- Runes are powerups that spawn on every even minute (0:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc.)
- There are 5 types of runes: illusion, regeneration, double damage, haste and invisibilty
- The rune will spawn randomly at one of two designated locations in the river (top or “bot” rune)
- If there is a rune that still remains at its starting location (that is, it has not been bottled, used or destroyed, another will NOT spawn at the next 2 minute mark)
- Runes can be captured and used later through use of a bottle (also refilling your bottle's 3 charges)
- Shift-clicking on the rune will allow you to pick it up without stopping and might make the difference between you surviving and dying.
- If you coordinate with your teammate to check one rune and you check the other, you are much more likely to get the rune for your team. Talk with your teammates about this!
Importance of Wards and Rune Control
If you have not read a guide for warding and do not have much experience in warding, I urge you to read this. I will not go deep into warding but will mention the importance of warding rune locations.
If you place an observer ward at the rune location, you will have knowledge of any activity in that location for 6 minutes. That is a lot of time in game. So why are the rune locations more important than other areas of the map? In games where ganking is prevalent, the river and rune locations are primary points of travel. Other than Furion and Boots of Travel wielders, an enemy will have to walk in order to gank you (how much is dependent on where they TP and where you are, of course). A lot of times they will walk over the rune areas as it provides an entrance into the neutral areas and subsequently top and bottom lanes. Having sight of this area means you can spot ganks before they occur and be ahead of the enemy. Also, should they grab a rune, you will know of this and be able to react accordingly.
Try to coordinate with your teammates about checking both rune locations at the spawn times so your team is guaranteed to get the rune. Tell your bottom lane “I'm checking top rune” and ask them to check bottom (or other similar calls). Runes often set ganks in motion as they provide an undeniable advantage in many situations.
Solo Mid Battles
Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your standing with lady luck), a lane can be completely won or lost based on runes. I have been on both ends of this and suffice it to say that when all else is equal (approximate laning skills), the person who controls the runes will win the battle. It is VERY important that you try to make sure this is you, but remember that each time you leave the lane you are missing out on experience and potential gold. At the same point, you might lose MORE experience and gold if the enemy gets a rune that causes you to die. You also miss out on the opportunity to do this to your enemy so be mindful of runes and their power in winning a lane. Additionally, successful ganks that come with runes can also easily win another lane.
Functions of Runes
Grants the hero maximum movespeed (522 ms) for the entire 30 second duration of the rune.
This is always an exciting rune to find for its utility in many different situations. Some of these situations include:
- Positioning for hard to position (non-targetable) spells (Axe's Beserker's Call; Centaur's Stomp)
The enemy has a much shorter window to react when you come at them at maximum speed.
- Performing additional attacks when the enemy is retreating
With haste, you can very quickly close the ground and get in additional attacks that you would not have had given your normal movespeed (See guide on animation cancelling for proper use of this).
- Escaping precarious spots
Just be certain when trying more risky maneuvers that the duration of haste will not expire mid-fight causing your death.
- Traversing large distances
Be mindful of the duration as you do not want it to expire leaving you with no escape plan.
If you pick up a haste rune in a bottle, it is often wise to save it for sticky situations that you otherwise might not be able to escape from. If you wait until you start to engage the enemy before activating, you will be able to use the entire 30 second duration during the fight. These seconds you might have wasted earlier in getting to the lane might mean the difference between your survival and death.
This rune is almost always a welcome pickup for a ganker and thus should often be reserved for those who can make particular good use out of it. If you simply plan on going back to your lane and farm with it, it saves you a bit of time, yes, but could perhaps have been better used by someone ganking. If none of your teammates are close enough to pick it up, you should grab it regardless of what you plan on doing with it. It is better for your team to have it than the opponent's team.
The invisibility rune grants the user 45 seconds of invisibility (cannot be seen except with true sight) or until the user issues an attack command or casts a spell.
Positioning for hard to position spells (during ganking)
Invisibility is in most cases better for this purpose than is a haste rune as the opponent has NO time to react (well, they actually have a very small window if there is a frontswing on the spell, but that is a different matter)
*Caveat - make sure to communicate with your teammate when you are invisible. Often your teammate will simply look at the minimap and see your dot, not realizing you are invisible. Make certain that you are ready to engage AND your teammate is ready.
- Scouting behind enemy lines
If the enemy team has a number of members missing from the minimap, you can use the invis rune to safely investigate areas that you do not have sight of. Be careful not to go to close to towers as they have truesight and you will be spotted.
- Escaping enemies
If you are running along in the river being chased by enemies and find an invis rune, it will often save your life. You can also use this to juke any aoe spell that hits invis if you grab it in river by quickly changing directions upon picking it up (be careful, there is a short fade time of 2 seconds during which the enemy can see any direction you may go).
This is a great rune to have in bottle as unsuspecting enemies that do not think you have an escape mechanism (if you are a hero without blink/ww). If you do not have a difficult to position spell, consider saving this rune for use as an escape. If you have one of those tougher to land spells, using it to initiate is normally a better choice.
Also, given the 2 second fade time, you can still cast spells before you go invisible even after activating the rune. One frequent usage of this technique is clicking the bottle once immediately after using the invis rune thus giving yourself the rune charge you otherwise would not have had. If you try this after the fade time, you will break invisibility and not be able to get it back.
The illusion rune spawns 2 illusions that look exactly like your hero. These images take 400% damage and deal 50% damage and last for 75 seconds or until they die. (verify numbers)
- Scouting enemy territory
Sending an illusion into enemy lines where you do not have vision is a safe way of gaining information about the enemy's whereabouts.
Another important thing for certain heroes that falls under this category is scouting the map for blink/teleportation possibilities. If no character on your team has been to a particular location on the map (and thus it hasn't been revealed to anyone's minimap) you will be unable to blink or teleport to this area. In certain cases you may be trying to escape to one of these areas and find out too late that you are unable to blink there. Use one of your illusions early on to scout this area so that you will be able to blink/teleport there later. This only applies to Furion, QoP and Anti-mage (or those with blink daggers).
- Baiting enemy spells
When they see “you” approaching them, they might use one or more spells on you. Remember not to send both illusion runes or else they will know that you have an illusion rune (but you can send 1 in with you and go yourself causing them to think both are illusion runes and making them “relax” since illusion runes can't cast spells – did that Sand King illusion just burrowstrike me??) Be careful not to attack or take damage with these illusions, however, as both allow the enemy to make sense of the situation very quickly.
Here I send in one of my illusions knowing that ES will likely use fissure.
He took the bait and my allied Lina and I can go in for the kill as his only solid defense is currently cooling down.
I will also include in this category the idea of placing your illusion in lane while you are off ganking. It serves a similar purpose (deceiving the opponent) as baiting enemy spells. When you are "casually farming" your lane, the enemy hero will not report you as missing to teammates.
- Damage increase
In some situations, you may want to simply take the illusions back with you to lane and help you last hit or harass the enemy. They will help you last hit and if you send to the enemy they will be forced to tank a bit of damage or retreat – both of which are good outcomes for you.
- Creep pull/Creep manipulations
If you have decent micro and timing, you can use the illusions to pull a neutral creep camp (either allowing a double spawn or so that allied creeps will come attack). The double camp may be worthwhile if you have an AoE spell which takes out multiple units.
You can also use these to divert enemy creeps from the lane. The enemy creeps do not know that the illusion isn't real so they will pursue it as if it were actually you. Send it behind a tower (not through the tower's path or else it will die) and drag the creeps to a different location.
- Camping certain locations (rune, woods) as “observer wards”
Since runes are relatively important, you should try to control them if possible. One way of determining where a rune spawns is by sending an illusion to one of the rune locations shortly before the next even minute. In this way, they function as observer wards. Similarly, if you send an illusion to the nearby woods where you do not have vision, you will be alerted of any incoming ganks from that direction. This might give you enough time to retreat to the safety of a tower or TP away if you spot an incoming gank.
Storing this rune in a bottle doesn't provide the same benefits as with the other runes, but you still get to better control where and when the illusions are deployed (and you also get your charges refilled – always a good thing!)
Illusions will carry certain effects from different heroes along with them.
- Axe's Counter Helix
Increases the hero's damage by 100% for 45 seconds. It does NOT take into account pure damage items (Divine Rapier, Buriza, etc.) but rather your base damage and stat increasing items (agi, str, int).
This rune has some fun uses, all of which deal with beating the heck out of your opponents, creeps, towers, rosh, ancients, etc. I won't be as specific about uses since pretty much ANY situation is good for this rune.
I will mention, however, that during ganks this should be reserved for the hero best able to get in a lot of attacks. If you give this to a hero that won't attack at all (for example, a Rhasta channeling shackles) it is of little to no use. Also, in the very early going, it is probably better to give it to a ranged hero as they will likely be able to get in additional attacks (through animation cancelling and/or kiting).
Double damage can be purged away, so if you are a melee hero fighting the satyr neutral camp, you might want to use the DD rune elsewhere while you have it.
This is a pretty good rune to have in a bottle since it can surprise your opponent and turn the fight in your favor. If they accurately assess a fight with you accounting for your normal attack damage (if you were to get in a number of hits) but do not know of your DD rune in bottle, they might engage in a losing fight with you. If you wait a bit to pop the rune while it is too late for them to run, you will nab yourself a kill.
Heals your hero 100hp/second and 67 mana/second for 30 seconds or until you take damage.
Like the haste and invisibility runes, this rune can quickly turn defense into offense. For the majority of the game, this rune refills all of your hp and mana - a very worthwhile rune indeed.
- Using your mana while regen is on
If you have a spell or two that is off cooldown (preferably a low cooldown spell – don't go blowing your ult just because you have regen) you should attempt to use it before you are hit – the regen will give the mana back to you very quickly.
- Avoiding a fountain trip (by walking/TP)
If you are very low in hp and would otherwise return to fountain, check the nearby rune to see if it is regen (assuming it is safe to do so). Allowing you to avoid the fountain trip is worth a lot of time. This could be refilling after a gank, after roshan, neutrals, escaping someone's clutches, etc.
Here is where regen really shines. Through use of a bottle you can trade blows (wasting HP and mana) with your opponent and quickly be back at full. Particularly wise usages include entering a fight with your opponent and then hiding under fog cover. The enemy will likely be more relaxed and perhaps will not even call “mia” since you are on your way back to heal. They might even elect to stay in lane at low HP knowing that you do not have sufficient mana or hp to fight with them. You then show up a few seconds later will full HP and mana ready to gank anyone or just to continue farming.
It is important to use some of your mana before you pop the rune, as otherwise you are wasting some of the effectiveness – your spell could have damaged the enemy and caused them to retreat or use some form of regeneration and you will still have full mana shortly thereafter.
Here is an example in which properly timed regen usage nets me a kill and I avoid death:
I am hiding from an enemy Ogre Magi while ignite's effects wear off (so I can use regen)
Allied Lich comes to my aid and distracts the Ogre Magi giving me time to get away.
My regen has filled me back up and I can rejoice as we skip off to ice cream.