Hello. My name's North2 and some of you may recognize me as Random_North2 from DotA days. Some of you oldies may even remember my dota guide from way back in the day also. I'm basically presenting a very similar guide for HoN here.
I will try my best to cover everything about the basic strategic elements of HoN. The goal of this guide is to hopefully give you a much clearer view of how the game works. It is mainly intended for new to intermediate players wishing to reach a higher level.
What this guide will NOT do is go in detail about micro like how to ward correctly or how to play each hero. I'm sure someone will eventually make a very detailed guide on every subject, while this guide is just going to go through the broader basics. So no, it doesn't actually cover EVERYTHING or anywhere near it. I just decided to keep the terrible thread title from my old DotA guide 6 or 7 years ago.
Anyways, here it is!
Table of Contents
1. Mindset for Improvement
2. Lane Roles
3. Win Conditions
1. Mindset for Improvement
I'm starting here so people can have a good mindset before reading the rest of the guide. Most people are greatly hindered from improving their gameplay because they simply don't have the right mindset for it.
Always look for the best option. There's always one best option for anything. Most people playing this game simply don't look for ways to do things better. When you're in the lane, you should always be conscious of where you should be standing to best prepare for a gank from either sides. If you're losing the lane, you may want to go gank instead of asking for help. If you're ganking a lane, you should look for the best way to make yourself difficult to detect. There's a countless number of things to look out for and consider that many people just don't realize.
Enjoy the game. This is the most important point I can make in this guide. There's an outrageous amount of people these days that completely forget that it's a game and it's meant to entertain. There's way too many 'win addicts' that cannot find any value in the game other than winning. It's a pretty weak way of looking at things in my opinion. It's not only painful to listen to, but also greatly hinders people's potential for improvement.
2. Lane Roles
This section covers what to do during the early stages of the game, when you're just trying to win the lane without any outside interference. Each hero in your team has a role in the laning phase. The five roles are: Solo, Farmer, Harasser, Killer, and Jungler. Keep in mind that all heroes will be a mix between a few of the roles.
The solo lane is usually middle lane and it is usually 1v1. It has many different dynamics from the dual lanes which I will try to explain to my fullest, but in the end it still just takes practice.
The main reason why the solo lane is different from the dual lane is that you reap in 100% of the experience and gold. This means that if you die or leave the lane, your team as a whole is missing out on all of the experience while you're missing from the lane. This is also one of many reasons why the solo lane is usually in the middle lane -- it's just a lot harder to gank middle since the tower is always going to be very close.
This means that it's crucial to simply not die when you're solo. It doesn't mean you should play like a pansy though. The best way to keep yourself alive most of the time is to play aggressive. Remember that the same thing applies to the opposing solo also. Take free shots you can see on the opposing hero and don't give him any shots on yourself. If you're full on mana, just throw a nuke and shave off some HP.
Another important thing to do during mid solo is checking the runes. Try your best to do this out of vision from the opposing players so that people can't see which way you went for the rune. This is important if you grabbed a rune that you can gank with, since it makes it a lot harder to tell which way you went. If you grab an invis rune and try to gank bottom but you did it so obviously that all middle lane has to do is say, "Soulstealer got bottom rune, watch out bottom" then chances are the gank will fail.
There's also a whole lot of details that needs to be taken into account depending on the hero matchup, which is only fully going to come from experience. If a good player asks for solo, then you should probably let him have it.
The farmer's job is a simple one; just stay back as much as possible and get last hits. Heroes like Chronos, for example, are very dedicated farmers for the first few levels since he has almost no means of harassing anyone with half a brain. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't look out for opportunities though. Even an early Chronos can do good things if he's laned with a strong teammate. Farmers tend to be opportunistic Harassers -- that is, they're not going to try to force anything, just take the opportunity when it arises.
The harasser keeps giving pressure on the opposing hero. Being ranged automatically gives you some harassing capabilities regardless of whether you're a farming hero or not. Puppet Master is a good example of a harassing farmer, since all he has to do is use his Whiplash(the passive skill) on the enemy hero every time it comes up. Slowly wear them down so that it's easier to kill them when the times comes, or a lot harder for them to go in for a kill without dying themselves.
The killer tends to have powerful early damage skills. Pebbles, for example, isn't much of a harasser since he's melee and his stun costs 120 mana when his mana pool is very small. He isn't much of a farmer either since he doesn't need much more than a Portal Key, although he can turn into a good harasser if he can get an early Ring of Sorcery. Regardless, killing heroes is what he's good at and that's what he should be trying to do.
The Jungler just farms in the neutral creeps. The benefit of jungling is that your team as a whole gets more experience because there's two solo lanes and a jungler. The downside is that one lane is going to be 2v1. It's highly effective when you have two strong solo heroes, with one of them being heroes like Valkyrie in the 2v1 lane so the enemy will have a hard time harassing or killing her.
Note that junglers usually shouldn't just sit in the jungle the entire time. The 2v1 lane could really use a gank every once in a while and the jungler is in a perfect position to do it since nobody can spot him.
What should I gain out of reading this?
Make sure to understand your hero's roles and play them right. If you're a Pyromancer, you're about a mix of 60% Killer and 40% Harasser in most games. Simply 'not feeding' is usually not acceptable. You ought to be harassing the entire time, and then finishing them off with your nukes.
Know your teammates' hero roles and set up lanes correctly. Sticking with the Pyromancer example, he really wants to be killing heroes. He's a fine harasser which makes him a good babysitter for your carry, but it's better to stick him in a lane that can kill heroes like a Magmus or Hammerstorm. Sometimes the choices are obvious, while other times a sacrifice has to be made (like having a weak solo hero in order to have a much scarier dual lane on both sides).
I'd also like to note that I don't really think in these terms in the middle of the game. If I pick Pyromancer, I'm just thinking about beating the **** out of anyone that shows up in my lane and murdering some *****es. I do take a minute to think in these terms AFTER the game to try to logically break down how the game went.
Win conditions are also important to recognize and understand so you know what your team should be doing to win in the end. There's four types of win conditions: Late Game, Push, Map Control, and One Shot.
A. Late Game
One team is going to have a stronger late game just by looking at the heroes. As an example, heroes like Chronos and Sand Wraith can take the entire team if they get buff enough. Look at the heroes and try to get an accurate idea of which team can win if the game goes long enough. If your team has better late game, then there's no need to force risky fights. If your team doesn't have a better late game, then you need to look for other ways to win.
Aiming for the Late Game Victory
If your team clearly has the stronger late game, you need to build towards being as strong as possible when the opposing team is expected to push. It's typically going to come down to one or two big team fights that decides the game, and once you're over that hurdle it's all downhill for the other team since your team is only going to get stronger.
Simply put, just gather your team and push the lane. If your team doesn't have a stronger late game, then this is usually the preferred method to win before the opposing team gets too strong.
Aiming for the Push Victory
If your team is planning to win by pushing, then joining the push is the obvious choice to make. There isn't much for people to do other than to make sure to GET LOTS OF SURVIVAL GEAR. I cannot stress this enough. Even typical farmer heroes like Puppet Master should be getting HP and probably even a shrunken head before any damage.
As for items, an Astrolabe, Ring of Sorcery, Nome's Wisdom, Puzzlebox, and a Barrier Idol can also be very nice for the team to have.
Keep in mind that this is different from pushing to buy some time or keeping the opponent busy. This is when your team literally plans to win by taking down raxes very early, and even hard farm carries should be joining the push in this case.
C. Map Control
Map control is when one team presents such a large threat on the entire map that the other team has no choice but to hide in the back and wait for an opportunity. This can be done by one or two heroes or as an entire team, although it takes a lot of coordination to do as a team.
Heroes like Scout, Night Hound, and Pharoah are really good at winning in this fashion by themselves. If the Scout gets buff enough, the opposing team doesn't have anything they can do except group up as a team of 5 so they don't get picked off. As a result, the team with Scout farms so much more than the other team that they eventually just win by sheer force.
Winning in this fashion as a team is probably not going to happen in pubs, but it is something to consider in a team of 5. Typically, the best way is to move as an entire team into their jungle and get some Ward of Revelations (sentries) to destroy the opposing Ward of Sights (observers). Just farm their jungle with your entire team, pick off any hero that shows up, push the closest lane, go back in the jungle, rinse and repeat. Plague Rider, Moon Queen, and heroes with AoE heals like Nymphora are good candidates for this type of victory.
The reason why this strategy can win is that the opposing team cannot go off and farm anywhere because you're too close to their home grounds and your entire team is constantly presenting the threat of pushing into the enemy base or killing a hero. Your team completely suffocates the other team from farming anything and you eventually win with far superior items.
This is also the category where complete stomps fall under. When the team score is 19-2, the losing team can't do much else than hug towers or gather as 5 because they're going to get picked off for whatever reason if they stray by themselves.
Aiming for the Map Control Victory
What to be doing when the game turns out to be Map Control can be difficult to see. Representing the threat is the most important part. One thing to look out for is to stay out of vision with most of your team. Ward of Revelation to destroy their Ward of Sight can make a big difference. Level 3 Puzzlebox can be nice at doing the job of checking the area for wards.
If you're a farmer carry hero, the best option may be to just farm in the safest spot possible. It's important in this case to also get enough survival gear to live through ganks. Most of your team is going to not be in the vision, so the typical choice for the opponent to make is to gank the only hero they can see on the map (which is you if you're playing the farmer). Play extra defensive and cautious if you're farming. Heroes like Magebane and Valkyrie are very good in this case since they're pretty hard to kill to begin with.
At some point, the opposing team is going to try to make a stand. Make sure to have all 5 heroes when this happens. Map control can completely flip over to the other side in a single bad 4v5 fight. It's also important to consider the option of not fighting. If they bring all 5 heroes into their own jungle to break the map control, it may just be a wise idea to back off for a minute and let your farmer carry heroes farm. After that, they have to stop your farmers eventually, which may require them to either bring all 5 to the farmer or to split up. Then you can hit them off balance. Good leadership and coordination is required for this, and it's typically only seen in skrims. It's incredibly hard in a pub to get your entire team to back off from a fight when your team is winning.
Another way of looking at this is that you're forcefully making your team's Late Game better than theirs although their heroes are clearly better if both teams are equally farmed. For this reason, you're probably going to want at least one farmer carry hero. Soulstealer is a very good candidate for this because of the sheer speed at which he farms. The entire rest of the team can roam around establishing Map Control while the Soulstealer farms the entire map.
D. One Shot
The One Shot is usually just a desperation move from a team that simply has no other way of winning. You just hope to win a big fight, typically near their base, and then push in for the win.
This type of victory can't be seen too often because people tend to concede too early before it happens. It is something to strongly consider when your team is getting destroyed by a single really buff carry, or if your team has some potentially devastating skills that aren't that easy to land. There's quite a few games that I've won where I just convince my team to try 'one last time'. We just go in their forest with our entire team, kill their outrageously buff Sand Wraith, and push two lanes down before the Sand Wraith can come back to life.
Aiming for the One Shot
If the game's a clearly losing battle, there's still plenty of ways to flip it around. One of the most common mistakes seen in the lower level games is killing Kongor just because they can. It's a good opportunity to jump their entire team and turn the game around.
It's also something to aim for when the opposing team has one outrageously strong hero holding the team together. The greatest strength is also the greatest weakness. Just try to sack that one hero and push in.
It's also worthy of noting that it's not anywhere near hopeless in many games that I've seen people concede in. I've seen Push teams call it quits because they can't win a 5v5 against a Late Game team. Well, what if it becomes a 4v5 before the fight even happens? Gank a hero and push for the win.
What should I gain out of reading this?
Have a good idea of which Win Condition your team is planning to go for. There's too many times that I hear people saying, "We need to push" when it's way too risky with little reason to do it in the first place. Stick to a plan and try your best to achieve it.
Have a good idea of which Win Condition the opposing team is planning to go for. First ask yourself, "Which team has the better late game?" If it's your team, then ask yourself, "Do they plan to win by pushing or keeping your carries down and gaining map control?" Then ask yourself, "How can we stop it?"
As I said before, many times the game is going to be decided in one or two fights where one team tries to stop the other team's push. Have a decent guess of when it's going to happen, and get items to be as strong as possible when it does.
Last edited by North2; 10-31-2010 at 05:17 PM.
I'm covering what items to get at all points in the game in non-EM games.
A. Item Triangle
The item triangle consists of Damage, Damage Execution, and Survival. Getting the right balance out of the three categories is key for any hero. Put in one sentence, HAVING A LOT OF DAMAGE MEANS NOTHING IF YOU'RE DEAD OR CANNOT HIT THE OPPONENT.
Damage items are straightforward. For physical DPS heroes, items like Thunderclaw and Riftshards fall under here. For caster heroes, there's not much else than Staff of the Master and Restoration Stone. It's typically the item to get a little later in the game, although some heroes are very good at being glass cannons.
Extremely important for initiators like Behemoth, Damage Execution items lets you get in there and hit your skills. Portal Key is the obvious choice. For physical DPS heroes, Assassin's Shroud can be a good choice as it is also a survival tool at the same time.
Marchers and things that give move speed also fall under this category, as does things that disable the opponent like Sheepstick or Frostburn.
Survival items let you live longer in one way or another. Higher HP, Move speed, Shrunken Head, and Sheepstick fall under this category.
B. Early Game Items
Most early game items also have another attribute of paying for themselves. Damage items nets you more last hits on creeps. Survival gear lets you live through things you otherwise wouldn't. Runes of Blight lets you survive longer and stay in the lane to farm more. It's important to have some HP regeneration items on you since it'll keep you alive and easily pay for itself.
For most heroes, stats items are the best in the early game. For a mere 1530 gold, 3 Fortified Bracelets add 342HP, 117 Mana, 9% attack speed, and 9 or 18 damage. The most important parts are the HP and mana, as it makes the difference between life and death, kill and no kill. The damage also makes the item pay for itself somewhat, since more Damage will net you more last hits.
For agility heroes, it can be a good move to get Soulscream Rings instead of Fortified Bracelets if the extra Damage and discounted price is enough to let you farm faster and net more kills. Solo agility heroes like Arachna and Valkyrie can be good for this. I cannot recommend Talisman of Exiles on too many heroes since the HP buff is critically important on most heroes compared to the intelligence gain. As of right now, I only get it sometimes on Pebbles and Wretched Hag.
Be conscious of how much damage you can expect to receive from the opposing players throughout the game. Against a dual-stun lane, you need to get enough HP to at least survive their entire combo and keep yourself at full HP. Too many times I see heroes like Moon Queen getting Soulscream Rings instead of Fortified Bracelets against a lane like Magmus and Pyromancer. She ends up getting killed over and over, and from there she never gets enough money to buy HP items to survive anything.
Make sure to have enough Survival Gear to live through the situation you're in, or go find somewhere else to be. If the lane is too hard, you can go gank somewhere else. You can ask for help too, but a lot of times there's far better options. Instead of crying for help, maybe you should just go to another lane. If you're up against the Magmus Pyromancer lane and they're level 6, it's time to jump boat and go gank somewhere or towerhug very safely. They have enough damage to tower dive and kill most heroes, and there's no point in just letting them do it.
Going straight for big items is not recommended for most heroes. If you are, there should be a very good reason to do it. You should also at least fill your slots with Minor Totems and consumables. Those totems very easily pay for themselves.
C. Late Game Items
Have an idea of what the ideal items are to have in the lineup before you click the Ready button. You should have a good vision of what the final build is going to be, and then figure out what items should be farmed first.
For DPS farmers, make sure to understand how much Survival items you need before Damage. Being able to stick around to fight longer ends up giving more damage in the end.
Whispering Helm is good for a lot of DPS farmers since it offers Damage and situational Survival along with offering the ability to get some stunner creeps and farm the neutral creeps without having to heal. It's also good if you stack the big neutral creep camp and your hero has a way of taking them out like Moon Queen. It's a fairly risky move though since the stack can get stolen.
Shrunken Head is also a must have for a lot of farmer carries since stuns are the worst enemies for heroes that need to constantly hit the opponent to do anything. It's actually a great Damage Execution item as well as offering some Damage and a lot of Survival power.
If you're getting a Whispering Helm, you should almost always be getting a Shrunken Head at some point before or after the Helm. The reason is because all that lifesteal doesn't do much if you get chain-stunned and die.
Aside from that, straight Damage items can top it all off. Some heroes like Night Hound are very good at getting minimal Survival gear and just stacking lots of Damage, but it requires some very cautious playing and a lot of moving around.
For most caster heroes, Damage is something that can be completely neglected. You already do a lot of Damage from your spells, and to balance it out you need to get a whole lot of Survival and Damage Execution gear. I won't go into much more detail here since it's all very hero-specific.
What should I gain out of reading this?
Get the right balance of Damage, Damage Execution, and Survival gear for your team. Sometimes, your team or hero will give you all the Damage and Damage Execution you need, in which case you just need to pump up on Survival. Hammerstorm typically falls under this category. Other times, you may need to rush the Damage in order to get that extra oomph to kill heroes.
After reading this guide, I hope everyone can at least get a good 'ideal' plan and a couple of 'backup plans' for what to do for the entire game before it even starts. As you're sitting there before you click the Ready button, ask yourself these questions:
What mix of farmer, harasser, solo, killer, or jungler am I going to be?
What's our preferred win condition? How can we make it happen?
What's the opponent's lanes probably going to be?
What's our lanes going to be?
How can I carry? Would it be best for my team if I tried to carry or should I be aiming to support?
How much Survival gear do I need to get to live through everything? How cautious or aggressive do I need to be?
Who's buying Wards? Who's buying Courier?
What's the opponent's game plan? How can we shut it down?
What items should I be getting early? What items should I be getting late? When should I start going for late game items?
For people that may be wondering, Yes, I do ask myself these questions in every serious game I play. It's what works for me, and I'm sure there's something in here that's going to work for you.
Currently writing the Advanced Guide to Everything HoN.
Last edited by North2; 02-20-2010 at 10:09 AM.
This section is for some extra tidbits that I find to be useful but didn't warrant being in the guide.
Systematic Approach to Improving Your Gameplay
For the true novices out there asking for advice, I usually give them the systematic approach that I used way back in the day to get better at DotA. For example, the most common problem for novices is that they die too much early game. They commonly ask, 'Did I not get enough HP items? Should I have seen that gank coming? Do I just suck with the hero? What did I do wrong?"
Well, I tell them to get 3 Fortified bracelets on literally every hero. And I do mean absolutely every hero. This way, Question #1 "Did I not get enough HP items?" is out of the way.
Chances are they're still dying. So then I tell them to make sure their team has wards, and buy some yourself if they aren't getting them. "Should I have seen that gank coming?" Well, if there's wards then you probably should have.
After that I tell them to just stick to a couple of heroes. "Do I just suck with the hero?" No, they probably just suck at the game.
"What did I do wrong?" I don't know, what the hell did you do wrong? Find the problem and apply the solution. Keep doing this and eventually they stop dying and start winning. After they stop dying, then they can venture out and try Soulscreams on agility heroes among other things.
This may seem really obvious to a lot of people, but there's so many people out there that just praise themselves for every win and blame teammates for every loss. How are they ever going to get better that way?
Last edited by North2; 10-31-2010 at 05:18 PM.
thanks for posting this, I have read your guide and i think it contains a lot of good generic advice, that can be very useful for new players like me.
I like the style you used to write it, it seems evident that you did put some good thought into this.
Ye bro, nice amount of effort put in! I enjoyed reading it even though I knew most of the things there.
Peter North the 2nd?
good guide thanks
Last edited by Clyne; 02-05-2010 at 03:11 AM.
If you're looking to add more combos, anyone who's witnessed and on the enemy team will surely shudder at how fast their towers go down.
Thx for the replies everyone.
The Engi-Defiler is a great combo that I have played with. It's also a real pain just to fight against because you have to kill the Defiler who's standing in the Engi Ult, and ironically the only really good counter to Engi Ult is Defiler (and Scout....but he's not a good hero most of the time).
I also renamed the thread title since I'm working on a more advanced guide right now.
This is already the biggest contribution this board has ever seen and will ever see, can't wait for the advanced guide. When I read your DotA guide 5 years ago, it was like I went from the bronze age to the 21st century. You're a good man, North2!
p.s.: In your original DotA guide thread, after you posted the theory you then went on to show how it works in practice by using specific heroes + replays. Like the Null Talismans on Night Stalker. I'm sure alot of people would appreciate that :>
Ok, will do. I tend to have weeks where I feel like playing seriously and weeks where I don't. I have to look pretty far back right now to find some good replays. I got a Replays section up for those interested.
P.S.: I don't remember what made Nulls good on Nightstalker back in the day, but nowadays I get 3 Bracers.
Last edited by North2; 02-06-2010 at 11:51 PM.
great guide, defeinitely helpful for getting people started with hon
When is a door not a door?
When it's ajar!
Putting more replays up.
The advanced guide is planned to go up on March 25th. I got a trip to Japan coming up and I'm planning to write the guide on the 15-hour flight there and back.
I watched the Sand Wraith game. Excellently played, but why didn't you level attributes?
You are now blinking and breathing manually.