Climbing the Ladder – Chapter 1: Farming


This post is the first of a relatively long series that will hopefully cover as many of DotA’s large strategical elements as possible. Before starting with anything, I just want to remind you that DotA is a game of reaction, and no advice should ever be followed blindly. What I describe may work in most situations, but could be a bad option in some particular games. Therefore, look to learn as much as possible from this but remember to not treat it as a step by step plan.

These are the elements of farming I will be discussing.

  • Quelling Blade, Stout Shield, Ring of Basilius, Morbid Mask
  • When to farm where
  • Jungling (creep priority)
  • Midas – when to buy and how to use
  • Maelstrom – when to buy and how to use
  • Battlefury – when to buy and how to use
  • Radiance – when to buy and how to use
  • Stacking the jungle
  • Pushing the lane
  • Maintaining creep equilibrium
  • Teleportation Scrolls

Quelling Blade, Stout Shield, Ring of Basilius and Morbid Mask

These are the three most basic small items you will make use of with most safelane farmers.
If you’re farming the safelane, in 95% of games you want to get a ring of protection as part of your starting items. This is so that you can upgrade to a RoB from the sideshop, which apart from giving you a nice 6 damage is absolutely crucial for the creep armor aura, giving you the ability to control the lane, and make the push for the tier 1. If you effectively zone the offlaner and they go off to farm the jungle leaving the lane free, just make your support single-pull the 2:30/5:30 creepspawn. This is because at 3:00/6:00 the catapult spawns, and if you have a doublewave with a catapult + a ring of basilius, you can straight up take the tower.
Once you’ve taken the tower, you will usually want to reset the lane by letting your creeps die to the tier 2 tower. Once the creep equilibrium is back close to your tier 1, you can let a support take over the lane and farm safely, because without a tier 1 tower the offlaner cannot get TP-support, making the lane very dangerous for him.
But if a support takes over the lane, where do I go?! You jungle. At this point you should have enough farm to pick up items that allow you to farm the jungle quickly, so that is what you should begin doing. If you did not have a quelling blade in the laning stage (which you shouldn’t unless you’re being heavily contested in last hits), this is when you buy it. That small 112 gold investment (you get half back when you sell it) will speed up your farming a ton. A stout shield should also be considered so you can tank the creeps more effectively.
Last and perhaps most important is the sustain – lifesteal. There are essentially two choices – HotD and MoM. Not only does the lifesteal sustain you in the jungle and for the ancients, it will sooner or later allow you to take an easy Rosh. Generally speaking, HotD allows you to fight better early while MoM allows you to farm faster and makes you very strong 1on1. HotD also has the added benefit of controlling a jungle creep which can be used for ancient stacking, scouting, ganking, pushing, and even lasthitting on the lane while you’re farming the jungle – be creative!
Mask of Madness on the other hand, allows you to farm faster by increasing AS and MS, however, few heroes can use the active in fights safely, being sure they are not going to take damage. Examples would be Sniper and Void. A hero like Juggernaut also buys MoM mostly for farming purposes, but has to be a little bit more careful not to take damage, because without the invulnerabilities from Bladefury and Omnislash, he is very squishy.

When to farm where

There are three lanes, two jungles and two ancient camps. How do you know when you should be farming which? As a general rule, farming the lane is more efficient (gold/time) than farming the jungle. However, lasthits on the lane are not guaranteed – an enemy may be disrupting your farm by denying, off-hitting, drawing creep aggro, pulling, pushing the wave into your tower, etc. On the plus side, however, you do not take as much damage from the creeps as you would in the jungle. Few heroes can sustain themselves farming the jungle with no items, and fewer still can farm it quickly starting from level one (enigma, bat, axe, chen, ench) – notice how none of those are carries.

So generally, for your first few levels you want to stay on the lane and get as much as you can there. If your support pulls, don’t go killing neutrals because the enemy lane creeps will die to your tower. Take your lane creeps and let your support get something out of the jungle. You want to keep the lane static close to your tower (how to do this described under ‘maintaining creep equilibrium’). There comes a certain point, however, when you have a certain farming item, some more levels, some crucial skills or simply more damage – this is the moment when you can, and should start utilising the jungle.

Do not forget the ancients as a source of income. Generally even fewer heroes can farm them efficiently and early enough, so if you are a hero that can you should do so as much as possible instead of regular jungling, because it frees up the jungle for the rest of your team. Of course, if you are the 1 position and have some form of aoe right click damage, it is most efficient to stack the ancients while farming the lanes and jungle, and go to kill 4-5 ancient stacks all at once.

Let’s go to a situation later in the game, let’s say mid-game around 25 minutes. The more the game is in your favour, the more aggressively you should be farming, meaning closer to the enemy base and including their jungle and ancients. This prevents them from farming it, while your jungle is even less accessible.
The further behind you are, the safer you want to farm. This however does not mean you cannot leave your base. Yes, if the heroes on the enemy team that are missing right now can kill you, you should generally be farming safely close to your towers and allies.

Which heroes should you be afraid of when they are missing? This is knowledge you can only learn through experience. Let’s say the only hero on the enemy team missing is an Axe, and you are a Luna with a max HP of 800 wanting to farm the Radiant safelane with your tier 1 tower down. Does he have a blink dagger? If yes, it’s likely that he can blink in, call and solo kill you. If no, does that mean you can farm anywhere? Still not the case, if you stand close to the trees he can simply walk up to you and call you before you see him. So, you position yourself on the side of the lane opposite to where you expect him to come from. Your movement speed is very high so even if he runs up to you and hungers you, you will be able to run away. But what if he comes out of the trees between your tier 2 and you? There is no tier 1 to run to or that allies can TP to, so your only option is to run into the trees and TP out – you will need to be able to judge if he is far away enough so that he cannot reach you in time, taking any possible items into account (checking his inventory). Any other options (running, juking) involve giving time to both your team and his team to arrive, and once again you will need to judge how the potential fight will go down, something that becomes more and more difficult the more heroes enter the equation.
And this is the case with an blink-daggerless Axe on the enemy team. Imagine a Batrider with blink+force+BoT. His initiation range is massive, you cannot juke him, you cannot tp away due to ~1.5k range flamebreak, his firefly allows him to come from anywhere and drag you anywhere, and he can drag you out of position into an enemy that just tp’d in. You should be able to understand more clearly now why he is and has been a top pick and ban for a very long time.

However, this does not mean that every time you are behind you should be hugging your towers. You see a fight or gank breaking out, or the enemy team pushing the tower, etc., any situation in which 5 enemy heroes are visible on the minimap and far away from a certain lane, you can farm and push that lane. By pushing it you force a reaction, you force them to move there to defend it and that in turn creates space for you to farm the jungle for example, or another lane.
It doesn’t matter if you are in their base or in their jungle, as long as you see where every enemy is and are quick enough on your TP, you will be able to escape. That’s why there are no global stuns in dota. Also remember, TP’ing to escape doesn’t always mean you should TP to base. If you have the health and mana, you can just TP to another lane and farm there.

Jungling – Creep Priority

Your goal is always to farm as quickly as possible, which means killing creeps as quickly as possible. This means being conscious about what order you focus creeps in, in the jungle. In the early game, with junglers especially, you want to kill creeps in such an order that you take as little damage as possible. However, later on when you are flashfarming with lifesteal or high regen, your priorities change.

In the bird camp, you wanna kill the one giving the armor aura first, making the others weaker.
For satyrs, you kill the one giving regen first (it’s only 3 hp per second, but if it makes the difference between a total of 16 hits instead of 17, it’s worth it).
Troll priest, kill healer first.
Ghost camp, kill ghost reducing your attack speed first.
Big troll camp, kill the small one first, then hit the big one to make him summon skeletons – they have a very nice hp/gold ratio.


Generally speaking, other items allow you to farm much faster than a midas. The only reason to buy this is if your hero really benefits from levels since he absolutely needs all spells maxed, like a Slark / Invoker / Tiny. The attackspeed is nice on some heroes and not that great on others, but over-all shouldn’t come into the equation when you’re deciding if you want to get it. As nice as it sounds as it is, 2050 gold for 30 AS is absolutely terrible and if you’re constantly fighting after you buy it you will really wish you bought something else. Also, try not to get more than 1-2 on your team in pubs, because you usually won’t have the coordination to play passively and not fight, which means you’re likely to feed and lose because you essentially dug yourselves in a 4k, 6k or 8k gold disadvantage (2, 3 or 4 midases).

In pretty much all cases, unless you really need gold more than exp (~lvl 16+, never for invoker), you want to use Midas on the big creep, because it amplifies the experience gain by 2.5, and over-all leaves the camp dead quicker. Naturally it should be on cooldown as often as possible, so you wanna head into the jungle as it’s about to come off cooldown. Sometimes there is a lot of farm on the lane or someone else has cleared the jungle, and in those cases it’s better to just use it on a lanecreep instead of wasting time. Remember however to use it on the melee creep, since it is level 3 and gives more experience than the level 2 ranged creep!

Maelstrom & Mjollnir & Radiance

You wanna leave creeps once they drop below a certain amount of HP, and move on to the next one so that the lightning / radiance kills them off and you don’t waste unnecessary hits on them.

These are more dependent on the heroes unlike midas. Radiance is good on heroes with illusions because they carry the aura and that allows you to splitpush – it’s pretty bad on most other heroes. As a general rule, Radiance gives the enemies reason to focus you, so you better make sure you can deal with that focus even after spending 5k gold on an item that gives you 0 survivability. Bristle and Wraith/Skeleton King are the somewhat only non-illusion heroes that fit this category.


You should always be looking at how much damage your cleave deals, and thereby switching targets so that ideally one hit finishes all the creeps. Of course, this is not the case in the aforementioned situations under ‘creep priority’.

The only heroes this item can be considered core on are Anti-Mage and Ember, and that’s because AM’s blink allowing him to flashfarm if he has a Battlefury, and Ember’s sleight of fist takes great advantage of the cleave. The few other heroes it can situationally work on are Phantom Assassin, Void and Jugger, but in most cases there are better choices.

Stacking the Jungle

You hit the creeps to draw their aggro at around the 53rd to 55th second of every minute and run away, pulling them out of the camp-block area and allowing a new camp to spawn. Ideally you would have supports do this for you, but this does not mean you cannot do it yourself as a carry when you can or have to leave the lane, when you are walking back to base, if you have a summon / illusions / long range nuke to aggro them with, etc.

Since the ancients are slightly further away, many carries pick up an early HotD to stack them with a dominated creep. You can even share unit control to let your allies use your creep to stack for you.

Note that stacking does not always mean getting 3-4 stacks and then killing them – even if you are simply farming a camp and you notice that you won’t be able to kill it before the xx:00 minute mark, it is worth it to stack it and finish off the camp-and-a-half or leave it for later.

Heroes that can farm stacks are those with any single or combination of the following: a multi-unit hitting attack (cleave (battlefury/magnus/sven), splash (DK), splitshot (medusa, gyro), bounces (luna), and spill (lanaya)), any AoE nuke (not for ancients), any lifesteal or high regeneration. If your carry has none of these (CK, Slardar, Night Stalker, Spirit Breaker) then you better fight early before you get outfarmed.

Lastly, keep in mind that when jungling you can sacrifice some speed for sustainability by drawing the creeps away from the camp, running, and then hitting them on their way back.

Pushing the Lane

You want to kill the enemy creeps as fast as possible while making your own creeps not take too much damage you can tank the wave if you have enough sustain, and you want to focus the ranged creeps first because they die the quickest but deal the most damage. Keep in mind that unlike the jungle you can lose lasthits on lane, so make sure you focus down creeps one by one.

If you have strong aoe damage and a gigantic enemy creepwave is coming but it’s very drawn out, run against it before your creeps arrive, and pull all the enemy creeps together so you can kill them all together. Note that this means you lose some HP and may be dangerous if you get ganked and disabled while tanking 4 creepwaves.

Maintaining Creep Equilibrium

To achieve this you need to essentially make sure both sides of creeps take equal damage – first off this means they need to be equal in number, and this can be achieved either by tanking enemy creeps and killing them quickly or only hitting enemy creeps once when they’re very low but starting to deny yours as soon as they’re below 50%.

Once you’ve got them equal in numbers, you need to make you’re not tanking anything and making sure that for every last-hit you hit your own creeps once (does not always have to be a deny)

Scrolls of Teleportation

Don’t TP to a lane unless there is a big wave incoming that you’re gonna miss out on. Try to see where big waves are going to gather and get there in time, saving your TP. When you do TP to a lane to farm make sure there is no fight going to break out soon that you can’t get to because you just used your TP. Also make sure you don’t find yourself in a situation where you need to TP out but can’t because it’s on cooldown.



These are some of the topics I will be discussing in the following chapter. If you want me to write about a certain one next, or have an idea for a topic that is not listed, feel free to message me.

  • Positioning
  • Teamfighting
  • Ganking
  • Skillbuilds
  • Itembuilds
  • Drafting
  • Fight participation
  • (Support) rotations
  • Timing
  • Laning
  • Enemy manipulation

3 thoughts on “Climbing the Ladder – Chapter 1: Farming

Add yours

  1. Hey Slash,

    Just want to let you know that your guides are insanely helpful for both new and experience players! Thanks for making the time for creating these guides as I myself have been applying these to my games with great success. It would be so cool if you could do your next topic on (teamfighting) as it’s quite an integral part of the game and frankly something a lot of us could have a better understanding of. Looking forward to future updates!

    Many Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: