DotA 2 is a five on five, free to play, Moba (multiplayer online battle arena) game. The aim of the game, in a nutshell, is to take your hero to the enemy’s base and destroy their Ancient. On your way to the Ancient you will find enemy towers that have to be destroyed before you reach the Ancient. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. DotA 2 is a complex game with an infinite amount of strategies that will test your patience as much as your brain power, but don’t give up, it’s an amazing thing to be a part of. This guide will only focus on the basics of the game so if you’ve never played before, you’re in the right place. We will look to outline potential pitfalls whilst showing you the way to begin your DotA 2 journey.
First things first, play the tutorials!
Now we will explain in very basic terms each aspect of DotA 2 that you need to familiarise yourself with before starting your journey.
There is only one map on DotA 2 and for those of you familiar with LOL, it’ll be instantly recognisable. For those who aren’t – here’s all you need to know. There are 3 lanes in the map: top, middle and bottom. Each lane has two friendly towers (close to your base) and two enemy towers (close to your enemy’s base). In between the three lanes there is ‘jungle’ which contains AI controlled creatures.
As we mentioned earlier, you control a character called a ‘hero’ during the game. You play with four other heroes’, controlled by other players on your team. Your team also has ‘creeps’ which will spawn periodically throughout the game from your barracks – located in your base. For the most part, and definitely when playing as a beginner, stay behind your creeps and let them take the brunt of any enemy attacks.
As a beginner it’s unlikely that you’ll know four other people to form a team and if you do, it’s even more unlikely that they’ll want to team up with you until you become familiar with the many aspects of this game. Until such a time, you will be paired with either bots or random players. When paired with random players make sure to ask as many questions as possible, the online gaming community get quite a bad rep but the DotA 2 players are generally a friendly and helpful bunch!
Choosing a hero
There is well over 100 hero’s to chose from in DotA 2, with new additions added regularly. There are seven class’s of hero’s, each suited to a specific task within the game. These being:
Solo – As you might expect from the name, a solo hero will work well alone. Their main attributes being the ability to stay alive. As solo’s often come up against two hero’s they don’t usually have enough time to farm creeps adequately.
Pushers – A pusher’s job is to advance the lines as quickly as possible. They have high AoE (area of effect) to ensure they can attack multiple creeps at the same time – in an effort to reduce time spent earning gold early on.
Jungler – The job of the jungler is to battle neutral creeps whilst popping in and out of lanes to assist team mates. To do this they need stay alive so they’ll usually rate highly for survivability.
Carry – Carry is weak earlier on, as their main objective is to collect as much gold as possible, to purchase power-enhancing items. If the game lasts long enough, you don’t want to find yourself heads-up, alone against a carry hero.
Support – A support hero will support a carry to ensure their gold yield is as much as possible. They do this by using their own gold to purchase items that benefit both players.
Initiator – They control the team fight by utilising their large AoE skills. They are usually equipped with disable spells.
There are 4 different types of shop in DotA 2.
Consumables – Utility items for you and your team
Attributes – Items that will increase your strength, agility or intelligence.
Armaments – Increase your attack, armour, attack speed stats for the game or a specific period of time
Arcane – The items that don’t fall into the above categories, such as speed boots or evasion talisman.
Common – Small upgrades to basic items you have bought.
Support – These are generally for the benefit of the whole team, as opposed to just you .
Caster – Intelligence boosting items.
Weapons – Used to increase the power from your right clicking actions.
Armour – Helps protect you against enemies by increasing your defence.
Artifacts – Orb effects, usually very expensive and varied.
These not so secret ‘secret shops’ are located on either side of the map. They hold items that are needed to complete the creation of larger items, yet cannot be found within your base shop.
Side shop :
For the most part, the side shop has the same items for sale as your base shop. Its point being that you don’t have to travel back to base to purchase them. Not much use for the middle laner though!
You can use this shop to buy and sell items as well as accessing the stash. We advise caution when accessing this shop, for obvious reasons.
These are magical items that spawn every two minutes. They spawn at either end of the river that runs through the middle of the map. Runes will only fail to spawn if the previous rune has not been picked up by a hero. They can be activated immediately or stored in a bottle for up to two minutes – at which point it is automatically activated. The five different runes are:
Double Damage – Give your hero 100% extra damage (up to 500 AoE) for 45 seconds.
Invisibility – Makes your hero invisible for 45 seconds – there is a 2 second fade time when taking the rune. Using abilities disables this rune.
Haste – Increase your speed by 100% for 30 seconds
Illusion – Creates two illusions of your hero nearby for 75 seconds. They deal 35% and take 300% of your normal damage.
Regeneration – Restores your health by 3000 and mana by 2000 over a 30 second period. If you take damage during this time the regeneration will end.
Left clicking a unit selects the unit. If the unit is selectable, it gains a green glow if it is an ally and a red glow if an enemy when the cursor is on their hitbox.
Dragging with the left mouse key on the world creates a selection box. Upon letting the mouse key go, all the players units within the box get selected.
Shift + left clicking on an own unit adds the unit to your current selection group. Clicking on an already selected unit removes the unit from the selection group instead.
Right clicking on the ground when having units selected orders the units to move to the targeted point if possible.
Right clicking on an enemy when having units selected orders the units to attack the target if possible.
Right clicking on an ally when having units selected orders the units to follow the target if possible.
Shift + left/right clicking causes the order for the unit to get queued. This means the units will execute the order once they finish with their current order.
Ctrl + right clicking sends the order to the highlighted unit when having multiple units selected.
Pressing Esc while having units selected which do not belong to you, will deselect that unit and select the latest unit you selected which is under your control.
Alt + left clicking on the ground or mini-map will alert your team about a location by playing a sound and showing an exclamation mark on their mini-map.
Ctrl + Alt + left clicking on the ground or mini-map will alert your team by playing a different sound and showing an X on their mini-map, generally indicating danger.
Alt + left clicking on inventory items or abilities will alert your team that the item/ability is ready, on cooldown, or needs mana to be cast.
Alt + left clicking on items that can call for a gather (Arcane Boots, Smoke of Deceit, Mekansm) broadcasts a gather message and pings your location.
Alt + left clicking on an enemy hero’s top icon will alert your team that said hero is missing from their respective lane.
Ctrl + Alt + left clicking on the top icon will alert your team that the hero has returned to their lane.
Alt + left clicking on a dead enemy’s icon in the top bar will announce that they are dead, and when they will respawn.
Alt + left clicking on a player’s health and mana bars declares the current health and mana.
Alt + left clicking buffs and de-buffs on self or enemies announces them to your team.
Alt + left clicking your respawn timer announces your respawn time to your team.
Alt + left clicking the Glyph button will announce its status.
Ctrl + Alt + left clicking the button will suggest not using the Glyph yet.
Alt + left clicking the Game Clock will declare the current game time.
Alt + left clicking on your gold will alert your team that buyback is ready or needed gold for buyback.
Right clicking an item purchases it if the player has sufficient gold and is at a shop location. If the player does not have enough gold or is too far from a shop, nothing will occur.
Left clicking an item displays all related items. The items used in its creation are displayed underneath, while items that can be created with it are displayed above.
Alt + left clicking an item declares to allies that you intend to purchase it.
Shift + left clicking an item displays it on the Quick Buy bar.
Alt + left clicking the Quick Buy are declaring how much gold is needed to complete the item.
Right clicking an item shows the option menu for it (Almost every item can be Sold, some items can be Disassembled, and while in the fountain, all items can be Moved to Stash).
Left clicking an item uses the item’s active ability.
Alt + left clicking an item declares the item’s status to allies (Either available, on cooldown, or lacking mana).
Alt + left clicking a Bottle will declare any Runes stored in the bottle.
Ctrl + left clicking an item and a hero after it gives a single copy of a stacked item to the hero (Observer Ward and Sentry Ward only).
Dragging an item on a hero removes the item from the player’s inventory and transfers it to the selected hero. If the hero has no inventory space, the item will fall to the ground.
Dragging an item on ground removes the item from the player’s inventory and leaves the item on the ground.
Dragging an item on a shopkeeper sells the item if the player is within range of a shop.
Begin your journey
Unless you are one of the lucky few who has a skilled friend who is willing to coach you through the early stages of DotA 2, here is our advice on getting started.
As we have said above, start by completing the tutorials. They’re tedious and pretty basic but definitely worth completing. Once you understand the very basic aspects of the game, you are in a position to understand our guide. We now recommend you take the time to read through the whole guide again – at least once.
Now you are ready to start playing, against bots. DO NOT start by jumping straight into matches with other players, it will only demotivate you and cost your team the match. Play against bots and get a feel for the game but always remember to refer back to our guide for anything you have forgotten or didn’t understand the first time. You will know when you are ready to play against other players but, don’t rush it, make sure you are familiar with everything we’ve outlined first.