The Mechanics of Dota 2

rattletrapThe mechanics of Dota 2 describes the inner devices of the game. These fundamentals are not required to play or even play well, but will advance a player’s understanding of Dota 2 and provide them with play that is more updated. The intricate elements of Dota 2 described in this article are written for new and experienced players alike.

Dota 2 runs on a seriously modified version of the Source Engine. This version builds upon features introduced with

Portal 2 and the Orange Box versions of the engine, such as flow maps and advanced particle depiction, by adding features such as enhanced spectator support and cloth physics. Dota 2 supports a matchmaking system and up to 10 players in game at one time, but allows for large numbers of spectators at any given game.

Heroes are all exclusive characters within Dota 2. At the start of each game, players are split into two teams of up to 5 versus 5 and then select a Hero from the Hero Pool. Every player controls his or her own Hero and any units that Hero controls, such as a Neutral Creep under the effects of Chen’s Holy Persuasion or Lone Druid’s Spirit Bear.

Heroes will increase experience when enemy units are killed in close proximity. They start the game at level one, and as they get experience, will in due course level up. Each level a Hero earns will enhance their Attributes and learn new abilities.

Abilities are the skills Heroes use to execute various tasks in the battlefield; they range from simple passive bonuses to powerful, destructive explosions. All Heroes have four or more abilities, with one of those abilities being their Ultimate, and another being their passive Attribute. Every time a Hero levels up, they earn a point that they can place into ranking up any available ability. Not all abilities will be able to have ranks placed in them at every level. The table at the right shows when ranks can be earned. For instance, heroes cannot take a second rank of any standard ability until level 3, and cannot take the first rank of their Ultimate until level 6. Attribute Bonus functions as a skill like any other, able to be taken at level 1, but not until level 3 will it be able to be leveled again.

When an Active Ability is used, it may usually devour mana and be placed on cooldown. An active ability cannot be used if a Hero does not have enough mana to cast it, if it is on cooldown, or if they are silenced/stunned. Some abilities however do not require any mana or possess a cooldown timer. Mana will renew over time, and its rate of renewal can be increased or restored by certain items. Cooldown prevents dominant abilities from being used constantly. Cooldown will go away over time. For example, Huskar’s Inner Vitality has a cooldown of 25 seconds. That means that Huskar must wait 25 seconds after casting Inner Vitality before he can do so again, even if he has the mana required. The Refresher Orb will reset all cooldowns straight away when used, at a high mana cost. Passive abilities, on the other hand, do not require mana or activation to use: they will be used automatically. Most do not have a cooldown, but operate continually in the background. This also applies to toggled auto-casts. Auto-casts are types of abilities that are used automatically when circumstances are met. The automatic effects are toggle able by pressing Alt+<Ability Key>. Regardless of whether they are on or off, pressing the ability key and using the ability manually will still work. A yellow, flashing rim will appear on the ability if it is toggled on, and will have a dark grey rim while toggled off.

In addition to distinctive abilities, every Hero has a diverse set of Attributes, which control their initial statistics. These Attributes are Strength, Agility, and Intelligence. In addition to bonuses earned by each Attribute, Heroes also have a “main” Attribute. Every point in their main attribute adds 1 to their physical attack damage. Typically, this will also be the highest Attribute at first level, and the one that receives the greatest increase as a Hero levels up.

Every point in Strength will…

  • Increase the Hero’s maximum Health by 19.
  • Increase the Health regeneration of the Hero by 0.03 Health per second.
  • Increase the damage of Strength based Heroes by 1.

Every point in Agility will…

  • Increase the Hero’s Armour by 0.14 points.
  • Increase the Hero’s Attack Speed by 1 point.
  • Increase the damage of Agility based Heroes by 1.

Every point in Intelligence will…

  • Increase the Hero’s maximum Mana by 13.
  • Increase the Mana regeneration of the Hero by 0.04 Mana per second.
  • Increase the damage of Intelligence based Heroes by 1.


Heroes will earn additional attributes whenever they level up, but can also receive bonuses and penalties from items and some abilities.



In order to level up, Heroes must earn Experience. When a unit dies in Dota, it gives experience to all Heroes in a 1200 AoE based on its level. Experience is split among all Heroes in the AoE. If a Hero is killed more than 1200 units away from their killer, the killer still gains a share of Experience. Allied unit deaths do not grant Experience.

Denied units will grant a permanent amount of Experience, either 36 for Melee Heroes or 18 for Ranged Heroes. This Experience is still split among all Heroes in the area. Additionally, summoned units will only give half of their normal Experience when killed.


Armour is an attribute shared by all units. It decreases the amount of physical damage a unit takes, but can also increase the amount of damage a unit takes. The amount of damage a unit takes is reduced if its armour value is positive, and increased if the armour value is negative. Armour is increased by Agility, certain Abilities and some items like Chainmail and Platemail.

Magic Resistance

Magic Resistance (sometimes called Spell Resistance) is an attribute of heroes (and some other units) that reduces magical damage similar to Armour. All heroes possess 25% base Magic Resistance from their Armour type. This resistance is independent of the amount of armour they possess.

Last Hits and Denying

Last Hitting is the act of a player timing their attacks so that their Hero delivers the killing blow to a Creep, Hero, or Tower. Earning a Last Hit on a Creep will give the attacking Hero the Creep’s bounty in Gold, while Last Hitting Heroes and Towers will earn large bonuses to the Gold earned. Denying involves killing friendly Creeps, Heroes, or Towers so that enemies do not earn bonus Gold. Denying will also reduce the Experience earned from a kill.

  • A denied creep divides 18 exp to enemy heroes within experience range.
  • Enemy melee heroes gain double of whatever their share of the denial experience is.

Units can only be denied under special conditions:

Creeps (Allied players and Radiant/Dire): 50% HP

  • A denied Creep will provide less EXP to the enemies nearby, than one killed by an enemy unit.

Towers: 10% HP

  • A denied tower will still provide some gold to the enemy team.

Heroes: 25% and under effect of a special buff (e.g. Venomancer’s Venomous Gale)

  • There are 2 Spells which can be used to deny your teammates even if they are not affected by these buffs, the spells are Bloodseeker’s Bloodrage and Bane Elemental’s Nightmare
  • There are also spells which allow you to deny yourself: Pudge’s Rot, Alchemist’s Unstable Concoction
  • Denied heroes will not give the enemy any experience or gold.
  • The other deny-required DOT’s are Doom Bringer’s Doom, Viper’s Viperstrike, Warlock’s Shadow Word, Venomancer’s Venomous Gale, Queen of Pain’s Shadow Strike


Buildings are special units in the game. There are several types of buildings. They are protected to almost all spells, which makes them very strong earlier in the game.


Ancients are powerful structures. The goal of each game is to destroy the enemy’s Ancient. Ancients have 4250 Health and 15 Armour. They are guarded by two Towers that must be destroyed before they can be damaged.


Towers are fixed, defensive structures that protect the lanes and subsequent main bases of each faction. They fire high damage projectiles at nearby enemies and possess considerable levels of armour and health points, but provide large amounts of Gold when destroyed by the opposing team. Both factions have three tiers of towers in each lane. Each tower tier becomes increasingly stronger the closer they are to the main base. To attack towers further in the lane, the outermost ones must be destroyed first. Both must be destroyed before da

mage can be done to the main structure. The Ancient is protected by two powerful tier 4 towers that only become vulnerable when all three towers in a lane have been destroyed. Towers have a passive True Sight built in. Towers can be denied, just like creeps, once they have 10% health or less. This means that tier 1 towers (1300 total HP) can be denied at 130 health or lower, and tier 2-4 towers (1600 total HP) can be denied at 160 health or lower.

Towers have a specific targeting precedence that determines which enemy it will attack. This list represents that priority in ascending order:

  1. Closest enemy unit or hero attacking a friendly hero with auto attack
  2. Closest enemy unit or hero attacking the tower itself with auto attack
  3. Closest enemy unit or hero attacking any friendly unit with auto attack
  4. Closest enemy unit
  5. Closest enemy hero
  6. Closest enemy catapult

The tower will only exchange targets under three circumstances:

  • If the targeted enemy unit or hero dies
  • If an enemy unit or hero targets a friendly hero
  • If an enemy hero, being attacked by the tower manually attacks a friendly unit or hero (in which case, the tower will select a new target based on the above priority order).


Barracks are formations inside each faction’s base, near the ramps. When a Barracks is damaged, the creeps of the opposite faction receive a health and damage boost, and offer less experience and gold when killed. This means that destroying a Barracks will guarantee that your creeps will continue to push a lane without the interference of Heroes.

There are two separate Barracks at each entrance, the Melee Creep Barracks, and the Ranged Creep Barracks. The Melee Creep Barracks will power up Melee Creeps, while the Ranged Barracks will improve Ranged and Siege Creeps. When all Barracks at each entrance are destroyed, the opposing team will receive Mega Creeps, which are far more powerful than their normal counterparts are.


The Fountains will restore Heroes back to their maximum Health and Mana over a very short period. Additionally, Fountains will attack enemy Heroes that attempt to enter their range, dealing 190-199 physical damage over 800 range and firing very rapidly. Fountains will fill Bottles back to full, if they are not already. (Only works in your fountain)


Cleave Damage

Cleave makes a melee unit’s attacks deal a part of their physical damage to the enemy units in an AOE. The damage dealt by Cleave is reduced by Armour type but not by armour value and is resultant from the actual damage of the attacking unit as opposed to the damage that the primary target took from the attack. Also, cleave does not affect the primary target of the attack. Cleave damage does not increase based upon the effects of most unique attack modifiers you may have. If you have a Desolator and a source of Cleave and you attack a unit, only the main target of your assault will receive the Corruption buff from Desolator. The only buff placer that affects Cleave is Critical Strike. If you proc a Critical Strike when you cleave, the damage multiplier will affect all units hit by the Cleave. Multiple sources of Cleave work completely separately from each other. If you have a 500 AoE 50% Cleave, and a 250 AoE 35% Cleave, you will deal 50% of your damage in 500 AoE, and 35% of your damage in 250 AoE. Each Cleave source causes another instance of damage for the affected units. Cleave AoE is a circle with radius equal to the Cleave range, and its centre at a distance equal to the Cleave away from the attacking unit, towards the most important target of the attack.

Unique Attack Modifier

Unique attack modifiers in Dota 2 (previously known as Orb Effects) refer to attack modifiers that alter your heroes’ basic attack to provide an additional effect. An example of this is Helm of the Dominator, which gives your hero lifesteal. For balance and legacy reasons, unique attack modifiers, with a couple exceptions, do not stack. Having more than one non-stacking attack modifier at any time is generally considered useless. Certain hero abilities, such as Broodmother’s Incapacitating Bite, also count as unique attack modifiers. Not all attack modifiers are unique attack modifiers.

Damage Types

In Dota 2, there are different types of damage that can be caused by abilities and spells. Each type varies in how it affects enemy units.

These types are Physical, Magical, Mixed, Pure, direct HP Removal, and Universal.

Here is a charted outlining all the different abilities for the hero in the game:


  • Abilities
  • Armour
  • Attributes (Strength/Agility/Intelligence)
  • Channelling
  • Damage Block
  • Evasion
  • Experience
  • Health
  • Illusions
  • Invisibility
  • Magic immunity
  • Magic resistance
  • Mana
  • Movement speed
  • Teleport


  • Attack range
  • Attack speed
  • Bash
  • Cleave
  • Critical strike
  • Damage types
  • Life steal
  • Unique Attack Modifiers

Disables And Status Effects

  • Blind
  • Cyclone
  • Disable
  • Disarm
  • Entangle
  • Ethereal
  • Hex
  • Pause
  • Purge
  • Silence
  • Sleep
  • Slow
  • Stun
  • Trap


  • Buildings
  • Gold
  • Item passive stacking
  • Item sharing
  • Pseudo-random distribution
  • Vision


  • Creep control techniques
  • Ganking
  • Harassment
  • Jungling
  • Lane
  • Minimap
  • Pushing
  • Roles