Interested in the newly-released Ability Arena arcade game in Dota 2? Here is a compact guide to help you understand the basics of the game!
Dota 2 talents, Shannon "SUNSfan" Scotten and Andrew "Jenkins" Jenkins have worked together with their team to bring the Dota 2 community the hottest Arcade game on the block. Now what is Ability Arena? Take Dota Auto Chess, Custom Hero Chaos, Underlords, and Ability Draft, mesh them all together and we have this fun auto-battler mix. It does sound complex but don't be intimidated because once you've grasped the key basics of the game, you'll find yourself hooked!
Step one: Select a God card
When you’ve entered an Ability Arena match, you’ll first choose your Arena. This is purely for cosmetics and doesn’t affect your gameplay. You can get the various types of Arenas by purchasing the Battle Pass.
Next, is choosing your God card. Different types of Gods earn you different types of special perks. For example, the Pudge God gives you a higher starting health. So while you normally start with 200 health, selecting the Pudge God gives you 260 starting health.
Another example is the Kanna God which gives a selected hero bonus attack speed for each ally summoned. Unlike some Gods (like Pudge) which are passive, you need to activate this perk. Once you have entered the Arena, you must select the God card on the bottom-left of your screen and give the perk to any hero you deem suitable to activate it.
Check out our in-depth Ability Arena guide on selecting the right God cards.
Step 2: Select a hero
The game will randomize 3 heroes (1 Str, 1 Agi, and 1 Int) for you to choose from. If you are unsure of what to pick, you can look at their stats by pressing Alt or hovering over the hero. Heroes have different tiers (D,C,B,A,S) and as the rounds go on, you'll have the option to select higher-tier heroes. You can also reroll heroes for 2 Gold.
Step 3: Select Abilities
In the starting round, the game randomizes 4 abilities for you to choose from. Unlike heroes, you can buy more than 1 ability at a time and each costs 3 gold.
After purchasing an ability, it will land in your inventory and to use it, transfer the spell to your hero's ability slot. If you don't want the ability anymore, you can sell it for 2 Gold. You can also transfer abilities from one hero to another but it costs 1 Gold for each transfer.
In every game, 50 random spells will be banned from the overall ability pool. You can check all the available or banned abilities by pressing "Spell Deck" on the top-left of your screen. Several spells and abilities are more powerful than the rest and they are called "ultimate abilities" which are also the ults in Dota 2. These ultimates only pop out after you've upgraded for the 3rd time and a hero can only hold one ultimate at a time.
In the starting round, you'll have 4 gold. In the next round, you’ll earn 6 gold, and it adds on. It's important to note that unlike Dota Auto Chess, Ability Arena doesn't have a Gold interest and the gold resets each round.
There is also a timer before the battle begins. During this time, you can change your heroes, add more abilities, adjust hero positions, and more. But when the timer ends, you can't change anything until the next round. You can, however, purchase and sell abilities while the battle is ongoing.
Step 4: Watch the auto-battle unfold and reassess
Once the round starts, your heroes will clash against any random player - and you just have to watch your piece(s) do their thing. If you lose one round, you’ll lose a portion of your HP. Once you lose all your HP, you are OUT!
Step 5: Stack abilities to dominate your game
The goal of Ability Arena is to stack abilities. If you buy 2 duplicate abilities, it'll turn into a Level 2 ability which means it is stronger. You can see the level of your ability from the little number at the top-right corner.
On Level 3, the ability earns a max upgrade. Level 6, the ability becomes a Super Level Spell which gives either a special power, Shard, talent, or item. On Level 9, the ability becomes a Gaben Level Spell which gives a crazy powerful perk. NOTE: There are no upgrades on Level 4, Level 5, Level 7, and Level 8.
For example, take a look at this Dragon Slave ability. From Level 1 to 3, it upgrades like how it usually is in Dota 2 (again, some abilities are tweaked if it's too overpowered). By Level 6, Dragon Slave gets a damage increase of 150 and a lesser cooldown. By Level 9 (Gaben), Dragon Slave spawns a Helm of the Overlord buffed Black Dragon.
What is the key strategy to win Ability Arena?
The way to play Ability Arena is to get your hands on abilities that can synergize well together with your hero lineup and your God card. For example, you'd want to use the Ogre Magi God -which gives a Multi-cast perk - on a hero with a powerful spell, not heroes with low-cooldown spells or passive abilities.
You don't want magic spells on a Strength hero or you don't want Attack Damage spells on an Intelligent hero. You'd also want to pair up abilities nicely so they are utilized as best as they can - for instance, a low-cooldown spell coupled with Warpath.
The main focus is stacking your abilities or better yet your ultimate abilities. You want to hit that Super and Gaben points to earn a power spike. Reassess what's happening in the Arena to figure out your lineup's strengths and weaknesses. You can view the summary of each battle on the right side of your screen to see which hero dealt the highest damage and if it's Magical, Physical, or Pure.