How does buyback work? Dota 2 lets you cheat death for a price

By Kenneth Williams


Sep 10, 2021

Reading time: 3 min

When the enemy team starts storming your base in Dota 2, one mechanic can be the difference between winning or losing. 

Buyback is a Dota 2 mechanic that allows players to cut their respawn timer short and immediately spawn back into the game. Buyback costs a varying amount of gold as the game goes on, starting at just 200 but quickly growing to four-digit amounts. This mechanic is unique to Dota 2, which can make it difficult to understand for newer players. Here’s everything you need to know about buyback, Dota 2’s method of letting players cheat death.

What determines buyback cost?

The cost of buyback is determined by a complicated formula tied to a hero’s net worth. It starts out at the base value of 200 and grows as a percentage of the hero’s net worth. For every 100 gold a hero accrues, their buyback cost increases by 13 gold. The total is then multiplied by a number that slowly grows as the game goes on. A hero with 5,000 net worth must pay at least 584 to buy back into the game. In certain late-game situations, heroes can pay upwards of 5,000 gold to fast-track their respawn timer.

In addition to the gold loss, heroes get another penalty when using buyback. Their next death will have an additional chunk of time added to the respawn timer. Dying after buying back and facing this extended death timer is nicknamed “dieback” in the Dota 2 community. The addition of 25 seconds doesn’t seem like much at first, but it can be a death sentence for a carry who uses buyback recklessly. That lost time represents even more lost gold, and sometimes, the end of a game.

Like most Dota 2 abilities, buyback also has a cooldown to prevent it from being spammed. Players have to wait eight minutes before using buyback again.

What is unreliable gold?

Gold earned in Dota 2 comes in two different types. Reliable gold is gold that is effectively locked to your character and can only be removed by purchasing items from the shop. Heroes don’t lose reliable gold when they die, hence the name. Reliable gold is earned from passive income and bounty runes.

Unreliable gold isn’t nearly as stable. All of the gold earned from farming, kills, and taking objectives is unreliable, meaning it can be lost in the event of your character dying. You don’t lose all unreliable gold, but your death penalty dips into your unreliable gold reserve. You can check your death cost by hovering above your gold total in-game.

When should I save for buyback?

For mid laners and safe lane carries, buyback is usually a non-factor until the closing moments of a Dota 2 match. Their lives are extremely important, but they’re also tougher to kill than the support heroes.

Generally, cores should start saving for buyback as soon their death could result in the end of the game. It might be tempting to drop that gold on a Monkey King Bar or an Eye of Skadi. But remember that two health pools will almost always be more valuable than any item. Think of buyback as an emergency Aegis, which would be a valuable tool.

Supports should take a similar stance, but their naturally lower net worth and item independence makes buyback much less costly for them. In addition to game-ending scenarios, supports can buyback earlier in the game to aid in specific team fights that are particularly close. Just make sure your TP Scroll isn’t on cooldown when you go for that kind of play.

How can I see my net worth in Dota 2?

Unfortunately for free Dota 2 players, it’s impossible to check your net worth in-game without the use of external tools. For Dota Plus subscribers, checking your net worth is as simple as looking at the top right next to your recorded KDA and creep score. Since your buyback is determined by your net worth, it makes sense to want to check it as the game reaches the later stages. Free players can always hover over the shop button to check buyback costs, death costs, reliable gold, and other important numbers.