his vanish, Water Illusion which gives him a small teleport.
Ne Zha has several pro's and con's. Figuring out how to play to his strengths and weaknesses is going to be key so you don't get annihilated for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ne Zha is probably one of the more flexible assassins for what he can build, and understanding how items interact with his abilities is also going to be key in making these choices and how you'll engage the enemy.
Like I stated before, our resident Lotus Prince has 2 mobility moves: Armillary Sash and Wind Fire Wheels. Both are considered a dash however Armillary Sash acts as a leap in other mechanics. You can use your sash to get over or out of minions, or to even get out of Odin's ultimate ability, Ring of Spears. You can use the sash to clear other player deployables such as Ymir's wall and Anhur's pillar. However you already have to have used the ability and be moving to clear those walls as the Sash will NOT go through walls (the one exception being Ring of Spears as that ability says attacks may go through the wall). You can use the sash to escape heavy hitting abilities like I'm a Monster or Release The Kraken! as it does pull your hit box off of the ground and into the air allowing you to escape damage.
His ultimate, Wind Fire Wheels, is a very powerful ability, good setup for teammates, and in a pinch, a good escape with CC immunity. However that being said, it also makes him extremely vulnerable. Both this ability and Armillary Sash are both easily telegraphed making him a prime target for heavy hitting abilities from the enemy team for when you land.
Ne Zha struggles from behind and is often used as a setup bot if he is. However when ahead, he often has the ability to carry a game.
Crit also plays an essential role in his kit and how he works. 2 of his abilities can crit and his passive & another ability provides crit chance. When his passive is fully stacked, when he activates Flaming Spear, he gains a natural 25% crit chance (and this is without any items). This is why the various crit items in the game are all viable options for him (except maybe Rage since that item is still useless). Each passive of the items that provide crit can be triggered by his ultimate and sash making him an ideal setup assassin and team player.
Ne Zha is one of the lucky few that has abilities that can crit. Luckily, unlike Mercury or Serqet who need items to have a chance at getting a crit, Ne Zha has innate crit chance in his passive (10% at full stacks) and an extra 15% when he activates Flaming Spear making him a danger no matter if he builds crit or not. However due to the way crit items interact with his abilities, any of the crit items available are viable and work wonders. You'll always want to build Deathbringer on him at some point, preferably as his 4th or 5th item. After he builds that he becomes a very large and very potent threat.
As with most junglers, you'll want Warrior Tabi as your first item when you have the gold to buy it. Your second item, depending on who your enemies are, you'll want to consider 1 of 3 items currently. Jotunn's Wrath being the most common second item, Titan's Bane or Brawler's Beat Stick are also both viable second items depending if the enemy team is tanky or has lots of healing type abilities.
Your third item is where things will become a bit more flexible. You have several options available to you here. Most commonly built is Heartseeker, however since that item does not work well with Ne Zha's kit (it only procs on the Ring Toss and Sash, it does NOT proc on his ult, I've tested this extensively for several hours), I prefer not to build it. Instead I have experimented with items such as Transcendence, Bloodforge, Void Shield, and Poisoned Star. I prefer to go for high power and as such I'll choose Transcendence. This item provides Ne Zha with a large mana pool giving him the ability to stay out in the field longer and it gives him a large enough power spike that, when you crit with Armillary Sash, you'll be dropping crits upwards of 1300 at full build ( Bloodforge also provides this type of crit ability however I prefer not to build this until late game when my position is secure). Other options for this point in the game are Titan's Bane or a crit item such as Poisoned Star or Deathbringer. All 3 of those options all have merits at being built at this point. Choose which ever you think will work for you.
Your 4th item must be Deathbringer if you haven't already built it. This is usually the best point to build it anyways.
Your 5th item should be a penetration item. If you haven't built Titan's Bane or Jotunn's Wrath, do so now.
Your last item is your situational item and should be built when you need it and not necessarily as your last item. Brawler's Beat Stick is always a safe and good option. More exotic choices include Shield of Regrowth (for the health, cool down and passive), Bloodforge (again for its passive and very large power spike; Its passive helps immensely after getting a kill with your ult and having a waiting enemy team below), or Poisoned Star (for its passive specifically; In team fighting that damage reduction helps immensely). If you are struggling with the enemy jungler, Void Shield is a good option, or if you are struggling with enemies that are wielding magic, Ancile is a viable item to help control how and when they sling abilities. Shifter's Shield or Spectral Armor are also both options that have their own merits. Take what you need in order to be effective here while staying alive.
Note: The Personal Preference build I have listed above is what works for me specifically. Its high power, high pen build allows me to drop a crit upwards of 1500 on unprotected enemies, and crits upwards of 700 - 800 on warriors, and crits around 200 - 400 on guardians depending on their build. The crits dropped while using Wind Fire Wheels are also very large and work wonders in deleting squishy targets from the field. Occasionally I'll drop Bloodforge for Poisoned Star or Malice (with the power provided by the first 5 items in that build, Malice is extremely potent and viable).
Your relics will usually always be Purification Beads and Aegis Amulet. Other options that work well with Ne Zha are Bracer of Undoing, Heavenly Wings and Blink Rune. All 3 of these have their merits and are all viable on Ne Zha as a jungler.
Currently, as of 4.3, there is one viable item start to jungling for items on ability based gods like Serqet. You will be starting Bumba's Mask and Bluestone Pendant. These two items together provide amazing early clear on what is generally considered a mid to late game goddess. It also provides great early poke and very easily turns around a pre level 5 fight. Along with these two items, generally speaking, if you lack a heal in your kit, you'll take 2 Mana Potions and 2 Health Potions. If you have a heal, like Kali or Bakasura, generally speaking, you can get away with 3 Mana Potions and 1 Health Potion. However if you take the latter option, I suggest you avoid being overly aggressive early game.
Now you have a few options on WHERE to start your game. In season 3 it was usually required to start in Solo. While you can still do that, you now have more options open to you due to how the jungle now spawns (at 30 seconds when lane minions meet). Currently, the most popular way to start is in Mid. Less common starts, involve starting in the jungle at buff camps or in Solo lane.
The first 5 minutes of any game played is the KEY point for any jungler. This is where you make it or break it for the rest of the game. During this time, if you can get a kill on the enemy jungler, you'll have an easier time all game. This is also the best opportunity to do early ganks invade the enemy jungle. Here I'll go over the Mid and Solo starts as those are the 2 most common and most viable starts.
During the Mid to Late game is where you will generally shine, especially once you get your full build online. You should dominate in most, if not all, 1 vs 1 situations and come out on top.
In a team fight your best option would be to go after the enemy mage or enemy jungle. Both of those players often bring high burst to the fight and are immediate targets. Usually a lucky crit with your sash is enough to get them to back off.
When starting a team fight, engage with your Universe Ring Toss to start buffing your own movement speed while debuffing their movement speed and shredding their protections at the same time. This gives your ADC (provided they took a hunter) an easier time of picking off the enemy team.
If you chose to take Poisoned Star in your build, your best bet is to take quick stock of who is doing the most damage (or who has the most potential to do that) and ult them. Effects from Malice, Deathbringer, Poisoned Star and Wind Demon all proc when you crit with your sash AND your ult.