Before I get into this I find it important to give my background so as to entice readers to hear me out. I've played DotA for as long as I can remember on and off (Stealth Assassin was running around with a Chaos ward and Pudge had flies) Throughout this time I've played in, led and helped lead some high tiered teamed within the competitive Australian scene, and am friends with some of Australia's best DotA/HoN players. No matter who you are, after playing DotA/HoN for an elongated period you will develop your own strategies to win games. In this guide I intend to explain some of the most effective and easy to implement strategies while covering the foundations required to pull this off in terms of ward placement, lineup structure, picking, pushing, defending and grouping. Furthermore you have to understand that every team at any given time will develop a radical, different or diverse strategy. My guide is to cover the most consistently proven to be effective strategies, how and why they work and additional how to implement them.
This is a lot to read and by no means is it completed as i wish to add to it until i finish playing HoN forever. Any/all feedback is appreciated (except for TLDR's! :P)
5 STAGES OF THE GAME
There are 5, yes 5 different stages in the game of HoN. Some people would argue there are only 3 (Early, middle and late game). However I feel it is imperative to my guide to place a higher emphasis on the "Lane play" and as much as it pains me to say late game can turn into "Late late game". The key foundation points all players should know about these stages are as follows;
1) Lane play: Lane play sets the foundation for the rest of the game, but like anything in this world, even with a good foundation, you can still get rocked! any mid to high tiered team will have a hero (regardless of lineup) assigned to buying a courier and wards, using Legion as an example the less farm reliant hero to top lane will typically buy wards, and less reliant hero for bottom lane will typically buy the courier. Reason being is while heading to top lane the warder can place a ward to reveal top rune, and the drag-able neutral camp to prevent creep spawn.
There are 3 - 4 typical combination's used for the top and bottom lanes, and 3 for mid;
Carry/Babysitter - A hero the team will depend on farming to win them the game, and a hero with supportive spells who can do a lot to help a team with little items ergo being able to buy wards prior to every cool down, ensuring the team has visibility on the key areas of the map at the different stages of the game (covered later). This is very standard as the carry will need to stay in the lane to max his experience and gold per minute. Having a "babysitter" helps to keep the laning enemy from harassing him, denying his creeps, keeping him alive from enemy ganks, and healing him (via spells or potions). This is done in different aggression levels depending on the enemy's lane combination and hero selection. Generally the more effective the enemy?s combo is at killing you before you have a chance to react - the more defensive you would play.
Double Stun (or variation) - Pretty self explanatory, two heroes with stuns or disables which can combine to chalk up a lot of early game kills and prevent or hold off carry heroes from getting early moneys. Most effective when combined 1 melee and 1 ranged, reason being is the melee hero, while hitting the creeps to farm can launch his stun at the drop of a hat. Catching the enemy heroes off guard. It lowers the enemies level of prediction that a gank is upon them if one of the laning heroes is melee, as range heroes will need to be almost in melee range of the creeps in order to initiate and by the time you're there, the enemy has already backed off.. If they haven't... they aren't good or they likely have backup in the vicinity, and you're about to be counter ganked son.
Semi Carry/Ganker - A hero whom can stay in a lane, able to solo and to "counter-farm" an enemy carry, combined with a ganking hero (possible of roaming). This combination is one of my favorites also one of the hardest to pull off. The Semi carry must balance his lane play between aggressive and defensive to keep his enemies guessing whether or not he has backup. The ganker must keep the enemy on their toes by bombarding them with harassment and then disappearing. Creating an illusion of roaming whether or not you are does many things for a team which communicates, the mid solo will be defensive once he knows you are missing, the lane which your semi carry is now farming will be able to play aggressive as the lane he is vsing has no idea whether they are about to be ganked or not, and if they don't do either of these, the lane which stays the most aggressive is open for the attack. The downside of this is your experience gain, the longer you are missing from a lane without getting kills on the board the less effective you are once you do gank as your spells begin to dwindle in effectiveness if you become out leveled.
Melee - A melee hero in middle lane, harder to play when vsing a ranged hero as you are more susceptible to harassment. However select melee heroes are amazingly effective when in middle lane due to the nature of the hero?s spells and ganking abilities.
Range - A ranged hero in middle lane is very common and generally one of the team?s better players as there is a lot riding on the skill level of the middle player, due to the middle competition being a perfect balance of harassment and creep kills/denies. Solo play gets you levels quicker than the other lanes and easier access to the runes, a game can be won from the middle lane.
Ganker - A hero put in the middle lane to hunt runes and gank. This can be extremely hard to pull off in higher tiered games due to consistent and strategic ward placement. The mid ganker usually purchases a bottle as early as possible as they will be attempting to grab every possible rune.
2) Early game: Early game is different from lane play at starts at around the 6 minute mark, when first ward placement starts to run out and the heroes are nearing level 6 and or have the spells required to do some ganking. Communication is always important for any team but in this period of the game it's vital. There are infinite variables that will effect how a team will play out the next period and it is why the drafting of your lineup is so important. If you have a farm oriented team you will likely be trying to draw the game out longer ergo playing a little more reserved when coming to ganks, keeping vision of vantage points to prevent ganks and always keeping TP scrolls stocked for defending ganks and counter ganking. If you have a gank oriented team with less carries you are going to want to be taking every opportunity to pick off enemy heroes and fast, however you should never ignore the enemy's farmer! If you haven't seen him for a while, why? If you haven't ganked him in a while, why? Is he free farming? If you are even asking these questions the enemy team are already steps ahead of you because they have begun to distract your mental state by doing fake pushes, baiting ganks... anything to keep your mind from ganking their carry. If they pull this off the chances are the game is not far from over. Before we know it... we're in mid game.
3) Mid game: Bring on the team battles! This is what I would call the most strategic part of the game. By now both teams should be aware or at least cautious to where the enemy has wards placed and have attempted to counter ward or use the enemy wards as bait. A well baited counter gank, based on knowing where an enemy ward is can win a team fight. And a well placed ward leading to picking off easy enemies and team fight initiation can also win a team fight. The strategy aspect to this is what wins team fights and team fights win games. Kongor is remarkably good at sticking his ugly rock looking nose into team's strategy. All good teams know that leaving kongor un-warded midgame is detrimental so rarely does it happen. Having said that, are you prepared to kill a team who are kongoring knowing that, they know, you know, they are there? The safest time to kongor is always after winning a team fight whether it is a genocide or not. The person most fitting to carry the aegis is generally the carry seeing as they need to keep their gold, however a good tank is just as effective as by the time the enemy team kill the tank they are already somewhat malnourished from the tanks spells and damage, and his allied heroes will be in position to appear "out of nowhere" when he spawns after dropping the aegis. Heroes with blinking abilities are extremely effective midgame for this exact reason, and heroes who are or have decided on purchasing a blink dagger would better hope they have farmed it by now. Silences, stuns, ultimates, juking, baiting, and timing... pretty much every aspect to being a good player is never more essential than in this stage of the game. Yes! more so than in lane play because a missed opportunity to blink before an Andromeda's stun hits you or not keeping a Witch slayer silenced, killed or controlled before he picks off your carry with his stun/sheep/ultimate. All the while knowing what's happening to your hero, keeping your teammates safe while bringing down the enemy, will take the most skill, individually and in terms of teamwork (Further discussed devised strategies are in the appropriate section).
4) Late game: By this time of the game your teams carry (if you drafted one) will have or not have had the chance to farm up most of his required items and you should be at the stage where you are defending an onslaught of pushes or pushing the enemies base yourself. This is the part of the game where timing can make the difference in the outcome of the game assuming the game is relatively even. If an enemy team is pushing, with all 5 heroes, and are a wave from entering your base, why would you be anywhere but the safety of your base? The "hill" entrance to your base which must have an enemy unit on it to reveal the area is your biggest advantage. If an enemy team enters with the creep wave the defense is won or lost on your ability to capitalize on this. If you're pushing, it's generally not a good idea to enter right away with a creep wave, without vision. Heroes like Pharaoh are amazingly effective at this point - the nuke ability not only reveals the uphill area but also puts blink daggers on cooldown for 3 seconds forcing an enemy teams initiation ability to be nerfed (not to mention his ultimate teamed with his aoe ministuns ability initiate on a team) Heroes like Pyromancer should be using their wave ability on the creeps to push or defend so as to gain or remove vision of the hilled area for the other team. Heroes like defiler or engineer need to time their ultimates perfectly as doing it too early or too late can change the tide of the entire battle... too soon and the enemy can just back off, too late and you may have already lost the fight. I can't say there is any particular "right" time to push into an enemy base without any "raxes" already down it very much depends on any chances/mistakes the enemy team gives, if any. If they give none and you haven't drafted a hero which can create a window of opportunity to push into the base then you will most likely not be able to rax without first picking off one or two enemy hero.
5) Late late: A situation where the game has gone on far too long, your int heroes have full inventories and you feel like you're playing EM, If you're at this stage it pretty much is EM. Kongor is usually the deciding factor at this stage. You can't push without a token or picking off enemy heroes. If you have stronger carries they'll be over farmed and have buyback moneys, typically being the deciding factor in the win. Because everyone is more or less "over it" by that stage it?s a matter of just capitalizing on the other teams mistakes and sloppiness. Who wants the win more?
Think about it? If two teams, equally matched, both play well and competitive, the team who has the "better draft" will end up winning the game, hence the vital importance of a good draft. There can never be a formulae to depict the perfect drafting style i.e. let carry = 5 points if time period reaches X, and 10 points if time period reaches Y, whereas support = 10 points if time period reaches X etc. because there are infinite variables influencing the game at any given point and human error throws all if any formula out the window.
Firstly, in all competitive modes there is some form of banable draft. The key thing to note is which order you draw. If you draw first pick feel free to neglect banning any of the most powerful heroes in the game for your first or second ban as the other team will do so. If they don't ban them they may be attempting to give you your favorite hero so as to take two very powerful heroes with second and third picks. One of the most common errors in drafting nowadays is drafting to a pre-determined lineup or only drafting the "OP" heroes. Too many cooks spoil the broth so don't get carried away with carry heroes just because you can. The key to drafting a great lineup is drafting heroes that can counter what the other team has chosen before you need to, for example leaving Tempest in the pool while choosing Vindicator or Hellbringer as they are natural counters to Tempest. Drafting heroes that will mesh well in the lanes, but also carry over and become effective in the latter stages of the game is the goal. Every team generally has a different style to drafting but the underlying factors of most teams are; player preference (which heroes the players are most comfortable in playing), counter picking (choosing heroes which can easily counter a choice on the other team), play style picking (choosing a team that are all excellent initiators or have well synced global abilities or even just a team adept at early pushing). When teams get caught up in worrying whether they have a good "Tank" who can be looked after by a good ?Healer? and making sure they have enough "DPS" they tend to come undone because they lack in other aspects. Another influencing factor for higher tiered teams are making sure you have at least one hero on the team who can go "item-less" and rely totally on his spells to buy and continue to buy the team's wards and/or counter ward the other team. The complexities are fewer the more powerful the heroes become and the more comfortable the players become in their ability to dominate with the powerful heroes.
The Hill strat:
After you have taken down a middle tower you gain a large vantage point over the enemy team (assuming you are warding correctly) due to the fact you are now able to enter the enemy forest un-detected via middle lane when the creeps are pushed up to the second tower. This means if the enemy come to defend the tower from a creep and/or hero push they are left vulnerable. If the enemy hero pushes two waves deep (to where the first tower used to be) you are then able to jump them before any support arrives. If support does come they will be too late and you are able to generally pick the team off "one by one." If the enemy hero clears just the one wave and then decides to move into their own forest (very common move) wait for the very second they arrive to the top of the hill before using your stun move for initiation and pick the hero/team off quick. Using this "Hill strat" along with the prediction that the enemy will think defensive and move into their own forest to safely farm is extreemly effective and hard to counter. You can and should farm the nearby enemy creep spots whilst waiting, however do not stray too far from the hills peak. Use loggers hatchets or cheap forest clearing spells to cut down the tree's if need be. If you are executing this strategy the best spot to have warded for Legion is on the Hellborne bank closest to Kongor as to keep Vision of incoming enemy toward Kongor and to know whether or not backup is coming from below you as well as where the gankee has gone (if not right into your trap)
Additionally if you have taken the "Defensive" tower (Southern most tower for Legion) You are usually able to stay in the enemy forest to pick off either lane. Just make sure you keep vision around so you don't have to spread too far as a team and if you are adopting this strategy don't allow your teammates to be in your own neuts farming away merrily unless they are able to "port in at the drop of a hat."
Very simple yet very effective strat. The premise behind this is to keep the enemy team distracted whilst your carry hero farms like crazy (or any hero of choice really that is requiring specific itemization ie behemoth or magmus' port key) the easiest way to implement this is early tower pushing and defensive warding. If the enemy team tries to gank the carry hero instead of defending the push you'll have defensive wards and/or notice missing heroes from mid. The carry needs only to back up out of vision of creeps and/or suspected ward positions while the team downs an easy tower. If the enemy team defend the mid tower, hold them off to a stalemate by fake baiting initiations and keeping up wards/grabbing runes. If 5 enemy hero are in mid defending they will be getting less experience then your 4, if their are 4 be cautious of the missing hero incase he's trying to flank you and/or gank your carry solo, if there are 3 enemy hero push a little harder to bait a 4th or 5th but try not to engage as to gain (again) more experience than the other team whilst your carry farms.
Having said this. If and when a fight breaks out communication is essential and the carry must teleport into the battle at the exact moment evening the numbers of the battle in a few seconds, making sure he exits the fight alive as to keep his farm going.
The "Global" Strat:
Very simple strategy based on building a team of heroes with global/aoe effects.
in conjunction with:PostHaste:
Basically using a strong tanky hero to bait the enemy and have him reinforced with backup very quickly if he is ganked.
Also works when using a hero like Valk or SoulStealer to push/farm lanes and bait the enemy team, when they come, tp out. If you cannot - In comes the cavalry.
This strat is one of the most risky strats and hardest to pull off as you can be picked off by the enemy team quickly and have them just run away before you can arrive with backup. Again, best served with lots of wards and vege's!
The "Push" Strat:
Again a hard, but effective strategy based on choosing heroes adept at pushing towers and destroying the enemy base. Hero's such as the ones above are typical choices due to their ability to summon strong companions/destroy structures with strong aoe/keep a team self sufficient in the field without the need to return to base. There isn't much to this strat aggressive pushing with constant backup from teammates and reinforcement from heals and/or summoned units.
The "Genocide" strat:
After you have taken down the enemy team, don't sit there high fiving and pulling on each others privates about how good you are and how awesome your "blink into the fight was" go and utilise this downtime the other team has. If the fight has taken place deep on your side of the map, push the nearest tower or lane, after doing so, rub salt in the enemy wounds by entering the enemy jungle and wait for one or two of the enemy to spawn and leave the base and pick them off.
Under no circumstances should you ever genocide an enemy team and then run away to your fountain to heal and/or your own neutrals to farm.
Alternatively to pushing towers and picking off respawners - this is the safest time to kongor (assuming your levels and killing ability is good enough to kill him before the enemy can spawn and arrive) so why would you neglect to take him down? the ammount of games that are won and lost via ineffective efficiency gains is stupid. Play smart, play effective!
Thanks for reading, look forward to any feedback.
Last edited by Tyg; 05-24-2010 at 11:50 PM.
could you make some screenshots to further explain "the hill strat"? i cannot really figure out what positions you mean. Thank you!
As soon as i get the time (as this has all been written from work while bored) ill upload all ward spots appropriate to the guide as well as examples of positioning
i can see the content is really good but....
Wall of text crits me for over 9000!
seriously, eliminate the huge paragraphs make it a bit more readable.
25/5/2010 updated guide: Additional strategy
No images? I am dissapoint (︶︿︶)
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would love for it to be made premium haha
developing some map movement strategy, working on images!
Have you nominated this for premium yet? Because you totally should.
Stay premium, gentlecolts.
too similar to other strategy guides.. needs to be more in depth in the strategy section apparently.. so i need to find the time to add the images etc
Very nice guide. You made some very good points when talking about diferent lane combinations. I do think that you can improve the guide at many places by adding some examples and pictures and/or videos to prove your point.