What I learned in my first 3 months of Dota 2:
- How to last hit and deny. With each small improvement, your gold income increases dramatically, and you can start to pull ahead of your opponents in XP as you deny better. Remember always that last hitting > denying. Always choose a last hit on a creep over a deny.
- When to last hit and when to push. Even when pushing, you should attempt to last-hit as much as possible.
- to stay alive:
- Learn how to move back and forth to be a harder target for ground-targeted spells
- Learn that when you’re on low health, you need to retreat and heal, even if it means going all the way back to base. Lost laning time is better than dying
- Learn to juke into the trees and use your Town Portal scroll to escape a gank (you DO always carry a TP scroll right? RIGHT? Stop being a noob and carry one).
- A general idea of how most of the (popular) heroes play, and their abilities. This involves playing a lot of vs-bot games, and being really terrible at heroes for most of the game.
- That the default hotkeys are NOT your best friend. You really need to rebind the courier and your items to more-convenient keys.
- How to use the courier without thinking about it: create your own lobby-game and practice nothing but using the courier.
- What the most-common items are based on their icons. You do not have time in game to read every item description! Create a lobby of your own, or read the Learn tab online, and get familiar with the items and how to build them.
- How to stack and pull creeps into the safe lane to pull back your creep line.
- Respect for tower damage, especially at low levels
- How to use deny to back up your creep line. You can only attack your own creeps when they are less than 50% health!
- What different roles mean, and how they affect how you play:
o Carry: weak early-game, dominates late game if farmed up (need items to be any good, and need superior last-hitting skills to get the gold in the first place!)
o Support: a character that doesn’t need a lot of items to be viable, and thus should take care of putting down wards, buying Dust if necessary, and generally helping a carry to stay safe and get last hits. You buy the team-supporting items like Drums of Endurance, Mekanism, Pipe of Insight, and possibly Arcane Boots. You DO NOT steal last-hits from your carry to get these items!
o Initiator: In team fights, it’s your job to go in first and set up an advantageous situation for your team, using your abilities (usually your Ultimate, but not always).
o Pusher: You excel at pushing lanes and taking down towers. You need a game-sense of when the time is right, and when you have enough levels and gear to successfully take down an enemy tower.
o Ganker: you get yourself a few levels, maybe a few key pieces of gear, and then you go kill enemy heroes for most of the rest of the game.
- Observer and Sentry wards are valuable
- You do not stay in an area where you are outnumbered by enemy heroes unless you have allies, a tower, or an escape route closeby, or a nearly-failsafe escape.
- Places where enemies can get behind you or pincer you are bad places
- Know where the enemy team is, and where you allies are by looking at the minimap frequently. TP to defend your allies.
- Don’t fight battles you can’t win; you’d be surprised how many people do this, just because they have a full mana bar, their ultimate off cooldown, and they are just itching to use their abilities.
- Fight only battles that are unfair in your favour.
- “Fair” 5v5 fights are won through superior timing or positioning
- Learn what to buy to stay in lane. Saving for big items doesn’t keep you safe in lane. Buy regen and branches at the start, generally.
- The suggested starting items are generally good picks. When you’ve played dozens of games, you can start making your own choices.
- If you’re forced to return to base, buy and use a TP to get one direction; it is worth it to trade the cost of a TP scroll for the XP and last hits that you will otherwise miss by spending all your time running.
- Participate in team fights whenever possible! If you don’t think your team should be teamfighting, say something instead of just being absent or hanging back. Your lack of participation is the same as if you were ganked pre-team fight, forcing a 4v5 against your team.
- Do not dive towers directly into a fresh enemy creep wave before around level 8, when creep damage starts to matter less.
- Physical damage is king in late game, but burst nukes are king in mid-game. Stuns or disables are useful pretty much all the time. The deadliness of burst nuke damage tends to fall off after level 12-14, as people gain gear and levels.