Dota 2 from Valve is one of the biggest MOBA titles in the Esports cosmos – plain and simple. It has a colossal player base across the globe and sports the grandest, most lucrative online tournament on the world stage with The International, or more popularly known as TI.
And for what it’s worth, the monumental success of this game comes with a massive learning curve waiting on its wing. There’s an elephant in the room and it needs to be noticed. Elaborate item scheme, hundreds of heroes, sophisticated strategy, and a general audience that’s competitively and insanely aggressive and quite hard to deal with especially if you are on the soft side.
Overcoming the obstacle course that is Dota 2 itself will require a newbie to delve into the fundamental framework of the game. Playing casually with friends will help bring you up to speed on some of these key concepts. And of course, seeking a beginner’s help will come in handy to help you play (and act) more naturally.
Get real with tutorial
As with any other mission, knowing what to tackle and what to accomplish is always the first order of things. This is quite superficial info, but it helps. Play the tutorial to get a general feel of the game. If you’re not familiar with MOBA gameplay, Dota 2 features 2 teams of 5 players slugging it out to slay the enemy’s Ancient first.
Players pick from a pool of more than 100 unique heroes, clustered in 3 different types. Familiarize yourself with items, from Basics (Consumables, Attributes, Equipment, Secret, etc.), Upgrades (Accessories, Armor, Artifacts, etc.), Roshan Drops (from Roshan, most powerful neutral creep), and Neutral Items (shareable items dropped by neutral creeps, cannot be bought in the shop).
For starters, run your inventory with the following items. These general objects are good to get you with the right bearings as you progress into the game.
Power Treads – Gives a lot of good stuff for your hero (extra strength, agility, etc.)
Magic Stick – Useful for everyone. Instantly restore health and mana
Bracer – This is a must if you’re a support. Extra HP matters for survivability
Ring of Basilius – Yes for mana regeneration with an aura
Dust of Appearance – Level the battle and reveal and slow down invisible heroes
Mekansm – Heals you and your allies when activated and gives passive buffs like extra armor, HP, and mana regeneration
As mentioned, there are 3 different types of hero attributes featured in the game. All hero attributes can play as a carry and support.
They are more resilient with more health and regen skills. They are tough and can endure more damage. Can play as carry, ganker, or even support but mostly, they have more power during initiation.
Agility heroes get attack damage per point of agility. As their primary attribute increases, these heroes earn both attack speed and armor. They are weapon masters with extensive fighting techniques. Use them wisely as carry or ganker roles.
Intelligence heroes tend to have greater active abilities (at least three for most and can go as five on others). Spell-casting is their forte with each hero having larger mana pools and improved mana regen. Support and Gankers fit this category.
For beginners, Support roles are recommended so they would know the pace of most Dota 2 games and be better at understanding how cores work since they would be assisting their team’s cores and disrupting the enemy cores. They help the team’s damage dealers to survive longer and win the game.
Start your journey on the right foot with these newbie hero recommendations:
Shadow Shaman – Ether Shock (that strikes multiple enemy units) is effective if you’re a pusher
Sand King – One of the most versatile heroes in the game. Can gank, initiate, and push
Viper – A ranged agility hero, a durable carry with low-cooldown spells and crippling attacks
Warlock – A support with strong spells and dreaded ult – summons a golem that stuns enemies
Lion – Possesses complete skillset to disrupt enemy cores: stun (AOE skill that impales enemies on a single line), hex (enemies cannot cast skills or do normal attacks), mana drain, and an ult with burst damage (good for killing Cores with low HP)
In addition, Dota 2 roles are simplified into five. Understand each to know how to be at the right place, at the right time, and doing the right thing.
Hard Support (supp 5): Focus on getting teammates space to farm gold.
Soft Support (supp 4): Focus on ganking, nuking down enemies for cores to clean up, and constant teamfight presence.
Offlane (core 3): Focus on getting lane pressure (pushing against enemy towers), cleaning up on enemies’ supports during teamfights, or disabling the enemy cores.
Safe lane (core 2): Focus on getting all the resources to build items and basically wipe out the enemy team during teamfights, must know how to position smart in teamfight.
Mid lane (core 1): Dictates the tempo of the game focus on pushing middle lane tower 1 to gain better map control, or to disable enemy cores during the early stages of the game.
Bots before bros
At the early phase of your Dota 2 gaming career, playing against an AI will DEFINITELY help. Battle bots before doing casual plays with friends. Eventually, you will learn different tricks and get in-tune with your heroes before you duke it out with real players.
Do not play down the value of bots. They actually play aggressively and can deliver a good challenge. Play and practice more games first. It will teach you about game behavior, your enemies/teammates, and even your environment. As you practice, you can evaluate your strategies as well. Another important value of playing against bots is that you can test your new hero without affecting your team’s performance. And possibly avoiding making a clown of yourself in bearing matches.
Ask a friend, watch the pros
Okay, so you’re the ‘new’ guy. On rare occasions, you might be spared of a certain form of newbie immunity. But beware, there is such a thing as ‘Smurf’ accounts. These are pro-level players who create new accounts to feed on newbies. Again, being a newbie should not be your excuse. Unless you want to get trash-talked for lousy performance?
If you have friends who are more knowledgeable, request them to tutor you. Ask about item builds, lanes, and hero synergies to begin. It might be an easier discussion with your buddies especially if you show eagerness to work your way to a team goal. Solid communication will be vital to maneuver your way through the convoluted scheme of the game. Of course, you will still need to practice but as the saying goes, two heads are better than one.
Play all the heroes at least once, if you can. This will help increase your knowledge of hero pools and how to play them so you can adapt to any situation and any hero draft as time goes by. You can also read patch notes and articles to know about the changing meta and other important updates.
If you don’t have friends playing Dota 2, worry not. You can still work your game knowledge by watching pro gamer competitions like TI. From these tournaments, you can see how heroes are played to their fullest potentials. You can gain insights into controlling the map, farming, positioning, and ways you can utilize your heroes. Later on, when you’ve built on a good foundation on these concepts, Dota 2 will be more fun to play and watch because you understand what is happening.
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