Wards win wars in Dota 2.
Dota 2 is a game of information and the team that has more of it is going to win the vast majority of the time. Because of that, knowing when and where to place wards is an incredibly valuable tool for players at all levels.
It requires quite a bit of game sense to know the best locations for wards as the game progresses and different compositions can change things up, but by following just a few simple steps, you can quickly up your support game.
Generally speaking, it’s fairly easy to ward in the early game. While different team compositions might benefit from creative warding, things are usually straightforward while laning.
In the mid lane, wards over the power runes can help give mids the jump on refilling bottles or setting up ganks with Invisibility or Haste runes. In the offlane, a ward behind the tree line can help protect players from ganks and troublesome opponents like Pudge and Keeper of the Light. In the safe lane, a ward in the jungle offers lots of vision for early team fights, while the tier one towers have a high ground point that can help make early pushes a bit safer.
Different team compositions can require unique ward positions. Heroes like Chen, Spirit Breaker, and Techies require vigilance in a way that might require more unorthodox warding. Heroes that can effectively prey upon the enemy couriers, like Nature’s Prophet, benefit from wards placed deep in enemy territory.
But even in those situations, the aforementioned ward spots can still be effective.
Things get much trickier in the mid game. Everything from team composition, to the time on the clock, to what state the game is in, can impact how and when to ward.
The first and most important question a support player needs to ask when it comes to where to place wards is what do they expect their team to be doing two minutes from now? Is the team going to be pushing down a tier one tower in the offlane? Well, sneaking out and planting a ward around the tower might be the way to go.
Are the Bounty Hunter and Lifestealer going to team up and start looking for ganks? Then a deep ward in the enemy jungle could set them up for success.
Maybe the enemy team is gearing up for a team fight? In that case, a ward around weakened objectives or Roshan could give your team a read on the situation.
This has always been the case with mid-game warding, but the Outlanders Update provided two new components to the mid-game in neutral items and outposts. Neutral Items see both teams emphasizing the jungle more than than they have in years, and because of that, wards at the entrances to the jungle can keep the team safe as they farm.
Meanwhile, outposts were specifically added to the game to give teams something to fight about every 10 minutes. Putting a ward down at the 15 or 25-minute mark in the nearby jungle will give you a read on teams looking to capture an outpost to steal away an XP boost.
The most important tip here is to make sure you don’t plant multiple wards right next to each other.
Players often feel tempted to place wards quickly if they start to pile up in their inventory, which can lead to wards being bunched up on the map at locations such as the Radiant shrine, jungle near the Dire top lane tier-one tower, and the high ground near Roshan. While each of these wards can be useful individually, having them so close together at the same time ends up being redundant.
When the game is reaching its end, the purpose of warding becomes a bit more straightforward.
If your team is behind, wards can give you an extra bit of vision for defending your base or maintaining your cores’ ability to farm the jungle. If your team is in the lead, you’re warding in order to keep your opponents bottled up. Deep wards on the high ground spots around the enemy base can manufacture a pick that sets up a game-winning push.
In both cases, players can use Smoke of Deceit in order to sneak around. With cores itemized and respawn timers being longer than ever, supports should invest the extra bit of gold in order to keep themselves alive.
There’s a lot more to warding than just this, but these tips should give players a bit of help in terms of knowing how to approach warding.