Dota 2 and its previous incarnation has been around for 15 years, taking the crown as the longest active MOBA on the market. Fifteen years of homicidal heroes and creeps. Fifteen years of barely functioning tutorials. Fifteen years of getting screamed at in languages both native and foreign.
From the massive, always available pool of 117 heroes to unintuitive mechanics that seemed like IceFrog, the current developer of Dota 2, was having a fever dream, learning the basics alone can be daunting to even the most adamant of players.
Of course, even the most experienced Dota 2 veteran started from the bottom. We’ve all been through the gauntlet that is the game’s learning curve, which has been compared to Mt. Everest. Fortunately, there are heroes whose individual gameplay and mechanics are relatively simple, resulting in an easy way to contribute to winning the game.
If you’re someone looking to get into the hardest MOBA out there, consider trying the following heroes in your first few games.
One day, a friend asked “What hero can be useful even when I’m standing in the fountain?”
“Crystal Maiden,” we replied.
As a hero at the very end of the support spectrum, Crystal Maiden is going to die a lot. Her problems are numerous: Poor scaling skills, she’s stupidly fragile with no escape skill, and she clocks in at 275 movement speed, good for second-lowest in the entire game.
But even in the absolute worst games where you’ve died 20 times, you’re providing a valuable service with Arcane Aura, Crystal Maiden’s passive. It regenerates mana. And, best of all, it’s a global aura, which means it affects all allies on your map.
If health is lifeblood, mana is energy. For practically every hero, mana is a valuable resource worthy of sacrifice to the gods. Even when you’re doing nothing with Maiden, you’re actually doing something.
Although Arcane Aura is powerful, her other skills are nothing to scoff at. Sure, she has cons, but she’s also one of the few heroes in the game with access to two point-and-click disables at level two. With Crystal Nova and Frostbite, you can be a threat in a lane with heroes that dish out damage but lack control. Plus, with buffs to her ultimate that allows her to actually stand and channel, the Maiden becomes a legitimate teamfight threat.
Crystal Maiden remains one of the safest first picks in the game, regardless of your experience. Our aforementioned friend has over 1,400 games played on the hero now, too.
Vengeful Spirit is another very reliable support pick with an easy mode single target stun and a kit revolving around debuffing enemies’ armor and increasing your team’s physical damage.
Vengeful Spirit’s ultimate is a double-edged sword, but it allows you to grasp and learn why it’s powerful in some situations and weak in others. As you delve deeper into the pool of heroes, many advanced heroes have powerful skills on first look, but require careful management of resources or force players to sacrifice in other ways. Starting Dota 2 early with a skill like Nether Swap could do wonders for your game sense.
But Vengeful Spirit’s low intelligence gain means that she has less mana than most support heroes. The tradeoff? She has high agility gain for a support, which synergizes well with her physical skill kit. It allows her to scale in the late game in terms of damage, transitioning into a secondary or tertiary carry for the team.
Ogre Magi is a unique case when it comes to supports. Although he’s an Intelligence hero, he doesn’t have a ranged attack at all. His high starting strength, armor, and base health regen allows him to be a bulky frontliner even at level one.
The twins can take loads of punishment both in the lane and when teams start to push the tempo. Its talents also provide additional bulk. For players who’d much rather be in the thick of the fight rather than skirting the edges, Ogre Magi just might be the support hero for you.
Ogre’s signature ability Multicast showcases its reliance on luck. Unlike other heroes whose ultimate skill is a flashy active ability, Multicast is a passive skill that gives its active skills and items a chance to hit multiple times. Yes, you can cast four Fireblasts for the price of one. Yes, you can Dagon and Midas a lot of things.
Without Multicast procs, the Ogre Magi is a fairly cookie-cutter hero with reliable but otherwise unremarkable spells and damage output. But if you roll the dice just right, you can wipe the floor with your enemies.
Now we enter the realm of core heroes. Perhaps you’re looking for a more late game presence? Sven is the perfect example of a noob-friendly hard carry, thanks to his high health, armor, damage output, and access to a reliable area-of-effect stun.
Sven’s gameplan is obvious: Get farmed, then wreck face with Great Cleave and God’s Strength. He also isn’t too shabby in lane. As one of the few carries with a stun, Storm Hammer allows him to pair up with supports that also have disables and/or spell damage.
His main downfall, though, is his weakness to kiting and teams that know how to spread out. A Blink Dagger is recommended to make the most of Storm Hammer, which can be followed up by God’s Strength-amplified attacks. A Black King Bar is also essential to Sven, allowing him to shrug off stuns and disables.
The meanest, toughest, most hard-headed fighter this side of the Dota 2 river has entered the arena, and his name is Bristleback. He’s one of the most durable heroes in the game and is great for new players who are simply tired of dying.
Yes, we said that Bristleback is hard-headed, but he’s actually hard-backed. His creatively named signature skill, Bristleback, reduces all incoming damage from the rear and sides, all while triggering Quill Spray.
The fun part? If the enemy team focuses Bristleback in a teamfight, they could end up paying the consequences. The stacking nature of Quill Spray and Viscous Nasal Goo punishes teams that ignore him in favor of squishier targets and forces them to keep their guard up.
But Bristleback is hard countered by Break, a mechanic that removes passives. Break demolishes both his defensive and offensive capabilities. Look out for heroes like Viper with innate Break or Silver Edge on your enemies.
Nothing else screams “I can’t die” like a skill that gives you a second lease on life.
Wraith King’s aptly named Reincarnation provides him with the means to be revived. Besides the Aegis of the Immortal dropped by Roshan, there’s nothing else that allows you to come back from the dead.
Wraith King is one of the most meta heroes even in the professional scene, and it’s not hard to see why. Besides the aforementioned ultimate that allows him to counter burst, his Wraithfire Blast provides a stun-to-kill combo in lane, while his Vampiric Aura and Mortal Strike gives him sustainability and damage. Plus, you get to spawn spooky skeletons that greatly aid in pushing lanes, even those too dangerous for an immortal King.
Wraith King is a ridiculous hero now. Try it and be amazed.
The quintessential carry at the lowest tiers of play, Sniper stays away from harm by having the longest attack range in the game. Nothing beats hitting heroes from miles away thanks to Take Aim, while annoying them with slows like Shrapnel and Headshot.
If your enemies manage to get away from “ho ho ha ha” man, you can finish them off with his ultimate, Assassinate, which has a cast range of up to 3,000 units. No one escapes the lengthy vision of Kardel Sharpeye.
In lane, his blazing fast projectile speed helps him beat out opponents in the contest for last hits. This helps him get an early farming advantage, all while keeping his opponent down with denies and harassment.
He is, of course, made out of wet paper, so it’s important for new players to learn how to kite enemy heroes and keep Sniper’s range at max. With an insane 25-percent cooldown reduction talent at level 10, Sniper’s poor mobility can be greatly improved with active items like Hurricane Pike and Shadow Blade.
One of the most exhilarating carries to ever exist, Phantom Assassin tickles the newbie’s fancy through her ultimate, Coup de Grace. Even though it’s luck-based, Coup de Grace can deal a frightening amount of damage in a single strike, decapitating even the hardiest of heroes in the blink of an eye.
The rest of her kit helps her immensely during teamfights and when eluding enemy supports in lane. Blur provides physical evasion, giving her the ability to go toe-to-toe with opposing carries without fear of taking lethal damage before she can crit them. With a new active sub-ability added to Blur, she can also bypass vision to assassinate unsuspecting targets.
As with Sven, she’s very easy to kite and succumbs easily to magic damage nukes and disables. She’s also susceptible to Break and Monkey King Bars, which makes her a lot less survivable. Make sure to pick up a Black King Bar along the way as you farm to protect yourself from enemy crowd control.
Zeus is about the only mid hero that we’d recommend for new players, mainly because of how one-dimensional his playstyle is. It’s not a bad thing. Zeus is all about hitting hard and fast with painful magic nukes and quick cooldowns.
The god of thunder has a full complement of powerful spells and his ultimate, Thundergod’s Wrath, is a global nuke that hits every enemy hero on the map. All of his abilities are point-and-click, making them easy to hit even for new players. Plus, two of his abilities provide True Sight, allowing you to deal with pesky invisible units.
Since all of his skills are damaging spells, he suffers from wet paper syndrome and a lack of mobility. But his fast farming speed can make up for those deficiencies. Keep note of your mana bar or you’ll burn through it before you know it.
Don’t be afraid to use your ultimate indiscriminately. Is a gank happening in another lane? Secure the play with additional damage. Is nobody on the map? Provide easy, unavoidable vision. Although Zeus’ kit is straightforward, his ability to provide vision can save the team from unexpected ganks and abilities.
Remember, this is just a guide, not a step by step walkthrough. With 117 heroes and countless combos, Dota 2 is a beautiful puzzle and you’ll find that one piece that clicks just right.