Look How Far They Have to Run Back When You Harass Them
The best way to harass your opponents is to attack them if you have a ranged advantage, or use your spells to do damage while you get last hits. If you do disable them with a slow or stun, it’s important that you also right click them while they are disabled so you get free damage in.
Another version of this is called zoning, or in a sentence, ‘go zone that offlane hero’. What that means is you put yourself between your opponent and the creep wave to make sure that they stay out of exp range. This is a bit advanced for a new player because you don’t know the strength of their and your hero as well, but feeding should better teach you your hero’s limits, 40+ minutes of pain at a time. At lower levels of play there are also often 2 heroes in the offlane, preventing you from doing this effectively, but the principle stands and should be learned.
You should attempt this the first few minutes when you are equal levels, which is why the zoning is so important. If done correctly, this will often turn into your two heroes auto attacking one another with some movement between attacks, but as long as you both use regen like a Tango you are gaining advantage as the support because you keep them from experience.
Here is an example video showing this. Spending mana is often worth it to zone as well:
Before I throw more words at you to describe lanes, here are the generic descriptions of places on the map. Things that I didn’t point out that are worth recognizing, are the super strong Roshan and his icon near the Dire offlane, who can be accessed through the river, the Radiant(green) jungle which is between their Safe Lane and their Mid, and the Dire(red) jungle, which is between their Safe Lane and Mid.
The option to zone your opponent is mostly dependent on the position of your creep equilibrium, which is where the two spawning creeps on each side of the map meet to fight. Creeps do a very consistent amount of damage, so if no one does any outside damage, it takes a very long time to upset the creep equilibrium.
If your wave is in a good place for your team, such as close to your tower, then it’s very important you don’t do extra damage to the wave. If you do extra damage to a wave, then some of their creeps will die before yours, allowing your creeps to attack more before their deaths, killing theirs creeps faster, which results in your wave building up creeps into a push. Unless you are trying to take a tower with extra creeps, you do NOT want to push a wave, ESPECIALLY in the early game. You should NEVER auto attack (constantly attack) the creep wave in the first 5 minutes of the game in the safe lanes. You should only be attacking their creeps when you are last hitting, and occasionally attacking yours (when they are below 50% hp) to offset your last hit damage. Try to keep the same amount of creeps on your side of the wave and try to ensure both sides lose a creep around the same time.
The reason creep equilibrium is so important for each is because keeping the wave closer to your tower gives you some huge advantages. It’s safer for you because your tower is safety early, it’s more space to chase down offlane heroes which forces them to play less aggressive, and that helps your support to prevent the enemy Offlane from collecting easy experience. We’ll get more into that interaction later for each role.
Sometimes Killing Them and Almost Killing Them comes unpredictably, like when one of your allies walks over to your lane from a different lane and helps to kill your opponent. That’s called a gank, and it’s even easier if your opponent is far from their tower next to your well controlled creep wave.
Someone setting up a gank is ganking, or is described as a ganker. Ganking is integral to games because it allows you to throw imbalance to lanes, or to hurt your opponents’ ability to predict where heroes are. If you show up mid briefly with two extra heroes to gank the enemy mid, this gives your mid hero an advantage that will allow him to lane better because his opponent dies, or almost dies. Ganking is one of the ways a player can control where the game is going. You want to ensure your lanes are collecting more gold and experience, and sometimes that’s done by killing enemy heroes and creating pressure on the map. After they die they’ll be less willing to make an aggressive move, farm in place that seemed safe a moment before, and these should all lead to you getting more advantage.
If your ally on the mid lane plays terrible and has a bad laning stage, you can help him by ganking the enemy mid. Sort of like teaming up on him. Bring lots of allies if one of your opponents is snowballing and strong so that they don’t get out of control. Always remember that two to three weak heroes is almost always stronger in the early game than one fed or snowballing hero because 3 heroes is far more effective, especially with stuns.
And that’s why ganking is so important. It gives you a way to outsmart your opponent and offset some of the laning advantages they created either with hero picks or the way they played. If you’re ever losing a game the best way to get some of that advantage back is to gank your opponents or win teamfights. There is a comeback mechanic in Dota that gives you more gold for enemy kills if you’re behind in the game, so very often ganking will change the game in huge ways that farming, even at a fast pace, will not.
The last advanced method is called pulling. To pull, you attack a group of neutral creeps and then run away so they follow you (this is called pulling aggro). While they are following you, they run into YOUR lane creeps, who have no brain, will see the enemy, and follow them back into the jungle to attack them. When you do this, the lane creeps are helping you kill the neutrals, and the neutrals are helping you kill the lane creeps. When the neutrals die, you and anyone nearby get experience. If your lane creeps end up dying to the neutral creeps, then the enemy doesn’t get exp for them! If you get the last hit on the neutrals, you ALSO get gold!
I’m sure that was a little confusing, so watch this quick clip for a demonstration of pulling on each side of the map.
Radiant Single Pull:
To expand on pulling a bit, a regular pull camp will not be enough to clear your wave. In fact, it usually takes 2 neutral camps. You can get your creeps to fight more neutral camps , but first let me explain how neutral creeps come into the game.
At the :00 second mark of every minute (with the exception of the first minute of the game), the game checks to see if there are any neutrals in their spawns. If there are no neutrals in their spawns, a new set of neutrals is spawned. To trick the game, all you have to do is pull the neutrals at the perfect time and run away (:53) and by the time the clock hits :00 a new set of neutrals will spawn, and the previous set will walk home to realize they have neighbors. This is called stacking, and this is one of the ways you can get your creeps to fight extra creeps. Keep in mind that stacking camps also makes farming gold and exp much faster for heroes with strong Area of Effect (aoe), so if you’re ever running by a camp on your side of the map, make sure to attack the camp at :53 and run away!
Back to pulling, if you stack your pull camp so that a second camp spawns, you now have two times as many creeps attacking your pull camp. This is by far the easiest way to pull safely, but it isn’t the fastest way for your hero to gain levels. The reason is because two camps attacking your creeps at the same time is too much damage. If you use this method for pulling you’ll deny your enemy’s exp, but you won’t get very much exp yourself because few neutrals will be dying each wave. You’ll get more or less depending on which creeps spawn because they do different amounts of damage. When you stack pull, I recommend auto attacking so that you can clear more creeps, unlike I did in this clip.
Stack and Pull
The better way to pull, though more difficult, is to CONNECT the pull. To connect a pull, you’re imitating how you originally got your lane creeps there in the first place. Once the neutral camp is almost finished, you need to have already pulled a different close-by neutral camp into the previous one. If you can accomplish this, then you can clear about two full neutral camps with every creep wave. The time to start the pull is at the :13 second mark or the :43 second mark for both sides of the map, but you may need to adjust the time slightly if you are early or late. Connecting the pull is much harder and will require some eyeballing and practice. Usually when 1 full hp creep and 1 half hp creep are alive is when you should start to pull the second camp down. Each neutral camp is slightly different, so practice on this will make perfect!
Here is a video of a connected pull on both sides of the map. You can practice this in an empty game, if you’re afraid to try it in a real game.