Valve’s Dota 2 can be a daunting game, but an incredibly rewarding one once you get going. However, with over 115 heroes to choose from, it’s tough to know where to begin as a new player. Fortunately, we’re here to give you the rundown of three heroes that will set you on your path to inevitable Dota 2 glory. Plus two of them are from the Limited Hero Pool, so you can use them right away.
What’s the Limited Hero Pool?
In a bid to usher in new players gently, Valve introduced the Limited Hero Pool in 2017, which contains 21 pick-up-and-play heroes. If you’re new to the game it’s in your interest to stick the pool in the beginning, and the Limited Heroes game mode is a good way to get a feel for the heroes before going up against the full roster of characters in public matchmaking.
What Role Should I Play?
If you boil Dota 2 down to the pure basics, then there are only 2 main role types; core and support. Generally, each team will have three cores (carry, mid & offlane) and two supports. As the game progresses core heroes increase in potency, and are expected to help end games.
As a core, you will be expected to level up and equip your hero as quickly as possible, additional stress for you. However, your hero will potentially be able to wipe the floor with the opposing team… or at least set your team up for the perfect team wipe.
Support heroes, on the other hand, are there to enable the cores. Whether that’s healing them or taking the fall for them, supports are there to make sure everything runs smoothly. They can place wards to give vision, disable or stun enemy heroes during team fights, or buff their cores to deal absurd damage. As a support, you will be under less pressure to ensure victory, but come late game will most probably be cannon fodder for the enemy team.
Ultimately it’s a good idea to try all the roles, but if you’re starting out its best to go for a support hero, or a core hero that’s relatively easy – and fun – to play.
The Best Heroes for New Players
The following three heroes we picked were chosen for their ability to impact the game, level of difficulty of their spells, and most importantly – entertainment factor.
Lion may not be a looker, but in terms of impact in a fight, he’s a real stunner. A powerful offensive spellcaster, Lion comes with four abilities, all of which are hero targeting. With Lion, you’ll want to move in and out of battle, don’t sit still as he is very frail. Get in there, land your spells then hide behind the nearest core or treeline.
Lion’s first skill is Earth Spike, and that will be your bread and butter, and the skill you’ll want to max out first. Earth Spike summons spikes that erupt from the ground in a straight path. This means when you line it up correctly, you can stun multiple enemies.
For example, if several melee heroes are swarming on your team-mate, one Earth Spike will give them time to escape, or a chance to retaliate. In terms of damage (260 at max level) and stun duration (2.6 seconds at level 4), Earth Spike is not particularly impressive, but in team fights, it’s incredibly effective at halting the enemy. Spam it the moment it comes off cooldown.
Your choice of second skill is up to you, but most players will opt for one level in Hex and Mana Drain before reaching level 6. Hex turns an enemy hero or unit into a harmless frog. They’ll still be able to move – or hop should I say – but they will be unable to use items, spells or abilities. Mana Drain, on the other hand, steals the Mana of enemy heroes, allowing YOU to always have mana to spam Earth Spike and/or Hex, while forcing the enemy to spend gold on mana regen.
Plus if the enemy team has an initiator hero with a Blink Dagger such as Tidehunter or Axe, get your insta-hex ready to ruin their whole plan when they Blink in. Making plays already.
Lion’s ultimate is called Finger of Death and does exactly what it says on the tin. A high-damage nuke that zaps the enemy for a huge chunk of damage. In fact with Aghanim’s Sceptre and Talents, you could deal up to 1225 damage with just one click. This burst damage makes Lion great for killing tanky heroes – or for stealing kills from that pesky core who’s been a bit unfriendly to you.
Finger grows stronger with each kill, gaining 40 bonus damage for each hero that died with three seconds of being hit by it. On top of that, if you’re holding onto an Aghanim’s Sceptre, it will make Lion’s ultimate an AOE spell. Yes, aren’t you glad we recommended him?
The first hero you will get given as part of the Dota 2 tutorial, Dragon Knight is a brilliant core hero to start with. Unlike Lion he is a melee hero, meaning you will be in the thick of battle, but his arsenal of abilities makes him a hard hero to kill. Plus his attack animation is straight forward, making it easy for you to time last hits compared to other cores. On top of that, he can LITERALLY turn into a Dragon.
Jokes aside, Dragon Knight’s strength is his ridiculous HP regen, which is naturally high due to him being a strength hero, but buffed heavily by his passive third ability Dragon’s Blood. Unlike Lion, with Dragon Knight, your goal at the beginning is not to take or start fights, but to gather gold to be a force to be reckoned with later. Dragon’s Blood at level 1 grants you 4 HP regen and 3 armor, meaning you not only naturally heal faster, but you also take less physical damage. As Dragon’s Blood is a passive ability, it means it is automatically on all the time and does not cost mana. So, you skill Dragon’s Blood, buy yourself a Stout Shield and some additional health regen, and you can happily sit in lane killing creeps, because it will take one hell of a gank to kill you early on.
To help with killing creeps, Dragon Knight’s first ability is Breath Fire, which unleashes flames outwards like a cone, burning enemies but also reducing their attack damage. At level 10 you can also pick a talent that buffs Breath Fire to knock off another 30% of their attack damage, which is pretty hand. Breath Fire is a great wave clear, in other words, it will allow you to kill a group of creeps quickly. It does, however, have a high mana cost so use it sparingly. Dragon Knight does not have a big mana pool, so you will want to keep a Mango or Clarity Potion in your inventory early on.
On top of being able to heal fast and kill creeps fast, Dragon Knight can also stun with his second ability Dragon Tail. Visually, I’ll be honest, it’s easily the most boring stun in the game, but it does the job. A 2.5-second stun at level 1, which can go up to 5.25 seconds with talents.
Dragon Knight’s ultimate though is where he truly shines. Transforming himself into a Dragon, Dragon Knight becomes a ranged hero for the duration! Not only does he move faster in Dragon Form, but he also gains new abilities depending on the level of the ultimate (Corrosive Breath, Splash Attack and Frost Breath), ALL of which are great at taking down structures.
Overall Dragon Knight is a tanky hero able to push objectives thanks to his ultimate. The HP regen will make you incredibly durable in team fights, plus your AOE abilities are great in team fights. Just remember in the early stages of the game do not go for kills, your job is to farm and to keep your eye on the prize, the enemy throne! Items wise, you want armor, hp regen and a mobility item like Blink Dagger or Shadow Blade.
What’s better than a Knight than can turn into a Dragon? A two-headed Dragon of Fire and Ice. Enter Jakiro. A ranged intelligence hero, Jakiro is the master of AOE spells that you’ll have plenty of fun unleashing during team fights. Thanks to his intelligence gain and the low mana cost of his spells, Jakiro requires very few items to cause absolute chaos, which is great for new players. His spells are long-distance, meaning you don’t need to be anywhere near the fight to turn it in your favor. Plus the fact their AOE, also means… they’re pretty hard to screw up. Jakiro is not an outright killer, but you will be a thorn in the enemy’s backside for the entirety of the game.
Jakiro’s abilities focus on damage over time, so your goal is to trap or corner your enemies. Your first skill Dual Breath is great for the early few levels, as it first slows enemies with ice before then delivering fire damage over time. Great for clearing waves and for deterring enemy cores from going for last hits, giving you more time for a cheeky deny.
Jakiro’s second ability, which is commonly maxed first by level 8 is Ice Path, which creates a temporary path of icy terrain that both stuns and damages any who comes into contact with it. Now this skill is slightly trickier as there is a short cast time, so just bear that in mind when you try to use it. Ice Path best used preemptively if you know the enemy is about to charge, attempt to flee or try to teleport out. The range of this spell is insane, and you can essentially create a barrier to quarantine the enemy. Little tip, Ice Path also grants vision, so if you’re not sure what’s up the hill, drop an Ice Path to find out.
Jakiro’s third skill, which you will max last, is Liquid Fire. This ability gives your standard attack a little fiery kick, dealing damage over time and slowing enemy attack speed. It’s best used on towers, as it means they hit slower and will fall faster. A good tip for beginners is to turn off autocast on Liquid Fire, and only use it on enemy heroes and towers. It would be a mighty shame to waste it on a creep.
Jakiro’s ultimate is Macropyre, which is basically a blazing inferno that nobody wants to stay inside if they want to live. When coupled with Ice Path, Macropyre is especially incredibly lethal in close quarters, so be sure to force fights where they will not be able to escape the blaze. Also, don’t be afraid to use it to disengage, it’s a great deterrent for the enemy to chase your team.
Overall Jakiro is a really fun hero to play, and the ridiculous AOE mayhem never gets old. Items wise you will be looking for mobility, as Jakiro has no natural escape. Force Staff is a solid choice, as is Eul’s Sceptre.
GOLDEN TRIO OF HEROES: LION, DRAGON KNIGHT, JAKIRO
So there you have it, our guide to the 3 best heroes for an absolute beginner. If you’re looking for other core heroes to dabble in, definitely have a look into Sniper, Bristleback and Viper.