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Raigor Stunhoof

February 3, 2012 by Bohr
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Raigor Stunhoof

DotA2 Hero: Earthshaker


Purchase Order

Starting Items

Early Game

Mid Game

Utility Items

Late Game - Situational



Hero Skills

Fissure

1 8 9 10

Enchant Totem

3

Aftershock

2 4 5 7

Echo Slam

6 11 16

Talents

12 13 14 15 17 18

Introduction

Earthshaker (ES) is a magnificent initiator during any phase of the game, and in the right hands he's also a great roamer and ganker. Though he's a melee character he still has potential for enormous reach. Earthshaker is looked upon to support his team whenever possible with devastating stuns and blocks. Once you get some mana recovery in your arsenal, pushing becomes something ES can excel at.

Word of warning: don't expect to get a lot of kills with Earthshaker, especially during the team fighting. Generally as ES you can look forward to a lot of deaths, usually coupled with assists, both a result of playing the initiator position for your team. Don't fret, if your team knows what they're doing it should be well worth it.

Alright, so this is my first guide and it's designed mostly to help new players, but also educate anyone that hasn't played ES before. If you see anything I might have wrong or you have different strategies or item builds, lets hear them in the comments. Please keep it civil and help make this guide more educational for the ES community. This guide is meant to be a guide and not a checklist. If you want to try something different when building ES, by all means change it up. Share your experiences.

Skill Sequence Explained

Some may think this skill build is awkward, and some might find it amazing. I suppose it all depends on how you play or how you want to play Earthshaker. For me, I find this build order is a general rule of thumb when assigning my skill points. It should never be used as a definite and you should always remain flexible depending on the situation you find yourself in and how tanky your enemies are.

Skill Importance


In my opinion, your skill importance should be as follows:
Echo Slam >> Aftershock >> Fissure >> Stats >> Enchant Totem

Now some of you might be thinking, "Why are you placing more importance on Aftershock than Fissure? And why are you putting points into stats before finishing off Enchant Totem?"

Firstly, you have to consider the cost of your spells in contrast to your mana. Earthshaker is a strength hero, and doesn't have very much mana. That being said, putting more points into Fissure early game can strain your mana severely as each time you level Fissure also hikes up the mana cost as well (125/140/155/170). On top of this, I find it more useful to build your Aftershock up as soon as possible.

I max Aftershock first and foremost for multiple reasons. The #1 reason being that when Aftershock procs you want the additional stun duration (0.3/0.7/1.2/1.5 sec) to last as long as possible. Another reason being that Aftershock does bonus damage to all your abilities, and the more levels it has, the more damage it does (25/45/75/115).

That being said, adding an extra 75 damage to your Fissure by level 5 through Aftershock isn't nearly as great than leveling up Fissure on it's own. However, when it comes to placing importance on Earthshaker, your stun is always far more important than your damage output.

With Enchant Totem, I will now try to explain to the best of my ability why it's better to add to your stats as opposed to maxing Enchant Totem. The main reason you want Enchant Totem is to proc Aftershock's stun and damage. It can be risky trying to get the auto-attack in after enchanting your totem during the a team fights. Usually Earthshaker gets into the heart of the fight, stack stuns, and gets back out.

That being said, it's far more useful to yourself to get those stat points as you'll increase your overall health & mana, health & mana regeneration and armor, damage and attack speed as opposed to just one buffed up auto-attack.

Using Your Skills

Fissure


Fissure is a very versatile weapon in your arsenal. It can be great for both offense and defense, trapping and escaping. The most important things you need to know about Fissure is the range of your earth tear, how long it takes to land the ability, and the AoE range on the stun. Now, you don't necessarily have to hit the enemy directly with Fissure to stun them. There is a small AoE on both sides of the earth tear that will cause damage and stun.

So how do you use Fissure effectively?
Since Fissure is not only a targetable ability, but one that can be used on open terrain, you have the option to lead your targets or cast it on them directly. In most cases, you will want to lead your target. But as I said earlier, you need to learn the cast time for Fissure as it is not instantaneous. Timing is crucial.

Your goal using Fissure is to stun enemies and also block their retreat path with the earth tear so they have a hard time escaping once the stun wears off. This will give your team a great chance to use their abilities to the fullest potential.

It is imperative that you learn to pay attention to positioning of both your team and the enemy team. There is no worse feeling playing as Earthshaker than to 1) block your team mates from retreating or 2) block your team mates from finishing off an opponent.

Enchant Totem


Enchant Totem is nothing to write home about. Don't get me wrong, it's a very useful ability, but not for anything you gain through the ability itself. As I stated above, I find it less useful than stat points after you have invested the initial point into Enchant Totem. The reason being you don't gain a whole lot from one buffed auto-attack versus the extra stats.

Enchant Totem is particularly useful to follow up your Echo Slam. Wait until just as your stun from Echo Slam is about to wear off and use Enchant Totem to tack on a second stun. It's actually not bad for getting a bit of quick farm while pushing, as it will cause a stun and damage when you cast, to all the creeps around you. Then you can clean up the creeps you didn't kill.

Aftershock


Aftershock is the passive ability that brings the pain to Raigor's game. Without this ability, you can't hope to be useful to your team. Sure you'll still have Fissure, but what's Enchant Totem or Echo Slam without Aftershock? Short answer: Nothing. You need this ability to be a good Earthshaker.

Echo Slam


Echo Slam is a very excellent ability. It works best when you're surrounded by a lot of creeps and enemy heroes. This ability is almost always accompanied with Blink Dagger. These two tools serve as Raigor's initiation strategy.

The objective is to blink into the heart of the enemy group and Echo Slam. If you pull this off successfully and your team is ready in waiting they should no doubt start to clean house. The more creeps and surrounding enemy heroes around you when Echo Slam, the more damage you'll throw down, so keep an eye on creep waves.

Another good use for Echo Slam is in the jungle. If you have good map awareness and you are fairly certain an enemy gank might be coming, or possibly an enemy is in the jungle. You can grab the attention of the neutrals in the jungle or creeps from the near lane and pull them to the enemy hero. This will help you enhance the damage of your Echo Slam, survive the gank, and gank in your own right. Later I will explain how to double down on your Echo Slams with Aghanim's Scepter.

Items

Starting Items


Tango, Healing Salve, Clarity are all pretty obvious selections. These will help you in the very early game. They're strong items, but they're consumables, so you won't get a lasting effect out of them. It's up to you on how you want to build Earthshaker, but I can honestly say that these items will help you in early game, especially if you're facing harassment from the opposition in your lane.

Mantle of Intelligence or Gauntlets of Strength, never both.


You have to ask yourself, "Will I build a Bracer or Null Talisman?" You should never build both because you need to get to a Blink Dagger as soon as possible. They are both fairly cheap items to build, but you waste too much time building both of them. I will go over the stats and such in the next section (Early Game).

Upon making your decision, you will need to buy either Mantle of Intelligence or Gauntlets of Strength. If you decide on neither, than you can afford to buy more Clarity, and/or Healing Salve (both always nice) or take one for the team and pick up an Animal Courier.

Animal Courier


I'm not particularly fond of buying Animal Couriers when playing Earthshaker. ES has a hard time getting in the early farm without putting himself in harms way, and it's an expensive critter for an early purchase. In my opinion you want to get as much gold as soon as possible to buff ES up so that your team can rely on you for early initiation and ganks. There is nothing worse than playing ES and being stuck in lane farming up creeps, only to get ganked yourself and fall even further behind (DON'T DO THIS).

However, you must also realize that Earthshaker can be called upon to be the team's support hero. You will need to be active with wards and maintain the courier. Speaking of wards...

Observer Ward


This is definitely a must buy item in my opinion. No matter how new you are to DotA, you have to realize that having map vision is great for many reasons. Regardless of your strategy, and whether or not you are laning or roaming in the early game, having an Observer Ward near a rune spawn location is a great thing. I will explain in more depth in the chapter "Runes & Ganks" how to use the runes to your advantage.

Needless to say, having vision on the runes will also help you spot incoming enemies. It's important that you take note of when you drop the ward, and calculate 6 minutes down the road as that's when it will die out and that's when you'll need to replace the ward. Also pay attention as the enemy team can destroy your wards and thus, will need to be replaced. Though I must say, don't go hastily throwing another one down as they could be lying in wait.

Early Game


Boots of Speed


Boots of Speed aren't particularly fabulous on their own. They do grant movement speed, which you will want on ES as soon as you can get it, especially if you're roaming. These will be upgraded to Arcane Boots later on, and so they serve a purpose later on into the game.

Get these out of the side shop if you're laning on the outer lanes. If you're roaming I would still recommend the side shop, just help a lane out. The enemy will either back off because of the third man in or they will engage rage. From there help your team handle the threat. Afterwards the shop should be wide open. If the creep line is beyond the shop, get the boots then force the fight. As ES you've got a great surprise attack, ganking from the sides from behind the trees in either lane. Use that reach to your advantage.

Circlet


Circlet isn't too expensive and helps build towards the Bracer or Null Talisman respectfully. This is a good item to grab early, because it's cheap and having those extra stats can help you out a lot. I try to have this in my quick buy slot before buying Boots of Speed in case I get ganked. Hitting that panic button can really help you save gold farming later.

Magic Stick


Keep in mind that you will be in close range to enemies as Earthshaker, so you will most certainly rack up the charges with Magic Stick. This is something I hold off on buying right away because I feel you're better suited getting either Gauntlets of Strength or Mantle of Intelligence in starting purchases.

However, if you're laning, this can be picked up out of the side shops and is relatively cheap. If you have the money and don't have my Boots of Speed or Circlet yet, while still holding a Clarity and Healing Salve, hold off on buying this.

If however, you're facing harassment and have used those pots, then get this item as soon as you can get into that side shop. Don't force your way in, if you're low on health that can be a big mistake. Just wait for the creep wave to push the line back to the shop area. I still try to save for Boots of Speed before I get this, but if you need it don't hesitate to get it.

Mid Game


Bracer


The reason I build a Bracer is because it's cheap and provides you with significant strength (6!) as well as 3 damage, agility, and intelligence. The strength gives ES considerable survivability boosts with 114 hp, 0.18 hp regen, and 6 extra damage. The agility and intelligence also contribute a little to this with their mana and armor increases. The enemy harassers will have a harder time bugging you. The attack speed and damage boosts also makes life easier when going for last-hits. I recommend this item if you're going to be laning most of the early game and facing a lot of competition.

If you can sustain pressure without buying this recipe, do so. It will help you in fights outside of lane too, but try to focus on getting Blink Dagger now, and save this for quick buy. It's a cheap recipe though, and if you're at the fountain or have a courier you might as well grab it to become more buff.

Null Talisman


And the reason I build a Null Talisman is because it's cheap and provides you with quite a bit of intelligence (6!) as well as 3 damage, strength(extra 3 damage) and agility. The intelligence gives ES considerable mana boosts (78) and 0.24 mana regen. The strength and agility also contribute a little to this with their health and armor increases. This item is particularly well suited for roaming as you are likely to be using your abilities in unison while spending more time traveling. It's more useful to give yourself extra mana & mana regen than health in this case as you're not taking as much damage from harassers while you are throwing out more mana with each gank attempt you make.

As above: If you can sustain pressure without buying this recipe, do so. It will help you in fights outside of lane too, but try to focus on getting Blink Dagger now, and save this for quick buy. It's a cheap recipe though, and if you're at the fountain or have a courier you might as well grab it to become more buff.

Blink Dagger - your bread and butter knife.


I can't stress how important Blink Dagger is to Earthshaker.
YOU NEED THIS ITEM!

Get this as soon as possible. You want to build the items listed above too, but don't spend all game getting this. The sooner you have the Blink Dagger, the better. Your team can advance faster and gank better when you're able to initiate with blink and Aftershock.

Without it you can't hope to stun nearly as many people with Aftershock using your Echo Slam or Enchant Totem. It's just not viable to run up to a large gathering of enemy heroes and try to throw those abilities down. You'll die before you ever get there.

Arcane Boots


Great mana item. 250 base mana, and an active that will grant 135 mana to not only yourself, but all allies around you. The cooldown on this is 45 seconds, so don't just spam it when you use a couple of abilities. If you know there are allies around that you will soon meet up with, check their mana before using it. If they're not full save it for the meet up. This item can be really useful when you're making pushes as well, as it will help you clear a wave of creeps without losing much mana. Excellent utility.

Some people do suggest buying a Soul Ring, but I'm going to explain why I feel this shouldn't be worth your time. Though it's relatively inexpensive, it's not nearly as useful as Arcane Boots. Your team mates will love you much more if you have the Arcane Boots as it can help your entire team with pushes, escapes, and defending. Not to mention the extra 250 base mana. All Soul Ring does is sacrifice your health for mana. You can use Arcane Boots in the middle of a team fight, but I wouldn't advise the use a Soul Ring in one.

So I had to ask myself, "When would I ever use this active?" There are situations when this could be useful, but at the cost of health you make yourself a target whenever you drop low like that. Because this is a cheap item, you can get it fairly early on, and thus you expose a larger percentage of your health in the early game while only gaining 1 Fissure. It hardly seems worth it to me. This item can be very dangerous for yourself, especially when playing against Bloodseeker. I don't recommend it. I think this should be skipped for more powerful and useful late game items, but I will leave this decision up to you. I'll stick with Arcane Boots.

Magic Wand


This is a great item to grab as well. If you picked up the Magic Stick earlier, this should be relatively cheap to finish off after you've picked up the Blink Dagger. I generally try to finish off my Arcane Boots before I go for this item. However, I put this recipe into my quick buy slot when gathering up that 1000 gold for the Energy Booster to finish off Arcane Boots, as a panic button.

Utility Items


I've put these utility items before late game items, because of cost and because of their usefulness throughout the game.

Bottle


I don't consider this to be a vitally important item, but it does serve a purpose. When you're roaming and encounter runes you will want to save some of them. I wouldn't buy this item before getting a Blink Dagger unless you're roaming, but you should consider it after that.

Dust of Appearance


This item is useful for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if you're facing enemies with abilities that grant invisibility ( Weaver, Riki, Bounty Hunter, etc..) you will have trouble stopping them from escaping or stopping them from ganking your team in a push. If they try to escape pop out some dust and hit them with the Fissure. If you're nearing the enemy base with one of those hero types on the opposition it can never hurt to pop out some dust. Chances are they're standing behind your team and are a very easy target.

Another great use for this item is mid to late game. A lot of well coordinated teams will buy Smoke of Deceit and go on a hunt for your team, looking for anyone who might be vulnerable. Say they pass through the range of a Sentry Ward or you have Gem of True Sight, you can pop out the dust to make it expose the threat to your team.

Gem of True Sight


This item basically follows the same guidelines as above. However, there is far more risk involved in acquiring this item. First of all, it's very pricey, and secondly, you drop it when you die. That being said, ***es the situation. If you're more tanky and aren't dying a lot, this item can be great to have. You can see incoming gankers, and even initiate a fight should a roaming team be covered by Smoke of Deceit. You can even spot enemy wards! Use at your own risk.

Observer Ward and Sentry Ward


I've explained Observer Wards pretty thoroughly above, but I'm going to just trace around the subject again. Map vision is really important in this game. It can help alert everyone of incoming ganks or spot vulnerable targets. It's also great for spotting runes and pinpointing where they could be.

Sentry Wards on the other hand, are far different. What I mean is, they can do Observer Wards job, but at the cost of duration. Sentry Wards are great at revealing invisible heroes and enemy wards. This can cripple incoming ganks and remove the opposition's map visiblity should you choose to eliminate their wards.

Smoke of Deceit


Definitely a great roaming item. Being able to sneak through enemy territory undetected is a great thing. Gather up your team and cover everyone with the smoke, there is nothing more deadly than an entire team sneaking up on unsuspecting foes for a team fight.

Wait for them to bunch up and blink in, drop an Echo Slam and your team will clean up the scraps. You'll have the advantage for sure. Be weary though, if you get too close to the enemies, it will break the smoke cloud effect.

Late Game - Situational


Aghanim's Scepter


Incredible late game item, Aghanim's Scepter causes the Echo effect of your Echo Slam to proc twice essentially doubling damage by the varying amount.

Remember, the more enemies that are around you when you trigger Echo Slam, the more damage it will do. Having the echo proc twice gives you twice as much damage then what you would have gotten without Aghanim's Specter. Definitely worth it's weight in gold.

Refresher Orb


This is a very interesting item. Not only does it grant you instant reset on all your items and abilities (Blink Dagger, Echo Slam, Fissure, Arcane Boots, etc..), but it has some beefy damage (+40!) and pretty good regen effect as well.

Is the price worth it? It's tricky to determine in this guide. I think it depends more on how you're doing in team fights. If your team is taking out 2 guys instantly every time you initiate, turning the fight into a 5v3, then yes the price is right. The enemies will try to escape and if you can Fissure, activate this and then follow up with a Blink Dagger and Echo Slam again, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't. Easily wiping a team can make for some really effective pushes or defenses, and this item will certainly help in that regard.

If however, your team isn't getting kills right after your initiation, maybe you should consider buying something that will help them on targets that are good at escaping out of your stuns, like Scythe of Vyse or Shiva's Guard.

Scythe of Vyse


This is a pretty interesting item for sure. It gives you a substantial amount of intelligence, which will increase your mana by 455! It's quite a bit of mana for ES. That's not all, you'll be gaining 1.4 mana regen and 200% mana regeneration on top of that! You're also gaining 10 damage, 0.3 hp regen on an additional 190 hp through the 10 strength stat. That's nothing to sneeze at. The agility certainly helps out too with 10 attack speed and 1.4 armor.

But what really makes this item interesting is the Hex effect. It turns enemies into sheep and destroys illusions instantly if cast on them. It reduces enemy movement speed to 100 and disables any damage blocking and evasion effects they might have had while also preventing exp gain.

This is a really useful item in the cases that enemies are unaffected by your stuns, or are able to escape after your stuns wear off. A good strategy on those that can escape is to throw down a Fissure and then follow up with the Hex from Scythe of Vyse just as the stun wears off. Not only will they be blocked by the Fissure tear, but they'll be moving so slow that it will take them a while to get around it, making them extremely vulnerable for an additional 3.5 seconds.

As for those that resist your stuns or block damage, turning them into a sheep is pretty good for one specific reason, it negates the damage block and prevents them from moving out of range. Throw down a Fissure after the hex to make their last few seconds of life even more miserable.

Shiva's Guard


Shiva's Guard is another great late game item to pick up. It's got that 15 armor which really comes in handy if you're not surviving long enough in team fights to lay your abilities down. Furthermore, it comes with 30 intelligence, providing you with 390 mana and 1.2 mana regen.

There is a good passive on this which slows enemy attack speed by 25. But the active is what makes this item pretty useful. Once you blink in to initiate with your stun, you've got a window where the enemies are vulnerable. Triggering this active as your stacked stuns wear off is just as helpful as turning someone into a sheep for slow. While this item also does 200 damage to those hit by the wave, it only slows by 40%, which may or may not be as low as the 100 movement speed granted by the Scythe of Vyse hex.

This item also doesn't disable damage block or evasion effects like the hex either, but it's slow lasts an extra .5 seconds. I would recommend this if you're having trouble surviving in team fights, otherwise, go with the Scythe of Vyse if enemies are surviving too long after your Echo Slam or grab an Aghanim's Scepter.

Heart of Tarrasque


It's hard to say whether this is worth the price tag. If you've assumed a tank role in the team, stacking this with Shiva's Guard can be pretty interesting. +300 hp, and an additional 760 hp from the 40 strength = 1060 hp. That's great on top of Earthshaker's already substantial health. 40 damage is really nice. But the 1.2 hp regen from the strength stat coupled with the passive, which grants 2% of the Earthshaker's total hp as regen when not attacked in the last 4 seconds, is something to really consider. Tanking isn't really Earthshaker's role, but he can become tanky with this item, especially if matched with Shiva's Guard and a lot of stat points.

Dagon


Something to consider if the fight is going on for a long time and you've already bought some of the late game items listed above and you bought the Null Talisman. Upgrading to this 1 time is pretty easy. Upgrading it further can be helpful, but it's hard to say with the other late game items if this will be worth upgrading. Putting it into perspective, you're spending about 2300 gold on this recipe if you have the Null Talisman.

That's not bad for an extra 10 Intelligence and 9 damage, and a nuke. However, there is a big fall off when upgrading it. Each upgrade only grants you +2 intelligence at the price of 1300 gold while also increasing the nuke damage by 100, mana cost reduction by 20, slightly more range at 50 and 4 seconds of cooldown. Upgrading once would put the total price up to 3600. I just don't see the point, you might as well be investing in something more useful if you want to stack up intelligence, like Shiva's Guard or Scythe of Vyse. I personally never build this, but it's up to. Just throwing options out there.

Roaming & Laning

Roaming


Foreword


I'm going to say right now that I'm not the best roamer out there. It's hard to coordinate, especially when you only play in pubs with players who just don't listen or pay attention to the mini-map. It can be frustrating and therefore I don't bother a lot of the time. It's just not viable to run around early-game and not get exp/gold because I'm hoping for team mates to follow in while I try to gank a lane. Roam without success for too long and you will be so far behind it isn't funny.

How to Roam


Roaming is something you do right out off the fog horn. It entails jumping from lane to lane, undetected, followed by attempting to gang up on the opposition in the lane. If you pull this off and your team survives, it will open the doors for them to free farm for a while.

With Earthshaker it's not easy roaming, as you are relatively slow moving and have limited mana. However, all you're doing in the early stages is essentially laying down a Fissure that both stuns and blocks the exit strategy of the opposing heroes. You want to setup a lane for a kill or luckily two.

Where it gets difficult for ES is not having the items to pull off good roaming. Because he is slow moving and dependent on mana to lay down his abilities, it's somewhat difficult to sustain a constant roam early on. You will need either Clarity or a Bottle to keep your mana going. Mantle of Intelligence can be helpful here, along with Null Talisman.

Getting a successful gank or two right from the get go can be fruitful in terms of gold, but if you aren't successful chances are you'll need to get in a lane or make a run/TP back to fountain to get more mana. In my experience, I have teamed up with two people from one lane to take out that lane, jump to mid to try an ambush and then go into the opposite lane, where I usually stay to get some farm and exp, and recover on mana. Of course, you have to keep in mind the importance of runes when you're roaming. I'll cover runes in the next chapter, "Runes & Ganks".

Laning


Aggressive


I've played against some Earthshakers who have a strategy that stacks a lot of Clarity potions. They basically spam Fissure to break up the creeps and separate the enemy heroes from the creeps and begin to farm. Once they clear that creep wave they retreat and pop a clarity potion to regain the mana they burned to get that farm in.

This is where I feel that strategy fails. 4-6 Clarity, a Healing Salve and/or Tango. All it takes is 1 ranged attack to disrupt the Clarity, then he has no mana and is forced to pop another one. If you can remain in range, which shouldn't be hard, disrupting all their Clarity potions can trump this strategy easily. Then they're handicapped for the early laning phase. If you can pull this off then more power to you, but be advised that good players won't let you get away with this strategy. You'll be eating dirt in no time.

In my opinion if you're going into a lane with that many Clarity, you should be using it to gain a more permanent advantage. Don't waste your Fissure and mana to get a messily 4 creepscore (IF you last hit them all). Instead, you should be trying to set up team mates with your Fissure and forcing the enemy into an early retreat or first blood. Make them burn their Tango and Healing Salve. You'll be far better off exp/min & gold/min for both you and your laning partner if you do this as opposed to getting maybe 4 creeps.

Conservative


Earthshaker isn't the strongest last hitter, especially in the early game. It can be very difficult to get a lot of early farm in while facing harassment from the opposition in lane. It's better to just leech exp from the creeps than to put yourself into the middle of the creeps if the enemies are harassing, especially from range.

You'll need to look for your opportunities where those harassers over commit and trap them, picking your spots to get in ganks or setup a lane partner for an easy kill by stunning and blocking off exits in the lane with your Fissure. However, don't recklessly force this, you don't want to waste your mana early on spamming Fissure if your laning partner doesn't have mana to follow up.

Use the woods to your advantage. Earthshaker has the reach with his Fissure that he can setup for stuns without even being noticed. If your partner is ready, throw down. If you have Aftershock and Enchant Totem, rush into the lane and stun/block them from retreating after you lay down the Fissure. This can buy your partner time to gain some ground and hopefully finish them off.

Getting Runes while Laning


If you're not focused on last hitting and are hanging out in the woods, the enemy should already be on edge. They won't dive deep into the woods in the early game if you put yourself out there. So if you set up an Observer Ward to watch the rune spawn closest to your lane, you should have no problem slipping out to go and grab it should it spawn there.

Runes & Ganks

Runes


As Earthshaker you want to exploit the runes as much as possible. This will give your team a great advantage. I must recommend a Bottle if you're roaming, but it's not necessary if you're tied to a lane. It's important for not only just the health and mana regen, but also for holding onto runes. If you're roaming, invisibility runes and haste can help you position yourself for a great Echo Slam, but if you bottle them you can hold onto the rune until your team is ready to go.

Haste


It's extremely hard to escape anyone who is hasted in the early game. It's one of those things where you see it coming and you know you're screwed. Some strategies I like to use with haste don't lead with Fissure.

If I have level 6 and Echo Slam, I sneak up behind the foe while hasted and throw down Echo Slam. I follow this up like I would in a team fight, Enchant Totem. This should give your team ample time to finish off the opponent, provided you don't first. The creep wave multiplier on Echo Slam usually does significant damage, coupled with the Aftershock effect and Enchant Totem also coupled with the Aftershock effect can be one huge damage spike. However, say you don't kill them and your team doesn't help you, don't be afraid to lay down Fissure and wail away on them, or retreat if they're super tanky.

If you don't have Echo Slam, throwing down Enchant Totem that's buffed by Aftershock can be well received for your team. With haste specifically, after the initial stun with Enchant Totem, it's easy to run beyond the enemy and block their escape path with your Fissure. I don't particularly recommend this strategy. I still always like to lead with Fissure when I don't have Blink Dagger or Echo Slam.

Invisibility


Another great rune to gank with, especially if you have Echo Slam ready. Like I mentioned above, wait for the right opportunity where the enemy hero is surrounded by creeps and other heroes, sneak in with invisibility up and let loose with Echo Slam. They won't see it coming and will be caught off guard. Again, make sure your team is ready for you.

Double Damage


This can be deadly with Blink Dagger and Echo Slam. If you don't have Echo Slam, perhaps allow someone else to grab this and support them in a gank. It might just be me, but I prefer passing on DD if we have some form of DPS in the near lane. Usually I'll let them pick it up and support them in a gank. If you think you can do well with this don't hesitate to grab it.

If it's a team fight you could do really well with this. Blinking in and dropping an Echo Slam and Enchant Totem to follow up as the initial stun wears off can really punish their entire team if they're bunched up. If you have Aghanim's Scepter don't be surprised if you rip through most of their health.

Regeneration


You may be at full health, but grabbing that regeneration for later is definitely a great idea. Bottling up Regeneration can be great to save for pushes and just after a team fight. Clearing waves of creeps with Fissure and Enchant Totem a couple of times and then using this can really make the push go further.

If you're aware that Regen has spawned and you're in a lane with close to full health and mana, you can always try and setup your lane partner and drop all your abilities. Just make sure your partner is ready and that you'll be able to get to the rune before anyone else does. Otherwise, advise your team mates that Regen has spawned so they can recover hp/mana.

Illusion


Illusions are very underestimated in my opinion. They can do many great things. There are several deceiving tricks to illusions.

Scouting & Intimidating


So your team forgets to buy runes, eh? Well, you pretty much can have an illusion ES guard rune spawns for a while. You can also use the illusions to scout into areas under the fog of war. Don't be afraid to leave him in lanes either, it's a good way to ward areas and also good at deceiving enemies. It can be good bait and can be used well at intimidating.

Lane Illusion


Firstly, if you're laning send an illusion back to the lane you're in and tell mid to be ready to gank. What I do next is send the other illusion into mid first and follow a bit behind it. The reason I put one back in the lane is to make the enemies there think I returned to lane.

The reason I send the other illusion in ahead of me is that the enemy will surely attack a rushing ES. They use mana and they waste it on an illusion. Their ability is on cooldown and they believe I'm the second illusion and will not waste further mana. This is the prime time to strike as they won't be suspecting a Fissure or Blink Dagger and Echo Slam and they won't have their ability ready either.

Lane Illusion the Sequel


As above, if you're laning send an illusion back into the lane you're in. The opposition in lane will think that's you. Now what you want to do is wait for your laning partner to be ready.

Once they are, send your other illusion in to auto-attack and at the same time throw down your Fissure so that you don't block your illusion from getting in, but you manage to stun and block the enemy from retreating. Follow in after the illusion and command the other illusion to follow suit. Hopefully your lane partner follows in as well and the totally unsuspecting hero is trounced.

Ganks


I've pretty much covered most of the ways to gank through out this guide. I'm only going to cover a strategy I use when I'm solo ganking here for the time being. But I'm willing to share this space with other player's strategies.

I look for soloing heroes, usually in mid game. Likely they're pushing a lane. When I spot one, I sneak up to them, hopefully with Blink Dagger in your arsenal. Now, regardless if I have Blink Dagger or not is beside the point, as this will work either way. It's just more overwhelming with Blink Dagger.

When they get in close to the creepwave, and maybe they're in range of your tower, hit them with a Fissure, try to block their retreat. Run or blink in and lay them out with Echo Slam. If they're in range of the tower, and you've undoubtedly cleared the creepwave, the tower should be landing shots on them. You can Enchant Totem here to stop them from leaving and finish them off.

Regardless of what side of the Fissure you end up on, you can still hit heroes and creeps with Aftershock effects because it causes an AoE stun and not a targeting stun. Therefore, you don't have to be right on them to affect them with your ability and stuns. This is a tricky move to pull off without Blink Dagger, but this can be a devastating maneuver regardless.

Even if they're not in range of towers you should still be able to pull this off, unless they're super tanky. It's not too difficult if you wait for the right moment where their creeps and them gather around. Even if they are tanky, the creepwave modifier on Echo Slam is some serious damage. When someone is pushing a lane they're usually surrounded by lots of their own creeps and therefore putting themselves into the danger zone.

Team Fighting

You have to be ready for anything in team fights. You don't know how aggressive or defensive the enemy team will be playing. You should also keep a watchful eye on your cooldown timers. Some heroes will harass and try to get their ranged AoE on you so that your Blink Dagger is in cooldown. As a result I try to hang back until my team is just ready to push in as to always be ready with my dagger..

Now, if Echo Slam is up your team will be counting on you to blink in and drop it like it's hot. So when they inch closer to the front lines, you should be not too far behind them. Look for the opportunity when the enemy heroes are bunched up. That's the best time to blink in and Echo Slam.

Great, you've got them stunned. Now what? Well, this is where you stack up stuns. Give it a second after you drop Echo Slam, then throw down Enchant Totem. With the animation length of Enchant Totem you should be hitting them with a stun just as the first stun wears off. If there is someone who is low on health start auto-attacking them or get the heck out. You're not going to do too much damage to the enemies with your auto-attacks and you will probably get hit with some kind of punishing AoE.

But hold the phone. What if there are enemies that weren't in range of Echo Slam or Enchant Totem? Won't they be attacking? Well, yes. Here is one way of dealing with that. After you Echo Slam, IF you notice someone downrange, instead of popping Enchant Totem next throw the Fissure at the ranged targets. This will prevent them from stunning, silencing, and all that nasty stuff. The good thing about Fissure in this situation is that you're also stunning the people that were hit by Echo Slam. The stun is much longer than the Aftershock effect and gives your team enough time to murder and move to those targets down range.

If you're not in range of their towers, you might consider running up to the ranged targets you just stunned with Fissure and hitting them with the stun from Enchant Totem, hit them with some auto-attacks. This should give your allies enough time to make it to them before they can escape.

I usually try to save Fissure for after the initial 2 stuns with Echo Slam and Enchant Totem because those two stuns should last long enough to clear out most of the enemy heroes. Fissure gives you tremendous reach and if blink is coming back to the ready, you can easily blink in and body block, and Enchant Totem to stun anyone who tries to get away. If they're beyond body blocking range, then blink in and Fissure stun them.

Closing Remarks

The reason I wrote this guide is because I found a lot of other guides were just not fleshed out well, didn't cover everything thoroughly, and were just plain out of date. I've taken the knowledge I've gleamed from those guides and have attempted to compile that knowledge into something more modern and concise.

About the Author
I'm still new to the DotA scene, only playing a few months back in '09 before jumping into LoL a little later on. I also did some time in HoN. I find DotA mechanics to be deeper and superior in every way and will probably not go back now that DotA 2 has visually upgraded the core of DotA.

I'm no DotA expert (yet). If you guys feel I have something wrong in here let me know so that I can improve the guide for everyone and improve my skills too. Thanks for reading and enjoy. :)

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