Micro Guide - Improving your DotA game.
Written by inDe_eD
Table of contents
Part I - Basics
Part II - Add-ons
8. Using Multiple Units
Part I - Basics
Micro is, in terms of ladder, how well you can manage your heroes/army. In DotA, it is the sole factor in determining how well you do. It is vital to your game, and I hope to show you how to improve it in this guide, even if it's just by a little.
I realize that this guide is probably a massive wall of text to many, but I did attempt to use proper formatting to make it easier to read. I feel the information inside this guide is worth the lengthy read, although you may disagree.
An introduction to farming.
Farming is the art of killing creeps, thereby earning gold. You only get credit for a kill if you score the last hit on a creep.
There are three ways to farm: Randomly attacking and hoping you get lucky, attacking constantly with good timing so you get the last hit on the creep, and timing it so that the only attack you make is the last one.
Do NOT use the first one. That is probably the first and most important lesson anyone can ever learn in DotA. Against a good player, you will be denied and outfarmed, and end up horrendously underleveled.
As for whether you use the second or third method, it's a matter of preference. Personally, I like the third way best, for several reasons. First, doing this allows the enemy creeps to push further into your side of the field, minimizing the risk from ganking. Also, if there is an allied hero with you, and he is skilled at timing last hits, he will probably get most of the creep kills if you use the second method, and split them with you about 50-50 using the third. Both ways are fine, though, if you can time it correctly.
When trying to time last hits, note that the ranged creep (Necromancer/Druid) deals far more damage than the melee creeps do. Pay special attention to its attack, and time your own attack accordingly.
The ALT key is your friend. It shows the HP bar of everything onscreen when pressed. Learn to hold it down when creeps engage in battle, so you can time last hits without having to hover over every creep individually.
Heroes with damage boosting arrow abilities like Clinkz' Searing Arrows and Necro'lic's Soul Assumption can use it to farm more effectively. Use the hotkey and manually click the attack to score the last hit on enemy creeps.
You need to know your hero's attack animation and base damage. What do I mean? Some heroes, like Lina and Witch Doctor, have an incredibly long "wind-up" before they attack, and need to time creeps several seconds earlier than most other heroes. Others, like Sniper and Shadow Fiend, are almost instant, and need to be timed almost a split second before the creep dies. The higher a hero's damage, the bigger the margin of error you have for timing last hits.
For ranged heroes, if your projectile is especially slow, like Witch Doctor or Crystal Maiden, you want to move closer to the enemy creeps so your projectile has less distance to travel. This makes it much easier to time. Conversely, if you find that you're attacking too fast, you might want to move to your maximium range so that your projectile needs to travel further.
Once you're near your tower, you'll probably notice that it seems to steal every kill with its massive damage. However, after several games of experience, you'll notice that often creeps are left with just a sliver of HP left before the tower deals the final blow. This is when you want to attack for the last hit. Basically, treat the tower like a ranged creep that deals an obscene amount of damage, and you should be able to micro a decent amount of kills while near a friendly tower.
Learning how to deny/deal with enemy heroes.
Once you are confident in your farming skills, it is time to work on denying. Denying is timing the last hit on your own creeps so that the enemy hero does not receive experience or gold for the kill. You'll know when you do this properly because the gold coins that normally come out of a defeated creep will not appear.
You can deny a creep when it falls below half hp. Do not try this before that, since your hero will simply pause and not attack.
When you first get into a lane with an enemy, try to judge what kind of enemy he is. Most importantly, which method is he using to farm? Is he just randomly attacking? Timing last hits? Or simply not even farming at all? Is he trying to deny you, and is he doing it effectively? You should have a fairly good estimate of your opponent's skill level in about 2-3 creep waves.
If he's randomly attacking, simply treat him like an enemy creep, albeit one that deals more damage. You should have no problem snatching kills away from him with proper micro. Same goes for those who don't farm at all, go a step further and make sure he gets no experience as well.
If he's timing last hits and denying, it comes down to a micro war between you two. Generally, ranged heroes have an advantage here, but nothing that can't be overcome with proper control. Try to estimate how much damage he does. Try to get to creeps before he can. If you see him attacking a creep for a last hit and you are fairly sure that the attack will not kill the creep, immediatly shift your focus to that creep. Your attack will land after his, scoring you that kill. Basically, outmicro your enemy.
Spells such as the Lich's Dark Ritual and Enigma's Conversion remove a friendly creep from battle, even at full HP. If you use these spells, you want to use it as soon as the cooldown is finished so that you can deny the maximium amount of creeps.
Some heroes get bonuses for denying creeps. These include Necrolyte (Mana with Sadist), Pudge (Strength Boost from Flesh Heap), Shadow Fiend (Souls from Necromastery), and Bloodseeker (HP from Bloodbath - very, very helpful). You should place more emphasis than normal on denying with these specific heroes.
Once towers fall below about 100 HP, they can be targetted by a friendly hero. It gives a massive gold bonus, so you always want to try to deny them. You generally want to wait until enemies are out of sight of the tower, since they will most likely rush in and try to get the kill themselves. However, if an enemy is already attacking the tower, do your best and hang around it, attacking only to try to score the last hit on the tower.
How to harass effectively, and how to counter it.
Harassing is dealing damage to your enemy so that he is either forced to return to the fountain to heal or play safely, thereby losing experience and gold.
Before I begin, a note about creep AI. Whenever you attack a hero by clicking directly on it, all enemy creeps/towers in the area will immediately shift focus to you, something you may have noticed. Note that spells/manual-casting of arrow abilities do not trigger this defensive response.
This puts ranged heroes at a huge advantage when compared to melee in terms of harassing, because they can simply shoot you once and then back off. As a rule, ranged heroes can dominate melee heroes early game with harassing, while melee heroes should play safe and focus on farming/denying.
If you want to attack the enemy hero with a melee hero, first click near the enemy hero, not directly on him. Remember, creeps shift agression to you as soon as you attack the enemy hero, so you want to be able to walk up to the enemy without getting hit by their creeps as well.
If you don't have some form of natural defense/healing, you should definitely consider getting a Ring of Regeneration or salves to counteract early game harassing. This is especially important for melee heroes with a weak early game.
Whenever you're in range of a friendly tower, try to harass your enemy as much as possible. If he tries to counterattack you, your tower will likely shift agression to him, meaning he takes a considerable amount of damage.
Since casting spells on heroes does not trigger creep agression, feel free to harass with them as you see fit. Certain spells like Frost Nova (on Lich combined with Dark Ritual) and Arc Lightning are incredibly spammable.
If it's a range vs range harassment contest, whenever your enemy moves up to take a shot you want to shoot him back. If you try to run away, chances are that he will hit you anyway, so you might as well get in a shot of your own. An eye for an eye, as the saying goes.
Manual-casting arrows is clicking on the icon for an arrow ability (Frost Arrow, Searing Arrow, etc.) and then clicking on an enemy hero. Better yet, use the hotkey. This is a great way to harass because creeps will ignore it when you hit an enemy with it, since it counts as a "spell". Make sure you manual cast each seperate arrow though, or the creeps will target you.
Do not overharass. By this I mean when you concentrate on harassing an enemy hero so much that you forget to farm/deny. Yes, supressing your enemy early game is vital, but getting gold for items later on in the game is far more important.
If you are being harassed severely, the best counter is to get HP regeneration and stay behind your creeps. When the enemy hero tries to attack you, he should draw creep agression and take more damage than he deals.
If the harassing gets to be too much, or if it is a completely unfair matchup (N'aix vs Sniper, etc.), call for either a gank or switch lanes with someone who can better deal with the enemy.
On the flip side, if you're a very powerful early game harasser (Lich, Zeus), you may want to move past your enemy's creep line and target him with solely spells. Any decent player will be forced to retreat, and then you can farm from his side of the field, keeping him away with spells if neccessary. By doing this, you don't even need to deny to stop your opponent from gaining gold and experience, since he is forced to stay away.
Proper usage of spells. Using "Shift" correctly.
Spells are an INT hero's best friend, and a great help to AGI and STR heroes. Learning how to use them to their maximium potential can make a world of difference.
Nukes (Frost Nova, Carrion Swarm, etc.) on INT heroes should be combined with mana regen and spammed constantly. If there are two heroes in the lane, try to target it so that both heroes are hit by the spell, although if you have to hit one nuke the one which has less HP regen.
Always use a spell if your mana pool is full, so that your regeneration doesn't go to waste. However, if your spell combo will take up most of your mana, and casting a spell means you can't perform it, you may want to save your mana in favor of looking for an opportunity to get a kill.
AOE spells like Lina's Light Strike and Leshrac's Split Earth need to be positioned correctly. You want to target the circle behind the enemy hero, since they will likely try to run to dodge the spell. Make sure the enemy hero is barely within the outer radius of the circle when you are aiming it, you will see him glow green if your aim is correct.
Heroes who can chain disable (Lion with Impale/Hex, Crystal Maiden with Icebite/Nova) should cast their second disable right as the first one wears off. For example, Rylai icebites an enemy hero and starts attacking him. Right as it wears off, Nova him so that he is slowed when he tries to run.
The reason for this is because if you use the two spells too closely together the effect of the second is wasted. Again, in the Rylai example, if you icebite and then nova quickly, the enemy will be able to run at normal speed when bite wears off, and will probably escape.
Do not waste random-target spells such as Omnislash and Eclipse when there are enemy creeps around. The spell will more than likely target them instead of the hero and be an utter waste. Instead, try to force the enemy hero to run by moving close to him without attacking. A mediocre player will probably back off , away from the safety of his creeps, and that's when you unleash your spell. Unfortunately, good players are unlikely to fall for this.
Do not waste most ultimates on enemy creeps. Yes, it may be tempting to use Epicenter on that approaching mass of enemy units, but you want to have your ultimate available for enemy heroes. Instead, opt to use basic spells, or simply micro every creep kill with your normal attack. However, if you really need the gold and are fairly certain that the enemy team will not attempt a 5-man push through the middle 10 seconds after you use your ultimate, then use your judgement whether or not to use it.
The exceptions to this are ultimates like Lesh's Pulse Nova, which have no cooldown, and Furion's Wrath of Nature, which is actually meant to be used as often as possible.
Try to memorize every spell effect, the graphic for it, and what the icon for it on your toolbar is. Knowing what exactly is affecting you and how to counter it will save you many, many times. Some spells you must learn quickly in order to counter are Doom, Battle Hunger, Mana Leak, and Curse of the Silent, among others.
You can hold "Shift" to queue commands. What this means is, when you hold it down whatever commands you input afterwards will all be performed one after the other after you release the key. Using Pudge as an example, you can hold shift, use Necromicon, Hook an enemy hero, then Dismember. After you release the button, Pudge will perform those spells in order, allowing you to micro the Necromicon for maximium effect. Make sure you turn on Rot, though, and that your own Necromicon summons don't block the path of hook.
However, using Shift does have its drawbacks. If you miss with just one spell in the sequence, and the hero is undisabled, your hero will still perform the actions you input. This can spell disaster, as you may completely waste your spells if you don't cancel the rest quickly (just click your hero and move it somewhere). Using Shift can be a great help to many heroes, but requires heavy practice before you incorporate it into your fundamentals.
Part II - Add-ons
How to use your Minimap effectively and Pinging.
The Minimap is in your lower-left hand corner, and displays vital map information. Try to keep half an eye (or something) on it at all times.
There are two different map modes: Colored, where each individual player’s colors are displayed, and Ally/Enemy, where there are only two colors: blue for allies and red for enemies. Pick whichever one you prefer.
Turn off Terrain. By the time you play a few games you should have the terrain memorized, and it just gets in the way of what you need to see.
Be wary of ganks. If you see hero dots missing from another lane, ask where they are. This can save your teammates as often as it can save yourself. Make sure you warn your allies when heroes are missing from your own lane, as well.
Hero dots are substantially bigger than creep dots. Learn how to notice that telltale dot quickly. If you see a hero somewhere suspicious, like in the river or hiding in the forest, quickly Ping that location.
Pinging can be annoying when overused, but is vital for quick team communication. Use [Alt + Click] to ping, since it’s much faster. Ping runes, heroes, large creep waves, etc. Make sure you include a short message telling your team what you’re pinging. “Techie with DD” is a hell of a lot less important than “Lycanthrope with DD”. Also, if you want to quickly center your map on the last ping, hitting the spacebar works.
A few basic item usage tips (no recommendations/builds or whatever, this is a micro guide.)
Put your usable items in the top slots of your inventory. Examples include Eul, Dagon, Guinsoo, Necromicon, and the like. The reason for this is that, since you need to click them in order to use them, they should be in a position where you can use them fastest. You right-click an item and then select another item in order to switch them.
You can also use the Number pad to use items. Make sure Num Lock is on, and hover your cursor over an item slot to see which number it corresponds to. You use the number pad on the right side of the keyboard for this, and it has the same effect as clicking on the item in your inventory. Experiment to find out which method of using items you prefer.
A note on Hand of Midas: the second the cooldown is done, you should find a creep to use it on. The faster you use it, the more times you can Midas during the game. Also note that using Midas on high level neutrals gives more of a gold bonus than simply using it on normal creeps.
A note on fighting Necromicon: Do not land the killing blow on the blue Demon that is summoned from the Necromicon, unless you are sure you can afford a considerable loss in HP. Although it gives a hefty 100 gold bonus, whichever unit lands the killing blow on it takes 200/400/600 damage in retaliation, depending on the Necromicon level.
8. Using Multiple Units:
A few tips on controlling multiple units, including hotkeying and tabbing.
Controlling multiple units, although rare to DotA, does happen from time to time, so you'll want to know how to control them effectively.
If you want to select an individual unit from a group, click on its portrait in the status bar in the lower left.
You can use "Tab" to toggle between your active unit. First, you have to group all your units. Notice how your hero is the active unit, and that commanding him to use spells means he is the only one to react. If you "Tab" between units, you can use your units' other abilities without deselecting the entire group. Very useful for using the Necromicon's mana burn.
You can hotkey creeps for more convienent access to them. First, select the unit/group of units you want to assign to a key. Next, press CTRL + a number from 1-9. This group will now be hotkeyed, and can be reselected by simply pressing the number you chose.
Hotkeying a chicken is always a good idea. You can hit the hotkey, then click on the portrait to quickly center on the base for item buying.
Note that heroes do not need to be hotkeyed, since their innate hotkey is F1.
As a rule, you do not want to feed creeps such as Necro'lic's revenants and Furion's treants, since they provide gold/experience to the enemy. Keep an eye on their HP and pull them back when they get weak. Or, you can always try denying them.