Monday, October 22, 2012

How I Would Do DotA Lore - Part I: The Rift

 Note: This is being done in an abridged fashion. I'd spend much more time if I were making a full novel, but I also want this to be easily accessible to the gamer crowd.

The Three Prophets

Every being ponders its purpose in life.

There were just the three of them in all of existence. Tequoia (Furion), Krobelus, and Roshan. That's all there had been for hundreds of years. Emptiness occupied every direction. More than anything, the three were confused and, quite frankly, incredibly bored.

Every now and then there was something to make the ordinary passage of time interesting. A tingling sensation, a great sorrow, the feeling of fullness, a sharp pain, and so on. Feelings that seemed to arise from no particular source.

Tequoia and Krobelus had grown increasingly irritable as of recently. Both felt a void in their lives. Roshan, however, seemed to carry on just fine, even though all three felt the same seemingly randomly assigned feelings.

The most upsetting part for Tequoia and Krobelus was that their sense of purpose was teeming. The feeling continued to grow until it was unbearable. Even Roshan had shown symptoms of being affected. He had fallen into a deep depression.

It was at this point when the Rift appeared. As the feelings intensified, the Rift grew from a small slit in the emptiness, to a full doorway. While the three were terrified of the Rift, it was also becoming the lesser of two evils as the pain from their sourceless feelings became unbearable.

The Rift

"That's it, I'm going into the Rift," stated Tequoia. He staggered towards the Rift, clutching his forehead as though it would tame the headache that was overwhelming his being.

Roshan and Krobelus said nothing, but followed his movement with disconcerted faces.

"How long have we wanted to get out of here and figure out what our purpose is? And right now, with these intense headaches, how much worse could existence be?"

Tequoia stuck his hand into the doorway. "It feels... sticky. Not physically, though. I don't think it's dangerous. I feel as though I'm supposed to enter, and I think it wants me to enter as well." He attempted to turn back, facing his siblings once more before entering, but the Rift was stuck to his hand, following it like an aqueous glue.

Krobelus and Roshan reached out, mouths agape, but unable to produce sound as the Rift wrapped around their brother. Just before he vanished, they saw his face relax, as though he were in a state of bliss.

On the other side, Tequoia felt the stickiness fade. It was quickly replaced by a sensation of being pushed and prodded as though thousands of cilia were directing him. He glanced around at the dark and murky mix of blacks and purples. "Is this a mouth? Am I being swallowed by the doorway?" he wondered.

But then, he saw another doorway opening up. The force surrounding him pushed him toward the new doorway. He glanced inside to a dark greyish brown area that was hallow.

The Tree of Life

Without any choice, Tequoia was thrown through the doorway. He landed on a soft patch of grass. Tequoia drew himself to his feet, brushing off. Ahead of him was a bright light. He ventured toward it, feeling the tingling sensation of grass between his feet. The headache was slowly fading and his sense of purpose was skyrocketing.

He stepped into the light and found himself in a clearing upon a hill overlooking a forest. However, the forest appeared to be in decay. He turned around and discovered he had just exited a massive tree. "What is this place? What is this?" he thought. The tree was bigger than any in the forest, but had the same sickly look as the rest.

Tequoia laid his hand on the tree in attempt to better understand what it was. At the moment his hand made contact with the surface, the color of the tree began to change from a withered grey to a bold brown. This spread throughout the tree. Its wilting leaves and branches straightened out, the color in them returning as well.

He stood back and gasped. The tree was bursting with life. Tequoia looked at his hands, but nothing had changed. They were the same hands he always had. He touched his hands to his chest, where it felt as though a burden had been lifted from him.

Tequoia stood and admired the beauty while he tried to sort out what happened. But, his time to think was cut short when the ground began to shake. Out of the forest, a tree-like figure emerged.

"It is true what the roots have told me. The Tree of Life has been cured. But how?," said the tree being. He coughed, some of his wilting leaves detached and floated to the ground.

He looked down to see a creature like he had never seen before quizzically staring up at him.

"Are you referring to this thing behind me?" asked Tequoia. "I placed my hand on it and it changed. My apologies."

"Apologies? Ha! You have done a great thing. I have been searching for a remedy, but was fruitless in my efforts. Who are you? A great healer? A god?" asked the tree man.

"I am Tequoia, and I am not sure of much else."

"Greetings, I am Rooftrellen, the Treant Protector," said the tree man, extending a hand. Tequoia reciprocated, his touch sending a surge of life through the tree man.

Death and the Fight to Live

Krobelus and Roshan looked at one another. "I do not know what to do," said Roshan.

"We cannot just leave him to his own means," said Krobelus. She cautiously approached the doorway. "I am going after him."

Roshan nodded and together, they crossed into the Rift.

The force that had guided Tequoia reached out to Krobelus and Roshan. It brought them to a doorway and pushed them through.

On the other side was a sickly child and his lifeless mother. Roshan reached out to comfort the sobbing child. Upon touching the child, Roshan felt relief overcome him. The child stood up, wiped the tears from his eyes, and walked toward the village nearby.

"He was mourning, was he not?" asked Krobelus. Roshan nodded, though bewildered.

"Then why would he leave like that? Is it part of some ritual? Was it this being's doing?" she asked. Krobelus reached down and touched the corpse. The limp body's chest sprang forth as it exhaled a faint gaseous figure identical the the corpse.

The woman looked at her hands, then up at Roshan and Krobelus. She shrieked, "What are you?"

"I could ask the same of you," Krobelus replied.

"I must be dead," said the woman as she gazed at her hands again. "Are you the Reaper?"

"What is a Reaper?"

"You know, the Reaper. The Death Prophet. The one that deals with the soul after death."

"I don't rightly know," said Krobelus. She motioned toward the corpse, "I touched that and you appeared."

The woman appeared to be on the verge of tears upon hearing this. She then glanced around, her expression shifting from sorrow to terror. "My son, what did you do to my son?"

"That small creature next to you? I placed a hand on him and he stopped sobbing, then ran that way," said Roshan, his finger pointed at the village.

"Impossible. That boy was so sick he couldn't barely walk."

Enter the Elementals

"Calm yourself Darkness," said Light.

"No. Are you blind? Do you not see through the window that Life, Death, and Perseverance have entered the mortal realm?" fumed Darkness.

"We agreed long ago when Chaos ripped this window into existence that this would be it. The window is enough. We need not interfere with mortal lives more than we already do," said Light.

"We would be called if we were intended to enter the mortal realm," said Strength.

Darkness stormed off. Not after long, Chaos found Darkness.

"Don't fret Darkness, the others are just afraid to enter the Ethereal Plane," said Chaos.

"Perhaps, but they are also probably correct. After all, Ice entered the Ethereal Plane and has not been seen since," said Darkness.

"Does not not cross your mind that despite Ice's disappearance, there is still ice in the mortal realm?" said Chaos, smirking.

"What are you saying? He exists?" said Darkness.

"It took me some time to track him. In the mortal realm, they call him by Ancient Apparition, or Kaldr, depending on the tongue. He has had quite an impact on the Northern kingdom of the mortal plane of existence. Did you not notice how cold it became there?"

Chaos raised his hand and prodded the air. After a moment, he grinned, then slid his hand downward. A Rift appeared, growing longer as he moved his hand. "What are you waiting for my friend? Let's go," said Chaos.

Without hesitation, Darkness entered the Rift.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Item Guide: Farming Items

Last Updated: February, 2013

There are a number of items that help with farming:
  • Hand of Midas
  • Battlefury
  • Radiance
  • Maelstrom/Mjollnir
In this post, I'm going to analyze and compare each of these options.


Item Cost Build Up Passive Active
Quelling Blade 225 N/A
  • (Melee) +32% Damage to Non-Hero Units
  • (Ranged) +12% Damage to Non-Hero Units
Destroy Tree:
  • Destroys Target Tree
  • 100 Range
  • 5 Seconds Cooldown
Hand of Midas 1900
  • Gloves of Haste (500)
  • Recipe (1400)
  • +30 Attack Speed
  • Kill Non-Hero/Ancient Target
  • 190 Reliable Gold (instead of normal)
  • 2.5x XP
  • 100 sec Cooldown
Battlefury 4350
  • Ring of Health (875)
  • Void Stone (875)
  • Claymore (1400)
  • Broadsword (1200)
  • +6 HP/sec
  • 150% Mana Regen
  • +65 Damage
  • 35% Cleave in 225 Radius
Radiance 5150
  • Sacred Relic (3800)
  • Recipe (1350)
  • +60 Damage
  • 45 Magic Damage per Second (650 Radius)
Toggle Burn Effect on/off
Maelstrom 2700
  • Gloves of Haste (500)
  • Mithril Hammer (1600)
  • Recipe (600)
  • +24 Damage
  • +25 Attack Speed
  • 25% Chance to proc Chain Lightning
Mjollnir 5400
  • Maelstrom (2700)
  • Hyperstone (2100)
  • Recipe (600)
  • +24 Damage
  • +80 Attack Speed
  • 25% Chance to proc Chain Lightning
Static Charge:
  • Place Shield on Target Unit
  • Lasts 20 sec
  • 20% chance to proc Chain Lightning when attacked


Quelling Blade

A very cheap item that helps with getting last hits. It also brings infinite tree chopping to the table, which can be helpful when up against a hero like Nature's Prophet, or just juking through the trees in general.

Many players, even at the professional level, miss last hits and if a cheap item can boost your ability to last hit, it can be well worth the money. However, note that it does not bring much else. It's purely for farming/escaping.


  • Increased ability to last hit in lane (or jungle)
  • Pseudo-escape mechanism
  • Can be bought entirely in lane
  • Very cheap in comparison to other items that help with farming
  • Helps with stacking the jungle


  • No application to fighting heroes (other than the pseudo-escape)
  • Little to no application past early game
  • Potential to screw up last hitting under the tower (there are patterns of last hitting)
  • Does not build into anything

  • Farming / last hitting
  • Juking through the trees (certain trees can be cut down to enable juke routes)
  • Cut down certain trees to stack multiple jungle camps, or reduce time between camps
  • Some trees can be cut down to give extra vision (e.g. in the safe lane to get rid of the tree that blocks vision)
  • On Radiant side, it can be helpful when pulling to cut down the tree between the lane and primary pull camp


  • Kunkka's Tidebringer - only impacts main target (no cleave element)
  • Illusions can benefit from the damage 

Hand of Midas

This is a decent early game item that has no impact in late game (most sell it in late game). It's kind of a "selfish" item as well.

The item pays for itself through Transmute, it's Active Ability. The item costs 1900, and you get 190 gold per use. You can use it every 100 seconds. In a perfect world, that means it takes 1000 seconds, or about 16 minutes and 40 seconds to pay itself off. Note: in theory, if you use it 5 times and sell it for half price, you make up the cost of the item.

If we factor in that the average game is probably between 35 and 45 minutes, that means you need to get this very early for it to be anything more than a waste of money. Most people would say you want to target between 6-10 minute mark if you're going to get this at all.


  • Gold is reliable (i.e. you won't lose it upon death)
  • Guaranteed farm/XP, even if you're having a rough time
    • Can use it for farming gold or XP (small creeps vs. big creeps)
  • Fairly cheap


  • You don't get much other than farming ability
  • No real use late game


  • Use on a big creep if you want to focus on gaining XP (gives you 2.5x)
  • Use on a small creep if you want to focus on gaining gold (gives you 190 gold instead of the normal bounty)
  • Good for Junglers who are always near creeps
  • Good if you can get it early
  • Can be good if you're struggling for farm



This is a great item for melee carries. The build up is very nice and provides a lot. Perseverance is excellent for survivability and mid-game jungling. You also get one of the best gold-to-damage ratios for an item.

The cleave helps you farm and push incredibly fast. You also can cleave on-attack modifiers like Crits (Note: On-Attack Modifier is no the same thing as a Unique Attack Modifier).

While it is an excellent item, it is much more effective early-mid game. General consensus is that optimally, get this before 20 minutes. I would also say that you can still get it before 25 minutes, but after that, it's usually better to give up and go a different route. This is because you get the item mostly for farming. At a certain point, you just won't have enough time to farm, so it's better to focus on Survival and Team Fight items.


  • Excellent Regen
  • Excellent Damage Output
  • Able to Cleave
    • Stacks with other sources of Cleave
  • Increases Farming Ability
  • Increases Pushing Ability (or counter-pushing)


  • Cleave only works on melee heroes
  • Somewhat costly


  • Early-mid game farming
  • Pushing/Counter-Pushing
  • Mid-Game Jungling (i.e. more farming)
  • Doing lots of damage in team fights with good positioning (e.g. after a Dark Seer Vacuum)


  • Cleaved Damage will affect primary target normally, but secondary targets will only have the damage reduced by their armor type (i.e. by some standard percent, rather than based on armor value).



A great early-mid game farming, harassing, and pushing item. This is very common on Illusion heroes like Naga Siren, Spectre, and Phantom Lancer because Illusions alone can farm/push effectively with the Burn Aura.

You also see it picked up frequently on beefy heroes like Alchemist and Doombringer because they are difficult to kill, have trouble farming (not real great candidates for Battlefury, but also need the farm). Being tanky and carrying Radiance makes you very deadly in team fights. The longer the fight lasts, the more damage Radiance will deal out. If they can't kill you, then they have to deal with the aura for the duration.

Weaver is a unique case. Because of Germinate attack, Weaver usually just wants raw damage. Getting attack speed won't give you more Germinates because it's on a cooldown. It does benefit from Raw Damage though (unlike some other modifiers that only take your Main Attribute into account). In addition to the damage output, it gives Weaver a way to farm. She is also difficult to kill, not because she's tanky, but because she has temporary invisibility and her ult gives her another health bar (essentially).

Lastly, you'll see this picked up quite frequently on Lone Druid's Spirit Bear. Using the aura, he can send his bear to push a lane while he farms (and he gets the gold from each kill Radiance gets). Normally, if the bear is out of range, it cannot attack. However, it can grant auras. This is a huge benefit for Lone Druid so he can use his bear in more than one way.

Like Hand of Midas and Battlefury, Radiance also loses potency over time. Common opinion is that you want to get Radiance before 25-30 minutes. After that, the burn damage just doesn't do so much to heroes, or the creeps.

This is what makes it a difficult item to decide to go for. Sometimes, you'll have to abandon going for it. It's hard to save up for because you need 3800 gold, then 1350 for the recipe. That's no easy task and you need a lot of uninterrupted farm.


  • Easy harass due to the burn damage
  • Works on Illusions (and spirit bears)
  • Great farming ability
  • Great early-mid game pushing ability
  • Excellent in early-mid game team fights


  • Very difficult to save for
  • Loses potency in late game
  • Aura can give you away while ganking (but you can turn the aura off)


  • Tons of damage in team fights
  • Farming
  • Split pushing/farming (send illusions to different camps or to the lane to push while you farm safely)
  • Raw Damage output
  • Killing invisible units (not a reason to pick it up, but fun nonetheless)



When people think farming items, this is one that doesn't always come to mind. However, it can be loosely labeled "the ranged Battlefury". This is because the passive (Chain Lightning) rips through creeps, especially given the attack speed increase the item grants.

The two items are fairly similar (granted Mjollnir builds off of Maelstrom). They do have some differences though.


  • Chain Lightning
    • Maelstrom: Deals 120 Magic Damage, hits 4 targets, 25% chance
    • Mjollnir: Deals 160 Magic Damage, hits 8 targets, 25% chance
  • Attack Speed
    • Maelstrom: +25
    • Mjollnir: +80
  • Active
    • Maelstrom: N/A
    • Mjollnir: Static Charge
      • Lasts 20 seconds a target unit
      • 20% chance to cast Lightning when attacked
      • Lightning deals 200 Magic Damage to attacker and 2 nearby units
      • Costs 50 Mana, 35 sec Cooldown
As far as I know there's no standard time to get either by.

It's a great item for farming/pushing as a ranged hero. The Lightning Jumps do a good deal of damage in a team fight too (e.g. 480 Magic Damage per proc for Maelstrom, 1280 per proc from Mjollnir).

The active ability on Mjollnir is also pretty veratile. It can be cast on allies, along with yourself. So say you cast it on Axe, he uses Berserker's Call. Least you can say is that the enemy team will be hurting.


  • Increases farming ability
  • Can be used on Ranged heroes
  • Mjollnir's active ability has lots of uses
  • Exploits teams that don't have magic resist/immunity/Pipe
    • Gives Magic Damage to accompany Physical Damage
  • Huge increase to attack speed
  • Build up can surprise people (Mithril Hammer looks like you're going for BKB or Desolator)
  • Mjollnir can be disassembled


  • Still a lot of discussion as to whether it's worth picking up versus more "standard items"
  • Counts as a Unique Attack Modifier


  • Mjollnir can be a counter to Radiance carriers (each tick of damage can proc Lightning)
  • Farming/Pushing
  • Teamfight Damage output
  • Static Charge can be placed on allies (like initiators), or yourself
  • The attack speed can be great in combination with other effects like chance based bashes
  • Heroes like Dragon Knight and Lone Druid benefit from it in both their Melee and Ranged forms
  • Gives mostly Physical Damage heroes some Magic Damage to ensure they hurt everyone

Item Guide: Armlet of Mordiggian


Armlet of Mordiggian

This is a great item in many respects. Yes, it's a risk/reward item. However, it is very cheap for what it gives you. The build up is excellent. And the Active is very versatile.

Passively Gives:

  • +8 HP/sec Regen
  • +9 Damage
  • +5 Armor
  • +15 Attack Speed

Actively Gives:

  • +31 Damage
  • +10 Attack Speed
  • + 25 Strength 
    • Which is 19 HP/STR and 0.03 HP/sec regen == 475 HP, 0.75 HP/sec regen
  • -40 HP/sec 
    • Which as I recall is HP Removal, similar to Necrolyte's Aura
    • You cannot die to it (at worst, left with 1 HP)
    • It doesn't count as "taking damage"
    • It cannot be reduced in any way

Some Uses

Turn it on When:

  • Going into a fight (500 extra HP, lots more damage)
  • You're super low, then immediately turn it off for a quick burst of HP (you get to keep some of it!)
  • You're low and hear something coming (e.g. Clockwerk Rocket, if you hear the Sunstrike audio, etc.)
  • You're low on HP and someone is coming to finish you off
    • This is how it goes down:
      • Someone thinks "Oh, look at this easy kill"
      • flips on Armlet 
      • Hue hue, my friends ;)
      • (works great on Huskar)
  • You want to quickly kill a neut camp, then turn it off right after

You turn it off When:

  • You're fairly high on HP
  • You're not in danger
  • You're not using the effect to it's maximum capacity

Basically, you want to avoid being "caught with your pants down". Don't turn it off too early while going back to the well if you know they have some global presence hero like Invoker, Clockwerk, Zeus, Ancient Apparition, etc. You can easily toggle it repeatedly for some quick HP (i.e. when you're on like 100 HP, toggle off --> 1 HP, toggle on --> 475 HP)

When to get it

There are lots of scenarios that are "Well known" like:

  • Huskar
    • It synergizes with his abilities because he gets better the lower on HP he is
    • He's a STR hero, so instead of 31 damage, he gets +56 (31 damage + 25 damage from STR being his main stat)
  • Skeleton King
    • He is STR
    • He has massive life steal
  • Lifestealer
    • Same deal as Skeleton King
    • He also has built in magic immunity (can't be stunned and get boned by the HP loss)
  • Chaos Knight 
    • This one is pretty cool: turn it on, use your ult, then turn it off. Now you have 1-3 clones that still have the active (or at least the STR from it), but don't take any damage.
  • Nightstalker 
    • Another STR hero
    • He's a "Hey, I just met you, but not you're dead" kind of hero. The effects are negligible when he can kill you so damn fast at night.
  • Alchemist
    • You're strength
    • Your ult basically cancels out the HP drain.
  •  Others
    • Slardar
      • Quickly kill a stunned enemy that also has your ult on it
    • Sven
      • Deal out massive damage while ulting
    • Dragon Knight
      • You have naturally high damage, and in your ult form, you're ranged (one of the few STR Ranged)
    • Clockwerk
      • Works well while you have someone trapped in cogs
    • Pugna 
      • You're squishy, but your ult gives you a massive HP drain, so the HP loss is negligible

So, we extract this "rule of thumb" (i.e. a good general rule, but not always applicable):

  • You have Lifesteal (or can regen ~40 HP/sec, like Alchemist)
  • You can quickly kill a hero with the active (i.e. you're an awesome ganker)
  • You're a Strength hero (and will benefit extra from that being your main stat)
  • You get better at lower HP (which right now is basically just Huskar, though some future heroes like Terrorblade/Soul Keeper can benefit as well -- look at his ult)
  • You love to bait attacks (being low on HP and then flipping Armlet on is hilarious)

Less Common Uses:

  • Some players pick it up on squishy heroes for the HP, Attack Damage and Attack Speed (e.g. like a Drow/Luna/Anti-Mage)
  • (As I recall) Some casters analyzed some mid game items and determined Armlet to be the "best bang for your buck" (i.e. best deal)

As you get better, you'll find times to pick things up because they provide what you need, even though it's not an "obvious pick" or doesn't fit the mold of when to buy it.


  • If you get stunned, you're going to lose a lot of HP (so generally, grab a BKB afterwards if you plan to Carry/Semi-Carry)
  • You can easily get sniped by Invoker on your way to the fountain
  • If you can be kited, you're gonna have a bad time

Miscellaneous / Final Thoughts

Armlet has a great build up. Helm of Iron Will is great in lane for dealing with harass. It also leaves you open to either going Armlet or Helm of the Dominator (and technically Veil of Discord).

It's a great mid-game item, which is also where it shines due to the HP bonus tapering off at higher levels. Therefore, you get this when you want to be aggressive early/mid game, as it does not scale very well. If you would rather farm, then opt for a farming item. They tend to be the safer choice if you want to carry in the mid-late game.

Armlet is also very, very good for it's price (2600g, holy shit). I think a lot of this is attributed to it being a double-edged sword item (i.e. high risk/reward). It's kind of on par with Mask of Madness in that respect, but still a little less risky (you get HP and shit with it, plus it's great without the active).

Friday, October 12, 2012

List of Common Noob Mistakes and Misconceptions


A lot of new player skip consumables because you only get one use out of them. These are some of the best items in the game. In fact, Wards and Gem are the only items that have a cooldown between purchases. So, let's take a look at some of these items.
  • Observer Wards
    • Get 2 for 150g
    • Provide a huge sight radius which helps:
      • Prevent Ganks
      • Set up ganks (e.g. find a jungling hero that is low on HP)
      • Get Runes
      • Better understand what the enemy is doing
      • See up a cliff (e.g. put it on the other side in mid so you don't get hooked by Pudge)
    • Wards can block creep spawns (this is commonly done at the creep pull so the safe lane cannot bring your creeps closer to their tower)
    • You need these in excess if you're up against a heavy gank team (e.g. for pubs, if they have a Pudge or someone who will just go around secretly ganking)
  • Scrolls of Teleportation
    • Costs 135g, but gives you a ton of use
    • Great for narrow escapes (juke into the trees and teleport out)
    • Great for counter ganking/pushing (TP to another lane to help your allies!)
    • Allow you to return quickly to lane (seriously, you can make up the lost gold with ~3 last hits, and you lose A LOT LESS XP)
    • You should try to keep 1-2 on you after about 4-5 minutes into the game
  • Tangos
    • Heal you minor amounts
    • Great for staying topped off on HP
    • Eat through trees, which is useful for juking
    • Are not dispelled when attacked
    • This is meant to keep you in lane longer
      • Staying in lane longer means you get more XP (a lot of new players get underleveled and don't understand how it happened) 
  • Salve
    • Great for a quick heal right after the enemy attempted to kill you
    • You can put this on your ally
    • You can juke into the trees, heal up with a salve, then come out and own someone who thought they were definitely going to kill you
    • Again, like Tangos, this is meant to keep you in lane longer
  • Clarity Potion
    • It's good to have 1-2 of these in lane so you can play aggressively
      • Most people are afraid to use their spells because they'll run out of mana
      • Guess what, if you have a Clarity Potion, that's no longer an issue
      • You can scare the opponent by using spells, then they'll not want to get close enough to last hit anymore
    • Takes a while to finish restoring your mana, but it's well worth it
  • Dust
    • Reveals invisible heroes
    • Turn the tides on any invisibility hero that thinks they'll get away by just going invis
    • You essentially counter an entire ability for a cheap gold cost
    • NOTE: dust does not prevent invisible heroes from setting up on you, that's what Gem is for. Dust is to finish someone off after they've initiated, or when you initiate on them.
  • Smoke
    • Very cheap, gives your team invisibility until you get close to an enemy
    • Great for secretly crossing through a ward spot to go ganking
    • Great for secretly getting into the Roshan Pit (a lot of Ursas do this so the enemy doesn't see them go in with Observer Wards)
    • Many players get this at the start of the game to make for an easy first blood
  • Sentry Wards
    • Reveals invisible heroes, but it can't move
    • Want to use this when you'll be in one place (e.g. pushing) or when your opponent will be (e.g. counter-pushing, against a Broodmother, etc.)
    • Good for counter-warding (killing Observer Wards so the enemy has to play blind)


Main Attribute / Role


Many new players think heroes have set roles based on their main attribute:
  • AGI = carry
  • INT = support
  • STR = tank


Many heroes have different types because of balance reasons. Examples:
  • If Tiny were INT, he'd be able to spam his spells too easily, so instead he's STR 
  • Same goes for Venomancer, if he were INT, he'd have such an easy time because the same items that give him INT, also buff his base attack damage
Basically, by switching the main attribute, it changes what players buy on the hero. In certain cases, it would be too imbalanced to let the same items that give heroes things they need (e.g. mana), also give them attack damage.

A hero's role is determined by their abilities


  • A carry will usually have skills that allow them to scale into late game, or an ability to farm well
    • Nature's Prophet can farm very easily. So even though his abilities don't scale well, he can carry because he has more money than anyone else
    • Lifestealer deals a percentage of a hero's life as damage. This scales into late game because he'll do immense amounts of damage as heroes gain more HP
    • Phantom Assassin has Critical Strikes which let her hit very hard. As she gets more damage, she deals even higher crits, so it's an ability that scales into late game
    • Anti-Mage doesn't necessarily scale, but he's very difficult to kill due to his blink and natural magic armor. He also has a very fast attack speed to start with, making it easier to farm once he gets an item like Battlefury
  • A support usually has disables, slows, heals, etc. Their abilities are good on their own, so they require very little farm to be effective (i.e. not scaling, but seriously, a stun is good at any point in the game)
    • Crystal Maiden has an aura that supports the team by giving them mana regen. She has a skill that disables (Ice), and one that slows move & attack speed
    •  Dazzle has a heal (that also damage enemies), Shallow Grave allows a hero to stay alive even when they should have died, his ult buffs the team and debuffs the opponent, plus he has a slow (that has a mini-stun too)
  • Tanks...
    • Don't really exist. Unlike a MMO where you can literally have someone force the NPCs to attack them (i.e. aggro), you cannot do that in DotA
      • Good players will avoid attacking "Tanks" because it will take too long to kill them and instead focus on squishy supports that are an annoyance (with stuns), or the DPS
    • Instead, you have "Tanky" heroes
    • You also don't need any "Tanky" heroes to be effective. Most of the time, more stuns or versatile heroes works out better
    • That said, the closest you'll get to a tank are heroes that do too much damage to be ignored, but also have a lot of HP (e.g. Axe, Necrolyte, Tiny, Skeleton King)
Some heroes have multiple or blurred roles:
  • Vengeful Spirit - she has a great disable/stun, an ability that lowers armor, and an aura that increase damage. Usually, she is played as a Support. However, she can Carry due to her aura making her scale well.
  • Leshrac - in most pub games he's played as a Bloodstone Carry (i.e. carrying because he has the regen to keep spamming his spells and being hard to kill due to the bonus HP and Regen). However, in a lot of pro games, he's played as Support or Roaming Support because he has a disable, and is able to push towers and lanes.
  • Mirana - she has a kit that can do a lot of things: a nuke/farming ability, a long ranged skill-shot stun, an escape/chase mechanism, and an ult that gives the entire team invis (used for escapes or setting up a gank/fight). Therefore, she is viewed as something of a utility/semi-carry.




Armor is a tricky thing. You have Armor Points, which translate into damage reduction percentages. When plotted out, the graph looks like:

Damage Reduction (- %)
Damage Amplification (+ %)

However, each point of armor provides the same benefit.

Here's an example:

For 3 instances where the target has 1000 HP (assuming no regen) and you deal 50 damage:
  • 0 Armor = 0% Reduction = 1000 HP / 50 DMG = 20 hits to kill them
  • 5 Armor = 23.1% Reduction = 1000 HP / 50(1-0.231) DMG = ~26 hits to kill them
  • 10 Armor = 37.5% Reduction = 1000 HP / 50(1-0.375) DMG = 32 his to kill them
For 3 instances where the target has 1000 HP (assuming no regen) and you deal 100 damage:
  • 0 Armor = 0% Reduction = 1000 HP / 100 DMG = 10 hits to kill them
  • 5 Armor = 23.1% Reduction = 1000 HP / 100(1-0.231) DMG = ~13 hits to kill them
  • 10 Armor = 37.5% Reduction = 1000 HP / 100(1-0.375) DMG = 16 his to kill them

The number of hits to kill increases LINEARLY with each point of armor.


Bottle/Boots First


Both of these are bad options for first items. Neither gives you stats. Bottle is easy to dispell and if you don't get the rune, you're going to end up bottlecrowing, which is inefficient.

Boots give you speed, but don't give you more HP or damage, so you won't be able to farm well. Some people think it's a good first item on Juggernaut, but if you're decent with his spin, his natural move speed (305, which is above average), should be enough.




Noobs love lifesteal. And the love to get it early. This is usually not the route to go. There are a few instances where it's useful, but on the whole, it's better to get survival items or farming items.

Let's say you rush Vlads on Anti-Mage. So, you get +2 HP/sec, +0.8 mana/sec, 15% Damage Increase, 17% Lifesteal.

Early in the game, you have roughly 700-800 HP, which isn't that much. You hit for maybe 60 damage. Some quick math shows: you now do 69 damage (due to 15% damage bonus), and per hit, you lifesteal 11.73 (69 * 0.17). And remember, you have to actually be hitting your enemy for the lifesteal to work.

It's decent, but not really enough to justify the purchase. If you started building toward Battlefury, you'd have more regen, +10 damage (from Perseverance), and once you have Battlefury, you can farm a lot faster (due to massive bonus damage and cleave).

Alternatively, say you're Slardar, you could've been building Armlet, which gives you good regen, good armor, and a quick burst of HP/Damage for fights. It's a much better route than lifesteal.

Not only that, but an item like Vlads can be picked up by a Support hero and be just as effective.

On a final note, most Lifesteal items scale way better in the late game, whereas raw damage items (like Battlefury) are great for early game. So don't avoid Lifesteal, just don't get it first.


Mask of Madness (MoM) 


People find this as an attractive item because it's fairly cheap, gives lifesteal, and a massive attack speed boost.

What they don't realize is:
  • Attack speed is useless without damage
  • You take an extra 30% damage - one stun and you're pretty much done for (so get a BKB)
It's basically a high risk-high reward item. If you have great positioning, it's going to be good times. However, get slightly out of position, and you're screwed.


Early Roshan Heroes


The exception to the rule is heroes like Ursa and Lycan who can kill Roshan very early if they get a lifesteal item (namely Vladamir's Offering).


Shadow Blade


Many people pick this up as just an escape. Doing so is a waste of one of its uses. Your first hit out of invisibility does bonus damage. Looking at that, a large component of the item is using it offensively.
  • Kunkka - this works with Tidebringer. You splash that bonus damage on all enemy units if your Tidebringer is off cooldown
  • Shadow Fiend - You can channel your ult in part before you're revealed, making it easy to set up awesome ults (though, most of the time it's better to get a blink dagger)
  • Witch Doctor - you can channel your ult, then go invis (it won't break the channel), making you much less likely to be stopped (though, most of the time a BKB would be more effective)
Likewise, you can use it to cross the river without being detected by Observer Wards. You can gank the jungle, sneak up on players, use it to get perfect positioning before scaring an enemy off, etc..

Being able to escape with it is just a side-benefit, not the main one.

Also note
  • this expensive item can be countered quite easily with a purchase of cheap Dust
  • if you already have an invisible hero on your team, you make it much more beneficial for the opponent to pick up a Gem, Dust, or Sentry Wards because now they can screw over two heroes with one item




Just take a look at this




Just because a hero can jungle, doesn't mean they should.

Lifestealer and Lone Druid are commonly thrown into the jungle. They can do it, but not quickly. You waste their amazing lane presence by putting them in the Jungle as well.

A good jungler:
  • Can farm camps quickly
  • Stay reasonably high on HP (otherwise it's easy to gank and kill them)
Here are some good options for heroes in the jungle:
  • Chen - he has creeps, and those creeps give him lane presence
  • Enchantress - same as Chen basically
  • Enigma - can farm camps quickly with his minions, hit level 6 quickly, and be useful for his ult
  • Nature's Prophet - has minions that can help him farm the jungle, his teleport and sprout spells give him lane presence
  • Lycan - he has wolves, an ability that makes him and his minions more powerful, and he rips through camps quickly
Situational Junglers:
  • Lone Druid - he is exceptionally good at soloing the hard lane because you essentially get 2 heroes, but only one that is taking XP. However, he can jungle decently well. Sometimes (mostly in pub games), it might be more beneficial for the team if you jungle
  • Dark Seer - another example of a hero that is exceptional at soloing the hard lane. However, if your lineup is bad for it, Dark Seer can also run as a jungler due to Ion Shell. This spell combines nicely with Smoke of Deceit, letting you kill creeps without being attacked.
  • Lifestealer - while his lifesteal allows him to jungle, it doesn't allow him to clear camps quickly. So for a long period, he'll be lagging behind in levels and gold. In lane, Lifestealer is a beast. Combined with another hero that can slow or stun, he can shred through anyone pretty quick.
  • Doombringer - due to changes in his Devour spell,  he can jungle decently well. However, I don't think he does it fast enough for it to be beneficial. Instead, putting him in lane gives him more of an early presence (especially with LVL? Death).
  • Ursa - he has an ability that stacks damage on targets, which allows him to kill big creeps earlier than many other heroes. Another of his skills makes him attack faster, so he quickly kills said big creeps. However, he can also be very effective in lane with a hero that can stun (e.g. Crystal Maiden, Shadow Shaman)
Other Junglers:
  • Axe - he can jungle due to his spin. However, he needs to be hit a lot to make sure it triggers. Therefore, Axe or an ally should be stacking camps to help him get gold faster.
  • Tidehunter - it's not optimal, but Anchor Smash does AoE damage and reduces attack damage by 40%, making him able to jungle. However, he'd need someone like KotL or Crystal Maiden to help with his mana regen.
  • Storm Spirit - in very odd scenarios, SS can jungle with Static Remnant. By stacking camps and then using Smoke, he can spam Static Remnant on camps to kill them without being harmed.
  • Broodmother - using her Spiderites, she can jungle decently well, especially with a Soul Ring. However, she also has a massive lane presence and can push towers super fast.
  • Magnus - he can jungle decently well due to Empower. However, he also is a very good lane partner, so it should be carefully considered whether or not you want to try to jungle with him. 


Laning & Pulling


Getting Creep Kills


What you want to do here is last hit the creep. This gives you the gold, but it also means you're not pushing the lane.

Pushing the lane is generally a bad thing because it puts you further from your safe zone (i.e. the tower or your side of the map). The only time you want to push the lane is when you plan on destroying the enemy tower.

Likewise, you want to deny creeps because it means your own creeps will die out faster, pulling the lane closer to your tower. Denying creeps also reduces the amount of experience your opponent receives from their death and they lose the opportunity to get that gold.


Pulling & Stacking


Pulling is a technique used to get your creeps closer to your tower. It helps you control the lane and where the creeps collide. However, you don't always want to pull. You want to pull when the creeps are far from your tower. If you pull when they are close, then you might accidentally lose your tower in the process.

Stacking is something else you want to do. If you stack, then pull, you'll kill an entire wave of your creeps. This is beneficial because that means your opponents didn't get any of that experience (meaning you'll outlevel them), and they couldn't get any of the gold because the neutral camp last hit all your creeps.

Middle Lane


This is a special case of laning because you have to play differently. You want to make sure your opponent cannot get runes. To do this, you want to push your lane up just before rune spawn (around 1:50, for instance). Doing this forces your opponent to choose between getting last hits/gold, and XP, or getting the rune (and filling their bottle).


Suicide Lane (Solo Hard Lane)


This is another special case. Not all heroes are created equal for this lane (See this post). You main goal in this lane is to survive. Leeching some XP and getting an odd creep kill here and there is good, but just make sure you're not being too risky. The idea is usually to win the easy lane, then they eventually push towers down (getting your lane opponents to leave the lane), or they come to gank your lane.


Sange & Yasha


Noobs love to build this item. At a glance, it gives a lot of good bonuses:
  • Attack Speed
  • Move Speed
  • Chance to slow the enemy
  • Agility
  • Strength
It also has a nice and easy build up, it's a "big" item, and does not require the secret shop.

The problem with it is that it's the jack of all trades, master of none. Good players want to emphasize the strengths of their hero or build items that will work for the match. A jack of all trades item doesn't provide much. Additionally, the slow is not reliable.

Hero Specific


  • Against Pudge - always keep a creep between you and him. Then he cannot hook you. If you can't do that, use fog of war or move erradically.
  • Naga Siren - her ult can be used as an escape. But, it also is great for setting up a team fight.
  • Bounty Hunter - building a Battlefury isn't the best route. His ult gives you a ton of gold if you get a kill, so you want to be ganking constantly to get all that sweet farm.
  • Jakiro - his Liquid Fire is a great pushing spell. So use it for that, don't get it early and accidentally push the lane. Also, sometimes it's better to skip his ult until you have your Fire & Frost, plus your Ice spells maxed out (i.e. post level 8). His ult is a huge mana investment and is hard to land so that it keeps enemies in it for a long time. Therefore, his other spells are sometimes to level over his ult.
  • Tinker - while he has great nuking potential with Laser and Missiles, March of the Machines is an excellent pushing/counter-pushing spell. Spam it about 10 seconds before rune spawn and the enemy will be forced to choose between farm/XP or getting the rune. Also, his ult resets the cooldown on his items. This makes Boots of Travel a great option (ult and use them any time you want)
  • Lion/Lina - your ult should be used to open fights, not to finish off a hero. Opening with your ult gets the maximum damage potential out of the spell. It also makes one enemy very weak, so that the battle quickly turns into a 4v5
  • Zeus - your ult should not be used for killstealing. Also, take a look at this post to get the most out of your spell combo. Also note, your Lightning Bolt will reveal invisible heroes for a short time in the nearby area.
  • Puck - you can cast Illusionary Orb, then use Phase Shift and move to your Orb while Phase Shifted. This makes for a safe and easy escape.
  • Spirit Breaker & Huskar - people love to rambo with these heroes. Go in at smart times, don't just jump in on everything. You need team support, you're not a 1 man army.
  • Sand King - Only get Caustic Finale in a lane where you're against only melee heroes, an invisible hero, or you're solo. This passive ability pushes the lane, but it also damages a large AoE which affects heroes. It's only good situationally to skill early.
  • Tiny - units affected by both Avalanche and Toss take 2x damage. So you theoretically want to toss, then immediately Avalanche.
  • Against Bloodseeker - always carry a Teleport scroll. You take damage while moving, but not while teleporting. Most of the time, Bloodseeker cannot finish you off with auto attacks. He also has no way to disrupt your teleport.
  • Riki - always get at least one level of Smoke early. This helps you and your teammates out by providing a silence.
  • Against Leshrac - Diabolic Edict continues after he dies. So don't just stand there taking the damage.
  • Keeper of the Light - do not spam your Illuminate spell. You get gold, yes, but you push the lane and you starve your lanemate
  • Storm Spirit - you usually want to max out your Electric Vortex spell first. You are largely a ganker and this is the spell that helps you do it. Static Remnant is best used for getting last hits, pushing the lane before rune spawn, and triggering your Overload spell.
  • Razor - never underestimate Static Link. This drains attack damage from your opponent and gives it to you. In fact, Razor mostly just needs survivability items due to this skill. Your auto attacks become monstrous when you've fully sapped the enemy carry. The optimal build is usually maximizing Plasma Field and Static Link.
  • Bane - first off, if Bane is on your team do not attack people he slept. Make sure you communicate who you are going to sleep so your teammates don't attack them. Also, sleep can be used to set up a gank (gives your teammates time to get there before you start ulting).
  • Lich - you don't need to max out your Sacrifice spell, only 2 levels is really necessary. This gives you enough mana to spam with, while allowing you to pick up some levels of your Armor spell.
  • Dazzle & Omniknight - your heals do damage. Dazzle deals Physical damage, so it goes right through spell protection like Juggernaut's Blade Fury. Omniknight's heal does Pure Damage, which ignores all armor (i.e. it does exactly as much damage as it says).
  • Against Undying, Pugna, and Juggernaut - kill their drops first (Tombstone, Netherward, Healing Ward). It will make the teamfight a lot easier.
  • Broodmother, Warlock, Chen, and any other Minion Hero - your minions give XP and gold when killed. Make sure you don't feed them to the enemy. That's a lot of bonus that you shouldn't be giving up.
  • Enigma - ideally, you want to use Midnight Pulse before Blackhole. It deals a percent of a Hero's HP per second. You can deal a ton of damage this way.
  • Warlock - GET FATAL BONDS. This spell makes any affected unit take some bonus damage any time any of the affected units are hit. This can deal a ton of damage if you get the enemy team fight the spell. It's usually best to skip over his channeling slow until later in the game.
  • Lion - most pro players do not get his Mana Drain at all or until late game. His other spells are incredibly useful. Mana Drain is generally used to pop Linken's Sphere because of its cheap cost and low cooldown.
  • Ancient Apparition - player widely consider his spell that turns your damage into magic damage underpowered. It's best to max out his first two spells along with his ult. Sometimes, skipping chilling touch entirely.
  • Slardar - You generally want to max out his stun and haste first. Getting one level of his haste is useless because you take bonus damage and you're not getting the full effect of the level 4 haste's speed. Usually, you can skip his mini stun because it is a chance based spell that scales with attack speed.
  • Shadow Demon - usually you want to skip over Poison. Disruption is a great offensive spell, as well as defensive. Soul Catcher is amazingly easy to hit when you Disrupt an enemy and it boosts your damage output immensely.
  • Against Faceless Void -  Monkey King Bar does not counter Backtrack. It does not count as a form of evasion. Therefore, True Strike (MKB's passive) has no effect.


Item Specific


  • Ring of Basilius - unless you're pushing the lane on purpose, don't leave the aura on for creeps. It always affects you allies, but you can limit it for creeps.
  • Power Treads - you can do a lot with these by switching the main stat. Switch to Agility to heal HP or MP to higher amounts with your consumables. If you need mana to cast one extra spell, switch to INT. If you need a little extra HP, switch to STR.
  • Manta Style - dispells most negative debuffs on activation
  • Diffusal Blade - you can use it on yourself to get rid of negative spell effects (e.g. Dust, Slardar's ult, etc.), this is why it's recommended on a lot of invisible heroes. Also, you can combo the slow with spells like Riki's Smoke Cloud to keep enemies there longer.
  • Helm of the Dominator - the reason this is recommended on many heroes is because you get to control a creep. Most players use this creep to stack the ancients (e.g. with Luna, you can mow them down later with your bouncing auto attacks)


 Farming Items (Hand of Midas, Battlefury, and Radiance)


These are all great items when used well. Each has a general time range of when it's effective to pick it up.

  • Midas: usually want to get it in at least 14 minutes. Otherwise, forget it, it won't be beneficial enough.
  • Battlefury: Ideally want to get it in less than 20 minutes. At most, 25 minutes. After that, it's better to go for something else.
  • Radiance: The earlier the better, but the cutoff time is usually around 30 minutes.
The idea with the times is that they won't benefit you enough with their addition to your farm if you get them too late. At some point, you might as well give up and build something that will help your teamfight presence, or otherwise.