How to play Dota 2

How do you play Dota 2? There’s no denying it - Dota 2 is damned hard. Valve’s MOBA is a marvel of modern gaming, but its complexity is also its worst enemy. Newcomers to the game are faced with learning a mammoth set of rules, complex mechanics, and a vast selection of heroes. First forays in PvP are more akin to study than play, which is enough to make many players say sayonara before the game has a chance to shine.

Dota 2 is, of course, among the finest free PC games available. But which others make the cut?

This guide is designed to help newcomers acclimatize to the game’s basic principles and thereby avoid this painful stage of a Dota 2 player’s development (or abandonment). Here you will find no detailed build orders, nor detailed stats of win rates, but instead a breakdown of the game’s stages and how to successfully navigate each one. If you’re unsure of where you’re going, what you should be doing, or why you spend more time respawning than playing, then the guidance below is for you.

What’s a MOBA? 

Dota 2 beginner's guide

If you’re already familiar with MOBAs in general you can probably skip this part, but if you’re one hundred per cent fresh, it’s worth establishing Dota 2’s basic tenets. (If you want to explore the genre further, check out our guide to which MOBA is best.)

In Dota 2 the objective is to destroy the other team’s Ancient, which is, in essence, the core of their base. The two sides in this battle, known as the Radiant and the Dire respectively, consist of teams of five human players, each of whom takes charge of a playable hero with unique abilities. 

The majority of any map in Dota 2 consists of two areas: lanes and the jungle. 

Three lanes known as top, middle, and bottom, connect the main bases of the Dire and Radiant. Each of these lanes is populated by defensive towers which attack enemy units and must be destroyed in order to reach the Ancient at either corner. Automated units known as creeps file down these lanes and attack the first structure or enemy they come into contact with. 

In contrast to the three lanes, the jungle is a forested section of the map that fills the space between each lane. This area is populated by neutral monsters. 

Killing creeps, destroying towers, and taking down enemy heroes grants players experience points and gold with which they can make their hero stronger. By the end of the game, heroes are many times more powerful than they were at the beginning, and dependent on how they’ve performed throughout the match, even mightier than their peers.

So which hero should I pick?

Dota 2 beginner's guide

The answer to this question is complicated and largely depends on your style of play. Some heroes will fit like a glove, others will feel totally alien. Most players begin their Dota 2 journey by experimenting with mechanically straightforward heroes until a natural partner is found.

Fortunately, dear reader, we at PCGamesN have produced a list of the best Dota 2 heroes for beginners. It’s probably best to start there. 

Getting started: the laning phase

So, you’ve picked a hero and entered the battle - what now? It’s time to conduct what’s known as the laning phase. During this stage of the game all playable heroes are, relatively speaking, very weak, and therefore unable to easily take objectives like towers. For this reason, during the first fifteen minutes or so players tend to focus on making their heroes stronger and defending their lanes. 

This section of the guide breaks down the basic principles of ‘laning’ and how to ensure a successful transition to the game’s subsequent phase.

Farming

Dota 2 beginner's guide

There should be an equivalent idiom in Dota 2 for ‘money makes the world go round’ because almost nothing is more important than gold in any given match. Items which increase a hero’s stats are paid for with this in game currency. More creeps leads to more gold. More gold leads to more items. More items leads to the dark side of the force an extremely powerful hero who can help secure victory.

Player coffers rise automatically at a pitiful rate, but the primary method of earning gold is killing creeps. But of course, things are never quite this simple. A minion death only produces gold when the player’s attack brings its health below zero, a process known as ‘last hitting’. Because you get the gold for striking the last hit, see? Being near creep deaths passively grants XP, which causes heroes to level up, but only by striking the killing blow can gold be accrued.

When laning, it’s vital to last hit as many creeps as is physically possible, but when a hero’s damage output is low, especially toward a game’s beginning, this can be extremely tricky. The most important piece of advice we can offer here is thus: practice. Every match you play, aim to increase your CS (creep score) by making this your primary focus in-lane. Your opponent can be highly distracting if they’re constantly harassing you with basic attacks or ranged abilities, but don’t lose focus - sustaining a healthy CS is more important than dealing minor damage to the player opposite. 

If you’re playing melee heroes and finding last-hitting especially difficult, then try picking up a Quelling Blade at the beginning of a match. The increased damage against creeps it provides will make your life a lot easier.

Trading

Dota 2 beginner's guide

Once you’ve mastered last-hitting, it’s time to think about dominating your lane opponent. From either side of the front wave of creeps, players periodically take potshots at one another, occasionally daring to move in closer for quick-hit combos. It’s vital to ensure that each of these bouts are more damaging to the enemy than yourself - this process is known as trading. Good trades see your enemy limping away whilst you retreat fairly unscathed, a process which is repeated until your foe is a wounded zebra and you can go in for the kill.

There is no one size fits all combination for positive trades in Dota 2 because of each hero’s idiosyncratic kit. Very generally, however, the following attributes or abilities are perfect tools for dealing one-way damage.

Range - Whether the hero in question has a devastatingly long auto-attack range like Sniper, or spells which can be fired from a distance like Visage or Lina, distance is great way to secure almost one-way trades. Stay behind your creep frontline and poke at the enemy until you’ve made a significant dent in their health.

Stuns - Abilities which stun don’t just root a player in place, they prevent them from casting abilities or attacking, providing the perfect window of opportunity to deal damage. Be mindful of when you’re casting your stun - it’s all very well keeping the enemy frozen whilst damage is dealt, but if you’re still in range when the effect ends they can respond in kind. Consider jumping in to deal damage and then stunning to enable a smooth exit.

Escapes - When a hero possesses high mobility that lets them disengage from a fight, they have what’s known as an escape. The perfect example of this is Faceless Void, whose Q allows him to dash a short distance in any direction. Even better, it also heals any damage he took in the last two seconds, making it the ideal trading tool. Use escapes to rush away after having dealt damage to the enemy. 

Lifesteal - Some heroes have in-built lifesteal (such as the aptly named Lifestealer) while others must integrate it through items such as the Morbid Mask. Either way, the constant health regeneration it provides allows players to be far more laissez-faire about enemy aggression. After striking at your lane opponent and taking damage, spend some time farming creeps to top up your health. If the other player is making your life difficult by constantly firing potshots your way, it’s perfectly acceptable to retreat to the jungle and attack neutral monster camps to top up your reserves in peace.

There are a couple of other things to take into account when trading. Beware enemy creep aggression in the opening minutes. Attacking the enemy hero when they’re surrounded by creeps will cause the little blighters to start firing on you. Even if the human player doesn’t manage to riposte, the damage taken from creeps is often so high that the trade becomes uneconomical. Look for moments when your lane opponent is separated from the herd, or when most of the creep wave has already been killed.

Secondly, keep aware of which creep your lane opponent intends to last-hit next. If they’re playing a melee hero, they’ll be forced to move to the front of the wave to deal the fatal damage, putting you at an advantage. Every time this happens, punish them for it with an aggressive spell or auto-attack.

Ganking

Dota 2 beginner's guide

The word ‘gank’ is undeniably silly, but it was around well before MOBAs arrived on the gaming scene. The best etymological explanation of the word is that it’s a portmanteau of ‘gang flank’, which is a fairly accurate description. When two or more players attack simultaneously, one of whom has appeared from the shadows or an unexpected direction, this is known as a gank.

During the laning phase successful ganking is vital to securing kills, gold, and dominance of the map. Traditionally, conducting these hit and runs is is the responsibility of the jungler, who takes breaks from farming neutral monsters in the jungle to savage enemy laners.

It’s imperative for opportunistic junglers, and players drifting from one lane to another, to keep a watchful eye on the map for potential victims. The following two factors indicate suitable circumstances for a gank:

Low health - If an enemy laner is low on health, it’s probably time to move in for the kill. Maintain awareness of enemy HP and when it drops below a certain threshold, move into position. Beware of assaulting enemies at full HP and expecting a kill unless your damage output is unusually high, or you and your in-lane ally possess multiple abilities that stun.

Poor positioning - If the creep frontline has moved towards your tower and the enemy is a long distance from the protection of their own fortifications, it’s a the perfect time to attack. This is especially true in the top and bottom lanes where the tier one towers are great distance apart.  If the enemy have placed themselves within firing range of your tower, all the better - any attempt to respond to your attack will result in aggression from the allied structure.

You don’t even necessarily need to wait for your lane-buddy before moving in for the kill - if you see a golden opportunity, grasp it. The more successful ganks that happen, the more the enemy will fear roaming between lanes and pushing toward towers, allowing your team to free reign of the lanes and jungle.

However, just because you’re launching a surprise attack, this doesn’t mean that things can’t go horribly wrong. If the enemy jungler becomes aware of your plan, then they could dive in for a counter-gank, quickly turning the tide once you’ve exhausted your abilities. Favourable 1v1 situations transform into horrifying 2v1s with no hope of escape. 

Speaking of escape, be sure to think carefully about the hero you’re about to assault: do they possess stuns, dashes, or shields that could let them easily slip through your fingers? Knowledge like this only comes with experience, but if you’re certain that the enemy possesses, for instance, a medium-range dash, consider attacking when they’re low on mana. Another solid option is using the trees of the jungle to hide your approach till the very last second. Many inexperienced junglers will enter the lane well behind their prey in order to conduct a pincer movement, but this often ruins the element of surprise. Once again, a Quelling Blade can be helpful here as it allows the player to chop down a tree, providing the perfect artificial entrance to the lane at the point of engagement.

Pushing

Dota 2 beginner's guide

‘Pushing’ means moving the creep frontline closer towards the enemy base or fortification. If a player assists in killing enemy creeps, the skirmish naturally drifts further toward the enemy’s side of the map. 

It’s here that new players tend to make two fatal mistakes. Firstly, they equate farming with pushing, and secondly, they assume that pushing is always a good thing. The true significance of the creep frontline and its position is much more complicated than ‘pushed forward = good’ and ‘pushed backward = bad’. Sure, if creeps have advanced far enough to attack an enemy tower that its health is eroded - no-one should complain about that. However, this situation can also create severe problems for the aggressive player. 

A heavily pushed lane makes farming exceedingly difficult, as attempting to last-hit enemy creeps underneath their own tower is a nightmare. The enemy hero can attack with impunity thanks to their fortified position, often resulting in a negative trade and more than likely a loss of gold. Secondly, and probably more importantly, standing on the threshold of an enemy tower in a pushed lane leaves you extremely vulnerable to ganks. You’re a million miles away from your own tower and the enemy jungler will have clear visibility of your position thanks to vision from the creep wave and tower. To an experienced jungler you’ve just powered up a neon-lit sign over your head that says ‘EASY LUNCH. COME AND GET IT.’

In the early game, pushing must be managed carefully based on the current circumstances. More often than not, it’s actually helpful to keep the creep frontline close to your own tower. For instance, if you’re playing a carry who scales brilliantly in the late game but is ineffective for the first fifteen minutes, it allows you to farm in relative safety and start acquiring more powerful items. Another advantage of artificially controlling the wave’s position is that it can force the enemy close to your tower in order to farm, leaving them vulnerable to ganks and possibly leading them to over-extend.

It’s entirely possible to manipulate the position of the creep frontline without sacrificing farming by simply managing your damage output. To allow the frontline to move closer to your own tower, only last-hit enemy creeps without dealing any other damage - in all likelihood your enemy will be far more gung-ho with their aggression against your own creeps and the line will drift backwards. To push forwards, do exactly the opposite by annihilating enemy creeps as fast as you can. 

Of course, there are also circumstances when pushing forward at full pelt is entirely appropriate:

Your enemy is dead - whilst your enemy has yet to respawn and run back to lane, take the time to push forward and possibly secure the destruction of a tier one tower. 

Your jungler is lending a hand - If your jungle buddy has entered lane to provide assistance, it’s often perfectly safe to push the lane forward extremely aggressively, especially if the enemy jungler is on the other side of the map. 

The tower is on the brink of collapse - If the enemy tower has only a few HP left, it’s often worth the risk of pushing the lane forward to secure its destruction - sometimes even at the cost of your own life. 

Post-laning phase

After the laning phase comes the oh-so-creatively named post-laning phase. What does this mean exactly? In short, all bets are off and the battle goes freestyle. Players begin abandoning their lanes to secure other objectives, be they strong jungle camps, Roshan, or even towers in other lanes. This is also where 5-v-5 teamfights start to occur, with the potential for wholesale bloodbaths. In the post-laning phase, the team’s eyes should be firmly on the prize: destroying the other team’s barracks, undermining their ability to respond, and ultimately smashing their ancient to dust.

Team fighting

Dota 2 beginner's guide

At some point toward the match’s midway mark it’s likely that three or more players will push a single lane. When this happens, the opposing team will likely respond in kind leading to a group confrontation: the team fight.

Writing a ‘one size fits all’ guide to these situations is near-impossible. How the battle unfolds depends on unfeasibly large list of variables such as the heroes involved, the each player’s positioning, the state of ability cooldowns, item builds.. you get the idea.

Be that as it may, there exist a few principles of group engagements which should always be obeyed. If you’re consistently losing these battles, it’s probably because you’re not adhering to the basics.

Focus the carry - In any team composition it’s the carry’s job to bring consistent damage to the table. This hero is the one responsible for bringing health bars to zero, which is why this rule is golden: destroy the carry first. Disrupt their output using hard crowd control and send someone in for the kill. By doing so you will reduce or severely limit the enemy’s ability to secure kills, and thereby keep your own squishies in the fight for longer. Do not focus the enemy tank unless they’re the only target available. 

Engage at once - This is a case of planning, plain and simple. All too often teams will move into a fight in single file, with the first player arriving a few seconds before the last. Entering a confrontation like this is like putting meat into a mincer - each individual will be overwhelmed by the collective strength of a grouped enemy team, and your entire force will fall, one by one. Talk to your team-mates, and if you need to wait for them to catch up before you jump in, do so.

Protect your backline - The inverse of the golden rule, but equally as important. If you’re a tank or support hero, don’t focus your energies on doing damage, but instead disrupt the enemy team and keep your carry alive for as long as possible. How you choose to do this is up to you, but if you need to become a human shield for your principal damage dealer, then do it - your health bar isn’t as important. 

Chain your CC - Stunning, rooting, and blinding your enemy at the same time is utterly pointless as the effects are likely to wear off at roughly the same time. Coordinate with your team-mates and decide who will deploy their crowd control first, and who will follow up with a secondary bout. This maximises the duration that your enemy is unable to respond.

Withdraw when necessary - Not every team fight will go your way, but that doesn’t mean an unfavourable trade need turn into a total wipeout. If you begin to feel vulnerable, duck out of the fighting with whatever means of escape you have, and then, if possible, return. You’re of more use to your team alive and retreating than in the thick of it and dead.

Split pushing

To quote Sun Tzu, ‘the teamfight alone wins a MOBA not’. Okay, maybe that’s paraphrasing slightly, but it’s nonetheless true. It’s not uncommon for players to become obsessed with teamfighting and lose sight of the game’s true objective: destroying the ancient. Teams with superior numbers of kills and more gold can entirely throw a match by losing control of their lanes and being unable to respond dynamically to threats. 

Enter stage right the split push. The principle of this technique is simple - players apply pressure in two or more locations of the map at once, forcing the enemy team to choose where to allocate resources. For instance, one player could be aggressively pushing the top lane whilst his team takes Roshan. What does the opposition do in response? They could send four players to Roshan and one to deal with the top lane threat, but if that toplaner is a particularly hardy hero, it will likely require two heroes to take him down. Therefore the enemy team will likely send two heroes to the top lane and only commit three to Roshan, resulting in an unbalanced teamfight. If the split pushing toplaner withdraws at just the right minute to escape, then it’s a win-win; the lane has been pushed, Roshan has likely been secured, and the teamfight in the pit has probably ended in victory.

There are many, many more detailed guides of how to conduct an effective split push on YouTube, but split pushing is just one late-game technique. If this section is to communicate one fundamental message, it’s this: keep putting pressure on the enemy to be in many places at once. Even if you’re not winning team fights, it’s still possible to secure victory.

Ending

Dota 2 beginner's guide

So, you’ve made it to the final stages and both teams have lost most of their towers, how to make that final sprint toward the finish line? Apart from team fights, the late game is dictated by one other principle ingredient: barracks. 

The barracks are located just behind the tier 3 towers within the borders of both bases. When the enemy’s barracks are destroyed, it causes allied creeps in that lane to become much, much stronger. These hardier types are known as super creeps.

When super creeps begin to spawn the lane automatically starts to push in the direction they are travelling, meaning that the enemy team must commit resources to hold the lane in place. One lane spawning super creeps is distracting, two lanes is severely disruptive, three lanes is, more often than not, a fatal dose of creep.

Whilst your enemy is preoccupied with your lanes of super creeps, your team is free to take Roshan, farm both sides of the jungle, and push toward the enemy ancient extremely hard. Therefore it’s imperative to try and rid your enemy of their barracks as soon as possible. Once they begin disappearing, it’s the beginning of the end for your foe.

Beyond The Phases

Dota 2 beginner's guide

Meta worries

MOBAs are so intrinsically tied into the world of eSports that a great many of the concerns held by pro gamers filter through the ranks to less-able mortals like ourselves. There’s a simple problem with this downward trickle: most low-skill Dota 2 games bear almost no resemblance whatsoever to the giddy thrills of The International. Pro players must study the minutiae of every patch because their skill levels are, generally speaking, so closely matched that the smallest nerf or buff can make the difference between a successful trade or death. Knowing the meta is totally non-negotiable.

You, on the other hand, are reading this guide, which means we can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that you’re not a pro player. There are three basic factors which tend to dictate how low-level matches pan out: tactical team play, skill with a particular hero, and team composition. This is the holy trinity that any beginner should hold as sacrosanct. Whilst it’s helpful to be aware of the meta, and of which heroes are particularly strong after each game update, don’t go fretting about the ins and outs. If a hero that suits you suffers a minor nerf there is no reason to discontinue playing them. Focus on improving your micro skills, actively communicating with your team-mates, and ensuring that your group is picking a healthy mixture of engagers, tanks, and AoE spellcasters.

Quickcast

By default, activating an ability in Dota 2 requires two inputs from the player: a press of Q, W, E, or R, followed by a mouse click. This system is n00b-friendly, but cumbersome in that it effectively doubles the amount of time required react. Ever wondered why other players are able to fire off a complete combo whilst you’re struggling on action 3 of 8? The vital difference is most likely Quickcast. Activating this option in the settings menu removes the second action (specifically the mouse click) from the process. Instead, abilities are cast wherever the cursor is located at that particular moment, requiring only a single keyboard press to activate. 

Any Dota 2 vet worth their salt has Quickcast enabled, as leaving it inactive puts higher-ranking players at a severe disadvantage. Some advocate activating Quickcast immediately, others suggest newcomers wait until they are familiar with most of the game’s abilities before switching over. I suggest a compromise: first make sure you’re comfortable with a hero, the range of their skillshots, and the size of their AoE abilities, and then enable Quickcast. Every time you try a new hero, disable Quickcast again until you’ve learned their basic abilities, then re-enable. Eventually, you’ll find that you can leave it on permanently, even when transitioning to unfamiliar heroes. 

Do’s and Don’ts

Dota 2 beginner's guide

Don’t Chase for the kill  

Two players will engage in a trade, one almost killing the other, but at the last moment the losing party manages to escape killing range and makes a beeline for their own jungle. Rather than sensibly evaluating the situation, the attacker then decides it would be a super idea to charge into enemy territory in pursuit of the kill, following their prey all the way up the lane or through jungle paths past the secret shop. You can probably guess what happens next: the hunter becomes the hunted as they are laid-waste by three hostile heroes who spotted an easy kill. Splat. 

If the bunny to your eagle escapes, don’t chase them too far, and certainly don’t recruit the rest of your team to do so; their time is better spent farming and pushing lanes than chasing a solitary kill.

Don’t play one hero on repeat

 Part of the joy of Dota 2 is its swollen cast of playable heroes, but the gargantuan selection is always intimidating to new players. Once someone finds a hero they like, the temptation arises to religiously stick with them for months. Don’t do it.

Competency and mastery are two very different things. It takes a short while to become competent with a hero but in order to master Dota 2 players need to develop a broad knowledge of what other heroes can do: their abilities, their stats, and their tactical weaknesses. By making the same choices in the hero select menu without fail, newcomers limit their experience, preventing them from moving forward. Be sure to try different game modes which force you to experiment with new heroes. Educate yourself. Even if you discover that Weaver will never work for you, the hands-on time with his toolset will prove invaluable in the long run, especially when you’re faced with a particularly talented Weaver player in the future.

Do spend your gold right away

Dying is bad for so many reasons: it rewards the enemy with currency for items, it leaves lanes vulnerable to aggressive pushes, but probably worst of all for newcomers, it deprives them of vital gold. Accruing enough gold for that all-important power spike is virtually impossible when the sum-total of a player’s wealth is being eroded by repeated deaths.

For this reason it’s important to spend gold the very instant that a player’s total passes the threshold for desirable items. There are no excuses here, as players may purchase items from the fountain shop from wherever they are on the map and it will be reserved for them in their stash until the shop is visited or the courier delivers it. Don’t hoard gold hoping to buy powerful items in one swoop; be sure to purchase the constituent parts of their recipes first.

Don’t buyback unless absolutely necessary 

When a player dies in Dota 2, it’s sometimes possible to circumvent the respawn time and ‘buyback’ into the game straight away. As you might have guessed, this service costs gold, and after use goes on a lengthy cooldown.

Buybacks can be as dangerous as dying itself if engaged in thoughtlessly. The same principles of fiscal conservation are at stake here -  if a player dies, it’s more than likely that they have lost some gold in the process. If they then choose to buyback into the game, their savings become further depleted, often leaving some players with virtually nothing. Meanwhile the lane opponent is farming uncontested and has acquired bonus gold from the kill. 

The message here is simple: don’t buyback unless you have to. In the early laning phase most heroes aren’t yet powerful enough to pose a great threat to towers, so don’t waste whatever gold you've collected by rushing back into position, spend it on a defensive item instead to ensure that when you respawn you’re that much hardier. 

Times you should buyback: if your entire team has been killed, if your barracks are under attack, if the enemy is headed for Roshan, if you’re positive you can save a tower. Never do so just to skip the tedious waiting.

Don’t mash QWER

The most common attack strategy adopted by newcomers, which often generates surprised gasps upon failure, is the inarticulate vomiting of all four abilities at once. I’ve often seen players at full health see another full-health hero, march right up to them and then lay Q, W, E, and R on all at once like some desperate attempt to grab a Scrabble triple word score (‘REWQ?’ ‘QREW?’). 

In an instant the initiating party has put every weapon at their disposal on cooldown and in the inevitable brawl that follows they have no method to respond. This generally either ends in the investigator's death or a failed kill where the prey makes a getaway. Don’t just run headlong into an enemy, even if they’re out of position, and expect a kill. Pick low health targets, or find a position where it’s possible to effectively trade before going all in. Fire off your abilities with caution, making sure that you keep escapes and stuns on standby in case you need to make a hasty retreat. 

Do be a positive player

Not being an insufferable wretch is, to most, just common sense, but it bears reiterating how easy it is to become ‘that guy’ when playing a MOBA. Dota 2  relies on team effort and communication, but when those mechanisms fail, it’s easy to start pointing the finger of blame at your team-mates. Maybe the jungler missed the perfect gank opportunity, or your support failed to cast that important spell that would have kept you alive; whatever the problem, be dignified and supportive of your team-mates. Criticising struggling players is statistically proven to undermine their performance even further - you’re just going to make a bad situation worse. Also, no-one likes a smartarse, and if you’ve managed to completely alienate your team then you’ll probably find your lane empty of allies for the rest of the match.

Do keep one eye firmly on the map

A common mistake people make when picking up a MOBA for the first time is to ignore the minimap. This is understandable: getting to grips with a game as dense as Dota 2 is hard and the distractions are many, but this small trick could prevent 90% of the most frustrating deaths that affect newbies, eventually causing them to drop the game in desperation. New players will push their lanes with reckless abandon, not even glancing at the minimap to see whether the adjacent lanes are conspicuously empty or if there’s a sign of the enemy jungler.

Do whatever you have to do, but make looking at the minimap part of your routine. After a little practice it begins to happen naturally, but it’s important to give yourself a cue at first. If you’re laning, try committing to glancing at the minimap after every minion kill, or if that doesn’t suit, maybe once every five seconds. Set a target and make it happen.

Don’t try denying just yet

No, we’re not talking about self-denial here, denying is a real game mechanic that’s specific to Dota 2. In League of Legends or Heroes of the Storm it’s impossible to harm an allied structure or unit, but in Dota 2 it’s possible to do just that by using the attack move function (a + left click on target), ‘Why on Earth would someone want to do such a thing?’ I hear you cry. The answer is simple: it prevents the enemy from accruing vital experience and gold. If a player strikes the killing blow on a friendly tower or creep just before their lane opponent does, the last hit is ‘denied’ and the enemy receives 0 gold and 50% reduced XP for the death. Apply this technique across an entire match and it’s possible to seriously stagnate an enemy’s growth. 

The problem here lies in a newcomers who try to run before they can walk. Players can be seen actively denying the opposition at huge expense to their own farming - this is not the point of denying. Only start putting energy into denying once successfully last hitting every single creep is second nature.

Last words

An exhaustive guide to Dota 2 would make War and Peace look like a haiku; it’s one of the most complex games in the world. In these few words we haven’t even broached the specifics of individual heroes, build orders and items, or the minutiae of the latest game update. It’s possible that this is for the best, however, as the best way to learn is to actually play the damned thing. Endless reading will only get you so far, the most effective lessons are to be learned from your in-game mistakes, of which there will be many.

It’s here that we can provide only one more piece of useful advice: don’t give up. The learning curve of MOBAs is extremely steep, but very few genres are this rewarding once their intricacies have unfurled. Even when your match history begins to resemble Tim Henman’s Wimbledon career, trust that in time it will improve. Good hunting. 

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Joe Jamieson avatarJeniusjj avatarChubby Bear avatarD2Tshirts avatar
Jeniusjj Avatar
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1 Year ago

Such an excellent overview of Dota 2. I played my first couple of games last night and I am hooked. Looking forward to learning how to play better. Gotta wrap my head around the shop though. Not entirely sure what I need to buy for each particular hero. Time to research.

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Chubby Bear Avatar
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6 Months ago

This is amazing. I am near 300 hours in (not much in comparison to pro's) and it is still refreshing to see a well balanced and some what humorous review that was both informative and intelligently written.

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D2Tshirts Avatar
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1 Month ago

I love dota , and I play this game from 2005 :)

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Joe Jamieson Avatar
4 Years ago

Thank you for making my life that much easier.

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