Thursday, May 23, 2013

Analysis: Jungle Heroes



This post will have 2 sections:
  • Jungle Hero Tiers
  • General Jungling Tips


Jungle Hero Tiers

Not all junglers are equally good at it. You'll notice many top tier junglers have summons. The next best thing is something to clear camps quickly (usually AoE) that can be sustained (rather than a single nuke).


Top Tier


Basically this tier is reserved for heroes with numerous minions to help them jungle quickly and without much risk. By micro-ing your summons, you can keep them alive longer and take essentially no damage on your actual hero.
  • Enchantress
    • Stacking Neutrals and then using Wildkin's (AKA "Wild Wing") Tornado to clear it will expedite your jungling substantially
  • Chen
    • Stacking Neutrals and then using Wildkin's (AKA "Wild Wing") Tornado to clear it will expedite your jungling substantially
  • Enigma
  • Nature's Prophet


Very Good


These heroes work fairly well in the jungle, but may not be as fast or may have increased risk compared to the Top Tier.
  • Dark Seer
    • Ion Shell makes for fast jungling, but he can be vulnerable because he needs to maintain close proximity to the Neutrals
    • Smoke of Deceit can help his jungling - Neutrals won't be able to see him and he can still cast/use Ion Shell. 
    • Making Stacks and using Smoke can further expedite his jungling
  • Batrider
    • Does decently well by stacking Sticky Napalm and using Firefly
    • Stacking Neutral camps is essential for fast jungling with Batrider
  • Axe
    • He's faster than many heroes, but far more vulnerable than Dark Seer and Batrider
    • Getting Tranquil Boots is absolutely necessary to jungle on Axe (need the constant source of healing)
    • Stacking Neutrals is also essential. The more units attacking Axe results in more changes to trigger Counter-Helix


Can Jungle (But Slow and/or Vulnerably / Would Be Better Elsewhere)


This is a subset of heroes that have the capacity to jungle, but would be very susceptible to ganks, or they are very slow junglers because of the rate at which they clear Neutral camps. There are tricks to help them be more viable in the jungle, but they will NEVER be as fast as any of the tiers above them.
  • Lifestealer
    • Feast makes Lifestealer a Viable jungler
    • He is incredibly vulnerable because he'll be taking hits from creeps
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time
    • Stacking a Big Neutral Camp can help so that he can ult it when he hits level 6
  • Ursa
    • Fury Swipes makes Ursa a viable jungler (combined later with Vladamir's Offering)
      •  NOTE: Get Morbid Mask LAST - it is a Unique Attack Modifier (UAM) and will be overridden by Fury Swipes. Vlads only works because it's an Aura, not a UAM
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time
  • Doom
    • Devour makes him a viable jungler
    • Stacking Neutrals and then using Wildkin's (AKA "Wild Wing") Tornado to clear it is necessary in farming the jungle fast enough.
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time
  • Lone Druid
    • Spirit Bear helps Lone Druid jungle
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time
  • Skeleton King
    • Vampiric Aura allows SK to jungle
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time
  • Lycan
    • Summon Wolves allows Lycan to jungle
    • Utilizing "Choke Point Jungling" helps him be more Viable in the jungle
      • This entails using Tangos/Quelling Blade to make a cut in the treeline so you only have to face 1 unit at a time


Can Jungle, But Questionable....


  • Storm Spirit
    •  He can by stacking camps, then using Smoke of Deceit and Static Remnant to clear them
  • Luna
    • She can by using a Quelling Blade / Tangos to cut down trees and attack Neutrals from the high ground. Doing this properly will kite them so that they will de-aggro before they are in range to attack you
  • There are plenty of other examples of heroes like this if you search youtube. But there's really no reason to jungle them unless you randomed and can't fit them into a lane.


General Jungling Tips

You'll notice that good junglers all have summons. With them, it's usually about doing a bit of micro:

  • If a summon is low on HP, move them back a bit (alternatively, attack-move them to a friendly unit to lose aggro instantly - it tricks the game)
  • Use a clarity potion to regen mana while clearing a camp
  • Start on smaller camps and build up
  • Gank the lane when you see an opening (you want to keep the enemy on their toes and get kills)

With the other junglers, you have to do one of these:

  • Be patient
    • Heroes like Doom, Lifestealer, Skeleton King, Lone Druid are all just very very slow junglers and won't be useful for a long ass time
    • Make sure to have wards or just be careful. Many of these heroes are very gankable (i.e. they tank creep damage) while jungling
    • Picking up lots of HP Regen and a Stout Shield is helpful
    • Early Tranquil Boots are great for the regen
  • Get Creative
    • With Batrider, you want to stack camps of creeps, then stack Napalm charges on them and kill them with auto attacks, Firefly, or Flamebreak
    • Sometimes you can use Quelling Blade to chop down a tree and use "Chokepoint" jungling (make it so only 1 creep can hit you at a time)
    • If you have range, use the high ground to attack from (for the miss chance against ranged creeps - good for any ranged jungler really)

Ursa & Lycan usually rush Vlad's so they Rosh early. Note that on Ursa, he has a Unique Attack Modifier (fury swipes), so getting Morbid Mask (lifesteal) won't work until you have Vlads finished (then it becomes an aura and works).

For many heroes, getting Ring of Basilius is great because it gives mana regen and gives your summons an armor aura.


  • Stack time is 55 for most creeps. Some ranged creeps you need to pull at 53 or 54.
  • Ancients stack at 52
  • You can pull at 15-17 (useful for many junglers and controlling the lane)
  • Stacking before pulling wipes out an entire friendly creep wave, therefore your opponent gets none of the experience
  • Only pull if the creep wave is pushed out and you need to bring it close to the tower
  • be careful of enemies that might come to attempt to steal your pull creeps

For Axe:

Usually just try to stack camps (the more units hitting him, the more chances he has to spin).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Basics of Playing Suicide Lane (Offlane)


The "Offlane" can refer to many different scenarios:
  • Suicide Lane
    • Typically a 1v3 scenario
    • Can also encompass the 1 vs. 2 + Jungle scenario, which is much easier to control and heroes like Windrunner are much more viable in the Suicide Lane then
  • Solo Hard Lane
    • This is a 1v1 matchup where you're far from your tower and more subject to jungle ganks (if they have a jungler), and sometimes roams
  • Solo Safe Lane
    • This is also a 1v1 matchup, but you have the safety of being near your tower
    • Semi-carry and some carry-type heroes become viable solos in this lane (e.g. Gyro, sometimes Luna)

An "Offlane" player is typically ranked #3 in farm priority. In some situations, that player would become the farmer in an offensive trilane.

The key component of defining "offlane" is that it is in a side lane, and the player is NOT a primary carry.

This post will focus primarily on the Suicide Lane Role.


There are a several key things to Suicide Lane:
  • Tricks
  • Positioning
  • Vision
  • Sizing up your opponent
  • Item Choice
  • Giving Up




A common "trick" would be using Ion Shell on creeps to get farm. Many heroes have stuff like this that helps.
For instance, if you watch Admiral_Bulldog play LD, you'll notice that he sends the bear to pick up the enemy creep wave between the Tier 1 and Tier 2 towers, then kites them between his own T1 and T2 towers. This allows him to get some safe farm. If that doesn't work out well enough, there's always a jungle to go to.
With Nature's Prophet, you can do basically the same thing.
Heroes like Beastmaster (and sometimes Tinker -- has run him offlane before) can utilize Soul Ring and stack ancients (Axes are composite damage --> they damage ancient creeps, similarly you can stack with the Boar). This allows you to make up your farm toward the end of the laning phase when you're strong enough to farm the stack.
Other heroes, like Bounty Hunter, don't even really need to farm. They just need to mooch XP until they hit level 6 and can get plenty of farm with ganks.
Other easy tricks:
  • Creep Blocking can help a bit
  • If you're Radiant Hard Lane, you can eat through the tree of the neutral camp near the river and pull creeps from there to help control the lane



You need to maintain the right amount of distance from your opponent. Never be too close to their trees and always leave yourself an escape route.
There are some tricks you can learn, like if you have Tangos, there are trees you can eat through around the side shop and sneak out the back (SexyBamboe has some good replays of this).
If I recall correctly, Demon played an offlane KotL and bought a Quelling Blade to burrow into the trees and get some XP/CS that way.
But overall, just watch where you're standing. Make the most use out of Line of Sight.



Get to the lane early and drop wards so that you can see the opponent. It's generally more important to place wards that give vision than wards that block neutral spawns (and in competitive games, the opponent will have Sentries to deward those anyway).
Major areas to have vision of are:
  • The pull camp --- this lets you know when there is one less support in lane and you can afford to be a bit more aggressive. Sometimes you can also go and try to mooch XP (or even gold) from the neutrals.
  • Behind the Tier 1 Tower --- a lot of the time, you can get this along with vision of the pull camp. Having vision here lets you see when mid is coming to gank or someone else is rotating to gank. If you manage to get a kill, you'll have vision of the player returning to lane
  • The Clearing on the Side of the Lane --- supports will hang out here to set up kills or harass you. Having vision here is a huge help so you know when to play up and when to back off.
  • (River) --- good for the mid to have vision of the rune, but also to be wary of mid ganks
Again, there are also some tricks to getting more vision. For instance, Broodmother can use her webs to knock down trees and be able to see any incoming gank. But note that it also gives you no spots to juke if they place a Sentry Ward.

Sizing Up

You have to keep constant watch on your opponent's various bars and items. If one of the trilane is low on HP, you can sometimes push up and put more pressure on as they will be less likely to go on you.
Likewise, watch your opponents' mana bars, knowing whether or not they can cast a disable lets you choose when to be aggressive.
Lastly, watch their items. Seeing something like Sentry Wards (as an invis hero) is a dead giveaway that you need to be more cautious.

Item Choice

Your choice of items makes a massive impact on the success of your lane.

  • Starting Items 
    • Stout Shield - some heroes (e.g Dark Seer, Lone Druid's Spirit Bear) might pick up a stout shield for survivability and/or creep wave pulling
    • Tangos/Salve - pretty important to have regen. Usually, you'll want one of each, but heroes like Lone Druid may not need regen as much due to having Spirit Bear
    • Ring of Protection - this can be an OK choice on some heroes so you can build a fast Tranquil Boots (RoP is the only item you cannot buy in the Side Shop for Tranquils)
    • Observer Wards - usually a support player will pool you a set of wards so that you can gain vision of the River & the Pull Camp (you don't necessarily need to block it - often it will be counter-warded anyway). You really just want to see if TPs are coming, or mid is ganking you.
  • Tranquil Boots
    • These are a great option on many suicide laners because you have a free healing salve every minute or so
    • You have to play carefully as to not get caught so far out that if your boots break, you can't make it back to the tower 
    • However, overall, you can play more aggressively than normal because you have a way to regen a significant amount of HP
  • Soul Ring
    • A number of heroes work well with Soul Ring to have a continual source of mana
    • Dark Seer, for instance, can spam Ion Shell near indefinitely
    • Beastmaster needs this item to help with his Ancient Stacking & Farming

Giving Up

Sometimes you have to make the call to give up on the lane. Situations where you might do this are:

  • You aren't getting the farm/XP you need or feel you should have
  • The lane is too dangerous (e.g. a Dark Seer vs. a lane with Bane + stuns is very dangerous if you Surge at the wrong time)
When you make that call, your options become:

  • Play Passively - burrow into the trees to mooch XP or just try to soak up XP and forget about last hits (e.g. you might do this with Tidehunter or Bounty Hunter)
  • Stack Ancients - some heroes can resort to putting full effort in stacking Ancients and just trying to delay any pushes the other team makes (once your Tier 1 drops, the Ancient camp is less secure)
  • Jungle - many popular suicide laners also make decent junglers. You should be prepared to TP (or someone on your team at least) in the event the other team puts pressure on your towers.
    • You might consider this option with: Dark Seer, Batrider, Lone Druid, etc.
It's a tough call to make sometimes, but if you're a hero that needs to get some core items (e.g. Batrider NEEDS Blink Dagger), you should focus on ensuring you'll have an impact on the game. The Suicide Lane is a lane your team goes into the match knowing you'll "lose", so it's not necessarily a huge loss. The other team just gains uncontested farm, which can result in supports roaming or making/farming jungle stacks. You need to be prepared for that (and pushes that force someone to return to the offlane).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Counter Play: Lifestealer

Warning: Generally (especially in match making) it's better to build a solid team rather than try to "counter-pick" a single hero. If you can do both with a single pick, that's obviously a good route to choose. However, solid team composition is necessary for winning lanes, team fights, and ultimately the game.

Weaknesses of Lifestealer
  • Silence -- if he cannot Rage or Infest, Lifestealer drops quickly
  • Armor Reduction -- Lifestealer has super low armor (hence why you see things like Armlet and Assault Curiass picked up on him)
  • Lockdown -- if Lifestealer cannot attack, he will die quickly
    • Kiting is a subcategory of this
Heroes that Provide These Things


  • Silencer -- if you ult at the right time, Silencer makes team fights very hard to Lifestealer (he basically needs to buy BKB to do anything)
  • Disruptor -- a well placed Kinetic Field + Static Storm destroy Lifestealer
  • Puck -- initiator with a silence. Currently rising to being a top tier mid hero again. You also have Phase Shift to help if Lifestealer catches you out.
  • Drow -- dropping a silence on Lifestaler in a fight is pretty devastating. You also have Ice Arrows to help kite him.
  • Clinkz -- a hero that typically builds Orchid. You can burst Lifestealer down quickly usually (be careful there aren't many creeps aroudn)
  • Death Prophet -- fast moving, an ult that does physical damage, and an easy to land 6-second silence
  • Nighstalker -- at night, you have a stupidly long silence. However, you are melee, so he can still 1v1 you. Teamfight at night and Lifestealer isn't that scary though.
  • (Skywrath Mage) -- has a long silence if you can pull it off in time. Otherwise, he is in trouble having a low amount of HP, relying on his high movement speed for survival, and dealing only magic damage.
  • (Doom) -- super long silence, but not necessarily a reason to pick him against Lifestealer
    • Honestly, I'd advise against picking Doom just for dealing with Lifestealer. Your ult has too long a cooldown and other heroes work just as well and are easier to fit in a lineup.

Armor Reduction

  • Templar Assassin -- TA is an early-mid game stomper that has armor reduction to punish Lifestealer. Keeping Lifestealer down in mid-game makes it hard for him to carry at all.
    • Caution: TA generally needs to mid (you can run her as a carry though). Recently, she's fallen a bit out of favor at mid, but is still very good.
  • Slardar -- physical stun + massive armor reduction as well as bashes. One more stun, and Lifestealer is pretty easy to deal with.
    • Caution: Slardar's sprint is pretty shitty and provides next to nothing for team fights, making him a bit weaker pickup than other heroes. Use it carefully though, and he can be incredibly powerful.
  • Vengeful Spirit -- Wave of Terror is armor reduction. You have a great stun. Your aura is also very helpful lategame for dishing out physical damage.


  • Bane -- your ult goes though BKB (just doesn't damage). On an equally important note, you'll drain Lifestealer's mana pool, which is incredibly small to begin with. He relies heavily on spells for survival.
  • Beastmaster -- ult goes though BKB, you deal composite damage with axes (only good early on though)
  • Batrider -- able to pull Lifestealer out of position with Lasso. Good for combo-ing.
  • Shadow Demon -- not quite "lockdown", but you're able to Disrupt and set up combo stuns. Also, Soul Catcher destroys Lifestealer. Purge is also good against him because he's very kiteable.


  • Razor -- Static Link works through Rage. You can drain some of his attack power. You also have an ult with Armor Reduction.
  • Clockwerk -- Cogs can help isolate Lifestealer so your team can focus him down. While stuck in cogs, he won't have any creeps to infest.
    • Caution: Clock can become an easy target if you don't snowball. You might end up feeding Lifestealer if done incorrectly.
  • Weaver -- you're very hard to kill, you have The Swarm which reduces his armor, and you deal lots of physical damage (even from hit and runs due to Geminate)
  • (Undying) -- ealry game you can stomp Lifestealer (especially in tri. vs. tri) because every Decay means he loses base damage.
  • (Phantom Assassin) -- you have Evasion and big physical damage crits. PA isn't necessarily a great pickup, but can work.
  • (Viper) -- your slows work if you hit Lifestealer with them, then he Rages. He won't take the magic damage, but he becomes stupidly kiteable.
  • Troll Warlord -- low HP and high armor to deal with Feast. Troll has bashes and loves to man fight (i.e. 1v1 whaling on each other) because of his attack speed passive.
This isn't what I'd call an exhaustive list, but you should get the general idea behind picking. Look for stuff that can help against particular heroes, but also add something to your team composition as well.
Also, some items work well against Lifestealer:
  • Orchid -- silence + damage amp
  • Abyssal Blade -- stun that goes through Rage
  • Heaven's Halberd -- if he can't hit you, he can't heal up. A well timed disarm also works wonders (note that Rage dispells it)
  • Desolator / Medallion -- armor reduction
  • Sheep Stick -- good against any hero really
  • Skadi -- makes Lifestealer super kiteable, just hurts him all around.
  • Force Staff -- helps kite Lifestealer and be able to move out of harm's way when you are debuffed by Open Wounds
  • Medallion of Courage -- as long as you're not the one being focused, this is a very strong item against Lifestealer because his base armor is incredibly low. A Stun + Medallion debuff has high kill potential. 
    • Caution: using this in Trilane vs. Trilane is risky and there may be other high priority items to get first (e.g. Magic Wand, or just wards and such)