DotA Underlords is a new game released by Valve, the people behind DotA 2 and DotA 2 is the sequel to DotA, a custom map in Warcraft 3.
If you’re like me and you’ve played DotA since its Warcraft 3 days, custom maps like Element TD, Pudge Wars, Run Kitty Run and Green TD are probably games that made up your teenage years.
Underlords is a spin-off of a popular game called Auto Chess that ran in DotA 2’s Arcade, a mode that allows people to play custom maps.
Auto Chess was so popular that it peaked at a whopping 65,070 viewers on Twitch.
In an official blogpost, the DotA Team mentioned that they reached out to Drodo Studio (the people behind Auto Chess) to talk about the future of Auto Chess and a potential partnership.
But in the end, both teams agreed to create their own stand-alone version of the game, and thus, DotA Underlords was born.
(This completes your brief history lesson on how Underlords came to be.)
The game can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play on your mobile devices and is available on PC as well through Steam.
Valve also included cross-play between mobile and PC users, a godsend if you ask me.
Connectivity and clouds are such a boon to gamers; now you can play the game on your PC and when nature calls, take your phone with you and continue the game while sitting on the can.
Obviously, this only works when you are using the same Steam account on both your PC and mobile phone.
2. It Basically Plays Itself
Essentially, DotA Underlords is a rogue-like strategy game that requires you to do some planning.
Before each round, you place your units on the board and they’ll automatically attack the enemy when the round starts.
Unit placements are vital to ensure your victory. Having your archers in the front line just spells disaster, for example.
You can also reposition your units in between rounds to keep your opponents guessing.
Every player starts with a 100 health and if you lose a round, your health will be deducted based on the number of enemy units left on the board.
3. Money, money, money
When a round ends, you’ll be given gold that can be used to purchase more units or to level up.
Levelling up allows you to put more units on the board. Some units can cost up to 5 Gold to purchase.
Managing your gold is also a crucial aspect of the game as that can make or break each round.
The amount of gold that can be gained when a round ends is affected by your winning streak, starting gold and items.
Economic management is a strategy on its own. If all you do is save up your gold, you’ll find yourself losing faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
4. For The Alliance!
It’s also a good idea to go into the game with a few strategies in mind as the RNG gods like to toy with you just for the lols (trust me, I’ve been stuck trying to get a unit for many games).
RNG (Random Number Generator) is a word used a lot in games. It usually means that the game has some sort of random element associated with it, or that luck plays a huge part in it.
The game also employs an interesting mechanic called Alliances. Alliances will boost your units’ capabilities IF you can fill the unit quota.
5. Items To Boost Your Winning Chance
Every 5 rounds, you’ll be thrown into a “Loot Round” where you can win items. There are two item types, Equip Items and Global Items.
Equip Items are Items that you can equip on your units and Global Items are items that will trigger based on your Alliance. Higher tier items will appear the more rounds you play.
There’s a Troll Global Item that adds +25 attack speed to units 1 cell away. Combining that with the +30 Attack Speed for the Troll Alliance will make your units attack like the wind.
6. May The RNG Gods Be In Your Favour
Units in Underlords can be levelled up, but you’ll need three copies of the same unit to do so.
For example, I have a Drow Ranger in my roster and managed to draw an extra 2 Drow Rangers.
Buying them will immediately combine the three units into a 2 Star Drow Ranger.
Getting a unit to 3 Stars (Maximum Level) requires 9 copies of the same unit, which aren’t easy to get. It’s as hard as finding parking in a mall on a weekend at your first try.
For Underlords, RNG plays a huge part as the units you draw are totally random.
This means that even the most experienced chess players may have trouble planning their next move as they’ll be subjected to the same randomness.
All the units are also shared between players. For example, if every player in the game is going for the same unit, you might never see it pop up in your draw pool.
While I’ve played a ton of rogue-like games and know what I’m getting into, there are games where the unit just hates my guts and never wants to appear in my draw. All I can do is survive or reroll.
7. To Roll Or Not To Roll
Rerolling in itself is also a strategy. It requires you to spend 2 gold for a new draw.
However, as mentioned earlier, you might not get the unit you want. Some people are extreme advocates of not rerolling as it may waste your money.
8. Final Thoughts
While I lambasted the RNG Gods for their fickleness, going into Underlords with a few strategies (just like chess) might just net you the win. My current favourite line-up is a team made up of Trolls – Knights – Warlocks.
It’s a team made up of units that are tanky, can attack fast and heal. It’s a team composition that I’d suggest trying out. I’ve swapped Knights out for other Alliances and it still works quite well.
Of course, there are meta teams that you can always follow. Or, you can always build a team that you like and hope for a win against weaker or unlucky opponents.
While the game is currently free and in beta, Valve has indicated that it is planning to add a Battle Pass to the game and that will add cosmetics, progression, and more goodies.
Be prepared to spend some hard-earned cash if you are invested in the game.
For now, my ultimate advice is to not worry too much about ranks, cosmetics and whatnot, and to just enjoy the game.
You should also try out other wacky builds that people have experimented with.