CHRIS I’ve thought a lot about how to introduce people to Dota. My approach is to simplify as much as possible. I start the first session by ushering the guys into a meeting room where I’ve prepared a 15- minute presentation. Instead of focusing on the minutiae, I introduce general concepts. Dota 2 is a numbers game, I explain. Much like an RTS, it’s about building and maintaining a resource advantage. How you go about achieving that is as complex as you’d like to make it, but as long as you remember that simple concept, you can’t go too far wrong.
Sam’s role isn’t to score kills, but to create opportunities and deny them to our opponents. He’s learning to set the tempo of the match in a way that suits us, which takes skill.
I don’t know how much of my introduction sinks in with the guys. It is, after all, a powerpoint presentation. When it’s over, I assign roles and heroes that I believe suit our fledgling team.
SAMUEL Dota 2 is intimidating to learn, but Chris has been so specific in assigning us roles that we’re really only learning the one small part of it we each need to function within his battle plan. I’m the muscle, so Chris assigns me Earthshaker, a large hairy creature that turns up in the heat of battle to lay down Fissure, a powerful barricade that will help us control encounters.
Players are given position numbers to determine their place in the resource priority pyramid, with 1 on the top and 5 on the bottom. This doesn’t correspond to importance or skill, it’s about distributing gold and experience to the people who need it.
PHIL I’m playing the support, although we’re not calling it ‘support’. We’re calling it position five, because of graphs. My take on the presentation is that our job as a team is to filter resources in a way that keeps our joint performance stable, even as our individual power shifts. As an intelligence hero, I’ll start stronger relative to my teammates. The upshot of this is that I have to buy a donkey.
CHRIS After the presentation, I load us into a private lobby and give the team a tour of the map. They line up behind me like ducklings, and already look confused.
There’s an intimidating amount to learn, and the only way to cram it all in is to play more. Eventually, terms ‘like ‘BKB’ and ‘Heart’ become second nature, as do their uses and tactical significance.
TOM The strategic overview is useful for clearly laying out our priorities, but I can’t help but start to get bogged down in the minutiae when we roam the map. The home shop is different from the side shops, which are different from the secret shops hidden in the jungle. They all have different items that you can combine into better items to give you stat boosts and special powers. These have weird names like the ‘Black King Bar’ and ‘Heart of Tarrasque’. I comfort myself with the fact I’m playing Sven. Sven’s a blue barbarian guy who hits things with a big sword. I can do that.
ANDY Prior to Chris’s presentation, I don’t know a thing about Dota. After it, I know a bit more, but I’m still very much a member of the Clueless Club. Then we go for a walk around the map and my brain starts to rebel. Why are there so many items for sale? Which ones do I buy? I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m pretty resistant to learning new things, and Dota is a big thing to learn. I figure that when it’s time to play against another team, Chris will just tell me what to do anyway. That I can deal with. I like that I’ve been assigned ranged characters, because then I can just hang at the back.