Dota Underlords Savage Strategy Guide
Artist: Valve
Author:
MrNiceGuy
Date: 06/2019
Tags:
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Savage Strat Overview:

Savages are not a top tier strategy in the current Dota Underlords meta. Their problem is quite simple – it’s hard to fit Scaled heroes in a Savage draft, which makes them very vulnerable to Mages (the current top-tier strategy).

We believe, however, they have very good potential in the long run. Mages are likely to get hit with the nerf bat soon. Knights, on the other hand, are likely to get buffed, while Warriors (arguably the 2nd most popular strategy right now), are likely to remain largely untouched. While Savages struggle against Mages, they are great against slower non-nuke-centered strategies like Warriors and Knights.

In that sense, I am not writing this guide to help you climb the ladder right now, but rather to have some fun and possibly - to be prepared for potential meta shifts coming in the next balance patches.

Savage Strategy Summary:

Savage drafts have very decent damage output because (2), (4), and (6) Savage heroes in your army give 10%, 25%, and 45% bonus attack damage. The fact that the bonuses come in increments of two means Savages are relatively easy to include in other strategies (e.g. a (6) Warriors draft naturally has the (2) Savages bonus). In this guide, we’ll focus on (6) and (4) Savage strategies.

Savage lineups work very well with two global items in particular:

Tooth and Claw Icon
Tooth and Claw: “Savage units apply a stackable 10 damage/s bleed on attack.”
The longer the round lasts, the more damage enemy units start to take. This makes Savage drafts vulnerable to massive nuke damage (Mages), but great against slower strategies (Knights, Warriors).

It’s worth noting that your summoned units (Wolves, Plague Wards, Bear) are also Savage units. This means they apply the bleed debuff as well. It could stack heavily as the round progresses, and it helps you bring down even very tanky drafts (Warriors, Knights).
Unlike a lot of other global items, Tooth and Claw doesn't stack with itself.

Summoning_stone_icon

Summoning Stone: "Allied summoned units have +150 Health and +30 Attack Speed."
With three out of five summoners being Savage and a 4th being Druid (i.e. can be included in a Savage Draft), this item makes a lot of sense. The Attack Speed buff helps out with getting more Tooth and Claw stacks online.

Vicious Intent Icon
Vicious Intent: Each of your surviving units, including summons, deals 1 additional damage to opponents if they lose to you.”

Savage lineups have multiple sources of summoned units (Wolves, Bear, and Plague Wards), which means that Vicious Intent could help you eliminate or at least heavily damage your opponents as fast as possible once you hit lvl8 when your army is strongest (and before enemy late-game drafts come online).

PROS

  • High damage output, especially with the help of the Tooth and Clow global item.
  • Easy to get Warriors and Warlocks as a secondary synergy, which makes Savage drafts survivable as well.
  • You deal a lot of player damage with Vicious Intent.

CONS

  • Hard to fit Scaled units into the draft, which makes Savages vulnerable to Mages.
  • Your draft needs time to summon units and stack the Tooth and Claw debuff, which means you are vulnerable to high nuke damage.
  • Very reliant on finding at least some key items.

Savage Heroes:

Tusk Underlords
Tusk: 1g, Savage, Warrior

One of two Savage Warriors, which makes it pretty easy to get the (3) or even (6) Warriors armor bonus in a Savage strategy. He deals decent nuke damage with his ult. Easy to get to three stars since he’s cheap, but realistically he’s not a big priority.

Enchantress_icon_underlords
Enchantress: 1g, Savage, Druid

One of two Savage Druids. This makes it relatively easy to get a star advantage over your opponents and makes Ench your highest upgrade priority (you need her on three stars to guarantee that she will upgrade your two-star Lone to three stars as well with the Druids synergy bonus). The stars advantage combined with the summons and Vicious Intent could help you eliminate a couple of opponents before they reach their late-game potential. In Auto Chess, you can frontline her in the early-mid game to activate her heal faster. This is not a good idea in Underlords, because once she dies she loses the heal (in Auto Chess it lingers after death). She needs to stay alive for longer, which makes her a better backline unit. That said, she has the Untouchable passive, which means enemy heroes get reduced attack speed when they focus her. You can frontline her early-mid if she’s three-stars relatively early into the game.

Lycan_icon_underlords

Lycan: 3g, Savage, Human, Warrior
The second and more important Savage Warrior because of the two summons, which help out a lot especially combined with the global items. Position him on the frontline but further to the side so that he doesn’t take a lot of focus fire. He deals high DPS once he transforms (his wolf form has Crit), which means it helps if he transforms with a healthy HP pool left rather than just before dying.

Venomancer_icon_underlords

Venomancer: 3g, Savage, Warlock
The wards have low CD, so Void Stone is a great item to get on him, especially if you have him on two-stars relatively early on. The wards are also very strong with the two global items discussed above. Their downside is that, unlike in Auto Chess, they are not spell-immune and get wiped very easily by AoE magic damage. He makes it easy to get the (2) Warlocks lifesteal.

Sand_king_icon_underlords
Sand King: 3g, Savage, Assassin

His stun is absolutely great because no other Savage unit has any kind of control (besides the roots of the Bear, which are single-target and RNG-based). Nonetheless, it is pretty unreliable because the AoE is narrow and sometimes Sand King hits the whole enemy team, while others – just one or two units.

Lone_druid_icon_underlords

Lone Druid: 4g, Savage, Druid
The second Savage Druid and the strongest Savage hero overall. You only need to have him on two stars and your three-star Ench will make Lone three stars as well because of the (2) Druids synergy. Put him on the frontline to ensure he takes some damage and casts his Bear sooner rather than later. He is your best unit versus Mages. He is high HP and is unlikely to die from the first wave of spells. At this point, he’ll summon his Bear, which will be on full HP after opponents have used their abilities and will often go on a rampage. If able, give him Refresher. Two bears are extremely strong, and he’s unlikely to die before he casts the second one because on three stars he is very tanky.


Making Savages Work:

Early Game:

You usually go for a (3) Warriors opening with Tusk and Lycan or a (2) Druids opening with Ench and ideally Treant. You can also go for both, in which case it will be pretty easy to get to the (4) Savages bonus. If you don’t intend to go for (4) Druids, swap your non-savage Druid with Lone Druid as soon as you get him – he is your key unit in most Savage strats and having a three-star Ench + a two-star Lone Druid gives you a big power spike.

Mid Game:

Make a decision in what direction you’ll build your army – are you committing to Savages, or would you rather go for the more conventional (6) Warriors, etc.

If you have Veno, think about a second Warlock for the (2) Warlocks lifesteal bonus. It synergizes well with your draft because of its high physical damage and other sources of sustain like the heal of Enchantress.

Late Game:

Your draft is usually mature at lvl8 or 9 at the latest. If you manage to get the Vicious Intent global item it makes sense to try to push for upgrades at this point in order to kill your opponents before they reach their full late-game potential.

If you don’t - play a standard game, focus on economy, and think what additional units will help you the most.

In terms of Positioning, Savage drafts are not reliant on Proximity auras, which means that usually you are free to spread your army out in an attempt to avoid most AoE nukes more efficiently.

Standard Lineups:

(6) Savages Lineup:
Savages, Warriors, Warlocks, Heartless
Tusk Underlords
1
Lycan_icon_underlords
2
Pudge_icon_underlords
3
Enchantress_icon_underlords
4
Lone_druid_icon_underlords
5
Venomancer_icon_underlords
6
Necrophos_icon_underlords
7
Sand_king_icon_underlords
8
Units: Tusk, Lycan, Pudge, Enchantress, Lone, Venomancer, Necro, Sand King
Synergies: (6) Savages, (3) Warriors, (2) Druids, (2) Warlocks, (2) Heartless

This is the standard (6) Savages core draft. It focuses mainly on getting all (6) Savages for the maximum bonus damage (and ideally Bleed stacks from Tooth and Claw), but also balances out the draft with a (3) Warrior frontline, the lifesteal of the (2) Warlocks, and even the slight damage increase (armor reduction) from the (2) Heartless.

You usually start with (3) Warriors and (2) Druids and replace your non-savage Druid with Lone ASAP. This lets you reach (3) Warriors + (4) Savages very early. Next, you get Necro and Veno for the (2) Warlock and (2) Heartless bonuses, which leaves only the last unit for the (6) Savages – Sand King.

One of the best possible scenarios from this point is to get the Fall From Grace global item and include Kunkka in your draft as a 9th unit. This way your two Humans (Kunkka + Lycan) will help you get the (4) Heartless armor reduction and increase the already high damage of your draft further. The control from Kunkka is also welcome because you’re only relying on Sand King in the core draft.

Late Game:

If you are not facing Mages, your late game chances are pretty decent and you can play a standard game and choose your last units situationally.

If you are facing Mages, however, you are in a tough situation. It’s not very realistic to try to get the (2) Scaled bonus and try to win this way – first, it requires you to get to lvl10, and second, even with (2) Scaled you are likely to lose against (6) Mages pretty decisively. Your best option is to commit to upgrades on lvl9 or even lvl8 to get ahead of the power curve of your opponents (ideally with Vicious Intent). This way you will start eliminating low-HP players and should be able to secure a top 4 spot.

(6) Warriors Lineup:
Warriors + Savages
Warriors + Savages + Warlocks
Tusk Underlords
1
Lycan_icon_underlords
2
Slardar_icon_underlords
3
Troll_warlord_icon_underlords
4
Doom_icon_underlords
5
Kunkka_icon_underlords
6
Enchantress_icon_underlords
7
Lone_druid_icon_underlords
8
Units: Tusk, Lycan, Pudge, Slardar, Doom, Kunkka, Enchantress, Lone Druid
Synergies: (6) Warriors, (4) Savages, (2) Druids, (2) Humans, (1) Demon

This is a variation of one of the most popular Auto Chess strategies – it’s powerful because the lineup is very easy to build and at the same time quite powerful. The damage bonus from the (4) Savages synergizes well with the armor bonus of the (6) Warriors – you get a well-rounded strategy.

Scaled:

Unlike the (6) Savages variation, here the (2) Scaled magic resistance bonus is much easier to get thanks to Slardar. You need a Scaled hero as your 9th (ideally Tide, but Slark or Medusa could do a decent job).

If you are facing a lot of magic damage right from the mid game, you can even choose to include Slark in your draft earlier. In fact, in the Mages meta the standard (6) Warriors strategy is (6) Warriors + (4) Scaled, but this, of course, excludes the four Savages and falls outside of the territory of this guide.

Heartless:

An alternative would be to go for the Heartless bonus – Fall from Grace is great here because you already have two Humans (Lycan + Kunkka). You can get Pudge instead of one of your other Warriors (e.g. Slardar) in addition to one more Heartless or Human. This will help you reach the (4) Heartless armor reduction bonus on lvl9, which will increase the damage of your draft a great deal.

Tusk Underlords
1
Lycan_icon_underlords
2
Pudge_icon_underlords
3
Slardar_icon_underlords
4
Doom_icon_underlords
5
Kunkka_icon_underlords
6
Necrophos_icon_underlords
7
Venomancer_icon_underlords
8
Sand_king_icon_underlords
9
Units: Tusk, Lycan, Pudge, Slardar, Doom, Kunkka, Venomancer, Necromancer, Sand King
Synergies: (6) Warriors, (4) Savages, (2) Humans, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlocks

This variation is a bit harder to get because it requires lvl9 to mature rather than lvl8 and it doesn’t benefit from the star advantage of the Druids.

That said, it’s still doable because (6) Warriors is a strong mid-game draft and you would usually be able to get to lvl9 comfortably.

The benefit of this variation is that you get the (2) Warlocks and (2) Heartless bonuses thanks to Veno and Necro, which increases that damage output and sustain of your lineup, making it stronger against other lineups which deal damage gradually.

This variation, however, is weaker against Mages because you don’t have Lone Druid (the Bear is great against Mages, while the Veno Wards and slight Warlocks lifesteal are useless) and you need lvl10 for the (2) Scaled bonus. If you're not going for Scaled, you can swap out Slardar for Troll.

Since you already have (2) Heartless and (2) Humans, Fall from Grace gives you the (4) Heartless bonus right away.

Alternative Lineups:

Theoretically possible, but harder to build in practice.

Trolls + Savages
Tusk Underlords
1
Lycan_icon_underlords
2
Troll_warlord_icon_underlords
3
Witch_doctor_icon_underlords
4
batrider_icon_underlords
5
Shadow_shaman_icon_underlords
6
Venomancer_icon_underlords
7
Sand_king_icon_underlords
8
Units: Tusk, Lycan, Troll Warlord, Witch Doctor, Batrider, Shadow Shaman, Venomancer, Sand King
Synergies: (4) Trolls, (4) Savage, (3) Warriors, (2) Warlocks

The Troll attack speed bonus synergizes well with the Savage damage bonus and even better with the Tooth and Claw stackable debuff and possibly even the Coordinated Assault Trolls attack speed global item. This makes this strategy one of the lineups with the highest physical DPS potential.

You build this strategy by starting with (3) Warriors into (4) Trolls. Swap-out your non-savage Warrior for Troll Warlord when you find him, and after you build the (4) Trolls get Veno and Sand King for the (4) Savages damage bonus. Veno will give you the (2) Warlocks bonus as well thanks to Witch Doctor.

The reason this is not a standard lineup is that it’s much harder to build. Trolls are inconsistent in Underlords (you need all four ASAP, the individual units without Troll Warlord are very weak). This means building (3) Warriors into (4) Trolls is much more difficult than going for (6) Warriors right away or (3) Warriors + Ench and Lone (it's theoretically possible to go (3) Warriors with Ench and Lone into Trolls, but you'll need lvl9 to get the Warlocks synergy).

Late Game:

Your standard 9th unit is Disruptor for the (2) Shaman bonus. Kunkka with Fall from Grace is another good possibility (you can also go for both with lvl10). Going for all six Savages is theoretically possible, but very ambitious because it requires lvl10 and it severely lacks control and utility.

Savages + Warlocks
Tusk Underlords
1
Lycan_icon_underlords
2
Pudge_icon_underlords
3
Enchantress_icon_underlords
4
Lone_druid_icon_underlords
5
Venomancer_icon_underlords
6
Necrophos_icon_underlords
7
Shadow_fiend_icon_underlords
8
Alchemist_icon_underlords
9
Units: Tusk, Lycan, Pudge, Ench, Lone Druid, Veno, Necro, Shadow Fiend, Alchemist
Synergies: (4) Savage, (4) Warlock, (3) Warriors, (2) Heartless

This is a variation of the standard (6) Savages draft above. Instead of going for all (6) Savages, it goes for (4) Savages and (4) Warlocks. The drawback is slightly lower DPS, the benefit is a lot more sustain, which is good against lineups like Warriors and Knights.

Alchemist and Shadow Fiend are the new units:

  • SF is your only Demon and thanks to the Heartless bonus he deals high attack DPS.
  • Alchemist is a great tank and his Acid Spray armor reduction synergizes further with Heartless and the high physical damage of the Savage draft.

The example above needs 9 units to mature, and we prefer it because (3) Warriors with (2) Druids is strong in the early game. It is possible, however, to get a mature lineup on lvl8 with Sand King instead of Ench + Lone. This will also make it possible to hit the (4) Heartless armor reduction with Kunkka and Fall from Grace on lvl9.

Druids + Savages
Treant_protector_icon_underlords
1
Nature's_prophet_icon_underlords
2
Enchantress_icon_underlords
3
Lone_druid_icon_underlords
4
Phantom_assassin_icon_underlords
5
Templar_assassin_icon_underlords
6
Sand_king_icon_underlords
7
Venomancer_icon_underlords
8
Units: Treant, Prophet, Ench, Lone Druid, Templar, Phantom, Sand King, Venomancer
Synergies: (4) Savage, (4) Druids, (3) Elusive, (3) Assassins

All lineups above rely on a (3) Warriors opening with Tusk and Lycan. In Underlords, however, including all (4) Druids in your lineup is pretty strong, so we thought it’s a good idea to include a Savages lineup with (4) Druids.

You start the game with (3) Elusive into (4) Druids, usually with Anti-Mage as your third Elusive. Later on, you get the two Elusive Assassins (Templar and Phantom) and use the fact that Sand King is both a Savage and an Assassin, which in turn allows you to get the (3) Assassins and (4) Savages with one last Savage her (Veno or Lycan, you swap-out Anti Mage for the spot).

This increases the DPS of your three Assassins a great deal, while the Treant, Prophet, and Lone give you a good frontline made up of three-star units with evasion.

Late Game:

If you have Veno, you can get one additional Warlock for the lifesteal, which is noticeable on TA and PA who deal very high physical damage.

In case you’re trying to build a three-star PA or TA, including a 2nd two-star copy of the hero in your lineup as a 9th unit is also a decent option which leaves little gold on your bench.

If you’re certain you’ll be able to hit lvl10, you can go for the full (6) Elusive bonus by bringing Anti-Mage back in and getting one last Elusive hero. Going for (6) Savage instead of (6) Elusive is also possible, but only recommended if you have the Tooth and Claw global item.

The above lineup is a variation of the more conventional (6) Elusive (3) Assassins (2) Savages draft (in which you can get two Elusive heroes instead of Sand King and Veno). The drawback of the (4) Savages variation is that it is more vulnerable to physical damage. The benefit, however, is that it has a considerably higher damage output and it gains the crowd-control of Sand King. Arguably, this variation is better against squishier drafts.

It’s worth noting that the Druid-Elf (Elusive) strategies were considered to be a counter to Mages in Auto Chess despite the fact that they didn’t have the magic resistance bonus of Nagas (Scaled). The reason was that the three-star Druids have high HP and don’t instantly evaporate from the AoE nuke damage. After the initial nukes, the full-HP Bear and the Refraction shielded Templar Assassin start to tear down the squishy spell-casters. This is not necessarily true in Underlrods because (6) Mages simply deal too much nuke damage. After the upcoming Mages nerf, however, this could become the case once again, and it might be a great idea to learn Elusive +Assassin strategies, this Savage variation being one of them.


Thanks for reading! I hope you found this guide useful and enjoyable. If you did, you can check out our other Underlords content in our Library! To get a good grasp of the current meta, you can check out our Underlords 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.