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Counter Helix is not as useful as it perceived to be (7.18)

July 28, 2018 by Croofe
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Build 1
Build 2

Against Ranged in Lane / Unfavorable Matchup

DotA2 Hero: Axe


Purchase Order

General Item Progress

Starting Items

Get As Quick as Possible

Core

Late Game

Situational

Get loads of these throughout the game

Situational laning



Hero Skills

Berserker's Call

4 9 10 11

Battle Hunger

1 3 5 7

Counter Helix

2 8 14 16

Culling Blade

6 12 18

Talents

13 15

Hero Talents

+100 Berserker's Call AoE
25
+120 Battle Hunger​ DPS
+20 Health Regen
20
Attacks Proc Counter Helix
+3 Mana Regen
15
+40 Movement Speed
+8 Strength
10
+40 Attack Speed


Counter Helix is not as useful as it perceived to be (7.18)

Croofe
July 28, 2018


Introduction

Believe it or not, Counter Helix while deadly in theory, and in correct execution, you will deal massive to enemies, in reality, it's different. Counter Helix has one flaw: it need to be done correctly. You can bet your feeding supports that enemies will do everything to make sure you don't get it done correctly, especially in laning stage

By the way, this is not an in-depth guide, just a why and why you should not do it. There are many in depth guides out there for Axe. This guide is to take you on how to play Axe in the current meta.

The Current Meta of 7.18

The gameplay meta change is mostly affected in 7.07 patch, where creep deny only yields 25% exp to denied team, and the denier also gets 25% exp.

What does this mean? It means creeping is hella important especially with jungle being very weak in early game.

Denying creeps are more effective to get the upperhand in lanes rather than killing after considering the effort. And to deny creeps, the most easiest way is to make enemies unable to get close to them in the first place, a.k.a. Zoning.

If there's one thing Axe good at, it's zoning enemies.

The meta of the game will continue to be like this until there's another changes in exp and gold gain from creeps.

Skills and Gameplay



Berserker's Call





Counter Helix


Battle Hunger





Culling Blade



Laning Stage



Let's take a look at the skills.

Why level Battle Hunger first instead of Counter Helix?

On paper, Counter Helix seems to be deadly, but actually Battle Hunger is more likely to deal more damage than Counter Helix.

Enemies will try to dodge you whenever you get close to creep wave because they don't want to get hit by Counter Helix procced by creeps. If you continue pressing on them, they will kite you until you are away from the creeps and then proceed to beat you down because you overextended.

Such act is easily countered by Battle Hunger. Even if they know at level 1 you have Battle Hunger instead of Counter Helix and realizes they can harass you by right click without damage feedback from the passive, don't be discouraged. Your own creeps will be your primary shield until level 2. Although this means you don't play aggressive at level 1.

At level 2, this is when you start playing aggressively. Counter Helix and Battle Hunger has stronger synergy in laning phase rather than Counter Helix+ Berserker's Call.

Counter Helix+ Berserker's Call has the same problem like level 1 Counter Helix. There are no actual benefits at skilling Berserker's Call at level 2 unless the enemy is a complete idiot and stand close to the creep wave when you get close. You will get kited around outside Berserker's Call range. Even if you do manage to call them, they are more likely manage to kite you outside the creeps aggro range.

Even against melee heroes, Battle Hunger will do more for you because the skill increase your own movement speed while decreasing theirs, making them easy to get them stay close by to get hit by Counter Helix when procced by the creeps.

So here's the breakdown on how to use Counter Helix+ Battle Hunger combo.

Cast the Battle Hunger and proceed to get close to them (and right click them of course, so the creep will turn their attention to you, and procs the Counter Helix).

They will be too busy dodging you to get last hits or denies, and you get last hits from Counter Helix to enemy creeps.

Whenever they try to dodge Counter Helix, Battle Hunger will do the damaging. To prevent Battle Hunger from stopping (they get to kill a creep or deny), just use the combo above to chase them out of attack range to creeps. DO NOT overextend, just harassing until they cannot last hit from the creepwave is enough.

If you cast Battle Hunger and they still try to get last hits even if you get close, that's the time to use Berserker's Call on them.

The best times or target to cast Battle Hunger:
  1. First and foremost, targets supports first, especially supports that has hard time to last hits or deny. Harass the supports first because they are the one that will most likely try to save their carry. When they back off because they don't want to die, change the target to enemy core.
  2. When your creepwave ends and a new one is coming. This is mostly targeted at cores.
  3. At core heroes after they get a last hit or deny and the other creeps are still healthy, then proceed to get close.
  4. When they last hit below the towers, because last hitting under the tower is hard.
  5. Against spellcasters that can depends on skills to last hits, hit with Battle Hunger after they cast their skills. (e.g. Phantom Lancer, Magnus)

Before Level 6, you will always want one point on Berserker's Call, this is to catch enemies, and then end them with Culling Blade.

Always beware of Culling Blade's mana cost. Axe have little mana pool and your items generally does not expand it (notice there is no intelligence or mana bonus item on your core items beside Blade Mail, and even then it's very miniscule), so use it sparingly. If the enemy's death is certain without any chance to escape, don't use your ultimate. Save your mana for a future Berserker's Call, and perhaps get another kill.



Level 6 and above



After getting Culling Blade, this is where the your choice of putting the skill points can affect the gameplay.

Getting Counter Helix to level 2, while not mandatory, can be a boost to faster your farming rate at jungle or creepblocking behind enemy tower (only do this if you are sure it's safe, like having a ward vision on enemy jungle or enemies are at the other side of the map).

Leveling above level 2, however, delays the utility you bring to the table when team fight happens, so better level something else. Counter Helix level 2 is fast enough to clear creepwaves and hard camp jungle creeps. You cannot take on the ancient creeps however, because it will be too slow.

If you do fine and not get shutdown, this is most likely the time you get Vanguard. You can start jungle after getting Vanguard.

Always focus on getting Vanguard first before Blink Dagger. Axe died too fast without the item. Do not enter offensive fights without getting Blink Dagger first. Focus on pressuring enemy towers via creepblocking, only TP to save teammates that get ganked or perhaps fighting in favorable conditions like teamfight under your own tower.

If you do get shutdown, do it like steps above. Pressure enemy towers when you have Vanguard and the enemy team is on the other side of the map. Continue to farm, and don't die to ganks. Back-off whenever the enemy defends the tower.

Leveling Battle Hunger to max is probably something you want, because the low cooldown gives a huge bonus to movespeed (from multiple targets), chasing power, and damage when you gank enemies before getting Blink Dagger. Also, Battle Hunger provides damage on the downtime when you back off after using Berserker's Call in team fights. Battle Hunger also helps jungling, cast it on the big creep and let Counter Helix sweeps of the small creeps. So make sure to stock on those Clarity Potions all the time.

After getting Blink Dagger or getting close to one, max Berserker's Call. You want maximum lock down, instead of damage (from Counter Helix). Why? Because even maxed Counter Helix will not give solo kills without Blade Mail to support you.

After you get Blade Mail everything else is situational.

Talents

First talent is obviously +8 Strength. More health is better for Axe that wants to get hit and your source of damage comes from Blade Mail+ Counter Helix, so attack speed is meh. Delay first talent because it's very meh for either choice, and Berserker's Call is much more useful, but do not delay your second talent because movement speed is big for Axe. So you can delay the first talent to maximum level 14.

Second talent, pick +40 Movement Speed. This seemingly useless talent has a surprising huge synergy with Battle Hunger. And actually good enough to replace Force Staff which because of the mana cost increase, becomes something not quite desirable.

Not picking mana regen talent will make Axe a mana-hungry hero for the rest of the game, but this is where Clarity potions comes in.

Third Talent, +20 Health Regen is obvious. Axe have an average BAT and don't have any attack speed to support the other talent. Also considering Counter Helix has internal cooldown, it makes the talent proc less desirable.

For the fourth talent, unless you have Aghanim's Scepter or planning to have one or perhaps steam roll the enemy team, don't get the Battle Hunger DPS bonus.

Items

Starting Items




Stout Shield


Tango


Mango


Mango

The reason to get these cheap items and left quite some gold in your pocket is to get quick Boots of Speed. Sometimes you may want to get Quelling Blade at side shop so the enemy won't easily denies the creep, which is a huge detriment in this meta.

Get Quelling Blade when the match up is unfavorable. Unfavorable matchup means you cannot play Aggressively without a huge risk of dying. QB will help to last hit ranged creep, and jungle faster after getting Vanguard later.

If you get ganked at first minute and survives with a low health, you can ferry Healing Salve with your courier.





Boots of Speed

Get Boots of Speed as quickly as possible.

Movement speed has huge synergy with Battle Hunger and thus Counter Helix. By having more MS in laning stage, you harass harder, and if the enemy left an opening, you may able to catch one enemy in Berserker's Call while in the middle of the creeps.




Core





Vanguard


Blink Dagger


Blade Mail

Vanguard, Blink Dagger, Blade Mail, are obvious core for Axe and the order to get it is also like that. The question would be: why skip Tranquil Boots?

Tranquil Boots delays Blink Dagger quite a bit. Also, Tranquil Boots is quite useless, it gets cooldown on hits and offers nothing in fights. The healing from Vanguard is already big enough that you don't need the heal from Tranquil for sustain in jungle.

After getting Vanguard, start buying Clarity potions. Always have 2 or 3 of them in your backpack whenever you leave the fountain. You will be hungry for mana all the time. Even a simple one man gank can deplete your whole mana pool.

Get many Clarity potions throughout the game, even to the late game. Even Lotus Orb mana regen is not going to be enough. You will need both Lotus Orb and Scythe of Vyse to not worry about mana anymore. Use Clarity whenever your mana is below half and you are jungling creeps, this will make sure you have enough mana to at least cast Berserker's Call and Blade Mail combo whenever there's conflict.

The rest of the items are pretty much self explanatory.

Unless the enemy has overwhelming attack speed (e.g. Troll Warlord) or perhaps depends on a modifier that bypass your defenses ( Outworld Devourer), or perhaps stacks on attack speed items like Mjollnir, Butterfly and having Daedalus on top, getting Shiva's Guard may be detrimental considering it lowers the attack speed and thus lowers damage from Berserker's Call+ Blade Mail+ Counter Helix combo.

Heroes to Avoid Playing Aggresive in Lanes

If you are facing heroes like Pugna, Skywrath Mage, Ursa, Lifestealer in the lane, don't be too aggressive. Their spell hurts and kills you easily with their low cooldowns.

When facing heroes like these in the lane, prioritize on Battle Hunger them and just make sure the ranged creep do not get denied. You don't have to last hit it, but as long as it does not get denied, it's fine, mostly.

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