- His primary source of damage putput is Counter Helix, which has 17% chance of executing when Axe gets attacked. This means that Axe is most lethal when he is attacked.
- Axe is only as dangerous as his Counter Helix and Culling Blade. He cannot deal a lot of damage if his Counter Helix skill is under leveled. Culling Blade isn't as effective when enemy heroes have too much HP. Axe is therefore very level dependent. If Axe has a higher level than the enemy heroes, he can be one of the most dangerous gankers in the whole game. If he is under leveled, he can't do anything.
- Do not Jungle early game. You need to max Counter Helix as soon as possible, before it loses effectiveness (when enemies have higher HP during mid game), and laning usually gives more exp than jungling. Consider this: If you reach level 7 and max Counter Helix before the enemy's health grows above 700 HP, 2 Helixs and a Culling Blade will often guarantee you a kill. If you are under leveled and you reach level 7 when most enemy heroes have above 700 HP, ganking gets much harder for Axe.
- Axe is one of a few heroes who can demolish a whole wave of creeps in mid game without losing more than 10% HP. Use this to your advantage.
Culling Blade > Counter Helix > Berserker's Call > Stats > Battle Hunger
Always max this first, except for Culling Blade. The damage from Counter Helix is extremely lethal in early game. At level 7 with Counter Helix maxed, you deal 190 dmg per Helix. This means it won't take too many spins before the enemy's HP drops below 300, and it's when Culling Blade comes in, giving you an easy kill. This skill gives Axe Ganker status during early and mid game.
This skill loses effectiveness as enemy heroes grow to be more durable later in the game. This is why you must max this skill as soon as possible, then abuse the hell out of it before it loses effectiveness. After Helix has lost its effectiveness, you'll turn into just a tank and an initiator :(
This skill works in conjunction with Counter Helix, increasing the chance of Helix being triggered by making sure the surrounding enemies attack him. Activate this skill when you're surrounded by creeps and 1 or 2 melee heroes and you're guaranteed a kill. Don't forget to use this skill to save running-away allies or to initiate a teamfight. It's almost as good as a stun.
Only use this skill to finish off enemy heroes with health below the kill threshold (300/450/600). Watch the marks on the enemy hero's health bar to make sure you use this skill efficiently. Yes, your teammates may call you a kser, but that is how the skill is designed, and that's how you MUST use this skill.
Also this skill loses effectiveness as enemy heroes grow to have more and more HP. This is why you must get this skill as soon as possible and abuse the hell out of it before it loses effectiveness.
Most enemy heroes can survive this easily, but if used carefully, it can deal a good amount of damage. Its effectiveness is no match for Axe's other 3 skills though, trust me. Counter Helix deals so much more damage, and Berserker's Call works in conjunction with Helix. Culling Blade is no doubt very lethal. There is no reason to sacrifice any of these 3 skills for a tiny bit of harassment.
You must get a Stout Shield and 1 tangoo set (of 3). The primary way that Axe deals damage is by getting attacked, and without a Stout Shield, this strategy simply won't work. A tangoo is for healing.
After that you can get either a Quelling Blade or more tangoos/scroll of town portal. Quelling Blade guarantees more last hits but tangoos gives more survivability. I usually find that with good farm, i can get the Ring of Health from the side shop just a bit after i run out of 3 tangoos, which renders the use of tangoos obsolete.
This is Axe's most important item. It works in conjunction with Counter Helix and protects Axe from damage. Get this item before everything else and asap
Axe has a lot of boots choices. Axe has a very low base movement speed, so catching up with enemies is very difficult. This is why Phase Boots are useful, because of its active skill. One interesting thing you must keep in mind is that Boots of Travel gives Axe a movement speed of only 10 less than Phase Boots while active, yet with Boots of Travel you get to be fast ALL THE TIME. Also teleporting to protect towers can come very useful for your team and for your gold income.
Axe is a very durable hero with only a Vanguard. If you're struggling to stay alive, it's either because the enemies have a lot of good nukes or their carry is overfed. If you can afford heart, definitely go for it. Farming for heart can take a while, unless you have Boots of Travel, which makes farming for Heart a breeze. But if you can't afford Heart and the enemy is bothering you with magic spells, go for Hood of Defiance, which proves quite effective in protecting you
At this stage, your primary source of damage, Counter Helix, is not of significance anymore. You may get radiance to get another source of damage, or take the role of support by getting Shiva's Guard. You can also actively take the role of an initiator/tank by getting Blink Dagger and Blade Mail. It's all up to you.
A few notes about Blink Dagger:
Blink Dagger is hard to farm, and its use is limited (14s cooldown, no use for running away). Blink Dagger may give you a false promise of getting more kills, but keep in mind, by the time you finish Vanguard, good boots, and a Blink Dagger, you are no longer as effective in ganking as early game, unless you're playing with a bunch of preschoolers. I personally find a good pair of boots just as effective for ganking, and yet cheaper. Do not ever sacrifice any of your core items (vanguard, good boots) to get Blink Dagger, and never step out of your way to farm Blink Dagger.
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