The invisible war
II. Why to ward?
IV. Observer wards locations
..1. Before the creepspawn (Locations -, [x1], [x2])
..2. The middle lane (Locations -)
..3. After the start (Locations -)
....3.1 Top (Locations -)
....3.2 Bottom (Locations -)
....3.3 Middle (Locations -)
....3.4 The Sentinel Jungle (Locations -, [x3], [x4], [x5])
....3.5 The Bottom Rune spot (Locations -)
....3.6 The Scourge Jungle (Locations -)
....3.7 Other wards (Locations -, [x6])
....3.8 Base warding (Locations -)
......3.8.1 The Sentinel Base wards (Locations -)
......3.8.2 The Scourge Base wards (Locations -)
V. Sentry wards locations
..1. Sentinel jungle&bottom rune spot (Locations -, Utilizing the Crow)
..2. Top rune spot (Locations -, Utilizing the Crow 1&2)
VI. General walkthrough
..1. Random Tips
..2. Warding throughout the different stages of the game
....2.1 The Sentinel
....2.2 The Scourge
VIII. Conclusion and thanks
To begin with, most of you probably know of me for my editorial work on myMYM.com, where I used to cover competitive DotA scene in the first half of the year 2009 and also wrote a bunch of articles. Only few - probably none - also know that all that time I was massing high skill clan wars as a member of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and took part in a number of tournaments (Pick League X, XI, XII PriDe 11, EMS IV, EEDC II, ENC for team Slovenia) with a pretty modest success. We did have some highlights though, such as beating DoP in EMS IV qualifiers and SGC in EEDC II qualifiers final - against SGC though, it was BO3 match format and they are vice-champions of EEDC II, so it should be easy to figure out what happened in the other two games. In the future, I'm going to be the Community content manager of DotA for Xeo Frenezy (Xeo Divine's new website).
During this time, I was pretty much always playing warder or support/ganker role, which is what I still do from time to time but not as often as I used to. This is what allowed me to harvest rich experience in that field of DotA and since I have constantly striven to improve I've pretty much got all that you need to know about warding in my little finger. This is one reason why I decided to write this guide. Another is that these boards lack an updated warding guide (the most detailed one dates back to 6.54 and the latest I've seen only covers Observer warding).
All this propelled me to write a detailed guide on warding in competitive play (aka clan wars) and actually start working on it.
I will NOT discuss how to counter invisible heroes. The sole purpose is to demonstrate and explain how to ward and how to counter-ward.
II. Why to ward?
The answer is "to have vision of the key places on the map". The definition of "the key places on the map" however, changes according to how the game progresses. Those "key places on the map" very often tell you whether you are getting ganked, what rune has just spawned and it may also, through vision provided by Observer wards, allow you to gank unaware enemy hero(es).
Since the opposite team will place their Observer wards on the map for exactly the same reasons, you will want to get rid of those - this is what Sentry wards are for. Occasionally, Sentry wards are also used to counter invisible units, but ever since the big 6.56 nerf to Sentries, Dust of Appearance is the item you would use to counter invisible units (combined with Necronomicon 3).
In every clan war, it is of utmost importance to appoint the main warder, or to appoint 2-3 co-warders who help out each other with buying and placing the wards.
Most often, this role is assigned to heroes such as Warlock, Lich, Lion, Vengeful Spirit, Zeus, Crystal Maiden, Ezalor, Chen, Puck - in general, heroes that generally need no items in order to be effective. I suppose it is not surprising that all of the above mentioned heroes are often picked or banned in competitive play, which also means that drafting one, two or perhaps even three such heroes for your lineup should not be hard, unless you have a lulz pick. But for the lulz pick (everyone's favourite Mortred+Sniper+Bone+Ursa+Huskar combo) you usually play pubs.
As soon as this is set, the next thing that has to be done is buying the Animal courier/chicken AND one (1) pack of Observer wards. The most common reason is to block the opponent's neutral creepspawn spot in order to prevent pulling (= drawing your creeps' attention to neutral creeps and thus pulling the opposite creeps closer to your lane tower). The second ward of that pack is usually used to cover one runespawn spot (depending on what side you are) and/or to reveal the jungle area close to your lane in order to foil incoming ganks.
As for the chicken part, it is extremely useful in the early stages of the game to get wards transported to a hero on the lane without losing precious time and experience, especially when laning against Broodmother. It is recommended that you upgrade chicken to Flying courier as soon as possible, firstly because it's much faster and secondly because it can help you when warding or counterwarding. It may also serve as a scout of warding areas, so that you can dodge an ambush OR for eating Treant's Eyes of the Forest
Now, I know that I have perhaps gone too far with already explaining where some wards should go at the start, but let me first show all the common and uncommon observer ward spots before coming back to reasons for why they are wherever they are.
IV. Observer wards locations
Out of at least three different systems of presenting the Observer ward spots (all spots from left to the right side/by amplitude/by the usual placing as the game progresses) I chose the last one as it will also demonstrate the usual flow of the game in some way, thus making it easier to grasp.
1. Before the creepspawn
Before any creeps spawn, both sides usually go and block the neutral creep camps to prevent pulling
(= drawing your creeps' attention to neutral creeps and thus pulling the opposite creeps closer to your lane tower). Keeping creeps closer to your tower is a huge advantage in the early game, as it makes you difficult to gank and allows you to farm relatively freely. Since opponents do not want you to do that, they will block the pulling camp, nullifying the advantages it would otherwise bring.
The Scourge side will usually block in the following manner:
This picture shows 4 possible ways of blocking the Sentinel pulling camp. The first ward from the left is on "the magic bush" position - a position where a placed ward blocks 2 neutral camps - the one on the picture and the one above it on the left side. That should be always used when the opponents pick junglers (Enigma/Enchantress/Chen)
The Magic Bush
Here you have it pictured how to block on 'The Magic Bush' location.
Aside from blocking the nearby neutral creep camp, this ward location also gives a lot more vision than any of the wards on location . Since teleport gankers often teleport to the bottom Sentinel tier 1 tower, then use one of the ways through the trees bordering on the Sentinel jungle to go around and gank the lane, this is the perfect ward location to bust any such attempts.
This is where the second of the two wards usually goes. This spot gives the vision of the bottom rune spot as well as covers the entire area behind the trees bordering on the lane, which is quite handy when you have to evade ganks by junglers. The vision of the river area may also help evade ganks from the middle lane. This ward position has exactly the same effect if it is moved a bit more to the right.
This warding spot has only been used lately and provides bottom rune spot vision as well as blocks the neutral creep camp where it is in. This position, along with "the magic bush" should be considered when facing a jungler in the opposite team. If there are none, stick to Location .
The Sentinel side will place the first wards on the following spots:
This picture shows two possible placements of the Observer ward. Both can see the top rune spot as well as provide a fair amount of vision on the Scourge middle lane.
This is the second (and less popular) option for the first ward placed by the Sentinel. It reveals a part of the neutral creep camp close to it and gives a fair amount of vision on the river area, including the rune spot. Of the two, I recommend Location .
DO NOT DO THIS (the chat text is related to this ward position):[x1]
This is the most redundant spot ever: no vision on the neutral creep camp, no vision on the middle lane, only a lot of river, which is quite insignificant. Among the top rune spot wards, this one is tied for the worst with the following one:
A lot of vision on the river, but except for the rune spot, nothing significant. It is the highest spot around there for wards around there though. Used only as a lot resort when locations ,  and  fail due to counterwarding.
This is probably the best blocking spot for the Scourge pulling camp as it provides additional vision of the second camp and helps foil incoming ganks. It allows you to gank unsuspecting junglers on the neutral camp south-west from here.
Here two possibilities of blocking the neutral camp are shown. The left one can be pretty much anywhere inside the camp and the right one can be placed from the position where Furion stands. The latter is also not a very much anticipated position of an observer ward blocking this creep camp. Overall, Location  is recommended
This is another option, though rarely chosen. Provided you also remove (eat/destroy) the tree next to it, it will allow you to avoid any gank coming from the jungle.
2. The middle lane
The middle lane (mid lane) is often the lane where your solo and/or main lategamer will be. Occasionally, that hero has to face a dual lane. Most often though, he faces the opposite solo and/or main lategamer. Because of this teams tend to place Observer wards on the middle lane so that it provides full vision of the opposite side of the river, usually (or especially) when they have heroes such as Zeus, Tinker or Shadowfiend. The reason to have vision is to be able to (in Shadowfiend's case also accurately) land nukes - which can be a deciding factor in the battle for the lane dominance - AND to avoid incoming ganks from either top or bottom lane.
The Sentinel solo laner will usually have the wards on the following locations:
This one does not need much explanation: it provides full vision of the Scourge side of the middle lane and gives additional vision of the river to help avoid ganks from top.
Not much explanation here either - full vision of the Scourge middle tower and river vision to help avoid ganks from the bottom lane.
The Scourge player has a little more choice:
This is one extremely potent position - it reveals wast river area, including the rune spot as well as almost entire area between the tier 1 middle Scourge and Sentinel towers.
Another multipurpose ward. It allows you to see top rune spot, Sentinel ancient creep camp, reveals a part of the Sentinel middle lane and sees farther on to the Scourge side of the river
The last option again offers vision of the river and the Sentinel side of the middle lane - it is also helpful to avoid ganks.
3.After the start
This chapter talks about wards that do not come into play right away but a bit later - 10-15 minutes into the match - when the game leaves the early period and enters the middle period. These wards help avoid ganks, counter ganks, help gank, help push towers and help kill Roshan.
Very commonly used position, usually when the Sentinel team decides to push the first top Scourge tower very soon. It basically gives all the information about how many opponent heroes there are, how many are teleporting, how many are coming on foot and also if there is anyone creeping the nearby neutral creep camp. It should also be mentioned that teams rarely or never counter this kind of wards.
Used by the Scourge players, this ward mostly warns the top lane about the "teleport ganks" (=where Sentinel heroes gank by teleporting to the tower then running up the lane) and the ganks coming from the river.
This is the ward typically used in late game. It functions in a very simple manner - it provides you with information where the heroes are going from the second Sentinel tower (Roshan/farm top lane) which helps create ganks.
What also has to be mentioned is that a ward like this, a little more to the North, can function for Scourge the same as the Location  for Sentinel.
This is the mirror position to Location , used by the Scourge players for exactly the same purposes as  by the Sentinel players.
Mirror position to Location , the purpose is also the same.
Alternative position to Location , which also reveals a part of the nearby Sentinel jungle. Due to that fact, it is my preferred warding position in this area, since it tells you if an incoming opponent hero is taking the lane path or going through the jungle and allows you to react accordingly.
The ward position used to control the traffic in and out of the Scourge base in this area. It is placed there as soon as all the Scourge towers on this lane are gone. A ward can be placed on practically a mirror position on the top Sentinel lane, under the same circumstances (all towers gone) for the same purpose (control the traffic in that area).
The ward which is usually placed after both first Sentinel and Scourge middle towers are gone. Since ganks going through this area of the map to the Scourge forest (and vice versa) are quite frequent, it is one of the key positions to be covered in the mid and late game. Location  is kind of similar to this one.  and  are really interchangeable positions and can be used by either the Sentinel or the Scourge for the same purpose.
A handy position for the Scourge to control this part of the map, but can also be used for defensive purposes by the Sentinel side.
The ward used to control the traffic in and out of the Sentinel base in this area, placed after all the Sentinel towers on this lane have been wiped out.
The mirror position to , placed after all the Scourge towers on this lane have been wiped out.
3.4 The Sentinel Jungle
The ward used by the aggressive Scourge to control the three neutral creep camps in this area. It also provides a tiny bit of vision on the bottom lane. This placement can also be used by the Sentinel for defensive purposes, which would mean that you can't make it even to the bottom rune spot.
As you can see, the ward is placed next to a bunch of yellow flowers. The position of this ward can be alternated to the bunch of yellow flowers to the right and having more or less the same effect.
This is an interesting variation of  that I have spotted just lately. Aside from giving the vision of this entire part of the Sentinel jungle, it also gives vision to the path that leads to the upper right neutral creep camp in the Sentinel jungle. However, this location blocks the nearest neutral creep camp, so it might be easy to discover and destroy the Observer ward on this location.
Another extremely potent position - thanks to the fact that it is the highest point of the terrain in this area - which can be used for aggressive purposes by the Scourge, or for defensive purposes by the Sentinel. However, the Scourge often uses this ward position to see all the way to the bottom tier 2 Sentinel tower, helping you decide when to push it. A general late game ward position.
The heroes on the screenshot indicate three possible points of access to this warding position. The picture also shows two possible ward positions which have one radical difference: you should note that the top right ward also blocks the nearby neutral creep camp while the bottom left one does not. I, however, do not advise to block this creep camp, especially if you are Scourge, because as soon as the Sentinel see an empty neutral creep camp, it will be a fireworks signal to them that you have placed a ward there, making them counterward it, which will lower the possible amount of gank opportunities in this area.
This ward position is used to control the nearby level 1 neutral creep camp and the entrance to the Sentinel jungle from the bottom rune spot. Relatively often used by both the Sentinel and the Scourge
DO NOT DO THIS:[x3]
This is the masterpiece brought about by Ravens!AngelOfGod. Yes he actually did it. What exactly he wanted to do with it is not known, but this ward position blows harder than Monica Lewinsky for sure. I took this example to showcase that even top players can screw up badly and that this is not a good position just because AngelOfGod placed the ward there.
Ravens!Pusher-Street's masterpiece this time and in its badness probably second only to the above Angel's ward spot. Sadly, this has not been used only by pusher, but also by entire Australian team sGty. Why is it bad? Well, it only gives direct vision to the nearby tower, it does not reveal any Sentinel Jungle area and is generally inferior to Locations  and .
This is a very...below average ward position, which is used to control the traffic around the middle tier 2 Scourge tower. It however does not sufficiently cover the nearby passage into the Scourge jungle, as well as the passage towards the Scourge side secret shop. I advise to avoid this position and rather use a much more reliable Locations  and .
3.5 The Bottom Rune spot
Quite possibly one of the most awesome ward positions there are in DotA. Even though it has relatively small area covered, it covers 4 key points:
- the passage from the Sentinel jungle entrance to the middle lane
- the passage from the Sentinel jungle entrance to the level 1 creep camp
- the passage from the Sentinel jungle entrance into the Sentinel jungle
- the bottom rune spot
Unfortunately, it loses on significance in mid and late game where controlling the Roshan area should be a high priority - it provides no vision in this respect.
An early observer ward on this position effectively prevents any ganks from the bottom lane to the middle Sentinel hero(es).
Take great care to place this ward exactly where it is on the screenshot - putting it to the right will provide more vision on the bottom rune spot, but lose all the vision the from the Sentinel jungle entrance to the middle lane and level 1 creep camp while putting it to the left will make it lose all the vision on the bottom rune spot.
Probably the most commonly used bottom rune spot ward position. Extremely useful in mid and late game where controlling the Roshan area is a high priority. Due to its popularity it is also often a target of counterwarding.
The ward that is quite popular as well, used by both the Sentinel and the Scourge. In early game, it guarantees the middle Scourge lane the same safety as does  for the Sentinel side. It does not lose much usefulness as it can effectively control the Roshan area. Often the wards are dropped here because going over the river to place the wards might be too risky.
The last resort ward for the Scourge side and a no-go for the Sentinel. This ward spot is usually taken when all other are covered by opposite sentry wards or when going anywhere on the open might be too risky.
3.6 The Scourge Jungle
An extremely useful ward for the aggressive Sentinel and for defensive Scourge. It covers four passages in the Scourge jungle in the directions of south - north, north - south, east - west and north-west - east. Make sure that the ward is placed exactly as on the screenshot, as it will provide you with a narrow ray of vision in the north-east direction, where the level 5 neutral creep camp is.
The awesome position no.3, the twin to the Location  and its mirror position. Its vision extends to 2 neutral creep camps and top tier 2 Scourge tower, which makes it effectively useful for the same purposes as the Location . It also mirrors the purpose: it is either used by the aggressive Sentinel or the defensive Scourge (often by both). Typical mid-late game ward.
* * *
In case you wonder what happened to the top rune spot ward positions, I direct you to check again the locations , ,  and [x2] where they have been discussed in their most fitting context. As you will see later on, top rune spot wards lose a lot of significance compared to the bottom rune spot wards.
3.7 Other wards
This ward covers a relatively important crossroads near the Sentinel secret shop and is useful only when used by the Sentinel, for defensive purposes when passage to the rune spot is too dangerous to take.
Location just a bit more to the south from  serves basically the same purpose - a little protection when you cannot access any top rune spot without taking a risk. It can also be used to see if anybody is waiting to jump down on the lane with a Blink Dagger. Location  is an alternative to this location.
A rather bad location that is supposed to cover Roshan area, which is the only thing it does. It provides only a limited vision of where the opponents might go into your jungle. The only positive characteristic about this spot is that it will be very hard to detect (and counterward), since it is a completely unanticipated warding position.
A ward that should be used by the Sentinel side for additional protection when taking Roshan. Its vision extends all the way to the Scourge secret shop, and reveals enough of the area near the ancient creep camp.
Another rather handy warding position that can be used mostly by Scourge when in defensive (turtle) mode. It protects a part of the middle Scourge lane, even if being warned about an incoming gank only from here might almost be too late. Can be used by the Sentinel for the same purpose as  but does not cover as many paths, so it is an optional ward for that purpose.
3.8 Base warding
All of those positions are supposed to help you push by providing additional vision which in turn allows you to perhaps nuke a single opponent hero to death with ranged spells, to avoid Earthshaker's jumps or anything alike.
The reasons for these ward positions are exactly the same as for the Sentinel base wards.
V. Sentry wards locations
If you have expected loads of screenshots in this section, you are up for one rather big disappointment. But hey, do not despair! If you have read the chapter on Observer warding, it should be really easy for you. The thing about sentry warding is that in most situations, all you really need to do is place a Sentry ward near the spot where you think the opponent has placed an Observer ward and then destroy it. Since I know you have read the Observer warding part, it should be a piece of cake for you to guess where the opponent has placed the wards. Because of that, I skipped making another 30 screenshots with where to place Sentry wards for the most obvious positions. However, there are some warding positions where a single Sentry ward can cover not only one, but two or even three different warding positions. Therefore, I will in this section focus on these very ward positions.
The positions where you drop a Sentry ward in an area where you expect the opponent's Observer ward to be placed: && (make sure you do not block the creepcamp, though), , ,  - ,  - ,  - 
1. Sentinel jungle&bottom rune spot
and rotated image of the same position
This position can be used to detect and kill the starting placement usually/often done by the Scourge - neutral creep camp block and vision of the rune with the edge of the jungle (Locations  and ). The Observer ward positions are clearly visible since I used Observer wards of my own to demonstrate the point. The Sentry ward there can be moved a little bit to up-right or down-left and still see both wards.
This position is used to detect and counter the ward positions  and . It is fairly easily done and does not block any neutral creep camps
This is sort of a golden position for a Sentry ward. As you can see on the screenshot, it covers locations ,  and . This sentry combined with  pretty much covers anything around the bottom rune spot. The position of this Sentry ward can be altered for a very little bit into any direction. Straying too far from the original position will result in the ward not giving the true sight over one of the Observer ward locations.
Utilizing the Crow
Having a Sentry ward on location , you just run the Crow over the - locations to see if there are any wards present.
This is an optional and most commonly used position to place sentries in order to remove the Observer wards. Its obvious weakness is that it only covers locations  and , which means you may have to spend at least 1 (possibly 2) Sentry wards to clear the entire area of wards.
2. Top rune spot
The position used to counter anything on locations ,  and . Relatively unanticipated but easily spottable once the opponents have some kind of true sight around there.
Used for countering locations , [x1] and [x2]. Since it is very unlikely that opponents will have the ward anywhere but on , I suggest that you put the Sentry ward on the exactly same positions as the Observer ward on location . But just in case you want to make sure that nothing you dislike is out there, use this Sentry ward positioning.
Utilizing the Crow 1
Having a Sentry ward on location , use the Crow to check the ward location [x2].
Utilizing the Crow 2
Having a Sentry ward on location , use the Crow to check the ward location .
Aside from countering Observer and Sentry wards with Sentries of your own, sometimes either or both of two items is used to help out in this case: Necronomicon 3
and Gem of True sight
. Both items are extremely rarely used (Gem even more rarely than Necronomicon) and brutally powerful when compared to Sentry wards, as literally no position is safe from being discovered by either of the items.
Necronomicon's primary usage is to counter various invisible heroes, counter Mirana's ultimate and so on. It primarily is not acquired to counter wards, but rather to provide some additional damage and true sight in teamfights and ganks. Heroes such as Bane, Rexxar and Warlock are the usual Necronomicon bearers.
Gem of True Sight is probably the item that sees more playtime in public games than in competitive play. I recall seeing Gem of True Sight in one (1) competitive DotA match. Other than that, I did see it in some inhouse matches, as well as in at least one clan war. It is greatly annoying, but very risky if you let it fall into opponents' hands.
From a theoretical point of view, it should be used to come around a ward spot, destroy wards and then return the Gem back to base, so that it does not fall into opponents' hands by an accident.
VI. General walkthrough
This is here just so you do not go and place wards all over the map without making any sense and doing more harm than good without considering some characteristics that Observer Wards and Sentry wards posses.
- The cost: 200 gold
- 1 pack consists of 2 Observer wards
- Maximum number of packs available at any given time: 2 (a total of 4 Observer wards)
- Replenish period: 6 minutes
- Duration: 6 minutes
- Sight range: 1800 during day and night
- The cost: 200 gold
- 1 pack consists of 2 Sentry wards
- Unlimited number of Sentry ward packs available
- Replenish period: too short to be important
- Duration: 3 minutes
- Sight range: extremely limited vision, 800 true sight range
1. Random Tips
As you can judge from the numbers, you can have a maximum of four Observer wards placed on the map at the same time, that is if you keep warding the map and buying the Observers all the time. However, if you buy four Observer wards (2 packs) and place them, they will expire in six minutes and you will only be able to buy one pack of those, so you should indeed be careful with what positions to choose in order to cover the most important areas of the map.
Another random tip that goes beyond the Warding repertoire is the fact that if your support hero does not die much, or not at all, he/she will be likely to produce a much more consistent vision through buying and placing wards than a feeding supporter. A quick hint to that would be that you gain 67 gold per minute, merely because you are playing whatever hero you are playing. A quick 67×3=201 equation thus says that if you just stay alive for three minutes without buying and farming anything, you can afford one pack of either Observer or Sentry wards.
The reason why I say this bunch of tips goes beyond Warding repertoire is that if you do not die too much (or at all), you will much more easily afford the most needed items - the items that increase your survivability, which will help you survive more and so on.
2. Warding throughout the different stages of the game
This portion is divided into "The Sentinel" and "The Scourge" section to more easily give a walkthrough. Even if both parts might look oddly mirror-familiar, there are some nuances that make both sides of the map a bit different when compared to each other.
Especially lately (6.59/60/61), ganking strategies are on the march and late game strategies rarely succeed. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have the map warded all the time, since there is no efficient ganking without vision. In turn, vision also helps avoid the opposite ganks. If your ganks are running well, you should have no problems getting enough money to buy whatever wards you need and placing them.
2.1 The Sentinel
The first thing you need to do as The Sentinel warder is to provide the vision of middle lane/top rune and block the Scourge's neutral creep camp that can be pulled, in order to make the life of your upper lane easier. As was said before, vision of the entire middle lane is rarely needed, but if you are really dying to have it, use the ward locations  or . Mind you, neither provides you with vision of either rune spot. I would suggest Location  which covers the top rune spot and a part of the middle lane.
there are some imbeciles who would cover the top rune spot with , [x1] or [x2]. These ward locations are overkill at this stage of the game.
As far as the neutral creep camp blocking goes, the options are locations  and , with me agitating for  as it provides valuable additional vision.
You may decide not to block that neutral creep camp, but still use the Location . But trust me, you do not want to do that unless the skill gap between you and your opponents is so big that it makes no difference whatsoever OR you really want to push that tower fast.
Roughly 5-6 minutes into the game, your first Observer wards will expire, which means you will have to replace them with new ones (perhaps even more than only two), but this time purely according to how the game is unfolding:
- if you have lost and pushed no towers so far, cover both rune spots with wards on locations  and  (locations - are optional, but  is recommended) and cover top or bottom tier 1 Scourge tower with ward locations  or /, depending on which one do you want to push next. Remember that not pushing any tower is not an option at all, since this gives the opponents massive advantage of having a nearly instant access to your half of the map merely by teleporting to those outer towers. No specific warding is required to take middle tier 1 Scourge tower. This one is usually pulled down after a teamfight, when the opponent is unable to withstand the push. Pretty much the same can go for top and bottom towers, except that there teams gain the edge for the push by first ganking and killing 1-3 opposite heroes, so that the opponents drop the idea of defending the tower in the first place.
- if you turtle, again cover both rune spots with  and  and place the / to protect the farm lane from the incoming (teleport) ganks.
About 10-15 minutes into the game starts the so called mid-game period, where first towers have already fallen, or are about to fall.
- if the top tier 1 Scourge tower is pushed (and possibly the middle one as well), get wards on the locations , or possibly (but not recommended) [x5], and , on the bottom rune spot you should have any of the - wards and possibly also / if you want full-fledged protection. The bottom does not change after the fall of tier 1 Scourge tower much, you might want to move that  ward further up, but it makes no significant difference, except to help detect if opponents are going to Roshan, for which you should have - anyway.
From here on you should just keep pushing towers and eventually keeping wards on  (always), optionally , / and , all according to how fast towers are falling. The bottom rune spot ward might not be needed if you have an absolute map control, but still Location  is recommended when trying to kill Roshan. When pushing into the enemy base, you might want to use any of the - wards, depending on where you are pushing.
On the contrary, if you are forced into defense or you turtle and keep losing your towers, you should definitely have / and - to protect entire bottom lane. Location  is advised to be warded as well, since opposite gankers may enter your jungle from there and avoid detection while ganking middle/jungle/bottom. You might want a ward on the top rune spot (safely done by putting it on Location ), but it is not necessary. To avoid wasting too much money on Observer Wards, there is one tip regarding the top lane: never go further on from where the river joins the upper lane (play safe).
When you get pressed more, you might require wards in your own jungle, which pretty much means the locations  and , possibly also  again depending how far your opponents go/you anticipate them to go. There is also Location  for the Middle lane and the optional ,  and .
You might have noticed that Location  is left out, and that is for a good reason: it provides no Roshan vision and is thus relatively insignificant in mid and late game.
All this pretty much sums up The Sentinel Observer Warding. To avoid writing another essay on The Scourge Sentry warding, just follow the recommended Sentinel Observer warding locations and neutralize them with Sentries of your own and by abusing good Sentry ward spots (locations -). Sentry warding often is not as rewarding as you might expect, either because the opponent does not have any Observer wards to place, the Observers wards are placed on bad spots or they have surprised you with a tricky spot that I have somehow not managed to cover here. In that last situation, Gem or Necronomicon level 3 might come in very handy. Of course, if you have nice vision, try paying attention to what opposite heroes (especially the warders) are doing and where they are going. It often gives valuable information for counterwarding.
2.2 The Scourge
The starting warding setup may wary quite a bit for Scourge. You may desire to just get vision of the bottom rune spot and what is going on "just beyond the trees" that separate the lane from the Sentinel jungle and to block the creep spot that is used for pulling. If that is the case, use ward spots  or [1.1], (I advocate [1.1] because it gives vision of some teleport ganks and also just gives more vision than any ward on location ) and .
However, it may happen that the opposing team has Enigma/Chen/Enchantress pick that is going to jungle, which means you could effectively slow down the jungler's farm by preventing some of the neutral camps from spawning. In this case, I suggest location  and so-called "the magic bush" position described as one of the options on the location . As far as junglers are concerned, blocking the appropriate level 1 neutral creep camp is also an effective means of slowing down their leveling and farming.
Another option is that you just block the pulling neutral spawn camp (/[1.1]) and use the remaining Observer ward to give the middle lane player some additional vision of the opposite laner(s). I would go for , possibly  and maybe . Both  and  are much more viable as they reveal a nice portion of the middle lane while giving the top rune vision at the same time.  only gives the lane vision, so you will be left in the dark regarding the runes.
As soon as those first wards expire, make sure you place new ones on locations  and . The optional additional spots are  and/or , depending on which lane needs to be protected, or which tower you are pushing. However, if you have already pushed some of the towers, the recommended ward locations may differ:
- if you have pushed the bottom tier 1 tower, you may want to use a little bit more aggressive warding in the Sentinel jungle. Consider locations , [25.1],  and , depending on how far you want to go.
- if you have pushed the first upper tower, consider location  and if you have pushed the middle tier 1 tower, consider location . If you are pressuring the opponents, you should make sure there is no way for them to go unnoticed anywhere. This being said, do not forget the location  after pushing both middle and top tier 1 towers.
Roughly 15 minutes into the game, you are going to see whether you will have to turtle or to finish the game as soon as possible. If forced into defensive stance, use ward locations /, , appropriate location from the - range and possibly . Since this means you have four wards planted at the same time, you will only have two Observer wards available when those four expire. Judge for yourself which ward is not crucial at the given moment so that you do not run out of the minimum number of needed Observer wards.
The last part of the warding battle depends on whether you are pressuring the opponents hard, or vice versa. If opponent has no outer towers left, use locations ,  and the location  moved far far to the south (see the location  text for additional explanation).
If you are forced to defend yourself, then just use the locations , ,  and  moved a bit down the lane.
If pushing into the Sentinel base, consider the ward locations -.
The sentry warding for Sentinel is of course just the job of placing the Sentry wards where I advised the Scourge warder to put Observer wards. To avoid getting busted every single time, use a little bit of imagination, anticipation and play some mind games (this goes for both sides).
You might have noticed that Scourge warding walkthrough is substantially shorter than the Sentinel one. And this is merely because I do not want to repeat myself like a parrot. The entire DotA map (speaking literally, of terrain) is made so that both halves of the map mirror each other, so there is not any significant difference to mention. If you know how to ward for one side, there should not be any problem while warding for the other side.
Here are the descriptions of the replays showcasing good warding on the highest level of the competitive DotA. The replay pack can be downloaded from the following link:
1. Ravens vs sGty
(F4F-10 final, game 1, 6.59d, 1.23) - An intense tank battle (excellent Axe by Maelk), which actually makes the game boring even while watching at 2x speed. Still good warding on both sides.
2. Ravens vs sGty
(F4F-10 final, game 2, 6.59d, 1.23) - Fell asleep halfway through that game, but I have it somewhere in the back of my mind that warding was good.
3. Ravens vs sGty
(F4F-10 final, game 3, 6.59d, 1.23) - Meepo, Mania's kickass Kunkka and Misery's commentary - all alongside the good warding.
4. TLT vs Ravens
(DreamHack Summer 2009, winner bracket final, 6.59d, 1.23) - rare footage of Nerubian Assassin in competitive DotA, good warding and how Void does not stand a chance against five nukers.
5. Fnatic vs RET
(Gosucup, winner bracket round 2, 6.61b, 1.23) - Sniper, Tauren Chieftain and Gem of True sight used for counterwarding (32nd and 33rd minute).
6. nwave vs nfinity
(Gosucup, loser bracket round 2, 6.61b, 1.23) - Good warding and extremely nice synergy between Slardar, Shadowpriest and Omniknight.
7. Xeo.int vs NoN
(Gosucup, quarterfinal, 6.61b, 1.23) - Beyond godlike Morphling and Zeus, one sided game and good warding.
VIII. Conclusion and thanks
So this is it. If you have read the guide and still have questions that need answering, feel free to drop a post in this topic and I will answer it in the post #3, which is meant for questions to be answered.
I sincerely hope that this guide will help to raise the overall level of your team's play and thus help you advance into higher echelons of the (competitive) DotA scene.
Credits go to Kabammm for the base warding screenshots, as well as to many others guide writers who helped me expand my knowledge of how the game works in certain aspects, or inspired me to write this guide.
Credits also to Seven for this awesum bannar!
The thanks go to all the players that I have spent some time playing with and/or helped me improve as a DotA player:
- Slovenian players on Xpam: ka0s (my DotA tutor when I was a complete newb), Si.Slb, Gateguardian, Prince_Charming, Lepotec_Luka and many others whose names I do not remember.
- SS community on Xpam: Kenyshor, Tay, eXtasy (nub!!!11), Vamos_Gringo, NeStle, 73rror, Ethirihl, Mezmerize, Sigrada, OMGBergRush for being a 1v1 retard and again many others whose names I do not remember at all.
- to a big bunch of nobs in DCE and those few good players (Beg4Mercy comes to mind) in there and to flaming Russians in IHCS2.
- to the superduper mannered DotaInvite players: N3rd (oops, N3rf), Mordenflamer, eXodus-, UnPapayaCoconut and the rest (and Stoef for being a superduper nub).
- to a number of ex-clanmates: Chammer (his team being the first with which I gave competitive DotA a shot), DemonDarkie, Kai, Duerlund, JobDone, Junker and Phyxius.
- to various playmates with which we have mixed: SubSeven, Onin, EED fags Digital_Jesus, Iwke, MAGNUM4ace and Pany.
- special thanks the old CTS clanmates deXus, Seven, Kamnik and Samuray. They let me become their bestest wardbitch.
- to Memmon for being the funniest guy to play with (even if our joint clan attempts fail all the time) <3
- and finally to anyone else I have forgotten to mention even though we have had a lot of fun playing DotA together.