Calling in Ganks and Cost-Benefit Analysis

Time for another match anecdote and a (hopefully) helpful moral to the story.

All Random Radiant.  I swap to take Lone Druid and also accept mid.  Our bot safe lane is a Skeleton King/Centaur Warrunner combo, which is reasonably decent.  Our suicide solo is Sand King.  We have Nature’s Prophet as a jungler.  I think our lane choices were perfectly fine, with Sand King and Centaur’s positioning being more or less interchangeable.  The opponent’s send Clinkz mid, Luna and Ogre Magi to top safe lane, and Tinker/Dark Seer to bot hard lane.  Clinkz mid instead of Tinker is a little weird, but everything else is pretty standard.

Relatively early in the game (I can’t tell you precisely when because demo’s do not record team chat but definitely before 10 minutes) our Sand King requests a gank on his lane.  I’m a bit curt with him about how we just need him to get a quick 6 and gank.  He complains that we’re just letting Luna get freefarm.  At the time I wanted to give him a more elaborate response, but playing Lone Druid still demands way more attention from me than it ought to so I let it slide.  Here’s what the response would have been.

Lone Druid as a mid will not, and should not come help you.  If letting Luna have freefarm is bad, letting Clinkz have freefarm is an order of magnitude worse.  Lone Druid’s accomplishing everything he needs to focusing on the Clinkz 1v1, and if Clinkz does start roaming, LD’s bear has the pushing power to punish the enemy team for it by taking their most valuable tower.

You are correct that after Clinkz, Luna is the biggest carry threat on their team by far.  It would be nice to shut her down, but at the same time most of our team is across the map from her.  Instead of trying to shut her down, the three of them could converge on a relatively weak Tinker/Dark Seer lane.  Tinker ought to be an easy pickoff for Skeleton King/Centaur/Nature’s Prophet.  While it unfortunately did not work out that way, conceptually it’s by far the safest way to play it.  Freefarm Luna is not a good thing, but if we’re getting a freefarm Skeleton king, a farming Nature’s Prophet, and a lot of kills out of it, while our Sand King is getting a relatively unopposed quick 6, then that trade is working out in our favor.

To safely threaten Luna, we probably need to move 2 people top.  Prophet can just teleport there, but given our lineup this basically demands sending Centaur.  Doing this greatly exposes our Skeleton King so it’s immediately a risk.  If the gank isn’t successful then we’ve spent a lot of resources not stopping her farm while greatly inhibiting our own carry’s farm.  Meanwhile, we’re ganking into two stuns, and Luna’s ultimate is an extremely threatening countergank tool.  By comparison, focusing our efforts on making Tinker and Dark seer miserable is certainly not as valuable.  But it’s much less costly because no travel time is involved, and it’s much higher probability because neither hero has much in the way of CC.

What really gets to me is that the gank call came across as rather selfish.  Sand King had a lane where he couldn’t farm and felt it was his team’s responsibility to buy him some farming space.  Look, an early Arcane Boots + Blink Dagger is great on Sand King, but when we have a Lone Druid and Skeleton King it’s just not a priority.  We’re fine with you not getting farm.  Just get the levels you need and go gank.  Give us some warning and we’ll even be able to send either Prophet or Centaur to top to clear waves occasionally and protect the tower.

The other side lesson of the game is if you’re playing a melee, please strongly consider buying a Stout Shield.  It’s a very small investment for a very large increase in early survivability.  You don’t need to start with a Circlet so you can rush a Bracer as suicide Sand King.  Centaur and Skeleton King also didn’t buy Stout Shields ever, and had they both had one I think they would have had a much easier time dominating their lane.

Finally, this probably sounds like a game that we lost, but we did end up winning it.  I’m not sure we deserved to, but the moment of truth was buying a Gem of True Sight, almost immediately after catching Clinkz at the start of a gank attempt, blowing him up, and proceeding to crush the rest of the team 5v4 and pushing for a win.  So please remember to buy stealth detection against stealth characters.


9 Responses to Calling in Ganks and Cost-Benefit Analysis

  1. DeathBot says:

    I honestly think this comes down to the communication bit that got brought up on the Clinkz post. I think a more coordinated team would have realized just how little your team was accomplishing, Sand King especially, in this setup, and instead had him roaming down to bottom. Level 1 could have been an easy first blood with just the three stuns as soon as creeps met, and a few stealth tps back to bottom could have led to some good kills and an early tower push. Especially with a Furion and a Syllabear on your team, getting the extra gold and farming space up quickly was a good idea.

    I guess what I’m saying is that your Sand King needed to take your earlier advice and “always be accomplishing something”, especially when his other option is squandering the strength of having three strong melee stunners at level 1.

    • phantasmal says:

      You’re correct. Were our team willing to communicate it would have been pretty easy to send 3 bot at the start for an easy first blood, and then just have Sand King teleport top.

      The one wrinkle is that Sand King did intend to accomplish something. The problem was that he was tunnel visioning his “Farm Arcane+Blink” goal so hard that he was completely unaware of much better opportunities around the map. He managed a relatively quick six. Clinkz, Tinker, and Dark Seer are all relatively vulnerable to a good burrow strike into ult combo, as long as you coordinate it with some other damage to kill them before they surge/windwalk away. So many players are just absolutely fixated on farm, and then complain about how helpless they feel when playing supports.

      • DeathBot says:

        Yeah, I think that’d probably be a good target to touch on at some point. I’d wager that I could accomplish more as an antimage with blink dagger and orb of venom focused entirely on slowing and body-blocking than most of the Ancient Apparitions trying to get up their quick Sheep Sticks.

      • phantasmal says:

        That might be a bit extreme! But it does remind me of this post:

        I’m not going to vouch for it entirely, but it does make the point that even for one of the hardest of carries, people misplay her constantly by building purely for the lategame that they’ll probably never reach in a pub environment. Sometimes I wonder if someone like Phantom Assassin would do better if people built her for a strong diving midgame more than as a super late carry.

        It’s also the issue I have with a lot of character guides. 99% of the time 6-slot item builds are a completely worthless consideration, but it’s what people fixate on so guide writers feel obliged to include them.

      • DeathBot says:

        The build that I’ve actually seen espoused in the irc is something closer to Phase Vlad’s BKB, and I think Headliner ran something even quicker than that, but yeah PA already has a huge damage boost, so making her able to stand up effectively in a teamfight as well as being able to pump out some damage can definitely be more useful than the glacial BFury/Satanic in a number of situations.

  2. vikhik says:

    I am by no means a good DotA player – but I’m getting better. I’d like to thank you for posting such an informative piece! An insight into the thought processes really helps with my understanding of the game and should assist me in making better, quicker CBA’s in game.

  3. JaKoClubS says:

    Solid post though I believe that what he was showing was more a lack of knowledge rather than selfishness. For him to be even remotely upset by your inability to gank that early shows that he simply doesn’t understand how the early laning phase works. Being in a solo lane does not escalate you to “requires mad farm” status. Beyond that he should have been aware of the fact that denting clinkz and protecting/pushing mid lane are both much more important to your teams early game goals than dominating luna in the suicide.

    • phantasmal says:

      It’s entirely possible that he was legitimately worried about Luna rather than being concerned for his personal farm. I certainly made sure to give him the benefit of the doubt in team chat.

      I would say though that sometimes there is an attitude that leaks over from certain other games that wrongly believes that you need to contest every lane, and whatever the source, this guy bought into that philosophy far harder than he should have.

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