Welcome to DotA! If you're a fan of exciting, team-based multiplayer games, you'll find it a lot of fun. The first thing you should do is make sure you have the latest map. You can find it at the official download site, here.
DotA is set up as an epic, ten player battle that takes place over the course of about an hour-long game. There are ten players at a time, split into two teams of five. Each player takes control of one hero, and the teams fight it out across the battlefield with the help of computer controlled units and structures until one side destroys their opponents' Ancient. The Ancients are heavily defended structures situated in the middle of each base.
There are several places you can play the game with others. Blizzard's Battle.net service is a good place to start; there are always plenty of DotA games going on at all times which are open to everyone. The second place is in private leagues and servers, which you can sign up to participate in. The third popular place for playing DotA is LAN cafes and other local gaming hotspots. A lot of cafes have very active DotA communities, so if you want to have fun and meet some new people you should definitely check them out. DotA is a team game, so if you have friends who are interested in playing or already play, forming a team of friends can be a lot of fun and take the game to a whole new level.
There is an incredible amount of depth to DotA's gameplay and at first it can be quite intimidating. Because of this, we've prepared a set of guides to help you learn the ropes of the game. However, we don't just tell you some of the basics, we have guides on advanced techniques as well, so that you'll have things to keep learning once you've mastered the fundamentals. We'll be updating and expanding these guides frequently, so don't be afraid to speak up and tell us what else you'd like to learn about!