I’ve noticed that I’ve recently spend some time to explain in depth how laning works in HotS compare to other moba, and I think it could be useful if I put all those advices on the same place.
Disclaimer: sorry, I’m not a native English speaker, fell free to report my mistakes.
So first of all, what is the laning phase. It’s the early game. The whole goal is to be the first to hit 10 to get heroic (ultimate ability). Having heroic will allow you to have a favorable fight while your opponent are still level 9 (so group up when you hit 10 before them and engage, you have the advantage, or stay safe if your team is late, they will want to engage you). You will get 10 faster, by getting more XP, and by denying XP to your opponents. The generic way to do it is to always have at least 1 hero at XP range on every lane for every minions. Some Asian pro-players sometime prefer to group up to push as 4-5 even at level 8 to get XP from structure, but it’s not a common strategy, I will not expend more on it.
One of the core design of HotS is that their is no money and XP is shared. Furthermore, you don’t need to last hit, only being in XP range (about the same than vision range, even mounted) to get the shared XP. I will not say it’s better compare to standard moba (it’s a personal opinion) but it change completely the dynamic of the game. Because of that rotation are extremely important in heroes.
The implications are in fact really important. You can run a 1/3/1 or 2/2/1 or even 4/0/1 (the 4 man roaming between 2 lanes to get the XP on both) distribution of heroes (in 3 lanes map) because no-one will be spoiled (in term of XP or gold). You can have 1 heroes in each lane, and 2 waiting in bush to gank someone, or doing mercenaries.
Furthermore, the one who stay alone on his lane will change during a game. Past level 10 it’s better to group up as 5, whereas before 10 (the laning phase) you should be more spread. If you are a hero with a global, before level 10 it’s better to be with someone to be ready to switch lanes if someone else need help. After level 10, it’s better if the hero with a global stay alone to be ready to group at anytime with the 4 other!
So I think you have understood that it’s important to get the xp from the minions wave, but how do we actually do that?
If you are the solo laner, your goal is to get XP. Nothing more. To get the XP, you have to stay alive, with enough life to not have to B. It’s stupid to say it, but in fact it’s really important. A good solo laner is a hero with great sustain and great poke. Thrall is a really good example because of his trait and his chain lighting. If you play thrall (and it’s the same think for all solo laner), if you have vision on all enemy on the minimap, you can be a bit more aggressive if you don’t take damage that you cannot heal yourself. If you are against zagara, you can poke her with your chain lighting while staying at max distance. Don’t try to AA, you will lose some HP, and trading HP expose your more to gank. Wait that the minions die by themself, to clear the wave when they will come nearer your tower. Don’t take risks. Remember, if you die you have fail your job. If you need to tap the healing well, you have use your joker and it will not be available for the next objective. If you need to back you may lose one wave of XP. Because of that trading HP is often bad. EDIT: I forgot to mention that nearly all map have a safer lane, and it’s where the solo laner should be! EDIT: By stalling your wave, waiting to hit the enemy minions under your tower, your encourage your enemy to overextend and this can help your ganker to kill your opponent.
If you are in a 4/0/1 distribution and you are in the 4 man, your goal is to clear the wave as fast as possible. The best map for that is Tomb of the spider queen. Since your goal is to clear the wave as fast as possible, don’t stop to fight unless you kill one of the opponent really fast. At the beginning of the game, 1 kill give approximately the same amount of XP than 1 wave of minions while being much riskier. Often people group at the middle at the start because it’s were the first wave will come first. The goal is not to get a kill, but to clear the wave faster than your opponent so your 4 man will have some advance.
If you are in a 1/1/1 + 2 roamer comp, and you are the roamer, your goal is to inspire fear to the enemy! If you are nova, the enemy solo lanner should not be allowed to soak XP while constantly risking his life. If you do your job correctly, your solo laner should feel safe, while you dictate how the enemies need to rotate!
And finally, here are some general tips
- Being extra-safe: If you don’t need to push and you fear to be ganked stay on your mount behind your minions wave (near your gate) or inside bushes without attacking. You will still get the XP, even if it take ages for the wave to die, but you will drastically reduce your change of being caught by a gank. Better to be safe than sorry!
- Dual laning: When you have nearly clear the lane (~2 minions have ~15% life), start channeling your mount. Your minions will finish the job while you go away giving you ~2-3s of advance!
- Pushing and draining tower ammo: Kill first the archer then the mage. They have more DPS (especially the archer) and less life than the melee minions.
- Building big minions wave: Kill archer and mage, but keep the enemy melee minion alive. Since they have a lot of life, this will slow your wave, so your next wave will catch up with the previous one.
- Denying XP while enemies are away from your lane: attack first the archers but don’t last hit them (put them at ~10% life), so they will kill you melee minions. If your melees are killed without an enemy at XP range, you’ve done your job! By pre-hitting the archers, it will be really fast to clear the wave if you need to leave.
- Denying XP while one enemy try to be in your lane (especially against 1 viking as illidan): to do that you needto be sure you know where all enemy are at all time. If you die for that it’s not useful. Obviously, you also need to have an extremely favorable matchup like illidan vs eric or baelog. The idea is really simple: you position yourself between the enemy minions and the enemy tower. Then as explain previously, you attack the enemy archers without killing them. Obviously it’s really risky, but the idea is that you will force your opponent to stay outside of XP range while your minions dies.
- EDIT: Denying XP while enemies are really far away from your lane: see above how to push and drain tower ammunition. If your minions dies because of enemy towers, it’s the same thing than if they die because of your minions. In both case if your enemies are not there to soak XP, you will deny it!
- EDIT: Don’t loose XP: Don’t let a minion wave dying on your tower, especially if it’s a big wave. Be smart on your rotation, don’t chase too much, otherwise, your enemy will be able to deny your XP 🙂
- EDIT: Laning while being in a winning matchup (copy-pasta of raptorthebun comment): it is important to start understanding your matchups in order to know which lanes you should win. For example, say you are Thrall and laning vs. a Valla. You should position yourself (assuming you can see other enemies on the mini-map) in an aggressive position and continually chain lightning Valla (and without being in your minions to not risk to be hit by her multi-shot). This may allow you to deny experience to the enemy team because to get into exp range Valla has to risk being caught by your wolves root and potentially dying. If the enemy team doesn’t have a great solo laner, you should punish them for it and not just passively get XP in your lane.
I hope all that wall of text will help you! See you in the nexus.