All guides: AM, SB, Weaver, Axe
DotA is constantly evolving and the best DotA players are those that can adapt. This guide is aimed at matchmaking (obviously) and if you're reading this guide to learn how to do well with Axe in matchmaking then this guide is for you. If you are not reading this guide to learn how to do well with Axe in matchmaking then this Guide is not for you. I also have a dota 2 channel with tips, guides etc if you want to check it out.
I've been playing DotA for about 9 years on and off and have had DotA 1 league experience on platforms like Bored Aussie, Garena, DotAlicious etc.
Axe is a
- Great jungler.
- Hero that can shut down melee heroes in lane HARD.
- Hero that hovers between semi-carry and support.
- Hero that scales poorly as the game progresses, so you should take advantage of your early usefulness and pressure the enemy lanes.
- Hero that lacks maneuverability or an escape mechanism.
Axe is not a
- Hero who should be built only as tank. In fact the 'tank' role doesn't really exist in DotA anymore for good reason, because it sucks. You need to build items that allow you to actually be effective and have high game impact.
- Hard carry.
- Hard support.
- Hero that can rush headlong in to the enemy team along. You will die.
- Hero that can do much as the '4' or '5'.
Note that this build is primarily for jungle axe, but will work fine in lane.
One stout shield, a ring of protection and one healing salve should be all you need before you can grab the 800 gold needed for your Tranquils which you should be rushing so that you're not spending anymore gold on regen.
Tranquil boots are great on Axe so that you can keep your hp up while jungling, without spending too much cash on regen. The extra regen and armor is also useful and they are preferable to Arcane Boots as they provide you with more movespeed as well.
Soul Ring is the only item that will allow you to keep your mana up during crucial moments and fights, allowing you to get off that extra Battle Hunger or Call and secure an extra kill. However it can be a double edged sword as it does deal 150 dmg to you, but if you are careful and you use your hp to maintain your hp, the 800 gold soul ring is well worth it.
At this point in the build you have a choice between 5 items: Blink, Force, Shadowblade, Vanguard and HoD in to Pipe. I personally like to build the maneuverability item first but it's up to you and your playstyle with Axe.
Blink Dagger is not a maneuvrability item that I'm personally a big fan of with Axe, just because it isn't as good as a Force Staff or a Shadow Blade at helping you escape deaths. However in games where your job as axe is to shut down specific heroes such as Drow, or if the game is being decided solely off of flash-in-the-pan teamfights, then blink dagger is the best item for initiation.
Force Staff is an extremely flexible item once you know when and how to use it. It's great for positioning in teamfights as a support item but it also doubles an escape mechanism for you. You can try things like forcestaffing enemy heroes to get them out of position so that you and your team can bumrape them.
Shadow Blade is more of a pub item on Axe but it's a choice I've come to really like. It's great for escaping and initiating if the enemy is stingy and doesn't buy detection. Although it's cost-inefficient, one thing it also helps you do is creep-skip and split push better.
After you've built one of those three items, you should try and tank up in most games. Most of the time you will want a vanguard but if they are heavily reliant on magical dmg and your team lacks a pipe, it may be the best choice. You really only have the space/farming potential for one before you should move on to bigger items so make the choice count.
This is just a great item overall to tank yourself up so that you don't melt too quickly during fights. Remember that you're not going to be unkillable with vanguard and to use your maneuverability items to escape if you get in trouble.
Pipe of Insight
Pipe is an highly cost efficient item if your team doesn't already have one and it's self explanatory if you're up against a highly magic dmg-reliant team.
You will need to have a good look at the enemy team in order to decide what to go after your Tank and/or Maneuverability items.
Manta Style is an item I highly recommend on Axe because it gives you better farming, split pushing, survivability and teamfight. Your illusions deal full spin dmg so keep that in mind.
Heaven's Halberd and Scythe of Vyse
Halberd and hex stick are items which give you another function in team fights- disarm and hex respectively. These can be crucial items for your team to help win the game and will allow you to have far more game impact than you might otherwise have. These are usually your best bets after Manta style.
Shiva's Guard, Blademail and Assault Cuirass
Shiva's, Blademail and Assault are three luxury items that really come under the same vein as they're armor items but they all have different applications. Getting one of these is highly recommended if you're dying too quickly to physical DPS. Shiva's is great in general against enemy carries with high attack speed, or who are reliant on attack speed and it also fixes any mana issues might still have. Blademail is great against burst damage heroes like Ursa and as a cheap, effective items in teamfights. Assault is a very situational item if for some reason your team needs more DPS or to push down towers faster.
Heart of Tarrasque
If pure damage and nukes are your main threat and you feel like you're having a large impact on fights then Heart may be a good choice. I am generally not a huge fan of Heart on Axe just because he usually needs something like a hex or a disarm or a shiva's to become worth killing in late-game fights whereas if you only have a Heart, then good players have no reason to aim you.
Click here for the part in the video guide where I explain how to jungle for the first few minutes.
Basically, you start at the small camp at the 30 second mark, after killing that off, move to a medium camp then back to the small. After the first medium camp, use your salve. If you are able to stack without wasting time, that is you're still killing a medium camp around the 53-54 second mark then you should stack it. But don't waste your time waiting around to stack, it's better just to kill off a camp and keep moving instead. Just keep alternating between the small and medium, and later once you grab your tranquils you can do the large/large stacks without too much hassle if you tranquil up in between.
Make sure to gank and harass
You need to remember not only to farm but to gank. When you go to gank make sure you're doing so at high hp and make sure you have mana to actually do thing, that's why I generally recommend that you don't waste mana in the jungle, especially before your soul ring. After you do the first medium camp and you're close to the enemy's offlane, salve up and gank that offlane. You may as well because you'll lose almost nothing for it and you'll have pretty much full hp and mana when you go to do it. You should be lvl 2 or 3. Even if you don't get a kill, it helps to harass the lane, same goes with mid. Rinse and repeat- ganking should be part of your jungling routine.
Creep Skipping is Dangerous
Creep skipping with axe is very dangerous, and can be almost suicidal against good players who know what their doing. It can be done more safely later in the game once you have an escape mechanism and other items. Let me put it this way, Axe is a very good hero at clearing creepwaves when creep skipping, he's just not very good at surviving and escaping creep skipping if a couple heroes decide to come gank you.
Although Axe is most at home in the Jungle, he can be extremely effective against melee heroes in any lane. If you've ever had to face a good Axe mid as a Pudge or Bloodseeker, you'll know what I mean - it isn't pretty.
If you're in a lane, you want to be doing your best to harass by just attacking enemy melee heroes and trying to get Counter Helix procs off on them by agroing creeps next to them. Use your common sense when using Battle Hunger and do your very best to keep them away from killing creeps after you've Battle Hungered. If they come in for a creep kill with Battle Hunger, punish them for it. If you're in a lane and there's no enemy melee heroes, you're tough out of luck mostly. I would just go jungle in this case. If you're mid and you're against a good ranged hero like a QOP, you're boned. Go to jungle and ask someone else to take mid.
SO! Jungling is where Axe is usually most effective for the team because he's not leeching XP from lanes. You can gank top (for Dire) or bot (for Radiant) pretty much as soon as you hit level 2-3-4 from doing the small and medium camps once or twice and get Battle Hunger. Or you can try ganking mid after doing the small camp if you see any openings there. Whatever the case, you want to be saving all your mana for ganks, and just rely on your counter helix for jungling, because really it's all you'll need. Pick up your tranquils asap off the courier. Generally it's a good idea to ferry a clarity or two with your tranquils because you won't have your soul ring to keep your mana up yet. If you've played it correctly, you shouldn't have to spend anymore gold on regen other than that one salve at the beginning of the game. If you need any more tips on what to do during this stage, see the Style section.
Battle Hunger is extremely powerful early on, especially as soon as you hit level 5/7 and get level 3/4 Battle Hunger respectively. You should really take advantage of this to try and force engagements and net yourself some kills. Good players will try their very best to kill a creep to get rid of the Battle Hunger, so you need to make it impossible for them to do so without being heavily punished.
As soon as you get your maneuverability items, you should be using it whenever possible to secure Calls and to escape sticky situations, minimizing your deaths and feed to the enemy team. Basically: gank, get kills, have impact on engagements while minimizing your own deaths.
As the game wears on, the effectiveness of your Battle Hunger will still be there, but it will scale off. It will be great in teamfights where it isn't easy for enemy heroes to easily kill units to get rid of it, and you should do your best to spam it on appropriate heroes during these team fights, using your soul ring to keep your mana up.
However, you need to shift your focus away from ganking with Battle Hunger to making sure you have your Vanguard (or your Pipe) and get to farming your Manta Style or whatever other luxury item of choice. You should also be focusing on helping your team get towers by creep skipping or simply split pushing. Always make sure to be at teamfights though, because Axe is a hero that can turn a team fight with good Calls and Hungers.
Once you've got your Manta Style, you can safely creep skip with illusions and accelerate your farm. You will also be much more effective and survivable in team fights.
Force staff option in to blademail
So this is a vid of me playing axe with full commentary if you want to see how I generally play him.