Two new Dota Underlords update(s) have arrived! Not the big ones we’re waiting for but it’s bringing some huge changes all the same. Let’s dive right in.
The Update In Which Tusk’s Foes Are Brought Down To Earth | Underlords Update
- Removed Summon Units challenge.
Good fix – most summoned units being removed meant that this challenge was a real pain to complete.
- Fixed an issue where some abilities that preferred the unit’s current target (e.g. Slardar’s Corrosive Haze) could be cast outside their maximum range.
Another potentially abusable bug so I’m glad they are fixing this stuff before it becomes a real issue.
- Fixed an issue where Tusk could punch something so hard it never returned to earth.
More bug fixes, good!
- Added a new Notice animation for Tiny.
New animations are always welcome as they make the game feel more polished. Keep them coming, Valve!
- Shapeshift: Fixed an issue where Lycan was healing too much on shift.
Lycan wasn’t seeing much play to begin with in the newest patch so I don’t think this a massively relevant fix but it’s good that they are fixing the bug nonetheless. I think Lycan could begin to see some play with the new Savage alliance (see below) as the increased Attack Damage would scale well with his critical strikes.
- Corrosive Haze: Will no longer be cast again on a target currently affected by it.
Pretty solid fix for Slardar – it was an annoying thing to see happen and I genuinely think coupled with the rise of the value of Warrior boards that Slardar is in position to be a top tier unit moving forward. He’s always been in a decent spot but this definitely makes me think he’s moving towards that top tier.
- Venomous Gale: While Venomancer still only targets units within his attack range (3 cells), the actual Gale projectile travels up to 5 cells.
- Projectile damage increased to [30, 60, 120] from [25, 50, 100].
While it’s a nice adjustment I still don’t think Venomancer will be overly relevant. Maybe an early 2 star Venomancer could see some play now but it’s not going to be the unit it once was.
- Viper is now a Scaled Dragon (was Dragon Assassin).
- Removed Viper Strike ability.
- Added Nethertoxin:
- Viper poisons a cell, dealing [50, 100, 150] damage per second to any enemy unit in it and disabling their passives. Duration: 5s.
Mana Cost: 50.
Some massive changes here – wow. Viper is now a Scaled Dragon – so no longer an assassin but he has gained the Scaled tag. Very interesting change and I can see this doing some interesting things to the Meta.
First and foremost it’s a big hit for Assassins. I think Viper as a standalone unit has been nerfed and I think the lack of Viper will hurt Assassin compositions. Knights on the other hand have received a buff from this I believe as they can easily work 2 Scaled into their end-game build. This makes them all but impossible for Mage boards to deal with.
His new ability feels rather lackluster – I think it’s made him as a standalone unit a lot weaker. It could potentially have some niche uses but I think he is going to be used for his Alliance tags more-so than his non-Dragon alliance ability.
Overall I am interested in seeing how the Meta develops from here as this change could have bigger implications than we expect for Underlords as a whole.
- Players can only have a maximum of 1 of this item now.
This is a huge change. This (coupled with the removal of Summoning Stone) entirely negates the item high-roll early game boards we used to see. Now that item choices like this are more balanced and flexible I think we will see a shift in the game. The units you roll are now what dictate the majority of your board strength – not how many contracts or stones you found. These changes have been a great thing for the game and I am excited to see where they lead moving forward.
Is contract still playable? Absolutely. Bloodbound boards have been relevant even without a contract at play – so even with just the one contract you can easily win through the early game with a Bloodbound composition provided you hit some of the important pieces. What this change provides is a relief from someone hitting 3-4 contracts in a single game and being unstoppable purely due to their item rolls. Contract is now playable but not abusable and I think this is the perfect compromise they could come up with.
Changed to: Allied Savage units gain +[4, 8, 15] Attack Damage each time they land an attack on an enemy. This replaces the bleed effect that would be applied each time they landed an attack.
An interesting change this one – they are moving towards what the Savage alliance used to be before the rework that turned Savage into the old Tooth and Claw global item. Unfortunately with the removal of summons and the current state of Savage units I can’t see the alliance being overly viable in the current Meta. The old bleed effect was Pure Damage so it made it pretty strong into early boards like Warrior compositions and even into mid/late with higher levels of the Savage alliance. The issue now is that it gives flat Attack Damage – this doesn’t deal pure damage and the rate at which this will stack is a lot slower than the bleed did (due to the removal of summons) which leads me to believe the new Savage alliance will be all but irrelevant. It’s unfortunate but even with the increased damage scaling well with Lycan’s built in critical strikes for example I just don’t see it holding up against how strong other compositions are currently.
Overall I think this patch complements the previous patch well. It fixes the Big Time Contract issue and makes item RNG less dominant. It may have somewhat killed Assassin boards but we are always going to see some alliances more dominant than others depending on balance changes.
Right now it’s time for Druid/Warrior/Hunter early game dominance. There are still a decent amount of viable builds at late game so things are fairly varied and won’t get too stale. A fair number of compositions currently have the ability to win games even at a high level of play and I think that’s a good thing for Underlords.
Overall I am pretty content with this patch. It addressed some pressing issues and added a couple nice tweaks to the previously released patch. Together they make for an interesting game state and for the first time in a while, Underlords feels somewhat fresh again. I am curious to see how this bridges into the upcoming big patch.
We’re Lycan This Update | Underlords Update
- Fixed longstanding issue where passive abilities (excepting Dragon special abilities and Sand King’s Caustic Finale) used stats from one rank higher, e.g. Crystal Maiden 2-star using Crystal Maiden 3-star’s values. Some units got a buff to compensate (see below), and we’ll be monitoring the others.
This is great for Underlords – the bug was affecting a lot of units for a long time and the fix is definitely welcome given how game-changing it was. The passive bug on units like Slark/Phantom Assassin/Crystal Maiden in particular was affecting the meta in a drastic way. With this fix Mage compositions definitely took a hit as did anything running Assassins. These compositions will still be viable but I believe we will be seeing a lot of Warrior and Elusive boards being fairly dominant in the early-mid game now.
This one fix is such a huge thing for the Underlords meta and it now means a lot of builds that were already super 3* reliant will be even more reliant on those outs than they were before.
- A few Bots had their electronic brains unscrewed, tweaked, and reattached.
Straightforward change – better Bot AI is always a welcome sight.
- Added some new animations for benched units when under unit cap.
More animations are always exciting. I love seeing units jump around on the bench; I think it brings a bit more life into the game.
- Fixed an issue where tiny quantities of damage could generate either too little or too much Mana. Warlock casting Shadow Word would cause this.
A good bug fix – it’s important that Valve stay on top of little bugs like this before they become something potentially game breaking or exploitable.
- Fixed a visual-only issue where Lina and Crystal Maiden would return from the dead at the end of combat.
I will actually miss this visual bug – it was quite funny to see but I understand that they want to fix any bugs and it’s good all the same that Valve is staying on top of things like this.
- With most summons removed (see below), removed the Summoning Stone item.
Now this is a huge change. First with the passive bug being fixed and now most summons being removed (and subsequently the summoning units having their abilities changes) is going to cause a shift in the meta for sure.
I will go in depth below about how I think each aspect of this change will affect things but I will say that immediately the biggest thing that comes to mind is the shift in early-game power. One of the most dominant items to get during Round 2/3 loot rounds was a summoning stone and coupled with an early Venomancer/Lycan board your winstreak was all but guaranteed. You also have to consider the implications on the remaining summon units – particularly Arc Warden. I think it will still be a dominant unit that you can fit into most compositions but it’s still a decent nerf.
The reworks plus the removal of this item/most summons have likely led to a big decrease in power for the Savage alliance and I believe earlier rounds will no longer be dominated by them so heavily.
- Units killing themselves no longer get those kills scored. Sorry Barricades!
If you weren’t aware, when a contraption destroyed itself at the end of a fight that it survived through (that your units didn’t) it would self-destruct. And previously this would add a kill to its kill count. This has now been fixed as it was unintended since it isn’t an enemy unit it has killed.
Armor changed from 5 to [5, 10, 15].
Maximum Health changed from [700, 1400, 2800] to [805, 1610, 3220].
Axe buffs! These are a pretty good change for Axe and I believe it makes him one of the better early units to pick up now. Coupled with other changes it just further solidifies an early Warrior board being one of the best things you can play. I expect to see a lot of Warrior/Hunter/Brawny play from here on out.
- Static Storm:Fixed an issue where total damage dealt could be wrong.
No longer gives units in the storm a miss chance.
Firstly a simple bug fix – very good to see them keeping on top of these things.
However the change to Static Storm in which it no longer provides a miss chance debuff to units is an interesting one. It definitely nerfs some of Disruptor’s value into the less ability-based compositions but it’s still going to be a dominant unit since most compositions are reliant on abilities. I think all in all it’s a fair nerf as it keeps Disruptor’s focus towards what it should be countering (abilities) while simultaneously making sure it isn’t ridiculously strong across every potential match-up.
- Elder Dragon Form: Fixed Corrosive Breath not working (it incorrectly had a duration of 0).
Another bug fix – nothing too game changing but again it’s good they keep on top of stuff like this.
- Attack Rate changed from 0.769 to 0.833.
- Attack Damage Minimum changed from [45, 90, 180] to [56, 112, 225].
- Attack Damage Maximum changed from [50, 100, 200] to [62, 125, 250].
To compensate for the passive bug fix they have buffed Drow Ranger’s base stats. This is pretty nice to see because she’s a pretty staple part of the standard Warrior/Hunter build. You can pair Pudge with Drow Ranger for 2 Heartless alliance which lends itself very nicely to the physical damage of that board. Her aura is also a good addition to the carry units the board tends to run.
Overall the buff isn’t too crazy but it’s still a nice compromise now that the passive bug has been fixed.
- Attack Damage Minimum changed from [50, 100, 240] to [65, 130, 312].
- Attack Damage Maximum changed from [60, 120, 288] to [78, 156, 375].
- Summon Wolves is now Shapeshift:
- No wolves are summoned.
- Max HP gain from [30, 40, 50] to [40, 50, 60].
- Critical Hit bonus changed from [150, 175, 200] to [200, 225, 250].
Wow okay, so there’s a lot to cover here. First off the summoned wolves have been removed from his ability and to compensate they have increased his base stats and increased the max HP gain and critical hit bonus of his shapeshifted form. Just like with Drow Ranger they are trying to provide a balance between buffing the remaining aspects of the unit after they have taken something away from it.
So what does this mean for Lycan? Honestly I think it’s going to be played a lot less early-game now. It used to be a very early-game dominant unit and now it’ll probably only really see any kind of play at 3* in a mid-late game board. Still potentially playable but I don’t see it being worth the investment over other units in the same bracket.
- Attack Rate changed from 0.714 to 0.769.
- Maximum Mana changed from 50 to 100.
- Attack Damage Minimum changed from [45, 90, 180] to [56, 112, 225].
- Attack Damage Maximum changed from [50, 100, 200] to [62, 125, 250].
- Removed Nature’s Call ability.
- Added Wrath of Nature:
- Nature’s Prophet zaps a target for [250, 275, 300] damage. This bounces [3, 4, 5] times across enemies in the board, increasing the damage by [10, 13, 15]% per bounce.
Mana Cost: 100.
Cooldown: [15, 13, 11].
Now this is an interesting one! Continuing with the theme of removing summons they have completely changed Nature’s Prophet’s ability. Alongside this new ability they have also buffed his base stats to compensate. They also increased his maximum mana pool to adjust for the new ability costing twice as much mana to activate.
So how good is this new ability? Honestly it’s pretty damn good. It does a decent chunk of damage especially in the earlier stages of the game. With the Druid alliance being so accessible early and the effect leading to * upgrades on the units I am seeing early game Druid dominance once again returning in full.
Furthermore I believe that this unit could genuinely be playable at late-game within a Mage composition. Definitely excited to see the direction this change will take the game.
- Attack Rate changed from 0.625 to 0.8.
Nothing too crazy here – just a small base buff to try and make Shadow Shaman more playable. I still think it’s one of the weakest early unit choices but maybe now if you are offered a free 2* Shadow Shaman it’s not the worst thing to play. The Attack Rate increase not only increases the unit’s DPS output but it also means it generates Mana faster and subsequently uses its ability faster as a result.
- Maximum Mana changed from 100 to 60.
Walrus PUNCH!: Mana Cost changed from 100 to 60.
Cooldown changed from 7 to 4.
After the fix making Tusk unable to die during his ability cast this buff has just made Tusk’s value grow even more. The reason they have made this change is because his punch scaling was affected by the passive bug they have just fixed.
He used to be taken early for his alliances but now he is just a powerhouse of a unit all by himself. Coupled with the fact he is a Warrior which is a very dominant alliance right now given the changes they have just implemented I am predicting Tusk will be one of the highest value units to acquire in the early-game. The lower cooldown and the lower mana cost mean he is very likely to perform multiple casts of his ability during any given fight.
- Removed Plague Ward ability.
- Added Venomous Gale: Launches a ball of venom in a line, poisoning enemy units so that they take [25, 50, 100] damage as well as [10, 20, 40] damage every 3s for a duration of 15s. Affected units lose 50% movement speed and 25 Attack Rate.
Mana Cost: 100.
Cooldown: [10, 8, 6].
Venomancer’s reign of terror in Underlords has finally come to an end. While the unit is still playable somewhat he is a lot weaker than he used to be. The summoned wards coupled with the Savage alliance used to completely dominate the early-game. And late game in Warlock compositions the short cooldown of his ability made him playable there also and these changes definitely address the issues with the unit’s strength that we were previously facing.
I don’t expect to see this unit played anywhere near as much as before. He may still see some play but coupled with the other changes in this and the last patch there are just much better units for you to take in every stage of the game.
So how will these changes affect the Underlords meta? They’re going to be fairly drastic I believe – at least for the early-game Meta. We’re going to see a lot more Warrior boards and Druid boards and a lot less Savage being played. The removal of summons from the Savage units has nerfed the early-game dominance we were used to seeing. The Nature’s Prophet changes coupled with last patch’s Treant Protector changes mean that Druids will now likely be the single-most dominant early-game units.
The removal of summoning stone also lends itself to this. It’ll also mean that early item choices (outside of Big Time Contract) won’t be as make or break for your early board strength and instead it’ll be more down to the units you find. The removal of summoning stone for the remaining summon units in the game isn’t too big of a hit and I expect they will still see just as much play as they did previously.
Warrior compositions are definitely on the up and up. As are Hunter boards and the two mesh quite well so I expect to see variations of both (whether using 6 of one and 3 of the other or 3 + 3 and 2 Warlocks etc.) making a huge appearance in Underlords ladder games.
Overall I think these are healthy changes for the Underlords – there are definitely some new balance changes here to be excited about and the Meta is going to be a lot more interesting now than before. This isn’t even the “big Underlords update” we’ve been waiting for and yet some simple reworks and bug fixes are going to change the Underlords meta fairly heavily. When the “big Underlords update” arrives I am beyond excited to see how the meta adapts once more and what changes it shall bring!
Pinti is one of the top players in the Dota Underlords professional scene. You can watch him play live on Twitch. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment down below. Thanks for reading!