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Cleave causes a melee unit's attacks to deal a portion of its damage in an area in front of it.
If a unit has cleave, its attacks deal damage in an area shaped like a trapezoid in front of the attacking unit upon successfully hitting the target. Ranged heroes cannot cleave, because either the cleave-granting ability has its cleave part disabled for them, or the ability is unobtainable by them in the default game modes. An attack is classified as melee when the attack does not rely on projectiles. The primary attack target is not hit by the cleave damage. An attack has to actually hit the target in order to cleave. A missed attack, be it caused by evasion or a blind effect, does not cleave. Cleave hits invisible, but not hidden or invulnerable units, and does not work against wards and buildings.
If a game mode allows ranged heroes to obtain the normally unobtainable cleave abilities (e.g. Ability Draft), the cleave of Tidebringer and Great Cleave fully work for them. The cleave area, just like for melee heroes, is based on the attacking unit's position and happens on attack hit. This means the cleave damage is always applied in front of the attacking hero, even when the target was much further away.
The damage value is entirely based on the attacking unit's attack damage. It does not matter how much damage the primary attack target actually took from the attack, as cleave only checks the attack damage value of the attacking unit, dealing damage based on that.
The damage type is always physical, so that it is affected by armor type and Damage Block, but cannot affect ethereal units. However, despite being physical damage, damage done by cleave ignores the armor value of the hit units. This is a unique trait of cleave itself, independent from the damage type. This means, when reflected by e.g. Blade Mail, the reflected damage is reduced by the armor value normally, since it is reflected as physical damage, and the source is then the Blade Mail, not a cleave.
All cleave abilities pierce spell immunity. Cleave damage is fully affected by damage manipulation, but does not count as spell damage, so that spell damage amplification and spell lifesteal do not affect or work with it. It also does not count as attack damage, so that regular lifesteal does not heal from it either.
Area of effect
A cleave's effect area is shaped like an isosceles trapezoid. This trapezoid is in front of the attacking unit, so that the attacking unit is always at the center of the shorter side of the trapezoid. Double the starting radius equates to the length of the shorter side of the trapezoid, the cleave distance equates to its height, and double the ending radius equates to the long side parallel to the short side of the trapezoid.
Attack modifier interactions
Cleave is an attack modifier which fully stacks with any other modifier. However, it does not interfere with any attack modifier. This means that for example the armor reducing effect of Desolator is still only applied to the primary attack target. However, if an attack modifier increases or reduces attack damage, it affects the cleave damage. Abilities which grant conditional attack damage bonuses may or may not be included in the cleave damage. Critical strikes affect the cleave damage as well.
Conditional attack damage bonuses which are counted by cleave are:
Conditional attack damage bonuses which are not counted by cleave are:
- Abyssal Blade – Bash
- Anti-Mage – Mana Break
- Diffusal Blade – Manabreak
- Faceless Void – Time Lock
- Javelin – Pierce
- Monkey King Bar – Mini-Bash
- Necronomicon Warrior – Mana Break
- Riki – Cloak and Dagger
- Skull Basher – Bash
- Slardar – Bash of the Deep
- Sniper – Headshot
- Troll Warlord – Berserker's Rage
- Ursa – Fury Swipes
Cleave also fully stacks with other sources of cleave. Each source of cleave works fully independently. Their damage is not summed up, each of them deals its own instance of damage.
As an example, Sven with level 4 Great Cleave, buffed with a level 4 Empower and 2 Battle Furies would deal 4 instances of damage on each attack to units within 460 range in front of him, 3 damage instances to units within 460–570 range and 2 instances to units within 570–570 range. This is because in this scenario, one source has a distance of 460, the other one has 570 distance and 2 of them have 570 distance, so all 4 hit units within 460 range, but only two of them hit units up to 570 range away. Consequently, units within 460 range would take 196% cleave damage, units between 460–570 range 146% damage and units between 570–570 would take only 80% damage.
Sources of cleave
- Starting Radius: 150
End Radius: 300
Cleave Damage: 40%
- Starting Radius: 150
End Radius: 450/500/550/600
Cleave Damage: 100%
Has a cooldown. Unlike other cleaves, this one is not affected by Quell.
- Starting Radius: 150
End Radius: 300
Cleave Damage: 30%/42%/54%/66%
- Starting Radius: 0 ( 150)
Distance: 0 ( 600)
End Radius: 0 ( 400)
Cleave Damage: 0 ( 50%)
Requires Aghanim's Scepter. Passive.
Splash is in some ways the ranged version of cleave. It works in a similar way as cleave does, with the main difference being that the damage is dealt in a circle around the attacked unit, not in a trapezoid in front of the attacking unit. When attacking with splash, the primary target of an attack does not receive the splash effect. If an attack misses, no splash damage is applied in the area (except for Elder Dragon Form, in which case 50% of the damage is applied in the area). Splash works with attack modifiers the same way as cleave does.
Unlike cleave, splash damage can deal physical or magical damage. As such, splash effects are reduced by the armor value, Damage Block and ethereal state, but not armor type if physical, and by magic resistance if magical. They are also affected by damage manipulation and spell lifesteal.
Some splash effects have multiple areas of effect, each dealing a different percentage of the attacking unit's attack damage, meaning that units closer to the primary target take more damage than units further away.
Just like cleave, splash also works for melee heroes. Doom is able to acquire the Splash Attack of the Ancient Black Dragons with his Devour. Besides this, no other melee hero can acquire a splash effect.
Sources of splash
- 100% Splash Radius: 50
50% Splash Radius: 150
25% Splash Radius: 250
Passive. Splashes damage based on how much the primary target took. Deals magical damage.
- 100% Splash Radius: 150
75% Splash Radius: 225
50% Splash Radius: 300
Provided by a buff while in Elder Dragon Form level 2 or 3. Splashes damage based on Dragon Knight's attack damage value. When the attack misses or is disjointed, splash damage is still applied in the areas, but reduced by 50%. Deals physical damage.