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Let’s Play: DOTA Autochess

by GameStart Asia

How did DOTA Autochess, a mod of a mod, become one of the hottest games in 2019 (90,000 concurrent players can’t be wrong)? The game is so popular that the mod developers want to take their game to mobile phones.

Here’s a brief history lesson: In 2003, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) custom map/mod called Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) was released in Blizzard’s Strategy RPG Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. DOTA became so popular that American game dev Valve Corporation acquired the intellectual property rights in 2009 and developed their own stand-alone sequel, DOTA 2 in 2013.

Which brings us to 2019, this custom map in DOTA 2 steadily grew in popularity for incorporating characters and items of DOTA 2 into an easy-to-learn-difficult-to-master game of poker meets Rock Paper Scissors.

Top 3 finish grants you candy to trade for cute couriers and bragging rights 🙂

Here’s a video tutorial on how to get started:

The Basics
Each round begins with 5 randomly assigned chess pieces/DOTA heroes. You can left-click to purchase as many or as little chess pieces as you want, which will appear in 1 of your 8 holding slots. You have to transfer (Q button) your chess piece from the holding slot to the play area to make it active.

You can buy, sell and combine chess pieces anytime during the round but are given only 20 seconds at the start to move chess pieces, so think and act fast! Then comes the combat phase where you square off against AI enemies or another human player.

Gold is awarded to players who defeat their opponents but those who lose will still get a minimum of 1 gold. The more consecutive wins/losses you rack up the more gold you get at the start of the next round.

Combining chess pieces
3 of the same chess piece combines into the next star-tier up to a maximum of 3 star-tier.
For example:
Axe 1 star-tier (3) = Axe 2 star-tier (1)
Axe 2 star-tier (3) = Axe 3 star-tier (1)
i.e. 9 of the same 1 star-tier chess piece is required to form the 3 star-tier version. Druids are the exception but more on that later.

Really lucky to get the right items for this Refresher Orb 😉

Those familiar with the DOTA 2 might recognise the items and the crafting system. AI opponents randomly drop defensive and offensive items. Right-click each item to see how it combines into higher tier items.

The key to winning is to have as many active quality chess pieces with the best items on your board as possible.


Tips and ticks

1. Read read read!
Mouse over the tooltips, read the traits and skills of each chess piece and what the items do. There are new things to learn from every game and you won’t be able to absorb much when you first start off. So if you want to get better learn from players and guides (like this one 😉 )

2. Mix and Match
Try out different combinations of racials and classes as your favourite combination may not be available due to bad RNG or another opponent going for the same thing as you! Having trouble cracking Warriors and Knights to get to the backline DPS? Try Assassins to backstab the DPS and Mages to give opponents vulnerability to magic damage.

3. Don’t be afraid to start over
Not having a Plan B guarantees an early exit. If you get hit with bad RNG or are vying with other players for the same chess pieces, don’t be afraid to switch up the entire team. It’s a high risk strategy that has the potential for high rewards.

4. Open secret
DOTA Autochess is a game theorists’ dream scenario. Rarely do you see real world games with perfect information – where everyone can see what everyone else is doing. Use that knowledge to your full advantage from building your team to tweaking your formation for maximum effect.

I got more candy finishing 2nd than the player who came in 1st 😀

5. Never give up, never surrender
You never know when that vital chess piece might show up and turn the tide of battle in your favour. Remember it ain’t over till the fat lady sings and candies are awarded based on how well you perform against players that are higher level than you.


Featured image from GameStart Asia’s Youtube video.

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