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.

Weekly Roundup: PAX all packed up

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Another week flies by in the blink of an eye, but with it came so much news that it was difficult to keep up. The Penny Arcade Expo came and went in Boston, and there were many things to look forward to, such as Below, with its mixture of Zelda, Dark Souls and Diablo that looks awesome so far; Hearthstone‘s expansion to feature Naxxramas in a single-player mode; Invisible Inc. that mixes XCOM playstyle and feel in its turn-based strategy, mixing it up with the overall espionage and stealth focus that I’m always a sucker to check out; and many, many more games.

One of the first things to come out of PAX was what I’ve been looking forward to for most part of last week: Heroes of the Storm updates and new heroes! Getting much more than we bargained for, we did get the unveiling of four new heroes, but also three more soon down the line, as well as updates to the base skin of nine current heroes to make them look more in their likeness in their original games. We also saw seven new skins, two of which were for the new heroes introduced at PAX, as well as ultimate skins for Uther and Sonya.

The new heroes? We have the Faerie Dragon Brightwing, the World Wanderer Li Li, the Baby Murloc Murky and the Broodmother of the Swarm Zagara to look forward to over the next few weeks – Brightwing and Li Li being playable as soon as Tuesday’s maintenance! It’s a shame we didn’t see anything from the Diablo series turn up, though what has turned up looks incredible and I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I’ll likely be doing hero spotlights for these heroes as soon as their videos go up (though Brightwing’s video is already up, I’d like to see her talents first before I do the spotlight), but for now I’ll do a quick rundown of who they are and what they can do:

BrightwingBrightwing is a playful faerie dragon filling in the specialist/support roles. Her passive trait is to heal nearby allies around her, and her abilities include an AoE nuke, a polymorph/hex, and an ability to protect her or her allies from harm, while increasing their movement speed. Her heroic abilities are either to point-blank pulse enemies away from her, or to blink between allies every couple seconds and heal them up. She looks like a fun disabler that helps your allies with fight sustainability, and I can see some sweet tricks with the knockback on her first ultimate, especially if you’ve already got someone like a Malfurion on your team to cover heals.

Li Li

Li Li, Chen’s niece, is a support hero that I surprisingly enough didn’t look at too much in the match showed at PAX, seeing how much I usually play support in Dota 2. Regardless, from what I remember about her, she seemed to hold her own very well and could survive gank attempts to some degree, and she made good use of her abilities to make sure that she could participate well in team fights, getting objectives and assisting her allies. I’ll do her justice when it comes round to her spotlight, but for now I can only apologise for not keeping an eye out for what she was doing in the game. Perhaps that’s a sign that her spells need to be more flashy and obvious? Or it was because I’m still not entirely used to all the Heroes yet and I mistook what she was doing for something else.

MurkyMurky is a hero that I can’t wait to try out. Blizzard specifically said that he’s going to be a hero that will die. And he’ll die a lot. He has an ability to place an egg down, and each time he’s slain, he’ll respawn at that egg and continue to wear down the enemy team. I have no idea whether or not the enemy team get experience from killing him each time or not, but as far as I know, you have to destroy his egg in order to get him to spawn at the fountain like every other scrubby hero has to. He wasn’t played at PAX, but from the previews we saw, this is essentially what his playstyle will be like: Place egg hidden in bushes near to lane; wear down enemy team; hope the enemy gets tired of killing you constantly and has to back off. I can imagine what the brainstorming session must have been like when someone came to the table with “Hey guys… We gotta have MURLOCS in this game, man! They’re iconic to Warcraft! How does he face against heroes like Diablo… Well here’s the great part! He’s going to die all the time, like any murloc should! What do you mean, ‘that’s not the way the game works’? Don’t worry, I can make this work, I got this!”

And suddenly, the adorable baby murloc (in the assassin role, no less) that’s been with us in WoW for the past 9 years in many incarnations will be available in Heroes in due course. I’m just happy that it wasn’t announced a couple weeks ago on April 1st.

Zagara

The last hero to be showcased, and was a surprise addition to the game played at PAX, was the Broodmother Zagara from the StarCraft franchise. A true summoner, most of her abilities include spawning different zerg units, including Banelings, Hydralisks and Mutalisks. She can also teleport across the map in the Nydus network, and her trait allows her to spread creep all over the map, increasing her and her allies’ movement speeds while on the creep. She’s a specialist, and it seems that she’s going to be great for global presence as well as being grossly efficient at pushing lanes and harassment, so her favourite maps are likely going to be Dragon Shire or Blackheart’s Bay.

We also got a sneak preview of heroes to come later on down the line, showing us that they’re also currently working on Chen Stormstout, Sylvanas Windrunner and Kael’thas Sunstrider! Where’s my Diablo heroes, Blizz? With no Warriors to come out of PAX (unless Chen is one, but he wasn’t really showcased too much anyway), we really need a hero like Azmodan or Leoric to help tank up some damage for us!

HeroesNexus has done an excellent job at compiling all the noted changes that we can likely expect soon (if not on Tuesday’s wipe), so check out all the details from PAX concerning Heroes of the Storm here! I imagine the rest of this week will be me eagerly waiting on EU unlocks for the alpha, and having that faint glimmer of hope that someday I’ll get into it. You know, if I haven’t already chewed off my fingers in anticipation.