I'm not really a fan of Dota 2 so I don't follow what is going on in that community, but this time my fellow "Hearthstoners" brought me here, to Dota 2, more specifically to
Auto Chess. It seems that the game has much appeal to the card game players.

Auto Chess is wave-based, real-time strategy community mod a fairly new mod in Dota 2 released on the 4th of January by Drodo Studio and it is the most popular mod since it came out.

Even though this is not chess it requires deep strategy and planning to be successful in this mod. The mechanics are pretty simple but the mod itself is complex and the learning curve is pretty steep. Since this is just a mod it doesn't come with the tutorial so I would like to explain the gameplay and share some beginner tips that helped me to start playing.

So the game is played with up to 8 players and the goal is to gather gold to buy a team of "Chesses" aka Heroes and survive the longest. First 2 waves are a couple of creeps that may drop some items for you to gear your heroes and then every round you play versus any players at random, there is no order or even distribution of match-ups, it is purely random.

At the top of the image, you can see which round it is currently and in place of "Preparing" there will be a name of the player you are up against or creeps if it's a creep round. Next to that is a timer for the preparation stage and for the fight stage and I got to say that this timer is harsh. You get 30 seconds to prepare each round and that will be very hard for any beginner so until you get used to it, don't pressure yourself too much, because I guarantee you that you will miss some preparations in the first couple of games you play.

Next up is chesses/units and this shows how many "chesses" or units that you can have active on the board and it shows 6 because my couriers/chess player is level 6 at that moment. The number of available units is always equal to your chess player level and maximum level is 10.

Next to that is gold and is used to buy levels and units in the chess shop you can see in the middle of the screen. Gold has some interesting mechanics and I'll get back to that later. Note: Gold is also represented as your Chess player mana.

At the bottom is your Chess player and his abilities/commands:
Q - is used to get your units on the board and move them around
W - is used to remove units from the board to the bench*
E - is used for selling your units
D - costs 2 gold and is used to refresh the offer you get in the chess shop
F - costs 5 gold and it gives your Chess player 4 experience

*Bench is the area below the board and is used to store chesses that you need for later, up to 8 of them.

The Chess player has an HP pool that depletes every round you lose and how much it depletes depends on how badly you lose the round. So for every remaining unit your opponent had in that round, that's how much HP you lose.

In the middle of the screen as I mentioned is a Chess shop and here you can buy your units. Every round the shop refreshes automatically, you can prevent that by pressing the "Lock" button on the left in the shop screen. The higher your Chess player level is, the better and more expensive units you get to choose from.

Units have 2 sub-types, Species and Classes. This is important to keep in mind when building your team because of the synergies that can give you an edge on the board:

You can upgrade your units by equipping them with items. Items can drop during the creep rounds. First 3 rounds are creep rounds and then from round 10 every 5th round. Equipping items also requires some planning because once you equip a unit with items they are permanently on that unit unless you decide to sell it. Also, multiple items can be used to create more powerful ones with additional effects and here is a cheat sheet for those.

Another way to upgrade your units is to buy 3 of the same and place them on the board and they will fuse into one unit with the same name and will have 2 stars next to its name, you can also fuse 3 of the 2-star units to create even more powerful 3-star unit.

For a beginner I suggest you try out Warriors or Mech builds as they are easier to play with and always provide frontline units Such as Axe and Clockwerk and also check out this tier list that might help you decide what units to go for:

Lastly, the gold mechanics: There are a couple of ways to earn gold and this can bring an interesting dynamic to the game and your choices.
1. Basic income: You get 1-4 gold from rounds 1-4 and then every round you get 5 gold.

2. Win/lose streaks: give you extra gold, 3-5 wins +1, 6-8 +2 and from 9+ you get +3 gold.
This same bonus is also for the losing streaks, so if you are performing badly there is a chance extra gold may put you back on track

3. Interest: You get 1 extra gold every round for every 10 gold you have in your reserve, up to 5 extra gold if you have 50 or more gold in the bank. Saving up gold early can give you a great advantage over the course of the game, but when you feel you are in a really bad spot you should always go for shop rerolls to ensure you don't fall behind too much.

4. Selling units: Selling a 1-star unit gives back the base amount of gold you paid for that unit. Selling a 2-star unit gives base gold + 2 and selling a 3-star unit gives base gold + 4.
(For the Druid type units you get +3 since they need only 2 of the same to fuse into a higher star unit)

Hope this helps you get a better understanding of this mod and get you going. Best of luck in your ventures!

Remember this is just a community mod and you might encounter lots of bugs, but the developer are really active and getting rid of those quite often.

It would be nice if something similar comes out as a standalone game, I think this could be a great format of the game.

If you have any question regarding the gameplay or if I missed something, please ask in the comments.

Thank you for reading!