You are playing mid on Lina and the lane is going really well. Experience and net worth are higher than your counter part. You’ve outplayed the enemy Shadow Fiend, hitting level 6 before him and are waiting for just the right time for expending the first Laguna Blade and watching the demon go back to the depths of hell, releasing souls and squealing as he does so. But he’s not that bad a player and makes sure he plays it safe. You get frustrated that you can’t use that freshly gained burst of magic damage and teleport to another lane. After a minute or two of planning, two side lane kills are secured with the help of your team mates and it seems like a big win. Go back to the lane and you find out Shadow Fiend is level 9 while you are languishing on level 7 and now, he has a better control over the lane.
Why does this happen? And trust me, it does happen. Not just in mid lane, but even in the safelane when carries prioritize hero kills over farm and later on realize they are lagging behind the enemy carry.
In this great game called Dota 2 that we worship, small changes often lead to big implications. That is a major reason why we love it. But at times, some of the smaller changes go unnoticed or are deemed unimportant. One such change is potentially the experience dip that was introduced in 7.07.
- Base hero-kill XP bounty (non-assist portion) for level 1-5 reduced from 100/120/140/160/180 to 30/60/90/120/150 (You still get extra XP for hero kills from the assist formula)
What this change did was it rendered any kills gotten during the early part of the game (any kills on heroes below level 6) not too useful. Why? Because going out of your way to get a kill while neglecting the XP available in the lane would be a sure-fire formula for being under. Kyle ‘melonzz’ Freedman explicitly mentioned on the panel of a tournament (I don’t remember which one) that it is a lot better to force the opposition laner back to base walking than killing him in the early stage.
Base experience achieved by killing heroes from level 1 to 5 which is distributed amongst all allies in a 1500 radius (source: www.dota2.Gamepedia.com)
This is the base experience which gets distributed amongst all the heroes. There is an additional assist component as well. Let’s consider the above scenario to see how things pan out:
As Lina, you teleport to the safelane, wait for the right time to strike and take down the enemy offlaner and support with two other team mates. Considering the offlaner to be level 5 and support to be level 3 (and not a very big XP difference), the XP you stand to gain is:
XP from killing level 5 offlaner = 150/3 + 9 x 5 = 95
XP from killing level 3 support = 90/3 + 9 x 3 = 57
In that the three of you share two creep waves (and deny enemy creeps), which gives you an XP of 200
Total XP gained = 95 + 57 + 200 = 352
If you were level 6 when you left the lane, your level now will be 6 and half. Yup, that’s all. Here’s the chart for that:
Total experience needed to a get to a level and XP difference between adjacent levels (source: www.dota2.Gamepedia.com)
The XP required to get from level 6 to level 7 is 640 and this rotation will get only half a level. In the mean time, Shadow Fiend has a free lane mid and probably got 4 free waves.
XP from enemy wave = 240
XP from denying ally creep wave = 60
Total XP from 4 creep waves = 300 x 4 = 1200
Shadow Fiend basically garnered 4 times the XP and gained a level and half over you and probably even a good chunk of the mid tower. He now has control over the lane and your tower will go down a lot earlier than you anticipated, which is not good as the mid tier one is probably the most important tower to have for accessibility.
What about the gold though? If that is substantially higher than what the lane offers, it could be worth it. Let’s find out!
Average creep wave gold = 177
Gold from 4 waves = 177 x 4 = 708
708 is the potential gold Shadow Fiend (opposition mid laner) stands to gain when you leave him alone for four creep waves. In comparison, you gain:
Gold from killing level 5 enemy (assuming a net worth deficit and his/her net worth as 3000) = 244
Gold from killing a level 3 enemy (assuming a net worth deficit and his/her net worth as 500) = 202
Total gold = 446
Lina gets about 250 gold less and this is only if she gets the last hit on both kills! If it’s one of the other players that get the last hit, the gold earned goes down as well!
All this is a bit hard to comprehend. Kills over a few creep waves may seem like a no brainer, but thanks to the recent change, it really isn’t. Getting the most out of the laning phase is something that needs to be done. Not that kills are bad and should be neglected. If there is a possibility, always go for the kill. Although not at the cost of the potential gold and experience you could be getting from creeps. And this includes venturing into the jungle early on in the game. After the nerf to jungle XP and gold, jungling really isn’t worth it unless you can clear all the camps in the large jungle (including Ancients) in a minute or so.
Average jungle XP without Ancients = 428
Average jungle gold without Ancients = 738
The Ancients have been neglected as very few heroes can actually kill then at level 6 (Alchemist comes to mind, Sven maybe?). And without them, the XP from the entire large jungle (1 small camp, 2 medium camps, 2 large camps) is less than 2 creep waves!
All in all, when allies start spamming ‘report mid, mid not ganking’ the moment you hit level 6, just ignore it. Keep farming in lane till a good 8 or 9 and then make your move. And if you do decide to make an early rotation, ask a support to fill in at mid so that all that juicy XP does not go to waste!