Axe, the Bearded Menace
This is a guide for Axe, one of the manliest heroes in DotA. As such, the guide will assume that its reader is also reasonably manly. For those in doubt, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I have hair on my knuckles and/or my toes?
- Is beef jerky the greatest food ever invented?
- When the dishwasher stops working, do I kick her?
- Do I want to show my sissy opponents the power of beards?
- Do I prefer to deliver my beatdowns up close and personal?
- Do I still pay with cash?
- Am I smart enough to realize that if someone tells me to get Battle Fury as a starting item or to be a CHAMPION PUBBER, that this person is kidding?
If you answered "yes" to at least four of the first six questions, you are probably manly enough for this guide. If you answered no to the last question, well, I'll see you when you win your Darwin Award.
Advantages and Disadvantages
What? You didn't think it would be that simple, did you? If playing Axe was akin to having Chuck Norris on your side, everyone would play him. Contrary to popular belief, even the manliest of men have their positive and negative qualities. However, do not let this deter you: these qualities only exist to weed out the pretenders, emo kids, and girly-men who cannot possibly appreciate a real beard.
- Great last-hitting animation
- Beefy and durable
- One of the best farmers in the game, especially in the beginning
- Amazing AoE disable
- Makes every hero on your team better
- Melee hero
- Mana problems, especially in the early game
- Slow movement speed due to massive beard and testicles
- Fairly crappy auto-attack
- One skill that does not synergize with the others
- No skills that scale over time
Skills and Commentary
For your mathcraft pleasure, look here.
Berserker's Call (E)
If your enemies aren't paying you the attention you deserve, use this skill to get all of them to focus on you. As a result, this skill naturally synergizes with Counter Helix, enabling Axe to take down large swarms of enemies in an extremely manly fashion. The skill has a reasonably short cooldown, so if you have the mana to spare, you can use it both to start the fight and to give the sissies who try to slink away an even faster trip to where they rightly belong: namely, their fountain.
Battle Hunger (R)
At first glance, this skill seems pretty cool, and perhaps even a great complement to your other skills, but do not be fooled, for IceFrog included this skill to test both your manliness and your general intellect.
The biggest problem with this skill is its extremely-easy-to-achieve condition: any DotA player worth his or her salt should be able to find a single creep, illusion, building, or dumbass Axe player who picks up Battle Hunger to either last hit or deny. You know what sucks about pissing away all your mana, only to get one or two ticks' worth of damage? Everything.
This skill also magnifies Axe's two main problems: his early mana problems and the fact that his skills don't scale as the game goes on. Axe needs to enforce discipline early, and a point in Battle Hunger makes discipline that much more difficult: your Call is not quite as manly and your Helix only chops people up into moderately-sized pieces. Also, consider the fact that a Level 6 Axe has only 286 mana. Assume you only got one point each in Hunger, Call, and Beard. Pulling off that whole combo requires 275 mana or, in other words, basically all of it. If you have a second level in either Hunger or Call, it will instead cost you 285 mana. In the mean time, you're less effective as a tank, you dumbass! Go eat a salad.
Real men are men of action: men who forge their destines and beat the shit out of those who oppose. Stand up for men around the world and avoid this skill.
Counter Helix (X)
Counter Helix is your bread-and-butter skill. It is the skill that makes Axe the envy of the ladies and the punisher of pussies the world over. The damage it does, however, is purely physical damage and, as such, loses its effectiveness over time, which is another reason why it needs to be maxed early. It is also worth noting that Helix can still trigger even if Axe is stunned or in Chronosphere. The Helix also triggers at the beginning of an attack, regardless of whether or not the attack is canceled. For grins, tell everyone that spamming Stop while under the influence of Berserker's Call will prevent Axe from spinning, then punch them in case they thought you were kidding.
Culling Beard (C)
The name of this skill is misleading. As we all know that there is no such thing as telekinetic and invisible blades - though that would certainly be cool - the attack works by Axe showing his opponent the magnificence of his beard. Those who are weak of heart explode due to the sheer awesomeness. If the pussy in question's HP is below the listed threshold, he or she dies instantly, regardless of buffs, magic immunity, Abaddon's ult, testicular fortitude, or standardized test scores. If the pussy has HP above the threshold, they instead receive a pitiful amount of damage, reduced by magic resistance and blocked by things like Linken's Sphere. Though counting is not a necessary prerequisite for most men, looking stupid is decidedly un-manly. Do not tarnish the beard!
1 - Counter Helix
2 - Berserker's Call
3 - Counter Helix
4 - Berserker's Call
5 - Counter Helix/Berserker's Call
6 - Culling Beard
7 - Counter Helix/Berserker's Call
8 - Berserker's Call/Counter Helix
9 - Berserker's Call/Counter Helix
10 - Stats
11 - Culling Beard
12 - Stats
13 - Stats
14 - Stats
15 - Stats
16 - Culling Beard
17 - Stats
18 - Stats
19 - Stats
20 - Stats
21 - Stats
22 - Nothing
23 - Nothing
24 - Nothing
25 - Nothing
Basically, Axe's build is pretty set in stone. The question of whether to max Counter Helix or Berserker's Call first basically comes down to how much you can depend on your team: if you have a good supporting team and can count on things like ganks, enabling you to basically farm the pussies on the other team, max Call first. If you can't depend on your team (ie, you're playing in a shitty pub) and you need to thin out the local wildlife in order to get going, max Helix first.
Though it is theoretically possible to select Battle Hunger from levels 22-25, please be warned that doing so is like riding a moped or a fat chick: it's a lot of fun until a friend sees you.
But Zotmaster! You could take Battle Hunger at Level 10!
When starting out, ask yourself the following question:
Am I playing as Axe?
Then ask yourself:
How manly am I feeling right now?
No Axe player should leave home without:
Don't like it? Tough shit. Does Chuck Norris kill people with only roundhouse kicks? Absolutely not. Did Ash Williams only rely on his Boomstick? Fuck no! He had his chainsaw, and when that was out of the question, he built flamethrowers, harpoon guns and a fully functional gauntlet-hand of awesomeness.
If you would like to follow the lead of the manly men before you, you must learn to adapt to the best available way of beating ass.
Start off by looking at your Stouts. You have one, right? You will want to upgrade it to something more fitting for someone like Axe. You have a pair of choices:
Next, look at your footwear. Clearly, we want to wade through the remains of our enemies, but there are three different sets of shoes to do that wading.
"But Zotmaster," I hear you cry as your taste buds feebly attempt to process the awesomeness of your fresh bag of beef jerky, "what do I do after that? There are so many items in DotA, and every other guide tells me what to buy, every time!"
This is wrong! Item builds are fluid. It depends on what heroes your team has, what heroes the enemy has, and how the game is progressing in general. Remember what I said about real men being able to kill people with whatever's at hand?
Ask yourself the following questions, select the one you can say yes to best, and get the corresponding item! If only getting laid was that easy, huh?
Bringing the Pain
Sure, it's all well and good to have the weaponry, skills, and general manliness to slaughter those you hate, but you have to be able to get to that point, first. Even the bearded men like Axe start out fairly weaksauce.
You must first decide whether you want to beat things in lane or beat things in the jungle. While Axe can do just fine thinning out the numbers of endangered species in the jungle, it is generally preferable to pick a lane (and not the middle lane). Why? Axe is an early game hero and has a great last-hit animation. Axe can also royally own both squishy and melee heroes in the early stages of the game. If the hero(es) in question happen to be both squishy and melee, they're basically the prison bitch to your Bubba. If your selection of heroes really could benefit from an extra solo, go in the jungle, but otherwise, pick a lane.
Okay, so you're in a lane. Now what?
You basically have two choices: just pick a lane and start hacking, or you can try the patented ultra-gay-and-ultra-hilarious Pubstomper strategy:
For your viewing pleasure, you can find the Pubstomper strategy inside this box:
Once you've settled into your lane, your level of bearded aggression should vary depending on who you are laned against. If you took a solo lane or you're facing ranged heroes, tone back the aggression and focus solely on using Axe's great last-hitting ability. Find a creep and spam Stop until it is low enough on health, and swing. At the risk of stating the obvious, hit creeps as infrequently as possible to avoid pushing a lane early.
If you have someone backing you up or are facing melee heroes, you can afford to be much more aggressive. Stay on their side of the creep wave and pound the creeps into oblivion. If the creeps aren't attacking you, simply issue an Attack command to the enemy hero and they'll do their best to help you kill them faster. If you can do this while chasing the enemy hero, so much the better as you can damage them too. If your team paired you up with a disabler, owning a lane should be very easy.
If for some reason there is no enemy hero to oppose you, take advantage of it! Jump in front of your creeps and hack the enemies into pieces. You can rack up money very quickly doing this. If there are no more creeps in your lane, either pick another lane or duck into the jungle for a bit. Go wherever there are things to kill.
Berserker's Call and You
Using Berserker's Call successfully is the difference between good Axe players and shitty Axe players (obviously, maxing Battle Hunger at the expense of your other skills is a whole new level of shitty). Though it is something that can only be taught with practice, you have to know when to use your Call. If you're facing only one enemy hero, there's no reason to Call unless you're guaranteed a kill. After all, Axe is slow: if you don't kill them with the Call, what's to keep the hero from running away? Also keep in mind that the Call doesn't come out instantly: Axe has to stop and then there's a slight delay before the spell goes off. Because of this, if you're chasing someone, do not Call until you are more or less right on top of them. Failing a Call makes you look stupid, and real men don't fail.
In team fights, your job is to obviously do your best to maneuver into the middle of the action in order to Call and grab the attention of all the enemy heroes. To put it simply, unless you're depending on some massive initiator combo (such as with the allies I list below), this means Blink your ass in there and start some shit. Besides the fact that this is how you deal your damage, it also allows your allies to land their skills unmolested. And really, who wants to get molested? Unless you're carrying, your job is to simply soak up damage until your team kills everyone. Consider your death at the expense of the lives of several opponents to be a sign of a job well done. You died fighting like a man.
This line of thinking also applies to pushing towers: as (more than likely) the most awesome and manly hero on your team, it's your job to lead the charge and tank the tower if need be. Just remember: the rest of your team is a bunch of pussies. Show them how it's done.
Here is a complete list of heroes that get better when Axe is on their team:
That having been said, some heroes have really great synergy with Axe:
Whether you're leading off for them or they're leading off for you, whoever initiates will make the second hero's job that much easier.
Heroes with Close Range and/or Concentrated Ults
As above plus etc...
Basically, you hold them in place while the other hero wails on them. Especially when it comes to abilities like Black Hole, Reverse Polarity, and Echo Slam, landing that along with a Call pretty much guarantees the enemy heroes will race each other to their fountain.
Heroes with Aimed Skills
You know what's a pain in the ass? Lining up a Torrent, Light Strike Array, or Split Earth only to have the intended targets juke out of the way. Help make sure they land!
Heroes named Dazzle
Unfortunately, there is only one such hero who fits the bill, but he deserves a special mention. Everything he does pairs with you nicely. Poison Touch helps keep enemies from running away, Shadow Wave helps keep you alive, and Weave not only makes you beefier, but causes you to hit harder as well. Shallow Grave, of course, allows you to Rambo in and live to tell about it.
Heroes whose names start with "D" and end with "ark Seer"
To be fair, Dark Seer pairs well with just about anybody and he doesn't pair with Axe quite as well as he used to, but he too still deserves a special mention. Surge ensures that you can always chase down enemy heroes. Ion Shell, especially combined with Radiance, is absolutely hilarious. And though it is very hard to land, a Vacuum/Call combination might as well result in IceFrog personally slapping each enemy hero with a loss. It's too bad Wall of Replica no longer makes friendly Axe copies...
Of course, there always has to be someone who tries to suck the fun out of life. The following heroes do an especially good job of that:
Then again, what hero isn't messed up by multiple disables? If a good Rhasta player can trap you within his wards (such as by leading off with a Eul's), you're screwed to the max, especially since Counter Helix doesn't damage wards.
An Axe without mana is pretty much worthless. Even Centaur has a beefier body and can Double Edge without paying mana. With the exception of Magina, all of these heroes can suck away your mana at range. If you can get close enough to them to Call, they're all pretty much food. Use your mana, or lose your mana.
Sure, having a bucket of hit points is great...until the damage starts growing along with you. You may end up with more hit points than a squishy who suffers the same attack, but few things can chop down a tank faster than a percentage-based nuke. Make sure your team makes killing these heroes a priority.
If you're facing N'aix, you're pretty much screwed. Open Wounds keeps you from running away. Feast not only heals N'aix but chews up fatties...like you. Rage lets him do it faster. If you somehow lower his health, he needs only to Infest a creep to make you do it again. Run away (by attacking in the opposite direction, of course) and come back with friends.
The Fuzzy One
Yeah, Ursa is arguably one of the worst heroes, if not the absolute worst, in DotA. Yeah, beating the shit out of a bear is probably the manliest thing anyone can ever do. But yeah, Ursa will still kick your ass! There's a reason why a good Ursa player can solo Roshan at no later than Level 8: his single-target DPS is disgusting. He gets more powerful the more he beats on the same target, and guess how you fight? By letting things beat on you repeatedly. You're better off not picking Axe if Ursa has already been picked, but you absolutely have to rock the beard, make sure something else has Fuzzy Wuzzy occupied or you're done.