In competitive Heroes of Newerth, a lot of the strategy for every match occurs before a single attack- during the hero choosing stage. Though this isn't frequent in mid level games and almost completely absent at low levels, knowing what roles your current team lacks and molding your roster to fit that can make you a more valuable team member without improving anything but your knowledge.
One of the major mistakes made by newer players is not understanding what they're supposed to do throughout the game. They don't know what to do in lane, they don't buy items geared toward a certain role, and they don't understand what they should do during teamfights. All of this adds up to a lot of received rage and often a loss, even if the player didn't really do too terribly at whatever role he tried to fill. This guide's goal is to attempt to reveal to newer players what your job should be, depending on your chosen hero.
Keep in mind, however, that virtually every hero can play multiple roles effectively and that based on what your team and the opposing team has chosen, there are often multiple very different ways to play a hero that would all be considered "correct."
But before you can deviate and experiment effectively with heroes, you must be able to play them in its standard fashion that most teammates will expect of you. In this guide, I've taken the time to designate the role that every hero in HoN customarily plays, in my experience.
Nearly half of all heroes in HoN are referred to as carry heroes, but what does this actually mean? For the most part, these heroes are terrible at the beginning of the game. They require a lot of experience and gold in order to buy items that will allow them to "carry" your team on their back; they deal relatively more damage and have more power the further the game progresses. Because of this reason, carries need hero kills and near-constant creep farming to be effective. Intelligent play dictates that carries deserve every kill they can get, especially early game, and good teammates will provide their carries with every opportunity to do so. The ways in which heroes carry does differ significantly, however, and how you intend to carry should determine what types of items you buy with your hard earned income. In early and mid-game it's not at all rare for a carry to miss a teamfight in order to continue farming creeps. If a game goes late, it hinges on the teams' carries. Thus, players playing these tend to be the best players on a given team, though having good supporting teammates is what allow carries to carry. An opposing team always has to have the mindset of "keeping the enemy carry down." That means limiting his farm, killing him whenever possible, and ensuring that he won't control the game in its later stages.
DPS Carries: :chro:
(Swiftblade, Chronos, Magebane, Hammerstorm, Madman, Predator, The Dark Lady, Scout, Night Hound, War Beast, Rampage, Blood Hunter)
These heroes are built for raw damage. They tend to have lower life but later into the game often have the ability to kill weaker heroes in three or four hits. Because of this threat, they are very susceptibility to being focused and chain stunned into the ground. Thus, a Shrunken Head is a common purchase for many of these heroes unless you can rely on your team to have spells to protect you, either with stuns of their own or protective magic. A few also have innate Magic Immunity spells. Beyond that, DPS items are the goal. Many of them.
These heroes put out decent damage over time by being hard as hell to kill. This is either due to massive lifesteal, healing abilities, spells which negate damage, or simply having a huge amount of health and regeneration through their items. Sometimes the Tank Carry's goal is for the enemy team to focus him, thus soaking up massive amounts of damage. Other times you don't want to be focused because you're not quite tanky enough and need to survive to deal your damage. Either way, you build the same: for durability. Common items for these heroes include Shaman's Headdress, Helm of the Black Legion, Sacrificial Stone (if INT), and Behemoth's Heart. Heroes who don't seem to ever die should also consider Mock of Brilliance.
Ranged carries are similar to DPS carries in idea, but fulfill that role in a very different manner. Because of their range, they are able to hit from afar and put out damage while staying of reach of enemies. This aids them significantly as Ranged Carries have a solid lane presence early in the game, more easily able to harass instead of being harassed as well as netting early kills for an extra boost. If the opposing team tries to focus them, simply stepping back to safety of a tower or allies can alleviate the threat. These heroes are also very common solo mid lane heroes due to the experience and gold advantage they gain as a carry from such a scenario. Itemwise, they build much the same as a DPS carry, but only those who plan to get into the middle of fights consistently build a Shrunken Head. As a trade-off for their early game usefulness, however, many of these heroes simply won't match up to a DPS carry if they're equally farmed.
Support heroes are the unsung ones in HoN. They rarely if ever get credit for doing their job well, but the difference between a support hero who fulfills his role correctly and one who doesn't is game changing. Your task as a support hero is to sacrifice everything possible in order to aid your teammates and win the game. This means buying the courier and warding both at the very beginning of a game and throughout the rest of the game, letting teammates get last hits instead of you, and risking your neck or even dying to save a teammate. Support heroes tend to benefit less from items than others, and so they will not and do not need to earn much gold during the course of the game. Because of this, they don't need hero kills and it's good play to deliberately let a teammate, hopefully a carry, get the finishing blow. Their spells are generally spammable but many of them also have ultimates that can completely turn a teamfight around. Throughout the game, these heroes are almost always going to be the ones buying crowd control, healing, and other support items.
A babysitter's role is to allow their lane partner, usually a carry, to farm creep kills effectively. This can be done in different ways: keeping enemy heroes at bay through constant auto-attacking known as harassing, healing themselves and their lane partner, or utilizing offensive spells that are able to be cast frequently. The end result is the same: their lane partner gets every last hit that he possibly can and has a huge advantage because of it throughout the game. Meanwhile, the babysitter's creep kills are mostly denies and he's done a lot of damage to enemy heroes without actually killing anyone.
(Accursed, Jeraziah, Keeper of the Forest)
Melee babysitters lack the auto-attack harassment ability of their ranged counterparts, but instead have even stronger defensive capabilities. As such, they tend to be paired in a lane with a ranged hero who is otherwise fragile but needs to farm creep kills. They can put out decent damage in only limited situations, and so are usually picked with the intent to satisfy those conditions.
Utility heroes are the ones with the ability to near instantly decide fights. They capitalize on this by only picking fights that they can win, and thus require both good map awareness and the ability to quickly and intuitively judge whether a fight will go well for their team. They thus take advantage of the opposition's mistakes and do so decisively. This is true of them throughout the game, and because of it they tend to lane against enemy carry heroes, hoping to set them back and give their team an edge.
If there was a definition of "Recommended Item", it would give the example of getting a Portal Key on initiators. This is because initiators have one or two Area of Effect abilities that can absolutely devastate an entire opposing team- but only if placed well. When enemy heroes become too clustered as they try to push or when chasing after your fleeing ally, you start the fight by teleporting in and wreaking havoc. Having a team that's prepared and well equipped to following up your initiation is key, though. It does almost no good to disable the entire other team if you're the only one there and can't kill anyone. However, A single well placed spell by an initiator can instantly win a losing teamfight, but more important is the fact that an initiator gets to pick which fights to start.
A ganker's role is to spontaneously assist all across the map, thereby slowing the opposing team's ability to earn money. If enemy heroes are not wary or get a bit too greedy in their farming, well played gankers punish them. This assistance can sometimes start immediately at level 1, which is known as "Roaming." Gankers have spells that capitalize on a numerical or positional advantage by locking up or slowing a single enemy hero and, with the help of nearby allies, killing that hero before sufficient help can arrive. Because they offer such singular focus, a ganker's usefulness in teamfights tends to be lower than average and thus in order to be a worthwhile selection they need to make their mark on the game early and often. Gankers often serve as a stand-in initiator, but generally don't have the Area of Effect spell power to give their team as dramatic of a swing in teamfights.
These heroes are those that subscribe to the theory that the best defense is a good offense. Their spells are almost entirely geared to dealing direct damage to enemies and because of this they give their lane instant-kill potential. Nukers thus sometimes function as babysitters due to the threat of their spells, but during early and mid game a Nuker can also serve as an effective ganker due to their ability to simply melt targets. However, because spells deal static damage throughout the game after reaching max level, their usefulness tapers off as a game enters the mid and then later stages. Their job in teamfights is to destroy enemies before giving them a chance to do anything, often singularly targeting an enemy carry hero.
Disablers make fights uneven. These heroes are capable of taking more than half of an opposing team out of a conflict while their allies dismantle the others. However, disablers tend to be squishy or have to stay in place while channeling a spell. That susceptibility makes Shrunken Head a common item choice for them, as it will usually allow the full duration and effects of their spells to be gotten off during every fight. In addition to that, adding to your Crowd Control capacity with a Sheepstick or Stormspirit is common. To get the jump, even Portal Key is relatively frequent. You have many options in teamfights, you can choose to disable an enemy carry, an enemy disabler, or maybe just that healer that will keep the carry alive. Sometimes it's best even to disable an ally. These heroes require a large amount of quick judgment and reflexive play, but a well played disabler can win games for his team.
That's all for now... I hope I've helped. Please feel free to post critiques or disagreements. If the consensus is dissent, I have no problem making modifications to improve the quality of this. Thanks.