The Big Update is upon us, and the meta of Dota Underlords has been completely upturned! With many new units and Alliances introduced, some, like Insects have defined new archetypes, and others, like Brutes, have had a struggle to really make a name for themselves. The two new Underlord characters, Hobgen and Anessix, have also impacted the game, with impactful abilities, talents, and strategies built around them.
DR Cheat Card
MASK OF MADNESS
- Huge powerspike with Insect Alliance
- Very high late game damage output
- Many Hunter options, making it less affected by the daily Jail
- Highly contested, making 3-stars difficult
- Relatively weak early game
- Requires rare Ace for maximum late game power
Insect Hunters combines the tried and true damage output of Hunters, upgraded by the new Hunter Ace effect, with the powerful Insect Alliance. Weaver is not the most impressive Hunter, but with Insect Alliance he more than earns his spot. This Alliance deals a substantial amount of damage over the entire fight, and also provides some defensive utility, making opponent’s miss some of their attacks.
The Hunter build’s biggest strength is its flexibility and adaptability. With so many Hunter units in the game, and the addition of Weaver and Terrorblade to the roster, it will be easy to find uncontested options, or replacements for Jailed units. While Insects are a great Alliance to pair with this build, 6 Hunters are also quite strong with 3 Warriors for more CC effects, buying time to dish out damage.
Warriors and Savages
BRACERS OF DESPERATION
Many powerful CC effects
Consistent damage from several sources
Very flexible, with many diverse options
Reliant on many high cost units
Weak in the midgame, when you are leveling instead of rerolling
Difficult to build correctly
The classic “Good Stuff” build is still around and very strong in the new meta. This build relies on the bonus armor from Warriors, along with the healing from Anessix and/or Warlocks to sustain through long fights. In those, the consistent damage output from Arc Warden, Bristleback, and Troll Warlord can slowly overwhelm the opponents. The flexibility of this build is really astounding. Outside of a few core Warriors, you have plenty of options, depending on what is available.
MASK OF MADNESS
HELM OF THE UNDYING
- Good build path, with strong early and mid game
- Counters opposing healing, especially from Anessix
- Straightforward positioning
- Highly reliant on Mask of Madness for Slark and Phantom Assassin
- Weak in the extremely late game
- Vulnerable to CC effects
With the popularity of Anessix and her healing, it would make sense that Assassins would rise as a counter to that meta, negating her healing with critical strikes. But that is not the only reason Assassins are back in force. They have a new pairing with Insects, thanks to Nyx Assassin, one of the best early and mid game units! This Insect Alliance is very strong for both its offensive and defensive capabilities as discussed in the Insect Hunter section above.
This build is a bit more fragile than Hunters though, since it is very reliant on a few key units and items as well. Mask of Madness is disproportionately valuable for this build, and should be prioritized over any other item. It is by far the best item on Slark, but also very strong on Phantom Assassin and Anti-Mage.
BRACERS OF DESPERATION
- Utilizes many impactful late game units
- Rank 3 Eidolons are very difficult for the opponent to deal with
- Very impactful late game spells and abilities
- Reliant on getting one or two Ace units to complete Alliance
- Rank 1 and 2 Eidolons are lackluster
- Poor early and mid game options, must swap into this build late game
The Big Update added two new, powerful Primordials in Io and Faceless Void, a new Ace of Primordials effect on Enigma, and allowed for rank 3 Eidolons with 6 Primordials. These rank 3 Eidolons are more than twice as strong as the rank 2 ones, and with Enigma’s Ace effect, they are a powerful force indeed.
The struggle with this build, and the reason it is not seen very often, is the extreme reliance on Ace units. Enigma is a requirement of the build, and you will almost always want or need Faceless Void to complete the Alliance, depending on the daily Jail. Couple that with the fact that it still has the weak lower tiers of the Alliance, and you can see why it is a difficult build to successfully achieve.
BROOCH OF THE MARTYR
- Mage bonus synergizes well with Hobgen
- Very strong AOE damage
- Consistent Mana gain
- Vulnerable to daily Jail
- Very little CC or frontline
- Cannot birst most opponents due to increased health totals
With the increase of health totals across the board, I feared that Mage compositions would become obsolete, as they could no longer completely wipe out enemies with a single burst of spells. While that is true, these compositions still put up reasonable results. The fights are long enough that units like Keeper of the Light and Dragon Knight can cast their abilities multiple times to clear out the enemies.
While the mana gain was removed from Crystal Maiden, it was given to the Human Alliance instead, meaning that 4 Humans is basically a requirement for most Mage compositions to function properly. Luckily this can be easily achieved with Keeper of the Light, Lina, Crystal Maiden and Dragon Knight, but it leaves them vulnerable to the daily Jail. If one of those key Humans get imprisoned, the entire composition will struggle to function, since the replacement Humans are not nearly as useful.