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is in technical alpha, and especially when the hero is new we may find that some parts of this spotlight may be old or outdated in the near future as balance occurs.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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Hero Spotlight: Tychus

In case you guys hadn’t noticed, I’ve added a link to the side to provide you guys with quick links to all the hero spotlights I’ve done over the past few weeks. In doing so however, I realised that when it was Tychus week and I spotlighted him, I didn’t really do him any justice whatsoever. I know I said I wouldn’t go back over articles I’d already done, but because the format changed so drastically between him and even the next spotlight, I figured I’d give him his own article instead of sharing it with other Heroes news, especially with what feels like forever since Blizzard last did a hero week themselves – although Murky should be coming along shortly. I’ll also be changing the format slightly again this time to avoid repeating myself over and over.

Tychus Findlay, notorious outlaw, is from the StarCraft universe, originally in concept in the first StarCraft game, but really coming to the forefront in Wings of Liberty. He’s got a great deal of information in his biography on the StarCraft Wiki if you want to check out more on him as a person, but generally speaking: he’s a southern badass from Mar Sara that has a no-nonsense attitude and an aptitude for getting things done ‘the fun way’. He’s primarily in the Assassin role in Heroes, but through talents you can make him a little tankier in case you find yourself in a team with four other assassins and you need someone to take the hits while Kerrigan or Zeratul go in for the kills. Unfortunately, his main drawback is a general lack of utility – he’s there to kill and take hits, but that’s about it.

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.

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Abilities

[Trait] Minigun: Before attacking, Tychus must windup his Minigun briefly. Once wound up, he attacks much faster than other Heroes.

The delay isn’t too long, and you are safe to target switch between enemies without having to wind up again (as long as you’re not moving) so this trait isn’t as bad as it sounds. Especially without the need to last hit like in other MOBAs, you’re not penalised for missing those crucial last hits. The minigun still has a wind-down, so if you do find yourself moving in between shooting, you don’t have to wait for the windup again each time as long as the gun’s still rolling.

[Q] Overkill: Focus Tychus’ minigun on the target, dealing 3760 (720 + 160 per level) damage to the target over 5 seconds. Other targets in the cone take 940 (180 + 40 per level) damage. Can be retargeted.

Overkill deals a ton of damage in a short burst, and allows for Tychus to be able to kite or chase down enemies while moving. It’s a massive attack in team fights that really hits the flavour of Tychus down to the tee. Tapping Q again while channeling it will allow you to switch targets with it, though for the moment it looks like you’re locked to Overkill until the channel is over, so you’ll have to make sure you don’t want to cast any other abilities in the next 5secs.

[W] Frag Grenade: Tychus lobs a grenade that explodes for 560 (85 + 25 per level) damage. Enemies hit are pushed away from the explosion’s epicenter.

The knockback is fairly respectable, and reminds me a lot of Batrider’s Flamebreak from Dota 2. It’s good for knocking heroes into or away from you, or you can knock them behind walls or out of bushes and that. This is pretty much as far as Tychus’s utility goes, the rest of his abilities focus centrally on dealing or taking damage. Because of his lack of stuns and that, you’re probably going to be the main person to pick up map objectives like Doubloons or Cursed Tributes, though if you can knock enemies away to make sure a team mate can complete an objective: do it.

[E] Run and Gun: Charge forward and instantly wind up Tychus’ minigun.

A great initiation ability, especially if you pick up Bolt of the Storm at 20, and it allows you to right click damage straight into the fight. With his natural tankiness, being the initiator of team fights makes sense for him, even in the usual squishy nature of the assassin role. However, it’s not an ability that you target enemies with, so you can easily make your escape if you suddenly realise that you’re put yourself in a bad position and need to move out. With an 8sec cooldown and just 50 mana cost, it’s very easy to spam and jump around the battlefield, weaving in Q’s and W’s in between.

[R1] Drakken Laser Drill: Summons a Laser Drill that deals 155 (22 + 7 per level) damage per second. Able to be targeted by reactivating.

When this first came out, I believe it was the best choice for his heroic despite how awesome it was to commandeer the Odin for his other heroic. However, this served more as the Assassin’s heroic while the Odin was the Warrior’s heroic, giving him a little more survivability. Since then I’m not too sure after balance changes, but I’d like to think this is how Blizzard plan to balance Tychus between his two heroics: this does an amazing amount of damage to a single target, such as buildings and defending against a push.

[R2] Commandeer Odin: Tychus pilots the Odin, gaining a second health pool and reducing all Crowd Control effects by 50%. Basic Attacks in the Odin do heavy damage and no longer require a windup. Tychus gains the ability to fire Ragnarok Missiles and Annihilate to devastate a large area.

He gets more tanky with this talent, allowing himself every 100 seconds to gain a second health pool and wreak as much havoc as his health pool allows, or 17 seconds are up. Do note that when you leave the Odin, your health will be the same as when you entered it, so if you clutch R’d you better make sure you’re out of harm’s way when you’re about to leave. The abilities he gains are as follows:

  • [Q] Annihilate: Tychus fires the Odin’s cannons in a straight line, dealing 70 damage to everything in its path.
  • [W] Ragnarok Missiles: Tychus launches missiles at everything in a radius around him, dealing 70 damage to each target.

With a nuke strike as the level 20 upgrade to it completing the E slot too, but I’ll get into that later.

Talents

As I mentioned earlier Tychus can either be tanky or ganky, and his talents certainly prove that to be the case. In this section I’ll go through each tier and explain how the choices can be used depending on what lineup you have, what lineup the enemies have, and generally how he looks to be on paper. I’m not in the alpha at the moment, so I might have gotten the wrong end of the stick on some of these choices without being able to test them out myself, and of course with it being alpha some of these talents may change over time.

TychusT1Level 1 is always going to be the difficult talent to take, as it dictates the way you play the rest of the game. Fortunately Tychus is the one instigating combat as opposed to reacting to it – all you need to do is determine whether or not you’re going to go around and pick off enemies, or if you’re going to be in the middle of combat taking everything to the face. The first two picks are more tanky options, and the latter two are more ganky options. Personally, I’d go for Regen Master if you’re building to tank, or upgrade your Q to go for more ganky builds.

Remember that only the mage creeps drop health globes at the moment, so if you have a lane partner that’s taking your globes, make sure to tell them that you need them for your warrior build. If you have a melee laning partner or have a support glued to you

TychusT2Again, it’s a very clear-cut between tanky and ganky here. Vampiric Assault scales extremely well with his increased attack speed to make sure that he’s healing up well during fights. Focused Attack, similarly is amazing for a ganky build with his increased attack speed again, especially for taking it off cooldown again and again. The W upgrade is pretty good for pushing, but I still think the other two options are much better.

TychusT3Another opportunity to upgrade the W, but we’re going to miss it again this tier because Tychus isn’t really that much of a utility person. It might serve to catch people out better, but chances are you already have someone in your team for that. First Aid is fantastic for tanking, especially with Path of the Warrior for even bigger heals, but is overall a solid option for the tanky Tychus, even over Rapid Fire for more Vampiric shots. However, I’m not too sure on the choice between Rapid Fire and Searing Attacks for the ganky Tychus: I’m leaning more toward Searing once his weapon’s been wound up to make sure you get those ganks off.

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As I mentioned earlier, Commandeer Odin (please note that it’s not a rank, but an action to take control of something, so please stop calling it Commander Odin) is going to be the more tanky option, especially if you enjoy going into the middle of fights. That’s not to say that you go for the Laser Drill as a ganker though, as the abilities you get in the Odin are fantastic to get those ganks off. Plus, a dead ganker does no ganking, so this is a good clutch save to finish off opponents and get the heck away afterwards.

I’d go for the Drakken Laser Drill in times where you know you’re going to need sustained damage on a target that isn’t moving much, like the Grave Golem or pushing down towns, forts and the core. You can see in the video above that it’s pretty good at defending certain areas as well, but it can be targeted and killed. It’s still fun to place on a chest in Blackheart’s Bay or a tribute in Cursed Hollow, so it’s down to your own playstyle really.

TychusT5At level 13, we’ve got a few options in both categories here. Relentless is a solid tanking (and ganking) option that allows you to get away from bad quicker and cleaner. Especially in solo games if you get affected by CC, chances are you’re going to get focused down soon. However, we’ll be taking a good, solid survivability talent in the next tier, so against improving Overkill I’d say that it’s best off going for upgrading the Q once you unlock the ability to choose that talent. As a warrior, you’re not going to be able to taunt people onto you, but you can sure as hell make sure the enemies aren’t getting away, or enemy assassins aren’t catching up to your supports by slowing them down.

For the ganker role, pretty much everything in this tier is a viable option. Upgrading the Q makes sure enemies don’t escape as easily and pairs well with Executioner in the next tier; Giant Killer is especially useful against enemy warriors and map objectives; Relentless gets you out of CC faster so you can continue eating face; and upgrading your E is great to help chase down and nail those kills (or get out of a bad situation). Overall I’d say to go for Stim Pack as it has that double-edged sword of chasing down the squishies – which your role as a ganker is – as well as having that option to be able to get out of Dodge. Pre-8, it would depend on the matchup: against high CC go for Relentless, if they have a lot of high health enemies go for Giant Killer. It’s especially useful against the Grave Golems and Dragon Knight too.

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For tier 6 at level 16m we have one main tanky option that really sticks out in Stoneskin. Again, this is where Path of the Warrior helps buff this out even more, but it’s likely that the regen is still going to win out. Regardless, for this tier there’s only one main option for the tanky Tychus, though upgrading the W is certainly an option to get enemies away from the rest of your team.

For the ganky Tychus, Lock and Load is a very tempting talent to chase down enemies. Remember that everyone has the same base movement speed unlike in other MOBAs, so getting that 15% extra speed will mean that it’s only heroes with abilities to escape that will be able to get away. Executioner is a pretty solid pickup too if you upgraded your Q in the last tier, but movement speed helps a ton in most situations.

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Finally, at level 20 we have 3 options available to us once we get there: two storm abilities and the opportunity to upgrade our heroic we picked at 10. I’m not sure if Fury will stack with Vampiric Assault, but interestingly his version of Fury is 25% less with each bounce, when most other Furies are just a flat 50% reduced damage on both splashes. Regardless, from a warrior’s perspective, being able to stay in the Odin for longer is fantastic and having that nuke to drop when you’ve got a massive team fight going is great for pushing the fight into your favour. However, I do love Blink Dagger in Dota, so Bolt is always going to be a solid choice in most situations. The anti-push on Focusing Diodes is also a great option if you picked up the Drakken Laser Drill.

Similarly, in the ganker build Bolt of the Storm is brilliant for getting into and out of bad situations. You can chase enemies down or Run and Gun in, take a kill, Bolt out before anyone can react. For the ganking Tychus I probably wouldn’t recommend upgrading the heroics as the Storm abilities are just that powerful to gank with. If the game is nearing the end and you need that push, you can combine Fury with your W to easily mow down waves and help finish the game off.