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Dota Underlords alliances tier list [September] - the best alliances in Dota Underlords

Or: why Knight, Mage, and Troll are disgustingly powerful

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The carefully crafted selection of Dota Underlords alliances available to you each match is one of the game’s defining features. Just as much as deciding which heroes to use, where to position them, and which items to equip yourself with, your combination of alliances will decide who lives and who dies on the 8×8 battlefield.

Seeing as Valve have just thrown a spanner into the works with the introduction of Ace Tier heroes, each of which bestow a unique benefit upon a specific alliance, we thought it best to go back over our Dota Underlords alliances guide and let you in on which alliances are faring the best overall in the current meta.

Dota Underlords alliance tier list – [September]

With 23 unique Dota Underlords alliances to cover, we’ve taken the time to organise everything to make it as easy as possible to navigate. We’ll start with a basic explanation of what alliances are and how they work, before moving onto the tier list of best-performing alliances, and then tables of stats and information on all 23 alliances.

Dota Underlords alliances overview – how do alliances work?

Dota Underlords revolves around building up a force comprised of Dota heroes – and even though these heroes are simplified from their Dota 2 counterparts, there’s still an awful lot of complexity to them. Not only do they each contain various different stats such as Health, Armor, DPS, and so on, but they also feature different abilities and belong to different alliances.

Each hero belongs to 2 or 3 different alliances. If your board contains a certain number of heroes belonging to the same alliance, then you’ll receive a passive bonus depending on the alliance. For example, if you were to collect two Heartless heroes, then all your enemies would suffer -5 Armor.

Many alliances have multiple stages of power depending on how many heroes on your board belong to that alliance. For example, if you were to add two more Heartless heroes to your board, then the bonus would increase to -10 Armor; and 6 Heartless heroes brings it up to -15 Armor. It’s important to note that these alliance bonuses persist throughout a fight, regardless of whether the heroes providing those bonuses happen to be killed in combat.

Core and supplementary alliances

When building an army, you need to pay attention to the balance of offence and defence. Some alliances, such as Hunter, are purely offensive in nature, and therefore should be paired up with alliances such as Warrior, which are purely defensive. The aim is generally to pick a central, scalable alliance to build your army around (examples include Assassin, Hunter, Knight, Mage, Savage, Scrappy, or Warrior), and then try to balance out your offence/defence with other supplementary alliances you accrue as you build towards your central alliance.

We’ll go into alliance combinations in far more detail in another guide. For now, bearing in mind what we’ve just discussed about central and supplementary alliances, let’s take a look at our tier list of current best-performing alliances.

Ace Tier Effects on alliances [Ace Tier Heroes and Contraptions Update]

If you’re on Dota Underlords version #245 or later, you’ll likely already know that Tier 5 heroes have been reworked into a new tier, called the Ace Tier heroes. Each of these heroes has an extra unique benefit relating to a specific one of their alliances.

For example, Lich is now the Ace of Mages, which means when he is in play your army’s mana regeneration from attacks is increased 10% per Mage Alliance level. Yes, that’s a big deal. And the same is true for the other Ace Tier effects. Read all about them in the tables below, because they’re fully up to date with the Ace Tier build.

Dota Underlords alliance tier list [September] – best alliances in Dota Underlords

Above you can view our personal rankings of all the alliances in Dota Underlords. We’ve taken into account not only the passive benefits themselves, but each alliance’s attainability, and the balance of heroes within each one. All these are things you’ll also have to learn to take into account when choosing your alliances on the fly during a match.

Below you’ll find full stats and details of every alliance, including heroes, bonuses, Ace Tier effects, and relevant items.

Knight alliance

2 Knights: Knight units take -15% physical and magic damage and an additional -15% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.
4 Knights: Knight units take -20% physical and magic damage and an additional -20% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.
6 Knights: Knight units take -25% physical and magic damage and an additional -25% when standing 1 cell away from another Knight.

Kingdoms may rise and fall, and Knights would still be at the top of the meta, it seems. Partly because even without the incredible effects of the alliance, you’ve got a really fantastic roster of heroes in here, many of them easy to obtain and upgrade. You’ve got DPS in Luna, Batrider, and Dragon Knight; you’ve got healing in Omniknight and Abaddon; you’ve got an inherent Human alliance with DK and Omni; and you’ve got a mix of physical and magical damage.

But seriously, that tanking power is insane. To put it into context, with 6 Knights next to one another, that’s more or less the equivalent of Tier 2 Warrior and Tier 2 Scaled at once. It’s ludicrous.

Mage alliance

3 Mages: Enemies take 40% more magic damage.
6 Mages: Enemies take 100% more magic damage.
Ace Tier (Lich): Your army's mana regeneration from attacks is increased 10% per Mage Alliance level.

Mage is an alliance that can often take a good 30 rounds to bring fully online, but once you do – and as long as you’ve accounted for its glass cannon nature by tanking it out with strong heroes and supplementary alliances – Mage will allow you to tear through pretty much anything. None of the individual heroes are ones I’d rank highly in any other build, but together they have peerless burst-down potential, particularly with heroes like Lina, KotL, and Lich. At Tier 2 you run the risk of being countered by the Scaled alliance, but even Tier 1 Mage makes an enormous difference.

Troll alliance

2 Trolls: All Troll units gain +35 Attack Speed and other allies gain +10 Attack Speed.
4 Trolls: All Troll units gain +65 Attack Speed and other Allies gain +30 Attack Speed.
Ace Tier (Troll Warlord): Grants your units Mini-Bash: While attacking, your team has a 5% chance per Troll Alliance level of stunning their target for 0.25 seconds.

The first level of the Troll alliance is very easy to get, and it provides you with a fairly solid early-game provided you’ve got a few more tricks up your sleeve. But a full Troll build is quite a sight. Your entire army, attacking with the speed of a near-death Bloodseeker, and mini-stunning as well? This is one hell of a DPS build that achieves everything it wants to achieve using just 4 heroes, leaving you with a lot of flexibility with your board to build up another strong alliance or two before you reach the final rounds and add a Troll Warlord to bring everything together perfectly.

Demon alliance

1 Demon: All Demon units gain +50% Pure Damage. Active when you have only one type of Demon unit on the board.

Okay, so I got very excited when the August Update was released at the prospect of Demons and Demon Hunters being the new meta, but then the next day’s hotfix brought me crashing down to earth. However, I’m still keeping them in tier A, because – while their viability as core alliances may be a little more in question now that Demon Hunter doesn’t apply the pure damage bonus for each Demon anymore, they’re still a powerful group when you consider them as individual heroes (Chaos Knight and Shadow Fiend are my favourites, though I love a good Doom as well), and now all you need are two Demon Hunters and one Demon to create a pretty strong offensive supplementary alliance.

Demon Hunter alliance

1 Demon Hunter: Invalidate your opponent's Demon Alliance bonus.
2 Demon Hunters: Invalidate your opponent's Demon Alliance bonus. All Demon and all Demon Hunter units gain +50% Pure Damage.

Demons and Demon Hunters have been shunted upwards a tier with this update, because they’re no longer dependent on you picking up the Strange Bedfellows Global item. Instead, it’s built right into the Demon Hunter alliance itself – albeit only providing a flat 50% no matter how many Demons you have, rather than increasing based on the number of Demons you have. But regardless, Anti-Mage and Terrorblade are two of the heroes most worth upgrading in Dota Underlords right now in my opinion, and all you need now is a single Demon to help these two realise their full potential. I wouldn’t neecessarily say that Demons and Demon Hunters is viable as a core alliance (you could do, but it’d be all offence no defence, which isn’t great), but as a supplementary alliance they’re pretty hard to beat.

Scaled alliance

2 Scaled: Allies gain +30% Magic Resistance.
4 Scaled: Allies gain +50% Magic Resistance.
Ace Tier (Medusa): Grants Scaled units Retaliate. When a unit with Retaliate is attacked, they apply a 25 dmg/sec per Alliance level debuff to their attacker.

Scaled wouldn’t be as high as it is if Mages weren’t so dominant. But that’s pretty obvious, seeing as Scaled is a direct counter to Mage builds. In case it’s not clear (it wasn’t to me at first), Tier 1 Scaled nullifies Tier 1 Mage, and brings Tier 2 Mage down to Tier 1 Mage. And Tier 2 Scaled nullifies Tier 2 Mage.

It’s a great little supplementary alliance. Efficient in terms of hero slots, it can be very easily¬† built alongside Warriors (as both Slardar and Tidehunter belong to both alliances), and the heroes themselves are pretty great. Medusa’s a DPS monster; Tidehunter has one of the best abilities in the game; Slark can become truly unstoppable if he’s not burst down quickly; and Slardar hits like a goddamn truck with his armor reduction ability. And now with the Ace Tier update, Medusa bestows the old familiar Retaliate upon your Scaled units too, for that extra damage potential.

Scrappy alliance

2 Scrappy: A Random Scrappy unit is granted +9 Armor and +8 HP Regeneration. Armor and HP are doubled whenever you have fewer units alive than your opponent does.
4 Scrappy: All Scrappy units are granted +9 Armor and +8 HP Regeneration. Armor and HP are doubled whenever you have fewer units alive than your opponent does.
6 Scrappy: All allies are granted +9 Armor and +8 HP Regeneration. Armor and HP are doubled whenever you have fewer units alive than your opponent does.

There’s no denying the power of Scrappy after the Mid-Season Update, and thankfully it escaped the August Update mostly intact as well. Aside from the stupendous resilience your heroes receive with even Tier 2 Scrappy, you’re also near-guaranteed a top-tier Inventor alliance as well, which gives you an extra kick whenever a hero dies (which is part of the whole Scrappy deal anyway). Even Tier 1 Scrappy is very useful in the early-game if it lands on your Clockwerk or Timbersaw. And aside from that, Tinker, Clockwerk, and Alchemist are three of my favourite heroes in the game. Alchemist for his crazy AoE armor reduction; Clockwerk for his newfound tankiness and his incredible mini-stun ability; and Tinker because, well, those rockets are just ridiculous.

Warrior alliance

3 Warriors: All Warriors gain +10 Armor.
6 Warriors: All Warriors gain +20 Armor.

Warrior is a very popular (if slightly boring) alliance right now in Underlords, simply because there are so many heroes in this roster and the Armor gain makes it such a good alliance to combine with more offence-focused builds like Troll or Mage. Many newer players underestimate the importance of Armor. Going from 0 to 10 Armor nearly doubles your effective HP (not counting magical damage). And with abilities like Tiny’s or Tidehunter’s; with DPS like Troll Warlord’s or Slardar’s; with tankiness like Pudge’s or Doom’s; it’s really not a hard sell to go Warrior as either a core or a supplementary alliance.

Assassin alliance

3 Assassins: All Assassins gain a 15% chance to Critical Hit for 300% Damage. On a critical strike, Assassins wound the target, reducing healing done by 50%.
6 Assassins: All Assassins gain a 25% chance to Critical Hit for 400% Damage. On a critical strike, Assassins wound the target, reducing healing done by 100%.

Assassins take some effort to bring online, and you need to be flexible with your build up until that point so that you don’t get steamrolled in the interim; but if you push it all the way it can become an unstoppable snowball of crit-tastic destruction. Now only requiring 6 heroes instead of 9 to bring fully online, you can be more flexible with your Assassin builds. As always the downside to Assassin is its focus on physical instead of magical damage (making it difficult to deal with Elusive, Warrior, or Scrappy) and the glass cannon nature of the heroes. So you’ll have to bear this in mind when forming your Assassin-heavy army.

Brawny alliance

2 Brawny: All Brawny units gain +30 maximum HP for each kill they have.
4 Brawny: All Brawny units gain +60 maximum HP for each kill they have.

Brawny received quite the change with the August Update. Before, it was a quick and painless supplementary alliance that helps you get a good early-game, but which quite quickly fell off after that. Now, it’s the reverse; useless unless you stick with it. I don’t like this new aspect too much, because it forces you to stick to an alliance, which I think runs counter to the best way to play the game. But while it’s not the buff I was hoping for or expecting with Brawny, it’s certainly going to become more prevalent in the meta, at least for the time being. And I can certainly see a souped up Juggernaut or Axe with 1000 extra HP becoming a real game-changer, if you can get it that far.

Druid alliance

2 Druids: At the beginning of combat, the lowest star ally Druid is upgraded a level.
4 Druids: At the beginning of combat, the 2 lowest star ally Druids are upgraded a level each.

I’m actually a fan of Druids. Their alliance benefit is better for some than others (you’ll want to use it to get an early Level 3 Nature’s Prophet or Treant Protector ideally) but it’s such an easy alliance to slot into another build as it uses only 2 or 4 heroes – and of those 4 heroes, 2 have Elusive and the others have Savage, which means you’re pretty much getting 2 alliances for the price of one. Add to that the fact that Lone Druid, Nature’s Prophet, and especially Treant Protector are just really great heroes in their own right, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a supplementary alliance.

Heartless alliance

2 Heartless: All Enemies suffer -5 Armor.
4 Heartless: All Enemies suffer -10 Armor.
6 Heartless: All Enemies suffer -15 Armor.
Fall From Grace (Global Item):
Human units count as Heartless instead when counting alliances.

Heartless is a great supplementary alliance, rather than one I would consider basing an entire build around. At every turn it simply provides you with the ability to take down enemies more quickly. The only real issue I have with it is that if you want to turn it into more than an incidental nicety, then you really need to get that Fall From Grace Global. But besides this, you can basically make all your enemies squishy while adding to your board some insanely powerful heroes like Necrophos, Lich, or (if you get Fall From Grace) Kunkka or Dragon Knight.

Human alliance

2 Humans: All Human units gain a 20% chance to Silence target for 4 seconds when attacking.
4 Humans: All Human units gain a 44% chance to Silence target for 4 seconds when attacking.
6 Humans: All Human units gain a 66% chance to Silence target for 4 seconds when attacking.
Fall From Grace (Global Item):
Human units count as Heartless instead when counting alliances.

I like Human for its flexibility. Not only does it provide you with enough potential heroes that you can quite often gain 2 or even 4 Humans fairly incidentally; but if you want to take things in a completely different direction, you can procure the Fall From Grace Global which turns Human into Heartless. Yes, that means you lose the Human alliance. But it’s still a really useful strategy to employ at times. But regardless of that, you’ve still got some great CC with Human’s silencing powers, and you can build it into Knight, Mage, Warrior, or pretty much anything else you want.

Hunter alliance

3 Hunters: All Hunters have a 20% chance of quickly performing 2 attacks.
6 Hunters: All Hunters have a 35% chance of quickly performing 2 attacks.

Having 6 Hunters on your board means you’ll really have to bulk out your army with tankiness, healing, Armor, and everything else you’re missing – but the fact that all these heroes, each with at least solid and at most fantastic DPS, can have a 35% chance of attacking twice in the same time is quite something to behold. Medusa is an absolutely magnificent DPS hero, particularly if you level her up and equip her with the right item; and with Mirana and Windranger you can get started on a supplementary Elusive alliance too. It’s not as dominant as it once was, but it’s still good in certain matches.

Warlock alliance

2 Warlocks: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest percentage health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 50% of the damage dealt.
4 Warlocks: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest percentage health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 70% of the damage dealt.
6 Warlocks: Whenever a Warlock casts a spell, they form a link with the Ally who has the lowest percentage health for 2 seconds. When either linked hero deals damage, both units are healed 100% of the damage dealt.
Ace Tier (Disruptor): The effect of the Warlocks Alliance is now applied to 1 target per Alliance level.

Warlocks are certainly more highly regarded than they ever used to be thanks to recent updates. Again, it’s not an alliance I’d usually consider sacrificing so many board slots in order to build all the way; but 4 Warlocks can make an enormous difference even despite their slight August Update nerf limiting their link duration from 3 down to 2 seconds. It’s a subtler and more insidious form of tankiness than the Knights and Warriors, and it never gets old to see your opponent whittling down everyone’s health only for them all to rise back up to full in the space of about half a second – particularly once you bring Disruptor’s new Ace Tier effect into the fold.

Dragon alliance

2 Dragons: All Dragon units unlock an additional draconic ability.

The Dragon alliance is great… but frustrating. Dragon Knight is an incredible hero, but Puck and Viper are both extremely lacklustre. So essentially what you’re doing is sacrificing one of your board slots (where you could put something like a Medusa or a Kunkka) in order to make Dragon Knight realise his full potential. And yeah, sometimes that can be worth it, because DK really is that good. But like I said… Frustrating. At least it can be easily slotted into any build – particularly Mages (see our Dota Underlords builds guide for a great example).

Elusive alliance

3 Elusive: All Elusive units gain +25% Evasion.
6 Elusive: All Elusive units gain +50% Evasion.

Elusive is a pretty nice supplementary alliance that can be worked into your build to help tackle very physical-damage-based heroes like Assassins. The rework from 3/6/9 into just 3/6 really helps you to be more flexible with Elusive, just like the other alliance whose 9-hero tiers have been removed with the Ace Tier update. It’s still not a top-tier alliance by any means, but there are some key heroes here that it would be great to give some Evasion (Anti-Mage, Luna, Treant Protector).

Inventor alliance

2 Inventors: Allied Inventors explode on death dealing 15% of their Max Health to all enemies 1 cell away.
4 Inventors: Allied Inventors explode on death dealing 30% of their Max Health to all enemies 1 cell away.
Ace Tier (Techies): Grants Inventor units Chain Reaction. If an enemy dies as a result of Unstable Reactor, they explode just as if they had Unstable Reactor.

I don’t think of Inventor as an alliance in itself. It’s merely a perk of building up the Scrappy alliance. I don’t really see the point of them being separate alliances; not when there are more heroes that share both alliances than heroes that belong to just the one. Plus, thanks to the August Update the Inventor benefit of some pretty great HP regeneration has been replaced by what used to be the Inventor alliance item of causing your Inventors to explode on death dealing damage to those around them. I don’t know how I feel about that change, but it’s certainly not enough to rank this alliance any higher than this.

Savage alliance

2 Savages: Allied Savage units apply a stackable 5 damage/s bleed on attack for 3s. Duration refreshes each attack.
4 Savages: Allied Savage units apply a stackable 10 damage/s bleed on attack for 3s. Duration refreshes each attack.
6 Savages: Allied Savage units apply a stackable 15 damage/s bleed on attack for 3s. Duration refreshes each attack.

Savage was one of the alliances that got hit the hardest by the August Update. Now no longer giving your entire army extra attack damage, instead your Savage units gain the stackable bleed effect upon attack that used to be provided by the Savage alliance item. Let’s be clear: that’s a nerf. That’s a serious nerf. You can still make it work by combining with Druid to make a powerful summons build, but Savage is certainly no longer the meta-dominating force it used to be.

Shaman alliance

2 Shamans: Units attacking a Shaman have a 17% chance of being turned into a chicken and hop 4 cells in a random direction.
Ace Tier (Enigma): Enemies affected by Hexes, Silences or Stuns will generate -200% mana.

Before the August Update I personally ranked Shaman as the worst alliance of all. The heroes themselves don’t gel well together in terms of their other alliances (the only one that appears more than once is Primordial, which is incidentally my new worst alliance), and the benefit just wasn’t worthwhile. Now? Yeah, it’s better. It’s still too RNG for my tastes, but I can certainly see the appeal, because when you get an Enigma on the board you get to enjoy most of the opponent’s army turning intermittently into chickens as they attack you. Success is by no means guaranteed, though; you need a killer build to go alongside the 2 Shamans you’ve included.

Blood-Bound alliance

2 Blood-Bound: When a Blood-Bound unit dies, all other Blood-Bound units deal +125% Attack Damage for the rest of the battle.
Big-Time Contract (Support Item): +250 Health. Equipped unit is Blood-Bound in addition to its other types.

There’s really not much you can do to make Blood-Bound viable, even as a supplementary alliance. Warlock is decent, and Ogre Magi is beefy enough to be useful on the front lines, but even if you put a Big-Time Contract on your best-DPS hero, I still think you could use that item slot for other things.

Deadeye alliance

2 Deadeye: All Deadeye units focus their attacks on the lowest-health enemy.
Ace Tier (Gyrocopter): Grants Deadeye units True Strike. Units with True Strike cannot miss.

I’m not a big fan of any of these three heroes, to be brutall honest. And that obviously sours my opinion of the Deadeye alliance somewhat. Focusing your attacks on the lowest-health enemy can be useful in certain situations, particularly late-game when the opponent has brought in a low-level Enigma or Kunkka to help turn the tide. But it’s so niche and it comes online so late and it requires such bleh heroes that I never bother with it. Ditto with Gyrocopter’s Ace Tier perk: obviously useful when dealing with Elusive builds, but so niche that I can’t rank Deadeye any higher than this.

Primordial alliance

2 Primordials: Allied Primordial units spawn a rank 1 Eidolon on death. Eidolons are ranged Primordial units that don't spawn Eidolons.
4 Primordials: Allied Primordial units spawn a rank 2 Eidolon on death. Eidolons are ranged Primordial units that don't spawn Eidolons.

Primordials have been on quite the rollercoaster recently. First it was buffed to such a degree that it quickly became the new meta to build Primordial/Mage; and then it was (over)nerfed with a change in its very nature from disarming to reducing attack speed; and now that’s gone too, and all that remains is that they spawn Eidolons on death. And to make things worse, they’ve nerfed Eidolons to the point of near-uselessness. This is probably now my pick for worst alliance currently in Dota Underlords, which is hilarious because it feels like only the other day that they were the undisputed best.

And that’s pretty much all we have to offer on Dota Underlords alliances – at least for this guide. Check out all our other Dota Underlords guide pages just below for more focused and in-depth overviews on various different aspects of this addictive autobattler.

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