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Beginner’s Guide to Dota 2: Basic Game Concepts Part 1

Having read my previous post on the psychology of Dota 2 for beginners, you’re probably looking for some advice that’s actually useful in-game. After all, I could just be some random uni student who took a gen-ed course in psychology and have absolutely no idea how to play the damn game. You, dear reader, will receive for free the knowledge I have attained through years of blood, sweat and digital tears. Thank me later for saving your sanity and your mouse / keyboard from destruction.

First, the absolute basics. Dota 2 is played on a single, unchanging map. Each new game is completely fresh and independent of your previous games, so there is no need to save games or try to keep track of the plot (there is none). There are two teams of five players who each control a single Hero, with each team starting on either the Radiant (south-west corner of the map) or the Dire (north-east corner of the map). See below:

The map of Dota



The ultimate aim of the game is to destroy the other team’s home-base or “Ancient” before they destroy yours. In order to achieve this, your team must destroy the defensive structures (or “Towers”) which stand in your path, which exposes the Ancient to attack, before finally destroying it. Both teams are reinforced by troops (or “creeps”) which spawn at regular intervals and make their way towards the enemy Ancient along pre-defined paths.

Building on this most basic foundation is the “push” concept. In order to achieve the victory outlined above, your team must “push” themselves and their allied creeps towards the enemy Ancient. How is this done? A more detailed explanation of creep behaviour is required here. Creeps will engage any enemies they encounter on their path, including Heroes, Towers and creeps. If all nearby enemies are destroyed, they will continue on their path towards the enemy Ancient, stopping only to engage newly encountered enemy forces.

So, if you destroy all nearby enemies, your creeps are free to continue along their merry way, and your forces “push” closer to the enemy Ancient. Simple, right? If you answered yes, you could not be more wrong. Herein lies the beauty of Dota 2: layers of complexity hidden beneath a deceptively simplistic surface. Sure you can destroy creeps fairly quickly as an almighty Hero. You have superior HP, do way more damage, and maybe even an AoE spell or two which allow you to destroy multiple enemies simultaneously. But consider this: the enemy Towers that stand in your way are very powerful. They can destroy a group of creeps very quickly without taking significant damage themselves. Also, creeps spawn in “waves” every 30 seconds, and the size / strength of these waves relative to the strength of Towers is very small. Even if you quickly destroy an entire wave of creeps, the amount of push you achieve is not very significant – you will do very little damage to the Tower before your creeps encounter the next wave of enemy creeps. And also note that there are three Towers defending each path or “lane”, and the closer you get to the Ancient the more powerful the Towers become. Not to mention that there is a whole team of Heroes just as powerful as you are doing their utmost to stop you.

A successful push requires teamwork: you can’t do it alone. For your push to have a significant impact on the enemy Tower(s), you need to generate enough momentum by destroying successive enemy creep waves quickly. This will leave your creeps healthy and numerous enough (having avoided the damage they would have taken from the enemy creeps you killed) to deal significant damage to the tower, as well as allow your team’s Heroes to damage the tower freely (towers target creeps in range first).

Secret out. Now you know the objective of Dota 2 is to push your creeps to the enemy Ancient, you have all the knowledge required to dominate your opponents and finally start winning games….. sorry, that was a horrible and outright lie. In truth, we have only covered the very basics, but understanding these is definitely a necessary step along your journey to Dota 2 greatness. Be warned, there is still an entire desert of howling sands to cross; hopefully these guides will be your water bottle.

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