Offlaner – Introduction
Each match of DOTA 2 requires 10 players. All players are divided into two factions, the Radiant, and Dire. These two groups stand in opposition with each other, each taking a corner end of the map connected by three lanes. The goal of the game is to destroy each side’s most important structure called Ancients. To achieve this, members of either team must travel to the enemy base through any of the three lanes where creeps march onward to destroy the opposition.
Dota 2 – Offlaner – Hard Lane Carry – Position 3
Every player must pick a hero and determine the outcome of this never-ending fight between equal forces through wits and prowess. Five players, each must fulfil one of five major positions. The middle lane is an equal ground while one of the side lanes is the safe lane and the other is the hard lane. You will take the responsibility of defending the hard lane and face the enemy’s Hard Carry and Hard Support. Scare them away, hold your ground, or kill them if you can help it. You are the Offlaner, the Hard Lane Carry.
You are the bully for the entire match. You will be up against the enemy’s ‘gifted child’ and the said child’s babysitter. You have the following responsibilities in the hard lane:
- Secure creep kills. Make sure you grow faster than the enemy’s hard carry. You can do this by either taking farm kills with last hits or slowing down their progress by pushing them away from the lane, or killing your own creeps.
- Pressure the enemy. Keep up the offence, forcing them to take too much restoration items. Force them to fight over courier priority to slow down their itemization progress. You will have more room to farm if they play more cautiously.
Your hard lane is the enemy’s safe lane. Leaving your post leaves a carry and support to hog all the experience and money from lane creeps. Tighten your defences and mind your health and mana. This is going to be a long fight.
From the Radiant’s perspective, the top lane is the Hard Lane because the tier one tower is far from the estimated point of contact for the lane creeps of both sides. As for the Dire, the bottom lane is the Hard Lane for the same reason.
Each team has a Hard Carry whose job is to accumulate money and get strong items as early as possible. Hard Support’s job is to make sure that happens. Both of these heroes traverse the Safe Lane. Your job as the Offlaner is to make sure that this lane is more unforgiving that it is designed to be! Make your lane as inhospitable as possible!
There are two types of Runes: Bounty Runes and Power Up Runes.
As soon as the lane creeps start spawning, bounty runes will appear on either side of the river close to the top and the bottom lanes, making a total of four bounty runes. These give a good amount of money to all members and yourself. Always assume that the opposite bounty rune has enemies guarding it. Don’t risk clashing in the early game, you are mostly alone after all unless your team’s second support decides to join you.
Bounty Runes spawns every five minutes starting at 0:00 of the game clock. Always try to take them, money is everything in DOTA 2.
Power Up Runes pops at 2:00 and every two minutes after that. These give players massive buffs temporarily.
Every Rune can be stored in the Bottle if you have any.
A missed Rune is a chance for your enemies to use them against you! If you cannot leave your lane due to unrelenting attacks, communicate with your Roaming Support or your Mid-laner about it, assuming that they forgot. A massive power surge from a Power Up Rune or spare change from the Bounty Rune can tip the scales of balance for better or worse.
Essential Starting Items
You will need to compete for creep kills so you cannot leave your lane at any moment. Clarity Potion would be too slow if you wish to keep your abilities available, every second counts. Take 3 Enchanted Mangoes for 70 Gold each. The instant mana recovery can help you keep on pressing the attack in the middle of a clash. The sooner your enemy uses up their healing items, the more forced they are to use the courier. A safe laner taking the courier first is bad because the mid laner needs access to item shops more in the early game. If the solo mid cannot take items in time, they can be pressured away from the middle. The +0.6 health regeneration per second that came with an unused Mango helps greatly for naturally tanky heroes such as Timbersaw and Centaur Warrunner.
As for health, you can always take a Healing Salve for 110 Gold or two Tango for 90 Gold each. That will be enough restoration items for the early game.
If you are not using a hero that uses much mana, you can rely on your basic attack more with Quelling Blade. Taking Quelling Blade later might be too late to compete for creep kills.
Take two Iron Branches. That will suffice for your Attribute. You can take a Magic Stick later in the Side Lane shop. You will not need a courier for much of the Early Game because of the Shop close to your position. This shop also serves the enemy team so be careful not to meet them there. You can bombard that area with an AoE skill if you know they are shopping.
If you are using a melee hero, purchase a Stout Shield for 200 Gold to protect yourself from basic attacks. If you are using a hero that does not take too much mana for abilities, you can settle for just one Enchanted Mango then purchase Attribute items instead.
You have two ways to make you lane unwelcoming for a Hard Carry. One, you can stop their growth by killing your own creeps before they deliver the last hit, this is called a ‘Deny’. Another way is targeting the hero itself in a process called ‘Harass’. The enemy Support will try its best to push you away so consider choosing a hero that is innately durable or has far-reaching abilities.
The enemy Hard Carry desperately needs all the creeps they can get to grow quickly and win the game for the team. You will not have that much responsibility as the Offlane Carry. Hold your attacks and wait until a creep is killable by a single hit. Heroes have Attack Speed that dictates how long you have to wait in between attacks. Auto attacking can make you lose your timing.
Creep Aggro is when you taunt the enemy lane creeps by issuing an attack towards the enemy hero, allowing you to reposition enemy creeps to favour your range. These mindless soldiers will give up on chasing you and attack the closest non-ally as soon as they lose sight of you.
Creep Dragging is when you show up to meet the next wave of enemy creeps, then have them follow you around the map. Without another set of enemies in the way, they will focus on you until you can drag them behind your tier 1 tower. Have these creeps meet your own lane creeps, effectively taking the fight away from the enemy heroes’ reach. Feel free to rack up your creep kills and denies with this method.
This method is essential for you as an Offlaner because you are competing for farm against two enemies. Plus, lane creeps generally meet close to the enemy tower in the hard lane. Besides worrying about tower attacks, you have to mind that enemy heroes get +2 armour because of the structure’s aura.
Defending Lanes and Farming
Not many heroes can compete against a tower’s range of attack so it is always a good idea to keep your distance. Using skills against enemy heroes within tower range may also be a waste of mana because of the +2 armour aura mentioned before.
While the lane is under the enemy tower, take the jungle to maintain your growth. Dive back in when it is time to defend the tower. You can also take your time to defend the mid lane when your second carry is in a pinch, then head back to your lane.
The jungle around the Hard Lane is usually tougher than the jungle by the safe lane. You can farm near the enemy’s side of the map, but you risk bumping into enemy carries or roaming support.
Magic Wand is a core item for many Offlane heroes. Magic Wand stacks 1 charge per enemy hero ability activated nearby. Since you are facing two at once, you can get a good number of charges. Using the Magic Wand’s active uses up all stacks to instantly restore +15 each for mana and health per charge. Up to 20 charges can be kept at a time, that’s a potential total of +300 instant mana and health!
Magic Wand adds +3 to each all Attribute, but that’s hardly enough. Most offlane players focus on survival over offence around the mid-game. Strength heroes are popular picks specifically because boosting the Strength Attribute increases both offence and defence. A Stout Shield as a starting item can take you a long way as it can be upgraded to a Vanguard before you reach the midgame. It is also a good idea to plan building Power Threads from your Boots of Speed. If you are using costly abilities such as Earth Shaker’s Fissure, take Arcane Boots for instant mana restore. Arcane Boots can be upgraded to Guardian Greaves, an expensive, late-game item with an active ability to restore health and mana for all nearby allies while also removing debuffs.
The mid-game is when each side starts taking objectives, to destroy the enemy towers and push through the lanes. Killing heroes decommission them from defending the lane for a while as well as taking away some unspent Gold.
Never try to spread your numbers across all three lanes, always come in groups of three minimum when taking down a tower, or risk the chance of being surrounded by enemy heroes. Most heroes have the ability to stun or disable, those that don’t will most likely have an item that gives them that ability. Skull Basher is a fairly cheap item that has a chance of applying mini stun with each basic attack. Heroes with quick attack speed or ability to land ridiculously fast hit favour this item. Come with a team of two carries, including yourself, and a support hero.
Tier 1 towers are not as much of a threat beyond the 15-minute mark so go ahead and dive. Always aim to kill an enemy hero if any are present.
When a hero dies, they have an option to wait until respawn or pay for the buyback cost. You choose whether to sacrifice time or money based on what is currently needed by your lane. These sacrifices apply to both teams, that is why hero death is vital in taking the objectives.
You have spent the early game wasting the enemies’ time and efforts. After the 10 minute mark, raise your defence to create an effective offence. Upgrade your Stout Shield to Vanguard. You cannot rely on single-use items anymore.
Magic Wand is a great addition to your inventory. You can guarantee a good number of stacks as soon as you start a fight because supports will try to stop your initiation attempts. Take a Bottle from the secret shop so you will always have three instances for quick mana and health while you roam.
Always have your Boots of Speed upgraded, you decide what you need because this footwear is supposed to be in your inventory by the early game. If you need health regeneration then take Tranquil Boots, Arcane Boots if you want to be chaotic with your hero abilities. Most players take Power Threads because the increased Attack Speed and Attribute serves anyone well at any point of the game.
A Core Item build gears each hero for maximum efficiency and these items must be kept throughout the game. Builds vary between heroes and veteran players can have different interpretations for what to consider a ‘Core Item’. The more experience you have with a certain playstyle, the more understanding you will have with items and situations and how to counter them.
The late-game can be the wildest part of the game. If one team plays badly in the first 30 minutes, the game would end within the next 15 minutes. If both teams played their cards right during the early and mid games, the late game can take another half an hour or more. Either side should be pushing for tier 3 towers or the barracks by this time.
Each player has expanded their core builds into stronger items. Maybe others have taken luxury items like the Linken’s Sphere for protection or Aghanim’s Scepter for a stronger ability. Melee heroes can take Battle Fury for a more efficient farming ability and lane defence.
After spending 30 minutes, you may have already figured out what pattern enemy players take. If you are having difficulty against a certain playstyle, consider taking counter items. Agility heroes tend to have useful, high mana cost abilities but they, themselves will have low mana pool. Exploit their magic deficiency with Diffusal Blade, which burns 80% mana each time you attack, though this may not suit your hero with low attack speed.
Initiating combat sets up the condition of the clash. Your positioning and resistance dictate how much you can affect a group of heroes at once and for how long. This role falls usually onto the hardy offlaner.
You’ve built up your defences through the mid-game so expand on it. Heroes like Bristle Back and Centaur Warrunner will have no problem diving behind enemy lines and initiate combat. For these heroes, take items that add huge health and regeneration capabilities. Stay alive for as long as you can and spam their abilities. These two are tanks who must take as much of the enemy’s hits as they can while allies provide backup.
The safe lane or mid lane carry are usually the first targets in any clash because they are low in defence but extremely efficient in the offence. Your job is to dive close to the enemy hard carry, while your other carry allies pick off the supports. Chase down a carry away from the clash and sprinkle your AoE against anyone along the way. The farther the carries are, the easier it is to kill everyone. Stun and disables must-have abilities no matter the lineup. In the game of DOTA, one second of immobility makes all the difference between an easy kill, lost opportunity, or a flipped balance.
Good Heroes to Start With
Most players don’t have to worry about Batrider’s attributes so early in the game. Buy Boots of Speed first then a tango. Take Sticky Napalm as your first skill. Sticky Napalm is an AoE ability that slows down movement speed and turning rate of all affected enemies and amplifies all damage you Batrider does, whether it is a skill or basic attack. You only have a 3 seconds cooldown but the effect lasts 8 seconds. You can stack Sticky Napalm up to 10 times and enemies will sit defenceless against your attacks. This secures easy creep kills. If you have enough Gold, purchase Clarity Potion before you reach level 2 to restore mana.
Once you have reached level 2, take Firefly, an ability that makes Batrider fly higher than the trees while making it rain flames in a trail wherever he goes. While up high, Batrider cannot be blocked by trees or units. Stack Sticky Napalm up to 10 stacks then circle around enemies with Firefly, this guarantees one or two easy kills at such an early game. Just like that and you got yourself an easy early game gank and a severely crippled enemy Hard Carry!
Flamebreak is another skill that deals damage over time at a target location while also knocking enemies back, cutting off their channelling. Flamebreak takes as much mana as Firefly but not the same fun. Maximize the levels of Sticky Napalm and Firefly first because you wouldn’t be needing Flamebreak in the early game.
Flaming Lasso is Batrider’s Ultimate that snares an enemy unit. While the ability is active, the affected hero takes damage over time. Drag them around with Batrider towards your teammates.
Batrider’s build includes restorations from Magic Wand and Tranquil Boots and extra mobility from Blink Dagger. In terms of increased Intelligence, most people favour the Force Staff as opposed to the Null Talisman because the former has the ability to ‘push’ a target at a long distance.
Timbersaw is one of those heroes that does not need support from anyone or anything. He starts off with 351 maximum mana and his first ability, Whirling Death costs only 70 mana with a cooldown of 6 seconds. This attack affects a wide area around Timber Saw with Pure Damage, it hurts more if trees were affected in the process. Enemy Heroes will also be robbed of their primary attributes when hit.
Take Timbersaw’s Reactive Armour by level 2 and he will receive a passive that increases health regen and armour every time he is attacked within the next 10 seconds. At an early level, you got yourself an impenetrable lane defence and an easy creep farming machine! Since the jungle is covered in trees, you can easily farm a difficult jungle camp.
Timber Chain is Timbersaw’s main mode of mobility. Fling an 800 unit long hook-ended chain towards a target direction. It latches onto the first tree it hits then drags Timbersaw immediately, hurting all enemies in the way. You can activate whirling death while mid-air to deal extra damage. The effect from Whirling Death only works where you cast it so practice your timing when pulling off this stunt, otherwise, it’s a waste of mana.
The ultimate, Chakram, launches Timbersaw’s blade at a target location. Enemies in the affected area will be damaged over time and lose movement speed for every 5% health lost. This also destroys trees so chasing enemies through the jungle will be too easy.
Centaur Warrunner is perhaps the least complicated hero to use if a bit masochistic. His base stats are already high towards strength, starting off at 27 points in that attribute. Take Centaur’s passive ability, Retaliate, and he will stack 1 charge per damage received from either enemy heroes and towers. Activate this ability to consume all stacks to gain increased base damage of 6% per charge for 20 seconds. This same ability also grants Centaur Warrunner a passive which returns 16 damage to an enemy or an attacker. At level 1, this hero can discourage any form of harassment from the opposing team so feel free to steal lane creeps.
Should your enemies dare approach you, slam them down with Hoof Stomp. This ability releases a shockwave, hurting and stunning any hostiles surrounding Centaur Warrunner, making them open for free hits. Hoof Stomp costs a large amount of mana and cools down 22 seconds so use sparingly. Retaliate’s active ability does not have a cooldown nor a mana cost so you can use that while the enemies are dazed.
You can unleash a stronger AoE damage with Double Edge. This ability’s magic damage starts at a staggering 120 points but it adds another 60% of your total Strength Attribute. This ability does not consume any mana but it will deal the same amount of damage to Centaur Warrunner himself. Cooldown only lasts 5 seconds so if you don’t mind the high risk-high reward involved, press on the offence!
With huge innate damage from Double Edge and the ability to return any damage received with Retaliate, you can focus on Centaur Warrunner’s Defence. Get yourself a Magic Wand and Vanguard as early as you can. Blade Mail has an active ability that returns damage for 4.5 seconds. It’s temporary unlike Retaliate, but these two abilities stacks and Blade Mail returns the damage in full instead of just a fraction of it.
Bristleback is the most kill focused hero on this list. The spikes on his back are not for display. You can fire those off using Quill Spray, hitting any hostile units surrounding Bristleback for just 35 mana and 3 seconds cooldown. Hitting enemy units again with quills in the last 14 seconds will deal bonus damage. Spam this ability any chance you get in the middle of enemy creeps for easy cleanup, or just harass the hard carry way.
You can harden Bristleback’s bristled back with his passive, Bristle Back! He will be able to take less damage from behind or in front, keeping him safe while his back is turned towards the enemy. Take this passive only after taking Quill Spray because taking 210 damage from the back with Bristle Back ability instantly releases Quill Spray as a defence mechanism against backstab-based heroes.
Viscous Nasal Goo flings a projectile towards a target enemy that reduces armour and movement speed. This skill stacks up to 4 times against the same target, making them less likely to survive your quills.
Bristleback’s ultimate is another passive named Warpath. Each time you cast an ability, Bristleback gains stacks that increase his movement speed and damage output. Spam away your Viscous Nasal Goo and Quill Spray. Even alone, Bristleback can initiate combat and secure his own kills.
Spend your starting budget with restoration items such as tango and healing salve. Choose Enchanted Mango over Clarity Potion, an instant mana recovery allows you to continue your combo, never break momentum and press on with the offence.
Take Magic Wand and Arcane Boots later to replace Mangoes and Tango restoration. Given that Bristleback is all about being in the middle of the enemy lines, focus on defensive items.
If you are looking to annoy your enemies, the most frustrating lane defender is perhaps Enchantress. The passive ability, Untouchable, slows down the attack speed of enemy units’ that hurts her. This affects lane creeps and heroes, slowed down creeps will die easily in a clash against your own units while heroes will have less efficiency in stealing creep kills.
You can make that even worse with Nature’s Attendants which releases spirits that heal any ally, including Enchantress herself. Pushing your lane will be considerably challenging if you keep healing your lane creeps, and even more so if the enemy carry is discouraged from hurting you because doing so will make him lose potential creep kills. Consider building a Drum of Endurance and Magic Wand as early as you can to keep up the healing factor in your lane.
You can increase your allies by taking away an enemy’s own unit with Enchant. You can convert a creep to fight for your side temporarily. You can also use Enchant on an enemy hero to slow down their movement speed, making Enchantress a great support just as much as she is a lane pusher. Enchant works with neutral creeps, allowing Enchantress to farm tough jungle camps at such an early stage of the game.
By the late game, Enchantress can switch from a tough defender into a scary killer once she gets her ultimate, Impetus. This is a toggle ability that changes Enchantress’s basic attack from physical damage, to Pure Damage. Each attack increases by how far the spear travelled between release and point of impact. That does not exactly mean the distance between you and the target. For example, Enchantress has already thrown her Impetus enhanced basic attack, but the target decided to run away, the spear will register all that extra distance into the strike as soon as it reaches the enemy. This is perfect when an enemy uses Force Staff, Blink, or teleportation as soon as Enchantress launches her attack.