Our Auto Chess guide explains how to play the new Dota 2 Arcade mode, with new player tips and strategy advice.
Dota 2's Auto Chess custom game mode has picked up some serious steam (no pun intended), and shows absolutely no sign of stopping any time soon. It's largely down to the fact that it's a whole lot of fun to play, providing a mixture of game styles that's not really chess and not really Dota, but something entirely different. There's something incredibly moreish about the mode and we can see it taking off in the near future once everyone realises just how addictive it is.
If you're wondering what all the buzz is about and want to get in on the action, we've put together a primer guide which explains the ins and outs of this custom mode. It'll teach you all the basics of how to play and we'll continue fleshing it out over time as we spend more time with the game too - stay tuned.
For now though, here's what you need to know to get you up and running with Auto Chess. If you're struggling to get to grips with some of the basics, it's worth taking a look through our Starting Strategies page which will help you get off to a strong start.
How to install Auto Chess for Dota 2
First things first, you're going to have to install the Dota 2 game client. To do so, make sure you search for the base game on Steam, and then install it as usual.
Once you've installed Dota 2, go to the Arcade page, search for Auto Chess, and then add the mode to your installation. It's nice and simple and shouldn't take you more than a few minutes to get going once you're in.
How to play Auto Chess
This section of our guide covers the basics of how to play Auto Chess and will hopefully provide you with enough knowledge to jump in and get started with the custom game mode. As we gain more experience with the game, or if it drastically changes, we'll give it an overhaul.
- Auto Chess is a competitive eight player mode that's available to download as a custom game mode in Dota 2. Unlike traditional Dota, play takes place on a chess board of eight squares by eight squares. Rather than chess pieces though, you play with various heroes from Dota 2.
- Gameplay takes place across numerous rounds, and with multiple boards existing within the overall game space. These other boards are occupied by your fellow players, and this is the PVP element of Dota Auto Chess.
- The first three rounds (and specific rounds much later in the game) take place against AI creeps/bosses on your board, allowing you to build up resources (items and gold) and develop your strategy before you start battling other players. It's highly recommneded that you monitor your opponents' emerging strategies continuously by mousing around each board before you take your turn.
- When you first start a match, you'll need to purchase and position a starting hero on your side of the board. You choose from a random pool of heroes that you'll be able to continue buying throughout the game, but if you like your random selection then you can hit the padlock button at the top left of the buying screen to lock the characters in for purchasing later on.
Keep in mind that certain units can be combined if you have enough of them positioned close to one another, allowing you to create even more powerful units. If you have multiple units of the same type in your opening selection, consider locking them in. Alternatively, you can spend resources to re-roll this selection, but it's not recommended to do this until later in the game when you want to hunt out specific synergies.
- Once combat initiates at the start of a round, your active characters will fight the AI or human opponents automatically. As you kill enemies, you'll notice little gift packages appear on the ground. Right click on these packages to pick them up, and look at the bottom right of your screen to view them sitting in your inventory. You can give these items to your heroes to buff them, and they can even be combined with other items to boost their power.
- Characters have either a passive or an active ability. Active abilities cost mana to cast, and mana is gained when an attack is made or when a character is attacked. You get more mana in the latter scenario than in the former.
- You'll also level up and gain gold as you work through rounds, which also opens up a number of options. You can spend this gold to level up quickly so you can place more pieces on the board, or you can use the money to buy more expensive units. There's a complex system at work with the in-game economy which we won't go into here, but it's well worth having a read of our economy guide for a breakdown of how it all works.
Building a Team
- When building your team, it's important to look for strong synergies and abilities that combo well with one another. Think about how each new character can either support or enhance the overall shape of your emerging combat strategy. Character classifications are an important thing to look at in the selection phase, so that you find units that work well together.
- Following on from the point above, Goblins and Mechs are concerned strong starter archetypes to focus your build around as you learn the basics of Auto Chess. Try to focus on these while you're learning the ropes and it'll make it easier to grasp some of the finer details and advanced strategies involved.
- You'll receive a unit of experience at the end of each round, and as you increase your level you can field more characters onto the board. While you're levelling though, you'll need to leave some characters “on the bench” and in the bottom row of the board. Note that you can also spend some of your gold on experience boosts which will help you accelerate the number of units you can have in play during any given round.
- The better you plan these early AI rounds, the better you'll perform once the human competitive element comes to play. Efficient kills and gold gains means you'll be able to snowball your advantage against the other players. Really focus on making the most out of these early rounds, so that you head into the real competition in the best possible shape.
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 Tips
Here are some extra tips to help you develop in the game. We'll expand on this section considerably over time:
We'd highly recommend checking out loopuleasa's enormous page for beginner, intermediate and advanced tips.
Another resource we'd also recommend for those who've already put some time into the game and want to up their win rate would be Trump's "Become a Bishop Player" guide.
- The more gold you can amass the better, as it's the key component to snowballing growth into the later rounds.
- Bonus gold is awarded for winning streaks of rounds, and you also gain interest on the gold reserves you have in your stash. You also receive gold automatically at the start of each round.
- Only a certain number of heroes are available across each game world. If you see your opponent aggressively building around a certain archetype, be aware that you will likely struggle to build an equal force of the same type.
- As mentioned earlier on in this guide, if you're completely new to the game then you're highly encouraged to explore Mech and Elf strategies, as these are generally consider to be new player-friendly.
- While it's nice to have a variety of classes, make sure you've always got race traits in mind as they can be game changing. Work towards and commit to certain races, especially in the early to mid game where money can be a little tight.
- You can have the strongest chess pieces in the game, but if you don't position them correctly they'll struggle to reach their full potential. In general, it's best to place your healers and long range damage dealers on the backline, with tanks and bruisers protecting them on the frontline. When it comes to assassins, it's good to pop them on the sides so they can hop to the enemy's backline from the get-go and start laying down DPS on vulnerable targets.
- We'd recommend prioritising your economy first. It's important to take advantage of interest, so make sure you're not spending all your gold every single round. Always keep over 10 gold banked, and try your best to up this every round by spending carefully. This ensures you've got plenty of gold to swap out, buy or re-roll to optimise your team composition in the mid to late game.
- RNG determines a lot in this game, so make sure you're constantly adapting to the situation at hand.
- If you overpopulate the board with minions once the preparation timer has run out, the game will automatically bench your lowest cost minions to meet the total. This isn't ideal as it can completely ruin your composition. As soon as you've got the chance to prepare, keep an eye on the timer and work quickly.
- Don't neglect the items which drop from creep waves. Make sure you're either saving them for specific combos, or pop them in the inventories of chess pieces which would benefit the most from them. For example, mana regen is great for mages, whie damage reduction is perfect for tanks.
- If you've got a huge stockpile of gold, consider spending a chunk on EXP and accelerating the levelling process. The higher your level, the more pieces you can field and the higher your chance of encountering powerful units. Gaining an early level advantage over your opponents is a great way to gain board advantage and gives you more of a chance at snowballing victories too.
Auto Chess Video Tutorials
Below we've compiled a list of the best video tutorials we've found so far as sometimes it's easier to learn something by simply watching it in action.
A fantastic guide to watch if you're just getting started, with handy tooltips which explain little - but important - mechanics too.
A great watch for those who want to take things just a bit slower as Kripparian stops play to explain certain mechanics.
A highly rated player who explains things nicely. Well worth a watch!
Again, another highly ranked player who is extremely easy to follow and explains what she's doing and why she's doing it during a match. Definitely worth a view.
That's the end of our primer guide to the very basis of playing Auto Chess.
We'll have more updates for you as we gain more experience with the game ourselves. If there's anything you'd like to see us cover in particular, sign up and let us know in the comments.