Dota Underlords Tutorial: Interface, Controls, Hotkeys

Dota Underlords tutorial user interface controls mechanics

This walkthrough guide will teach you the basic controls, user interface and hotkeys for Dota Underlords—Valve’s latest strategy game based on the popular Dota Auto Chess mod.


Underlords is the stand-alone version of Auto Chess, the recently popular Dota 2 custom game and it will be released on Steam/PC and Mobile.

Dota Underlords hero units battle on the board

In Underlords, you’ll be playing against 7 other players (total of 8). Unlike MOBA games, Underlords is a strategy game and each player will be playing on an 8×8 chessboard.

Players will be buying Dota heroes as their “chess pieces” and place them strategically on the board.

The game will take place across several rounds. Once a round starts, the hero pieces will battle automatically based on their AI behavior.

Note: The screenshots in this guide used the Mobile UI. There may be some minor differences for PC but both versions are very much similar.

Hero Selection Shop

When the game starts, you’ll be given 5 random heroes to choose from. Purchase your first hero from the Hero Shop window. You’ll then get another set of 5 random heroes every round.

You can check their stats and abilities by clicking on their name at the top. You can also see which Alliances they belong to from the icons at the bottom. This is important for Synergy effects later on.

Hero selection window showing alliances icons and names in Dota Underlords

You can “reset” the hero choices by clicking on the Roll button which requires you to spend 2 Gold. (Tip: Rolling is not recommended during the early rounds!)

You can check your current EXP and Level on the right side. You can click this button to buy XP for 5 Gold.

Hero selection window in Dota Underlords during Preparation phase

Deploying Units to the Board

Once you’ve purchased your heroes you can close the Shop by clicking the “X” button on the lower-right corner. You can toggle the Shop again by clicking the same button.

Purchased heroes will be placed on the “Bench.” You can deploy units to the board by clicking and dragging them from the bench to a cell on the board.

You can only place units in the first 4 rows of the board. The other 4 will be for your opponents.

Deploy units to the board by click drag and drop

When dragging units to the board, you’ll see orange cells around the unit. This is the unit’s attack range. In the screenshot above, Tiny has 1 cell range around him.

Unit Limit

You’ll also see a huge “X/Y” label at the top. This is the unit limit, i.e. how many units you currently have on the board and the maximum number of units you can deploy.

In this screenshot, you have 0 units on the board and a maximum of 1 unit limit. This limit can be increased by gaining XP and leveling up.

Dota Underlords bench resrve space and available cells in board to deploy

If you deploy more units than the unit cap, they’ll be removed from the board when the round starts.

Units to be removed will be indicated by a red cell:

Red square indicator that unit will be removed this round due to population limit

Battle Phase

After buying and deploying heroes on the board in the Preparation phase, the Battle phase begins!

Enemy units will spawn on the other side of the board and your units will fight them automatically.

Dota Underlords heroes battling on the board

The first player to kill all of the enemy units wins the round.

Remember that in the first few rounds, a.k.a. Loot Rounds, you’ll battle with AI creeps to farm for gold and items (similar to most MOBA games).

In the succeeding rounds you’ll mostly be facing other players, with occasional creep/loot rounds in specific rounds.

Alliance Synergy

Once you have several units on the board, you’ll start to see the Alliance icons on the right.

This indicates how many hero pieces of each Alliance you have deployed on the board (filled rectangles) and how many are still on the bench (unfilled outline rectangles).

Alliance icons on the right displays synergy Dota Underlords

Oh, and you can sell units too by selecting them and clicking on the “Sell” icon on the left.

Upgrading Units

You can upgrade units by combining three pieces of the same star level, for ex:

  • Three 1-Star Units —> One 2-Star Unit
  • Three 2-Star Units —> One 3-Star Unit

(Related: How to Combine & Upgrade Heroes)

If you own 2 units of the same star level and a 3rd one appears on the Shop, the 3rd hero will be indicated with a shiny panel. You can also see how many similar units you own from the hero icons at the bottom.

Hero indicator if you can buy a third hero to upgrade

To upgrade units, simply buy the 3rd unit of the same star level and it will automatically combine with the two other units. With the combined, upgraded unit, you’ll now have one free cell on the board.


At the end of Loot Rounds (rounds where you battle AI creeps instead of actual players) you get to choose one item from 3 random choices. (Related: List of all Items in Dota Underlords)

There are 2 types of items:

  • items that can be equipped to heroes
  • Global items that affects your whole army

Item selection window after loot round

Your items are located on the Items tab on the right. To equip items to your hero pieces just click and drag them to your units.

Drag and drop items to units to equip them in Dota Underlords

List of Enemies and their HP

You can see the list of enemies on the left-side of the screen. The huge number is their current health points and the smaller number is their current level.

enemy list and HP points on the left side in Dota Underlords

Wanna check what heroes, alliances and formations an enemy player is using? Just click on their name to spy on their board.

Keep an eye on their levels too—you don’t want to be left behind and fight with bigger armies than yours!

Unit Statistics

The second tab on the right sidebar is for showing statistics for your units and your enemy’s units.

You can check stats like how much damage they deal, their DPS (damage per second), or their healing amount.

Damage and statistics tab on the right side Dota Underlords

This is great for knowing which heroes are giving a more significant impact to your army and which ones aren’t so much.

Losing a Round

If you lose a round, you’ll take HP damage depending on how many units your enemy has left for that round.

Defeat window in Dota Underlords shows how many health lost based on enemy units left

Hotkeys and Shortcuts

Dota Underlords is a strategy game that requires lots of interactions with the interface—buttons, panels, lots of stuff!

Keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys will help you execute your battle plans more efficiently.

You can check the list of hotkeys and customize them in the Options page in-game.

You can also check out our Hotkeys & Keyboard Shortcuts List guide here.

Dota Underlords Hotkeys and Keyboard Shortcuts options page

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