- Good damage output
- Good control
- Good sustain
Since the Warlock and Shamans rework patch I’ve been very curious to find out how you can integrate those synergies in a viable lineup. Warlocks and Shamans are an interesting case because they have always been secondary strategies. After the rework, however, it seemed like a lineup could be built around Warlocks.
In this Dota Underlords Guide, we’ll explore how you can integrate Warlocks and Shamans successfully into your strategy and talk about why those two Alliances synergize very well with Trolls.
Warlocks: the goal of including Warlocks in a strategy is quite simple – sustain. Every time a Warlock’s ultimate triggers, it links with a low-health unit and both heroes start healing. The more Warlocks you have, the more often they will cast their spells and trigger the lifesteal. Moreover, the more Warlocks you have, the stronger the heal. The big problem about the Alliance is that the cheap heroes are individually weak (squishy and don’t deal good damage), which makes it very hard to build a Warlocks lineup straight away. We have a solution to this problem further down.
Shamans: a very powerful control synergy. When enemy heroes
are disabled, they will lose mana when your heroes attack them. It certainly
helps that one of the Shamans has a huge AoE silence, and another – a hex. With
a lineup with good control, it might be very difficult for key enemy heroes to
cast their spells because they are constantly getting disabled and mana-burned.
Trolls synergize well with Shamans because:
1st: one of the three Shamans is a Troll
2nd: the Trolls attack speed buff means your army is burning the enemy mana very efficiently.
Trolls: Shamans and Warlocks cannot exist on their own. Their Alliance bonuses are utility bonuses, and in order to win rounds, you need a source of damage. Trolls are the optimal solution because they provide the most damage to your team with the least unit slots, while also having a Troll Shaman and a Troll Warlock. Moreover, unlike e.g. Hunters, they buff not only themselves but other heroes too, which is important in a lineup with multiple mixed Alliances.
Warlocks have two main problems that make them hard to build: they are squishy, and excluding SF and Enigma, they deal low damage. This means that if you start buying Warlocks right away you will end up with a very weak army and will have serious early and mid game problems, which is something you need to avoid. So, in order to build a successful strategy with Warlocks and/or Shamans, first you need to think about building a lineup with a decent frontline and damage output.
Your best opening in this strategy is (3) Warriors into (4) Trolls. The key starting unit is Tiny (more info below), and usually, you want to try to upgrade him to lvl3 by the end of the game. The other two Warriors are expandable – you will most likely swap them or outright sell them (one of them will be swapped for Troll). This means it’s also possible to go with early-game alternatives like (2) Druids or (3) Goblins, but keep in mind you are going to sell them, so don’t try to upgrade them above two stars.
In this example, we don’t have Warriors but we are using a two-star Clock temporarily. Moreover, we are using a Morph as well to get the (2) Primordials synergy until we find Arc Warden. The main damage-dealer is Bat thanks to the (2) Trolls Alliance buff with Shadow Shaman.
To make Tiny an even better tank, find and include Arc Warden in your lineup. This will give you the (2) Primordials bonus, and you need Arc anyway for the (3) Shamans synergy. Since you will be going for a three-star Tiny, it’s fairly likely that you have two two-star Tinys available at this point. If you do, put them both in play to secure a good frontline. Tiny synergizes both with the Primordial disarm and the (3) Shamans buff because he has an AoE stun.
You also need to think about damage at this point. Completing the (4) Trolls is your main priority, completing the (3) Shamans – the secondary. The (2) Warlocks will come naturally from having Trolls and Shamans because since the new patch Disruptor is also a Warlock.
This is the core draft:
Arc Warden is a frontline hero in this strategy thanks to the primordial buff. If you have the Shamans global item which has a chance to hex attackers, it’s a great idea to put your other Shamans on the frontline as well (Tiny still sits at the most exposed position because he is the tankiest hero).
Troll Warlord and Batrider are your main damage-dealers, so keep them in the safest position.
Usually, you want a 3rd Warrior as an 8th unit, ideally Kunkka or Doom. They will make your frontline stronger, give you additional utility, and with the Trolls buff they are not bad damage dealers (especially Doom). It is possible to get other units, however. Shadow Fiend is a great damage-dealer and will help you get (4) Warlocks with 9 units. In the example below, you will see another alternative – Medusa.
In this example, we have the (4) Trolls, (3)
Shamans, (2) Warlocks, and Tiny with (2) Primordials – the core of the
strategy. Grabbing the Medusa was an opportunistic decision. With the Trolls
buff, she is a very decent damage dealer (and yet another source of control), especially
with Coordinated Assault as she sits adjacent to all four Trolls. Having her
allows us to get Slardar as the 3rd Warrior to quickly access the
(2) Scaled magic resistance if we need it against Mages. Later on, we can
replace Slardar with Tide for more control, which works great with the (3)
the late game, you need to choose your final lineup situationally. Usually, you
can go in two directions: more Warlocks, or another damage synergy.
This variation gives you a large amount of sustain thanks to the (4) Warlocks bonus. Shadow Fiend is also a great damage dealer with the Trolls buff, and Enigma helps you deal with very tanky lineups like Warriors and Knights. Your 10th unit could either be a 2nd two-star Troll or Shadow Fiend while you’re trying to get them to three stars, or Kunkka to give you additional control and tankiness with the (3) Warriors bonus.
If you have Pudge as a 3rd Warrior, it’s possible to use Necro as the 3rd or 4th Warlock to gain the (2) Heartless bonus as well.
with the Trolls buff and a good damage item (Maelstrom, Daedalus) is a brutal
damage-dealer, especially if you have Coordinated Assault and surround her with
all four Trolls. Getting Tide will give you the (2) Scaled bonus and additional
control, which goes very well with the Shamans. Your last unit is simply a
third Hunter to buff Medusa’s DPS potential even more. Before getting to lvl10
and finding Tide, you can use a second two-star unit of a hero you are trying
to get to three stars (usually a 2nd two-star Tiny for a stronger
frontline, but Bat/Medusa/Troll are also possible).
can include (2) Dragons with DK as the main damage-dealer in the late game
thanks to the Trolls buff and ideally Coordinated Assault. Thanks to Bat, you
will also get the (2) Knights bonus for some tankiness. Doom or Kunkka is your
usual 10th unit, but if you’re going for a 3rd level DK
or Troll, you can put either one on the board twice on two stars.
In the example above you can see the Dragons variation but instead of a third Warrior, it has Medusa. Still a decent lineup - with Coordinated Assault and the (4) Trolls buff, two-star Medus + DK deal very high AoE damage.
A few words about the (6) Warlocks (4) Trolls strategy: it’s a good late game draft, the sustain is brutal, your units feel immortal. That said, it’s very, very hard to build successfully in the early and mid game and unless you get multiple two-star upgrades easily you will end up with a weak mid-game army and on low health. The problem is that you don’t benefit from the great tankiness and control of the Tiny + Primordials + Shamans to carry you in the early-mid game. Because of this, IMO (I could be wrong, of course), this is a weaker variation of the strategy.
The core of the strategy. He will carry you in the early game and with the Primordial and possibly Warrior buff will be your main tank in the late game. Try to get him to three stars.
If you get him to two stars, he will be your main damage-dealer in the early game with another Troll to get the (2) Trolls synergy.
One of the (3) Shamans and (4) Trolls. It’s possible to get him to three stars (he’s cheap), which will make him a decent frontliner especially with the Shaman Pluck global item. That said, usually, you won’t have the bench space and will have to leave him on two stars (he is not a priority by any means).
Decent source of control that goes along well with the Shamans synergy. He is also a Troll and a Warlock, which makes it easy to get (4) Trolls, (3) Shamans, and (2) Warlocks simultaneously.
The hardest piece to find because he will likely be contested in the lobby by Knight + Trolls and Warrior + Trolls strategies. You can try to get him to three stars, but only if the people who are contesting him have already died (not that many Trolls in the shared pool). He will be your main source of damage in the core draft.
He will give the Primordial buff to Tiny to make him an even better tank. Moreover, with a tankiness item, the (2) Primordials synergy, and ideally with Shaman Pluck, Arc is also a great frontliner in this strategy.
He is both a Shaman and a Warlock, making it very easy to get both Alliance bonuses when you’re building Trolls. Getting him to two stars is a priority because you want to place him near the frontline to trigger his ultimate as fast as possible (ideally faster than the important enemy ultimates). He will not only silence the enemy heroes but thanks to the (3) Shamans buff you will drain their mana, preventing them to cast when the silence ends. When he is on one star, he might die before he gets his spell off. In such situations, you can put him further back but bear in mind that the silence wouldn’t be that valuable this way because most enemies would have cast their important spells.
the strategy is quite item-dependent. Shaman Pluck, Coordinated Assault, as
well as DPS items on your Troll (and other damage dealers) have a big impact.
Shaman Pluck: an absolute must-pick. It makes your Shamans great frontline units and increases their overall impact a great deal.
Coordinated Assault: a huge DPS buff – you are running all (4) Trolls. This is important not only for them: you can put an additional late-game damage dealer adjacent to all four Trolls (Medusa, Dragon Knight) to give them insane attack speed.
Daedalus: you have a lot of attack speed, raw damage and crit increases your DPS the most.
Pipe: you don’t have protection against spells, your units aren’t that tanky, and usually you want to keep them clumped up if you have Coordinated Assault. This makes Pipe an insanely valuable pick.
BKB: put it on Troll or your other main damage dealer (DK, Medusa).
Refresher: extremely powerful on Disruptor, but you need to make sure he doesn’t die too quickly to cast it twice.
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