Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Imprpving ypurself in DoTA

Improving Yourself In DotA


This guide is a compilation of the tips and tricks used in DotA. Some of it you might already know, some you might not. It's all about getting better at it. If there's anything you feel this guide is missing, or you want to add some content yourself, don't hesitate to put a comment below. Also, if you think this guide is bad/good, leave a comment below stating why. 

Table Of Contents
  1. The Current Metagame
  2. Purpose
  3. Adapting
  4. Awareness
  5. Strategies
  6. Communication
  7. Laning
  8. Maintaining your farm
  9. Using Replays

The Guide


The Metagame

A metagame is a specific strategy, action or method that is used in a game. Throughout the many, many versions of DotA, the metagame has changed with each one. Some changes were not so significant, but some changes have defined the gameplay of the game to this day.

In 6.69c, we see IceFrog concentrate his buffing powers on the one known as Syllabear. The Lone Druid received such a significant buff that many top-tier teams have been struggling to somehow include Syllabear into their strategies. Many failed, because the Lone Druid could only fit into a single strategy - Pushing. He is the King Of Pushers, the epitome of the strategy.

However, there is an honourable mention to Morphling and Dusa. Although Icefrog nerfed Manta for them, both of them are still picked for their turtling and pushing potential.

Therefore, the metagame now is all about how good you push and how good you defend. This is where AoE heroes come in, helping to maintain the creep equilibrium or changing it to suit your strategy. Combined with the focus on armor from 6.68c, the pushing or turtling strat has become more deadly. The high ganks strats from 6.67c are now gone, replaced with the importance of tower and raxes.

The Heroes Of 6.69c

Best Support

Best Semi-Carry

Best Hard Core-Carry

Best Initiator

Best Pusher

Of course every 'best' is debatable. But this is what I believe are the top-tiers of 6.69c. All of them have an element that helps pushing or anti-pushing, either directly or indirectly. This is the metagame of 6.69c.

6.70 - 6.71 Metagame

The 6.70 - 6.71 metagame focuses mainly the mid-game phase. The fad of constant pushes and the unrelenting pressure on your towers has gone, and is now replaced by a teamfight and ganking orientation. As such, heroes that peak well in the mid-game phase are much valued. Good initiators and gankers are well appreciated, along with some utilities.

The heroes that really stand out now are Lich and the newly introduced heroes, AA and Weaver, whom many people say have much potential in this metagame. AA and Lich are picked for their control in the laning phase and their teamfight powers. Honourable mentions include Windrunner, never missing a ban or pick in many games, for her controlling powers any her ability to handle a trilane, as well as the usual bans of Brood and Doom, as they are still considered overpowered. Sniper is also another hero that is rising in popularity for the moment, but we'll see.

Players now adopt a roaming playstyle around the late early game phase, hoping to catch enemies off-guard, or seize an opportunity for a kill. The laning phase is also now extended, meaning that carries get to farm longer, but are also in more danger in their lanes. Many teamfights will define the game, and will eventually shift the balance of the power to whichever side. 

This metagame requires a higher level of map awareness for better play. Denying your opponent the opportunity of a gank gives you an advantage. Heroes with more map control will excel in this type of play. Warding is extremely important, but also easily countered by the new item, Smoke of Deceit.

The Heroes Of 6.70-71

Best Support

Best Semi-Carry

Best Hard Core-Carry

Best Initiator

Best Ganker

Best Pusher

Best Utility



To be useful to your team, you must know your hero's purpose in the game. For example, if you're playing a Puck (Faerie Dragon), your purpose is definitely not being a late game carry, farming the whole game and only contributing to the team around the 45 minute mark. Its obvious that you should be ganking heroes and ensuring your team makes it through the early-mid game phase. After that phase, you basically turn into a disabler, as your nukes do almost nothing towards the opponent team.

Here are some examples of the different roles in the team.

Perhaps the most underrated role in the game, you basically buy the wards, get team oriented items and skills to ensure that no one dies in your team, even sacrificing yourself if necessary. A plus is that you're item independent. 

Examples of supports in the 6.69c metagame:

Carries are the heroes that get better and better and the game drags on.Usually fragile and weak early game, you need supporters to help you along. Carries do NOT want to die, ever. Being a carry also means taking all the farm, as they are usually item dependent.
There are 2 types of carries, hard-core and a more mid-game orientated carry. Noticeable attributes of a hard-core carry is that they have scaling or percentage based skills. Mid game carries usually come with some ganking skills.

Examples of Semi-Carries in the 6.69c metagame

Examples of Hard-Core Carries in the 6.69c metagame

Note that semi-carries are able to carry the team even in an extremely late game, given enough farm. Hard-core carries still beat them though.

Heroes that basically go around, starting up hero-hero confrontations. Start up the teamfight/gank, try to get rid of as many heroes as you can before they can do anything. Usually dies a lot. Your team sweeps up the mess you made. If you're late for the teamfight (which you should never be) or you bought back, then your job is to tip the teamfight in your team's favor. You hardly get any farm, only in the laning phase or from hero kills.

Examples of Initiators/Gankers in the 6.69c metagame

Heroes that accelerate the game, being able to clear waves and waves of creeps and damage buildings in Dota easily. They force teamfights by threatening your towers/raxes. They usually have some spells that are AOE/ have summons. They are also relatively good in teamfights around the early-mid game. Their job is to push fast and end the game quicker, not allowing the carry to reach their full potential.

Examples of Pushers

High impact, control oriented heroes. Basically, utilities are the hardest role to play in DotA. Utilities provide the flexibility in the team, they are the chain of synergy that connects the rest of the heroes together. They will also have high team-fight strength. Unlike an initiator however, utilities do not simply jump into the fray. Waiting for the opportune moment to strike, the utility players hang back while the initiator does his job, then cleans up for the team. A team with a good utility player will have a stronger draft and team-fight potential. 

Examples of Utilities

And thats basically all the roles you have in the game. There are heroes that can fit into many roles, such as WR (support, semi-carry, ganker) and the like. However, you can find out your hero's role by matching their attributes to the ones given above or DotA Guides. Once you find out the role of your hero, play it to the best of your ability. The roles are set because your hero has a specific role that they excel in, and you do not want to play at a disadvantage. Also, some people have different preferences in roles. For example, if you feel that DotA is a high paced game in which you want to kill as much as you can, you probably are better at a ganker role.



Adapting is a very important part of Dota, because if you play a hero the same way each time, someone's going to figure out how to stop you. The two main things that contribute to this idea is the Skill and Item Builds.

Skill Builds are basically what order you spend your skill point in the game. There is ALWAYS more than one skill build for each hero.

Item Builds are what order you get your items in. For item builds, there is always a CORE item set. Your core is what makes you effective. However, your core can be rearranged to suit whatever situation. Slight item deviations are also good, to help you play better. your item build is also not set in stone. Several items can achieve the same purpose, with additional benefits. 

For example, i could get my attack speed from items like Mjollnir, Maelstrom, AC etc. But if i wanted to push harder to defend better, i would get the Maelstrom. If i wanted to be better in a teamfight i would get AC. You get the idea.

There are some items that counter skills, other items, and even heroes. For example, a pipe would make Zeus useless, a Mjollnir would counter Radiance*, a Radiance counters a Blink Dagger and BKB counters most skills.

*This may not be obvious, but Mjollnir's active skill, yes the one with the 3 electric balls circling around you, works by targeting the hero who is causing damage to you, as well as two others nearby, for 200 damage. Therefore, as Radiance damages you once every second for 40 damage, you have a 20% chance to indirectly hit the hero with 200 damage, as well as 2 nearby units.

To adapt well to any situation, you must have:
  1. Knowledge of Dota's Mechanics DotA Mechanics
  2. Knowledge of Dota's Items/Skills DotA Items and Recipes
  3. A sense of you and your hero's capabilities (strengths/weaknesses)DotA Heroes
  4. Knowledge of your hero's skill and item builds. DotA Guides

Item Adaptations

Item deviations that apply to almost any hero:

Mana/HP Problems

Basically relatively low-cost items. However, if there is a higher cost item that is included in your item build or its build-up, then feel free to get it. Items like:




Too many high damage nukes on the other team?

Thats all you need. Feel free to upgrade it if you're still in trouble and have the gold:

The pipe upgrade is very debatable, but if you have enough gold you can get it as a luxury.

High AOE damage incoming?

Again, you don't HAVE to upgrade the items, but if you're a support you should definitely make the Meka. Getting pipe for this purpose is if you want the extra hp regen, want to help out your team and save them an item slot, as most players would go for the raw planewalkers.

Starting Items
Your starting items do NOT have to use up your entire starting money. A fast Bottle, Boots or Sobi Mask is sometimes more effective than more stats. Example of heroes that benefit are Tinker, SF and Clockwerk.

Enough is Enough

So you've gotten your core items, your luxuries and you still have gold. What do you do? Try to improve your items? NO. If this happens to you, do not EVER try to improve your items. Your core is what makes you effective, your luxuries are what makes you more effective. There is no way to improve the itemset to make you stronger. With a combination of cores and luxs, you are already at PEAK potential. Therefore, there's only 1 thing to do...

Save for buybacks. If you're already at peak potential, the only thing left to do is to be on the map the entire time. The best time to save for buyback gold is when you have your entire core and at least 1 luxury. After your core, start saving up your money, even if you have another luxury to buy, just svae it up. Then, after you have enough gold to buy your second lux instantly, make it, and continue saving. This should be done because you are more help to your team being alive with less items than being dead with ZOMG items.

Now For A Hero Example:

Your hero is an SF, his core items are usually:

In a game against AI's you would probably have this itembuild and in this order as well. However, in a game (organized or not), what if:

You're having a horrible time laning/ getting harassed too much?

These are some of your choices. These items increase survivability and also your damage, making you last-hit better, which is what an SF needs. They also cost very little, meaning that you don't waste too much money on the rest of your items.

You're feel like you always have low hp, and you feel very vulnerable, forcing you to play safe

Cheap items/ Items that are already included in your core that give you raw hp/ some quick hp regen. Note that if you feel comfortable after getting any of these items to solve your problems, RETURN BACK TO YOUR ITEMBUILD. You do not need to "finish" the item by upgrading it. Your core build is still what makes you effective. However, if you still have hp problems, feel free to complete the item or get a lone Bracer.

You Feel Like you have problems finishing up heroes because they can outrun you/ You feel in need of an escaping tool

Note that in this case you are more likely to be the hunter, instead of the hunted, since none of these items give you hp at all.

Need some extra mana for a clutch move or finishing off heroes?

Same with the hp, low cost/ items that are already in your build.

Skill Adaptations

Sometimes, you've just got to mix up your hero style a bit to counter something thats been thrown at you. Some heroes have very controversial skillbuilds, while others do not. For example, if you were a ES, you would have a level 4 fissure when you're at level 7. Simple right? 

How about SS (Rhasta)? You could go for a high damage build with maxing shock and net, or a disabling build with net and hex. There are different skillbuilds that are needed in different situations. Maybe if you had leveled up that extra hex you could have ganked better, but if you leveled up your shock you would have better lane control/finishing move.

Skill deviations that apply to almost any hero:

You don't have enough available mana/hp for a situation, whether it be ganking or laning:

Its a very viable option on some heroes. Although you will be lacking in your spells etc, its quite worth it. Look at Sven for example, with his pitiful mana, 1 skill point to stats or even 2 doesn't really impact his gameplay at all, as he will still have his stun.

Hero Example

Yep, its Alleria. His skills include:

Her regular skillbuild?
Level 1 - Windrunner
Level 2 - Shackleshot
Level 3 - Powershot
Level 4 - Powershot
Level 5 - Powershot
Level 6 - Windrunner
Level 7 - Powershot
Level 8 - Windrunner
Level 9 - Windrunner
Level 10 - Focus Fire
Level 11 - Focus Fire
Level 12 - Shackleshot
Level 13 - Shackleshot
Level 14 - Shackleshot
Level 15 - Stats
Level 16 - Focus Fire

Again, what if:

Your lane is extremely dangerous

Level 1 - Windrunner
Level 2 - Shackleshot
Level 3 - Shackleshot
Level 4 - Windrunner/Stats
Level 5 - Powershot

The safety build, basically keeping yourself below the radar, having an escape mechanism and a good stun, while maybe having some stats to beef you up. You lose a lot of nuking power from PowerShot though.

Harass/ Lasthitting
Level 1 - Windrunner/Stats
Level 2 - Stats
Level 3 - Powershot
Level 4 - Powershot
Level 5 - Powershot

Early stats make you lasthit better and buffs yourself up a bit. The Powershot helps you dominate your lane and get some cs while you're at it. You lose a stun however, and maybe even a escaping skill.

Your team lacks disabling power
Level 1 - Shackleshot
Level 2 - Powershot/Windrunner
Level 3 - Shackleshot
Level 4 - Powershot/Windrunner
Level 5 - Shackleshot

Basically, you want to get good stuns out. This is extremely effective when your team already has the killing power necessary, but lacking initiation or stun. Your stun is awesome early game if landed correctly, and this will also help greatly in teamfights. You lose your nuking power though.

Slight item/skill deviations are always welcome, but try to stick to your regular build when you feel comfortable. Only buy other items/ level other skills when you feel you're not playing at your very best and need a bit of a boost along the way. Return to your regular build whenever possible.



Awareness is basically knowing what is going in the game at the moment. There are 2 kinds, Time and Map Awareness. Good time awareness is knowing the spawning times of everything in the game. Good map awareness is knowing the positions of important things in the game.

Time Awareness

Its always a good idea to keep your eye on the clock. It tells you important things that could tip the game in your favor. Getting the rune before your enemy could make or break your lane. 

Below is A List of What spawns When in Dota
Sentinel/Scourge Creeps - Spawn at the 0.00 mark and every 30 seconds after that.

Runes - Spawn every 2 minutes. So even numbers, 2/4/6/8/10 etc.

Neutral Creeps - 0.30 into the game and at the end of every minute, depending if they are killed or not. If there are units in the camp at the spawn time, they will not spawn (But there are exceptions). See Neutral Creeps - DotA Mechanics for more information and a map of the neutral creeps. 

Corpses - Spawn when a unit is killed (exceptions are Golems) and stay around for 16 seconds before disappearing.

Roshan - At the start of the game and 10 minutes after his death. Example: kill him at 11.45 into the game, he will spawn at 21.45.

Map Awareness

First things first. For good map awareness, you need good warding. A few ways to learn good warding is listening to Luminous's Dota Commentaries YouTube - Kanal von Luminous48 or Lycan's Warding Guide[Warding]The Eye of The Wolf - DotA GuidesLuminous explains the capability of wards very thoroughly in his commentaries, and Lycan's guide is amazing for the exact placement of wards.

For good map awareness, you need to learn the terrain of Dota, and the mechanics that come with it. Some terrain mechanics in Dota are:
  1. Range heroes that are aiming to hit something uphill have 25% chance of missing.
  2. If you are on higher terrain than another hero, he cannot see you unless of course, he has placed wards uphill/ another allied unit is giving him vision
  3. Trees block your vision.

Using your Minimap
The minimap is there for a reason. A trick that I frequent is to change the color of the heroes (use Alt-A) to Blue (Allies) and Red (Enemies). Every few seconds, look at the minimap, and count the number of the bigger Red dots there. It will tell you whether an enemy hero is missing from the minimap. 

Also, by clicking on the minimap, you can instantly view the situation at the point at which you clicked. This is helpful when you are just travelling somewhere or healing up at your fountain, as you gain an understanding of the situation in that lane. 

The advantage of learning map awareness and warding is for the legal maphack. Juking (a form of escape) and good prediction come hand in hand with map awareness. 



Strategy is the essence of Dota. Outplaying your opponent through a superior strategy eventhough they are better individual players than you. Teamwork is EXTREMELY important while carrying out each strategy. If everyone is able to complete their role in any strategy, and if that strategy is superior to the opponents, then you've won the game.

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. 
-SunTzu, The Art of War

Fast Push Strat

As the name implies, your team picks heavy pushers and takes down tower quickly. An offensive strategy, this eliminates hard-core carries from the game and makes them a liability to their team. This strat aims to finish the game by the 30 minute mark at least. It is a high risk, high gain strat, because of the chance it will fail. If the game manages to drag on after 45 minutes, you are at a disadvantage. 

-Great early game
-Gold advantage from tower kills

-Weak mid-late game phase
-Time limit

Heroes that are used in the push strat

Basically heroes with summons/ have skills that can damage the tower quickly. 

Counters to this Strategy
Be more offensive. You have the advantage when they come near your towers. Threaten them when they get close, get a kill or two. Good initiators are needed here. If you successfully defend a push and manage to kill some heroes on the opposing team, push ALL your lanes, getting some farm in the process. Special mention to, 
this guy is the ultimate antipusher, a good fissure can stall for time, an ultimate can turn the push in your favor. 

[Paraphrased From tpinsane and Zieth's comments] A good counter to a push strat is also to allow your carry to farm up in one lane while delaying/stopping the other team's pushes with the other heroes. Simply put, a turtling strategy.


GosuGamers DotA | Replay: SB.Gigabyte vs

A very exciting push strat by SB. Note the importance of roshan in this game, as SB's heroes desperately needed the Aegis to push. As the game grew longer, the Aegis gave SB an edge in the pushing. managed to hold them off for a while, making them less effective, but it was clearly the Aegis advantage that defined the winner of the push. Keep an eye on Sosoon in this match, ultilizing his Furion's global presence to the max. 

GosuGamers DotA | Replay: DTS vs EHOME

The famed DTS push strat, bringing down E-HOME. This match shows that Strategy > Teamplay,Skill Level. The addition of Syllabear to the push strat allowed DTS to push even in the later game. Notice the turtling powers of ES in this game, drawing out the game longer than expected of a push strat. 



The exact opposite of the push strat, this strategy focuses on getting your carry farmed up while the rest of your heroes defend the buildings. Usually pulled off with your regular mix of supports, initiators and a carry/semi-carry, it is a highly defensive strat, where time is your friend. Focusing on their carry's late game potential, this strat is similar to putting all your eggs in one basket. It requires a very solid carry that you can depend on, or else it will fail. 

- Great late game
- Time is working with you.

- Your game will end up depending on the carry.
- It gets harder to turtle as the game goes on.

Heroes that are used in the turtling strat

Basically a mix of good initiators, AOE casters and a carry, usually Dusa (she pushes better than most carries).

Counters to this Strategy
A very hard-core push line-up. Get some solid pushers and push all 3 lanes at once. Keep high pressure on the opposing team, don't allow their carry to farm at all. Force the teamfights early game and start pushing very early. Have all the T1 towers down by the 10 minute mark or less and you will have a solid gold advantage to use against them. Special mention to , his bear uses the gold advantage from the tower the most effectively. It can also tank tons of damage, and make the opponent waste their attacks and spells trying to stop it, which is when you jump in.


GosuGamers DotA | Replay: vs EHOME

SMM replay. EHome's famed turtling strat in motion, while tries to break through the lines and claim victory, the Dusa by Burning achieves a high CS and succesfully turns the game around.

GosuGamers DotA | Replay: vs EHOME

Another EHome replay, this time with Burning on Morphling. Same story, except this time went down faster. Ouch


The Usual

The most basic strat, it is a strat that many use, unless there is different strategy employed by the opponents or you, and it is highly effective as well. Basically, you have a mix of gankers, supporters and carries in your team. You lane whichever way you want, preferably with supports guarding the carry. Around the late early game (10-15 min) the gankers go ganking with the supports, while the carry just farms. It is a low risk strategy, and is also highly used in pubs. Everyone basically does their thing. The supporters support the gankers, the carry farms safely, you get kills here and there, and you still have a farmed carry for late game. This strategy is the safest strategy to win a game, and is all about good teamwork, communication and knowing your role. Depends on the skill level of each player on each team and the 

- Safe strategy, little risk.
- Easy to pull off at a rookie level.
- In the event that the carry(s) fails, the ganker(s) takes up the role of taking the game and vice versa.

- Requires good communication and teamwork. 
- Depends highly on the picks and their synergy.
- Requires a good mix of carries, initiators, gankers, supporters and even pushers.

Heroes that are used in the usual strat

Basically every hero in the game can be used in this strat, with varying results and difficulties.

Example of a Usual Strat Team:

This is quite an ideal team to have, assuming you have proficient players in your team. You have a few gankers (ES, CM, Puck) as well as a semi-ganker/carry (PotM) and a hard-core carry (Sniper). Notice how the ES and CM are good supporters, that complement the ganking style of the others. Sniper is also not half bad in pushes or ganks, with his ultimate. A reserve carry of PotM ensures that you have a back up.

Also notice how this line-up could also use a push strat in their favour. Clearing creeps and damaging towers is one of their fortes. Their teamfight potential is also quite amazing, as the amount of AOE is huge.

However, the weakness of this team is, fragility. They are made of mostly fragile heroes, easy to take down one by one. Although in teamfights they may dominate, a Storm Spirit/Clockwerk/VS can easily pick off any one of these heroes.

Counters to this Strategy

The team will always have a weakness. Find it and exploit it. Also, better teamwork, communication or strategy will ensure you win. Work cohesively and you can take down this strategy easily. Ward up for the gankers and take down the carry/carries multiple times to ensure bad farm.


Basically most games. Though I will accept any contributors with games that have teamwork as a key part of the game. 


Heavy Ganking Strat

A high risk strat. Usually employed by EU teams such as or MYM. Similar to the Fast Push Strat, the game aims to end the game fast. However, this strat will usually include a carry that farms while the rest of the team ganks/ just a semi-ganker/carry, as a back-up plan. Highly offensive, these strats accelerate the game and make it that much more thrilling. Constant ganking by the whole team/ most of the team. This strat robs the opposing team of their gold and experience, the bread and butter in dota. 

- Great early-mid game
- Really fun to play (tons of hero kills etc)
- Gold/exp advantage if pulled off.
- If you still have a carry/ semi carry, the advantage will stay till late game.

- High risk
- If pulled off badly, gives the gold/exp to the other team.
- No carry = bad late game.
- Requires a lot of communication, as well as teamwork.

Heroes that are used in the heavy gank strat

Basically a mix of gankers and semi carries/gankers.

Counters to this Strategy

First and foremost, wards. Heavy warding ensures that you stay safe in your lanes. Some map awareness is required as well. Another strat is to stick together. This works very well against the heavy gank strat but only if you have better teamwork or better picks. A disadvantage of sticking together is that you share gold and experience, which puts you at a lower level/ farm.Turtling is also a good option to prevent deaths. 


A Na'Vi replay. One of the most aggressive teams out there. Lots of turnarounds, so you can see how risky this strategy is. The balance could shift at any second.

Note that these strategies are not all of the strategies in DotA, merely some general ones. You can invent your own as well, as these were also invented. The element of surprise in your strategy may leave the opponent wonder what he has to do to counter you. So always be inventive and flexible.


Communication is a vital part in carrying out your strategy. Whether it be pubstomping or an organized game, a team needs communication to function. Of course there is a chat in DotA anyway, but typing leaves your hero very vulnerable, and if you move your hero back to lose that vulnerability, you lose exp and gold. Therefore, here are some ways to improve your communication.

In game-chat
You don't really have much options in game chat. However, you can use the following as a shortcut:
  1. MM = Missing Mid
  2. MT = Missing Top
  3. MB = Missing Bottom
  4. RE = Returned
  5. Using your signal (Alt-LeftClick), Point somewhere and say B = back or P = Push
  6. Care = Heroes missing from the map and your team should be wary.

You can invent your own of course, but these are generally the ones you want to use in the game. This is obviously better than typing up storm when you're trying to play well.

Warkeys is also a way to affect this in-game chat. Available here: (Warkeys: The Best Way to Edit Your CustomKeys.txt), it has a shortcut for small messages as well. It takes some time to get used to, but it pays off well.

Your voice is the fastest communication device you have, it is also free when you're playing DotA. Therefore, using voice transfer programs like Ventrilo or Skype will improve your gameplay a lot. It allows you to continually talk with your team, instant rely of messages etc. The only drawback? The slight unreliability you get with these temperamental programs.



Laning in DotA decides the flow of the game and the shift of momentum in the game. Proper laning techniques include keeping creep equilibrium, good harass and basically dominating your lane. Different types of heroes have different roles in the laning phase.

Creep Equilibrium

Control of creep equilibrium in DotA is critical to a good laning phase. The lanes have an innate creep equilibrium, however your laning will shift the creep equilibrium to a certain extent, depending on your style of laning. Having the creep equilibrium in your favor is having the creeps fighting nearby your tower (not under it!). The equilibrium is momentum-based. Even the smallest thing can shift the creep equilibrium, and with more time it will build up. There are several ways to keep the creep equilibrium in your favor, including good lasthitting, creep blocking and creep pulling. 


Last-hitting. In an ideal situation, where your opponent and you are last-hitting perfectly, then the creep equilibrium will not shift. However, 1 extra attack can change all that, as i stated before. It is a skill that comes with experience and playing basically all the heroes in Dota. Nothing I can do much here, except maybe tell you to practice with AI's. Note that if you're a support, you should not really use this skill, let your carry use it.

If you're melee and the hero facing you is ranged, there is a method to which you can still farm safely:
  1. Firstly, draw creep aggro by commanding your hero to attack the opposing hero. (Note: Do Not actually hit the other hero)
  2. The enemy creeps should come towards you, trying to attack you. Back off right after trying to attack the enemy hero.
  3. Creeps are now closer to you and harass from the opposing hero will do him extra damage as he will have to move closer to the creep line.
  4. Profit 


Harass is a means of keeping your dominance in the lane. Some heroes (orb-walkers) are better at this than others are. That doesn't mean you can't do it too. This skill is mostly used by ranged heroes, as they can harass without attracting creep aggro. In a organized game, the supports usually harass while the carry last-hits. 

To harass is to hit the opposing heroes in your lane and keep their health low, lessening the risk of them trying to kill you and giving your carry/you freedom to farm. It is important to know how much harass you need to give. Too much harass will usually attract creep aggro and put you out of position, leaving you vulnerable to retaliation. Too little harass will give your opponents more freedom and will allow them to try and kill you. Normally, 1-3 hits everytime they come close is enough. You can be more aggressive if you're an orbwalker, but you need to stay in range of your creeps for safety reasons.

If you're not an orbwalker, there is still a way to harass without attracting creep aggro. 

Ranged: Position your hero away from the creeps, either through the jungle or in lane. Start hitting the desired hero, if you attract creep aggro, back away immediately. If you don't, continue hitting until the desired hero backs away. When the hero backs away, you have 2 choices: Back down or pretend to chase. The latter option leaves you too vulnerable, and I do not advise it, unless you are fighting a solo lane and there are no heroes missing from the map. (Note: if you have insane range like Pugna or WD, you can just hit the hero and back off immediately to nullify the creep aggro)

Melee: Risky move to take. Basically, you run past your creeps, but don't click on the desired hero yet! If the hero backs off, follow him and hit him. If not, you back off. Again, if you attract creep aggro, back away immediately.

You can see why harassing without orbs is a pretty risky move, but it does give you more control over the lane. It is a good laning strategy, and pays off quite well, leaving your opponents without farm and without exp if done well.

Creep Pulling
One of the most basic laning strats, creep pulling involves attracting the aggro of neutral creeps and "pulling" them into your creeps. Note that this does not work when your creeps are already engaged in a fight. Creep pulling has several advantages, that is the ability to deny your opponents the gold and exp of your creeps and the ability to shift the creep equilibrium towards your tower. The disadvantage is that if you pull at a wrong time, your tower is left undefended, and so are the other heroes in your lane. Also, do not pull creeps if you are in a solo lane. This is because there is much more gold and exp in lane than in pulling creeps.

The timing for pulling changes a bit with the version of DotA and the type of creeps you are facing. For 6.71, the time to pull ranges from X.43 - X.45. You may pull a bit later in this range and still succeed, with enough luck.

An additional skill that makes creep pulling more efficient is creep stacking. The art of creep stacking is to pull creeps at the X.52 mark, dragging them away from the camp so that there are no units in it, which will make the camp spawn more creeps. With creep stacking, it is important to lose sight of the camp which you pulled, allowing the camp to spawn more creeps. You want to creep stack if: 

1. You do not want to creep pull because the creep equilibrium is already close to your tower 
2. You have an AOE skill that can be used to creep the camp more efficiently. Examples of Axe, DS and Juggernaut come to mind.

Using this combined with creep pulling will deny an entire/ most of a creep wave from your enemy if you're lucky, depriving them of EXP and gold.


Maintaining Your Farm

This is something that is rarely talked about. It used to be a problem for me, getting farm when using heroes like Slayer and CM, with no lasthitting power whatsoever. Many come out of the laning phase with a considerable amount of gold, from lasthitting and maybe some kills. The mid-game phase is also the ganking phase, so you can't just stay in your lane and farm by lasthits. So, here are some tips to help you maintain your farm:

Never Stay Still. The second worst thing you can do in DotA. If you're preparing for a push and you want to gather your forces, but they're travelling, don't just stand there waiting. Go to either the nearest or easiest neut creep camp, depending on your level and skills. You can also go for creep waves, if you're sure you won't get ganked. If you're backing up with low health but you still have some mana, use your spells on the neuts.

Use Your Spells. I used to reserve my spells for the enemy heroes, thinking that i waste mana by using them on lowly creeps. WRONG. Spells, especially AOE ones, are great for taking down creep waves. The creep equilibrium in mid-late game shifts a lot too, allowing the amount of creeps to build up. If you see an incoming push on your minimap (the small red dots outnumber the blue ones), tp to the respective tower/lane and destroy the entire creep wave with your spells, thereby getting money and defending your lane. Don't let the creep wave get close to your tower though, as the tower steals a lot of creeps from you. 

Assist Gold. Unless you're a carry, who should be taking kills if possible, you can use this skill. Participate in ganks, get a few hits on the hero BUT DO NOT KS the kill from your carry if possible and you will get assist gold. I am not too sure about the mechanics involved, but I do know that you get more gold (team-wise) if you kill with assists.


Using Replays

This part of the guide has nothing to do with tricks in DotA or mechanics. However, I do think that replays are your greatest resource in this game. If used correctly, they can help to improve your game by far. If you don't like to watch replays or they bore you, do this in-game or straight after the game.

Firstly, use the autosave for replays. Save all of your replays, no matter how bad or how good. The bad ones are better. Secondly, if you lost the game or died in the game or played badly, BLAME YOURSELF. I cannot stress this enough. Too many times I have seen players that rage at someone for "making them lose the game". No matter if a person in your team is a complete noob, you could have given constructive criticism, you could have told them what you wanted them to do. Many times I have done this, and most noobs (newbies) will obey, if you tell them like so:

"You need some raw hp for that hero, maybe get a bracer or an ogre axe" or "Play more defensively, we can still win this."

Rather than:

"LOL AT YOUR ITEMS NOOB****, L2P DotA" and "Stop feeding noob"

In the end, whether you win or lose the game, it all comes down to how you play DotA.

So with that in mind, we need to ask ourselves, or observe from the replays (pause whenever appropriate):
  1. What Did I Do Wrong In That Situation?
  2. Was there a better way to play? More defense/offense maybe?
  3. How did my decisions impact the game?
  4. Were my items the best in the given situation?
  5. Did I farm enough/too much?
  6. Should I have called for more ganks?
  7. Was my skill build/item build the most efficient in the given situation?
  8. How can I improve my skill/item build/my game style to suit the situation?
  9. Was my strategy the best in the given situation?
  10. Was there enough communication from me?
  11. Did i stay in lane too long?
  12. How could I have improved the level of teamwork in my team?
  13. Did I give up too easy? Could we still have won?

After you've asked yourself this in various parts of the game, you simply correct what you did wrong in your next. The first step to improvement is finding your mistakes, admitting them and then fixing them.

If you can't find mistakes in the game, switch to another person's view, preferably an opponent. Figure out how they capitalized on your mistakes. How they got more farm than you, how they got kills. 

Another way to improve is to watch Pro Replays. Not a very good idea to watch on your own, as you need to know what to look for. Instead, go to this website Dota Commentaries. The commentators there will point out the things you need to notice, such as ward placement, strategy, picks and bans and the rest. Analyse what they're saying, they may disapprove of some actions, even from the Pros. Figure out why they disapprove, though they usually tell you.

Replays. Still the most valuable source for learning to play DotA or improving yourself. Also, you can sort your replays using d07.RiV's replay parser, available here: This allows you to analyze your replays and sort them without any trouble.


The End...Or Is It?

I guess this is the end of the guide. Some tweaks here and there need to be made I'm sure, but all in all. If you want to contribute something or suggest something, leave it in the comments below. You will be credited for your work.

I will try to keep this guide as updated as possible, though I might not have the time, so be patient.

Thanks for reading the guide and I hope you found parts of it useful! Don't hesitate to comment if you enjoyed/disliked/hated/loved/pitied/wanted to kill the guide!

  1. Thanks to my friend EuJin and JunCheng Wang for inspiring me to write the guide.
  2. Thanks to Ramorar for his guide template, available
  3. Thanks to Kenshiro for the suggestions and his Mjollnir as a counter to Radiance.
  4. mr.ha.ha for his suggestion of Lumi's video.
  5. TenSpeed for the suggestion of Na'Vi replays.
  6. All the random forumers that debated on the contents on the guide.