Underlord is a tanky offlaner who dishes enormous amounts of magic damage and provides solid area-of-effect crowd control. His Atrophy Aura reduces enemies’ damage while boosting his own. As such, the character can even be played as a semi-carry. Dark Rift is a spell that allows Underlord to be anyplace, anytime, and to save allies from dire situations.
In this Underlord Dota Guide, I will review the hero, talk about his upsides and drawbacks, and how to use him properly.
Underlord has a simple concept. By casting Pit of Malice, you create a trap on the ground that continuously roots enemies. While enemies are held in place, you need to cast Firestorm that does massive magic damage. Unlike most other magic spells in the game, Firestorm does basic magic damage plus percentage damage, making it ideal for opponents with a high health pool.
To maximize the hero’s potential, you should try to find small chokes where you can cast these two spells. They are great in unison, disabling and damaging opponents. Even when the enemies get Black King Bars, you will still have Atrophy Aura to reduce their physical damage. So, the hero always brings something to the table.
Firestorm is an extremely potent spell that remains relevant throughout the game due to its percentage-based damage. Six waves of fire (nine with Aghanim’s Shard) will fall on the ground. As long as heroes remain within the radius, they will continue getting hit by these waves.
The basic magic damage is instantaneous. After getting hit by at least 1 wave, the enemy will be affected by burn debuff, which does percentual damage over 2 seconds. Each time a hero is hit with a wave, the debuff duration restarts.
Firestorm can be useful in various situations. In the early game, you use it to nuke waves and deter melee opponents from last-hitting your creeps. With it, you can quickly destroy creeps and push towers. During mid game, it can dish unexpectedly high damage to the opponents, and you can cast it several times during engagements. Lastly, it is a great tool for high-ground defense.
Pit of Malice
While Firestorm is simply amazing, enemies can easily avoid it. This is why the developers have added Pit of Malice to Underlord’s spell kit.
Unlike the previous spell, it doesn’t do any magic damage. However, it has a rather large radius, and it can affect enemies several times (as long as they stay within the pit). At level 4, Pit of Malice will root the enemy team in place for 1.8 seconds. The root affects opponents every 3.6 seconds. In other words, after regaining the ability to move, opponents will get rooted once again after 1.8 seconds.
If you buy Rod of Atos, you can cast its Cripple ability as soon as the enemy breaks away from the root. By doing so, you can effectively hold them in place for 5.4 (three different instances of the root). This is enough for an enemy to take the full brunt of Firestorm, as well as any subsequent damage from other heroes.
This aura has a two-fold effect: it works by reducing enemies’ base damage and by temporarily increasing your own whenever nearby creeps and heroes die. For Underlord to gain damage from dead creeps and heroes, these units have to be under the effect of aura.
Atrophy Aura is especially strong at the start of the game. By placing one point in the ability from the get-go, you can gain a nice advantage in the lane when last-hitting.
Given that creeps will continuously die around you, Underlord will have higher damage than any enemy in the lane. This is especially true if you consider the fact that their damage will be reduced at the same time. By placing 2 points in Atrophy Aura at level 3, you can easily exchange blows with almost any melee carry.
While the damage reduction effect will become less important as opponents get more items, the impact of the damage bonus will increase (as you will be surrounded by dying enemy heroes during teamfights). This aura is the main reason why the hero can turn into a potent semi-carry with proper itemization. However, it is worth noting that Underlord is very rarely played in such a capacity.
Dark Rift (Ultimate)
When you press Dark Rift, a ring starts forming around the hero. After a short delay, Underlord and all allies within this ring will be teleported to a target destination anywhere on the map. You can teleport to allied creeps and buildings, but you cannot target heroes themselves, clones, wards, or illusions.
Dark Rift is an amazing escape spell if you notice that the battle is going bad for your team or if you’re suddenly ganked. Unfortunately, its 6-second delay at the first level makes it very lackluster. With each level, the delay is reduced by 1 second so, when your hero reaches level 18, you will have Dark Rift with a 4-second delay making it much more potent.
Keep in mind that the spell can be used to offensively teleport your whole team. As such, it can also be used for smart ganking and pushing. Unfortunately, as there is very little coordination in public games, this feature is more common in professional Dota 2 matches.
You can also use the spell to return to fights after teleporting to base. Lastly, you can cancel it at any time, which can prevent counterproductive team movement.
Fiend’s Gate (Granted by Aghanim’s Scepter)
This is a version of Dark Rift that is unlocked with an Aghanim’s Scepter. When you cast the spell, one portal gate will open at your location, and the second one will open at the 4000 range. Any ally can use the gate to teleport to the other side after a 2-second delay. Both portals remain open for 20 seconds.
Unlike Dark Rift, Fiend’s Gate doesn’t require allied structure or creep. On the other hand, it isn’t global. The spell allows freedom of movement, and it can be a good tool for backstabbing opponents. Still, this Aghanim’s upgrade is one of the less popular.
Underlord provides a combination of AOE control and magic damage while reducing opponents’ physical damage. The Dark Rift is a great strategic spell that can save you and your allies. On top of that, the character farms really fast, and all these creep kills make him even stronger through Atrophy Aura.
While his teamfight presence is enormous, the main critique of the hero is that he lacks initiation, which is important for offlaners and midlaners.
The hero usually goes offlane but, you can also sometimes see him in the middle lane.
You should start with either Firestorm or Atrophy Aura. A lot of players put 1 point in Atrophy Aura, followed by 2 points in Firestorm, 1 point in Pit of Malice, and then they maximize Firestorm. No matter what, you don’t want to maximize Atrophy Aura as this will reduce your mid-game presence. At best, you should put up to two points in this skill.
Underlord can easily control the lane by spamming Firestorm. It is a great zoning and harassment tool, which helps you push the tower rather fast. Furthermore, it is also great for farming nearby jungle camps.
The hero doesn’t have much kill potential unless paired with the right support. This is especially true as you won’t get many levels in the Pit of Malice at first. But, if you play him the right way, you can get a lot of defensive items that will help your team during the middle portion of the game.
It is very important for the player to start grouping with his team as some as the laning phase ends. At this point, you should have items such as Mekansm or Pipe of Insight bolstering the survivability of your team. Although you won’t have the initiation tools, you can slowly push towards towers by continuously casting Firestorm.
Underlord should always serve as a tank. Everyone else should stay behind the hero and react when the enemy jumps him. The combination of Atrophy Aura, Pit of Malice, and proper itemization should help you survive in such situations.
Unfortunately, Underlord is rarely seen as a playmaker. Your kill potential increases a bit if you decide to buy Rod of Atos. Even then, he cannot compare to some of the best initiators, such as Axe or Legion Commander.
It is very important for the hero to create items that will provide sustain for the team. Given that you won’t be able to get pickoffs through initiation, your best bet is to smoke and go to the woods hoping that you will surprise someone. After that, you should press on by sieging the towers.
There are certain things that weaken and things that bolster the hero in the late game.
As heroes become less dependent on their base damage, the Atrophy Aura will not be as potent. Although Firestorm’s percentage damage remains important throughout the game, the spell’s basic magic damage will be less noticeable.
At the same time, lower Black King Bar cooldowns mean that the opponents will actually be hit by your spells. As you progress through the talent tree, you can further improve your Pit of Malice and Firestorm, giving you even more control over teamfights.
In the late game, Underlord will have items such as Shiva’s Guard, Octarine Core, Scythe of Vyse, all of which can provide lots of utility. For example, if you have the right items, you can continuously spam Firestorm over an area making a high ground push almost impossible.
Anyway, by the team you reach late game, Underlord will feel like many other magic cores. He will be able to dish a lot of damage, provide some control through Pit of Malice roots, but don’t expect that you’ll get a rampage or that you will win teamfights by yourself.
Itemization (Core items)
Mekansm and Guardian Greeves
This hero will be tanky no matter what. However, you should provide some protection to your allies if you wish to win teamfights. Mekansm is a popular item. You will need Arcane Boots to spam all your spells. Later on, you can combine these two into Guardian Greeves.
Pipe of Insight
Pipe of Insight works under a similar premise as Mekansm. It is meant to increase the team’s survivability, and it is especially great against teams that deal heavy magic damage. Depending on the situation and the patch, you can sometimes skip Mekansm and just make Arcane Boots and Pipe of Insight.
Rod of Atos
Rod of Atos provides early game control. It is awesome when combined with Pit of Malice, and it can help maximize the damage from Firestorm. Lastly, it gives the hero great stats.
Given that it’s a bit more expensive, you don’t want to buy Shiva’s Guard as the first or second item. Instead, it is great as the third item, as you slowly transition towards the late game. The item is especially great against teams that have high healing and lifesteal.
Itemization (Optional Items)
The biggest advantage when having Octarine Core is that you can spam Firestorm all the time. Depending on the length of the fight, you might also be able to cast Pit of Malice twice. The item provides great stats and increased casting range.
Scythe of Vyse
As mentioned, the hero sometimes struggles due to a lack of reliable disable. This can be remedied by purchasing Scythe of Vyse. Most players will buy the item in the late game if it’s hard to control enemy cores.
This is the third defensive item that can help during teamfights. Crimson Guard is especially potent against teams that have 2, 3 heroes who are reliant on physical damage. But if the opponents’ physical damage is simply too high, it might be better for your support to simply get Ghost Scepters.
Aghanim’s Shard increases the number of Firestorm waves from 6 to 9. If you have the appropriate talent or Octarine Core, this will allow you to continuously spam the spell over a certain area. This can be very important given that Firestorm is the hero’s main damage spell. Additionally, the Shard improves the spell cast speed.
Black King Bar
In some rare situations, you will need Black King Bar. This is especially true if the opponents have a lot of disables. The item is especially great if you wish to build a physical damage Underlord (which I wouldn’t recommend).
Here is the last item worth mentioning. During the laning phase, Underlord usually buys Arcane Boots for mana restoration and Ring of Health for sustain. Both of these items can be used later on to create Lotus Orb. With it, you can remove debuffs from yourself and allies and reflect single-target spells.
Level 10 (+100 Firestorm radius OR +5 armor)
If I had to choose between one of these two, I would go with Firestorm radius. As the focal point of the hero, you want to improve the spell as much as possible. Given that the hero will quickly start buying defensive items, bonus to armor will be redundant. Still, +5 armor can give you a nice defensive boost if you start with Pipe of Insight or Rod of Atos as the first item (as they don’t provide bonus armor).
Level 15 (-4 Firestorm cooldown OR +75 Pit of Malice area-of-effect)
Again, Firestorm cooldown will always be good. The talent reduces spell cooldown from 12 to 8. In other words, by 50%. But the Pit of Malice talent shouldn’t be overlooked. This improvement is simply amazing if your team lacks control or teamfight.
Level 20 (+15% Atrophy Aura damage reduction OR +1% Firestorm burn over time)
Unfortunately, Atrophy Aura becomes less potent as the game goes on. Although a 15% increase is pretty significant, improving the aura effect by almost 50%, it is much better going with 1% Firestorm burn. This second talent is especially amazing in the late game, as heroes will increase their health pool. A rare situation where you want to get Atrophy Aura talent is when the opponents have a lot of squishy, auto-attacking heroes.
Level 25 (+50% Atrophy Aura bonus for allies OR +0.65 Pit of Malice root)
Both of these talents are pretty good. The main difference is that Pit of Malice root is better for the initial few seconds of the fight, while Atrophy Aura bonus is amazing for prolonged fights. The root talent could be quite annoying, especially if you took +75 Pit of Malice AOE beforehand. On the other hand, the first talent can provide your allies additional 50 to 100 damage (after killing one or two enemies).
Question: What role is Underlord in Dota 2?
Question: How do You Play Underlord?
Question: Can You Cancel Dark Rift?
Although the hero often feels clunky and slow, playing Underlord can be very fun. Destroying enemies with your high damage magic spells is very satisfying. It also feels great to teleport allies from a dangerous situation, thus saving them from imminent death.
Although the hero doesn’t make a lot of kills, enemies will also have trouble killing you. Farming the map can also be fun, but try not to steal too much gold from your carry!