How to do Damage to Their Heroes
Disabling your opponent for a long amount of time through the careful chaining of crowd control (or “chain stunning”) is one of the most important things to learn when you first play Dota.
A really strong laning setup is one where all of the heroes in your lane can contribute to killing the enemy heroes either through a slow or a stun. For this example, lets keep it simple by using stuns.
Lets say you have a Sven and a Lina as your dual lane. Sven has Storm Hammer which provides a 2 second stun, and Lina has a 1.6 second stun at level 1. Both of these stuns do damage, and if we add the two numbers together, we have a total of 3.6 seconds of stun.
When you are attempting to kill a hero, especially in the early game, Sven will stun for 2 seconds, then as that 2 seconds is ending, the Lina will then stun the enemy to get the maximum amount of disable. This also happens as both of your heroes are attacking the entire time.
It’s important that you communicate with your ally who will be stunning first, or there is a chance that you will accidentally stack your stuns as you both disable at the same time.
If you overlap your stuns, that stun duration will be wasted, and that might the difference of attacking one less time during your kill attempt, which might result in that hero living. It’s very important that you do not stack your stuns.
In some situations, it’s also important that there is never a point when your opponent isn’t stunned. Heroes like Anti-Mage can use Blink to do a short range teleport out of combat, but ONLY when they aren’t stunned. Against mobile heroes like Anti-Mage, it’s extra important that you chain stun them continuously.
Attack Moving and Animation Canceling
The second component of doing maximum damage in a short duration is attack moving. Virtually half of all Dota players ignore this principle, but it’s extremely important. To explain how to attack move, it’s first to explain why it’s possible.
Almost all heroes in the game have built in animations for their attacks and for their spells. An animation is the amount of time that it takes your character to cast a spell, or throw an attack. For spells, this is referred to as a “cast point.”
Lets say that it takes Crystal Maiden 0.7 seconds to wind her staff up, swing her staff toward her opponent, and then follow through with the swing to perform an attack.
The important parts are how much time it takes to wind up her staff, and the time that her projectile releases from her staff. We don’t care at all about the follow through because we can cancel that part of the animation and do other important things like moving or casting a spell.
So if it takes Crystal Maiden 0.7 seconds to throw an entire attack, but we can cancel her animation AFTER we threw the attack at 0.5 seconds, then we have an entire 0.2 seconds earlier that we can move.
To cancel an attack, you just need to give your hero an overriding command like a new move command, a new attack command on a different target, casting a spell, or pressing the “S” key to tell your hero to Stop (assuming your hotkey for Stop is on “S”).
In combination with canceling your attack, most heroes don’t attack at the same rate as their animation. Most heroes in the early game can only attack about once every 1.3 seconds. That means even if you cancel your attack at 0.5 seconds, you actually have 0.8 seconds to chase after your opponent before you can begin to throw another attack.
To properly attack move in the early game as you are chasing someone, you should spend 0.5 second to throw an attack, then cancel your animation by moving in your opponent’s escape direction for the other 0.8 seconds.
If you time this correctly, you will end up attacking your opponent many more times, which can result in a kill.
This is especially important for ranged heroes, because they don’t automatically run after opponents unless your opponents leave your range — you want to stay within range as long as possible. Attack moving is important for melee heroes, but their low range means your hero will often automatically chase your opponent. If your opponent leaves your range, your hero will automatically follow them.
Here is a video depicting the amount of extra attacks you can get by attack moving:
If you want to practice how to attack move properly, you’re in luck, as you should be attacking a LOT of creeps, heroes and towers in every single game of Dota.
Practice canceling your animations against towers, creeps, and neutrals, but be a little more careful against heroes. While canceling your animations will increase the amount of attacks that you get in, if you cancel your animation before your attack comes out, you’ll limit the amount of damage that you could have been doing, so be careful.
The other important piece of the puzzle is Animation Canceling. Almost all heroes have cast animations in addition to their attack animations. It’s important to cancel the leftover time on those animations as well, or you’d waste time standing still.
Here is a video comparing the time to cycle through both of Crystal Maiden’s Skills if you don’t cancel the animations, and then if you do cancel them.
And finally, to put both Stun Stacking, Animation Canceling, and Attack Moving together, we can compare doing none of those things with all three of those efficiency increases:
Illusion heroes are extremely common in Dota and they are very often carries, so it’s important to know how to increase their damage.
Illusions base their strengths on the hero they come from, but only for some aspects. Their movement speed and HP are a reflection of the hero they came from, but the only way to increase illusion damage is by purchasing stat items. Items that add Damage do nothing to increase the strength of your illusions. For example, your Battle Fury or your Divine Rapier (whose stats have +Damage) do nothing to make your illusions stronger.
This is why Manta Style, which creates illusions of your hero, provides +10 Strength, +26 Agility, and +10 Intelligence, among other stats. If Manta Style instead gave your hero +40 Damage, the +40 Damage wouldn’t benefit the illusions that it also creates.
The only +Damage item that does make your illusions significantly stronger is Daedalus, which gives +81 Damage and a 25% chance to critical for 240%. While your illusions don’t get the +81 damage, they do give your illusions the 25% chance to critical for 240%.
Another way to make your illusions strong is to purchase a Diffusal Blade. Diffusal Blade applies an effect to your attacks called Manabreak that drains mana from them in addition to your regular attack; that mana drain also damages them for 80% of the mana burned as Physical damage.
Manabreak applies to your illusions only if you’re a melee hero, so if you’re playing an illusion hero who has a lot of spawns like Phantom Lancer, it’s recommended that you get a Diffusal Blade.
The trap that some players fall into is purchasing a Manta Style when they have a large amount of +Damage items. Manta Style is really useful to remove silences and some debuffs from your hero and it’s nice to have the illusions to confuse your opponents, but without damage items, it loses synergy that can really make it shine.
What to Buy with Starting Gold
After that, items should be purchased from a mix of these:
- Iron BranchesIron branches are the best way to give your hero more mana and health in the early game for a low cost. Most heroes will purchase Branches at the start of the game, and turn them into some other simple items later. You can use your Iron Branch to plant a tree in the ground that, if eaten with Tango, provides twice the regeneration duration as a normally-eaten tree.
- Tango (Comes with 4 per pack)Every player in the game (with the exception of mid heroes sometimes) should purchase a set of Tangos at the start of the game to ensure that their HP stays full enough until the buy a bigger regen item. You can give some your Tangos to other people (called “pooling”) which lets them use it at a much reduced rate, so it’s always fine to have extra Tangos in a lane. You can use them to instantly deward a Sentry or Observer Ward (useful if you don’t have a ranged attack!); this also gives you twice the regeneration duration as a normally-eaten tree.
- Healing SalveHealing Salves will usually be purchased by offlane heroes and carries. Supports rarely buy them. If you take damage from heroes or Roshan while the Salve is healing you, the regeneration is cancelled.
- Faerie FireFaerie Fire grants 2 damage while it’s in your inventory, but when used, instantly heals you for 75 HP. It shouldn’t be used as regen, but it’s very useful to keep you alive from a burst of damage or surprise your opponent in an early duel in lane.
- Enchanted MangoEnchanted Mango provides 1 HP regen per second while in your inventory. If needed, you can activate the item to consume it, which provides you an instant 150 mana. Heroes with low mana pools will often purchase one Mango just in case they need more mana in a short time period. You can also feed your Mango’s to nearby allied heroes.
- Clarity PotionClaritys are largely purchased by supports and some offlane heroes. Supports are often valued more for their ability to cast spells to harass, so I purchase at least one as a support. If you take damage from heroes or Roshan while the Clarity is refilling your mana, it will cancel the effect.
- Stout ShieldStout Shield should be purchased by almost every melee carry, and often as a melee offlane hero. It helps you take less damage as it blocks a portion of it from enemy creeps and heroes. You will almost never need one as a ranged hero since its effect is lessened. Some heroes upgrade the Stout Shield to the stronger Poor Man’s Shield later on.
- Ring of ProtectionRing of Protection is a nice alternative to a Stout Shield as a carry because it gives physical survivability and easily builds into a few different early game items, like Ring of Basilius. If they have extra money, supports can purchase a Ring of Protection early to help them build Tranquil Boots.
- Quelling BladeQuelling Blade can be purchased by melee carries if they have trouble last hitting creeps, as the gold you gain from the last hits will pay for the item, and you can jungle more rapidly later. Usually I don’t purchase Quelling Blade, because Stout Shield is more important immediately; if I’m going to buy one, I usually do minutes later.
- Smoke of DeceitIf I am playing support and I have extra money I’ll purchase one Smoke of Deceit in case I want to gank. It makes you invisible to creeps and wards, so it helps guarantee that you aren’t spotted moving around the map to gank. While under its effect, you also move faster; however, when you enter into range of a hero (whether you have vision of them or not), the effect breaks and you become visible again.
- Sentry WardsI will rarely purchase Sentry Wards, but they are useful to help me find enemy Observer Wards and spot invisible heroes. I will definitely purchase them if I’m against a Broodmother, Riki, or Bounty Hunter in my lane. While 100 gold for a ward may seem expensive, enemy Observer Wards will give you 100 gold for destroying them, and preventing yourself or another allied hero from dying can make it worth it.