Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Guide to optimising stats, heals and regeneration

This guide is about changing your hero's stats to make better use of heals, consumables and regen, and also to make the best use of your available mana and hp. While that may sound very difficult and complex, it's pretty simple, and most easily explained with an example:

Let's say you're a 800 hp hero with a Point Booster and a Healing Salve. After escaping a gank, you're down to 200/800 hp. Now if you use your Salve, you're only going to regen back to 600/800 hp. However, if you drop your Point Booster, your hp will become 150/600. Now if you use the Salve, you heal 400 hp, and go back to 550/600. Pick up your Point Booster and you have 733.333/800 hp.

Simply by lowering your stats for the duration of the heal, you have effectively increased your healing Salve's potency from 400 hp to 533.3333hp!

That's basically what this guide is about: using your stats to decrease hp/mana loss and to increase hp and mana gain. In DotA, nearly all stat-changes result in a relative shift in current hp and mana. What this means is that how much actual hp or mana you gain from a change in base hp/mana depends on the percentage of hp/mana you have. If you're at 50% hp and you pick up a point Booster, you'll still be at 50% hp, but the amount of actual hit points will be higher.

The guide is divided into two parts: The first part explains how stat manipulation works, the second part discusses specific items and skills that lend themselves to this type of manipulation.

1. Before taking Damage, make sure your hp is at it's highest. This very obvious point is required for abuse further down the line, so before you enter battle, make sure you are carrying all your HP gear, set your Treads to STR and activate any shape-shifting skills which give more hp.
Besides the obvious fact that more hp equals a bigger chance to survive, by increasing your hp you're decreasing the amount of damage you receive relative to your total hp.
2. After taking damage, lower your hp before applying heals/regen.
Just as you can decrease the potency of damage by increasing your hp, you can increase the potency of fixed heals by decreasing your hp. The starting example clearly illustrates how you can exploit healing items to give you more hp. The same also counts for "regular" regen: Tangoes, Ring of regen, Helm of Iron Will, etc. all give fixed hp, so lowering your hp will increase their efficiency. An example:

I'm a level 6 Antimage with Treads and a packet of Tangoes. My hp is 834 with PT set to STR and 644 with PT set to something else. I get nuked for 400 damage, but luckily I had PT set to STR(434/834). I eat a Tango. Now let's compare what happens if I switch my treads and what happens if I keep STR:
STR: Starts with 434/834 hp. 36 STR.
HP regen: 0.25 + (36 * 0.03) + 7 = 8.33 hp/sec
8.33 * 16 = 133.28 hp.
HP after 16 seconds: 567/834
Relative HP after 16 seconds: 68%

INT: Starts with (52% * 644) = 335/644 hp. 26 STR.
HP regen: 0.25 + (26 * 0.03) + 7 = 8.03 hp/sec

8.03 * 16 = 128.48 hp.
HP after 16 seconds: 463/644
Relative HP after 16 seconds: 72%
Hp after switching to STR: 600/834 (33 hp extra gained!)

Lowering your hp can be done by dropping anything that gives STR or HP, switching your Treads away from STR and even by waiting for certain shapeshifting skills to end.


1. Before using mana, increase your maximum manapool. For all spells except Ball Lightning, this will decrease the relative manacost of your spell. The only feasible way to increase your manapool (besides obviously carrying all your INT items) is to switch Power Treads to INT, so I'll mostly be referring to INT Treads here.
2. Before using fixed mana regen/heals, lower your manapool. Drop any INT and mana items on the ground and switch PT away from INT. While this works best for fast mana heals like Chakra, Bottle and Arcane, it also works for slower stuff like Brilliance Aura and Clarity Potion.
3. If you have percentage-based mana regen, keep your INT gear, but drop fixed-mana increasers on the ground (basically boosters). Dropping INT doesn't help because %-based regen works with your INT.

Lvl 6 SK
Treads Wand: 24 + 10 INT = 442 mana
Hellfire Blast: 302/442 = 68.3%
0.0.4 * 34 + 0.01 = 1.37 mana per sec.
302 + (1.37*10) = 315.7/442
315.7/442 = 71.4%

213/312 = 68.3%
0.04 * 24 + 0.01 = 0.97 mana per sec.
213 + (0.97*10) = 223/312
223/312 = 71.4%
As you can see, without %-mana regen, more INT doesn't matter for the relative amount of mana gained.

In Practice
How does all this apply to actual DotA? In this part I'll point out some uses of the theories explained above for specific items. Of course, dropping all your items is not always possible, in fact, it's not even always desirable. Each of these tricks takes a bit of time, time which can often better be spent farming, moving about, ganking, whatever. Before tossing out your Branches to get a couple of extra points of heal from your bottle, you should ask yourself if the extra hp/mana is worth the time lost. Time is money after all.

Urn of Shadows, Healing Salve, Bottle

Drop all your hp items, Switch your Treads to AGI, then use the heal. Since these heals get disabled by damage, you need to stay out of combat while using them, so it should be safe to drop some gear. Luckily all of these heal pretty fast.

Magic Stick/Magic Wand

Since this heals both hp and mana, you should always lower your hp and mana as much as possible, whenever possible. If you use a charged up stick to heal up pre-combat, you can usually afford the couple of seconds it takes to drop and pick up your stuff. Obviously, this cannot be done in a battle, but one trick you can pull off in combat is switching your treads to AGI while you use Stick/Wand. This will earn you a couple of hp and mana points when you switch back to STR/INT.

Power Treads

Switch it to AGI when using Bottle or Stick(or any other hp/mana heal). With most heroes, I find it best to keep it on INT at the start of battles. After the first spell/spell combo, switch it to STR or AGI, depending on the situation. If a chase develops, you can keep switching to INT before casting your spell(s) and then switch back for hp. Outside of battles, I usually keep Treads on INT if I have percentage-based manaregen, unless the regen is wasted (Mortred/Huskar for example).

Soul Ring
Very abuse-able, especially with Power Treads. Before activating Soul Ring, increase your hp by switching to PT STR. This automatically lowers your manapool if you had your PT on INT, which is good since a low manapool means a relatively large "heal" from the ring.
As soon as the ring is activated, switch to PT INT before you use your newly gained mana. Even if you don't use the mana, Soul Ring will only reduce 150 mana, so you'll make a small profit.

Armlet of Mordiggian

Armlet works differently from most items, since it always gives 25 STR worth of hp when activated. This means that activating it, even at 0 health, will give you 475 hp. Unless you're Huskar, turn Armlet on at the start of battle. If you're Huskar, turn this on after using Life Break, since Life Break is percentage-based. Doing so will save you 190/157/119 hp.
Once your hp drops below 475, you can deactivate-reactivate Armlet to heal you for 475 hp.

You'll find that as the game progresses, these tricks become less and less effective because the importance of small heals diminishes and because the amount of manipulable stats relative to your total hp/mana diminishes. Nevertheless, especially during the earlier stages of the game, knowing these tricks (and remembering to use them) can help you land that extra shot, toss that extra stun, and tank that tower just a bit longer. Every point of hp and mana that you can squeeze out of your items gives you an edge over your opponents.

In closing, I hope everyone can in some way benefit from this guide. If you were already aware of stat-manipulation, I hope this guide still contained a trick you didn't know about. If this was all new to you, don't waste your heals any more!
If you have anything to add, feel free to post your additions.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Simple hero guide - Notrom, the Silencer

Nortrom, the Silencer

* Affiliation: Sentinel
* Attack Animation: 0.5 / 0.5
* Damage: 43 - 57
* Casting Animation: 0.3 / 0.51
* Armor: 1.3
* Base Attack Time: 1.7
* Movespeed: 290
* Missile Speed: 1000
* Attack Range: 600
* Sight Range: 1800 / 800
Note that this guide is about playing support silencer, not "carry" silencer. Silencer is sometimes played as a semi-carry, although my friendly argument below sheds light on why this may not be a good idea:

Silencer generally semi-carries. He's there to mess up the enemy's farm, much like Bat and solomid Lion.
There were some games where silencer was played like a carry, but I don't see why you don't just pick OD if that's your philosophy. He has better 1v1 lane control and an ultimate that instantly kills support heroes later on.

Anyway the argument earlier I was making - a farmed Silencer is inferior to farmed semi-carries like visage, potm, pugna, etc. He has no flash farming spells and can't kill anything without the help of allies unless you get really lucky with runes. He's squishy, can't chase...(all poor attributes for carries).
Thus, this guide will be devoted to the "support silencer" perspective. 

Additionally, basic knowledge about picks/bans is assumed, although I will go over this more later on in the guide. 

-Decimates certain trilanes with ease
-Neutralizes certain heroes completely during team fights
-Global Silence goes through BKB

-Extremely fragile, easy to gank
-Requires decent map awareness to use to full potential (to save allies, especially)
-Unlike most support heroes, cannot function as a "ganker" 
-Situational pick

Support Skill Build:

Level 1 - Curse of the Silent
Level 2 - Last Word
Level 3 - Curse of the Silent
Level 4 - Last Word
Level 5 - Curse of the Silent
Level 6 - Global Silence
Level 7 - Curse of the Silent
Level 8 - Last Word
Level 9 - Last Word
Level 10 - Stats/Glaive
Level 11 - Global Silence
Level 12 - Stats/Glaive
Level 13 - Stats/Glaive
Level 14 - Stats/Glaive
Level 15 - Stats/Glaive
Level 16 - Global Silence
Level 17 - 25 - Stats

Explanation: Curse of the Silent and Last Word are all you really need during the laning phase. The extra damage from "glaives" isn't worth the trade off in additional damage per second from CotS, nor is it a superior choice to additional seconds of silence to prevent follow up combos (like PoTM -> Arrow, Leap, Starfall, etc.) 

Most heroes have low starting armor, so the "effective extra damage" gained from pure damage is small early on (as opposed to, say, pure damage versus a Visage with > 20 armor 30 minutes in). 

I've seen certain replays where silencer skips glaives completely until the late-game. Exercise your own judgment. 

Since most competitive games are played in the 3-1-1 or 1-1-3 format, you'll plan your lanes with silencer accordingly. For 90% of cases, silencer will be in the trilane. 

Item Build:

 x3 x2

For the rest of the game:

 (As many as you need, make sure to have at least one at all times

 (Optional, your other support/ganker might already have bought one) -> 

If you get "rich:" (Unlikely)


Now the question is: When should I (or the captain) pick silencer?

If you answer "yes" to any of the questions below, picking Silencer may NOT be a good idea:

Are you doing a push strategy? (Silencer is not good at pushing)
Are "low mana cost" heroes like Lich, Venomancer, Vengeful Spirit likely to be on the opposing trilane? (By "low mana cost" I mean that they have an ability costing less than 50 mana that gets rid of CotS)
Are your opponents reliant mostly on physical DPS? (Silencer won't save you from heroes like Slardar and Broodmother) 

In some instances, however, picking Silencer will prove extremely useful. 

1) "High mana cost" heroes such as Kunkka, Necrolyte, Tidehunter, Phantom Lancer, Medusa, Witch Doctor, and Sniper will be devastated by CotS. These heroes, not limited to the examples I provided, are not uncommon picks in trilanes, and have only abilities that expend large amounts of mana.
2) Blinkers like Storm Spirit and QoP are much more easily killed (Global Silence penetrates BKB and Linkens). 
3) Heroes that spam their spells in succession like Invoker, Obsidian Destroyer, Zeus, etc. will be less useful during team fights.
4) 2 specific hero mentions: Enigma's "black hole" is canceled by Global Silence (although Earthshaker is probably a better, less situational option to deal with Enigma unless Enigma has BKB). Shadow Fiend's Requiem of Souls is also canceled, but the cooldown doesn't begin until Shadow Fiend officially casts it. Nevertheless, this will give your team enough time to reposition to minimize damage dealt by Requiem of Souls. This is the same reasoning that Vengeful Spirit should swap SF when he activates BKB and channels Requiem. 

One weakness of Silencer is his lack of a stun and slow. Because of this, your other lanes should have gankers who will have stuns/slows to compensate for this. 

Basic rules for playing "support" with Silencer:

1) Your carry should be able to control the creep wave on his own. Thus, more effort should be spent on harassing as opposed to denying your own creeps. 
2) Be sure to hit all 3 heroes in the trilane whenever you use CotS.
3) If you're going for the kill, use CotS after the opponent has used his "ability." 

Example: You (Silencer), Drow Ranger, and Crystal Maiden are ganking Windrunner. Windrunner will obviously attempt a shackle (Let's say it fails) and then use "Windrunner" to escape. Often, I see less experienced Silencer players cast CotS at the wrong time, which would be before Windrunner activates her "windrunner" ability - please wait until the hero has exhausted his/her abilities already! 
4) Please check the mini-map every few seconds. Silencer is highly "map awareness" intensive, and lack of it may cost your team. 
5) Babysitting [a hard carry like Medusa], harassing, and timing are what makes Silencer important parts of a team. You won't be blamed for chicking, warding, and afking in lane as Silencer because you have no ganking power. 

Good allies:

Heroes who have disables lasting more than 3 seconds. CotS deals damage by the second, so longer disable = longer damage. 

Additionally, many of these heroes will "initiate" team fights for you, and following up with Global Silence ensures that they cannot retaliate with spells. Be sure to get the timing right!

Bad enemies:

As I mentioned, Lich, Vengeful Spirit, and Veno are painful rival supports to deal with because they have low mana cost spells to get rid of CotS. Lich and Veno can also easily wear down Silencer with their Novas/Gales, and Vengeful Spirit has the honorable mention of "swap" that spells almost instant death. If you are silenced before getting your Ultimate off during a team fight, your team will be at a considerable disadvantage. 

Doomed = no silence, and chances are, you will be the target of Doom (unless you have an intelligence carry hero like Necrolyte, Pugna, OD, or Zeus on your team) 

Thankfully Doom has been declining in popularity as a "top pick." 

A pretty common, and for you, ugly pick. Expect to be targeted by her during team fights. Ghost Scepter, Force Staff, or an ally Dark Seer are pretty much required if you want to survive, and there will be cases when you have none.

(Actually you can just TP out, assuming you have enough HP to last 3-4 hits.)

Replays: Since the newest version patch upgrade (thanks Blizzard!) you're going to need a version switcher to watch these. 

GosuGamers DotA | Replay: GGnet vs MYM
GosuGamers DotA | Replay: LGD.sGty vs