Welcome to our impossibly accurate and undeniably perfect “WAY TOO EARLY PREDICTIONS” about the new meta developing within Dota Underlords. Despite the fun title, this article doesn't aim to actually predict the meta at all-- instead, it aims to gauge the change notes for how much an Alliance as a whole has been buffed or nerfed.
When understanding the grades assigned to each Alliance, remember that these do not indicate how powerful or weak we think the synergy will be. Rather, it represents how much we think the changes to the Alliance as a whole make them better or worse than they were before the update.
This analysis includes looking at the alliance synergy buff in question, as well as likely pairings, heroes within that Alliance, associated items, and other gameplay changes that are deserving of a day 1 test when the new patch goes live.
As always, at the time of writing this article, we have not had any significant playtime and are basing these entirely on the patch notes for build 204.
Assassins received the VIP treatment in this patch, in almost every metric they were made better. Not convinced? Pick an assassin. Any assassin. Got it? Good. I can confidently say that the assassin you picked is better now than they were before. Even the heroes who did not receive a ‘direct’ buff to their stats are better because their secondary synergy (or the global item that buffs it) has improved as is the case with Bounty Hunter. And don’t get us started on how Elusive Targets and the fact that an Assassin will only jump if there aren’t enemies in their attack range it makes evasion tanking viable. Not convinced Assassins are better today than they were yesterday? Good! Then you will never see them coming.
- The top 6 heroes within the Assassins class were significantly buffed.
- Sand King received an average increase of 38% in his overall stats in exchange for an increased cost of 1.
Bloodbound receiving a 25% increase in damage is nice but the core concerns around it continue to be that outside of ‘Big-Time Contract’ proccing this requires reliance on some less than optimal units that don’t synergize well outside of their ‘bloodbound’ connection. Regardless, they’re better than they were before, even if by only a bit.
Demons and Demon Hunters
Cats and dogs living under the same roof? MADNESS. Seriously though, it just felt right to lump Demons and Demon Hunters together so if you don’t like it then send your complaints to us through the magic porcelain tube in your restroom but don’t forget to fill out the sender address so we can get back to you as soon as possible. Seriously though, Bedfellows was buffed and can now be obtained later when you have a better understanding of what units you can realistically build around. Before the patch players were forced to commit way too early and now we think it won’t be quite as bad. More importantly, almost every key unit had their stats buffed or their secondary synergy buffed in a significant way making these units even more lethal than before.
- Terrorblade, Queen of Pain, and Shadowfiend received significant buffs at 3 stars.
- Strange Bedfellows, depending on the tier, has the potential to add 67% more damage than it did pre-patch.
Dragon’s Hoard has become a slightly better value now since it’s tier 3 modifiers are now higher than they were before. It’s also interesting to note that the same value you received pre-patch can be unlocked with the lower-tier two variant. This item is especially interesting as we think it provides relief to those who choose to more aggressively save in a meta that appears to punish that. Most of the ‘Dragon’ heroes also received significant buffs, like the buffs to Puck and Viper.
- Dragon’s Hoard received an average increase in its value per tier of 51%
- Puck’s time to cast has been decreased by 40%
While Druids benefit from their intimate connection with elusive and savage that is only enough to save them from a grade of ‘F’ because the nerfs to Treant Protector are absolutely devastating. The expiration of his heal after the defending unit dies is crippling when you pair it with his increased cost. There are a couple of redeeming buffs, however, such as those made to Lone Druid but even those don’t begin to close the gap.
Playing hard to get makes them look so good, doesn’t it? The elusive synergy didn’t change but their global item saw the biggest improvement over its previous state than any other item. This isn’t even a numbers thing, it’s about the re-work and how much more useful 100% dodge for 3 seconds is when compared to being invisible for 3 seconds. The majority of Elusives are either Druids, Assassins, or Hunters--and while not all have a positive outlook two out of three ain’t bad. Besides, am I the only one excited to try 6 Hunter with Elusive tanks? But then again maybe I just love watching Mirana play hard to get.
Within three seconds of ‘elusive tanking,’ a unit could theoretically deal 9,000 damage to an enemy before it takes any damage.
Necrophos is half the man he used to be, no seriously, his Death Pulse takes 50% longer to cool down? He’s just not the hero he used to be and it hurts me to see him this way, someone put an Octarine on him quick. Besides the Necrophos nerf the Alliance synergy was nerfed when maxed, and while max heartless builds weren’t big before, it’s undeniable that Heartless is worse at almost every turn (Hey Abaddon, you cutie, I’m talking about you).
Not much in the way of changes here outside of increased variety on the global items, a change that most every synergy can boast but what makes this interesting is the practical value of a 75% reduction in debuff time may be enough to make this item worth selecting while it’s lower-tier variants are not. However, team comps and individual hero strength remain an issue and nothing here changes that.
How can an alliance who lost TideHunter get such a positive review of the changes? Let’s start with Medusa, Mirana, and Windranger--who are all vastly improved. The new cost of units makes the Hunter early game very strong as well. Can Windranger and Mirana evade tank for their ranged buddies in the back? Probably not! But I’m still going to try when I get the Elusive Global.
- Thought significantly rarer now, Medusa can realistically deal 20% more damage to 2 targets while hitting a third one as well.
Six Knight compositions have been nerfed and aren’t quite as viable outside of 3 star Luna games. Changes to complementary alliances like Mages and Dragons also make building around Knights a bit easier. However, the biggest boon to Knights and the primary driver for the grade are the buffs to Abaddon and Omniknight, but mostly Abaddon (Hey cutie, it’s me again).
Razor is for Mages what Drow is for Hunters, a staple unit that is mathematically most likely to be 3 starred, in a vacuum, and whose kit at three stars would make him a powerful piece to your endgame board. And the Mage global item, Final Flash, became more efficient in that the practical effect of getting one last spell off before death should be nearly indistinguishable between the tier 3 and tier 2 variants. Pair that with improvements to Puck and the synergies like Dragons or Primordials and it becomes clear why we think these changes should benefit Mage comps immensely.
The odds of obtaining a three-star Razor by round 22 have increased by 82% due to the reduction in cost and corresponding drop rate change.
Early game access to this buff with Razor and Tiny can be an easy way to beef up an early game board. It also means getting three-star primordial pairs that preserve the buff late game is also more likely. We also think that disarming ranged heroes could be huge in making this buff viable late game. And if that wasn’t enough the Eidolons feel right at home in the early game so having access to them sooner rather than later could be really good.
We gave this Alliance synergy a minus simply because its name is culturally insensitive. Otherwise, Savages received significant power boosts through the Sand King, Lycan, and Lone Druid improvements. Venomancer’s reduced cost and increased overall efficiency is another big plus for this Alliance. Besides, who wouldn’t want to be able to say “that was savage” every time you win a match? I know I enjoy doing it.
The nerf stick beatdown Retaliate into the ground, and all we can say is “oh how the mighty have fallen.” And if that wasn’t enough, Tidehunter was nerfed as well. This does mean he pairs with Slardar better making this buff available earlier than before, though we’re not sure that’s a good thing when you consider the reduced efficacy of this synergy in the late game.
Scrappy has become significantly better in the early game due to a reduction in the number of heroes needed to unlock it. And every stage beyond that has improved as well now since the scrappy buff will double mid-fight if the number of heroes you have alive falls below the number of living heroes your opponent has. While some individual heroes like Tinker and Clockwerk have become more expensive and others like Techies have become less powerful we still think the overall outlook here is positive. There’s also a strong chance that ‘Check the Bodies’ as an early game item could help be a significant driver of the Scrappy player's economy that allows them to push into interest sooner and pay for those costly units in order to get those sweet sweet buffs.
- When the Scrappy buff doubles, it’s like putting 2.5 chainmail on those units and that’s not even counting the HP regeneration.
- ‘Check the Bodies’ could theoretically provide you with 7 gold by Round 15 if you obtained it by round 2.
Enigma is a Shaman now? I dig it. You go Shaman! Looking to meme? Throw Shaman Pluck on Enigma and let him do his thing. This addition makes activating the alliance buff viable for the first time and the fact that they pair nicely with Warriors means they’re definitely better off now than they were before but the jury is still out on whether this makes them viable still.
Now that the Troll buff applies to all allies regardless of how deep into the Alliance you are is a huge positive but even that is nothing compared to the glory that is ‘Troll Warlord.’ His buff makes him the troll ‘win-condition’ and means a warrior pairing is almost required when running Trolls. The Global item is slightly worse and the only reason this Alliance missed an even higher rating.
- Troll Warlord, on average, attacks 10% faster and does 100% more damage per attack than before.
What the “F” ? Are you saying that last patches darling Alliance is the worst of this patch? Nope. And seriously? Did you not read anything prior to this? This means that relative to their pre-patch state they are by far the most negatively affected. Their lifesteal numbers tier 2 and 3 are far worse and none of their units received any significant upgrades. In fact, their top 2 units in Necrophos and Enigma were either nerfed or completely removed from the Alliance (Enigma, it’s not you--it’s them). Soul-Sucking Siphon is slightly better since it provides the same lifesteal but at a lower-tier but outside of this, ‘What the “F” is right.’
- Warlock lifesteal saw a 20% drop off at tier 2 from previous patch numbers
- Warlocks lost 100% of Enigmas. You heard that right, 100%.
Warriors are definitely better off, why is that you ask? Well, their supporting synergies such as Troll, Savage, Hunter, and Primordial are all better. The introduction of Razor, when paired with Tiny, can also make for a strong early game combo. But similar to Trolls, we’re high on Troll Warlord and think he will be an absolute monster. Tidehunter, despite being nerfed, can provide some frontline CC even if it’s much more limited than before and the fact that you can stay alive after death with higher tiers of ‘Unstoppable’ is just icing on the beefy warrior cake.
Compositions we are excited to try out:
6 Assassins (Elusive Frontline)
with Puck or Anti-Mage + Terrorblade
6 Hunters (Elusive Frontline)
with Anti-Mage or 3 Assassins
4 Knights and 6 Mages
4 Scrappy with 6 Assassins
6 Mages with 2 Druid (Elusive Frontline)
6 Warriors 2 Warlock (Troll Showcase)
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