Hi all, Since there are going to be a lot of new people coming soon, I figured it’s time to help them understand when it’s best to pull mercs and when it’s best not to. There’s also some other useful advice about how to play. So below you’ll find a guide, which works for most situations, although there are always going to be exceptions.
WHEN NOT TO PULL MERCS (TAKE THESE SUGGESTIONS ALTOGETHER AS ONE)
- Don’t pull mercs when an objective is up. The temples in Sky Temple, the mine skulls in Mines, the shamblers in the Garden, and so on—all of these things are more important than mercs. Why? If you succeed in getting the objective, your team will be capable of pulling far more XP and clearing out far more structures than your mercs will, especially if your merc pulling let your opponents get the objective.
- Don’t pull mercs when you get the objective reward. The objective rewards, be it the raven curse, garden terror, spiders, golem, or dragon knight, are all going to aid your team in making a big push. By sticking together and pushing with your objective reward or, on occasion, by sticking together and distracting your opponents by pushing a different lane, you are going to knock down far more towers and get far more take downs than your mercs ever would. And just as importantly, you are going to get lots of experience from knocking down those towers and getting those takedowns. And these extra team levels means that when it is time to go get mercs, you will do it quicker and with far less risk that the opposing team will be able to come in and successfully gank you and steal all your mercs out from under you. And, as an additional suggestion, take the objective rewards down a side lane if possible—after you clear out the structures with the objective, (a) the opposing team will have to potentially cross the whole map to defend it; (b) most mercs and all bosses take side lanes, making their threat more severe and their utility as a distraction even better; and (c) several maps have the objective(s) near the side(s) of the map, such that taking out the enemy fountains and ‘safe zone’ behind the towers gives you a real advantage.
- Don’t pull mercs if there’s a team fight or your teammate needs help in a fight, even if you just started the camp. People get too stuck on the idea that “Well, I already started pulling the mercs, my team can last until I get done.” What’s really going to happen is that your teammates are going to die and/or you are going to lose vital structures. What’s more, if your team dies and you’re nowhere on the map to be seen, there’s a good chance your enemies will come looking to kill you and/or steal your camp. And what good are mercs if no one can support them? There supposed to be there as a distraction, a longer-lasting non-hero target for towers, and a bit of extra siege/push damage. Your opponents can easily dispatch this if your team is dead. The one exception that would allow you to stay on that bruiser or boss a second or two longer is if you’ve almost finished the camp and/or you are way too far away to get to the team fight. That said, don’t lie to yourself and say “Eh, they’re too far a way.” It takes about 10 seconds to cross a map, and if your team is engaged in a 4v4 or 4v5, you can likely make it on time.
WHEN TO PULL MERCS (TAKE THESE SUGGESTIONS ALTOGETHER AS ONE AS WELL)
- Pull mercs when you have a level advantage. As I mentioned above, if you have a level advantage, you can pull camps faster and with less worry that your opponents will successfully gank you and steal the camp out from under you.
- Pull mercs when they’re a man down If you don’t have a level advantage, you want to wait till you have a numbers advantage. This makes it both safer to pull the camp and more effective when you push with the mercs after pulling them.
- Pull mercs before objectives before an objective appears as a distraction. If you know an objective is going to appear soon, have your team grab a camp or two. This means that when the objective appears, their team has to decide whether to let the mercs do their damage or to forego the objective. Good teams will almost always go for the objective in the early game (when their core is not in direct risk), so that means the mercs will do their work. Less-than-good teams will try to take out the mercs before going after the objective, and that means you get the objective more easily and any damage it would cause.
- Pull mercs when you have the team collaboration to support them in a push. Sometimes you are well up in levels, but objectives and objective rewards aren’t on the horizon. Since the lower level a team is the faster it will level, you don’t just want to fall back to soaking—the lower-level team will catch up. Instead you want to instigate a push. In order to buttress your level advantage, you can grab a camp or two to support your push and take all the tower damage that would otherwise hit heroes and minions.
- Pull mercs to prevent opponents from pulling mercs—if you can succeed at it. I am reluctant to post this suggestion because a lot of new people aren’t able to recognize the right conditions to do a preventative pull. In this case, you’re not really hoping for much good to come from the mercs your pulling; you’re just trying to prevent the bad of the opponents getting it. That said, this usually means pulling camps on their side of the map, which is dangerous. You don’t want to put yourself in a position well behind their lines without any advantage of your own and without any knowledge of their whereabouts to do this—you will likely get killed and do half of the work of pulling the camp for them. Instead, if you have the support of your teammates AND you have the level advantage and/or numbers advantage AND you won’t be putting yourself in a position without multiple viable escape routes AND the opponent’s team doesn’t have better composition for that period of the game and/or better teamwork AND other better options for pushing aren’t available, then your team MIGHT want to preventatively pull a merc camp closer to their side of the map.
BUT WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING IF I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE PULLING MERC CAMPS AND THERE’S NOTHING ELSE TO DO?
- Support your team mates. If you see teammates engaged with enemies on the mini-map—and you should be checking the minimap every few seconds!—go help them. You might be that one damage dealer, CCer, or healer that wins the fight.
- Encourage your team to push or soak/defend lanes. If your team has a level advantage, a numbers advantage, better teamwork, and/or better composition in general or for that specific period of the game (i.e., better early-mid game damage dealing), then encourage your team to make a good push. This will do the most to solidify your level advantage since buildings give so much XP and create a weak lane to distract your opponents. If, on the other hand, you don’t have at least a few of these advantages, then, first, defend your lanes and, second, soak as much XP as possible. This means supporting your team in team fights to defend your lanes and, afterward, going back to lanes to soak up XP. This will do a lot to catch you up on XP, and while you won’t be getting the XP your would get from a successful push, your push wasn’t likely to be successful if you didn’t have at least a few of the aforementioned advantages.
- Scout. If an opposing hero or even most of the enemy team is nowhere to be seen on the map, then they’re probably pulling mercs themselves. It’s often a good idea for a team to have someone out checking the camps, especially if the minimap seems to be lacking in opposing team mates. That said, not just any hero should go. Some heroes aren’t designed for soaking; some heroes aren’t as vital at the beginning of a team fight, but more for picking off weakened enemies; and some heroes are very mobile or have some other way to escape or avoid damage. Nova, for example, fits all three of these criteria since she can’t soak well, is too fragile to engage in team fights until she is sure she can get some game-changing damage in, and she is cloaked to avoid damage while running around. You would want to send a hero like this to scout the enemy, and even if this hero finds nothing, the fact that she’s between lanes means she can run to reinforce a team fight in either one. And most importantly, when that hero finds something, say three heroes pulling a boss, she should notify you and your team should respond with enough force to win the fight.
BUT WHAT IF MY TEAMMATES WON’T FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES
- Do what makes the team win, which is not necessarily what is right. Huh? If you can get your whole team to follow this guide, you’re far more likely to win. And, as a side not/piece of advice, it often helps not to say “Come here” or “What are you doing” but to make a suggestions like “When we get Spiders, let’s all push the top lane. We can send the boss down after.” That said, games with new people often result in them doing things like pulling mercs at the wrong time, soaking lanes when a push would be better, not helping in a team fight. The way to resolve this is force them into the engagement. If you’re going to push, push the lane their pushing. If they’re pulling mercs when the objective reward is up, pull the mercs with them then get them to come along to support the reward and/or the mercs. Don’t skip out on the team fight to help them soak, but when the team fight is done, go reinforce their soak into a push. In short, you can be right and lose or cooperate with someone who is wrong and win. That said, if their on a suicide mission, don’t join in.