Three important lessons about the Dota Underlords Jull-Tide Update

The Jull-Tide Greetings update was an awesome pre-Christmas present by the dev team to the community. It managed to address a lot of the long-running issues (e.g. too long standard mode games) and integrate a lot of the better suggestions by the community in the game (e.g. choosing the Underlord later in the game). This is a big stride forward and not only does it freshen up and improve the gameplay experience, but it gives us a lot of hope that the team is headed in the right direction towards the official launch and Season 1.

So, without further ado, here are my 3 biggest takeaways from the new patch:
(Mandatory disclaimer: the patch is quite new, so I could be wrong in some of my conclusions.)

1. New Meta:

The first driving force behind the change in strategy is the removal of the Jail system and with it – a significant part of the hero roster in addition to some Alliances. The jail system meant that the best strategies rotate in and out daily. The new system suggests that the meta won’t change for a whole season, so mastering it is more important for climbing.

Of course, not all Alliances/Builds are perfectly balanced, so learning what to rely on and what to ignore if possible is vital.

(6) Assassins weaker:

For example, Elusive is no longer in the game. This isn’t a huge surprise as the Elusive Alliance failed to find a good place in the meta, but ofc. Elusives didn’t exist in a vacuum. One of the Alliances that benefited from the Elusive bonus very easily were Assassins.

Not only did Assassins lose the (3) Elusive bonus (that made their Elusive/Assassins both tankier and with higher DPS), but they lost one of their main carries and strongest heroes – Phantom Assassin.

In the new patch Assassins rely much more heavily on Slark to carry the game, and getting him to three stars (in standard) is considerably harder because he became a 4-gold hero. This means that it’s probably best to ignore (6) Assassin builds. Instead, you should stick to Scrappy/Assassin variations with (3) Assassins.

Warlocks stronger:

Assassins being Weaker has another effect – the Alliances they counter directly (healing Alliances) are more likely to do well in the meta.

Warlocks seem to do very well right now not only because of this, but because they retained their powerful Ace effect with Disruptor.

Some people thought that slower level-value builds would do worse in the faster meta, but this doesn’t seem to be the case (more on that below), which makes level-value builds like the example below quite good.

2. Economy and Pacing:

The interest cap is 3 (30 gold), and the round gold is 7 instead of 5 to compensate and keep the optimal income per round at 10g.

At first glance, this means games will be faster (more aggressive) because everybody will have 20 extra gold to spend (will sit at 30 instead of 50), which means people would become stronger a bit faster.

This is true, but faster games don’t mean that upgrade value builds are better than level value builds all of a sudden.

Before the patch, pushing fast to lvl10 whenever possible to get higher-tier heroes was the slightly superior strategy (opposed to searching for three-star upgrades on lvl7-9). This is still the case – the only difference is that now you push for a high lvl a bit faster to keep up with the pace of the game.

3. Underlords:

Choosing your Underlord later in the game is an obvious improvement strategy-wise because you can choose it based on your build, not the other way around.

The addition of Jull himself is also great balance-wise because now we have three distinct Underlord Archetypes: a tank (Jull), a support/healer (Anessix), and a ranged damage-dealer (Hobgen). You can pick your Underlords to compensate for the weaknesses of your build and complement their strengths. That said, my first impressions are that Anessix and Jull are better with a wider range of builds than Hobgen and that some fighting styles are more situational than others. E.g. the Healing Support Fighting Style for Anessix (with the Demonic Golem) seems to be very versatile, while Hobgen’s High Damage style fits Mages perfectly but most other builds - not that well.

The actual right Underlord choice is usually relatively straightforward:

Underlords Fighting Styles

  • Anessix with Healing Support is best with fat comps: Knights, Warriors, Warlocks, Brutes, Scrappy, etc.
  • Anessix with Damage Support is much more situational – it needs Hunters or Assassins, builds that can easily focus down targets because of Enthrall.
  • Jull with both fighting styles is best with builds with a thinner frontline (Hunters, Mages, Trolls, Warlocks, etc.) because he himself is a capable tank. His Healing Tank style is a bit better with more durable builds, while his Aggressive Tank style is more synergistic with higher DPS builds.
  • Hobgen with High Damage Dealer Fighting Style is best with Mages.
  • Hobgen with Support Damage Dealer is good with physical damage comps that benefit from the attack speed (Beasts, Hunters, Assassins).

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