Table of Contents
- What are Mindgames?
- Which heroes can play the Mindgames?
- How can you play the Mindgames?
- When can you play the Mindgames?
- Some tips that everyone should know
- Real game examples
Hey all, this is the first guide that I’ve ever tried to write, so please bear with me. The goal of this guide is to help people of all skill levels get better in the game. Personally, I’m sick and tired of seeing people who run away too quickly from a battle that they can win, run back the instant they get hit by the opponent, or pass up the chance of getting kills off the enemy team. Hopefully, this guide can help you steer away from that direction, and make you a more aggressive, and smarter player. This guide will also contain many examples of the practical application of Mindgames in DotA.
•What are Mindgames?
So what are Mindgames? In essence, it’s tricking your opponent into doing something that you would like them to do. Make them think that they can beat you, but in reality, they can’t. Alternatively, it can also mean predicting your opponent’s actions, allowing you to get the upper hand by responding in the proper manner ahead of time. Sounds simple right? No, not really…Before I go on, I should say that in order to benefit the most from this guide, you should know what I call the “essentials” of DotA. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Last hitting and denying
- Hero abilities, their properties, and what they do
- Spell damages, mana cost, and approximate cooldowns
- Knowing what items to buy on the heroes
- *Important* Keeping a watchful eye on opponent’s items, HP, mana, and the minimap
•Which heroes can play the Mindgames?
This guide does not focus on any specific hero because I think that every hero has their own unique way of messing with the opponent’s head. There are endless possibilities of the gosu things you can pull off. However, it is simpler and funnier with heroes who have some sort of disable or slow. My personal favorites are Shendelzare Silkwood, Rhasta, Jah'rakal, Aggron Stonebreaker and Pudge. The possibilities of Mindgames are endless, and identifying situations where Mindgames are applicable requires some degree of thinking.
•How can you play the Mindgames?
Baiting the Enemy Hero
The main form of Mindgames takes the form of baiting. Baiting is defined as provoking your opponent to chase/attack you. This is what initially sets up the Mindgames. For example, in early-game, if you are at low hp in your lane, most people would go back to base, heal up, and buy items. The experience and gold that they lose from killing creeps during the course of these 2-3 minutes is essential in early game. By the time you get back, your opponent is 2 or 3 levels ahead of you. Instead, stay around for experience and creep kills, but pay extra close attention to what your opponent is doing.
Please keep in mind that there is a fine line between staying around for experience while at low hp, and stupidity. Use your own judgment in deciding when to stay for experience and when to leave. For example, if there is a nuker (Zeus, Kel'Thuzad, Lion, etc…) in your lane, check their mana first and if they have enough to constantly nuke, its best to retreat in this case. If you are up against a hero such as Ursa Warrior or Leoric, keep your distance, watch their mana, and you will be fine. Also make sure to tell you allies to signal when players are missing.
Another example of baiting is when the opponent chases you until your tower, and retreats when the tower comes into sight. The moment your opponent gives up, turn around and start chasing him back if you think you can kill him at the tower, or lure him to come at you again. This works well with a stunner (stun when he gets within tower range). If you think you can’t kill him, let him gain a little bit of distance and make him think he can catch you, but in reality, he still can’t. If he keeps chasing, he will absorb tower and creep hits to the point where he has no choice to retreat. Once he loses enough hp and it is evident that you can now beat him after taking into account his mana, turn around and start chasing. This will usually net you or an ally a kill. People on b.net are greedy, and will usually go for the kill.
Examples of real situations in games that I’ve played will be given later on in this guide.
Ok, so why should I put my life on the line and bait the opponent?
Smart baiting will pay off. It’s as simple as that. I stress “smart” because if you know when to bait, and know that you will stay alive during the course of it, you will either be getting a lot of hero kills, or will piss the enemy off by making them return to the fountain instead of you. Also, if you have an ally hero nearby, you will also be netting them kills as well. When they die or go back to heal, they lose gold, experience, yadda yadda yadda, and you’ll be much far ahead of them.
As mentioned earlier, you should try to stay in your lane as long as possible before going back to base without getting killed in the process. That way, you will keep up with the experience and gold that you otherwise would not have had if you had returned to base.
Predicting your opponent's actions
Ok, this component of Mindgames requires some bit of experience. If you have been playing the game long enough, you can foresee some of the things that are going to occur before it even happens. For example, if a centaur walks up to you, it’s pretty likely that he’ll attempt a stomp. React accordingly by retreating a bit when he walks up. Also, you can use this to your own advantage. Let’s say you’re a melee hero up against a centaur. Whenever you start attacking him, chances are he’ll use stomp. Therefore, vary your last hits, melee dances, and occasionally walk up to him while retreating very shortly after. Chances are, he’ll waste his mana on a stomp that isn’t even close to hitting you.
Another example is as follows: Suppose you are Rhasta against Gondar. Everything is normal in your lane and suddenly Furion’s ultimate hits you down to 2/3 life. Next wave, you notice that Gondar is missing. Well jeez; I wonder where Gondar went??? (Sarcasm). He probably wind walked and is going to backstab you. Therefore, press voodoo and keep your cursor behind Rhasta and keep clicking on the ground. The moment Gondar pops up, he will get hexed. This minimizes the damage you take, allowing you to stay in the lane longer. Follow up with wards and shackles…GG’d.
You can also apply this technique when running away from a blinker. If AM is chasing you, he’ll be blinking ahead of you once every 6 or 7 seconds. After the initial blink, keep a mental note of how long it’s been, and run in another direction after approximately 6 or 7 seconds. This isn’t guaranteed to work, but it will save you more times than you think.
As you can see, I cannot go into any specific details about predicting your opponent’s actions because it’s very situational and depends upon many factors. Use your own judgment and experience here.
Baiting in big team battles
So the opposing team is pushing middle. Your allies are on the sides of the river, waiting to ambush. You are in the lane, and is the only thing standing in the way (in the opponent's point of view). What do you do to trick your enemies into coming at you?
I would suggest acting a little stupid for once. For example, just stand there and be a little slow to retreat when the creeps come. The enemies will believe they have you outnumbered, and will try to chase (in most situations). This is when your allies come from the sides and flank them, hopefully resulting in a won battle for you. The enemy will be concentrated on killing you, and will not immediately recognize your allies coming in from the sides.
This tactic has several advantages. Firstly, it's a surprise attack. Second, when the enemy sees people coming from 3 directions (you, and the 2 sides your allies are coming from), it's hard to immediatly coordinate their attacks. Mostly likely, they will all cast their spells on different heroes, distributing the damage taken among your allies. They will not get kills when they each fire at different heroes. Third, when the enemies chase you, they are probably going in a straight line. Therefore, when your allies flank the heroes at the back, the heroes in front will be a little slow to turn around and help.
The disadvantage to this attack, is that you are more prone to getting killed. If a stun lands, it's hard for you to escape, especially if they have more than one stun, or slow.
Please keep in mind that playing smart also applies in this situation. Do not go team baiting if they have a Vengeful Spirit who can swap, a Naga who can net, a centaur with blink dagger, any hero who has cyclone (cyclone you and surround for the kill), etc...
*Aside* Using the Illusion Rune
When the majority of people pick up an illusion rune, they either send it somewhere and just forget about it, or they travel with it. The latter of these two options is not as bad as the first one, but isn’t recommended. I prefer using the illusion like a normal hero and microing it in the lane, while keeping the real hero behind the trees waiting to ambush. Make sure that the illusion doesn’t attack anything so the enemy cannot tell it is fake. This example below demonstrates what I’m talking about.
•When can you play the Mindgames?
Whenever you see fit. Use your own judgment, play smart, and think outside the box.
•Some tips that everyone should know
When you escape from a huge battle with low life and your teammates are still fighting, go back and cast a spell if you have the mana or use cyclone/sheep/purge. It could mean the difference between a winning battle and a losing battle. It could also mean baiting the opponent to run after you while your teammates pound on them and hopefully kill them.
Please, do not retreat halfway back to base the instant you are hit and at the same time as when your allies are fighting them. Help them out!
Tanks are supposed to go in first and take damage. Don’t be scared, that’s your role. When they concentrate fire on you, take some damage, retreat until they stop, and go back in again if you still have a sufficient amount of HP.
Use fog of war and cliffs to your advantage. While being chased, run a path that lets the enemy have the fog obscure their vision (around trees and up the cliffs). Make it as difficult for them as you possibly can.
Don’t get screwed by fog of war when chasing up cliffs or around trees. Right click when you approach top of the cliff or trees.
Use your items. Countless times I’ve seen people die when they have a lothars that they can use, or when they could have cycloned.
Carry a TP with you. It can help you escape from heroes like naix and spider, or mass ganks with no disables on the enemy team. It also allows for fast transportation from one side of the map to the other, or back to base.
When being chased by the enemy and there is no hope for you to win the battle, run to a place where the fog of war will obscure the opponent's vision (i.e., up a hill, around or into trees), and use your TP. Usually, the opponent will not be quick enough to deliver the finishing blow, or to stun. Also, know which spells have mini stuns (spirit lance, void, shrukin toss, lucent beam, mana void, etc...) and try to run to the fog areas shortly after they cast it. That way, they will not be able to interrupt your TP.
A good place for running through trees is at the first bottom sentinel tower. There is a path below the tower in the trees that you can go through (shown below). You can run through here to prevent your opponent from attacking you, or just to stall time for mana or spell cooldowns, and turn around to finish him while your tower is still attacking him.
Here is another good place for running through trees. It is located at the 1st sentinel middle lane tower.
If a lone hero is chasing you, run to an ally if possible, and turn it into a 2v1 if you know you aren’t going to die. Don’t just keep running back to base if you are at half-life. Help your ally kill the chaser.
Pay attention to your opponent's playing style. If they do something out of the ordinary (i.e. a passive player suddenly getting very aggressive or an aggressive player staying back all of a sudden), chances are he has an ally coming or is already nearby waiting to gank or something like that. Be more cautious in this case.
• Real game examples, courtesy of yours truly…
Ok, I’m sure you are all bored from reading all this text, so therefore, I’ve compiled some situations and screenshots to give you a better understanding of Mindgames and hopefully make it more entertaining for you.
Example 1 – Luring the opponent to chase you behind your tower
Example 2 – Luring the opponent to your ally and turning it into a 2v1
Another important lesson comes up in this example. Follow your ally in the chase. You never know what will happen. In this case, he got mana burned and couldn’t continue. If I weren’t there, Ursa would have gotten away. Also, following your ally doesn’t mean to ks him. Let him have the kill and just stay for the experience.
Example 3 – Luring the opponent to chase you and turning around to fight with creeps (or tower)
Example 4 – Predicting your opponent’s moves
Unfortunately, I do not have any screenshots of this because the host got pissed off and left and everyone disconnected, not letting me save the replay. You’ll just have to bear with me on this one.
I was on the Scrouge side playing Pugna. I was pushing bottom until the point between the Sentinel’s first and second tower. Since I was about 300hp and didn’t want to risk getting ganked, I proceeded to take the path that leads down to the river. On my way there, the enemy Juggernaut intercepted me started chasing me with blade fury. I had boots and he had a boots of travel, so I couldn’t escape.
I tried to get take as less damage as possible from blade fury so I have a chance of living. After the fury, he decided not to omni me because he could just kill me just by chasing and hitting. Knowing that I couldn’t escape, I started the life drain. Jug kept trying to kill me by attacking, but my HP was hovering around 150 during the course of this, while his HP was going down. It reached the point to where he realized that hacking away wouldn’t work anymore.
Now, we all know what he’s planning right? Omnislash no duh…I proceeded to decripify myself the moment I saw him stop attacking. He used Omnislash, and it did no damage to me whatsoever (omni is physical damage, not magical). After couple of slashes, I casted nether blast right on the spot (timing it so it would hit him when omni was over), and finished him with Dagon.
If I had played this any other way, I would have died for sure and wouldn’t have gotten a kill. I realized that I had to save decripify for saving me from omni. After I saw him try to chase me in the beginning without using omni, I could basically predict what he was going to do after I start life draining (he’s going to keep on trying to kill me without using his ultimate). When he was drained down to half life or so, I knew I had the battle won at that moment. A player who doesn’t think ahead won’t see the Omnislash coming, and won’t be able to react in time to save himself.
A lot of you will probably say that luck is a huge factor in playing the Mindgames. I would have to argue the opposite. Just take at look at the amount of luck in those kills above. I survived not because I was lucky, but rather because I calculated that I was going to survive. The plans were carefully thought out, planned, and carried out. In some situations, quick reflexes and thinking played a critical role in determining whether you live or die. I fought those battles for a good reason you know...
If you die while attempting to play the Mindgames, it is because you didn’t carefully consider the situation, or something hits you by surprise (like a person coming from behind you). Otherwise, if you continue to fail, it’s probably due to lack of experience, not bad luck. A good and experienced player knows when they are defeated, and knows when they can defeat someone.
Oh, and one last note, make sure you can count on your allies. Don’t play the Mindgames assuming that your godly ally (lets say an SA who went lothars) will cast cloud to help you out during the battle. Play with friends, practice your coordination and timing, and make sure you can count on each other in team battles.
The most important thing in this guide?
Keep an eye on your opponent. Items, HP, mana, and everything. Make sure you know what they are capable of and react accordingly. I cannot stress how crucial this is.
How do I play the Mindgames?
Bait, lure, bait, lure, bait, and lure.
How can I get better at Mindgames?
Play more and get experience. It’ll come naturally.
Well that’s about it for this guide. I hope that I have brought to your attention some of the overlooked aspects of this game, and have made you a smarter, aggressive, and a more team-oriented player. The feeling you get from getting kills while you’re at low life and the enemy is at full is pretty damn good. You will surely draw some LOL’s and WTF??!?!?’s from the players in the game. Hope you enjoyed reading my first guide. Now go play some Mindgames…
Comments and/or questions from all people are welcomed.
Totallnewbie: Author of this Guide
totalchaos2, for introducing me to dota and teaching me how to play
chilln_1ce, for his input on TP's and the area below the sentinel bottom tower
Letalkid, for his team baiting suggestion
tWiStEdArrOw, for his input on area below sentinel middle tower and paying attention to your opponent's playing style