No one tactic will work 100% of the time as you just might not what you need...But what is it you need to win? This guide is here to help.
This guide makes a few assumptions, it assumes you have played a few games by now and have an understanding of how the game basically works. The in game tutorial is worthless and I don't cover the basics here either so getting up to speed on how this game works is very worth your time.
You will realize DOTA Underlords is not an overly complicated game but there is a high reliance on RNG if you want to win. Understand that RNG can go in your favour or it can go against you so you will need to adapt ...Or accept defeat.
Unlike other competitive games, DOTA Underlords BETA does not rank you down if you lose. I welcome this system and while the base game has many problems, this is one of the few things I think is very well done however I also think this isn't the type of game for that system.
Normally it is team based games where I frown upon players having a rising and falling ELO because you have no control over other players and they can...Its not important, my point is that you can leave a game you are losing with no repercussions.
I wouldn't recommend doing this too often as the game is heavily RNG based so learning to adapt is equally as important for the times when your tactic isn't working in later rounds.
Tier is shortened to "t" in this guide so tier one is written "t1".
Level refers to the bonus you unlock when you have a certain number of units from the same 'family' together, such as 3 assassins which will give you a bonus, then having 6 makes the bonus better and so on. in this guide it is written as "l", and like Tier will be written l3 when referring to a level 3 bonus as an example.
- Assassins critical hit a lot even with lv1 synergy, they actually critical hit more than you notice and that is actually part of the problem with them. If you don't notice the effect is triggering its probably because its effect on a battle isn't profound enough. Making this worse is that all assassins are quite squishy so they are often first to die. They also have the disadvantage of maxing out at t4 units.
- Bloodbound is a simple and nice family, boosted by an item that can make ANY unit bloodbound. both innate units are t1 and pretty great in their effects.
- Brawny is bad. a set that ends in t4 and also the extra health does little to help, maybe the item Forged in Blood would help if it was t1 but sadly it is t2.
- Deadeye, did you know "deadeye" stands for DEAD ON ARRIVAL! Starting at t3 and ending at t5. You will rarely if ever see them in play and for good reason. Would be decent it it started and ended lower.
- Demon is a fine set, not a lot to add here as they work everywhere.
- Demon Hunter is another fine set.
- Dragon is in a weird space, expect it to go through many changes as it lacks identity right now. Was already adjusted once, will be again.
- Druid is broken and is one of the best sets to focus on right now. Everyone will pick up at least 2 druids if they are serious about winning unless RNG screws them.
- Elusive is a terrible set, as the units do not complete 2 sets, require player level 9 to complete, ends in t4 and offer a defensive bonus of evasion. Just terrible, an RNG defensive mechanic for that much effort should be amazing!
- Heartless is another dead on arrival set, ending in t5, only reducing enemy armor and currently being locked at lv2 because it needs 6 units to be lv3 and only has 5 units on the game! Humans can be turned into heartless via item but again, why bother? The fact you need RNG for the item to finish the set is just bad design.
- Humans are an okay set, they aren't anything special but they thankfully compliment other sets too. They can be turned into heartless via item but don't bother and can be given reduced debuff time via item but again, why bother?
- Hunters like humans with no items and are an okay set.
- Inventors is an interesting set. Its level 1 bonus of 15hp regeneration is poor because most units can hit for much more than you can heal and inventors demands t5 to finish its set, its impossible to finish it early. What makes them good is firstly the t1 item of unstable reactor that deals 20% of your inventor units HP to nearby enemies when they die (this stacks too). Secondly is the three t1 inventor units are also scrappy units too meaning you get two sets for the price of one. Inventor is a solid early game family like druid.
- Knight were once dead on arrival but are now very strong after being buffed in a patch, very reliable now. You can build around them and do well.
- Mage is fine, not very interesting but doesn't need to be. -40% magic resist at t1 and -100% magic resist at t2 are fantastic values and you can finish the set at t4 with awesome coverage too.
- Primordial is slightly broken but needs some setup to get there. even on its own its a great set though and crosses into many other sets too giving good coverage.
- Savage is broken, just broken. Not because of its bonus but because the units that fall into its family are some of the best in the game currently.
- Scaled units are okay but the bonus is pointless. Remember mages? Remember how finishing their family is -100% magic resist? What good is +50% magic resistance?! Also the fact the first scaled unit is t2 is a setback so don't expect many enemy scaled units.
- Scrappy as you may recall has overlap with inventor family which makes it great by extension however scrappy on its own is very poor as the armor and hp regen are very low values and wont save you in later rounds. You will probably pick it up as a result of going inventor jihad though.
- Shaman were nerfed in July 2019 so the bonus is completely worthless now. Expect it to be changed soon. Not worth building right now.
- Troll is pretty good but has the downside of ending in a t4 unit despite 3 of its 4 units being t1.
- Warlock is in a good spot, it has a nice bonus for itself, a healthy unit count and good overlap. You will almost always hit t1 when building other sets.
- Warrior sucks, a terrible set.
How to Win!
The main reason you are here, so lets get to it.
DOTA underlords has a problem, a unit targeting problem. Units typically hit whatever is in front of them without regard so this means units that summon other units will break AI targeting.
This is the reason Savage family break the game as many savage units summon other units.
Druid follows a similar fate and some druids are also savage too, so going Savage/Druid is a solid game winner. Savage also get the added bonus of an item that gives bleed to enemies and works with their summons because why not. Winning frequently is as easy as learning to build savage/druid when you get lucky with RNG.
Inventor with Unstable Reactor has good early game push but remember you won't finish the set until t5 which requires levelling up and scrappy bonus is at its best when you have less units than your opponent. Although I wouldn't hold out just for the scrappy bonus to be honest and no rule says you must play units to your level cap but for the minor scrappy bonus I wouldn't bother and just go hard.
Inventor without Unstable Reactor is good but until summons get nerfed, they are not good enough. My personal wins with them is when I get two unstable reactors or more and start stacking HP for big bombs. Normally by the time I am ready to finish the family, the game is over and there is no point.
Elusive are tricky to win consistently with and while they can be hard to set up, they can cheese a victory fairly consistently with a few items like combining Summoning Stone (+150HP, +30Attack Speed) with Font of Creation. They also overlap with decent families and they benefit from not being taken to 3 stars if you can field duplicates. Elusive are there as a sneaky backdoor if others are going hard druid (which they will usually) but you will have to eat some losses to get your level up for better Elusive units. Dodge bonus sucks so if you don't get a Font of creation early, abandon Elusive.
Knights were considered OP after their recent buff but that was just hyperbole. Instead knights are in a better place and can score you wins but they won't stand up to Elusive or Druid/Savage units very well. Instead they are your 'Plan D', you go for them because the game is just not giving you anything else worthwhile. Knights revolve around armor whilst mages and savage units with bleed just outright bypass this, furthermore knights prefer to be clustered together which makes them eat many AoE mage spells and armor is not the same as magic resistance. You can take scaled to counter this and you should.
While you can improvise with other ways to win and you absolutely should the main thing you want is consistency and the methods I outlined above will get you the most wins. I know someone will post about that one time they made Warriors work because that's just the way it is.