So I introduced a few of my friends to Dota 2 last night, and the experience for them was quite… painful. They were coming from a position of literally zero experience in Dota 2, albeit a little in traditional RTS games. I quickly ran through what I thought were the important points for an absolute beginner (spell usage, items, etc.), and then proceeded to run off to mid and battle the easy difficulty bot. To be fair on myself, there were three friends to educate, and I was distracted by playing Pudge, whose sole purpose is to perform fancy solo acts of skill and maximum carnage. To be more brutally honest, I should not have picked Pudge, and I should have sat in lane with my friends to provide advice and training. My bad.
To sum up, my friends were constantly dying against easy difficulty bots. When I bothered to check in on my mates (sorry guys), I could instantly see what was happening: my friends would constantly move into dangerous areas in the lane, and as a result take a lot of very avoidable damage. Being their first game, of course they had no idea where the dangerous zones were, hence the constant flow of deaths. And confused complaints. The key to avoiding these deaths is one of the most important and fundamental skills in Dota 2: positioning. I really should have told my friends this.
To understand positioning, we need to cover a few concepts; firstly the mechanic of “creep aggro”. Creep aggro (abbreviated from creep aggression) is a term used to describe the mechanics behind how creeps choose which target to attack. Lane creeps choose targets in the following priority: enemy lane creeps, then enemy Heroes, and lastly enemy siege creeps. There is one rule which overrides these three: if you attack an enemy Hero, nearby enemy creeps will switch target to you, and will only switch back (after a short delay) once you stop attacking the Hero. This leads us into the most basic positioning fundamental in Dota 2: stay behind your creeps. “Behind” in this context refers to positioning yourself closer to your Ancient, and further from the enemy’s. See the example below:
The Hero the red arrow is pointing to is positioned correctly. She is on the Radiant team, whose Ancient is in the south-west corner of the map. So, to be “behind” her creeps, she must be positioned to the south-west of the Radiant creeps, signified by the green colouring on the units themselves as well as their HP bars.
Camera control is a vital aspect of good positioning in Dota 2. You move the camera by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen, which is straightforward enough, and identical to almost any RTS game. In Dota 2, the camera is quite close to the action, and it is not possible to zoom out further than the default level. So, it is necessary to constantly shift your view away from your Hero, and quickly move it back. An easy way to achieve this is by double-tapping the Hero selection key (default F1) to center the camera on your Hero. To begin with, the novice will want to become confident with following his/her Hero with the camera while simultaneously moving the Hero around. If you ever lose your Hero completely, double tap F1 to find him/her again!