In this article, you'll learn about the best Alliances and Strategies in the current Underlords Meta. If you're interested in information about each individual hero, you can get it in our Underlords Heroes Tier List.
We created a community poll in which players voted for each of the most common strategies in Dota Underlords. People were rating the strategies on two criteria:
In a few words, the general consensus is that the variations of Knights are the best strategies right now and that in order to climb in rank reliably you need to be going for:
The other main strategies are either not good enough or in a disadvantage when facing Knights (which will inevitably happen in every lobby).
Below, you can see the results from the Poll:
Disclaimer: some of the entries in the poll were made during the last Knights nerf, so this might skew things a bit higher in favor of Knights. That said, even if you subtract 0.5 points from all three Knights strats, this only swaps the place of the 2nd and 3rd place, the rest of the ranking remains the same. I will update the poll once we get more entries to make it more statistically significant.
The best Alliances in the current meta are ordered below with info about each one. The icons are clickable and reveal the additional info.
Knights are the undisputed meta-defining strategy right now and are quite prevalent even after the last nerf. The highest rated strategy is Knights + Dragons, but IMO after the slight nerf to Knights and to the DPS of Dragon Knight, Knights + Trolls edges it out – it’s a bit less reliable but with higher late-game potential. Moreover, don’t forget that it’s possible to get Knights + Trolls + Dragons if you reach lvl10. The only problem with a Knights comp is that Knight units are likely to be highly contested within the lobby. This might make finding upgrades for your e.g. DK or Troll Warlord very difficult, and if you’re unlucky you could easily lose to the other Knights and a well-upgraded Warriors and/or Hunters comp. For more details, you can check out your in-depth Underlords Knights Guide
Hunters are in a good spot right now, especially with Warriors as a frontline. They have very high damage output and decent control coming from Medusa, Tide, and the utility Warriors – Kunkka and possibly Doom. You might have problems against a powerful Knights draft, but winning is definitely also possible. The Hunters + Elusive comp has lower scores, which makes sense because the elusive frontline gives tankiness but doesn’t give good control and utility like the Warrior frontline. A Knights + Hunters variation is also possible and is ranked quite highly, but it’s a bit awkward because Hunters work better with Warriors while Knights work better with Dragons and Trolls, so Knights + Hunters might be a bit over-rated.
Mages received a slight nerf, but their late-game potential is still very high. If you’re going for Mages you usually want to aim for the complete six-hero synergy, as (3) Mages aren't enough to break Knights or (2) Scaled lineups. The problem with Mages is that they are much harder to make work than e.g. Knights, which gives Mage drafts a lower reliability score.
Warriors are a great comp, and usually, if you don’t go for Knights it’s your best bet to go for a Warriors opening. The reason is that you can choose to either transition into a Hunters or Mages comp, or commit to (6) Warriors with Trolls or Savages. The first option (Hunters & Mages) has the highest score and arguably highest late-game potential, but the other two are also strong and reliable and could get you a high spot in the lobby. Knights deal physical damage, so they have trouble against the high armor of (6) Warriors.
Elusive strategies are rather underrated by the community in my opinion. They had problems when facing the Mages meta, but now they are quite tanky against the physical damage of Dragons, Knights, Warriors, and even Hunters. Moreover, right now they won’t be contested so high star-level units are relatively easy to obtain. The problem of Elusive strats is that they lack damage. The (3) Hunters or (3) Assassins you can go for as a damage-dealing synergy are usually not enough against the very tanky Knights comps. Moreover, in the poll, Elusive + Assassins are higher rated than Elusive + Hunters, which is questionable because the Hunters variation is definitely better against Knights and Warriors.
Demons are quite fun and their late-game potential is good. The pure damage could even help you beat tanky lineups like Knights and Warriors. The problem is that Demons are very, very unreliable and more often than not you’ll get you killed early on if you try to force a Demons strat. If you get lucky, however, you can easily snatch 1st place in the lobby.
Assassins have a very simple problem – they are bad against Knights and Warriors, and it is very likely that half of your lobby will be going for these strategies in the current meta. Even though they are fun to play and could work well against drafts with squishy backlines (Mages, Hunters), it’s best to avoid them right now if you want to climb in rank. It's worth mentioning that there are Big Boss palyers who believe Assassins are underrated right now.
Savages have a key problem – they are very item-reliant. E.g. if you get the Tooth and Nail global item and build a draft with enough sustain, you could beat even tanky strategies like Knights or Warriors. If you don’t, however, your damage output won’t be enough and the high tier strats will edge you out of the lobby. Still, Mages are not top tier in the meta right now, which makes Savages a bit better than they were before. It’s usually best to use them as a secondary synergy for Warriors. You can get more details in our In-Depth Savages Guide.
Scrappy was a very unreliable strategy anyway because of the reliance on finding Techies, and in the last patch they got nerfed in a strange way (you want to have fewer units than your opponents, which is very counter-intuitive if you are pushing for levels in order to find Techies and riding an early-game winning streak). Their use in the current meta is to possibly get the (3) Scrappy bonus as a starter and quickly replace them with better synergies.
The example lineups are tabbed - you need to click the title to reveal the information about the alternative lineups.
The current meta-defining strat. Very tanky and very hard to counter. Your biggest problem is other Knights drafts as well as tanky Warrior lineups with good damage and sustain (usually from a Hunters backline). Knights should do well against everything else unless you are at an upgrade/level disadvantage.
You can check our in-depth Dota Underlrods Knights guide here.
The standard Knights strategy and the strategy with highest overall rating from the community poll. (6) Knights is incredibly tanky and Dragon Knight with the Dragons synergy is a great damage-dealer.
Going for the strategy is quite simple – you buy all available Knights. CK and Luna will carry you in the early and mid-game, DK in the late game.
Arguably, the Troll variation has a higher late-game ceiling, but the Dragons variation is simpler and more reliable.
The second highest-rated Knights strat, and in my opinion after the last update the best variation of the Knights strategy. It’s a bit less reliable because getting the (4) Trolls is more difficult, but the late-game potential should be higher because the (4) Trolls attack speed bonus solves the damage problem of Knights.
In the late game, you have a few choices:
The weakest strat out of the standard Knights strategies, but still quite decent. It’s strong in the mid game – as you can see the draft matures with 7 units and has the Hunters + Heartless to compensate for the lack of damage of Knights.
The problem comes in the late game – it’s possible to complete (6) Hunters, but you need lvl10, which is a bit ambitious and unreliable. Your other options are to go for other synergies like Heartless or to simply get to (6) Knights on lvl9 + possibly Dragons on lvl10. Drow will buff the attack speed of your DK and Luna, which is quite strong.
+ Warriors was the first S-tier strategy before the Mage meta came. They have
been nerfed since, but they never fell out of favor and pretty much stayed as 2nd
best strategy since then. Hunters are the most reliable backline damage-dealing
Alliance, and it works with all tanky Alliances for a frontline (Warriors,
Elusive, Knights). Warriors, however, are the most synergistic frontline
because of their perc (2 seconds of invulnerability before dying) and the
high-utility units – Kunkka and Doom.
You start the with a (3) Warriors frontline + Drow. One of your Warriors needs to be Pudge for the Heartless armor reduction bonus. You usually want to replace your weaker Warriors with Kunkka and Doom, but it’s possible to keep high-level Warriors you are trying to get to three stars.
In the late game, you usually want to reach (6) Hunters. It’s the best option in terms of damage output and utility thanks to Medusa and hopefully Tide.
You have, however, the option to go for (6) Warriors if you are getting them a lot in the shop and you think you lack tankiness rather than damage.
You get (3) Elusive units fast and a high star-level Treant and Nature’s Prophet as a frontline. Since you have two Hunters who are also Elusive (Windranger and Mirana), it’s possible to reach the (6) Hunters bonus on lvl8 while keeping your (3) Elusive bonus.
The drawback of this variation is that it lacks the utility coming from the Warriors frontline. You don’t have Pudge to give you the (2) Heartless bonus from early on, and you don’t have Kunkka/Doom for great disables. That said, Knowing this strategy is useful. Out of an Elusive opening with Furion and Treant, you can decide whether to go for (6) Elusive (3) Hunters or (3) Elusive (6) Hunters, which could give you consistent results.
A Warriors opening is one of the most reliable in the game because it gives you two strategic options that are both quite decent in the current meta.
The strategy is very strong, but it has two major problems. First, it requires lvl9 to mature, and second, it requires you to get the (4) Trolls, which might be highly contested because of the Knights + Trolls popularity.
It’s possible to go for (6) Warriors and to decide to commit to Trolls later on when you are sure that you can safely get to lvl9. It’s also possible to go for (3) Warriors into (4) Trolls in order to get the core of your strategy quicker and complete the (6) Warriors later (or even go for other synergies).
You have a few options for a 10th unit:
If you’re going for a three-star Troll Warlord, simply including two two-star Trolls in your lineup is also quite decent for increased DPS.
You usually go for a (3) Warriors + (2) Druids opening and swap out the non-beast Druid for Lone as soon as you get him. This allows you to hit the (4) Savage damage synergy pretty fast and at this time you should also be ready with your (6) Warriors frontline.
This Underlords Lineup matures at (8) Units and has a good balance of tankiness and damage. The benefit is that it’s much easier to build than Warriors + Trolls (at the same time it has lower late-game potential).
There are various options for your last two units. For example, Witch Doctor + Necro will give you the (2) Heartless (Necro + Pudge), (2) Warlocks (Necro + Witch Doctor), and (2) Trolls bonus (Witch Doctor + Troll Warlord). However, sometimes it’s simply better to go for the strong 5-cost units you are getting (e.g. Enigma, Lich, etc.).
You can find more info in our in-depth Dota Underlords Savages guide.
Mages received a nerf in the last patch, however, you can say with certainty that (6) Mages is quite powerful in the late game. That said, (6) Mages is much more difficult to build than (6) Knights/Warriors, and because of this Mage strategies are unreliable in the current Dota Underlords Meta.
Knights, sadly, are a direct counter to Mages because their damage reduction shield reduces magic damage as well (unlike the armor from Warriors or evasion from Elusive). With (6) Mages you can still win against Knights, but you'll have a lot of trouble until you are able to get the (6) Mages bonus as (3) Mages is simply not enough. Lich is also a key piece in Mage drafts, and he is a legendary unit,.so you cannot rely on getting it in time every game.
The problem of this comp is that you need 9 units to mature it, which is pretty late into the game. The (3) Mages bonus is usually not enough to defeat Knights drafts, so usually, you need to get to (6) Mages ASAP even if it means breaking your (3) Warriors frontline synergy for a while.
The Humans silence bonus is great against frontline casters like Kunkka, Tide, or Disruptor. This makes the Mages + Humans variation the best one against Hunters + Warriors.
It’s possible to get Lycan instead of Pudge as an additional Human, and even to complete the draft with Dragon Knight as your 6th human (the Puck will activate the Dragons synergy). That said, six Humans is usually overkill and you shouldn’t worry about it that much, the core of the strat is (6) Mages + (4) Humans.
That said, the silence is not that useful against Knights drafts – the Knights frontline is mainly a meat-shield, they don’t have crucial spells to cast.
The Tiny/Morph/Razor opening is quite strong and with quick (3) Mages you can have a good mid-game, especially with a fast three-star (or a second two-star) Tiny.
The Primordial variation is strong against Knights, (6) Warriors, and Assassins comps (although you shouldn’t worry about Assassins that much in this meta). The (4) Primordials bonus makes your strategy much tankier against the predominantly melee damage of the three comps above. That said, the Primordial bonus is useless against Hunters, which is a common strategy right now – the Human variation is much better at that because of the higher utility and silence against Tide and Kunkka.
The priority is still getting to (6) Mages – a bit more tankiness wouldn’t help you if you don’t have the damage to kill.
The strategy is decent because Treant and Natures Prophet give you a strong frontline with the help of Puck, who is also an Elusive unit.
The problem of this variation is that an Elusive frontline has lower utility than a Warriors frontline which has Kunkka – an incredibly powerful unit in Mage drafts.
That said, since the strat matures on lvl8, it’s possible to add Kunkka or DK as another frontline hero who gives you the (4) Humans bonus. DK has Breathe Fire and with the Dragon bonus with Puck will help you with damage output. Kunkka, on the other hand, will simply give you the invaluable AoE disable of his ultimate.
A Human-Mage variation that opens up from a Knights frontline instead of a Warriors frontline.
It has very high late-game potential thanks to the damage coming from all (6) Mages in addition to the Dragons synergy Dragon Knight. You also have the maximum number of Humans, which guarantees the enemy frontline will be silenced.
The drawback of this variation is the fact that almost all core units are expensive pieces, which means it's less reliable than the regular Warriors opening into Mages that goes for (6) Mages and (4) Humans.
Some high-ranking players and streamers (e.g. Gaara) believe Elusive drafts are good in the current meta because their evasion makes them quite good against the low-damage output of Knights drafts (and decent against Warriors/Hunters).
The problem of Elusive drafts, however, is similar to those of Knights – they don’t have great damage output or utility. Unlike Knights, however, they don’t have easy access to Trolls or Heartless to fix this problem (it's theoretically possible to include Dragon Knight with Puck for (2) Dragons, but the DK will be squishier because he doesn't benefit from the Elusive bonus).
This strategy was THE top-tier strategy in Auto Chess, especially when completed with the other two Druids. In Dota Underlords, however, the damage-dealing (3) Assassins are struggling against the top-meta Knights strat and also against Warriors.
It’s still a decent strategy to get because of the tankiness of the (6) Elves. The strat should be fairly consistent because you won’t get a lot of your units contested, but it will be hard to get a win with such a lineup.
In the late game, it’s possible to go for (6) Assassins if you think you’ll reach lvl10, but it’s not really recommended because the other Assassins don’t synergize with the (6) Elusive synergy. The better option is to go for e.g. Ench + Lone Druid (the other two Druids) and possibly for utility units like Tide, etc.
You can also get the (3) Hunters bonus in addition to the (3) Assassins to help in dealing damage, ideally from Tide, Medusa, and your current Elusive Hunter (usually Wind).
The benefit of the strategy is that it matures on lvl7, which leaves you quite a lot of space for units in the late game.
For example, you can go for (6) Hunters if you believe you can reach lvl10. The disables and magic resistance from Tide + Medusa are invaluable in an Elusive draft.
An additional Heartless unit to activate the (2) Heartless armor reduction bonus with the help of Drow is another good option for an 8th unit.
The Hunters variation of an elusive draft is arguably the better one versus Knights and Warriors strategies because your damage dealers stay safely in the backline, while if you have 3 Assassins they are more likely to get themselves killed by man-fighting the tanky enemy units.
Savages are strong, but a bit unreliable because of their heavy reliance on items like Tooth and Neil (which gives a stackable DoT debuff).
You can check out our in-depth Dota Underlords Savages Guide for more details.
Knowing the strategy is a good idea because you can go for two strong strategies out of a (3) Warriors + (2) Druids opening. If you get the Tooth and Neil item, you can go for (6) Savages like in this example. If you don’t, you can go for the more standard (6) Warriors into (4) Savages described in the Warriors section above.
The benefit of this core lineup is that it easily benefits from multiple secondary synergies – Warlocks, Druids, Heartless, and Warriors. This way your lineup is well-rounded. It deals decent damage because of (6) Savages + (2) Heartless (which can easily become (4) Heartless with Fall from Grace), and decent tankiness and sustain thanks to (3) Warriors + (2) Warlocks.
are currently in a bad spot in the Dota Underlords meta because of the prevalence
of Knights and Warriors, which counters them directly. You’d usually want to
avoid them right now.
The benefit of the lineup is that you reach the (6) Assassins damage bonus while making your TA and PA tankier thanks to the (3) Elusive bonus.
It’s usually a good idea to replace Nature’s Prophet with Lone Druid in the late game in order to get the (2) Beast bonus thanks to Sand King (this also wouldn’t lose you the (3) Elusive bonus). Moreover, Lone is a much better tank than Natures thanks to the Bear summon.
Tiny with the Primordial synergy is one of the best Frontline units in the game, and with this lineup, you can easily get it because Morph is a Primordial Assassin.
The lineup matures at 7 units. In the late game, you have a choice – against lineups that deal a lot of melee damage (Warriors, Knights), your best bet is to go for (4) Primordials to make your Assassins tankier. That said, even with the (4) Primordials buff you’ll usually struggle to defeat top-tier Knights and Warriors strategies simply because your Assassins don’t deal enough damage to said tanky Alliances. Because of this, Primordial Assassins is the lowest rated strat in the poll.
Demons actually have a high ceiling thanks to the Strange Bedfellows global item, reflected in their decent Strength score in the poll. Their problem is, however, in their incredible inconsistency, reflected in the fact that they have the lowest Reliability score in the poll.
They are awkward to build and rely heavily on getting specific units to make the lineup work.
above lineup is a decent example because it benefits from a few secondary
synergies that make the overall strat better. The (3) Warriors frontline buys a
bit of time, the (2) Heartless increases your DPS further, and the (2) Warlocks
are very useful with your high-damage Demons and Demon Hunters.
Scrappy lineups received a nerf in the last patch which is strange considering they are used only in low-tier games.
Like the Goblin strategy in Auto Chess, the Scrappy strat in Underlords is unreliable because it heavily depends on getting Techies as fast as possible, which you cannot get every game. That’s the reason they received the second lowest Reliability score.
A (3) Scrappy opening is quite strong especially with the Inventors global item which makes them deal AoE damage on death. This should make it possible to start the game on a winning streak and increase your levels faster than your opponents in search of Techies. If you are successful in finding him fast enough, you can possibly ride this wave to victory – with the (6) Scrappy Alliance bonus you are quite strong in the late game even after the recent nerf.
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