Hero Spotlight: Li Li Stormstout

Li Li, World Wanderer, is the latest hero to be spotlighted, and this week is Li Li week over at Heroes featuring a gorgeous trailer that is extremely well done! She is from the Warcraft universe, and was introduced in the Mists of Pandaria expansion as Chen Stormstout’s niece and he main presence ingame can be found in Valley of the Four Winds. She also appears on the Timeless Isle, as well as making some appearances in Dread Wastes, Stormstout Brewery and the Wanderer’s Festival in Krasarang Wilds. Outside of the game, her character gets developed through comics and novels such as Li Li’s Travel Journal, Pearl of Pandaria and the Quest for Pandaria.

She is a support hero that appears to be a good way to get started in the support role – her abilities largely seem to be “smart” in that you just use the ability and it’ll either automatically target heroes, friend or foe, that the ability will be useful on whoever needs it. It will also prefer heroes over creeps, but will still hit creeps if there are no nearby heroes to use the ability on. So if you’re looking to get into support for the first time, Li Li is a great stepping stone to ease you into the role before trying out the more complicated supports such as Brightwing or Tassadar, much like Raynor is a great introduction to assassins or Muradin for warriors. Li Li does has a lot of talents to choose from, and many of her ability talent upgrades don’t content with each other, so this article may end up being a long one just to go through the competing talents on each tier of talents.

She’s a little expensive in the 5500g band of costs for what she does, but we may see that change as I strongly believe that she would be a great way to get into the support role, and needs that cheaper price to entice people to try her over Malfurion.  Nevertheless, her powerful sustain coupled with a blind gives her unrivaled support power when it comes to protecting an assassin in need, or a warrior in the middle of a teamfight. I do enjoy the aspect we’re seeing here of having Li Li portray a Mistweaver Monk. Chen’s skillset heavily revolves around the idea of a Brewmaster Monk with Breath of Fire and Keg Smash as datamined abilities, though he does have aspects of Windwalker in Storm, Earth and Fire, I’m hoping we could see someone like Taran Zhu focus more heavily on the third specialisation of Monks.

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. Although I’d like to do the mini YouTube clips for the animations of the abilities, Blizzard have yet to update their hero page to include these, especially as Li Li’s abilities don’t necessarily have as shiny presence as other heroes.

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Fast_Feet_Icon[Trait] Fast Feet: After being hit by an enemy attack, Li Li runs 20% faster for 1 second.

  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Elusive Feet: After taking damage, the damage received from the next 2 Hero Basic Attacks is reduced by 50%. Charges last 10 seconds, and this effect has a 10 second cooldown.

Li Li is a support, and without her abilities giving her any form of escape (apart from her blind saving one or two right clicks), so this trait is going to be the best thing that will help a squishy character such as herself in order to escape when she gets focused. 1 second is a lot of time for a 20% speed increase, and as long as she doesn’t get stunned or rooted, only the faster of heroes such as Zeratul or Illidan will be able to catch her as she jukes into the bushes. As far as I know, it’s from all damage too, not just right clicks, so rogue skillshots may give her the boost she needs to hide away if you were intending to hit another hero.

Similarly, her level 13 upgrade is pretty powerful for that getting away potential, so if you don’t have anyone covering you in the match, this might be a good upgrade to grab. Blizzard says that she doesn’t need to be babysat, but untalented her healing spells don’t actually affect her so this trait, especially with the talent, may be where Blizz were going with that line. Against the other talents in the tier, it’s fairly strong, but mainly focuses on the style in which you want to escape. Lightning Serpent is the odd one out in the tier in that it allows you to deal more damage, which is good if you want to focus on a more damaging role when Blizz screws over your matchmaking with 4 supports.

Healing_Brew_Icon[Q] Healing Brew: Toss a refreshing cup of brew to the lowest Health ally within range, prioritizing Heroes over Minions. It restores 360 (113 + 13 per level) Health and 40 (21 + 1 per level) Mana. Will not target Li Li.

  • [Level 7 Upgrade] First Sip: Li Li is also healed for half the amount of the target.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] The Good Stuff: The amount of life restored from Healing Brew is increased by 25%.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Herbal Cleanse: Removes all Crowd Control effects and increases the movement speed of the target by 20% for 2 seconds.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Two For One: Li Li throws a drink to the 2 lowest health allies near her.

Her first ability is a spammable heal at 3secs cooldown, that allows her to keep a lot of lane sustain, especially in team fights. My main drawback for this ability is that it will auto-target, so it may heal a Diablo at 30% health when your Nova is at 32% and getting focused. Unless it targets based on deficit health instead of %-based, then I’ll shut up.

You can potentially upgrade this ability up to two times in a match, and at level 7 you have a choice between the ability to heal Li Li herself, being able to heal more with her already spammable heal, Calldown: MULE and the rare Clairvoyance. Personally, at level 7 I’d likely go for The Good Stuff, as I’m still dubious at how effective MULE is, and Clairvoyance requires the enemy team to have stealth heroes to be completely effective, though revealing an area for heroes to use their global abilities might prove more useful.

At 16, you have the choice of CC removal (baring in mind you can’t target Healing Brew, so you can’t release specific people) every 3 seconds, healing two allies at the same time (fantastic for this stage in the game where you’re pushing where you can in groups anyway), increasing the range of your basic abilities, doubling the duration of your Cloud Serpent (W) or getting a bit tankier with Stoneskin. Personally, I think that Two for One is the strongest in the tier, especially later on in the game. The rest of the talents seem to be better if you find yourself out of position or getting focused a lot.

Cloud_Serpent_Icon[W] Cloud Serpent: Li Li summons a baby Cloud Serpent to assist the target allied Hero. The Cloud Serpent follows the Hero around, attacking nearby enemies for 102 (26 + 4 per level) damage.

  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Bringer of Gifts: Casting Cloud Serpent also heals the target for 100 Health and 20 Mana.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Lightning Serpent: Cloud Serpent’s Basic Attacks bounce to 3 nearby enemy targets, dealing 7 damage each.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Timeless Creature: Increases the duration of Cloud Serpent by 100%.

Using this on a friendly target hero (can also be cast on herself) will summon an adorable baby cloud serpent, much like the ones you see in Jade Forest in WoW that will essentially just add extra damage for whoever it is you cast it on. He deals a fairly small amount of damage, and I’m not sure if he’ll focus on whoever the person you cast it on is focusing, but if you spam this constantly, he’ll be up 75% of the time.

At level 4, we have the choice between healing and regenning more mana through Bringer of Gifts, which in itself is pretty strong and compliments Li Li’s abilities well, especially being a heal that she can actually TARGET. However, we also have a choice between extending Blinding Wind (E) to affect two basic attacks, Poison Enemy and Shield Ally. Personally, I love Shield Ally and will most likely take it whenever I see it in talents on any hero, so it’s really a no-brainer in my opinion. Shields are always better than heals, especially if they’re three times as effective, and unless you hit a lot with your E, it’s just much easier to shield up instead of hoping to hit enemies with your AoE.

As explained earlier, the upgrades at 13 and 16 both seem fairly undertuned in comparison to what else is in the tier, but it depends on how you wish to build Li Li.

Blinding_Wind_Icon[E] Blinding Wind: Li Li throws a cloud of Blinding Wind at the 3 nearest enemy Heroes, dealing 580 (124 + 24 per level) damage. Minions will be hit if there are not enough Heroes in range. The targets are blinded, missing with their next Basic Attack. The blind debuff lasts 4 seconds.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Gale Force: Damage dealt by Blinding Wind is increased by 25%.
  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Mass Vortex: Maximum number of targets hit by Blinding Wind increased to 5.
  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Lingering Blind: Enemies now miss their next 2 basic attacks.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Hindering Winds: Blinding Wind now also slows targets by 25% for 2 seconds.

Next up, we have Li Li’s basic damaging ability, which again will auto-target heroes over creeps, and will cause them to miss their next auto attack. Again, I don’t know if it’ll prefer the grave golem or the dragon knight at the same preference as heroes, but I know that I want that blind to go on those guys over any heroes when they’re up! If it doesn’t that’ll be another reason why I probably won’t play this hero, thanks to the lack of control you get on her abilities. By all means, it’s nice to not have to use an ability and select who you want to use it on or where you want to aim it, but I don’t want lag to dictate my positioning or timing for abilities to get the right targets. Perhaps this is why she’s 5500g instead of 2000g.

At level 1, we see two potential upgrades for Blinding Wind, one going for more damage and the other for more utility. We also have Path of the Wizard, Bribe, and Healing Ward on the same tier that are pretty strong contenders. Path of the Wizard will give her a bit more sustainability in lane, allowing her to spam more cups (and give other more mana as a result) as well as being a general supporting nuisance for the enemies. I personally think you always need a single Bribe-user in any team, and if you’re the only one with it you’re going to have to sacrifice the other talents for it. Try to aim to get others to spec into it, as you’re not there to kill creeps – even your abilities will target heroes over creeps anyway. Healing Ward gives Li Li a ton of bonus support, and with only three other heroes being able to make use of it, it might be a good item to use without too much overhealing. Overall, I’d say Mass Vortex > Healing Ward > Path of the Wizard for the level 1 upgrade.

As for level 4, I already explained in the Cloud Serpent section that Shield Ally is an insane ability that needs to be nerfed. Although doubling the effectiveness of the blind is useful, especially with Mass Vortex, it’s still only for 4 seconds. At level 13 we get the option to snare enemies by 25% for 2 seconds: great for landing that Water Dragon heroic or making sure that enemies won’t be able to catch up/get away as easily, though as discussed earlier others in the tier may be better for the situation at hand.

Jug_of_1,000_Cups_Icon[R] Jug of 1,000 Cups: Rapidly tosses brew to the most injured nearby allies, prioritizing Heroes over Minions. It restores a total of 2520 (696 + 96 per level) Health and 600 (144 + 24 per level) Mana over 6 seconds. Will not target Li Li.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Jug of 1,000,000 Cups: Li Li throws out twice as many cups over the same duration.

Yeah, you know her Q ability? This is essentially Healing Brew on steroids. You can’t use any other abilities while she channels this, but you are still able to move around. It heals for more than Malfurion’s Tranq in a shorter space of time, as well as restores mana. Again, if it targets your 30% Diablo over your 32% Nova, it might make the difference between life and death… But this heroic is one case where I don’t mind as the alternative would be to try and chuck out as many cups as you can in the channel time.

Her upgrade at 20 doubles the effect of her heroic ability, despite the name not being “of 2ooo Cups”. I guess it sounds better to say a MILLION cups! Without seeing this in action or in more situations, we’re already seeing a lot of healing throughput with Li Li, and with a wide range of Storm abilities to choose from, it essentially will come down to if you need the extra healing or if you need the quick res from Resurgence, the teleport from Bolt, or are expecting a huge income of damage that needs to be Shielded.

Water_Dragon_Icon[R] Water Dragon: Li Li summons a Water Dragon that charges an attack for 3 seconds, then does 910 (340 + 30 per level) damage to the nearest enemy Hero. Enemies near the target take half damage.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Double Dragon: After hitting a target with Water Dragon, another dragon is summoned at the point of impact.

This heroic is a massive nuke that again, will auto-target an enemy hero for you. How this works is you use Water Dragon, then you have 3 seconds to make sure that you’re standing on top of whoever you want the Dragon to hit. You have a blue dotted circle surrounding Li Li to tell you the radius, but it’s fairly small so you may as well make sure you hit who you want by being in the middle of the action. As a support, I’m a little dubious about this ability, you might need friends to help CC or you can use it to deter enemies in 1v1, but it’s a great time for her to have that Fast Feet trait.

Again, this heroic upgrade effectively doubles the power of Li Li’s heroic chosen at level 10. Double Dragon forces you to be in melee range of the enemy, and staying in there for 6+ seconds will feel like an eternity for a squishy support hero. Personally, I think I’d prefer Bolt if I went for Water Dragon: purely to pop the heroic, wait 2 seconds, blink on top of the enemy hero then peg it out of there. Again, if you think you’re getting focused a lot go for Resurgence, or if the enemy team has a lot of damage nuke, go for the Shield. Though if fights are hectic enough, you might be able to get Double Dragon to work out for massive damage, especially with the AoE component, to truly wreck the fight.

Explorer Li Li

With the launch of Li Li week, we also see her skin showcased at PAX make it into the game! The classic orange tint is the one you see above, with the ability to unlock black and pink tints at later levels and hero quests completed. It really exemplifies her story as the world explorer, it makes sense for her to have a classic explorer’s outfit! Being a rebellious teenager, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw other skins on her such as a Punk or Goth skin (though a Goth being in charge of healing you may seem a little odd). Perhaps we could see her in an Oktoberfest outfit to complement her role for giving drinks out to her allies.

Hero Spotlight: Brightwing

PAX East has come and gone, and on Blizzard’s return back to HQ we get a new hero week! This time it’s on one of the new heroes showcased, the Faerie Dragon Brightwing! This playful bundle of joy that appears to believe our insides taste of berries is a ranged support hero with global presence on the battlefield. Brightwing is one of the few non-hero heroes that we get to play as in Heroes, so there’s not much lore on Brightwing herself, but Blizzard felt that the playstyle of a faerie dragon would fit well into Heroes.

Personally, I’m all for these non-hero heroes, especially if there isn’t an existing hero that has the skillset that would be fun to play with in the game. Whether or not they get in before big names such as Thrall, Maltheal or Mengsk isn’t any worry to me, as I do want Heroes of the Storm to still have heroes to look forward to playing over the months or years that I’ll end up playing this game for. I don’t mean that I can wait 3 years before Thrall finally gets introduced, but similarly I don’t want all the big names to be in the game in the first year.

Nevertheless, and back on topic of Brightwing, Faerie Dragons are a product of the Warcraft universe, and have been popular creatures of Night Elven/Emerald Dream areas since Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, when Malfurion summoned them from the Emerald Dream to heal the forests of Kalimdor from demonic taint, following the second Legion invasion. Looking like a cross between a chameleon and a butterfly, they usually seem playful and childlike, while having that sinister side of actually wanting to eat you. She doesn’t have the spell immunity that’s classic from WCIII’s Faerie Dragons, there are still other inspirations drawn from the unit in the RTS.

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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[Trait] Soothing Mist: Brightwing heals nearby allied heroes for 32 every 4 seconds.

  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Regenerative Rains: Each time you cast an ability, a free Soothing Mist cast will activate.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Gust of Healing: Activate to release Soothing Mists every second for 5 seconds.

A trait that passively heals allies every 4 seconds, though at the moment from tooltips it seems that this doesn’t scale with level, so the trait may become less useful as the game goes on. I guess by then you have heroic abilities and talents to make up for it, it would still be nice to have a trait that scales well as the game progresses. The only upgrades for Soothing Mist is at level 7, and they compete with Calldown: MULE and Cleanse. Because of the lack of spam you can do with Brightwing’s abilities, I’m leaning more toward Gust of Healing than Regenerative Rains, unless Blink Heal activates the trait talent on each blink, in which case it might be more worth it. Overall, others may have the MULE on your team, so it’s a choice between Gust of Healing or Cleanse, depending on if the enemy team has a lot of disables or you need that burst healing.

[Q] Arcane Flare: Deals damage in a small area and 285 (57 + 12 per level) damage in a larger area.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Arcane Precision: Inner area damage is increased by 50%.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Sticky Flare: Targets are slowed by 30% for 3 seconds.

Arcane Flare is a distant cousin from Warcraft III’s Mana Flare, with its only similarity being in ability icon, however with the theme for Brightwing and her iconic abilities coming up later, Blizzard had to have a standard nuke for her to use. I don’t know the damage of the inner circle, but I’m going to assume it’s more

Depending on how you build her, you may opt for the level 1 talent for the damage nukes, however with Bribe or even the Path of the Wizard on the same tier it might be preferable, especially in late game, to go for those other choices. Sticky Flare might be a useful talent to help snare enemies, especially clumped up, to stop them from escaping or avoiding attacks, especially if you have a much harder support in your team such as a Malfurion or support-specced Uther so you can miss out on Ice Block or Phase Shield easily.

[W] Polymorph: Deals 310 (63 + 13 per level) damage. Target enemy cannot attack or use abilities for 2 seconds.

  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Sticky Powder: Targets are also slowed by 50% for the duration.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Critterize: Polymorphed targets become vulnerable and take 25% more damage.

I have to admit, I didn’t realise that this ability had a bit of damage to go alongside it, but it certainly helps the low damage Brightwing brings to the table. In the PAX match, Polymorph was also usable on enemies such as the Dragon Knight, so I imagine that you can use it on the golem in Haunted Mines as well, to help buy you those precious seconds that could domino into a win. Besides that, it’s an amusing ability to turn Blizzard’s greatest heroes into a harmless pig or squirrel for a couple of seconds.

The talents all come at level 16, with Rewind and Stoneskin in the same tier. Personally I prefer Critterize, especially if you’re on comms with team mates and let them know that a specific target will be taking more damage soon, so nuke the hell out of them, though the extra survivability from Stoneskin, or being able to spam more with Rewind (most of Brightwings basic abilities are short-mid CDs anyway) might be needed more in your match, but the 50% snare for 2 seconds doesn’t seem that great in comparison to the rest of the tier – they’re already pacified anyway, it just means they can’t run away. It might be the better option when you’re not on comms as it allows team mates to react better.

[E] Pixie Dust: Increases move speed by 25% and blocks up to 2 Hero Basic Attacks, reducing their damage by 50%. Lasts for 4 seconds.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Shield Dust: Now blocks up to 3 attacks
  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Anti-magic Powder: Will also reduce damage from one spell by 50%

More utility for the support hero is always good, and being able to help allies (or yourself) escape if things don’t go to plan is a good bonus to have. It can also be used as a good initiator for your Warrior to run in quickly from the bushes and tank up some right click damage even better than they normally would. It’s a rebalanced version of WCIII’s Phase Shift, in my opinion – instead of making her outright immune, she takes reduced damage, but the trade-off is being able to cast it on anyone and also have increased movement speed. Puck manages to get away with it in Dota however, but it’s good to see Heroes mixing it up a bit (just imagine the QQ otherwise). It’s also useful to use on something like a Zeratul or Illidan to get them to catch up to fleeing foes.

Both of Pixie Dust’s potential upgrades come early into the matches, with the level 1 upgrade looking a little lackluster in comparison to its rivals in the tier (explained earlier with Arcane Flare). Anti-magic Powder however looks to be a solid choice at level 4, especially if you have hard nukers on the other team. If there are heroes that are “death by a thousand cuts”, then Shield Ally may work out best, though with so many supports sharing this talent, it may be best to communicate which is the better build to go for.

[R] Emerald Wind: Creates an expanding nova of wind, dealing 100 damage to enemies and pushing them away from the center.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Continuous Winds: Releases two additional bursts of wind that deal 25% damage

Two very good heroic abilities await Brightwing at level 10. The first of which is Emerald Wind, that can be used positionally to either knock enemies away from your squishy ranged assassins… Or you can sneak ahead and knock them back into your team! I don’t know if you can knock enemies behind your walls, or if they just smash their faces into them, but it might be a good trick to add to her repertoire, similar to how Stitches can kidnap an enemy and drop them under a fort or behind a gate.

Choosing between the Continuous Winds upgrade or getting Storm Shield or Bolt of the Storm is a bit tricky to say up front, however I think it depends more on the playstyle you want for Brightwing. Storm Shield is already available to many supports, and provides a decent substitute for missing out on Blink Heal beforehand; Bolt of the Storm allows you to be even more elusive, and can help with setting up that positional requirement to get enemies into your team’s grasp; and Continuous Winds provides a good buffer, especially against melee heroes, to give those few extra seconds of freedom.

[R] Blink Heal: For 10 seconds you may teleport to nearby allies by right clicking on them, healing them instantly, and another 672 (102 + 30 per level) over 3 seconds.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Ysera’s Blessing: Increases the initial healing by 200%.

While I don’t know the initial healing numbers, this is a great ability nonetheless. Making Brightwing more elusive and giving her a harder support role is great for her overall. I don’t know the cooldown for each individual blink, but as you can see in the video above, you can fit quite a few heals into that 10sec gap. In teamfights, which Heroes seems to revolve around in a much larger way than other games in the genre, this is a great competitor against Emerald Wind’s raw utility. Again, and I know you must be sick of hearing this, but it really depends on who you team up with and who you’re against as to which choice is better.

At level 20, you get a choice on a massive increase in the heal from your heroic ability, or the choice mentioned before of the teleport or shield.  It depends on how much Blink Heal actually heals for anyway, but I can see this being the best upgrade in the tier. Bolt isn’t as required as you gain a fair few teleports with the heroic, and you don’t have any positional requirements as such without Emerald Wind, though the Storm Shield may be much more beneficial to shield up before Blink Healing everywhere. It really depends on what the match needs from you as a Brightwing.

Puck__The_Faerie_Dragon_by_doccastro

[Z] Phase Shift: Instead of mounting, Brightwing can teleport to an ally hero.

  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Phase Shield: After finishing the teleport, the target of your Phase Shift gains a 200 point shield for 3 seconds

I thought that this would be a good thing to mention, especially with the talent upgrade. Unlike the previous heroes I’ve spotlighted, faerie dragons such as Brightwing don’t really have the anatomy to ride mounts. Blizzard have thought about this, and the way Brightwing moves quickly across the map is by teleporting to ally heroes. Significantly better than her old datamined version, that just allowed her to fly over terrain to get to where you needed to go, it still doesn’t in my opinion equal to Abathur or Falstad’s modes of transport. Then again, why should it be equal? Brightwing’s role is to support, and she’s not likely to run from combat! Similarly, the upgrade certainly helps her in supporting her allies, so if you want to go for the full support this is easily the best option in the tier, otherwise all four options at level 13 are attractive – either the Sprint, the Ice Block or Sticky Flare can all be used on a match-per-match basis.

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Brightwing already has a skin available to her, and while it’s just the one it is one that I do like. The Monarch skin changes her wings to be similar to a monarch butterfly, and then Blizzard takes the pun and gives her a royal crown and scepter to represent royalty and monarchy. It’s not a huge overhaul of the skin to where new players have to double take to see who the hero really is (Zeratul’s Ronin set confused me a while back before I realised the abilities he was casting) but it’s certainly distinctive and different to her base skin.

That just about wraps up Brightwing week from me at OMFG Soup, in other Heroes news a new patch was implemented alongside Li Li and Brightwing’s introduction to the alpha. Without being in the alpha, I don’t feel like I’m in the best position to be able to talk about them all in detail, though you can check out the notes here!

Hero Spotlight: Kerrigan

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.

queen_of_blades_retouch_by_vacaliga-d74ykoa

Assimilation_Icon[Trait] Assimilation: 10% of attack damage and 20% of ability damage is turned into shields for 6 seconds. The shield’s maximum value increases as you level.

  • [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.

Ravage_Icon[Q] Ravage: Leaps to a target, dealing 450 (70 + 20 per level) damage.

  • [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.

Impaling_Blades_Icon[W] Impaling Blades: Deals 1050 (290 + 40 per level) damage to enemies within the target area, stunning them for 1 second.

  • [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.

Primal_Grasp_Icon[E] Primal Grasp: Pulls enemies within the target area towards Kerrigan, dealing 310 (63 + 13 per level) damage.

  • [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.

76px-Summon_Ultralisk_Icon[R] Summon Ultralisk: Summons an Ultralisk that deals 200 (48 + 8 per level) damage. Attacks splash to nearby enemies for 100 (24 + 4 per level) damage. Lasts for 20 seconds.

  • [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.

Maelstrom_Icon[R] Maelstrom: Deals 150 (55 + 5 per level) damage per second to enemies nearby. Lasts for 12 seconds.

  • [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.

Kerrigan

 

 

 

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!