Our Auto Chess controls guide explains how to move chess piece units onto the board, refund their cost, and plenty more besides.
Dota 2's Auto Chess custom mode is surging in popularity at the moment, but truth be told it doesn't do a particularly good job of explaining even the basics to new players - including how the controls work.
As well as outlining the controls for Auto Chess by keyboard function, we've also answered some of the most common questions you're likely to have - we certainly had some of them ourselves when we were starting out!
If you've got any questions of your own, let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to help you out.
If you're just getting started with the game, we highly recommend checking out our core Auto Chess guide which contains an overview of gameplay strategy, as well as some very useful video resources.
Essential Auto Chess Coverage
- Auto Chess Guide - How to get started with the game mode
- Auto Chess Tier List - A work in progress evaluation of the strongest units
- Auto Chess Starting Strategies - Tried and tested opening gambits
- Auto Chess Levelling - How levelling and XP works in Dota Auto Chess
- Auto Chess Free Candy - How to earn Candy and what you can spend it on
- Auto Chess Gold - How to make more gold and spend it efficiently
- Auto Chess Item List - All the in-game items, with stats and combinations
- Auto Chess Controls - Our overview of all the control systems in the game
- Auto Chess Ranks - How the ranking system works in Dota Auto Chess
- Auto Chess Download / Install - Setting up for Auto Chess
Auto Chess Controls
Here's a breakdown of the core controls you're going to need to know about when playing Auto Chess.
Note that many of these commands are only available once you've first of all selected your mule character, which is named ChessPlayer on your board.
- Spacebar - Use this to bring up the character selection screen if you want to review the pool available to you. Handy if you shut it down by accident during the pick phase!
- Mouse movement - By moving your mouse around the screen you can view the entire playable area and check in on your opponent's build strategy. Make liberal use of this intel between rounds, and once you've set your own units in place.
- TAB - Cycle between the different player chess boards [thanks to reader About70hobos for pointing this out in the comments].
- LMB - Select units on the board.
- RMB - Move your "mule" around the board.
- Q - With your mule selected, hit Q and then select a unit from the bench. You'll now be able to move it onto a tile of your choosing. You can repeat this process with other units as long as the preparation stage of battle is in progress.
- D - This refreshes the pool of characters you choose from. Note that making use of this is not advised in the early stages of a game, and you will have to spend gold to activate this tool.
- E - Activate this if you want to destroy one of your chess units and reclaim its cost in gold.
- F - By spending five gold you can increase your experience and so field more of your units onto the chess board.
How do I move chess pieces into play?
To move one of your characters from the bench and onto the playable board, first of all select your mule which represents you as a chess player.
From here you can access a number of commands
- Press Q and then select a unit from the bench. You'll then have the chance to position it on the board by moving the icon to the desired location.
- Press W to recall a unit from the board and get it back on the bench.
Keep in mind, however, that you can only issue these commands during the preparation stage. Don't hang about too much when it comes to picking your units during the selection phase. You'll want enoough time to get them positioned in good order as well.
How do I buy more chess pieces?
Hit Spacebar to bring up the character pool and then - if you've enough gold to afford them - select the character you want with a left mouse click. It'll then be added to the bench part of the board, and you can bring them into play via your mule (see the question above for more details on this process).
Why aren't certain control commands available?
Many of the commands you need can only be issued during the preparation phase, and while the timer is still counting down. Once battle commences, it's all hands-off for the most part.
Why can't I field all of my chess pieces?
There's a cap to how many units you can have in play at any given time, and it's tied to your current level. You'll slowly gain XP as rounds conclude, but you can also hit F to spend some of your gold on levelling, and increase the number of units you can play.