Dota Underlords Patch Analysis (18 Jul)

Valve just announced the patch notes for Dota Underlords’ latest balance patch: you can check them out here.

We can only speculate how this will affect the metagame, but here are our thoughts after a thorough analysis:


Trying to find three-star upgrades rather than selling units off to replace them with legendaries will be more viable – not so much because of the three-star buffs, but because of the serious nerfs to Enigma, Tide, and to a degree Techies.

(6) Elusive strats with (3) Hunters or (3) Assassins (or even (9) Elusive) will be stronger because of a few minor factors: mid-late game Druid buffs; three-star unit buffs; lack of as much super powerful AoE spell damage (Enigma, Tide, Kunkka, Techies), so evasion is stronger; evasion is also great against creep rounds;

Assassins benefit the most from three-star buffs as they are one of the few strats that can get multiple units to three stars. Some buffs to individual units also help, including Druids, as (6) Assassin (3) Elusive (2) Druid is a standard strat.

Scrappy strats are much less gimmicky, which means (4) or even (6) Scrappy could become a decent frontline especially for e.g. Mage Strats, comparable to e.g. (4) Knights.


Enigma, Techies, Tide, and Kunkka will decide the outcome of late game fights to a much lesser degree. They are unlikely to be included in every lineup anymore, mostly because of the AoE nerfs.

(4) Troll strats will become very niche – the only individually strong Troll is now a Legendary, so you cannot assemble all four Trolls reliably until lvl9-10. This makes carrying the other three Trolls in your lineup extremely awkward.

Gimmicky, cookie-cutter early-game strats like Ench + Treant and (3) Scrappy (possibly with rerolls for upgrades) are weaker. You can still go for them, but it wouldn’t guarantee a good start. Treant, Clock, and Tinker won’t come into play until later because they are three-cost now.

(6) Hunter strats are much harder to get, which might make them too unreliable. Tide is not a Hunter, and Medusa is a 5-cost unit.

Mages seem a bit weaker in the mid game – Razor is a tier 1 unit with nerfed stats, and he was the backbone of Mages in the mid game. This, combined with the fact that Mages seem at a huge disadvantage against loot rounds, might make Mages a synergy you want to get only in the late game.

Our thoughts in a bit more details:

Loot Round Changes:

  • The creep rounds are much, much stronger now.
  • Losing to a creep round doesn’t remove item options, but gives you the item tier from the previous creep round.

High-item tiers are game-breaking. Even with this in mind, however, we’re not certain that the creep rework will succeed to change the metagame by forcing players to spend more gold to upgrade their armies to kill the creep rounds.

There are three main reasons for that:

  • 5 interest gold every round still sounds better than 1 item tier higher in the mid game.
  • In the late game, when item tiers matter, the gold hoarders have a mature lineup already, so they are not at a real disadvantage. They might even be at an advantage from reaching lvl9 and 10 faster.
  • Lastly and most importantly, the new creeps are stronger against some lineups compared to others and we’re not sure spending more gold would guarantee that you would kill them anyway.

For example, single-target damage strats would inherently be better against creeps by default, while AoE strats would most likely struggle against almost all creep rounds.

Let's say that you are not saving any gold and you are upgrading your Mages as fast as possible. It still seems you'll be losing against a lot of creep rounds:

  • They are theoretically strong against the round 10 Golems (which now have a lot of armor), but in reality, even a “Mage strat” doesn’t have good magic damage on round 10, and the strat might even suffer more than physical strats because it deals lower attack damage and is pretty bad at focus fire.
  • Wolves will most likely crit you to death: on round 15 Mages are still too squishy and have too many backline heroes to protect from the Wolves.
  • Round 20 Potato has 50% magic resistance, and when you nuke down the Tomato with spells, the Potato will likely shred your lineup with its +500% attacks.
  • Round 25 Wildwings are the most Mage-friendly round so far but don’t forget that the 75% evasion makes it very hard to generate mana with attacks, so it’s not an easy win by any means.
  • Round 30 Thunderhides don’t have anything specific against mages, but if you don’t nuke one down instantly, it will likely heal itself back up – you won’t be able to finish it off with your weak attack damage.
  • The Black Dragon and Year Beast have huge magic resistance, Dark Trolls are too tanky to nuke down only with spells, Roshan is immune to magic, so in the late rounds, you are pretty much screwed.

In summary, it seems to us that the creep rounds rework are a nerf to Mages and other low-damage or AoE damage strategies more so than they are a nerf to saving 50 gold.

Three-Star Meta:

3-star units are stronger:

The stats (primarily HP and damage) of most 3-star units have been buffed. This is likely a measure taken against the two-star legendary late-game meta. It goes hand in hand with the nerf to Tide, Kunkka, Techies, and Enigma, and the roll mechanic changes.

In the previous patch, two-star legendries were always superior to most other three-star units even when they are supported by Alliance bonuses. Now, this might not be the case and a draft with Alliance bonuses and a few key three-star units might be optimal for the late game, with the occasional legendary included situationally.


The fact that three-star units are stronger benefits Assassin strategies the most because they are the ones who commonly go for multiple three-star upgrades.


Demons strats with a three-star Terrorblade are also likely stronger, but Demon strats are quite unreliable and item-dependent, so the change might not be enough to make them top-tier.

Easier to upgrade with Rerolls:

“You won't see heroes from the previous shop whenever you re-roll the shop.”

The buff to three-star units works synergistically with this reroll mechanic change which increases the likelihood of getting the units you are searching for (if you don’t buy a hero from the previous shop screen, it will not appear in the shop screen after the reroll). This might look like a minor change, but think of all the times you had two three-star copies of units + a one-star copy and were unable to get it to three stars even after burning your bank. One or two more copies of the unit can make a huge difference.

Alliance Changes:

Global Items Rework:

The Alliance global items can now drop on tier 1, 2, and 3 with different bonus values. This is a good change especially for the Tier 1 Alliance global items which would pretty much require you to force a strat if you decide to pick them up. Now you have a chance to get the globals later in the game when you have a better idea what strat you will be going for.

With that said, RNG would still play a huge role with Global items and getting exactly the globals that you need for your Alliance/strat would still increase the strength of your lineup significantly, which is a feature we are not particularly fond of.

RNG should play a role only when you have viable choices. The Alliance globals are strong enough to always pick up when you get the ones intended for your strat and to be crippled when they don’t show up. You should never lose games simply because you didn’t get your Alliance globals while your opponents did, and we suspect this might be a more common occurrence now that Alliance bonuses + three-star units will be used more commonly.

Scrappy Changes:

Scrappy is receiving a nerf in the early game from the fact that both Clock and Tinker are now 3-gold heroes. At the same time, they are receiving a significant mid-game buff. The (4) Scrappy synergy gives the armor and regen to all Scrappy heroes, which makes them a very decent mid-late game frontline to keep. This changes how the Scrappy strat plays significantly. At first glance, a (4) or (6) Scrappy lineup + (6) or (3) Mages could be a very high tier strat if you get the Inventor global item.

You can chack out our Dota Underlords Scrappy Guide (it will get updated once the patch is live).

Hero Changes:

Druid Changes:

Treant is now a 3-gold cost unit, which means he won’t be available in the early game, which is a significant nerf to the Ench + Treant opening strat – a welcome change. Moreover, his heal range has been decreased, which makes him a slightly worse utility unit to include in every draft.

With that said, the slightly higher stats he gets are a buff when he is used in Elusive drafts as your main tank. Lone Druid’s slight buff is also a welcome change in such strats (6) Elusive or (6) Assassins with Druids, especially when you get the Druids heal global item – the Bear is now a Druid, which means it will heal your units once it dies, and in a larger AoE.

Nature's Prophet also received a minor buff (much faster cast animation), which doesn't sound like much, but could be enough to increase the effectiveness of the two Elusive Druids as frontline heroes. The faster cast animation could make the difference in summoning one extra Treant, and the fact that it now summons near NP means it will be able to join the fight faster.

Enigma major rework:
Enigma Immortal PNG

Enigma now has a smaller AoE. This is a significant nerf in itself, but the biggest change is that Enigma is now a Shaman, not a Warlock. This means his Alliances are pretty weak and it would be much harder to include him in most lineups.

It might be the case that you want him in your team only when you’re going for Shamans anyway, and Shamans still seems to be a very gimmicky strat (still, you can find out how you can make them work in our Dota Underlords Shamans guide that will get updated once the patch is live).

Tidehunter major rework:
Tide 350px

First, it’s important to note that Ravage is nerfed with lower AoE and damage, which means that a two-star Tide might not be a mandatory unit in every single late-game lineup. Ravage with 1-cell radius on lvl1 seems quite underwhelming – even Berserker’s Call might be better. A two-star Tide, though, still sounds pretty good.

With that said, Tide joins the ranks of the utility 4-gold Warriors. Now, the Alliance has Kunkka, Doom, and Tide. A (3) Warriors frontline seems like something that you can include in a lot of strategies (Tide, Kunkka, Doom combined with a damage-dealing backline).

Moreover, Tide is Scaled, which means now it is super easy to get the (2) Scaled bonus in a (6) Warriors lineup with Slardar + Tide.  This to a degree mitigates the main problem of (6) Warriors –they are vulnerable to magic damage, and in the late game most damage is magical. (6) Warriors into any strong backline (Trolls, Beasts, etc.) might become one of the most consistent strategies in the game.

Medusa rework:
Medusa 350px

Medusa got a buff – she fires four arrows once again, and the damage reduction of the secondary arrows is much lower. This makes her a very powerful damage dealer. She is, however, a 5-cost legendary.

This, combined with the fact that Tide is no longer a Hunter, is a significant nerf to the (6) Hunters strategy – it’s quite hard to get all (6) Hunters online. It might be the case that if you’re going for Hunters, you would want to keep them at (3) Hunters and simply replace your weakest with Medusa in the late game. The extra unit slots might go to (6) Elusive, (6) Warriors, or (4/6) Knights.

Troll rework:
Troll 350px

Troll received a buff in stats, but he is now a 5-cost legendary hero. This might be a buff to Warrior strategies that play him as a main damage dealer (or together with one additional Troll), but it is a nerf to strats that want to get the full (4) Trolls bonus.

It’s now impossible to go for (3) Warriors into (4) Trolls directly and very unlikely to go for (4) Knights into (4) Trolls directly. (4) Trolls would be exclusively a late-game strategy. Moreover, it seems hard to build, because keeping the three weak Trolls in your lineup for the whole of the early and mid game without any chance to get Troll Warlord seems like a bad strategy.

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