Axe, The Only True Tanker!
This is a guide for version 6.63x.
08/18/2009: Added more Battle Hunger information as an optional skill choice, added Naix and Ursa to Feared Heroes and Added Pipe information that I'd forgotten. Added a replay.
08/24/2009: A lot of changes made based on today's comments (check in the end of this page).
08/25/2009: Improved Illusions descriptions.
10/14/2009: Added Shallow Grave on the list of skills that CB goes through.
10/16/2009: Added a quote on Blademail comments.
Here I am again writing one more guide, this time for Axe. The reason is because he's the the only true tanker of DotA, and also one of my main picks on -CM games. His skills are greatly supportive and offensive at the same time, and his endurance is really great, making a real difference on good hands.
Different of heroes with cookie-cutter builds, Axe's build is very discussed and personal, so I will try to point these choices and describe them detailed to make this choice easier, and I'm not expecting everyone agrees with it.
Also, this guide is not made to teach you how to play DotA, it's made to provide a successful way to play Axe, so I won't be adding some useless stuff just to make the guide more fun (like "deny!", "last hit!", hero's history...).
Ohh... and my native language is not english, so I hope you guys can understand some possible mistakes, and I would appreciate some help to fix them :P
Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy it
Pros and Cons
[+] Great attack animation for easy last hits
[+] Great on taking down paper chars
[+] He has one of the best supportive/tanking skills of the game (Berserker's Call)
[+] Amazing tanking capatibilities
[+] Excelent lane control on good hands
[+] Great farmer
[-] Great dependency on mana early game
[-] One of his skills is "useless"
[-] You can "miss" his ultimate
Skills and Personal Comments
Detailed hero information: Axe - DotA Hero Details
With Berserker's Call you can break an entire enemy battle formation, and with a few creeps near and Counter Helix help, do a insane damage as well. While under BC effect, the enemies will just be able to auto-attack, blocking their spellcasting temporarily. The 20 bonus armor that you get makes which the damage you're going to receive becomes pretty low. Another good point on BC is that it works on magic immune targets, what makes of you a great BKB counter.
Well... this is the skill I told that was "useless". It can be up to 500 damage, the hero can't be denied, it have a great cast range, so you ask: Why something imba like this could be useless!? The reason is pretty simple: you can remove this DoT by simply killing one single unit, including any creep, buildings and even illusions. Any experienced player can do this pretty easily, which makes this skill useless. On pubs BH usually rapes enemies and provide to you easy dominatings, but not on games with decent players. Whoever, there is still an usage for this skill at early levels, but you have to check the "Playing Axe" section for details.
This is your main skill, your signature, your main damage source. Early game it does insane amounts of damage has counter attack, and makes you keep a perfect lane control against enemies with bad~medium lane control. A lot of people says that CH is imba due his high amout of damage early game, which is true if the enemy is stupid enough to face you with creeps near. Combine with Berserker's Call and some creeps and it becomes really imba. If you're sharing the lane with another ally, the job is even easier since you will have another heavy source of damage. Also, it's a luck based skill, so you can do a insane damage as much as you can make enemies laugh of you.
- CH checks for triggering whenever an attack against Axe begins, not when Axe is actually damaged by said attack. It means that even when you evade an attack, CH will proc.
- CH does physical damage, so it's affected by enemy's Armor.
Culling Blade is one of the most effective single target skill. It's basically a MK "Finish Him!", where you deliver a single killing blow on heroes running around with low HP, being the terror of INT/AGI heroes. Always that you're fighting someone that you plan to use it, keep an eye on his HP (yeah, click on him and keep watching until he reachs the limit of CB, then fastly F1 --> C --> Click), it's very important. If you waste your ultimate on someone that is not going to die, he will simply take a shit damage, you will lose A LOT of mana, and finally will go into cooldown and can forget about CB in this battle. I understand that is not so simple check enemys HP during a fight, but you have to do it or you will lose a lot of kills or take more damage than you need. Also, for convenience CB has a very short cooldown. =D
Important note: Yeah, It goes through magic immune targets!! It goes through BKB and even Abbadon's ultimate or Shallow Grave! =D (if someone remembers something else relevant to add here, remind me, please)
STANDARD and ONLY Skill Build:
1- Counter Helix
2- Berserker's Call
3- Berserker's Call
4- Counter Helix
5- Berserker's Call
6- Culling Blade
7- Berserker's Call
8- Counter Helix
9- Counter Helix
10- Stats / Battle Hunger****
11- Culling Blade
16- Culling Blade
23-25- Battle Hunger
Unfortunately, there's no other way to play Axe other than this, not even one different point. Counter Helix should be get as first skill cause Berserker's Call lv1 is pretty useless alone while Counter Helix does a very high amount of damage early game. It's around 15% of the total HP of lv1 heroes per Helix! Berserker's Call should be maxed ASAP, since CH damage doesn't scales as good as BC. More points on BC means more time of AoE disable, it's infinitely better than a few more damage. There's no reason for not getting Culling Blade always you can, since it can finish off some heroes with half HP early game! How I explained on Battle Hunger comment, you should skip it and get stats instead, mainly because Stats will help you with more surveillance and mana (what you will need).
****OPTIONAL: Battle Hunger is a shit skill overall, but you can get it lv1 if you want at lv10. Please, check the section "Playing Axe" to see the usage of BHlv1.
About Talisman of Evasion
After getting your core items, then comes a very discussed part: Shivas or Assault. I'll try to cover all the possibilities.
This is how your inventory should looks like late game. A Assault must be added soon or later for obvious reasons (stated up there, on the Core Extension). The rest of the items I've already explained, so you just have to choose a...
...Sixth Item (but I don't believe the game will reach here):
Bottle and Rune Control
Axe is not a great fan of runes, since they are not so useful for him due his core item. With Dagger, you pretty much can do the job without Haste or Invisible, the only runes that are useful for him. Anyways, early game the runes can still do a great job:
- Useful information: Runes spawn every 2 minutes on ONE of the two spots, initiating on the minute 0. But there are two occasions when a new rune won't spawn:
1) If there is already an spawned rune on one of the spots.
2) If you get the rune with 5 or less seconds left for the next spawn.
Illusion: Useful only for scout and mindgames, possibly atracting the fire or triggering a disable for a safe attack of your team. Also, your illusions procs Helix, so you can use them later in the game when they don't die easily for neutral creeping or push/defend a lane from creeps.
Double damage: You won't DPS auto-attacking, so DD is useless for you, let it for someone else with a nice base damage.
Invisible: This is a great rune for you, since you can easily Berserker's Call a group of enemies.
Regenaration: Not great, but useful.
Haste: Just like the invisibility rune, it makes you BC job easier.
Now that you know his main items, builds and skills, you're ready to begin the pwnage. But... how to do it? Where to go? Here are some tips, supposing that you know the basics about surviving, killing, denying and last hitting with any hero.
Laning or Jungling?
Definitely go lane. Axe is a great jungler, but his potencial shines on the lane, where you can easily harass oponents and get free kills with a decent lane partner or soloing against two oponents. There's no point on throwing away his great lane control just for a little more exp.
Solo or with a Partner?
If there's a jungler in your team, definitely ask for solo against two. Axe have a great lane control and can do very well against two opponents, mainly because his skills are great paper stomper. Even you being a great soloer, don't be the only one soloing, since a ganker should take priority.
First of all, you must know what Axe should do in a team, and it's quite simple: initiate and tank. Tanking means keep the enemies as next to you as possible while targeting all their spells on you, while your team smash them. Your job is to rush into enemies and Berserker's Call them, to make a clear path to your allies smash.
Now that you know your role, the next thing that you must know is about aggro. It's when the enemy creeps will attack you, and when they won't. Since more auto-attacks boosts your Helix, you need a lot of creeps to be able to do a lot of damage. There are two situations where the creeps will attack you:
1) When you choose "Attack" (right click) the enemy hero, near enemy creeps will attack you.
2) The creeps will attack who is closer to them when they are not attacking anything else.
Harassing: Axe's way to harass is simple: aggro the creeps next to the enemy heroes. Like explained above, just click on them when next of the creeps (and of the target). It will proc Helix and do some AoE damage. If you're lucky, you will proc more than once and do A LOT of damage. It helps you pushing and harassing as well. Some enemies can make this job a little harder, mainly the ranged units with a decent attack range and disablers. The pro of this is that while more is the range, less is their HP, so if you hit a single Helix, it'll do a lot of damage. Since you won't be never soloing, prey for a good lane partner and your job will be a piece of cake. Important: Just start harassing after you get two stouts, or you'll take a lot of damage.
Ganking: This is not exactly the Axe's role, but he can do this pretty well during the laning phase. If no one sees you coming (wards) and with some partner(s) to support, you can come out of the jungle and BC them for some kills. If you find a Haste or Invisible rune, it will be a lot easier.
Pushing: If your laning is doing well and you can easily rush into their tower, go behind it and kill their creeps by yourself (it's not dificult with 2 Stouts), leaving the path clear to your creeps get the tower down, but watch out for teleporting heroes on the tower.
Playing defensively: Unfortunately, sometimes you have to retreat and keep yourself under your tower, mainly when soloing against disablers or with a partner with no lane control at all. There's nothing much you can do here, except for using their mistakes against themselves. The best way to do it, is to cast BC on them when they comes next to your tower and pull them under it, or across the jungle area and come from behind, BC'ing them along with their creeps (but only stupid enemies will wait for this...).
Main role early game: Push Axe is a great pusher (not even close of the greatests, but still great), so use it for your teams advantage. Until you get your Blink Dagger, priorize your farming, and the better way to do this is while pushing. Keep going through their lanes to take towers down with your partners help.
Middle game is the moment that you complete your core build. If you were able to farm Dagger fastly, then this part of the game is when you will shine and decide the future of the game along with your team. Team battles are more common now, and your job here is simply to be an initiator and tanking.
This is your main combo and what you will do for the entire game. Doing this you practically ensured a kill to your team, supposing they are there to support you. You can also kill by yourself, but you have to be lucky of getting a few CHs to finish them off with Culling Blade. Be sure of using the combo next to as many enemy heroes as possible, so the rest of their team will have to save them while yours smashs them.
Supposing that now you have Shivas, your main combo will still remain the same, except that now you have one more item to use after BC is over. There's not much secret here, just ensure that your team will survive (yeah, you're responsible for their safety) and be able to do their jobs.
Culling Blade Usage:
CB is one of the better single target ultimates in the game, but the problem is that it can easily miss, spending a lot of mana and going into cooldown. To never miss it, always check the exact HP of the enemy that is a possible target of CB, clicking on his character for this and seeing when his HP will hit the limit that you need (I'll try to get a movie showing this).
Another mistake that I usally see people doing is wasting CB on a dead target just for the kill, when the team could kill him with just a few attacks. NEVER do this, NEVER! CB can decide the tide of one team battle if you use it on the correct target at the correct time, not simply on the first low HP enemy that you see. Check the scenario and possibilities before ulting.
Battle Hunger Lv1 Usage:
Optionally you can get Battle Hunger lv1, cause it shows valuable on some situations, such as:
1) Against Blink Dagger users: Casting BH against a Dagger user can break totally a team combo if you find the blinker hidden behind a tree just waiting for the right moment to go in and kill your entire team.
2) Chasing: Casting BH against a fleeing target won't let him uses potions or blinks.
3) Finishing a lucky bastard: Sometimes happens of a lucky guy escapes of you with less than 50 HP, so you can just finish him casting a BH an pursueing for some seconds (for the exp).
But remembering: Don't get it more than lv1! DOesn't worths the spent points.
Feared Enemies and Valuable Allies
I'm not putting single heroes here because there are A LOT of them, so I'll be just doing a general comment, and you use your DotA experience to tell you those who can fit each part. If I missed someone, remind me please.
They are those heroes who can interrupt your Blink even before they see you in the battle, like Doombringer, Spectre and Zeus. After you get Dagger, it's really boring to rush into enemys to BC. Another kind of annoying heroes are those who burns mana (Magina, Nerubian Assassin, Ezalor...), and since you're greatly mana dependant, it will make you almost useless.
If you have the proper tanking items, won't be easy to take you down, but there's a few ones that are still a threat, such as Necrolyte, Witch Doctor and Ursa. They can do a lot of damage even through your high defense and HP. But the most feared of your enemys and the one that you will NEVER win against is Naix. If you are alonge and see him, run, I'm not kidding.
All those who gives AoE damage. Axe can keep enemies unmoved for 3.5 seconds, enough for some powerful spells which are hard to hit, such as Maledict, Midnight Pulse --> Black Hole, and a lot of others.
That was a inhouse game played just between friends. One or other player were still learning how to play DotA, so it's not the best replay ever (and also aren't the picks =p), but the point there is simply to watch the Axe gameplay.
Thanks all for reading (or not), and please comment. I will appreciate every (constructive) opinion/critic If you dind't agree with something, or would like to add something, please let me know.
I hope you guys have enjoyed it