The winners in battle are sometimes decided by hundredths of a second, where squeezing in an extra attack or spell separates victory from defeat. This guide is meant for more experienced players who would like to learn how to optimize the time they spend on their spells and attacks, though in-depth knowledge of their hero's animations. Knowing how to deal the most damage in the least amount of time is often a key to success when you are faced with strong opponents.
Attack Animation: The actions that any unit must go through in order to release a physical attack, consisting of a damage point and damage backswing.
Damage Point - The animation from when the unit begins to attack and goes through the command. For ranged heroes, this is when the projectile is released, whereas for melee heroes the damage is dealt at the damage point.
Damage Backswing - The animation that finalizes the attack animation, its importance is nothing more than cosmetic. This is the portion of the attack that can and should be cancelled by inputting another command immediately after the damage point has passed.
Example: Bloodseeker is known for his ability to chase heroes. Although he has a decent attack point, his backswing afterwards is about 70% longer! By using a move command immediately after the damage is dealt, you can continue closing in on your opponent before your next attack. These additional attacks can be crucial and could be the difference between getting the kill and surviving (thanks to Bloodbath) and dying. Check out the difference between his first attempt to kill Leoric, without canceling the backswing, and the second attempt with canceling. He kills a full two seconds more quickly!
Casting Animation: Heroes with spells must go through an animation that consists of two parts, the casting point and the casting backswing.
Casting Point - This is the time between where an order for a spell has been given, to when the spell is actually cast. By canceling here (like with stop command), the unit will not cast the spell and the spell will not begin cooling down.
Casting Backswing - This is the animation which is purely cosmetic after a spell has been cast. This portion of the casting can and should be canceled to prevent your hero from simply standing there moving his or her wand.
Example: Crystal Maiden has a fairly impressive casting point of 0.3 seconds when using her spells. However, after casting her spell she begins a long animation where she begins moving her wand around. While it might look pleasing cosmetically, this animation takes 2.4 seconds to finish! You could have been attacking your enemy or casting another spell during this time instead by issuing another command on your hero. Check out the difference between how long it takes her to start an attack after the spell the first time without canceling, and the second time with canceling.
Channeling Spells - Spells like Sand King's Epicenter and Enigma's Black Hole require you to stay in place for the duration of the cast. The spell will immediately use up mana and go into cooldown, so canceling it (either by yourself or from being interrupted by an enemy) before the spell has finished casting will result in nothing happening.
Delayed Casting Time - Certain spells, such as Furion's Teleportation, Kardel's Assassinate and Nevermore's Requiem of Souls have a longer cast point than their other spells. If they are canceled before they finish casting, the spell will simply reset and the cost is not used as with any other spell.
Special Properties - There are five abilities in the game that are based on the ability "Fan of Knives" and have the special distinction of having a zero cast point. This means that their effect happens the moment you use them and if you issue another command immediately to cancel the casting backswing, you can use these abilities without even stopping for a moment. These abilities are:
- Queen of Pain's Scream of Pain
- Tinker's Heat Seeking Missile
- Earthshaker's Echo Slam
- Necrolyte's Death Pulse
- Bristleback's Quill Spray
Example: Here you will first see a Queen of Pain fail to cancel her Scream of Pain animation, losing a lot of time. Then she tries again she executes it properly, casting with no loss to her movement speed thanks to proper canceling of her backswing.
Items with active abilities like Mekansm and Arcane Ring are incredibly easy to use because they have no animations at all. They have zero cast point and backswing so their effects occur instantly and there is never a need to cancel them. This means that you can maintain completely fluid motion by shift-queuing item uses. For example, you could click a Guinsoo on someone and shift-queue an attack order on them, so that your hero will start to attack them the moment that Guinsoo goes off.
The only downside to this is that there is no opportunity to cancel your item use. The moment you click a Town Portal Scroll on the map, it casts, and you have no opportunity to take it back. So, just remember to be careful when using your activated items, they are powerful when used correctly, but they do not easily forgive mistakes and misclicks.