Dota Underlords has refined the mechanics of its predecessor and brought the autobattler genre to a massive new audience. As a result, there are a lot of people who still don’t know how the best Dota Underlords strategy for racking up wins. With seven opponents in each match, grabbing a win is no mean feat, especially as the majority of its most effective tactics and mechanics are never explained to new players in-game.
There is a lot more to winning in Dota Underlords than having a strong alliance synergy and lots of upgraded heroes. You’ll also need to learn how to master the game’s economy to ensure you’ve always got a good supply of gold, plus understand how to position your units on the board to get the most out of each and every hero.
Of course, we can’t teach you everything, and getting better at this autobattle involves a lot of trial and error as you figure out when to take risks and play it safe. Sometimes, RNG just isn’t your friend, but when it is you need to know how to capitalise on that good fortune and turn it into a win. Here’s our beginner’s Dota Underlords strategy guide, where we run through a few popular strategies for winning matches.
Dota underlords strategy
Browse our Dota Underlord strategy guide by the sections listed below:
To learn more about how to earn Dota Underlords gold, then read our dedicated guide, but we’ll run through the basics here for good measure.
After five rounds you’ll always earn +5 gold, you get an additional gold piece for winning, and if you go on a winning or losing streak it’s possible to earn an extra +3 gold on top of that. What isn’t explained in the game however, is that you’ll also get +1 gold for each increment of 10 gold in your bank – so if you’ve got 33 gold you’ll get an extra +3 gold at the end of the round. This maxes out at +5 gold for having over 50 pieces of gold saved up.
This is important as you’ll want a good stock of gold for the late game so you can afford to spend heavily on rerolls of leveling up – this is the best way to upgrade Dota Underlords heroes, as you can roll multiple times to get a result between each turn. Even if you spend a lot of gold, you should still be earning a lot due to interest. Naturally, the tradeoff is that you’ll need to spend a few rounds in the mid-game not spending anything, but it’s worth it.
Positioning is easy to ignore, but is incredibly important – you can win a round with good positioning, and it’s one of the factors that separates an average player from an Underlords pro.
There are a few basic rules you need to follow, which neatly trace the journey from early rounds to late-game.
- Line your melee, tank units up as far forward as you can – these guys can take a lot of damage and aggro, so they should be the central focus of a fight.
- Assassins at the back – these units will leap behind enemy lines at the start of the round so you want them far from harm’s way and out of the consideration of the enemy.
- Ranged units lined up at the side – a column of ranged units all lined up on one side will ensure they’re all firing at the same unit, which focuses all their DPS on one poor individual, this is the most efficient way to position archers and mages.
- Bodyguards – when you’ve got some tanks up front and some focus fire from your ranged units, you then need to invest in a bodyguard or two for the ranged units. This will counter any Assassin units with ease.
- Set up for AoE – this goes both ways. If you’re employing a lot of ranged DPS then you’ll want to eventually replace your weaker units with strong AoE spellcasters like Keeper of the Light, Disruptor, and Kunkka. While you can turtle a unit like Keeper of the Light, Kunkka and DIsruptor should actually be with your frontline in order to ensure their powerful abilities land on as many enemies as possible. You’ll want to buff their health and armour with any items you can, and upgrade them to at least two-star units, otherwise they’ll likely be swept aside before doing any damage.
- Countering turtle formation – upgraded mages camping in a corner and surrounded by tanks is the current meta, and there’s not a lot you can do to counter it. However, if you can recognise these players early on, then you can employ a few tactics to ruin their strategy. Firstly, if you can find a Blink Dagger, equip it to your most lethal unit and place them as far away from the enemy’s most deadly spellcaster – this will teleport them right next to the target, giving you a chance of slaying their key player early on. Alternatively, you can invest in upgraded crowd control units like Tidehunter and hope they’re able to break the turtle formation.
- Advanced positioning – this depends heavily on the specific units you’re using, so we can’t teach you this. Do your best to spot the units that are popping off for you and those who are underperforming, then analyse the board and your opponent’s setup to see if there are better ways to place them. Keeper of the Light, for example, should always be in a corner as it’s the safest spot, and works well with the deadly Illuminate spell, which fires diagonally in a cone formation.
We already have a Dota Underlords alliance tier list for you to check out, but we’ll go through some basic details below to explain how these thread into strategy.
Alliances offer powerful set bonuses for having a number of different units from a certain alliance on the board at any given moment. Getting three different Mage units on your team will cut the enemy’s magic resistance by 40%, and if you get six different Mage heroes that turns into – 100% magic resistance for your enemy.
Some alliance bonuses are incredibly powerful, like the one above, while some are much more niche and difficult to build a crew around. Troll, for example, offers a decent bonus for two or four different trolls on the board, but after that your options are very limited meaning you’ll be less powerful as you reach the later stages of a match.
The best Dota Underlords strategy is usually the one built around a powerful alliance bonus, like Mage, Warrior, Assassin, and Elusive. You should also consider a secondary and tertiary alliance to round out your comp, like Scaled, which rewards +30% magic resistance for just two different Scaled units, or Druid, which upgrades the lowest level Druid on the board when you have two alliance members present.
Picking an alliance with multiple bonus stages also has the benefit of giving you something consistent to aim for through every phase of the game, and you’ll have more choices of heroes to make upgrades a little easier to come by with each reroll.
Unlike in Dota Auto Chess, items in Underlords are guaranteed to drop with every neutral round, and you also can’t equip a single hero with more than one item. These differences mean you can’t really buff individuals through items alone, so the most effective way to make items work is to pick the ones that suit your composition and choice of alliance.
If you’re playing with lots of tough melee units consider picking up as many raw damage dealing items as possible – anything that increases damage will do. Give your squishier units any armour you come across, and if you’re not running a Warlock or Inventor alliance then you can safely ignore passives like Unstable Reactor and Soul Sucking Syphon. Simplicity is key for choosing items, so if you’re going to grab an item like Strange Bedfellows then you should commit to an all Demon and Demon Hunter comp, otherwise there’s absolutely no point in taking it.
The first 15 rounds are pretty tame and generally unimportant in terms of the actual fights you’re having. It’s impossible to die during this phase unless you try to, so it’s best to pick an alliance and stick with it, even the rolls aren’t being kind to you.
What is important during this phase, is to settle on winning or losing so you can make the most out of the winning or losing streaks and start banking as much gold as possible. If you’re first few rounds against human enemies are wins, then you should go for the winning streak and make sure to invest every now and again to stay on top of the competition. Conversely, if you lose your first rounds then stick with losing so you can earn lots of gold through your losing streak. You can still spend a little during this time to make sure you’re not really far behind other players, but maintaining a losing streak for ten rounds is worth 30 gold, which gives you a lot of flexibility as you enter the middle of the game.
Ideally by round 15 – whether you’re going for the winning or losing streak – you want to have settled on an alliance, collected a couple of two-star units from that alliance, unlocked a couple of alliance rewards, and have plenty of gold in the bank – over 50 to be safe. You should be able to spend a little during this time, just don’t spend anything on re-rolls until level 7.
Entering mid-game, most others will have spent a little more than you to get up to level 7, acquire some strong two-star units, and possibly even have unlocked the second stage of an alliance bonus. If you’re on a winning streak this is when you’ll likely be knocked off it, but that’s fine as your interest should allow you to pull in plenty of gold each round.
Below you’ll find some examples of where you should be if you’re playing as a Warrior, Assassin, or Mage comp.
If you’re running a Warrior-based comp then you want to be well on your way to having a full crew of two-star units, and either a second stage alliance bonus, or an additional couple of alliance bonuses such as Savage or Brawny. Most of these units should be lined up along the frontline, with spare ranged or Assassins placed at the back.
Mage comps struggle in this phase as there are no very strong casters to stem the onrushing tanks, Assassin units, and melee fighters. The Mage alliance also requires a little bit of leveling before you’re able to reliably roll and find a Mage with every spin, so it takes some time before this alliance really gets going. As a result, expect to be on a loss streak. In terms of positioning, you want your mages in a compact cluster, to one side and at the back of the board with any tanks or warriors serving as bodyguards.
As Assassin comp should be pretty strong by this phase, but you’ll need to be patient with your spending over the coming rounds as you need to acquire some quality tanks and invest in upgrading some expensive units. Get your tanks at the front and then split any Assassin units around the two back corners.
The middle of the game is pretty tricky and you’ll see a lot of movement on the leaderboard as early game success dries up and the tactical players start to enjoy some good fortune. As you’ve been saving your gold you should be able to spend at least nine gold every round, regardless of if you’ve been enjoying a winning or losing streak.
But it’s important you start making that gold count as if you’ve endured lots of losses by the time you reach mid-game, then you won’t be able to take much more punishment. That said, it’s also quite important that you don’t overspend, as you’ll be squandering all the hard work you put in early on.
If you were on a winning streak then split your funds evenly between leveling up and rerolling to upgrade your units. This will keep you on a steady trajectory where you’re able to get more units on the board and ensure those units are worth placing – any upgrades you can get are also worthwhile.
If you were on a losing streak then you’ll really need to make the most out of this phase. Upgrade all of your units and level up so you’re on par with the rest of the pack, even if it means overspending a little and reducing your interest to +2 gold per turn. You can’t afford to put yourself in a position where a couple of rounds will kill you off as there are just too many variables in Dota Underlords to ensure you’re able to survive for much longer.
Back to our selected strategies…
The Warrior build really doesn’t need to adjust too much at any stage of the game. Keep upgrading units and start focussing on upgrading a couple of three-star units. Most of your gold should be spent on re-rolls, just be sure to bench weak Warrior units as they’ll be torn apart at this stage of the game.
The Mage setup should start developing very quickly throughout the middle of the game, but this is also when you’re the most vulnerable. Ideally you want to have your first alliance bonus, a team of three two-star mages nestled safely in a corner, and a strong guard around them: an upgraded Enchantress, a Treant Protector, and an upgraded Ogre Magi work well. You also want to have the ball rolling on acquiring and upgrading a high-cost unit like Keeper of the Light – a two-star version of this can one-shot most of the board with its Illuminate ability.
If you’re running an Assassin comp you may want to start spending a lot more during this phase to ensure you’re units are fully upgraded and you have some three-star upgrades in the works. This is also the time to level up and start getting some strong AoE units on the board like Kunkka and Tidehunter, as upgraded versions of these will break up large formations and make life easier for your glass cannon Assassin units. AoE units should go at the front, while your Assassin units remain in place at the back.
By this point you should be level 9 or 10, have at least one three-star and a full team of two-stars, and be completely settled in your choice of Alliance bonus distribution. If you’re not level 10, use your gold to get there or very close, and then keep rerolling to achieve any viable unit upgrades.
The Warrior build will start to struggle at this point, especially against a clever Mage team. Ultimately, you still want your troops on the frontline in one big cluster as that’s where they can deal the most DPS, but if your opponent is using a lot of AoE damage then you need to rethink your approach rapidly. If you have a Blink Dagger then give it to your most deadly hero. You can reposition your Warrior build in a couple of different clumps to stop the potential of being decimated by AoE damage, too.
At this point, the Mage comp should simply secure their corner by upgrading their tanks and Keeper of Light/Kunkka combo. If there’s gold to spare and you happen across a Tidehunter then it’s sometimes worth trying to reroll for a two-star upgrade as this unit is extremely powerful for breaking up attacks.
The Assassin will struggle the most at this point, which is why you really need to invest on your best units. Using the battle info tab on the right you should be able to see which of your units is pumping out the most damage, and which are soaking it, so be sure to reinforce these positions with upgrades and repositioning. It’s also worth juggling your Assassin units around the board a bit between rounds to keep any watchful enemies on their toes.
That’s all from us. It’s still early days for Valve’s autobattler yet, so expect the Dota Underlords strategy to evolve a lot as new gameplay mechanics are introduced and buffs and nerfs sweep across the roster. Hopefully this has helped you wrap your head around the game’s many elements and you’re well on your way to your first wins.