“Jungling” in Dota 2 is an alternative way to play your early game instead of spending it in-lane. It’s premise is simple and can provide your team with a good early game advantage if played right. By jungling, you are basically freeing up a lane, which means that you will have two heroes with a lane to themselves instead of having only one hero soloing. This gives them a chance to earn more XP and gold, as they don’t have to split it with their lane partner. On top of that, if your jungling is efficient, you can match the same XP per minute as a solo lane and earn large amounts of gold for yourself, as you are guaranteed to get every last hit. This means that by 15 minutes into the game, you can have 3 heroes with very high levels and very good items, which can put your oppenents in a tough position.
Who to Pick?
First of all, not all heroes can use effective jungling from level one, so you must learn which heroes can. Some of the most common heroes for jungling are Chen, Axe, Enigma, Lifestealer, and Nature’s Prophet. Keep in mind that, unlike your own creeps, jungle creeps don’t spawn at the beginning of the match, but at 30 seconds into it. After that, jungle creeps will spawn at the turn of every minute.
Know Your Camps
The above map shows you the different the locations and the different types of camps in the game. Make sure you memorize which camps are what difficulty, as they are essential to effective jungling. In your first levels, only farm the easy camp, represented by a green dot on the map. These camps should give you no trouble at level one, no matter which hero you use, but they give out the least amount of gold and experience.
Around level three is when you should look into the medium camps, represented by yellow dots on the map. At this point, it depends what hero you are playing and what creeps are present in the camp, as sometimes it’s best to avoid these camps for another level or so. If you are a fairly “squishy” character, you might want to avoid Centaurs, as their stun will incapacitate you for a few seconds whilst you receive a mace to the face. Also, if you use abilities and spells to help you farm faster, you should avoid Mud Golems, as they are immune to magic.
Tackling the hard camps can be done around level five or six, depending on the hero you chose and your feed. The same thing goes for the Ancient Camps; they can be usually tackled around level seven or eight, but some heroes can farm them earlier, whilst others can only do it later, as the Ancients are all immune to magic.
Your Typical Loadout
For successful jungling, you want lots of regen items to keep your health and mana high. Your target should be to enter the jungle at the start of the match and leave it anywhere between ten to twenty minutes into the game. Going back to base to heal up may seem like a good idea at first, but every second you spend outside of the jungle is more XP and gold you could be earning.
If you are playing a hero such as Axe or Bloodseeker – as in, heroes who go toe-to-toe against the jungle foes – picking up a Stout Shield (which has a 40% chance of blocking 20 damage), two sets of tangos, and a health potion should be enough to keep you going until you have enough gold to buy something more efficient.
On the other hand, if you are playing a hero who summons minions or possesses creeps to help him fight, it’s extremely important to carry as many mana potions as possible, plus a Ring of Protection (which can be turned into a Ring of Basilius for more mana regen). These items should keep you alive for enough time to gain levels and earn enough gold so that you are self-sufficient in terms of mana and health to tackle every camp in the jungle.
A common practice when jungling is to “stack” hard camps from the first few minutes so that they can farm them later and earn large amounts of XP and gold all at once. Stacking is a simple concept: at around about 53 seconds every minute, you attack the camp and start running away. This will cause the creeps to chase you and leave their camp. Remember how in the beginning of the guide I mentioned that jungle creeps spawn at the turn of every minute? Well, this uses that as an exploit.
Basically, if the camp is empty and there is no vision on it when a new minute rolls around, the game will spawn another set of creeps into the camp. By pulling the creeps at 53 seconds, you are making them leave the camp and lose vision on it. This will make the game spawn another set of jungle creeps, therefore, when the creeps stop following you and head back to their camp, there will be two stacks of creeps. This can be repeated numerous times on the same camp so that you have four or five stacks at once.
These camps can’t be farmed when you can normally farm hard camps, as having numerous stacks means that more and more enemies will attack you at once. Once you are a high enough level, however, you can farm that camp all at once with a lot of ease and earn a significant amount of gold.
Early on, if you are farming a camp and you see that you are approaching the 53 second mark, it’s also a good idea to pull the camp you are currently farming. This can speed up your jungling pace, especially if you still have vision on the camp whilst a new minute rolls around: the next creeps won’t spawn, and you’ll lose that potential gold and experience. Ancients can also be stacked, and they drop even more gold than hard camps, although you need to use either a creature under your control to aggro or an ally them, since Ancient camps are quite far from the rest of the jungle.
How to Counter Jungling
Jungling seems easy enough once you get the basics and can provide a good advantage to your team, but it isn’t without its flaws. If the enemy team has even a minimal amount of coordination and knowledge of the game, they will buy wards and ward the jungle. If they place wards, which give them vision of a jungle camp, that camp will become “blocked,” and creeps won’t spawn in it. On top of that, the enemy team will have vision of you, meaning that they can coordinate to attack you whilst you are defenseless. Even if your allies are in the lane next to you, it may take them some time to realize the enemy is attacking you, and they may be too late to save you. Obviously, if you die two or three time in the first ten minutes or so into the game, you are going to be dramatically under-farmed, and you will have to spend the rest of the game catching up – making the jungling pointless.
One way you can help prevent being “ganked” in the jungle by the enemy is to place observer wards yourself at the entrance of the jungle. That way, you will know when enemies are coming in to ward or gank you, giving you time to get away or alert your teammates to help you out.
If the enemy was able to block your camp, there isn’t much you can do other than counter-ward. Observer wards are invisible, and can only be seen with true sight. Only two items can be used to effectively de-ward: Sentry Wards and a Gem of True Sight. A gem will set you back 700 Gold – a prohibitive sum in the early game – and will be dropped if you die. Sentry Wards only cost 200 for a set of two, but only give true vision in an area around them. If you see one of your camps was blocked, placing a sentry ward nearby should be able to reveal the location of the enemy Observer Ward, giving you the ability to destroy it and unblock the camp.
There isn’t much more to jungling, but keep in mind that this was a general guide, so some things may differ with different heroes. I did try my best to make this guide accessible to new players who aren’t familiar with Dota jargon or players who avoided the jungle, as it can be quite an intimidating place at first! I hope this guide was able to help you overcome the initial confusion of jungling – now go out there and try it yourself!