Monday, February 25, 2013

Item Guide: Shadow Blade

Shadow Blade is by far one of the most misunderstood items in all of DotA.

At low levels of play, it's considered "imbalanced". People think that invisibility is immortality.

At mid tier, it's considered "the worst item". People think you spent 3000g on an item that's "countered" by 180g Dust or 200g Sentry Wards.

Both viewpoints are incorrect. Shadow Blade can be a powerful item when used appropriately. It can be a terrible purchase as well.

The key to the item is that it forces teamwork. You can't just go somewhere alone if a hero has Shadow Blade. If you want to beat the item, you stick as a group. You buy Sentry Wards for pushing or get a Gem. This is why you don't see it much at the pro level. Teams move together, they work together, they ward, they buy the items that would shut this item down.

Let's break it down.



  • Claymore (1400g)
    • +21 Damage
  • Shadow Amulet (1600g)
    • +30 Attack Speed
    • Active Ability: Fade

 Item as a Whole

  • Shadow Blade (3000g)
    • +30 Damage (Note: you get 9 damage essentially "free")
    • +30 Attack Speed
    • Active: Shadow Walk
      • Information
        • Duration: 12 sec.
        • Mana Cost: 75 mana
        • Cooldown:  18 sec.
      • Effect
        • Invisible for Duration
        • Can move through units for Duration
        • +20% Move Speed for Duration
        • +150 Bonus Damage on attack out of invisibility
      • Notes
        • 0.3 sec. Fade Time
        • Does not break channeling spells
        • Damage is dealt as separate instance of damage (i.e. is not included into crits or similar)

Buying the Item

Purchase Order

Going about buying this item can be tricky. The two components are largely expensive. If you get Shadow Amulet, players will know what you're getting next. If you get Claymore, it's easy to assume you're going Shadow Blade unless your hero can get Battle Fury.

Most of the time, you want the item to be a surprise. That way, the other team has little time to prepare and you can catch them off-guard. If they have not been saving for counter-invisibility measures, they have less time to gather that money.

In my opinion, it's best to buy the item all at once, or at least not to carry around the components (even if it feels like they're going to waste in your stash).

When to Get It

The times it makes most sense to buy the item are:
  • Your team is ahead (makes the gap bigger because now their support has to invest in counter-invisibility)
  • You don't have any other invisible heroes (otherwise it's an easy choice for the other team to buy a Gem)
  • You're ganking more than team fighting (it's still ok, but there are other items that might help more)
  • You need it for initiation/scouting in addition to everything else it offers
  • Early on (the active is more useful in the laning phase)
Mostly, you want to pick it up for aggressive play. You DO NOT want to be using this to run away (Dust is very easy to get).

Who to Get It On

You want this item on good gankers that benefit from the attack speed and the move speed while invisible. It's a great item for sneaking past wards and getting into position.

Here are some (i.e. a handful of examples) heroes where the item is situationally a good pick up:
  • Silencer
    • He lacks the ability to chase well
    • He lacks attack speed
    • He benefits from ganking (stealing int)
    • He lacks an escape mechanism
  • Drow
    • She's able to pick off heroes quickly if she can easily land her silence
    • The DPS helps early-mid game (she is AGI, so eventually it won't matter that much)
    • She's a great ganker, but needs good positioning
    • She lacks an escape mechanism
  • Ursa
    • He benefits from the attack speed
    • He needs positioning
    • He's terrible at chasing
    • Helps him sneak into Roshan's pit (replaces Smoke of Deceit)
    • He lacks an escape mechanism
  • Bloodseeker
    • Great initiation tool for him (get next to enemy -> deal bonus damage -> rupture)
    • He lacks reliable chasing
    • He benefits from the attack speed (early to mid game)
    • Lacks a reliable escape mechanism
  • Tiny
    • Great for him to use during ganks to get into position and easily land his combo
    • Benefits from the attack speed (he has high base damage, but slow attacks)
    • Helpful for chasing
    • Again, gives him something for an escape if necessary
  • Shadow Fiend
    • Works decently well with his ult (he doesn't become visible until it's too late for his opponents)
    • Great for helping him get into position (i.e. landing razes when ganking)
    • Early-mid game, he has a ton of damage, but not as much attack speed
    • Yet again, it gives him something for an escape if needed


This is the part that gets people because they mostly see it used the wrong way. It's best used aggressively. You want to actively go ganking with it and make sure you make the most of that bonus damage out of invisibility.

You want to be using the item to:
  • Initiate (ganks or team fights)
    • Get into the middle of a crowd and start the fight
    • Find a hero off alone farming and get an easy kill
    • Sneak through the river and gank a lane
  • Sneak past Observer Wards
  • Scout out dangerous areas
It's an extremely aggressive item. It should never be picked up for the sole purpose of running away. You're setting yourself up for trouble because Dust is very cheap.

Final Thoughts & Reiterations

  • Get this to play aggressive
  • This is an item that forces team work
    • Hence why it is seen more in match making (and is more potent) than in pro matches
  • If you can't get it early game, it's probably not worth the investment
  • If you are team fighting a lot, it's probably not worth the investment
  • It's not a bad or good item, it's a situational pick up

Analysis: Supports That Scale Well

Heroes peak at different times during the game. If a hero does a flat amount of damage, then odds are they will peak earlier than a hero that scales with items or deals percent based damage.

Many support heroes peak early and tend to feel less useful as the game draws out. The effects of their spells (e.g. stuns, slows) are still useful, but the damage is not. This can be a problem in many pub games because you may or may not be able to rely on the 4 players that chose carry heroes.

Not all the heroes here may come across as support heroes, but they certainly can be played that way. For example, Mirana is a very versatile hero. She can semi-carry, but she can also be useful as a roaming support.

The main distinction I want to make here is that:
  • Yes, stuns and silences are useful throughout the game
  • No, 125 damage nukes are not useful late game
  • Yes, supports are incredibly useful
  • No, not all supports have enough impact in a pub setting to really help carry a team
Listed below are supports that can DPS pretty hard at any point in the game. They aren't just one-hit wonders (see: Tidehunter), they aren't just crowd control in the late game (e.g. Shadow Shaman). These are supports that can step up and semi-carry if needed, or be a main damage contributor in a small skirmish or full on team fight.


Heroes Generally Picked as Support


Shadow Demon

Shadow Demon might be the best scaling support right now. Disruption is powerful throughout the game because the Illusion damage scales as the heroes get more powerful. It's also a spell that can be a powerful anti-initiation tool. If your carry is caught out, you can disrupt them as the team comes to back you up, giving all your allies extra time to react.

Likewise, Soul Catcher deals bonus damage based on how much damage the target takes. As your allies become more powerful, so does this spell.

Shadow Poison is not to be scoffed at either. With just 4 stacks (at level 4), it can deal 520 damage. It has a short cooldown and gives vision as it moves, making it excellent for scouting.

Lastly, Demonic Purge is useful as a slow and buff removal at any point in the game. It's also a massive nuke at the end of the duration.



Though he's mostly magic damage (Edict is composite), Leshrac is still able to output a phenomenal amount of damage during team fights.

His stun is useful at any point in the game. Lightning isn't the best spell, but it still deals a ton of damage (over many targets). Edict is great for pushing at any point in time and allows him to contribute to fights even if the target is magic immune.

Most of his scaling comes from his ult. It deals a lot of damage, is spammable, great for team fights or pushing.


Vengeful Spirit

Vengeful Spirit's claims to late game scaling are in her Command Aura and Netherswap. The aura provides a massive boost to base damage (i.e. comes from your primary stat), making her an invaluable asset in team fights.

Netherswap can be used in a multitude of ways. She can sacrifice herself to save a more important ally that was initiated on, help set up fights, secure kills, etc.

Her other spells are powerful, but lose potency in late game. Wave of Terror is always great for the armor debuff, and as a scouting tool. Likewise, a stun is nothing to be scoffed at.

Lastly, as an AGI hero, she naturally gains some ability to DPS.



Her main areas of scaling come from Impetus and Untouchable. Impetus is not necessarily the best damage dealing spell in the game, but dealing pure damage (ignores armor) is always useful. Untouchable is also a great attribute of Enchantress, though she is lacking in HP.

The other spells she has drop off a bit, especially her healing wisps. They're still useful, but the heal is just not as good. Likewise, her ability to Enchant creeps (or slow an opponent) can still add to the team, but not as much as they do early game. Well timed Enchants of a creep like a wolf (i.e. crit aura) can be incredibly helpful. The slow is ok, but is less useful once the game shifts to mostly team fights.



Lina works great in late game for a lot of reasons. Her spells all have short cooldowns, allowing her to spam a lot of magic damage. Due to Fiery Soul, this in turn allows her to do some serious auto-attack damage.

Because many of her spells are AoE, she is able to do a lot of damage when you total it across multiple targets. The AoE component of her spells also allows her to push creep waves and defend towers very well.

Heroes The Can Be Support


Nature's Prophet

Prophet's scaling comes largely from his ability to farm quickly and his global presence. He can push very well and contribute to team fights from anywhere on the map with his ult.


Naga Siren

Naga has a versatile skill set all around. She is able to DPS well, being an AGI hero that has Illusions. Riptide also lowers armor.

Her Illusions can be used to push lanes and scout safely. Also, Net is a very useful lockdown throughout the game.

Lastly, her ult is a great asset in either initiating or escaping.



Mirana is very similar to Naga. Her skillset is useful in a variety of ways. Though the damage from her spells wears thin over time, her ult is incredibly useful throughout the game. Leap can be a great escape, but it also can be useful in teamfights for increasing nearby allies' move and attack speed. Her stats allow her to scale into a semi-carry if needed as well.



Though Netherblast doesn't deal much damage late game, it can be useful in pushing.

His scaling comes from his other three spells. Decrepify helps him deal more damage. Netherward is useful if dropped at the right time because it can decimate heroes with large mana consumption.

Pugna's ult is really what drives his scaling. While it's active, he can DPS as hard as a late game carry. With Aghanim's Scepter, his ult has no cooldown.

On a side note, as of the writing of this entry, Pugna has the highest INT gain in the game (I believe 4.0/level). While he may not have the attack speed naturally, his base damage is incredibly high in late game.



While generally played as a carry, Sven can fill the role of support due to his outstanding AoE Stun.

Given that he can be played as a carry, it's understandable that he scales well into the late game. This is from his Cleave and Ult, that allow him to output mass amounts of physical damage.


Scale Very Well, But Not The Best



In late game, Tidehunter does predominantly become a one-hit-wonder (i.e. go in, ult, and then do whatever for the rest of the team fight), he can still contribute due to Anchor Smash. It's a small, but decent nuke in an AoE that also reduces attack damage of those affected. Gush can also be useful because it reduces armor.


Sand King

Similar to Tidehunter, Sand King becomes a bit of a one-hit-wonder. However, Caustic Finale can output a ton of damage late game in quite a large area of effect. It's a great spell for pushing and for fighting near creep waves.



Enigma is on par with Tidehunter and Sand King. In late game, he's mainly there for his ultimate. However, Midnight Pulse deals percent based damage, making it a lot more deadly than many expect.

Eidelons are still useful, but become increasing more of a liability and source of free income for opponents.

Nyx Assassin

Nyx is able to shut down a multitude of heroes throughout the game. His ult deals an immense amount of damage. Though it might not allow him to 2-shot heroes late game, it still hurts quite a bit. His mana burn can be useful against certain carries, but also to shut down supports.

Spiked Carapace is a huge component of him as it reflects and negates damage dealt to him, while also being a powerful stun.


Witch Doctor

Well timed (and placed) Maledicts and Death Wards can wipe entire teams. Maledict on its own scales fairly well.

His stun can be a huge annoyance during team fights, but isn't necessarily as useful elsewhere.

Witch Doctor's heal also adds a considerable amount of regen for a minimal amount of mana.


Honorable Mentions



While he lacks the ability to do much damage late game, Omniknight's skill set is a huge asset. He provides a free BKB to allies. His ultimate can turn around team fights. Degen aura also has a huge imapct, being a massive slow to move and attack speed.


Keeper of the Light

Illuminate is a potent nuke throughout the game and is able to help clear creep waves. His Chakra Magic is also useful at any point during play.

The main reason he scales into late game is his ultimate form. Being able to summon a hero to the battle means that a carry can focus on farming or split pushing, but still be available to team fight at the drop of a hat. Blinding Light is also a great skill for helping fight auto-attack carries.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Basics of Playing Solo Mid

Who Should Solo Mid?

Given the right situation, any hero CAN mid. Some heroes are naturally better at it though, others need it more, and others might be situational picks.

Let's look at a few different areas that are associated with mid and break them down:
  • Dependency on XP
    • Mid is typically a solo lane, in which you get a lot more experience
    • Some heroes are more dependent on XP than others (e.g. Invoker - his abilities level differently, so to get one maxed out, you need many more levels than a traditional hero)
    • Sometimes, getting to a certain level (e.g. 6) or having spells that are more effective early game is a reason to be at mid
  • Dependency on Gold
    • As a solo mid, you have access to full waves of gold from creeps
    • If you cannot make use of that gold, there is less reason to put you mid
    • Having a good attack animation can play into last hitting
  • Ability to Control the Lane
    • You generally won't have a hero pulling creeps so that you can control where the creep wave collides
    • You need to be able to manipulate the wave via quick bursts of damage to wipe a wave
    • This aids in controlling the rune
  • Ability to use all Runes
    • As mid, you have a high level of access to the runes
    • Being able to make use of them all is an asset (e.g. a support hero might not have high DPS, so a DD rune would be wasted)
  • Survivability
    • Good supports will gank mid
    • Being able to survive ganks via escapes or other spells is  a core piece of many mid heroes because you may not have anyone come to help you
  • Ability to Gank
    • Mid heroes are incredibly helpful for controlling the game, ganking is a mechanism in which you can manipulate a game
    • Having good spells for ganking can be a reason to pick a hero at mid (e.g. stuns, slows, burst damage)
    • Some heroes can gank without leaving lane (e.g. Invoker w/ Sun Strike, Ancient Apparition's ult)
These are just some starting points for thinking about which hero you want to go mid, or what makes a good mid hero. Generally, the more of these aspects a hero has, the better they are going to be at mid.

However, you have to take into account the lineup you're running. Maybe getting Magnus to level 6 quickly to have his ult is more beneficial than picking a Queen of Pain that might fair better against the opponent, but is less useful overall in the particular lineup.

The player themself is also going to be a piece of the puzzle. Mid is one of the most mechanically demanding positions because you need to be able to last hit extremely well, know how to manipulate creep aggro, and determine when to gank.


Starting Items

When picking starting items, you'll usually have to take into consideration what hero you're up against. Generally, you'll want to get your Bottle quickly (if you're a bottle hero), but you don't want to jeopardize your ability to last hit, and some heroes have higher base damage than others.

Your options boil down to two main strategies: rushing Bottle or stacking stats and regen to gain an early upper hand.

Some things to consider:
  • If both you and your opponent Bottle Rush, one of you will have to bottle-crow
  • If you stack stats & regen, then you MUST get the early advantage, otherwise your items were not worth it

Here are a few builds you might see:

The Bottle Rush

  • 1 x Tangoes (90g)
  • 3 x Iron Branch (53g x 3 = 159g)
  • Left Over = 354g
Going with this approach, you'll have a bit more than 300g left over from your starting gold. This allows you to almost always get your Bottle before the 2 minute rune spawns. You get the benefit of the stats from the Iron Branches and some sustainability from Tangoes. All of your components will eventually be used if you make a Magic Wand, making this a very optimal starting build.

However, you're also going to be prone to losing out in last hits against an opponent with higher base damage. If you're worried you cannot get 6-7 last hits in 2 minutes, that you'll get harassed out of lane, or otherwise, you may consider a different build.

INT Stack

  • 2 x Mantle of Int (150g x 2 = 300g)
  • 1 x Tangoes (90g)
  • 3 x Iron Branch (53g x 3 = 159g)
  • Left Over = 54g
This is something you see on INT heroes moreso in pubs than pro games. You maximize your damage output by doing this build because you're not only getting base damage from the INT, you're increasing your mana pool so you can spam more spells.

With each point in INT, you get 13 mana. Between 2 Mantles and 3 Branches, you get 9 INT and 117 Mana. On a hero like Death Prophet, that's another spell you can spam to wipe out a wave and/or harass a hero.

However, you're going to be set back quite a bit for getting an early Bottle. It might be a struggle to get one before 2 minutes (rune spawn) without having excellent last hitting or getting an early kill. Also, you're not going to make use of both those Mantles. Building a Null Talisman is questionable at best if you're not planning to go for Dagon. However, it is only 300g that you're going to be throwing away (or selling for 150g).

NOTE: you can vary this quite easily by getting 2 Iron Branches and buying a Salve or 2 Clarities instead. Alternatively, some players opt to only get 1 Mantle, giving them a bit more base damage and mana, while not throwing away as much money.

Melee vs. Range

  • Stout Shield (250g)
  • Regen
    • a) 2 x Tangoes (180g)
    • b) Tangoes (90g) + Salve (100g)
  • 2-3 x Iron Branch (106g - 159g)
  • Left Over =  4g - 67g
When you're a melee hero up against a ranged hero, you have to expect a lot of harass if you want to get any last hits. Getting last hits here isn't just about the gold, it's making sure you don't get denied. By default, the ranged hero has an upper hand in 1v1, particularly if you're a hero like Night Stalker that has very low kill potential until night.

Therefore, you'll need Stout Shield to mitigate a lot of the damage you take when going for a last hit. Deducting 20 damage from a ranged hero is 1/3 to 1/2 their overall damage from auto attacks. You'll also need plenty of regen so you can stay in XP range.

Bottle rushing might not be as important here because you want to guarantee you'll stay even on levels (and farm if able).

Melee vs High Base Damage Melee

  • Quelling Blade (225g)
  • 1 x Tangoes (90g)
  • 2-3 Iron Branch (106g - 159g)
  • Left Over = 129g - 182g
This is more or less referring to going up against a hero like Tiny or Treant who have incredibly high base damage. Your options become to harass them out of lane or to try to match their last hitting ability by getting a Quelling Blade.

If you're able to harass them out, then that's the better option because most mid heroes aren't there to farm for lengthy periods of time. Plus, Quelling Blade is only useful against creeps, so your ganking ability is reduced.

However, if you're not confident in being able to harass them out of lane, you'll need something so that you can actually last hit. Otherwise, a hero like Tiny will be able to get everything because he can last hit before the creep is low enough for you to 1-shot deny/kill.

Other Stat Stacks

  • Big Stat Items
    • 1 x Slippers/Gauntlet (150g)
    • OR 2 x Slippers/Gauntlet (300g)
  • 1 x Tangoes (90g)
  • 2-3 Iron Branch (106g - 159g)
  • Left Over = 54g - 257g
These aren't as standard of starts, but can be good if you plan to get Urn of Shadows (makes use of the 2 Gauntlets), Drum of Endurance (makes use of 1 Gauntlet), Poor Man's Shield (makes use of the 2 Slippers), or Ring of Aquila (makes use of 1 Slipper).

There are various benefits to each. If you go for an AGI stack (not really recommended), it can help with last hitting, but your HP might be at stake. Also, many popular mids don't need to stack AGI. Templar Assasin has plenty of damage from her spells. Gyrocopter needs survivability or regen more.

Stacking Stats in general does not seem to be that common. Early game stat items don't build into much, and as mid you have plenty of farm. The exception might be a hero like Nightstalker that wants to rush Urn of Shadows for ganking.

You do see a casual +3 stat item for help in last hitting and survival/spam (i.e. STR/INT), but most heroes are going to rush Bottle quickly unless they know they will lose the lane otherwise.

Specialized Builds


Invoker Damage Rush

  • Blades of Attack (450g)
  • Tangoes (90g)
  • Iron Branch (53g)
  • Left Over = 10g
Around 6.74-6.75 ish, Invoker's base damage was reduced. This essentially forced him to go Exort Builds to compete at mid, otherwise his damage was too low and he'd quickly lose the lane due to inability to last hit or deny.

Picking up Blades of Attack (+9 damage) gives him some versatility. Exort Builds become powerful for harass and last hitting. Alternatively, it opens up the possibility of going Quas/Wex (still not as viable in pub games, but can be done). The Blades of Attack can later be used when building Phase Boots (pretty common pick up on Invoker).

As a hero that does not necessarily get a Bottle, Invoker doesn't have to worry about Bottle rush and can focus on levels and getting gold, ganking when there's an opening.


Early Magic Stick

There's not necessarily an exact build for this, it's just swapping items out and getting a Magic Stick instead. It's a risky move, but can be useful against a hero like Batrider or Zeus who typically spam spells like Sticky Napalm or Chain Lightning.

However, good players will be wary of this and avoid letting your stick get charged. If they do so, then your 200g did not help you much and you'll lose the lane. But, if you are able to outplay them and get the Magic Stick charged, you can engage in risky play because you have a burst heal to save you.

Things to Avoid

  • Bottle First
    • The regen is easy to cancel
    • If you only need HP regen, you'll have to waste the mana regen
    • If you miss the rune, you'll need to bottle crow
    • You have less HP, Mana, and auto attack damage than the opponent
    • Easy for your opponent to harass you into using all 3 charges
    • Susceptible to ganks
  • Getting Both a Quelling Blade and a Stout Shield
    • Too many passive items - you have no killing power
    • You'll be lacking in stats and regen
    • Basically portrays "I'm here to rice and nothing else" to your opponent
  • Building Full Items
    • Too much money when you could have stacked Iron Branches
    • Soul Ring can situationally be good, but you are susceptible to ganks and you cannot use Soul Ring if you are low on HP


Lane and Rune Control


Your general priorities will be something like:
  • Last Hit - gold and XP are very important at mid
  • Deny - getting an XP advantage will lead to more kills and more lane control
  • Harass - forcing your opponent out of lane is very good, but hard to do; it will also set up kills later on
There are exceptions to this. For instance, if you're up against a Bloodseeker, harassing him down and forcing him to use his regen will lead to him  backing off and having to wait for a courier to bring him regen.

Likewise, if someone has only a Bottle, or has no regen, then harassing becomes a high priority. If you can force them down to low HP with no regen, they have to leave the lane or spend money on regen items.

Lane/Creep Control

Creep Block

At the start of the game, it's important to creep block. Doing so will force the creep waves to collide so that you're on high ground and your opponent is on low ground.

Being in this situation is highly beneficial. You have better vision of your opponent. If they're Ranged, then they have a miss chance when shooting uphill.

Ideally, you'll want to block so that the Ranged Creep is in the front. This will lead to the Ranged Creep dying first and quickly (he has low HP and does more damage than Melee Creeps). The lane will then push further towards your tower and you'll have more control of the lane.

Wave Nuking

If you're a hero like Death Prophet, Queen of Pain, or Storm Spirit, then you have the option of nuking a wave down in one blast. You'll want to harass and deny while also evening out the enemy creeps. When they are all fairly low, you can use your nuke to take them out all at once (ideally hitting the opposing mid player as well).

The benefits of doing this are:
  • Ensuring you get all the last hits
  • Forcing your opponent to last hit under the tower (marginally harder)
  • Giving you time to creep block

Rune Control

Rune Control is heavily tied into Wave Nuking. When the timer is about 10-15 seconds before Rune spawn, you want to nuke down the creep wave.

Doing this forces your opponent to make a decision:
  • Contest the Rune
  • Get the XP and Gold from killing creeps
More often than not, they'll forfeit the rune because becoming underleveled and not keeping up in GPM can be much more devastating than missing a rune. You, on the other hand, get the best of both worlds.



Ganking is always a tough decision. You really cannot just go gank whenever someone asks for a gank (as demoralizing as that can be). If you go to gank and end up not getting any kills, waiting a long time and never getting the chance to initiate, etc... you wasted a lot of XP and GPM while giving the opposing mid an advantage.

Gank when you see a good opening. This usually involves a Rune or opponents being overextended. For instance, if you pick up Invisibility or Haste, you can usually go setup a nice gank.

Make it Quick. If you're gone for too long, players start to notice. A good opponent will be calling out MIA status, so your time is very limited. And, to reiterate, the longer you're out of lane, the more behind you get. If you can't make something happen in 15 seconds or less, then odds are it's not worth waiting for.

Your team has to help you. You can't just show up and gank most of the time. Your allies need to help set it up by letting the creep wave push out. If they start playing aggressive, it will tip off your targets that something is wrong (why would they play so carelessly otherwise?)

Sometimes you need items to aid you. Buy Smoke of Deceit or TPs. Ganking when it's unexpected or from an unexpected angle is highly advantageous.

Some mids don't gank much. Heroes like Shadow Fiend and Exort Invokers are at mid to get solo XP and gold more than they are to gank. Shadow Fiend doesn't really have a great ganking kit either given that he lacks stuns and slows, as well as any form of initiation. An Exort Invoker, on the other hand, can gank without leaving the lane by using Sun Strike.

Sometimes, ganking a winning lane is better than ganking a losing one. It's a situational call, but sometimes winning two lanes is better than spreading thin. An example might be if your carry is farming well, your offlane isn't doing well, but they aren't dying a lot and you're winning mid. It could be more beneficial to gank your carry's lane and make it a complete shut out victory there and at mid, then help your offlane come back later on in the game.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Theory Crafting: Tusk as a Support

Tusk has made a first impression on the Dota 2 scene as a snowbally semi-carry.

Personally, I see potential in him to be the next Nyx Assassin - a hero that at first glance looks like a pubstomper semi-carry, but is actually a very good Roaming Support.

Spell Breakdown

  • Ice Shards
    • Deals Damage and Blocks Pathing 
    • Comparison: similar to Earthshaker's Fissure
  • Snowball
    • Initiation
    • Stun + Damage
    • Comparison: it's like a less reliable Burrow Strike (Sand King spell)
  • Frozen Sigil
    • Massive AoE slow to move and attack speed
    • Comparison: Warlock's Upheaval or Omniknight's Degen Aura
  • Walrus Punch
    • Critial Strike on short cooldown
    • Also slows movespeed of target by 40% for a few seconds
    • Comparison: Nyx Assassin's Vendetta, Earthshaker's Enchant Totem, or Necrolyte's Scythe

Potential Issues

  • Ult scales with damage
  • Ult gets better when a hero is low HP (could be kind of kill-stealy, but depends on timing)
  • Traditional Support items may not be great on him (e.g. Arcane Boots)
He might not be the most item independent hero, but many other supports are definitely more effective with farm. Take Nyx Assassin for instance. With additional farm, he can easily solo kill heroes. Or Earthshaker - his crit gives 400% bonus damage, but he doesn't stack damage items. Granted it's not his ult, but it's still relevant.

Final Thoughts

I think Tusk has a lot of potential as a roaming support hero. He has a lot of spells that can be used in a supportive way. Sure, you might not be getting the most out of his ult if you don't stack damage items, but many other supports suffer the same problem. When you look at the bottom line, any hero will become more effective with items.

In the right lineup, Tusk could be an extremely effective support that has potential to scale into late game. He is a bit less reliable than some other supports, but he also has a lot to offer.

Comparison: Sustainability Items (Early-Mid Game)

There are three big items that help with sustainability throughout the early-mid game:
  • Tranquil Boots
  • Vanguard
  • Mekansm



Tranquil Boots Vanguard Mekansm
Cost 975g 2225g 2306g
  • Ring of Protection
    • 175g
  • Ring of Regen
    • 350g
  • Boots
    • 450g
  • Stout Shield
    • 250g
  • Ring of Health
    • 875g
  • Vitality Booster
    • 1100g
  • Headdress
    • 603g
  • Buckler
    • 803g
  • Recipe
    • 900g
  • +80 Move Speed
  • +3 Armor
  • +3 HP/Sec
  • +250 HP
  • +6 HP / Sec
  • +5 STR
  • +5 AGI
  • +5 INT
  • +5 Armor
Active HEAL
  • 170 HP over 10 Seconds
  • Regen Stops if damaged by players or Roshan
  • Costs 24 Mana
  • 40 Second Cooldown
  • Heals 250 HP in 750 Radius
  • Applies +2 Armor in a 750 Radius
  • Cannot affect units that have had Restore in last 25 seconds
  • Costs 150 mana
  • 45 Second Cooldown
Passive BREAK

If damage is taken (20 minimum) 4 times in 10 seconds, Boots become Boots of Speed until the last 10 seconds don't have 4 instances of damage.

70% chance to block damage (40 if you are Melee, 20 if you are Ranged)

+4 HP / sec to all allies in 500 radius

Tranquil Boots


These boots are amongst the best items in the game right now. Cheap cost, paired with an excellent heal for a low mana cost make them a great option for a number of heroes. Being able to disassemble them later on is even more of an incentive to buy them.

You'll frequently see these picked up on off-laners who need the HP regen to live through the trilane harass. Carries also pick these boots up frequently for the burst of healing and the low cost gives them a decent set of boots that allow them to hit bigger items faster. Junglers also pick these up frequently (specifically melee junglers).

Burst Healing vs. Sustained Healing

In a lot of ways, the burst of healing is much better than a sustained healing (e.g. Vanguard). In a high level setting, you're more likely to see a coordinated attempt to quickly burst a hero down (e.g. double stun) than a spell here and there. If you live through the combo, you can retreat and be back in the fray within 10 seconds.

On the other hand, an item like Vanguard would take significantly longer to allow you to return to the action.

Downsides and Coping

There are some downsides to Tranquil Boots. You don't get any HP, they are terrible for escaping (being able to break), and they give no stats.

But like every item, the downsides aren't so bad if you realize how to play around them. You want to be the aggressive side of a conflict if you get these, static farming, or already have a good escape mechanism.



At the moment, Vanguard is fairly unpopular at the pro level. In many ways, it's overshadowed by Tranquil Boots. The two items fill a similar role, but Tranquil Boots are a fraction of the cost of Vanguard, making Tranquils much more appealing. Having an extra 1250g means you're able to get big items faster.

That said, Vanguard is still a very powerful early-mid game item if you can farm it fast enough, but really only if you're a melee hero. The HP and Regen are great, but the damage block is devastating early game. On average, you're blocking 28 damage per auto attack, which is roughly half of many heroes base damage. However, you must take into account that much of the damage early game is from spells, but that's where the 250 raw HP is useful.

Downsides and Coping

The real downside of Vanguard is the price, and to some extent the rate of regeneration.

To make the most use of the item, you'd want to get aggressive early on and be involved in many team fights. Early game is where the damage block will make the most difference (unless you plan on tanking creep damage).

If you plan on getting a farming item (e.g. Hand of Midas, Battlefury), then you will not want to pick up a Vanguard. It will set you back too much.

If you plan on farming heroes, this might be a good option. However, items like BKB may be more important to pick up early

If you are an Illusion hero, you're better off picking up the Vitality Booster and saving it for a Heart. As far as I know, your Illusions only benefit from flat HP, stats, and certain attack modifiers (e.g. Diffusal Blade). Damage Block animations may play for your Illusions, but the damage is not blocked.

At best, Vanguard is currently a luxury item similar to Bloodstone. It's nice to have, but no one absolutely needs it. The price is too high for what you get. If you get it, that should only be if you've been fed several kills very early on and plan to keep playing aggressively.



Mek is generally considered a "support" item, but in reality any hero can pick it up (e.g. Carries like Necrolyte frequently pick Mek up). A burst heal is good at any point in the game. The item gives a lot of good stats and the HP regen is very good, for being an aura. The components are small (other than the recipe), so it's quite easy to build up to.

Some pros have argued that Mekansm is more efficient than Vanguard and that if you're considering Vanguard, to get a Mek instead. A burst heal for the entire team can turn a fight around moreso than a single hero with Vanguard.

Downsides and Coping

The main issues with Mek are that it is expensive (though made up of inexpensive items), it requires activation (which can be hard to remember in the midst of a fight, especially if you've taken the least damage), and the mana cost is high (150). The heal and armor do become less helpful late game, but 250 burst heal is still decent.

To cope, you can build the item over time. It's generally more beneficial to get Buckler early because it has the active armor bonus that can essentially be activated all the time (cooldown and duration are the same). It's great for pushing towers as well.

During a fight, you just need to make sure you don't get initiated on so that you can activate Mekansm.

Lastly, it helps to be a hero with a high mana pool so that you can afford to use Mekansm often and when needed.

Final Thoughts

All three items are great for early game sustainability.

Over the years, Vanguard has fallen a lot in popularity. Changes that nerfed it ranged heroes started the downfall. With the introduction of Tranquil Boots and their rise in popularity, Vanguard has been overshadowed.

Another big factor seems to be a pacing change in the game. Vanguard was picked up considerably more when popular strategies did not involve as much early game pressure. Carries don't have the time to farm up a Vanguard just to be safe.

I would not go so far as to say Vanguard is a "bad item", but there are too many other items that are higher priority, and a number of heroes that can mitigate the downside of not having a Vanguard. For instance, Magnus is a powerful initiator with a long duration stun. Having several seconds to attack your opponents care free means you can prioritize damage items over something that is more for survivability.

As for the other items - Mekansm has always been popular. Given that Vanguard only blocks 20 damage on Ranged heroes, Mek is a pretty good substitute if you really want that extra survivability. It's an item that doesn't always have to be pawned off to the supports. In some cases, it can be hugely beneficial for a carry to get it. For example, Necrolyte is frequently in the middle of the fight so that his Pulses hit everyone. Having him carry a Mek is convenient for healing your entire team with ease (as opposed to a hero like Sniper who is off to the side). Razor is another good candidate, though lacking in mana.

Tranquil Boots are border line broken at the moment. They provide so many benefits like burst healing, cost effective, cheap, disassemble-able, and a lot of speed. If you're on the offensive, they aren't very likely to break, which makes them great for aggressive carries that want the heal and speed, but don't want to put a lot of money into boots early game.

In my opinion, Tranquil Boots have completely obsoleted Vanguard, and Vanguard is in need of buffs or is only going to be seen as a niche/luxury pick up going forward.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tip: Play Aggressive Early Game

One of the biggest problems I see in newer players is not knowing how and when to play aggressive. Actually, it seems that most players don't know how to respond to aggression. It's a fundamental part of the game and improving.

The thing is that it's scary for most new players. There are a lot of things to take into account, like:
  • You do not have a large mana pool. What if you need those spells later?
  • What if you feed?
You're not going to just blindly throw spells down. You want to use them intelligently. Aggression applied at the right time leads to lane control. If you can get an opponent to use all their regen and get them to low HP again after that, they are pretty much helpless (this is also basically how you deal with Bloodseeker mid).

I'm going to walk through a few common places where people should exercise more aggression early on.

The Opposing Mid Got a Bottle First (With No Other Items)

Getting a bottle first is like begging to be abused. There are many issues with getting bottle first:
  • Minor Stats: they don't matter a whole lot, but anything that helps you get last hits is good. You'll be able to take about one more auto attack and maybe cast an additional spell.
  • Bottle regen can be cancelled, Tango regen cannot
  • If you fail to get the first rune, you're sitting there with a 600g item that does nothing for you
  • If you need to regen HP, you ideally should need to regen Mana

Contextual Example: Tiny (You) vs. Pudge

To put this in context, let's say you're Tiny and you're against a Pudge that bought Bottle first.

Pudge will generally have Rot at level 1. He gets bottle because Meat Hook takes a huge amount of mana (he can only cast it once before needing to regen).

If you get a few auto attacks in on him, then he's going to need to use a bottle charge (because at level 2, your combo could potentially kill him). The problem with this for him is that he gets 50% efficiency from the bottle. It heals him, but his mana is already full.

At level 2, let's say he's at full mana, but has low HP. Now he has to decide: do I want full efficiency from Bottle, or do I just want the heal? If he chooses to throw a hook and actually hits you with it, then you're next to him while he's at low HP. You combo him, and he dies. If he just sips the bottle, then he misses out on casting a spell.

Contextual Example: Queen of Pain (You) vs. Viper

Here's another example where Bottle is terrible first and you should be aggressive. If you're both sitting at level 2. You play aggressively against Viper and he gets very low. He retreats up the ramp so he can regen, but before that, you manage to hit him with Shadow Strike.

Now he has to wait ~15 seconds to use Bottle because of the DoT. That's plenty of time for you to finish him off, pop a Salve, use your own Bottle, etc.

You Bought Clarities (and Regen)

If you bought something at the start, you should use it. Especially clarities. They allow you to use more spells than you normally would be able to.

Try to attempt level 1 kills. If it fails, who cares? You have mana regen.

A lot of players don't realize how potent your spells are at level 1. They don't need to do a lot of damage at level 1 because your opponent doesn't have much HP, they won't have boots, and they won't have stats from items or levels (you get some minor stats each level).

The basic message here is that if you bought something, make sure you use it.

Your Team Has More Heroes in a Lane

If you're running a 2v1 or a 3v1, then there is no reason not to be aggressive.

Passive play here leads to:
  • The solo outleveling you (you're splitting XP with others in lane, they are not)
  • The solo getting gold
  • The solo getting kills and being useful later on
Here are a few examples:

Contextual Example: Crystal Maiden (You) + Anti-Mage vs. Windrunner

In this example, Windrunner is solo in the hard lane. You're babysitting Anti-Mage.

Get on the other side of the creeps and chase Windrunner out of XP range. If she's smart, then her first spell was Windrun. Meanwhile, you might have Frostbite or Nova, which both do damage. You can exchange blows with her, use spells for harass, or whatever.

If you get hurt or need mana, use a Tango or use a Clarity. Meanwhile, your Anti-Mage is getting free farm and Windrunner is not getting any levels. Pretty soon you and Anti-Mage will be higher level than Windrunner and can get easy kills on her. Just be careful to not draw creep aggro at first (chase Windrunner a bit before attacking her, or use the trees to your advantage)

Some players will tell you to go pull. But you're a 2v1 lane. If you go to pull, the result is:
  • Anti-Mage is solo versus a ranged hero that can harass him out of lane
  • Windrunner can easily contest the creep pull
  • Windrunner is in XP range, so she'll level faster than you and Anti-Mage (or at least at the same pace)

Contextual Example: Venomancer (You) + Sven vs. Drow

Let's say you're in the hard lane while Drow is solo in her safe lane.

Drow is a hero that will stomp if she outlevels you significantly. Once she gets a few levels of aura + her ult, she's doing a ton of damage.

So many players are passive against her and just try to farm and deny. Why not just kill her? What is she going to do at level 1? Frost arrow you? She cannot do anything. She's very slow and has low HP.

Just have Sven stun her, then Venomancer can easily land a Gale. A few auto attacks and she's dead. Now the both of you are level 2, she has no money and has to walk back to lane. After that it's smooth sailing.

Why would you wait? It's like a time bomb.

Worst case scenario is that she hugs the tower. However, at level 1, you should be able to kill her pretty quickly the second she oversteps. You can also do something like push the lane into the tower, then go and block your creep wave. At a certain point you can also dive her.

Your Opponent Skilled a Passive Ability

I see a lot of newer players who lose to Necrolytes that skill their aura at level 1, Silencers that get Curse of the Silent at level 1, and so on.

Skilling your abilities this way is like putting a target on your head.

If you are against them, you have two options:
  1. Do nothing - you'll take a lot of damage over time and find them controlling the lane
  2. Kill them - they have nothing else to offer. Necrolyte doesn't have his heal/damage at level 1 if he got aura. Likewise, Silencer doesn't have his silence/disarm
There is virtually nothing they can do to stop you. If Silencer casts Curse, then stun him and have your ally go on him at the same time. Boom. He's dead. He has low HP, low movement speed, and low armor. He might have an ally that can stun or something, but now Silencer has to use all his regen to get back into lane or risk getting killed.

Likewise, Necrolyte can't do shit. If you kill him, you've removed the annoyance of his aura for a while as he walks back to lane (unless he has money to TP). You get bonus gold and XP (plus a morale boost).

The Exception

Not every passive merits going for a quick kill. Say a Luna skills her passive first. If her lane partner is also ranged, now they are able to output a significant amount of damage through auto attacks (and besides, Luna's other options are shit like a weak nuke/mini-stun, and glaives which aren't useful in lane).

Your Opponent is Weak Early Game

Some heroes are naturally dead weight early game. Take Anti-Mage for instance. He will either grab Blink or Mana Burn early on. neither of which is very useful compared to a Stun, Slow, or Nuke.

When you see a dual lane with a combo like Lich + Anti-Mage, just kill the Lich early on (lvl 1-3). Anti-Mage can't do anything to stop you. Kill the support and the carry is helpless. And if you control the lane the carry is in, then it's less likely he'll become scary early on (e.g. 30-40 minutes, where Anti-Mage usually peaks in usefulness).

Your Spells Scale Poorly

No matter what point you're at in the game, you can contribute something. But, not every hero has damage that scales the same.

Two examples I can quickly think of are Crystal Maiden and Timbersaw.

Crystal Maiden
  • She has powerful slows and semi-stuns that are great all game
  • Her spell damage quickly tapers off and is not very effective
  • Instead of getting lots of levels of her passive spell (mana aura), get 0-1 level of it and go for your damage spells
  • Get lots of kills early while you have the great combination of:
    • Good Damage
    • Powerful Slow
    • Powerful Stun
    • (Hint: Not many heroes offer all that early game)
  • Also, look at Crystal Maiden: she's slow, has low HP, and can't really auto attack well
    • She is an aggressive hero. If she is forced to run or take damage, SHE WILL DIE
  • His spells don't scale that well past mid game (yes, his ult is PURE damage, but it's still going to fall off in DPS)
  • He thrives in the lane when heroes have low mobility and HP (easier to land has spells and kill with them)
    • Also, there are a lot of trees in the lane that he can latch onto
  • You NEED to get early kills so that you get the money to get items that give you the regen that lets you do marginally better late game via spamming

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Basics of Trilaning

Trilanes are a tactic used in organized matches to work towards specific goals like optimizing farm, XP, or denying the other team some advantage.

While there are many variations on Trilanes, there are three basic forms:

  • Defensive Trilane - 3 heroes in the safelane with the goal of getting their carry free farm
  • Jungle Trilane - 2 heroes in the safe lane, 1 in the jungle with the goal of getting the carry farm while also maximizing XP advantage
  • Offensive Trilane - 3 heroes in the hard lane, with the goal of screwing over the opponent's carry (typically you'll see a Trilane vs. Trilane)
I'm going to use the following notation to visually show the configuration of your lanes:


Defensive Trilane

General Overview

  • Configuration: 3 --- 1 --- 1 --- [0]
  • Goals:
    • Get your carry farmed
    • Deny opponent farm and XP
    • Second Support gets some farm from pulls (and Lane Support to some extent)
  • Typical Composition:
    • Hard Carry (#1)
    • Lane Support (#5)
    • Second Support (#4)
  • Example Lineups:
    • Luna (Hard Carry), Jakiro (Lane Support), Sand King (Second Support)
    • Chaos Knight (Hard Carry), Wisp (Lane Support), Rubick (Second Support)
  • Items
    • Second Support - Sentry Wards, Smoke of Deceit (for ganking / courier sniping)
    • Hard/Lane Support - Observer Wards (given to off-lane), Courier
  • Potential Issues
    • An aggressive trilane has the potential to dominate a defensive trilane
    • Fast pushing against your offlane cane force the supports to rotate or they get 1-2 tower (potentially even a Barracks)

Specific Roles

  • Carry
    • Farm - get gold and XP
    • Deny - deny creeps from opponent (but prioritize farming)
  • Lane Support:
    • Zone - position yourself between the creep wave and the opponent (if able to), or at least make them nervous to get too close to the creep wave. Ideally, you want to push them out of XP range.
    • Harass - get some hits in on the opponent. If you have mana regen (Clarity Potions, KotL, Arcane Boots), be sure to use that to your advantage.
    • Deny- deny creeps when the carry has to choose between farming and denying (otherwise the carry can do it). You can also hit creeps down that are < 50% HP to help with lane control.
    • (Farm) - ONLY take creep kills that your Carry/Second Support cannot get to in time or are in dangerous areas (assuming you're ranged)
    • (Gank) - Once the carry is established (i.e. have decent farm, cannot be contested in lane), rotate to other lanes, gank, etc.
  • Second Support:
    • Stack - stack creep camps, particularly the pull camp (pulling a stacked camp will kill a full creep wave, effectively denying a full wave of XP to your opponent)
    • Pull - bring neutral creeps into the creep wave to exercise lane control. This is also where you'll get your farm.
    • Gank - in a 3v1 situation, you'll be over by the pull mostly. When you're not (or the lane is too close to the tower), gank the lane and try to get a kill or send the opponent home. Also, once the carry has been established, move on to other lanes.

Optimal Results

  • The carry is 3+ levels higher than the opponent in lane
  • Carry has free farm
  • Second Support (and Lane Support to a small extent) has farm from pulling and killing neutral creeps
  • Opponent has minimal farm, is extremely underleveled, and/or has died multiple times
  • Carry is well established and support is able to help win other lanes (or shift into 4 protecting 1 tactic)


Jungle Trilane

General Overview

  • Configuration: 2 --- 1 --- 1 --- [1]
  • Goals:
    • Get your carry farmed
    • Maximize Second Support's (Jungle Support) Farm and XP
  • Typical Composition:
    • Hard Carry (#1)
    • Lane Support (#5)
    • Jungle Support (#4)
  • Example Lineups:
    • Phantom Lancer (#1), KotL (#5), Nature's Prophet (#4)
    • Gyrocopter (#1), Jakiro (#5), Enigma (#4)
  • Items
    • Jungle Support - Varies based on hero, playstyle, and lineups
    • Hard/Lane Support - Observer Wards (given to off-lane), Courier
  • Potential Issues
    • Less lane control unless your Jungle Support is stacking and pulling (or your Lane Support is)
    • Your lane is weaker and good suicide laners can take advantage of that (e.g. Darkseer is very hard to deal with in 2v1) 

Specific Roles

  • Carry
    • Farm - get last hits, maximize GPM and XP
    • Deny - deny creeps when you can, but prioritize farm
  • Jungle Support
    • Farm - you are jungle to maximize XP and GPM across all lanes
    • Gank - you generally will have to gank the lane because good suicide lanes can exercise too much control and have too much farm or mess up your carry's farm. You need to keep them on their toes.
    • (Stack + Pull) - some junglers will stack and pull. It's good to do this when you can, but won't always be necessary.
    • Important Note: If you are AFK farming, you're probably doing this role incorrectly (there can be exceptions, but generally you'll NEED to gank). Also, you're still a "support" hero.
  • Lane Support
    • Zone - force the opponent away from the creep wave so they get no XP
    • Harass - get damage on your opponent whenever your can (preferably without drawing creep aggro or putting yourself in a bad situation)
    • Deny - deny creeps your carry will not (e.g. they are last hitting at the moment), start denying when creeps are < 50% HP to exercise lane control (not always necessary if you have a pull)
    • (Stack + Pull) - stack and pull when possible (e.g. you know your carry will be ok alone)
    • (Gank) - help gank other lanes when your carry is established and will be OK solo (having TPs is beneficial here so that you can return to the lane quickly if needed)

Optimal Results

  • Carry has level advantage
  • Jungle Support has level and farm advantage over opposing second support
  • Jungle Support has aided in multiple kills
  • Carry has free farm
  • Lane Support has level advantage over opposing lane support
  • Opposing off-laner has minimal farm and is underleveled


Offensive Trilane

General Overview

  • Configuration: 1 --- 1 --- 3 --- [0]
  • Goals:
    • Get kills
    • Deny opposing carry farm
  • Typical Composition:
    • Carry/Semi-Carry/Trilane Farmer (#1)
    • Aggressive Support (#5)
    • Second Support (#4)
  • Example Lineups:
    • Sven (#1), Jakiro (#5), Undying (#4)
    • Chaos Knight (#1), Leshrac (#5), KotL (#4)
  • Items
    • Second Support - Varies (e.g. split Wards & Courier, get Smoke, etc.)
    • Aggressive Support - Varies / Observer Wards (given to off-lane), Courier
  • Potential Issues
    • Opposing Trilane is not against your Trilane - now you'll have to move, attempt to farm the off-lane, push a tower quickly, etc.
    • They have a powerful Defensive Trilane (e.g. KotL makes it hard to be aggressive)

Specific Roles

  • Carry/Semi-Carry/Farmer 
    • Farm - take last hits when you can
    • Attempt Kills -  initiate fights or be prepared to follow up
  • Second Support
    • Set Up Kills - try to set up stuns, or abilities that will enable the carry to get kills
    • Harass - put damage on opponents so kills are easier
    • Deny - deny creeps so opponents do not level or farm well
  • Aggressive Support
    • Set Up Kills - try to set up stuns, or abilities that will enable the carry to get kills
    • Harass - put damage on opponents so kills are easier
    • Deny - deny creeps so opponents do not level or farm well

Optimal Results

  • Opposing Trilane cannot stack & pull
  • Opposing carry is killed multiple times
  • Opposing carry has no farm
  • Your carry has plenty of kills (reliable gold)
  • Enemy trilane is forced to move or lose the lane


Miscellaneous Notes

  • Terminology
    • Stack = getting neutral creep aggro at the right time so that while they are following you, the camp respawns and now you have multiple sets of creeps in that camp
    • Pull = aggroing neutral creeps so they follow you into your own creep wave (which will then follow the neutral creeps)
    • Suicide Lane = a solo hero in the hard lane that goes against a Trilane
  • Only stack & pull when it is appropriate
    • Done to gain Lane Control (move creep collision closer to your tower, push the enemy tower, etc)
    • Also done to deny XP to opponent
    • Can be risky in 3v3 or 3v2 because your lane is weaker while you pull, they can attempt a tower push, or can contest your pull (stealing the farm you were attempting to deny)
    • Stack + Pull is good for moving the lane close to your tower, denying XP & Gold
    • Single Pull is good for making a big wave of creeps in order to push (note: siege creeps come every 3 minutes)
    • Using a Single Pull to get a tower can be disadvantageous if your carry is farming well and you do not want to draw attention to that fact (if a tower is under attack, you might have supports TP to defend and put pressure on your carry)
  • There are several other pulls that can be useful at times:
    • Dire Double Pull - on Dire side you can pull the small camp into the lane, you can also pull the big camp near the river into the normal pull camp
    • Radiant Double Pull - You can pull the medium camp into the pull camp by chopping down a tree
    • Radiant Hard Lane Pull - You can pull the camp near the river into your creep wave (done with some suicide laners like Lone Druid, Darkseer)
    • Radiant Mid Lane Pull - Your support can come and pull the small camp (need to chop down a tree) to stall the lane / kill off a creep or two (to be honest, I can't remember if this was patched or not)
  • A good Suicide Laner can mooch XP or farm safely, even against a Trilane (e.g. Windrunner, Broodmother, Bounty Hunter, Beast Master, etc.)
  • A Trilane done properly will absolutely destroy a Dual Lane
  • Generally, once a carry is established (has good farm, can solo the lane) then the supports go to gank other lanes in order to win more lanes
  • Sometimes, ganking begins when your own suicide lane hits a specific level (e.g. when Bounty Hunter hits level 6 and gets Track)
  • A Jungle Trilane can be effective for maximizing XP across all your heroes, but can be risky because 2v1 is not as dominant as a 3v1
  • You might see other non-trilane lineups such as Dual Mid and Dual Roaming Supports
  • Certain Heroes are innately good at Trilane vs. Trilane. Some examples are:
    • KotL (Illuminate)
    • Visage (Soul Assumption)
    • Undying (Decay + Tombstone)