The Art of War
It would be excellent if you recognize the title, since it is one of the most influential and well-respected in military history. It should come as no surprise that the principles could be applied with numerous depictions as well. I came here today with the aim of ending the macro-management series in mind, however, that doesn’t mean I can’t expand it should I see fit. This article, of course, would not be a direct appliance of the book into our game’s context, considering how someone already does that (albeit not really a good job at it), and credits is where credits is due. Thus, this would only refer to the most relevant sections at its most fundamental ideals.
Now, I don’t know what you have been told or have personally perceived, but DotA is a war. It is a war with a definitive aim in mind: destroying the opponent’s Ancient. Now, regardless of what I might have said in my “Walking through the ruins” guide, one should never count on leavers in the enemy team to attain victory. We are moving to Dota 2 sooner or later after all, so it’s best to adapt a sportsmanship’s attitude and mind set. With that settled, as a war you’re going to participate in, you should recognize the main differences between DotA and a real war:
*You have absolutely no control over the soldiers' behavior. You are only the “generals” and the creeps (fighters) are all AI controlled in a predictable manner.
*There is never any question of loyalty of a common cause. Your faction and aim do not change.
*It takes nothing to maintain your army. This is not a RTS, you are not to gather resources to fuel your army, that part is done for you. Conversely, you cannot cut off the enemy supplies.
*The battlefield is relatively small.
*You are not fighting to capture, but to destroy. You are not to preserve an enemy’s base. You either win, or you lose. There is no third choice. You do not win by preserving; you win by securing the annihilation of a structure.
*You cannot use techniques to directly gather intelligence, conversely, your strategy and game plans cannot be directly exposed.
With that out, there are still many options to explore the war-aspect of DotA. Now, I should have said this before, and henceforth shall update this part into the other articles in the series, what macro management is. Macro management is the strategy of the game play, and it is the way you plan the game to unfold, and how to steer it into your favor. It is not what you hero directly impacts, that would be micro-management, but how it makes a difference in the long run. All of this aims towards an individual player. The team articles would come later.
1. Laying plans, waging war:
In DotA, you should always start the game with a plan in mind. This would not affect low level games so much, but when you start to get to high level pubs, a strategic decision and team composition is highly important and will significantly affect the outcome of the game, hence the term “outpick” when it comes to team composition. Since this is an article aimed at individuals, I am not able to tell you just what you need to do to build the foundation of a team. Your 4 teammates decide that along with you. Unless you know them or you are playing a high level pub, you are to fend for yourself when it comes to preparation. Ideally, one should pick a hero with either the ability to fulfill a specific strategy that might be made possible with the existing team components, or able to patch up its glaring weakness. Remember, picking to counter only work in low level pubs, when you are alone. Even if you do succeed in countering the most obvious threat from the opponent’s team, there is a high chance that over exposure would leave yourself vulnerable to the enemy’s counters instead. Then, it becomes a game of cat and mouse that you no longer have the option to assure to come out on top, and the point of countering simply disappear. So, don’t do it. After picking your hero, what you do is to buy your starting items. Once again, if you are aiming to directly confront an enemy and have battle in lane, then buy stats + regeneration to help you triumph. However, if you are to stay clear of combat with the enemy, then other item combinations would have its merits, such as mass consumables for roamers and boots/bottle first opening. Either way, you should buy what you think you’ll need and your lane mate cannot already give you (so no double Ring of Bassilius) and head out. Where you’re heading depends, of course.
2. Tactical Disposition:
As you finish your preparations, you head to war. Whether the creeps have come or not would not matter at the slightest. The game has started, thus the war has begun. Heroes are relatively safe waiting for the creeps to come out from their base, but that is highly unlikely a good way to spend your time (unless the wait time is almost over). If you are to take care of the vision impairing treachery or spying of unknown territory (would be talked about later) you would be smart to head out immediately with those wards. You might not see the need for them, but there are a lot of the time when you wished you had those wards up to counter enemy jungler/watch rune/see incoming gank. The time before the creeps spawn is basically free time, and you would NEVER get it back. Use it to the best of your ability. You can also take yourself to Roshan, with the intention of killing him with a semi-organized teammate support or to watch out should your opponent do so. It’s never a waste of time going around before creeps spawn, but it is if you only stand there for no reason, unless you have creep blocking in mind. Creep blocking might seem natural for some of you, but you must realize that nothing is ever that simple. If you creep block, you are only able to control 1 way of the creep equilibrium. The other side is still up to the choice of the opponent, and unless you are comfortable with whatever combination of those two choices would leave, or you absolutely need your creeps near your tower for whatever reasons, you should just leave the creep wave alone. As the free times tick down, you are to dispatch yourself to your team’s need. This is basically the choice of laning, which I couldn’t possibly cover like this. Just make sure to not confuse your teammates of what you are doing so that your team can at least work out a coherent plan on what exactly you are trying to do.
See Managing Resources
4. Attack by Stratagem:
If you have vision and a good sense of prediction, there is a good chance your opponent’s choice of disposition would have become clear to you, and you are able to react in a way that is positive to your game plan. However, never forget that you are not playing against AI bots, but human players. There is no stopping them from reading you as you suppose you’ve read them and response accordingly, turning your apparent advantage into a disadvantage. You should always arrive first upon the field to have a good control of sight (unless you have wards). Remember, you don’t actually have to do anything but move. Encounters in extreme early game are generally discouraged unless one has a decent amount of supports. You can win, but the risk is usually too high for the reward. Think of it this way. If you just stand there and last hit, the enemy must response to you. This makes their actions transparent, and being predictable is the last thing anyone wants. With that said, you also risk over exposure, because you are within the vision of the enemy. This means, you KNOW what the enemy are going to do should you choose to await the enemy by acting absolutely ignorant. The enemy MUST response to you in a predictable manner (there are only so many routes in a lane and so many heroes to be missing at once) and thus you have practically imposed your will on the enemy themselves. Of course, doing this you must have a way of responding to what your enemy will do, or else it would be a complete waste. You should only attempt something like this if you are sure to come out on top should a skirmish breaks out, otherwise there is a different method to take (chapter 5). With your constant movement, whether during laning or pushing, defending, Roshan-ing or anything of the sort, you are to consider all possible enemies’ interference and act accordingly. If you push and the enemy comes back to defend, such a thing might become clear soon, and thus you dispatch heroes to take advantage of the enemy’s absence in other parts of the map. Matters not your strategy, you should never, in turn, become predictable, or else you would have to act according to the enemy’s will. Always attempt to take the upper hand and force fights and movements through beneficial context and if able, monitor the enemy’s reaction. This used to be the best thing one could do in order to take control of game flow. That is, until, Smoke of Deceit happened.
Deception is the key in war. Now, this used to be a hard thing to exploit with the prevalence of wards, summons & illusions(a.k.a spies) and towers (structure of truth). However, as Smoke of Deceit is introduced, strategy has changed dramatically. Sight has now become a war of deception and true vision. Your team (and don’t forget the enemy team too) can now hide under the cover of smoke and duck through your apparently clear control of vision and strike where you’re the weakest. The only things you can trust are the structures of truth (towers, ancient, fountain) and the more vulnerable expandable outposts (combination of high terrain Observer Ward and Sentry Ward, Necronomicon 3 summons or a hero with Gem of True Sight) that is highly more mobile but risky. Always remember the great impact of impaired vision. A Beastmaster with a Hawk flying over his head with Gem of True Sight in his inventory is still limited to the expense of the methods themselves. The Gem has a set AoE, and it wouldn’t save him from mass Blink smoke gank coming out of nowhere. Why, because he was not doing anything to shroud himself from the enemy vision. Remember that vision is scared, so you should never count on your enemy not being aware of something that you are doing within their sight of vision. The so-called “vision war” prevalence in many old games are the tug of war between both teams trying to control the amount of information the enemy can gather while stopping them from limiting yours. These wars had taken a nose dive in happenings, due to the sheer power of Smoke (of Deceit, of all things). You can now actively “feed” enemy false information with it, or duck under the radar and lead the enemy into a false perception of your plan. Smoke is a frequently used item when you get to the higher levels of the game, but it is far from the only deception you are able to do. Terrain, time and spies are also means of deception readily available in the game, and one should always try to incorporate them into their strategy to the best of their abilities, even though it might seem like only a small part. It comes to a time where everything you do count, and every advantage you can get is of at most importance to obtain.
~To be Continued in part 2~