Game Dota2 Custom Game Roundup: How to win at Dota 2's Gem TD


Custom Game Roundup is your weekly highlight of the best (and weirdest) custom games in Overwatch, Dota 2 and more.

Tower defense games have been a staple of custom game modes since the original Starcraft, and today Dota 2 carries on that venerable tradition.

If you take a brief look at the Arcade, you can easily find half a dozen very popular tower defense games. There are always lobbies available for anyone interested in building towers and killing increasingly stronger waves of creeps.

But much like Highlander, there can be only one. And if you want to play the best of the best in Dota 2 tower defense, then Gem TD is for you.

Originally created in Warcraft 3, Gem TD looks like other tower defense games at first glance. Creeps emerge from one end of the map and follow a set path to the end, with towers constructed by players shooting at them all the while. But where other games leave it at that, Gem TD introduces a number of mechanics that set it apart from the competition.

Towers are named after gemstones, and while you can build five random gems per round, only one will remain at the start of a wave, with the rest turning into stones that act as a maze. Combining gems creates more powerful towers, and mixing and matching them will create unique versions of those towers.

The Rules

Gem TD can be divided into two phases: building and attack.

During the building phase, players can place up to five towers on the map. There are eight different kinds of gems to build, with five different upgrade levels for each, and each has their own effect. For example, Amethyst towers decreases enemy armor on attack, while Diamond towers cause attacks to deal more damage.

Even though you can build five towers, only one can be kept before a round begins. The rest, like we said before, are turned to stones that form the maze. But rather than simply build towers over and over again, Gem TD allows for various gems to be combined to create stronger versions of towers.

These can range from a more powerful version of the same tower, created by the merging the same kind of gem together, or they can be special gems that can only be created by combining different kinds and levels of gems. Fortunately, there is a helpful guide in-game that shows what gems are needed to make certain towers.

During the attack phase, creeps move to five different checkpoints on the map before exiting the level. The path they travel is visible on the map, and they will always follow the same route. Creeps will always take the shortest route between checkpoints, so building an appropriately lengthy maze will do much to help you win later levels. That said, there are several rounds where creeps will fly, so it's best to build around the path.

Tips and Tricks

Share unit control with your teammates

Gem TD can be played with up to four people, and the game is substantially easier with more people playing. But in order to ensure that your team is working together, you should share unit control with your teammates. Players can assist each other in combining towers across the map. This will go a long way towards ensuring that even if someone is AFK or leaves, the whole team will not be at as much of a disadvantage.

Make the center a maze

Because creeps will follow the same order of checkpoints each round, it is best to focus your tower builds around the center, since they'll have to cross it several times before exiting the level. A strong maze in the center means that creeps will have to spend more time reaching the later checkpoints and will be more susceptible to attacks that come from a concentrated defense. By pooling your resources to build a strong maze, there is a greater chance that you will live to see the later stages of a game.

MVP bonuses will win games

Towers that do the most damage in a single round are awarded an MVP bonus that increases their damage and decreases nearby enemy magic resistance. The buff can be stacked up to 10 times, at which point they will receive a special aura that dramatically increases the damage of nearby towers.

As the game reaches the later stages, the MVP bonuses will often be the deciding factor between a win and a loss. If there is a tower that is receiving a number of MVP buffs, construct your defenses around it in order to create a powerful defensive ring that will annihilate late game creeps.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

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