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)."
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.
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.