DotA/HoN Balance and Why it Matters

Hello guys!  I'd like to say that these are just the ramblings of me and that you should feel free to disagree with everything I say.  This is a blog for my thoughts, and solely a blog.  However, I hope that you find some logic in my words and ultimately creates some discussion in this DotA/HoN community.

Well, let's start with the beginning of DotA and the concept.  A Warcraft 3 custom map, the core gameplay revolves around two teams of five players, each player controlling a single unit called a "Hero".  These Heroes are all unique and have four distinct abilities and different roles.  However, as the game grows into a game with 103 heroes currently in the hero pool, how can the game designers keep these heroes all unique and varied while maintaining a strong balance, and a strong gameplay?


There was a gameplay choice Icefrog (Current DotA designer) made, buffing heroes called "Carries".  Carries are a type of hero that can require time to develop and are fairly useless early game, but are devastating DPS monsters later on.  Teamfights are usually decided by these individual heroes, along with good team support, initiation, and coordination.  These Carries are able to destroy entire teams by itself with proper late game support, making the DotA gameplay more dynamic.  Gankers and pushers became more important, since ganking the enemy carry made his less effective into the late game, and pushing in lanes would reduce the Carry's ability to farm.

This made for a more dynamic game, with players actively roaming the map and providing more entertaining games.  Each hero role become more important.  The carry would farm, the support would babysit to ensure the carry's success, and enemy gankers would try to pick off carries and supports while their own carry farms.

Hero design is crucial in this balance.  Gankers need to have abilities that can effectively kill enemy heroes, without being able to scale so well that they carry the team to victory with less farm than an actual carry.

However, I may be contradictory here and say that there are heroes in DotA that do have these abilities, such as Slardar, Storm Spirit, and Queen of Pain.  These are all heroes that have incredible ganking abilities, but can also scale well into late game, thus being branded "Semi-Carries"

Is DotA balanced? It's debatable.  And it will stay debatable for a long period of time.  But in my very so humble opinion I believe that the heroes in DotA are fairly balanced as well as the gameplay.  Although Shadowfiend is definitely up there in higher tier games, hahaha.


 Still, DotA is one of the best team oriented games out there, and on a professional level it's extremely entertaining to watch, as skillshots, hero saves, and teamfights are the highlights of its gameplay.

Oops, have I forgot about HoN?


I've played both HoN and DotA for quite some time.  I've played DotA for about 3 years and HoN since the beta, and noticed some differences between the two.  HoN heroes usually have many useful skillsets.  Late game carries such as Madman have incredible ganking skills and mobility, making him viable in every stage of the game.  DotA ports have been buffed in order to match these HoN heroes with incredible skillsets.  Pyromancer, who is a port of Lina, has a DoT on his passive, something Lina lacks.  Oh, did I forget to mention that the DoT also applies to his spells, making his stuns and nukes apply the DoT while stacking?


I feel as if HoN heroes can fill in many different roles, with their primary role diminished.  Before his nerf, Electricians skillsets pointed him towards a ganker and tank.  He had a channeling stun, and movement buff and slow, a powerful AOE nuke that stole mana, and a tanking skill that used his mana to reduce incoming damage.  However, in professional play we saw a player named Brized solo him in the middle lane, and basically won the entire game for his team.  It was probably one of the most bizzarre yet incredible powerful strats that I personally have seen.  (Panda trilane is also pretty good, imo)

Is HoN balanced?  Well...not in the way that DotA tries to be.  I feel HoN is everywhere with everything with heroes that can fill in multiple important roles.  

What about you guys?  Is the gameplay balanced and fair?  Are heroes becoming too powerful to the point where teamplay is diminished?  Should DotA/HoN even be considered for professional esports to the point where Starcraft is?

pfro's picture

what the hell do these abbreviations mean. jesus

John Tarr's picture

Personally, the only experience I've had with DotA is in SC2, so a lot of what you're talking about is completely over my head. I didn't even realize that DotA and HoN (I assume similar to DotA?) was played competitively.

But, to say the least, DotA on SC2 is a helluva lot of fun. I would imagine that when the official Blizzard SC2 DotA mod comes out, it will be taken very seriously as well in the competitive community. As well as Valve's Dota 2.

coll1de's picture



DotA =  Defense of the Ancients.  

HoN- Heroes of Newerth.  A game based on DotA and containing the same gameplay elements.




Hahaha, indeed, SotiS is tons of fun.  I haven't played much, but so far it's a great way to blow off some steam after laddering on Starcraft 2.  Thanks for giving an interest to the new wave of DotA gameplay based games! 

MYWuCHA's picture

Nice review clyde.  I'm proud of you BOYYYYYYYYYYY

greenblattsam's picture

I absolutely love SotIS as well as DOTA. My friend introduced me to the game when I went over to his house and he was playing DOTA (Warcraft 3). I was infatuated with DOTA for quite a while although I was absolutely terrible :D. Thanks for the awesome write up.

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