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Dota 2: The Definitive Dark Moon Strategy Guide

Our Dota 2 Dark Moon strategy guide will help you win all 15 levels. Find out which heroes to pick, which items to buy, and what weaknesses to exploit.

UPDATE: As of January 31st’s update for Dota 2, 10 new heroes have been added to Dark Moon. This guide has been changed with the additions in mind.

In their infinite wisdom, Valve suddenly went and decided to drop an event on players of Dota 2 in honour of the Chinese New Year. The event came with no hype-building, and absolutely no announcements of any sort before its release. It’s called Dark Moon, and players can take part in an attempt to win an “implausibly indescribably-rare Immortal Dark Moon Baby Roshan courier of peerless origin.” Here’s a comprehensive look at the event, its lore, what’s in it, and how to beat it, using our strategy guide.

dark moon baby roshan
The Dark Moon Baby Roshan Courier is, indeed, indescribably rare.

The lore behind the event is simple, players band together in groups of five and help defend Selemene’s temple against the advancing Dark Moon Horde, and reap the rewards of the Goddess’ favor.

For surviving each round, you get points, which can be used to redeem sets and treasures as rewards via the spinner. As a reward for simply reaching wave 5, once a day, you get a 35,000 point bonus, which makes you eligible for a spin-to-win.

Dota 2 Dark Moon Rounds

The event has your team defending five lanes, which lead to the ancient, which is Selemene’s temple, from a series of advancing creep-waves, all increasing in difficulty. There are fifteen waves, and they are:

  1. Alpha Wolves
  2. Dazzles
  3. Nyx Assasins
  4. Morphlings
  5. Chicken-pinata
  6. Warlocks & Golems
  7. Lifestealers & Zombies
  8. Tidehunters & Kunkkas
  9. Meepos & Catapults
  10. Roshling chicken-pinatas
  11. Night Stalkers & Engimas
  12. Miranas & Tiny Lunas
  13. Alchemists
  14. Techies
  15. Invoker

For Selling Mayonnaise!

Important Tip: All your opponents are treated like creeps, so Healing Salves and Clarities do not break while you are being hit. Further, they can’t use their spells without mana, so it helps to have a Medusa with maxed out Mystic Snake and Diffusal.

The name of the game is kiting. Connect waves together from different lanes and use choke points (like the high ground next to the outer sanctuary) to focus them. It’s always wise to focus the empowering boss instead of their summons (Dazzle, Nyx, Warlocks etc.)

In most levels it’s best to fight outside your base. The Tidehunter/Kunkka level is a perfect example of this; the Tidehunter ravages will AEO stun everybody in base. Try to avoid fighting inside your base as much as possible, though, as they can then use all the AoE spells they want.

This is a team game, so stack up with your friends and not random plebs who will drag you down. The best Dark Moon strategy is to have a strategy.

singsing dies to dark moon invoker
SingSing dies to the Dark Magus Invoker

The Best Heroes for Dark Moon (Updated With the 10 New Heroes)

All lineups have their pros and cons. Since it’s a team game, there’s no such thing as a pure support. There is no ward bitch to have to whine about. Heroes like Treant and Underlord can buy Vanguard and progress to items like Vlads and Guardian Greaves. Pretty much all heroes in this game mode have abilities that help clear waves, so team composition is important to balance out the levels. Make sure your team has heroes whose power curves coincide with what you need. In other words, your team should have heroes that are strong early, mid and late game.

Damage

The best heroes for dealing damage are Ember Spirit and Gyrocopter, with their huge AOE wave clear. Always buy Maelstrom early on Ember instead of rushing Battlefury, as it takes too long to get your first large item and you will probably lose the game at that point. Heroes like Medusa and Sniper have useful abilities but won’t deal as much raw damage as Ember or Gyrocopter. The highest DPS carry for the late game is Phantom Assassin. You might need one to defeat the Miracle- Invoker.

Utility

The best Utlity heroes are UnderlordDark Seer and now, Nature’s Prophet. I feel like every game should have an Underlord as it’s skillset is extremely useful all throughout the game. Dark Seer’s wall does insane amount of damage, especially if you’re in base with many creeps surrounding you. Nature’s prophet treants are very good early-mid game for tanking the ever expanding creepwaves. Going maelstrom helps you kill the bosses while buying Aghanim’s Sceptre will buff up your treants a lot. Special mention goes to Winter Wyvern, who has excellent wave control and clear.

Tanks

Yes, I know this isn’t LoL, and “we need tank” is something you’d normally cringe at. But this gamemode benefits immensely from having a hero dedicated solely to sitting in front and tanking while damage dealing carries do their thing. The top 3 tanks for Dark Moon in Dota 2 are Axe, Bristleback, Underlord and Treant. Axe has a new ability called Battle Rage that gives free lifesteal. Bristleback’s Nasal Goo applies AoE to all heroes even without an Aghs (Don’t buy Aghs!). Underlord’s entire skillset coupled with items like Crimson Guard and Vlads is great.

Late Game

The Techies strat is extremely useful for defeating the final boss, so plan ahead and have someone pick Techies on the off-chance you get to defeat the Dark Magus. Techies with Aghs Octarine is a good build to work towards. Sniper doesn’t deal as much damage as a Phantom Asassin with BKB, but it’s still good. As the game progresses, single target carries do much better, so heroes like Ember and Gyro start to fall off. Juggernaut‘s ultimate in this game mode is useful and will help deal with every part of the game except the final Invoker.

The Best Items for Dark Moon

Don’t Buy

Hand of Midas: All heroes get the same gold and experience. There is no advantage to buying Midas except using it on a singular creep. Which is useful till you realise you can’t Midas the bosses because they’re actually Ancients.

Battlefury Early Game: Rushing Battlefury makes no sense on any hero. It’s much better to stack Maelstroms till level 9 or 10 when you have enough gold to purchase a Battlefury outright. After that it’s really useful.

Bloodstone: While useful initially for the mana regen, you don’t regain Bloodstone charges after killing anything. So 3 deaths and it’s all gone. Buy Shivas or Hex for the mana pool instead.

Do Buy

Utility: Arcane Boots, Mekanism, Guardian Greaves, Force Staff, Vlads, Crimson Guard are all really useful for just about any hero. Even carries like Ember, Gyro, Medusa and Sniper should go for the early game Arcane Boots, as other types of boots have limited value in this game mode.

Battlefury Late Game: Useful at taking out multiple creepwaves or multiple Alchemists, Miranas or Catapults.

As Many Mjolnirs as Humanly Possible: It’s true that stacking Mjolnirs is slightly messed up in the game right now, but they still have its uses. While multiple Mjolnirs on the same hero isn’t something I’d recommend, a hero like Sniper could go for it for the attack speed. Moon Shard is infinitely better though.

Healing Salves: Start off the game with multiple Salves. You’ll need it.

Level by Level Dota 2 Dark Moon Strategy

Round 1 is fairly simple, and most of the wolves can be dispatched with ease with a simple Ion Shell or Shrapnel. You can pretty much do whatever you want in this round.

Miracle playing Ember Spirit in Dark Moon
Miracle playing Ember Spirit, courtesy JustWant2PlayAGame

Round 2 is slightly harder, but the only real threat is the Dazzles casting Shadow Wave. Either stun them, or move back when you see them begin to start channeling. Don’t send Nature’s Prophet treants into this as they’ll be killed off fast by Dazzles’ heal.

Round 3 features an army of Nyx Assassins, which can and frequently do attempt to chain stun you. Don’t clump up, and dispatch the Nyx’s before dealing with the lesser creeps. Keep strafing to avoid the stun and don’t run into the mess.

Round 4 brings with it an army of Morphlings, which frequently cast waveform. As usual, kill the larger Morphlings before the others. The Morphlings do a lot of damage, both with their attack and their waveform. So avoid one on one combat. You won’t have strong enough items to fight all of them. Start retreating back to the base if overwhelmed.

Round 5 is the Chicken-pinata. The giant chicken in Dark Moon doesn’t attack and run around instead. Upon receiving damage, it will drop bags of gold. It isn’t spell immune, but it stunning it won’t stop it moving. Our tip is to use spells that deal damage over time. A great way to maximise the gold you get from this round is to have a Dark Seer cast Ion Shell and then use Surge to catch up with it. You can also attempt to trap him, for example with Tusk‘s Shards or Disruptor‘s cage. Ember Spirit‘s searing chains is great for rooting and dealing damage. Don’t surround the chicken, it will teleport immediately! It can mathematically drop a maximum of 10,000 gold, though the average is usually between 1200-1800 depending on how good your team is.

Round 6 is an army of Warlocks and their Golems. Focus the Warlocks, and kill them to make the Golems weaker. The Warlocks also occasionally cast Upheaval, which makes getting away from/to them and their Golems hard. Dark Seer’s Surge can help traversing these. Medusa‘s ultimate and Mystic Snake will freeze all Warlocks and Golems, so use it to your advantage.

Round 7‘s  wave has a large amount of zombies, and also a bunch of over-sized Lifestealers. The Lifestealers have spell immunity as they are perpetually under the effects of Rage.  Some of the zombies are magic-immune, while killing some zombies will make them respawn, but with only their torsos. The zombies do a lot of damage, so have some Tanks up ahead and kill Lifestealers from behind.

Round 8 features Tidehunters and Kunkkas. The Kunkkas can use X-Marks the Spot and Torrent. There are also the Tide Hunters that spam Gush. To further toughen things up, there are 3 giant TIdehunters that appear later in the wave which spam Ravage. Focus them ASAP before dealing with the rest. If the giant Tides get into your base, it will be very hard to escape the Ravages, because it basically covers the whole area with its range.

Round 9 features catapults and Meepos. They can use net and the catapults fire AoE mini-stuns. The catapults also making reviving teammates hard, so you should definitely focus them first. Further, the only way to stop the little creeps is to destroy the catapults, as they are summoned there by them. Use all spells and ultimates on the catapults; don’t waste your time hitting anything else.

dota 2 dark moon catapult and meepo
Focus the Catapults

Round 10 gives you some respite, in the form of another bonus gold round. This time its multiple little Baby Chicken pinatas (called Roshlings for some reason), and they drop 7-8 gold upon being damaged. They do not attack. To maximise the gold you receive, spread out and stand near any choke points. Sniper sitting on high ground is great for this, as is any of Dark Seer‘s abilities. Treant, Legion Commander, Juggernaut and Nature’s Prophet are all good too. Make sure you have a hero dedicated to running around picking up the gold!

Round 11 features Night-Stalkers and Enigmas, who will cast Blackhole upon catching 2 players at once. Have Winter Wyvern use its ultimate on the Engima to have the Nightstalkers kill it. Focus on the Enigmas and don’t stack, or you’ll get Black Hole’d.

Round 12 will have a wave of Miranas, which throw out Sacred Arrows. There are cute little tiny Lunas, but their glaives will kill everyone, so don’t stack or bring them into your base. Getting arrowed will almost certainly result in death, and if you don’t have buyback it’s probably GG since reviving a teammate is impossible in this round. Save for buyback before round 12 and don’t get arrowed!

Round 13 features 6 Alchemists, which each require at least 30 seconds of damage from your entire team. They also need to be isolated from the other ones while you’re dealing with each, as they will shrek you with their damage and their stuns. They appear to target their stun at a specific player, and only that target needs to run. There are no creeps, so if your team has good control like Winter Wyvern, Techies, or Treant, you could root the Alchemists forever and beat them to death. Fight one of them at a time; let them take some towers and don’t stack let the Alchemists stack their spells.

Round 14 is actually surprisingly easy. The Techies have a horrible HP pool. The mines can be easily avoided as they seem to have a tendency of going off for no particular reason. They will also use the new Suicide Squad Attack. You need good movement speed to dodge the Techies ANELEs, but otherwise you should be fine.

Round 15 is the final round, featuring four Invokers. At first you only have to fight three of them, and they each have complete item slots, and 35000 HP. They aren’t much better than the typical pub scrub at casting their spells, but all spells do around twice the damage. There’s no time to celebrate defeating these three, however, as the real battle is only just about to begin.

Suddenly “The Dark Magus” will appear, a 100k HP Invoker. This boss fight seems to have four phases, and his strategy changes in each of them.

At first he will constantly disappear and summon Forge Spirits, all the while throwing Cold Feet on your team. After he comes back for a second time and you beat him to a pulp, he will do the same thing.

For the third phase, he will keep disappearing, but this time he will cast insane amounts of EMPs and Tornados everywhere, each Tornado does about 1200 magic damage and there are a ton of them, making it almost impossible to dodge.

For the last phase, he will continue his disappearing strat, but this time he will be casting Meteors and Sunstrikes all over the place. Each Sunstrike does about a thousand damage, and the Meteors do about 250DPS.

Reviving teammates is very difficult due to the constant stuns, ministuns, Tornados, and even the Euls he frequently uses. Further, a Bloodthorne is a must, and it needs to be used AFTER breaking his Linkens Sphere. Squishy damage dealers shouldn’t shy away from buying a BKB, it can be used as a clutch life saver in the boss fight if you feel like you are really in trouble.

You can make the boss fight a lot easier if you silence him regularly. Miracle’s Invoker won’t follow you unless you show yourself, so if you have a Techies you can ask him to place as many Remote Mines in one spot as possible and drag the Dark Magus to that spot. Your team will have to wait for a few minutes as you maximise the mines, but it’s worth it for the Free victory. The proper Dark Moon strategy for the entire thing is to silence, stun and control the Invoker while your carries continue to damage.

If you’re interested in Dota 2, you’d probably like to read some surprising details from the new patch. Here’s our very simple guide to understanding Dota 2 7.00 and our summary of the follow-up update 7.01.

Written by Shivendra Shukla

Shivendra's interests mainly lie in writing about himself in the third person, being awake when he is not supposed to be, breaking the bounds of normality, and being vague. Comes with own spectacles.
@shivendra_shukla

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