This strategy guide focuses on the basic principles of Auto Chess strategy. We have a Strategies Tier List if you're interested in the best strategies for the current metagame!
In this article, I’ll try to lay out the general strategy in an Auto Chess game chronologically so that you get an idea of how the game usually develops. I’ll also include some details of the most popular synergies at different stages of the game.
The early game is all about a strong opening strategy. The better it is, the easier you will be able to get an early winning streak going which will boost your economy, and the faster you will be able to reach the mid game.
Don’t forget that you can sell lvl1 units for full price. This means you don’t have to stick to the first units you buy. If you see something better in the next draws, just sell the old ones and buy the new ones.
Make use of your bench. Buy multiple units (even ones you are not currently using) so that you can possibly combine them in the future. If it turns out you’re not going to use them – sell them off.
Establish your frontline consisting of tanks is the number one step you need to take care of. There are a couple of ways you can go about it depending on what units (Chesses) you draw at the first few rounds.
Above: Axe, Tusk, Tiny, Slardar, Jugg, Lycan
Easy opening because of the high number of warriors available in the game and very strong because of the armor synergy (most of the damage in the early-mid game is physical). It gives you the option to go for an all-warrior strat or to transition into something else mid-late game relatively easily.
You can check out our in-depth Warriors Guide.
Above: Clockwerk, Tinker, Timbersaw, Bounty Hunter
the strongest opening – the Mech and Goblin synergies make your early-game army
almost impossible to kill. The fact that you use both the class and species of
your units makes it a bit harder to transition into another synergy seamlessly
(your starting units wouldn’t have synergy with new units unless the new units
are also Goblins or Mechs). This means you would usually have to sell and replace them at some point unless you're going for the (6) Goblins strat.
Above: Enchantress, Treant Protector, Furion,
An easy opening because of the low amounts of units you need to upgrade your Druids. The dream is to get a quick two or three star Lone Druid – he is arguably the most powerful tank in the game and can buy you a lot of time to build a great backline and transition into another synergy in the mid-late game.
Having two Beasts (Lone and Ench) also makes it easy to get the Beast bonus. Lycan is great for even more summons besides those of Lone and Furion - the units will get the bonus damage and if they survive till the end of the round will deal a lot of damage to your opponents. Getting a unit with high base physical DPS (like Terrorrblade or Troll) is also a good strategy if you have a high Beast bonus.
Above: Batrider, Luna, Chaos Knight, Omniknight, Abaddon
the hardest starting strategy (knights are fewer and generally more expensive),
but very strong if you get the pieces you need. Like the Warrior opening,
knights are relatively self-sufficient (damage from Luna with items, tankiness
from the other knights and the class synergy), but also give you the option to
easily transition into other strategies like Trolls (thanks to Batrider) and Dragons (thanks to Dragon Knight).
You can check out our in-depth Knights guide here.
Above: TImber, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Anti-Mage, etc.
Instead of establishing a synergy right from the get-go, you can simply go for high-value units - Timbersaw, Beastmaster, Bounty, etc. DO NOT put low-value variety units in your army – you are playing without synergies, the quality of your units needs to be able to compensate. A couple of those could do the job well enough initially, and you will be able to transition into a more coherent strategy in the mid game depending on your draws. This opening requires the most thinking on the spot – a lot of placeholder units in your army and bench that you will sell or combine later on depending on what you get.
The mid game is the most important part economically. Ideally, you want to slowly start hoarding gold around lvl6 to take advantage of the interest. Once you reach 50, spend any extra gold on slowly upgrading and building your army and buying levels.
Above: Shadow Shaman, Batrider, Witch Doctor, Troll
Trolls are arguably the strongest
synergy in the game. Troll Warlord is the key unit here, which makes this
strategy easiest to play after the Knights opening (because of Batrider) or the
Warriors opening (because Troll is a warrior and you could get a Warrior synergy
bonus as well).
Above: Puck, Viper, Dragon Knight
A powerful three unit synergy. It’s easiest to build after a Knight opening because a high lvl Dragon Knight is the key unit from the bunch. Needing only three units means you will likely have space for another synergy (or simply strong variety units). A great example is going for the Mage bonus if your Puck is high level.
Dragons are extremely strong in the late game - a two-star Dragon Knights with items can deal insane AoE damage.
Above: Anti-Mage, Terrorblade, Chaos Knight, Queen of Pain, Shadow Fiend, Doom
If you have a strong high-lvl Demon in your lineup as well as Terrorblade/Anti-Mage, it’s a great idea to try to find the other demon-hunter in order to introduce other strong demons in your draft without losing the Demon species bonus. This will allow you to run a Doom, Shadow Fiend, Chaos Knight, Queen of Paing, etc. while all of them have the Fel Power bonus.
This strat is usually hard to go for because Demons are relatively rare and many people contest them.
Above: Witch Doctor, Venomancer, Shadow Fiend, Necrophos, Alchemist, Enigma
The key unit that shows you that you can go for the strat is usually a high-level Shadow Fiend.
Warlocks are really more of a late-game synergy, but you can get yourself in a good position to use this class bonus by preparing Warlocks from early on – you might even keep them on the bench until you can make use of the synergy bonus. To make Warlocks’ lifesteal work, you also need a strong front-line that is tanky and deals damage.
Above: Bounty Hunter, Morphling, Queen of Pain, Slark, Riki, Sand King, Phantom Assassin, Viper, Templar Assassin
Assassins are a bit hard to pull off because to be efficient you usually want to aim for the full 6-unit synergy. It’s probably easiest to do out of a variety opening in which you already have 1-2 high-value early game assassins (Bounty, Queen). A high-level Templar Assassin, as well as crowd control from Tide or Kunkka is great with Assassins because it buys them time to deal damage.
You can check out our in-depth Assassins guide.
Above: Ogre Magi, Crystal Maiden, Puck, Lina, Tazor, Keeper of the Light, Lich
You usually commit to this strategy after a high-level Razor(s) in your army. Don’t try to use too many mages straight from the early-mid game simply because the cheap mage units are weak. Make sure your frontline is strong enough, store Mages on the bench if you need to (e.g. prepare a Crystal Maiden for the late game). Fully commit to the strat in the mid-late game and try to get your hands on a two star Lich.
It's worth noting that the Mage bonus is amazing for other magic damage dealers in your army - great examples are Shadow Fiend and Kunkka.
An additional tip - if you have a high-level Puck, going for the Dragon synergy is a great idea. It will allow your Puck to use his spell right away and will provide you with a decent tank in DK. Viper Strike, although not amazing, also deals magic damage.
Our In-Depth Mages Guide.
Above: Drow, Beastmaster, Mirana, Sniper, Windranger, Medus, Tide
Going for Hunters is a bit awkward in the mid game because the mid-game Hunters (Sniper and Mirana) are not great. Beastmaster, however, is very strong, which means a popular way to get the (3) Hunters bonus is to get Beastmaster early on and to get two additional ranged Hunters like Drow and Windranger.
Drow could be used as a way to get the (2) Undead bonus, which is very decent.
Above: Troll, Kunkka, Disruptor, Shadow Fiend, Doom, Templar Assassin
Still sticking to variety picks at this point is a bit scary – you need to at least start building synergies in order to secure the late game. Even minor buffs from two or three unit synergies are extremely valuable. Pay attention to species bonuses - e.g. Naga, Undead, and Human are powerful, easy to get and easy to forget about.
The units mentioned above are usually good enough to use in a draft on their own. That being said, this is no excuse for totally ignoring synergies. Units that participate in multiple good synergies are very valuable in this situation because they give you options. Two great examples are Witch Doctor (can go for Trolls, can go for Warlocks), Necro (an easy 2-Undead bonus, can use in Warlocks).
You could reach this stage without dipping below 50 gold if you get great draws and manage your army and economy very well. If you manage to do this on a winning streak you are most probably winning hard. In the end, the player who wins is the player with the strongest late game army. Having a great economy like that increases your chances because you will have the extra gold to cycle through a lot more units than your opponents, which gives you a higher chance to get what you need.
Often, however, this wouldn’t be the case and the signal that the late game has come would be that other players are starting to defeat your mid-game army convincingly. Late game losses are costly in terms of HP, so you need to take measures quickly.
Use all of your gold to refreshing the shop. This way you will find upgrades to your army as quickly as possible - reaching three stars on at least a few units and two stars on everything else is crucial. You will also find missing key pieces to your strategy (important legendary units, etc.). In harder games, you might not even have the luxury to get to 50 gold before you need to start spending on shop refreshes to search for units.
Don’t forget to try to reach lvl10 – the final one or two bodies on the battlefield are important for their stats, but even more so for the synergies they can provide. If you are rich and can get to lvl10 early this will also increase your chances to get rare units. A two-star legendary shouldn't be underestimated!
Nonetheless, if you’re desperate it is definitely possible to win a game on lvl9. If you don’t have powerful units on the bench, upgrading to lvl10 might be a very big cost that will cripple you more than it will help you - it might be a better decision to spend your gold in the shop to try to upgrade the units you already have.
What will help you decide whether to lvl-up or search for units is how well your army is doing against the enemy players. If you are winning comfortably, try to press that lvl-up button regularly so that you reach lvl10 before your opponents. If you are struggling, getting your army in order is a priority (of course, sometimes you need the extra slot more than you need new units because you have great units on the bench).
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