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The Basics of Dota 2

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DOTA 2 is Valve’s updated version of the classic WarCraft 3 custom map Defense of the Ancients, known colloquially as DotA. Though the game is currently in development and still carries the beta label, DOTA 2 has become an addiction for some for nearly a year, including myself.

The original DotA mod is credited with launching the multiplayer online battle arena genre (MOBA), spawning multiple titles, including League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, Bloodline Champions, Awesomenauts, and even the shooter Super Monday Night Combat. After a legal battle over the DOTA name, Blizzard and Valve have settled. Blizzard’s own MOBA title – now named Blizzard All-Stars – remains in development and has been playable at a number of events.

Although League of Legends was created by two of the original curators of the Defense of the Ancients mod, it was a man known “IceFrog” that helped bring DotA into the height of its popularity as a mod. Now working at Valve, Abdul “Icefrog” Ismail and a team of developers have been tasked with injecting the classic mod into the malleable Source Engine with hopes to deliver a new experience with fresh artwork, effects, and features not originally possible within WarCraft 3.

The highly competitive game gets swarms of new beta users on a regular basis and its pending official launch will pile more into Valve’s latest game. For those new users to Valve’s free-to-play MOBA experience, we offer this breakdown of what the game is about and what strategies you should employ to be successful.

DOTA 2 is a five-versus-five team game in which each player controls a single hero unit that has its own unique set of spells and play style. The game is played on a three-laned map with a series of towers lining each lane, leading to each “Ancient” on either side of the map. To win in DOTA 2, players must destroy the opposing team’s “Ancient.” To get the basics down, there are a glossary of terms used by MOBA players.

The most common “laning” setup is for two heroes to attack the top and bottom lanes, while one hero scours the middle. There are numerous variants and each team has one viable “jungle,” an area with neutral creeps that can be killed for gold and experience that respawn every minute, to mix up the lane assignments.

Team creeps from each base will push out from the trio of lanes every 30 seconds and meet in the middle. Without player interaction, these creeps will just cancel each other out, but when players help to kill the enemy creeps, the lane will “push” toward the opposing team’s tower. Each creep killed will result in some experience for nearby heroes and the person scoring the “last hit” will get a bit of gold, which can be used on items.

This “laning” phase can last 10-15 minutes as players fight for last hits, experience levels, and potentially some early tower kills, which grant a large amount of gold to the entire attacking team. After laning, the game tends to move into a roaming/pushing phase where teams will rotate around the map to try and kill towers. In the late game, the action focuses around 5 versus 5 team fights with the surviving team gaining a large advantage to push toward the Ancient while the losing team waits to respawn.

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