In order to be good at Dota Underlords, you need to have a catalog of viable builds in your mind. The more builds you understand well, the better you'll be able to adjust to what the shop is giving to you. Combined with a good understanding of the meta, this will give you a big advantage over other players.
On this page, you'll find a list of all our in-depth Dota Underlords Alliance guides. Each one contains example builds as well as explanations on how to make them work.
Before we get to the builds, however, here is the current Alliance Tier List taken out of our full Dota Underlords Strategy Tier List. The icons are clickable and reveal more info.
Warriors: very good reliability, very good late game potential.
In conclusion, Warriors are quite reliable, and at the same time they have some of the best late-game strats in Dota Underlords.
You can find our Dota Underlrods Warriors Guide here.
Primordials: the very best late-game potential, average reliability
Primordials are simply the best Alliance in the late game. After the big update, they got the third tier to the Alliance bonus (with (6) Primordial heroes) in addition to an Ace effect and two primordial 5-cost heroes.
This in itself makes them very strong in the late game, but another huge benefit is that they don't need upgrades to be strong. Enigma and Void can be a one-star hero in the build and it still performs extremely well. Moreover, the actual Alliance effect doesn't scale with the power of the actual hero (even a one-star one-cost Primordial will produce the powerful rank three Eidolon). This makes the build very cost-efficient and means you need much less gold to beat convincingly other strategies in the late game.
The downside of Primordials is reliability. They are vulnerable to the jail system because Arc Warden, Enigma, and Void are all necessary to reach the full potential of the Alliance. Moreover, the fact that you are searching for two (or even three) Ace heroes means that you need lvl9 as fast as possible, which isn't possible in every single game. That said, the low-tier Primordials are quite good (Morph and Tiny specifically), which means that Primordial drafts are actually not bad in the early/mid game by any means.
Hunters: very good reliability, average late game potential
We entered the 50+ Builds Test with the expectation that Hunters will perform extremely well. It turned out, however, that the best Hunter build in the late game is a Warrior build - (6) Warriors (3) Hunters.
The (6) Hunter builds performed well, but they weren't spectacular.
The real strength of Hunter builds, however, isn't their late game strength, but their reliability. They have a good gradual power curve (good at all stages of the game), and that they aren't vulnerable to the Jail system or the shop - there are quite a few interchangeable Hunter heroes you can use in the builds. This means they are reliable and easy to build.
So, even though they aren't the strongest late-game build, they are one of the Alliances that can certainly give you great results on average (you can even argue they are S-tier because of this, but we are more comfortable with putting them as the first A-tier Alliance).
For more details you can check out our Dota Underlords Hunters guide.
Heartless: very good late game potential, decent reliability
When the Big Update came out, we expected Heartless to be a very good secondary or tertiary Alliance bonus but something that's hard to build a strategy around. It turns out, however, that the Heartless bonus is good enough to justify using it as the primary bonus on top of which you build your strategy.
Armor is very important in Dota Underlords and armor reduction is just as good offensively as bonus armor - defensively (Warriors). The main benefit of Heartless is that it amplifies the damage of your whole army, not just the Heartless heroes.
The usual successful Heartless builds are (6/4) Heartless combined with Hunters. The great performance of (6) Heartless (4) Brutes in our late game test, however, suggests that other combinations are certainly possible and viable.
Last but not least, Heartless drafts are relatively reliable because most of the time you don't need specific heartless heroes and upgrades to reap the full benefits of the bonus. The important upgrades in Heartless builds are usually of the carries members of the secondary Alliance you're running in the build (Lefestealer being an exception).
Mages: great late game potential, bad reliability
First, Primordials + Mages seems to be the best Alliance combination in the game right now. Second, Mages received a buff after Morphling became a Mage (our results in the late-game test for Mages improved drastically in spite of the KotL nerf).
The test results of Mages are quite impressive considering they are not ideally suited to beat the benchmark builds - both are tanky against magic damage - Knight bonus in the first case and the Scaled bonus in the second case. It's very likely that their score will rise if other benchmark builds are introduced. Moreover, they are at a disadvantage in the lvl9 test threshold because they don't benefit from three-star upgrades and prefer to reach lvl10 (i.e. their score will rise if we focus more on lvl10 rather than lvl9 builds).
Their good late game potential aside, Mages have some reliability issues:
The build is extremely reliant on the Humans bonus. Because of this, Mages are arguably one of the most vulnerable Alliance to the Jail system in the whole game. Losing any of their three Human Mages can be a huge hindrance.
Moreover, Mages perform disproportionately well with Humans and Primordials, and they underperform with other Alliances (even viable ones like Inventor Mages and Warrior Mages). Taking into account Primordials are also vulnerable to the Jail system, this contributes to the problem.
Assassins: very good late game potential, unreliable
Assassins are, on average, the second-best late-game Alliance in our late-game test, which was a big surprise. All five tested Assassin builds performed quite well against both benchmarks.
(A disclaimer is that Assassins are quite decent versus both benchmark builds by definition (Knights & Hunters), and their late-game score might fall if they are tested against builds with more control and burst damage (Warriors, Primordial/Mages, etc.).)
A major reason for their late-game strength is that a three-star Slark with Mask of Madness is hands down the strongest carry in Dota Underlords. The doubling of all hero HP makes rounds longer, which gives Slark a lot more time to build up his stacks and become unstoppable. Moreover, the fact that he has double the HP makes him harder to burst down and stop early in the round.
The fact that you can easily get the (3) Elusive bonus in any Assassin build is also a big benefit for Phantom Assassin - the other exceptional Assassin carry. It's worth mentioning that the best-performing Assassins build in the test was (6) Elusive (3) Assassins, which is a good proof of how much PA benefits from the Elusive bonus.
That said, Assassins are disproportionately reliant on PA and/or Slark (ideally on three stars) combined with specific items, most importantly by far - Mask of Madness. This makes Assassin builds quite unreliable and forcing Assassins blindly is unlikely to give you great results.
Warlocks: very good late game potential, below-average reliability
Initially, we thought Warlocks would only be a strong secondary synergy, but it turns out (6) Warlock drafts are entirely viable in the late game. (6) Warlocks (3) Healers and (6) Warlocks (3) Insects performed exceptionally well in our late-game strength test.
That said, Warlocks are unreliable because you need Disruptor to reach their full potential and because they are quite hard to build in the early-mid game (their low-tier units are low-impact and mostly utility-focused). Because of this, we believe the best way to utilize the late-game power of Warlocks is to use the (4) Warlocks bonus (with Disruptor) in combination with another Alliance that will carry you in the early/mid game - Warriors, Brute, Savage, Scrappy, etc.
Scrappy: decent reliability, decent late-game potential
The important thing to remember about Scrappy is that there is a big difference in the performance of the different Scrappy builds.
(6) Scrappy (3) Assassins is extremely good in the late game, albeit very reliant on a three-star Slark (or at least PA) with Madness.
(4) Scrappy/Inventor (3) Mage, on the other hand, isn't as item-reliant, but it doesn't perform consistently in the late game depending on what build's it's facing. The Inventor explosions are very central to the build, which means it performs very well against melee strats, but very badly against ranged strategies (the Hunter benchmark build in our test was a big struggle for this strat). Moreover, it's not too reliable as well because of its reliance on finding Techies and ideally - three-star Inventor upgrades.
All in all, Scrappy builds give decent results on average, but it is a good idea to have a good look at the lobby before deciding what strat to go for and to lean more onto the Scrappy/Assassin combination rather than the other Scrappy variations.
You can find out more info in our Dota Underlords Scrappy Guide.
Brute: very good reliability, decent late game potential
Brutes are an interesting Alliance consisting of tanky heroes with a mix of offensive and defensive potential.
All in all, Brute builds are not the best in the late game, but they perform relatively well thanks to heroes like Lifestealer (who becomes a formidable carry on three stars with items like Mask of Madness, especially when combined with Magnus Empower) and Doom who has great stats and a powerful ultimate.
Their main strength, however, is their consistency. They provide you with a cost-efficient tanky frontline capable of dealing some damage, which makes it possible to go for various options for secondary Alliances (Brawny/Hunters, Heartless, Druids, etc.).
Dragons: secondary synergy
Dragons are quite versatile. You get a lot of value for the two hero slots that you need to invest. Dragon Knights + Viper or Puck is a great addition to most Knights or Mages drafts. Viper + Puck, on the other hand, is central to the Assassin + Mages strategy which utilizes the magic resistance debuff and Viper's Corrosive Skin passive.
For more details, you can check out our in-depth Underlords Dragons & Knights Guide.
Scaled: secondary synergy
Scaled a very strange Alliance because they have a very straightforward use. They are simply S-tier against Mage strats. They are, however, low-impact if your opponents don't have a lot of magic damage. The Scaled bonus is easiest to get in Warrior strategies (and very important because armor is useless against magic damage).
Trolls: average reliability, average late game potential
Trolls got a huge boost in reliability after the Big Update with the introduction of Dazzle (you don't have to find the 5g Troll Warlord to get the full (4) Trolls bonus). That said, they are still vulnerable to the Jail system. Moreover, getting a two-star Troll Warlord makes a big difference in the late game, which means that they are by no means one of the more reliable strats.
The late-game potential of Trolls is an even more interesting topic. (2) Trolls are a good tertiary Alliance bonus in a lot of strats, but to use the full (4) Trolls bonus you usually want to run them either with Knights or with Warriors.
In our late game test, Warrior/Troll builds performed exceptionally well (the (6) Warrior (4) Troll lvl10 build was the strongest lvl10 build we tested), while Knight/Troll builds performed exceptionally badly. This was a surprise, but it suggests (4) Trolls by themselves are not game-winning and they need other factors to be successful. Judging by our test, it seems the control coming from Warriors is exceptionally valuable for them, while the lack of control in Knights is a problem in the late game.
Elusive: good late-game potential, bad reliability
The (6) Elusive (3) Assassins build was one of our best-performing builds in our late-game test. The other Elusive builds weren't as good, but they were not terrible as well. The rework of the Elusive bonus simply synergizes extremely well with the Elusive Assassins, which turns Phantom Assassin into a super-carry.
Elusives, however, have two major reliability problems:
Out Elusive Builds Guide.
Druids: very good reliability, bad late game potential
After the Big Update, Druids became quite a bit more flexible, which means they are an interesting addition in a lot of strats. That said, their role in the game didn't change much - the star-level advantage they provide is extremely strong in the early and mid game, but its impact falls off drastically in the late game.
In fact, (4) Druid strategies have the second-worst score in our late game strength test.
This means that having (4) Druids in your final draft is a good idea only when you're snowballing from their early and mid-game strength and have a better economy than your opponents. If you don't have such a big lead, it might be a better idea to stick to two Druids or to transition out of your Druids entirely in favor of stronger late-game heroes and Alliances.
Knights: the anomaly in our test
Knights were by far the biggest surprise in the late game test - they had the worst average score by a large margin.
It seems quite unlikely that Knights are actually the worst late game Alliance in Underlords - there might be another reason for the bad results:
There are just a few (realistically two) good Knight builds and a whole bunch of underwhelming ones.
The good builds are the benchmark build (Knights/Healers/Dragons) and (6) Knights + (4) Trolls. All other possible builds (Knights + Mages, Hunters, or (4) Knights (4) Troll variations) underperform a great deal and drag the average of Knights down a lot. If we simply delete these builds (forget they exist) and use only the good ones, the average of Knights will rise drastically.
So, if you stick mostly to the two good Knight variations, you should be able to have good results with the Alliance. Knights are quite reliable because of a good power-curve and good mid-game strength.
That said, even the good Knight builds aren't amazing in the late game. They lack any kind of meaningful control and are hard to split apart to avoid AoE, which means winning with Knights usually happens with a significant economic advantage.
Since upgrades are also important for Knights, it's a great idea to run them when they are uncontested (which happens more often after the Big update).
For more details, you can check out our in-depth Underlords Knights Guide.
Savage: good reliability, bad late game potential
Savage strategies have always been momentum-based - i.e. you can use them in the early-mid game to secure a winning streak, but they fall off hard in the late game: Savage builds have the third-worst average late-game score in our test, and this wasn't a big surprise.
Unsurprisingly, they perform way better versus slower strats (our Knights benchmark) and much worse against fast, nuke-damage straits (our Hunters benchmark) because they need time to accumulate bonus damage.
The best performing Savage build we tested was the Savage/Trolls/Warriors variation.
You can get more details in our In-Depth Savages Guide.
Brawny: decent late game potential, bad reliability
Despite not being able to test them in our late-game-strength experiment, Brawny builds are with a good late game potential while being unreliable by design because of the way the bonus scales.
If you get early two-star brownies that are able to accumulate kills, they will snowball into the late game. If you don't, you'll struggle to generate a meaningful amount of kills.
This makes Brownies an opportunistic Alliance - if the shop allows for it, it's a great idea to make use of them (in combination with Brutes, Savages, Hunters, etc.). If it doesn't - you're better of ignoring the bonus.
Humans: secondary synergy
After the rework Humans simply became an extension of the Mages bonus. They are extremely important in Mage strategies and quite unimportant in all other builds.
Demons: secondary synergy
Before the Big Update, running a Demon Hunters + Demons strategy was not great, but it was at least viable.
Now, however, with the Demon bonus change, a full Demons strat is almost impossible to make work.
If you have too many Demons they will be silenced for most of the fight, which means not only that they won't use their spells often enough, but also that they won't get the damage increase in time.
After the Big Update, Demons are simply a secondary synergy viable in many other strategies. The big difference is that instead of running a single Demon, you can often run two, or in very rare occasions - three.
Deadeye: secondary synergy
You don't care about the Deadeye synergy outside of Hunter strategies - it's simply not that impactful, and it's not game-breaking even with the Ace bonus. That said, the Deadeye units are actually decent, so you're not actively trying to avoid them.
Shamans: secondary synergy
(2) Shamans are actually a very decent tertiary bonus for some strategies. The (4) Shamans bonus, however, doesn't justify the additional two hero investment at all.
We even tested a (4) Shamans build and then we tested the same build but with one of the Shamans replaced by a better standalone hero, and the second variation performed significantly better.
This simply means that building a strategy around the full (4) Shamans bonus is not a great idea in this meta.
Blood Bound: unreliable, below-average late game potential
Blood Bound is the most unreliable strategy in the game because of the simple fact that it depends entirely on a single item (Big Time Contract). Without it (ideally multiple copies), you cannot even build a decent Blood Bound build.
To top it off, the late-game potential fo Blood Bound builds is not great - with the increase of all hero HP in the big update, the high damage coming from BTC carries is no longer absurd and you will rarely see a hero getting one-shot.
This means that even if you have the item, you usually want to use Blood Bound for a mid-game win streak and transition out of it in the late game.
Keeping the strength of the Alliances in the current meta in mind, here is the list of our in-depth Dota Underlords builds guides:
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Mage builds - one of the most fun strategies in the game.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Assassin builds - one of the most fun strategies in the game.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about the Dragons and Knights Alliances.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about the best Warrior builds - one of the most fun diverse strategies in the game.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Hunters.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about the two major Scrappy strategies - one based on economy, the other on upgrades.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Elusive builds - one of the most underrated strategies in the game.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Savages.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about the Warlock Alliance builds.
An in-depth Dota Underlords guide about Heartless builds with Fall from Grace - some of the most creative strategies in the game.
I hope you found the reources above useful! Make sure to check out all of our Dota Underlords content in our Underlords Library!