Dota 2: Auto Chess is an F2P user-created mod mini-game for the Dota 2 community by a Chinese studio called Drodo Games. Although has ‘chess’ in the title, there is actually little resemblance between Dota 2: Auto Chess and real chess beyond the use of an 8×8 tile board. As it’s a mod, players need to have Dota 2 downloaded onto their PC before they can download the mod. It was the first auto-battler ever released and met with huge success, often ranking among the top ten Twitch categories until it was outpaced by Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics and Valve’s Dota Underlords.
Each match takes place on an 8×8 chessboard-colored grid, with their only being able to place their pieces on the four rows closest to them. Placement is important based on the piece’s class type, as tankier pieces should be in the front lines, while long-range classes should be placed further back. Each piece is based on a hero from the Dota 2 game.
Each game is played against eight players, although each match is 1v1, some are PvP and some PvE. When players start the game, they will have one gold that they can use to purchase their first piece. If possible they should try to buy a tank-type of piece such as a warrior or mech, as they are strong in early game play, although they might want to sell them for better pieces later in the game. If they don’t see a tank option in the shop during the first match, it’s ok, as the first three matches are against NPCs and they should get a decent option somewhere along the line. However, they can still lose life against NPCs, although the amount of life that they will lose will be minimal earlier in the game, as players only lose life according to the number of enemy pieces that remain on the board when the match is over.
The NPC battles are against creeps, and they will then play against real players in the following battles until the tenth round when they will have another NPC battle, as well as every fifth round that follows. Items often drop during the NPC fights. Items can only be collected with the player’s courier and provide boosts when allocated to a particular piece. If players right-click on an item, they can see which other items it can combine with for extra boosts. Furthermore, the good news is that if a unit dies during battle, it will regenerate during the next phase, so players don’t need to worry about permanently losing pieces or items during battle.
The number of pieces that a player can use is determined by their level. As they gain more experience, their courier will level up until they reach a level cap of 10, which means that they can use a maximum of 10 pieces. Each game awards players with one experience point, regardless of whether they win or lose, so it is easy to level up during the early levels, but later levels require higher amounts of experience, so players will save up enough gold to buy enough exp to instantly level up later on, as they can purchase 5 experience points for 5 gold at any time during the game. However, it is advisable for players to wait until they have enough gold to level up all the way to the next level, and until they have enough pieces to justify levelling up, as there are certain benefits to holding onto gold. This will be described below.
Players level up pieces by combining three of the same kind of piece. Therefore, three Level 1 pieces will combine to form a Level 2 piece, and three Level 2 pieces are combined to form a Level 3 piece. Each Level piece is bigger than the previous piece and is stronger. Therefore, players will need to buy nine duplicates of a particular piece overall, in order to acquire one piece at its highest level. They are upgraded by placing all three on the board at the same time. This will cause them to auto-combine. Players can use multiple copies of the same piece during a match, if they’d like to. Although diversity is a good idea, as different classes are stronger and weaker against other types. Players can view the damage per second (DPS) of each of their pieces on the left of the screen.
As mentioned before, strategy is important. Although one piece may be strong on its own, pieces can be synergized based on race and class types. This means that if players has three different pieces from the same class, they will activate a bonus effect. The same holds true for pieces that are different class types but share the same race. Players can click on their piece to view the class or race-type synergy bonus. Each boost is different.
Additionally, players need to pay attention to what their opponents are buying, as there is a limited pool of pieces available in the shop. If players aren’t finding the pieces that they want, even with re-rolls, there is a good chance that there is an opponent who is going for the same piece that they are.
While players will generally be matched against random players via matchmaking unless they create a lobby and invite their friends to join it. If there are still open spaces available, they can open the lobby to queued players.
As mentioned earlier, each players courier represents their HP. HP is whittled down from 100 through game losses, with each remaining piece of the opponent reducing the player’s HP by 1. This means that losing is not necessarily terrible, as the game is not based on win-streaks but the extent of board dominance when players actually win. There is no way to regain HP, so if new players want to attempt lose streak bonuses, it is probably better that they do so earlier rather than later in the game.
Players can track their opponents’ progress on the right of their screen, with the players switching position based on their current HP. By clicking on a specific opponent’s name, they will be able to view their board. They can also toggle between their opponents’ games from the bottom left corner of their screens. This will give the player an idea of the type of strategy that their opponent is going for, as well as the units that they are investing in.
There are three ways for players to earn gold in the game, namely by kills, interest and streak bonuses. The basic way of earning gold is by defeating enemy pieces, which will earn a player 1 gold per piece. This gold can accrue interest, as for every ten gold that a player has saved at the end of each round, they will receive one extra gold. Both win and loss streaks earn players extra gold. It is important to note that there is a gold cap of 50 on killing income, which means that players will only be earning gold through interest and streaks past the cap. It is a good idea for players to save re-rolls and gold expenditures for later in the game, as that is when higher-value pieces will be likely to appear and when level ups are more important.
The shop offers players a shared pool of pieces to purchase. As stated earlier the pool is limited, so it is important for players to factor in whether there is a piece that they might want to buy for use later in the game. Between each round, players will be shown five random piece options based on their current level. Some of the pieces may be doubled, and if players want to view more purchasing options, they can re-roll for 2 gold. This is only suggested in the mid to late game, as it can quickly eat up funding, although if the player is desperate, then it’s up to them.
It is also important for players to keep track of what their opponents are buying and building towards by scrolling to view their opponents’ boards. This will help them to decide which pieces they should invest in in the future, both from a strategic perspective and from an investment perspective. Players only have 8 reserve slots, so it is possible for them to stock up on pieces even though they cannot necessarily use all of the pieces that they have due to level restrictions. Furthermore, until a piece is leveled-up into a single leveled-up piece, each duplicate will occupy its own slot. After every round, the shop will automatically roll new purchasing options for the player.
If there are multiple units that the player wants to purchase, but they don’t have the funds or they don’t want to lose their interest, then they can lock the shop selection so that it won’t automatically re-roll after their next match. This also means that that piece at least won’t be sold to an opponent in the interim. Players can select the ‘Chest List’ tab in the upper left corner to view which pieces are still available. There are only 20 of each piece available in each game, with the different pieces having different rarity level. This means that some have a higher chance of appearing than others, which is reflected in their price. There is also a wider variety of lower rarity pieces that higher rarity types.
Whenever a player sells his pieces or is eliminated from the game, their pieces return to the pool. Furthermore, if they sold their pieces, they will receive the full value that they originally paid for the piece.
Buying New Courier Skins
Couriers represent the player’s HP in the game and can be moved around the board to collect items dropped by creeps. Players usually start out with either an Imp or a radiant donkey, but they can buy new courier skins for candy from the Courier Warehouse. The tab for the Courier Warehouse can be found in the top left corner of the in-game screen. Candy is earned randomly through matches. The players will then be able to either spend 40 candies on a random courier, or 100 – 400 candies on an aesthetic upgrade for their current courier. Players can also purchase candies or specific courier skins for real-world currencies.
Q – Select, place or move a piece
W – Remove a piece from the board
D – Refresh shop (Costs 2 gold)
E – Sell a piece (Value doesn’t depreciate)
F – 5 experience points (Costs 5 gold)
Alt – View current level and experience information