Dota 2 diary: jungling is massive

I don't like playing with others in Dota 2. I find team fights deeply stressful. I get way too nervous while ganking, and unless I have a huge level advantage, I don't like even getting too close to enemy heroes if I don't have to.

You might think that kind of attitude is a little against the spirit of a five-a-side team game. It's a bit like the winger in a football team just playing keepy-up on his own on the sidelines. But in Dota, there's a place for me. A place where I can be alone. That place is the jungle.

Jungling in Dota 2 is a solitary activity. It's about killing neutral enemies instead of the those of the opposition, leaving more experience for the rest of your team. A good jungler will combine this solo slaughter with darting out every so often to pull off a gank, or diverting neutral enemies against your own creeps so that you deny your enemies the experience for killing them. I am not a good jungler, so I generally just hide in the trees, minding my own business.

I started with Ursa . Ursa, for those of you unaware, is a huge great big bear with some of the best burst damage in the game, but who is very susceptible to being disabled. My strategy was to stay in the jungle, farming, only popping out occasionally to rip Roshan apart, and then dart back in before enemy heroes could come and get me. That was okay for a while, but Ursa's playstyle is a little simplistic, and has to eventually involve ripping apart heroes.

That was too much for me. So I tried Nature's Prophet , and found my gaming soulmate. Prophet, or "Furion" as old-school Dota players insist on calling him, has four main abilities. The first, and most important, is that he can turn trees into treeants, allowing him to take out the big camps of jungle creeps early in the game. The second lets him teleport ANYWHERE ON THE MAP. With a cooldown that gets down to twenty seconds at maximum level.

The third puts a ring of trees anywhere -- around enemy heroes to trap them, around Prophet himself to stop heroes from attacking him while he teleports away, or just in the middle of a path to look pretty. His ultimate, "Wrath of Nature", zaps around the map hitting every unit that's in vision, raking in the gold at high levels.

Combine those together, ideally with an invisibility-granting Shadow Blade , and you've got a hero that's everywhere on the map at once. He can teleport to wherever the enemy isn't, and by the time they get there, he can just go invisible or surround himself with trees to give him enough breathing space to port back to the opposite side of the map again. A well-played Nature's Prophet will rarely, if ever, be killed.

In the meantime, he's pushing two lanes of creeps at once and zapping all three with his ultimate, while the rest of your team concentrates on teamfighting. If you're playing Nature's Prophet well, and the rest of your team are winning more fights than they're losing, then you'll almost always win the game.

Late-game, once he's really farmed up, Prophet does actually get rather lethal. An armour-stripping Desolator and an attack-speed-boosting Assault Cuirass , plus a ring of trees, can very quickly chomp through any hero wandering around on their own.

My favourite of all tricks takes inspiration from one of the lessons in Sun Tzu's Art of War -- to only engage in a battle when you've already won. It involves porting directly into the path of an enemy hero running away from a battle with low health. The last thing they see is a ring of trees pop up around them, before the undergrowth takes them in its dark, gnarled embrace.

Dota 2 is a team game, but the way I'm playing it with Nature's Prophet , I can contribute significantly while still running away any time I see an enemy hero.

You might call me a coward. I'm fine with that. But next time you're just getting one last bit of farm before heading back to base to heal up, don't go down to the woods today. You're in for a big surprise.