This guide will detail a couple of tips and strategies to help you become a little more consistent in Dota Underlords. Together, we can stop the pain of RNG.
Other Dota Underlords Guides:
- Beginner's Guide.
- Basic Tips & Tricks.
- Game Mechanics / Tips & Tricks.
- Victory Combinations and Tactics.
- How to Enable Developer Mode (Cheats).
- Introduction to Alliances.
I've played Dota Auto Chess since it was released. I never reached King, so I'm not an expert tournament winner by any means, but I do know about the game and I can top 3 almost every pub game on DAC.
With this new release of Dota Underlords, we have a lot of new players coming into the genre. A lot of people are making mistakes and a lot of people aren't happy with the RNG in the game.
Yes, there is an amount of RNG to playing Dota Underlords, but with the right mindset in the game, you can work with the RNG and do well almost every game. I hope that by reading this guide, if you're new to the genre, you can become much more consistent in the game. With consistency, we can rise through the ranks far faster.
Fundamentally, Underlords is a game all about money. The core concept of the game is winning on board, but the reality is the game is mostly about racing to certain key points, whether you're winning or losing each round is essentially meaningless in so far as losing health doesn't matter, as long as you're building to a strong late game. You build to a good late game by making good use of your resources, which means balancing maximising your income every round, maximising your experience, and maximising your rolling.
Once the game begins properly, you get 5 gold per round. In addition to that, you also get +1 gold for every 10 gold in the bank, (capping at 50 for +5 gold,) +1 for winning a round, and up to +3 for a win/loss streak.
Obviously, you want to get to 10 gold bankroll as soon as possible in the game, so that you get that additional, consistent +1 gold per round to make it toward 20, then 30, onward and onward.
It's important to not think of gold as something that's personal to you, gold is a global resource. You're not playing the game to have a certain amount of gold for yourself, you're playing to have more gold than other people. In that sense, when you hit an interest mark early, you're ahead. When you're hitting the same mark late, you're behind. At the same time, you can't become obsessed with the idea of having 50 gold.
No matter how good or bad your early game is, playing economy well is consistent and always gets you ahead. You should always be striving, especially in the early game, to reach the interest marks.
The basic theory is that we roll/level when we have a reason to change the circumstance. If we're middle pack, which means you're winning some and losing some, our hp value is stable so we're free to just bank up interest.
We roll when we have a couple of pairs to be upgraded, we level if we have a unit that needs to be put in. We spend money if by doing so we have a good chance of winning the next round, and we usually try to level when our exp remaining is a multiple of 4, to be as efficient with our money as possible.
General Eco Tips:
The interest is gathered as soon as the round starts. If you like, you can buy units or roll afterwards and keep your interest. This is really useful, because this allows you to buy all of the units in the shop, so that the next round you're more likely to make pairs. It also means you can start rolling, which is useful late game where you may have a lot of rolling and repositioning to do.
Don't worry about selling units you're using to reach interest mark. Even if it makes your team weaker, unless you're winstreaking, it's often better to have the reliable money than it is to save 5% hp. You can even do this if it's 2*. If it's not going to be in your final lineup, for instance scrappy/mechs, you don't need it. It's going to make your early game worse, but in the long run, you'll be more consistent.
Team Composition Basics
So now we know the basics of how to make money, what are we buying with it? Here's a few basic compositions that are super easy to play and super easy to ramp towards.
Crystal Maiden, Razor, Keeper of the Light, Shadow Fiend.
+ Frontline of Kunkka and Disruptor, then add other warriors like Juggernaut, Tiny, Slardar, Lycan.
If Shadow Fiend is super contested, you can put in Wind Ranger. Her ult is magic too. You can also do this if you just happen to find Doom 2.
6 mages if you happen to find Lich, at which point you cut everything but Kunkka, Disruptor, one more CC ult.
6 Warriors + supplementals
Doom, Kunkka, Troll Warlord, Slardar, Lycan, Tusk
+ Either medusa/tide then + Lone Druid and one other beast, shaman and disruptor, pudge and necro, very flexible comp, you can get whatever fills your synergies.
Warrior + Hunter
Medusa, Wind Ranger, Sniper, Slardar, Doom, Kunkka.
+ Anything really, crowd control, heartless bonus.
6 hunters if you find Tidehunter, only really good if you've kept a Drow Ranger.
4 Trolls + Necrophos, Disruptor, Kunkka, Pudge
Treant, Anti Mage, Furion.
+ Either Wind Ranger, Mirana, any other hunter and Templar Assassin.
Or + Templar Assassin, Phantom Assassin, Queen of Pain, Wind Ranger.
Then add beast bonus, scaled bonus, etc.
If you're new, I wouldn't recommend playing knights, assassins or dragons. They're harder to transition in and out of so that makes it difficult. I wouldn't recommend 6 Scrappy because it relies on techies and it's just not very good either.
Basics of Buying
It's very easy to look at a list and know what you want to do, but the hard part about Underlords is knowing what the game is actually throwing your way, and how to make the best of that.
The best way to give yourself a great chance of getting a suitable composition is to buy a lot of units and see what pairs you're getting, or even a 2*. You should be buying these units every time you see them, if you're not winstreaking, you should sell your other non-core units to buy them. This gives you flexibility, and the more flexible you are, the more consistent you are.
To reiterate, you should be spending the maximum amount of money after the battle starts, as that way it doesn't cost interest. You can therefore get the maximum number of pairs, and sell back what you don't want.
Generally, unless you're winstreaking, avoid buying the Scrappy package. It's super difficult to transition away from them, being that they only synergise with themselves. It is far better to buy hyper flexible units that you can fit into multiple comps, even if they are worse early game, you trade that 10% hp for a much easier time kicking into mid/late game, which is where the game is won.
Drow and pudge are early units which synergise together, you can keep the package for early/mid game and sell it for late game. In a lot of comps you want the undead bonus, and you can simply cut the one that fits less well for Necrophos.
Tiny is played in mages, warriors, can easily be cut for Doom. You can buy Razor, and have a really solid front line, and both primordials can just be cut later without any effect on the rest of the composition.
Tusk and Slardar are easy activators for beast and scaled respectively. Easy to replace late game when you don't need the warriors. Demons in general can be added or removed at will, which makes them great investments, as can warlock packages.
Later in the game, don't be afraid to cut any of these non-core units for tier 4-5 units. Most of the 2 requirement synergies become far less relevant in the late game and are more used to supplement the main composition. You can always re-buy them.
The following are great starting units that are just always good to buy. Once you've gotten enough of them, you can start committing to a lineup at about round 15-20.
Core - Shadow Fiend, Razor
Commit at Razor 2, or finding Keeper
Core - Wind Ranger, Sniper
Commit at finding Medusa
Core - All of them
Commit at finding Troll Warlord
Core - Slardar
Commit if you make a few 2* warriors, or find Kunkka + Doom
Core - Treant Protector, Natures Prophet
Commit if you 2* both, or 2* one and find Templar Assassin
Actual Play Fundamentals
Now that we know the basics, this is how we're going to consistently play a decent economy game and manage to not get blown out. It's important to realise that not every game is winnable. If you winstreak or loss streak, you can easily come out top 3 each time as long as you're buying the right units and playing early economy well.
The first proper round. Never level here if you want to be consistent. You want to buy as many units as possible even if someone else levels. Look around the boards, have a look at what everyone has. Pay attention to people combining 2*s.
Continue looking around the boards. Level if you feel like you're either the strongest on board or the 2nd strongest. If you're not sure, just don't level. It's far more consistent to not level, and if you level up later you can always start a slightly later winstreak.
Round 7 and 8:
If you have a win/loss streak going, secure it. Look around and make sure you're the strongest or weakest. If you have to roll once or twice to tier up a unit, try it. If you need to bench a unit to be the weakest, do it. If you feel like you can become the strongest if you level, then do it. As long as you take some kind of action you can consistently get a good start lined up. Bank up if losing, buy core units and flexibles. Get to interest mark each round.
Level to 6 if you previously leveled. It's super important to keep that winstreak on round 9, because it continues to round 10 PVE round.
Stay strong/weak if streaking. Keep doing as before, look around and react. If you lost either streak, this is when you start banking hard.
Go to 7 if you're streaking in either direction. You can't keep lose streaking because this is when people are starting to gather level 2s and the winstreaker(s) will start to chunk you for decent %.
Secure streaks if you have any for the PVE round. If you don't have any streaks and you feel quite weak, you must start rolling for core units. Have a look around and see what people are doing. You are behind on resources if you didn't streak, which is the struggle of being a middle pack runner. The only thing you have in your hands is that you haven't committed to much, because you've been bankrolling super hard. That means you can pick up the more uncontested units. That's the only real advantage you can claw, and you throw it away if you don't look for what's free.
If you're super rich you can go to 8. Usually requires streaks. If you're confident it will make you win the next few rounds, it's worth it.
Go to 8 if you're not already.
Now you're in late game. This is when you should have committed to some sort of composition. If you haven't found a decent composition this is where you need to be thinking about really starting to roll.
This is where your decision making is going to come into effect. This part is all about knowing when to make your play and when to be greedy. It's not that likely that you'll be winstreaking here, because peoples comps are starting to come to fruition. It's super variant and even the slightest upgrade can change a loss to a win. As a general rule of thumb, you don't need to go to level 9 unless all your core units are 2*. Until that point, you should be rolling.
In general, if you're stable, doing decently, you can afford to be somewhat greedy. If you're losing a few rounds in a row, you need to think about spending more gold and stemming the loss. That 50 gold bankroll helps you set up a great late game, but it sure doesn't help if you die with it in the bank. If you have more gold than you do life, that's a good sign you're not spending enough.
Keep looking around. You need to be on the ball and reacting to what happens around you. There's a massive difference in pressure between someone levelling to 9 and the composition isn't solid, compared to someone levelling to 9 and adding tidehunter. As the rounds go on, the damage goes up. If someone is playing mages, adds an extra stun to their lineup and suddenly wipes you, you can easily lose 15 health or more. It sometimes only takes a few rounds to lose, and you may often find you don't have time to spend all the money you've accrued. Make sure you know what's going on in the game, make sure you react to anyone making their play.
Making Your Play:
As stated before, sometimes the game isn't winnable. If your comp is elf hunters, and there's someone playing mages, most of the time he's got you. If someone's been streaking endlessly and is levels ahead of everyone else, you're not usually going to win. There's not a massive amount you can do about that, you have to be aware at that point that top 3 is the goal. When this happens, that's when you need to go all in. Level to 10, roll to 0, try to deal as much damage as possible, try to make sure you beat absolutely everyone that isn't the top guy. In these late stages, you may only have 2-3 rounds before you lose, and having interest does nothing there. Finishing 4th instead of 5th means your rating doesn't go down. That's more important.