Dota Underlords is a Spin-Off of Dota 2 by Valve. It is based on the popular Dota 2 custom game, Dota Auto Chess, and is an attempt at creating a stand-alone version of the mod (which, funny enough, is almost the same origin story as Dota 2, which started as a popular custom game in Warcraft 3). The game is free-to-play and available on Steam, Android, and iOS, with full cross-play and shared progress between all platforms. It was first released in a closed beta for owners of the Dota 2 2019 Battle Pass on June 15, 2019, with a free-to-play open beta following on the 20th. The game finally launched its first season on February 25, 2020.
In the Wretched Hive of White Spire, order was kept in place by Momma Eeb. Once she was murdered, chaos ensued as all sorts of criminal organizations scrambled for control of the city. Players take the role of an Underlord, a gangster who hires a crew composed of Dota 2's heroes to fight alongside them in order to wage war against other contenders for the position of White Spire's boss.
Dota Underlords is a Turn-Based Strategy game which takes place on an eight-by-eight tiled board. On each turn, players receive some money which can be spent to buy a hero from a random draft, to re-roll the selection, or to gain extra experience points (which determine how many heroes you can have on the field). By purchasing three of the same hero, they will combine into a single, higher-star version with stronger stats and abilities. Heroes belongs to two or more alliances, and a Set Bonus is activated when multiple different heroes belonging to the same Alliance are on the board. Once players have purchased and placed their heroes, they fight against either each other, or a neutral enemy wave on certain turns (which grant items that can be equipped to further power up heroes). After each player-versus-player clash, the winner deals damage to the loser based on how many units they had left. The winner is the last Underlord standing.
The game is planned to have a rotation of heroes and alliances, which will change each season, replacing some of them with new or different ones in order to keep the game feeling fresh.
Dota Underlords contains examples of the following tropes:
- Action Bomb: The Inventor alliance bonus causes them to explode on death, dealing damage to nearby enemies based on their maximum health.
- Anti-Magic: The Scaled alliance bonus grants all allies a large magic resistance bonus.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The number of heroes you can have in play at any time is equal to your level.
- Baleful Polymorph: The Shaman alliance's bonus grants them a chance to turn enemies into chickens when taking damage.
- Combination Attack: The Spirit alliance's bonus causes them to perform the Delta Slam attack: when three Spirits have used their ability, all enemies inside of the triangle formed by them take magic damage and have effects applied to them based on the Spirits who performed the attack.
- Comeback Mechanic: Losing a round lets you re-roll the hero selection once for free. If you lose multiple rounds in a row, you will also earn bonus gold until you win.
- Cooldown Manipulation: The more Hype an Underlord has, the shorter its cooldowns get.
- Critical Hit Class: The Assassin alliance has a chance to inflict a critical hit as its alliance bonus; the more Assassins are on the same team, the higher the chance and damage bonus.
- Flash Step: Most heroes in the Assassin alliance can teleport behind enemy lines when the fight starts, appearing near the furthest enemy.
- Hero Unit: Since the basic units are already called "heroes", your Hero Unit is instead referred to as as Underlord. Underlords are more stronger than Heroes, have powerful abilities which can be upgraded using talents, and generate a unique resource called Hype, which makes them more powerful and is earned in a different way for each Underlord.
- In Which a Trope Is Described: Each piece of Flavor Text has a title at the end, and many of them follow this convention.Enchantress' lore: She won't last a day in White Spire. Not. A. Day. -In which Hobgen underestimates his adversary
- Kill Streak: Winning 3 rounds in a row will initiate a win streak. While on a win streak, you earn extra gold each turn, and your border gains a glowing effect which changes color the more rounds you win (the effect can be customized).
- Limit Break: Compared to how they work in Dota 2, most spells are closer to this: heroes with activated spells start off with no mana, gain mana as they deal and take damage, and use their spell once their Mana Meter is full.
- Random Number God: There is an element of luck to the game. Luck determines which heroes you draw (and how many re-rolls you need to buy to get the hero you want), which items you get, who you face each turn, and certain abilities such as Critical Hits and evasion. Of course, proper strategy and flexibility can help you make the best of what you're dealt.
- Set Bonus: The crux of the game's strategy comes from completing alliances by placing allied heroes on the board. Each Alliance gives a different bonus when a certain amount of allied heroes are on the same team, with another bonus added from having the alliance's Ace unit.
- Wretched Hive: White Spire, the town in which the game is set, is described as being overrun with criminals and gangs. Players are mobsters trying to take control of the city's underworld.