Understanding how a hero's presence can affect a lane and techniques for controlling a lane will allow a player to manipulate a lane to accomplish whatever they set out to do, such as farm safely near their own tower or push the lane out to kill the enemy tower.
Throughout the game, where creeps meet and fight each other is constantly shifting, especially once heroes are helping to kill them. During the laning phase, it's important to be aware of how far up or down the lane these fights are happening.
- It's much safer to last-hit creeps when the creeps are fighting closer to your tower, because of the protection it offers.
- If the enemy team tries to kill you as you attempt to last-hit, you can quickly retreat to to the tower where they will be less likely to pursue you.
- If the creeps are fighting further down the lane you're in a more dangerous position when you try to last-hit, because you're farther away from your tower.
Depending on your hero's strengths you may want to actively try to push your lane towards the enemy tower to put pressure on it and allow you to eventually kill it. Having the enemy tower also killing off your creeps means that creep wave will be killed off faster, allowing the enemy creep wave to advance back to your tower sooner. This shifts the creep equilibrium for subsequent waves back closer to your tower.
Last-hitting creeps disturbs the creep equilibrium, because you're helping your creeps kill off the enemy creeps. Over time this means your creep wave will slowly push towards the enemy tower, where it becomes more dangerous and difficult to continue to last-hit. This is why it is important to carefully time your attacks and only attack creeps if it's to get a killing blow.
To counter the effects of last-hitting pushing the lane, you want to balance your last-hits with denies. This doesn't mean you need to wait to get a last hit on your own creeps. Attacking your own creeps once they half health will suffice since it will make your creep die quicker.
Helping to kill off your own creeps negates the advantage you give to your creeps when you kill enemy creeps.
Maintaining creep equilibrium through balanced last-hitting and denying results in creep waves meeting at the same place in the lane every time, wave after wave. Farming a lane while maintaining its equilibrium is known as static-farming
Manipulating Creep Line with Creep Aggro
A technique beneficial for melee heroes is to draw creep aggro by attempting to attack an enemy hero in lane (right-clicking them) and then immediately moving away and back to your tower. The creeps will follow you until they reprioritize their target and return to attacking your creeps. This will result in a reversal of where your creeps and the enemy creeps are as pictured below.
Having the enemy creeps on your side makes it safer to last hit, because now they're closer to you and you have your creeps in front to defend against enemy heroes.
Neutral pulling is also a tactic used to divert your creeps from the lane.
Instead of allowing your creeps to continue to move down the lane and ultimately engage the enemy creeps, they can be drawn out of a lane to fight the neutral creeps in a nearby jungle camp instead.
This lets the enemy creep wave move all the way up to your own tower.
If a neutral camp is stacked before your creep wave is pulled into it, the stacked neutral camp can completely kill off your own creep wave, thereby denying the enemy an creep wave of experience and gold.
You can also last-hit the neutral camp and deny your own creeps just as you would if your creeps were fighting enemy creeps.
- Most of the time before you pull, you'll want to have the neutral camp stacked. So in general, always stack before you pull.
However, a good enemy won't allow you to freely pull camps uncontested.
They can completely prevent your neutral camp from spawning by placing a ward inside the camp, because neutral camps won't respawn if there is a unit in the area.
They can also try to pull your pulled creeps back into the lane, or just try to farm off your creeps and the neutrals.
Heroes can slow down the movement of creeps by getting in front of them. This obstructs the creeps and forces them to move around the hero. If the hero does this at the beginning of a lane and keeps moving forward with the creeps while blocking them, this can make a significant impact on where the two creep lines will fight in lane.
A hero creep blocking in the middle lane.
The first picture below shows where the creeps would meet in the middle lane if both sides are unblocked. The second picture shows where the creeps meet if the player on the Dire side blocks his creeps. Note that the creeps meet at the top of the ramp. This gives the Dire player the elevation advantage, because it forces the Radiant player to stand in the river if he wants to last hit.
Creep blocking is usually done on the first creep wave of the game and only by the middle lane and the Radiant players in the top lane and Dire players in the bottom lane.
You can control a lane by harassing enemy heroes that are in range of the creeps. With enough harassment, you can deter enemies from being able to get close enough to last-hit. And with dominating lane harassment, you can even push them so far away from the creeps to the point where they aren't getting experience.
- You want to maintain a presence in lane and make it felt by the other team so they don't feel they can safely last-hit.
- Ranged heroes are particularly effective at harassing, especially against melee heroes, because they can harass without the melee hero being able to counterattack.
- Harassing also forces heroes to use consumables to regenerate their health. Effective harassment will make the enemy use up all their consumables and keep them on low life which allows them to be killed easily. Enemies under harassment won't want to leave the lane to heal unless they're on the verge of dying, because they'll miss out on experience and gold from being in lane. This forces them to play more passively as they might just choose to stay in experience range and not get close enough to last-hit.
- Often times an enemy that is missing health from good harassment will still attempt to last-hit and overextend to the point where they can be easily finished off.
Pictured below is an example of good harassment. The red arrow shows where the hero should move right after attacking to avoid taking damage from creep aggro and the enemy hero.
Pictured below is an example of bad harassment. The hero is too close to the creep line and will take damage from creep aggro.
You can also position yourself where it makes the enemy harder to harass you. In the above image, if the hero under harassment was positioned farther to the left and behind his creeps, it would eliminate good positions for the enemy to harass from.
A DotaCinema video on basic pulling, and a great video by FiercE explaining Zoning and Positioning
A video by FiercE demonstrating advanced creep pulling.