Jul 18, 2019
Jul 18, 2019

Teamfight Tactics (TFT) vs. Underlords - What are the differences?

What is Auto Chess?

TFT vs. Underlords - What are the similarities

TFT vs. Underlords - Main gameplay differences

Which should you play, TFT or Underlords?

Teamfight Tactics (TFT) vs. Underlords - What are the differences?

The Auto Battler genre has taken two of the biggest gaming communities by storm with both Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics (TFT) and Valve’s Dota Underlords proving massively popular. So, what is the difference between TFT and Underlords?

In order to understand the differences between Teamfight Tactics (TFT) and Underlords, we need to go back to where it began.

What is Auto Chess?

TFT and Dota Underlords are both based on a Dota 2 mod called Auto Chess which was released in January 2019. The mod used the characters in Dota 2 on a chess-inspired board in which players would buy (or sell) their Heroes and battle against their opponents.

With the introduction of Auto Chess, came a new game type genre, now known as an “Auto Battler”. The player would draft a lineup of AI controlled characters that would battle each other. The player with the last surviving lineup by the end of the round would take the victory.

TFT is Riot Games interpretation of a League of Legends themed Auto Battler and Dota Underlords is Valve’s take.

You can find our beginner’s guide to both Teamfight Tactics and Dota Underlords which is available on our blog.

TFT vs. Underlords - What are the similarities?

The formation of your team is a core concept that exists in both games, with players pitting their chosen characters against each other. As the battle ensues, the AI can make questionable decisions when controlling champions in TFT, whilst the Underlords AI seems to handle the power a lot better.

In TFT the faction system is referred to as Origins and Classes, while in Underlords it's known as Alliances and Classes.

The format of TFT and Underlords is another similarity between the two games, with eight players all fighting it out each round. In both Auto Battlers, the rounds begin with three Player vs. Enemy (PvE) rounds where players are pitted against monsters that drop items when defeated.

Both games also incorporate the faction system into their gameplay, with similar naming conventions. In Underlords, there is an alliance called ‘Hunters’ which increases attack speed for all hunters on the board, which is akin to the ‘Ranger’ class in TFT which also periodically increases rangers’ attack speed.

Within the shop, you are able to purchase five characters in both games, as well as reroll your selections and purchase experience in order to level up quicker. There is a discrepancy between the two games here as purchasing XP in Underlords costs five gold but provides just four experience points, whereas the same amount in TFT costs just four gold.

TFT vs. Underlords: Main gameplay differences

With the similarities being very obvious, you have to dig deeper to find the niche differences that separate the two games. One of these core difference between the games is the board layout. Instead of the 8x4 layout in Underlords, TFT utilises a 7x3 hexagonal field which creates more unique set ups.

TFT and Underlords both have a vibrant community with a number of helpful guides to get you started.

The item combination system in TFT is another departure from the original concept of the Auto Battler, with TFT incorporating items recognisable to any League of Legends player.

Items are dropped randomly by PvE monsters and are upgradable into a multitude of different combinations. The item combinations are vast, and community-created cheat sheets such as the one provided by can be extremely helpful in informing your strategic decision.

There are also items that can be equipped in Dota Underlords, however these items are guaranteed to be dropped during certain rounds and do not combine. This makes the items system a lot easier to understand with descriptions of all items available in-game.

A more stark difference between the two games is the shared draft round in TFT. During a shared draft round, players take it in turns from lowest level to highest to pick a free champion that comes equipped with a random item. This round works as a catch-up mechanic as the least successful players get first pick and can choose from the available selection.

Which should you play, TFT or Underlords?

Deciding which game to play can be difficult for new players with both games offering a unique spin on the Auto Battler genre. For those that have had a past experience with League of Legends or Dota 2, familiarity with the characters in the game could be the reason why you pick either.

In terms of difficulty, TFT is definitely the more challenging game with the addition of the item mechanics and shared draft adding a layer of complexity to the gameplay, whilst Underlords proves to be a better out-of-the-box experience for new players with a simplified game structure.

Both games are free to play which makes the barrier to entry low and non-committal. As of writing, TFT has been the more popular game among Twitch streamers, thus you may find your favourite streaming personality giving their thoughts and opinions on the game.

Valve are renowned for their dedication and support to Dota 2, so players looking to delve into Dota Underlords can be reassured that the developers will craft a seamless experience as the game matures and develops.

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About the author

Jack Davidson
Jack is an avid follower of all things esports since 2011, with a keen interest in Dota 2 and CS:GO. After managing the social media profiles of multinational companies, he turned his passion into a career working as the community manager for Pinnacle Esports.
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