The concept of micro and macro should come extremely easily to anybody who had played WC3 in ladder at any point in time. Many people claim that DotA requires no micro at all, which I agree with to an extent. You only have one hero to control so that immediately takes away the factors of keeping track of multiple units, but with DotA, a new form of micro is introduced: ‘last hitting’. Last hitting is the process of waiting until a creep is low enough for you to finish it off in a single blow. This concept applies to your friendly creeps as well. The act of last hitting is vastly superior to constantly attacking creeps as it reduces the amount of harassment and minimizes damage taken from enemy creeps. The best process is to pace back and forth behind your ranged creep until the unit you are going for drops to about 1/4th of their maximum health. At this point walk in and wait for it to drop around 40 - 50 hp, depending on your heroes total damage, and attack it. If all goes well you will have got the gold and removed any chance of that creep being killed by his own team. I recommend not attacking creeps except for the last hit so you can keep them close to your tower which makes it infinitely more difficult to harass and attempt a gank.
The other element of micro in DotA is controlling summoned units. Not many heroes have summons but when they do it is important you control them effectively as they all give gold and experience like normal creeps. The same concept carries over from WC3 in regards to this, when you see a summon being focused by an enemy hero run it back out of range and keep it there. Being able to micro summons effectively is an important skill if you play heroes like Prophet as a pusher or Holy Knight with creeps.
Being able to watch your mini map properly is a technique that will take some time to really master as it is more a creature of habit than knowledge. Try to keep a list in your head of what colours are in what lanes and the heroes that they represent. If you see colours go missing for an extended period of time you should be more cautious in your farming and harassment. Your team mates should be following the same concept but sadly many players do not which is why you need to call a hero missing. Even if an enemy disappears from a teammate’s lane you should call the hero missing if they have not. You will be thanked for it when your team mates can successfully save their own lives.
Harassment is the other extremely important concept of early game DotA. When you are in a lane against the other team you can gain large advantages by forcing them to either stay out of experience range for your creeps or just entirely sending them back to the fountain to heal. The process in which you harass varies greatly from hero to hero seeing as there is such a large range of spells, abilities and attack ranges on heroes. The most common way to harass an enemy is with the use of spells. Any hero that has a stun, nuke or slow has a way to harass quite easily. Starting at level three is the time when most nukers begin to harass as they have just got level 2 in one of their nuke abilities. The most common harassment casters in the game are Zeus and Lich because of their low cool down spells and large mana pool, or in the case of Lich, an infinite mana pool. With heroes that lack damage dealing spells, you have to rely on your physical attacks. This is not too difficult if you are facing off against a melee hero or ranged hero with a small attack range but can pose more of a problem if they have 500+ range on their attacks. In DotA, the triggers are programmed in such a way that if you attack an enemy hero the creeps will immediately start running towards you to attack, this is remedied by the simple hit and run. Run close enough to attack a hero and right click or attack click them. Once your attack comes out and deals damage, run away right away to make the creeps lose their target and continue attacking your creeps. This is a slow way to run down your enemy but if you are aggressive enough, it won’t be long until they will have to make a trip to the fountain.
The concept of harassment can work both ways unfortunately so you need to be prepared to deal with it. When I mentioned the Ring of Regeneration earlier it was for a very good reason, and this is it. You need some form of health regeneration if you hope to stay alive against caster heroes or an aggressive player. With physical harassment, a simple Ring of Regeneration is often enough to keep you at full health, but against nukes you often need additional means to survive. The most common and cost effective method is to buy Flasks of Sapphire Water. This will heal you for 400 health points over 20 seconds. This is enough to negate around three early game nukes or two nukes at level 7. They cost a mere 100 gold so they are amazing for surviving against a tough nuke lane. This process of staying in your lane is further simplified by the use of Chickens. If you are running low on health move back behind your tower or a hiding spot of your choice and run some sapphire waters down to yourself. If you are playing smart then you can stay in your lane for as long as you like.
Team pushes are what the late games of DotA are all about. They consist of the entire team pushing one lane to knock down its barracks. These pushes will generally be countered by the other team sitting behind their tower (‘camping’), while waiting for an opportunity to show themselves and jump in to kill you all. Certain spells such as Earthshaker’s Fissure, Keeper of the Light’s Illuminate and the Dwarven Sniper’s Assassinate can force players to back off of their tower and barracks and allow you a chance to push. There are also items that can make the process much easier. Having two or more heroes with a Mekansm can greatly ease the process of pushing because you can chain heal your team for upwards of 750 damage. Necronomicons can also be used as meat shields to tank the tower and take out enemy mana pools so they can't get the jump on you with spell based damage. Once you have destroyed all the towers and killed the enemy team’s barracks your creeps will spawn with double the damage and additional health. At this point you can leave that lane alone and begin progress on another. It is usually ineffective to push a lane that has already had its barracks knocked down as you will be forced to fight the enemy heroes behind two towers and right next to their Fountain of Health.
Most teams at this point will either try to counter push the lane that has been destroyed or stay in their base to farm up sufficient items they can use to repel future attacks. If the other team attempts the latter tactic then you need to push a second lane down. This is usually not the hardest task in the world seeing as they are forced to attend to the lane that is being destroyed automatically by your own creeps. if you manage to kill all six unit producing buildings in their base (3 Ancients of War and 3 Ancients of Lore for the Sentinel, 3 Crypts and 3 Temples of the Damned for Scourge), you will attain Mega Creeps which are next to impossible for a team to defend against, let alone push back, as Mega Creeps all do upwards of 80 damage and have very high HP. It is near impossible for one team to win against another team with Mega Creeps. Pretty simple concept but harder to attain against a team that knows how to properly defend.
Being able to defend is just as important of a concept as being adapt at proper pushing techniques. When you are on the defense it is important that you get the jump on your opponent when they are at your tower. This will put you at an advantage immediately because you have the tower to provide additional physical damage. If you see that they have area of effect style spells you need to spread out and wait for your chance to attack. It's best if you have a hero that has some form of stun or disable start off the battle by stunning the enemy heroes or taking out their primary damage dealer. It also helps very much if you have some form of silence from Drow Ranger, Death Prophet, Stealth Assassin or Silencer. So long as you repel their push, be it through weakening or killing them, you have accomplished your job. As with pushing, Mekansms and Necronomicons can be very useful in defense. When they fail an attempted push it's your cue to push them back and take out at least a tower since they will be at the disadvantage of healing.
Roshan is a tasty little creep that can only be killed once per game but with good reason. Found just East of the Scourge's first tower in the center lane, he is the most difficult creep to kill by a massive margin and possesses many abilities that make it tough to take him on. His abilities are Spell Shield, which blocks a single target spell every 10 seconds, Hurl Boulder, a small nuke and stun, Thunder Clap which deals 300 damage in an area of effect, and finally Thorns Aura, which will return a certain amount of melee heroes’ damage to them. The Thorns Aura makes it very difficult for melee heroes to kill Roshan unless they have a means to keep their health up such as a leech life or healing ability. It is advised only to tackle Roshan once you have gained a significant advantage over the team such as having the majority of them dead or two barracks down in any lane. When he dies he will give the entire team 800 gold and the killer 300 bonus gold. Roshan isn't much of a threat if your team contains three or more stuns or disables. It is important to get one hero to throw a useless spell at him to knock off his spell shield and then proceed to hex, shackle, stun, stomp and slow him into oblivion.
Being able to properly ambush (or ‘gank’ as it is referred to in DotA among other games), a hero is a very important skill to understand. For many heroes, their gold is provided through hero kills during the early game scramble to farm. The most common form of ganks is having a hero leave their lane and traveling over to an adjacent lane to double or triple team a hero. This process is extremely simple with more than one stunner in the early game. Your team should focus on ganking heroes that are threats in the late game like the Dwarven Sniper, Shadow Fiend, Lightning Revenant, Troll Warlord, and any other pure damage hero. Ganks are effective even if you don't manage to kill the hero as well. If you even send a hero back to heal it is worth the time because they will be missing out on experience and gold they could have farmed. When trying to gank a player, be conscious of the fact they may place Observer Wards around their lane to prevent surprise attacks on them from behind. If this is the case, you can either buy Sentry Wards yourself and destroy his Observers (Sentry Wards have the True Sight ability, while Observer Wards don’t, which is why they have separate costs), or switch to another lane. Note that it is alright to run past the tower when ganking heroes as long as you are not close to death or below level 5.
Avoiding a Gank
There is not a 100% way to avoid every gank that the enemy can throw at you during the game, but there are precautions and measures you can take to cripple their effectiveness. The first and simplest way is to always carry a scroll of teleportation. If you are low on health and in fear of being ambushed or just plain can't out run a hero with slow teleport to your fountain. Unless the enemy has a stun then you are home free and ready to get back to your lane. This is effective against every hero that doesn't have stun or bash early or late game. There are often common routes that players take to gank a hero in each of the lanes. You can purchase Observer Wards for 225 gold and place them in these locations to give you a heads up and call for help. If you catch two players off guard in the forest with the rest of your team you can easily snag a few kills and reverse the gank in your favor.
With just those six wards you can see every main ganking area on the map from the Sentinel's point of view. At the same time you can also watch both rune spots and prevent two Scourge side neutrals from spawning which prevents heroes from farming during the off times in the game. This is all for the low price of 450 gold, which is just amazing. If you can keep these observers up and watch your mini map you should very rarely die to enemy ganks.
This is a concept that may seem a bit redundant at first but it is extremely game breaking. This is a concept better known as denying because you are denying the enemy team experience and gold. Denying works under the same principles as that of farming, you wait for your creeps to be within one hit until death and get the last hit on them. This will reward neither gold nor experience but it will prevent the enemy from gaining either. Friendly creeps can be attacked once they are below ½ of their maximum health. This is roughly 200 for melee creeps and 150 for ranged creeps. The most basic form of denying consists of killing creeps after the enemy wave is dead and your weakened creeps are running to meet the next group. If you see a creep that is one or two hits from death, kill it. This should be done on as many creeps as possible to severely cripple your opponents leveling. If you are feeling up to the task you can take the time to kill your own creeps during the time in which the creep waves are engaged. It is much harder or a task because it will be under attack from enemy creeps and enemy heroes. The third and sometimes simplest way to deny experience is through the use of hero abilities. Some heroes have spells that can destroy friendly creeps, such as Dark Ritual on the Lich, Conversion on the Enigma, and Death Pact on Bone Clinkz. This is the simplest way to deny experience but requires a bit of mana sacrifice to do so, which is not recommended by me as an early game strategy. The best way to learn this skill is pure practice; attempt it every game and it will slowly become second nature. When you become truly adapt at this technique you can keep enemy heroes 2 – 3 levels, depending on the enemy’s skill, below you.
Denying Hero Kills
Denying hero kills is the same principle as creep denying but there is special condition that must be met before you can harm a team mate. That condition is they must be inflicted with either Doom or Shadow Strike from an enemy hero. Once that condition is met you can attack your team regardless of their health. Only attempt this if you know for sure the hero will die, as you don't want to be giving team mates unnecessary deaths and a waiting time to respawn. There are spells that can deny hero kills such as Toss from the Stone Giant and Nightmare on Bane Elemental.
Creep blocking is a simple idea that requires a little practice to get the hang of. Blocking happens during the first wave of creep spawns and can be done on any of the lanes. The concept is to delay the movement of your friendly creeps to draw enemy creeps closer to your tower so you can have an early pushing advantage. The easiest lanes to properly block in are top for Scourge and bottom for Sentinel. By standing in front of your creeps by the second tower in your lane (the one just outside of your base) you get the creeps to bunch up trying to find a way around you. When this happens run straight forward until they straighten out again. Stop. Wait for them to bunch. Move. Repeat the process until they eventually get past you or the enemy creeps reach the tower. There is a much simpler way to get the same effect by using Earth shaker. Cast a fissure and close off the lane you are blocking and watch the creeps be delayed for seven seconds. You can choose to block again with the regular method to further your results, though it is generally not necessary unless you are on top for sentinel or bottom for scourge. Note that the creeps spawn at 1:30 so it is ideal to cast your fissure at 1:29 to avoid the creep spawn lag.
In regards to ideas and concepts, the previous technique sums up Defense of the Ancients. Reading this will not make you a pro, nor can any guide. Hopefully you understand and can take this knowledge with you into your next game to practice all of the aforementioned techniques and perfect them with time. If any body has a specific question that was not answered in this article please send a private message to AvengerxZ, post in my staff profile or leave a comment. I will answer as many as I possibly can in my next article.