Welcome to Dota, You Suck
You are going to be constantly reminded of how much you suck for about 1-3 months (if you learn). If you read this guide and use your brain and be actively aware of how bad you suck, you can easily shave time off of your complete noob status. You could even make some kids think that you’re really good, but only if they are bad.
Unfortunately, Dota 2 has a massive learning curve.
You need to play each of the 110 heroes at least once each to have basic understanding of the power levels of each hero.
Each game takes on average 30-50 minutes. Prepare to play a lot of DotA. If you want to cut this down, go to websites and read hero skills and guides, and from there you should get basic ideas of how to play these heroes.
You are going to have to learn items, strategies, laning combos, abbreviations, and MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TEAMWORK.
However, I promise that once you get the basics down, and you start playing casually with your friends, that you are going to have a TON of fun.
There is no grinding for weeks to get that gear you want like in an MMO. Rolling a new hero is as easy as playing one game, and each game you can go different skill/item builds with different team setups.
Basically, it is going to take a really long time to get bored with this game. Every game is different. I’ve spent about 3+ years of my full gaming time focused on DotA and Dota 2, and I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.
You may be interested in playing Heroes of Newerth(HoN) or League of Legends(LoL), but we arguably have the best developer, Icefrog. He has been working on DotA since 2005 with no income(until getting hired by valve to make Dota 2) and no release of his real name. DotA and Dota 2 are both considered to be extremely balanced games at the professional level, and new hero and item additions always add new flavor and slight nudges to any heroes that are considered overpowered.
I see no reason to pick HoN or LoL, and please, never mention Storm of the Imperial Sanctum ever again, unless you want to try playing DotA circa 2004 with good graphics and a tiny map.
You are going to feed. You are going to ruin games, and someone is going to be happy to tell you why. DotA was originally played in Warcraft 3, and they had the most bad mannered, whining, assholes on the gaming internet. The only thing that comes close is Xbox Live. Luckily, with Dota 2, Valve has been making some really great strides to create a better environment for all players involved. The people playing the game are better than they used to be, but you are still playing a TEAM game that requires your allies to not be idiots for you to succeed. There will almost always be some levels of disappointment, and frustration between your aliies, and you.
My #1 tip to playing Dota 2, is that if someone flames you, or is freaking out about your play in an OVERLY(key word) critical way, press the mute button on them immediately, and then enjoy the rest of the game from your peaceful, but mysteriously quiet ally. Ignoring them doesn't work. Let them say 1 mean thing, and let that be it. Your day will be much better this way, I promise.
You are going to have to have thick skin to play Dota 2. To get around this major barrier of entry, PLAY AGAINST THE BOTS WHEN YOU FIRST START. The Bots will not rage at you, they won’t care if you feed. They will teach you the heroes by destroying you with them, and no one has to know.
Here are a couple screenshots with directions on how to play against the Bots if you are unsure how to. You can either play against Bots with allies, or play against Bots with Bots on your team.
Here are a couple quick hero modes that you might be confused about as well. Not all of these are available in matchmaking quite yet.
All Pick(AP) lets you draft(pick) your hero from the entire pool. You can also random for an extra 200 gold at the start of the game.
All Random(AR) forces everyone in the game to receive a random hero. Randoming is a great way to learn all of the hereos.
Single Draft(SD) is a mode that gives you 1 strength hero, 1 agility hero, and 1 intelligence hero to choose from. The heroes are random. As of this writing, you CANNOT swap heroes in Single Draft mode, but it will be fixed eventually.
Random Draft(RD) is a mode that randomly chooses 20 heroes of the hero pool for the players in the game to choose from. You take turns between your team and the opponents to pick your heroes, similar to kickball. If you don't choose in time you get a random hero, so make sure you choose fast!
Captains Mode(CM) is the mode that you see the professionals play, which involves rounds of banning, picking, banning again, and then final round of picking. This mode is not recommended at all for new players.
Captains Draft(CD) is the mode that is a blend of Random Draft and Captains Draft. You get to draft and ban based on a limited hero pool, which ends up being like Captains mode, but with less repetition. I really like this mode for pubs!
Heroes to avoid playing early in your dota experience:
These are just general guidelines. None of those heroes are bad necessarily, but they take a little getting used to because they are either complicated or squishy without an escape. You can’t just play your first game of dota and go 15-0-17 with silencer. It just isn’t going to happen.
This is just small selection of all the heroes in DotA, and this doesn't mean that the rest of the heroes aren't challenging to learn.
Here are some pretty easy heroes who's usefullness is easy to take advantage of. I'd recommend playing them to any new person to DotA. In parenthesis are the most common names for those heroes even if they aren't the proper titles.
All of the heroes I just listed are not super complicated to play, and that is why they are great heroes to play for new people. Most of these heroes have 1 or 2 important skills, and that covers most of their usefulness. I will not explain how to play these heroes, but go search for a guide for each of these heroes. Usually the guides give you very good guidelines and let you play those heroes to 80-100% effectiveness. Keep in mind that I listed a few Hard Carries there, and I listed the ones who are pretty simple. I listed those heroes because of their simplicity, not because you can easily dictate the game with them. Keep in mind that any hero with a Stun is going to be WAY more useful/easy to use, generally. Stuns are your friend. They make it much easier to win the game.
Now, really talented players will ALWAYS play these heroes WAY better than newbies, but for a new person who can't handle more than one spell to cast, these are the heroes you will want to play to get used to DotA, and make the skill curve hurt less. At the least, you won't feel confused when you read their skills and try playing the heroes.
You may not realize this, but I listed virtually no carries as heroes to recommend. The only ones I did were Skeleton King and Chaos Knight. They have very few skills(1 of which is a stun), you farm up, and you right click a hero until they die. Other carries are more complicated, and at the least, you NEED to know the strengths and weaknesses of the heroes you are fighting because it allows you to play to your heroes' strengths.
Some people would argue that any new player should not play carries(which I agree with), but we can't hold your hand forever, so at least play the ones that are easy to get used to and execute(compared to other carries).
DotA is a game about teamwork, gaining experience, and gaining gold.
Ultimately you want to destroy the enemy team’s throne. The throne is deep inside their base and to get there, you have to beat down enemy creeps, enemy towers, and enemy heroes.
There are basic units spawned every 30 seconds from each of the three lanes. For most of the game there are 3 melee creeps and 1 ranged creep. Periodically a Catapult is added, and eventually in the game there are more melee and ranged creeps. Creeps also slowly gain max hp over the course of the game.
At early levels your heroes are very weak and cannot clear creep waves and towers by yourself. To get stronger you need items. To get items you need money.
You gain gold for getting the last hit on the heroes or creeps. When you land the final blow on an enemy creep (last hit or lh) you receive a random amount of gold for the kill(about 35-45 gold per creep). If you land the final blow on an allied creep(you can only attack allied creeps below 50% hp) then you deny your lane opponents the chance to last hit that creep, and THEY ALSO GET LESS EXP AS A RESULT. The amount of creeps you've killed in a game is called cs, or creep score.
You also get gold when your team destroys a tower(about 350-450 for a last hit on a tower, 160 if your teammates or team kills it, 80 if the enemy denies a tower). Your tower has to be below 10% hp to deny it. The magic number on lv. 1 towers is below 130 hp. If you deny a tower, you are denying your enemy team a total of 400 gold. That is a huge amount of gold.
KILLING CREEPS IS THE FASTEST WAY TO FARM WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS. If you want to get farmed(get a lot of gold quickly) you want to last hit every single creep in each wave.
You gain experience when enemy creeps and heroes die around you, defeated by your team.
When you gain enough experience, you gain a level. You start at lv. 1, and the max is lv. 25.
Almost every single hero gets 3 basic skills, 1 ultimate(or ult), and the option for stats instead of levels. Each basic skill can be leveled up 4 times, each ultimate 3 times, and you can get 10 levels of stats by lv. 25. Each level of stats gives you +2 str, +2 agi, and +2 int. Stats will be explained later. Every hero has some kind of combos between each of his skills. Usually you can figure these out by reading the skills, sometimes it takes watching another player perform them.
*Note that most hotkeys are customizable in the Dota 2 settings! Go poke around in there.*
Left click to select your Hero. When your hero is selected right click to move to a location. To attack a hero, press the A hotkey and left click their hero, OR right click on the enemy hero.
If you press the A hotkey and left click on the ground(not on a hero) you will move to that position attacking the closest enemy, creep or hero on the way there.
To use an enemy or ally targeted ability, click the ability icon or PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LEARN AND PRESS THE HOTKEY and then left click on the hero.
I strongly recommend selecting your hero and pressing Control+1(unless you use the number keys for hotkeys in Dota 2). This hotkeys your hero to number 1. F1 is also permanently selected to your hero without any setup. If you ever need to find your hero or select him, just double tab 1(or F1) and the screen will center your hero, and he will be under your control.
Every hero has an amount of time it takes to perform an attack, like swinging your sledgehammer back before crushing brains. This is called an attack animation.
All heroes have different attack animations. Some are very long, some are very short. They are all quite reduced late game when your hero gets more attack speed. Slow attack animations are most notable early game. All attack animations have attack points. I am going to explain this with an example.
Lets say it takes Necrolyte 1.5 seconds to finish an attack animation, but he actually throws his attack at 1.1 seconds. This means that you ONLY have to wait 1.1 seconds to throw an attack. The best way to cancel this is to right click on the ground to move at 1.1 seconds. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT WHEN CHASING. It is normally called attack move or Orb Walking(when heroes have orbs like slows).
If you do not cancel your animation at 1.1 seconds, you will stand there for NO reason for .4 seconds, which could be used to move towards your opponent, and is sometimes the difference between getting a kill or not. Always, always learn the animation cancel for your character if they have a long animation. Most melee heroes have a faster animation, and generally ranged heroes have the longer animations.
As was said before, you want levels and you want gold. Because of item, level, and skill limitations early game, heroes generally stay in very close proximity to the other team in their lanes. This is mostly because their skills lack enough killing and chasing power. Lv. 1 spells do low damage, and their slow and stun durations are usually low, etc.
The purpose of laning is to get experience from enemy creeps dying, and gold from getting creep last hits. With the experience you gain levels and with the gold you gain better items. Generally if all things are equal(picks, skill, etc.), whichever team has a level and gold advantage will win the game if they continue the trend. If you play right(perfect teamwork) against another perfect teamwork team, the little things matter.
To improve your experience and gold advantage over your opponent, your best option is to KILL THEM. When you KILL THEM you gain about 250 gold and usually about a level’s worth of experience. Anyone who supported you in that kill also gets some support gold even though they didn’t land the final blow.
Your second best option is to ALMOST KILL THEM and make them go back to base to heal. If they go back to heal, they spend 20-40 seconds walking slowly all the way back to base. This is .5-1 levels worth of experience they are missing out on, and they also miss all chances of last hits and denies.
To reduce the effect of ALMOST BEING KILLED you should purchase a tp scroll from base and make the trip back shorter. If you are playing a core(farming hero) it's worth the 100 gold. This is hard for noobs to get over, but that is ~3 last hits and you are even again. That’s 3 last hits and a lot of creep exp that you would spend time walking back and forth. Simply put, ALWAYS BUY A TP SCROLL AND USE IT WHEN GOING SOMEWHERE LONG RANGE. The players that are ALWAYS under leveled spend a lot of time walking back and forth to base to heal. This problem is usually caused by bad play or by not purchasing enough regen, but buying tp's will help make up for the time waste. Also, ALWAYS CARRY A TP SCROLL AT ALL TIMES IN CASE YOU NEED TO GET SOMEWHERE FAST.
The final most important thing you can learn about laning, is PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DO NOT AUTOATTACK THE CREEPS. There is a place where the creeps meet and beat on each other until they die. This is called the creep line. The creeps do a very exact amount of damage. Generally, if two waves of creeps fight endlessly on flat ground, THE CREEP LINE WILL NOT MOVE. If you start auto attacking or nuking the creeps, the creep line will be pushed closer to the enemy’s tower. When they enemy is closer to their tower, they are closer to being safe. It is so much more difficult to gank heroes when you can’t sneak behind them before initiating the gank. For this reason, DON’T AUTOATTACK THE CREEPS. Instead of auto attacking, right click all over the ground, run in circles until you are ready to last hit, spam the S key(stop) to animation cancel your hero(BEFORE he throws his attack). Just don’t auto attack.
Because of the mechanic of experience being generally split between close by heroes, you do not want to put 5 heroes in the same lane. You will all be lv. 1 for a looonnnngg time.
For basic skill level games or non-tryhard games, there will then be 2 heroes top, 1 hero in the middle lane, and 2 heroes in the bottom lane. Occaisionally throw in a jungler as a possibility, then you have 2 solos, 1 jungle, and a dual lane.
In high level skill games or tryhard games, there can also be a 3 hero(trilane), with 2 solo lanes. I would recommend to not attempt a trilane unless you are SURE your heroes are appropriate for a trilane, which is unlikely at low skill levels.
You want to solo a hero that gets very powerful with levels who can do so safely, and possibly own the other solo. You can also solo heroes that get very powerful with items and not necessarily levels. Since you are in a lane by yourself, you get all of the experience and gold(that your opponent does NOT deny). Once you get to the 6-9 levels, your mid is usually going to want to gank a top or bottom lane, to establish some LANE CONTROL. Lane Control is either when you KILL THEM or ALMOST KILL THEM. Their team will lose exp and gold, your team will then have an advantage.
Mid is also the easiest lane to defend yourself in. It is short in length between each tower so you will be generally safe by hiding next to your tower. There are also ledges, and you will miss(25%) trying to ranged attack up a hill, so you will have some more survivability as a result.
• Are you a ganking hero that can take advantage of level gaps?
• Is your hero going to greatly benefit from a level advantage AND a farm advantage from sitting in a lane generally undisturbed for 6-12 minutes(we are talking about noobs right?)?
You will learn which heroes are better for the solo mid(usually int caster heroes or semi-carries are the best), but for now respect someone’s wishes when they call a solo mid lane. Later on you can call them a horrible noob for soloing mid as Crystal Maiden, but today is not that day.
The final, most important part of laning is DON’T FEED YOU NOOB. Feeding is the quickest way to tell if someone is bad at dota. This means you will do completely stupid things in lane for the first 5-10 minutes which will get your enemies kills, and if you give your enemies kills and they are good at Dota, they will push that advantage the whole game and THE GAME WILL BE OVER BECAUSE YOU FED THEM.
This is by far THE most discouraging thing about DotA(aside from players who bad mouth or act cocky). I can promise that once you learn the heroes and you get some experience under your belt and actually become good at the game, that you will stop feeding. This is why you need to play AI games for a couple days(week or two really) so that you can understand the basics of how powerful heroes are, and be aware that no hero is overpowered(for 90-95% of all players). They all have strengths and weaknesses that when exploited, give you a favorable outcome.
IN SUMMARY: Get last hits to gain gold, deny creeps to deny your lane enemies their gold, KILL THEM or ALMOST KILL THEM and DON’T FEED YOU NOOB.
The ganking phase is ongoing through the course of the whole game. You can do ganks before the first round of creeps spawn, and a successful gank can win the game(during the later stages of the game).
Properly ganking is 50-100% player skill(depending on if allies are involved) and 50-0% teamwork. Communication in Dota is huge, so please learn to do it. If you want to gank a hero, ping on the minimap(Alt+left click on map) and type something. Ex: “Ganking Rhasta in 15 seconds, I stun first”. Typing that into chat window is going to clear up ALL confusion with your gank. Communication mistakes are even made in high level of play, so good communication at low levels is going to give you a huge advantage. ALWAYS give a time estimate if possible, which hero you want to target, and who stuns first. Stacking your stuns makes the difference in whether your gank is successful.
DO NOT blame your teammate for not knowing EXACTLY what you were planning to do at the noob level. They are probably focusing on getting last hits, and making sure no one has to say DON’T FEED YOU NOOB. Blaming other people for failing during bad communication is a very common mistake people make.
STUN STACKING- If you have a 1.5 second stun and your ally has a 1.5 second stun, always start the first stun that is most reliable (single target easy to click on a hero). Wait 1.5 seconds in your head, then land your stun. This results in a whole 3 seconds of stun. If you both stun at the same time, 1.5 seconds of stun is WASTED. Stun Staggering is going to pretty much guarantee that you get a kill early in the game during ganks(if you are animation cancelling and attack moving or orb walking).
The most important advice I can give you about ganking is DON’T GET BALSY. If you start tower diving(going close to a tower to kill a hero when you have zero creeps around) then you had better be able to kill that hero in less than 5 seconds, without dying, or you shouldn’t be there. Any time you get balsy and DIE as a result means you lost some advantage(if any) that you just had. All because you were greedy and balsy. DO NOT GET BALSY.
When you are ganking late in the game, always bring other people with you(ESPECIALLY late game). Ganking solo is a wonderful way to FEED THE ENEMY EXP AND GOLD. Do not gank solo. Just don’t do it. Bring 1 person, bring 2 people, bring your whole team. This all but guarantees a kill or great outcome if you have a gold advantage.
Here is a more detailed video guide to ganking and roaming if you want more information:
A push is a very important part of the DotA game. In pub games(public player games) it is almost always very hard to organize your team to do a push or to defend a push. Most people want to go into the jungle and farm neutral creeps the entire game until they have full items. This is not how you play DotA well.
When your heroes are stronger(farmed and leveled enough to teamfight), you want to organize with 2-5 heroes and you want to destroy enemy towers. This gives you map control, and this gives your team 800-1000 gold. If you destroy 3 enemy towers and they have 0 of your towers, your team has a 2400-3000 gold advantage. This is a huge advantage. If you BOTH get a tower, the gold is equalized, so try to take their towers while defending yours so that you have a better chance to win teamfights and further compound your advantage.
If any enemy tries to 5 man push your tower, you either need to get there and defend your tower, or you need to go other places on the map and try to take towers in exchange(if you don't think you can win a fight). Keep in mind that you will always have an advantage when fighting by a tower(damage, truesight(reveal invis), etc.) so defending a tower is almost always beneficial.
The most important advice I can give you about pushing that doesn’t get too complex is DON’T GET BALSY. You are pushing to destroy towers or Rax(barracks). Once you destroy all the towers in a lane, you can destroy the Rax. When you destroy both sets of rax, both your melee creeps in lane and your ranged creeps in lane get more hp and more damage. This results in the Creep line being constantly pushed against your enemy, which creates pressure on them to defend, which means they spend less time pushing and farming.
Raxing your opponents is the single most important way to put the game in your favor because that lane is always at threat of doing a lot more base damage.
When you are raxing a lane, DO NOT GET BALSY. If you chase them to their fountain and kill one more hero, that’s 10-20 seconds you could have been ATTACKING THE RAX. Which could make the difference between your push being successful. DO NOT CHASE HEROES BACK TO THE FOUNTAIN. DESTROY THE RAX.
PLEASE communicate to your allies when you want to start pushing. Often times players naturally group up in a lane and pushing seems to be the obvious thing, but ONLY to the 4 players who are grouped up. Make sure to at least ASK the carry jungling to come meet you guys, don't just assume he's paying attention to your push. Ask him to show up, and he probably will. If you don't say anything, don't get mad afterwards because he wasn't there.
Pushing wins the game. If you mess around with your push or you are off farming when your team pushes, you are potentially throwing the game away. I’ve thrown the game away like this, and I have had teammates throw the game away like this. Don’t throw the game away. It is the worst feeling to lose a game that was a sure win. Other than losing because of feeders or leavers. Stop feeding, you noob.
There are 3 basic types of heroes that you will need to know. I will not get very far into this.
Almost every team needs a carry. A carry is usually an agility hero who is weak in the early game but becomes VERY strong in the late game with the correct items. Carries are ~80% dependent on items late game, so you usually end up farming for 20-30 minutes before you start owning. Carries are arguably the most fun to play because you get to see “YOUR NAME” DOUBLE KILL, TRIPLE KILL, RAMPAGE, etc. This does not mean everyone should play them.
When you are playing with noobs, your teamsetups are usually 2-5 carries per team. This is wrong. A normal team only needs 1 carry, SOMETIMES 2.
There is a small branch of carry called the semi-carry. These are heroes that can and do fit other roles like support/gank/teamfight. Generally semi-carries are strong throughout the whole game, though they will never be as strong as a Hard Carry(unless they never die). Hard carries are the strongest carries in the game. Sometimes they cannot be stopped once they get certain item advantages.
ALWAYS WIN THE GAME AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE IF THE ENEMY TEAM HAS MORE CARRIES THAN YOU. DO NOT SCREW AROUND. YOU WILL LOSE THE GAME EVENTUALLY IF YOU LET IT DRAG OUT.
Support heroes are defined as any hero who is able to contribute despite little farm or levels. This usually means they have abilities like Slows, heals, stuns, disables, nukes, etc. Stuns are usually valued over almost anything else, but anything else is always valued more than another carry, unless you have no carry.
Supports keep your carries alive in lanes, they give you map control, they give you lane control, they let you KILL THEM early in the game.
Always remember when playing a support, someone NEEDS to buy a courier, and ALWAYS let your carry get the farm in the lane, and last hits on enemy heroes, if you can help it.
The bigger advantage your carry has over the enemy team, the better chance your team is going to win. Kill enemy towers while your carry farms. Let your carry kill a tower while you guard him, harass enemy heroes in lane while your carry gets last hits on creeps. Pull your creeps into the jungle to get yourself a gold/exp boost and to deny your creeps from your opponents. Buy wards(and place them) to spot ganks around the map. This is how you support a carry.
You play your support to allow your carry to farm. It is not about getting kills, it’s not about having the best items. It’s about letting your carry do this. His success is a result of YOUR success. Nothing feels better than owning so hard as a support that your carry can farm for the first 25 mins of the game untouched, and then use that farm to finish the game handily.
One of the skills that you need to master as a new support player is knowing how to contribute with very minimal farm WITHOUT FEEDING. It's important that you use your skills in a fight in almost all cases, but living instead of dying will often allow you to use your skills a second time 10-15 seconds later, effectively doubling your contribution! If you don't die in a fight, you're not only preventing your opponents from getting gold from your death, you also gain a huge exp and gold bump for yourself.
Contribute WITHOUT feeding. Those are the basics of playing support as a new player.
Gank heroes are generally heroes with stuns, slows and damage who are very strong throughout the whole game(especially early-mid game). Going ganking and bringing multiple heroes is likely to prove successful. When ganking, try to focus their carries, but usually any kills will help. If you keep their carries under leveled and without experience while your carry is at a normal level with items, your team is more likely to win the game.
Ganking heroes sometimes need a little bit of farm before they become ganking machines, so they usually get cs(creep stats, or farm) preference over support or teamfight heroes. Gank heroes should either be ganking, or trying to farm a major item(blink dagger) and then they should start ganking, followed immediately by pushing after successful ganks(5v4 means you are more likely to win a teamfight and destroy towers or raxes).
Teamfight heroes are hardly worth mentioning, but I felt like making it its own section. A few heroes are better known as walking ults, or walking ultimates. Their entire purpose on your team is to land a good ult, because if that is done, you are more or less in an amazing position during a teamfight. Heroes like Tidehunter have amazing aoe stuns that are mostly guaranteed to stun every person on the field, make a HUGE difference in teamfights.
Some teamfight heroes need that first major item(usually a blink dagger), so they get farm(cs or creep score) preference over gankers and supports until they get that item. If an enigma can land a 3 second Black Hole on the entire enemy team and your team is attacking during that whole duration, you have a really good chance to win the fight. Let them farm the blink dagger.
This is going to be a very vague noob level Good Lane Setup/Good Team Setup.
The most important advice I can give you that will increase your win/loss ratio, is PLEASE PICK THE HEROES THAT YOUR TEAM NEEDS. If your team already has 2 carries, please pick a support. If you have too many carries in 1 lane it means that your team has weaker laning and that it's harder to make it to the late stage of the game without a huge disadvantage.
For solo lanes, try to get a hero that benefits from early level advantage or good farm who can gank well with runes or bottle(Lion, Puck, Tinker, Storm, QoP, etc.). They are usually going to cover a Gank/Teamfight role, and some carries can solo as well(Morphling, Shadow Fiend, Obsidian Destroyer, etc.). However, the most important role you can follow in noob games, is MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AT LEAST ONE RANGED HERO IN EACH LANE.
When you are considering a hero to pick, look at where you plan to lane. If you lane with the melee Lifestealer, consider a ranged support! If you have a drow ranger, picking a melee support like Ogre Magi is just fine. If you end up with a double melee in your lane, you might end up against a dual ranged setup and you'll get very harassed when you go for last hits. Your opponents will have many opportunities to harass and ALMOST KILL YOU and you will either spend a lot of time walking back to base, or a lot of time standing away from your creeps because you will be harassed away from the creep line where your gold awaits.
For good team setup, have at LEAST one carry and that you have a good balance of support, gank, and team fight heroes.
For more info on Laning, watch this video where I talked about Laning:
The second most important aspect of DotA other than learning each hero, is learn what items are best for each hero. Can you see why people who are brand new to DotA completely feed like crazy? They don’t know the many aspects of the game that let you avoid the feeding stage, and smart item choices are an important part of that.
Let’s start with stats.
There are 3 stat types which I’ve already mentioned.
Every single hero gains strength, agility, and intelligence when they level up. Some heroes gain more than others; you can look these numbers up online.
Every stat does something different.
Every point of Strength you gain gives you 19 hp, 0.03 hp/sec regeneration, and if you are a strength hero, you gain +1 damage.
Every point of Agility you gain gives you 1/7(.142) armor(every 7 agi is 1 armor), 1% increased attack speed, and if you are an agility hero, you gain +1 damage.
Every point of Intelligence you gain gives you 13 increased mp, 0.04 mp/sec regeneration, and if you are an intelligence hero, you gain +1 damage.
There are 3 types of damage to be done in DotA.
There are a few others that impact how some spells interact with heroes under various status effects, and a few that change hp based on a % but for a new player this information is not important, and would just make it more confusing.
You have Physical, Magic, and Pure.
Physical damage. This is what happens when you auto attack heroes. The most simple way to figure out how damage is calculated is to look at it this way. Physical damage does less damage the more armor that a hero or unit has. Just know that armor increases have a direct reduction to damage received. The best rule to look at, is EVERY 1 ARMOR YOU GAIN GIVES YOU 6% MORE HP VERSES PHYSICAL ATTACKS. If you are a 1000 hp hero at full hp and you buy a ring of protection(+2 armor) you now effectively have 1120 hp if the enemy heroes ONLY autoattack you.
Magic Damage. Nearly every single spell casted by a hero that does damage does magic damage. Damage done by magic is calculated by magic resistance. Almost all heroes have base magic resistance of 25%. Lane creeps have no magic resistance(though some jungle creeps are magic immune). If you cast a spell on an enemy hero that does 400 damage and they have 400 hp, your spell will only do 300 damage to that enemy hero. Always be aware of this when calculating how many nukes it takes to kill a hero when you are chasing.
Pure damage. Pure damage is called Pure damage because it is not reduced by anything. It is not reduced by armor, it is not reduced by Magic. Very few heroes have pure damage, but be aware that it DOES A LOT OF DAMAGE, ESPECIALLY TO LOW HP, HIGH ARMOR HEROES. Pure damage abilities are generally prevented by magic immunity so purchasing a Black King Bar is a good way to counter it.
So lets say a strength hero gets a Reaver(+25 Strength). He gains 475 hp, and gets +25 damage, and .75 hp/sec regen.
Compare this to an agility hero who gets an Eaglesong(+25 agility). He gains 3.57 armor, +25 damage, and +25% attack speed. Have you guessed yet that the hardest carries are agility heroes? Every point of agility they get increases their damage AND their attack speed. Someone with high damage AND high attack speed does a lot more damage per second(dps).
Ring of Basilius gives wayyy more mp regen than any % based mana regen item, early game. It only costs a sage's mask(325 gold, +50% mana regen) and a ring of protection(200 gold, +3 armor) together(no recipe) it makes a Ring of Basilius(500 gold, +6 damage +1 armor, +2 armor aura for you and all your allies, +0.65 mana regen/sec to you and your allies).
A % mana regen based item gives you mana regen based on your int, that 0.04 mp/sec for each point of Int. This number is quite low. Int heroes have at most 25-30 int at lv. 1, which correlates to about 1 mp/sec at lv. 1. Str and Agi heroes have about 15-18 int at lv. 1, which means they only get about .6 mp/sec at lv. 1.
If you get a Ring of Basilius, however, your mp/sec on a low int hero DOUBLES with a 525 gold item( for reference, void stone, which gives 100% mana regen, costs 875), AND that regen gets applied to your ally in lane, not to mention the 3 armor(2 to ally) and the 6 damage bonus! Just remember to click on the item in your inventory so that the aura ONLY applies to heroes. If your creeps have a 2 armor aura, that means they have more hp and that creep line is going to PUSH against your enemy’s towers. Do not do that unless you are trying to destroy the tower, turn the ring off when you aren’t pushing.
> At low levels!
Vladmir’s Offering(2050 gold, 16% lifesteal aura(melee only), 15% damage aura, 5 armor aura, .8 mp/sec aura, 2 regen/sec)
Vlads is created from a basilius ring(and two other items + recipe) which is a weaker version of a Vlads.
I will tell you now, NEW PLAYERS LOVE RUSHING VLADS. This is a major problem because other than the 5 armor aura(3 of which is already gotten from the basilius ring) and the .80 mp/sec aura(.65 of which is already gotten from the basilius ring), and 2 hp/sec regen, vlads is based on percentages of total damage. Who has low damage early game? Yes, that’s right. ALL HEROES.
All a Vlads rush does is spend 1500 gold for very little extra benefit on a hero(usually a melee carry) that needs farm to perform well. There are a couple exceptions to this such as Lycan since he has summons(so the aura benefits his creeps and makes them more tanky), but generally finishing vlads early is a mistake.
If you want to get a vlads, ONLY get it as a 2nd-4th item, then and only then. AT LEAST upgrade your boots first. Vlads is very seriously situational almost every game.
Also, PLEASE GOD DO NOT MAKE A VLADS IF SOME NOOB ON YOUR TEAM ALREADY MADE ONE. Vlads is an aura item, which means IT DOES NOT STACK. Two people with a vlads and fighting in the same battle have seriously wasted 2050 gold between them.
There are illusion heroes all over the place. Most of the illusion heroes are carries, and as I already covered, most noobs rush vlads. Illusions are very misunderstood by lots of players who play DotA(even good ones!). The most important part, is that +DAMAGE ITEMS DO NOT INCREASE THE DAMAGE OF YOUR ILLUSIONS. This means Battlefury does NOTHING for your illusions, Divine Rapier does NOTHING for your illusions, and those Phase boots do NOTHING for your illusions apart from the base movement speed.
There are ways around this. You can get a crit item(that does increase damage of illusions WHEN you crit), you can get a radiance(every illusion of the carrier has the 50 dps affect), but most importantly, you need to get stats. Stats directly increase the damage of your illusions. Ever wonder why Manta Style is +26 agility, +10 Strength and +10 Intelligence? That’s because if it was +40 damage, the illusion that it splits off would do NO bonus damage based on the Manta Style. For this reason, PLEASE GET STAT ITEMS ON ILLUSION HEROES IF YOU WANT THE ILLUSIONS TO BE STRONG.
If you want a really simple build for illusion heroes like Phantom Lancer or Naga Siren, aim for treads(agility if you have adequate hp), get a few wraith bands, and then work towards a diffusal followed by the manta. The strength and the intelligence will benefit your hero, and there is lots of agility in the items that will help your illusions do a lot more damage.
If you are trying to reduce the damage done to your hero, first figure out what kind of damage is destroying you. Making in game decisions like this affects your item builds, and whether you will be prepared for team fights mid game. Look at the heroes you are fighting. Plan accordingly. This is how you play DotA.
From there, calculate what item is going to enhance your survivability the most.
If you have a hero with a low strength gain(low hp hero), perhaps you should buy some strength items before you buy that armor or magic resistance.
For example, if your hero has 900 hp, and you buy a hood which increases magic resistance by 30%, then a normal 300 damage nuke instead deals 210, then it takes 4.28 nukes to kill, instead of 3. This is a 42.6% increase in survivability if the enemy ONLY uses magic attacks. Although, it might be a better decision to buy an item that increases your hp by 300 that costs the same. You’ll have less hp in the end(1200), and it also keeps you alive from physical attacks as well as magic ones.
Another example! If it is late game and you have 2000 hp. Is it worth it to spend 2000 gold on the item that gives you 300 hp, or is it worth it to spend 2000 gold on the item that gives you 30% resistance to magic? When you have more hp, the 30% resistance item produces 857 hp(!).
The concept is this, early to mid game you need to buy hp items(or very cheap armor items), and late game you want to buy magic resistance, and big armor items if you are interested in survivability.
There are other ways to buy survivability on a hero that aren't just based on magic resistance or armor. You can also opt for cool items like ghost scepter(physical attacks can't hit you for 4 seconds) or Black King Bar(immune to magic damage for 10 seconds) or Euls Scepter(you can become invulnerable for 2.5 seconds but also can't use your hero), or a Force Staff to push yourself away from danger.
Knowing what survivability item to buy is entirely dependent on what heroes your team has, what heroes your opponents have, and what items they have and are about to make! Try to plan ahead because keeping an item ahead of your opponent can make huge swings in a game.
Being able to make the correct purchase in a Dota game is extremely important! It isn't as simple as buying bracers on supports anymore. Most dota heroes have very complex options depending on the game, and understanding those nuances and finding what works well for you(or simply copying better players than you) is the fun part about playing dota.
However for noobs this is a generally moot point because feeding or lack of skill make the most impact on the game. BUT HEY KEEP READING!
Early game starting items are the quickest way to tell if a player is bad at dota or bad at math(not necessarily both).
When you start a game where you pick your hero, you start with 625 gold. When you start a game where you random your hero, you start with 875 gold.
• Ironwood Branches(50 gold, +1 str, +1 agi, +1 int)
• Gauntlets of Strength(150 gold, +3 str)
• Slippers of Agility(150 gold, +3 agi)
• Mantles of Intelligence(150 gold, +3 int)
• Ancient Tango of Essifation(125 gold, 4 per stack, Eat a tree to restore 115 hp over 16 seconds(7.18 hp/sec regen)
• Healing Salve(110 gold, heals 400 hp over 10 seconds, if you receive damage it is interrupted)
• Stout Shield(250 gold, 60% chance to block 20 damage if you are a melee hero, else 10 damage. Buy on melee carries or mids)
• Lesser Clarity Potion(50 gold, regens 150 mana over 30 seconds, if you receive damage it is interrupted)
• Ring of Protection(200 gold, +3 armor, upgrades to either Tranquil Boots or Ring of Basilius at side lane!)
• Animal Courier(120 gold. Drop to have movable unit that can carry items from base to your team. EVERY TEAM SHOULD HAVE A COURIER AT GAME START)
• Observer Wards(150 gold. Gives vision where placed for 6 minutes. Buy if you want to try hard in a noob game, which you do if your team can execute teamwork well! I will not talk about wards later, but there are lots of good guides)
The following items are WAY TOO EXPENSIVE to afford as a support so look at them dreamily from afar.
• Boots(450 gold, +50 movement speed)
• Bottle(700 gold, 3 charges of 135 hp/70 mp regen, bottle fills at base can store rune and refill with rune pickup)
• ENTIRE Wraith Band(485 gold, +6 agi, +3 str, +3 int, +3 damage)
• ENTIRE Null Talisman(470 gold, +6 int, +3 str, +3 agi, +3 damage)
• ENTIRE Bracer(525 gold, +6 str, +3 agi, +3 int, +3 damage)
• NOTHING, SAVING FOR RING OF HEALTH LOL(875 gold, +5 hp/sec regen)
• Magic Stick(200 gold, If enemy casts a spell by you, +1 charge. Click to release charges, heal 15 hp/15 mp per charge stored. Stores up to 10 charges).
As you can see, it is generally recommended that you purchase cheap items that give you stats, and cheap items which give you regen.
Stats give you last hitting potential(you can last hit creeps BEFORE your enemies can because you do more damage, stats give you more hp to save your life when running away, and stats give you more mp to cast spells to save lives or take lives; KILL THEM)
You may be confused why I wrote no Bracer/Null Talisman/Wraith Band. The only reason to make those items is to free up space. In DotA you can only carry 6 items. Early game, you have 6 slots, and no good items. Therefore, why would you purchase a Wraith Band(1 slot, 485 gold, +6 agi, +3 str, +3 int, +3 damage) when you could buy 3 Ironwood Branches, 1 Slipper of Agility(4 slots, 309 gold, +6 agi, +3 str, +3 int)? Later you can make those branches into a wand(fantastic item for most heroes), or sell the branches back for half of the gold(25 whole gold!). That 176 gold difference between a wraith band and the brach/slipper combo gives you extra money to buy regen. That regen is used when you are ALMOST KILLED and lets you stay in lane longer for more exp.
The easiest way to destroy noobs in lane is harassing them out of lane. Often noobs only purchase 1 set of Tangos because they spent all their money on a “big” item like Boots, Bottle, or a Wraith Band. When you see this, HARASS THEM OUT OF THE LANE. They will have to leave because YOU came to lane with 2 times as much regen. Congratulations, you now have lane control because they left to heal, and you get a level advantage.
So remember, buy stats and regen in lane. Those keep you in the lane to farm, gain exp, and put you into a favorable position later in the game. DO NOT BUY BOOTS FIRST UNLESS YOU KNOW HOW TO USE THE MOVEMENT SPEED ADVANTAGE.
Item Priority immediately AFTER your starting item builds is one of these items:
• Boots(450 gold, +50 movement speed)
• Bottle(650 gold, 3 charges of 135 hp/70 mp regen, bottle fills at base can store rune and refill with rune pickup)
• Ring of Health(875 gold, +5 hp/sec regen)
• Magic Wand(200 gold, +3 stats If enemy casts a spell by you, +1 charge. Click to release charges, heal 15 hp/15 mp per charge stored. Stores up to 15 charges).
• Flying Courier(220 gold. Upgrades Courier to 150 hp with speed burst and flying. A support should upgrade the courier).
You might be confused because a lot of these are the same as what I just told you NOT to get with your starting gold. It's common for new players to assume the "final destination" is worth rushing for, but it you pick up smart starting items and then transition into your early core items such as bottle/boots, you will have a smoother ride, on average.
If you want a recap or a summary of starting item builds, watch this video:
One of the greatest ways for a noob to lose an advantage in DotA is to not make good item decisions. If you are sitting on a wad of cash early, SPEND YOUR MONEY. This is more commonly the case with brand new DotA players. You would figure this out in about 10-30 games, but I'll save you a little pain by telling you to SPEND YOUR MONEY. The items can save you from dying OR get you a kill.
You should iron out a very vauge item build for your hero as you buy your starting items. For most heroes, the starting items are fairly standard. To make proper starting item decisions, you have to look at a few things.
Am I a support hero/should I buy a courier/did anyone buy a courier?
Am I an int caster who would benefit from extra nuking power gained by clarity potions?
Does my hero have any weaknesses that need to be filled like low hp or no armor?
Am I a melee farmer who would benefit greatly from a quelling blade?
Am I going to want to make a ring of basilius in lane later?
These are the questions that should be answered JUST when purchasing your first items.
Later in the early game, you should be considering broad item ideas:
Who is making a Mekanism?
Will I be/should I be buying wards right now?
Are there any invis heroes that would get shut down if I buy a dust?
What items am I building towards? Can I buy any parts yet?
More specifically to your hero, be mindful to some basic hero ideas:
What upgraded boots will I want?
Am I a carry who would benefit from stats and attack speed?
Would I benefit from phase boots?
Am I a support hero, and would my whole team and I greatly benefit from arcane boots, or am I too behind and in need of hp instead?
Does your hero have a lot of spells to cast? If so, make sure you have mana regen.
Are you a strength hero who is not 100% reliant on spells, but is way more powerful with mana? Get a wand/magic stick or a basilius or urn.
Are you a carry or strength hero who has no need for supplementary mana if you are at full during a teamfight? Just buy a magic stick, or don't waste money on mana regen.
These are all important questions to ask yourself.
More than almost all of my tips, this is going to improve your game over the long run and let you play every hero(item wise) with a moderate amount of practice, and some knowledge of DotA math.
Think for yourself on item builds, and question every build(mentally) that you ever see or think of.
If you didn't know yet, almost every person who plays DotA at any level in the skill curve, thinks that they know best. The funny part is that 95% of dota players base all of their item decisions on other players who do it first, and are often very quick to reject new builds.
The best way to get good at DotA is to have good gameplay, but the second best is to have extremely good efficiency in your item builds.
If you learn how to use YOUR brain to make YOUR OWN decisions about items, and you are actually making good item decisions, you are already going to have a huge advantage over your enemies.
Once you are able to think for yourself instead of copying pubs or pros, you can rely on yourself for item builds and play any hero you desire with little or no practice.
One unfortunate consequence of playing DotA is that you have to learn where items are (something happily rectified in Dota 2). Giant improvements have been made in organization of items into similarly grouped areas, as well as item construction. This mostly revolves around the SEARCH BAR! If you can't find something, use the search bar.
In WC3 DotA (1), every shop would be organized by category such as damage items, defensive items, or support items. In Dota 2, each shop is on a different tab. My first recommendation is to change the shop to the grid view instead of the line view. In the upper right corner of the shop(click on the shop button to open the shop) you can switch between each view. This will help you see all of the items at the same time.
In Dota, there are basic components, and there are completed items, which are under the 'Upgrades' tab.
The Basics tab has 4 columns.
1 is consumable items such as regen, tp scrolls, couriers, and wards.
2 is all of the basic and medium level stat items. That includes all of the +3 stat, +6 stat, +10 stat, and of course +1 to all ironwood branch, +2 to all circlet, and +10 to all Ultimate orb.
3 is the armor and damage items.
4 is the leftover items that don't fit anywhere else, such as regen items, boots, and blink dagger.
Keep in mind that not all items can be purchased in the base as we just saw. The Secret Shop exists on 2 places on the map.
At the Secret Shop you can buy more powerful basic items, such as +25 to a stat.
Other than the Secret Shop, we also have the Side Shop. The Side shop sells a couple things that the main shop does, as well as a few things the Secret Shop does. The idea is to allow for players in lane to not have to run far to purchase items, and a lot of the things you can get at the side shop allow you to finish some of your early and important items, such as power treads, arcane boots, or picking up a ring of health.
Here is the location of the Side Shop on the map.
Here are the items at the Side Shop. Try to buy them here if you have space early game rather than using the courier!
Now that you've seen every basic component in the game, we can take a look at all of the upgrades and major items possible.
The Upgrades tab shows you what kinds of complicated things you can build into using a combination of the Basics, and items from the Secret Shop.
Upgraded items are created by having the correct combination of previous items in your inventory, courier, or stash at the same time. If I can make a Helm of the Domninator with a Morbid Mask and a Helm of Iron Will, then I just have to have both in my inventory, and bam, they combine for a new item in your inventory.
We only have 1 new thing joining us, and that is the Recipe. It's just a placeholder item that costs money and is sometimes a part of building an item. For example, to build a manta style, we need a Yasha, Ultimate Orb, and a 900 Gold Manta Style Recipe.
However, not all items use recipes. In this image I clicked on Power Treads. The game has shown me that to make Power Treads I need 3 items. Boots of Speed, a Belt of Giant Strength(or Band of Elvenskin or Robi of the Magi) and a Gloves of Haste. You can either buy these 3 components separately with a right click, or right click on the treads to complete it.
Now that you know how to make Upgraded items, click over to the Upgrade tab and we can see the categories.
1 is all of the boot upgrades, basic stat upgrades, and a few items that don't fit other places.
2 is all of the support themed items. This means items that apply auras, heal or buff allies, and are usually gotten by support heroes.
3 is almost entirely offensive Int based items. They all have very different used by a multitude of heroes.
4 is filled with major damage items. These items are largely used to increase your killing potential, though some have utility with their damage.
5 is defensive or tank items that will help you survive.
6 is Generally damage items that also have an orb or buff placer effect. It is complicated, but generally keep in mind that you can only pick ONE of these items per game, and some heroes can't use any(such as ursa or anti mage) because their abilities already have orbs.
If you feel extremely overwhelmed by all of the items in this game, I recommend watching this video I made where I go over all of the items at a high rate of speed and talk about when they're useful. There may be a few items missing, and patches since I made it.
In times like these, your survival largely comes down to the skill of your opponent in trying to gank you, how fast you notice, whether they stack their stuns, and that you don’t panic.
If you see some heroes rush out of the fog of war at you, you need to immediately stun or slow if you have an ability, and then you need to GTFO(get the #$%^ out). Run immediately to your tower, run behind your tower, run into the trees next to your tower. Do not stop to cast ANYTHING that is not going to slow them down. Just run. Don’t stop. If they decide to tower dive you with no creeps around, you MIGHT be able to make something happen like get a kill, but your main priority is to GTFO.
There are ways to lower the chance of you having to GTFO, and it is called calling mia(missing in action).
When the game starts and there are 2 heroes in the lane against you, it is your responsibility to let the team know when they aren’t there. They could be afk sitting at a tower, they could be running back to the base after you ALMOST KILL THEM, they could be WATCHING AND WAITING TO MURDER YOUR ALLIES IN A GANK.
If the enemy hero in your lane noticeably leaves or is missing, type “HERO mia bot”.
If an ally types “Puck mia mid” you need to immediately assess where you are on the map, and decide if it would be really easy to get ganked in that very moment or in the very short future. If you take no assessment when your ally informs you, you will be in a disadvantageous position if you are getting ganked.
• If the creep line is more towards your enemy’s tower than your tower
• If there is an entrance to the jungle which you have no vision to, right behind where you are standing.
If you need to GTFO, go stand by your tower. This is called tower hugging. If the enemy calls you a sissy for tower hugging, tell them they are really bad, because they are simply trying to get you away from your tower so that puck can roll out and KILL YOU. Wait till the creep wave pushes back towards your tower(it is okay if you miss a little experience and cs). At the very least, stand just outside of exp range(about ¾ of a screen length) behind some trees so they don’t know that you are there.
Juking is an important skill to learn in the game, but it basically involves running through trees when someone is chasing you, and dodging them well enough to get home. I’m not going to explain this to you. Just watch any DotA montage ever and THERE WILL BE JUKING.
This is pretty much the most you can learn about DotA without watching any videos of other people playing... so go watch the videos of me or pros playing! YouTube - PurgeGamers or by playing yourself.
The last and best piece of advice I can give you is the reminder that DotA has a huge skill curve. I have been playing for about 3+ years. I have played THOUSANDS of games of dota. Every month that goes by, I think about how good I thought I was at dota a month or two ago, and it amazes me how much I’ve learned since then. Even players with good k/d(kills per death) need to realize that there is room for improvement on their game.
Jerks in pubs will tell you how pro they are and that their builds are the best. They are probably wrong, but THERE IS NO CONVINCING COCKY PEOPLE THEY ARE BAD. DO NOT ARGUE. Just know that with hard work and critical analysis of your mistakes you will someday pass their skill level. The greatest strength of ANY DotA player is knowing that there are always things to work on with your game play.
No one wants to play with cocky jerks unless they are also cocky jerks, so don’t condone the behavior if you encounter it.
Thanks for reading, and I hope that my guide makes the entry of new gamers interested in the very competitive game of Dota 2 less painful, more enjoyable, and filled with less frustration.
If you guys have specific questions, please send me a tweet @PurgeGamers, and I'll be happy to try to answer your question in less than 140 characters!