Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Basics of Playing Suicide Lane (Offlane)

 Preface


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.

 Overview

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

 

Tricks

 

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 -- LGD.int 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

Positioning

 

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.

Vision

 

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).

1 comment:

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