Early-Game Radiant Warding for my 2k Brethren

Folks, full disclosure here - I'm on the worst losing streak of my Dota career. I'm on a 7 game skid, and 5-15 over my last twenty. Losing might be what I do best, but that doesn't have to be your destiny. After some reflection, I realized that I often find myself as a solo support in my pub games. This, needless to say, is difficult. Almost immediately, it seems, the four carries on my team simultaneously crack their knuckles, lean back in their gaming chairs, and load up their chat wheel. We need wards. We need wards. We need wards. In response, I grin as I alt-left click the wards to proudly proclaim "I will purchase -> Observer Ward (out of stock 1:32)."

The sweetest reply to your greedy, somewhat foolish carries

The sweetest reply to your greedy, somewhat foolish carries

This post will help you place these hard-earned wards effectively, focusing on the (very) early-game from the Radiant perspective. Don't waste your wards folks, you worked too damn hard for those gold coins.  

So, minute 0. You pick your favorite support, because you're a good person. You put other people's pleasure above your own. You want your teammates to achieve their best possible selves. Thank you, support player. You immediately buy a courier and two wards, because you rock. But what to do with those wards? In a perfect world, you could give each lane a vision advantage. Alas, IceFrog has only bestowed upon us 2 wards at the start. So immediately you are faced with some difficult choices. Here's my 2k advice - the safe lane ALWAYS gets a ward. Why? Your hard carry, your position one, lives there. By definition, he or she is the one that gets top farm priority, and is the one that's going to carry your little support azz to victory. Two, you're there! You're the position 5, so you're going to be babysitting the safe lane. Don't make the game harder than it already is - give yourself a vision advantage. You bought the damn ward, so treat yo self. 

Aim to put your lane ward right in that orange box

Aim to put your lane ward right in that orange box

Ohh yes please give me more of that sweet, sweet vision

Ohh yes please give me more of that sweet, sweet vision

Please see the above screenshots for where I like to put the first ward of the game. Is this groundbreaking, or an abnormal spot to place a ward? No. Will it get dewarded? Doubtful.  The reason it won't get dewarded is because supports on the other team are just as poor as you are. Some folks might be upset that your ward didn't provide vision of the rune. Too bad, teammates. 7.xx placed LOTS of runes around the map, and you controlling the action rune doesn't take priority over better protecting the carry.

However, we do want to help out our midlaner. I believe giving your mid a vision advantage is key for a number of reasons. In no particular order: 1) Midlaners generally believe that they're the most talented player to ever install the game 2) They need this irrational confidence because they're (usually) in a 1v1 matchup 3) A happy midlaner means a happy team 4) A happy midlaner is far more likely to help you out and gank your lane. Think of the midlaner as a quarterback on a football team. Can you win with a below average one? Just ask Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Would I much rather play on a team with Tom Brady? I mean, just look at that guy. Now he's got a ring for the thumb. What I'm saying is the mid lane is real freakin' important, okay? Help that guy or gal out as best you can. You want him/her on your side, not raging. You can even go along and give him the ward at the start of the game. Or, if you want to take matters into your own hands, put the ward on the Dire's side of the river: 

This will give your Radiant buddy a much better time in lane, as he or she will be able to track the opposing mid's movements and hopefully crush the lane. Just don't put it under tower, and don't let the opposing team see you do it. If the creep quilibrium is as pictured, wait until Dire no longer has vision. It's a real bummer to have the mid dewarded. 

Ok, ok I know what you're saying. What about the off lane? That hero is going to get ganked from the very scary jungle! And you're right, we left him/her out to dry. But these are the early choices that Dota forces you to make. There are not unlimited resources. Let's look at the decision at the margins. An observer ward lasts for 360 seconds (6 minutes). It takes 150 seconds (2 and a half minutes) for a ward to replentish in stock. So essentially the question is, can your off lane survive for the first three minutes of the game without a ward (assuming about thirty seconds for courier use)? I think they should be able to. Here's the general location I'd suggest you ward in the off lane: 

Like everything else in Dota, these suggestions are just that - suggestions. If you have a solo off laner who is up against a tri-lane, give that buckaroo a ward (perhaps even at the expense of your mid). In subsequent posts we'll cover what to do when the options are more expanded and wards begin to come off cool down. Till then, stand tall.   

Posted on March 12, 2017 and filed under commentary.

A Word About Armor

What are all these small numbers next to my hero portrait? Why are they in the way of Terrorblade's intimidating features? Why is my hero so dang squishy to right-clicks, especially in the late game (or, if you're feeding like me, for the entire game)? Trigger warning: This post will contain math. As our good friend Cheeks would say, Dota is just one giant math equation, so buckle up buckaroos. 

Pictured below is a wonderful Terrorblade, prancing about in a practice match. The two red arrows point us towards his armor. What does armor do? Armor decreases the amount of damage you take from physical attacks (enemy right clicks, as well as lots of abilities like Anchor Smash, Quill Spray, Shadow Wave, Slithereen Crush, etc).

The number in grey is his main armor. Main armor is defined as a hero's base armor plus armor gained by agility. Base armor is different for each hero - Terrorblade starts with 7. Don't worry too much about base armor - IceFrog assigns each hero their base armor and there's nothing you can do to change it. But to understand main armor, you need this component. So once you take into consideration Terrorbale's armor gain from agility, and you wind up with 10.14, which gets rounded up to 11. Here's a fun math equation for all of you keeping score at home:

main armor = base armor + (agility * (1 / 7)).

10.14 = 7 + (22 * (1/7))

Again, that 10.14 gets rounded up to 11, and represents Terrorblade's main armor, which you see in grey. Each point in agility gets you a whopping 1/7th of a unit of armor. Is it super important that you remember that 7 points in agility equals 1 unit of armor? Probably not, but we're doing a deep dive into armor, so this is what you get. 

Terrorblade starts with a boat load of armor...

Terrorblade starts with a boat load of armor...

The green number is the amount of armor gained from items. The armor bonus received from items does not transfer to illusions. So here's the best way to think about armor - it makes your hit point pool bigger. This idea is called Effective HP - as you increase armor, it takes more physical damage to bring you down. So here's another fun math equation:

Effective HP!

Effective HP!

Once you get over the shock of high school algebra, that handy-dandy equation allows you to understand that armor stacks linearly. Check out the table below. Assume you have a hero who has 1000 hit points. If my squishy, make believe hero has 0 armor, his Effective HP is also 1000. Now let's say we get a gift-card for 1400 gold coins and buy ourselves a platemail. Our platemail gives 10 armor, so Effective HP jumps up to 1600. In this example, our 10 armor gave us 600 additional hit points. Now say there was a 2 for 1 special going on at the Secret Shop, so we have two platemails in our inventory. Now our armor is 20. Our fine hero now has an effective HP of 2,200! On the margins, we gained another 600 hit points. That's what we mean when we say armor stacks linearly. 

The key take-away from all this - armor will help you from getting right clicked down, but not from getting nuked. Armor will help you tank up against physical attacks, even if you already have an armor item in your inventory. I find myself doing this frequently when I'm playing Undying. I'll buy a Blade Mail in the early mid-game, and then pat myself on the back and never consider another armor item. The earlier acquisition of Blade Mail shouldn't affect my decision later in the game - if I'm against a physical-heavy lineup, I should definitely consider a Plate Mail to build into a Lotus Orb or a Shiva's Guard. So - buy armor! It'll help. I promise. 

Posted on March 8, 2017 and filed under commentary.

The All-Push Strat

The other night I was playing with a lovely WLD 5 stack. I was playing Bounty, and you can see the rest of our lineup in the picture below (Radiant team). What we didn't count on was the opposing team going all in on a push strat. They laned Nature's Prophet, Lone Druid, and Troll Warlord together. By minute two, we lost our safe-lane tower. At minute three, our tier 2 was down. To our credit, we rallied and made a game of it. We lost a 42 minute game, even though the kill score was 79-23 in our favor. At one point we had a 40,000 gold advantage. 

Like any game (Dota related or any other sport), there was no one reason we lost. There were moments where we needed to push and send one person to defend our base, but instead two or three TPed back. There were moments in the early game where a few rotations could have punished their aggression. We could have itemized better to deal with supers and megas. Ultimately, though, it was a really fun game. It was a different type of challenge, and one that I'll learn from. And one that we'll definitely employ come the 24 hour stream. Mostly, though, #gameishard 

Bottom Lane.png
Posted on March 6, 2017 and filed under commentary.

Stories From the Side Shop #01 - Brick 46/Mitch Meitzler

In the inaugural episode of Stories From the Side Shop, Sam interviews Mitch about his life in Indiana, The International, Mirana, and how he got his start playing Dota in college! 

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Posted on January 4, 2017 and filed under welikedota, podcasts.