However, you didn't exactly understand why those plays were awesome (ever tried showing one of those SC highlight videos to your relatives/partners/friends who aren't into the game?) and now you want to actually see for yourself what this game is actually like when you play it on your own. After all, the easiest way to understand why a perfect Marine split is so incredible to watch against Lurkers (or Banelings) is to lose all your units every time you attempt to get it done yourself.
One of the most famous guides that people recommend for beginners is titled "Welcome to DotA - you suck". The DotA community loves to lable itself as incredibly bad mannered and unfriendly (trust me, at least the DotA 2 crowd is lying. There are worse out there.) and you have no idea where to start trying to actually get some content to get better at this damn game.
Fear not, this thread will compile links to all the resources you're going to need on your journey.
Welcome to DotA 2!
Table of Contents
I. The Basics in 30 minutes
II. Hotkeys, Settings & more
III. Advanced and more detailed Guides
IV. Hero Guides
V. Community Projects
VI. How you can help
The Basics in 30 minutes
The very basics of DotA 2 assume that you have knowledge in a RTS of your choice. Instead of explaining what the goal of the game is and how you correctly press your mouse button, here are some great, comparatively short, resources that will help you before you first start up the game.
Bumblebee's [DotA] Back to Basics
Bumblebee explains how Runes, Laning in general, the Jungle and some basic support duties work. Great introduction!
Tutorial: DOTA2 Hero Roles in 5 Minutes (HQ)
Short, on the spot, correct. This short video explains what roles there are in DotA 2 and what they do to work in a team.
TheYango & dnastyx on "What hero should I start playing with?"
Purgatus DotA 2 for beginners
I mostly recommend this one for his "The heroes" section. There you learn about the differences between Str/Int/Agi heroes and which roles are available to help securing your teams victory from start to finish.
Professor FiercE's youtube channel
Great, short, educational videos about certain aspects in DotA 2. Probably my biggest recommendation for everyone who is new to this game.
So You Wanna Watch Dota 2 - A Primer
A great thread by scintilliaSD not just on how to watch DotA 2, but also with great basic hero, mechanics and item descriptions.
Purgatus's Dota 2 Items for Beginners
This guide deals with (who would have guessed) ITEMS! Probably one of the most compact resources about this topic on the net, it's great to know about some of the item basics before you start out. Since item builds in general are highly situational I recommend to check specific hero guides if you want to know more about when to build what why on who.
List of Hero Overviews on Youtube
For all the "WHAT THE FUCK JUST KILLED ME?!" - moments. These are short (~2min) videos showcasing what the skills of certain heroes do.
Purgatus's League of Legends Transition guide
If you come from League of Legends, this thread is a cool start. His hero/champion comparisons are questionable at times but in general it's very solid.
Toweraggro & how it works!
Hotkeys, Settings & more
[Guide] LoL-styled Smartcasting
The title says it all. Smartcasting can be awesome in some scenarios and horrible in others, here you learn how to integrate it into DotA 2. What does it do? Instead of having to e.g. press W, then click the "click" part is removed. Instead your cursor position at the time of pressing W is used.
Customising Dota 2
A big part of all source engine games since Counterstrike are the config files. This guide explains how to optimize your DotA 2 config for your needs.
Intended Fix List
Common Bugs List
These two beauties are very interesting reads. The intended fix list shows things that are still not working like they should coming from DotA 1, the commong bugs list is well... a compilation of all the random bugs. Lots of interesting stuff there at the moment, espcially for people who are used to the game already.
Advanced and more detailed Guides
"How to be smart and skilled" by NinjaMovesPro
If I could force you to spend an hour or more on reading guides, I would force you to read this. It's not only about the content. It's about the attitude this guide conveys. It's positive, it's encouraging and it's trying to prepare you for the rough times. If every player would take this guy to heart even pubgames would be the best possible experiences for all of us.
Purgatus's Intermediate Dota 2 For Beginners
I'm a bit torn including this guide here. One one hand his role descriptions (e.g. ganker/semi-carry/nuker) etc. are solid, on the other hand his hero and item suggestions should be taken with a grain of salt. Calling QoP the "best nuker" or Venomancer the "best support" is highly questionable. Read the role descriptions and the later parts about controlling space, ignore the hero/item suggestions.
A dota support
Great read by Bumblebee once more about probably the hardest role that exists in DotA 2.
Dota 2: Ultimate Guide to Warding
When this guy says "Ultimate" he isn't kidding. Over 80 wardspots with explanations and pictures. One of Professor FiercE videos linked above has a short version of this, but this one has it all.
2009's subbed VODs
2009 (yes, that's also a name) is one of the if not THE most famous chinese casters nowadays. He's known as a player since around 2007 and I'm probably not exagerating if I call his role similar to what Boxer was to SC.
Even more subbed 2009 VODs.
Say something nice if you like the work those two guys are doing, it's pretty damn awesome imo. =)
Dendi Talks Dota - How to Solo Mid
He is no 2009 but probably the best western solo mid out there. Great video.
From LoL to DotA 2
Don't be put off by the title. Even if you weren't playing League before this, this is probably one of the better detailed video series out there despite the low view count.
[G] 5-s' 30 second guide to every hero
Due to their short nature often not the most accurate, but probably THE best compilation out there if you just randomed someone you have never seen before.
The TeamLiquid Guide Index
Currently linking any and all guides you can find on TL and updated frequently! For all your other needs when it comes to heroes. =)
TL's Item Trading Thread.
Found something you don't want? Need something desperately to outclass your enemies in all aspects? This is the thread for you.
DotA 2 QQ thread
You lost because your team was horrible? You were 20-0-40 crystal maiden and you still lost? This is the thread for you.
How you can help
Dispite already throwing lots of stuff at you with the release of this thread, we can always use more quality content. Here are some things that we can never have enough help with:
-Hero guides and hero miniguides. This is a great example of what a miniguide should look like. Readable in 3-5 minutes and gives you enough content to last through at least 20 games. Due to their nature, please PM me if you would like to take a few of those on, I'll link them in the "Hero Guides" section of this thread once you posted them here or somewhere else.
-If you find a seemingly great resource or have ideas about what I could add to the OP because it would benefit mostly guys new to the game and/or the subforum, shout ahead in this thread or via PM. All suggestions welcome.