Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Basics of Micro

NOTE: There is more to come on this post (look for updates on an upcoming weekend)

Micro is a fairly important part of the game. It's not as prominent as in other RTS-style games, and it varies from hero to hero. This guide is intended to help with just the basics of how to set up and control heroes with multiple units, and some examples.

Control Groups

This is the most basic part of micro. You need to have ways to select various combinations of units.
An easy method is:
  1. Selects your Hero Alone
  2. Selects both Hero + summons/illusions/etc.
  3. Selects just the summons/illusions/etc.
As you progress, you might customize it to your liking, or use something more intense. For instance, if you're playing Chen, you might want a creep like Troll (ranged abilities) in a separate control group from those with abilities that are on a radius around the creep (e.g. Ursas, Centaurs).

Basic Micro

Depending on the hero, you'll find you need to do different things.

Nature's Prophet

With Nature's Prophet jungling, you want to make sure your Treants live as long as possible. When they get too low, you want to have the aggro switch to another Treant. That way you maximize its lifespan (i.e. more treants --> more damage --> more gold).

One way to do this is by moving it back temporarily. The more optimal way is by "attack clicking" an allied creep with your Treant. This games the system into thinking it is a low priority target (it just tried to attack an enemy of the AI). I just do this on an individual basis. When I see a Treant get low, I select it, then have it lose aggro. You can monitor this through having them all selected and watching the health bars in the lower left of your HUD.

Phantom Lancer

For a hero like Phantom Lancer, your Illusions don't live that long anyway and don't really cost you anything (i.e. you don't have to use mana to make them, they don't give the enemy money). You can do things like have your Illusions farm/push the lane while you safely farm the jungle.

A lot of the time, I find myself just quickly making temporary control groups to farm multiple neutral camps at once, while having the others just on an attack-move down the lane towards the enemy base.

Tabbing and More

Tabbing is a huge tool for heroes like Chen, Enchantress, Meepo, and Visage. These creeps all have spells they can cast, so you need to quickly cycle through them. If you have them all selected, you can Tab then cast easily.

Shift-Queueing is something else that is helpful. You can hold down shift to queue up commands. This can help you coordinate things like having creeps move along multiple specialized paths (e.g. so they don't take shitty direct routes) or doing things like the infamous Blink Dagger Meepo (i.e. Meepo #1 Blinks in, all others finish channeling Poof as Meepo #1 arrives --> massive nuke damage).

The Basics of Roaming

What Roaming Does

  • Frees up XP
  • Frees up Gold
  • Keeps the other team on their toes / forced into defensive stance
  • Gives good rune control
  • Potentially leads to kills (when done well)

When to Roam

  • Your team has a lot of heroes that need BOTH XP and GPM
  • You are no longer useful in the lane
    • e.g. your carry feels very secure, so you should go do something more productive
    • e.g. your lane failed and as a last ditch effort, you are attempting to force another lane to win hard
  • The other team has a very vulnerable lineup (e.g. weak lane comps, heavy carry comps, etc.)


  • Highly Successful Roaming = lots of kills, which keeps you leveled and gives you money
  • Successful Roaming = your team has more space to farm (other team is forced to play defensively), you have good rune control, and then you are given space later on to catch up in farm (think of how Na'Vi supports work - very active early on, then given time to catch up)
  • Failed Roaming = you are underleveled / died numerous times / given no time to catch up in farm

Necessities of Roaming

  • Good Teamwork - if you roam and your teammates don't communicate well with you, you won't get much out of the roam
  • Opportunity - you can't just roam whenever. You have to look at things like how far the lane is pushed, HP/Mana or allies and enemies, etc.
  • Regen - going back to base often is a waste, so you need to be able to stay out and out longer. Having someone like Crystal Maiden can help due to her aura, getting a bottle can situationally work, otherwise you'll want some clarities and shit
  • Smoke if your friend
  • A lineup where you can be out of lane and it's beneficial
    • Heroes that can solo / dual lane successfully
    • Heroes that need the early levels and farm, whereas you do not
  • The space to catch up on farm in the event you did OK or Failed (e.g. some jungle stacks to farm, a lane you can farm while others shift into gank mode, etc.)
  • Heroes that can kill as a result of a gank


Traditional Roamers are heroes like Vengeful Spirit and Earthshaker. Even when they are drastically underleveled, they are incredibly good gankers. VS has one of the best level 1 stuns, ES Fissure is also amazing when used well.

Your lineup also should have 2-3 heroes that need the fast levels, gold, and can get kills from ganks.
Examples would be like: Shadow Fiend, Gyrocopter, Kunkka, Templar Assassin, etc.

  • All of them have spells that benefit from fast levels
  • All of them need farm
  • All of them can net kills from ganks

Bad Examples would be stuff like: Anti-Mage, Spectre, etc.
  • Both these heroes offer nothing in ganks except some decent auto attacks, but nothing that can quickly kill or help lock a hero down
  • While both benefit from levels, neither has as much to gain from them as someone like Shadow Fiend
  • Both would be better off if you helped them secure farm instead
You should also look at your other support. If you leave a Venomancer to babysit Anti-Mage, while you roam to gank for your mid Shadow Fiend and offlane Weaver, you might jeopardize your hard carry's livelihood. A support like Venomancer doesn't offer that much in terms of counter-initiation (if you leave them against, say, Centaur and Rubick), especially when paired with a hero like AM that has relatively minimal early game presence.

Modern Roaming

From what I see in tournament games lately, instead of sacrificing a hero to roam, you more often see two scenarios:

  1. You have a jungler that can roam between safe lane and mid lane to set up kills, or at least harass them (e.g. Chen picking up a harpy to harass with Chain Lightning, or a Wildkin to Tornado a lane)
  2. Your supports pick up smoke early on and roam to mid, or sometimes even offlane when there is an opportunity or the safe lane carry feels secure enough to solo (even if just for a bit)
Both these methods guarantee a bit more farm. Jungling can especially have a similar effect as roaming because you've freed up more XP.