This is your battlefield status indicator. It is located on the lower-left corner of your sceen. There are buttons to the right of this panel that
are used to edit the view settings of the mini-map.I choose the view-terrain and the allies-teal, enemies-red setting. With the view terrain setting, the contours of the terrain are visible opposed to the black back-drop setting. I prefer this setting because I find it strategically important to know what part of the map my enemies and allies are exactly at. Unless you memorize the DOTA terrain by heart whether an enemy or ally is on the ridge or in the trees on a black back-drop setting, I suggest you use the view-terrain setting. The ally-enemy color scheme setting I chose on the other hand is a bit debateable. I believe in the long-run it would pay-off to remember the colors of enemy heroes. Using the unique hero-color mode should make keeping tabs on the key heroes easier. Lion or Sandking backstabbing early-mid game? Keep their position color coded. A big red dot may pop on and off the map that may not give you enough time to check was actually roaming around. But I don't find this hero-color mode tactically useful when in big skirmishes. Basically I want to know on what part of the map the big red and teal dots are at all times. Someone got swaped? Someone just blinked-in? If you know the colors of each side by heart I humbly kneel before you. Frankly I just want to know how many big red and teal dots there are in a skirmish at any given time.
The affect of terrain features on your gameplay are what makes DOTA not just a strategy but a tactical game as well. There exists a feature in Warcraft III called fog-of-war. As long a unit you on your team is within an area, it maintains a view of that area in the mini-map screen. Control of vision of map basically gives you tactical advantage over the area. Have you ever used observer wards? Where are you suppose to put them? Observer wards serve as either early warning systems and gangbang locators. The best places to put observer wards would generally be along the river cliffs and neutral creeping areas. If you can see the threat before it arrives then they've paid for their worth. If you are really good at farming then these wards are absolutely necessary. If you want to stop an enemy from farming on their sides neutral creep camps observer wards make great companions. A good time purchase and use wards is right after you go back to base to purchase items or heal. The early to early-mid game is the best time for undisrupted farming.
A way to avoid getting killed or heavily damaged is to use the fog-of-war and various terrain features to your advantage. Notice a miss thingy pop out when you are shooting at someone from the bottom of a ridge? Those on top of the ridge not only have a sight advantage but a combat advantage being able to hit the ones on the bottom of the ridge consistently. Are you one nuke or stun away from getting killed while being chased through the forest? Hug the edges of the trees while fleeing. The line-of-sight of your is blocked by the trees as fog-of-war kicks in. Many can escape near death situations by tactically maneuvering their hero along the advantages of certain terrain. Are you trapped at your tower with low-life with both exits flanked by enemy heroes? If you can't teleport back to base the best thing to do is hide or run around the trees located just above your first tower, if you play Scourge, and bellow, if you play Sentinel. Towers are never refuges of safety. Many heroes are tough and fast enough to take you out beside your tower. And don't forget that there are many hiding places you use to either lose chasers with or use for gang-banging. If your hero has the ability to blink you can trap yourself in a bunch a trees or at the edges of maps to avoid getting killed.
These are the creatures that you can kill. Their are two types of creeps in the game of DOTA, lane creeps, those that push their respective lanes, and neutral creeps, found at creep camps.
Lane creeps hit-points and damage increase over time. The quantity of lane creeps also increase as the number of opposing towers on the lane fall. Each creep enemy creep you kill is roughly worth fifty gold. Each enemy creep you kill is roughly worth thirty gold if you are farming a lane with two of your barracks destroyed. The priority of a lane creep is to attack whoever is attacking it's sides heroes. Rushing up to an enemy hero in the middle of bunch of enemy creeps early game is not a good idea. Use your own creeps to tank while you farm. There is no use getting damaged unnecessarily. FYI ranged lane creeps deal more damage but have less hit-points compared to their melee counter-parts. Ranged creeps also have mana you can steal, if you were Demon Witch, and burn for easy farming, if you were Magina. I'll explain lane creeps a lot more on the section on farming, pushing, pulling and blocking.
Neutral creeps basically exist for the purpose of farming but some heroes can control these creeps for personal use. Neutral creeps are characteristically non-aggressive meaning they only attack heroes that get too close or initiate attack. There are three main creep camps on each side's forest region. There is on low-level camp by each side's middle towers. There is one high-level camp on each side found just on the ridge above the first Sentinel middle tower, and the camp beside Roshan on the Scourge side. These camps hold a variety of creatures that may really hurt you at lower levels if you are not careful. I'll discuss farming techniques with neutral creeps on the farming section. If your lane creeps see you being attacked by neutral creeps the lane creeps will attack the neutral creeps for you.
Hold down the ALT key. Do you notice the hit-point bars over every creep and heroes head? Try attacking a creep while holding down the ALT key. How much damage did you do? If you didn't notice, you only get a kill and get gold for killing something by being the one to deliver the final blow. If you can estimate your damage dealt relative to the remaining life of the thing you want to deliver a final blow to, you'll have mastered one of the key elements of playing DOTA.
Last-hitting is a practiced technique. First of all, you need to practice your fingers, usually the thumb, to hold down the ALT key at almost all times. Second of all, you need to practice positioning and restraining yourself in order to deliver a final blow. This means you need to be in range of the target and not be busy hitting anything else. You will attack enemies within range if you hold your position especially if you have a ranged attack. The best way to not be busy hitting anything else is to dance your character back and forth beside the target you wish to last-hit. This is where experience and skill comes in as a key factor to how well you can last-hit compared to your opponent. The hero with better last-hit capabilities usually determines who will have a better time farming and leveling up. We ask ourselves several questions. How can I get last-hit if I am being overly harassed by the opponent? How can I last-hit if my lane-partner can last-hit better? We will tackle these issues and discuss lane-control in the following sections.
Farming is also a practiced technique. Actually farming, last-hit, deny and lane-control all goes hand-in-hand to make DOTA uniquely tactical inspite of it's supposedly strategical theme.
So you think you can farm and deny as you please? DOTA puts your skills and wits to the test by simply matching up heroes against each other. Put your game to the test by facing a really hard solo lane character like Lich and Shadow Fiend. Or go against a pair of nukers, stunners or healers. You might not even get within range to even try to last-hit. That is lane control for you. It is true that some heroes will have an advantage over other heroes when played correctly when farming, denying and harassing. There exists advanced ways to get around some so-called advantages. But for now I would suggest you request for a lane change before you let your enemy grow too strong.
Imagine this scenario. I am playing Ursa Warrior and I am on a solo bottom lane with Drow Ranger. Who do you think will get owned by level five? Drow Ranger is playing with one level of Silence and Trueshot Aura and three levels of Frost Arrows. I am playing with one level of Earthshock, two levels of Overpower and Fury Swipes. Drow has a Ring of Regen and two Branches. I have a Ring of Regen and a Flask of Sapphire Water. The Drow Ranger plays aggressive and Frost Arrows me from time to time to stop me from farming. The Drow Ranger plays so well that he boxes me out from at the very least denying my opponent. He is level four, I am level three but I reach his level at my tower because he has pushed the lane. He retreats due to a lack of creeps, I chase him a few seconds after but I go around the trees. I catch him with Overpower and bring him to two-thirds life but his creeps are there and he starts Frost Arrowing me. I retreat heavily damaged. We level five while I retreat. He thinks I go back to base to heal but I lose him in the fog-of-war and make a quick turn around the trees and use my Flask of Sapphire Water. I wait for him to push a little bit more past the tree line. I Overpower, I quickly run up behind him before he has the chance to Silence. Earthshock! Bam-bam-bam-bam! One dead Drow Ranger. How did I get the kill? Several things basically happened that allowed me to pawn the Drow Ranger. First, I haphazardly reduced the Drow Ranger's life to two-thirds while actually taking more damage due to the Frost Arrows and creeps. Second, if the Drow Ranger looked at my items he would have farmed a bit more safely for he should have known I could return at anytime. Third, if he knew that I had a Flask of Sapphire Water, and I was missing, and if he knew that Ursa Warrior was a back-stabbing type hero, he would have done at the very least a blind check behind the trees while I was low on hit-points and healing. Lastly, he wasn't able to Silence my Earthshock therefore I was able to get several uninterrupted attacks while he was slowed. This is an example of getting around so-called advantages.
What if you are playing against a nuker?
Have you ever wondered why you were so horrendously out-leveled? Or why
does it seem that people
DOTA is played through player controlled characters known as
heroes. Your objective is to destroy the other teams base through
destroying the enemy forces fighting against your allied forces push. At
the start of the game you are either given a hero at random or, more
popularly through -ap mode, given a chance to choose one from one of the many
taverns. This is the most exciting part of any game of DOTA. As you
may have realized certain heroes certainly fair-off better then other
heroes. But this is a very subjective observation. I shall state my first
point. All heroes in DOTA are good. If you study the game
meticulously enough you'll realize that the influence of your hero on the
battlefield depends on a lot of things other then just items you have in
your inventory and the ability to keep a good score. One can say, Oh my
God! You chose an imbalanced hero! Yes, there may be balance issues
with certain heroes. But at the moment that an enemy player chooses that hero, and
you feel that the player made an imbalanced choice, and given the chance you or those left on your team
that haven't chosen heroes yet, you should make it your, or your teammates,
responsibility to choose a counter-hero or possibly sulk and feel useless the rest of the
game. Yes, some people are corny and choose the same heroes every
single time. If you keep losing using the same heroes against these same heroes, why not try a
different strategy? DOTA veterans have experienced the same
crap. They are called veterans because they know what to look out for as
early as choosing their heroes. This leads me to my second point. The
start of the game should give the team a broad image of it's strengths and
weaknesses. This includes what the team should avoid, focus on, and be
prepared for. But you ask, What should we avoid, focus on and prepare for? How can we be prepared for the infinite
possibilities that all the different hero combinations present us with?
You have asked good questions, in fact key questions to becoming good in strategy
gaming in general! There are infinite possibilities in DOTA. Only experienced players can at the very least begin to answer these questions. This leads me to my final point in this overview. Only the
experienced prevail. You'll realize that dominant hero combinations and themes do exist. But of course the experienced do slip
up from time to time. Conceding is not a bad thing, when it is a sure thing.