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Auto Chess: A Complete Guide to Winning

Auto Chess: A Complete Guide to Winning

Zach Cabading
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If you pay attention to gaming trends, chances are you’ve heard of Auto Chess. Auto Chess is a custom game mode for MOBA games, and it’s the latest online gaming sensation.
Despite the name, Auto Chess doesn’t play like real chess at all - it’s actually a lot more complicated. The game is notorious for being unfriendly to beginners, so before you play your first match, you should familiarize yourself with all the gameplay elements and winning tactics.
For those brave enough to dive into the world of Auto Chess, here’s a complete guide to understanding the game and, most importantly, winning it.

What is Auto Chess?

Dota Auto Chess was the very first iteration of Auto Chess. It was developed by Drodo Studio as a mod for DOTA 2. The mod became so popular that DOTA 2 developer Valve released its own standalone version of the game called DOTA Underlords.
Another popular MOBA title, League of Legends, has its own Auto Chess game called Teamfight Tactics.

Which Auto Chess game should I play?

If you’re new to Auto Chess, you might want to play DOTA Underlords. DOTA Underlords is by far the most beginner-friendly Auto Chess game because it’s very transparent about hero abilities and hero synergy.
Of course, if you’re a League of Legends veteran then you’ll most likely enjoy Teamfight Tactics because you’ll already be familiar with the heroes from League.

How to play Auto Chess

“Auto Chess” is a deceptive name because it doesn’t play like chess at all. It’s actually more like playing cards.

1. Auto Chess gameplay

Auto Chess is basically an 8-player mini-tournament. The game is divided into rounds, and each round pits one player against another. Some players are pitted against a computer opponent (PvE). PvE matches give you the opportunity to collect valuable items that you can use in PvP rounds.
During each round, you’ll create a team of heroes and deploy them to the game board. Each hero has unique stats and abilities that can be boosted by items and synergy combos. Once both players have deployed their heroes, the game simulates the battle. The player whose heroes have better stats wins the round.

2. Health points

Each player in Auto Chess has a health bar that starts at 100 hit points. Once a player’s health bar is depleted, they’re eliminated from the game. The last player standing wins the game.
A player loses health when they lose a match. How much health you lose depends on how many of your opponent’s heroes are left on the game board - you’ll suffer 2 damage per unit left standing. For example, if you lose a match and your opponent has only one player standing, you’ll only lose 2 hit points. If your opponent has 10 units standing, you’ll lose 20 hit points.
Thus, losing a match could be either disastrous or relatively inconsequential. In fact, advanced players sometimes purposely lose matches for strategic purposes - we’ll get to that strategy later.

3. Heroes

No matter which Auto Chess game you play, heroes always have 2 attributes:
  • Hero class
  • Hero race

Hero Class

Heroes occupy one of three classes:
  • Defense: Defense heroes have high health points and can absorb a large number of blows - they can also block attacks on other heroes on your team
  • Attack: These heroes are fast and can deal a large amount of damage to enemy heroes
  • Support: These heroes have lots of mana (spelled with one n, unlike the bland but nutritious treat from Exodus) and can use spells to heal, protect, or boost the attributes of other heroes on your team - and they can also use spells to deal damage

Hero Race

Heroes can occupy one a variety of different races/species. Hero race becomes more important when you’re planning out synergy combos.
The main difference between DOTA Underlords and League of Legends is the hero attributes. DOTA Underlords uses heroes and attributes from DOTA 2 while Teamfight Tactics uses heroes and attributes from League of Legends. But that’s the only major difference - the gameplay is mostly the same.

Hero Management

Remember, you’ll only win a match if your selection of heroes collectively has better stats than your opponent’s. There are two ways to maximize your stats.
First, you need to strike the right balance of heroes. If you have too many defensive players, your team won’t be able to deal enough damage to your opponent. If you have too many attack heroes, your team will take too much damage. And if you don’t have enough support heroes, you probably won’t be able to win tight matches. It’s important to have a good balance of defense, attack, and support heroes on the board.
The second way to maximize your stats is to take advantage of synergy combos.

4. Hero Synergy

Heroes of the same class and heroes of the same race trigger bonuses called “synergies.” Synergy bonuses are incredibly powerful, and you’ll need to harness them to win in the latter stages of the game.
When you’re selecting heroes, try to pick heroes that will provide your team with a synergy bonus when you place them on the board. Heroes must be unique in order to trigger a synergy bonus - you can’t place two of the same hero on the board and get a synergy.
Again, DOTA Underlords is a great game for new Auto Chess players because it’s very forthcoming about the types of synergy bonuses that are triggered by each class combination and race combination.

5. Player Level

At the beginning of each game, you start at Level 1. Your level determines how many heroes you can place on the board, so Level 1 players can place 1 hero while Level 8 players can place up to 8 heroes.
You gain one level per round, and levels are capped at 10 (so you’ll only ever be able to place 10 heroes on the board at once).

6. Money

Money is one of the most important elements of Auto Chess. You need money to buy new heroes. No money means no new heroes, which means no synergy combos, which means no winning. In DOTA Underlords, you automatically earn 1 gold each round. Each player is capped at 50 gold.
But you can earn additional gold bonuses by stringing together wins or losses. For example, if you win two matches in a row, you’ll earn 1 extra gold. If you lose two matches in a row, you’ll also earn 1 extra gold. If you win a match, then lose a match, then win a match, you won’t earn any extra gold.
Since you can earn gold by repeatedly losing, “losing in the short game and winning in the long game” is a legitimate strategy for advanced players. Players intentionally lose matches, earn lots of gold multipliers, and then use the gold to quickly build out a large and powerful team. It’s sometimes a better strategy than trying to win every round, because even when you’re trying to win you may lose - and win-loss-win streaks offer no gold bonuses.
But the hard thing about that strategy is making sure that you don’t lose by too much. If your opponent has several heroes left on the board, your health is going to take a beating. You need to make sure that when you’re intentionally losing matches, you’re able to destroy enough of your opponent’s heroes so you’re only losing minimal health. Experienced players know which heroes to place on the board to achieve a “small defeat.”

Auto Chess strategies

Okay, now let’s walk you through some strategies that you can employ in the early game and the late game to boost your chances of success.

Early game strategies

Stick to defense heroes

In the first five rounds, every player is pitted against a computer opponent. If you want to win the first five rounds, you should stick to mostly defensive heroes. Defensive heroes are good for one on one matchups and for when each player only has three to four heroes on the board. Unless you’re intentionally going to lose your early matches, it’s best not to get behind too early in the game.

Upgrade heroes

Take some time in the early rounds to upgrade a couple of your heroes. If you have three of the same Level 1 heroes on the board, you can upgrade them into a single Level 2 hero. Upgraded heroes are stronger and have better stats.
Some gamers may argue that it’s better to have three of the same lower-level heroes on the board than a single higher-level hero. That may be true, but one of the advantages to upgrading is that you can clear up more space on your board for other kinds of heroes (remember, you can’t reap synergy bonuses with multiples of the same hero). With more board space, you can add heroes of different classes and synergy relationships.
It’s easiest to upgrade your heroes early in the game because you can quickly upgrade a cheap hero that costs only 1 gold. You don’t yet have to worry about buying more expensive heroes because your opponents probably don’t have enough gold to deploy those ones either.

Lose matches

Losing your first few matches is a good way to accumulate gold and quickly build up a large team of heroes. It’s easier to intentionally lose matches early in the game because your opponents won’t have a whole lot of heroes on the board yet, so there’s less risk that your health will take a major hit with a few losses. Remember, if your opponent only has two heroes on the board, the most you’ll lose is 4 hit points.

Mid-game strategies

Study your opponents

One of the best things you can do in the mid-game is to study the tactics that your opponents are using. During the middle of the game, your opponents may be preoccupied with upgrading their heroes or working toward synergy combinations. In doing so, your opponents might deploy too many heroes of a single class onto the board - which gives you the chance to counter with a more balanced set.
Remember that all players choose heroes from the same pool, so you’ll always know what your opponents will be able to choose. Card counting is totally cool in Auto Chess.

Stop your opponent’s losing streak

If you notice that a player is intentionally fronting weak heroes to lose matches, you can always front an even weaker set of heroes to end their losing streak and prevent them from earning gold bonuses.

Late game strategies

Dump your resources (or not)

Towards the end of the game, players begin to dump most of their items and heroes onto the board in either a desperate attempt to survive or in an all-or-nothing attempt to eliminate players from the game. It gets really tough when opponents start doing this, because there’s a greater chance that a lost match will deplete a significant amount of your health.
There are two approaches to this situation. First, you can dump all your heroes on the board, too. This will increase the likelihood that you’ll win the match or prevent a significant loss of health if you lose - but you’ll also lose most of your heroes and items, which could hurt you in subsequent matches.
You could also front a weak assortment of heroes and take a loss. Yes, you’d lose quite a bit of health - but you’ll have a loaded team of heroes while that opponent doesn’t. That puts them in a bad spot and increases the likelihood they’ll get eliminated or beaten up in subsequent rounds.

Start a losing streak

If you’re in a winning position, but you’ve lost most of your ideal heroes and you don’t have a lot of money to spend, start a losing streak to quickly build up your cash again. It’s risky, especially in the late game, but if you have heroes to sacrifice and health to spare then you’ll be able to quickly build a strong team that can close out the rest of your opponents.

What’s a good gaming computer for Auto Chess?

In Auto Chess, you’ll only have a limited amount of time between matches to select heroes and assign items. The last thing you need is lag to hinder your selections. An HP OMEN gaming laptop is perfect for Auto Chess because it’s built with speedy processors that’ll keep lag from getting in the way of your tactical decision making. Auto Chess is an addicting game to play while you’re on-the-go, and that’s why you’ll love playing on a portable HP OMEN laptop.

About the Author

Zach Cabading is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Zach is a content creation specialist based in Southern California, and creates a variety of content for the tech industry.

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