Dota Underlords guide for beginners: learning the basics
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It’s been more than a week now since Valve released Dota Underlords, its own official take on the popular Auto Chess mod. The invention of new gameplay mechanics can be used to justify the existence of an absolutely new genre called MABA – Massive Automatic Battle Arena.
The game rules
MABA is essentially MOBA at its core with the only exception that the game is playing itself. The player is more of a strategic overseer. The battles happen automatically while the players have to buy new “chess pieces” and arrange them on the 8 by 8 board. The matches are fairly long.
How to play Dota Underlords?
Each match has eight players fighting against each other in random order. Each player has 100 HP, and each defeat costs a few points, the amount of which depends on the remaining number of opponent’s chess pieces. The winner is the player who manages to defeat all of his opponents.
The way to the victory is paved by the economy, heroes, their experience, and RNG. There isn’t a single flawless kind of mechanics since every match has a lot of randomness to it. Heroes can fight unsuccessfully, they can take the wrong routes, or simply cast their abilities inefficiently. The pool of heroes between the rounds is also randomized, which means you won’t necessarily get the hero you desire. In such circumstances, the main task for the player is to minimize the randomness.
Each turn lasts 30 seconds, and you won’t have enough time to learn all the parameters. However, the actions you take don’t require full control – you can rely on the mouse solely. There’re hotkeys, of course, but you can easily play the game with one hand.
Dota Underlords – the economy
This is the most crucial element of the game. You can significantly increase your chances to win by thoughtfully managing the amount of gold. Now, here’re the basic principles:
- For each round, you receive 5 coins.
- A series of wins and losses gives additional coins.
- For every 10 coins in the Bank, you receive one coin (a maximum of 5).
- If you don’t get the hero you want in the pool between the matches, you can refresh the whole pool for 2 coins. It is not recommended though to do so until you have level 7-8; otherwise, it’s just a waste of coins.
- You should buy heroes before level 4-5; after that, it’s better to level up.
Each player has a level value during the match. It determines the number of chess pieces you can have on the board with a maximum of 10. To level up, you need experience. You gain XP points after each round, but there’s a way to speed the process up by acquiring 4 XP points for 5 coins. Sometimes, the amount of chess pieces on the board is the main determinant.
The most obvious conclusion out of this is to leave the process of buying levels for the later stages.
Heroes / Characters / Chess pieces
You can buy new heroes in the Shop between the rounds. The models and the parameters are taken straight out of Dota 2, so the players familiar with the game will easily understand the role of each individual “chess piece.” In case you’ve never played Dota 2 before, the basic parameters can be located right next to the hero. To cut the story short, characters have Damage, Health, and Tribe.
- Each hero has an active and a passive ability. The passive one functions all the time while the hero stays alive, the active one is only available with full mana.
- Mana accumulates when your hero deals damage to the enemy, and it also restores with time. The restoration speed is different for each hero.
- Heroes can be upgraded when you combine the three identical ones into a single chess piece of a higher level. You can do it twice per character – three common heroes give you the chess piece of level 2, while three heroes of level 2 can be combined into a hero of level 3 – the most powerful one.
- You can upgrade heroes even during the fight, although the improvement itself will take effect only after the end of the round. However, it will save you a few precious seconds.
- Each hero belongs to 2-3 Tribes – or Alliances. When you have two pieces – or more – belonging to the same Tribe on the board, they gain an advantage. You can learn the exact “membership” of heroes in the in-game manual.
- Each Tribe gives a specific advantage. It might be a bonus to the armour, to the damage, or the evasion.
- You need to put your chess pieces on the board with caution. Melee heroes with a lot of HP should take the front line while healers and ranged characters take the rear positions. You might want to add a hero with a high value of damage to the back to defend them from assassins.
We highly recommend taking the first few fights against bots in the tutorial. You’ll learn the basics and will test the tactics safely.
The first three rounds are the ones against bots for the items. You get three items to choose for a victory, but there’s only one left in a case of a loss. The fights for items will occur afterwards every five rounds.
Once again, the items, the heroes and their abilities are taken straight from Dota 2, and experienced players will recognize all of it easily. The newcomers won’t have to spend much time learning though, as the game gives you all the initially required information.
That’s pretty much it for the basics of Dota Underlords. We’ll cover the specific guides later along with clever tips and tricks. For instance, it’s quite obvious that the community is already hard at work building the meta, and the ranking system made the matches a lot more serious and nervous. There’s enough space for analytics, reports, strategies, etc. Valve holds the situation however, as the inevitable patches will drastically affect the meta.
We’ll keep on mastering the game, and you’ll find all the relevant articles regarding the game via the Dota Underlords tag. See you around!