Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DotA Rules of Thumb

DotA is a complex game, mostly in the area of decision making. Here are some helpful rules of thumb I've discovered that help you become a better player. Also note that while I call them "rules of thumb", there are no "rules" in DotA, only guidelines that you'll have to understand when to break.

  1. Have a Justification for Every Decision
    1. Never do something blindly because a pro did it, it worked last game, etc.
    2. Every game is unique, so you have to play uniquely
  2. Minimize Down Time
    1. When you're doing nothing you lose Experience/minute and Gold/minute
    2. There is always something you could be doing (e.g. stacking neutral creep camps)
  3. There is Always Something You Could Have Done Better
    1. Dunning-Kruger Effect, a term you'll hear over and over - everyone thinks they're better than they are
    2. Another reason not to rage at teammates - there's something you could have done at some point in the game (action, saying something, a ping, etc.) that could have helped your team win. Even if another player on your team was legitimately bad, the game was not unwinnable most of the time.
  4. Focus on Team Cohesion
    1. Morale is hugely important for the team. If everyone is having fun, your team will naturally do better than the team that is stressed.
    2. Don't worry about counter-picks as much as making sure your lineup is solid. While a counter-pick is nice, it isn't always helpful if you don't have someone that knows how to play the hero well or a lane that suits the pick.
  5. Have Fun
    1. If you enjoy something, you'll naturally want to improve and you'll improve faster
    2. If you're having fun, you have one less stress and that leads to playing better
    3. Having fun gives you a good mindset. There is nothing worse than going into a game thinking "jeez... no one picked a support. I'll have to do it AGAIN. I hate support." How well do you think you are going to play like that?
  6. Information is a Key to Victory
    1. Watch the minimap constantly because it will tell you how to play (see players coming for you, play defensively or teleport out)
    2. Look at what your teammates and opponents are building. Don't get redundant items (e.g. to Vlads on your team). Be prepared for your opponent (e.g. you see their initiator got Blink Dagger - watch out for them)
  7. Play to Improve
    1. Winning is fun, but you can't win all the time. Don't be frustrated though.
    2. Set small goals for yourself so there is a victory in each game (e.g. I'm playing carry, so my goal is to get 80% of the last hits on each creep wave for the first 5 waves)
    3. Over Time: Effort Towards Improving > Achievements
  8. Focus on What You CAN Change
    1. Yelling at a teammate during the game isn't going to change the fact that they didn't rice hard enough early game. That happened. It's done. Focus on the immediate and the future.
    2. Beating yourself up for a mistake during game will only make you play worse / hurt your attitude. Save it for watching the replay.
    3. Pointing out that less than optimal picks were made is good for reflection, but it's not worth the effort to debate that during the draft/game. You cannot change it at the moment, so don't waste time on it.
    4. If you see someone dying a lot (or it's you), try to figure out a way to stop that from happening. Give specific pointers rather than "play better".

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