Dark Moon is a great way to unwind from playing competitive ranked Dota 2 games, but it can quickly become more stressful without the right strategies.
Dark Moon was one of the first PvE modes added to Dota 2. Predating Siltbreaker and Aghanim’s Labyrinth, the mode is a fun tower defense mission against 15 waves of enemies. After five years of absence, the mode is finally back in its original form as the Dota 2 weekend special. These are the best heroes to pick and strategies to employ to beat Dark Moon within the weekend.
The best heroes for Dark Moon in Dota 2
Dark Moon is flexible enough that you can play any Dota 2 hero you like, but a few picks stand out as being especially powerful choices.
With her Split Shot and Mana Shield, Medusa was practically designed for Dark Moon. She can hold out most waves solo with maxed Split Shot, and a simple build of Dragon Lance and Morbid Mask is enough to survive the early waves. Damage is key in Dark Moon, so Daedalus and Butterfly are great pickups. Grab the Assault Cuirass too if no other heroes want to get it.
While Medusa is great for keeping one tower alive, Sniper’s massive range makes him great at covering up any blind spots in the team. Shrapnel can quickly repel a surprise wave, and Take Aim makes Sniper great for wearing down bosses. Assassinate is also modified in Dark Moon to hit enemies in an area, making it great for all the tiny Kunkkas and Lunas running around.
Underlord was still new to Dota 2 when Dark Moon first came out, and he remains a top pick today. Atrophy Aura is insane in Dark Moon, with bonus damage easily reaching four digits. Thanks to his natural bulk, he’s great for stacking Guardian Greaves, Pipe of Insight, and other aura items. Wraith Pact feels like cheating in Dark Moon, and stacking it on Pit of Malice and Firestorm is a recipe for success. Underlord’s unexpected versatility makes him a great pick to balance out any squad.
Lastly, Dark Seer may not seem very strong, but he’s actually quite useful in Dark Moon. Surge allows him and his teammates to quickly rotate to undefended towers. Ion Shell is also great to throw on teammates or even boss characters to thin out waves. Vacuum and Wall of Replica are a little less useful, but Dark Seer is also very strong for the money waves. Ion Shell earns gold drops for every single tick, so throw them on your melee heroes and enjoy thousands of bonus gold from the chickens.
Tips and tricks to conquer Dark Moon
If the right heroes still aren’t enough, there’s a few more tips and tricks to get through Dark Moon before the weekend is up.
Wards are often neglected in custom games, but they provide a major advantage in Dark Moon. Several towers are close to stairs where enemies can spawn, especially the northwest and east towers. Placing a ward up there lets players see the spawns and even attack from the low ground.
As for items, Bloodthorn is surprisingly strong in several situations. It’s great for taking down larger targets like the giant Tidehunters and Alchemists. For the Alch wave, make sure to silence them after they start charging Unstable Concoction. Bloodthorn also may as well be mandatory for the final boss fight against Invoker. Just make sure to pop his Linken’s Sphere first.
Finally, never underestimate the power of the gold waves. The gold earned from those waves determines how hard the rest of the game will be. By stacking area-of-effect spells like Flame Guard and Ion Shell, it’s possible to get dozens of gold bags in just a second’s time. The second chicken wave is even better for this. Have everyone stand in one spot and stack as many damage effects as you can. Make sure to pick up the gold bags before they expire and enjoy getting six-slotted before the 12th wave.