DOTA Basic Fundamentals 101

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DOTA Basic Fundamentals 101

Postby nitromon » Mon Dec 31, 2018 12:10 am

Defense of the Ancients is a 5 on 5 real time game similar to capture the flag, except you are trying to destroy the enemy base. It is a complex real time chess game requiring various skill levels and knowledge of heroes and items. This is a simple introductory guide for beginner players. It assumes an evenly skill matched 5 on 5 players on both teams. How much does that apply to the current ENT games since it has devolved into such a wide skill gap between players? I do not know, but a lot of the basic fundamentals still apply.

DOTA has evolved dramatically in the past few years or so before the decline. The greatest change is the balance of the game so it is much more team play and rarely can 1 player dominate the game. There are still instances of course when 1 player is superior than others and with a very powerful hero, but I am speaking in context of equally skilled players in which this guide applies. Though APM (action per minute) is important in DOTA, but knowledge and the fundamentals make up for players who may not be as quick.

General Fundamental: Hero Picking and Countering
In AP games, it is important to pick a balanced team. The game is divided into 3 general stages: Early, Mid, and Late. The term "carry" is often a misguided term b/c it is often referring to late game carry. However, every team requires an early carry, mid carry, and late carry. A late carry which requires 40 mins of farm to get his items is actually "carried" to the 40 min mark by early and mid carries. This is why there are a lot of games where players pick all late carries ended up losing the game in 20 mins. There are also superior early teams which didn't finish in time and start losing steam mid and loses late.

Early Carries:
Generally speaking, int heroes are early carries. Early carries' jobs are to carry the team for the first 15-20 minutes. Essentially they're heroes that can be lethal from minute one, but gradually lose effectiveness after 20 mins, most will require core items to continue their effectiveness in mid stage. Most early carries will be fundamentally weak in late stage, with the exception for some. In early stage, nukes are more powerful than attacks b/c they do massive damage and early heroes are low on health points (HP). However, there are also nonint heroes who are good early carries such as Axe, Naix, LC, SB, Earthshaker, Phoenix, and various agil assassin heroes.

Mid Carries:
Mid heroes bridge the gap between early and late. Most mid heroes are either early-mid or mid-late. Mid is typically 20-35 minutes. In terms of late carries, they are late carries that can be effective around the 20 min mark with min items. If you have pure late game carries, mid carries are crucial at this point if your early carries start to lose steam. Mid carries vary across the hero types so are harder to isolate as int/agil/str. Some example would Axe (early-mid), SB (early-mid), Leoric (mid-late), Phoenix (early-mid), Bloodseeker (mid-late), Geo (mid-late), PL (mid-late) and most agil archer and assassin heroes.

Late Carries
Late carries are carries that are yuge at lategame and can in most instances take on 3+ opponents by himself. Some late carries, as mentioned before, are also mid carries b/c they can be effective by mid game and become huge lategame. 35+ minutes, usually at 40 minutes. Most notable lategame carries are Skeleton King, Spectre, PA, Slark, PL, etc... Though items are required in any game for carries at lategame, we'll talk about items in the next section. For this part, it is late carries based on abilities with items in mind. That said, int heroes are rarely lategame carries b/c they rely on nukes which are ineffective lategame. There are exceptions of course and the most notable is Witch Doctor b/c of his abilties.

All around heroes:
Very rare when a hero is naturally all around from early to late. Most notable is Slark of course. However, many heroes can be all around by proper item choices. The primary strategy of DOTA is either focus your hero on the stage it is required in a team play or build your hero to be all around by proper item choices. Certain heroes have more flexibility than others. For example, many heroes require core items to be effective, which reduces their flexibility on item choices, but that doesn't necessarily mean they cannot be flexible.

Example: Earthshaker
If your team has proper late game carries, then the ES doesn't necessarily need to be a late carry. He is a nuker and a disabler, so naturally an early to mid hero. To be effective he requires the core item - blink dagger. From this point, most players will continue to build him as a support early/mid carry with scepter, shiva, and maybe guinsoo. However, when the game demands him to be a late carry, this hero can be built properly to be a lategame carry that deals 2600-2800 crit strike (twice if you do it correctly in 5 seconds). Veteran ES players build this hero around the totem, not the stuns. With appropriate items, he can be tanky, fast IAS, and deals massive attack damage without even considering his stun. This means he cannot be countered with bkb or pipe. With blink and BoT, ES can become late carry with just 4 other items.

Example: Axe
Many players have a wrong impression of Axe in the games b/c he dominates so easily early and gains level and gold fast. But if you've played against enough Axes, you'll know he runs out of steam mid to late game. By lategame, most he can do is just an AOE stunner with blink and call and rely on his teammates to carry. However, again, with the right item choices, he can be effective lategame carry by himself. Most people build him as simply a tank with BM and stacks his helix damage with other nukes such as shiva/mjolnir/radiance. Of course that is effective if you decide to take a support role in lategame like ES. However, to carry, you need to build him with crit/satanic/IAS items, as you would with PA or SK. This stack with his natural abilities makes him a tank/carry lategame.

Most people know there is hero countering, some heroes are natural counters to others such as Wyvern is a counter for Geo, Leshrac is a counter for Slark, etc... However, DOTA is a team game and often you have to look at a "team" counter. This means you must pick your heroes carefully, try to pick one that both compliment your current team make up and counter enemy team picks. The best team is a team that is mixed with carries in all 3 stages, but also those which fulfills as many roles as possible with least redundancy. This is why AREM is either a very dumb mode b/c it just puts you with random heroes... OR it is a very good mode b/c it pushes players to adapt their heroes and be creative in building their heroes to fill in missing roles. This will be discussed in the next section.

General Fundamental: Hero Strategy
Basic strategy of DOTA is easy - kill your enemies, stay alive. You want to gain level and gold while denying your enemy level and gold. To make this effective, you require heroes of various roles and there are many roles in DOTA, other than the typical fundamental 3 - tank, DPS, support.

Tank heroes are bulk heroes that holds the front line. Players who play tanks need to be aggressive and trust their agil and int heroes will kill their enemies before the enemies kill the tank. Tanks who are weak and run away break the line and leave their agil/int heroes defenseless. Failed tanks is why so many agil/int start getting HP items etc... which cost them the support and damage items they need. While most tank heroes are simply stacking abilties to stay alive such as Bristle, Treant, etc... Some tank heroes can also do massive damage such as Naix, LC, Axe, and Centaur.

Nukers are early heroes from the previous sections, but many nukers also come with other abilities on their nukes such as CM's slow, Phoenix's IAS reduction, etc... These heroes are support requirement for early plays and team support. There is a sub role of AOE nukers which are also pertinent to a team's success.

Perhaps the most important on a team from early to late. Disablers have the ability to immobilize the enemy and prevent them from attacking. Every team should have at least 2 disablers. There are certain late carries that have disable (such as Skeleton King), so they're not always support. Under disablers there is a sub role called AOE disablers and they're also crucial for a team. Proper disablers forces the enemy to countermeasure with BKB and other items, instead of the core items they need (such as PA's damage items). Slowers are sometimes considered a subrole of disablers b/c they have similar functions in preventing an enemy from escaping and allowing your team to catch up, but disablers are specific b/c they can disable channeling spells, disrupt teleportation, etc... slowers cannot. However slowers are not in their own role category b/c if you have sufficient disablers, you don't really need slowers.

Damage Per Second Heroes are the damage distributors. They are mostly agil heroes but other heroes such as Skeleton King (str) can also be a DPS. If you have sufficient tank heroes, best DPS are range heroes who do the damage from the safety of the rear.

Assassin heroes are usually invisible agil heroes, but can be any hero with proper item choices if their ability permits it such as Drow with lothar, Spectre with dagon, etc.. Their job is simple, take out "specific" enemy heroes during team fights, or scout and kill/pick off heroes who are farming.

Often overlooked, but healer heroes are quite essential in team fights. There are various healers, some more effective than others - Treant, Chen, Omni, Abbadon (yes he is one), LC (yes he is one), Oracle, Wyvern, etc...etc...

Pusher heroes are those with the ability to push lanes effectively by themselves. They are sometimes refer to as lane controllers, but it is the same concept. They are usually spawner heroes such as Furion, Broodmother, Chen, Rhasta, etc... but they can also be heroes who can kill creeps fast early/mid/late such as Techies, Pl, Tinker, etc... Without proper push heroes, a team will require multiple heroes to push a lane or win team fights to advance.

Global Controllers
Or sometimes refer to as map controllers are those which controls the map for the team. These heroes keep the map in check for team advantage. Most notable is Techies, when done properly the enemy will be afraid to venture out. Most pushers with BoT can be considered global control, but to be a true controller you cannot be restricted to only lanes with creeps. Treant with eyes and global armor is a good global controller. Spectre, Furion, Gyro, and Zeus are global controllers in terms of global gank, killing runaway heroes.

Crowd Controllers:
Crowd controllers are heroes which controls team fights by dispersing the enemy, drive them apart, etc... Some are more effective than others but generally SB would be one b/c when he charges in, he pushbacks all enemies in his way, Geo is another crowd control, Spectre, ES and most AOE such as Phoenix, etc...

Flankers are heroes that can get behind enemy lines and pick off the back support and archer heroes. It is some what of a general term for assassin heroes and global controllers. Most heroes in this role are blink/invisible heroes and can effectively take out a hero quickly. But the role exist b/c there are other heroes such as Phoenix which dives behind enemy line and ults to prevent escape, not necessarily targeting any single hero.

Multi Role Heroes:
Most heroes are multi role naturally, however item choices can also help change the hero's role or even which stage they carry. For example, some int heroes can double as a DPS hero b/c of their natural ability. They may not be as effective as a natural DPS, but in some games where one role is lacking, they can make up for it. I've seen Ogres going battle build around his bloodrage, battle Lina is common, etc... Theoretically battle Chen is possible b/c he has a damage amplifier, but I've never seen it.

Example: Witch Doctor
Most people play WD generally in the same way b/c they only know the 3 fundamental roles and he is considered a support disabler. However, if you were on a team of all int heroes say in AREM, then WD can easily double as a tank and one that is quite effective. Get him BM, Bloodstone, and other tank items and keep his healing ability permanently on. When you attack an enemy, cast curse, then turn on BM and let them kill themselves. With proper items, he can actually outtank some natural tank heroes.

Example: Spectre
Spectre is one of the most versatile heroes in the game b/c of his ability to play so many roles with proper item choices. So far he can go DPS, Tank, Crowd Control, Global Control, and of course, my personal favorite - Assassin.

General Fundamental: Item Strategy
Picking your items carefully for they can alter the game dramatically. There are many factors to decide what items to get.

Base Items:
These are cheap items you need to start your hero in the early stage, which one is dependent on which type. Generally you need some sort of boots. It is not recommended to jump straight to BoT b/c that's 2000 hard earned gold for the early stage you can use for something better. Most heroes will probably go tread as a general rule, but read up on which boots suits your hero to pick correctly. Some heroes will require a quick manaboost from soulring, while Ring of Aquila is a good general item for any hero. DPS/assassin heroes may want a cheap 275 gold poison orb, etc...

Core Items:
Core items are items that certain heroes need for them to be effective. They are considered a must have without question. Example would be a blink dagger for ES. But this is not written in stone, people may argue whether certain item is core for a certain hero. For example, I consider Vanguard a core item for Phoenix and I can justify it with a well presented argument. However, some phoenix players would disagree and wouldn't get a VG. Other known core would be agh scepter for Warlock, refresher for Rhasta, etc...

Other item choices:
Other than base/core, all other items must be chosen carefully for the hero, the team, and the game itself. Sometimes you want to get items which enhances your abilities, such as tanks getting hp items to get bigger or DPS getting more damage. However, there are also considerations that you should get items which compensate for your weakness. For example, most people would not consider vanguard for an int hero b/c they believe vg is good for tanking. Yet, everyone agrees int heroes are extremely squishy early on, they could definitely benefit from a vg in the early stage to stay alive. Certain int heroes such as Witch Doctor and Batrider, would benefit from having an early VG. Likewise, many consider dagon an int hero's item. However, int heroes mostly already have mana and nukes, so this would be "enhancing their ability." Yet, agil heroes and even some tank heroes have very low mana pools and no nuke, they could benefit from having a dagon early in the game b/c they're already naturally tanky. The dagon would give them the much needed extra mana pool and the ability to case a 400 damage nuke early.

Aside from enhancing your abilities and compensating for your weakness, item choice should be chosen when you plan your hero's carry stage. If you have lategame carries on your team and you are also lategame, you might consider going dagon or other early carry items to help supplement the missing early carries on your team. Likewise, as mentioned earlier, if your game is lacking tanks and you are playing WD, you can choose items to bulk your hero and stack with your healing to be a tank. Pick your items so your team has some sort of carry in all 3 stages of the game.

General Fundamental: Game Strategy
There are only really a few game strategies, most of the game is focused on how you build your hero and your team. But the basic fundamental game strategy can be summed up below:

Ganking is a very fundamental part of the game and ganking is only effective when you have vision. This is the importance of observer wards. A fundamental rule I always tell players is "Gank or be ganked." Team with players that span out and neutral all game will get picked off by enemy ganks. Now generally ganking can be done by any combination of heroes, but of course certain heroes such as Spectre, Furion, SB, BS, etc... are more effective gankers.

Pushing and taking towers is important b/c towers provide necessary gold for your team. Pushing must be timed and generally you can push a tower if you are comfortable with how many heroes are pushing with you or you know where your enemies are at. Late game pushing is called raxing, when you try to rax. By this point, assuming equally balanced team, the proper time to rax is after a successful gank, taking out at least 2 enemy heroes leaning the advantage to your team. In some cases when your team has aegis, this essentially gives you 1 additional hero (given he dies first), so you can factor that into your rax equation.

Staying Alive:
The best hero counter early game for most is actually a 100 gold TP. Remember the fundamental rule of DOTA is kill enemy and stay alive. Imba heroes such as Slark do not have a stun, in early games if you end up being spotted by one, just tp away and deny him early food and prevent you from losing gold. This slows down his growth to give your team a better chance to counter him and you a higher chance to buy counter items.

Real time counter:
Pay close attention to your enemies natural abilities and what items they're getting. Counter them step by step. I see a lot of SA going SNY and I cringe. If you see dust, sentry, or gem on your enemy, SA's counter is manta. If you are ES and you see enemy making pipe or BKB, you must switch your build to DPS carry build and not nuke build. etc.. If you are a disabler and you see their PA going BKB, get a euls or ghost. If you are DPS and you see your enemy going BM, you get BKB. Item choices are deciding factors in games. I've seen many games where fast players with good heroes and an easy win end up losing b/c of poor item choices. So stay alert and keep adapting, counter and counter-counter your enemies.

These are basic DOTA fundamentals. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. A lot of examples given are only examples of course, there are plenty more examples for every section and many heroes are not mentioned. But this has been a great game and I've enjoyed playing it for almost 18-19 years. I'm sad to see it in decline but I'm glad there are still new players who want to learn the fundamentals.

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