Much like Dota 2, the Dota Underlords is as fun as it is complicated.
Based off of the Dota Auto Chess mod that eventually branched off into its own thing and inspired a couple of other similar titles, including Riot’s newest game, Teamfight Tactics, the game, Dota Underlords, is well worth trying out in its current state if you fancy strategy games.
In fact, it’s easily worth the price of the TI9 Battle Pass alone, which currently sells for $9.99.
Featuring a hodgepodge of borrowed mechanics from other games, including tower defense, RTS, and card games, playing Dota Underlord can be quite daunting for beginners, however.
That’s why we’re here to help you make some sense of it all.
How to Download Dota Underlords
Unlike Dota Auto Chess, which you could easily download for free via Dota 2’s arcade mode, the Dota Underlord is a completely separate title that you’ll have to add manually to your Steam library.
As of the moment, Dota Underlord is exclusively available to all TI9 Battle Pass owners.
To download the game, simply boot up Dota 2 and a link to add Dota Underlords to your Steam library should appear on your dashboard. Keep in mind that the game is currently in “stress testing”, so expect a lot of bugs and issues, as well as players occasionally dropping out.
So far, however, I haven’t really experienced any issues outside of players leaving the game intentionally after getting a bad start.
For more information on Valve’s official timeline for Dota Underlords, be sure to check out the official page.
How To Play Dota Underlords
In Dota Underlords, players are in control of the placement and composition of a variety of heroes on the board.
Every round, you draw randomly from a common pool of heroes with a fixed number of pieces that’s shared equally among all players. Each hero can cost anywhere between 1-5 gold and any piece placed on the board will battle it out against neutral waves or one of your seven other opponents.
There are 23 different Alliances in Dota Underlords and 60 heroes.
Alliances are like properties, wherein the player and his hero pieces are granted some type of bonus if certain requirements are met, which usually is based on how many heroes belonging to the same Alliance are on the board at the same time.
The higher your player level, the more heroes you can place on the board. You’re rewarded 1 XP point for winning a round against other players and you can also buy 4 XP points for 5 gold.
You can also upgrade the levels of your Hero unit in Dota Underlords by having three of the same kind (and level), either on your board or on the bench, with the maximum level of each hero being level 3.
Unlike Dota 2, players aren’t really in control of the actual fights in Dota Underlords. All you are in charge of is buying the heroes and placing them on the board.
Confused? That’s okay. That was my initial reaction when I first played the game as well. Not to mention, just like most card games, Dota Underlords is heavily reliant on RNG, so, naturally, there are just some things that you cannot control.
How the Economy in Dota Underlord Works
In Dota Underlords, you get a base gold income after every round. Winning a round nets you a bonus gold and you’ll also get more for winning or losing three or more games in a row. Also, each round, you get 10 percent interest based on the amount of gold you have stored — this is why it’s important to have at least 30+ gold stacked during the later stages of the game.
To manage your economy is to know when to take the hit and keep on losing, as well as when to try and keep on winning.
As a general rule of thumb, alternating between wins and losses is never a good idea. Focus on either just losing (for maximum gold bonus) or winning (if you’re doing good).
Either way, after a couple of rounds of saving up money, you’ll have enough to dump into a good buy that you can use to snowball to a win. Make sure that you keep an eye out on neutral waves, however. The item drops are vital to securing a win in Dota Underlords, so try your best to win those if you can.
Also, try not to worry too much about the first few heroes you’ll be buying in the game. If you get lucky, great, more power to you, especially if you can get a Level 2 unit during the first few rounds. But, if not, try not to spend needlessly and focus on whatever gameplan that it is you came up with.
Finally, don’t ever forget that you can lock the pool in Dota Underlords, and more importantly, don’t forget to unlock it as well.
How Do Hero Units in Dota Underlord Work?
In Dota Underlords, the hero units have eight (8) different attributes. This includes their health, mana, damage, attacks/second, dps, armor, kill count, and kill streak.
Each hero unit also has one unique ability. If it’s passive, it will only active under certain circumstances. Meanwhile, if it’s an active skill, the unit will use it as soon as it has the mana to do so and provided that it is not on cooldown.
The higher the level of a hero, the more hit points and damage they do.
Utilizing half the 8×8 board properly is important. A common tactic is to put tankier heroes on the front and the squishier heroes in the back. But, keep in mind, this doesn’t always work. For example, Assassin-type heroes will often target the ones at the far back first, regardless of their health.
A common strategy employed by players is playing tanky heroes like Warriors early game before transitioning into damage-dealers such as Assassins later.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that every game of Dota Underlords is different. You shouldn’t be afraid to try something new every game and adjust to whatever cards that you are dealt with. Going with what’s popular is never a good idea in such a random game like this, especially because you’re never going to have the exact same kind of game twice in a row.
Are There Items in Dota Underlord?
Yes. There are.
You’ll get an opportunity to get items by clearing waves from Rounds 1, 2, 3, 5, and every fifth round after.
Luckily, unlike in Dota Auto Chess, you don’t have to worry about equipping specific set of items to combine them into something more powerful in Dota Underlords.
Advance Level Dota Underlord Tips
Try not to stress yourself too much during your first few games. Let yourself experiment and make mistakes. It’s all part of the game. However, once you start easing into things and start getting tired of losing all the time, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here are a couple of advanced tips that should come in handy.
1. Try to keep your strategy simple
Overly complicated strategies never really pan out well in games like Dota Underlords.
At the start of every game, make sure that you have a plan and stick to it. If you’re going to be playing for the late game and want to rack up those loss bonuses, then commit to it. Actively try and loss games so you can rack up as much gold as possible before going all-in during the later rounds.
Also, as mentioned earlier, because of how random the game is, it would serve you better if you knew how to make the necessary in-game adjustments.
For example, if you managed to luck out into getting a strong item later on, don’t be afraid to take the risk on spending more gold just to make sure that you can get it in the hands of the right hero unit that can make the most of it.
2. Proper placement is key to winning
Where and how you place your units is just as important as what kind of units you have available.
Baiting enemy units into using their skills on a weaker unit to keep your other units safe is a legitimate strategy that can win or lose you rounds, especially in late-game situations.
3. Keep calm
Just like Dota 2, the Dota Underlords game is just what it is, a game. Try not to take it too hard and seriously.
If you lose, let it be and move on.
And, there you have it.
Our Dota Underlords guide is not, by any means, definitive and doesn’t tackle everything there is to know about the game, but it should give you a good idea of what to expect when playing Valve’s latest standalone title.
Have you tried playing Dota Underlords? What did you think of it? Do you think that Valve will make do on their promise and develop it further for other platforms? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.