Sunday, March 6, 2011

Deadwood Guide

A guide to improve your gameplay as:

Deadwood v2.0.6


This guide is intended for the casual 5v5 games on Forest of Caldavar and Normal Mode. Do not expect to follow these guidelines and be successful in any other conditions.
Deadwood is just another hardcore ganker, who's also able to initiate and deal decent auto-attack DPS. He is a hero that is best played solo in the middle lane, as he needs to gain levels as early as possible. Given the right circumstances, he has the ability to totally dominate the early- and mid game, and should thus capitalize on this as much as possible in order to be viable at the later stages of the game. He's is a hero that excels at quickly bringing down single targets, and catching the enemy off guard, even when they got good map control through wards by using the woods to his advantage. In the hands of a good player, he can be an extremely important asset to a team that's capable of causing unstoppable havoc on the opposing team's carry while your own carry farms your team's way to victory.


Born of the cruelly tainted lands of Newerth, Deadwood is the undead husk of the first Keeper of the Forest. All around him, living things wilt, and he has little hesitation to destroy trees or use them as weapons. Despite seeking the destruction of Newerth, he still commands the incredible strength and natural powers of a forest guardian, thus combining the cruelty of the Hellbourne with the powers that once belonged only to the Beast Horde.

Nothing here will make you a better Deadwood player, but it'll give you a good feel of Deadwood's theme and background. We can immediately draw a conclusion that Deadwood was the very first of a line of Keeper of the Forests. For some unknown reason he's now joined the Hellbourne forces. Claimed by dark magic? Betrayed to the point where his lust for revenge made him switch sides?. It'll remain a mystery for now, but it seems like Deadwood's mind was twisted from a will to look over and guard the forest, into a desire of completely destroying it. As the first forest guardian, Deadwood is very likely to be one of the oldest characters on Newerth - chances are he's even older than ol' Bubbles. His powers and abilities still remains from his time as a guardian of the forest, despite no longer being one.

Basic Stats

Let's look at Deadwoods base stats and gains,
Damage: 56 - 61
Attack Range: 128 (Melee)
Attack Speed: 0.68
Armor: 2.74
Move Speed: 300

Strength: 25 (+2.7)
Agility: 16 (+2)
Intelligence: 16 (+1.5)
What really should catch your mind at first here is Deadwood's high base damage. It's a good way above average, and combined with Uproot, last hitting should be extremely easy for you. However, Deadwood is a melee hero, so you run the risk of being harassed by auto-attacks or hit by spells every time you're going for a creep kill. Your high base HP combined with average movement speed comes to the rescue though. Starting with 625HP, you're not gonna be that easy to take down at an early gank, and your staying power in a lane is really great. Deadwood's stat gains are nothing more than average. You do have a decent chunk of strength gain, however. At lv25 you'll be quite tough with over 2.2kHP, and that's with no items. Your agility gain is not bad for a strength hero, and will supply you with decent natural armor. Deadwood's intelligence gain is not the best, and you'll need to boost your mana needs through items in the early phases of the game. You'll have an easier time at late game, but you'll still want to keep those items as long as possible to supply your mana.

Advanced Stats
Cast point/backswing: Rotten Grasp 0.15/0.85; Uproot 0/1.0; Oakbolt 0.3/0.3; Clearcutting 0/0; Willowmaker 0.4/0.6
Damage point/backswing: 0.4/0.3
Sight range day/night: 1800/1200
Missile speed: Instant
Turn rate: 0.54
You got fairly good numbers to work with here. Deadwood's damage point is good. Not the best, but good. As already mentioned, your last hitting will be easy as pie with your base damage plus your boost from Uproot. Note that the damage point/cast point and the backswing together make up your whole animation while attacking, and that your backswing is the part of the animation after the blow is landed/projectile sent/etc. In other words, it is completely cosmetic and should be canceled whenever possible (also referred to as animation canceling) by issuing another command, preferably a move or hold command.

Take a look at your cast points. Your cast point on Rotten Grasp is only 0.15 seconds. That's pretty fast! However, you do have a backswing of a grand 0.85 seconds. That's pretty slow... Cancel it to speed up your chase or escape. It also gives the enemy a much smaller time window to notice that you have casted it. They do hear the sound when it's cast however, so any player that's not half asleep will know that you've casted it. With 0/1 seconds on Uproot, you can literally grab your tree as you run by, not stopping at all. Oakbolt's cast point is just average, cancel the backswing for faster chasing. Clearcutting is instant nothing more to say there. Willowmaker has 0.6 seconds of backswing which is almost as long and superfluous as Rotten Grasp's and Uproot's; you do want to cancel this one too in order to get those extra last hits in. I can't stress this enough folks, cancel your backswings!

Another good point on Deadwood is his sight range at night. 1200 is 400 more than average (800), which means that you can have sight on a lot of enemy heroes while they can't see you at night. Abuse this at your best, ganking is always better at night time. Keep in mind, the day and night-cycles shift every other 7.5 minutes.

Deadwood's turn rate is average, at 0.54 (or 540 degrees / sec). Now, for the sake of argument, let's say you're being chased at low HP, and you want to throw an Oakbolt at the chaser to slow it down. Deadwood will actually have stop and turn until the target is within his 180 frontal degree arc before he'll cast. This will take some time, and combined with the 0.3/0.3 cast time on Oakbolt, it might just be a better idea to keep running depending on how many you're being chased by. In a 1on1 situation you'll most of the time have the benefit from Oakbolt's snare, but if two guys or more are chasing you you'll allow the other enemy hero to gain ground on you, maybe enough to cast it's own stun/snare that will be the death of you. It's highly situational, so please do keep this information in mind.

Hero Role

We all know the four main groups of roles in Heroes of Newerth: Initiator, Support, Ganker and Carry. If you wanna be good at this game, it is crucial that you understand your role on your team. You don't win games by building and playing Glacius as a carry hero. Maybe in noob stomps, but not in pro play. Glacius was simply not designed to be played as a carry hero. With that in mind, it's time to learn Deadwood's role.

The most important factor to look at when it comes to hero roles are their skills. All 4 of Deadwood's skills are active. They revolve around (1) surprising the enemy, (2) trapping the enemy in place, (3) slowing down the enemy, and most importantly; (4) dealing burst damage. This screams GANKER all the way, and Deadwood shouldn't be picked for anything else. Deadwood is also a great initiator, being able to bring key opponents down in a matter of seconds. Although Deadwood dish out enough DPS through auto-attacks to be called a soft-carry, there are far better picks for carrying, but he can certainly help the team dish out some extra, raw auto-attack DPS in teamfights later on. Now, what's a ganker's job on a team? Your job as Deadwood is to run around the map, setting up kills (remember, carries get priority on last hits!), and just as important; constantly be on the opposing carries' arses all the time. A good ganker makes sure his own carry farms well while the enemy carry doesn't get any farm at all. At later stages of the game you'll be unloading all of your skills at the start of the fight, then whiffing the enemy down with your auto-attacks.

Skill Description & In-Debt Analysis

It's time to take a look at what this guy can do with his awesome skills and how to best utilize them,

Rotten Grasp
Calling upon the deep corruption underground, Deadwood can root anyone standing in the target area after a short delay.
Action: Target Position
Type: Magic
Range: 1,300
Radius: 200
Cast Time: 1.0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 120
Cooldown: 13.0 Seconds
Required Level: 1 / 3 / 5 / 7
After a 2 second delay, applies Rotten Grasp to all enemies in the radius or who walk into the radius. Effect lasts 1 / 1.7 / 2.3 / 3 seconds.
The effect during the delay is stealthed.

Rotten Grasp Effect
-1 / -2 / -3 / -4 Armor
100 Magic damage per second

Rotten Grasp is easily the single most skill-reliant ability that Deadwood possesses. In short, this skill has mainly three uses: Trapping and/or chasing opponents, as well as escaping ganks. Think of it as a weak, limited AoE-version of Keeper of the Forest's Root. First, let's take a quick glance at how far the range of this skill is,

Including the radius of the AoE, you end up with a max range of 1500 units. That is pretty far, which makes this skill so great at surprise ganking and initiation. Assuming you're not revealed by wards or anything, you can approach safe from the Fog of War, and cast this without the enemy noticing before it is too late.
Before we talk about how to use it, let's go over some mechanics and how the skill works:
  • When the skill is cast, it will take affect after a 2 second delay. The enemy can not see the visuals of this skill before it goes off under any circumstances. No form for true sight will reveal it. It's only a cosmetic visual for you and your allies.
  • Deadwood performs an animation to cast this skill, and a short sound-clip is played. If the enemy has sight on you, they will both see and hear you cast the spell, effectively giving them a heads-up.
  • Any enemy initially getting caught in it's AoE will have the debuff applied for it's full duration. Any enemy walking in it after it's gone off will also have the debuff applied, only for the remaining duration.
  • Enemies take 100 Magic damage per second, this is your only source of Magic damage.
  • Enemies receive reduced armor. This synergizes greatly with you ultimate and auto-attacks.
  • The skill works much like Ice Imprisonment and Root in the way that it disables any ability classified as a travel ability for it's duration. This includes
    • Vampiric Flight
    • Wave Form
    • Ludicrous Speed
    • Flash
    • Flash of Darkness
    • Tsunami Charge
    • Time Leap
    • Flurry
    • Cannonball
    • Courageous Leap
    • Charging Strikes
    • teleport-to-sword on Sword Throw
    • teleport-to-shell on Shell Surf
    These abilities will be disabled as long as the heroes are affected by Rotten Grasp. Use this knowledge to easily get heroes that has an annoying escape mechanism like Magebane.
  • Psuedo-blink abilities like Night Hound's Pounce are not classified as travel abilities and will still work. They may use their skills to move out from the affected area, however they will still have the debuff applied to them and be immobilized for it's remaining duration.
  • You can get rid of the debuff though items like Geometer's Bane, but if you end up in the AoE again it will be re-applied immediately, as the mechanics of the skill constantly applies the debuff in the affected area. Magic Immunity from spells or Shrunken Head completely ignores Rotten Grasp and will debuff it.
  • It does not reveal invisible units. This means invisible units remain invisible, while heroes like Night Hound and Scout can become invisible while they're stuck in it. They still take full effect from the skill, however.

How to Rotten Grasp: Rotten Grasp is your main way of setting up kills, as it allows you to get in melee range of your ultimate. Your goal is to trap your target(s) in the area, walk up to them and finish them off. Easier said than done? Sure is. Because of the 2 second delay, it is easily dodged by simply running away from the area before it goes off. If an enemy is moving (which they will be most of the time), you have to predict their movements, and aim the skill accordingly.

This skill is easiest to land if you're in the Fog of War without the enemy knowing, but let's say you're laning against someone. Sure if you're mid you can sometimes use the hill to cast safe from the fog. However, when the enemy DO have sight on you, they will try to dodge it, which is why you have to be the better player and predict where they will be heading. In this case, a good way to hit would be to: (1) Always keep moving around. Make random turns and just move back and forth changing to circles and so forth. Be unpredictable. (2) Cancel the backswing animation immediately, (3) then proceed to either (3a) keep walking in the same pattern you did before you casted it, assuming the enemy did not notice that you casted it, or (3b) if the enemy is competent, it will notice, so hope for the best and start walking against it to force it to either walk into you or your Grasp. Also note that while the enemy may know the direction of the cast by looking at you, they won't know at what range you casted it - behind, on top, or in front of them. It really boils down to a game of prediction. It takes practice and you'll have to study each individual opponent's movement patterns.

When ganking, make a teammate throw a stun/snare on the opponent for a guaranteed hit. Always try to make sure the outer ring of the AoE just covers the target, and place it in the direction the target is most likely to run. If you don't have the support of your teammates or they don't have a stun/snare, just study the way your target(s) move. If they mostly walk around in circles or keep to the same pattern, you can almost hit with 100% certainty. If a creep is about to die, you can set up a Grasp for that melee guy (ranged even) who's certain to walk up for the last hit. Remember, just keep trying and you'll master it in no time.

For chasing, you simply cast it ahead of the enemy, preferably at a choke point, forcing the enemy to walk into you (and your comrades) or get stuck in your Grasp.

Rotten Grasp can also be used defensively, and yes it's quite straight forward. Be it to save yourself or an ally, just cast it so that it'll hit the chasers or block a choke point for the escape.

Deadwood can turn any tree into a weapon by simply tearing it out of the ground.
Action: Target Entity
Type: Physical
Range: 100
Cast Time: 1.0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 30
Cooldown: 15.0 Seconds
Required Level: 1 / 3 / 5 / 7
Picks up the target tree, getting +15 / 30 / 45 / 60 damage for 5 attacks.

Uproot Effect
15 / 30 / 45 / 60 Damage

This skill does what it says. You get 5 charges/hits with added bonus damage, and the subskill Oakbolt. Every time you hit something, you lose a charge, which means you lose the tree after 5 hits. The skill is mainly used to boost your last hitting while laning, and just raw DPS when attacking enemies.

While holding a tree, he can throw it at an enemy, mini-stunning and snaring them.
Action: Target Unit
Type: Physical
Range: 650
Cast Time: 0.6 Seconds
Mana Cost: N/A
Cooldown: N/A
Throws your tree at the target enemy, stunning them for 0.1 seconds, dealing 30 / 60 / 90 / 120 Physical damage, and applies Son of a Birch for 1.5 / 2 / 2.5 / 3 seconds.

Son of a B*tchBirch
75% Movement Slow, decreasing over 1.5 / 2 / 2.5 / 3 seconds.

In short, Oakbolt has two main uses: Chasing and interupting channeling spells. Look at this image to get a feel of its range:

  • When cast, removes all charges of Uproot.
  • If cast on a tree, destroys it. Make that Keeper of the Forest (Tree Sight) sad!
  • If cast on units (enemies), performs a mini-stun, which in itself is extremely useful to stop channeling spells or Homecoming Stones.
  • It also deals Physical damage and applies a 75% snare. You normally deal more damage with auto-attacks (boosted by Uproot) so don't even use it when you're on 1 charge left, unless your opponent is running from you in case you want a slow. If you're opponent is low enough to die from one or two auto-attack after you can use it to kill it faster.
  • Your opponent will basically be crawling when initially hit, which makes it easier to follow up with a successful Rotten Grasp.
  • If you're on your way to a lane to gank, it's a good idea to make sure you pick up a tree early, so that Uproot will be off cooldown when you arrive, allowing you to use Oakbolt and immediately pick up a new tree.
  • You can use Oakbolt to snag last hits, or harass your lane opponent. However, try to do this only on your last charge of Uproot. By continuously spamming Oakbolt on your opponent, they will either keep backing off, denying them last hits, or just take it and ignore it, which gives you an excellent opportunity to surprise them with a quick, animation canceled Rotten Grasp.
  • Being Physical damage, you can throw this on Magic Immune units! They will take the damage, but neither the mini-stun nor the slow will take effect.

Deadwood, not known for his love of nature, can gain the ability to destroy trees he walks through. Empowered by the destruction he has caused, Deadwood gains movement speed, attack speed, and slow resistance when destroying trees.
Action: Target Self
Cast Time: 0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 50
Cooldown: 25.0 Seconds
Required Level: 1 / 3 / 5 / 7
Applies Clearcutting to self for 12 / 14 / 16 / 18 seconds. Any tree run through and killed grants one charge. Maximum of 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 charges.

Clearcutting Effect
+3% Movement Speed per charge
+15 Attack Speed per charge
+25% Slow Resistance per charge

Clearcutting is the skill I tend to use the least. However it does have alot of uses to it, it is also Deadwood's only ability that "technically" scales. You want to use this skill to surprise the enemy, escape ganks and boost your DPS through increased attackspeed.
  • When activated, you gain treewalking, which is extremely useful. Your treewalking is also different from normal treewalking because it destroys any tree you walk through.
  • While destoying trees is pretty badass and will make that Keeper of the Forest even sader, it does leave a trail that other heroes - allies or enemies - can follow.
  • With 4 charges, not only do you get +60 Attack Speed and more Movement Speed, but you're also immune to slows with 100% Movement Slow Resistance (does not apply to AS)! You can basically laugh at Zephyr as you walk through his ultimate at full speed or escape Slither/Armadon's otherwise annoying slows.

How to Clearcutting: While you'll most of the time use this skill only for escapes or the speed boosts, it can be used as a ganking tool. Let's say you're Hellbourne, and the enemy is pushing the top lane. You can walk deep into the forest at some point and hide, safe from enemy sight. From here you can prepare yourself for a successful Rotten Grasp, because it's not an angle most people will be expecting a gank from, letting you catch them off guard. Run or or preferably blink in with Portal Key and quickly take down a key opponent if you're able to, while your team follows up immediately after. You can gank during the laning phase like this too, but it's not recommended as most of the time you can just approach like a normal ganker. Alternatively you can use this skill to run straight through any tree you were hiding behind before you casted that Rotten Grasp, instead of walking around it.

Don't hesitate using this skill for pure DPS whenever you're entering teamfights or whatever. Simply build up charges for the AS-boost.

Using this skill as an escape mechanism is great. Whenever you see the enemy coming to gank you just activate the skill and juke the sh*t outta them! Simply run into the forest if it's thick - or straight through to safety if there's just a few trees around. While they may be able to follow your tracks, you will constantly be under the Fog of War. You also get a 12% speed boost with 4 charges to help your escape. With Portal Key, you can easily avoid damage this way for 3 seconds in order to blink away. Any slows or snares will be a waste on you if you're close to trees to build up your charges.

An ageless and powerful force, Deadwood uses his stump arm to punch an enemy, dealing massive damage and lowering the targets strength.
Action: Target Entity
Type: Physical
Range: 150
Cast Time: 1.0 Seconds
Mana Cost: 100 / 150 / 200
Cooldown: 85.0 / 75.0 / 65.0 Seconds
Required Level: 6 / 11 / 16
Deals 350 / 650 / 950 Physical damage, applies Willowmaker and stuns the target for 1.5 seconds.

Willowmaker Effect
Lowers total strength by 20% for 5 seconds.

If Deadwood's right arm is this awesome, why doesn't he always use it? This is Deadwood's signature move, his very own verion of Falcon Punch; Deadwood Punch! Notoriously known to one-shot people, Willowmaker is mainly used to deal burst Physical damage. Look at the skill in mid-cast; would you want to get hit by that?

Let's get the facts straight:
  • It's the Physical version of Pyromancer and Witch Slayer's ultimates - only better!
  • It deals Physical damage, which is why it's so superior to Magical nukes early game, as most heroes will have <5.5 Physical armor. However it scales worse into late game.
  • It stuns for 1.5 seconds, which is always handy for some extra time to finish people off. But the real deal behind this is that it goes through Magic Immunity. Yep you heard it, Deadwood is one of the few guys who's able to stun Magic Immune units.
  • This makes him great at stopping carries because he can stun through their Shrunken Head. You can also stop Magic Immune channelers this way.
  • Since it's Physical, any reduction in Physical armor will boost it. Rotten Grasp and Shieldbreaker are just two examples of ways to increase the power of this skill.
  • Criticals and anything that could normally proc on auto-attacks won't. Attack modifiers are not applied (with the exception of Frostwolf Skull), and neither is your auto-attack damage. This means, in order to use this with a Shieldbreaker, you'll have to hit your target before you use Willowmaker on them.
  • The skill is blocked by Nullstone, so make sure you trigger its cooldown by throwing an Oakbolt at your target before you use it.
  • It lowers the targets strength by 20% on use. This means that the target's max HP is actually reduced for 5 seconds. It is applied before the damage, and goes through Magic Immunity. Every single hero has it's own combination of base HP - and HP from strength, meaning the numbers in reduction will vary with each one.
  • To give an example, let's imagine a target with 0 Physical armor, thus taking full damage, and 1100 HP, spread out at 150 base / 950 strength:

How to Willowmaker: There is no rocket science into using this skill. Point - click - kill. Or so many people seem to think. I've been accused several times for "picking a cheap, R-click-hero", which may be true - Willowmaker will definitely one-shot the squishiest targets during the early stages of the game. However, people seem to forget that you have to be in melee range to use the skill. Any decent player won't just let you run up to them and hit them, which means you'll need the aid of an ally - in which case most people are dead anyways - or hit them with a successful Rotten Grasp. This is why mastering Rotten Grasp is so essential in becoming a successful Deadwood player.

So, when do you use this skill? Use it whenever it's off its low cooldown, because it'll snag you a kill most of the times. Using Rotten Grasp first when you go for a kill will not only let you get up in melee-range, but it'll also reduce the target's Physical armor which boost your damage as it's Physical. In teamfights, don't waste this skill on weak heroes like Glacius (especially not if he just unloaded his whole arsenal) for cheap kills. Save it for the most dangerous opponent like the carry, or a key disabler.

Don't fret using Willowmaker if you find yourself in a tight situation, a 1.5 second stun can be the difference between getting killed or making an escape.

Skill Build

I've seen many different ways of building Deadwood, but honestly, I can't see any other skill build for this hero than the following one:
1 Uproot
2 Rotten Grasp
3 Uproot / Rotten Grasp
4 Rotten Grasp
5 Rotten Grasp
6 Willowmaker
7 Rotten Grasp
8 Uproot / Clearcutting
9 Uproot
10 Clearcutting/Uproot
11 Willowmaker
12 Clearcutting
13 Clearcutting
14 Clearcutting
15 Stats
16 Willowmaker
17-25 Stats
Rotten Grasp is maxed first for obvious reasons. It's your main way of initiating ganks and to get in melee range of Willowmaker. You want to max Uproot next for more DPS (and farming) and the slow duration in Oakbolt. Get Rotten Grasp at level 3 if you wanna go really offensive and think you can kill your opponent that early. In rare cases where you're getting ganked a lot by the enemy, one level of Clearcutting at level 8 is all you need for treewalking. Deadwood Pun... erm Willowmaker is skilled whenever possible because it's awesome, without further ado. The bonuses of more Clearcutting charges are too great to be left for stats, so it'll be maxed at level 14.

Initial Items

Your initial items are mainly aimed at giving you better survivability and staying power in a lane, as well as better last hitting power.

Deadwood, with his high base damage and Uproot, shouldn't have any problem getting last hits, which is why I like to get two Crushing Claws on him rather than a Lodger's Hatchet. Feel free to get one instead of the Claws however if you're not that comfortable with your last-hitting skills, or if you suspect facing other heroes with high base damage like Pebbles or Blood Hunter.

Core Items

Your core items should always be finished before buying anything else. Deadwood needs items that boost his mana, and items that make him mobile.

Portal Key: This item is a must on Deadwood. It allows you to instantly port next to a hero to finish them off Deadwood Punch-style. If a target is hard to hit with a Rotten Grasp, you can alternatively just blink right next to them, punch them in the face with Willowmaker, and set up a guaranteed Rotten Grasp while they are stunned, but do note that Willowmaker won't benefit from the armor reduction you get by setting up Rotten Grasp first. Portal Key will usually be the last item you get for your core build, but if you find yourself having the gold at some point, you should definitely buy it.

Power Supply: One of the best items in the game for it's price, I feel this item is mandatory on every single hero. Clutch health and mana on demand, there's no reason not to get it.

Bottle: This item is what will let you keep roaming/ganking and spamming your skills without having to return to the base. Using the Tablets to refill it, your mana problems should be solved. Assuming you're laning mid, this should be one of the first items you get.
Blood Chalice: This item is somewhat OP if you can sustain the drawbacks. However, Bottle will in most cases be superior if you're a roaming mid, which I hope you'll be as Deadwood. Bottle also regenerates whatever damage you took during your gank, allowing you to go straight to the next. However, feel free to pick up Blood Chalice together with a Shaman's Headdress/Helm of the Black Legion over the Bottle if you're facing a team heavy on either Physical- or Magic damage where survivability is needed. You should swap one Crushing Claw for a Mark of the Novice in your initial items for the build up in this case.
Ghost Marchers: These supply you with both great mobility and damage (for 1500 gold, +24 damage is a bargain in itself).
Striders: Get these if you somehow are having a hard time farming and need to go ganking as soon as possible.

Steam Boots: Very situational. You should only go for these boots if you're the team's best candidate for carrying (auto-attack DPS). Deadwood is able to carry to a certain extent, so get these if you wanna focus on a DPS-build. If your team has a real carry, however (which you should), get Ghost Marchers.
Homecoming Stones: Being able to port to help an ally in dare need, to stop a tower from getting destroyed by the enemy, or to quickly get to a lane to gank, you should always try to carry at least one Homecoming Stone at all times once the game starts to get on. There is no reason not to. Don't be the guy who never showed up in time to participate in a clash and end up losing a tower.

Luxury Items

Luxury items are items you should aim for after you've finished your core. Always ask yourself: What does my team need the most? Listed are some possible alternatives:

If you're dominating, getting a quick Shieldbreaker is always a good idea. The item buffs your whole team's DPS on a single target. Additionally, it increases the power of your ultimate. Do note that you'll have to hit once to apply the debuff to the enemy before using Willowmaker to make the effect take place.

Daemonic Breastplate has great synergy with your ultimate and auto-attacks through armor reduction, just like Shieldbreaker. However, it has a more team-oriented approach, it's all auras so you don't have to hit an enemy to benefit from it or anything. Assuming you have someone else to DPS, it's generally always better to get this over Shieldbreaker, as it boosts both you and your allies' survivability and DPS.

Shrunken Head is a great pickup as your first luxury item if your team lacks good initiation. It allows you to blink in with Portal Key and bring down key targets uninterrupted. Even if your team has a main initiator, Shrunken Head is always a good item on Deadwood if you're facing a cast-heavy team.

Although it has no synergy with your abilities, Behemoth's Heart is an awesome item to pick up if you find yourself with a lot of gold in your pocket at some point. It boosts your survivability and makes you able to initiate and take the hits without going down.

Sheepstick or Hellflower lets you initiate and disable even better. Sheepstick is great at disabling carries, while Hellflower can boost your burst even more, or disable spell-reliant opponents. Both items solve your mana problems for good.

Not the first item you want to get, in rare cases Riftshards can be a good follow-up from Shieldbreaker etc. if you're gonna be the team's main source of DPS.

*If you need to free up space, you can get rid of Bottle and Power Supply. Keep your boots and Portal Key as part of your end game items.

Items to Avoid

Despite popular belief, these items are generally a bad pick-up on Deadwood. Do not get these!

A popular item among lower tiers, Runed Axe is attractive to newbies because it boosts your DPS, HP regen and solves your mana problems! Well, getting a Bottle and a Power Supply solves your mana and HP regen as well, for a much cheaper price! You don't need the cleave at all because you're supposed to gank, not farm, and there are better, cheaper items for DPS (which isn't your main role anyways).

Assasin's Shroud gives you invisibility, more burst and DPS all in one! What a great item! Well it's not. Once again there are way cheaper items for DPS than this one, and sure the invisibility allows you to sneak of on your opponents and punch them in the face, but it's also countable by True Sight. Know what item also allows you to get close to your target, that isn't countable by True Sight and provides way more precise positioning? Portal Key. Get it.

While walking up to a lone guy farming neutrals while stealthed from Assasin's Shroud, then literally OHKOing (well technically two hit KOing) them might be fun in noob stomps, Codex is a bad item. It's also expensive. It's Magic damage, while most of yours is Physical. Investing the money in say a Shieldbreaker syngergizes way more with the rest of your skills and play style. Codex is also one of those items that quickly loses it's effectiveness as the game goes on. Oh and did I mention Codex is a bad item - period?


Deadwood should always try to get the middle lane. I wouldn't pick him if your team already has a guy who's a common mid laner. You need to take advantage of your early-mid game potential, and it's crucial that you get your ultimate at lv6 ASAP. Not only are you able to last hit better versus most mid heroes, but you're just that kind of hero that totally dominate if you're going up 1on1. While Deadwood works in a side-lane, it's not where you really want him to be. Hence, the following will be based on going middle.

So, the first thing you wanna do is to head towards the Tablet spawns. Go top spawn if you're Legion, bottom if you're Hellbourne. Follow the paths from your tower and stop at the inclines. This way you'll get sight of the spawns and be completely safe. Haste and Invisibility can be used for an early gank, Illusions and Damage will boost your last hitting powers for their duration. When the game officially starts and the creeps spawn, hurry and get back to your lane and try to block the creep wave as much as you can. Do this by walking in front of the lead creep all the way down. This will get the creeps closer to you which allows for easier last hitting. The following image shows the ideal spot for the creeps to clash in the middle lane:

Here, you'll have what's called a higher level ground advantage. First off, you'll be hidden from the opponent in the Fog of War. Second, if the opponent in a ranged character, it'll have a 25% miss chance when attacking uphill. So, try and get the creeps to this position, while getting in your last hits and denies. Once you hit level 4 or 5, you're actually more than able to kill your opponent. If it's a squishy target, a successful Rotten Grasp and some auto-attacks (Oakbolt when Grasp is over) can bring a target down surprisingly quickly due to the armor reduction. I've gotten kills before I hit lv6 several times, even at lv4. Once you hit lv6 you can go gank immediately if your mates really need it. If not, then I suggest you kill your opponent with a Grasp + Willowmaker combo. You'll be able to dominate this lane easily from now on, which (eventually) forces the opponent out of it. Now's a great time to start ganking.


This is it. Your time has come to bring chaos on the other team. Let's start by looking at your possible ganking routes:

Red routes are Legion
Green routes are Hellbourne
Blue routes are for both teams
I've added common Ward spot during early game. The three spots in the bottom right corner are popular Hellbourne spots, while the two top left ones are popular Legion spots. Depending on how the opposing team have warded, you might have to approach more cautiously to avoid being spotted. The ward closest to the bottom lane (the rightmost one) is an amazing defensive Ward for the Hellbourne team; you won't be able to gank this lane without a Tablet of Haste or -Invisibility. I've pointed out a route at top lane, showing how you'll be ganking with Clearcutting. Just port to the tower (to the second one if the enemy got sight on the outer one), and walk unseen up into the woods.

Whenever you gank, you want to use this order: (1) Rotten Grasp, (2) blink in with Portal Key if you have it, (3) hit once to apply Shieldbreaker if you have it, (4) use Willowmaker, (5) hit with auto-attacks and Oakbolt. This combo should kill most heroes. If you wish, you can blink in with Portal Key first (assuming you have it by then), then use Willowmaker and follow up with a Rotten Grasp. However your ultimate won't benefit from the armor reduction from Grasp this way, so only do it if you're sure you can kill the target. Be sure to check to enemy forest for an easy kill.

When the laning phase is over, you can gank lone heroes busy farming with the help of some teammates, but be careful when you do so! It's not as safe to gank at this point because the enemies will stick more together and be ready to back each other up.

Team Clashes

In team fights, your initial goal will be to bring down key targets (hard-carries or disablers like Tempest are excellent targets) as quickly as possible, preferably before they get to do anything. Squishy disablers probably won't survive your burst and auto-attacks, while carries with Shrunken Head will still be stunned for 1.5 seconds no matter what, which should be enough time to bring them down with the support of your allies. Getting the fight to a 4on5 before it even stats is a huge advantage. When pushing or being pushed, remember you can run into the woods and hide along most parts of the top lane. Blinking in from here (ideally with a Shrunken Head activated) is almost certain to catch the enemy off guard. It can be gamebreaking if you manage to land your stun on a hard-carry like The Dark Lady or Chronos before they get to activate their Shrunken Heads or throw off their spells. This way you'll be able to follow up with more disables besides from your ultimate.

Good Teammates

Basically, any hero that can reduce Physical armor is great to couple up with Deadwood. This also goes for anyone with a stun or slow, because they'll easily set up your Rotten Grasp. To name a few:

Demented Shaman is an awesome hero. He has a it all, a slow/stun and Physical armor reduction. If he throws his ultimate a little while before the team fight beings, yours will equal disaster for the enemy.
Andromeda is like your best hero to gank with. A reliable stun and instant armor reduction (unlike DSham) is a godsend to you.
Pestilence, need I say more? Not only does he stun, but his Swarm will let you one-shot ALOT of heroes.
Glacius is the coolest guy to have with you. His aura will allow you to spam your skills way more (missed Rotten Grasps during laning phase aren't that penalized anymore), and he has two awesome skills that'll let you set up a Rotten Grasp without failure.

Enemies to Avoid

Basically you don't want to face enemies that are capable of increasing their own team's Physical armor. Silences also stop your effectiveness.

Demented Shaman is good to have on your team, but he can be a real PAIN when on the opposing team. His Storm Cloud will render your Willowmaker burst close to useless (you'll still stun).
Plague Rider is a common babysitter, and he's really good at it. He's also a ward b*tch which is bad news for you. Most importantly, he's able to give any ally +12 bonus Physical armor. Do not want!
Scout has an awesome agility gain, which gives him high natural armor. That doesn't go hand-in-hand with your ultimate. He can also go invisible, even when he's hit by Rotten Grasp, so you'll have to gank him with True Sight or an allied stun. However, most annoyingly, he has a silence that'll make sure you can't hit him or his allies with Willowmaker because you have to be in melee range (this also goes for Night Hound). Scout also has free wards which is bad for any ganker.
Keeper of the Forest is probably what you used to look like... A good time ago. I know I said this guy hates you because you destroy his Eyes too easily, but remember just like Scout, your position is also revealed at that point. Ganks won't be that easy! He also has a HUGE armor buff that will severely reduce the efficiency of most of your abilities (including Willowmaker).
Hammerstorm and other strength carries won't go down that easily, and they'll beat you up if you fail to. This guy even boosts his whole team's armor through Galvanize - not good!
Void Talisman punishes Deadwood greatly. This item is one of the only counters to your ultimate, but it's a useless pick-up on carries so you'll only expect supporters to get them. Too bad they're your favorite prey.


  1. GREAT guide, brought up lots of things I had never thought of on DW before.

  2. VERY GOOD guide, I always plays DW , and now I know what's missing

  3. Great guide! Cheers!

  4. Awesome guide. hope u cr8 more good guides