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Great Cleave icon.png

▶️ No room to swing a cat in this crowd.

Cleave causes a melee unit's attacks to deal a portion of its damage in an area in front of it.


Sven cleaving through a creep wave.

Cleave damage is applied in a trapezoid shape.

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. Cleave does not affect the primary target and it cannot miss when hitting secondary targets.

Ranged heroes cannot cleave in the default game modes, because either the cleave-granting ability has its cleave part disabled for them, or the ability is unobtainable by them. 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 physical, and 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.

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 icon.png 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:

Cleave stacking
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 minimap icon.png Sven with level 4 Great Cleave, buffed with a level 4 Empower and 2 Battle Fury icon.png Battle Furies would deal 4 instances of damage on each attack to units within 650 range in front of him, one coming from Great Cleave, one from Empower and 2 from the Battle Furies.

Sources of Cleave[]

  • Enchant Totem icon.png
    Starting Radius: Upgradable by Aghanim's Scepter. 150
    Distance: Upgradable by Aghanim's Scepter. 650
    End Radius: Upgradable by Aghanim's Scepter. 360
    Cleave Damage: Upgradable by Aghanim's Scepter. 40%
    Requires Aghanim's Scepter icon.png Aghanim's Scepter.
  • Tidebringer icon.png
    Starting Radius: 150
    Distance: 650/800/950/1100
    End Radius: 500/550/600/650
    Cleave Damage: 150% (Talent 220%)
    Has a cooldown. Unlike other cleaves, this one is not affected by Quell of Battle Fury icon.png Battle Fury.
  • Empower icon.png
    Starting Radius: 150
    Distance: 650
    End Radius: 360
    Cleave Damage: 10%/20%/30%/40% (Talent 20%/30%/40%/50%)
    Provided by a temporary buff.
  • Great Cleave icon.png
    Starting Radius: 150
    Distance: 700
    End Radius: 360
    Cleave Damage: 25%/50%/75%/100% (Talent 50%/75%/100%/125%)
  • Battle Fury icon.png
    Starting Radius: 150
    Distance: 650
    End Radius: 360
    Cleave Damage (Heroes): 70%
    Cleave Damage (Creeps): 40%


Cannot be used by illusions. Not disabled by Break. Pierces spell immunity.
Talent icon.png
There is no description for this ability.
Starting Radius: 150
Distance: 650
End Radius: 360


  • The complete area is shaped like an isosceles trapezoid in front of the hero.
  • Fully stacks with other sources of cleaves. Each source of cleave works completely independent.
  • Does not cleave upon attacking wards, buildings or allied units. Wards and buildings are unaffected by cleave.
  • Despite the visual effect, cleave damage is applied instantly in the whole area.

The following heroes have a Talent talent that grants them cleave.

Bonus Level 10 Level 15 Level 20 Level 25
Left Right Left Right Left Right Left Right
  • Elder Titan minimap icon.png +100%
  • Alchemist minimap icon.png +25%
  • Wraith King minimap icon.png +25%
  • Doom minimap icon.png +150%


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 typically 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, secondary units around the target are hit by splash and it cannot miss. If an attack misses, no splash damage is applied in the area. Splash works with attack modifiers the same way as cleave does.

Just like cleave, splash also works for melee heroes. Doom minimap icon.png Doom is able to acquire the Splash Attack of the Ancient Black Dragons with his Devour, as is Tiny minimap icon.png Tiny with Tree Throw. Splash can be reduced by armor value, making it a different mechanic than Cleave.

Sources of splash[]

  • Splash Attack (Ancient Black Dragon) icon.png
    Splash Radius: 250
    Splash Damage: 100%
    Passive. Splashes damage based on how much the primary target took. Deals physical damage.
  • Elder Dragon Form icon.png
    Splash Radius: 350
    Splash Damage: 0%/75%/75%
    Provided by a buff while in Elder Dragon Form level 2 or 3. Splashes damage based on Dragon Knight's attack damage value. Deals physical damage.
  • Tree Throw icon.png
    Splash Radius: 275
    Splash Damage: 200%
    Active. Splashes damage around the target unit. Deals physical damage.

Other Sources[]

Besides Cleave and Splash, there are some unique attack-based area damage abilities, which appear all once each. This means they also have unique behaviors and only share some similarities with Cleave and Splash or with each other.

Tree Grab[]

  • Tree Grab icon.png
    Area damage length: 400
    Area damage radius: 200
    Attack as area damage: 40%/60%/80%/100%

Tree Grab's damage area

Tree Grab shares several similarities with cleave. Its damage is calculated based on Tiny's attack damage, considers armor value and armor type, like how cleave works, and deals physical damage. It also counts as spell damage, and thus fully works with spell lifesteal and spell damage amplification.

The biggest difference to cleave is how the damage area is calculated. While cleave areas are trapezoid-shaped, with a starting width, distance and end width, Tree Grab's area is the shape of a Norman Window, a rectangle with a semi-circle on one end. Like with cleave, the area is locked on Tiny, always being in front of him, no matter how far away the attack target is.

Psi Blades[]

Psi Blades' damage area

Psi Blades causes Templar Assassin's attack to damage enemies behind the attacked target. The damage is based on how much exactly the primary attack target took, and is dealt as pure damage to units behind it. The damage counts as spell damage, but it doesn't benefit from spell damage amplification or work with spell lifesteal.

The area has a rectangular shape and its direction is based on Templar Asassin's position on projectile impact. The area between Templar Assassin and the attack target is unaffected.

Version History[]

  • Cleave damage is now affected by armor value as well, instead of only armor type. [?]
  • Cleave now uses a trapezoid-shaped area, instead of a circular area.
    • Battle Fury icon.png Battle Fury: From 280 radius to 150 starting radius, 520 distance, and 280 end radius.
    • Empower: From 240 radius to 150 starting radius, 460 distance, and 240 end radius.
    • Great Cleave: From 300 radius to 150 starting radius, 550 distance, and 300 end radius.
    • Grow: From 400 radius to 150 starting radius, 600 distance, and 400 end radius.
    • Tidebringer: From 450/500/550/600 radius to 150 starting radius, 675/750/825/900 distance, and 450/500/550/600 end radius.
  • Cleave damage is no longer affected by spell damage amplification.
  • Cleave damage can no longer spell lifesteal.

Patch History[]

  • Improved network performance with various multi-target attacks (i.e. cleave).
  • Fixed cleave damage from working while attacking towers.