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.

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