Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tips and Tricks: Shendelzare Silkwood, the Vengeful Spirit

1. Terror

With its short cooldown and very small mana cost, it can be spammed mid to late game while pushing. The short cooldown allows you to cast it every creep wave, potentially strengthening the pushing creep wave, building it up faster (by lessening the creep deaths in your favor), making the wave more powerful once it hits the enemy tower or creep-producing buildings. So while pushing with Venge, always cast Terror! What are you saving up mana for? By this time of the game, Venge has more than 500 mana to spare, more than enough to cast a Magic Missile (or two) and Swap then Teleport (Boots or Scroll), in case she is ambushed. Terror makes a big difference. Add up these “differences” per creep wave and your side actually gains a mightier push.

2. Nether Swap

Show Stopper: It is pretty common knowledge already that this spell is coupled with a mini-stun. But still, this fact is often neglected. Just to reiterate, you can prevent a Sand King earthquake with a simple swap. You can stop Voodoo Death Ward from spraying your allies with fire bolts, still with just a simple swap. You could do so many things that beat the usual Swap-Stun combo. But here are more tricks. If you are facing a Magnataur or an Earthshaker or any other Initiator Hero (those that blink or jump into the middle of combat then do their stuff), you can use swap to mess up their combos. All you need is excellent timing, which can be achieved with practice. When you Magnus or Lesale getting into position, Swap them off the area to disorient them and their allies. Stun the most alert of your foes then make your clean escape.

Swap can also go through BKB Avatar and Repel, so even though enemy turns Avatar on then start a channeling spell like Town Portal, Epicenter, Freezing Field or Death Ward, they can be cancelled.

Swap save: Nether Swap can also be used to save allies from danger. Never hesitate to pull a dying ally off the battlefield, especially if your health is still full. For example, your ally Sven has done his job. Two foes down, but his life is down to 200 and his Black King Bar Avatar has already worn off. A nice swap would not only save a teammate, but could lead to another kill for your team.

You may also save an ally by swapping away the enemy chasing them. For instances that you are behind enemy lines, you can swap your enemies back getting you near your allies for escort support.

Hero Separator: You can actually use swap as a surprise attack. At times when there are 2 enemies near each other, you can focus on the one with lower life by swapping the one with max life AWAY to reduce the chance of double teaming. You can also use this to gain to your enemy away from the range of your swap. swap the hero near him and focus on your target. You can also use your ally as a blink in target. For example, get Razor or Magina to chase the enemy and swap them to get your stun in range.

Anti-Blink: For those who doesnt consider blinking heroes worthy to swap, well this could be a way to change your minds. This is actually a strategy against blinking heroes, here's what you do: It is important that you use stun first. This will give you a few cheap shots against your enemy. As you may observe, blinking heroes have a 0.75 sec. channeling animation while Swap has 0.5 sec delay, therefore, as soon as you see the blinking animation start, use your Nether Swap. This will either cancel the blink and give you more time to damage the enemy for the next stun, or move your enemy back therefore causing him to blink right beside you w/c means more time to whack him to death.

AoE Saving: There are times that you can help your teammates by swapping the enemy, away from the crowd instead of into. For example, you won't be able to do anything to cancel once there is a Sand King sending seismic waves at your allies. However you can swap him (SK) away from everyone, therefore wasting the remaining pulses he has yet to release. You can also do this with other heroes such as Luna (Eclipse), Leshrac (Edict and Pulse Nova), Krobelus (Exorcism), etc.

3. Command Aura

Usually, this is forewent in place of Bonus Stats points during early to mid game. But we have to remember that during team pushes and clashes, the bonus damage from this might be more beneficial to the team than the measly hit and mana points added to her pool. But when? Well, if there are at least two normal attackers / damage dealers in the team, like Storm Spirit and Drow Ranger, Rikimaru and Slithice, it is advisable to get Command Aura in place of stats. The damage boost may not amount to much but may spell victory for the team, and not just for the survival of Silkwood, your precious hero.

Tips and Tricks: Zeus, the Lord of Olympia

1. Arc Lightning and Static Field

It might already be known to many how well these two skills synergize. But I still notice many Zeus players not getting Arc Lightning till late game. Well, spamming a Level 1 arc lightning (extremely low many cost!) at an incoming push or defending enemy cluster could severely enervate their life points. Each cast triggers Static Field, reducing their current hit points by so-and-so percent but when you add these up, your Zeus is actually reducing the effective maximum HP of everyone from the opposing force! For how much? 200 mana? With sufficient Mana regen, this is negligible but the effects—the effects are wondrous.

2. Wrath, Wrath, Wrath!

The ultimate Kill Stealer / Finisher. Every Zeus player loves getting Double or Triple kill with this one. But his teammates hate it. But hey, we are here to discuss how to improve the role of Zeus in team clashes.

When to cast Wrath? Well, I am sure this has happened once too often in your DotA lives—you cast Wrath hoping to kill the enemy hero in red, but all you see is him typing, I live! You wonder how many HP he has left. Someone tells you, 24.

You missed that kill. Why, oh why? Because you did not cast Wrath immediately. The moral, cast it right after a team clash begins. The effects? You will encourage your teammates to fight on because they will see the enemy hp bars shrink back. Your enemies will also be somewhat terrified and the indecisive ones might pull back prematurely, ensuring your team victory for that battle. Plus, if you cast Wrath immediately, you maximize its effect. All enemy heroes get damaged. But if you cast it late, a lot of damage is wasted. The damage that your allies have dealt to kill some foes could have been distributed to other ones, rendering more kills, if and only if you casted Wrath immediately.

Shock them right away. Thundergod’s Wrath immediately. See the difference.

Also, Thundergod's Wrath gives vision to all enemy heroes. This means that we could use this to initiate an ambush or clash. With proper surveillance, your team can know when the enemies are NOT together but are relatively near each other. When this is the case, cast Wrath, then proceed to hunt the enemies as a team. Go for the loners first. The usual reaction of the foes nearby would be to lend their allies a hand. This is good because your team can actually nail them all. With the damage Wrath has incurred at the beginning, all the heores would be fairly easier to kill.

3. Lightning Bolt
This skill, Zeus's bread-and-butter spell, is so common but does eveyone know it can halt channelling spells? Yes, it does. So if you're Zeus, try to bear this in mind. Stop Crixalis once his tail goes up. Those fleeing heroes? Wait for them to start Town Portal then cast Lightning. Oyea.

Tips and Tricks: Aiushta, the Enchantress

1. Enchant!
A skill usually taken after early game. A skill used to slow enemies while pummeling them with forceful spears that send those light blue numbers flashing in the screen. Ouch.

But here's another way to use this skill. Surveillance. Reconnaissance. Enchant an enemy creep and send it to where you think the enemies are poised to ambush. Your creep will not only expose them but will also shake their will to carry on with their plan. Sure, you give them a bit of experience and gold, but you actually save your teammates by doing this. Besides, if you are just pushing, what harm is there in enchanting a creep then sending it to the woods to explore a bit?

If the mode is -ap and you're pitted against the goblins (Squee! and Spleen!), then this skill has actually more use. Yes, you can use enchanted creeps to set off traps and land mines! That way, you can foil their ambushes and surprise them with a counter ambush, and more or less turn the tides of the battle.

2. Untouchable + Nature's Attendants

Most of us already know how hard to kill Enchantress is with her having these two skills. But we can make the enemy's life a nightmare by doing this. In case your Enchantress falls down to half-life, you may want to take a risk. WARNING: You have to have some backup for this one!

Parade her in front of two enemy heroes (just not two nukers or you're dead before you can even nod your head). Now, do some stupid moves like get stuck between creeps to invite them to you! Yes, beguile them. Now, when they start chasing you, attack first, then pretend to falter, then run. Do not turn Nature's Attendants on yet! Let them chase you for awhile. Meantime, your allies should now emerge from their hiding places to initiate an ambush. If they start running, Enchant one and go for the kill. But if they don't, just tarry on, and turn the wisps on at the last possible moment so they would not get discouraged. If you turn it immediately, they'd just back out, and your team might miss two potential kills.

Tips and Tricks: Morphling, the Morphling

1. Morph
Cost-efficient Items
This one is a no-brainer but after seeing some people buy bracers in pubs, I felt I have to post this one. Never ever buy bracers for morphling because Wraith Bands would suffice. Use Morph to balance things out while regenerating beside the fountain. Remember that the minimum stats of Morphling (either for Agi or Str) depends on his base stats, not on the equivalent stats after item bonuses are added in. So learn to save money. Wraith Bands are IN.

Morphing out of Danger
This one is also an old trick. When being chased by an enemy, and you're down to red, start morphing some Agi to Str to gain hitpoints. If you have backup coming up, don't overdo it so as not to discourage your enemy from chasing you. Then at the precise moment, face him again, now with the help of your friend, pawn him. During intense clashes or 1v1 combats, it's also wise to turn Morph on when your health is starting to fall. Sometimes, it can save the day, making you score the kill.

2. Replicate

Although its not that really advisable to put a skill point in the ulti of morphling in early game, it is also very helpful to use morphling's ulti because it can do a lot of things. Aside from the norm, which is to copy copy strong opponents or allies, Morphling's Replicate can also do the following:

Decoy - Can act as decoy, copy an easy target ally (ex. sniper) before going into a clash and micromanage it, try luring your opponents on it, so that your opponents would waste their ulti's on that decoy. (the decoy is hard to be detected since, im not sure, but i think the duplicate hero doesnt receive any bonus damage, so it is as tough as the real one).

Slippery - Can save your life, in dangerous occasions you can make an illusion and put it in a safe place, and if ever you are in a tight position, you can swap places with your illusion.

Illusions FTW - You can augment other illusion Heroes especially Azwraith with Replicate because this additional illusion can copy itself too, with Juxtapose. Other applications include when you grab an Illusion Rune--adding another illusion to your team would unnerve the enemy, or cause them to waste spells and mana, forcing them to back from battle while cooling down, giving you the upper hand overall.

Hero Tips and Tricks: Medusa, the Gorgon

1. Mana Shield
We know how beneficial Mana Shield is for Medusa’s survival. So a no-brainer is always having it on once it is Level 4. But what if it is not yet maximized? We know it is not yet worth the mana to keep it on all the time. I agree with this but once you realize your Medusa is being targeted or chased, turn the shield on ASAP! It would buy you time to flee to your tower zone, and your allies who would back you up, as well.

2. Split Shot
Split Shot is another toggle skill. This is often turned on or off late because of many other distractions. Although it is up to the user when to turn Split Shot on, I want to opine that it is usually worth it to keep it on permanently once the skill has reached Level 4. While pushing, it is imperative for Split Shot to be on, of course but during clashes, others might say that focusing on a single hero is better. I think that for the benefit of the whole team, it is better if Split Shot is on so Medusa is able to deal an extra 125% damage every shot. Level 4 Split Shot deals 75% of final damage per arrow, with three arrows. 225% damage is no joke, although since it is distributed, its impact seems diminished. But if you put your team first, I am sure you would reconsider.

3. Purge

Proper Timing

When teamed up with disablers and stunners, you and your teammates should properly time your spells so the total disabling time they amount to is maximized. This goes out to all stuns and disables but Purge is a bit more special than the rest. Why? Because it removes Buffs and Debuffs. This means that timing it is harder, especially if you are facing a team that has a wide array of buffs and summons like Enrage, God’s Strength then Chen with creeps, and so on.

- When facing summons, purge them right away, if possible, before clashes.

- When facing Sven (without Black King Bar, of course), save your Purge till he uses his ultimate. Once he notices you are waiting for him, he will be crept out.

- When facing illusions, purge intelligently. If you hit the real hero, then monitor its movements so when the clash begins, you will know who to hit.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hero Tips and Tricks: Balanar, the Night Stalker

also be used for the same purpose. The important thing though, is to always be alert. When using Balanar, we should not just focus on the enemy we are "hunting." Sometimes, we overkill him/her by casting Void and Fear at the hero, and thus disregarding any other threat in the battlefield.

Balanar is a Team Hero

Let us get rid of the stereotypical Night Stalker that hunts enemies once night falls. No, he should be a team player and should be active during team pushes and clashes, where his disabling spells become most useful. Think of it this way, you only subdue one enemy when you hunt then kill using these spells. But when involved with your team, disabling two heroes at the same time may lead to two or more kills, and more survival for your team.

So next time you get hold of this ugly vampire, analyse your enemies first. Plan ahead. Who do I void? Who do I cripple? And the most important thing--WHEN? Which brings us to...


This is an important consideration when playing Balanar. As he has a meager mana pool, it is vital to conserve his spells, using them only when they're most needed. How does timing comes to play?

Well, you cast Fear to silence, right? Then never cast Fear after a nuker has just dished out his/her spells. It's useless! After the Fear wears off, the cooldown has ended too so it's nuking spree for him/her again. Bottomline: Cast Fear only when you feel your enemy is about to fight back using spells or make an escape using the same (Blink Dagger, for example).

Void, on the other hand, is used to slow enemies down. Sometimes, it's really fun to watch your Balanar chase hopeless heroes, then Voiding them to oblivion. But this is just plain childish. When you know the enemy has absolutely no means of escape, and his allies are far away, don't waste 145 mana for a finishing Void. Instead, conserve it, in case you get counter-ambushed after awhile.

Also, never, ever cast Void if you are not going for the kill. You pay lots of mana for the slow. If you are not really going to utilize it, then don't cast it. Let your other nuker teammates do the harassing.

2. Darkness

As I've mentioned above, Balanar is a Team Player. He should be one. Therefore, in my opinion, the team should make organized assaults once night falls. Instead of Balanar chasing poor Rylai once the clock hits 18:00, he should join his team and take towers down, or ambush enemies altogether. Yes, not chase loners down. It's good, yes, that you get the kills but believe me, you're doing your team more good if you lead them in battle. Augment your team's power with your Hunter in the Night and Spells. Be a team player.

Conversely, Darkness should be cast during those critical moments for your team. Say, it's still broad daylight and you need to take a base tower down. Cast Darkness then gather your teammates and break into their base. This skill may also be used as a pre-emptive spell--something that will ward enemies away from the center point (the river crossing). There's a psychological effect that whenever you turn Darkness on (what a pun!), the feeders or the "weaklings" among the enemy ranks tremble in fear. Make sure your team benefits from this "effect."

Lastly, browse the section above (Void and Fear) and think of other ways to incorporate Timing into Darkness, then Darkness with Balanar's other skills. Just please, please remember--Balanar may be a hunter, but if he hunts with the team, he'll be more heroic or hero-like. Whatever.

P.S. In lieu of this, I do not recommend Sange and Yasha for Balanar because you pay for the MS bonus here. If your Balanar is a team player, he does more hitting, and less chasing. Remember that in team battles, enemies are compelled NOT to run because if they run, they would just let their team down. So I suggest, get damage dealing and life stealing items to make Balanar the team player he really should be.

Hero Tips and Tricks: King Leoric, the Skeleton King

After having played with or using Leoric, I already memorized how people react to him. If he approaches you then stops somewhere within 600 range, you'd instinctively move back to get out of Storm Bolt's range. But what if Leoric continues towards you without casting Storm Bolt? In that split-second wherein he advances, your brain would actually tell you that he's not going to stun. (He may just be going for a last hit or something).

Wrong. A good Leoric player would not cast Bolt from the maximum range as this would waste at least a second of the stun in getting to the stunned enemy. A good Leoric player would semi-flank the enemy, pretending to hit a creep whereas he's actually going for the hero himself. Before the enemy could retreat, that's when you cast Storm Bolt to maximize the stun length.

Seems basic and easy to pull off, but a lot do not do this. They're so used to the times when they chase enemies wherein they have to cast Storm Bolt whenever possible. No. During clashes, walk towards your enemy first before stunning him. GG.

2. Reincarnation
This is Leoric's signature skill, the ability to come back to life. Good players know how to counter this. A well-timed ambush versus Leoric would waste his ultimate. So any ways to counter these Leoric-counters?


Personally, I am a fan of Kelen's Dagger of Escape, and I feel Leoric needs one, especially once team pushes and team ambushes begin to take place. This scenario often happens: your team clashes with the enemy, the enemy wins and most of your allies are dead or fleeing. You, too, die but with Reincarnation, you are resurrected in the battlefield. But all enemies are now around you--ready to finish you off the 2nd time. So what now? This is why I recommend Leoric to get Blink.

Offensively, Kelen's Dagger of Escape has its uses too. It can chase down enemies with ease, distract enemies and support your allies who may be in danger.

Another item that owes perusal is Manta Style. With Leoric's High Hp Pool, 3 Leorics are actually something when teams clash. Not only would this provide you with extra bit of Mana (for Storm Bolt and Reincarnation), but this also discourages enemies to focus fire on you, making you more useful to the team.

Offensive Uses

Reincarnation has an uber long cooldown especially at Levels 1 and 2. But more often than not, even good players do not fully utilize this cooldown. Meaning, they play too safely that the Reincarnation is put to waste. Of course better safe than sorry, but sometimes, Leoric really has to push his weight around (and let himself die) for the good of the team. Besides, if you have your Skeleton King equipped with Kelen's Dagger of Escape, you need not worry much about dying the second time.

- Tower Pushing - Let Leoric tank to take down that tower once and for all! (Same applies to creep-producing buildings)
- Hero Chasing behind enemy lines (a red hero managed to escape your friends' wrath but you happen to be in the vicinity.) Go chase him, land your storm bolts and grab the kill. If enemies are around, think twice, but be practical. What's your ultimate for? For display, only?
- Roshan - in dire situations, you may have to give up your utlimate just to crush this ugly Golem.

Lots of other situations but the bottom line is this: that ultimate of Leoric is meant to be USED. Don't let it go stagnant. Think quickly but rationally. Use this skill wisely. And please, please, get Kelen's.

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