How not to lose a 60 minute game of Dota 2


This is Tiny. He has an ability called 'Toss'. 'Toss' means 'throw'. This is not a suggestion.
Three Lane Highway

Every week, Chris documents his complex ongoing relationship with Dota 2 and wizards in general. To read more Three Lane Highway, click here.

The game has run long, as pub games tend to do. It's relatively even—maybe you're ahead a little, maybe they are, but the thing just won't seem to end. At this point, you probably have about a 50% chance of winning: and really is going to be up to chance, unless you ask yourself a simple series of questions.

Here is how you don't lose this Dota game.

Where are you going and why are you going there

You are going somewhere, because clicking on the ground is a pretty good idea in Dota 2. Where are you going, though? Are you going to your jungle? Are you going to the Roshan pit? Are you going to their jungle, or to lane? Regardless of the answer: why are you doing this?

Here are some bad answers to this question:

  • There might be kills there and I'd like to get a kill. I want to be the 'kills guy', the guy who gets all the kills.
  • I am going to punch creeps until I can buy the big item I want. The big item will ensure that I become 'kills guy'.
  • I am going to place a ward because I would like my team to stop shouting at me.
  • I do not have any wards but I am going to use my face as a ward. My face-ward will find the enemy team, wherever they may be. My face-ward is not responsible for what happens after that.

Here are some good answers:

  • I am going to set up an ambush for the enemy split-pusher who has kept them in the game this far.
  • I am going to place a ward on the highground around our base and jungle so that we can push out and farm.
  • I am going to ensure that we have vision around the Roshan pit.
  • I am going to farm in an area that is safe because of the number of wards that we have. I am extremely grateful for all of these wards.

Do your friends know where you are

It's all very good to make solid right-clicking-on-the-ground decisions, but these can still become bad decisions if you choose to horde all of that wisdom for yourself. Why not share your plan of action with the rest of your team? This is why we call them 'a team', and not 'four assholes'.

You may think that they're four assholes, but this is one of those rare instances where thinking it makes it so—and making it so will lose you this game of Dota 2. Sharing your plan will result in one of two outcomes:

  • Your team will accompany you on your mission.
  • Somebody will call you an asshole.

There's nothing you can do about that second one, but the first one is pretty important.

Why are you going by yourself

If you're going alone, then you've done something wrong. You've either forgotten to tell your team about where you're going, in which case go back a step, or you've told them and they've called you an asshole and you've decided to go anyway. This may make you feel like a strong free independent Dota player, but it is also probably going to get you killed and lose you the game.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this. It's a teammate. Or an asshole. It doesn't matter. Just don't go anywhere you don't have really good vision without somebody else. This will either prevent a disaster, or at the very least mitigate the blame for a disaster.

Do you have a Town Portal Scroll

You really should definitely have a teleport scroll. You do not need a Town Portal Scroll if you have Boots of Travel. There are no other exceptions. Not even for you, Nature's Prophet. Not even for you.

Your gold isn't your gold now, surplus gold is your gold

Mouse over your gold counter on the right hand side of the screen, near the shop button. See all that stuff that pops up? One number is incredibly important: the green number (presuming that it's green. If it's not green, earn gold until it's green.)

This number tells you how much gold you have. You might think that you've got much more than this, but you don't. You see, all that other gold is reserved for the buyback that you definitely need. You need that buyback more than you need the item you're thinking of buying. You might think "I don't really need buyback". Don't have that thought. Eradicate that thought. That thought will make you lose this game.

You don't look convinced. You think that second Daedalus is going to ensure that, when the smoke clears, you emerge as the 'kills guy'. You're wrong. You should save for buyback.

You can buy things, but only using your surplus. If your gold count says '1898' but the green number reads '86', you may purchase items that cost less than 86 gold. May I suggest a Town Portal Scroll.

No seriously save for buyback

Do you know what's a pretty good item? Daedalus. It's worth 5520 gold. That's a lot of gold!

Do you know what's a really good item? All of your current items, plus your hero and all of their stats and abilties. That's worth every single piece of gold that you've spent in this entire game plus all of the experience that you've earned. Do you know why? Because all of these things are worth zero gold when you are dead, and only regain their value when you come back to life.

Buyback is the button that makes you come back to life. It's a very important button. Save for buyback.

Why doesn't anybody have buyback

YOU: I thought we just spoke about this! We have wiped and nobody has buyback.

TEAMMATE ONE: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.

TEAMMATE TWO: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.

TEAMMATE THREE: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.

TEAMMATE FOUR: I thought it would be fine if I bought this item that I have just bought and now don't get to use because I am dead.

YOU: I should not have bought this extra Daedalus.

They won't skip barracks and go straight for the Ancient, it's fine

It's not fine.

Pcgp Logo Red Small

PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

Chris Thursten

Joining in 2011, Chris made his start with PC Gamer turning beautiful trees into magazines, first as a writer and later as deputy editor. Once PCG's reluctant MMO champion , his discovery of Dota 2 in 2012 led him to much darker, stranger places. In 2015, Chris became the editor of PC Gamer Pro, overseeing our online coverage of competitive gaming and esports. He left in 2017, and can be now found making games and recording the Crate & Crowbar podcast.