Shifting from WoW and into Heroes of the Storm once again, and we have a new hero spotlight and trailer! Featuring the most badass queen from Blizzard’s games, I’m really digging the style of these trailers that Blizz are showing us to introduce Heroes into the Nexus. Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, is a major character in the StarCraft franchise, making her first appearance in the original RTS, becoming the central character in its expansion, Brood War, appearing once again in Wings of Liberty before taking another central role in Heart of the Swarm. She’ll likely appear in Legacy of the Void, but that expansion won’t be focusing on her as much as Brood War or Heart of the Swarm did.
She also appears in the novels Uprising (a prequel to StarCraft); Liberty’s Crusade and Queen of Blades (a novelisation of the original StarCraft games); in Shadow of the Xel’Naga (set between StarCraft and Brood War) and finally in The Dark Templar Saga (the precursor to Wings of Liberty).
In Heroes, she is a fairly high skillcap melee Assassin hero that can leap into battle, pull enemies toward as well as shield herself with her attacks. From what I’ve seen of her, she’s a pure assassin and doesn’t really fill other roles in the game other than perhaps a split pusher – so if Blizzard’s matchmaking system fails and you roll with two other assassins, just tell the Tychus to spec into a tanky assassin, as YOU’RE the one who will be dealing the damage. Please note that at the time of writing this article, Heroes of the Storm is in technical alpha, and I’m not in the alpha to be able to check live updates, so chances are that some of the numbers may have been tweaked and are yet to be updated on online sources.
- [Level 4 Upgrade] Fury of the Swarm: Basic Attacks splash for 50% damage around Kerrigan.
- [Level 13 Upgrade] Lingering Essence: Assimilation Shield duration increased to 12 seconds.
This gives Kerrigan staying power in lane to be able to take a few rogue hits onto her. The shield isn’t massive, the current maximum the shield can withstand is only 200 damage, but as a passive trait it’s certainly enough for Kerrigan to essentially be able to give herself an extra 200 health, or continually creating that shield within team fights. Certainly as a melee hero she needs this kind of thing to be able to keep up the assassin role, especially as her escapes aren’t entirely that reliable. Upgrades to the trait give Kerrigan the ability to build the shield up faster, and to allow her to easily move from lane to lane without having to build up that shield again. Although talents will change on a per-game basis, the first upgrade seems superior to others in the tier (though Psionic Pulse may win out, I’ll have to play some to see how it feels), though I can’t see the second upgrade being superior to Sprint, in the same tier, let alone the situational effectiveness of the other talents in the tier.
- [Level 1 Upgrade] Siphoning Impact: Kerrigan heals for 20% of the damage dealt by Ravage.
- [Level 7 Upgrade] Clean Kill: If Ravage kills the enemy, its cooldown is immediately reset and 90% of its Mana cost is returned.
- [Level 13 Upgrade] Eviscerate: Increases the range of Ravage by 2.
The thing with Kerrigan, is that all of her abilities are incredibly iconic, unlike my previous spotlight with Tyrael. Pouncing around all over the place, it’s hard to escape a Kerrigan unless you have decent escapes yourself. All of her abilities get a potential upgrade at level 1 as well as the Path of the Assassin, so Siphoning Impact may lose out as our role as an assassin is to eat face. Supports can do our healing for us, and a heal for 14-90 health doesn’t seem to great, unless you also go for Clean Kill and use it to heal up in split pushes. However, this viability diminishes as you lose out on Impaling Swarm, one of the stronger options to push down lanes with extra pets to send down there. Eviscerate is a fairly good option for the tier, especially against heroes that might try to escape the Queen of Blades, and it gives you that little extra edge in surprise attacks.
- [Level 1 Upgrade] Sharpened Blades: Impaling Blades deals 15% more damage.
- [Level 7 Upgrade] Impaling Swarm: Impaling Blades also spawns 3 Zerglings at the target location.
- [Level 16 Upgrade] Blade Torrent: Increases the size of Impaling Blades by 50%.
Her strongest nuke as well as a stun, this is easily one of an assassin’s favourite abilities as Kerrigan, and the level 1 upgrade can be a strong contender against Path of the Assassin when you know you can land the stun, and you need the massive damage it provides. Combined with Primal Grasp, you can easily grip a bunch of enemies toward you and nuke/stun them all, while an Ultralisk is cleaving them down or your Maelstrom whittles them away. Impaling Swarm is another strong contender in the tier, especially if you go for the split push option where you can send little minions down the lane to tank for you (and munch face) while you can focus elsewhere on objectives or teamfights. Blade Torrent can help with enemies that do spread out a little more, so you can hit multiple with the stun, but with Primal Grasp on such a low cooldown I don’t see much use in the talent, especially with others in the tier.
- [Level 1 Upgrade] Sweeping Grasp: Increases the range of Primal Grasp by 20%.
- [Level 4 Upgrade] Psionic Pulse: Casting Primal Grasp gives Kerrigan an aura that deals 30 damage over 5 seconds in a small area around her.
Primal Grasp is Kerrigan’s AoE grip, great for enemies that are trying to escape when they realise you have them targeted, as well as making heroes like Sgt. Hammer or Abathur panic when you pull them out of position. It deals a low amount of damage too, but its biggest draw is in the grip, followed up by you being able to stun with your W. Both of the upgrades for her E come early, so the theme for Primal Grasp will be defined early into the game. The first upgrade is decent to catch those quicker heroes, or if your latency is high and you need the buffer, but overall I’m still leaning toward Path or Sharpened Blades. Similarly Psionic Pulse deals quite a low amount of damage (unless that’s the level 4 damage, and it does scale higher… Gimme the game so I can test this!) so against other talents in the tier you may not end up taking this. Though an AoE grip with an AoE DOT does indeed sound like a great combo, I just feel that the ability isn’t there for the damage.
- [Level 20 Upgrade] Torrasque: Ultralisk duration and health increased by 100%.
While she may be able to summon three little puppies through a talented Impaling Blades, it’s nothing in comparison to the hound itself, the Ultralisk! While he’s not as flashy as Maelstrom, and if you can’t micro well (I don’t even know if he is controllable?) he doesn’t feel like he makes a big impact in fights in comparison to Kerrigan’s other ulti. However, he makes a great candidate for pushing, and it gives enemies another target to hit that’s slowly eating away at the enemy team. With the talent he gets even tankier and lasts 40secs, and with the 80sec cooldown it allows the ult to be active for half the rest of the match, which is pretty insane! In comparison to the teleport and the cleave you get at level 20, again it depends on the match but overall I feel that Bolt of the Storm (teleport) or Torrasque will be the main options here.
- [Level 20 Upgrade] Omegastorm: Maelstrom size increased by 25%. Amount of Assimilation Shields generated by Maelstrom increased by 100%.
Maelstrom, Kerrigan’s other option, deals much more DPS than the Ultralisk does and contributes much more to your trait, but it does have the drawback lower duration and longer cooldown. Depending on how often you need Maelstrom to be up (depending on maps with their objectives, like you can save Maelstrom for the Dragon Knight each time, or an Abathur may use you for Ultimate Evolution to completely wipe out a team) it may on occasion be the superior choice. But in concept I prefer the Ultralisk and until I get to play around with both, I’m sticking to the other ulti. However, if you do pick up Maelstrom, Omegastorm is a certain way to increase your survivability and staying power in team fights, especially when the other options don’t seem anywhere near as powerful for your role to kill people. Well, Fury of the Storm might help, but with the amount of times that people will be running from you, the upgrade just seems more viable while you spam your abilities.
There’s only two skins available to Kerrigan at the moment: her basic skin and her Warcraft crossover to turn her into a succubus. With how little I play the assassin role in MOBAs, again I doubt I’ll be buying the skin for her, but I can certainly see that it’ll be a favourite skin among many fans of her. There was a datamined skin for her as well turning her into a countess with a Transylvanian vibe to her, which actually looks fantastic. Both skins are below for you to check out!
As a footnote, PAX East this weekend! Blizzard will be attending, and in Heroes news we have four new heroes, two of which which be playable straight off the bat at PAX, being announced! There are many heroes announced that aren’t in the game yet (something like 15 hinted at previous BlizzCons are yet to be ingame), though I’m hoping we see heroes from multiple franchises, and with Sylvanas and Chen featuring on so much artwork, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see those two. That leaves two non-Warcraft heroes to be implemented… Perhaps Leoric and Zagara from Diablo and StarCraft? Maybe we’ll see the Lost Vikings? We’ll find out before the weekend is over, and I’m sure I’ll do a general post, as well as spotlights further on down the line, so keep tuned!