Saturday, 2 April 2011

Dota Fact

Did you know?
  • A magical rune spawns in the river running through the center of the map every 2 minutes.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011


Basic Information
  • Runes are powerups that spawn on every even minute (0:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc.)
  • There are 5 types of runes: illusion, regeneration, double damage, haste and invisibilty
  • The rune will spawn randomly at one of two designated locations in the river (top or “bot” rune)
  • If there is a rune that still remains at its starting location (that is, it has not been bottled, used or destroyed, another will NOT spawn at the next 2 minute mark)
  • Runes can be captured and used later through use of a bottle (also refilling your bottle's 3 charges)
Useful tips
  • Shift-clicking on the rune will allow you to pick it up without stopping and might make the difference between you surviving and dying.
  • If you coordinate with your teammate to check one rune and you check the other, you are much more likely to get the rune for your team. Talk with your teammates about this!

Importance of Wards and Rune Control

If you have not read a guide for warding and do not have much experience in warding, I urge you to readthis. I will not go deep into warding but will mention the importance of warding rune locations.

If you place an observer ward at the rune location, you will have knowledge of any activity in that location for 6 minutes. That is a lot of time in game. So why are the rune locations more important than other areas of the map? In games where ganking is prevalent, the river and rune locations are primary points of travel. Other than Furion and Boots of Travel wielders, an enemy will have to walk in order to gank you (how much is dependent on where they TP and where you are, of course). A lot of times they will walk over the rune areas as it provides an entrance into the neutral areas and subsequently top and bottom lanes. Having sight of this area means you can spot ganks before they occur and be ahead of the enemy. Also, should they grab a rune, you will know of this and be able to react accordingly.

Try to coordinate with your teammates about checking both rune locations at the spawn times so your team is guaranteed to get the rune. Tell your bottom lane “I'm checking top rune” and ask them to check bottom (or other similar calls). Runes often set ganks in motion as they provide an undeniable advantage in many situations.

Solo Mid Battles

Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your standing with lady luck), a lane can be completely won or lost based on runes. I have been on both ends of this and suffice it to say that when all else is equal (approximate laning skills), the person who controls the runes will win the battle. It is VERY important that you try to make sure this is you, but remember that each time you leave the lane you are missing out on experience and potential gold. At the same point, you might lose MORE experience and gold if the enemy gets a rune that causes you to die. You also miss out on the opportunity to do this to your enemy so be mindful of runes and their power in winning a lane. Additionally, successful ganks that come with runes can also easily win another lane.

Functions of Runes


Grants the hero maximum movespeed (522 ms) for the entire 30 second duration of the rune.

This is always an exciting rune to find for its utility in many different situations. Some of these situations include:

  • Positioning for hard to position (non-targetable) spells (Axe's Beserker's Call; Centaur's Stomp)

    The enemy has a much shorter window to react when you come at them at maximum speed.
  • Performing additional attacks when the enemy is retreating

    With haste, you can very quickly close the ground and get in additional attacks that you would not have had given your normal movespeed (See guide on animation cancelling for proper use of this).
  • Escaping precarious spots

    Just be certain when trying more risky maneuvers that the duration of haste will not expire mid-fight causing your death.
  • Traversing large distances

    Be mindful of the duration as you do not want it to expire leaving you with no escape plan.

Bottle Usage

If you pick up a haste rune in a bottle, it is often wise to save it for sticky situations that you otherwise might not be able to escape from. If you wait until you start to engage the enemy before activating, you will be able to use the entire 30 second duration during the fight. These seconds you might have wasted earlier in getting to the lane might mean the difference between your survival and death.

Additional thoughts

This rune is almost always a welcome pickup for a ganker and thus should often be reserved for those who can make particular good use out of it. If you simply plan on going back to your lane and farm with it, it saves you a bit of time, yes, but could perhaps have been better used by someone ganking. If none of your teammates are close enough to pick it up, you should grab it regardless of what you plan on doing with it. It is better for your team to have it than the opponent's team.


The invisibility rune grants the user 45 seconds of invisibility (cannot be seen except with true sight) or until the user issues an attack command or casts a spell.

  • Positioning for hard to position spells (during ganking)

    Invisibility is in most cases better for this purpose than is a haste rune as the opponent has NO time to react (well, they actually have a very small window if there is a frontswing on the spell, but that is a different matter)

    *Caveat - make sure to communicate with your teammate when you are invisible. Often your teammate will simply look at the minimap and see your dot, not realizing you are invisible. Make certain that you are ready to engage AND your teammate is ready.
  • Scouting behind enemy lines

    If the enemy team has a number of members missing from the minimap, you can use the invis rune to safely investigate areas that you do not have sight of. Be careful not to go to close to towers as they have truesight and you will be spotted.
  • Escaping enemies

    If you are running along in the river being chased by enemies and find an invis rune, it will often save your life. You can also use this to juke any aoe spell that hits invis if you grab it in river by quickly changing directions upon picking it up (be careful, there is a short fade time of 2 seconds during which the enemy can see any direction you may go).

Bottle Usage

This is a great rune to have in bottle as unsuspecting enemies that do not think you have an escape mechanism (if you are a hero without blink/ww). If you do not have a difficult to position spell, consider saving this rune for use as an escape. If you have one of those tougher to land spells, using it to initiate is normally a better choice.

Also, given the 2 second fade time, you can still cast spells before you go invisible even after activating the rune. One frequent usage of this technique is clicking the bottle once immediately after using the invis rune thus giving yourself the rune charge you otherwise would not have had. If you try this after the fade time, you will break invisibility and not be able to get it back.

Illusion Rune

The illusion rune spawns 2 illusions that look exactly like your hero. These images take 400% damage and deal 50% damage and last for 75 seconds or until they die. (verify numbers)

  • Scouting enemy territory

    Sending an illusion into enemy lines where you do not have vision is a safe way of gaining information about the enemy's whereabouts.

    Another important thing for certain heroes that falls under this category is scouting the map for blink/teleportation possibilities. If no character on your team has been to a particular location on the map (and thus it hasn't been revealed to anyone's minimap) you will be unable to blink or teleport to this area. In certain cases you may be trying to escape to one of these areas and find out too late that you are unable to blink there. Use one of your illusions early on to scout this area so that you will be able to blink/teleport there later. This only applies to Furion, QoP and Anti-mage (or those with blink daggers).
  • Baiting enemy spells

    When they see “you” approaching them, they might use one or more spells on you. Remember not to send both illusion runes or else they will know that you have an illusion rune (but you can send 1 in with you and go yourself causing them to think both are illusion runes and making them “relax” since illusion runes can't cast spells – did that Sand King illusion just burrowstrike me??) Be careful not to attack or take damage with these illusions, however, as both allow the enemy to make sense of the situation very quickly.

    Here I send in one of my illusions knowing that ES will likely use fissure.

    He took the bait and my allied Lina and I can go in for the kill as his only solid defense is currently cooling down.

    I will also include in this category the idea of placing your illusion in lane while you are off ganking. It serves a similar purpose (deceiving the opponent) as baiting enemy spells. When you are "casually farming" your lane, the enemy hero will not report you as missing to teammates.
  • Damage increase

    In some situations, you may want to simply take the illusions back with you to lane and help you last hit or harass the enemy. They will help you last hit and if you send to the enemy they will be forced to tank a bit of damage or retreat – both of which are good outcomes for you.
  • Creep pull/Creep manipulations

    If you have decent micro and timing, you can use the illusions to pull a neutral creep camp (either allowing a double spawn or so that allied creeps will come attack). The double camp may be worthwhile if you have an AoE spell which takes out multiple units.

    You can also use these to divert enemy creeps from the lane. The enemy creeps do not know that the illusion isn't real so they will pursue it as if it were actually you. Send it behind a tower (not through the tower's path or else it will die) and drag the creeps to a different location.
  • Camping certain locations (rune, woods) as “observer wards”

    Since runes are relatively important, you should try to control them if possible. One way of determining where a rune spawns is by sending an illusion to one of the rune locations shortly before the next even minute. In this way, they function as observer wards. Similarly, if you send an illusion to the nearby woods where you do not have vision, you will be alerted of any incoming ganks from that direction. This might give you enough time to retreat to the safety of a tower or TP away if you spot an incoming gank.

Bottle Usage

Storing this rune in a bottle doesn't provide the same benefits as with the other runes, but you still get to better control where and when the illusions are deployed (and you also get your charges refilled – always a good thing!)

Additional Notes

Illusions will carry certain effects from different heroes along with them.

  • Radiance
  • Axe's Counter Helix

Double Damage

Increases the hero's damage by 100% for 45 seconds. It does NOT take into account pure damage items (Divine Rapier, Buriza, etc.) but rather your base damage and stat increasing items (agi, str, int).

This rune has some fun uses, all of which deal with beating the heck out of your opponents, creeps, towers, rosh, ancients, etc. I won't be as specific about uses since pretty much ANY situation is good for this rune.

I will mention, however, that during ganks this should be reserved for the hero best able to get in a lot of attacks. If you give this to a hero that won't attack at all (for example, a Rhasta channeling shackles) it is of little to no use. Also, in the very early going, it is probably better to give it to a ranged hero as they will likely be able to get in additional attacks (through animation cancelling and/or kiting).

Double damage can be purged away, so if you are a melee hero fighting the satyr neutral camp, you might want to use the DD rune elsewhere while you have it.

Bottle Usage

This is a pretty good rune to have in a bottle since it can surprise your opponent and turn the fight in your favor. If they accurately assess a fight with you accounting for your normal attack damage (if you were to get in a number of hits) but do not know of your DD rune in bottle, they might engage in a losing fight with you. If you wait a bit to pop the rune while it is too late for them to run, you will nab yourself a kill.


Heals your hero 100hp/second and 67 mana/second for 30 seconds or until you take damage.

Like the haste and invisibility runes, this rune can quickly turn defense into offense. For the majority of the game, this rune refills all of your hp and mana - a very worthwhile rune indeed.

  • Using your mana while regen is on

    If you have a spell or two that is off cooldown (preferably a low cooldown spell – don't go blowing your ult just because you have regen) you should attempt to use it before you are hit – the regen will give the mana back to you very quickly.

  • Avoiding a fountain trip (by walking/TP)

    If you are very low in hp and would otherwise return to fountain, check the nearby rune to see if it is regen (assuming it is safe to do so). Allowing you to avoid the fountain trip is worth a lot of time. This could be refilling after a gank, after roshan, neutrals, escaping someone's clutches, etc.

Bottle Usage

Here is where regen really shines. Through use of a bottle you can trade blows (wasting HP and mana) with your opponent and quickly be back at full. Particularly wise usages include entering a fight with your opponent and then hiding under fog cover. The enemy will likely be more relaxed and perhaps will not even call “mia” since you are on your way back to heal. They might even elect to stay in lane at low HP knowing that you do not have sufficient mana or hp to fight with them. You then show up a few seconds later will full HP and mana ready to gank anyone or just to continue farming.

It is important to use some of your mana before you pop the rune, as otherwise you are wasting some of the effectiveness – your spell could have damaged the enemy and caused them to retreat or use some form of regeneration and you will still have full mana shortly thereafter.

Here is an example in which properly timed regen usage nets me a kill and I avoid death:

I am hiding from an enemy Ogre Magi while ignite's effects wear off (so I can use regen)

Allied Lich comes to my aid and distracts the Ogre Magi giving me time to get away.

My regen has filled me back up and I can rejoice as we skip off to ice cream.

Jungling/Neutral Creeping

Neutral creeping in general refers to fighting one of the neutral camps at any point in the

game, but for this article I will talk about neuting from level 1.

This strategy is quite powerful if you know what you are doing, so some practice is in order.

General Information

- The first wave of neutral creeps spawn at 0:30

- After this, neutrals will spawn at each camp on every minute (x:00)

- Creeps will not spawn if a unit is within a certain rectangular area of the given creep camp at the next minute mark
- This includes your hero, any creeps (neutral or otherwise), wards and DEAD creeps (that leave a corpse - a creep takes between 15 and 20 seconds to disappear, so if you kill a camp at x:55 leaving a corpse in the area, the next wave will not spawn)

- All neutral creeps have some AI (some are "smarter" than others)
- higher level creeps (level 5/6) will attack a low hp hero rather than creeps
- predictability of neutral creep AI will allow you to jungle effectively

- High level Centaurs/Furbolgs will use their stomps when 3 units are at melee range
- High level Satyrs will send out a shockwave when 2 units are in range of the wave (careful of chicken!)

- Neutrals can be "kited" by ranged heroes due to their predictable aggression patterns

- Since neutrals will not respawn at the designated time if units are in the area, you can pull the neutral creeps out of this area and make an additional camp (creep stacking) by engaging the creeps and then running out of the area


Advantages of Jungling
  • Gives your team an additional solo lane (increased EXP, money for you AND the team as a whole)
  • You do not have to compete for last hits against allies/enemies
  • Easier time ganking (since you are always "mia" and can pop out at the best time)
  • If pulling, you can decrease the enemy's experience/money gain
  • Some heroes perform better in jungle (can farm better unhindered by enemy)
  • An entertaining change of pace from conventional laning

Other notes

- lots of starting builds are acceptable but in general, HP/mana regen (depending on hero) is essential
- practice is required in pretty much EVERY case (except maybe Enigma ^.^) in order to get good experience/farm

So - Who makes a good jungler?

Enchantress, Syllabear, Enigma, Furion, Chen, Lycanthrope, Broodmother

AoE spells/abilities
Juggernaut, Beastmaster, Bristleback, Pandaren Brewmaster, Leviathan (Anchor Smash), Axe, Dark Seer, Centaur Warchief (Return)

Troll Warlord (Blind, kiting), Bloodseeker (Blood bath), Naix (Feast), Terrorblade (Images/meta/pulling), Ursa (Fury Swipes)

Note (Tree Destroyers)
Both BMs, Furion - expand upon this

In actuality, many heroes can jungle - even more than the ones I listed. In terms of difficulty, however, these ones are generally a bit easier than others, so try these to start. Also, just because you CAN jungle doesn't mean that you should given the hero lineups.

Summon Strategy

Summoners have a wonderful aspect to their neutralling - they have a built in tank! The most important thing to keep in mind here is to make the most out of that tank.
  • Many summons cost significant mana: prioritize mana regen over HP regen in these cases (clarities or perhaps a RoB/Sobi)
  • Have you and your summon(s) attack the same creep (fewer creeps = less damage)
  • Once your summon is low in HP, move the summon back so that another summon or a hero can tank for a bit allowing the hurt summon to attack (particularly important with Enigma)
  • If the summon is about to expire to time, it should tank as much as possible (even dying)
  • you can also send the summon to scout (rune location, perhaps)
  • Remember that your summons (as well as hero) will block the next spawn if they are within the designated area
  • Do not forget about your other abilities and forgo ganking if there is a good opportunity (especially in the case of Enchantress/Chen who can use their neutral creeps)

AoE spells/abilities
  • Take into account the nature of your jungler: if the hero is mana independent for jungling, spend more on HP regen items/HP boosting items or a stout shield
  • Axe, Centaur, etc.
  • Use creep stacking to maximize the value of your spells (Axe w/ Counter Helix; Dark Seer with Ion Shell; Leviathan with Anchor Smash)
  • Use creep pulling have your creeps tank a bit of damage for you
  • If mana dependent, consider a bottle (HP/Mana Regen + Rune capturing) or clarities
  • If possible, try to kite the creep camps to minimize damage (though this takes more time)

Specific Camps and how to tackle the jungle

Here is an overview map of the Jungle.

These rectangular areas are the ones I was referring to earlier regarding "CREEP RESPAWN." You do not have to memorize them but be familiar with the general area so you can position yourself far enough away come the next minute.

Small Camps (one of these sets of neutrals will spawn in the small locations)
  • 2 Fel Boars/1 Ghost
  • 3 Gnoll Assassins
  • 1 Kobold Taskmaster/2 Troll Beserkers
  • 1 Troll High Priest/2 Troll Beserkers
  • like 200 little Kobold dudes

This is often the best camp to try to fight as it is very easy to take in the early levels (in fact, often it will be the only one you can take without requiring a full HP heal). This should be where you start your journey (unless you are Chen/Enchantress and can dominate a creep).

Medium Camps
  • 2 Normal Wolves/1 Alpha Wolf (command aura)
  • 1 Centaur Khan (stomp)/1 Centaur Runner
  • 2 lvl4 Satyrs (mana burn)/2 Satyr Tricksters (purge)
  • 1 Ogre Magi (frost armor)/2 Ogres
  • 2 Mud golems (magic immune)

The medium camps are important ones since the topmost (scourge) and lowermost (sentinel) are the ones that you use for creep pulling. The mud golems are generally the worst to fight as they deal a lot of damage and are immune to many spells (enchant/persuasion, conversion, ion shell, etc.).

- High level Centaur Khans will use their stomps when 3 units are at melee range: keep this in mind when pulling or using summons. Try to bait the Centaur into using his stomp by getting in range and then quickly leaving range.

Large Camps
  • 1 Centaur Khan (stomp)/1 Centaur Runner (same as medium level)
  • 2 Furbolgs (white one has a stomp, red one doesn't)
  • 1 Satyr Hellcaller (shockwave), 1 lvl4 satyr (mana burn), 1 Satyr trickster (purge)
  • 2 Little Blue Trolls/1 Dark Troll Warlord (with net/summon skeletons)
  • 1 Enraged Wildkin (tornado)/2 Baby Wildkins

These camps are the most difficult to kill. It is not a good idea to take these early but with summons and good micro, this can be done (better to take other camps first, however, to level up until these are easy).

I will not mention the ancients much since that takes a lot of gear in most cases as well as a lot of time. Lycan, however, (as one example) can take ancient camps at hero lvl7 (lvl4 wolves) with a vladmirs offering.

Creep Pulling

This term refers to pulling a neutral creep wave out of their camp's location for some other purpose. Most of the time, the purpose is to have allied creeps aid you in fighting the neutral camp, an EXTREMELY useful tactic to employ.
  • Allows you to avoid taking damage since your creeps fight for you
  • Denies some enemy experience since your creeps may die to neutrals
  • Useful while your summons are on CD or you do not have sufficient mana
  • Greatly disturbs the creep wave line (first, brings the "wave" way back under your tower and after the creeps have finished engaging, there will be a push back in the other direction towards the enemy tower as your wave will contain more creeps)
  • Can be done by any hero, not just those with good jungling abilities
  • Pulls on the two primary camps should be done at approximately x:15/x:45 but can be a bit varied (easy to do with a few times of practice)
  • Makes it difficult for enemy team to lane as they will have to proceed far past tower to stay in exp range (or go to the neutral area where you have creeps and they do not)

*Since these spawns are blockable by use of wards, teams in higher level play will often place a ward in the spawning rectangle in order to prevent the neutrals from spawning. This makes the lane easier for them.

The two primary camps that are used for pulling are the topmost medium camp on scourge (near top 1st tower) and the bottommost medium camp on sentinel (near bottom 1st tower.

- If the camp you are pulling contains a Centaur Khan (lvl5 with stomp), he will stomp you/allied creeps if 3 units are in range of the stomp. Your creeps will lose their agro towards the camp if this happens and they are out of acquisition range (make sure to keep vision of these creeps when pulling on sentinel side so allied creeps will know where to go).


Creep Stacking

This term refers to a special technique of pulling the neutral creeps away from the rectangular area just as the next minute occurs (thus allowing another set of creeps to spawn as no units are in the rectangle).

Here is a video of me doing this with sniper:

This is particularly valuable for heroes with AoE abilities or anyone that can take the extra damage. I would advise this with Axe as often as you can, Centaur, Dark Seer, plenty of summoners and maybe Leviathan (but not early).

Using this technique allows you more experience and gold than you would have gained by killing the creep camp in the x:40 - x:59 window in the rectangular area. The exact time varies from camp to camp but it is generally x:52 - x:55. Note that if you are trying to stack a camp with a satyr trickster in it as a melee hero, he will purge you slowing your movement (and the neutral's movement) so you may need to start earlier in this case.

I plan on playing each one of the heroes listed above in jungle and showing approximately how

effective it is. If anyone feels that they are strong in them (or wants to get some of the

easy ones out of the way), feel free to PM me.

Also, I am waiting on permission to use some screenshots from another person at which point I

will include them here with explanations.

Sunday, 27 March 2011


 Few things are more important in DotA than having vision of your opponents. At its core, DotA is a strategy game and in order to make the best strategic decisions, it is key to have as much information as possible. While your team often has vision of the lanes due to the presence of creeps and towers, the lanes make up a relatively small portion of the map. Warding the other areas on the map gives your team a huge tactical advantage, but your stock of Wards is quite limited and refills very slowly. Therefore it is important to place each ward in a place that gives you the maximum sight radius. This guide is certainly not a comprehensive list of warding locations in DotA, but it covers all of the fundamental ones. Feel free to experiment and find your own useful locations!

Rune Spots
The two most important warding locations on the map are the cliffs that overlook the top and bottom rune spawns. Not only do these wards show your team what rune has spawned and where it has spawned, but they also will spot most enemies traveling from lane to lane for ganking. They boost your offense by giving your team rune control and boost your defense by spotting ganks, it doesn't get much better than that. These spots are very important to have covered early and midgame, but become far less important later on because the lategame tends to involve more 5 on 5 team battles than ganks.

Wards can be placed in the enemy forest for two reasons: preventing neutral creep spawns and spotting heroes to pick off. Early in the game it can be very beneficial to block a creep spawn, shutting off the enemy's ability to creep pull their lane. Jungling heroes are also very easy to pick off in the earlygame, so if you can spot them with a ward, it's not hard to go take them out and stunt their farming. Late in the game, the forest is generally considered to be one of the safest places to farm, so having a ward there will often give your team opportunities to pick people off and then take a tower while you have an advantage.

Near the Enemy Base 
Wards near the opposing base are nearly useless for the majority of the game, but when you are trying to push for victory, they suddenly be coming very important. It's often quite hazardous to push a base, you're fighting uphill against a tower and your opponents have plenty of room to come at you from all directions. A well-placed ward will let you know how your enemies plan to defend and prevent your team from getting caught off-guard. Picking off the guy that was meant to ambush you from behind, because your team spotted him with a ward can be the play that wins the game for your team. Always try to have ward cover when you attempt a push!

Lane Control

Lane Control

If you've ever gone to lane and felt outmatched and soon found yourself underleveled or undergeared, you've come to the right place. This guide contains a good deal of information for the laning of phase of the game, a very important phase which often dictates how the game progresses through mid-game (during the ganking phase).

Goals of The Laning Phase

Your goals in laning are not very deep: get money, get experience. Pretty simple ideas, right? That's why I do anything in real life and dota is no different. So lets get right to it.

In order to gain experience, you must be within a certain range when a creep or hero dies (1000 range). If another allied hero is also in range, you split the experience equally (which is why a solo lane will typically be a higher level than dual lanes). As you gain experience, you will level up and your abilities will get much more powerful.

Since your opponents are often trying to kill you (that is, deprive you of money and experience), it is often smarter to take charge and do that to them BEFORE they get the chance to do it to you, thus allowing you to gain experience and money without restriction.

In order to get money (in addition to the gold accrued every second – a relatively slow source of income) you must get creep kills in lane. When you get the last hit on an enemy creep, you get an additional amount of gold that would otherwise have gone to another teammate (if they get the last hit) or to no one (if your allied creeps get the last hit or the enemy denies the creep).

Both of these ideas goals are very straightforward. Accomplishing these goals, however, with your opponent trying to maximize his money and experience becomes a little bit more difficult. There are a lot of things that must be considered in order to widen the gap between your income/experience gain and your opponent's income/experience gain. First of all, I will address the universal ideas that hold for (pretty much) every hero.

Golden Rule of Laning
If you manage to stay in your lane longer than your opponent, you will widen the EXP gap between the two of you and likely the money gap will follow suit.

-- This is the central idea to all aspects of laning. If you maximize this gap during laning, you set yourself up for excellent chances of winning further along in the game. If you fall behind your opponent in these areas, prepare for an uphill climb. I will reference this point in most sections.

Regeneration (both hit points and mana)

If you manage to stay in your lane longer than your opponent, you will widen the EXP gap between the two of you and likely the money gap will follow suit. So how do you stay in the lane longer? Regeneration is the answer.

When you head out to lane, in almost all situations you should have some regeneration items, mainly flasks or tangoes for HP and clarities for mana. Mana regeneration is nice but as some of you may notice, you can still survive without mana. This is NOT the case with HP – so bring adequate hp regen.

Flasks or tangoes?
The choice is really up to you and your preference but some situations lean towards tangoes and some towards flasks. If the enemy is more prone to physical harassing (through normal attacks or arrow skills – Clinkz' searing arrows, Viper's poison attack, Drow's frost arrows, etc.) it is often more worthwhile to take tangoes. They will often attack you and try to widdle your HP down (preventing you from gaining EXP) but do not have nukes to take off your HP in larger chunks. Also, since they will be attacking you often and aggressively, you are less likely to be able to recover healing from a flask as any attacks during the duration dispel the remainder of the heal.

If the opposing lane is one with lots of burst damage (consisting of Sand King and Lina, for example) a flask is often a better choice. A burrowstrike followed by LSA and dragon slave with attacks in between takes off a LOT of hp, and healing back HP through tangoes (slowly) will often put you in harms way for another similar combo. A flask solves this problem faster and allows you to remain close and contend for last hits/denies as usual.

Lets say now that you are the ones with a nuke combo. If they have a flask (which heals 400 hp) and you leave them with 200/700 HP after you use your nukes/disables, they will be able to reenter battle quickly. If they do not have a flask but only tangoes (or better NO regen) you can probably manage another attack resulting in their death once your spells are off of cooldown. Choosing a target in lane can often be based off of their regen (or lack thereof).

Tying in the Golden Rule
Another thing worthy of note: sometimes not getting a kill is just as good – if not better – than getting a kill. No, you do not get the experience from their death or gold from killing them. At very early levels, however, this gold and experience is negligible compared with what you can gain from freefarming. If you force someone to have to travel back to base in order to avoid death, you gain a LOT of valuable farming time.

You free farm, they walk back to base; you gain experience and have freefarm. They waste time and lose out on money.

Mana Regeneration
Mana regeneration through clarities or another source (CM aura, basilius aura, obsidian aura) is also important for maintaining aggression on your opponents. After all, if you do not have any mana to cast your spells, how dangerous can you be to them? - It is this same logic that makes Nerubian Assassin and Keeper of the Light very frustrating to lane against as they will deprive you of your mana through skills.

In all cases dealing with regen, a chicken is EXTREMELY useful. If your lane opponents are particularly aggressive and you run out of your starting regen, have the chicken/crow send you some more. If you aren't in the habit of buying a chicken, either start buying one or get a friend to buy one :D. (or join a game until you find someone named tinfoiltank)

Harassing – weakening your opponent without the immediate intent to kill

How To
Harassing is a pretty important topic in lane control. Some heroes, however, won't be able to harass as effectively as others. Melee heroes have an obvious disadvantage when you consider “creep agro.” Creep agro is the aggression of creeps (to attack your hero) based on your actions or position. The creep has AI designed such that if you issue an attack command on an enemy hero (either by a + left-clicking or right-clicking by itself) the creeps will attack you. The serves as a form of anti-harassment, so to speak, and you can lose a lot of health if you are not careful. There are some ways to get around this.

If you position yourself far from the creeps before attacking the enemy hero, the creeps will have to walk further to get to you and you can retreat before they are able to damage you much. This is ranged heroes often have an easier time in lane. They do not have to be right next to the opponent (and creeps) in order to attack unlike their melee counterparts.

Another more unique form of harassing is using arrow skills, such as those on Drow, Viper or Clinkz. The creeps react to these skills like they do normal spells, that is they do not draw aggression (must be manually cast, however). This is a nice way to get in extra attacks without causing yourself to lose health from creep aggression.

When should you harass? Not all the time. Some times you must play a bit more passively and simply stay for experience. If, however, you are laned with a melee hero that is relatively item dependent, it is often a good idea to harass so that person will be able to contend for last hits. If you don't make this effort, the other team will be able to harass your heroes and force you to lose some last hits and possibly experience.

What about in a solo lane against another solo? Harassing here is a bit safer since they will often lack the power to kill you by themselves (unlike dual stun lanes, for example). In this case, however, you are not contending with a teammate (or trying to support one) for last hits. This means that if there is a last hit available and you elect to harass the opponent, the money from that last hit does not go to your team. Wasted money is no good.

If you are in a solo lane vs two opponents, it is much more dangerous to harass (depending on the opposing lane, of course, as some are much more dangerous than others). Many times in this situation being content with some last hits and gaining EXP is best. Some heroes can “harass” in these more difficult lanes through use of certain spells and also get last hits. Some examples include Death Prophet's Carrion Swarm (timing the cast to hit heroes and get a last hit or two), Zeus's Arc lightning and Leshrac's Lightning storm.

Tying in the Golden Rule
The more you harass, the more the enemy will have to retreat to regen or otherwise play "passively" allowing you to farm more freely.

Here is a screenshot of myself and a friend playing a pretty formidable lane (NA/Lina) against the not-so-strong lane ofES/PL. 

The important thing to notice is the enemy's distance from the creep wave. There is almost no chance of them getting any last hits without risking their lives (or using their long range spells). My ally was harassing quite a bit and we still had plenty of mana to kill them should they step close.

Note about aggression
If you have the ability to be aggressive, by all means take it. Seizing the initiative is very important when talking about lane control. An enemy that is afraid of you will be much less likely to engage you and will probably make poor decisions in an effort to return the balance. You WILL (or should) be the target of ganks in this scenario, so make certain you are prepared (with observer wards, mostly, or adequate "mia" calls from your teammates).

Hero Choice

With regards to early game laning, not all heroes were created equal. So what hero should you choose? It's not always an easy question to answer. A lot of this depends on your opponents hero choice (and skill level!) in addition to many other factors. Also, playing heroes you aren't comfortable or familiar with is often pretty difficult, so before choosing a “top laning” hero be sure to know what skill builds and item builds you would go under which circumstances.

Stunners/Combo Nukers

Heroes with stuns work particularly well in laning – after all when a hero is stunned he cannot deal damage (excepting skills like pudge's rot or clockwork's battery for example) and certainly cannot cast anything against you during this time. Also, you are free to get in a number of attacks while they cannot retreat.

Particular combinations that work well are those which include two stuns – at least 1 of which being targetable (f/ex storm bolt). When multiple stuns are landed in conjunction with normal attacks, the enemy will lose a lot of health, if not all of it. With that being said, the enemy will be much more apprehensive when approaching creeps to last hit.

* This is what you want the enemy to be scared of - they will be less able to get creep kills and likely be more passive allowing you to last hit more freely - bringing forth yet again the golden rule.

Some ideas to keep in mind possibilities for offensive lanes
  • At least one hero should have a targetable stun or slow. This serves two important purposes: 1) damages the enemy hero; and 2) inhibits movement. Unlike strictly AoE spells, these do not miss and allow for nice combos with other spells.
  • At least 1 ranged hero. Two melee hero lanes does not allow for much last hitting (or any offensive tactics while the spells are on cooldown or you have insufficient mana) and are generally forced to be passive due to the harassing edge the enemy will have.
  • Cooperative teammates. This is perhaps the most important one of all. If you and your lanemate are not on the same page regarding aggression, there is no way you can expect to dominate a lane. If he is passive, how well are you going to fare when you jump into the fray as he calmly last hits creeps? Probably not very well. "Why didn't you go on that guy?" Communicate beforehand to avoid any problems.


Heroes that have a healing spell can do well in lane since they will have to purchase less on HP regen and can spend their money in other ways. Such examples include Warlock (Shadow Word), Dazzle (Healing Wave), Omniknight (purification), Bane Elemental (Brain Sap), Necrolyte (Death Pulse), Enchantress (Nature's Attendants), Bloodseeker (Blood Bath) and to a lesser degree Lord of Avernus (Death Coil heals a teammate, but damages you). Many of these heroes have an easier time in lane since they can replenish health in more ways than other heroes. Many of these heals are also instant so they can be used for quickly gaining the upperhand in a fight.


These are the heroes that are item independent that can support a teammate in lane. Some of the healers as mentioned above make good lane partners as they can aid their teammate when necessary. There are also some offensive babysitters that make an easier time for their teammate not because of defensive or healing capabilities but rather due to the threat of killing the opponents.

Last Hitting/Denying

Base damage and attack animation are the two biggest concerns here. If you have higher base damage than the opponent, you will be able to kill the creep at a slightly earlier time than your opponent. You can increase your base damage by purchasing stat items (which you should probably be doing anyways) of your hero's class. These are often the best choice for starting items as they help your last hitting and can be built into useful items later. No, boots do NOT boost your starting damage!

Attack animation

Again in this category not all heroes are created equal. Have you tried laning as Crystal Maiden against a competent Sniper? Getting last hits and denies is pretty difficult. This is due to the attack animations of the characters and each hero has a unique one. This is something that you simply must play with and get used to as some people have an easier time than others with certain heroes. Generally, faster projectiles (Sniper and Troll Warlord for examples) are easier to last hit with than slower ones (Crystal Maiden, Lina).

To solo or not to solo - that is the question

Advantages - The Golden Rule strikes again
  • No competition for gold amongst lane partners (not a problem with disciplined babysitters but those people probably won't be reading this!)

    If you have a lane to yourself, you do not have to compete with an ally for last hits. This is mostly a good thing as every creep can only be killed once yielding one bounty. It is for this same reason that putting two item dependent heroes in the same lane is a bad idea, as they compete for farm.
  • Jump in experience

    If you are laning by yourself, you do not share the experience with another hero leaving you with all of the experience to advance in levels. This can be useful for a carry hero or a ganker. With a ganker, it is a strong advantage to have high level nukes so that your ganks in other lanes are successful (for example, a level 8/9 Tinker does 561 or so damage with laser/rocket to one hero and 241 to another - if the lane you are ganking is level 5/6 the 561 is probably a LARGE chunk of their HP)

Do not take these 2 reasons and immediately call a solo lane. It is important you have a hero suited for the lane to be able to take advantage of these perks. Imagine you call solo with slardar and run to lane faced against Bane/Potm. Good luck living for long and good luck with last hitting.

** Think about your team and not only who benefits most as a hero but also as a player. Sometimes the less powerful hero might benefit more from the solo lane due to the actual player. Remember that you can not all solo (or can you?).

  • You become only target of enemy (for spells and harassing)

    Yeah, you might have been the target of attacks before but now you have no one at your side to back you up. The enemy has a much clearer target and due to being safer during the attack, will probably be more aggressive.
  • You carry a bigger load for your team.

    This can be seen as a good and a bad thing, but I will put it under bad. If you fail in your solo lane, the gold and experience advantage that you SHOULD have had is squandered. That gold and experience will not come back and is simply lost.

    Example: you have called solo and proceed to middle. You aren't last hitting well and find yourself against some tough dual lane. Your team's other lanes are doing alright but are sharing the experience of dual lanes (and thus the money). You die multiple times. That farm/exp is lost. Your team's levels are 6/6/7/7/7 (you are one of the 7s) creating a total of 33. The other team has been doing well in all lanes (including the solo) and are levels 7/7/8/8/10 for a total of 40. This is a level gap of 7 across the whole team and lets you know where you stand with the golden rule. (Note: this example depends on heroes and a lot of other things as to whether or not the farm/exp means a lot; it is just meant as a general case)
  • You will (likely) have a more difficult time harassing and killing the opponents

    This ties into the first point but deserves its own as this is focused on offense and depriving the enemy. Going back to the golden rule, you are trying to create a gap between yourself and the opponent money/exp-wise. If you are unable to force them to retreat or kill them, their exp will not suffer.

Blocking/Creep Line Dynamic

The creep line is the location where the creeps are fighting. This doesn't matter at all, right? Wrong. If you here reading this guide, you probably have some interest in improving your lane control and this is one of those topics that you need to know.

Notice here the location of the creep line (far left of the screen).

My buddy and I have done pretty well in lane and the opponents are quite far away (even missing EXP). If the creep line were any closer to their tower, they would have protection from the tower and we would not be able to maintain our aggressive post on "their" side of the wave.

Blocking the incoming creep wave (by dancing in front of the creeps to impede their progress) can move the location of the creep line back towards your tower. Conversely, aoe spells that damage all creeps are likely to move the creep line forward towards their tower. Ideally, you want your tower nearby for protection but not so close as to take your last hits! (This will also push the lane out).

The creep line's location has a big part in the success of ganks in that lane and many other things. Note in the screenshot above even though our opponents are far from the wave, my teammate and I are much more vulnerable to ganks since we are so far from our tower but very close to theirs.

"Pulling" is when you tick off a neutral camp and get it to follow you to your creeps who then fight with you to kill the neutral camp. This is covered in more detail here but basically allows you to deprive the enemy of some experience (since your creeps are not near them) and also gives you a chance at farm that you otherwise would not have had.

Importance of Ganks
Ganking is one of the best means of hurting the enemy team and it is very important to organize ganks to kill the enemy carry. At this stage of the game (lanes have maybe broken down a bit, some towers have fallen, etc.) you need to find the enemy carry and kill him. The golden rule still applies but now there are other considerations - namely the farm/exp for a team's carry has a lot more value than the farm/exp of a support hero. If you must sacrifice some farm for your team's support heroes while limiting the enemy carry, this is a fine outcome. At the same time, your carry is of great importance (and target of enemy ganks).

Importance of TP Scrolls
Teleport scrolls are extremely important in saving teammates and towers (namely ganks/counterganks and teamfights at towers) since they allow you to be there almost instantly.
  • Ganks: teleport into an opposing lane (preferably when the enemy cannot see you TPing in) and gank the enemy team with a certain hero advantage.
  • Counterganks: come quickly to help your teammates when the enemy starts to get close to your tower. You will often be able to use the enemy's aggression against them and get a kill for your team instead.
  • Teamfights at towers: if you have something to contribute to a teamfight, you had better be there for your team if it will make a difference in the outcome of the fight.

Knowing your opponents and their tendencies and abilities
This develops over time and is not as useful if you are not playing against the same people all the time, but it helps to know how aggressive your opponent is. Are they content to sit back and farm or will they consistently tower dive if there is even a chance of killing you? These sort of traits about the opponent dictate how you should lane. Try to piece together everything you know about your opponent (the hero AND the player) so that you are prepared for whatever they decide to do.