Monday, April 21, 2014

Climbing the Ladder - Chapter 1: Farming


This post is the first of a relatively long series that will hopefully cover as many of DotA's large strategical elements as possible. Before starting with anything, I just want to remind you that DotA is a game of reaction, and no advice should ever be followed blindly. What I describe may work in most situations, but could be a bad option in some particular games. Therefore, look to learn as much as possible from this but remember to not treat it as a step by step plan.

These are the elements of farming I will be discussing.
  • When to farm where
  • Jungling (creep priority)
  • Midas - when to buy and how to use
  • Maelstrom - when to buy and how to use
  • Battlefury - when to buy and how to use
  • Radiance - when to buy and how to use
  • Stacking the jungle
  • Pushing the lane
  • Maintaining creep equilibrium
  • Teleportation Scrolls

When to farm where

(the first section is a lot longer than the rest, so don't be discouraged!) 
There are three lanes, two jungles and two ancient camps. How do you know when you should be farming which? As a general rule, farming the lane is more efficient (gold/time) than farming the jungle. However, lasthits on the lane are not guaranteed - an enemy may be disrupting your farm by denying, off-hitting, drawing creep aggro, pulling, pushing the wave into your tower, etc. On the plus side, however, you do not take as much damage from the creeps as you would in the jungle. Few heroes can sustain themselves farming the jungle with no items, and fewer still can farm it quickly starting from level one (enigma, bat, axe, chen, ench) - notice how none of those are carries.

So generally, for your first few levels you want to stay on the lane and get as much as you can there. If your support pulls, don't go killing neutrals because the enemy lane creeps will die to your tower. Take your lane creeps and let your support get something out of the jungle. You want to keep the lane static close to your tower (how to do this described under 'maintaining creep equilibrium'). There comes a certain point, however, when you have a certain farming item, some more levels, some crucial skills or simply more damage - this is the moment when you can, and should start utilising the jungle. 

Do not forget the ancients as a source of income. Generally even fewer heroes can farm them efficiently and early enough, so if you are a hero that can you should do so as much as possible instead of regular jungling, because it frees up the jungle for the rest of your team. Of course, if you are the 1 position and have some form of aoe right click damage, it is most efficient to stack the ancients while farming the lanes and jungle, and go to kill 4-5 ancient stacks all at once.

Let's go to a situation later in the game, let's say mid-game around 25 minutes. The more the game is in your favour, the more aggressively you should be farming, meaning closer to the enemy base and including their jungle and ancients. This prevents them from farming it, while your jungle is even less accessible.
The further behind you are, the safer you want to farm. This however does not mean you cannot leave your base. Yes, if the heroes on the enemy team that are missing right now can kill you, you should generally be farming safely close to your towers and allies. 

Which heroes should you be afraid of when they are missing? This is knowledge you can only learn through experience. Let's say the only hero on the enemy team missing is an Axe, and you are a Luna with a max HP of 800 wanting to farm the Radiant safelane with your tier 1 tower down. Does he have a blink dagger? If yes, it's likely that he can blink in, call and solo kill you. If no, does that mean you can farm anywhere? Still not the case, if you stand close to the trees he can simply walk up to you and call you before you see him. So, you position yourself on the side of the lane opposite to where you expect him to come from. Your movement speed is very high so even if he runs up to you and hungers you, you will be able to run away. But what if he comes out of the trees between your tier 2 and you? There is no tier 1 to run to or that allies can TP to, so your only option is to run into the trees and TP out - you will need to be able to judge if he is far away enough so that he cannot reach you in time, taking any possible items into account (checking his inventory). Any other options (running, juking) involve giving time to both your team and his team to arrive, and once again you will need to judge how the potential fight will go down, something that becomes more and more difficult the more heroes enter the equation. 
And this is the case with an blink-daggerless Axe on the enemy team. Imagine a Batrider with blink+force+BoT. His initiation range is massive, you cannot juke him, you cannot tp away due to ~1.5k range flamebreak, his firefly allows him to come from anywhere and drag you anywhere, and he can drag you out of position into an enemy that just tp'd in. You should be able to understand more clearly now why he is and has been a top pick and ban for a very long time.

However, this does not mean that every time you are behind you should be hugging your towers. You see a fight or gank breaking out, or the enemy team pushing the tower, etc., any situation in which 5 enemy heroes are visible on the minimap and far away from a certain lane, you can farm and push that lane. By pushing it you force a reaction, you force them to move there to defend it and that in turn creates space for you to farm the jungle for example, or another lane.
It doesn't matter if you are in their base or in their jungle, as long as you see where every enemy is and are quick enough on your TP, you will be able to escape. That's why there are no global stuns in dota. Also remember, TP'ing to escape doesn't always mean you should TP to base. If you have the health and mana, you can just TP to another lane and farm there.

Jungling - Creep Priority
Your goal is always to farm as quickly as possible, which means killing creeps as quickly as possible. This means being conscious about what order you focus creeps in, in the jungle. In the early game, with junglers especially, you want to kill creeps in such an order that you take as little damage as possible. However, later on when you are flashfarming with lifesteal or high regen, your priorities change. 
In the bird camp, you wanna kill the one giving the armor aura first, making the others weaker. 
For satyrs, you kill the one giving regen first (it's only 3 hp per second, but if it makes the difference between a total of 16 hits instead of 17, it's worth it). 
Troll priest, kill healer first. 
Ghost camp, kill ghost reducing your attack speed first. 
Big troll camp, kill the small one first, then hit the big one to make him summon skeletons - they have a very nice hp/gold ratio. 

There's no clear cut answer to when you should and shouldn't buy this - generally, if you are planning to take the game past ~30-35 minutes, you should get it, because it obviously becomes more and more efficient the more you use it. The attackspeed is nice on some heroes and not that great on others, but over-all shouldn't come into the equation when you're deciding if you want to get it. As nice as it sounds as it is, 2000 gold for 30 AS is absolutely terrible and if you're constantly fighting after you buy it you will really wish you bought something else. Also, try not to get more than 1-2 on your team in pubs, because you usually won't have the coordination to play passively and not fight, which means you're likely to feed and lose because you essentially dug yourselves in a 4k, 6k or 8k gold disadvantage (2, 3 or 4 midases).

In pretty much all cases, unless you really need gold more than exp (~lvl 16+, never for invoker), you want to use Midas on the big creep, because it amplifies the experience gain by 2.5, and over-all leaves the camp dead quicker. Naturally it should be on cooldown as often as possible, so you wanna head into the jungle as it's about to come off cooldown. Sometimes there is a lot of farm on the lane or someone else has cleared the jungle, and in those cases it's better to just use it on a lanecreep instead of wasting time. Remember however to use it on the melee creep, since it is level 3 and gives more experience than the level 2 ranged creep!

Maelstrom (& Mjollnir) & Radiance
You wanna leave creeps once they drop below a certain amount of HP, and move on to the next one so that the lightning / radiance kills them off and you don't waste unnecessary hits on them.

These are more dependent on the heroes unlike midas. Radiance is good on heroes with illusions because they carry the aura and that allows you to splitpush - it's pretty bad on most other heroes. As a general rule, Radiance gives the enemies reason to focus you, so you better make sure you can deal with that focus even after spending 5k gold on an item that gives you 0 survivability. Bristle and Wraith/Skeleton King are the somewhat only non-illusion heroes that fit this category.

You should always be looking at how much damage your cleave deals, and thereby switching targets so that ideally one hit finishes all the creeps. Of course, this is not the case in the aforementioned situations under 'creep priority'.

The only heroes this item can be considered core on are Anti-Mage and Ember, and that's because AM's blink allowing him to flashfarm if he has a Battlefury, and Ember's sleight of fist takes great advantage of the cleave. The few other heroes it can situationally work on are Phantom Assassin, Void and Jugger, but in most cases there are better choices.

Stacking the Jungle
You hit the creeps to draw their aggro at around the 53rd to 55th second of every minute and run away, pulling them out of the camp-block area and allowing a new camp to spawn. Ideally you would have supports do this for you, but this does not mean you cannot do it yourself as a carry when you can or have to leave the lane, when you are walking back to base, if you have a summon / illusions / long range nuke to aggro them with, etc.

Since the ancients are slightly further away, many carries pick up an early HotD to stack them with a dominated creep. You can even share unit control to let your allies use your creep to stack for you.

Note that stacking does not always mean getting 3-4 stacks and then killing them - even if you are simply farming a camp and you notice that you won't be able to kill it before the xx:00 minute mark, it is worth it to stack it and finish off the camp-and-a-half or leave it for later.

Heroes that can farm stacks are those with any single or combination of the following: a multi-unit hitting attack (cleave (battlefury/magnus/sven), splash (DK), splitshot (medusa, gyro), bounces (luna), and spill (lanaya)), any AoE nuke (not for ancients), any lifesteal or high regeneration. If your carry has none of these (CK, Slardar, Night Stalker, Spirit Breaker) then you better fight early before you get outfarmed.

Lastly, keep in mind that when jungling you can sacrifice some speed for sustainability by drawing the creeps away from the camp, running, and then hitting them on their way back.

Pushing the lane
You want to kill the enemy creeps as fast as possible while making your own creeps not take too much damage you can tank the wave if you have enough sustain, and you want to focus the ranged creeps first because they die the quickest but deal the most damage. Keep in mind that unlike the jungle you can lose lasthits on lane, so make sure you focus down creeps one by one.

If you have strong aoe damage and a gigantic enemy creepwave is coming but it's very drawn out, run against it before your creeps arrive, and pull all the enemy creeps together so you can kill them all together. Note that this means you lose some HP and may be dangerous if you get ganked and disabled while tanking 4 creepwaves.

Maintaining Creep Equilibrium
To achieve this you need to essentially make sure both sides of creeps take equal damage - first off this means they need to be equal in number, and this can be achieved either by tanking enemy creeps and killing them quickly or only hitting enemy creeps once when they're very low but starting to deny yours as soon as they're below 50%.
Once you've got them equal in numbers, you need to make you're not tanking anything and making sure that for every last-hit you hit your own creeps once (does not always have to be a deny)

Teleportation Scrolls
Don't TP to a lane unless there is a big wave incoming that you're gonna miss out on. Try to see where big waves are going to gather and get there in time, saving your TP. When you do TP to a lane to farm make sure there is no fight going to break out soon that you can't get to because you just used your TP. Also make sure you don't find yourself in a situation where you need to TP out but can't because it's on cooldown.


These are some of the topics I will be discussing in the following chapter. If you want me to write about a certain one next, or have an idea for a topic that is not listed, feel free to message me.

  • Positioning
  • Teamfighting
  • Ganking
  • Skillbuilds
  • Itembuilds
  • Drafting
  • Fight participation
  • (Support) rotations
  • Timing
  • Laning
  • Enemy manipulation


  1. Very well done! I really like your blog so far, looking forward to read more.

  2. Thanks for this .. you're a hero!

  3. this is a very helpful summary of principles for farming. I think I've internalized most of these already, but always good to keep them in mind.

    Would be very interested to read a similar account for drafting, (support) rotations, teamfighting, ganking, and positioning. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  4. Great guide! Excited to see the rest of it as well!

  5. these guide are for at least position 1-3 and not mistakenly for supports to do this. supports farm different way