In this article, you'll learn about the best Alliances and Strategies in the current Underlords Meta. All in-depth guides about specific builds can be found in our Dota Underlords Builds collection.
If you're interested in information about each individual hero, you can get it in our Underlords Heroes Tier List
The best Alliances in the current meta are ordered below with info about each one. The icons are clickable and reveal the additional info.
Warlocks are still great even after the nerf. The absurd sustain they give is a great addition to every single strategy that can accommodate them in the lineup. They are a secondary synergy, so you would rarely play a pure Warlocks strategy, but you will play something + Warlocks very often. (2) Warlocks are fine, but (4) Warlocks + the Disruptor Ace Bonus is the S-Tier comp. (6) Warlocks are harder to work because there is little space for other synergies.
Warriors are in a great place right now:
Mages are in a great place right now because the Primordial-Mage opening is very strong, but also fairly flexible. The Primordial/Mage/Assassin strategy is still great and allows you to hit a power spike on lvl8 - you can stop leveling and invest in upgrades. If the game is going well, however, it's entirely possible to go to lvl10, use the full (6) Mage synerfy, and even combine them with Shamans for an extremely powerful late-game draft.
Assassins are much better than before because almost all of their units got a buff in the previous big patch. Slark and PA are great three-star carries, while Sand King is a much better frontliner than he used to be.
(6) Assassins is a solid draft, but nothing amazing (A/B Tier). The Assassins alliance is S-tier right now for a different reason: (3) Assassins are an important part of multiple great builds:
Knights don't reign the meta as much as they used to, but they are still one of the best defensive synergies in the game. Running (4) or (6) Knights combined with secondary synergies is still one of the most consistent strategies in the game, especially when they aren't as contested as before. The reason they are not S-tier is that a Knights draft is less flexible than a Warriors draft which makes it harder to run multiple high-tier 4 and 5 cost units in the late game on lvl10.
For more details, you can check out our in-depth Underlords Knights Guide.
Hunters are once again on a significant upswing since Lycan joined their ranks - it's quite viable to get (6) Hunters, and they are the best offensive Alliance at single-target damage (they fucus down the enemy frontline extremely quickly). (3) Hunter lineups are also viable and open up space for additional synergies (Warlocks, Brawny, Warriors, Ace bonuses, etc.).
For more details you can check out our Dota Underlords Hunters guide.
Scrappy got a heavy rework and from a very luck-based and gimmicky strategy, they become a very consistent defensive Alliance. They are great when combined with Warlocks and Mages or Assassins. Moreover, all variations of the Scrappy strategy mature at lvl8 and have very valuable three-star upgrades, which makes it possible to do well with a Scrappy strat even when you don't have the luxury to get to lvl10.
You can find out more info in our Dota Underlords Scrappy, Inventor, Mage Guide.
Savage are a momentum-based build after the rework. You are guaranteed to get the bleed debuff, which makes them very strong in the early-mid game. They start to fall off in the late game, but at this point, you can start transitioning into other main strategies. A (4) Savage (3) Warriors opening is one of the strongest in the early-mid game, can allow you to get to lvl10 easily and transition to stronger Alliances like Warlocks/Trolls with Ace units, usually by selling your two weaker Savage heroes.
You can get more details in our In-Depth Savages Guide.
Heartless is another super versatile and useful secondary/splash synergy. Without the Fall from Grace global item, Heartless is just a decent bonus you are trying to get from two units. If you have Fall from Grace, however, Heartless becomes S-tier because it becomes very easy to get the (4) Heartless bonus without really committing to a Heartless strat, and it makes it possible to go even for (6) Heartless in the super late game. Heartless with Fall from Grace is an important part of the best Knights and Hunters/Warrior drafts.
Dragons are also very versatile. You get a lot of value for the two hero slots that you need to invest. Dragon Knights + Viper or Puck is a great addition to most Knights or Mages drafts. Viper + Puck, on the other hand, is central to the Assassin + Mages strategy which utilizes the magic resistance debuff and Viper's Corrosive Skin passive.
For more details, you can check out our in-depth Underlords Dragons Guide.
Scaled are a very strange Alliance because they have a very straightforward use. They are S-tier against Mage strats. They are, however, low-impact if your opponents don't have a lot of magic damage. That said, (2) Scaled is crucial and easy to get in (6) Warrior strategies. Moreover, with the Ace bonus (4) Scaled give you a decent damage boost.
Primordials are a bit gimmicky - the Eidolons could be strong in the early and mid game especially with the (4) Primordials bonus and ideally Summoning Stone. They start to fall-off in the late game, however. The reason they are in A-tier is that they are a crucial part of the top-tier Mage builds right now.
Shamans are a secondary synergy that became S-Tier after the introduction of Aces primarily in a Human/Mage draft. They got significantly nerfed, however. They are still playable in the late game especially bearing in mind you only need two heroes, but they are not broken anymore. You can check out our Dota Underlords Shaman's Guide.
Elusive strategies fell-off a bit because they lost the (9) Elusive bonus, which was their biggest late-game strength. (6) Elusive are stronger than they were, but they are a bit awkward to combine with other Alliances for a late-game strat. (6) Elusive + (3) Assassins + (2) Scaled seems to be the best variation right now - put more emphasis on upgrades instead of getting to lvl10.
(4) Trolls are much harder to get than before because Troll Warlord is a 5-cost Ace. The bonus is powerful but unreliable, and it feels very awkward to carry the 3 other Trolls in the early and mid game when you know you wouldn't have a chance to get Warlord until the very late game.
That said, (2) Trolls are quite decent as they now buff slightly the Attack Speed of your whole lineup. The Ace bonus is not amazing, but it's alright an makes Troll + WD a very common addition in the top-tier Warriors + Warlocks strat.
To sum up - (4) Trolls are C-Tier, (2) Trolls are A-Tier, which puts Trolls in B-Tier as an a verage.
Humans: the bonus is great in the late game, and they are a mandatory part in most Warrior and Mage strategies. That said, their bonus is not that impactful in the early and mid game, and you rarely build a strat around Humans specifically, which is why we decided to put them in B-tier. Humans have a good synergy with Shamans.
Brawny is in a great place since the rework of the Alliance bonus. They give you the opportunity to start gathering kills from the beginning of the game and snowball heavily with an unkillable frontline of (4) Brawny heroes with insane HP. They are the backbone of one of the best strategies in the game right now - (4) Brawny + Hunters and/or Warriors.
If you don't get Beast Master and Axe upgraded early on your chances to gather the needed kills and snowball will decrease, however, which makes Brawny a bit unreliable. Nonetheless, you can easily sell them and transition into another draft or just play a normal Hunters/Warriors strat.
Demon Hunters provide a lot of damage for a two-hero synergy, which makes them a decent offensive splash Alliances in the game right now. They can be used with Knights, Warriors, Elusive, or even a full-on Demons draft. All of the above builds, however, don't usually run Demon Hunters (besides Demons), which makes them a bit off-meta.
Blood Bound is a legit meme build right now thanks to the Blood Bound equipable item that helps you make your main damage dealer also a Blood Bound unit. It's most definitely possible to get a top place in the lobby with such a strategy, but unlike other high-tier builds it actually requires you to get an item: not getting it makes the Alliance entirely useless while getting it multiple times makes the strat multiple times stronger. It's worth keeping and upgrading Ogre early on to see if you can get the item (Ogre is a decent early-game unit anyway). If you don't - sell him. If you do - buy some one-star Warlocks and put Contract on your main carry.
You don't care about the Deadeye synergy outside of a Hunters strategy - it's simply not that impactful, and it's not game-breaking even with the Ace bonus. That said, the Deadeye units are actually decent, so you're not actively trying to avoid them.
Druids suffer a lot from losing the Alliance item without gaining a new buff/mechanic. (2) Druids are an important part of Savage and Elusive drafts, but it's almost never viable to go for (4) Druids and if you're running (4) Savage you often decide to skip the two Druids. NP is still arguably the worst hero in the game, and Enchantress (outside of the very early game) is not great either.
We created a community poll in which players can vote for each of the most common strategies in Dota Underlords. People are rating the strategies on two criteria:
The results from the poll can be seen below.
Disclaimer: the poll results present the opinions and beliefs of all the people who voted (and they aren't selected by skill level). This means it mainly represents the current popularity of the strategies, while the reliability and strength scores are highly debatable. That said, it would be hard to argue that the strats on the bottom of the list are competitive with the strats on top.
In my personal opinion, the exact scores shouldn't be taken too seriously but the overall distribution of the list gives a very good overview of the current meta. The S-Tier is a pretty good representation of which strategies you should try to play if you want to increase your chances to gain rank. That said, I personally believe all strats up to low B Tier are competitive and could give good results.
Some personal thoughts on scores I don't agree with:
They are near the bottom of the list because intentionally going for (6) Scrappy is absolutely unnecessary. That said, a lot of the Scrappy strats are already running 5 Scrappy heroes. This means you only need one more (Techies) to reach the (6) Scrappy bonus. In that sense, if you find him while rolling on lvl8, you should consider if it's worth pushing for lvl9 or if you should just replace your weakest Scrappy for Techies.
The right answer to this is situational:
For example, if you're on low HP and you are close to three-star upgrades, probably the right call is to continue spending your gold on rerolls to get the upgrades. The (6) Scrappy bonus will have a lower impact than an important three-star upgrade.
If you are running 5 Scrappy heroes + (3) Assassins, however, getting the (6) Scrappy bonus will make a big difference. Gaining the bonus armor and regen on your non-scrappy Assassins (most importantly your two or three-star Slark) will make them a lot stronger in the late game. This is important since they are your main damage dealers.
In that sense, situationally (6) Scrappy should have a much higher Strength score than indicated in the poll. In a sense, it's not a different strategy but rather a possible extension to the core (4) Scrappy drafts, especially (4) Scrappy + (3) Assassins.
The strength potential of this strats is IMO slightly underestimated as it is - (6) Warriors allow you to easily get (2) Scaled along with very good control from Kunkka + Tide which gives TB a lot of control and some survivability. The stat also runs Doom, who automatically receives +50% Damage from the (2) Demon Hunters. Moreover, Fall from Grace could also give you the Heartless bonus.
The reliability score of the draft also looks a bit too low in my opinion. The (3) Warrior opening is easy and safe, and it gives you the option to commit to (6) Warriors or to get other synergies:
If you decide to stay on (3) Warriors, you can go for more heroes who benefit from the Demon Hunter bonus and give you other synergy bonuses. E.g.:
Heroes: Pudge, Slardar, Tide, Doom, AM, TB, SF, Necro
Synergies: (3) Warrior, (2) Demon Hunter, (2) Scaled, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlock
Synergies: (4) Brawny, (3) Warrior, (2) Demon Hunters, (2) Scaled, (2) Heartless, (2) Warlock
The example lineups are tabbed - you need to click the title to reveal the information about the alternative lineups.
One of the most reliable strats. Very tanky and very hard to counter. Your biggest problem other tanky drafts - Elusive, Brawny + Warrior/Hunter, Warlocks, etc. 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 one of the most consistent strategies in the game. (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. You finish off with Viper for (2) Dragons and Witch Doctor and Necro for (2) Warlocks and the (2) Heartless bonus. With Fall from Grace, you will get (4) Heartless without changing anything in the strat, which obviously makes it much stronger.
The late-game potential of this variation should be higher because the (4) Trolls attack speed bonus solves the damage problem of Knights. That said, Troll Warlord is a 5-cost unit, which makes him very hard to get and relying on getting him in time is usually not a great idea.
In the late game, you have a few choices:
Quite simple conceptually - Knights provide the frontline, Demon Hunters (especially Terrorblade) the damage. You go for (4) Knights with (2) Demon Hunters into (6) Knights with (2) Demon Hunters. At this point you usually want to roll for upgrades (a three-star Terror Blade), but going to lvl9 for Puck to give you the Dragons and Elusive synergies is also not a bad idea, especially if you have a two-star DK.
Above: Joseph going for a variation of the (4) Knights (4) Trolls (4) Heartless (with Fall from Grace) strategy in the WePlay Dota Underlords open tournament.
+ Warriors was the first S-tier strategy in the game. They have
been nerfed since, but they never fell out of favor and pretty much stayed as a A-tier strat for many patches. 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 tankiness (especially with (4) Brawny) and utility (Kunkka, Doom, Tide, etc.).
You start the with a (3) Warriors frontline with Axe + Pudge and add Beast + Drow. This helps you to start gathering kills on your Brawny units ASAP, while allowing you to reach (3) Hunters very easily, further buffing your Beast. Pudge + Drow give you the (2) Heartless bonus from early on. This is a 7-unit core, which means you can easily include more units in the draft. There are many viable options. The usual one is to start adding additional Hunters for damage, potentially reaching (6) Hunters (you can get rid of your weaker Brawny units if damage is more important than tankiness in the speciffic game). Alternatively, you can add a Warlock (usually Shadow Fiend or Alch) to gain the sustain from the (2) Warlocks bonus.
Above: Snofe going for the (4) Brawny (3) Hunters strategy in the WePlay Underlords Open. He ended up winning this game (as well as the whole tournament).
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.
This is the tankiest draft in the game - Bonus health from Brawny, bonus armor from Warriors, bonus magic resistance from Scaled. Your ninth unit is usually Necro to give you the (2) Heartless and (2) Warlocks bonus for sustain, making your draft even harder to kill.
The obvious drawback of the strat is that it lacks damage, but it is tanky enough to out-last almost any strategy in the game and win in this way.
It has very high potential, but it is reliant on getting kills on your Brawny units in the early game (i.e. finding two-star upgrades on Axe, Jugg, and Beast ASAP).
Above: Cmel wins a game with the (4) Brawny (6) Warriors strategy in the WePlay Underlords open. Notice Axe's positioning to protect the draft against Assassins and damage-dealers with Blink Dagger.
As mentioned in the Alliance tier list above, (6) Mages are hard to play in a fast-paced meta revolving around three-star upgrades on drafts that mature at lvl8. Because of this, the most successful Mages draft is the (4) Primordial, (3) Assassin, (3) Mage variation. That said, (6) Mage draft are still possible if you get a good-enough start.
The Tiny/Morph/Razor opening is quite strong and with quick (3) Assassins (Morph, Viper, QoP) you can have a good mid-game, especially with a fast three-star (or a second two-star) Tiny. The Eidolons are strong in the early game and buy your three Assassins a lot of time to deal damage.
In the mid game, you get Puck to unlock the Viper synergy and complete the three Mages with Maiden. This makes Viper into an amazing frontline hero (he is your highest three-star upgrade priority). He applies his debuff on all enemies when they hit him, and the Mages magic resistance reduction increases its damage a great deal, making Viper both a good tank and a good damage-dealer. Put survivability items on him.
In the late game, you get Arc to complete the (4) Primordials and focus on getting three-star upgrades. You can replace QoP with Sand King - he also deals good magic nuke damage, but more importantly - provides more control.
If you're doing particularly well, you can sell-off Arc + Tiny and go for (6) Mages in the super late game, but this is not the standard plan.
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 more common Mage openings (Primordials and Warriors).
Above: Snofe transitions from (4) Primordials + (3) Assassins + (3) Mages into (6) Mages in the late game in the WePlay Underlords open tournament.
Elusive drafts are much more common right now because of the change to the (9) Elusive bonus (it affects the 10th hero as well). It allows you to include a super carry as a 10th unit, usuall Slark or Terrorblade.
The strategy is quite simple conceptually. Your mid game timing is (6) Elusives + (3) Assassins as demonstrated above. Than you have a decision to make. If you are doing well it's best to invest in levels to reach the (9) Elusive bonus. This will make your Slark much tankier and almost impossible to deal with. Ideally you want to get him and PA to three stars.
Alternatively, if you're not doing well enough and you can't afford to go for lvl10, searching for a three-star upgrade on your PA earlier can keep you in the game and get you a good placement (she has the elusive bonus anyway).
The Demon Hunters variation follows the same logic as the Assassins variation: (6) Elusive with (2) Demon Hunters in the mid game, (9) Elusives + (2) Demon Hunters in the late game.
The main difference is that your super-carry is Terrorblade and you don't have the (3) Assassins synergy for PA and TA. This means that staying on lvl7-9 and pushing for upgrades is a much weaker option. You want to reach lvl10 at all costs to enable your Terrorblade to carry you. Ideally, you want to three-star him.
Above: Joseph plays the (9) Elusive (2) Demon Hunters strat in WePlay Underlords Open.
Savages are great in the early-mid game and can allow you to snowball into a high placement in the lobby.
You can check out our in-depth Dota Underlords Savages Guide for more details.
This is the most snowball-oriented variation of the Savages strategy. It aims to get the (6) Savages buff as quickly as possible and then uses (4) Druids to get multiple cheap three-star upgrades on lvl8. It is much better with Summoning Stone, as the lineup has four heroes with summoned units.
Alternatively, you can replace the two Elusive Druids with two Hunters (one of which Drow). This will make your (three-star) Lycan even stronger. As a 9th unit, you can include Necro to unlock the (2) Warlocks and (2) Heartless bonus.
Above: a (4) Savage (4) Warlock (3) Hunter variation that started from a Savage opening. It doesn't benefit from the full (6) Savage bonus but has more sustain from the Warlocks.
As mentioned in the Alliance tier list, Assassins are usually used as a secondary synergy in the current meta quite successfully (as demonstrated in the Elusive drafts above). (6) Assassin drafts, however, are still possible.
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.
Treant + Lone Druid present a tanky and cost-efficient frontline, which allows you to reach lvl8 and invest all of your gold into upgrades (usually three-stars on PA>Slark>QoP>Bloodseeker).
It is possible to include a two-star Tide as your 9th unit for more control and the (2) Scaled bonus.
Scrappy lineups received a significant rework, which turned them into one of the most reliable strats in Underlords right now. Scrappy strats mature on lvl8 and there are multiple 3-cost Scrappy units that receive a huge boost from a three-star upgrade.
The (4) Scrappy (4) Warlocks variation is very reliable as it is easy to build and has extreme amounts of sustain.
The game plan is to roll on lvl8 and push for three-star upgrades on your Inventors.
If you manage to find Techies, you can replace your two-star Bounty. If Bounty is on three-stars, it might be worth it to push for lvl9 to get the (6) Scrappy bonus.
Above: (4) Scrappy (4) Warlock beating a Primordial Mage with one more unit and two more three-star upgrades, as well as the standard Fall from Grace (6) Knights (4) Heartless (2) Dragons/Warlocks/Trolls draft.
A big thank you to everyone in the Dota Underlords community who voted in the poll - your involvement makes a big difference in producing high-quality content!
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