Getting good at dota 2, with DaveDota

Posted by DaveDota (8 posts) -

Hey everyone. This is the first in what I hope will be a semi regular series of blog posts on how to get good at Dota 2, aswell as how to have the most fun with it. These posts are intended for noobs to the series but more advanced players may get something out of this too!

Firstly, this will not be a mechanical guide, for one of those look no further than Welcome to dota, you suck by purge

These posts will cover more meta concepts in detail such as: roles, drafting, team composition etc etc.

I myself am a player in the Very high bracket, currently smurfing around with GB people on the account #DaveDota, i may have played with a few of you!

So let's begin!

How to start playing Dota 2

So you've seen Brad doing his daily dota thing and want to get into the game, but where do you start? Dota is a complex game, you will not be good on your first go. You will fail. You will feed. You will mess up. Don't let this discourage you! You miss 100% of the shots you don't take, so get stuck in!

Some people advocate playing bot games before joining regular people matchmaking, I discourage this for a variety of reasons:

  • Bots will crush you
  • Bots are too easy
  • Bots don't make mistakes
  • Bots don't reflect an average game of dota
  • You will probably come out of the experience with little improvement.

So what do you do? Your first step is join the Giantbomb chat channel. Its a small community (typically 200 ish people online, compared to reddit channel that regularly fills) but this has its advantages! Small communities allow you to establish regular playing partners and this is great for improvement! Check out the channel and find someone offering mm (match making) (there may be a number attatched eg mm+4 in the channel, this means the person needs 4 more for a full party) and have them invite you. Explain you are noob. To my experience there are no particularly experienced players in the GB chat channel (and those that are will help anyway) so don't be nervous. Now you're in a party. Dota is a team game, so consider your team composition! I recommend checking a build for a hero before you play them. This is done by clicking the book at the top left of the screen.

Some good starter heros (filtered by role they played) are as follow:

1. Carry (farm farm farm)

  • Luna
  • Life Stealer (aka Naix)
  • Juggernaut

These heros are advantageous for newer players for the simple reason they can fight on limited farm but still scale well with money. As newer players won't be last hitting machines, this means you can contribute.

2. The solo middle (Your role is to set the pace of the game)

  • Queen of Pain (Qop)
  • Zeus
  • Magnus

These heros are heavy nukers and high impact, which means they can do damage with little player experience but become deadly in experienced hands (eg, plenty of room to improve!). Nukes tear through pubs, so have at them!

An authors note on mid, sniper and drow both suck there. They have no nukes (save for snipers ult), 0 lane presence, pitiful harass, are easy to kill and can't gank easily. So be warned, go there as either of these heros and i'll kill a puppy...or something.

3. Supports. In a typical pub 2-1-2 pub lane composition there will be one farmer and one support per lane. As you get to higher levels this will change but for now that will set up will suffice

  • Lina
  • Lion
  • Tide
  • Lich
  • Nyx

The message is clear, stuns, burst, slows and big ultimates. These things win games, particular at a low level where no one buys a bkb.

4. Junglers

  • Furion (natures prophet)
  • Naix (I disapprove of this but it's possible)

If worst comes to worst and you feel you need to enter the jungle at game beginning to farm, these two are your best bet. I do not recommend these until you have some game sense under your belt however.

5. Gankers. Gankers kill other heros efficiently. Common at low levels include

  • Nyx
  • Pudge
  • Bloodseeker
  • Night stalker

As a new player, I recommend you don't touch any of them (except for Nyx when you play him as a support)

I will go into more detail on roles in the coming weeks, but for now stick to these, You typically will want 1 solo middle hero, 2 support, 1 carry (2 MAX) and a ganker, pick the ones from my list. If your team has 4 carry heros, don't pick another. If you role with 5 duders you can easily coordinate a decent team composition - you just have to win it after that!

Now you're playing dota, people are saying words in chat that may as well be in swahili. Luckily, DaveDota is here to translate for you!

ss, miss, mia: One(or more) of the heros from the lane the person is calling from has disappeared. This could be innocent and they're going back to fountain, or they could be coming to kill you! You don't know so it's wise to play a bit more cautious.

Bot: Bot lane, bottom right of screen

Roshan: big monster near dire (top team) middle and bot towers, killing him confers 200 gold per person on the team, plus an extra bounty for the hero who struck the last blow, plus the aegis of the immortal which will resurrect you.

For a full list see here

Any words of abuse directed at you: open score screen and mute them. It's not worth it. Don't argue back just mute.

To round this introductory installment off: some common mistakes

Boots first build. Don't do this. It gives you no regen so you can be forced off of the lane easily, very little in terms of a tangible advantage as very few chases happen early game, no stats so you won't last hit for toffee and finally it is just the biggest lightning rod for flame their is.

A good all purpose starting item build is

2 x Tangos

3 x branches (GG branches, they will give you the good game)

1 x salve

This will cost you 180 + 159 + 100 = 439 gold. Enough left for a courier! Every team needs a courier. And a flying courier by 4 minutes.

Bloodseeker being allowed to snowball

Everyone knows bloodseeker. He has an annoying ult. However it is only as deadly as you let it be. In a dual lane its only a semi strong nuke and after that he only has right clicks. the ult inflicts damage based on movement so stay still. Press h (hold position) and ride it out. He won't be able to kill two of you, especially seeing as he has no stuns. If he gets aggressive you and your laning partner should be able to ride out the duration.

Carry a tp scroll. After laning phase is done make sure at all times you have a tp scroll (a good general point and should be done anyway to be honest). He ults you? Double click your tp scroll and off to base you go, safe from harm. He has nothing to stop you

Spamming auto attacks on lane

A simple point, just don't do it. Only attack to take the kill (if you're a farmer) or deny (by a clicking a low hp friendly creep) if you're the support. Don't spam attacks as this pushes the lane and makes it easier for you to be ganked (killed)

Huskar being allowed to snowball

Huskar is really not that hard a hero to counter, with the supports i've suggested you'll have more than enough stuns and burst to make him regret going rambo on you. If you cut off his first few kills he is a really, really ineffective hero.

Sniper and Drow going middle lane

Just don't, they suck.

Finally, have fun! Dota is probably the most fun game I've played in a long while! That's the end of the introductory segment, any feedback welcome. The next blog (probably will write over weekend) will be on a successful dual lane: the dynamics and the hero choices.

Thanks for reading!

#1 Edited by benstewart84 (24 posts) -

Nice read.

#2 Posted by MjHealy (1957 posts) -

Great read. My MOBA experience is limited to about 30 hours of Heroes of Newerth when it was in beta. I've only played 5 DOTA 2 matches (and that was last summer when I pledged to play it, just like how I've pledged to play it this summer) so this was a lot of help.

#3 Edited by Ravelle (1622 posts) -

Good read Dave, looking forward to more.

One other thing why shouldn't do bot matches except for testing your hero's skills is that the AI is the same every match, after 10-15 minutes it decides to gather up all the team and go mid and since your team's AI isn't aware of anything you'll end up them on alone.

#4 Edited by TobbRobb (5006 posts) -

Good read, the only thing I would change is that I don't think either LOOONA or Juggernaut are especially friendly to new players. Luna in particular is very sensitive to positioning and gets killed easily which can lead to frustration when you arent used to the game. Juggernaut is hard to lasthit with early on and he is a bit trickier than normal with his builds, mana conservation and timing of abilities. I'd much rather recommend Skeleton King, Chaos Knight or Gyrocopter. Phantom Lancer is also very easy, but he does require more farm.

Ursa is also an effective and easy jungler, way easier than lifestealer. And he has the potential to crush low level teams.

All in all though, cool writeup. I hope someone gets use out of it!

#5 Posted by Cloudenvy (5874 posts) -

As @tobbrobb mentioned, this is a cool write up but I can't help but disagree with some of your hero recommendations for the same reasons as he stated.

#6 Posted by SomeJerk (3592 posts) -

I recommend botmatch practice to try out Hero skills so that you know how to use them, how they work, their range and all that. Get it up to six, get your oohs and aahs and get on with the next one you want to try. Prevent terrible mistakes by that, and do your team a great favour in the process.

#7 Posted by DaveDota (8 posts) -

@tobbrobb @cloudenvy

I recommend Luna for the following reasons:

She has nukes, and her ult is high damage output without farm. When you're new and bad at farming this ability to contribute is huge. Juggernaut for similar reasons with omni slash and spin.

She is fast. Let's face it, pubs rarely take stuns so simply being able to run away fast than they can get you is huge.

Her passive makes it piss easy to last hit with, and as the game stretches, glaives allow you to flash farm with ridiculous ease.

I learned to play with juggernaut, i personally found him an easy carry to play, each to their own but when compared to other carries he can do stuff with lesser farm.

I'd vote against ck for several reasons.

  • He doesn't farm creeps very well. So if you do get into a pub farm fest you will likely lose.
  • He requires some finesse. He is more of a get 3 items (treads drums wand) and then go start killing shit with your combo.
  • He can very easily get himself fucked with reality rift.

Skeleton king is just a boring hero, no real reason why i say against him you just wont learn much as him.

PL is just you farm more, you win. I wouldnt recommend an afk hero for a beginner.

Gyro is a good suggestion! My main quandry with him as beginners don't build bkbs and he really, really needs one.

Ursa is definitely a good pub stomper, but you don't really win as a good player, you win as ursa. You'll get stuck in a rut and won't learn other game skill as you just stomp by the virtue of low level players not knowing how to deal with him.


Really the only way to learn what every hero does is to play them all, and playing over 100 bot games is just a waste of time. At ~50 games played everyone is pretty bad so just developing your skills in a real game gives more benefit than hammering out games vs bots

#8 Edited by Cloudenvy (5874 posts) -

@davedota: All the positives about Luna is immediatly countered by the fact that her health pool is that of a mosquito though. Yeah, she's fast. Yeah, she has a stun. But against most lanes she can easily get killed and I doubt beginners are going to be THAT cautious with her for the easy farming to pay off.

In terms of CK, I find him incredibly easy to last hit with. In low matchmaking you rarely get matches that just devolve into farm festing, in my experience of course, so that counterpoint to him is sort of moot.

#9 Posted by Tarsier (1490 posts) -

this game looks nice but its too bad im stuck in the tutorial and cant leave it . even tried reinstalling.

#10 Posted by DaveDota (8 posts) -

@cloudenvy: In my experience in low level luna does well for herself, maybe I've just had lucky pubs!

I didn't say ck doesn't last hit easily (he does) i said he doesn't farm fast. Carries like pl, am, luna, etc can flash farm a wave in seconds. CK has no natural ability to flash farm creeps and he doesnt build a bfury hence me saying he's a poor farmer.

#11 Posted by DaveDota (8 posts) -

@tarsier: You have to run through the tutorial (to completion, and let the game tell you when to exit) before you can go to the main screen

#12 Posted by Cloudenvy (5874 posts) -

@davedota: As I said though, poor farm doesn't really mean much in low level pubs. Matches rarely devolve into farm fests there so it barely makes a difference as CK only needs 3 items or so.

Or maybe I was just lucky when I was in low pubs.

#13 Posted by TobbRobb (5006 posts) -

@davedota: Yeah ok, Ursa might give people bad habits, I'd like to see less of him in general anyways, so whatever. I'll concede most of the points on CK as well.

And while I see your points for free teamfight contribution on Luna, she still gets fucked by burst and stuns. And I dunno if you are lucky or I was unlucky, but Lion/Lina/Zeus players ran rampant in low levels for me while Lich and Crystal Maiden were popular in lane as well. They can all kill and keep Luna stuck before she even channels eclipse if the player is out of position, which to a new player isn't obvious.

#14 Posted by DaveDota (8 posts) -

@tobbrobb: @cloudenvy:

I've personally had a lot of success teaching people with luna, and most (if not all) of the points used against here there would count against any carry hero except maybe a chemical alchemist or a raged naix. If you have a shit ton of burst heros coming at you you probably won't live. The upside to that is another lane gains space

#15 Edited by Ares42 (2951 posts) -

Can't say my experiences reflect much of what you're saying, but then again I'm just a newb =) I've generally had way more success by finding my own way rather than trying to follow a lot of these generally accepted newbie tips, but I guess it sorta goes without saying that that's a better approach.

#16 Edited by Mogwai (2 posts) -

Great intro to the game! I just made an account here and eagerly await more great reading. I put around 30 hours into the game in January earlier this year and stopped playing relatively quick. But it feels like its time to give the game a serious try.

I think it's a good point on "don't play against bots". I've experience several times that people mess up giving me an advantage (which the bots wouldn't have done). Everybody makes mistakes and it's a part of the game.

I'm really looking forward to reading about the hero combinations. In pubs it seems like everybody is just picking whatever they fancy, neglecting the synergies. I really don't have enough experience under the belt to make any deliberate choices apart from the melee+ranged in dual lanes.

#17 Edited by rockhardalibi (97 posts) -

Thanks, this is good stuff. I'll be sticking to bots anyway to work up muscle memory, but this is a great first breakdown of simple strat.

Watching the DailyDOTA crew helps a lot too. I would never have considered this game otherwise.

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