What is coordination, and why is it important in HoN?
Coordination can be defined as the combination of planning and communication. This encapsulates collectively sorting out item builds, player roles and game tactics. HoN's matchmaking algorithm takes into consideration not only MMR (a measure of individual skill), but the number of players you are queueing with. There is a reason for that; five people playing in unison is much more effective as a team than five solos.
In short, coordinating properly with your team effectively makes you play better than your individual skill.
“Why use mic when you can type?”
In game, there are so many things you have to pay attention to simultaneously, there just isn’t time to type. For example - the laning phase. In a side lane, you have to take note of - 4 heroes’ health, level and mana pool (the actual quantities, not just percentage), creep health, the position of the creep wave and the relative positions of the incoming wave, the clock time (e.g.will the next wave have catapults?), how your lane opponents leveled their skill-set, what items they are building, whether your teammates in other lanes are in a position to countergank (are they carrying a TP, is it on cool down, do they have the health and mana pool to sustain a skirmish, is their lane pushed) as well as constantly checking the mini-map to see if any enemy heroes are missing.
Once the ganking and team fight phase starts, the chat channel is being spammed so constantly that whatever message you’re trying to send across will most be loss amass the confusion. Also I loath to have my hand off the mouse at any point in the game unless absolutely necessary.
TL;DR Typing is not viable, you simply can’t do it without sacrificing concentration on the game.
So now that we’ve established that, let’s move on.
Before the game: Buy a headset or at least a dedicated mic (my pet peeve is built-in laptop mics - horrible quality). Thinking that playing HoN with sound off and no mic is fine, is just deluding yourself. In reality you are playing with a VERY large handicap.
A headset will keep you focused.
During the game: Use your mic efficiently. T for team talk, Y for lane talk. There’s a reason both exist. This is partly why I am not a fan of 3rd party VOIP clients such as Vent or TS. The low latency and voice activation advantages don’t make up for the fact that you’re shouting over 3 other people to coordinate with your lane partner. They’re fine to hang out with your clan/mod group in between games, but once the game starts I usually mute the program and use the ingame VOIP.
This is assuming you’re playing a proper game mode (i.e. not AP or AR). The general consensus is that there is a higher proportion of players in AP and AR who have no mic, are listening to music, and are “drunk” or “high”.
Ideally, this is how the picking phase is done.
Bans - if you can quickly sort out your team before the ban timer runs out, you can ban possible counters to the heroes you’re wanting to pick. Talk to the drafter (if solo, usually blue/pink unless a player specifically wants to draft) and the three others on the team - who’s strong with what hero. Keep in mind that the meta-game is constantly changing, and if you're unsure of who to ban or pick, looking at current drafts in competitive play may help.
You also need to state what role you’re going to fulfil in the game - this becomes especially important with versatile heroes such as KotF or magmus. You cannot assume that your teammates will know that you’re going to play a pushing orientated KotF rather than a ganking one.
It goes beyond picking the generic carry/initiator/ganker/support/pusher lineup. If some of your teammates can’t fit the role required of them very well, you will be at a disadvantage. A good team is one in which everyone plays a hero they are familiar with, and synergises well. You can’t just assume that you want X hero and someone else can work well with you.
This is when you’re going to sort out what lanes you’re running; will it be the standard 2-1-2 or will you have a tri-lane. Is the team setting up for a level 1 bloodlust gank, or kongor? This is also the time when you tell your team what immediate items you’re buying, to avoid embarrassments such as stacking teachers rings and bottles. If you’re mid and don’t plan on having rune control/ganking in favour of farming, notify your teammates so they can buy an early bottle if need be.
Designate ward and courier upgrade duty; this seems like a no-brainer until 30 seconds before the laning phase you realise everyone is waiting at their respective towers and there’s not a single ward in your team’s inventory. This next part is very important - give at least one ward to a teammate in the long lane so they can block the pull camp. It doesn't matter who bought the starting wards; There is no reason to make playing in the unsafe lane harder than it needs to be. If two or more players are sharing ward duties, sort out who’s buying what sets. e.g. you may have a Midas buying them until your Magmus farms a portal key.
If you’re confident in your ability to babysit the carry in the lane, let them know. If the carry is in a safe lane with space to farm, 225g spent on a hatchet is unnecessary when it could be going towards alchemist’s bones or a lifetube. It is only viable to either dominate a solo lane as melee, or when you’re facing harassment preventing the carry from getting in melee range (i.e. to snipe last hits).
There is one more, and most important thing you will organise in the Pregame phase - What team strategy you are running. By taking a look at the enemy line-up, you will have a rough idea of which team scales harder, and plan item builds accordingly. This will ultimately affect the pace of the game. Some guides specify "push" or "turtle" strats, but I suggest something in between the two ends of the spectrum, which your team will be comfortable with. I'm assuming most players play HoN for entertainment, and neither constantly pushing or turtling for 40 minutes sounds particularly fun.
Side Lane - this is where you’re going to tell your laning partner a few vital points which will affect your success in the laning phase - the reason you have to wait until laning phase is to see what your lane opponents are.
You are going to sort out:
The type of lane you will be running. Will it be an aggressive lane, passive lane or are you just going to sit back and leech experience.
The role you play in the lane. Who is having farm priority? Who will stack and pull, who will guard runes?
How you are levelling your spells. Do not assume your lanemate has checked your skill-set in your portrait. This will avoid possible misjudgements.
if the situation arises, how you are going to kill your lane opponents. This includes who will open with what skill, and what hero you will aim first. Knowing this will help to avoid stacking disables. You may want not want to attempt a kill until level 3 or 5, in which case let your lanemate know.
You might want to give periodic updates to your lane mate on whether you have the required mana for a spell/combo. If you’re going to rune whore or stack and pull, a quick “hey I’m out of the lane for a bit, play back” could prevent your opponents getting an uncontested bloodlust and a nice heap of experience.
When you are low on health or mana, ask your lanemate for a potion, or runes of blight. You two essentially have a pooled source of regen items. You can even share your lifetube and bottle sips, there should be no reason to be constantly ferrying more regen off the courier. If your lane opponents are playing aggressively, inform your teammates to buy a TP, and be ready to save you/countergank. Be proactive - call missing on heroes, even if they’re not from your lane.
Mid Lane - Many players have the idea that laning mid requires no communication with your team, and is akin to playing a 1v1. This is absolutely not true.
You will need to inform your sidelanes when you have a rune and if you’re in a position to gank. If you see your opponent go the wrong way for a rune, you’ll know that the other team doesn’t have rune wards up. In this case, call for a teammate in the long lane to gank mid - the window may only last for 30 seconds before their support puts a ward up, so be quick.
All lanes - If your lane is losing, ask for a gank. The amount of times I’ve witnessed a lane losing and the players not requesting help is a prime example of poor communication, and is easily avoided. On the flip-side, if the other lanes aren’t in a position to help (for example mid is busy stopping their madman from free-farming), just stick it out - blaming teammates for losing a lane because they didn’t gank does little but ignite a flame war.
Coordinating for the ganking phase starts before you hit level 6. If you’re mid, you’re going to want to inform your teammates that you’re one wave away from hitting that magical ultimate dropping level, and for them to prepare (pull the lane back, have sufficient HP/MP) so you can attempt a gank.
This is also the time you organise what tier 2 items your team is getting. This may deviate from a cookie-cutter build depending on the enemy lineup, so once again, don’t assume your team knows what items you’re buying. For example, you may want to pick up a nullfire blade against their Jeraziah or bloodhunter, or a tablet against their devourer or rampage. Planning item pickups in advance avoids things like stacking barrier idols and sol’s bulwarks.
At this point in the game against 5 solo players, there is usually a lull in activity as every hero has hit level 6/7 and doesn't know whether to continue farming, push or gank. This is your chance to take some initiative and catch the opposing team with their pants down, with a coordinated team push on their outer towers. Have a teammate place the relevant push ward before the push begins. This is the area between their tier 1 and 2 tower - their pull spot if pushing your team’s long lane, or going past the ancient camp if pushing your short lane. If pushing the tier 2 tower, the ward is placed on the closest cliff. Although highly risky wards this early in the game, the vision it gives of enemy TPs and position is invaluable. If done correctly, this gives you one, possibly two towers and a nice fat gold bonus.
Using Tower Immunity - If you don’t intend to defend the tower, do not glyph. If their entire team is there and some of your team mates are not in a position to defend, leave the tower and save the immunity. The glyph has a 5 minute cooldown - put it this way, would you waste a tempest ultimate?
The proper time to glyph is when your team can defend. Pop it when the tower is in deny range and TP in. Against an uncoordinated team, some enemy heroes are definitely going to get greedy and stay for the tower kill. Assuming they don’t have a push ward up, pick off the overextended enemy hero/es. Every time without fail, one or two more enemy heroes will try to run in and save their teammate, whereas others will back off completely. in which case your entire team goes to town, netting at least two kills and setting up a prime window for a counter-push.
Item coordination - I’m going to reiterate the importance of sorting out who’s getting what items. This is especially important with attack modifiers, as a team will usually have more than one scaling hero. Building two shieldbreakers for instance, will result in one of your carries wasting ~10 minutes of farm. This is also important in countering enemy gear. It is your duty to notify your carry if the enemy is building wingbow in advance, so they can pick up a mace. (Protip: with the addition of Genjuro, picking up the dancing blade before snake bracelet gives ambiguity in what item you are building)
At this point in the game, it is vital that you are ready at any moment to TP in to defend your towers and fight. Keep a constant eye out for the state of your team; Are they in a position to back you up? If possible, plan pushes and fights at least 60 seconds in advance, to ensure your teammates have time to heal up and grab whatever items (Hint: TP) they require. Nothing is worse than leaving a fight only to realise someone lost 4k gold worth of items on a now dead courier.
You’re also going to converse about teamfight strategies, in the case that you don’t have a dedicated initiator. Make sure every teammate is clear on who to focus first in a teamfight - usually the best bet is picking off the supports and disablers. Sure that glacius doesn’t seem threatening with his 900 hp, but when he drops an uncontested Q+W+R combo while you’re busy CCing the dark lady, your team is going to feel it. There may be things you want your support to do in case of specific events, such as “OMFG JELLIE TABLET ME OUT OF PUDGE’S ULT FOR ONCE” (true story).
Now for the fun stuff. Proper organisation with your team opens opportunities such as baiting and feinting.
Baiting put simply, is having a lone hero (the bait) positioned in enemy vision whilst your team waits patiently to pick off the first unfortunate soul to investigate. Feinting is a more push orientated tactic, drawing the opposition team to a part of the map while a KotF/warbeast/ophelia goes to town on a rax 5000 units away. Both tactics leave your team partitioned, so it is easy to imagine how a lack of coordination could result in your heroes being picked off first. Remember that late in the game, losing a teamfight can mean a lost rax. Have controlled, systematic plays. Pick before push. Draw fights, don't force them unless necessary. Constant positive communication with your teammates helps keep your cool in tough situations.
So due to superior planning, you've won a teamfight. Many players at this point round up their team to either push or kongor. This is usually fine if most of the team has enough health or mana to sustain a second fight. If however this is not the case, or the relatively low level of the opposing team will mean all five of them will respawn in a mere 25 seconds, the next best solution is counterwarding! In essence, one of your teammates will buy a bound eye and proceed to remove every bit of enemy vision from the map. While this is happening, the rest of your teammates will heal. Congrats! You now have full map control, which means your carry has uncontested farm while theirs cannot enter the jungle. It is a complete kick to the nether region for the opposing team to respawn after a lost fight, without wards up. If any of them attempts to ward, you jump out and pick them off due to superior positioning. This cements your advantage exponentially more than a token of life could achieve.
If your team intends to take kongor however, sort out who will pick up the token of life before he is killed. This may not be immediately obvious. Fighting over the token/bananas is immature, and shows that you do not respect your team. The same logic applies for tower kills; If the tower is uncontested, let the most item-dependent hero get the last hit. If your team needs equal gold, let the creeps kill it.
When taking a rax, remember to tell your team to focus one barrack first. Unlike towers, these regenerate health over time, so unless you're sure you can take both - get one. The melee barrack is undoubtedly more beneficial to destroy, but also has 10 more armour. If in doubt, take the ranged barrack and bail.
After months of playing as 5-person team, I decided to solo queue every few games. It was in these that I noticed a huge discrepancy not in skill level, but willingness to coordinate. This results in mistakes present in games of all tiers, such as poorly executed ganks, stacking items, and failed tower pushes.
My aim is to bring to light the value of proper coordination in HoN, and abolish the selfish attitude some players exhibit in-game.
In some games, you will be part of a team which doesn’t speak a common language fluently, or is unwilling to take advice from fellow players. Although unavoidable, it is possible to work around this and attempt to communicate with whatever common ground you can muster.
Please leave a comment below about your thoughts on the guide. Was it awesome? Does it need some tweaking? Let me know!
I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Dawnbringer, Red`` and ZRock for their critique and active efforts in improving this guide.
CK47 must feel cool giving such constructive criticism!!
Nice guide Jellie. I especially love the portion regarding counter-warding after a won team fight. SO FEW PEOPLE DO THIS. In that vein, so few teams buy a bound eye for counter warding. I love when I see this.
I should probably add a spiel about asking the support to ward/counter offensively or defensively depending on how the team wants to play. More often than not I see wards wasted in locations during late-game such as rune spots, for example with a push orientated team, when most of the action congregates around their base and jungle. It's simply an extension of placing a push ward before a T1 push; Ward in anticipation.
The problem with coordination in HoN is that everyone acts like a pre-pubescent girl. You can give them the slightest advice and they'll take that advice as if you're telling their sick grandmother to go die. Kids just need to get over it, but their egos won't let them. This has been a bigger obstacle than language barriers or just plain bad plays. Being stubborn in HoN is probably the most detrimental thing because 95% of HoN players are simply atrocious at this game and needs to learn to accept advice.