In the current Dota 2 meta there is no other off laner like Axe – except maybe for Naga Siren. He’s got everything you might need: good initiation, disabling abilities, and great potential to help their team get ahead. You don’t need much experience with him to perform well either, as long as you already know what each of your abilities does.
And of course, being equipped with the best possible guide helps too.
Who should play Axe?
Just look his name up on YouTube and you will instantly know the kind of Dota gameplay you end up with as Axe. You will also be able to tell what type of players usually play him: show-offs, mainly. But that’s not all that bad if you also like to be in the center of attention and brag about your achievements. With Axe there’ll be highlight-worthy plays to brag about.
On a more serious note, Axe is great for all skill levels. If you are a complete beginner and lack experience, you will still be able to perform really well as soon as your hands are used to the abilities. As for Dota 2 veterans, they will greatly appreciate what this hero can do and will create complicated combos with his (relatively) simple abilities.
You need to be slightly creative though, as his abilities are very straightforward, and enemy players will be able to predict your moves if you do the same old song and dance all the time.
What items does Axe need?
- Blink Dagger
- Blade Mail
- Vladimir’s Offering
Buy the first three core items in this order. By the 25th minute you should have all three, although it’s not a problem to include a situational item which may be more important than the core ones. This should be fairly rare though, as Axe is strong enough in the early game to get ahead quickly and not need anything besides the core set.
If you want to tank yourself up (which is the ideal route to take), the next items should be Crimson Guard and Vanguard. They will give you some additional HP and HP regeneration, which will come in handy in fights where you have to soak up all the damage for your team. Heart of Tarrasque is also pretty good, although I recommend that you get it later in the game and not straight away.
If you want to be a DPS (I don’t recommend it), Heaven’s Halberd and Silver Edge are good picks. Although you should only do this if you got ahead of the enemy team really early on in the game and your team already has a dedicated tank.
- +80 Berserker’s Call AoE
- +20 Health Regen
- +2.5 Mana Regen
- +30 Attack Speed
You shouldn’t really change up this ability build, as there aren’t many circumstances that would require you to. If you catch yourself arriving late to teamfights or not being able to keep up with the rest of your group, ditch that mana regen and take +25 Movement Speed instead. You won’t be able to spam your abilities as much, but you will instead be able to show up when needed.
When to switch it up
You need to be very aware of your counters. Outworld Devourer and Venomancer aren’t all that common in Dota 2 nowadays, but they still pose a great threat to you. Try to avoid games with them, but if you don’t get lucky start building defensively.
An early Assault Cuirass or a Hood of Defiance (based on the enemy) should do the trick if you get it soon enough. It will stop the assault on you in its earlier stages, but you will need to start building like a tank if you want to survive the rest of the game.
How to play as Axe
At level one you are a very vulnerable hero. A single ability won’t be enough to deter an enemy. This is especially true if it’s Counter Helix – it’s way too easy to predict, and if someone decides that they want to kite you they will be able to do so.
It’s tempting to overextend as Axe, since Dota allows you to think that you are way better than you actually are as. Creeps are no big deal and it will seem like you are dealing a ton of damage to the enemy. It’s not true though, so don’t let them kite you in.
Once you reach level two you can start being aggressive. A combo of Counter Helix and Battle Hunger will allow you to be a much bigger threat to the opposing laner. At this point you need to get comfortable with the dynamic between the two of you, and you need to prepare for ganks. You will be targeted heavily and the enemy will try to hinder you as much as possible. That said, unless they hitch their tent right next to your lane they won’t have much of a chance, so don’t worry. Carry this aggressiveness into the rest of the game.
After your core items, I highly recommend building like a tank, as it will make the entirety of mid and late game much easier.