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A guide to auto chess: Dota Underlords, Teamfight Tactics & more

Auto chess, or auto-battlers, are a new genre taking Twitch by storm and stealing the attention of gamers worldwide. Drodo Studio released a strategy mod for Valve's Dota 2 in January 2019 named Dota Auto Chess, and since then the genre has been a point of contention for esports' top developers.
It's set up like chess, on chess boards, but using elements of the game it is taken from. Think Harry Potter's Wizard's chess but more game-specific. You accrue money each round to put towards your build and then your team and the enemy team smack each other around until one team wins. As simple as it sounds, it's a very ingenious and deeply meticulous strategy game.

So let's take a look at the main auto chess, or auto-battler, games, and see which is best for you.

Dota Auto Chess

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Drodo Studio said that their main inspiration for Dota Auto Chess was Chinese tile game Mahjong, but wanted to include more battle elements to it.

Despite the release of Valve's official Dota Underlords, and competitor League of Legends' Teamfight Tactics, Auto Chess still maintains an average of around 500,000 users every day.

In the game, eight players are pitted against each other on what is currently the biggest roster of heroes in an auto chess game, with 63 units split between 15 species and 11 classes. Placing in the top three grants you candy, an in-game currency that allows you to buy cosmetic items to flex on your opponents.

Dota Underlords

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Dota Underlords is the official Valve auto chess game, despite Dota Auto Chess also being accessible from the Arcade section of Dota 2 in Steam. It is created and supported entirely by the Valve team, and honestly shows a lot of similarities to Dota Auto Chess, as you could imagine.

Underlords is a great place for beginners because it provides a tutorial and offline play against bots, allowing those new to the genre to explore the possibilities, find out how to play the game and steel themselves before meeting those other pesky gamers online.

Unlike other auto chess games, Dota Underlords has 'creep rounds' after rounds one, two, three and 10, and every five rounds following it. Providing you win those rounds, you will get a choice of three items to use in subsequent rounds. If RNG is on your side, these items could change the course of the match and help you out as you progress.

Dota Underlords is arguably the most refined auto chess game on the market, with constant updates and a distinct lack of game-breaking bugs, but that doesn't necessarily make it the best.

Teamfight Tactics

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Teamfight Tactics is arguably the biggest auto-battler right now, a League of Legends spinoff that can always be found hovering around the top of the Twitch charts, with even professional League of Legends players joking about how much TfT they play.

Matches are typically quicker in TfT than in either of Dota's auto-battlers, and features some interesting and possibly-too-RNG comeback mechanics, with players at the bottom of the standings allowed to pick champions first in drafting rounds.

It is clearly more accessible and easier to use for players new to the genre or the world of League of Legends than Dota Underlords or Auto Chess are to their parent game, but is also more RNG based than the other two. If you're already a LoL fan, or new to the auto chess genre, Teamfight Tactics might be the one for you.

Of course, there are plenty of other auto chess options; Auto Chess, from Drodo Studio prior to Dota Auto Chess, is a safe pick. On mobile you can download Arena of Evolution: Red Tides and other, lesser-known titles. But auto chess is a huge wave in the gaming world right now, and it's one you might not want to miss.