One of the key concepts of Magic: the Gathering play that we began to discussed last week was the idea of card advantage. To quickly summarize, basically drawing more cards than your opponent is a good thing, and very powerful.
This is actually a basic example of resource maximization. Every single card in your deck should help you win, and therefore drawing more cards helps you reach your goal of winning.
In DotA, the equivalent is creeps.
You know the creeps are there, and you know when they will be there. The only factor that you have control over is whether or not you will be there.
There are three lanes and two jungles of creeps, spawning at 30 and 60 seconds respectively. The jungle is static, whereas the creep line changes depending on equilibrium.
In a goldfish (single player) game there’s nothing except towers threatening you at any point on the map. You are free to farm as much as you want to your heart’s content; you never have to worry about interacting with your opponents.
Just imagine all those things are creeps.
However, in an actual game, the situation becomes much more different. You become limited in your choices. Every single second you are under the threat of being ganked, even next to your fountain; the only difference is that there is the degree to which you are threatened.
Even if you are backdooring creeps right outside the tier 3 (outer base) towers, if you know that each opposing hero is on the opposite end of the map, and you also know that you can get out before they can tp in and kill you, then you are, for now, under very low threat. Conversely, even if you are right outside your own T3 tower, you are not necessarily safe – a Storm or whatever at any moment could just rofl in and instagib you.
Map awareness as well as map control is absolutely vital to successful farming.
And successful farming is the key to winning most games. Yes, ‘pushing’ hard is an alternative to having a carry, but that is a very risky maneuver. The threat of a carry that can single-handedly defeat you in the late game is always looming before you, and if your team, whether through the way it was picked (a team without a carry) or through the way it is played (not farming, instead pushing hard) is not using the resource of creeps, it is putting itself in the position of simply getting outdone by the opponents who are.
I feel that this is like the aggro vs control matchups that happen in both StarCraft and Magic. As the aggressive player or deck, you are dumping “capital” into something that is temporary. You use your resources in order to do things that have an immediate effect, whether that is pumping out zealots or casting Goblin Guide. When you do this, you are trying to kill your opponent as fast as possible by dumping resources into aggressive things that provide a quick advantage but have diminishing returns. An example of this is the recent NV.CN vs StarsBoba game – heroes like Witch Doctor, Lion, etc. are great, but do not scale well.
What exactly does ‘scaling well’ mean? In StarCraft, it means that your build is meant to be effective in the late game. For example, a 14-Nexus, building a second Nexus (the main economic building) before any other building, is a build that scales extremely well because it gets your economy off the ground instantly. This generates more money than your opponent every second that it is active, meaning that you are accumulating advantage as much economic advantage as possible (it is impossible to profitably build a Nexus any sooner.) On the other hand, a 9-10-gate, building two Gateways (the main production building), generally in a proxy location, by cutting production of probes (the harvesting unit) allows you to put your resources into producing Zealots, the basic offensive unit. This means that you will be pumping Zealots immediately as soon as possible while your opponent is (likely) still producing workers. This allows you to attack with a greatly superior force in the early stages of the game.
Each of these extremes has a weakness, of course – going 14-Nexus leaves you very vulnerable for an attack of any kind, and going 9-10 gate means that if your opponent somehow survives your attack, you will likely be so far behind that it’s not even funny.
As I was saying before, the former is an example of a build that scales well, while the latter is not. In DotA, as you can probably guess, these translate into different heroes.
‘Scaling well’ simply means that a hero is able to progressively get more, or at the very least, remain equally effective as the game goes on. Obviously, this generally means carries.
However, even among carries there are many differences. How much should you farm? When should you farm? If you have two carries, who gets priority when farming?
Even if you have the ability to both be present for every creep wave and last hit each and every creep doesn’t mean you should.
For example, a hero like Bristleback has a relatively short time during which it is extremely effective. That time is right after he gets his Radiance. At that moment, generally around 25-30 minutes, the HP pools of his opponents are as low as they will ever be during the time he has his Radiance. Every single second from then on he is getting less and less effective. Sure, he can get DPS items or whatever, but he is not that good of a DPS hero – his role is as a tank that dishes out AoE damage, not as a physical attacker. Assuming the other team has a physical DPS carry like Drow, he will eventually get outclassed.
For example, consider this: following his Radiance, most Bristlebacks get Shiva’s Guard (4700) followed by Assault Cuirass (5550). Remember that the amount of gold a team is able to get is static, and the opportunities for farming are limited. How effective is a Shiva’s on Bristleback? It’s fair, but definitely leaves much to be desired.
Now give that same gold to a Drow Ranger. A Black King Bar is only 3900, and with BKB Drow becomes many times more threatening; likewise Manta Style is only 4900, and no words need to be said about the effectiveness thereof.
As such a team should definitely be constructed with this in mind. Certainly, every carry is able to make good use of the resource of creeps, which is the main method by which ‘scaling’ happens (think about it.) However, their effectiveness during each stage of the game differs, and so when looking at each individual’s role in the team as well as how your team should behave, this should be taken into consideration.
Suppose you are playing Bristleback, and that it is 25 minutes, and that you have just picked up your Radiance, and that there is a Drow Ranger on the opposing end that doesn’t have anything yet. What should you be doing? You know that you are at maximum effectiveness and are continually losing it. Your goal should be to exploit your power as much as possible, or, to put it simply, “use it before you lose it.” You (and your team obviously) should be actively seeking fights so that you can be used to the fullest potential, to gain the most advantage for your team.
Similarly, heroes like Lion and Rhasta, who definitely do scale negatively, must press their advantage when they have it. These heroes are played as semi-supporters (meaning that they do get farm but are not carries) and, like Bristleback (or other similar heroes such as Night Stalker or Krobelus), who are carries but lose effectiveness very quickly, all should have alarm bells ringing in their head as soon as they reach maximum efficiency, whether that is getting a powerful item (such as Blink Dagger or Radiance), being at a specific level (usually 6 or 11), or a combination of the two.
True, or ‘hard’ carries, are those that scale extremely well, meaning that until their item slots are full they can keep
farming effectively, and even afterward be a threat with buyback. There are relatively few of these that are used commonly in competitive play: Medusa, Drow Ranger, Sniper and Morphling lead the way as the heroes that scale exceptionally well. Behind are those that often begin to lose effectiveness just because of the way they are played: namely, Alchemist and Doom Bringer. These lose effectiveness because they are tanky heroes and are played as such; however, as the game goes on damage builds up continuously while tankiness only goes so far – to a Drow Ranger with +400 damage the difference between 2500 hp and 3500 actually is not that much.
Behind there are heroes that do lose effectiveness quickly because of their dependence on certain spells, but are still able to use farm and items relatively well, but find it hard to match heroes like Drow Ranger for damage. This group includes heroes such as Necrolyte, Tinker, Priestess of the Moon, Nevermore, and Storm Spirit. Obviously, the types of items these heroes will get will differ, but a Nevermore, given 100000 gold, will certainly lose to a Drow Ranger given the equal amount, and so they must…
Well, we’ll talk about what they must do. But first, let’s categorize them:
The first type of hero, the ‘hard carry’, are, well, the hard
The tanky heroes such as Lucifer, Alchemist, and Slardar, we will call…tank carries.
Necrolyte, Nevermore, etc. are semi-carries.
Now that we have terms defined we can move on to analysis of their respective roles and suggested behaviors.
The easiest to talk about is the hard carry. As a hard carry,
your role is incredibly simple – farm until you farming causes your team to lose.
I began with a discussion of the importance of map awareness in farming. That is provided to you by your team – you are certainly not the one buying wards, and it is not going to be because of you that your team has map control, except by your pushing of creep waves by farming, and that hardly has an effect. Instead, because the team has picked a hero like Medusa, a certain investment has been made, like having an early expansion – the goal is to reach late game when your Medusa can take over, because in the early phases Medusa does nothing at all for your team. Thus the rest of the team should be focused on that goal – get Medusa safely to late game. This is done by using the four other heroes to both protect the Medusa and/or be powerful enough that the opposing team cannot spare resources to deal with the Medusa.
As the Medusa in this situation it is very simple – don’t worry about anything but creeps, because you being in a team battle is, despite what you may think, counter-intuitive. Many players think that heroes should always take part in team battles ‘to help’, but it is very important to keep your goal in mind. This is even more important for semi- and tank carries, as we will get to in a moment.
Because of the fact that having a hero like Medusa is like an end-all insurance plan late game, the rest of the team pretty much doesn’t need a second carry, especially since the farm would be split up between two carries, and in general, especially with hard carries that get exponentially more effective with each new item (not so with other types of carries).
The rest of the team should focus on either protecting the carry or distracting the opposing team. A defensive approach would be best served with heroes such as Earthshaker or Tidehunter, heroes with powerful, hard-to-place, AoE stuns that can turn a fight around can be invaluable in coming in at opportune times to save your carry. However, they are not the best gankers, and their power lies in their ults, which generally have very high cooldowns, so these heroes cannot be used very offensively. Team fights, however, for the most part, are generally not initiated simply due to the difficulty with initiation with a team like this, and most fights will probably develop around a gank on your carry. Other examples of heroes like this are Pugna, Undying, and the like.
On the flip side your team can consist of heroes that are very potent very fast so that the opponent is forced to always stay on the defensive, leaving your carry to farm. Heroes such as Storm Spirit, Nevermore, or Lion, who all become very powerful quickly and who do not necessarily lose too much effectiveness for a good part of the game can spend their time roaming around, killing off stray heroes, and being extremely potent in team fights to boot – this way, even in a team 4v5 team fights, your team has at least a fighting chance and with good initiation certainly can wipe the opposing team while allowing your carry to free farm. For as long as your team can do this, your hard carry should be farming.
...I'd much rather hit creeps.
Tanky carries are slightly different. The purpose of a tanky carry is to deal damage while absorbing damage. To this end, items like Vanguard and Hood, which allow you, obviously, to absorb lots of damage, and Radiance or Shiva, which allow you to deal damage and/or have an effect quickly even when unable to right click, are preferred to straight DPS items like Butterfly. BKB is generally a poor choice for heroes like this. Why?
A team has, during each battle, a set amount of magical damage. In general each one of these spells will be cast as often as possible during a fight in order to maximize usage of cooldown time. Because of the nature of magical damage, there is very little one can do, outside of permanently stunning the offending hero, to prevent at least one volley of spells from any hero.
So the question is really not how much magical damage dealt (as it is with physical damage, which is over time that can be stopped by stuns and death) but rather where it goes. The reason BKB is such a prevalent item is that it diverts said magical damage and stuns to other, likely less important, members of your team, while you are free to deal damage, whether through spells or auto-attack.
As a tanky hero BKB is counterintuitive. You want to be the
target of spells, because you are able to function under them due to your considerable bulk and the way you work. At the same time, your team is not being targeted or hit by these nukes, and can respond in kind.
Monorail, tank, whatever. Still a cute kitten.
BKB aside, tanky heroes are dominant for the middle to early late game portion of the game. This time is classified as the time between the first “big” items being purchased and the time when hard carries become the dominant threat. At the point damage is relatively low, and having upwards of 1500 or 2000 HP and/or tankiness a la Vanguard/Hood/Mek is a pretty big difference. It is at this point that an offensive item, such as a Radiance, should be purchased ASAP so as to make the most use of your ability to be tanky – a Radiance, in the early stages of the game, is very effective at whittling away the HP of heroes that are yet frail, but loses effectiveness as the game progresses. A Radiance is especially useful for making yourself the target of nukes, which, as a tank, is your goal.
The last kind of carry is the semi-carry. This I classify as any hero with two or more skills that lose effectiveness greatly as the game progresses, but are also able to act as carries. This is a rather loose definition of course and is open to interpretation, but the general idea is all that matters.
The reason this is important is that skills are what make or break a hero. The only major difference between heroes outside of primary attribute is the skills they have; and so heroes like Drow Ranger, who has two damage-boosting skills (TSA and Marksmanship) along with a very potent spell (Silence) that while not as effective in the late game, is still capable to semi-disabling half the opposing team, is much more effective a hard carry than a hero like Nevermore, whose skills all lose power as the game progresses.
As a Nevermore, like with the tanky carries, you need to constantly be wary of opposing hard carries. It is even more important to press your advantage when you have it, because you lose effectiveness even more quickly than tanky carries – it does not take much for your Shadowrazes, Powershots, Death Pulses, Laser/Rockets, and the like to become no more than tickles. Even so, all these heroes have skills or innate ability to make farm on them quite useful, and so they are assigned the role of being both a caster and a farmer. However, in either role they are overshadowed, yet the combination of the two makes them quite potent for a long period of the game. This means that as such a hero, you should be in fights as often as possible because your presence in such a fight has a very large impact on it for most of the game (and in fact fights nowadays are often decided by heroes like this) but you should also be farming whenever possible, because your effective tends to go up as you farm. A balance of the two is essential.
tl;dr: if your name is Medusa, Drow Ranger, or Morphling, or one of the pub carries, farm as much as you can. If not, farm until you’re awesome then go kill stuff.
originally posted by Regal at DC community forum,