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Dota is a complicated game to even start learning, much less master. With 121 different heroes to choose from, most players who try the game find it much too complicated and drop it soon after. With this guide, the hope is that these introductory heroes will be able to introduce the concepts that make Dota extremely challenging and fun. As there are 5 primary positions in Dota, the guide will introduce 2 that will have a simple gameplan but varying styles of play in order to cover all the bases. Without further ado, here are the top 10 beginner heroes to learn in Dota!
Top ten beginner heroes: Hard Support (5)
The Hard Support or 5 position is the role that has to make the most with the least. They are in charge of putting vision around the map, securing early game and buying items that enable the Hard Carry to do their job. Once the Mid-game begins at around 15-20 minutes, Hard Supports tend to get weaker. The progression of getting better at hard support is understanding what items you need to survive. Some primary items to consider are: Glimmer Cape, Force Staff, Ghost Scepter and Euls Scepter of Divinity.
Main Concepts – Positioning, Warding, pick-offs
Lion is the definitive basic support in Dota. As a Hard Support Lion, the goal is to turn fights with good positioning and spell casting. With Lion’s Impale and Hex, you have a total of 6.6 seconds of disable when both spells are maxed. When learning Dota, you will always provide something to your team if you can provide disables, and Lion has plenty. Lion’s ultimate is Finger of Death, a large single target magic damage nuke that can wipe a single enemy from the face of the planet. His combo of disables, and a large nuke as his ultimate ability not only allows him to teamfight, but also pick off unsuspecting enemies.
What Lion offers in terms of damage and disable, he trades for survivability. If an enemy gets on top of you, it usually means the end. The difference between a great Lion player and a bad Lion player will revolve around how said player is able to position in order to provide the highest impact during a teamfight.
Main Concepts – Positioning, Warding, Teamfighting
Crystal Maiden is the hard support you should take if you favor direct teamfights over pick offs. While Crystal Maiden can go for pick-offs, she does not provide nearly the same amount of disable as Lion. What Crystal Maiden lacks in disable, she makes up for in her utility and ability to farm. Out of all the Hard Supports in the game, Crystal Maiden is one of the few that can farm the Jungle well. Her 2nd ability, Frostbite, lasts 10 seconds on neutral creeps and does 100 damage per second, allowing her to efficiently farm the jungle when there is downtime on the map. As a Crystal Maiden, if you don’t know what to do on the map, the default is to try to jungle a camp or ward areas along the river.
Crystal Maiden is especially strong in teamfight situations because of her ultimate, Freezing Field. When fully channeled in a good position, Freezing Field can win any team a fight. Recognizing the situations that allow you to get off a good Freezing Field will be part of how you get better at Crystal Maiden. Good situations to use Freezing Field are when the enemy team’s disables have been used on another hero, or when the enemy team has used their initiation spells on your teammates. The same concept of learning what items allow you to survive also applies to Crystal Maiden in this situation, and she will most likely look to buy the same items as written in the description for Hard Support.
Top ten beginner heroes: Soft Support (4)
The 4 position or Soft Support, is one of, if not the most versatile roles in all of Dota. There is no one correct playstyle when playing a 4 position support. Many players might opt into heroes that focus on roaming, anticipating opportunities for kills in other lanes. Other players might focus on being able to push lanes, safely taking farm in dangerous parts of the map so that his cores do not have to. You are able to choose so many different playstyles because a Soft Support’s typical lane partner is an offlaner, who is self-sufficient and does not need support through the entire laning stage. What you are able to make happen with your time while away from the offlaner can potentially influence the outcome of the game.
Concepts: Spellcasting, Pushing/De-pushing, Teamfighting
Jakiro is the king of AOE damage from a support position, as every single one of his spells hits in an area of effect. He provides a lot of lane pressure by constantly harassing the enemy carry with a combination of his Dual Breath and Liquid Fire in lane. Later in the game, he supplements the same damage with one of the strongest AOE stuns in the game, Ice Path. The combination of all his spells, Dual Breath, Liquid Fire, Ice Path and Macropyre can cause complete havoc in a teamfight. Think of Jakiro’s Macropyre and Ice Path as walls that can break the enemy formation. It is unrealistic that someone will stand over the Macropyre the entire duration that it is on the ground. However, if you are able to split the enemy team such that some heroes are on one side of the spell and have to walk over the Macropyre to help heroes on the other side, it will have a large impact on the teamfight.
One of the largest advantages that Jakiro has is his ability to clear creepwaves. On one side of the coin, he is able to clear waves and push towers for his team, as his Liquid Fire passive can affect towers, causing them to take damage over time and lowering their attack speed. On the other hand, Jakiro can anticipate where the enemy team wants to push and prevent them from pushing by constantly clearing the enemy creepwave from a relatively safe distance. Understanding which side of the coin that you are on in a game is key to be successful on this hero.
Concepts: Positioning, Pushing, Spell Usage
Shadow Shaman is another hero with a massive amount of disable. Just like Lion, He can disable someone with his Hex ability and has another single target, channeled disable called Shackles that can stun an enemy for a max of 5 seconds. Just like Lion, positioning is very important for this hero, as the cast range of Hex is quite small, and you are very exposed when channeling Shackle.
The primary strengths that Shadow Shaman brings are his strength in lane and his pushing ability. Having one of the highest base damage stats in the game at 75, almost no other support can trade with him in lane. His first spell, Ether Shock, can be used as a nuke to harass enemy laners and push them out of lane. In terms of pushing towers, Shadow Shaman’s ultimate ability, Mass Serpent Wards. One of the best sieging tools in the game, you can simply place your ultimate in front of a Tower and let it do work. One of Shadow Shaman’s greatest strengths is his ability to transition into the late game, his Aghanims Scepter is a very strong upgrade that allows him to push towers even better. Other late game items such as Octarine Core, Blink Dagger and Lotus Orb are all great options.
Top ten beginner Dota heroes: Offlane (3)
The offlaner or 3 position can be considered the position that plays in the most difficult area of the map, contesting the enemy carry. It is important to pressure a Hard Carry early on in the game because that is when they are at their weakest, and offlane heroes are the ones that can put pressure on the enemy hard carry while surviving the onslaught of harassment from the Hard Support. The offlaner is put where the enemy is planning to put the most support and so, is left with the tough job of contesting the areas where the enemy puts the most attention. This means contesting enemy Jungle stacks, trying your best to make the enemy miss last hits and even killing the enemy Hard Carry if he steps out of line.
Outside of the laning phase, offlaners are usually the tanks that initiates fights – not only because you need to survive the enemy harass in lane, but also allowing the Hard Carry to
Concepts: Initiation, Survivability, Teamfighting
Tidehunter is the classic tank in Dota. One of the oldest heroes in the game, he also comes with a kit that is extremely easy to use. Tidehunter excels in situations where he is against melee hard carries, which are a good portion of them. The combination of his Kraken Shell ability, which purges any debuffs past a certain damage threshold, and Anchor Shell, which reduces the attack damage of any unit hit in a small AOE. Both these skills alone allow him to survive most lanes without much worry. His Gush ability is also a very strong spell early on, and provides a decent slow to support his team.
While Tidehunter is excellent at survival, his entire play style changes when he gets a Blink Dagger. His ultimate ability, Ravage, is an AOE stun that has the radius of an entire screen and allows Tidehunter to be one of the best initiators in the game. His primary role in teamfights is to blink in and catch as many people as possible with his ravage. Learning how to play Tidehunter will develop your ability to know which fights to take, and which to leave behind. He is the horse that charges into battle, causing chaos and allowing his teammates to comfortably win the fight.
Concepts: Initiation, Pick offs, Survivability
Centaur Warlord plays has the same strengths and style of play as Tidehunter. He is an absolute tank that punishes you for hitting him due to his Retaliate passive, which returns damage based on his Strength stat. He has a 2.6 second AOE stun in the form of his Hoof Stomp and his Double-Edge which does a large amount of damage to himself, and the enemy it is cast on, with the damage scaling with his Strength stat. Centaur focuses on stacking strength items and buffing his stats as much as possible.
Centaur’s main strength, just like Tidehunter, is his ability to initiate teamfights. Centaur’s ultimate ability, Stampede, provides a large movement speed buff to his entire team that allows a group initiation, or a group retreat. The goal of the centaur is to run in first with Stampede, his team following closely behind and getting a, AOE stun that catches as many people as possible. Centaur always wants to be in the middle of the fight, as it means that there is a higher chance of Retaliate passive doing massive amounts of damage.
Top ten beginner Dota heroes: Midlane (2)
The Midlane position or 2 position is the most influential position in most dota games. The role is the only 1v1 lane in the game and has the most potential for mechanical skill to shine through. The shortness of lane in combination with the fact that both sides have a high ground, make it so that a player with better lane management will usually win out. While securing leads through laning is important for a midlaner, the true test is how they can group together with the rest of their teammates and bring their influence into other lanes.
Concepts: Survivability, Initiation, Damage Dealer, Pushing
Dragon Knight is the classic bread and butter Midlane hero in Dota – a Jack of some trades, but master of none. He has all the things you would expect out of a midlaner, his Breathe Fire ability allows him to push lanes well and reduce the enemy midlaner’s damage – allowing him to out last hit his enemies. His Dragon’s Blood ability allows him to survive and be consistent against almost any matchup thrown at him in lane. His Dragon Tail ability is one of the best single target stuns in the game and Dragon Knight’s Ultimate, Dragon Form, turns him into a giant dragon that is a ranged attacker who can very effectively take down towers.
Dragon Knight is incredibly versatile in his skill build, he can go Blink Dagger if his team needs initiation, he can build farming items like Maelstrom or even a Black King Bar if his team wants to fight as early as possible. What Dragon Knight does not do well is keep up with heroes that are better at farming than him, and the later that the game drags on, the less impact he will have relative to actual hard carries. Playing Dragon Knight is finding the line between farming and making plays with your team. A Dragon Knight that is behind, is one that will have a very small impact on the game.
Concepts: Damage Dealer, Lane Dominator, Snowballing
To any Dota player, Viper is one of the most annoying matchups you can find in the mid lane. Anytime you walk near a creepwave, he will spam his Poison Attacks at you, causing you to take damage over time with every hit. He uses his Nethertoxin to push out waves and keep his farm up, while remaining tanky due to his Nethertoxin passive, which grants him Magic Resistance and Damage over time to anyone that touches him. Finally, his Viper Strike ultimate is a single target, Damage over time slow that allows Viper to constantly hit while his enemies feebly try to outrun him.
Viper’s forte is completely dominating a lane with his Poison Attack harass, and to snowball a lead into his other lanes. Viper does the most in the first 20 minutes of the game, and knowing how to take advantage of a timing is incredibly important as any midlaner. After the 20 minute point, he tapers off as enemies begin to get more items that invalidate his strengths. However, the job of a Viper is to continue to maintain a lead over his enemies, and win the game before the enemy carries are strong.
Top ten beginner Dota heroes: Hard Carry (1)
The hard carry role or 1 position, is the late game insurance for any team. The job of a hard carry is to farm as much as possible while his teammates make space during the mid game. The goal of a carry is to come out of farming richer than anyone else on the map, and carry the late game team fights for his team. If you enjoy doing large amounts of damage and being an endgame raid boss, this role is for you!
Concepts: Farming Patterns, initiation, Damage
Sven is a simple, yet effective carry hero in dota that is a classic, just like Dragon Knight. He has an AOE stun that affects a small area, a spell that gives all allies in an area movement speed and armor. What makes him a great carry hero is his Great Cleave; this passive gives Sven a cleave, such that his auto attacks now deal a percentage of the damage done to the primary target onto targets in the back. While other carries are hitting one creep at a time, Sven can effectively hit as many as he wants with a single swing. Pair that with items that increase attack speed such as Mask of Madness, and you have yourself one of the best farmers in the game. Taking advantage
When Sven is ready to fight, he simply has to press his Ultimate, Gods Strength. The ability allows Sven to effectively double his damage output for a period of time. If a Sven can get on top of anyone late game, consider them dead in a few hits. However, Sven is only effective if he can get on stick close to enemy heroes and constantly deal damage. One of his largest weaknesses is getting kited by the enemy team, buying items that do not allow Sven to burst anyone down with his damage. Understanding the timings to fight, while getting good angles to enter the teamfight determines a good Sven from the rest.
Concepts: Damage, Survivability, Farming Patterns
Wraith King is a hero that is commonly recommended for Dota beginners because he has a get out of jail free card in the form of his ultimate, Reincarnation. As the name suggests, Wraith King will come back to life as long as the ability remains off cooldown. This allows players to have a safety net that allows them to make more mistakes and still win a teamfight. As a player gets better at Wraith King, the uses of the Reincarnation will get better. Picking the correct places to give up your first life and allowing your team to reach your position in order to prepare for a fight with your second life is key in learning the hero. The best games for Wraith King are ones where he deals so much damage that he cannot be ignored, forcing the enemy to focus him at the beginning of the fight, leaving them with no spells to handle the rest of his team.
Along with his Reincarnation ability, Wraith King has a single target stun in the form of his Wraithfire Blast. He also has a built in critical damage in the form of his Mortal Strike, needing less items to deal the same amount of damage that another carry might. Wraith King’s most unique ability lies in his Vampiric Spirit, which gives him built in lifesteal, and allows him to collect charges on the ability for every 2 creeps he kills. When Wraith King has a charge, he can summon the same number of skeleton minions that follow him around. The most effective farming method for a Wraith King is to walk to a location, clear said creeps to half health and allow your minions to finish them off. This effectively cuts the time spent farming a single area by almost half! In a way, this is Wraith King’s version of Sven’s Great Cleave.
The heroes that have been introduced in this guide are just the tip of the iceberg. There are more than 110 heroes remaining in the pool to learn and play, all of them taking advantage of the same concepts written under each entry. Still finding it difficult to play Dota? here is a League of Legends to Dota transition guide that might be able to help!
The resident Dota player of the Upcomer Team that dips his toes into League, Melee and Pokemon. A chinese-indonesian living in Vancouver, Canada. Enjoys food, fashion and movies. Just another adult who decided it would be a good idea to start their own podcast