The early game of every Dota Underlords match, roughly the first 10-12 rounds, is instrumental towards setting you up for a good end-game. Of course, it sometimes happens that those players who were consistently losing in this initial timeframe grab a top 3, perhaps even a number 1 finish, but these are situational occurrences. We’ll explain how and when these things are likely to happen in just a moment.
Your most important decision in the early game has to do with the composition you’re going to focus on in this particular match. Your thought process might look quite similar to this spreadsheet of units/alliances currently in the game. A jumble.
So, the first thing you have to do is to maintain your cool. Underlords is a game and there are a limited number of heroes/combinations/synergies to be had. You just have to figure out your path.
Getting Ahead Early
Your mindset determines much of what you can do in Dota Underlords. If you’re fixated on getting a specific composition, i.e. Knights or Warriors, you’ll most likely fail to achieve your goal and there is a high probability that you will finish in the bottom. There are two reasons for this: 1) you’re more likely to get heroes that other players haven’t already purchased and 2) there is a bit of RNG to what ends up in your shop.
The same holds true of the opposite. Don’t always go with what the shop is giving you. Sometimes, you may be able to include a unit in your composition simply because of its strength or because nobody else picked it up, but this is not always the case. Take, for instance, a 3-star Slark. He’s a smooth criminal in any comp. Who cares that it doesn’t really mesh with your 6 Knights. The latter need a good damage dealer to carry them through the end game and Slark fits that profile like a glove.
Ideally, you want to figure out a composition (a mix of units and synergies) that nobody else, or at least no more than one other person, is likely to also go for. This will maximize your odds of getting 2-star upgrades fast. By round 12-13, you need to have two, ideally three, upgraded heroes in order to maintain a decent health pool. Great, unchallenged compositions might sometimes cost you some health in the early game, but they can help you make a strong comeback later on.
Some of the outstanding units you should seriously consider in this timeframe include: Batrider (cost 1) and Chaos Knight (cost 2), Tiny (1) and Morphling (2), Tusk (1) and Venomancer (1)/Enchantress (1), Luna (2), Lycan (3), or Slark (3).
Antimage (1), Slardar (2), Queen of Pain (2), Razor (1), Abbadon (3), Omniknight (3), Beastmaster (2), Clockwerk (3) and Tinker (3) are also great to have, but they generally fare better when paired accordingly.
Good Early Game Synergies
If you can get any of the above heroes to 2-stars within the first 10 rounds, you’re on your way to a good game. The best way to bank on your momentum right now is to include heroes that synergize (form alliances) with your upgraded ones. For example, an upgraded Venomancer and a Shadow Fiend or Witch Doctor trigger the Warlock buff.
Being able to lifesteal this early on can easily make the difference between a win and a loss. The game is slow-paced and heroes take their sweet time to charge their mana. Although slight, your increased survivability will often be enough to kill an extra unit on the board, thus reducing the amount of damage you take, and perhaps even winning you the match-up.
Similarly, the Knights and Warriors synergies are likely to minimize your damage taken and increase your odds of winning. Just consider the fact that 3 warriors are 1-cost and another 3 of them are 2-cost. Don’t discard it just because it’s one of the most common alliances in the early game. It gets the job done and, later on, it can be paired either with Hunters or Brawny for a strong mid game.
Inventors with Scrappies are also an option, although they’re quite an infrequent appearance in early game shops. On the flip side, this also means that few people will be going for them. If you’ve got a shot at an early Clockwork + Tinker, don’t hesitate, especially if either of them is upgraded. Almost any alliance is game in Underlords. This wasn’t the case in the past, but the devs have really pulled through in terms of balancing synergies and heroes alike.
The Dreaded Question: Where Is This Going?
The most successful early game choices in Dota Underlords are those that allow you to have a good 8 or 9 hero comp in the mid- to late-game. Depending on your experience, the range of units that show up in shop, as well as what other people have been taking, you might know what you’re going for as soon as the 4th round. In other circumstances, you might be at round 10 and still wonder whether to go for Primordials with Mages, Primordials with Assassins, or Primordials with both.
It happens. Just try not to worry too much about it and settle on something. Sometimes, global items can help out a lot, which is why round 10 should be a soft benchmark of what you’re aiming for. If you happen to get a Summoning Stone after the round 10 creeps, and you already have something in the lines of a Venomancer and two Druids (i.e. Enchantress and Treant Protector, ideally), then you’re better off going for full summoner with two warlocks. You can even add Arc Warden later on if nobody’s going for him in particular.
You can do this because, unlike in Auto Chess or Teamfight Tactics, you can be sure you’ll get items from creep rounds in Underlords. If you’re either win streaking or lose streaking, you might want to buy yourself into level 5 at round 5, as well as into level 6 at round 9. Otherwise, it’s not the best idea to spend your money just now. Playing for interest is better in these circumstances.
Now, it’s high time to level that Proto Pass. It’s not like the outstanding Beep Boop win streak effect is going to pbtain itself. If these tips have helped you rank up or if you’re playing Dota Underlords on BlueStacks, don’t be a stranger. Tell us about it in the comments section below.