Dota 2 Auto Chess Advanced Tactics and Tips

by loopuleasa

I played this game obsessively the past couple of days, consistently winning on position 1-3, and for those that are interested to learn more, here is a bullet list.

I am continually updating this thread as I remember more things and people suggest & correct.


Beginner tips:

  • This game is a last man standing / battle royale / moving “tower” defense game
  • This game has 8 players max, and also has a challenging solo mode if you play in a solo lobby against an AI
  • Each player has an 8×8 chess board, where they can place chess pieces in their bottom half, and an 8 slot reserve for inactive pieces.
  • Each chess piece has an active or passive ability. Those pieces that have active abilities require 100 mana to cast it.
  • Mana is gained when a chess piece attacks (little gain), when it is attacked (medium gain) or from Crystal Maiden aura
  • Items drop from creeps, and there are PvP waves and creep/boss waves
  • On PvP rounds, You battle a copy of the chess board from a random opponent, and a copy of your current chess board battles a random opponent
  • Chess pieces can be combined to gain a “star”/level. Three chess pieces can be combined into a higher star piece. So 3×1* pieces make one 2* piece. 3×2* (equivalent to 9×1) pieces make one 3 piece (max level)
  • In order to fuse druids, you need to have 3 druids on the field, two of them of type A, and one of type B (to fit the condition “Have 2 different druids on field”). If you want to fuze to level 3 with the druid ability, you need lone druid, prophet, tree and ench on the field, and you need 2x2star of one of them to make 1x3star.
  • If you win, you get 1 extra gold, and your win streak is increased (to a max of +3 gold per round)
  • If you lose, you lose health equal to the number of “stars” your opponent chesses have, plus 1 for each creep summoned left alive. Your lose streak is also increased (to a max of +3 gold per round)
  • When you reach 0 life you lose
  • There are creeps in the first 3 waves that are quite easy to defeat and can drop items
  • There are bosses starting round 10, and each 5 rounds after (15, 20, 25…)
  • There are two types of synergies: Races & Classes, and Classes are usually more powerful and consistent to make
  • In order to make synergies you need [X] DIFFERENTchess pieces. Two axes don’t count as two different orcs, even if different star levels, but 1 Axe and 1 Jug does, regardless of level.
  • The demon exclusivity anti-synergy doesn’t apply if you have two demons of the same type (example, you can have two CK’s on the field, or two SF’s on the field, and both will have +50% damage, since they are not DIFFERENT demons)
  • Here is a quick guide of all the synergies.
  • You can perform actions: Place chess, Recall chess, Spend 2 gold to refresh, spend 5 gold for xp
  • Selling 1star pieces offers a full refund (selling 1 tidehunter gives back original 5 gold), but 2 star and 3 star pieces have losses associated due to combinations (1 piece loss for 2 star, 2 piece price loss for 3 stars)
  • Refreshing is not recommended early game, unless you want to risk it for an upgrade.
  • You have keyboard shortcuts: Space for opening/closing buy menu. Tab for cycling through opponents. QWERDF for piece actions. “Select hero key” for jumping to your hero. Use them, and avoid clicking. They’re bad habits.

Intermediate tips:

  • Here is an awesome community hero tier list.
  • Spreadsheet of stats and other info.
  • The most contested synergy metas are the following: Knights (Strong vs all, but expensive to assemble), Druids (Cheap upgrades), Warriors (Consistent), Goblin/Mechs (Good Early game, bad late game unless you max 6 goblins), Mages (High scaling, expensive, weak vs heal or magic resist), Antimage (Good damage & Tank), Assassins (Good for backling countering, weak against tank, strong vs squishy), Hunters (Glass Cannons, need frontline backup), Crowd Control (Situational), Warlock (Niche, hard to execute, can be very strong)
  • The priorities in this game are, in this order: Economy & Streaks > Class Synergies > Piece Level > Chess Population > Item Combination > Chess Quality > Counterplaying / Counterpicking opponents
  • There are Win and Lose streaks (Up to +3 gold per round). Try not to alternate wins. If you are winning, keep winning, if you are losing, keep losing if you can afford.
  • There is interest gold in this game, for each 10 gold banked up to 50gold (if you have 60 gold banked, you will only get 5 not 6).
  • The optimal economy is to always have 50 gold banked, and a +3 streak (either win or lose)
  • The item variance in this game is quite high (you can get godlike RNG, or absolutely no items), so adapt accordingly. If you get high rolls, go for win streaks. If you get low rolls, you have to play greedy.
  • If you are close to the interest points (10,20,30,40,50 gold) then you should consider selling some pieces you stockpiled (but DONT sell if they are important to your build, it’s not worth the 1 extra gold in that case)
  • Two 2* pieces are better than one 3* piece (barring some exceptions)
  • If you are confident you will win, and you want interest gold, you can stay at 29, 39, 49, etc. since you will get 1 gold if you win, if you wish to risk it
  • If you go over your population count, and the time runs out, be careful that some random lowest level chess pieces will be benched, and you cannot bench them in the ready state, so try to avoid it.
  • Alternatively, if time runs out and your bench is full and you are over the pop limit, you have to quickly sell a small piece otherwise a piece from the battlefield will be force sold, which is game losing
  • Pieces are drawn from a common pool, so keep an eye out for what strategies are the least contested, and try to focus on them, but don’t tunnel vision.
  • Base items in this game: strout shield, ring of regen, crown, blade of attack, robe of magi, cloak, chainmail, ring of health, voidstone, quarterstaff, staff of wizardry, vitality booster, broad sword, platemail, javeline, hyperstone, ultimate orb, demon edge, sacred relic
  • Item recipes are similarly to the Dota game, just without the recipe
  • Each population level up also increases your chances of finding higher quality pieces. Check your courier buff to see the percentages. Pop Level 10 is godlike since you have a whopping 10% chance for legendary pieces.
  • You can click your name (or anyone elses, I think) on the right hand side where it shows scores/ranking to jump to that board
  • There is only a limited number of chess pieces. 20 available pieces per non-legendary hero and 25 for legendary heroes (5 cost orange pieces)
  • Knight shield has a chance to proc, lasts a certain amount of time and gives massive redduction in damage (+30 armor I think), and reduction to magic damage.
  • “Anything can work.” ~ Flower Man

Advanced tactics:

  • Stockpiling: Buying pieces as you see them to keep your options open. This is very important and the best people in this game simply don’t care what strat they are running. For 1star pieces, this is okay since you can sell them later, the only downside is you have to pay attention to interest gold.
  • Juggling: When you have your reserve bench full, and you take some pieces out to buy more pieces for an upgrade. As the timer start, place some pieces out with Q, in anticipation for buyouts. APM helps here.
  • Overflowing: (Risky, High APM). If you have gold banked, you can place 3-4 pieces from your reserve on the field, taking you way over the population limit, then you start buying and refreshing like mad in hopes of getting combinations. This effectively makes your reserve bench be 10-12 pieces long for the 30 seconds your are juggling and overflowing, but you have to be quick in either making the combinations happen in cascade, or if you fail you have to be quick selling the extra pieces, and benching the pieces back.
  • Peeking: Looking at what your opponents are building in order to estimate their strength and the overall available chess pool. (You can cycle through opponents with TAB).
  • Positioning: This is generally understanding what board states are good. In general you ALWAYS need a frontliner, and you have to watch your back against assassins. Good to corner or edge your weaker ranged pieces. It’s important to check the movement patterns of your pieces on battle start to better understand where they will end up.
  • Counter-Positioning: Useful when few opponents are left. This is about predicting how your opponent will position, and reacting accordingly in order to get favorable chess battles.
  • Playing Economy: Good players will win consistently in this game, even if the luck is not in their favor. If you are on the backfoot you can greed it up and eventually with good strategizing end up on top in the late game even with a bad start. This game is all about making the most with the situation you are given.
  • Selling your blood: Early games, pieces have very little stars, so when you lose a battle you won’t get much of a hit in HP, so in the early game it’s good to intentionally lose the game to get more lose streak gold
  • Edging your lose-streaks: (Risky) This is intentionally making your lineup weaker/stronger so that you can lose with your opponents having just 1-2 pieces alive (means you will take the least amount of HP loss, while conserving your streak). Hard to do when opponents vary a lot.
  • Item Dropping/Locking: Since some item combinations are not that good, it’s advisable to drop your items on the ground to prevent auto combines. Update: You can simply right-click and lock items in your inventory to prevent auto combine.
  • Courier Centering: The courier has an activation range, so be sure to always have your courier centered on the bench to save one or two valuable seconds.
  • Item peeking: Takes more time to do, but it might give you good information. Late game is all that matters in the end and if you can anticipate an absolutely stacked Luna for example, maybe it’s time to get into assassins, or if they have a godlike stacked antimage, maybe invest into some crowd control.
  • Upgrade Rushing: (Risky) Basically you re-reroll a bit earlier than needed if your pieces are highly contested on the board to snag the necessary upgrade pieces before your opponents do. If you are in a losing strategy, you cannot play passively because there will be no more pieces left for what you have committed and you need to risk it for the win. Sometimes, early re-rolls can be worth it, because in the end you might have to re-roll 5 times more since so few pieces you need are in the pool left.
  • Commiting to a Build: Late game, you need to have an idea what your 10 pop chess composition looks like, and it’s crucial to plan ahead when your mid-game lineup is set. Keep in mind what others are doing.
  • General time efficiency: The time in this game is the most important resource, and here are some things to do: 1) Upgrade your population during the 5 seconds of “Ready” state; 2) When your battle starts, look at your board briefly to see who you are battling, then start cycling other opponents all over the map. You don’t need much information from your battle, so better get peek info from others during that long battle time. You should ideally spend looking at your board as much as looking at another player.
  • Estimating percentages: I don’t think people reached poker levels here yet, but this is where it’s at. People understanding and calculating on the fly percentages for different plays and directions. This takes time to develop and this is what the top Rook players are doing intuitively. You not only need to understand which play is better, but by HOW MUCH.

Patch updates:

In this section I will mention the updates to this thread after new patches hit.

  • 21 Jan Patch: Biggest change is that Crystal Maiden doesn’t give aura after death, and mages are more vulnerable to backlining now.

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