I am constantly learning something new about this dreadful game. Each time I look online at a guide, each discussion I have with other players, each match I play I learn a little more about DOTA. It may just be a little trivia, the abilities of a hero, or how an item works, but I am dumfounded by all that there is to absorb from this game. It's like chess, but with hundreds of pieces, right-clicking, and it's about hundred times more interesting.

Note that I use the word "interesting." I'm still at that point where playing a match with human opponents turns me into a nervous wreck, but I still feel myself drawn to the game just because it is so fascinating. Perhaps this is why people play DOTA; not out of any fleeting enjoyment, but for the same fascination one watches a Rube Goldberg machine's components work together towards one simple goal. Maybe it's not the grueling set-up people enjoy, but watching the pieces fall into place is extremely enchanting. It is for this promise, the siren song of deeper play, that I steer my ship towards the craggy shores of DOTA 2.


Having had a few matches under my belt and a slightly elevated understanding of the game, I find I am not nearly as terrified as I once was. I contribute this to learning a little more about each character and, as a result, learning the varying degrees they can completely destroy me. There are still heroes that terrify me -Ursa, Chaos Knight, and Death Prophet mostly- but the more I learn, the more confidence I have to press on the attack as Timbersaw.


Yes, Rizzrack and I are still close friends. When I play, I play almost solely as the Timbersaw, cutting and pinwheeling our way into battle. I have, on some occasions, tried a different hero but none of them have really jumped out at me the same way Timbersaw did when I first met him. Most times I will pick a new hero that looks interesting, fumble my way through one round against easy bots, and then go back to playing as Timbersaw.

This turned out to be for my benefit. DOTA 2 is not a game where I can jump from character to character and hope to gain any significant progress in my study. It isn't like a fighting game where one can try each pugilist in an hour and gain a grasp of the basic mechanics of the game as well as determine s favorite small group of characters. A quick match in DOTA can be a grueling thirty-to-forty minutes, and there are over a hundred characters to try. Each one has his or her own abilities, areas of expertise, and item affinity. To try all of them would be madness at this stage, so I am content to stick with Timbersaw, learning his abilities, playstyle, and items while slowly branching out to others when I feel like it.


Still, I am incapable of memorizing all the numbers this game constantly throws at me. When I see that boots give me +50 movement speed, I have nothing of value of which to compare it. I reason "+3 Strength" makes Timbersaw stronger, but in what ways and in what areas is beyond me. Does strength boost my attack? And if so, why is there a item with the description "+9 Attack"? For all I care they could just change the descriptions to "Higher Attack" "More Defense" "Faster Run" or "Most Intelligence" and get the same effect. The only saving grace is that some of the later items have unique abilities stated in non-robot vernacular that are quite interesting. A dagger that can teleport short distances? Yes please! A shield that has a chance of blocking damage? Quite useful. A stone that increases Mana regeneration whenever a hero dies nearby? Morbid, but a great addition to Timbersaw's inventory.

I still wouldn't be able to tell you the price of each of these items nor the build order. I just do not have a mind for such things, so memorizing these things will certainly be troublesome.


Some friends coaxed me onto an online match. It was possibly the worst situation for me; a Random Draft game with a roster full of unfamiliar heroes. I was stuck with Necrophos, a character who has plenty of debilitating passives, a heal, and a damaging ultimate that does more damage to low-health enemies. The quick description of the hero said he was suited to be a carry, a role that just racks my nerves.

Fortunately I had Io to help me lane. Io is a support character who can give additional mana regeneration, health regeneration, and speed to other heroes, making him a good partner for the slow, low-health, intelligence hero I was controlling. I'd take a risky attack, shoot off a spell or two, and then Io would help me run back to safety. It was the perfect strategy.

"I'm teleporting us bottom," said Io's master, "Get ready to use you're ult."

"Excuse me?"

Before I could tell what happened, or where our characters went, Necrophos was dead and Io was retreating back to base. Aristotle once said, "The more I know, the more I know that I don't know." Little did I know that he was speaking about DOTA 2.


I played two matches online. For the first match I succumbed to peer-pressure and was stuck playing as Phoenix. I barely contributed at all, was killed more times than I care to remember, and was vastly out-leveled. Still, our team won the match.


For the next match, I went back to playing as Timbersaw. I did unusually well that round, earning plenty of gold through last-hits and dealing decent damage while laning. I even managed to earn a Double Kill. A Double Kill! Never had I accomplished such a feat before! Our team lost the match. Quite badly, I might add.

That, my friends, is the essence of DOTA 2; it will hurt you only when it will it can do the most damage.

Slowly Descending Into Madness,


DOTA Diaries is an ongoing series of articles chronicaling the journies of Zachary Long AKA the InvadingDuck. The title art was made by css101, check out his/her other stuff!