Rise of the robots
CHRIS I’ve assigned everybody two heroes. For our initial bot games, I take the middle lane and send Andy and Sam to one lane and Phil and Tom to the other. This gives me a chance to keep an eye on them from a position of relative isolation. Some take to the game faster than others.
Items can be sold back to the store with no penalty immediately after you buy them—just right click and select ‘sell’. Try it, Tom.
TOM Phil and I get into a good rhythm. I get used to Sven’s attack timing and getting the last hit on creeps—this gets me gold to buy those complicated items. When you first look at a Dota battle, you might assume you ought to help your little guys get to the enemy ancient. In reality, they’re RTS minerals to be slurped up, one hit at a time. Just when I think I’m starting to get the hang of things, Chris asks why I’ve bought two separate pairs of boots. I have no idea how that happened. I blame Phil’s donkey.
PHIL You would think, given that my first job is to buy a donkey, that I would be good at buying a donkey. While the transaction itself goes smoothly, I forget to take him out of my inventory. My other job is to place wards. I do this by asking Chris where I should place wards shortly after every time he reminds me to buy and place wards. My job, I assume, is just to help other people be awesome. It’s part way through the first bot game that I realise that’s not quite right. Chris pings a location and telling me to wait. He draws in the enemy team and I activate Crystal Maiden’s ultimate: Freezing Field.
Everything dies in a flurry of snow and dancing. I cackle.
If you’re being passive, there’s always something else you could be doing. Ask your team how they’re faring, buy a teleport scroll and see if the enemy is in position for a kill attempt. Otherwise, get some wards.
SAMUEL I’m struggling with Earthshaker. I’m not sure what my purpose is in the early game—I die a lot and I’m pretty poor at aiming Fissure across groups of enemies. I enjoy teaming up with Andy but he’s far more effective. In the next bot game, I switch to Lich, an ice-based long-range mage that seems a bit more well-rounded. This proves a far better fit and I die a lot less. A character fit for a coward!
ANDY As Sniper, the game slowly starts making sense to me. I figure out that if I increase my range, I can attack towers without getting hit. If I keep killing monsters, I can earn money to spend on the thing that gives me lightning bolts. But when we fight tougher bots, everything falls apart.
I die constantly and start to zone out. I lose faith in my ability to ‘get’ Dota. This isn’t for me. I’m not into competitive games that you have to play for a thousand hours to get good at. I play games for stories and experiences, not learning.