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Great Cleave icon.png

▶️ No room to swing a cat in this crowd.

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


Sven minimap icon.png Sven cleaving through a creep wave.

Cleave causes the unit's attack to deal damage in a trapezoid in front of the attacking unit. The damage is based on the unit's total attack damage values. Cleave can only be used by Melee melee units, Ranged ranged units cannot cleave by default.

Cleave damage is applied in a trapezoid shape.

Cleave does not affect the primary target, and it cannot miss when hitting secondary targets. However, a missed attack does not cleave. Cleave hits invisible, but not hidden or invulnerable units, and does not work against wards and buildings.


Multiple sources of cleave on the same unit work fully independently of each other. Each source applies its full damage within its area, without interacting with the other cleave sources.

Example 1
Sven minimap icon.png Sven with level 4 Great Cleave, has level 4 Empower buff and Battle Fury icon.png Battle Fury would deal 3 different instances of cleave damage on each attack to units, with each instances using its own starting radius, distance and end radius in front of him.

Ability Draft[]

Main Article: Ability Draft

Ranged Ranged heroes are unable to cleave. The cleave-granting ability either has its cleave part disabled for them, or the ability is unobtainable by them. An attack is classified as Melee melee when the attack does not rely on projectiles.

If a game mode allows ranged heroes to obtain the normally unobtainable cleave abilities (e.g. Ability Draft), these cleave sources (e.g. 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.


Cleave's damage type is physical and is entirely based on the unit's total attack damage (before reductions). Its damage pierce spell immunity and is fully affected by damage manipulation.

While cleave damage is technically considered spell damage, certain restrictions are applied to it, which cause outgoing spell damage amplification and spell lifesteal to not work with it.

Area of Effect[]

Great Cleave area of effect visualized.

The area of effect for cleave sources 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[]

Main Article: Attack Modifier

Although cleave is an attack modifier, it works independently on itself and does not interfere with any other attack modifier.

For example, the armor reducing of Corruption is applied to the primary attacked target does not increase the cleave damage, even if the target receives extra damage from armor reduction. However, if an attack modifier increases the total attack damage (e.g. Critical Strike), it affects the cleave damage.

Some abilities which grants conditional attack damage bonuses may or may not be included in the cleave damage. The following list of abilities are considered by cleave:

Cleave Sources[]

1 Requires Talent talent.
2a Requires Aghanim's Scepter icon.png Aghanim's Scepter.
2b Requires Aghanim's Shard icon.png Aghanim's Shard.
3 Tidebringer is not affected by Quell.


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 similarly as cleave, with the main difference being the damage is typically dealt in a circle around the attacked unit, instead of a trapezoid in front of the attacking unit.

Splash does not affect the primary target, and it cannot miss when hitting secondary targets. However, if an attack misses, no splash damage is applied within the radius. Splash damage works with attack modifiers the same way as cleave does.

Just like cleave, splash also works for Melee melee heroes. Doom minimap icon.png Doom is able to acquire Splash Attack from Ancient Black Dragon icon.png Ancient Black Dragon (with Talent Devour).

Splash Sources[]

Abilities Granting Splash Attacks

Other Sources[]

Besides Cleave and Splash, there are some unique attack-based area damage abilities that share some similarities with cleave and splash, or with each other.

Tree Grab[]

Tree Grab area damage visualized.

  • Tree Grab icon.png
    Area Damage Length: 400
    Area Damage Radius: 200
    Attack Damage as Area Damage: 40%/60%/80%/100%

Tree Grab shares several similarities with cleave. Its damage is calculated based on Tiny minimap icon.png Tiny's total attack damage. It also considers armor value, defense classes, and deals physical damage.

The biggest difference to cleave is how its damage area is calculated. While cleave sources is shaped like an isosceles trapezoid, Tree Grab's area is a semicircle on top of a rectangle. The ability's area is also locked on Tiny, being in front of him, no matter how far away the attack target is.

Psi Blades[]

Psi Blades area damage visualized.

Psi Blades causes Templar Assassin minimap icon.png Templar Assassin's attack to damage enemies behind the attacked target. The spill 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 they ignore outgoing spell damage amplification and cannot spell lifesteal.

The spill area has a rectangular shape, with a width of 90 and has a length of 550/600/650/700 × ΣAtkRange. The spill area can be further increased by other attack range bonuses. Templar Assassin's position is checked as the projectile hits the target, not upon launching.

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.