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Ask any new player what they find most difficult about learning Dota 2 and it is very likely they’ll say understanding the wide variety of items and their uses in the game.
If you are one of those people, we completely understand. Dota 2 has 208 items in total and your hero can carry up to carry 10 items at a time, seven of which are usable; the other three can be placed in the backpack and swapped in with an existing item. The pairings of these items can lead to many different outcomes so it can be tough to grasp.
We spoke with Indian gamers Krish ‘Moon’ Gupta and Ganesha ‘Anx1e8y’ Manjunath and came up with a unique way of categorizing the items so they can be easier to understand.
Purchasable and Neutral items
All items can be broadly classified as either purchasable or neutrals. There are 150 Purchasable items and 58 Neutral items.
Purchasable items are available in the shops on the map. There is a shop in each team base and two secret shops placed symmetrically in the offlane. The secret shops offer items which aren’t available in the base shops. You’ll need to spend gold to these items from the shop; gold can be earned by killing creeps and heroes.
Neutral items drop from killing neutrals and don’t cost gold to buy. However, you cannot choose the neutral item; a random one will drop at different times in the game. Neutral items are divided into five tiers; each tier is activated after a certain amount of time has elapsed in the game. So a random neutral item will drop from the tier depending on the time in the game.
Tier 1 (11 items): 7+ minutes into the game
Tier 2 (11 items): 15+ minutes into the game
Tier 3 (11 items): 25+ minutes into the game
Tier 4 (11 items): 40+ minutes into the game
Tier 5 (14 items): 70+ minutes into the game
All heroes have a dedicated neutral item slot and can only carry one neutral item at a time. Only four neutral items drop from each tier. They are shareable so irrespective of which player picks them up, they can be passed on to a teammate.
Pro tip: Give your core heroes preference on which neutral items should be held by which hero. In case a certain item is known to work well for a certain hero, give preference for that hero to carry the item over a core hero.
While items are divided into Neutral and Purchasable depending on how they are acquired, they can also be classified based on how they are used. These give us three categories of items overall.
Consumables are items in Dota 2 which take up a space in your inventory and will be consumed once they are used. They generally provide temporary or instant buffs and are largely used in the early game and the laning stage. Examples of consumables are Healing Salve, Clarity Potion, Smoke of Deceit, Enchanted Mango, Tango, Faerie Fire, Tome of Knowledge etc.
Items like Healing Salve, Tango, Clarity Potion, Enchanted Mango, Faerie Fire, etc provide instant healing or mana bonuses that help you sustain in lane. Smoke of Deceit helps apply a temporary buff on heroes so they can bypass enemy wards without being noticed. Tome of Knowledge offers an instant, permanent XP gain.
Other items like wards can also be considered as consumables because they don’t take up inventory space once used. Town of Portal Scrolls allow heroes to teleport to friendly structures across the map and are also considered consumables.
Active items are those which have an active skill or ability that can be used only after you possess the item. For example, when used a Blink Dagger allows a hero to teleport to a certain range, Mekansm allows a hero to activate a burst heal in an area of effect, and Black King Bar allows heroes to be immune to magic for a limited time. There are over 50 items that can be considered Active items. Each item has a specific ability which is best used in particular situations.
Passive items provide various kinds of bonuses and auras. By possessing them, their effect is felt gradually over time; they cannot be activated to have an effect at a specific time. Examples of passive abilities are corruption, lifesteal, critical strike, bash, mana burn etc. Some of these abilities such as critical strike and bash are based on chance, i.e. they only activate on certain hits.
Other passive bonuses can include movement and attack speed buffs, mana and health pool/regen increase, stat buffs, auras, magic resistance, status resistance, magic damage and/or range amplification, attack range amplification etc.
How to choose which items to build for your hero
The choices may be vast and the possibilities endless, but itemizing in Dota 2 is a logical process. Largely, most heroes have a set or defined way in which you want to build the hero and you have some options in how you go about doing it.
Itemizing in the early game is about being able to win the lane and focussing on the items you want to build up. Equip a farming item early to help you scale better; beware it may make you less effective in early fights.
“You have to make decisions based on what the enemy composition is like. If they have a farming core who will be hard to shut down, you can opt for a farming item to scale with them. If they have a fighting carry who can’t be avoided, you want to itemize to be able to take the fight to them” explains Ganesha ‘Anx1e8y’ Manjunath.
Make objective-based decisions in the mid-game. These objectives could be: taking down towers fast, magic immunity to withstand burst damage, taking down enemy heroes, initiating fights, etc.
In the late game pick items that can help you win the game. If your team needs that extra Hex or a lock down, a Scythe is a great choice. If they have a lot of single target initiation, a Linken’s Sphere or Lotus Orb can really make the difference. If your team needs to cause more damage, a Divine Rapier + Aegis of Immortal combo can help.
“BKB is a great item to close out the game for a core as it allows you to take favorable fights. For support players, items like Vlads, Solar Crest or Lotus Orb are quite good in my opinion. These items allow you to siege the enemy high ground with some safety and can put a lot of pressure on the opponents to force a bad team fight,” explains Gupta.
Interested in Team OG? In 2018, OG were at rock bottom, hit by painful departures and scrapping in qualifiers for Dota 2’s TI8. Against the Odds is the fairy tale of this broken team’s shot at gaming’s biggest prize. Watch their journey below:
1 h 21 min
Against the Odds
This is the story of Team OG’s incredible journey from underdogs to contenders for gaming’s biggest prize.