Height: More sideways than up
MTG colors: Rakdos (Red-Black)
Likes: People who stand still, Omniknight , fresh meat, ripe meat, Heart of Tarrasque , unpausing the game, Cannibal Corpse
Dislikes: Lifestealer , the buddy system, creeps, being seen, walking, people who camp runes, Silencer
Pudge is easily the most infamous characters in the game, one by my group of friends for his 5th ability known as "Automatic Unpause," by many as either their most successful hero or their most hated to play against. No matter who you play he always seems to be getting in the way of someone and making everyone else's laning phase miserable. Quite possibly the worst part about him is that you could just be minding your own business, farming away or pulling for your carry like all good supports should, and then next thing you know you're being pulled away with half your health gone and being torn apart by a rusty cleaver while being smothered in a rancid pair of man titties.
Honestly I never thought I would begin to play Pudge simply because I hated him so much, but I've had so many good games with him, it's hard to be completely abrasive towards the mass of flesh when he's done so well. However there are a few downsides to the guy: the first is that he will lose his lane against most heroes mid and quite possibly lose his tower first. The second is that his mana pool is ridiculously bad, which doesn't matter if you land the hook. Which comes to the third bit: Pudge requires a snowball from minute 0 to minute 10 and quite a few kills to secure his mid game and help his team achieve the late game.
The two builds for Pudge are either Force Staff or Blink Dagger as the meta, and this guide will give you the option of the more selfish blink dagger, and even though you've probably seen this build a hundred times playing with or against Sweeney Todd, the main idea of the guide is to get YOU acquainted with him rather than the item build.
*shivers in disgust* It was really hard to make that joke for at least a few reasons.
So, Pudge likes solo kills normally, because his entire combo revolves around isolating a hero from a group and destroying them before the team can respond. If the person has a teammate in the wings, Pudge is way less likely to get the kill, especially if there's a Dazzle involved or a Chen , and if his teammate is nearby, there's always that scary chance that they'll get in the way and you'll end up hooking them instead, like Spirit Breaker or Clockwerk , who are extremely up and in your enemy's business. However there are a few people who help set up hooks or allow for kill secures, which is good because even though a mega-kill streak is always demoralizing for an enemy, all the fat sack of **** really wants is for the opponent to die next to him and use their remain's as souvenirs.
Skywrath Mage is one of Pudge's buddies, because the slow allows for a more accurate hook, and while Pudge wants to Dismember the guy, Skywrath can blow his ult on an immobile target and get the full duration. Talk about a sweet deal.
Omniknight does something of the same with a little more utility. Not only can he Repel Pudge in order to help disrupt the enemy buddy system, but his heal deals a large amount of pure damage as well as give Pudge a little extra time to rot without being in the danger zone.
As much as Spirit Breaker can be difficult to deal with, the fact that his Nether Strike makes him wind up behind an opponent allows for accurate hooking since they are incapacitated for about 1.2 seconds
These are just a few allies I'd like to point out who are good for Pudge to play with, there are a few others which allow for prime hooks as well.
I've stated before two very key things about Pudge , and the first is that he loses his lane, meaning his tower, to most heroes mid, because of the second statement: he makes the laning phase absolute hell for the other team. A good Pudge won't just sit mid and farm, that's more suited for someone like Lycan or even Brewmaster . A good Pudka will get a rune and look for someone to get a little too cocky in another lane and then punish them mercilessly.
When to pick Pudge:
-The other team has an especially squishy/immobile mid
-Your team has excellent followup/setup for Hooks
-The other team relies on one particular hero for teamfights or setups
-Your team is able to bait or kite
-Some of your team's heroes require a snowball or a stepping stone to the late game
When not to pick Pudge:
-The other team is generally tanky
-The other team is highly mobile or able to kite
-Your team has heroes you could possibly hurt more than help by a hook
-The other mid generally takes towers easily if left alone
-The other team has a lot of minus armor or builds into it
Pudge is considered to have a high skill ceiling with lots of big plays involved, but in truth, he's actually very one-dimensional, because he hooks an enemy, keeps them in place for a few seconds, and kills them. I mean, it's great to pull a Faceless Void out of a three man Chronosphere and kill him before he can get to safety, but when playing a support Vengeful Spirit (unheard of by my stack, actually) and swapping out my Shadow Fiend and him killing void in the Chrono, I got the bastard to abandon.
Either way, Pudge can't out-tank without a snowball against heroes with a higher strenght gain, like Centaur Warrunner for example, who are much more aggressive, or Bristleback . They're most likely to wait out the chomp down and then run out of there just fine, or allow their support to come in and wreck face, and Pudge has nothing else to do if he's by himself and his combo is over. He doesn't have a lot of armor to start out with and his health bar doesn't feel the effects of Flesh Heap until his level 13 really. Minus armor heroes like Vengeful Spirit or Slardar or heroes that build into it make everything ten times worse for our fat friend, because his health with just disappear in an instant if hit with a big Desolator Coup de Grace from a PA.
So, let's move onto some physics and geometry.
Bad physics joke. Anyway if you read my Mirana guide's section on landing arrows, which are huge skill shots, you'll love this one even more. If you don't like math or physics, then skip everything after the next sentence. Try to predict where the enemy is and land a hook based on the way they're walking.
The big factors that go into landing a hook are the following:
-The role of the enemy
-Placement of wards
-Creep wave timing
-Predictability of the enemy team
-Level of the hook
-Number of creeps left in the wave
Meat Hook . Pure damage skill with increasing range based on level with an increasing mana cost and decreasing cooldown. The first thing you want to do before you hook is just hover over the skill and realize the distance the hook can reach so you don't halve your mana pool on a misjudged distance.
Most heroes travel at a speed between 300 and 380 movespeed, the fastest base speed being Luna at 320 and the slowest being Crystal Maiden at 280 if I remember correctly. All heroes' max movement speed while hasted is 522 units per second with the exception of Lycan capping 650 and a Bloodseeker who can see the entire bleeding enemy team at a whopping 1014 movespeed. Pudge's hook travels at 1600 ups, which is nearly twice as fast as Mirana's Sacred Arrow at 857. This basically means that it's nearly impossible to dodge a hook walking in a straight line, but it's hit box, while generous, isn't entirely impossible to miss.
Most enemy mids, ranged or melee, will normally be hiding behind a fine line up creeps, whether it be your own or theirs because one good hook can mean the end for them. Every once in a while an enemy will have a small opening when their creep wave is either pushing up or back, and you should sieze that chance by aiming the hook a little to the side of the enemy where the creep wave is, for instance, if they're on the left side of the creep wave aim it a little towards the ranged creep where it will miss it, because they're most likely headed behind them to avoid the hook if it looks like they're walking that way. A support will generally be wandering around behind the creep wave just next to the ranged creep if they're aware there's a Pudge in the game while the carry or tank will generally be in the midst of your creeps and their creeps, regardless of whether or not they're taking aggro. You'll nearly always have a chance of bagging the support if your creeps start getting pushed back, because the safelane enemy creeps have a movespeed of 406, faster than any hero in the game, which gives you approximately 100 units in a second to net someone.
Special Case: MISSING CRYSTAL MAIDEN!
You don't see a support in lane? Try the jungle! Anyone who's read my Crystal Maiden guide knows I'm a huge fan of the hybrid jungle, and it's confused the hell out of my enemies before who thought I was pulling. Generally she'll be low health, so one easy hook ought to do her in. Next to the big creep camp, mind you.
Ward placement is huge to know for Pudge, because a failed gank is just wasted time. A good enemy support offlane on the Radiant side will ward clearing next to the big creep camp closest to their tower when there's a Pudge, so if you get the feeling that they have that warded, you go through the river. If the river's warded, you walk through the jungle. On the Radiant side Pudge, a good counterward would be by the Radiant ancients, so Pudge might need to take the long way around through the secret shop to gank the Dire safelane. I've never once seen a Pudge gank the Dire offlane before, since Roshan now gets in the way of things, so it's best if you left it alone. A common ward for the Radiant safelane is either behind the big creep camp next to the stairs or warding the river and the entrance coming from the Dire offlane inward. In cases like these, Pudge will need to maneuver around the long way in order to gank
Every half minute and minute, a creep wave will spawn, and it will reach the safelane pull camp at approximately :15 and :45 and pass the Radiant safelane small group of trees near the :41 second mark. If the creep wave sees you, you've failed miserably unless your goal is to take their tower on presence alone. However if you time it to where you're walking behind the creep wave where they can't see you, it's a rather good opportunity for a surprise from behind. *barfs* If you have a decent follow up, you may even be able to tank the tower for a few hits in order to secure the kill.
The more you play against Pudge, the more random your walk patterns become, however the initial psychological factor of seeing a hook or feeling one coming causes people to do the most ridiculous things, such as waste a rune, start zigzagging back and forth, or try to outrun the hook range. Some people are really good at using the stop key when throwing a hook, but another good technique is patience. If there's a straight line with no creeps between you and your target, you could preemptively turn on Rot and see if they're paying attention, and if they start moving, you'll know where to angle the hook, or at the very least, force them out of your lane. Some like the Exort Invoker might be focusing on using their global to net a kill, so if they start auto-attacking a creep with any amount of health, there's your opening. Others are bottle hogs, and will do everything in their power to keep Pudge from getting the rune. Sometime's they'll just grab the rune, others might attempt to deny it, so seeing which type they are will determine if you should aim Meat Hook at the rune slightly to the side of their river or where they are standing a little behind where they might retreat.
The higher the skill bracket, the harder it is for Pudge to retain his hooking when seen, because even people like me who is stationed in the "Normal" skill bracket with "High" skill experience an easily dodge incoming hooks, like people who pretend to go for the rune, wait for the hook to run its course, and snag the rune and go on their merry way. Use of high ground, fog, and even other teammates are Pudge's favorite weapons. At a high level, the best you can do as a player is just observe your enemy and wait for an opening.
The number of creeps left in a wave will also determine the behavior of your enemy. If there's one or two creeps left, a ranged support will probably try to deny them and run back to the safety of their tower and the next creep wave, which allows a lot of wiggle room to go for the hook if you managed to spot the incoming wave and can guess the arrival time. If there's nearly a full wave, the chances of your opponents being stationary is much, much higher, which would require an actual walk-in from Pudge and quite possibly a little setup or follow up.
Wow, that's an even heavier chunk of info than the Mirana Arrow I think. Well, I did say this was a guide on getting familiar with the hero. I almost feel bad for this monolith of text. Here, have this image.
Pretty sure these are going to be a lot shorter because landing the Meat Hook is all that really matters.
First purchase your Iron Branch pair and Tango pack, and save the rest for your Bottle unless you've randomed Pudge in which case you should buy bottle and your branches, in which I would recommend you play a bit more passively depending on your lane. If you find yourself against a mid Outworld Devourer you'll imagine he'll make getting last hits terrible as well as sap your already abysmal mana pool. I'd focus more on the denies than the last hits since you want the creeps on your side of the river so you can use that fog of war. for a possible hook. You should always level Rot first because you won't have any follow up for a hook whereas finding a Haste rune will allow you to follow them while they rot to death for first blood, but don't get too zealous, or you might end up feeding first blood.
If you gets first blood, which I believe happens in a favorable percentage of people familiar with or the concept of Pudge, you should have your bottle off of that and the satisfaction of having a level advantage, a point in Flesh Heap , and a scar left on your opponent. This also opens for more rune grabbing and ganking, which is where most of your levels and money will come from.
Communication is very important for Pudge in order to land his hook or secure kills, such as telling a PA or CM when to slow using their Q ability or an Ogre Magi or Wraith King when to stun I'd say there's a large percentage of heroes which allow Pudge to land a hook easily or follow up.
Pudge's early game ends roughly around the time he hits his level 6 or his tower is lost. It's extremely rare for him to take his tower first since he has no right click, dps, or anything except hook for that matter. Now it's time for Pudge to put his feet to work.
In case there's some confusion for new players on the term snowball, it's like when you roll a rock down a hill and it gets bigger and bigger, so in the game it means grabbing an early lead, and Pudge is absolutely dependent on it. If Pudge isn't shutting down at least one other lane, he isn't doing his job, which is to make the carries not feel safe by putting them or their supports six feet under. In doing so, he adds more body parts to Flesh Heap , which is a retroactive skill, meaning that it gains charges whether or not it's leveled. If he doesn't get quite a few by the 25 minute mark when he's shortly about to reach level 13 or so, he quickly begins to fall off, much like Silencer without any stolen int. or Legion Commander with no duel wins. By the time you've ganked and have used Dismember on some people while leaving Rot on, you should have your Tranquil Boots and begin making headway to your Blink Dagger , which good timing for this 2.2k item is about 12 minutes for him.
Blink allows you to jump in with Rot and Dismember without worrying about missing a hook. afterwards you just aim in their general direction where they're running, hook em back, and then continue rotting them off. I'll always prefer blink over Force Staff even though the utility for teammates is higher for the item, you could just hook your friend to safety, which isn't really that hard since they aren't running in zigzags.
Flesh Heap not only adds strength points, but also Magic Resistance, which is why Hood of Defiance is a normal go-to item for the ugly butcher, but if you find yourself matched up against a lot of physical damage, you may consider instead of building into a Vanguard and then into Crimson Guard as listed under your items. No use resisting magic if the other team just punches you to death. Otherwise though, any extra resistance is welcomed, and a Pipe of Insight does wonders for your team if you need to build into it, which we'll get into later.
I build Aghanim's Scepter on Pudge mostly for the stats, and if you snowball right, you'll have it fairly early, or at the very least the Point Booster , which will take away his mana problems, not to mention is gives a strength multiplier along with a health recovery on the guy. The multiplier works as his STR times the time of his dismember, which is 3 seconds. In simple math, if he has 100 STR, he'll deal an additional 300 damage as well as heal as much total damage as he's done. This is amazing, especially when you're kiting someone and you have low health, but back up is on the way. That's a lot of health recovered as well as a 3 second disable, even through Black King Bar.
For the most part, you're worried about positioning mid game, waiting behind their towers, trying to catch out their squishiest support and getting him out of the way so your team can then collapse on the enemy. Sometimes, you can even hook an enemy into impassable terrain or into the trees, where they will be useless, and blink out mid hook so you can focus on locking down someone else.
By the late game, which is around the 40 minute mark or when someone's base is cracked open, Pudge will be a ridiculously fat pile of organs and body parts, because if he isn't, I'm pretty sure you're losing. At this point Pudge will have over 3k health and be nearly impossible to kill if not caught out of position or immediately focused down, and that's excluding items. I've seen Pudges with over 5k in health, and the only time I've ever been fearless is when I was playing Centaur Warrunner , because he gives no ****s whatsoever. During this stage in the game, you are the front line, you are the utility carrier, you try to soak up as much damage as you possibly can so the rest of your team can come in and annhilate. So let's look at some of your items you have on your luxury list.
Blade Mail is always useful against people who do tons of damage, because STR heroes will normally outlast the other classes of heroes in a stamina fight, and it's always funny when a Phantom Assassin gets a whopping big crit and halves her health, and then you turn on her and hook her for the rest. Very helpful against right clickers.
Eul's Scepter of Divinity is probably my favorite item. I even bought it for Crystal Maiden for her load out. What this does is help set up a hook as well as give you a little bonus regen and get in and out of skirmishes fairly quickly. Also it has a long range CC which when used on yourself can remove some debuffs, such as silences and sometimes slows, which allows you to get away easier or help your teammates get out of bad situations.
Pipe and Crimson are situational based on whether or not your team requires protection against magic or protection against physical damage. In AOE spell instances from the other team, build a pipe (for example against a Ravage or a Black Hole ) and in cases of camping towers or pushing against a lot of right click, build Crimson (such as against a Clinkz or an Axe or a Drow Ranger ). Build both if you really find it necessary and become invincible.
Dsgon is not seriously recommended, but it's a hilarious item. If you snowballed so hard that it's not even funny, make it funny by hooking, eating, then blasting them into oblivion. Honestly if you think you can end the game really early or you just want to be a real ***, buy this and level it fully and just watch your enemies get pissed. Only really recommended against people who build evasion or require a lot of burst damage like Timbersaw or are just easily blown up like Lich or Enchantress .
Black King Bar should be bought if you really need someone locked down hardcore in order to win fights, such as into a Ravage followed up by a Black Hole or Kunkka's ship, in which case you can dodge the ravage and give your team time to recover. It's a really good item, but extremely pricey, and normally a good pudge won't need it since he's about displacing the other team before getting in the midst of things himself.
Heart of Tarrasque is just more health gen, more strenght, more being unkillable. It forces the enemy to focus you the entire time or ignore you and try to kill everyone around you, which is laughable because you can just leave Rot on the entire time and murder them while taking out their squishy supports. Out of all the luxury items, this is the most popular to build into first.
Shiva's Guard is an AOE slow which deals damage and slows attack speed incoming at you. It gives armor, which is recommended against people which take away armor like Slardar and friends, and it's great setup for more hooks, more tank, overall more initiation and gives the enemy less of a chance for a clean disengage save a Stampede from Centaur. I sometimes choose this for utility over the more selfish heart, but hey, whatever you choose is up to you this late in the game.
So this concludes my guide to Pudge, and even though I've become pretty good at him, I still have a distaste in playing against him. Remember, judge your hook distance, don't hook teammates by accident, gank often, and unpause whenever the enemy team pauses the game.