DOTA 2 Auto Chess: When a strategy game mod goes wild

The fun and depth of the mechanics is so good it keeps me playing through all the bugs and problems getting games started.

Finally I have some handle on late game and managed to win a few matches.

You gotta get lucky to win, but you need skill to recognize that you got lucky in the first place. Also managing luck intuitively, kinda like bloodbowl.

I started playing this today and can confirm that it is very addictive. It doesn’t seem like it will be at first, seeing as how so much of the game is hands off. Yet once you play for awhile it gets its hooks in, and I think for two main reasons. The strategy is multifaceted with just the right amount of rng, and it makes you feel like a kid. It gives you the ‘these toys are mine, I know them well, now they will fight your toys’ feeling that you got as a 10 year old.

I don’t think a game has impressed me this much since EU4. I have been thinking about auto chess while at work the last couple of days, considering staying up late to get a couple more rounds in, and so on you all know how it is when a game is good.

Every time I log into the game it says over 200k-300k people are simultaneously playing the mod, which is (to my understanding) almost half of total DOTA 2 players. The game looks to be fairly simple to program, and I can’t think of any other game like it. You would think, then, that Valve are working with the fellow to turn this into something official and more polished, and that many other companies are already working on their ‘X auto chess’ derivatives. I wonder if there’ll be a thread in Qt3 in 6 months titled “Gentlemen, start your 3d printers! Auto Chess is the new Royale is the new MOBA.”

There’s an official mobile version coming, in Chinese only so far.

There were some conspiracy theorists saying it was Tencent behind the DOS attacks because they want to make a league of legends version now.

And a warcraft 3 mod:

518 votes and 65 comments so far on Reddit

Steam claims I’ve now played 100 hours of Dota 2, and I never did anything more than the initial tutorial of actual Dota, a few years ago. The rest is all Auto-Chess. What a fascinating design this is. It’s like weaponizing Gacha as an in-game mechanism rather than as a long term progression or cosmetic mechanism.

It’s somehow just incredibly satisfying to see the draft roll, figure out what you can do with it, and then reroll. It’s a really interesting contrast to Artifact, where the player base was incredibly unhappy with much smaller level of randomness.

Just reading descriptions of the game doesn’t do justice for how many decisions there are to do, and how much time pressure there is. 40 minutes per game sounds like a lot for a game where you’re really not doing anything but drafting units and watching the fight it out. But in practice after the first five minutes I’m constantly engaged, often running out of time during the preparation phase, during the two battles trying to keep track of both the home and away games to get an idea of what’s working and what isn’t, and trying to figure out how to pivot both the draft and the unit placement to work against the main opponents.

The thing that’s going to kill this mod sooner rather than later is how unbelievably shitty the Dota 2 arcade experience is, and in ways that are totally outside of the mod developer’s control.

  • Half the time queing for Autochess will create 10 player lobbies that will result in a normal game of Dota 2 if they ever start. But obviously they won’t start, since most people know that a 10 player lobby won’t work, and you need an 8 player one. So everyone would like to bail out of the lobby. Except the lobbies fill up in a tenth of a second, so you never have time to press “leave”. Instead you get a prompt to accept the game starting, and everyone tries to click on reject as quickly as possible, because only a couple of people can get out. The fucking accept dialog fanfare sound effect is seared into my brain by now.
  • Ok, so you’ve managed to get into an 8 player lobby and everyone accepted the game. Then there will be a three minute(!!) load period. Three minutes is often not enough for people without SSDs, on their first attempt. And if one player times out, the game is cancelled for everyone.
  • No way for them to implement skill-based matchmaking.

I can’t believe that it’s been three months, and Valve haven’t tried to address these issues, nor that they failed to snag up the mod team to make this official. This is a mod with 250k players in game at a time where the whole Dota 2 client has a total of 750k players in client.

I really need to spend some time with it.

If anyone is interested , the inevitable wave of mobile versions of auto chess has begun. Search Red Tides on App Store. Tried it out yesterday and it’s a pretty accurate conversion of the DOTA auto chess formula. Free to play with IAP for cosmetics only (from what I can tell).

Not sure yet this is a genre that translates well to mobile as matches are real-time and take 20-30 min to complete.

Note: current App’s title and description are in Chinese but the actual app is translated into English .

Cool! Looks like it’s on Android as well with full title being Arena of Evolution: Red Tides. It looks like Red Tides might be a game brand of some sort? There was another Red Tides RTS that came up when I searched as well. I’m going to download it and give it a shot.

Not sure I like the scifi theme.

The mobile version blessed by the original mod developers has been out for a couple of weeks too, though I think you’d need to side-load the APK rather than install from the Play store. Defaults to Chinese, can be toggled to English.

The match-making and load times are supposed to be miles better than on the desktop, which is just crazy. But just from screenshots, it feels like the game loses a lot of character without the Dota heroes.

Yeah, I’m waiting for Drodo’s version to show up in the google play store

There is some kind of promotion happening. I received 20 candies for playing a game yesterday. A friend got 40 in his 2nd game (nothing his 1st game).

My addiction wore off and I stopped playing a while back.

The PC client has frustrating issues 1) cheaters 2) lobby issues and problems making games.

Like above, I may try again when an android version comes out that’s harder to cheat in.

It will be nice when there is a real games, and not just a model. The interface can be annoying at times.

It looks like the official Android version is available in early access. I never played this before and am still trying to get a handle on the gameplay. Also, does the PC version have English voices? Because I only hear Chinese.

Awesome. Playing the tutorial, the implementation feels pretty good.

I haven’t played the mod in a few weeks, but my memory is that it doesn’t have characters speaking Chinese. I’m not sure, but I don’t think they speak at all in the mod.

Played a round on my phone with the mobile app. I know some people are not happy that they aren’t using dota models in the app, but I think it is fine. It seems pretty well done. They have a tutorial to teach you the basics, and there is a built-in encyclopedia of the units and items. Using the touch interface isn’t too bad. I don’t know if there is quick way to sell, but to remove someone from the board you just double tap them. It has auto-merge so you can just drag units onto the board and it upgrade them for you. When the purchase screen pops up it highlights units you already own which I don’t think the mod does. If I have any complaint, it is the same complaint I would lodge with the mod - the game is fun, but man does a game seem to take a long time. In the game I played on my phone I ended up in 3rd place, and I played for around 35 minutes. 1st and 2nd went another 10 minutes or so.

The only multiplayer RTS I have experience with is Homeworld 2, and even at its peak you were lucky if the game didn’t crash on load or desync or drop someone 50% of the time. That’s not including people who quit because they were losing. Doesn’t sound as nerve wracking as your experience though.