Dota 2 Guide for Beginners Who Want to Start Playing

Dota 2 Guide Featured

Dota 2 is a decade-old game at this point, and still, players flock to the game to play it. With the release of the game’s new patch, there’s a ton of new things to try out. However, the basics are still needed, so we’re here to show you how to play Dota 2. Here is our Dota 2 guide for new players hoping to maximize their experience.


What Is Dota 2?

Dota 2 Guide
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Dota 2 is a massive online battle arena (MOBA) game that’s the sequel to the original Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne. The game is developed by Valve and IceFrog using Valve’s Source 2 Engine.

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Also Read: Dota 2 vs LOL: Which MOBA Is for You?


Dota 2 Guide: Gameplay Basics


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Dota 2 doesn’t have an in-depth tutorial. However, if you’re new to MOBAs in general, it does give the basics, from movement to skill usage and items, et cetera. You won’t be an expert, but at least you’ll be able to play the game at a reasonable level.


Dota 2 Game Modes

Next on our Dota 2 guide are the different game modes. Dota 2 has several game modes for players to choose from. These are the most popular ones:


All Pick

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  • Players get to choose from Dota 2’s full hero pool. They can pick any hero from both Radiant and Dire. They can also choose to get a random hero, re-pick once, or switch with their teammates.
  • Players have 75 seconds to choose their heroes. Usually, that’s 60 seconds.
  • 75 seconds before creeps spawn. Usually, that’s 90 seconds.
  • If they haven’t chosen a Hero after 75 seconds, they’ll lose one gold per second until they pick one.


Turbo Mode

Turbo Mode works similarly to All Pick, but shorter. This is because match times are shorter on Turbo Mode and thus, some marked differences exist:

  • Drafting is faster.
  • Players pick simultaneously.
  • Timers on the ban, pick and strategy phases are reduced.
  • Gold and EXP gains are increased.
  • Passive gold gained is doubled.
  • Gold gained from Hand of Midas is doubled.
  • Gold isn’t lost in death.
  • Towers are weaker, with only 1200 HP and less armor.
  • Creeps upgraded at a faster rate. They’ll instead be upgraded at wave 6 and every 5 waves after. They also get 3 upgrades compared to Normal Mode.
  • Respawn Timers are reduced, with every level having a 1-second reduction to Respawn Timers.
  • Couriers are faster and invulnerable. Players also get their flying couriers rather than buying them. Lastly, they auto-deliver items when in the stash or on the inventory.


Ranked Matchmaking All Pick

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Next, we have Ranked Matchmaking, All Pick. This is basically like the All Pick game mode but now has Ranked Matchmaking. This time, players will fight against players with the same skill level.

There are, however, several things that make Ranked Matchmaking different:

  • At first, all players have 15 seconds to vote for what heroes to ban from being picked. Heroes can only be voted for once and players select which hero to ban simultaneously. Lastly, the game displays what heroes were voted to be banned, but not on who banned them in the first place.
  • Half of these heroes will be randomly selected and then banned from being used after 15 seconds. Do note that the number of banned heroes will be half of how many heroes were voted to be banned. Lastly, the random ban selection will pick three heroes from a team’s votes.
  • After the ban phase, both teams have 25 seconds to select their heroes. If the timer runs out, players who haven’t picked a hero will lose two gold every second. Teams will alternate hero picks every time a team picks a hero for use. If a team hasn’t picked a hero for 30 seconds, a player that hasn’t been given a hero will be given a random hero to use. Do note that players can’t re-pick randomized heroes, though they do get a free Faerie Fire and Enchanted Mango.
  • 12 daily heroes get picked by the game every day. Using them in bouts gives an Enchanted Mango when the game starts.
  • If a player isn’t in the game after 0:00, said player’s gold will be distributed to the other players in his team. This is also the case if he left the game before it ends.


Ranked Matchmaking Captains Mode

  • Next on the list is Ranked Matchmaking Captains Mode, which is the same as the above. However, only one person is allowed to pick and ban heroes. After the captains picked their heroes, the players will choose from the heroes that the captain chose to use.
  • Bans and Picks for both captains have 35 seconds allotted. In addition, they also have a total of 130 seconds of bonus time for them to use in the selection. If time runs out during a ban, there will be no hero chosen to be banned. If time runs out during picks, a random hero on the hero pool will be chosen instead.
  • Lastly, the Captain is the player with the highest solo MMR. If playing solo, the starting team is randomly selected during matchmaking.


Dota 2 Controls


Next up on our Dota 2 guide are the controls.

Given that you play on PC, you of course need a mouse and keyboard to play Dota 2. Here’s a list of the basic controls that you’ll be using in the game:

  • Right clicks: Used to move your Heroes. It’s also used when indicating attacks on enemies or structures with their auto-attacks.
  • Alt + left click: For communication with various effects based on what you’re clicking below.
    • Ground: Will ping said area and show an indicator on the minimap for the team to see.
    • Towers: Depending on if the said tower is on your team or not, will indicate that Heroes are needed to attack or defend it.
    • Runes/items: Signals teammates that a rune has spawned.
  • Alt + Ctrl + left-click on minimap: Shows an x sign on the minimap. This is usually used to point out dangerous areas like gathering enemy heroes for ganks.
  • Right-clicking on items in the item shop: Immediately purchases an item if players have enough gold.
  • Q, W, E, R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 keys: Used for hero and item Do note that some heroes have more than four abilities or that some will gain new abilities when gaining items like Aghanim’s Scepter. Usually, the default keys that players used look like this: Q, W, E, D, F, and R for the hero’s ultimate.

Do note that is just Dota 2’s basic settings. Players can customize the controls as they wish to optimize their playstyle.


Dota 2 Guide to General Terms

There are a few general terms that players use in the game. Don’t worry, this Dota 2 guide has you covered. If you want to play Dota 2, you need to learn at least some of them. Here are a few terms to familiarize yourself with:



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General mobs that  you can kill for gold. Both the Radiant and Dire have different-looking creeps. Take note that you need to deal the killing blow to get gold.



Denies are something unique to Dota 2. It allows players to kill/destroy their ally creeps/towers to deny enemies gold and EXP. It also applies to allied heroes, as it’s usually better for your friend to die by your hand rather than the enemy getting stronger from his death. All in all, pretty brutal, but very effective.



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Earning gold and EXP from killing an enemy and neutral creeps.



A shorthand for Gang Killing, though that’s a bit too on the nose. Ganking is the act of teaming up with a teammate to kill a lone enemy hero. Usually, these ganks happen when players overextend or ambush, but it’s a great way to weaken the enemy team.


Ancient (Building/Creeps)

Depending on the situation, there are two things that the word Ancients can be referring to. The first is the Ancients in the middle of the bases of both teams. When players destroy these buildings, the game ends with the team who destroyed said Ancient. On the other hand, it can also be referring to Ancient Creeps located on specific areas of the map. These Creeps give more gold and EXP compared to other creeps, so it’s encouraged to kill them when they spawn.


Last Hit

Refers to the final blow that kills a particular unit. The Last Hit is important because the hero that deals the finishing blow gets most of the gold and EXP.



Shorthand for Micromanagement. This means a player’s ability to control multiple units simultaneously you’ll usually see this when talking about Meepo or Phantom Lancer players.



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The Center lane of the game’s map.



The bottom-right area of the game’s map.



The upper-left corner of the game’s map.


Safe Lane

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This depends on what team you’re on. For the Radiant, this is the bottom lane. For the Dire, this is the top lane. They’re called safe lanes because the towers are located near the point where the creep waves collide with each other. This means players on the safe lane can easily farm creeps and harass enemy heroes safely due to the help of the tower.



Items that players can place all around the map to provide vision in areas. There’s also a ward that provides True Sight, which allows players to see invisible units.


Dota 2 General Objectives

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In general, the objective of Dota 2 is to destroy the opposing team’s Ancient located in their base. To do this, teams need to make their way across three lanes of towers, creeps, and enemy heroes. Simple in premise. The complicated part lies in the heroes themselves, as they have abilities that can turn the tide of battle. Some games are decided on the pick/ban phases which are pretty exciting.


Dota 2 Guide to Hero Roles

In Dota 2, each player and hero has a role to play, and these roles are usually pretty strict. Of course, as we can see from various tournaments these roles can be bent. However, they’re usually pretty consistent. These roles are Carry, Midlaner, Offlaner, Position 4, and Support.



Sven Carry
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The Carry role is the main DPS of the team. They’re the ones that deal as much damage as possible to kill enemy heroes. They’re pretty vulnerable on the early game, so usually they’re accompanied by support to help them farm. Some Carry heroes can deal massive damage to enemy structures called Pushers.

In terms of laning, Carries are always placed on the Easy Lane of a team. Easy Lanes are lanes where players get access to a large number of neutral creep camps. With these camps filled to the brim with creeps, players can then kill them for large amounts of gold and EXP. Once a Carry is fully functional, they’ll then go right to fights to kill enemy heroes. They’re still pretty vulnerable though, as they usually have low HP and armor.

Examples of Carry heroes include Lifestealer, Outworld Devourer, Luna, Drow Ranger, Sven, Phantom Assassin, and Alchemist.



Ember Mid
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The Midlaner is exactly what it means on the tin. They’re the heroes placed in the mid-lane and are usually self-sufficient. Other than the occasional gank, they can pretty much farm and kill their opposing hero all on their own. At the early stages of the game, they need to deal as much damage as possible to stay on top of the enemy midlaner.

Because they’re by themselves, Midlaners get all the Gold and EXP from their kills. Denies, however, hurt even more as they need those kills to get stronger. The Midlaner who usually reaches Level 6 first would be the one that “Won” the lane. This allows the Midlaner free reign to gank and kill heroes from other lanes with impunity until the enemy Midlaner recovers.

Examples of Midlaners include Pudge, Zeus, Queen of Pain, Templar Assassin, Bloodseeker, Shadow Fiend, Tinker, Pugna, and Huskar.



The Offlaner is the fight starter, the one that charges into the enemy first. They’re the ones with huge HP pools and incredible crowd control. Remember Ceb’s Axe Call from TI8? Yeah, that’s their role.

Offlaners are usually placed on the hard lane (Top Lane for Radiant, Bottom Lane for Dire). This is the hardest lane of all, and a lot of skill is needed to ensure that they come out alive. However, a good Offlaner will know when to attack, when to kill creeps, and when to kill enemy heroes. Their main job in the early game is to get enough EXP to get their skills. After that, farm enough to get good items. And when the fight comes their way, charge to the enemy and get their attention through crowd control.

Examples of Offlaners include Axe, Enigma, Dark Seer, Pangolier, Magnus, Brewmaster, Pugna, Necrophos.


Position 4/Roamer

Lina Pos 4
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The Position 4 is the ganker of the team. They’re the ones that straight-up ambush enemy heroes to kill them alongside the laners. “Pos 4s” are both supports and initiators and are also at times heroes that deal huge amounts of damage.

They’re pretty much the definition of the Jack of all Trades. If possible, they need to be flitting throughout the lanes to harass the enemy. They can, however, go back to a lane to catch some gold or EXP. But they usually do this when the hero on that lane isn’t present or is going back to base to get items.

In team fights, their role is to ensure that the enemies don’t get to use their abilities. These can be accomplished through stuns, silence, and other effects depending on the hero being used. A good Position 4 will always do the best thing for the team. If their sacrifice is needed to make sure that the Carry deals as much damage as possible, then they should do so. They’re very generous like that.

Examples of Position 4s include Kunkka, Chen, Nyx Assassin, IO, Dark Willow, Tuskar, Vengeful Spirit, and Doom.



Last but not least are the Hard Supports. They’re the heroes that have the most team beneficial skills. The ones that ensure that the team will be able to live through the team fights. Supports are the unsung heroes of many teams due to their various abilities. If your support is an absolute god, then you’re pretty much not gonna die, ever.

Do note that there are many ways that Support helps the team. Some of them even straight-up kill enemy heroes to support the team to victory (looking at you Techies). Their main role, however, is to ensure that the Carry is safe and happy at all times. Thus, they usually ward areas, stack Neutral Creep camps, and ensuring that they’re alive and not dead.

Examples of Supports include Treant Protector, IO, Naga Siren, Shadow Shaman, Winter Wyvern, Dazzle, Undying, Keeper of the Light, Ogre Magi, and Techies.


Dota 2 Guide: How to Pick Heroes

Hero Pick
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It’s usually a good idea to have multiple heroes that you’re good at and to stick to a particular role. This allows players to be flexible on the said role, as various heroes do different things. Another thing to do is to pick heroes that counter the heroes of the enemy. Getting the advantageous matchup can go a long way to getting the victory. Do note though that it’ll still be up to player skill, so if the enemy is better than you, you’re pretty much screwed.


Other Dota 2 Features to Know

Dota 2 Couriers

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Couriers are units that transport items to heroes. All heroes in the game get their courier, and eventually, they can fly at higher levels. Before, players need to buy the Flying Courier upgrade to get them to fly. Now, Couriers level with their heroes, giving them flight at level 4.

Couriers can carry nine items in total, with six inventory slots and three backpack slots. They can’t, however, use these items at all, with their abilities and stats disabled. They also can’t pick up the Aegis of the Immortal or the Divine Rapier. In the Divine Rapier’s case, they can only be in the inventory when the Courier has the prerequisite items and they fuse there.


Gold, Item Purchases, and Recipes

To purchase items, players need gold. There are two versions of gold in Dota 2, Reliable and Unreliable. The main difference here is that players lose Unreliable Gold when they die or buy items. Meanwhile, Reliable Gold is used up first when using buyback.

Players get Reliable Gold passively or through Bounty Runes. Unreliable Gold meanwhile is gained by killing creeps, heroes, towers, et cetera.

Recipes are the prerequisite items that players need to get to create the strongest items in the game. You need this, alongside the components to create items. For example, to create the Diffusal Blade, players need two Blades of Alacrity, a Robe of the Magi, and the recipe. Of course, some items don’t have a recipe item and just need the components to be created. An example is Eye of Skadi, which needs two Ultimate Orbs and a Point Booster.



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Runes are special boosters that appear on certain areas on the map. There are two rune types in the game: Bounty Runes, which give gold, and Power Runes, which grant great boosts to whoever uses them for a short period. All Runes can be bottled to preserve their effects for later. Do note that stored runes only last for two minutes, they’ll be used immediately after that.

Bounty Runes always spawn on the Radiant Top Jungle and Dire Bottom Jungle every three minutes starting from 0:00. They give 40 gold to each hero the first time it’s picked up. There’s a really good reason to go for Bounty Runes because gold is life and allows players to get items/use buyback.

Other than the Bounty Runes, there are also river runes. The Water Rune is the first river rune to spawn on the two and four-minute marks. When used it restores 40 HP and 80 MP. They and all the other river runes spawn on the top and bottom portions of the river. After that, a random rune will immediately spawn every two minutes.


River Runes List

These are the river runes to keep an eye on:

  • Double Damage: Increases a Hero’s base damage by 100%
  • Illusion: Creates two illusions of the Hero that uses the rune. Said illusions deal 35% damage and get increased damage. Illusions last for a minute and 15 seconds.
  • Haste: Increases Hero movement speed to the maximum possible limit.
  • Regeneration: Regenerates HP and MP to the maximum and lasts for 30 seconds. HP and MP regenerate at a rate of 6% every second.
  • Invisibility: Renders the hero invisible for 45 seconds so long as they don’t attack or use an ability or item. Do note that invisible heroes can be seen by sentry wards, towers, or if they’re in range of a hero with a Gem of True Sight. Of course, some abilities grant true sight in an area like Chronosphere or Rocket Flare.
  • Arcane: Reduces Mana Cost and Ability Cooldowns by 30%.
  • Water: Heals 40Hp and 80 Mana (appears minute 2 and 4 only)


Neutral Items

Neutral items are one of the newer additions to Dota 2 to spice up gameplay. They’re items that players gain after killing various Neutral Creeps. There’s no other way to get these items and players can’t sell them. They are, however, shareable with all other members of the team.

Players can also only use one Neutral Item and it occupies the Neutral Item slot. When players drop an unused Neutral Item on the team fountain, they’ll be placed on a dedicated stash that all players can access. The items come in five tiers, items from tier 2 and above will begin to drop based on how long the game is on.

Another thing to take into account is that similar items can only drop once for both teams. No dupes and all that. Next is that only five items per tier can drop for each team, which means you’re screwed if RNG isn’t in your favor. Ancient Creeps have a better chance of dropping Neutral Items, so stacking them is a good idea. Lastly, the items won’t drop if an enemy hero is within a radius of 1200 from the creep that’s killed. Illusions and Clones don’t count though.



Roshan Dota 2 Guide
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Roshan, or Roshan the Immortal if you want his full name, is Dota 2’s strongest Neutral Creep. He’s also the most valuable, but we’ll get into that later. First, he’s the one that appears right when the game starts, and it’s usually not recommended to kill him first. Unless of course, you’re Ursa, or you have the enemy team helping as well (That’s a Dota WTF reference). This is because Roshan’s damage and HP are leagues above what players can deal with during the early game.

Once you get some levels into you, players can begin to fight Roshan, and it’s pretty worth it to fight him. The first time Roshan is killed he drops the Aegis of the Immortal, an item that gives a one-time resurrection. Of course, the item is consumed upon use, but the ability to fully resurrect yourself is great to have. This is especially true in later parts of the game, where the resurrection timer can rise to one and a half minutes. Seriously, having the ability to get back to the fight immediately is a godsend in some situations.

Roshan will eventually resurrect himself as the game goes on. Each time he’s killed he drops the Aegis again as well as a few new items. The second time he’s killed he’ll drop the Aghanim’s Shard as well, which improves some Hero abilities. The kills after that give Cheese, Aghanim’s Blessing, and Refresher Shard. In order, Cheese is a powerful healing item that restores 2500 HP and 1500 MP. Aghanim’s Blessing improves the abilities of some heroes when used. And lastly, Refresher Shard instantly refreshes the cooldown of a Hero’s abilities but is consumed after usage.


Dota 2 Tips & Tricks to Learn Quickly

If you want to learn Dota 2, it’s usually a good idea to get a feel of the hero’s abilities first. This is so that you can familiarize yourself with the heroes before playing the game. After that, players need to learn what items to get in various stages of the game, how to play the hero effectively, and what roles the heroes play in a game.

The other things, like creep pulling, and other complicated parts can be learned in time. The important thing is that you can play your hero well enough to learn the other things. That concludes our Dota 2 guide, try out the game for yourself and follow our tips and tricks.

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