Savages and Druids are a fantastic way to start a match of Dota Underlords. If used properly, they can help you complete a win streak early on, as well as keep a generous HP pool all the way up to the mid-game. It’s much easier to build a strong economy with these heroes, but there are some downsides as well.
To begin with, Savages tend to fall off towards the end-game if you don’t find enough upgrades for the right alliances. It doesn’t matter if you complete two win streaks and lose no health by turn 20. You can still lose everything in a matter of 5 rounds as all other players develop stronger comps. Even so, it’s no impossible to place first with Savages. You just have to meet a few strict win conditions.
The first is that you absolutely need a 3-star Lycan. The second is that you have to obtain the right items during creep rounds, including one or several Summoning Stones and big damage items for your carries. Sometimes, you can win the game without them, but not having them makes victory during the end-game highly unlikely.
Finally, it’s important to understand how the Savages alliance works. All units apply a powerful bleed to their target, but it takes some time for DPS to kick in. That’s why choosing either good tanks or some other form of sustainability is crucial.
The 6 Staple Savages
The Savages alliance includes some heroes that excel in the current meta, but most are actually not that impressive on their own. To know when you should play each unit in order to benefit, rather than hinder your overall performance, you must first familiarize yourself with each of their strengths and weaknesses.
This Druid is straightforwardly terrible on her own. The utility of her ultimate is marginal in the early game and downright inexistent after turn 15. However, she serves a very important function in the Savages draft in that she makes the 3-star Lone Druid possible. She is worth upgrading to 3-stars for this purpose, but shouldn’t be prioritized over better heroes. In terms of positioning, you can use her as a frontliner because you don’t actually care if she dies right off the bat.
One of the centerpieces of any Savages build, Lone Druid (or his Bear, rather) is a fantastic source of DPS and CC. To make the most of him, equip him with either a Refresher Orb or the Bracers of Desperation. He is a 4-cost unit, but you only need to upgrade him to 2-stars thanks to the Druid alliance with Ench.
A so-and-so warrior that you would usually replace as soon as a better alternative showed up, Tusk can be useful in this draft if you manage to upgrade him to 3-stars early. You can also use him to form a Warriors alliance with Tidehunter and Kunkka for some extra tankiness and CC.
Back in the day, Venomancer used to be the only unplayable hero in Underlords. Then, he got a major buff that made him one of the best early-game units, as well as a phenomenal carry when upgraded to 3-stars. Now, he has been nerfed once again. With Summoning Stone, he still performs fairly well, especially if you can get him to 3-stars quickly. Otherwise, you have to keep him for the complete alliance, but don’t expect any significant contributions from him or his wards.
Easily your best source of DPS in this draft, Lycan is your first priority in terms of 3-star upgrades. Thanks to his alliances, he can perform even better if you include an additional 2 Hunters in your comp. He can also contribute to an early Heartless alliance if you get your hands on Fall from Grace during loot rounds.
A great frontliner and a much needed CC in this draft, Sand King has an AoE ultimate that not only deals damage, but also displaces all heroes in his path and stuns them for a good amount of time. Remember that Savages need time to work their magic, so Sand King fits the comp perfectly.
Other Heroes that Work Well
During the early game, you can take advantage of the fact the Enchantress is part of your long-term plan by using either Nature’s Prophet or Treant Protector before you transition into more Savages. Towards the late-game, however, we believe there are some heroes that perform much better than the two extra Druids.
Another great source of damage in addition to Lycan and Lone Druid, Shadow Fiend can be paired with Venomancer to activate the 2-stars Warlocks alliance. This can function as a way to add more sustainability to your squad and keep your main carries alive for long enough to allow the bleed to kick in. If you’re going to use Shadow Fiend, prioritize him for upgrades after Lycan.
Kunkka and/or Tidehunter
These two Warriors can be doubly useful in this draft. On the one hand, they pair up nicely with Tusk in order to form a 3-Warriors alliance for some additional frontline durability. More importantly, they both offer decent CC ultimates and can be further improved with a Refresher Orb.
Drow Ranger + Sniper
If it looks like you’ll be able to upgrade your Lycan to 3-stars, it might be a good idea to complete your comp by unlocking the 3-Hunters buff. Sniper would be our first choice here because he does great damage at 3-stars and can wreak havoc with a Mask of Madness. We’d also add Drow because you can use her to activate the 2-Heartless alliance either with Lycan (when you have Fall from Grace) or with Pudge.
Compared to comps such as 9 Elusives or 6 Knights, Savages + Druids are actually pretty versatile. You might not be able to get your hands on the heroes mentioned here, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to place high in the match provided that you replace them with other, similar options. In our experience, you need a precise build, good items, and many 3-stars to be able to obtain 1st place with Savages, but even if you’re missing some components, you can still easily aim for top 4 thanks to a characteristically excellent early game.