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.