This is the first in a series of generalized guides on playing a full game of HoN:
Pushing and Teamfighting
Laning refers to the beginning stage of the game in which heroes enter the 3 lanes and gain gold and XP through killing creeps and occasionally each other. This is a vital time, as your team's performance during the laning stage sets the conditions for the ganks, fights, and pushes to come.
Information presented will be in a color gradient according to level of difficulty: Easy Intermediate Advanced.
7/16: Starting items, creep blocking, checking runes added.
8/04: When to use AoE/single target spells, clash management added.
Your starting item selection can both work for or against you. In general,if you are a new player, you should aim for survivability.
Always grab regeneration. It's not uncommon even at higher levels for players to spend a few hundred gold on Runes of Blight.Creep Blocking
Laning is when you'll be gaining most of your XP. Even leaving your lane for a minute will allow your opponent to get a level or two advantage on you. Therefore, design your item build to allow yourself to have maximum staying power.
Anticipate your enemies. If you're going Legion bottom, which is your defensive lane, you shouldn't expect to fight a Thunderbringer, who will surely be going mid solo. Instead, you should expect to fight a caster/tank combo that maximizes their own survivability. Likewise, if you go Legion top, your dangerous lane, expect to fight defensie heroes. Select your items carefully according to their lineup.
Not to be confused with neutral blocking. Creep blocking is a maneuver to delay a creep wave from arriving in battle. This provides you with an advantage--the battle will begin closer to your tower. In middle, this can provide a huge advantage if you time it such that the battle occurs largely on high ground, and your opponent has a 30% chance to miss!
To creep block, maneuver in front of a creep wave and move slowly in front of it, dancing back and forth and occasionally hitting stop. This will delay its arrival.Last-hitting
Time your creep block so that the waves do not clash in front of your tower. If they do, you messed up, and it's actually counterproductive because the lane will now naturally push.
If the lane is pushed out too far, and you have a lanemate, either you or a lanemate should temporarily abandon the lane and move back to block the next wave to create a more favorable situation.
Last-hitting is the most basic maneuver of laning. It's how you will be making the majority of your income as well as the most effective way to keep your opponent behind in gold and XP.
To perform a last-hit, time your attack such that you kill the low-HP creep in one blow. Attempting to do it in multiple hits leaves the creep open to being killed by another player.Denying
To effectively last-hit, you must understand your hero's damage, factoring in any random damage spread, applied status effects, and projectile or swing speed. You must also understand these components for the opposing heroes.
You can attack-cancel by clicking A on the creep, then quickly hitting S before the attack animation finishes. Repeat this quickly, and you have a timing advantage if your attack is already in mid-animation when the creep hits last-hit HP range.
Denying will deprive opponents of XP. By doing this, you can create a difference in levels, giving you a huge early advantage. You can only deny creeps that are less than 50% HP. Towers can be denied once they're less than 135 HP.
To deny an allied creep, last-hit it.
If you are presented with both the opportunity to last-hit an enemy creep and to deny your own, deny your own if the opponent is a carry, and last-hit the enemy creep if he is not.
An effective way to deny is to first harass an enemy hero, forcing him to move back, then go for the deny. Harassment
Harassing a hero, depending on your role, can be the primary or secondary role in laning. If you have an orb-walker, or nuker, it is your primary. If you are a late-game carry, allow your lanemate to harass.
To effectively harass, you should minimize damage to yourself. Spells and orb/arrow effects will not draw creep aggro. Use them to put pressure on your opponent.Checking Runes
You don't have an infinite supply of mana, however. If you right-click an enemy hero, you will inevitably draw creep aggro. Therefore, move into range first, then right-click to harass, then quickly pull back to avoid damage.
Keep an eye on your health. Regeneration items are great for harassment, because damage taken from creeps while you're harassing can be healed. You should always try to maintain high health when harassing, because harassing places you at a positional disadvantage.
Runes spawn either top or bottom river every 2 minutes. If you have a Bottle, you can store the rune for later use. It will also recharge your Bottle. A more in-depth analysis of runes can be found here.
If you lane mid, you can check rune every time you are in the river. Just by walking northwards, you can see if the rune is there. If it's not there, alert your team, then go see if it's bottom.Staying Alive
If you're laning bottom, you should check rune only if you're at a severe disadvantage, or if you're jungling and are able to take a quick peek. This is because it's a long, long walk to the rune from your tower, and you'll miss a lot of XP. If you're laning top, you can go take a look every time your wave pushes out a bit.
At the beginning of each game, one hero top and one hero bottom should check their respective sides of the river for the starting 0:00 rune. Depending on your lineup and the rune, it's quite possible to get Bloodlust.
If you find yourself in a difficult lane, your utmost priority is to stay alive.
Stay outside of attack and spell range, but stay within XP range. If you see that your XP meter isn't increasing with each creep death, try to move closer. If they continue to play aggressively, tower hug until the creeps come close.Neutral Pulling
If you have a lot of idle mana, or are desperate for XP and gold, you can use nukes to last-hit.
Ask for a gank or a lane change. If you are in a dual-lane, and both heroes are getting suppressed, then you can also go ganking yourself. You will help the team out, and your lanemate will reap the benefits of single-hero XP gain.
The Legion bottom lane and Hellbourne top lane can neutral-pull. Pulling neutral creeps will allow for easy neutral-farming, and will often deny your own creeps outside of enemy XP range.
To perform a neutral pull, walk close to or attack the outermost neutral camp to draw aggro. Time it so that when your run, you will run straight into your own advancing creep wave. Allow the neutrals to attack you right as your creep wave walks by, and it will draw their aggro.Static Farming
To counter neutral pulling, buy and place wards at the enemy neutral camps, or alternatively use your own hero or an illusion to block their spawn by sitting there at the 60 second marks.
Neutral creeps spawn every 60 seconds. If you draw the neutrals out at the right time, you can cause a double spawn. Double spawns provide more gold and XP, and will almost certainly wipe out an entire wave. If the neutrals are particularly strong, you can wipe out two or three entire creep waves, causing the enemy heroes to be severely deprived of XP.
Static farming is a defensive method of gaining XP and gold. It relies on the player having strong last-hitting in order to maintain a static position between the two clashing creep waves. Preferably, this position is close to an allied tower, providing for easy escape and defense. On the other hand, if you do not static farm, the wave will inevitably push out, making you vulnerable to ganks.
To static-farm, only attack enemy creeps you can last-hit. However, if there are no enemy heroes near, you should attack allied creeps the second they are vulnerable to denial until they are dead. Do not worry about getting the deny here.Clash Management
If enemy heroes approach you, send out a ping to your allies, then dodge into the trees or towers. If possible, teleport out.
You can avoid the lane being pushed out by never allowing the creepwaves to reach a tower. If you find that the enemy creeps are approaching tower range, tank them by dancing in circles until your own creeps arrive. While you will take some damage, this prevents the creeps from being wiped out by a tower, and the lane being pushed.
Clash management is an overarching term that refers to controlling the position at which allied and enemy creep waves collide.
You can alter clash position by entering creep range, then right-clicking (issuing an attack order) on an enemy hero. This will force enemy creep aggro onto you. Now move back--they will follow you for a short bit before re-engaging allied creeps. You have now moved the creeps closer to you.
You can use clash management in order to level faster than your opponent. If you solo-mid Thunderbringer, it may be wise to pull enemy creeps repeatedly towards you until they are in tower range. This will kill the creeps faster, allowing you to have a temporary level advantage for faster nuking power.
Clash management can be performed by all heroes. A good opponent will drag the creeps towards himself and his tower. If he does this, you should harass him as he does it, to pull the creeps back to you. It's a big tug-of-war!
When to Single-Target Nuke
Single-target nukes tend to be costly in terms of mana, as they tend to be found on non-INT heroes. However, they can be very useful in preventing denies, though they should be used sparingly.
You can use a single-target nuke to prevent a deny, or to kill a creep you can't get with your normal attack.
If the nuke is a stun, you should generally avoid using it, as you should always have a big mana pool for the stun. One of the few exceptions here is Blacksmith, who can keep his stun at LVL1 to last hit, as he has a huge mana pool. However, you should follow the advice given in purple for "When to AoE Nuke" regarding leveling the skill--that is, keep the skill points unspent so you can use it at its highest level when you need to.
If you have Glacius on your team, you are a lot more free to use your mana. However, gauge your enemy first--does he have a ton of regen? If so, and your nuke harassment isn't worth it, spend your spells on creeps. In general, harassment is a lot stronger, as it forces an enemy back, letting you get last-hits anyway.
When to AoE Nuke
Damage spells, especially AoE nukes, should be used with caution and only under the correct circumstances. Understanding how your spell works is paramount to using it correctly.
AoE nuking (ie, Defiler's Wave of Death) of creeps should generally be avoided, as it pushes the lane. You should only AoE nuke to avoid a deny or to get a last-hit you'll miss with your normal attack. When AoE nuking, position yourself and your nuke such that it will not only hit the targeted creeps, but will hit your enemy too. This way, you get the most out of it.
The fact that an AoE nuke is AoE does not imply that you should hit as many creeps as you can with it. If there is a low-HP Warlock in the back, don't just nuke the entire wave. Move into position so that it only hits the Warlock and if possible, enemy heroes.
If you are using a farm-centric build, such as rushing Sacrificial Heart, under the correct circumstances it may be wise to keep your AoE nuke at LVL1. For example, Defiler has enough lane control power to keep Wave of Death at LVL1 and max out Power in Death. In this case, you should not get stats, but rather, leave the skill points unspent. This way, when you do need them (for a kill, or for serious harassment), you can spend them rather than having to level a lot more just to do more damage.
Most players, understandably, only pay attention to the one or two heroes they're fighting in their lane. Most players are also understandably upset when a third hero comes out of nowhere and kills them. Don't be that guy who dies--or that guy who gets blamed for not calling the lane.
Always call your lane. If you don't see a hero, type "bot mia/top mia/mid mia" right away. If they reappear in 2 seconds, type "nm".Hope it helps!
If you KNOW a hero is going somewhere, specify it. If you're mid, and you see your opponent start moving into the river for a rune, type "mid to bot rune".
Ping multiple times if you know the projected path of a hero. This can catch attention much better--if I'm mid, and see my opponent start heading bottom, I take a quick glance at my team's health. If my ally is low, I'll ping a path from the opponent's last known position straight to my ally so he knows exactly what's going on. This takes 2 seconds max.