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Orb Effects Stacking

There are certain abilities in DotA that add special effects to attacks, called "attack modifiers". Some of those place icons called "buffs" on the target (often for timed effects like slow), but buffs are not always visible on the target's status bar.

Blizzard imposed certain restrictions regarding the behavior of these "buff placers", possibly for balance reasons.

There are also other abilities which are based on abilities used for special items called "orbs" in Warcraft III. These abilities are called "orb effects", and a similar restriction was also imposed on those skills. Many attack modifiers are both orb effects and buff placers (such as Corruption), while some are neither (such as Cleave).


The mentioned restrictions yield two famous rules:

  • Orb effects do not stack
  • Buff placers do not stack


When a unit has more than one orb effect or buff placer, the tables below can help you figure out which will take priority. Note that in some cases, such as with Demolish (Quelling Blade) or True Strike (Monkey King Bar), the above rules are not sufficient to explain "stacking" behavior.


Melee Units
Skills/Items Type Stacking
Orb Effect Buff Placer Critical Strike  Bash 
Always Always Place Place Corruption Lifesteal
Corruption Corruption Both Both
Always On Proc Place Place Chain Lightning Lifesteal Overrides on proc Chain Lightning Both Both
Always On Proc [1] else Slot Priority Latest Entangle Lifesteal Overrides on proc Entangle Both Both
Always Always [1] else Slot Priority Latest Incapacitating Bite Lifesteal Incapacitating Bite Incapacitating Bite Both Both
Always Never Corruption Chain Lightning Latest Lifesteal [4] [3] if Feedback was acquired later, else Both Both Both
Always Never Lifesteal Lifesteal LIfesteal Place Both Lifesteal Both Both
Always Always Caustic Finale Caustic Finale Caustic Finale Caustic Finale Caustic Finale Caustic Finale [1] else Both [1] else Both
Never Always Corruption Overrides on proc [4]
Both Latest [5] Both Both
Special Special Corruption Chain Lightning [3] if Feedback was acquired later, else Both Lifesteal [5] N/A Both Both


Ranged Units
Skills/Items Type Stacking
Orb Effect Buff Placer Critical Strike Bash
Always Always Place Place Corruption Lifesteal Corruption Corruption Critical Strike Bash
Always On Proc Place Place Chain Lightning Lifesteal Chain Lightning overrides on proc Chain Lightning Critical Strike Bash
[1] else Slot Priority [1] else Slot Priority Only on the Bonus Shot Lifesteal [2] Only on the Bonus Shot Critical Strike Bash
Always Always Corruption Chain Lightning Latest Lifesteal [3] if Feedback was acquired later, else only slow [3] if Feedback was acquired later, else Both Critical Strike Bash
Always Never Lifesteal Lifesteal Lifesteal Place Both Lifesteal Both Both
Single Cast Toggled Never Searing Arrows Searing Arrows [1] else [3] Lifesteal Both Searing Arrows Searing Arrows Searing Arrows
Auto Cast Searing Arrows Searing Arrows Searing Arrows Searing Arrows Both Searing Arrows [1] else Item [1] else Both
Single Cast Toggled or Cast Toggled or Cast Arrow Effect Arrow Effect [1] else [3] Lifesteal Arrow Effect Arrow Effect Arrow Effect
Auto Cast Arrow Effect Arrow Effect Arrow Effect Arrow Effect Arrow Effect Arrow Effect [6]
Never Always Corruption Chain Lightning overrides on proc [1] else [3] Both Latest [5] Critical Strike Bash
Never [7] Both Both Both if the item was acquired during EDF's duration, else Skill Both Both if the item was acquired during EDF's duration, else Skill Both if the item was acquired during EDF's duration, else Skill Both Both
Special Special Corruption Chain Lightning [3] if Feedback was acquired later, else Both Lifesteal [5] N/A Both Both


Other Attack Modifiers
Skills/Items Stacking

(On Main)

(On Main)

(On Main)
(On Main)
(On Main)
Critical Strike (On Main) Bash (On Main)
Moon Glaive No Attack No Attack Moon Glaive Both Moon Glaive Both Critical Strike Bash
Split Shot/Flak Cannon Corruption Chain Lightning [3] if the item was acquired during the skill's duration, else Skill Both [3] if the item was acquired during the skill's duration, else Skill [3] if the item was acquired during the skill's duration, else Skill Critical Strike Bash
Corrosive Breath and Splash from Elder Dragon Form level 2 Corrosive Breath, Splash All Corrosive Breath, Splash All Corrosive Breath, Splash All All All
Frost Attack and Splash from EDF level 3 Splash Chain Lightning overrides Frost on proc, Splash always works Frost Attack, Splash All Frost Attack, Splash All Critical Strike, Splash Bash, Splash


Notes
[1] If the item was acquired (bought, picked up, received) before the first level of the ability only the ability will work.
[2] If Weaver auto-acquires his target it will slow while Geminate Attack is on cooldown, if he is ordered to attack it will slow on every hit except the one before the extra attack.
[3] Only Feedback will work if the target unit can be affected by Feedback (Maximum Mana > 0 and not magic immune), else the other ability works normally.
[4] Both if Feedback was acquired later, else Slow.
[5] Both if Quelling Blade was acquired later, else Slow.
[6] If you got the item before leveling the skill, then you will not Bash or Crit. If you acquire the item after leveling the skill, it will override on Proc, but will still consume Mana and show the projectile.
[7] Corrosive Breath is based on a buff placer, but it will deal damage even if the buff is not placed.
"Place" Means: You will get the effect of the item in the highest priority slot. Order is (from highest to lowest): Top Left (1), Top Right (2), Mid Left (3), Mid Right (4), Bottom Left (5), Bottom Right (6)
"Slot Priority" Item overrides if it's in the Top Left Priority slot, else skill works.


Maim

The Maim from Sange and Heaven's Halberd and the Greater Maim from Sange & Yasha used to be an orb effects (and buff placers on proc), but they were changed in version 6.72.
Maim and Greater Maim now fully stack with every other attack modifier, with only two exceptions:

  • Manually casting arrow effects (Searing Arrows, Frost Arrows, Poison Attack, Arcane Orb, Glaives of Wisdom, Burning Spears, Impetus, and Liquid Fire) will never trigger a Maim.
  • Multiple sources of Maim (Sange, Sange & Yasha, Heaven's Halberd) will not stack with each other.

Critical Strikes and Bashes

A Critical Strike is a ladder-based ability that gives the chance to deal a bonus percentage damage on a succesful attack of the weilding unit.

  • Critical strikes are buff placers on the attack that trigger them, only for ranged units.
  • Critical Strikes deal the same Attack type as the attacker but with Damage Type Normal (Physical, reduced by armor amount and type)


Stacking:
When two Critical Strikes proc at the same time only the last acquired will work, a skill is considered acquired when the first level is learned, and an item is considered acquired when it's picked up.
The red number shown by Critical Strike is displayed before reductions (this is why images don't show very low red numbers)


A Bash is also a ladder-based skill that gives a chance to deal a fixed amount of bonus damage and stun the target for any duration.

  • Bashes are buff placers on the attack that trigger them, only for ranged units.
  • Bonus damage from Bash on a ranged unit will be added to the unit's damage and not dealt separately, this is why you can Lifesteal off MKB.
  • For ranged units Bashes deal Physical bonus damage (Reduced by armor type and amount) and magical stun (Blockable by Spell Immunity)
  • For melee units Bashes deal Magical bonus damage (Reduced by spell resistance and blocked by spell immunity) and physical stun (not blockable by spell immunity), the damage is dealt separately.
  • The stun duration of any bash will not override another stun duration that is longer (if try you stun someone that has 0.5 seconds of stun remaining with a 0.01 seconds stun yours will be ignored but the damage dealt)


Stacking:
When two bashes proc at the same time on a ranged hero only the last one acquired will work (stun and damage wise)
When two bashes proc at the same time on a melee hero they both deal damage and the longest stun duration is taken


True Strike

It's important to know that both Bash and Critical Strike are basically the same skill using different settings, Critical Strikes with a factor lower than 1.0x will not interfere with other Critical Strikes, and all Bashes have a factor of 0x by default (using 0x as a damage factor will make you deal 1x damage without the red number) , creating the interaction explained above. The ability True Strike from MKB is a good example of this, It uses the setting "Never miss" which makes it disregard evasion, blind (from Laser, Whirling Axes, etc.) and others,and it uses a 0x damage factor so it has no stacking issues with other Critical Strikes. True Strike will follow the "Bash" setting on the main table.


Bash and Crit Stacking

  • Melee Unit: A melee unit has no problem having a crit and a bash in the same attack (it might even have more than one bash, as explained earlier)
  • Ranged Unit: When a Critical Strike triggers in a ranged unit it will override all the previously acquired bashes and crits, if a Bash that was acquired after all the crit procs then it deals it's bonus damage and stuns normally (In this regard new Basher will always be considered the last acquired ability)