I don’t know who the patient zero was, but suddenly the new frenzy among Hearthstone streamers is the relatively new DOTA 2 Custom Game, DOTA Auto Chess. The game feels plucked right from the era of WarCraft III Custom Games right before you couldn’t play them anymore because everyone was just using WarCraft III Custom Games to play DOTA.
The darn thing has almost NOTHING to do with chess, but it’s still a blast. I’d recommend it to card game and strategy game enthusiasts who can accept a game that’s completely free, has probably minimal commercial ambition, and therefore has a slightly buggy interface and match setup issues. Those things will probably iron out over time…and then break again.
Quick Text Explainer, or watch this video for a demonstration:
-It’s a strategy game set on an 8x8 grid that utilizes DOTA 2’s combat mechanics to determine victory. Your team of heroes control themselves - your goal is to draft the best team.
-The game is divided into rounds - each round, you get money you can use to buy heroes or level up, and then you fight an enemy team. The enemy team is sometimes NPC creeps, but is usually one of the other players’ teams.
-Winning your battle gives a money bonus and prevents you from taking damage to your player Life Total. Losing your battle deals damage to you based on how badly you lose - lose too many battles too badly and you’re eliminated from play.
-Your player level determines how many heroes you can place on the board and the quality of the heroes that randomly appear in the shop. Leveling up is vital both for winning battles and getting access to some of the more powerful heroes in the game.
-Matching like heroes in groups of 3 (as in, three copies of Lycan) upgrades the group to one Two Star hero. Matching groups of 3 two star units turns them to a Three Star hero. This is Almost Always Worth It.
-Matching synergized heroes (as in, three elves, or three warriors) gives bonuses to your team (such as 25% damage reduction.) You’re encouraged to draft heroes that bolster each other.
-Availability in the shop is reduced as each player drafts more copies of the same hero. If everyone’s taking Tusk, there are less to go around and upgrade - figuring out when to sell off your irrelevant heroes and pivot to another strategy is a key part of the game.
The heroes are based on the cast of DOTA 2. Knowing who’s who probably gives a significant advantage for the early onroad, but as someone who doesn’t know DOTA at all, I figured this out pretty quick. And then thanks to the Midwest cold snap, work is cancelled today so I stayed up outrageously late playing it last night. “Just one more game”-ing for three hours past bedtime.