After going through different phases from a total newbie player to someone who is useful to his team, I have learnt some valuable lessons about DoTA 2 which I want to share with you. This guide will help you improve your game. Don’t worry, this game is relatively easy to understand but hard to master. How to play it though is still pretty straightforward. I can help you out for the understanding part. And even if you consider yourself a good player, read through the tips, as they might have some new information.
If you are a good player, read our more advanced guide.
Updated for- 6.87d.
We commence this list starting with the most annoying mistake: Don’t auto-attack the creeps! Now, this may seem counter intuitive, but the idea is to always aim for the last hit only! Just get the gold and stay in the same position. Don’t push! (That means going on the offensive) Do this so you can farm up quickly and get some valuable XP (“Farm” means getting XP and gold through creep last-hitting).
One of the critical mistakes new players often make is to push too hard early game! They often go near the enemy tower and then retreat with low health. Sounds familiar? The only thing this so-called strategy does is to give the enemy some free farm. Not only this, but it also allows an enemy hero to flank you from behind and get an easy kill. Since you are so far from the safety of your tower, you will probably die very quickly. Another important concept is denying creeps. What you do is manually press the attack button and kill your own creeps when they are about to die. “Why would I kill my own creeps?! They are my friends!!” you may ask. A simple reason is that, when you deny them, you do two things: you take away your enemy’s chance to last hit while getting the bonus gold. And you deny him some XP. It has more pros than cons.
Okay, I’m gonna tell you something, so listen well! I have seen two types of newbies, some who quickly save up and buy boots as their first item and others who don’t buy them at all. Keep this in mind: Boots are important! But not so important to go for them as a first item. Let me explain! Stat enhancing items are your top priority at the beginning of the game. These include Iron Branches, Circlets or Gauntlets of Strength. And some potions if you are playing a low HP hero.
However, after you get all your starting items, go for boots with the first 450 gold you get! You just don’t have to worry about them in the first 3 minutes. In addition, the small lane side shop sells boots, you don’t need to send a courier to base for it! That same side shop actually sells ingredients for upgraded boots as well (sadly, not for Tranquil and Travel boots).
You know what really grinds my gears? Not buying TP scrolls. You need them after the first 15 minutes. I have actually seen many so-called pro-games in which they make this one mistake. “If they do it, why shouldn’t we?” you’ll say. Well, TP scrolls give you two big advantages. First, they give you a way to escape back to base in order to heal up if you are low on hp (an easy trick- quickly press the teleport key twice to automatically go to base). Second, they also allow you to go quickly to other lanes for a surprise gank (“gank” is for gang killing). Also, when you die, just buy a TP scroll to get back to your lane. “But it’s expensive!” you may scream. Actually, it’s not! A TP scroll only costs only one to two last hits! And if you don’t get back to your lane ASAP early game, you will most likely be a level lower than everyone. else – obviously, not good. If you are having trouble staying alive in the lane, buy a Ring of Health from the extremely underrated side shop. It would give you valuable health regeneration. In the end, remember that a bad start is hard to recover from, but TP scrolls definitely help!
Look, you are new to this game, so… you are probably bad at it. People will complain a lot, they will curse you a lot, and for your first 50 games, you will be called a “noob”! However, remember everyone starts out like this! It’s a rite of passage! Don’t start flaming everyone, defending yourself or even saying sorry. Actually, you don’t need to say anything! (other than calling missing or requesting ganks). If you start cursing your teammates, you automatically ruin the team’s synergy. Also, you waste time typing rather than last hitting, which, if you remember our first point, is pretty important!
In the end, you will probably get reported and sent to the dungeons called *gasp* Low Priority. Just be nice to everyone and if need be, tell them that you’re new. They’ve all been there, they’ll understand! To be safe, however, it’s always a good idea to try out new heroes on bot matches, rather than going straight to the online arena.
Every hero has a role to fulfill in this game, and if anyone fails to do it, your team will have a bad time. Now the main important roles are carry, support, mid, and ganker. The ganker goes in a gang and kills and harasses the opponents, the mid plays on the middle lane alone and levels up fast and helps his other lanes when he gets an opportunity (TP scrolls are important for him, and a very stressful yet fun role to play in my opinion), the carry is very weak early game so he needs help staying alive but after enough farm, he can wreak havoc on the enemy, its also the hardest role to play because of a difficult early game. Lastly the support, he buys wards, the courier, and keeps his team alive through healing or sacrificing himself so the team can run away. Also its the easiest role to play, good for starters.
The usual format for a normal match in medium skill games are 2 supports, 1 mid, a ganker and a carry. And where the 2 supports make a baby sitting lane for the carry (so 3 on one lane), the ganker goes alone, and so does the mid. But remember adapting is critical, and in many games going 2:1:2 is better. When you pick a hero you see a small icon next to him in the hero selection screen, look at it, it tells you your role. Is it only for reference though, its very easy to switch roles with the right items and some creativity. Make sure you know what you are getting into, if you picked support, you are expected to ward, if you picked a carry, you are expected to dominate your enemies after a certain point, and so on. Also, you should know that picking a ranged hero is almost always easier than going melee. Since I mentioned hero selection, you should know what to skill first. Always, and I mean always level up a stun or slow. That’s like a rule, you need to stun your opponent so you can escape or kill him, depending on situation, but always useful. And for starting items, shield, tangoes, clarities are the way to go. The purpose of the early game is to stay alive. Also never ever buy a bottle unless you are playing mid (there are a lot of exceptions for the mid player, I can make an entire list for them).
Runes are awesome, they cannot be underestimated. They give you a significant edge in battle. I won’t go into the details for each type of rune because its pretty intuitive, I just have some tips for you. Firstly they respawn every 2 mins, keep an eye on the clock. Also keep looking at the map if you have wards in place (more on that in the next point), its also important to know if your lane enemy has picked a rune. If hes glowing blue, get the hell out, he has double damage. Also you can bottle a rune for later use, by bottling which means that when you have a bottle, and you pick a rune it gets stored for later use. It also refills your bottle. Just remember that the rune expires in a few minutes and if you don’t activate it it will just activate automatically at a certain time.
Illusion runes are worth mentioning, they give you two clones of yourself. Use them for scouting other lanes and for fooling the enemy into attacking them. They are also pretty strong and if you have orb effects they will apply to them too. Another advantage is that they allow you to tower dive (going right under the enemy tower for a kill), as they buy you time since the tower will probably attack the wrong hero, if not there is a way to fool the tower (more on that later).
If your team doesn’t buy a courier and doesn’t ward, you’re probably gonna lose. Even if you aren’t a support but your team doesn’t buy a courier just suck it up and buy it yourself. Here is a little trick with the courier, you don’t need to go to the base yourself to spawn it. Just buy it while you are in the lane and right click on the courier and drop it from stash. Now anyone can just go to base and spawn it for you, and considering how your team was reluctant on buying one in the first place, its going to be very soon. Now for the wards, they last for a limited time so they constantly need to be replaced. You need to know what is going on in the river and the jungle because they are big blind spots. Without wards you are just asking to be ganked. To ward just buy them and place them on the giant eyes you see. A ward near Roshan is also essential mid game (or early game if they have an Ursa, as he can do a very early solo Roshan, with the right items).
And if you are laning against heroes who go invisible, buy sentry wards ASAP. Sentry wards can also “see” enemy observer wards which you can then swiftly remove, or just keep them there and fool the enemy into thinking you are stupid. If you lose a tower, place an observer ward where the tower fell just to know whats going on beyond your field of view. Also you should know that your field of view is reduced drastically at night time (except for a few nocturnal heroes). Lastly placing wards in the enemy jungle, will not allow the jungle creeps to spawn, hurting his early farm capability. I will go into detail about the best places to put sentry wards in the jungle in another guide.
I mentioned before that having illusions allows you to tower dive if the tower goes after the wrong hero (i.e your illusion), but how do you fool it? You may ask. Well here is a neat little trick, when the tower is raining destruction on you, just right click a creep which is close by, or an illusion of yours or if you are feeling particularly evil, another friendly hero. The tower will just redirect fire towards it. This is not a glitch or something, it’s a feature. Even with creeps, if they are attacking you, just right click your friendly creeps and the enemy creeps will focus on them instead of you. This little trick saves lives. Also you should know that first tier towers don’t have backdoor protection, meaning you don’t need your creeps near it to destroy it. If you see a low health tower, just go and finish it off, don’t wait for your creeps or for an enemy hero to deny it, yes you can deny towers too. It makes you lose that nice bonus gold your whole team gets. Lastly barracks (short form is “rax”) are a priority, destroy the enemy rax and your creeps will upgrade to “Mega creeps” gaining more health and damage. Makes the game much easier.
Staying hidden or exposing hidden units is a big part of this game. I have seen games turn around with a well used smoke or dust. So what are they? Smoke hides you and all units around you for a period of time, and dust exposes hidden units. Dust is just like sentry wards, just lasts less longer and is more mobile. If you are playing against highly mobile invisible heroes, buy dust and expose them before they kill your team, if you are losing or want to surprise the enemy, smoke your team and go in. Just remember attacking something breaks the smoke spell or if you get too close to an enemy tower. Smoke also gives you a movement speed bonus. Smoke is most useful if you want to go to Roshan undetected as its almost always warded and smoke bypasses wards. Since we are on the topic of avoiding the enemy, if you are running away with low health from the enemy, just run in a zigzag motion across the jungle, never in a straight line.
A classic noob mistake is fighting an opponent who is on higher ground. You are missing 25% of your attacks while you can hardly see anything due to the fog of war. While on the other hand, your opponent, who is on higher ground can see you and knows that 1/4 attacks of yours are gonna miss. Never give that advantage to an enemy. Always be on higher ground or avoid the fight. Just a small side note, buying a Monkey King Bar, allows you to have a 100% hit chance regardless of where you are attacking from.
This is it for now, leave a comment if you have a question. And if you want to learn more, head on over to the part 2 of this guide, with advanced tips.
Also I love historical things, creepy stuff, and videogames.
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