Hey, Pinti here. Today I’ll be covering a specific variation of a Assassin build that involves running the Insect alliance alongside it. Due to the changes brought about by the Jail mechanic, I’ll be providing a template of what you should be working towards as opposed to a strict set build like we used to aim for with guides in previous patches. Below I shall detail exactly what to focus on and what not to focus on, as well as going over my personal preferences and what I’ve found works in my experience playing in higher level lobbies.
General idea of the build:
So the core of the build here is combining the full 6 Assassin alliance with the 3 Insect alliance. The miss chance from the insects synergises quite well with Assassin compositions as it stalls the damage output of the enemy team long enough for the Assassin units to take down their team. There are also variations that include some other small alliance bonuses and I shall cover those below.
Now, with the existence of the Jail mechanic we have to have a certain degree of adaptability when it comes to our compositions. I will cover my opinion of the ideal way to play this build below.
In the earlier stages of the game don’t hesitate to buy things that you won’t keep through to the end. Immediate board strength definitely has some value and you can justify splashing on something like a Timbersaw or Tiny early for example just to provide yourself with a frontline. Remember that 2* 1 cost units don’t lose any gold when you eventually sell out of them, so feel free to splash on them as much as you like. I like to play 3 Assassin units initially and then move into some frontline as I level to 4 and 5. If you manage to roll 3 Insect early it’s a really strong power spike for your board, so definitely prioritise that if you can. I’ll write below my general progression although it changes depending on what I find.
(3) 3 Assassin units -> (4+5) add frontline units -> (6) 6 Assassins if I have them, otherwise more frontline. Or 3 Insect if I high-roll it -> (7) 6 Assassins + 1 frontline or 3 Insect + 3 Assassin + 1 extra Assassin or frontline -> (8) 6 Assassin + 3 Insect should be played now -> (9) 6 Assassin + 3 Insect + 1 splash unit (usually completing a secondary Alliance, such as Warlock)
Assassins: Nyx, Bounty Hunter, Anti Mage, Queen of Pain, Slark, Phantom Assassin, Templar Assassin, Faceless Void.
Out of the Assassin pool I will generally build any of them into endgame, even Bounty Hunter but if I’m given a choice with minimal 3* progress across the board, he is the first unit I will choose to cut.
Nyx is mandatory in order to play 3 insects efficiently but otherwise the other Assassin units are fairly interchangeable depending on your luck finding them within a game. Despite this, some units do have higher priority than others and there are also small synergies to look out for within the pool of units. For example, you can run Anti Mage, Phantom Assassin and Templar Assassin together for the 3 Elusive alliance bonus. Slark can also warrant a higher priority into a mage-heavy lobby as you will need him for an effective way to run the 2 Scaled alliance bonus.
I will say, the most important thing is to take what units the game is giving you because while having 3* Slark/Phantom Assassin with Mask of Madness every game might be ideal – there is no guarantee you’ll find the item or the unit. The best thing you can do is work with what you find and make the best out of it in any given match.
Despite this, there are still higher priority units and you should fit them in if possible. My ideal 6 Assassin alliance would be something like: Nyx, Slark, Phantom Assassin, Templar Assassin, Faceless Void, Anti Mage. This also enables the 3 Elusive alliance which I personally place a fairly high value on. It is incredibly strong into other insect boards which is fantastic when in a mirror match-up. This also includes Slark which allows for a 2 Scaled alliance completion (as I mentioned before) if the opponent’s boards are fairly Mage heavy, which is a good example of adapting to the opponent’s boards as required. On the topic of adapting to the opposing boards I would also like to mention again that when you are up against other Insect boards – the value of the Elusive Assassin alliance combination is incredibly strong. Due to the interaction with the bugs, the Elusive units become very hard to deal with as the Elusive effect is constantly being activated and you will generally wipe the floor with the opposition. This is a neat interaction to keep in the back of your mind when playing as while it may be somewhat niche it could win you a game.
Faceless Void is nice for the Ace bonus plus his ability is hard crowd control which is always very useful. Templar Assassin is another awesome addition because of her ability. The stall she provides at the end of a fight when she is usually alive last is invaluable. I have personally watched my Templar Assassin 2* solo multiple 3* units because she dodged everything while the insects took them all down. Do not underestimate the value of this unit within this composition.
Insects: Nyx, Weaver, Broodmother, Sand King
For Insect units, the 3 you want to run are Nyx, Broodmother and Sand King. With the Jail mechanic sometimes you’ll be unable to run those 3 and will have to substitute in Weaver. Unfortunately he is substantially weaker than the others so you’ll basically only be running him for his Insect alliance tag although his Elusive tag can also be useful. Broodmother is very useful as her ability adds another layer of stalling for the Assassin units to do work, as well as providing a decent chunk of health as a frontline unit. She’s also a Warlock meaning you can complete a 2 Warlock alliance at level 9 (I usually like to do so with Alchemist, more about this below) which enables healing and therefore prolongs the life of your Assassin units, giving you a higher chance of them clearing the enemy board before they die.
Sand King is also a very solid unit – the crowd control he provides is strong and fairly frequent. Following with the trend of stalling fights, he does this job very well. Unfortunately the Savage alliance tag hasn’t really got a use but he’s still an amazing addition to the board all the same.
So combining 6 Assassin with 3 Insect is the core idea of this build but as detailed above there are additional benefits within that. From the abilities of the Insect alliance units to the small bonus alliance completions that are possible – there are a lot of small synergies within this build that you can take advantage of depending on the variation you choose to play.
So the 6 Assassin and 3 Insect combination takes up 8 slots – leaving you with a guideline for a level 8 board but then, what comes next? Assuming the Jail is being kind, my favourite level 9 drop is definitely Alchemist. You can pair Broodmother and Alchemist for 2 Warlock alliance, he’s a solid tank for your frontline and his ability removes armour from the opponent’s units. The combination of these things makes him a perfect addition to your board – it all synergises really nicely.
Other potential variations include units like Tidehunter for 2 Scaled, Gyrocopter for his high damage on cornered positioning (which is how people will position to counter Assassin builds) or even Kunkka despite his lack of Alliance synergies purely for the frontline and crowd control he provides. You can also run duplicates of units you are already using like a second 2* Sand King would be incredibly strong to run, for example. Once again a lot of this is dependent on opposing boards and your own rolls within each specific game. Scouting opposing boards and being able to adapt game-to-game is a key part of playing this game at a higher level.
As for leveling vs. rolling, always check your 3* progress and decide how much value rolling would currently bring you. If you have no outs to achieve, leveling is a better way to spend your gold as it’s an extra unit on the board and better odds at higher cost units. It also pushes you closer to being able to find Faceless Void.
Mask of Madness – arguably the best item for the entire build and it’s located in Tier 3. Best-in-slot for Phantom Assassin and Slark.
Moon Shard/Daedalus – both very useful Tier 4 damage items. These are the things to be looking out for moving into the later stages of the game. Outside of Tier 5 items these are almost always an instant pick. Moon Shard is more versatile than Daedalus but both are still useful on most Assassin units.
Tombstone/Target Buddy – sometimes either of these can be a solid pick to give you an extra piece of frontline for free. Keep an eye out for them if your frontline feels lacking in a particular match.
Friends and Family Discount – a solid global item to take in some situations. Enables a higher value out of your rolls and gives you a higher chance of completing 3* units.
Lower Tier items – mostly keep an eye out for Chainmail/Gloves from Tier 1 and Helm from Tier 2. Helm of the Undying is less value than it used to be due to the surge of Anessix players – there are more Break mechanics in matches currently than before. Regardless this item is still very strong – especially early.
Tier 5 – almost everything here is insane. Try to take note of what you need in a game and pick accordingly. A nice combination to note is Assault Cuirass + Faceless Void as it synergises really well with his ability. Otherwise you can look towards stuff like Bloodthorn/Divine Rapier for their offensive power; Shiva’s Guard is quite nice into some matchups and all of the global items have strong uses in some games. Expanded Roster can be nice if you have something to put in the extra slot, A Higher Class of Criminal is useful if you’re fishing for Tier 4/5 unit completions and are struggling to find them and Desperate Measures is always a solid choice.
Prior to this most recent patch it used to be that Hobgen was the clear winner. By taking Molten Armour + Keep It Secret and front-lining him, not only was he a strong tank but he also silenced every unit that attacked him. Unfortunately since the nerf this is no longer as powerful as it used to be, but Hobgen is still very much usable. Anessix is also viable for the build but I personally prefer Hobgen if I am hard forcing this build.
My usual path is: (10) Fire Break -> (15) Implosion -> (20) Friendly Fire -> (25) Afterburn -> (30) Shockwave -> (35) Danger Close
10: Fire Break’s damage reduction on Super-Charged units is incredibly powerful right now, nothing else on that tier compares.
15: Implosion provides an immediate increase in damage at a point in the game where you can really use it. Very useful talent.
20: Friendly Fire is an easy pick – it’s a bunch of burst damage which helps you nuke down the enemy board.
25 + 30: Afterburn + Shockwave are an awesome combination from 25 and 30. More damage and some crowd control – just the thing you need on an Assassin board.
35: Danger Close is my preferred choice of the 2 at 35. Generally, on an Assassin board, your units are fighting their units within their half of the board so having all of the bombs land there is a more effective damage source.
Feel free to experiment and find what works for you, but that is generally what I find the most success with.
Now, optimal positioning is entirely matchup dependent but as a general baseline to work with, I go with something like this usually:
(credit: https://underlords.app/ )
When Hobgen has his talent combination I described above, I like to move the other frontline units one step ahead of him so he isn’t immediately focused down.
Once more, the decision making here is entirely down to what you’re up against. In some situations you will want your ranged assassins to jump (Queen of Pain, Templar Assassin) and in other situations you’d prefer they didn’t. In those instances, you can place them on the second row (behind your frontline) which will cause them to immediately attack the enemy units instead of jumping first which keeps them from being initially targeted. Generally, you want Templar Assassin to jump as her ability enables her to evade attacks which soaks those hits from other units that would be taking them otherwise. Other than that, whether you want Queen of Pain to jump is usually match-up dependent.
Another important thing to note is to keep your key Assassin units in the middle of the pack on the back row as it will stop them from being jumped on by any enemy units. You can even move them 1 row forward, just be careful if you do with a ranged unit as it could potentially not jump, if it ends up in attack range of the opposing units too easily. The most important thing with positioning is to watch your fights and be aware of what improvements you can make versus each board. This will slowly improve your skill level and your ability to make good judgments in-game which is a crucial skill if you want to play at a higher level.
Thank you very much for reading and good luck in your games, hope this helped!