Posted by: changheuk | June 11, 2009

Defense of the Ancients

You’ve probably heard of DotA somewhere before. It’s a very popular game currently, at least until other Blizzard games come out.

So what is DotA?

A short abbreviation for Defense of the Ancients, DotA is a Warcraft III: Frozen Throne mod-map. There are many modes, allowing you to choose one of 90 and more "heroes". The game, like Warcraft, is a RTS, but you only control your hero. Maximum of players is a 5 vs. 5 game, basically Sentinel vs. Scourge.

How do I start playing?

Two options:

1) You can buy Warcraft III + Frozen Throne expansion pack (or if you already have it) or just the CD Key (for BOTH games), and go on > Custom Games.

2) Garena. You will not need to buy a CD key; Garena is like a big LAN. You can join one of many 225-player rooms and start playing right away. You do need the game, which you can download from many places out there of course.


3) Download the latest map from (not the stable one usually), and place it in your Warcraft III/Maps folder.

How do I stop sucking?

Here’s a few pieces of advice I recommend to all starting players:

1) Play against computers with some friends in –apem mode for a while. Maybe a week or less. Get the hang of the game.

2) Go on Garena, and join a non-ladder room. Start playing over and over with REAL people. You will be called noob, but just keep playing. Remember to try different heroes, preferably melee strength heroes, as you will learn to last hit easier, and won’t die as easily. Intelligence heroes are very fragile, and if you don’t know what you are doing, then it’s going to be a bad experience.

3) When you are considerably good (this will take quite some time, usually a few months at least), you might want to check out DotA leagues like DXD or SyN. However, this is pretty much only. You can also go try the clan war rooms on Garena, but make sure you have “good” friends. Ventrilo helps. A common reference to as if you’re good or not: if both teams are semi-even in terms of skill level, and you can always get a good positive kill:death ratio, and can play most heroes, then you can be called good (for a pub player).

4) Replays. Forums.

Basics when you start:

Read guides. They help. Whenever you play a hero you haven’t used before, go hit up Complete List of Strategy Guides and see what items and skills to get first. Over time, you will get a better feel for things.

Last hit and deny. By last-hitting creeps, you will get more gold. This is a very important skill in beginner or above DotA. Denying is more advanced, requiring timing and precision; you kill your own creeps or towers to deny experience from your opponent in lane. For this matter, I recommend playing with MELEE heroes first, to get used to last hitting and denying.

Call miss or MIA whenever a hero disappears from your lane – they are most likely going to gank (gangbang) your allies.

Always start with Ironwood branches or one of the prerequisites for Bracers/Nulls/Wraiths, depending on what kind of main stat attribute you are. You will always need Boots of Speed as well. Most items are made of one or more prerequisite items plus the recipe itself. Don’t just buy the recipe; you need the requirement items.

Early on, don’t get hit by creeps or towers.

Conserve mana for critical moments or ganks.

Know when to push, when to farm.

I personally would go to options and set to display HEALTH BARS.

Terms, Commands and Modes:

Most people on Garena play –ap (All Pick). Everyone can pick whatever hero they like (first come first serve). A lot of games on are “em” (easy mode), which you shouldn’t play. You don’t need to last hit as much, and certainly not deny. Worst of all, you can pick carry heroes and just win, without paying attention to lineups, synergy, etc.

Other common modes:

-rd: Random draft, players take turns picking limited heroes that are displayed in a circle.

-sd: Every player is given the choice of three heroes. You can swap after by typing –swap.

-ar: All random, self explanatory.


-di: Display information. This isn’t necessary anymore as of 6.60.

-ma: Displays list of enemy heroes and their levels.

-weather, –music, –water: Changes the attributes of the weather, the music, the water.

-random: Gives you a random hero in ap mode to get 250 extra gold.

-repick: Repick your hero in the first 2 minutes, but costs gold.


Carry: refers to heroes that become very powerful in late-game (level 16+, after 30-40 minutes gameplay), but is weak early-game and has to farm a lot.

Farming: earn gold

Mid, Top, Bot: the three lanes in the map

Runes: every 2 minutes, a magical powerup appears on either side of the river. You can get invisibility, double-damage, haste, and illusion effects. You can also click on an Empty Bottle and then click on it to store it for use whenever you want

Jungling: the art of farming by killing neutral creeps, which are on both sides of the map in the forests. You will get spotted easily if you are in the enemy jungle of course

Gank: gangbang

Solo: since there’s 5 players, one player gets a lane to himself. This usually refers to the mid lane

Support: a hero that is for support

Stun/Slow: self-explanatory

Str/Agi/Int: all heroes are in either one category

Push: refers to pushing down towers or simply pushing back the enemy creep wave (you can sometimes lose by pushing, not just by sheer firepower)

Pubs: Games where random people can join, doesn’t need vouching, ranking, crap like that. Lots of noobs and leavers.

General gist of the game:

Basically, there’s two bases, Sentinel and Scourge. There is 3 lanes that connect these two bases. There will be 5 creeps or more spawning every 30 seconds in both bases in every lane. They march towards each other and fight. There are also 3 towers per lane, per base. They are hard to hit down, and attack enemy units that come within range. Objective is to farm up, kill enemy heroes and creeps, destroy towers, and ultimately kill the enemy base (a Frozen Throne, or the World Tree).


When you get better, these are some things you should be able to do efficiently:

Know how to pick properly.

Last hit efficiently.

Know what your allies and enemies can do.

Know what items to get, depending on situation.

Know your role.

Know how to jungle (killing neutral creeps), creep pull, and double spawns, etc..

(And in higher level games) Know how to ward and carry.


That’s it for now. Don’t worry about being called noob, everyone goes through that stage. Just enjoy yourself and have fun!



  1. Hey, great post, very well written. You should post more about this.

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