The Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) genre is still relatively young and gaining popularity quickly. Though still in beta, Dota 2 has generated a lot of attention in the past couple of months, having been the spotlight of a million dollar international tournament and in and out of court over the rights to the name Defense of the Ancients. If you’re thinking about trying DoTA or Dota 2, here’s what you should know coming from Summoner’s Rift.
Article by: Adam
Pictures by: Adam
Defense of the Ancients (DoTA) as well as Dota 2 both require a bit of work to get into at the moment. DoTA was originally created as a mod to Warcraft III, and playing the original requires that you install Warcraft III Reign of Chaos or The Frozen Throne expansions, download the desired map online, and load it as a custom game. Support for the original DoTA still lives on thanks to PlayDota.com, which regularly releases updated versions of the map. Shortly before Dota 2 was much more than a rumor, a long awaited cooperative version leaked onto the Internet while still in beta form. Nonetheless, the map is now available for players who wish to tackle the AI together.
At the time of this publication, Dota 2 is still in an invite-only, albeit polished, beta phase. The game is provided through the digital distribution service Steam, and developed by Valve. Updates are provided through Steam automatically, and the game features an actual lobby system including friend integration, match live streaming, hero and item databases, guides, and more.
DoTA and Dota 2 are, by design, the same game. The latter is simply bringing it to today’s standards, with upgraded graphics, better matchmaking, and a dedicated client. Dota 2 Heroes typically feature the same or at least part of their former names, and feature the same skill set; the same is true for items.
Keep last hitting, and deny! Like any MOBA title, getting the killing blow on the creeps (or minions) is essential to winning the game. Doing so not only scores you experience, but is also the only way to earn gold outside of the global gains of enemy and building kills. Items are what decide who wins and who loses, and you need money to buy them.
So does your enemy. In that spirit, DoTA and Dota 2 feature the ability to kill your own creeps and ‘deny’ the opposing hero the spoils of that kill. This is achieved by targeting an allied minion with the ‘A’ hotkey, which will attack it. Just like last-hitting enemy creeps, you want to time this when your attack will be the killing blow; otherwise, you’ll just be helping your enemy kill your creeps faster.
Towers can be denied as well in the same manner, but will need to be below a certain threshold before the option is available to prevent players from sabotaging their team.
Death will cost you more than just time. When you die in DoTA or Dota 2, you also lose a significant amount of the gold you have on your hero. This is a huge penalty for newcomers to the series; not only are you falling behind on experience while indisposed, you lose much needed resources to keep it from happening again. My number one piece of advice to new players is do not die. It may sound obvious, but it is always taken lightly. If you decide that you can’t wait for the respawn time, players can choose to pay yet another costly price to buyback immediately into the game ; until the mid to late game, however, you probably won’t be carrying around the amount of gold it costs after your death penalty is deducted.
Good versus Evil, Radiant versus Dire, or Sentinel versus Scourge is part of the lore behind Defense of the Ancients. While the story is intriguing, the relevance to actual gameplay is that some games may be set-up where players on the Radiant side of the map can only choose from Radiant heroes, and vice versa. More often than not, the settings will be set to All Pick, which means any hero of any alignment can be chosen.
You are the hero, not the Summoner. You have no skill tree, no rune pages, and no summoner skills to choose from. Which also means…
There is no Recall spell in Dota or its sequel. Instead, you can choose to spend 135 of your hard-earned gold on a Teleport Scroll (Scroll of Town Portal). This consumable will transport you within 525 range of any allied structure, including your spawn pool (and shop). The item has a default cast time of three seconds, and may see an increased cast time depending on how many other scrolls have been used by allies recently. It also costs 75 mana, and has a cool down of 65 seconds. So, even though it can teleport you both ways (to home or to a tower), the cool down restricts it to one or the other.
The Courier exists to help keep you in your lane. Purchasable for 170 gold, the unit can carry up to six items from the base to your hero on the map. Why is that useful? Unlike League of Legends, you can buy items regardless of your position on the map. This is also extremely useful as it allows you to spend your saved gold on items before running into a questionable fight, therefore losing much, much less. Any item purchased while you are not in range of the shop will go into your stash (again, six slots). A courier can then be commanded to retrieve those items, and set out to bring them to you. Its speed is about the speed of a hero, but it frees you up to stay in lane and continue earning experience and gold.
An upgrade to the Animal Courier, the Flying Courier, can be purchased for 200 gold. This works like a recipe item; if you have already purchased the Animal Courier, it will be upgraded to the Flying Courier once you purchase it and are in shop range. The Flying Courier has the advantage of being able to fly over obstructs such as buildings, ledges, or trees, which means a more direct and quick path to you. It also has a usable Burst skill to increase maximum movement speed for 20 seconds, with a 40 second cool down.
Though they are both magic immune, they can still be killed with regular attacks. In fact, the enemy team will even receive 150 gold if they kill either courier. In Dota 2, a slain courier will respawn in three minutes, and any items it was carrying will be inaccessible until then. The original DoTA, however, is much more harsh, dropping the items it was carrying and it must be purchased again. Items can be redeemed by either team (though only the purchaser will receive benefits from it), or can be targeted like a minion and destroyed.
Side/Secret shops are going to be your best friend, the latter in late game, and the former in early game. On both the top and bottom lanes there are ‘Side Lane Shops’ about at the corner of the mini map in which basic lanning items, such as the Boots of Speed, can be purchased and used immediately, instead of walking back to spawn to pick from your stash or waiting on the courier. In both the original and 2, a window will appear to show you what can be purchased from these shops.
In approximately the same location on both sides of the map as the Ancients Golems (blue buff) in League of Legends, you will find the Secret Shop. This shop features exclusive items that can only be purchased here, as opposed to the Side Lane shops whose inventory is also available in the spawn shop. These items are typically very powerful and expensive or are items that provide a huge boost to a particular statistic, such as the Hyperstone (2100 gold, +55 attack speed). These items may also be required components of recipes, and must be acquired from the Secret Shop in order to build an advanced item, even if the recipe can be purchased from the main shop.
Item vendors exist only in the original DoTA, and were a rudimentary attempt at categorizing the items. In reality, they are quite overwhelming to newcomers and require a bit of homework. When you spawn in DoTA, you will be surrounded by several NPC characters, each offering a different set of items. So if you want to build Phase Boots, you need to know that Cache of Quel-thelan sells the Boots of Speed and the Weapon Dealer sells the Blades of Attack and talk the respective NPC to purchase each. In Dota 2, other than the secret shop items, everything can be purchased by click a single shop button, and even features a real-time filtering item search.
Trees are food. Instead of simply providing a maze for junglers to navigate, the trees in Defense of the Ancients can be consumed for decent health regeneration. Tango (or Ancient Tango of Essifation in DoTA) can be purchased in a pack of three uses for 90 gold, and upon targeting and consuming a tree on the map, the hero will regenerate 115 HP over the next 16 seconds. This staple is recommended in just about every starting item build, as it helps you sustain yourself in the lane, even more important since there is no recall option; to regen health at the spawn pool, you will need to walk back and forth, or spend 135 gold on a teleport scroll, which can only be used one way.
Consumed trees are also destroyed in the process, though they do regenerate after a set time, this can be used to your advantage. For example, neither game is perfect. You may use a skill that puts you in between trees and you can’t get out (such as Spirit Breakers Charge of Darkness, which allows him to move through solid objects, but stops when you right click). Using a Tango can open a path to escape. There is also some strategy for junglers that allow them to bait two groups of neutral minions at the same time by taking down a tree that usually separates them.
Runes are perhaps the equivalent to Dragon and other neutral creep buffs in League of Legends. Just as many team fights are initiated in PvP matches over these monsters, the same can be true about runes. Runes provide an immediate buff on pick up, which can vary from illusion (creates a controllable copies of the hero), regeneration (increased health and mana regen), invisibility, double damage, and haste (increased movement speed). Runes will spawn in mid river between top and middle lane, or middle and bottom lane every two minutes. Only one rune will exist at once, and if a rune is not captured when the two minute mark rolls over, it will stay there. So if you are waiting on a double damage and there is a haste rune, you will need to either use it, destroy it (using the same ‘A’ method as denying a minion), or bottle it.
Yes, bottle it. A huge tactic in Defense of the Ancients relies on purchasing a Bottle for 600 gold which comes full of water and can be used three times. Your hero uses a charge by ‘drinking’ 1/3 of the water, and benefiting from 135 health and 70 mana regen over 3 seconds. When the bottle has been used three times, it becomes empty, and can either be refilled at your fountain, or used to capture a rune for a later use. Don’t sit on it for too long though; after 120 seconds, the rune within will automatically be used. Once you use a bottled rune, the bottle becomes full with 3 charges of water again. Certain hero strategies include baby-sitting these runes, but that is beyond the scope of this article.
Roshan is Baron. Roshan is located on the opposite side of the map; where Baron is between top and middle lane, Roshan is between middle and bottom lane. Slaying Roshan will reward the hero with the last hit 400 gold, all allies 200 gold, and also drops the Aegis of the Immortal item. Whoever carries this item will enjoy reincarnation; five seconds after slain, the hero will respawn with full health and mana, and the Aegis will be consumed. If Roshan respawns (10 minutes after he is slain) and the Aegis has not been used, it will disappear. After Roshan is slayed three times, the Cheese item will also drop, which instantly restores 2500 HP and 1000 MP upon use. This can be used on self on by targeting an ally.
Unlike Baron, Roshan will spawn with the first creep wave and scale in power every five minutes, reaching his maximum potential by the 45 minute mark. Roshan is also mobile, so he can chase any heroes that try to lure him out. Heroes must be in his original spawn circle to attack him, but he can attack heroes anywhere.
Mega creeps exist just as super minions do in League of Legends. Likewise, three types of creeps exist: melee, ranged, and siege. You will find two structures being guarded by turrets in the base: a ranged barracks and a melee barracks. Destroying a barracks will upgrade the corresponding creep in that lane; melee barracks upgrades the melee creep. Not only are there two structures instead of the one Inhibitor in League of Legends, these barracks also do not respawn after being destroyed. Once all the barracks in all lanes have been destroyed, all creeps in all lanes are upgraded to Improved Mega Creeps. Siege units remain the same throughout the game.
Item stats function different in Dota 2. Each hero falls into one of three categories: strength, intelligence, or agility. Instead of just buying items that increase health regeneration specifically, for example, you would buy an item the boosts the Strength attribute. Every point in Strength then increases health regen (among others) by 0.03. So the Reaver item, +25 Strength, would increase health regen by 0.75. Attack damage (AD) is then increased by per point depending on what the hero's attribute is (an Intelligence hero gains 1 point of attack damage for every point of Intelligence).
Every point in strength increases maximum health by 19, increases health regeneration by 0.03 HP per second, and if strength is a Hero's primary attribute, every point in strength increases his or her attack damage by 1.
Every 7 points in agility increases a Hero's armor by 1, increases a Hero's attack speed by 1, and if agility is a Hero's primary attribute, every point in agility increases his or her attack damage by 1.
Every point in intelligence increases a Hero's maximum mana by 13, increases a Hero's mana regeneration by 0.04 mana per second, and if intelligence is a Hero's primary attribute, every point in intelligence increases his or her attack damage by 1.
You can also choose to spend your level boost on your base statistics instead of a skill. Since the maximum level for a Hero is 25 instead of 18, these stat boosts fill out the space between skills, and can be upgraded at any time; you can wait until all your skills are maxed, boost your stats right off the bat, or sprinkle it in between.