The offlane position in Dota 2 tends to be one of the more difficult to play well at low skill levels because of the position that the lane forces you into. At higher skill and experience levels, players understand that the offlane is about getting as much as possible while risking the least. The best players in the world also manage to make it into a high risk high reward lane, and you regularly see pro players in the offlane sacrificing themselves for a kill on the enemy safe carry.
As a whole, the offlane is a role that requires you to know what you are able to do based on your opponents. In some scenarios, all you can hope for is xp; in the best case, you may be able to go for a solo kill if the enemy underestimates you. Regardless of your opponents, you want to set yourself up with a good start. I will only cover the basics as this post is meant to be an introduction to the offlane and not an in depth guide, but I’m going to break down how to set yourself up for the best case scenario from the offlane.
The Baseline: Experience
With most offlane heroes (Cent, Tide, Void, etc.), the only real necessity is to get experience. These heroes have amazing ultimate abilities for team fights, so you want to get your level 6 as fast as possible. The enemy will no doubt try to shut you down by pulling creep waves into their jungle or by harassing you out of experience range. Luckily, most heroes played in the offlane have a lot of tools to survive a straight engagement, but you are still losing out if you are not in exp range. Now, to put some perspective on it: exp range is 1300 units.
As seen in the picture, the exp range is actually huge. If a support isn’t constantly sitting on you, you can easily be close enough to at least get exp. The important thing to note here is that you only have to be within that range at the time of the creeps’ deaths. You can sit safely back while they fight, as long as you get back in range for their deaths. You may ask how to make sure that you’re safe enough to be in exp range, and to that end I want to share some tools you have at your disposal to assure your safety as you gain exp.
This is something that isn’t really evident when starting to play Dota, but you can block your creeps’ movement to control their position in the lane. By running your character in front of the creeps, they will be “blocked” by your character model. If you manage to do this while using the “Stop” command (S key for default settings), you can have creeps clash much closer to your tower in a space where you will be safer. In this video Slahser shows you what a creep block should look like at the start of the game.
If done correctly, this will let you control your creeps’ positions at the start of the laning phase. Getting a quick level 2 or even 3 from this can then make offlaning even easier as you have more skills at your disposal. Learning to block is extremely important for setting yourself up to be successful in the offlane.
If you have a good team (and are lucky), you will have a support who gives you a ward to do with what you will in the offlane. This first ward can many times make or break your game. In other words: learn the best uses for wards in the offlane so you can gain exp and possibly even some last hit gold (also so you don’t die, but lets take that for granted). The two main uses for wards as an offlaner are to watch the supports rotate, and to block the pull camp so that they can’t deny you exp. Both are very good options, but I’ve found that in my games ward use comes down to what you’re up against.
If the enemy team has two supports, you should use your ward defensively to watch their movements. This probably means that they’ll be pulling, but in a 3v1 situation your priority has to be your own survival. They can easily rotate to kill you if they play properly, so you want to make sure that you’re ready for that. This spot here is my favorite spot for watching rotations on the Dire offlane:
Any ward can work as long as it grants vision of supports rotating to you, but this one is a bit more out of the way. I can usually place this ward and not have it dewarded, which means you get the full 7 minutes of safety.
If the enemy team has only one support (and only one person who could possibly spare wards for dewarding), your best best is likely to block the pull camp. There should only be two heroes in your lane, so the potential for the enemy to kill you is lower. This gives you an opportunity to be more aggressive and closer to creeps, and if you block the pull camp you can simply focus on being in exp range. Here is a link to Team eHugs Pull Camp Warding Guide. It will show you all the best places to ward a pull camp. Learn the harder spots, and you can guarantee yourself the first few waves of exp.