Dota Underlords Knights Strategy Guide
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MrNiceGuy
Date: 08/2019
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Knights Overview:

After they were considered one of the weakest strategies in Underlords, Knights went through a major buff and through a period of dominating the meta. Despite some minor nerfs and meta changes, the most popular (6) Knights + (2) Dragons variation got voted as one of the strongest strats in the game in our Dota Underlords Tier List which covers Alliances and Strategies.

Right now Knights are not imba, but they are certainly one of the most consistent Alliances in the game. Because of this, it's a great idea to have a few Knights strats in your arsenal if you want to rank up:

Knights and Dragons Strategy Summary:

The goal of the Knights strategy is pretty simple – you get more Knights in order to create an extremely tanky frontline. The Knights bonus gives damage reduction that works against both physical and magical damage, which in most cases makes it superior to the survivability bonuses of Alliances like Warriors and Elves (which help only against attacks) or Scaled (which helps only against magic damage).

The trick, however, is that you need your Knights to stand next to each other to get the whole buff:

Knight_bonus_1

(2) Knight Heroes: Knight units take 15% less physical and magic damage and an additional 15% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.

Knight_bonus_2

(4) Knight Heroes: Knight units take 20% less physical and magic damage and an additional 20% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.

Knight_bonus_3

(6) Knight Heroes: Knight units take 25% less physical and magic damage and an additional 25% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.

Dragons, unlike Knights, are a secondary (splash) Alliance. They have a very interesting mechanic in which once you get (2) Dragons, each Dragon hero unlocks new skills. This means they could be used creatively in different comps. In Knights, they are used to turn Dragon Knight in your main source of damage. (In this guide we’ll explore a few additional uses of Dragons).

PROS

  • The tankiest synergy in the game: the Knights damage reduction applies to both physical and magical damage, unlike all other survivability synergies which provide tankiness against only one damage type.
  • Straightforward and reliable: an easy to learn strat for newer players that gives consistently good results.
  • Dragons are flexible and could be included in various strategies for a different reason. E.g. DK is the main Damage Dealer in Knights + Dragons, but he could be a tank in Humans + Mages.

CONS

  • Low damage output and little space to include damage synergies if you’re going for all (6) Knights (which is standard).
  • Knights are inflexible: you usually want all 6 Knights (from a pool of 6) or 4 specific ones, with the optimal secondary units also being pretty clear-cut. This is a problem if multiple players are contesting Knights in a lobby.
  • Expensive units: hard to get upgrades without a good economy. Knights are not a "comeback" strat.

Heroes Info:

batrider_icon_underlords
Batrider: 1g, Troll, Knight

The cheapest and weakest Knight, Batrider has two things going for him. First, he is a very decent damage dealer in the very early game thanks to Napalm (he falls off later on unless you get the Trolls buff and a high star level on him). Two, he makes the (2) Troll bonus easy to get, which helps with the DPS of your lineup.

Luna_icon_underlords
Luna: 2g, Elusive, Knight

The Elusive Alliance is relatively useless in a Knights strat because you don’t need additional defensive synergies – you need damage. That said, Luna is actually one of the best damage dealers in a Knights draft. Since in Underlords you cannot put more than one item on a hero, Luna will be one of your main damage dealers in both Dragons + Knights and Trolls + Knights strategies. This also means she has high upgrade priority (Chaos Knight and Luna are the most cost-efficient pieces to take to three stars).

Chaos_knight_icon_underlords

Chaos Knight: 2g, Demon, Knight
Your early and mid-game carry. CK is both tanky and a very decent damage dealer. Put him in the frontline but in a place where he won't take a lot of damage right away, which would give him more time to auto-attack and deal damage with the Demon Alliance bonus. Later on, he falls off slightly, but getting him to three stars is a great way to keep him relevant.

Omniknight_icon_underlords

Omni Knight: 3g, Human, Knight
A good tank with a heal that can deal decent AoE damage. Together with Abaddon, Omni is the backbone of your frontline. One has a shield that deals AoE damage, the other – a heal that does the same. This makes one of the two a great Radiance carrier (one of the best items you can have on Knights – your units survive for very long, which allows Radiance to deal very high damage). The Human Alliance is useful especially bearing in mind Dragon Knight is also a Human, so it’s pretty easy to hit at least the (2) Humans bonus (and ideally transform it to Heartless with Fall from Grace). If possible, getting Omni to three-stars will increase the AoE damage of his heal significantly.

Abaddon_icon_underlords
Abaddon: 3g, Heartless, Knight

Your main tank, and since his shield got buffed, he deals decent AoE damage. His most important quality is that he is Heartless. This makes it easy to get at least the (2) Heartless bonus with heroes like Necro or Drow. The armor reduction is extremely helpful on a Knights strategy, which usually lacks damage. If you are staying on 8 units and are rolling for upgrades, getting Abaddon to three-stars is a great idea. He becomes nearly unkillable and could cast his shield multiple times in a fight.

Dragon_knight_icon_underlords

Dragon Knight: 4g, Human, Knight
Your main damage-dealer in a Dragons-Knights strategy thanks to the ranged Dragon form. He deals AoE damage on two-stars and slows on three stars, so he is a very high upgrade priority, although getting him to lvl3 is pretty unrelistic. Usually you want to keep him on two stars and focus on other upgrades, but bear in mind it's also possible to include two two-star DK's in your lineup if you have the free space. 

DK’s main problem is his low attack speed. To increase his DPS most efficiently you usually want attack speed items on him, although damage items like Daedalus are also not bad, of course.

Outside of a Knights draft, he could be a decent tank – he has high HP and in-built 10HP regen, and his nuke applies a damage reduction debuff, which helps your frontline survive for longer. He is Human, so he can help you get the Human synergy (or Heartless with Fall from Grace).

Puck_icon_underlords
Puck: 2g, Elusive, Dragon, Mage

Puck gains Phase Shift from the Dragons synergy, which makes him slightly harder to kill (especially with high-damage nukes). It’s not particularly useful in a Knights lineup, but it could be good if you can activate it in an Elusive/Mages lineup.

Viper_icon_underlords
Viper: 3g, Dragon, Assassin

Viper gains Corrosive Skin from the Dragons Alliance bonus, which gives him considerable magic resistance and a damage over time debuff that applies to all heroes attacking him. Because if this, he is the more useful of the two secondary Dragons in a Knights strategy and also a decent Assassin to run against high magic-damage comps.


Items:

Fall_from_grace_icon
Fall from Grace:Human units count as Heartless when counting Alliances.”

The most important item you could possibly get in a Knights strategy. The reason is that Knights already have one Heartless and two Humans, which means you are just one unit away from the (4) Heartless armor debuff. Since Knights lack damage in general, getting the Heartless synergy makes the strategy miles better (at the same time, the Human silence is usually not that important on Knights – you can tank most nukes and last longer than most disables).

108px-Mask_of_madness_icon

Mask of Madness: "Hero is silenced. 20% Lifesteal. +60 Attack Speed."
Madness is a very high-impact item if you are going for a three-star Luna, as she has no active skills. This means there are no drawbacks from giving her MoM. DK is another good candidate, since he can transform into a Dragon even with the silence (he looses Dragon's Breath, though).

108px-Mekansm_icon

Mekansm: "When equipped hero has less than 50% health, heal allies up to 3 cells away for 250 health. (once per battle)"
We said multiple times that Knights need more damage, not more survivability. While this is true in principle, when we're talking about items it's all about efficiency. Since Knights have a damage reduction shield and they tend to take damage evenly (they are clumped up), Mek actually provides amazing value - it is likely to heal multiple allies for the full amount. Even if you don't have amazing damage, Mek can help you out-last your oponent and win in this way.

108px-Octarine_essence_icon

Octarine Essence: "Reduces ability cooldown by 50%"
If you manage to get Omni or Abaddon to three-stars, this item will have a huge impact on them by allowing them to cast their spells multiple times in a fight.

107px-Moon_shard_icon
Moonshard:  “+80 Attack Speed”

The main problem of Dragon Knight is his slow attack speed, so Moonshard is the item that can increase his DPS the most.

107px-Radiance_icon
Radiance: “Burns enemies up to 2 cells away for 60 damage per second”

Your strategy lacks damage, but it is extremely tanky. This means each fight usually lasts long. Consequently, your Radiance carrier has a lot of time to burn down enemy heroes. Put the item on your tankiest frontline Knight (usually Omni or Abaddon, possibly Chaos Knight). Typically, your Radiance carrier will be your second highest DPS hero after your main carry (DK, Troll Warlord, etc.).

Making Knights Work:

Early Game:

In the very early game Batrider is actually a good damage dealer, especially on two stars. It’s important to know that two copies of Bat both apply the Napalm debuff and benefit from it, which means very early on you can easily keep him on the board twice (ideally on your backline).

Aside from Bat, Chaos Knight is your most important early-game unit. He is tanky and deals very high damage thanks to the Demon synergy pure damage. Don’t forget that you can also keep two copies of CK on the board without removing the Demon bonus damage – two of the same Demons count as one when Alliances are calculated.

Abaddon is also an important hero because:

  1. He’s tanky and deals decent AoE damage with the shield.
  2. He gives you easy access to the (2) Heartless synergy. Getting to (2) Heartless bonus from early on is a good idea because Knights lack damage, and the armor reduction helps out in this regard.

You usually want to hit (4) Knights ASAP because it’s a big jump in survivability.

Mid & Late Game:

In the mid game, you want to hit a mature draft by lvl8 or 9. (6) Knights and another two/three synergistic units are standard, but you can also e.g. go for (4) Knights + secondary synergies (Demon Hunters, Trolls, Warlocks, etc.) (which is currently the less popular option).

Don’t focus on upgrades in the mid game, your synergies should be able to carry you. Focus on economy as much as possible. Knights are expensive, so you need to have a good economy to be able to afford upgrades in the late game. Rolling from early on and having a lot of gold sitting on your bench is simply not an option if you want to place highly in the late game.

The late game plan is pretty simple. Play a standard slow-paced economy game and search for upgrades. Only burn the bank for rerolling when things get critical – the more time you stay on 50 gold, the more total gold you’ll have in the game, and usually, to upgrade multiple Knights you’ll need all of it. Three-star units make a big difference.

Positioning:

In terms of positioning, you don’t have a lot of choices. Your Knights need to be next to each other, so you usually want to keep all your melee Knights on the first row and the ranged knights (Luna, Bat, DK if you have Dragons) immediately behind them on the 2nd roll. Non-Knight units need to be protected behind your Knights frontline.

Try to position your lineup directly in front of your opponents. This will make it least likely that your Knights will break formation. The worst scenario is to have your Knights walk from one side of the map to the other diagonally.

Knights Standard Positioning

Above: the standard positioning of the Knights draft. The Abaddon and Omni are the tankiest unit, so they are the first ones to face damage. Luna and DK (the main damage dealers) are in the safest location. CK is positioned to tank, but at the same time survive and auto-attack for longer (he deals more auto-attack damage than Omni and Abaddon).


Example Knights Strats:

Knights + Dragons
batrider_icon_underlords
1
Luna_icon_underlords
2
Chaos_knight_icon_underlords
3
Omniknight_icon_underlords
4
Abaddon_icon_underlords
5
Dragon_knight_icon_underlords
6
Viper_icon_underlords
7
Necrophos_icon_underlords
8
Witch_doctor_icon_underlords
9
Units: Batrider, Luna, Chaos Knight, Omni Knight, Abaddon, Dragon Knight, Viper, Necro, Witch Doctor
Synergies: (6) Dragons, (2) Dragons, (2) Humans, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlocks, (2) Trolls

This is the most common Knights strategy. It utilizes the (2) Dragons synergy to turn your Dragon Knight into your main damage dealer. You can use either Viper or Puck as your 2nd Dragon, but Viper is a better option in this composition simply because he’s a bit tankier and deals more damage with Corrosive Skin. The elusiveness of Puck is relatively useless in a Knights draft.

Necro gives you the (2) Heartless bonus, which is important. If you are lucky enough to get Fall from Grace, you will instantly unlock the (4) Heartless bonus.

You can use Drow instead if you’re not getting Necro, but he is superior because he provides a lot of sustain: not only with his heal but with the (2) Warlocks synergy you can unlock together with Witch Doctor.

WePlay Knights Meta

Above: variations of this build occupying the top three slots in the lobby in the WePlay Underlords open tournament.

Knights + Trolls
batrider_icon_underlords
1
Chaos_knight_icon_underlords
2
Abaddon_icon_underlords
3
Omniknight_icon_underlords
4
Witch_doctor_icon_underlords
5
Necrophos_icon_underlords
6
Shadow_shaman_icon_underlords
7
Troll_warlord_icon_underlords
8
Units: Batrider, Chaos Knight, Abaddon, Omni Knight, Witch Doctor, Shadow Shaman, Necro, Troll Warlord
Synergies: (4) Knights, (4) Trolls, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlocks, (1) Demon

The (4) Knights (4) Trolls variation has very high potential (the (4) Trolls solve the damage problem of Knights), but it is much less reliable becuase it needs Troll Warlord and he is very hard to find (he is a 5-cost legendary). you usually want to push to lvl9 as quickly as possible to increase your chances of finding him.

WePLay 4 Trolls 4 Knights

Above: (4) Trolls, (4) Knights, (4) Heartless lineup with the Fall from Grace global item in the WePlay open tournament. 

Knights + Demon Hunters
batrider_icon_underlords
1
Chaos_knight_icon_underlords
2
Omniknight_icon_underlords
3
Abaddon_icon_underlords
4
Anti-mage_icon_underlords
5
Terrorblade_icon_underlords
6
Witch_doctor_icon_underlords
7
Necrophos_icon_underlords
8
Shadow_fiend_icon_underlords
9
Units: Bat, CK, Omni, Abaddon, Anti-Mage, Terrorblade, Witch Doctor, Necro, Shadow Fiend
Synergies: (4) Knights, (2) Demon Hunters, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlocks, (2) Trolls, Demons

The logic of a Knights + Demon Hunters draft is simple - you get survivability from the Knights frontline and DPS mainly from Terrorblade.

This variation utilizes multiple Demons (who also get increased damage), in addition to the regular Heartless and Warlock bonuses.

That said, the Knights + Demon Hunters strat is the most variable and you can go for different variations - e.g. (6) Knights + Demon Hunters are viable, etc.

Knight Elusive Jpg example

Above: In this example, you can see a (2) Demon Hunters + (4) Knights + (3) Elusive + (2) Warlocks + (2) Trolls draft which is far from standard but managed to win the game pretty decisively.


New Dragons Strats:

Humans + Dragons + Mages
Dragon_knight_icon_underlords
1
Omniknight_icon_underlords
2
Crystal_maiden_icon_underlords
3
Keeper_of_the_light_icon_underlords
4
Lina_icon_underlords
5
Kunkka_icon_underlords
6
Puck_icon_underlords
7
Razor_icon_underlords
8
Lich_icon_underlords
9
Units: Dragon Knight, Omni Knight, Crystal Maiden, Keeper of the Light, Lina, Kunkka, Puck, Razor, Lich
Synergies: (6) Humans, (6) Mages, (2) Knights, (2) Dragons

The above lineup is a variation of a more standard (4) Humans (6) Mages draft, but it utilizes the two Human Knights to get the full (6) Humans bonus. With the changes to Dragons, it’s a good added benefit to combine Puck and DK in this draft. Remember that DK has an AoE nuke now (Breathe Fire), which benefits a lot from the magic resistance reduction coming from the (6) Mages. Puck also becomes slightly more survivable.

The drawback of this lineup is the weak frontline, but the super-high nuke damage and guaranteed silences compensate.


Thanks for reading! If you found this Dota Underlords guide enjoyable, you can check out our other content about the game in our Library! To get a good grasp of the current meta, you can check out our Underlords Hero Tier List with tips and information about all heroes in the game!

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Authors:

Kyril "MrNiceGuy" Kotashev
Author

Esports and gaming enthusiast since forever and founder of Dotahaven.