Ten DOTA Techniques you should make habits

In this guide I will be teaching 10 incredibly useful tricks & habits to incorporate in your game for increased efficiency and game knowledge.

To jump to the sections, click on a link below.

  1. Always be treadswapping
  2. Directional movement
  3. Using your Helm Of Dominator
  4. Bottle crowing and bottle sharing
  5. Shift queueing
  6. Hero specific options
  7. Knowing enemy skill choices
  8. Keeping track of timings
  9. Last hitting tricks
  10. Reliable vs Unreliable Gold
  11. Bonus

1. Always be treadswapping

Treadswapping is essentially the concept of changing your (power treads) between intelligence, agility, and strength at the most opportune times. To know the benefits of switching between these three attributes, we must first go through what each attribute gives you. Some things to keep in mind are that treads give you +9 points of any one attribute at any one time, and every point of your heroes primary attribute gives you one damage.


  • Every point gives you +12 mana (9 intelligence reads would give you 108)
  • Each point gives you +0.04 mana regen or mana per second (9 intelligence would give you +0.36 mana persecond)
  • Every point in intelligence adds 0.0625% spell damage, meaning the 9 intelligence from treads would give you slightly more than ~0.5% damage on your spells additionally.


  • Every point gives you 20 hp (9 strength reads would give you 180 hp)
  • Each point increases health regeneration by 0.03 HP per second, strength treads gives you 0.27 health per second additionally.


  • Every point gives you 0.14 armor, meaning treads will give you roughly 1.5 armor.
  • Each point in agility gives you 1 attack speed, agility treads will give you +9 attack speed.

So now that we know what each attribute of your power treads does, it’s important to discuss the core philosophy of treadswapping:

Current health and mana percentages stay unchanged upon switching attributes!


If you are missing 50% of your HP, and you buy a vitality booster (+250 hp), you will still be missing 50% of your hp – the only difference will be what that 50% of your total health pool actually is. Pay close attention to the health bar in the gif below.

Notice how despite buying six vitality boosters (+1500 hp) my health bar doesn’t seem to change? That’s because your health bar is a representation of your health percentage. And the percentages do not change, no matter whether you add health or mana through strength and intelligence (attributes) or through raw health and mana (vitality and energy booster).

Now that we’ve talked about how gaining attributes works, it’s time to answer the two big questions: How and when do I treadswap and how can losing attributes help me?

Treadswapping is a simple concept once you grasp the understanding, and there are three main concepts to nail down:

  1. Taking damage when on strength treads will effectively mitigate damage by increasing your health pool.
  2. Healing mana & health when on agility will increase your gains due to having both a smaller health pool.
  3. Casting spells on intelligence will increase spell damage by a small margin & effectively save you mana by increasing your total mana pool.

You want to be gaining mana (mango, mana potion, arcane boots, soul ring) with the least intelligence possible, in order to increase your total mana percentage the most. You want to be gaining mana on strength or agility treads whenever possible.

Contrarily, when losing mana (casting spells), you want the most intelligence possible – in order to reduce your mana percentage losses.

You want to be gaining health (health potion, bottle, heals) with the least strength possible, in order to increase your total health percentage the most You want to be gaining health on agility or intelligence.

Contrarily, when losing health (taking damage), you want the most strength possible – in order to reduce your health percentage losses.

Other aspects of treadswapping:

Ancient apparition’s ult deals damage every time you treadswap from strength

Swapping treads also cancels teleports, removes invis, and cancels channels.

2. Directional Movement

‘Directional move’ is found in options -> hotkeys -> advanced hotkeys.

What is directional movement?

Directional movement, or direct pathing, is essentially moving while ignoring the games path finder. Holding down your direct pathing button and your move button (for me it’s G as seen above + right click) will ignore and attempt to walk through creeps, buildings, heroes, walls, cliffs, trees, and more. Watch the video below for an example:

Directional movement allows you to:

  • Force staff in the perfect direction every time
  • Land shadowfiend razes from uphill & downhill
  • Head into Earth Shaker wall before it fades, ignoring pathing & saving your life!

In summary, ignoring pathing around all obstacles has endless potential! It’s up to you and your creativity to find situations where you can use directional pathing.

3. Always be using your Helm Of The Dominator (HOTD)

Many low rated players suffer from a problem. They buy helm of the dominator and just use it for the lifesteal. The item is an extremely good bargain with the ability to take over creeps withh lots of purposes including stacking, purging, dealing magic damage, slowing, stunning, draining mana, giving physical armor & giving magic armor.

Stacking with your HOTD

The most basic use of a helm of the dominator is to stack your ancients, but you can stack any camp with a melee or ranged lane creep or any jungle creep. If you need help, use this stacking guide to help you. If you are not stacking with a creep, you should always be having a creep doing something; and in this section we will go over options for you and your dominated creeps.

Useful creeps, what they do, and when you can use them outside of stacking

If your creep is about to die, disassemble the item (if safe)

Disassembling your HOTD instantly kills the creep and grants zero experience to any nearby enemies that may be killing the creep, effectively wasting their time.

Additionally, disassembling your helm of the dominator while killing your Golem creeps, will still create two shard golems. Both last 60 seconds and each has a 125 magic damage, 0.6 second stun. Watch Arteezy take advantage of this gimmick to net himself an easy kill below.

4. Bottle crowing & Bottle Sharing

When teleporting out of the base, you keep a residual fountain buff on your hero for 3 seconds after the teleport to a tower or unit finishes. This buff will fill bottles, heal you, and give mana. If you’re the mid player, you can hand your bottle off to a hero that ports middle from base and they can have enough time to fill it with the buff, use a charge or two (on you), and have it fill again. Watch below if you need help understanding.

Bottle crowing is essentially sending your courier back to base with your bottle on it to get that same fountain buff on the courier and have it fill your bottle. Here’s an example. Typically you would shift queue the couriers 4th then 5th spell if you have additional items to get, or shift queue the courier from fountain back to mid.

5. Take advantage of shift queueing

What are shift clicking and/or shift queuing?

Shift queuing is essentially assigning multiple actions to queue up after one another with the shift button. Essentially creating a queue of actions for your hero to complete; be it spells, movement, or otherwise. In this section we’re going to go over how this can be useful to you nearly every single game.

Keep in mind that most spell combinations will be slowed down by shift queueing, and its only certain heroes – particularly channel using heroes – that should be shift queueing their spell combinations. However most heroes in most games can utilize shift queueing in some capacity. We’re going to go over some of the examples in which you should be shift queueing.

Shift queuing after spell usage

Many channeled spells allow you time to queue your next actions; including enigmas black hole, sand kings epicenter, and more. Here are some examples on how you can utilize shift queueing to be more successful with these spells.

Watch the video below to see that shift queueing your blink dagger to go off immediately after sand kings epicentre allows you to NOT miss a pulse of his ultimate, adding 110 damage to your combo that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Be disciplined in using this though, because ‘cancelling’ a shift queue with S or H will cancel your channel as well. You don’t want to make the mistake of realizing you shouldn’t be blinking a certain way after you’ve already shift queued it up!

The next video shows how shift queueing movement after a spell cast will prevent you from attacking after spell usage. This is useful on lion for example, so you don’t automatically auto attack heroes (pulling agro for example) or creeps (pushing lane for example) by mistake.

Shift clicking; queueing movement with the shift key

Shift clicking is essentially queueing up movement with movement and not spells or other hero interactions. This can be useful in many ways including picking up runes more efficiently, farming with illusions more efficiently, and having a more observant eye on the game while farming.

The video below shows how you can shift queue both your illusions and your hero to attack-move (a+left click) in order to farm both camps with more efficiency and less micromanagement.

The next video demonstrates how you can shift queue your own heroes farming in order to give you time to check out the other lanes, the heroes in them, their items, and what they’ve skilled.

6. If necessary, change your options to suit your hero

There are hundreds of options, hotkey combinations, and ways to customize your game. Many top players will change small options or several keybinds depending on what hero they are playing. In this section I’m going to show you how you can improve your game by changing some settings through examples.

Naga Siren, Terrorblade, Nature’s Prophet


‘Summoned unit auto attack’ is found in options -> advanced options-> top left

For these three heroes the one commonality is that you send your units to lanes and jungle camps to farm and push. It’s an incredible nuisance micro units that won’t auto attack by default. Setting ‘summoned unit auto attack’ to ‘always’ allows you to send your summons (naga illusions, terrorblade illusions, and natures prophet treants) to any lane or jungle creep and have them auto attack by default. This saves you a lot of micromanagement time & effort. Watch the video below to see the difference.

7. Check what spells your enemy has early in lane

You can see (most of) what spells your enemy has skilled based on whether or not there is a green range indicator around the hero. This only works with spells that require a certain range to be used, and doesn’t work with passives & other similar spells. Here’s an example with nyx assasin.

Among other heroes that this trick is best against are some early-laning supports.

Knowing whether or not a disruptor has skilled glimpse, a dazzle has skilled shallow grave, or a crystal maiden has skilled her freeze is vital information. Take a look at the image below, I can clearly see that dazzle has shallow grave skilled at level one leaving him with weak damage output and no heal. This information is vital for early lane kills & ganks.

8. Keep track of timings

By clicking alt + left click on the clock at the top of the screen, you can note certain timings in the game. In this section I will share several timings you can keep note of.

  • Runes last two minutes inside of a bottle, afterwards they are automatically activated. If possible, note when your enemy picks up a rune. New runes also spawn every 2 minutes all game, independently of what runes are bottled.
  • Aegis lasts 5 minutes, mark down the timing of when your enemy or team picks up the aegis in order to know when it is a good time to fight.
  • After roshan dies, he will respawn between 8-11 minutes. Be aware of that timing in order to defend, contest, check, or sneak roshan!

Below I’ve listed some notable hero-ultimate cooldowns to keep track of whenever possible. Many top players have all of these ultimate timings memorized, and know when to take advantage of a window of opportunity do to a spell being down. They also know when to avoid a conflict or play safe (eg: mirana ulti is coming up and you are ill prepared).

Ultimate Cooldowns

HeroCooldown lvl 6Cooldown lvl 11Cooldown lvl 16Cooldown aghs
Enigma3 min, 20 sec3 min2 min, 40 secDoesn't change
Faceless Void2 min, 10 sec1 min, 55 sec1 min, 40 sec1 minute
Mirana 2 min, 20 sec2 min1 min, 40 secDoesn't change
Earthshaker2 min, 30 sec2 min, 10 sec,1 min, 50 secDoesn't change
Omniknight2 min, 30 sec2 min, 30 sec2 min, 30 secDoesn't change
Spectre2 min, 20 sec2 min, 10 sec2 minDoesn't change
Death Prophet2 min, 25 sec2 min, 25 sec2 min, 25 secDoesn't change
Silencer2 min, 10 sec2 min, 10 sec2 min, 10 secDoesn't change
Night Stalker2 min, 40 sec2 min1 min, 20 secDoesn't change

9. Early last hitting tricks

For this section I’m actually going to start with a video instead of ending with a video. Please watch the video of ramzes getting perfect under-tower last hits with terrorblade. We’re going to discuss the tricks he is using to get perfect last hits.


Notice how ramzes is dropping his quelling blade to secure last hits? This is what, in my uncreative way, I’m dubbing the ‘quelling blade drop trick’. We’re going to get into the math behind this trick, and teach you some valuable knowledge on when to use it.

There are multiple concepts at play here, so we’ll go over the basics. Thanks to a phenomenal study by Physics Math Man we now have discernible math available to back up the instincts and ‘feel’ of when to last hit. Most pro players are aware of this math, and use it to their advantage when last hitting under tower. Math man provided the rule & benchmark for when to attack what creeps with what damage under the tower. Please watch PMM’s video on the ‘6,7,8’ rule below. Don’t forget to subscribe and like the video if possible to support him.

If you are struggling with the concept, I’ve created a table below.

6 7 8 - Last hitting

DamageMelee CreepRanged CreepCatapult
45-69Hit onceHit onceHit twice
70-79Probably DO NOT hitProbably hit onceProbably DO NOT hit
80+DO NOT hitDO NOT hitDO NOT hit

Due to the way damage variation works, the 70-79 damage range is a dangerous area to be in. I’ve put ‘probably’ in each category, as does Physics Math Man, because the math allows room for variation but the statistics show which way you should hedge your bets.

Here’s where it gets interesting: Melee heroes often have a quelling blade, giving them 140% attack damage on creeps as opposed to the damage they’d have otherwise. This ties back into ramzes’s perfect last hitting and the reason for dropping his quelling blade: He wanted to stay out the 70 damage range. With 52 damage initially, ramzes had 72.8 damage with the quelling blade. By dropping it, he assured himself mathematical perfection under the tower, avoiding the variation and “probably’s” that the 7 in the 6,7,8 rule provides.

For Ramzes’s terrorblade, with zero stat items, he is not mathematically safe with a quelling blade until he’s hit level four – when his attack damage reaches 60 and his quelling blade damage reaches 84. He could also probably hedge his bets at level 3, where his attack damage is 57 and his quelling blade damage is 79.8 (just short of our ‘safe’ zone).

To use Ramzes’s quelling blade drop-trick, there’s a simple rule that follows our 6,7,8 formula. If your damage is between 50 & 57, and you have a quelling blade (and are melee), your damage to creeps is between 70 and 79.8 and therefore in our dangerous zone. It’s advised, if possible, to drop your quelling blade under tower for more successful last hitting.

If you’d rather use the table below to see when you should drop your quelling blade, feel free.

Melee Heroes with Quelling Blades - 6,8,7 rule

DamageQuelling damage (melee hero)Drop quelling blade if possible?Melee CreepRanged CreepCatapult
4968NoHit onceHit onceHit once
5070YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5171.4YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5272.8YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5374.2YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5475.6YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5577YesHit once if droppedHit once Hit once if dropped
5678.4YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5779.8YesHit once if droppedHit onceHit once if dropped
5881.2NoDon't hit until last hitDon't hit until last hitDon't hit until last hit

Finally, I have some final notes that may benefit you.

  • Catapults spawn every seventh wave (or every three minutes) By the first catapult wave, you should virtually always have 80+ damage to creeps with a quelling blade on a melee hero, so do not attack a catapult under tower until the last hit.
  • To practice this technique, download “Last hit excercises” by esvban here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=531587903

10. Spend your unreliable gold, save your reliable gold

What is reliable gold?

Reliable gold is any bounty you get from objectives. It includes roshan gold, tower gold, hero kill gold, and courier gold. It also includes track gold & hand of midas gold.

What is unreliable gold?

Unreliable gold consists of everything else including gold gain over time, starting gold, creep kills, neutrals, etc.

How to see how my gold is distributed?


Gold distribution is found by hovering over your current gold next to the shop button at the bottom right.

So what does it matter?

Essentially unreliable gold is the gold you want to get rid of. Notice how in the image above, there is a death cost. Every hero always has a death cost. You lose money when you die. However, most people do not know that you only lose unreliable gold when you die. Riki’s unreliable gold is less than his death cost, so he will lose all of his unreliable gold, but will not lose the entire 240 gold for his death cost.

When to spend my unreliable gold?

You essentially almost always want to be spending your unreliable gold if possible, while making sure you have a buyback would you need it (many cases you know you won’t need to buyback, so SPEND THAT UNRELIABLE GOLD!) In the lategame, as a core hero, you want to have enough reliable gold to buyback, but spend your unreliable gold so you lose none on death. In short:

  • Buyback takes reliable gold first, unreliable second.
  • Item purchases take unreliable gold first, reliable gold second.
  • Death will ONLY take unreliable gold.

Bonus: other habits to be building

Use the scan as much as possible

Many people have the habit of scanning once a game, and wasting it on roshan pit (where it does not work). Here are some instances of when you can use the scan.

  • If you are afraid an invis hero is in your lane (Riki, bounty, shadow bladed hero), use the scan on top of yourself. It lasts 8 seconds, which guarentees you 8 seconds of safety from invis hero ganks.
  • If you’re afraid of a smoke gank coming into your lane or farming area, use the scan on a chokepoint to offer 8 seconds of detection.
  • On the contrary, if you’re intending to smoke gank, use the scan to see if you can find an area where enemy heroes are definitely farming.
  • Use the scan to see when certain heroes are taking ancient stacks (Templar assasin, sven, gyrocopter) and see if you can intervene.

Keep your items in the same slots to build continuity and comfort

This is VP. Alohadance’s juggernaut history:

This is Vega.no[o]one’s juggernaut history

Notice anything similar? Besides the fact that they are playing on the same account; both of these players try as much as possible to keep key items such as manta, blink dagger, phase boots, travels, battle fury, and mask of madness in the same item slots of their inventory. This builds muscle memory and creates a form of continuity where you don’t need to check your items to know where they are. I suggest all players do this and get used to making this  a habit.

Credits, sources, thanks: NoobfromUA, Dotabuff, PhysicsMathMan, Gamepedia

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