LoL to DotA: The Shop

It seems almost foolish to have to dedicate an entire post to the shop differences between LoL and DotA but trust me, it’s necessary. Again, this is one of those things I thought League did really well, and for the most part I still prefer League’s shop, if only for its organization. The DotA system does have some perks, though, which I’ll cover a bit later.

It’s impossible to talk about the DotA shop system without first discussing the differences in gold, which is where the shop differences really originate. In LoL, your gold is your gold unless you spend it. In DotA, gold can be lost on death, depending on a few different factors. Gold is divided into reliable and unreliable gold. Unreliable gold, as you probably guessed, is the gold that gets lost when you die. Reliable gold is yours no matter what. As you save more and more gold for more expensive items, more of your gold becomes unreliable. However, when you buy items you buy with your unreliable gold first, which is why shopping frequently is important.

In DotA, players can use the main shop anytime, anywhere. Yes, you can shop from your lane. Items that are purchased remotely go to each player’s individual stash. Those items can then be retrieved by either visiting base or sending a courier to retrieve them. In most games, each team will purchase a courier for the purposes of hauling items to remote locations. It’s a nice system, and it can keep you in lane for a very long time.

DotA also has a “secret shop” hidden in the same place in each team’s jungle. The secret shop contains different items from the main shop and can only be accessed by standing next to it or sending a courier to do the same. Each side lane also has a “side shop,” which contains a mix of items from both the main and secret shops. This can all be a bit confusing, but that’s the DotA way. At the very least, Valve has tried to make the experience a little less frustrating by placing a small “S” symbol on the icon of any item that is only purchasable via the secret shop. If a player tries to buy an item from the secret shop while out of range, Valve implemented a “shop not in range” error that also pings the map so the player knows where to go to buy the items.

The only other significant difference in my mind is the presence of actual recipe items. When a player buys Madred’s Bloodrazor in League of Legends, there is no 775g item that combines the components into the actual item. It is simply a combine cost that automatically happens. With DotA, there are actual recipe items. This is important because it allows the player to spend unreliable gold on a recipe though they might not be able to afford another component. It’s also important because it is possible to accidentally buy duplicate recipes, which is just no good. As in LoL, where I occasionally buy double boots, I sometimes find myself with double Yasha recipes in DotA. Be aware of this.

As with any MOBA, your best bet for understand the shop is to simply look through it. Play a bot game or find a functioning web tool that works like the shop so you can learn which items are purchased at which shop. For me, I always learned best by playing a couple characters that I really enjoyed, trying a few different builds and stumbling across items that way. Once I’ve seen them in shop a few times it gets much easier to remember how to find them.

The surrender problem in DotA 2

Over the past few days my DotA experience has taken a significant turn for the worse. I’m not sure if my opponents have been getting better or my teammates getting worse. I haven’t been playing terribly. In fact, in some cases I would even call myself “decent.” Regardless, I’ve been losing a lot of games. Most of them, come to think of it. It has been a frustrating run, and the fact that DotA has no surrender has added to that frustration.

Yes, that’s correct. There is no surrender feature. But that’s not the surrender problem I mention in my title. The surrender problem is that the game does not have one, occasionally feels like it should, but ultimately should not. Confused? Don’t worry, I’m with you. I’m just as confused by my feelings about this as you likely are by this post. Just bear with me for a moment.

I don’t think DotA 2 should have a surrender feature, at least not like the one in League of Legends. DotA is a fundamentally different game, and I’ve come back from odds that were steeply stacked against me on more than one occasion. The games didn’t involve leavers or quitters or ragers. They were games like any other, the difference being that my team banded together and either made an epic push or started to turn teamfights in our favor or any number of other measurements of success. If Valve were to implement a surrender feature, most of those games wouldn’t have happened. My team would have thrown in the towel much earlier and I wouldn’t be learning what it takes to overcome a challenging deficit.

That said, I have had games in which my team was getting utterly stomped – stomped so badly we would be unrecognizable to loved ones – but the game dragged out beyond the 40-minute mark. The only recourse is to ask the enemy team to push to win. Compliance is rare, which I totally understand. We’ve all had games in which we pulled ahead of the enemy team and wanted to see just how farmed we could get. Unfortunately, staring at the business end of a hugely farmed Anti-Mage just isn’t a good time.

The one acceptable solution I can think up would be to implement a unanimous surrender option that only becomes available if certain conditions are met. Even this, though, feels a little bit dirty. It feels out of step with the DotA philosophy, which is generally to suffer through a lot of games until you are passably competent, followed by more suffering until you are almost “good” at the game. Really, DotA is a constant learning experience and what can be learned when you aren’t playing the game, even when the odds look insurmountable.

LoL to DotA: Getting Started

This is the first in what will be a series of posts dedicated to preparing players to make the transition from LoL to DotA. It is a bit strange to be making the transition back to DotA after leaving the game a few years ago for the newer mechanics of League of Legends. I’ve enjoyed both games immensely, spending more time in this genre than I’ve probably spent with any other game, including World of Warcraft. While they are definitely similar, the games are different enough that the transition will be difficult for a lot of players. Hopefully this guide will help anyone trying to make the switch.

The Most Basic of the Basics

DotA is a mechanically complex game in ways that LoL just isn’t. There is no way around that. It’s not necessarily a good or bad thing. I tend to prefer the complexity because I feel like it gives me more options for counterplay against my opponents, but that complexity can also be overwhelming and even unnecessary at times. I will cover those things more in depth with later posts. For now, we’re just trying to learn some of the basics.

Expect Longer Games

I am going to stress this first and foremost. I have heard a lot of complaints about game length for both League of Legends and DotA. While I have often been the source of complaints about LoL game length, I really like the longer game length in DotA. My biggest problem with game length in LoL is that the first 20 minutes is just one big farm fest. It’s not particularly interesting and often feels tedious. DotA has a much more active early game in most cases. There are times when it is a tedious farm fest, but the game seems to have a more balanced developmental arc to it.

You should expect an average DotA game to last 50 minutes. I would guess 20 percent of my games run longer than an hour and maybe 15 percent are done by the 45-minute mark.

Attributes versus Roles

In LoL most every champion falls under a small set of archetypes: tanks, ranged AD carries, AP carries, supports, junglers, bruisers and assassins. Some champions fill multiple roles therein, but the character type is basically determined by their skills and in some cases resistance scaling.

In DotA, heroes are divided up by their primary attributes: strength, agility and intelligence. Within each attribute tree you will see a wide variety of subclasses (the equivalent to an asssassin, for instance), but most attribute classes adhere to certain roles in some way based on the bonuses an attribute provides.

Strength: Provides health points and health regen. Strength also provides damage to strength heroes at a 1:1 ratio.

Agility: Provides attack speed and armor. Agility also provides damage to agility heroes at a 1:1 ratio.

Intelligence: Provides mana points and mana regen. Intelligence also provides damage to intelligence heroes at a 1:1 ratio.

As you may have guessed, strength heroes tend to be tanky, agility heroes tend to be carries, intelligence heroes are the casters. As I said, since this is just the basics I’m going to hold further analysis for a later post. For the most part, you’ll want to be seeking stats that augment your character’s primary attribute.

Active Item Use

League of Legends has relatively few active items when compared to DotA. That’s not a bad thing, just a fact. DotA makes use of active items to provide some of the mechanics seen in LoL through Summoner Spells, along with a few unique abilities. I would strongly suggest that any new DotA player spend some time in a custom game just reading through the store. You’ll also want to rebind your item keys away from the keypad and on to something more useful. Personally, I like Z, X and C for my top row of items. I’m sure you can figure out the rest.

A Good Place to Start

As this post is growing ever longer, I think I’m going to give it a rest and let you internalize all of this info until the next LoL to DotA post. If you want a good champion to start with, I would recommend Tidehunter if you’re interested in strength, Dwarven Sniper if you like to carry, and Lich if you want to play an intelligence hero. Those heroes are fairly straightforward but have enough power to make a big difference on the field.

Machinima’s “All Your History” series covers the MOBA scene

I was really happy to receive this video from a friend today, particularly because it fits so well with the slight content shift you’re going to see at the site. Both DotA 2 and League of Legends have their roots in a game that was originally developed as a map mod for Blizzard’s Starcraft. While this video from Machinima doesn’t cover the history in full detail, it does give a nice overview of one of the fastest growing segments of the video game industry.

LoL could learn from DotA 2 spectating

If I were at Riot, I would be looking at one of DotA 2′s features above all others: spectator mode. The spectator options in DotA 2 are absolutely incredible, and could serve to reduce the learning curve for getting into the game more than any feature in a modern MOBA. With Riot’s focus on the competitive scene, a robust spectator mode is an absolute necessity, and Riot has taken far too long to release the feature to the general public.

Valve, on the other hand, has an incredible setup, complete with the ability to download and save any of your recent replays. In fact, it’s hard to talk about the DotA 2 spectator mode without mentioning the fluidity of the client. While queued for a match, players can drop in and spectate on any of the public games being played. Yes, any of them. While the list could use a little more organization, the filter system allows a player to find recent games by hero, player, and skill level, among other criteria, as well as watch games that are live and in progress, albeit with a delay.

I have never been one for livestreams. I watch a tournament game here and there, but for the most part I don’t have a lot of interest in watching. Not just watching, anyway. Certainly not watching people I don’t know. With DotA 2, though, I can jump straight in and watch the games my friends are currently playing. It’s incredibly easy, and it opens up all kinds of room for multiple tournament streams. Don’t like the casters at one site? Each game can have up to 64 spectators, so finding a tourney stream from the site you love could be very easy.

As I mentioned above, all of this can be done while in queue for a game of my own. That’s huge. I think it might be one of the features that saves DotA from the inevitable overwhelming burden of knowledge that 100+ heroes can put on a new player. Being able to see a hero played and see some of the builds out there could help new players bridge the knowledge gap they face from the start of their very first game.

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