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Heroes of Newerth Roamers Guide

By YawningAngel - 15th April 2010 - 00:06 AM

Put simply, a Roamer is a hero who, rather than playing in a set lane, roams the map ganking other lanes. They are mostly used as part of ganking strategies to help put early pressure on the other team. Heroes of Newerth has many heroes that are able to roam effectively, although the metagame does not currently favor the practice.

Advantages of A Roamer:
  • Frees up a second solo lane
  • Allows you to gank dangerous opponents effectively to help keep them down
  • Puts pressure on the opposing side, as they can never be entirely sure that they're safe
Disadvantages of A Roamer:
  • Roamers are generally under-leveled and under-farmed
  • Your second solo may suffer in a 2v1 laning situation
  • If your Roamer is unsuccessful, you are likely to be at a disadvantage for the remainder of the game
  • Your team must be built around the Roamer - having a poorly chosen 1v2 solo can cause the loss of the game. This makes Roaming in pubs a risky business

Good Roaming Heroes

While every hero can be played as a Roamer, some are intrinsically better at it than others. In general, good Roamers tend to be those that can gank effectively even when under-leveled, and which don't suffer too much from the loss of farm.

Andromeda is better known as a Roamer in DotA, but is still a valuable ganker in HoN. Her comet ability's stun does not scale with level, making it powerful right off the bat. The damage is also fairly good, and the fact that it's targeted makes it a valuable tool for initiating a gank. Aurora's vision and -armor debuff is also useful for ganking. Finally, her ability to swap an opponent into a dangerous position makes her a deadly ganker. The fact that she needs almost no farm also makes her well-suited to being played as a Roamer.

Behemoth is also a powerful Roamer, solely due to his fissure ability. A good trap can leave an enemy hero in a completely impossible situation - stunned and trapped in with your team without any possibility of support. On the other hand, a poor fissure can doom your gank to failure before it has even started. Behemoth is also more dependent on farm than Andromeda - he practically needs a portal key to be able to participate usefully past the laning phase, and without either a Bottle or a Ring of Sorcery he also has severe mana issues. These both make Behemoth a far riskier choice to play as a Roamer than Andromeda - while he can be a very powerful ganker, he's also harder to use, and the lack of farm can hurt him badly later in the game.

Though often overlooked, Blacksmith is also a powerful roamer in addition to his role as a ganker. While his stun is not as damaging as Andromeda's or Behemoth's, it lasts just as long and he is also able to follow it with a slow. Many situations in which a mere stun would allow the enemy to survive, will instead end in a successful kill because of this powerful additional ganking tool. The issue with Blacksmith as a Roamer is more his value to the team than his ability as a Roamer - while it is true that he can do the job very well, he can also offer very powerful ganking ability to the team if allowed to lane and accrue levels. Much like Behemoth, he also needs a Bottle to fix his mana issues, which may be hard to come by if roaming.

Pollywog Priest
Capable of offering a formidable 3.75 seconds of stun at level two, Pollywog is a powerful Roamer. Although he's easily capable of ganking many lanes, he has very real drawbacks as well. The first of these concerns mana - much like Behemoth, he can find himself very low very quickly in a gank. The second problem is that he relies heavily on his channeled ability to keep an enemy tied in place - if the lane contains two stunners, then he may be unable to gank it effectively. His final drawback is that he doesn't deal that much damage in and of himself - Tongue Tied can't compete with other heroes' nukes for sheer damage, so you might have trouble ganking solo lanes if the hero there doesn't do a fair amount of damage by themselves. Pollywog can also be harmed by the lack of farm he will likely suffer from as a roamer, but is capable of operating with nothing but boots and a bottle (though it does leave him horrifically fragile).

With the longest (non-ultimate) stun in the game, a powerful mobility spell and a dangerous nuke, Valkyrie is arguably the strongest Roamer in the game. A well-placed Javelin can sign the death note of any hero in the game, especially during the laning phase when Roamers are most prominent. Her leap makes her hard to escape from, and also makes her able to avoid death in a gank gone wrong, thereby comes her call can deal damage comparable to any other nuke in her early game. She is also capable of sustaining her ganks effectively, since Javelin has a fairly low mana-cost. Valkyrie's only real weakness as a Roamer is her reliance on her Javelin, which is inherently uncertain - if you go: "err" or maybe even: "eeeerrrr" in your shot, or the enemy hero makes an unanticipated move, it is very hard indeed to gank them effectively. This is not a problem with many other roamers. However, despite this weakness, Valkyrie is a very strong roamer, and her ultimate also offers valuable team utility later in the game, making her, if not the strongest, an amazingly strong Roamer.

Witch Slayer
Witch Slayer's main advantage as a Roamer is staying power. Because he can drain mana from creeps, he is capable of using his abilities far more often than comparable Roamers, especially before the time Bottles are acquired. He is also capable of offering comparable stunning power to Andromeda or Blacksmith, though he does not do as much damage as them and only acquires this capacity at later levels. Another point in his favor is his ultimate, which is one of the most powerful ganking tools early in the game. Witch Slayer's main flaw, however, is his dependency on levels. The stun duration of Graveyard is pitiful at level one, as is it's damage. Similarly, Mana Drain is fairly weak at level one, and it cannot be leveled much past this without compromising either Graveyard or Miniaturize, which leaves Witch Slayer with a much reduced ganking capacity. Also, as roamers tend to lack levels, he is unlikely to acquire his powerful ultimate when it would be most beneficial. He is also unable to easily acquire Marchers to compensate for his low speed. Overall, he is perhaps better played in lane.

Much like Pollywog Priest, Electrician can bring a terrifying amount of disable to bear. Unlike Pollywog Priest, however, he is fast (well, relatively) and able to deal considerable damage without relying on an ultimate. The price he pays for this is a greater reliance on levels and farm, which can make him an irrelevance later in the game - one stun to interrupt his grip is all the heed any enemy team needs to pay him. He is also unable to gank effectively against double stun lanes, as one stun to interrupt his grip leaves him without a convincing ganking tool. However, if he ganks successfully and is able to keep his XP/minute at a reasonable level, then he can be a very effective and damaging Roamer, particularly when his ultimate becomes available to give him a devastating slow.

The Madman
Wearing a terrifying mask and making no concessions to alphabetical order, The Madman can offer an impressive set of abilities as a ganker - his Stalk ability allows him to quickly initiate a fight or chase a fleeing enemy, while Barrel Roll is a good ranged stun with good damage. Another awesome feature of Madman is that, unlike other Roamers, he can carry as well as providing as being an effective ganker (to be fair, Valkyrie and Andromeda aren't bad semi-carries, but they can't touch Madman). The only catch to Madman is that he isn't as good at roaming as some dedicated gankers, since his Barrel Roll doesn't hit quite as hard or stun for as long (particularly at lower levels) as abilities such as Andromeda's comet. Stalk's damage and mobility go a long way towards offsetting this disadvantage, but they aren't a factor in level 1 ganks at the rune, one of the most visible opportunities a Roamer will have to prove their worth. Madman's only other weaknesses are his mana-dependence (he really needs a bottle) and consequent dependence on Runes, which will make your solo mid absolutely hate you, and his need for farm - being unable to farm much during the first part of the game means that Madman can't be relied on as a hard carry later on, although he's still effective.

With his infamous surge, Magmus is a powerful ganker. Offering a good length of stun and powerful damage, he also has Steam Bath to escape tight spots if a gank goes wrong and can use Volcanic Touch to quickly catch up on the farm he'll miss as a result of not laning. In fact, Magmus makes a very strong roamer indeed, since he isn't particularly dependent on farm and can get the only item he seriously needs (a portal key) quite quickly due to Volcanic Touch. Eruption is also very powerful in ganks and team-fights, making Magmus a very strong pick on any team considering Roamers, as he can not only gank as well as any other hero but also offer huge damage in team-fights to boot.

Last but by no means least, Slither is the only Roamer without a stun. However, he makes up for this with extremely powerful slows - Poison Spray offers an average 25% slow for 6 seconds, making Slither a very powerful ganker even at level one. Toxicity, in addition to offering a nasty DoT, also slows, as does the spell invariably known to the enemy as 'those bloody wards'. Together, these work out at a little under 40% slow, which can completely remove an enemy's chance of escape. Coupled with his impressive damage - Poison Spray can deal damage comparable to any other nuke, Toxicity makes Slither's auto-attacks some of the most damaging in the early game, and his wards hit for as much as creeps - this can sign the death warrant of any enemy hero without a blink. Even better, he can use his wards to trap an enemy much like Behemoth's fissure, guaranteeing their death. He is also completely item-independent, and utterly unhampered by the lack of farm inevitable in his role as a roamer. As icing on his extremely deadly poison-cake, his ultimate also hits extremely hard (more than Pyromancer's or Witch Slayer's, over the duration) and better yet affects multiple targets.

How to Play a Roamer

Once you've picked a roamer, you need (obviously) to actually play them. Unlike other hero roles, Roaming isn't necessarily intuitive. This section will aim to help you get to grips with how to actually play a Roamer.


Your starting items are almost always standard:

1x Runes of the Blight

1x Health Potion

2x Mana Potion

2x Minor Totem


Since you won't be laning, and hence have little use for extra stats, you're an excellent candidate to buy either a Courier or wards. If nobody else on your team will, buy a Courier; otherwise, it's better for you to pick up the wards since you aren't laning anyway, and so are better placed to position them on the map. The regeneration items are included so that you aren't exhausted after the first gank, and the Minor Totems are added because Minor Totems are awesome (Seriously. If you ever have inventory space spare and gold left over, fill it with minor totems. They are that good.).

After the beginning of the game, you have a few more items to aim for, namely:



Bracers/Power Supply


More Wards

As a Roamer, you will have very little money, so the question of items needn't trouble you much, because you won't have any. A bottle is almost always your most important item - you aren't losing lane time to go and fill it, and it will help you keep up your ganks when your regeneration items run out. It can also help dig you out of a tight spot.

The next item you want is a set of Marchers. There are two reasons for this: Firstly, you're going to be doing one hell of a lot of running around the map, and anything that helps you do this faster lets you get more ganks in and thus do your job better. The second reason you want a pair is that it's a hell of a lot easier to gank someone if you're moving faster than them, and a lot harder if they're moving faster than you. Getting some Marchers can give you a vital edge in ganks, or at the very least stop the enemy escaping with ease.

After this, if you've got gold to spare, you probably want to invest in some Bracers. You're going to be under-leveled and under-farmed, so you're vulnerable at best. Picking up some HP can help reduce the enemy team's scope for using you as carry food.

Finally, wards. You are moving around, so you can place them. There is no way under the sun you're going to carry, so it isn't a great loss to the team if you don't get any items. And you're actually willing to play what is basically the ultimate team bitch role, so you're probably willing to buy them. Put simply, if you've got the above, spend any spare money on wards. If you haven't, then you should at least try to keep wards up around the runes, because wards are basically a legal map-hack. All other things being equal, the team that sees every gank coming and knows where every rune is is going to be is the team that wins the game.


Your first action in any game should be to head straight to a rune and tell your team to come with you. With any luck, an enemy will come out and try to grab it. Initiate on them and try to get first blood. Try to let a carry on your team take the killing blow, as it can set them up to dominate the laning phase. However, don't be afraid to take it yourself if you have to - the important thing is that your victim dies. Whether you can get a Bloodlust kill or not, your job is essentially the same. For the next 15 minutes or so, roam the map planting wards and try to gank lanes. Make sure to communicate with the people in the lane first, and only attempt ganks that are likely to succeed. In general, you should only gank lanes that are pushed up a little bit - tower diving is an excellent way to get yourself killed. The best method is to get behind someone and initiate, or to initiate from the jungle. Then, you and your team mates unload everything on them and go for the kill. If you're successful, great. If not, then you should at least have forced the enemy back, and this is almost as good - they won't be farming, and you'll have the opportunity to farm unopposed. When you're done ganking a lane, don't feel you have to leave it immediately - there's nothing wrong with staying to get a few creep kills and a level so you can gank more effectively. However, don't linger too long - you'll cause the people laning there to be under-leveled relative to their opponents, which can hurt them in the long run.

Once you're out of the laning phase, your job should mostly be done - with any luck, your team has a decent lead on levels and gold, and is a few kills ahead. From here, your job is both to try and catch up on farm and to help your team in team fights - do your best but remember that you're likely to be pretty fragile.

Addendum: Quick Ganking Tips

When you gank a lane, you need to make sure you do it properly. While you can't guarantee success, here are a few pointers to help make sure your ganks succeed:
  • Come from behind or from a side - make sure they don't see you coming from the front and bail, or you've wasted valuable time
  • Don't gank pushed lanes - if the lane is pushed to or near to the tower, then you'll have to tower dive and take a pile of damage, as well as being vulnerable to TP counter-ganks. Nine times out of ten, this isn't worth it
  • Make use of spare time - stack a few creeps in your jungle for later, pull creeps to the lane or plant a ward/check a rune - try not to just sit there in the jungle wasting time and getting no experience
  • If you're having trouble catching enemies out, one technique you can use is to appear to gank one lane - show yourself there, head down there and get seen by a ward, even cast an obvious ability like Aurora down there - and then teleport to another lane and gank that instead. This can often help you catch your opponents off guard