Valve have tweaked how you play Dota Underlords once again with some significant changes to the flow of the game.
Now, you no longer choose an Underlord before you start a game. Instead, you pick them during a match. In Standard and Duos, Underlords are chosen at Round 10, while in Knockout this happens at Round 2. You don't pick specific talents for them now either, instead they have two fighting styles to pick between.
The Jail feature has also been removed, as Valve said constantly removing heroes was causing "havoc" with their attempts to balance the game as well as stopped players being able to pick their favourites. Instead, to deal with the problem of having so many heroes Valve will be changing the set each Season.
Game length is another thing that has been addressed. Even though they introduced the fast-paced Knockout mode, the standard modes where still long and often dragged on a bit. Standard and Duos modes now have you start at Level 3 with 5 Gold. Creeps were removed from loot rounds, with loot rounds now happening during the normal PvP battles and item choices aren't affected by winning or losing. Hero HP was reduced by 25%, which Valve say they've finally struck a good balance on "between early game and late game survability for our units". All together, Valve say this has reduced the average game time down to 30 minutes which is definitely a lot more reasonable for a single competitive match.
There's a lot of other balancing changes done. Interest on Gold is now capped to 3 per round, earned Gold increased from 5 to 7, items are granted every 5 rounds, units in a higher tier now deal more damage to enemy players at the end of a round, plus a whole lot more.
Drastic changes, that certainly do completely change the flow of it. Being able to setup a little squad right from the first round feels like a genuinely good improvement. It means you can start planning straight away, there's a little less guesswork.
Also, the Lords of White Spire leaderboard now supports Ranked Knockout and Ranked Dous, which you can view here any time. You can play Dota Underlords free on Steam. The full release and first official Season is due early next year.