Earthshaker: The Initiator
August 5, 2012
Starting Items: Ring of Protection will be built into a Ring of Basilius. Clarity will allow you to be a little more liberal with your fissure. Quelling Blade because Earthshaker has a very slow attack animation and very low damage output. Getting last hits will be a lot easier with this item and will get you to your next set of items faster than anything else. The Quelling Blade will also let you cut your way into the forest and let you fissure from places that aren't as expected.
Early-Mid Game items: Ring of Basilius will make up the difference when Arcane Boots fails to fully provide enough mana for a level 4 fissure. The Arcane Boots will be you and your teammates' best friend and between them and the Ring you should be able to almost spam fissure to collect creep kills. Force Staff is my preference over Blink Dagger, but that's not to say you can't buy one first and then another after. I find that the 25 mana cost for Force Staff is a godsend compared to the blink dagger's 75. The ability to use a force staff to escape, or move heroes over obsticals makes it exceptionally useful for a hero who's primary ability temporarily changes the landscape. The wand is your mana/life of last resort. 150 mana can often be the difference between whether or not you can cast your fissure or ult for that escape/gank. Finally, Sentry Wards are your responsibility. Earthshaker is an initiator/support hero. After you've got the previous items you've completed your core, any money left over from warding can be used for luxury items.
Luxury items: Now that mana is covered, get some HP regen in the mix as well as a 25% boost to your ult's damage Veil of Discord gives all that along with +5 armor and +12 int. Shadow Blade can be useful for escaping after a team fight, for setting up a surprise fissure, etc. Bloodstone Can be a great item when playing pubs. After your initiation you may find yourself dying when you team fails to respond quickly. No one likes to initiate a battle that results in an enemy wipe, only to miss out on all that potential xp. Black King Bar can help if you find that you're getting stunned or silenced during your combo.
Items to avoid: Radiance will kill enemy creep and reduce the damage done by your ult in team fights. Refresher Orb requires so much mana you won't be able to ult, refresh, then ult again. Shiva's Guard is expensive and doesn't have great natural synergy with Earthshaker. Sure the mana and armor are nice, but you'll get both of those with Veil of Discord and won't kill the enemy creep that your ult feeds off of. Assault Cuirass Earthshaker doesn't do a lot of physical damage without his Enchant Totem. Increasing your attack speed isn't going to benefit you greatly and since your damage is primarily dealt in magic, the armor reduction isn't going to help much either. If your team needs this item, someone else should be buying it.
Fissure first can get you a first blood against a careless hero. Aftershock increases that potential and doesn't tax your tiny mana pool. The reason you'll want to stop putting points into fissure after it's at level 2 is due to the mana cost. At this point in the game you're not going to have the mana to use fissure to harass enemy heroes or farm creep. Early game fissures need to be precise and used mainly to block your enemy's path. You'll get Enchant Totem at level 8 because aftershock will finally give you a 1.5 second stun for only 50 mana. At this point in the game you're still not doing enough base damage to justify more than one point into Enchant Totem, so now you'll put two more points in fissure, and one more into Echo Slam before maxing out Enchant Totem. While I've seen guides that recommend putting points into stats instead of finishing Enchant Totem, I believe it's because they're not utilizing Earthshaker's combo as efficiently as they could. My explanation of that combo will follow later in the guide.
Get the Ring of Basilius as quickly as you can, followed by the Arcane Boots. These items will let you spam Fissure into building a force staff fairly quickly. When farming with fissure, try to time it to kill as many creep as possible as well as hitting any nearby enemy heroes. While your creep wave is all attacking that one creep, make sure to hit the other nearby creep 3-4 times each so you'll catch at least 3-4 creep kills per fissure. With aftershock, your fissure will do more damage to the creep close to you, so try to fissure as close the the wave as possible.
Keep a scroll of teleport on you at all times. You want to be within 1200 units of any hero kill, especially early game. Before level 6 don't use the scroll unless you're 100% sure of the gank.
Mid Game / Earthshaker's Combo
Mid game is going to consist of you and a friend. Try to stick with your team's DPS hero and set up those ganks. Save your Echo Slam for the team fights, and preferably those involving copious amounts of enemy creep.
As soon as you have your Force Staff you should be good to initiate team battles. The basic Earthshaker combo isn't what you think it is.
Force Staff (blink) => Echo Slam => Fissure => Enchant Totem is the obvious, yet inefficient way to make use of your abilities.
Consider this instead: Enchant Totem => Wait 5 seconds => Force Staff => Hit hero with your newly enchanted totem! => Echo Slam => Hit nearest hero again => Enchant Totem a second time => Hit nearest hero a third time => Fissure => hit hero a fourth time!
Obviously using Force Staff will make it difficult to get that first hit in, so be prepared to Echo Slam if you don't end up close enough for that first hit. The 1.5 second stun from aftershock gives you just enough time to get in those hits, so don't let all that extra damage go to waste. Make sure to cancel the attack animation by casting the next spell as soon as the physical damage is registered.
After you start your burst of damage your team better be right up in there. It's not the end of the world if you die. Earthshaker doesn't scale well after level 16, and if your carry is getting more xp, it could benefit the team in the long run. That said, a smart enemy team won't be attacking you if there are other heroes nearby. Your cooldowns are all spent after your combo. You've got an Enchant Totem 4 seconds after your combo ends, then 7 seconds till another Enchant Totem, then finally Fissure again. Your hitting damage is negligible and a smart team should know that. That said, Bloodstone goes a long ways in public games.
All in all, don't expect an enemy team to all fall over dead after your combo. While your spells do quite a bit of damage, most all heroes will easily survive. The real strength in Earthshaker's initiation combo is the chaos, panic, and approximately 5 seconds of stun done to the closest enemies.
Force Staff vs Blink Dagger
I prefer Force Staff for the following reasons:
It can be pieced together instead of one large purchase, making it easier to farm.
It's mana cost is 1/3 that of blink dagger, and it adds to your mana pool.
It can be used to pull enemies into a precarious position
It can be used as an escape for yourself and for friendly heroes
has only two advantages over the Force Staff
: Blink is precise, and the distance is 400 units further. Practice can help overcome the first advantage, and line of sight can help negate the second advantage.
Hero Synergy or Lack Thereof
There are heroes that can take advantage of Earthshaker and heroes that will detract from Earthshaker.
Ganking heroes such as Drow Ranger, Sniper, or Viper have incredibly synergy. Bloodseeker can be effective as well, but care needs to be taken when Rupture is used. Stunning a ruptured hero just wastes the rupture, but a well placed fissure may increase the distance needed for a ruptured hero to run to safety.
Heroes with long AOE cast times such as Pudge can snare a hero stunned by a fissure much more easily. (Think of Pudge hooking an enemy who managed to get on the safe side of your fissure.) Rubrick can use his Telekinesis to pull enemy heroes from one side of a fissure to another, or pull them in first, then fissure to trap.
Heroes that become stronger when enemy creep aren't nearby. Juggernaut and Lich can make better use of their ultimate abilities when there are no nearby creep to absorb their damage. Leshrac is a mixed bag. As long as Leshrac doesn't spam his spells to weaken an incoming creep wave / enemy push, your ult can wipe out the creep and Leshrac's Diabolic Edict will spread 1600 damage across enemy heroes.
Heroes with blinking abilities such as Anti-Mage or Queen of Pain can continue to be mobile, even after you've split the enemy team in half with a fissure.
Heroes without synergy include, but are not limited to the following:
- ult clears out creep the will help boost your own ult
Keeper of the Light
Essentially most heroes that can rapidly farm creep waves don't provide as much synergy. Earthshaker shines when the enemy is pushing, the same heroes I just listed make life better when they are Earthshaker's enemies. The bigger their push, the easier it will be for your ult to stop it.