As of the week of 14 January 2019, the most popular and trending game of the new year is actually a Dota 2 custom game mode named “Dota Auto Chess”. Created by Chinese developers Drodo Studio, the game has taken the gaming world by storm with its unique addictive gameplay, which had recorded 100,000 player count and had achieved more than 670,000 subscribers in the Dota 2 arcade.
Firstly, like Dota 2, the game is free. So let’s get that out of the way. Fundamentally, the gameplay revolves around drafting hands of heroes, pairing them to upgrade, and deploying them efficiently on the board to compete with eight other players in a series of one-on-one battles.
It is important to note that aside from the battleground being shaped like a 8×8 chess board, it doesn’t really have much to do with a traditional chess game. Rather, it has more similarities and elements from tactical board games like Neuroshima Hex, Warcraft 3 mods Legion TD, or even the laning aspect of Artifact.
At the beginning of each round, you are given a random hand of heroes to draft and purchase using gold you earned. You can then use the courier, or the “chess player” in the context of the game to deploy purchased heroes to the grid and carry out automated battles against other players. Also, you can combine three identical hero, like Lina the Mage and transform them into a stronger version of Lina. If you own three of a hero type on both the grid and the bench, you will get a passive bonus – three warriors grants you +8 armor, and if you have six warriors you will get +10 armor buff instead.
Moreover, each hero also has a race, and similar to class, when you have three of a race you will be rewarded with a bonus as well – three Orcs equates to +250 to all orcs.
Gameplay wise, the basic concept is somewhat simple but the process and execution is extremely strategic and challenging. Remember that the draft has time limit, you get only 30 seconds to purchase and combine heroes, and deploy accordingly. For experienced players, you will have to observe what your opponents are plotting as well.
One key thing to note is that, there are only 20 of each hero available in the whole game, so if other players managed to assemble your combo pieces from the pool before you, you are essentially screwed.
The game is extremely addictive due to its simplistic concept, but it’s also complex at the same time, as you are competing not with one but eight other human players. Are your enemies coming up with multiple assassins strat? Then you may want to consider placing your Axe at the backline. Facing opponent with chain stun line-up? Consider aiming for Naga Siren to enhance your stun resistance.
The objective of Dota Auto Chess is of course to be the last remaining player, by surviving with a total of 100 HP. With every round lost, the surviving chess pieces will deal damage to your courier. So it’s important not to lose at all, if you can.
If you finished the game as one of the top three players, you will be rewarded with some candy, which you can use to purchase cosmetics in the game mode. The more games you played, the more XP you earned, you will also be getting a ranking based on chess pieces, like pawn, knight, or bishop. It’s a way to indicate your skill rating and experience.
Overall, I find the game a ton of fun to play, I can definitely understand why and how it caught on fire in such a short amount of time. So if you’re curious like I was, go try it now! It’s FREE!