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When I jungle, I normally lag a few levels behind others, for example with lifestealer. I've seen people become very overpowered with lifestealer after jungling, while I lag behind.

My question is, is there more of a technique than just hitting each of the foresting spots in a circular fashion?

I assume ganking must be a part of it, but if I'm too low, I can never gank!

Side question: If you keep getting ganked jungling, should you, or the support ward? (probably more subjective so feel free to ignore)

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Related: gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/103326/… –  Decency May 9 '13 at 5:08
    
Ganking is a very important part. Even if you are lower, it's still 2vs1 or 3vs2 (depending on what lane you gank). And even if you don't kill your opponent, you probably weakend him enough for your laner to dominate his lane. –  Sir Ksilem May 10 '13 at 7:04
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Some of the more important things to keep in mind when jungling:

Items:

  • A Stout Shield is pretty much required if you're a melee hero, especially if you don't have summons to tank damage for you.
  • Armor is the next useful item, and for some heroes even more useful. Lifestealer in particular has only 1 base armor (~6% reduction), whereas a hero like Dark Seer has 6 (~26% reduction. This makes a big difference in what is more cost effective to buy for surviving.
  • Stats and regen, as always. Salves heal at a more cost effective ratio, but can't be used in combat.
  • Ring of Basilius gets a special mention because of the great armor aura, which helps summoners with weaker micro quite a bit. The Mana regeneration isn't terrible, either, though it's more cost effective on non-INT heroes.
  • Tranquil Boots heal at an outstanding pace and give great armor and utility for their cost, especially for a jungler. However, the heal (but not the boots themselves) can be broken instantly by neutral attacks from any of the Hard camps, in addition to the Centaur Conqueror and Alpha Wolf who can spawn at the Medium camp. Because of this, you should only activate the heal when fighting weaker camps.

Creeps:

  • You need to be able to recognize as a jungler which are the most efficient camps to kill. You have resources: HP/Mana used, time spent, and gold earned that should be balanced when considering which camps to kill. Some figures that I calculated a year or so ago that put things into perspective that can be found here with other useful information:
    • An average Small creep camp yields 81 gold and 133 experience.
    • An average Medium creep camp yields 102 gold and 202 experience.
    • An average Large creep camp yields 124 gold and 220 experience.
  • What does this mean? If you want to prioritize earning gold, which most junglers do at the start of a game, you should be killing the Small camp every time it spawns. If you want to prioritize experience, killing the Medium camps will be far better use of your time than attacking the much tougher Hard camps.
  • However, some junglers who jungle through AoE like Dark Seer, Axe, and Batrider typically prioritize stacking the same Hard camp as many times as possible, because it will take them about the same amount of time to kill a Hard camp stacked 5 times as killing it just once.

Miscellaneous:

  • Many heroes who can jungle, such as Lifestealer, Lone Druid, and Batrider are generally more effective when given a lane. They should be used as junglers only when the team composition is better off because of it, which granted in unorganized play can be quite often.
  • Idly farming in the jungle is almost never the best option for your team- most capable junglers have very effective skills for ganking.
  • Choke point jungling can be extremely useful for certain heroes.
  • Often times, conserving health by waiting for a more favorable camp to spawn is better than attempting to kill a Hard camp, especially earlier in the game.
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Like other mentioned here, jungling has a few benefits:

  • getting more experience globally for the team if the lane you left can still get exp without being zoned out or denied
  • getting more gold if the lane you left can still get last hits
  • the enemy does not see you unless they warded the jungle

It as well weaken the lane and can expose you to ganks if you do not ward properly.

One of the most important factor for deciding if you can jungle is to know whether you have to go back to fountain with this hero and whether you can farm fast enough to keep up.

Some heroes can jungle because they have summons or can control/vaporize creeps to soak the damage for them (Nature), others because they can lifesteal (Naix) or reduce the incoming damage/are tanky (Axe), or a combination of both (Doom).

Lifestealer can survive in the jungle although he will be sometimes on lower health making him vulnerable to a gank if your jungle was warded. The reason he gets more powerful in the games you have seen is only that he is one of these really strong late game carries if not ganked and left to farm. You are not expected to get more exp than a dual lane in early levels by jungling, although when you get midas you can use it to on the stronger creeps to get exp faster.

Enigma can farm quite fast in jungle and Axe needs a bit of luck but he does very fine in jungle ...

When you jungle, you should always take in account the opportunity cost vs laning.

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I find that jungling, at best, will keep you on level with a 2 hero lane. You will generally not keep up with mid or solo lane.

A good technique is to watch the clock. Every time you're at 53 seconds, stack the camp. Meaning, if you're clearing a camp and 53 seconds comes around, run away. This will allow the maximum number of camp spawns.

Alternatively, stay in lane to soak up xp, and leave to stack camps. Only when you have 3-4 stacks will you clear them.

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It's jungler dependent. Most good junglers can keep up or outpace a solo lane easily. Lifestealer isn't quite that good, especially if he's harassed, so he's more commonly seen in lane. –  Decency May 9 '13 at 4:54
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