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Dota 2 Ultra-Beginner Guide

Updated on October 15, 2014

What is Dota 2 ?

Dota2 is the second-generation of a MOBA (Multi-player Online Battle Arena) that started as a mod of Warcraft 3, by Blizzard Entertainment, and was since made into its own game by a developer who goes by "Icefrog", who now works for Valve. It's free to play, and available on Steam. Yes, I said free. Valve makes money only by selling "cosmetic" items for the heroes you can play, and by hosting tournaments.

In this game, five heroes compete as a team against an enemy team to attempt to defeat the other team's heroes and destroy their buildings. The heroes can be either player or computer-controlled, but most players consider the computer opponents to be mere practice for "real" games against human opponents.

Object of the Game

Dota 2 is a team game, and each player's performance on the team is critical to that team's success. The game is designed such that one player cannot win a match by themselves.

The object of the game is to destroy the enemy team's "Ancient", which is the largest building in their base, before they destroy yours.

Your First Games


Play the Tutorials and Bot Games

After you load the game, you're going to want to run through the Tutorials.


Don't worry, they are short, they have a little storyline, and they get you familiar with the concepts in a non-painful way. And you get to kill stuff and get gold!

After the Tutorials, you're going to want to create a "Bot Game", where you only play against bot opponents. Trust me on this - you don't want to show the world how bad you are at this game right now. There are just too many things to learn, still.


Last-hitting is probably one of the most difficult, and yet important skills to acquire in the game. The whole idea is to be the last one to hit the creep, so that it dies from your hit. This is the ONLY way that enemy creeps give gold.

The Game Map

You will be placed on either the Radiant (bottom) or Dire (top) team.

The object of the game is to destroy your opponents' towers, barracks, and finally their ancient. However, you can't do this right away, as your hero starts out too weak. Instead, you must gain gold and experience points so that you become more powerful.

To do this, you must go into one of the three "lanes" on the map, and "last-hit" the enemy creeps for gold. If anything on the enemy team dies near you, you get experience (xp). There are also "neutrals" in the forests which you can kill for gold and xp, but they don't give as much, and there are no towers or friendly creeps to attack any enemies that might come find you in the woods.

Dota 2 Map

Dota 2 Map, Post 6.82 patch
Dota 2 Map, Post 6.82 patch | Source

Strength Heroes for Beginners

Dota 2 Strength Heroes for Beginners
Dota 2 Strength Heroes for Beginners | Source

Agility Heroes for Beginners

Agility Heroes for Beginners
Agility Heroes for Beginners | Source

Intelligence Heroes for Beginners

Dota 2 Intelligence Heroes for Beginners
Dota 2 Intelligence Heroes for Beginners | Source

Choosing a Beginner Hero

Don't make the mistake of taking the hero that you think looks the coolest. Yes, this might work out for you, but you're not doing it the easy way.

You are going to see a massive number of hero portraits when you first launch a game. The portraits may be laid out as a cascade, or as a grid.

Most heroes have four abilities, but some have more, others have extra units to control, and still others have very situational abilities which must be used correctly.

Here are some heroes that have straight-forward abilities, and are easy to use and understand:

  • Centaur Warrunner (Str)
  • Tidehunter (Str)
  • Nyx Assassin (Ag)
  • Jakiro (Int)
  • Lich (int)
  • Lion (Int)
  • Ogre Magi (Int)
  • Zeus (Int)

If you are playing with a friend, have one of you pick one of the following:

  • Dragon Knight (Str)
  • Chaos Knight (Str)
  • Wraith King (Str)
  • Viper (Ag)
  • Sniper (Ag)

Don't worry about their roles or type for now - when you first start playing, play against the bots (computer AI opponents) and get a feel for the hero you've selected.

Dota 2 Top Left Menu Bar

Buying Items

There are some handy tools already built into the game that allow other players to suggest "item builds" that are good for a particular hero. When you first start playing the game, just pick one of these and follow it. Later, once you decide to learn what all the items can do, you can choose your own items.

You will find these by clicking the small book icon in the top-left menu bar (the first white icon on the left).

Just buy everything you can that's listed under "starting items", and then head to a lane (in a bot game, it doesn't matter which one).

Hero Roles

Different heroes are better at one or more different roles, which are:

Carry: weak early game, but excels once the hero has acquired some items and levels. Usually strong at "right-clicking" (the basic attack action), and often has skills that improve their attacks as the game goes on and multiplies the effect of items. Eventually their attacks can get so powerful that even 2-3 can kill an enemy support!

Support: strong early game, does not require items to be good at his role. Often has the best magic abilities, but they don't synergize well with items.

Initiator: starts fights for his team by using abilities that put one or more members of the opposing team at a severe disadvantage. Often require a few key items (like a Blink Dagger) to get in the best position.

Ganker: roams the map looking for solo heroes that he can kill one-on-one, or assist his lane-mates to kill the opposing lane-mates in a 3vs2 battle. These heroes are often less powerful in large fights, and better in minor skirmishes with only a few heroes.

Play Support First

In your first games with other human players, you're going to want to take the "support" role first. Generally, this means that you help out a carry player, because you're generally clueless about the finer points and execution of the gameplay. This is not a bad thing. Everyone goes through it, and it will be less painful for everyone (including you) if you don't pretend otherwise.

There are lots of guides on "how to be a support", and there are TONS of things to learn, but here are the most important things:

  1. Don't try to last-hit creeps in the lane. Yes, I know I said it's important, but you're going to let someone else do that for now.
  2. Don't try to kill any of the enemy creeps in the lane, UNLESS someone says that you should "push" the lane. Otherwise, see #1.
  3. DO stay behind your creep wave (most of the time).
  4. Don't put yourself in a position where the enemies can gang up on you, and where your ally can't help you (see #3).
  5. DO try to land auto-attacks on the enemy heroes when they come close enough to last-hit YOUR creeps. The enemy creeps will try to attack you when you do this, so attack once and run back.
  6. DO communicate with your lane-mate BEFORE you try to kill an enemy hero.
  7. Wear down an enemy hero with auto-attacks before trying to kill him.
  8. Use consumables like Tangos and Healing Potions to bring your health back up if you've taken damage.

The Professional Dota2 Scene

The game has gathered a massive following, and is now played as a professional "e-sport", for prize pools as high as 20 million dollars for the largest tournaments.

While the success of this game may seem astounding, considering it's "only" a computer game, the game's attraction is that it's easy to starting playing and accessible to anyone with a computer, an internet connection, and 30-60 mins of time, but it's also very difficult to master. The professional players practice up to 12-14 hours per day to minimize errors in their play and to better understand the interactions of the 150+ heroes that are available every game.


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    • northernwriter profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      There's a very good reason for playing a support role first,and I'm not the first person to suggest it. The main reason is that carries and mids NEED to be very good at last hitting. Mids need a lot more awareness, and be able to deny in addition to last hitting.

      It's also easier to get away with a mediocre (or worse) support player, than having a terrible carry on your team. In other words, while a support player CAN contribute a lot, the position is also a lot more forgiving, and a player can feel less pressure while learning the game.

    • Michael Poon profile image


      3 years ago from Australia

      Great up until this point "Play Support First"

      I feel new players shouldn't limit themselves to one role while learning the game. Playing support properly is one of the hardest roles in the game, which is why most captains of professional teams are usually the support since they have a better understanding of the flow of the game.

      But other than that, great hub!


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