Essential DOTA Underlords Tips02 Sep 2019 2
The battle for Auto Chess supremacy is now firmly underway, and the war has spread to mobile devices. You’ll have seen our round-up of Auto Chess-like games available on the various App Stores, which included DOTA Underlords (iOS | Android), a game we've marked as one of the most recognisable names in the space.
But it does a few things a little differently. In the time since Dota Underlords has left its closed beta it has been hit with a stonking amount of updates re-balancing several aspects of the game.
Some clarity, because the mobile auto-battler space is filled with pretenders and sound-alikes: this guide isn't for the Dota Auto Chess workshop mod, and it's not for the mobile spin-off that is known as Auto Chess (Origins), both of which come from the original Auto Chess creators Drodo Studio. It's just for Dota Underlords. While you're free to accept any substitutes you decide on, this guide will not serve you well for them.
A second point: that wave of updates means the entire game can shift underfoot from one day to the next. While our guide is pretty accurate now, that'll change - not always massively, but this is a new and emerging game-type. Anything could happen.
When it comes to Underlords anyone familiar with Auto Chess is going to feel very comfortable, as they share an awful lot of similarities. It’s effectively the same game, just with a ton of UI improvements, systems to make it easier to play and understand, and a few other tweaks here and there. But those tweaks can catch you out, and if this is your first Auto Chess rodeo then you are probably going to be more than a little confused.
Don't worry, we have the ultimate guide to everything you are going to need to know to master DOTA Underlords, whether you're a rookie player or a veteran looking to get an edge.
DOTA Underlords Basics
First and most importantly, don't feel pressured into trying to learn this on the fly with real players online: Underlords not only has a more robust tutorial, but there's also a Solitaire mode where you can play against AI opponents. You can set the difficulty between Easy, Medium, Challenging and Hardcore, and you can even enable an option to disable the round timers so you can take your time and play at your own pace. Matches can be paused and even left, so you can come back to them later (or switch to PC - see below). Don't get too used to this though - live multiplayer games are kept to strict timers, so you'll need to learn how to make decisions quickly.
In DOTA Underlords you face off against seven other players to build a roster of heroes who will battle it out effectively until the death. You buy the heroes you want, position them on the board and then let them fight it out against one of the other players in the game while you sit back and watch the carnage unfold. Lose a fight and you’ll take damage, win and you’ll stay healthy. Once a player has lost all their health they are knocked out of the game, and the last surviving player is the winner.
When building your roster you’re going to have to consider Alliances, buffs to your heroes or debuffs to your opponents, which can be earned by having multiple heroes with same Alliance types on your board. For example, if you have three Mages then your opponent will have reduced magic resistance. So combining Alliances is really the only way to win.
You’ll also get gold that can be used to buy your heroes and upgrade them should you get three of the same hero at the same level, so three level ones become a level two, and three level twos become a level three. And gold is used to level up, allowing you to put more units on the board.
Auto Chess vs. DOTA Underlords vs. Everything Else
There’s a ton of smaller differences between DOTA Underlords and the mod it was based on, Auto Chess, but there are a few that are very significant. Perhaps the biggest is the new item system. Instead of creep rounds just dropping items you get a choice of three items if you win the creep round, or just one should you lose, although creeps are way easier to beat now. Choose the items that play into your strats, otherwise you’ll be stuck with a buff to Hunters when you have none on the board.
Global items are also a new addition, these items are not equipped by a hero, but instead augment all your heroes of a certain Alliance. Some add new abilities, such as heroes exploding when they die, and others are buffs such as extra magic resistance for your team. Most are very useful if the RNG is kind and you get one that suits your strategy.
Other smaller tweaks such as new hero abilities, or the fact that interest is locked at the start of a round instead of the end of a round are significantly smaller changes that you probably don’t need to worry about until you have the basics mastered. This generally applies across all of the rival Auto Chess games out there, like Chess Rush. Because most are essentially using the same starting point, you'll find a lot of similarities between them, but also key differences. That's why this guide is only really useful for Underlords, and not anything else.
Underlords Basic Tips & Strategy
In what can only be described as the biggest shock the world has seen since High School Musical not being nominated for an Oscar, Valve is listening to the community and shipping near daily patches for Underlords. So if we were to tell you Mages are really strong right now, (which they are), then there’s a good chance they will have been nerfed into the ground within a day or two.
But there are a few things worth keeping in mind. Generally speaking you’re going to want to heavily focus on one Alliance, usually one of the larger ones with many heroes, and then try and finish off a few others when you have spare unit slots on your board. Trying to go all in on Blood-Bound or Shaman units probably isn’t going to work out too well but grab a couple of them alongside another main Alliance, such as Mages, and you have a nice bonus to play with.
Some alliances provide global effects regardless of unit type, like ‘Savage’, which gives a 10% attack damage boost to every piece on your board, or ‘Warlock’ which gives all allies a Lifesteal chance. We’re also a fan of the ‘Elusive’ alliance, because the more of these pieces you have, the higher the evasion boost bonus is. Being able to evade attacks means your pieces have the chance to survive longer, generate more mana, and fire off their abilities more often.
You are also going to have to consider your positioning, a lot. Sticking weaker units in the line of fire is going to see them killed instantly and you probably coming out with a loss. However, put them behind some tanky units who will take the aggro first and you are onto a winner. You’ll also want to use the edges of your board to your advantage in some situations. Assassin units can instantly jump into your backlines at the start of a round, but box in your squishy damage dealers with tanks and the edge of the board and they won't be able to reach them.
You’ll also want to think about putting units that need mana to hit their abilities somewhere where they can dish out and take some damage so they can get that ability off before they die. There’s no real right or wrong way to position most of the time, so play around with it, but always be thinking about it, and in the later stages position to counter your opponent’s boards (which you can see by tapping on their box on the leaderboard.)
Underlords Advanced Tips & Strategy
So you’ve been playing some Dota Underlords and are doing pretty well, probably because of our excellent advice above - but you want to take the next step. You’ve been rising through the ranks but hitting Big Boss seems like an impossible task, and sometimes players just seem to have a better understanding of what to do than you.
Well fear not! We now have some advanced tips that most newcomers probably won’t realise, but if you want to make it to the upper echelons of the ranking system you are going to need to know how to do all of these strategies. Some are shockingly simple but are enough to win you a game.
Play around your Aces
Dota Underlords Tier 5 units have recently re-branded, and they're now Ace Tier units, serving as a core part of an Alliance's end-game strategy. Having the requisite Ace in your line-up and at least one level in their Alliance, then you'll get powerful extra attacks that fit thematically with the alliance and the hero in question.
For example, the Troll Alliance's Troll Warlord gives all units mini-bash, giving teams a five percent chance per Troll Alliance level of stunning a target they attack for 0.25 seconds, while Lich increases mana generation from attacks by an extra 10 percent for every level of the Mage alliance.
Several alliances have these, and they are astoundingly powerful if they're used right. If you're playing an alliance and the Ace comes up, you should definitely be looking to bring them aboard.
Selling For Interest
This one is pretty simple compared to the others, but it can be really useful. As we’ve mentioned before getting gold whenever you can is really useful and can be the difference between a win or a loss. So if you find yourself sitting at 9, 19, 29, 39, or 49 gold just as a round is about to kick off you should probably sell one of your units on the bench to get that extra interest gold. Interest is calculated as the fight starts, so if you sell up before then you’ll still get the extra interest at the end of the round.
Of course if you only have units you know you are going to use, or are one unit away from a three star then probably don’t sell those units, but if you have a unit you might get around to using in four rounds time then it really isn’t doing anything for you and is much better served as a way to get extra interest. Underlords is so much easier when you have a good economy, so sell up and keep bringing in that cash.
For the most part of the game you are going to want to position in a way that enables your board in the best way. So make sure Knights are close to other Knights to get the bonus, make sure all your spell casters are packed around your Mana Boots holder and keep those tanks in the front.
But once you get down to the final three, and especially when you are down to the final two, it might be an idea to position to counter your opponent. If your other two opponents both have Kunkka then maybe spread out a little more so your entire line up doesn’t get stunned by the boat. If they are running assassins then move your tanks to the back, so they are the ones who get jumped on. Just being reactive to what your opponent is doing is key, sure sometimes you will just have the stronger board and win. But often countering what they are doing is the best way to take the late stages, and not enough people seem to be willing to deviate from what has been working for them for the last 10 or so rounds once the late game hits.
Upgrade one cost heroes early
In the early game, especially the first 10 rounds, most Alliances don’t really matter. A board full of level two units will usually win out against a board of level ones that have some Alliance bonuses, so you should really try and focus on getting some level twos up early if you want to start win streaking from the get-go.
Of course gold is very limited in the early game, so those level twos are pretty costly, however if you focus on upgrading one gold units, and even rolling to get the heroes you need, you will have a much stronger board then if you try to focus on two or three gold heroes. A level two one gold unit will set you back three gold, but a two gold unit will set you back six, double the cost and usually not double the value when on the board.
Put together a mish mash of Alliances but make sure there are as many level two units, ideally ones that cost one gold, as possible and you should start to pick up some early round wins. Then once the mid game kicks in and you start playing for economy then you can decide the strategy you want to go for and what units you are going to keep.
Other top tips:
- Don’t be afraid to change Alliances on the fly. Sure you may have started out with a good run of Scrappy units, but if you suddenly get the chance to switch into Assassins, and that seems like it will be better at winning the game then go for it. You’re rarely locked into a strategy until the late game starts. And don’t stick with an Alliance just because you got an early global item for it, forcing into Demon Hunters and Demons because you got the Strange Bedfellows item early isn’t always a great move, if the units just aren't there for you.
- Tapping on the right hand side of an entry in the kill feed at the top of the screen will “YO!” that item and send an audible “Yo” to opponents. It serves basically no point, but it's fun to try and get into opponent’s heads by yo-ing everything they do.
- Placeable items called Contraptions can be placed on the map, and can give you an edge at a tactical level. Barricades or a target buddy can tank some aggro while you seek to beat down the team, but remember that your opponents can do this to you, too.
- And finally, you can switch mid game between mobile and PC. So if you decide to kick things off on the PC version and then nature calls, you can simply grab your iOS or Android device and continue playing while on the toilet. Then you can even come back to the PC version when you are done. The future really is great, isn’t it?