Dragon Shire Map Strategy Guide
Table of Contents
- +1. Map Layout and Mechanics
- +2. Strategy
- 2.1. Lane Assignments
- 2.2. Lane Goals
- 2.3. The Dragon Knight
- 2.4. Using Mercenary Camps
- 3. Summary of Strategy
- 4. Tips & Tricks
Dragon Shire is a medium sized, three-lane map. It features two capturable shrines, one in the top lane, and the other in the bottom lane. When one team holds both of these shrines simultaneously, a player on that team can channel the statue located in the middle lane. This temporarily turns that player into a powerful Dragon Knight.
Srey is Rank 1 in Hero League and a top 10 player on Hotslogs. He played for Happy Faerie Dragons, formerly the top amateur team on the North American server. With the team having now disbanded, he is bringing together a new team, which he hopes will compete at an even higher level. You can watch his stream to learn more about playing the game properly.
1. Map Layout and Mechanics
In the following sub-sections, we will look at how the map is laid out, and how the map objectives work.
Dragon Shire features three lanes. These three lanes, relative to other maps, are close together, with pathing linking one lane to another. This allows Heroes to quickly change lanes, promoting ganking and rotations. Teams can access each lane directly from behind their Forts.
As mentioned previously, the map objective features two capturable Shrines, as well as a statue.
1.1.1. Top Lane
The top lane features one of the two Shrines, which is located above the lane. There are bushes on either side of the Shrine, allowing players to access it from both sides (each side corresponds to the typical location of each of the two teams). Below the lane, there are two sets of bushes that eventually lead down to the middle lane. Between each team’s Top Lane Fort and Keep lies a narrow bridge, and a Knight (hard) camp can be accessed just before this bridge.
1.1.2. Middle Lane
The middle lane features the Dragon Knight statue. It is located just above the lane, but players who are attempting to channel the statue are visible from within the middle lane. Similarly to the top lane, there are two sets of bushes, one for each team, above the middle lane. Going through these bushes, or from each team’s Fort, leads to the Knight (hard) camps or to the top lane. Below the middle lane there is a large section of bushes set in a triangle, leading to both team’s Ogre (easy) camps, as well as to the bottom lane. The Ogre (easy) camp can also be accessed from behind each team’s Fort.
1.1.3. Bottom Lane
The bottom lane features the second Shrine. It is located below the lane, and like the top lane Shrine, it is also flanked by two sets of bushes. A Knights (hard) camp lies below the Shrine. Above the lane there are two bushes, one on each team’s side, with a large triangular set of bushes above it. The middle lane lies directly above the bushes, with the Ogre (easy) camps laying on each side. They can also be accessed from behind each team’s Fort.
The map objective on Dragon Shire revolves around taking control of the Dragon Knight. The Dragon Knight is a powerful, player controlled character with its own set of abilities. Although its main purpose is to destroy enemy structures, it can still wreak havoc in a team fight. To unleash the Dragon Knight, a team must capture the two Shrines - one in the top lane, and the other in the bottom lane. When one team simultaneously holds both Shrines, a Hero on that team can channel the statue in the middle lane to temporarily take control of The Dragon Knight.
1.2.1. Shrine Timings And Mechanics
Around 40 seconds after the start of the game, a 30-second warning will appear, at the end of which the Shrines will become active and capturable. Each Shrine can be in one of three states.
- Yellow shrines are not controlled by either team, and are effectively neutral.
- Blue shrines are controlled by your team.
- Red shrines are controlled by the enemy team.
To capture a Shrine, a player must stand within the glowing circle around the Shrine until the capture indicator is complete.To capture a neutral (yellow) Shrine, the player must stand uncontested within the Shrine’s radius for 4 seconds. A shrine belonging to the other team takes 8 seconds to capture.
Any progress made towards changing the status of a Shrine will be reset if it is not fully completed. For example, if you stand within the radius of an uncontested neutral shrine from 3 seconds (where 4 are needed to capture it) and then leave, it will revert back to its neutral state.
If a Hero from the opposing team is also standing within the Shrine’s radius, the Shrine will become locked, and the capture bar will not move in either direction until only one team stands on the Shrine. Multiple Heroes from each team do not affect the capture time of the Shrines, and having two Heroes from the same team will not double the speed of the capture. Similarly, if one team has two heroes on a Shrine and the other team has only one Hero on the same Shrine, the Shrine will still be locked. The Shrine only checks if there are any (one or more) allies on a Shrine and if there are any (one or more) enemies on the same Shrine.
Once one team controls both Shrines, a Hero from that team can unleash the Dragon Knight in the middle lane by channeling the statue. It takes 3 seconds to channel the statue and any damage taken will interrupt and reset the channel. Once the Dragon Knight is awoken, the player who channeled it is temporarily turned into the Dragon Knight, losing access to their hero for that duration. Shrines will become inactive and the Dragon Knight will stay on the battlefield until it is killed, times out, or the Hero piloting it uses the Leave Dragon ability.
The Dragon Knight’s power grows as the game progresses, leading to it having increased damage, health, and duration. This means that later Dragon Knights will match the power of the other heroes in the game at the time.
The Dragon Knight lasts for at least 40 seconds, after which time it expires. The duration that the Dragon Knight lasts increases for every subsequent use. 1 minute and 30 seconds after the Dragon Knight expires (or is killed prematurely), a 30-second warning will appear, indicating that the Shrines will reactivate, and that the process will start all over again.
1.3. The Dragon Knight’s Abilities
Flame Breath: Breathe fire in a cone towards the target area, damaging enemies and leaving a patch of fire on the ground that continues to deal damage in the area for 4 seconds. 6 second cooldown.
Savage Charge: After a short delay, charge at a target to knock them back a significant distance. 8 second cooldown.
Leave Dragon: Leave the Dragon Knight. This triggers the knockback from Rubble Maker.
Rubble Maker (Trait): Damage dealt to structures is doubled. Damage received from structures is halved. Stuns, slows, silences, polymorphs, and roots used against you have their duration reduced by 50%. Upon leaving the Dragon Knight, deal damage and knockback all enemies around you.
2.1. Lane Assignments
This section describes how many Heroes should go in each lane, as well as what role each Hero should be.
2.1.1. Top Lane Assignments
The top lane is similar to the bottom lane, but the layout of bushes make it more dangerous to overextend in than its counterpart. Instead of having Ogre (easy) camps like in the bottom lane, there are Knights (hard) camps, which are much harder to capture, especially during the early game. Additionally, it lacks the neutral Knights camp that exists below the bottom lane Shrine.
You should place one Hero in the top lane. This Hero should have decent wave clearing and be very safe, able to survive any ganks. The Hero in the top lane will generally have the least contact with the team, and it should therefore be a Hero that does not bring much to their team during the early game, or has a global ability. Brightwing, Falstad, Chen, Tassadar, are all examples of strong top lane Heroes. Almost any Hero can go top lane, it is simply that they may be more useful elsewhere.
2.1.2. Middle Lane Assignments
Controlling the middle lane will provide the most map control, as it lays between the top and bottom lanes, and it is difficult to bypass. However, the multiple openings and bushes make the middle lane very vulnerable to ganks. Additionally, all of the Mercenary Camps and Shrines are inaccessible from the middle lane, providing very little benefit to any team that puts effort into controlling it.
You should place one Hero in the middle lane. This Hero should generally have good wave clearing, and have more mobility or utility than the Hero in the top lane. This is because the Hero in the middle lane will constantly be assisting and fighting with their team due to the close proximity of the lanes. Valla, Tychus, Stitches, Jaina, are all examples of strong middle lane Heroes.
2.1.3. Bottom Lane Assignments
The bottom lane is the most important lane to maintain control over because it features an easily accessible Ogre (easy) camp for each team, as well as a neutral Knights (hard) camp. Not only are the Ogre camps easier to capture (relative to the Knights camp in top lane), but their long range also makes them better to siege with, since enemies must extend outside of their base to kill them. Controlling this lane means that your team will be able to capture the neutral Knights camp below the Shrine. Additionally, the placement of bushes in the bottom lane makes it safer than the top lane, as it is harder for your enemies to flank you.
You should place three Heroes in the bottom lane. Having three Heroes against a lane with only two Heroes will automatically give your team control over one of the shrines, as well as the nearby Mercenary Camps. You should place your best pushing Heroes in the bottom lane, along with a healer. Nazeebo, Sylvanas, Sgt. Hammer, Zagara, are all examples of strong bottom lane Heroes.
2.2. Lane Goals
This section outlines what you should be trying to achieve for each lane.
2.2.1. Top Lane Goals
Generally, you will be playing a Hero without a strong wave clearing potential, as those Heroes will be in either the bottom or middle lanes. Instead, your primary goal is to simply soak all of the available experience, while denying your enemy the experience from your minions (by zoning them away when your minions die). If you are able to get a kill in the top lane, it will usually benefit you twofold, as there will be no other Hero to soak experience in the lane, and you get a kill. However, this goes both ways, so if you die, you will not have any allies soak your lane either.
The shrine in top lane will usually go to whatever top lane Hero is better in duels, but if that happens to be the enemy, it is usually not a big deal. Your bottom lane is still able to capture their shrine, and the middle lane can prevent the enemy from obtaining the Dragon Knight. You should only look to capture the Shrine if it is easy to do so, the enemy top lane Hero has left the lane, or the enemy team is actively trying to channel the Dragon Knight statue. Remember that it is never worth dying for the Shrine, unless you standing on it is critical to prevent the enemy from summoning the Dragon Knight.
2.2.2. Middle Lane Goals
With the middle lane being in such close proximity to the other lanes, you will be unable to successfully siege the enemy Gate and outer Towers. Instead, you will want to clear the middle lane as quickly as possible, and then roam to other lanes to assist in securing kills or objectives. However, unless there is a major team fight occurring, it is extremely important that you return to your lane before you lose any experience from the enemy minions dying. This is especially important during the early game, when missing even a single wave of minions well set your team back substantially in experience.
2.2.3. Bottom Lane Goals
Since the bottom lane contains the strongest pushing Heroes on your team, your goal is to gain, and then maintain lane control. You want the enemy team to be pushed behind their Towers, unable to adequately clear your minions, while your team secures objectives, like the Shrine, Ogre (easy) camp, and if you are really ahead, their Ogre camp or the neutral Knights (hard) camp. Doing so will further amplify your ability to siege the enemy, or at the very least, give your team time to pressure another lane while the enemy is stuck clearing your mercenaries. If it is still early into the game, and you have destroyed the enemies’ Towers and Gate, have your bottom lane rotate to the middle lane (with the middle lane Hero rotating bottom) to continue your siege. It is generally better to get the outer Towers in other lanes during the early game, rather than to keep pushing to destroy the Fort.
2.3. The Dragon Knight
2.3.1. The Dragon Knight Abilities Rundown
Always use Flame Breath whenever it is available. It should be used on large minion waves, buildings, or Heroes. Although the initial damage is quite low, the lasting burning effect does good damage.
Savage Charge, if used correctly, will essentially remove one enemy Hero from a team fight, as the 8 second cooldown is about the same time it takes for the kicked enemy to rejoin the fight. Use it on priority targets that have a large impact in team fights, like a healer or a damage dealer, or even a tank. For example, charge a Kerrigan that has used Maelstrom, a Muradin that has used Avatar, or a Sgt. Hammer that has used Siege Mode. Savage Charge should not be used for its damage, as you will usually just save an enemy by kicking them away. Savage Charge has a short channel time, during which it can be interrupted, but it cannot be interrupted during the casting animation. Try to charge Heroes over walls. Doing so will increase the time it takes for that Hero to rejoin the fight. Additionally, kicking a Hero behind your Gate and Towers usually means an easy kill.
You will never want to use Leave Dragon, except in very specific circumstances. For example, if the Dragon Knight is very low health and sieging will simply result in its death, followed shortly by your own.
Rubble Maker allows the Dragon Knight to become a powerful siege engine, essentially enticing you to use it to destroy buildings, rather than killing players. Even though the Dragon Knight takes half damage from Forts and Keeps, it is generally favourable to have minions take the hits, as the slow from Forts and Keeps will significantly reduce your damage.
2.3.2. Using The Dragon Knight
The Dragon Knight should almost always be used to destroy the enemies’ buildings, rather than against Heroes in a team fight, as it brings little combat effectiveness. If you manage to get the first Dragon Knight, you should use it to destroy the outer Towers in each lane, as it will die far too quickly to successfully siege a Fort. For subsequent Dragon Knights, it is generally best to have your team group up and push down one lane with the Dragon Knight.
When sieging enemy buildings with the Dragon Knight, target the two outer Towers first, followed by the Gate, the Well, and then the Fort or Keep. Use Flame Breath as it becomes available. If the enemy Heroes are playing defensively, use Savage Charge on nearby Heroes, but be wary of using Savage Charge on distant enemies, as doing so could cause you to overextend with the Dragon Knight and take significant, unneeded damage. If the enemy Heroes are playing aggressively, save Savage Charge until you are able to kick away key enemy Heroes. For example, if an enemy E.T.C. and Illidan begin attacking your allies, kick away their healer and focus on killing Illidan.
If you have just taken control of the Dragon Knight and your allies are dead, assess if you are able to successfully siege the enemy. If you determine that you are not able to siege the enemy without dying or taking significant damage, it is almost always better to simply wait for your allies to respawn, rather than trying to force something alone. This is especially true during the late game, when the Dragon Knight will last a long time before timing out.
However, sometimes can still be a good idea to siege the enemy bases with the Dragon Knight if you have dead allies. During the early and middle game, the experience from minions is worth a considerable amount, and losing any experience is impactful. Therefore, you can take the Dragon Knight to the lane furthest away from the enemy Heroes and split push with it. They will either stay in lane to soak the experience and let you destroy structures, or leave their lanes to kill your Dragon Knight. Both of which have favourable outcomes for your team.
Later into the game, around level 20, the Dragon Knight becomes extremely strong, to the point where it can very easily destroy Cores and Keep alone. If you control the Dragon Knight, and most of your allies are dead, it can sometimes be better to just go on the aggressive and destroy the enemies’ base, rather than defend your own, especially since the Dragon Knight is extremely ineffective at defending. The enemy Heroes will either stay and destroy some of your base while you destroy theirs, or they will pursue you to keep you from destroying their base, thereby preserving yours.
2.4. Using Mercenary Camps
Dragon Shire is a unique map when it comes to Mercenary Camps, as it is the only map where you will usually be unable to capture Mercenary Camps before, or during, a map objective. The reason for this is that the Mercenary Camps disappear when the Dragon Knight is unleashed, and you will need every member of your entire team to summon the Dragon Knight, since the Shrines or the Dragon Knight statue will constantly be contested by the enemy team. This leaves no one to capture the Mercenary Camps. The Garden of Terror’s Garden Terror works similarly, but unlike the Dragon Knight, the Garden Terror can be summoned at a specific time, allowing your team time to start fighting the Mercenary Camps prior to summoning the Garden Terror, and before they disappear.
The fact that your entire team is needed to summon the Dragon Knight, and it cannot be done at a specified moment, means that Mercenary Camps should simply be done whenever it is most convenient. However, be careful about sending multiple Heroes to capture Mercenary Camps, especially if the enemy team is aware of it, as it leaves your Shrines defenseless, and vulnerable to capture.
3. Summary of Strategy
Your main objective on Dragon Shire is not to take control of the Dragon Knight, but rather to prevent the enemy team from taking the Dragon Knight. This supersedes all of your other priorities, at all times. It is never worth trading the Dragon Knight in exchange for another objective on the map, as the enemy team with the Dragon Knight will always be able to do more damage to your base than your team (without the Dragon Knight) can do to theirs.
Your secondary objective is to gain an experience lead. The easiest (and most obvious) way to create an experience lead over the enemy team, is to always have at least one Hero in each lane. This is exceptionally easy on Dragon Shire, as the map objectives (the Shrines and the Dragon statue) are all within the experience range of minions. Once you are soaking all three lanes, the next place you should look for experience is from destroying the outer Towers. Towers give a relatively large amount of experience during the early to mid game and should be your bottom lane’s priority. Your middle and top lanes will likely not have enough pushing power to threaten the Towers.
Heroes also give experience, but it is obviously harder to kill a Hero than a Tower, and the experience from fallen Heroes is quite low, until later into the game. The main benefit of killing an enemy Hero is denying the enemy team experience from soaking and allowing your team to freely destroy structures, capture Mercenary Camps, or capture the Shrines (and unleash the Dragon Knight).
As previously mentioned, the Dragon Knight is the most important objective in Dragon Shire. However, this does not mean you should try to force objectives just because they offer important benefits. As long as the enemy team does not unleash the Dragon Knight, that means they are also missing any benefits given by the Shrines. Only fight over the Shrines if you are favoured to win, whether by an experience lead, positioning, or a numbers advantage. There is absolutely no reason to contest the Shrines if the enemy team has the advantage, as they will win and further snowball their advantage.
One method of taking the Shrines is to capture your Mercenary Camps. The mercenaries will push down the lane, forcing the enemy team to either kill the mercenaries or contest the Shrine. If they kill the mercenaries, you will capture the Shrine. If they contest the Shrine, your mercenaries will destroy their buildings. The mercenaries also have the added benefit of providing vision in the lane they are pushing.
Refer to section Using the Dragon Knight for what to do once your team has unleashed the Dragon Knight.
4. Tips & Tricks
- Your main objective is to prevent the enemy team from unleashing the Dragon Knight.
- The Shrines will begin to spawn shortly after 40 seconds into the game and will give a 30 second warning. Once a the Dragon Knight dies or times out, it will take 2 minutes until the Shrines reactivate.
- It takes 8 seconds to capture an enemy Shrine and 4 seconds to capture a neutral Shrine. It takes 3 seconds to channel the Dragon Knight.
- Have your three strongest pushing Heroes in the bottom lane, with your next strongest in the middle lane, and your weakest in the top lane. Healers (excluding Brightwing) should never be in the top lane.
- Use early game Dragon Knights to destroy the outer Towers of each lane, before destroying the forts.
- The Dragon Knight should be used to destroy buildings, not to team fight. If you must team fight, use Savage Charge to kick away key enemies, preferably over walls.
- Once you are around level 20, the Dragon Knight can easily kill solo the enemy core.
- With the lanes so close together, always be on the lookout for ganks from other lanes.
- Do not try to contest the Shrines if you are at a disadvantage.
- Capture Mercenary Camps whenever possible, but not at the expense of losing experience from lane.
- If your allies are dead and you have just taken control of the Dragon Knight, it is almost always better to simply wait until your allies have respawned.
- +1. Map Layout and Mechanics
- +2. Strategy
- 2.1. Lane Assignments
- 2.2. Lane Goals
- 2.3. The Dragon Knight
- 2.4. Using Mercenary Camps
- 3. Summary of Strategy
- 4. Tips & Tricks
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