Dota 2 is a MOBA, (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) developed by the Valve Corporation. With a hostile community and a lack of tutorials, Dota 2 can be one of the most intimidating games to try and get into. However, if you can push past those hurdles you will discover an incredible game and in my opinion the best MOBA of all time. (At least until Dota 3 comes out, right Valve?) This is a Beginner’s Guide to Dota 2!
The main objective of Dota 2 is pretty simple. Destroy the enemy Ancient inside their stronghold. These strongholds are protected by multiple towers down 3 separate lanes. The two competing teams (Radiant and Dire) consist of five players each.
Each player controls a single Hero, a powerful unit that grows stronger over the course of the game. Experience is earned when nearby ”Creeps” and ”Heroes” die. Experience Points are needed for heroes to level up, the Maximum Level is 25, after which experience no longer serves any purpose. If a ”Hero” dies they will spawn in their base at the ”Fountain”. Dead heroes respawn after a set amount of time. The respawn timer expands as your level increases.
There are three overall categories of damage. Physical Damage is done by basic attacks, and some abilities. Magical Damage is done by abilities and items. Finally, Pure Damage penetrates both armour and magic resistance.
Three Lanes are present on the map and lead into each team’s base. In between the lanes are wooded areas known as the ”Jungle”. Beyond the Jungle our the bases. Buildings can be made temporarily invincible with the Glyph of Fortification.
Valve has included some basic Tutorials into Dota 2. However while they do teach you the very basics and get you used to the control scheme, they are lacking crucial information. Nevertheless, they are worth playing if your brand new to Dota 2 but don’t jump into a multiplayer game after playing them.
The Roles of Dota 2:
Carry – The ‘Carry’ player (or Position 1) typically plays in the ‘Safe Lane’. They need items before becoming strong, once they do however they become the winning condition for the team.
Mid – The ‘Mid’ Hero (or Position 2) engages in a 1v1 in the middle lane. This means that the ‘Mid’ player levels up faster than anyone else on the map. With these levels it’s important to use this advantage to control the early/mid part of the game, getting kills when your carry isn’t strong enough.
Offlane – The ‘Offlane’ hero (or Position 3) is the strangest role in Dota. Obviously you play in ‘Offlane’. You’re neither Carry or Support. Offlane Heroes can be Tanks, Disablers, Initiators the list goes on. You basically play what your team needs most.
Support – The ‘Support’ player (or Position 4) is typically the playmaker of the team, making plays across the map. They get more gold to play with than the position 5 player.
Hard Support – The ‘Hard Support’ (or Position 5) Buys wards and using abilities in a mostly defensive manner. They typically have the least amount of gold throughout the game. I would advise that you stay close to your carry to make sure they don’t get killed, as they are your team’s most important hero.
Play Against Bots:
Playing against Bots is the best way to practise playing Dota 2. You can try out heroes without the risk of ruining someone’s game, you can practise last hitting, placing wards, buying items etc. I personally played around 100 hours of Bot games before I started to play against humans. You can play with four other humans against bots or just yourself with four a.i teammates.
Good Starting Heroes for Beginners:
Crystal Maiden is an excellent starting hero to try out. Her passive ability ”Arcane Aura” increases mana regeneration for all teammates on the map. This is an incredibly useful skill, for as long as you are alive you are contributing to your team. In large fights, she can channel her ultimate ability ”Freezing Field” which inflicts massive damage and slows nearby enemies. Meanwhile, she remains effective without having to buy lots of items. However, Crystal Maiden has low movement speed and can be quite squishy. But this does encourage good positioning and smart game sense.
Witch Doctor is a simple but strong support, he can stun, heal and dish out the damage. ”Paralyzing Cask” can stun enemies for long amounts of time if they’re grouped together. ”Voodoo Restoration” can heal your allies for large amounts in the early parts of the game, this can be crucial for winning the laning stage. His Ultimate ”Death Ward” does lots of damage very quickly and has a short cooldown.
Dragon Knight is one of the first carries you should play after getting used to playing Support. He is a tanky front-line who can transform into a dragon. His main attraction is his High Health Regeneration. This will enable you to stay in lane and quickly recover from fights. If you get off to a good start, Dragon Knight can quickly become so tanky that enemies will struggle to take you down. Once DK turns into his Elder Dragon Form, he increases his speed and power, giving him the strength to take down towers very quickly.
Luna is an extremely powerful carry who can rip through teams if you get enough items. Having said that, being a purely offensive hero, Luna can be swiftly taken down, so you will need teammates to protect and tank for you. The reason Luna is perfect for new players is that two of her four abilities are passives. This leaves you free to focus more on last hitting and positioning smartly.
Use the In-Game Guides:
Before every game, you can select in-game guides that will tell you, what items to buy, what abilities to level up and what talents to pick. This is a great tool for new players. Basically, if don’t know what to do or what to buy, follow the guide.
The Phases of Dota 2:
Before a game of Dota 2 begins you have the “Drafting Phase” in which both teams pick their heroes for the upcoming match. It is generally accepted that supports should pick their heroes first, with the carry and mid player picking last. At the start of the game, there is about a minute of dead time before the ”Creeps” spawn, though all ten heroes are able to move around the map freely at this time. Once the ”Creeps” spawn, the ”early game’‘ officially begins. Each ”creep wave” will meet in the middle of each lane, where they will fight till the death! Let the creeps fight each other while making sure the carry player secure last hits. Heroes that land the killing blow on creeps earn gold. It is for this reason that practising your last hitting is crucial.
Once the ”laning stage” ends, we enter the ”mid-game”. Typically, this is when you’ll start to see teams engaging each other in full ”five-on-five engagements”. The ”late-game” starts around the 40-minute mark and continues until the game ends. The late game is all about winning team fights and pushing towards the enemy ”Ancient”. You can also destroy the enemies ”Barracks”, once demolished your creeps will become stronger. If you manage to take down all three enemies ‘‘Barracks”, you will receive ”Mega-Creeps” that are significantly stronger than regular lane creeps.
Watch Dota 2:
If you truly want to learn Dota 2, you can’t just play it, you have to watch it. I would recommend Youtuber and Streamer PurgeGamers. He delivers top-quality guides, perfect for new players, I suggest checking out his Learn Dota Series. I would also suggest watching some Pro Dota matches on Twitch to see how the game is played at the very top level.
My advice to all players is to watch your replays. Particularly after you lose a game. Here you can examine your mistakes and see how your teammates were truly the reason you lost 😉
Roshan: Roshan is an exceptionally strong creep located at the western end of the river. If killed, Roshan will grant gold to the entire team as well as drop the Aegis of the Immortal. The Aegis of the Immortal will automatically resurrect the holder upon death. Later in the game, Roshan also drops The Cheese. The Cheese will greatly restore a hero’s health and mana when used. After the third kill, Roshan will drop an Aghanim’s Blessing or a Refresher Shard. A Refresher Shard will refresh all of your abilities that are on cooldown. While an Aghanim’s Blessing will upgrade certain abilities for the Hero that you are playing. After every death, Roshan will respawn around 10 minutes later.
Throughout the entire game, supports should be buying and placing Observer Wards at important locations around the map. The general idea you should have is to keep wards in areas of the map where you expect your opponents to pass through.
The best time to place Observer Wards is when there is downtime, for example after you win a team fight. Vision is extremely valuable in Dota 2 because it provides information, so make sure that wards continue to be placed on the map.
Tango: This is the basic healing item in Dota 2, You simply eat a tree to start regaining health for 16 seconds. It is crucial you buy these during the laning phase so you can contest creeps.
Magic Stick: Instantly restores 15 health and mana per charge stored. Max 10 charges. Gains a charge whenever a visible enemy uses an ability within range. Fragile support heroes often purchase a Magic Stick in the early game usually to save themselves during ganks or to gain enough mana to use an ability.
Iron Branch: This item is used in the early game for a cheap boost in attributes. You can then use it to create a Magic Wand. If an Iron Branch is consumed it creates a tree. If you use a Tango on the tree. It will heal you for twice as long.
Quelling Blade: Increases attack damage against non-hero units by 24 for melee heroes, and 7 for ranged. Quelling Blade is usually purchased by melee carries who need to ensure that they can get last hits in the lane. Also, it can be used to destroy trees and wards.
Stout Shield: Grants a 50% chance to block 20 damage from incoming attacks on melee heroes and 9 damage on ranged. This means you take a lot less damage from creeps in the early stages, this is vital as you want to stay in the lane as long as possible, you don’t want to be going back to base every time you are low on health. Melee carries who need extra protection from harassment in lane can benefit from a Stout Shield.
Enchanted Mango: Instantly restores 125 mana. Enchanted Mangoes are a great source for a quick burst of mana. One mango usually restores enough mana for most spells in the early game, allowing heroes to use a spell immediately. This makes Enchanted Mangoes a great option for aggressive heroes who want to fight as much as possible.
Tomes of Knowledge: After 10 minutes of game time, two Tomes of Knowledge will appear in the main shop. The Tome of Knowledge instantly grants you 700 experience. It is recommended that someone on your team buy and use it about as soon as possible. For example, a hero that is nearly Lvl 5 can use the Tome to jump all the way to Lvl 6. Typically this would be a Support player. However, it could be for a Carry player that has had a bad start to the game.
Observer Ward: An Observer Ward, once planted gives ground vision to your team. (Lasts 6 minutes) Observer Wards allow you to keep watch over areas and spy on your enemies while keeping you and other heroes safe. It is important to keep wards up in key locations and destroy enemy wards. Observer Wards are essential for map control, providing vision for runes, watching out for ganks. It is common for the support players to purchase wards as the carry players need to spend their gold making their hero stronger
Sentry Ward: A Sentry Ward, is an invisible watcher that grants the ability to see invisible enemy units and wards. (Lasts 6 minutes) The main purpose of Sentry Wards to is to find destroy the enemies Observer Wards.
Town Portal Scroll: Town Portal Scrolls are one of the most important items in the game and should be carried by every hero at all times. Teleport Scrolls is what you use to travel around the map quickly and efficiently. They are very cheap at only 50 gold and have many uses. For example, if one of your teammates gets ganked, you can teleport into the lane potentially saving their life in the process. If you barely survive a team fight, you can immediately teleport back to base so that you can start healing faster.
Dead heroes can use gold to ”Buyback”, allowing them to respawn instantly. This is a very useful thing to do if your team is in a fight. However, it is strongly recommended that you don’t ”Buyback” in the early game, as gold is incredibly important and respawn timers are already low. Once you reach the late game, it’s important to make sure you have enough leftover gold in order to ”Buyback” at an important time.
Time of day is a gameplay element in Dota 2. Each day lasts 10 minutes long, divided between daytime and night-time. Dawn starts at 0:00, the first night begins at 5:00, the second day starts at 10:00, and so on. Shifting from day to night makes the map darker so your vision is limited. Once night-time comes it’s important to have wards on the map, giving you vital information and map control. You must also play safer as you will have less time to see enemies coming.
Bounty Runes spawn at 0:00 on the game clock, and every five minutes after that. Power-up Runes spawn at 2:00 on the game clock and every two minutes after that. Bounty Runes spawn at four locations on the map, Power-up Runes spawn randomly at one of the two locations in the river until the 40-minute mark, after which they spawn simultaneously at both locations.
From the 2 minute mark onward, a Power-up Rune will spawn randomly at one of two points in the river. There are six possible runes that can spawn:
Bounty Rune: Grants 40 gold to the entire team, which scales up by 2 gold per minute.
Arcane Rune: Arcane Rune Grants 30% cooldown reduction and 30% mana loss reduction for 50 seconds.
Double Damage Rune: Double Damage Rune grants 100% attack damage bonus for 45 seconds.
Haste Rune: Haste Rune gives your hero maximum movement speed to or 22 seconds.
Illusion Rune: Illusion Rune creates 2 illusions of the hero which last for 75 seconds, this can be used to push lanes or trick the enemy.
Invisibility Rune: Invisibility Rune, grants invisibility for 45 seconds.
Regeneration Rune: Grants Health Regen and Mana Regen for 30 seconds.
To sum up, Dota 2 is an immensely complicated game! I’m still learning new things every day. It truly is a game that takes years to master. The journey you will go on from Noob to Average player is truly special. If you have yet to give Dota 2 a try I would fully recommend it. Do be warned this game will make you rage and hate other people, but it will be worth it in the end! 😉
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