First of all I would like to thank the developer of this custom game for the awesome product they came up with. In my opinion, this is a great addition to the normal dota 2 gameplay. This is far less intense but still offer great depth of strategy which I really enjoy.
The overall objective of the game is to be the last one standing out of 8 players. Player get eliminated for losing all of their 100 hp. Every round there is a fight between you and another player or creeps, you will lose hp if you get defeated and each enemy creep left alive will cost you at least 1 hp (could cost you 2 or 3 hp if it is a more powerful unit). The strategy of how to be the final winner is very deep, I will try to breakdown some basics. I think I will breakdown the strategy into 2 main areas: manage your economy and population (chess) count, how to get to your desired unit composition (synergy).
Manage your economy (really important for this game), but if you are bored you can start from the unit strategy section and play the game first, then come back for the economy section when you want slightly more advanced play:
To win the game, you will need a lot of gold. Just imagine if you survive to the late game, you will have a chess (population) count of 9 or 10, and level up chess count get incrementally more expensive (it would take you 40 gold easily to upgrade from 8 chess to 9 chess). Also you will be having these 9/10 chess pieces mostly at 2 star (level 2) and a few at 3 star (level 3). When you buy chess pieces, they come at level 1 (1 star), at a price of 1~5 gold depends on how good they are, you need three level 1 pieces of the same hero piece to get one level 2 piece of the hero, and three level 2 pieces of the same hero to get the level 3 piece. Hence a level 3 hero chess piece will cost you nine level 1 piece of the hero. Your final board is easily worth 150-200 gold excluding the 100 or more gold you spent on leveling up to 9/10 chess count.
There are 3 sources of income: The base gold you get each round, 1 gold for beating enemy (win) and up to 3 gold for win streak or losing streak, and the gold you get as interest from your residual gold (10% interest). If you are the winner, you should easily be on round 30 to 40. The gold each round take your winning streak and losing streak into account. You either want to keep winning or keep losing rounds to maximize the gold you get from here. The worst case for you is alternating from winning and losing, the round when your streak resets you will only get 1 gold, so you will only get 1 gold if you keep winning one round and lose the next and vice versa. The maximum gold you can get from streak per round is 3 gold. So for advanced play, you might want to consider getting a losing streak at the appropriate time somewhere in the early game when everyone has few unit and you only lose 2/3 or 4 hp per round. This kind of play is nick named ?selling your blood? as you are trading hp for gold. However, you might get very lucky draws at the beginning and not having to do this at all.
The other way you earn gold is from interest. For every 10 gold you have banked, you will get 1 gold interest. So if you have 30-39 gold you will get 3 gold interest per round and if you have 50-59 gold you will have 5 gold interest per round. The economy game is very powerful as if you keep your gold bank at 50 gold or so you will earn 5 gold per round, which is almost the same as the gold you get on a maximum streak per round ( so you earn twice as much per round as someone with less than 10 gold banked). So if you want to win a game, you might want to be intentionally keep a losing streak at some stage of the early/mid game (when your population count is 6). You will certainly not be doing a losing streak for the first 5 rounds, or before your chess population is 5. You are most likely doing losing streak when your population is 5/6. Important to know that selling a level 1 chess piece you don?t lose any money (you can keep up to 8 reserve piece). So in the first 5 to 7 rounds, you might want to keep all the potentially useful pieces on the reserve slots and sell whatever becomes apparently not useful. When you are close to 10 gold, see if you can sell useless pieces to make it 10, when you are close to 20, see if you can sell useless pieces to make it 20. When you are on 16/17 gold, you want to pick up a few powerful 3 gold, 2 gold units or upgrade to the next population count if you are just 5 gold short to help you if you are on win streak. You will be buying a selling a lot to maximize utility.
As for unit strategy, it is really fun just like your dota 2 game:
Firstly, the general information is that the chess board is 8 by 8, you can place your pieces in your 4 by 8 of the chess board. The maximum number of chess piece you can have on board is your chess count (population) at the time. There are also 8 reserve slots for you to store pieces you bought but not currently in use. You might be storing some units to try to upgrade to level 2/3 units later, or just something you think you will go that direction or even blocking other people from using it. All the chess pieces are dota 2 heroes, each piece/hero has its own unique ability e.g. sniper assassinate. Each piece/hero also belong to 2 classes which is clearly labelled when you click on the piece or when you are shopping for the pieces, for example, troll warlord is called troll warrior as in troll for the race and warrior for the class, and drow ranger is called undead hunter as undead for the race and hunter for the class. The races and classes are very important and are the main sources of the synergy because each race/class offer unique advantages. For example, it is clearly labelled that when you have 3 hunters, you get 25 % extra damage for all the hunters, or when you have 3 orc units, all your orc units have 250 more health. Also you will only get the benefit when the pieces on in play (not on reserve), and when you have these many different heroes ( 2 drow ranger count as 1 for this purpose). To level up pieces from level 1 to level 2 or from 2 to 3, you need to do it during the 30 seconds strategy time between rounds, place alll 3 of the pieces on empty slot of your side of the chess board, and a leveled up unit is automatically created. Let me share the recently very popular strategies first and then some tips on how to get there.
Bear in mind that there are only fixed number of pieces of a hero available (e.g. X pieces of jugg, drow, troll out there), so when someone in your game has a lot of some heroes, you are less likely to get those heroes. The currently popular combs:
Warriors: axe, tusk(beast), jug (orc), slardar(naga), lycan, doom, kunkka. The warrior buff is that if you have 3 warriors, all warriors have +8 armor, if you have 6 warriors, all warriors have +10 armor. It is by far the easiest to execute as they are tanky. Their position is quite easily adjusted. you generally put all the warriors in a horizontal line on the 4th row from you so you are closest to the enemy. You generally put the more tanky ones towards the centre to take the bashing, possibly slardar, axe, tusk in the early game and jug offers aoe so just off centre so you can spin into 2 or more enemies. Warriors are very strong in the early game, so if you get lucky on early warrior draws you might be able to keep a winning steak while banking up a lot of money. Late game warriors are quite afraid of mage (magic damage), There are 2 ways you can supplement your warrior in the late game to make the late game insanely strong too. Imagine a 9/10 population warrior, you need 6 warriors, which you most definitely sell axe when you get the other 6 warriors. You either have tide hunter, techies plus gyro/enigma, tide gives a huge stun in addition to kunkka boat, and techies, gyro, enigma gives you insane aoe damage. Or you try to collect all 4 nagas to get 60% magic resistance,, tide, slardar, medusa and slark. 2 naga will also offer something, but you will definitely need a level 3 jug against mage in that case.
Undead hunter: the synergy comes at that hunters get bonus damage, undead (drow, abaddon, necro, lich) gives minus armor. Hunters like drow, beast master, sniper, windrunner, medusa, tide hunter. With this comb, sniper give insane normal attack, windrunner and beast master gives quite good aoe, tide and medusa give great control. Undead are like drow and abaddon etc. I am not an expert on this one, but you can imagine how you will get there. The positioning needs to be careful, you need frontliner and back liner and possibly don?t cluster into a small ball if there is mage in play, but then assassin is really strong against you.
Mage: ogre, crystal maiden, puck, razor, lina, keeper of the light, lich. The mage buff is that if you have 3 mage, the enemy magic resistance goes down 30%, and if you have 6 mage, the enemy magic resistance goes down 60%. Personally, I think the key to decide if you go mage or not early game is whether you have crystal maiden plus a good aoe or not (razor and keeper). By the way, your mana will regen if you take damage from attacks or spells, and you generally want to keep your mage on the back line and the normal mana regen is slow so cm is crucial, or your aoe spells won?t get casted until too late. You need to employ some frontliner as you can see the only potentially frontline is orge, and I even recommend get rid of orge or puck when you get the 5 gold piece lich. Generally even if all your mages are just level 2 pieces, this comb is so insane that it beats warriors easily. You just need tanky frontliners early game, apart from the mech goblin and druid option, it can also be tanky warriors or knights. Late game, tidehunter by far is the best stun and frontliner, doom and kunkka are also useful if you didn?t get your idea frontliner early game. Positioning with mage you always want them in a ball/square. Genenally, you occupy the bottom left corner of your board (3 by 3 if you are population 9). You place the most tanky hero on the top right corner and weak mage in the bottom left.
Mech/ goblin: tinker, clockwerk, timbersaw (key early game comb), alche, techies, gyro (maybe bounty hunter if you get it early in the game) The benefit of mech and goblin is hp regen. When you have 2 mech, you get 10 hp regen per sec, and 4 mech gives your 20 hp regen per second. 3 goblin also get 15 hp regen. So if you have tinker, clock, timber, you will have a lot of hp regen early game. bounty is a goblin assasin. So use discretion on whether to pick it up or not. It is hard to play pure mech/goblin to late game. As techies and gyro are late game 5 gold pieces that you will not see from shop untill very late rounds. But tinker, clockwerk, timber is a very popular transition into mages. In this case, cm is key, and the mech/gobline unit is also need mana regen. By the way, you put tinker on the front line before you have cm, as tinker only get mana after being attacked, and tinker get a lot of mech regen. If you do get all 6 goblins, it is insanely strong as you will have +15 armor on these 6 units and 25 hp regen. It is easily the most expensive line up there is. If you haven?t died vs a warrior/knight at this point, you will see his frustration.
Druid: there are only 4 druid units out there: enchantress (beast), treant protector(elf), nature?s prophet, lone druid. Druid is a special class, there are potentially the cheapest to get to level 3. The benefit of druid is that if you have 2 druids, then you can get to level 2 druid hero with just 2 level 1 pieces instead of 3. When combine them, you need to place both heroes on the board though. When you have all 4 heroes enchant, treant, furion, lone druid, you can also use just 2 level 2 pieces to get to level 3 pieces when you place all 4 heroes on the board during pre round strategy time. So you only need 4 level 1 pieces to get to level 3 pieces., but the pieces are rare compared with other heroes. I find druid class to be good front liner for mage and hunt too. I sometimes don?t even use echant on the final board cos it sucks, it is only needed until you have level 3 treant, furion and lone druid. But you can use enchantress with tusk/lycan early game to tive your team +10% damage from the beast buff.
Knight: batrider, luna, chaos knight, abaddon, omni knight and dragon knight. They are quite expensive to put together as you don?t get easy win streaks and losing streaks with this class for the gold. The benefit of this class is you get a better and better chance when you have more knights to get a shield on the knights randomly which blocks damage. It is a viable strat, but very difficult to execute for beginners. The early game damage depends heavily on ck, and the mid game damage depends heavily on dk. So if you don?t have a good chance at a level 2 dk in the mid game, don?t consider the knight strat. The supplement for knight might be troll class or something similar to warrior class supplement. Quite a few knights belong to troll class, troll class give you extra attack speed, you can add troll warlord etc to knight.
Assassin: bounty hunter, queen of pain, phantom assassin, slark, viper, templar assassin and sandking. The benefit of the class is when you have 4 assassin, you have 10% chance of 400% crit, and 6 assassin give you 20% chance of 400% crit. Assassin class is very unique in movement pattern. Warriors and knights etc charge forward to enemy hence take damage from volleys of fire/spell before engaging. Assassin class on the other hand, just straight to the backline of the enemy. So you want to spread them across your side of the board to make them jump to the desired spot of the board for your conclave. Assassin is very strong against mage especially qop, she jumps to your keeper, lich, lina and screams and your damage is basically gone. But assassin is quite weak against warriors unless you have superior unit levels. I lost to an assassin as warrior before, I killed all his other units really quickly and I still have 3/4 units left, but he had a level 3 slark with good items ( I will come to that later), So when he gets attacked he goes into ultimate and regen to full. I simply could not kill him before his next ultimate is up. I think if the 60 sec fight time is over, you get a draw. He managed to kill my remaining units with 10 seconds left. Usually fight is over for everyone within 15 to 30 sec each round.
There are also other possibilities you can explore. I tried beast and warlock before and they didn?t give me a winning chance. Beast give you extra damage a bit like hunter, but hunter has so much better aoe spells and sniper and drow are beasts when it comes to right click. Warlock gives you lifesteal, but I haven?t been able to make it work yet. To realise any of these strategies, you will need to manage your economy (money) well. You can go back to the earlier economy section if you need tips for that.
I will mention how you get to your dream combination here. So you have this 8 by 8 board and you can field a number of chess determined by your current chess count limit (population limit) . There are 8 reserve slots for you to temporary store chess pieces you are not fielding currently. Use the reserve slot wisely. And don?t be afraid to keep buying and selling level 1 chess pieces to move towards your strategy. It is importantly to note that every round your shop offering will be refreshed for a chance at your dream piece, and you can also click the lock at the left of the shop screen to lock it if you have your favorite pieces but are short of money to buy them this round. But remember to unlock it after getting what you wanted to allow the free refresh next round. You can also refresh your shop with gold. Each time it cost 2 gold. I don?t recommend doing it when you are population 6 or below. I think you might need minimum refresh when you are trying to get winning steak at population 7. Otherwise, you might want to get to population 8 first.
You need to manage your units well and your money well. I think at the beginning don?t try to get to your dream line up immediately. Get the best you can find to win the rounds to get the money. You won?t get interest so you might as well buy as much as you can to hold even if you cannot use it immediately. Bear in mind that a level 2 chess piece is generally much stronger than level 1 chess pieces and takes only 1 chess board (population) slot compared with the 3 slots needed for 3 level 1 pieces. In the first few round, you generally see if you can get a good level 2 piece or a good comb. If in the rare event that your round 1 shop offering give 3 of the same hero, lock it, you will have exactly enough gold before round 2 to get your level 2 piece. Although you will have population 2 in round 2 and 1 piece only take 1 slot, a level 2 piece is generally stronger at this stage to level 1 pieces. You will survive level 1 creep whatever hero you buy, you can sell it before round 2 if you want to swap. For example, I am thinking warrior so I picked axe/tusk first round, then in round 2 shop I see timber and clock/tinker, so I sell tusk/axe to get those instead. OR if I see enchantress, treant and change to those. Sometimes you might get 2 copies of the same hero in the shop offering, you might consider pick them up so you might get a third soon, Sometimes, you might have 2 of the same hero in reserve and the shop offering gives the chance to get the another hero to level 2 but you don?t have the money, so you might even sell these 2 if that is your only option. Be flexible. You can change direction completely later on but you want strong rounds up to at least population 4 or round 6 to round 8, besides, selling a level 2 piece won?t lose you too much money later on but a level 3 will. There are key pieces you need to get to start thinking a particular strat. When you see a good aoe like razor, keeper you can start thinking about mage and find that cm. When you have extra money for a cm, buy it and you have the option to play mage later if you get a razor or keeper. When you grab a beast master, try to grab a drow too, then when you see sniper/wr you can play hunter, or a level 2 beast master is really good on it?s own. If you get lucky druid, get them, keep your option open, if you get nice and quick druid frotline you can comb with many things. If you get lucky mech, you can think about mage already. If you see a lot of qop, grab them, even if you don?t play assassin later, qop will be very useful early game. Also when you are have time you can quickly check what the other 7 players are building to decide what they are not building or building a minimum of it. It might be a good direction for you to go.
I think mid to late game require special mentioning. You don?t need to rush level 3 pieces if you are already 18, 20 rounds into the game. You are trying to get your comb pieces all to level 2 at least and the 8 reserve slot is often not enough. The ones that got to level 3 are generally because you got them early. If you were luck to be able to build and field 2 pieces of level 2 of something really early, then that one you can prioritize. Else try get the level 2 pieces. 5 gold heroes are generally quite useful even when they are level 1, tide, gyro, teches, enigma, lich are all very good. 4 gold heroes I feel doom, kunkka, keeper are all very good even at level 1. I have won games with only level 2 everything with mage and only 1 or 2 level 3 pieces with warriors. Of course, if the game is really high quality and everyone is very skilled, you might get all level 3 heroes at round 40 when only 3/4 players are left. When a player dies, his chess pieces gets recycled into the shop.
Here is a brief introduction on the items you can equip on heroes/pieces.
You will get random item drop exclusively when you kill creeps. Round 1, 2,3 are all stupid melee creeps, then you fight creeps every 5 rounds at level 5, 10, 15 etc. Level 10 mud golems, level 15 alpha wolves, level 20 thunderclaps, level 25 ancient black dragon, level 30 very strong range creeps, level 35 year beast, level 40 roshan. Creeps will get more and more difficult. The items are dota items but some of the uses might have changed. Crafting a big item is similar to dota 2 , except there is no recipe and many items are exactly like dota 2 except no recipe needed. They items are really useful but you have to use them well. Also you can get the item back only if you sell the chess piece. So you can put items on the floor/board when not using them or you can give items to heroes you will kill later if you don?t want the hero to keep it.
The base pieces include, 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. Some items are garbage, I will mentions the really good ones. Crown is really good, it allows your hero to regen mana really quickly if attacked, You can consider heroes with short cool down but on the front line, it can also be useful on tide later to make sure tide cast ulti in the first moment. You can get dagon from crown and staff of wizardry, and dagon is really good. But don?t let staff of wizardry combine with robe of magi to give you kaya as it is garbage. Voidstone is also really good as it allows mana regen when attacking enemy. So if you have a hero on the backline with really powerful or powerful and short cool down spell and you don?t have cm, then it is really useful. You can also make refresher orb for tide, that is just insane. As for weapon, monkey king bar is probably the best weapon with it?s +80 damage proc apart from rapier (which I haven?t seen yet) and you can make Mjollnir too if you are sniper (mkb is especially good with sniper too). Assault Cuirass is obviously good too. If you are not thinking or not able to get a refresher for tide, of course you can make vanguard too. That plus ac makes your frontliner difficult to kill. Have fun trying the items yourself! I think they are really well thought out.
Lastly, quickly mention there is a ranking system for this game. It also has calibration like in dota 2 first. The ranks goes from pawn, knight to bishop? and each has 9 levels. So far I haven?t seen a higher than bishop rank yet. Maybe it is the queen 🙂 I first did it on my main account, and I calibrated pawn 9, after getting a lot of top 3 finishes, I manged to get knight-8. I then calibrated to knight -7 on my alter account, and finally I made it to bishop 1 🙂
I love this custom game. I often find people in this game not understanding what is going up and hence cannot enjoy this fun game. Since there are many people trying out this game at the moment. I hope that my guide is clear enough and can help you enjoy the game more. If you like my guide, please upvote it so that more people can see it. I feel like this mini game has enough depth to be fun but less stressful than dota 2 itself, it is at least as good as overthrow if not better. I hope everyone enjoys dota auto chess, and I might fight you in the game:-)