Stay Frosty! Jaina is Brought into the Nexus!

Between Warlords of Draenor, BlizzCon and other real life commitments, I haven’t had much opportunity to sit down and play Heroes recently, however this week I’ve managed to sit down and get a few games in – and it couldn’t have come at a better time! Jaina Proudmoore, Ruler of Theramore, has been introduced to the game shortly after getting showcased at BlizzCon, and she’s certainly shattered her way into being a quick favourite amongst many people!

For those that haven’t played Warcraft, the Jaina we see in Heroes is at a time between Warcraft III and the events of Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War – that is, while she still has her golden hair and as seen in the trailer above, we can assume that Theramore stands under her leadership. For more information about her, check out her lore article on Wowpedia as there’s simply too much to sum up here. She is an accomplished Mage that usually dabbles in all forms of arcane magic, though in Heroes focuses more on frost, rather than fire or arcane schools of magic. As such, she is a bit of a glass cannon when it comes to her assassin role in Heroes of the Storm (think even squishier than Nova or Valla) and really comes into play in team fights to control the fight and pick off anyone who’s bitten more than they can chew.

As always, please remember that while writing this article, Heroes of the Storm is in technical alpha, and especially when the hero is new we may find that some parts of this spotlight may be old or outdated in the near future as balance occurs.

Jaina_proudmoore_by_tamplierpainter-d46e6keAbilities

Frostbite_IconTrait – Frostbite: All abilities Chill targets, slowing Movement Speed by 25% and amplifying damage from your abilities by 50%. Lasts 4 seconds.

The bread and butter of Jaina’s arsenal. All of her casted abilities will Chill targets, which makes her chasing potential skyrocket for enemies she catches out. They most likely won’t escape, especially in late-game when she can spam Frostbolt every 2 seconds, so this also encounters a problem for Jaina players – if anyone’s caught by her, they either face trying to kite and juke or they’ll just turn around and smack her in the face. With a lack of escape options, you have to be good at the kiting game yourself or else you’ll get caught out and sent to the fountain.

Despite the lack of escape in her basic abilities, she’s great at solo laning at the start of games largely because she can just chill any enemies coming toward her and hide behind the gates, and her Blizzard and Cone of Cold abilities can quickly decimate creep waves coming her way.

Frostbolt_Icon[Q] Frostbolt: 30 Mana – Cooldown: 4 seconds  Deal 60 (+ 16) damage and Chill the target.

A heavy single target nuke, though with the cooldown being 4 seconds at untalented and Chill lasting 4 seconds, when you’re not doing your shatter combo you want to follow up with Frostbolts after your other attacks. It is a skillshot that will stop on the first target it hits, be it creeps, heroes or buildings, so unless you’re great at threading the needle it is something to take into account when you go for your combos that generally, people will be hiding to save themselves from potential nukes.

As such, there may be many cases, such as the shatter combo, where opening up with the Frostbolt is going to be the better option so that once you get the surprise hit in, the rest of your attacks can hit without worry about where they’re standing (unless it’s out of range).

Blizzard_Icon[W] Blizzard: 75 Mana – Cooldown: 15 seconds – Bombard an area with 2 waves of ice, dealing 40 (+15) damage each. Damaged enemies are Chilled.

A wave clearer, but also great at grabbing escaping targets, this ability has more often than not granted my team kills from heroes that thought they were going to get away with it. Not always from the damage itself, but more because of the Chill it brings, allowing us to catch up and take the kill. Do note that the first wave will Chill a target, so if you can position it to hit a target twice, that second wave will crit.

Cone_of_Cold_Icon[E] Cone of Cold: 50 Mana – Cooldown: 10 seconds – Deal 40 (+13) damage and Chill targets.

A quick nuke that is a short-range cone, I can never help but feel this ability could use some kind of buff to make it more worthwhile. Currently it’s mainly used to help clear creep waves and jungle camps, or to get that last nuke off if you find yourself in melee range. Similarly, it’s a quick nuke to get off so that you can escape if needs be if you get jumped. Overall however, I just feel that Cone of Cold is too small a cone and requires your enemies to be where you don’t want to be in order to make it useful.

It’s certainly a nice addition to the shatter combo however, and I can’t think of many other iconic frost mage abilities that would help in this light. Maybe a Frost Nova for control? Frozen Orb?

Ring_of_Frost_Icon[R1] Ring of Frost: 70 Mana – Cooldown: 100 seconds – After a short delay, create a Ring of Frost at target location that deals 680 (224 + 24 per level) damage and roots enemies for 3 seconds. The ring persists for 3 seconds afterward, Chilling any enemies who touch it.

The first heroic ability available to Jaina players is the Ring of Frost. Noticeably as annoying as the WoW version, with a massive amount of damage tied to it, it’s certainly my preferred talent in not just the shatter combo style of play, but just in general. Especially on maps where chokepoints are abundant, Ring of Frost will create so much space for your team in that enemies are just stopped in their tracks as soon as they see it coalescing, it’s hard to pick the Water Elemental over this.

As much as the name implies it, please realise that the damage and root only applies to those hit by the actual RING of Frost, rather than the entire AoE inside the cast area. You can improve the talent at level 20 to make the ring pulse again for the area inside the ring, but the AoE is roughly the same size as Blizzard in that regard.

Summon_Water_Elemental_Icon[R2] Summon Water Elemental: 75 Mana – Cooldown: 80 seconds – Summons a Water Elemental at target location, dealing 170 (56 + 6 per level) damage and Chilling nearby enemies. The Water Elemental’s Basic Attacks splash for 25% damage and Chill.

The second of Jaina’s heroics was the one I was more excited about to try out at BlizzCon, and was a little sad that it was the level 2 ability that you had to unlock after a game or two once she was available to play at home. However, upon playing both talents live, I’m really feeling that this one, albeit the “cool” option (no pun intended) is very lackluster in my opinion. Like Jaina, it’s also very squishy, and you can’t rely on games lasting until level 20 to make it mediocre enough to be viable over Ring of Frost and/or Bolt of the Storm.

That being said, he can be useful for helping Jaina jungle, or to tank creep waves for her. In team fights however, the elemental will likely just get targeted and nuked down too quickly for how long that cooldown is.

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Talents

First of all, I’d like to preface this with the fact that I love what Blizzard have done with Jaina’s talents. If you needed any extra flavour carried over from WoW in terms of frost mages, this is where to find it. With talents like Icy Veins, Frost Armor, Arcane Intellect, Ice Lance, etc I do wonder if Blizzard will carry this theme onto other heroes like Thrall bringing Shaman abilities over as talents.

In this overview, I’m going to focus mainly on the shatter combo, as I believe this is the most fun way to play Jaina in her assassin role. There may be small discrepancies between talents depending on battleground or team comps, but overall this is my general build for most games.

Talents1

At the start of the game, you want to be starting off with Winter’s Reach. The only other talent worth potentially getting is Conjurer’s Pursuit, but that’s only when you’re not comfortable with your regen and don’t know when it’s best to run back to fountain or moon well. Improving your trait isn’t as great in this tier because Lingering Chill is pretty much obsolete – all your spells Chill in any case so making it last longer won’t do much. For Deep Chill, if your enemies are getting away from you at 25% speed, you’re probably better off mounting up and chasing for a new chill anyway, or leaving to gank/push elsewhere. You’ll likely have other heroes in your team capable of slowing enemies baseline or have access to Shrink Ray.

The extra range on Frostbolt will help in Jaina’s biggest weakness – being caught out in a bad place. Winter’s Reach will help scout bushes and get initiations done at a safer distance for Jaina to be at, and to turn around if things turn sour.

Talents4

At level 4, you’re going to be unfortunate in that you’ll have to have Jaina fully unlocked to get the full shatter combo out. Envenom is hands-down the best talent in the tier, allowing you to rot down anyone still standing after your combo and finish off the kill.

Arcane Intellect again is a fairly good choice, similar to Conjurer’s Pursuit, if you just have the advanced talents as it will keep you on the field longer and allows more constant pressure outside of your combo.

For level 1/2 Jaina’s, both Frost Shards and Snowstorm aren’t great talents to pick up, as it largely requires your enemies to have bad awareness. The targets for your shatter combo are preferably squishies, so Frost Shards could be a good pickup for those hiding behind creeps/Warriors until you get access to Envenom.

Talents7

Jaina’s of all levels have access to the best talent in this tier for her shatter combo – Frostbitten! As for the alternatives in the tier, Ice Floes isn’t too great because it upgrades Cone of Cold to not be too much better than it’s already used for. Enemies aren’t going to be clumped up enough to make the talent worthwhile.

For Frost Armor, it’s ok for kiting but the second part of the talent isn’t great. The damage could proc off of a low damage hero like Li Li and then let the full damage of a Nova hit you. The block mechanic is great on Warriors that are designed to take hits, but you don’t want to be taking many if any hits on Jaina at all.

Ice Lance is a fairly nice chasing/kiting tool, but it requires enemies to not be juking your skillshots, and requires the target to already be Chilled. For the shatter combo to work, you’ll be opening with Frostbolt anyway so Ice Lance’s utility is reduced significantly, especially in comparison to picking up the damage bonus of your trait.

Talents10

As explained above in the abilities overview, Ring of Frost is the best pickup here between the two, especially for the shatter combo. At level 20 the Wintermute talent may make the Water Elemental worth it, but it involves the game lasting until level 20 to make your mid-game talent useful. Plus, if you die then you can no longer direct your Elemental to go to places or kill specific targets – on top of the elemental itself being squishy. At least with Ring of Frost you’re almost guaranteed to get it’s full effects whenever you cast it.

Talents13

Level 13 has the most choice in the talents of any tier. If you’re winning, go for Icy Veins without a doubt. It’ll reduce the cost of your combo to allow you to continue pressure afterwards. If you’re losing, you may want to consider Improved Ice Block or Sprint – the former if your enemies will still be able to catch up to you or CC you when you’re attempting to escape with Sprint.

Storm Front isn’t the best of talents for the tier, you don’t really need the extra range on Blizzard, only if people are running away from you. Otherwise you don’t want to state your intentions early with it, and it’ll be on cooldown for the shatter.

Talents16

The level 16 talents include one of the more important aspects of the combo, and actually makes Cone of Cold useful. Northern Exposure is what makes the shatter combo reminiscent of the frost mage combo – you have two seconds to make sure all your damage hits, AND it stacks with Envenom too.

Snow Crash isn’t worth it in a non-AI game. There’s an AoE on the floor even before the first wave goes down. Most people leave by the second, and if they’re still there by the third… Get out of that MMR! For Numbing Blast, it requires to be clumped up after getting hit by a Blizzard for it to work properly, or you can root someone for a second to try and gain some distance. Ice Barrier isn’t too bad of a survival talent during team fights, but with better positioning you shouldn’t have too much need for this talent.

Talents20

The final choice again isn’t really much of a choice. I don’t really know why Swift Storm is here on Jaina, perhaps for lack of use for the other Storm abilities – she doesn’t do enough auto attack damage for Fury; she’s an assassin and they don’t seem to be targets to get Resurgence; and Shield is usually reserved to support. Bolt and Swift would have to be the ones that make the most sense for Jaina in that regard, though again I don’t see any scenario where Swift will be useful over anything else in late-game.

I haven’t had a game last long enough to test Wintermute properly, so I can’t vouch for or against it for the moment, but between Cold Snap and Bolt of the Storm, I’d have to say I prefer Bolt in any situation. Used offensively or defensively to get into correct positions, this can either save your skin or make someone else have a bad time.

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Shatter Combo

I’ve mentioned the shatter combo a few times this article, and I guess I’d better explain myself here, now that we know what toolkit is available to Jaina. As we know, she’s a bit of a glass cannon and can control large zones of the fight extremely well. With this in mind, we can almost recreate a shatter combo like we see in WoW from frost mages – tons of damage in an extremely short space of time. At level 20 you’ll be dealing around 2/3 of a Warrior’s health in just a few seconds, so you can see how much you can remove from the fight and send your foes to the fountain.

It’s 5 abilities in total that you’ll be hitting in just a couple of seconds, so the combo is quick and hard, but practice will make perfect. The combo is as follows:

  1. Start off with a Frostbolt to apply the Frostbite debuff, this is the hardest to hit spell if your foes are hiding behind creeps, so it’s easy to work out if you can continue the combo or not right here.
  2. Follow it up with a Ring of Frost
  3. As soon as the animation starts on the Ring of Frost, cast Blizzard.
  4. Before the first wave of Blizzard lands and the Ring of Frost finishes coalescing, hit Cone of Cold to apply Northern Exposure to increase their damage taken by 25%
  5. Finish up with Envenom to rot them down.

That’s the shatter combo in a nutshell! As I said, practice does make perfect, so if you want to try it out against Arthas a few times in try mode, by all means go for it – being in such close range to get the Cone of Cold to hit makes it high risk, high reward so you don’t want to get your timing’s off or else it’ll be YOUR team in a 4v5 situation.

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New Sequences Spun: Abathur Tactics

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“Evolution never over. Perfection goal that always changes. Can pursue. Cannot obtain.”

I won’t make it any secret that I love Abathur – not just in his playstyle but also in character from Heart of the Swarm. It makes sense that someone who debuts in HotS, is also awesome in HotS – am I right? This will be the first in a sequence of posts about Abathur, and I’ll likely be focusing on him during updates especially during the alpha and beta phases. With so many changes coming to heroes as well as maps, it gets kind of overwhelming to keep on track of it all! With the Heroes alpha entering its final phase this week, let’s take a basic look at Abathur as the servers come up for people wanting to try out this interesting hero!

Never seen before in MOBAs, Abathur is a hero that hides behind the safety of the base, or if he’s feeling more daring in the fog of war or in bushes and nooks and crannies. His base damage is the lowest in the game, and his base health is the second lowest after Murky. Essentially, he doesn’t want to be the target of any warrior, let alone assassin. Fortunately he has abilities that have global or near-global presence that allow him to make a difference even while hiding out of sight of the enemy team.

Abilities subtitle

locust-strainTrait – Locust Strain

Every 20 seconds, Abathur will spawn a locust that waddles down the nearest lane to ultimately meet its demise against anything that they meet down the lane. They have similar health to creeps, and can aid in the potential pushing power of whatever lane Abathur chooses to be in. Buildings will prefer to hit creeps and mercs before the locusts, so make sure to take that into account when building your talents. With a little extra tip: spawn your first locust between your fountain and core to make sure the first one doesn’t needlessly suicide himself into towers, and not to mention giving away your lane position to the enemies early on.

Talents that improve Locust Strain:

  • Combat Adaptation [Level 1] – 20% increased attack speed.
  • Survival Instincts [Level 1] – 30% increased health.
  • Assault Strain [Level 13] – They begin to cleave and explode, dealing damage, on death.
  • Bombard Strain [Level 13] – Gain a sieging ranged attack.

deep-tunnel

Z – Deep Tunnel

Not many DNA-altering worms can ride mounts, and as awesome as Abathur is he’s no exception to this rule. On a 30 second cooldown this ability is what Abathur gets instead of a mount, and it’s the ability to travel anywhere he likes on the map as long as he has vision of that area. I’d hate to miss out in this section that his [W] Toxic Nest ability grants a small patch of vision around it, so as long as it’s not in a dangerous location Abathur essentially has the potential for global presence in not just his abilities, but in himself as well! There is a second or two of casting before you tunnel away though, so keep a keen eye out for any threats around yourself should you need the escape. The channel can be stopped by stuns, but not damage.

There are no talents that affect Deep Tunnel.

symbiote

Q – Symbiote

The bread and butter for Abathur, what he will be spending most of his time revolving around in every map, and what makes him unique to anything seen before in the genre. He can Symbiote into a target at global range, give them a snazzy hat, and gain three new abilities that I’ll outline below. For the effects of Symbiote itself, Abathur will cocoon himself and as a result will be vulnerable to enemies as the Abathur playing will have reduced focus on where he’s left his body. Placing yourself in a defensive or aggressive positions before Symbioting will have a massive effect on Abby’s playstyle and the awareness of the player behind the screen.

You can Symbiote heroes, creeps, mercs, towers, forts and the core itself, and any kills or structures destroyed while under Symbiosis will grant Abathur’s team exp. Symbiote lasts 45 seconds, though you can leave the target at any time by hitting R once inside – do note that even when the 45sec timer runs out or if canceled early, Symbiote will be start a 4 second cooldown, the first second of which is a self-stun on Abby, where other abilities will queue up and be cast when that stun is over. I will admit to having repeatedly set Toxic Nests around in bad positions because of this… You will continue to spawn locusts while inside your cocoon.

As for who’s best to Symbiote? I usually take whoever has high DPS anyway, as you can do some devastating work with well-timed stabs and spike bursts, but also be on the lookout for heroes about to lose or flee fights (ally or enemy), helping out with merc camps, or low health heroes near your creep waves. Symbiote also starts afresh with max charges and all abilities ready to use.

While there are talents that affect the abilities inside Symbiote, the ability itself doesn’t have any talents that affects it.

toxic-nest

W – Toxic Nest

Land mines with massive range (or talented for unlimited range), you start off with 3 mines in the beginning of the game and charges replenish every 12 seconds. Because of Symbiote, it can be fairly challenging to keep track of and maintain maximum uptime on the Nests, as it only takes 36secs to refill all charges of mines and Symbiote lasts another 9 seconds on top of that – once you’ve played Abathur enough, it gets into a fair simple routine of breaking Symbiote, planting 3 nests, and finding a new target to Symbiote, all in that 4 second gap. Do be aware that it takes a few seconds for the nest to activate, during which it can be attacked and destroyed. Once it does activate however, it becomes invisible to enemies! It doesn’t do game-breaking damage, but the utility it can provide can separate a good and bad Abathur in matches.

As mentioned earlier, Toxic Nest has great utility, and you can use it for three main uses: To help nuke a lane of creeps; to place them in strategic positions to deal damage to roaming heroes and dismount/unstealth them, or even uncover nearby bushes for your allies; or to scout out specific points on the map such as merc camps or objectives, to help find out where the enemy is when you can’t see them.

Talents that improve Toxic Nest:

  • Envenomed Nest [Level 1] – Detonated nests deal an extra 30% damage over 3 secs.
  • Ballistospores [Level 4] – Turns the impressive range on Toxic Nest into global range.
  • Vile Nest [Level 7] – Detonated nests leave a 50% snare on the target for 2 secs.
  • Prolific Dispersal [Level 13] – Increases maximum charges to 5.

ultimate-evolution

R – Ultimate Evolution

Not only does Abathur have to be unique in the MOBA genre for being the only hero to take part in team fights by hiding, he also is unique in Heroes itself in that he’s currently the only hero that has the option of a single heroic talent at level 10, and also misses out on having an E ability – not even anything passive like what Raynor has! Nevertheless, the heroic ability he does have access to only deepens his depth and complexity. At a 120 second cooldown, and for 45 seconds, you can copy a hero on your team, appear next to them, and be able to take part in team fights as that hero until either you die or the timer ticks out. You don’t get the talents the ally has picked up unfortunately (other than their heroic they’ve chosen), so Evolving into a Sgt. Hammer for example who relies on her talents to do well would not be a good idea. However someone like Tychus would be brilliant if he’s taken Odin, as the abilities inside it aren’t affected by talents, so you’ll perform to near-maximum effect. This is where Abathur gets his mark as being one of the hardest heroes to play, as you have to have a good idea if you need high damage for a situation or lots of CC and support, as well as having a general idea about the strengths and weaknesses of every hero without the strength of their talents! Not being comfortable in that regard can severely handicap your team – I’ll likely do a breakdown of different heroes and how useful they are to Evolve into at a later date.

When you evolve into another hero, the heroic ability is on cooldown for 15 seconds to balance out clutch heroics. If you want to set up something such as staggered Void Prisons, make sure to evolve with time to spare before initiating a team fight (though you do lose out on a third of the buff if you’re not going straight in). As a bonus, Abathur’s body itself vanishes from the map during this time so you can use your heroic as a clutch escape if you find yourself in a bad position. It has saved my wormy bacon in the past when I go for aggressive positioning, so never underestimate holding off using it whenever it’s up. When the time’s up or you die in the evolved form, you return back to where you left your squishy body, so make sure you’re not bringing enemies to a dangerous position for yourself when the effect ends. Also, when you’re Evolved, you will cease to spawn any locusts until you return to your wormy self.

At level 20, as with other heroes, you can improve Ultimate Evolution with:

  • Evolution Master [Level 20] – Increases duration to 60secs, and lowers cooldown to 90secs.

Inside Symbiote

Abathur gets access to three new abilities whenever he’s inside an ally: Stab, Spike Burst and Carapace, as well as the option to leave the Symbiote prematurely by pressing R.

stab

Q – Stab

Beginning the game at two charges, and on a 5 second cooldown, this becomes Abathur’s largest damage dealer in the game. It’s a medium-range skillshot that deals fairly mediocre damage from the start, however with talents you can easily make it a much more deadly ability that has often led me to hero damage of 100k+ in many matches, while still maintaining high siege damage. The damage of Stab doesn’t correlate to who you Symbiote, so your own locusts can become a death trap to unsuspecting heroes!

Talents that improve Stab:

  • Barbed Spines [Level 4] – Increases damage by 20%.
  • Grooved Spines [Level 7] – Increase skillshot range by 33%.
  • Spatial Efficiency [Level 13] – Increase charges of Stab to 3.

spike-burstW – Spike Burst

Spike Burst is a point blank AoE on the target you have used Symbiote on, at a 6 second cooldown. Very useful in maps like Garden of Terror or Haunted Mines, as killing small groups of mobs are a part of the main objective of the map. It’s also useful if you team up with someone to clear out the jungle, especially the knight camps. In addition, when using Symbiote on the core, the damage of Spike Burst is increased, and has a much larger area of effect that can be useful as a last-chance effort to fight back multiple lanes of creeps.

Talents that improve Spike Burst:

  • Eradicate Minions [Level 1] – Spike Burst deals 50% bonus damage to non-heroic targets
  • Pressurized Glands [Level 4] – Doubles range of Spike Burst
  • Envenomed Spikes [Level 16] – Spike Burst slows enemies by 40% for 2 seconds

carapaceE – Carapace

Carapace plants a shield on your host for up to 8 seconds, while Carapace itself is on a 12 second cooldown. You usually use Carapace immediately after Symbioting a target, as it’s on such a long cooldown, however in some cases it might be better to hold off on it until your host is ready to dive in and use the shield, especially as the green globe effect over the hero is far easier to notice that Abathur’s in a target than the hat, so you can punish sloppy play by your foes with a couple of extra Stabs or a Spike Burst before they realise an extra damage source is in play. With talents this ability can include a shield, a heal over time and movement speed increase – an excellent compliment to play a more defensive game instead. However, leaving the host before the shield lasts its 8 seconds will cancel the shield and any additional benefits you may have talented into.

Talents that improve Carapace:

  • Regenerative Microbes [Level 7] – Carapace gains a small heal per second effect
  • Adrenaline Boost [Level 16] – Carapace increases the move-speed of host by 40% for 3 seconds

Overall, when you play Abathur more and more and become more efficient on him, you get into a good routine that involves leaving when all abilities are on a cooldown greater than 4 seconds, and re-Symbioting a target will grant fresh cooldowns to release even more of a burst of damage. Bridging the gap between a good and great Abathur player will be able to do the Symbiote dance while weaving in the Toxic Nests between Symbiote casts. If anything, the heroic is a refreshing break from the constant button-mashing that’s involved with Abathur’s standard play.

Extra Abilities Through Talents

  • Promote [Level 4] – Gives a lane minion +300% health and +100% damage permanently. I don’t think I’ve ever even tested this out as every other option in that tier is more useful for Abathur in any situation. There was a time where it was bugged and you could cast it on the Dragon Knight and Grave Golem, but other than that I can’t really comment too much on it. Has 2 charges and a recharge of 60 seconds.
  • Calldown: MULE [Level 7] – Useful against teams that are pecking away slowly at your base, you can just slowly rebuild your lanes back up (assuming they haven’t already been destroyed) and just help reinforce the defense. At no downtime for how much it rebuilds, just be aware that the MULE can be attacked and killed before it finishes repairing – it also restores ammo! Lasts for 60 seconds, cooldown of 60 seconds.
  • Locust Brood [Level 16] – Spawns three locusts at a target location near Abathur. These locusts gain all the talented upgrades received earlier in the game, so can be used for devastating split pushes.
  • Bolt of the Storm [Level 20] – Short-range teleport that persists through Ultimate Evolution. Gives you a bit more utility for certain abilities when you do use your heroic on someone. Largely upgrading the heroic will be more beneficial, however the escape potential or the aggressive blinks could win specific team fights as opposed to just being able to 5v5 more often.

Strand dangerous.

There are currently four heroes that make Abathur’s day one hell of a bad one. If you see them, make sure to adapt your playstyle in the map accordingly, and make use of your split pushing potential by forever switching lanes and going around the map. Even picking up Bolt of the Storm regardless of who’s on your team may be an option depending on the amount of harassment you get by the time you hit 20. From least to most dangerous, in my opinion, these are:

  • Zeratul – With being able to stealth in and blink out and deal a significant amount of burst damage, a roaming Zeratul doesn’t have to sacrifice too much to be able to take you out.
  • Nova – Similar to Zeratul in the she has her stealth to make roaming very simple for her, but she also has the bonus of range, and a holo-decoy to take some tower or fort fire before taking you out.
  • Illidan – I still have nightmares about his heroic… Not to mention evasion and the ability to hop over walls and have insane burst.
  • Tyrande – What? A support is dangerous to us? Admittedly she’s a damage-focused support, but how is she more dangerous than the three assassins above? Shadowstalk will uncover your position very easily for the enemy team, and as she’s support they’re likely going to have at least one of the three heroes above, and in Illidan’s case he’ll also be invisible while he gets into position to take you out. Make sure to pay attention to your own health, as her Sentinel when upgraded does have the chance of two-shotting you while you think you’re comfortable inside your egg.

Next article I will be focusing on specific maps and what builds I go for in them. As the Evolution Master, Abathur’s role within the game certainly evolves over time as he picks up more and more talents, and he’s extremely versatile depending on what your team needs or what the map has to offer his toolkit.

Heroes of the Storm: Personal Updates, and Storm Spotlight!

Heroes of the Storm

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Heroes of the Storm, and with many hero weeks coming and going (I believe the last spotlight I drafted was way back for Muradin in his hero week) I’ve struggled to keep up. I’m now in the technical alpha, and I thought “Hooray! I can finally check ingame for specific numbers and current-build changes that haven’t made it to third-party sites for my spotlights!” The trouble is twofold: firstly, whenever I log into Heroes, I end up having too much fun and just start playing games and forget about writing anyway, and secondly because it’s the technical alpha, we’re getting changes brought in and out so quickly it’s hard to keep up half the time.

I was writing an article for why I didn’t like the concept of the artifacts system that was brought in primarily as a gold dump for those who have purchased everything they want hero and skin-wise. Not even a week went by and the entire system was scrapped thanks to the enormous negative feedback the system had. So that article never ended up seeing the light of day, as I didn’t get the chance to finish writing it before it went away again. I then thought about the different heroes that have had major overhauls in the way that they play, such as Murky becoming less menacing with rat tactics and more of a team fighter, Illidan getting several overhauls to get him where he is today, as well as Tyrael getting significant changes since I did his hero spotlight.

I got the feeling that doing these in-depth spotlights for each hero with the limited time I have would be slightly overwhelming, so that idea is going on the backburner for now until at least beta comes out, if not full release itself when we’ll be seeing less massive changes that completely change how a hero plays and flows with the match. Of course I’ll be expecting patches and balances to existing heroes when the game does go live, but hopefully we won’t be seeing changes like where Illidan had his entire kit outside his heroics removed and replaced. I’m sure when the live game goes out, we’ll be having changes like that sticking to the PTR for any new hero that gets announced post-launch.

In the meantime, I’ll likely cover general game mechanics as well as heroes that I’m currently maining at the time – so expect to see content concerning heroes such as Abathur, Rehgar and Valla as updates occur to them over the weeks to come! Unless I find out that Azmodan is my boy or something after PAX Prime finishes up this weekend!

Storm Spotlight

At level 20 in a match, everyone has the opportunity to either upgrade the heroic ability they selected at level 10, or to choose from a set of Storm abilities that is restricted for each hero. At the moment, there are five Storm abilities that heroes might have access to – some only get the option of one Storm ability, some heroes have access to up to three! I know as an Abathur player it’s kind of boring to be at the former end of the scale along with only having the one heroic to choose from, but with the different Storm abilities available, it’s clear why he only gets the limited choice. Unfortunately in most cases upgrading your heroic ability is the better option, so these abilities don’t get much light outside of the first few matches you play a hero, and don’t have access to full talents.

Bolt of the StormBolt of the Storm – Activate to teleport to a nearby location. (40sec cooldown)

Available to 19 heroes: Abathur, Brightwing, Diablo, E.T.C., Falstad, Illidan, Kerrigan, Li Li, Malfurion, Murky, Nazeebo, Nova, Raynor, Stitches, Tychus, Tyrande, Valla, Zagara and Zeratul.

With a fair spread of heroes Bolt is available to, there’s no real niche for who gets this ability like with some of the other Storm abilities. Those who have played Dota will recognise this as a Blink Dagger, and it works in pretty much the same fashion, except it doesn’t deactivate when you take damage and has a longer cooldown. It kind of sucks that this is an ability that you see in the endgame, as I don’t think it necessarily is a gamechanger that will seal the final push and turn the tide or win the game. Nevertheless, it can be a pretty decent pickup for those that need that extra mobility or have good synergy with it. A lot of the heroes above already have great mobility anyway, such as Zeratul or Illidan, so the extra blink could make them that bit more terrifying to be able to blink in and still have that option of chase or escape.

I know I use it as a standard pickup on Abathur, as upgrading his heroic isn’t really that worth it unless you have a lot of allied heroes with strong abilities that you can flick back and forth between, but Bolt has saved my squishy ass so many times in lategame where you’re more likely to be exposed – plus you get to keep the Bolt ability when you do evolve into your team mates!

It’s currently available to 19 of the current 28 heroes, so a large selection already, but I’d love to see Uther with this to replicate some fun Tidehunter action of Blink > Ravage, and turn it into Bolt > Divine Storm. I guess everyone could have a use for blink for one or few of their abilities, it might be fun to see if Blizz have the tech for it to auto-unlock at level 10 or something for all heroes, though that might get confusing with everyone getting it baseline mid-game…

FuryFury of the Storm – Basic Attacks bounce twice to nearby enemies for 50% damage.

Available to 17 heroes: Arthas, E.T.C., Falstad, Illidan, Kerrigan, Muradin, Nova, Raynor, Rehgar, Sgt. Hammer, Sonya, Tassadar, Tyrael, Tyrande, Valla, Zagara and Zeratul.

Available to heroes with strong right click damage, or the ability to boost their right click damage to an extent where this bouncing damage is pretty scary, especially at endgame and you just rip straight through creep waves and merc camps, this talent isn’t taken nearly as often as I think it should be. I’m surprised that the heroes that have become the junglers such as Gazlowe and Nazeebo aren’t in the list of potential heroes, but that would make merc farming that much more easier for them I’m pretty sure they’d end up just twiddling their thumbs waiting for camps to come off of cooldown.

It’s interesting to see heroes like E.T.C., Rehgar, Tassadar and Tyrande that aren’t typically throwing out a ton of damage. E.T.C. is mainly a tanky utility warrior, and although the three supports can be built as damage dealing supports, it seems weird to have this assassin-centric talent as a final tier option for them.

ResurgenceResurgence of the Storm – Upon dying, revive back at your Altar after 5 seconds. This can occur once every 120 seconds.

Available to 11 heroes: Arthas, E.T.C., Gazlowe, Li Li, Muradin, Sgt. Hammer, Sonya, Stitches, Tassadar, Tyrael and Uther.

This is an interesting skill that I barely see used. At the stage in the game where you pick this up, respawns are 60secs or more. The long cooldown is a bit of a setback in its utility, but the Storm ability is available to all very survivable heroes (apart from Diablo, but that’s part of his trait anyway). What’s more annoying than taking a while to kill a hero, only for them to return to the same team fight at late-game, and once again you have to wear them down while they’re disabling your whole team and being a general nuisance? I guess if assassins had this capability it would lead to some much more confident assassin players to know they don’t have to dance around until their escapes come back off of cooldown again to re-enter combat.

ShieldStorm Shield – Activate to give all nearby allied Heroes a Shield for 20% of their max Health for 3 seconds. (45sec cooldown)

Available to 7 heroes: Brightwing, Diablo, Li Li, Malfurion, Rehgar, Tyrande and Uther.

Supports seem to be the pick of the litter for Storm Shield, as is what’s to be expected really. This is a fantastic pickup if you have high health heroes on your team, as that 20% is quite a large chunk. If you have heroes like Abathur, Murky or Falstad… Meeeehhh. I find it interesting for Diablo to be a potential pick for this Storm talent, though as he has no need for Resurgence, it makes sense as a second Storm talent, especially with the biggest health pool in the game once his trait stacks up. I’ve used it on Uther for clutch AoE heals, but with Diablo and Rehgar (the only other heroes I’ve played more than once) I’ve still gone for improving their heroics over Storm talents, or even going for Bolt on Diablo to help with initiation and singling heroes out with a Bolt>Shadow Charge combo, finishing up with both Overpower and Fire Stomp.

SwiftSwift Storm – Your Hero is no longer dismounted from taking damage. Increases mount speed by 20%.

Available to 3 heroes: Gazlowe, Murky and Nazeebo.

Unfortunately I haven’t really had the opportunity to have a go with any of the heroes that have this available to them, but for the heroes this is available for I can see it being fairly useful. For Murky, it allows him to escape much easier to nip in and out of combat. For Gazlowe and Nazeebo, it helps in not getting intercepted between merc camps, I guess? With such a limited hero pool available for this Storm talent, I won’t be surprised if we end up seeing the tail end of this talent before the game goes live. Either that or see a significant amount of new heroes with this talent available to them. I’d love to see Blizzard’s statistics on how many people take this though, as getting from A to B quicker is definitely a bonus, but the reasoning behind having so few heroes attached to it is pretty strange, in my opinion.