Welcome to the Advanced Guide to HOC! This guide focuses on strategies, tricks, and tips for playing in matches. The guide is for all players, whether you are new and have come here after reading my beginner guide or you are someone with some experience looking to tweak up on your skills. TABLE OF CONTENTS (Use ctrl+f to search for the section using [x.x] where x are the numbers) [1.0] Introduction [2.0] Terms Used in the Guide [3.0] General Knowledge and Tips [3.1] Wards [3.2] Roles [3.3] Hero Skills [3.4] Chasing [3.5] Outnumbered Situations [3.6] Items [3.7] Check Respawn Times [4.0] Common Strategies and Tricks [4.1] Ganking [4.2] Tower Defending/Hugging [4.3] Kiting [4.4] Pushing and Not Pushing Lanes [4.6] Baiting [4.7] Backdoor [4.8] Invisibility… Not! [4.9] Heal Surprise [4.10] Scapegoat Wards [5.0] Rift at Sinskaald (5v5) Strategies [5.1] Starting Strategy [5.2] Skills [5.3] Positioning [5.4] Efficient Laning and Jungling [5.5] Team Fights/Ganking and Teleport [5.6] Map Awareness for Backdoors [6.0] Border Skirmish (3v3) Strategies [6.1] Starting Strategies [6.2] Skills [6.3] Positioning [7.0] Under Realm Ruins (5v5) Strategies [7.1] Starting Strategies [7.2] Skills [7.3] Pushing Lanes [7.4] Enemy Trains are a Priority [8.0] Conclusion [1.0] INTRODUCTION So you have the basic knowledge of how to play this game but you find yourself getting attacked from behind, having difficulty killing an enemy, and losing team fights. Well you have come to the right place to learn a few strategies and tips to become a better player. This guide will describe both perspectives (the one “performing” the trick and the one “falling for the trick) of each strategy. It is a bit of a long read but I am sure you will find it quite useful. [2.0] TERMS USED IN THE GUIDE This is a list of terms I used to make things easier for myself instead of trying to explain things over and over. Note: these are not necessarily universal terms to HOC like the ones mentioned in the Beginner Guide. - Wards: Staff of Tinos and Staff of Protection - Blue Area/ Side: The area where the blue golem, bears, and goblins reside in the jungle on the Rift at Sinskaald map - Red Area/ Side: The area where the red golem, spiders and goblins reside in the jungle on the Rift at Sinskaald map - Top and Bot Lane: The lanes on the Rift at Sinskaald map other than the middle lane. - Baron: Refers to Mogul’sh or Gjuha - Offense lane: The lane on Under Realm Ruins that your train goes along - Defense lane: The lane on Under Realm Ruins that the enemy’s train goes along [3.0] GENERAL KNOWLEDGE AND TIPS This section is more about knowledge than actual strategies but I assure you it is worth learning. [3.1] WARDS I will start with an item that is very important thing in the game, and they are called wards. For those who did not read the beginner guide, they are found in the consumables section of the shop for a low cost of 75 and 150 gold. They allow you to place a “staff” on the ground that provides vision for three minutes. This can prevent ganking, stealing jungle, and awareness of the enemy killing the dragon or baron. You may be thinking it is too much gold to have vision for all that. Well, let’s take the Rift at Sinskaald map as an example. If everyone on your team spared 75 gold for a ward, your team would have 5 wards. One for the bush/side lane closest to the enemy tower at top and bottom, one at dragon, one at baron, one for the bush in the river in mid lane (you can put both at the two pushes early-mid game and not baron). There you go, five wards giving you pretty good vision of the river thus preventing ganks or the enemy going across to steal your jungle. Such a benefit you can get with using wards yet less than 1% of all players use wards (it is quite sad). This is why I started with wards first. If you think this is the last time you see wards in this guide, think again. I will make you sick of reading the word “ward(s)” that you will never forget to use them in game. [3.2] ROLES Aside from the categorization of fighter, mage, guardian and support, there is a more specific categorization known as roles. It is important to know your role and play it. The following link has a good explanation of each role and the heroes that fit into the role: http://www.hocmasters.com/guide-list/heroes/ In general you when engaging in team fights, the tank should be initiating the fight and distracting your opponents from your carries. Your carries should be dealing the high damage and getting the kills, and supports should be… supporting. The other team will be thinking the same so you should be targeting and killing their carries first, then worry about the support and tank last. [3.3] HERO SKILLS Knowing each hero’s skills is important. I’m not just saying for when you play that certain hero but more when you play against them. Understand how most people use the heroes’ skills effectively and the combos. Let’s take Kagax for example. It is probably not wise to take on a kagax 1v1 unless you outlevel him and have better items. It should be obvious but when you think you are winning, he will pop his ult and heal from any further damage or use his passive movement and attack speed to kill you as you run away. Be aware of these things and find ways to counter them with your team. [3.4] CHASING If you can ensure a kill within a few seconds then go ahead and chase but if you are going to go halfway across the map to get the kill (yeah I’m over exaggerating), you most likely will not get the kill and will be setting yourself up to be ganked. Not only that but if you do not get the kill, you would have wasted a large amount of time chasing, which could have been used to kill creeps and the jungle for xp and gold. Another thing is to not chase someone by going through their tower in early-mid game (including late game if on the Under Realm Ruins map). More times than you think, you will end up dying without getting the kill. In summary, chase a bit if you can get the kill soon without dealing with a tower, otherwise do NOT chase. You may not get the kill, but at least your opponent is forced to go back to base while you remain at the lane/jungle to get more xp and gold. [3.5] OUTNUMBERED SITUATIONS Unless you out level your opponents by three or more levels and have better items than them (which usually only occurs in games against new players and those who do not read my guides haha), you are better off not getting involved in outnumbered situations. Don’t go all Rambo and run into three or more enemies by yourself expecting to kill them and avoid dying because all you will end up doing is feeding them. Same goes for 4v2, 5v3, etc. Play defensive, stick back to your tower, and wait for your teammates to help you. [3.6] ITEMS Having knowledge of what items your opponent has is a great way of knowing whether you should play more defensive or offensive with them. By clicking the gear icon in game, you can see the items of your teammates as well as the enemies (from the last time your team has had vision of them). Knowing what items the opposite team has can possibly be used to your advantage when buying items for yourself. Let’s say someone is just stacking damage. Getting armor early would be very beneficial. If you read any of the hero guides on the forum that tell you to specifically get these items in this exact order, then they do not know what they are talking about. There are many different situations (types of enemy heroes, their items, their playstyle, etc.) that can affect what items are best to have in the later stages of the match so be aware of that. [3.7] CHECK RESPAWN TIMES This is a little more situational as it occurs only in ranked and custom games with revival runes often during the late game stage. Suppose you just had this big team fight, and won but low in health. Should you continue to move forward and attack the buildings/base or retreat back. One factor in making this decision is whether your opponents used their revival rune. All you need to do is click the drop down that shows the portraits of everyone in game to see their respawn times. If they have a countdown, then you can proceed, but if the countdown is a few seconds from respawn or they chose to use their revival rune, then it is probably best to head back and avoid getting killed. [4.0] COMMON STRATEGIES AND TRICKS These are some of the common strategies and tricks that can be used to get a kill or avoid being killed. [4.1] GANKING A surprise attack on an opponent from the side or behind is known as ganking. If this happens to you a lot, do not be a sore loser and call it nooby. It requires teamwork (usually), it is smart, and it is a strategy. Ganking may require patience. When going to gank someone, you should wait until the opponent is in a good position such that there is a lower chance of them running away. Also, be aware of the enemy having the blink skill, you may want to save any gap closer skill for later. Teamwork is also important. When going in for a gank, signal your teammate with the map signalling function so that you can coordinate the attack. You come in from behind while your teammate attacks from the front. So how do you avoid a gank? The first thing to have is map awareness. Always check the map and see if an enemy hero is missing. They may be jungling somewhere, they might be back at the base, or maybe they are on their way to gank you! Suppose you check the map and there is an enemy missing, how can you be certain that they are ganking you or not? You may have forgotten already, so let me remind you about wards. Place a ward in the bush or lane behind you to have vision of that area. With vision you will be able to expect them and are able to take the necessary action to avoid being ganked. [4.2] TOWER DEFENDING/HUGGING Tower defending or tower hugging is exactly what it sounds like. When you are outnumbered or just need to protect your tower from being destroyed, you stay close to your tower (either parallel to it or a little behind) and help kill off the creeps and do some damage to enemy heroes to keep them away. The good thing about this tactic is that enemy heroes will often (not always) avoid attacking you since the tower can do a lot of damage to them if they try. Mages can tower defend effectively. If you are up against someone who is defending their tower like Goroshia who can kill creeps with his AoE skills easily, you might want to avoid having your whole team trying to take down the tower in the early stages of the game. You will be splitting xp and gold while the other team is off somewhere else in the jungle or another lane getting tons of xp and gold. This is often the reason why people say not to go all mid at the start of the game. [4.3] KITING Do not think that to kill an enemy at full health on the lane, you need to do all in one go especially in the early-mid game stages. Using a hit and run strategy known as kiting is very effective in getting kills. Ranged heroes especially Mystic can kite very well. The objective is to hit the enemy hero once or twice then run back to avoid taking damage from creeps (assuming you are laning). Once their health is down to half or less then you would have a higher chance to kill them with a stun, slow, or burst of skills. Now be aware of enemies who are trying to kite you too. Be knowledgeable of your opponents’ skills that stun, slow, or can burst you down. When your health is below 30%, you should play a little more cautiously when dealing with mystic for example. Mystic can use his phantom chains, crystal barrier, and crystal fragments within a second. This is also just assuming a 1v1 situation, if they have a teammate on the lane or ready for a gank, there is an even higher chance they will kill you if you are not careful. [4.4] PUSHING AND NOT PUSHING LANES Pushing lanes refers to killing creeps in lane as much as possible so your creeps can advance and help take out the tower. While it does sound nice to make progress towards attacking the base. There are some reasons why you may not want to do this in the early stages in the game. For one, the further you go into the enemy territory, the higher chance you will get ganked. Of course using wards helps with preventing that but it is not 100% guaranteed. Another reason is if you are a melee hero and you are up against a ranged hero who can easily kite you in the same lane. So the obvious strategy when faced in this situation is not pushing the lane. Now that does not mean stay back and do nothing. You should not be continuously attacking creeps, but should make each hit count. And by that, I mean only attack for the last hit on each creep for the extra gold. If the enemy is continually pushing, you eventually will be in a tower defending position, which is a good defensive strategy for melee characters. It is actually quite rare to see this in random ranked and custom games, but if the opponent does not push, it might be reasonable to not push as well to keep them closer to your territory for coordinating a gank. [4.5] CREEP BLOCKING Creep blocking is exactly as the term suggest, you block your creeps. This involves taking your hero and walking in front of your own creeps and getting in their way. The purpose of this is similar to my 4.4 strategy of not pushing. It allows you to be positioned closer to your own tower to reduce the possibility of being ganked. This strategy is often seen in Rift 5v5 games at the start of the match. [4.6] BAITING Baiting is having someone on your team to seem weak (often done by staying within the enemy’s vision with low health) that your opponent can probably kill you with ease. In the meantime you have a teammate or teammates hiding in the bush or side lane waiting for the opponent to start chasing you. Your “bait” runs to the bush or past it then your teammates gank the enemy who is following behind. Be aware of obvious baits. If someone is low health, it should be reasonable that they go back to base and heal, but if they are staying around where there is a bush or jungle path nearby, then they are probably baiting you. [4.7] BACKDOOR Backdoor refers to attacking the enemy tower or base without your creeps around to take the damage from the tower. This is often done during the late game stages when both teams are having trouble to making progress towards the each other’s bases. Some people call it nooby, but it requires teamwork, it is smart, and it is a strategy (I swear I said these exact words before). To do an effective backdoor, you should have a fighter with high attack speed and damage preferably elf and her invisibility to run through the jungle to avoid enemies and head straight for the base while your opponents are distracted somewhere else with your teammates. If an enemy comes then quickly run away or continue with destroying the base if it has low hp. So how do you prevent someone from doing a backdoor? First thing is to have map awareness. If someone is clearly alive by checking the respawn times, and is nowhere around the other team when engaging in a team fight, they might be on their way to backdoor. If someone on your team has an empty item slot, they should get wards and set it up at the open entrances to the base. Lastly, you might want to have someone on your team to stay behind to protect the base especially if a backdoor has already been attempted. If someone backdoors, they will likely do it again. [4.8] INVISIBILITY…NOT! I know what you are thinking, what a lame title for this section. Well… whatever. Anyways, this is not a common strategy and I am probably the few people who do it since it requires wards. It is really simple; get a ward that allows you to see invisible people and place it a nice area or immediately after someone goes invisible with stealth skill or elf and chameleon. Most people look for opponents with the farseeing tonic icon. If they do not see it then they will think they are safe to engage the enemy and use their invisible skill to get the kill or retreat. But if you have a ward placed around, they would fall into your trap and be an easy kill for you and your team. Not much they can do about it unless they have farseeing tonic, ant guard places a sentry, etc. to see the wards. [4.9] HEAL SURPRISE Yeah I know, another lame section title… whatever. This is another simple tactic that is used in early game if you use the heal skill. Basically, you get involved in a 1v1 fight at roughly equal levels such that the enemy thinks they will win the fight that they stick around. When you about one or two hits away from dying, you use your heal skill and finish them off. It is not hard to counter this, just be aware of those who have the heal skill and avoid the above situation. [4.10] SCAPEGOAT WARDS This is a little trick that uses wards in a very different manner than what they are normally used for. It is very situational as it requires a bit of gold to “waste”. This is best used on the Under Realm Ruins map for destroying the towers closest to the enemy base. It is highly advanced as it requires teamwork, communication, and respawn awareness. If you have an empty slot and up to 675 gold to spare, buy up to 9 wards (depending how many you need). You can do this with any tower or the Border Skirmish base, but I’ll use the third tower on your offensive lane in Under Realm Ruins as an example. Let’s say your team just killed the whole enemy team giving you the opportunity to attack the tower. On the next wave of your creeps place your wards to act as a decoy for the tower to target instead so you can get more hits in and not have to keep waiting for the next creep waves. This will allow you and your team to get free hits in without being attacked by the tower. [5.0] RIFT AT SINSKAALD (5v5) STRATEGIES [5.1] STARTING STRATEGY The common and ideal strategy you normally see on this map is one person takes the blue triangle jungle (bears, blue golem, gnolls), another takes spiders, and the remaining three players each creep block their lanes. [5.2] SKILLS The recommended skill to use on this map is Teleport. The map is large and teleport is the primary way of getting effective ganks and teamfights in the early and mid stages in the game. [5.3] POSITIONING A team must stay organized for this map - The primary carry (usually a ranged fighter) should be mid and have access to the spider jungle for maximizing on gold and xp - The secondary carry should also have one of the side lanes and may have a support/tank with them for ganks - The remaining people should take the last lane - The support/tank can switch to helping the secondary carry or the two in the remaining lane for possible ganks or attempt to steal some of the enemy's jungle. [5.4] EFFICIENT LANING AND JUNGLING Try to get as much xp and gold from creeps as you push lane, play more defensive by focusing on last hitting if possible ganks can be foreseen, and always pay attention to when your jungle will respawn. Do not waste your time taking down the tower in the early and mid stages in the game, it will hinder your leveling and make you an easier target for ganks. If you push to the tower, either go back to buy items or go take your jungle. [5.5] TEAM FIGHTS/GANKING AND TELEPORT On this map your primary use for teleport is to gank as a team or help an ally in the early to mid stages of the game. The carries should not be walking over to switch lanes to get a gank. It wastes precious time, which could have been used to get xp and gold. The carries should be using their teleport if their teammates is in trouble or to pull off a gank therefore communication with your team is key. [5.6] MAP AWARENESS FOR BACKDOORS The biggest threat on this map when it comes to late game is someone backdooring. Towers and the base on this map are relatively weak compared to Under Realm Ruins and with plenty of jungle and three lanes to come in through, it is quite easy to pull off a backdoor. Be aware when engaging in team fights, which enemy heroes are missing and always check the mini map for possible backdoors. [6.0] BORDER SKIRMISH (3v3) STRATEGIES [6.1] STARTING STRATEGIES There are mainly three common strategies: The first is all three players go toward the bottom to try and secure the gnolls jungle closer to the opponent's side of the map. The reason for this is that if your bottom player has an advantage over the opponent's bottom player, you are more likely to help support your main carry in the lane better. This strategy could lead to a pre-game fight or nothing happens. If nothing happens, the player who should be getting top jungles should be porting back to home when the countdown around zero to allow for time to get to the jungle as it spawns. The second is all three players go through the top parts of the map to try and get an early kill on the opponent top player. The advantage of this strategy is that it can lead to a potential kill but it also prevents the opponent top player from gaining xp as you can steal his top jungles. The drawback though is that the other two opponent players are able to gain xp and gold from creeps and the bottom jungles at the start. The third is actually to counter the second strategy. All three players wait in the cloud close to where the baron spawns. If the opponent comes towards that area, you would have a good position to kill them. Note that the opponent will likely try to use skills to check the cloud to prevent getting ganked. [6.2] SKILLS Heal level 2 and teleport are best skills to use on this map. The main carry in lane should have a combination of either heal 2, fireball 2 (with the fireball tablet), and blink. The other players should have heal 2 and teleport (with the assistance tablet). Everyone on the team having heal level 2 is highly recommended because it helps with the early team fights that can lead to an early advantage, which may be all your team needs to continue the victory since most 3v3 games end within 15 minutes. [6.3] POSITIONING The ideal positioning of your team is for one person (the tank or mage carry) jungling the top areas and coming in to gank the other team every now and then. One person (the main carry) should be laning and focusing on creeps. The remaining person (the support) should be jungling the gnolls in the lower section of the map and supporting the person in lane if needed (they should not be taking creeps from the laner). [7.0] UNDER REALM RUINS (5v5) STRATEGIES [7.1] STARTING STRATEGIES There are two starts that a team will do. The first is your whole team will go on the offense lane and hide in one of the clouds between your tower and your opponents' tower. The other is to go on the defense lane and prepare to take down the first set of creeps and train. Keep in mind that the other team may use the first strategy so have someone use an AoE skill on the clouds first before proceeding. Depending on what each team does, there may be an early team fight in one of the lanes, or both teams peacefully destroy the first train. [7.2] SKILLS The best skill to use on this map is teleport. Due to the towers being difficult to destroy, the game often goes to a late game phase thus making heal useless. I recommend using teleport to easily port to your tower when it is in danger or to port to your train shortly after destroying the enemy’s train. [7.3] PUSHING LANES With this map, you want to have your team focus on the objective of winning the game by pushing the offense lane always. The defense lane should only be pushed when there are a few seconds before the next enemy train comes. Pushing the defense lane will allow you with more time to destroy the train and be in a better position to protect your train after. However, constantly pushing the defense lane right to the enemy tower is a terrible idea since you will not be destroying the defense lane enemy tower anytime soon. That tower is meant for when your team are level 15 with most of their necessary items. [7.4] ENEMY TRAINS ARE A PRIORITY Always try to make destroying the enemy train a priority. Ignore enemy heroes if you have to end up chasing them to get a kill. It might actually be their plan to distract you away from their train. Getting kills in this map is much easier than destroying the towers. Especially with the enemy towers closest to their base; they can do a lot of damage and are hard to take down with an enemy tower hugging. [8.0] CONCLUSION This concludes the advanced guide to HOC. You probably learned a lot from reading this though, to put the strategies covered to good use requires experience, so keep on playing and improve your skills. Oh did I mention, WARDS!