WAWK: Warrior Artifact Edition

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The artifact edition of the WAWK series comes to a close with this final article: the Warrior edition. Forever a staple in any class-based game, the warriors of Warcraft have undergone many changes for over a decade now, but they’ve always stayed true to a classic fantasy of being armsmasters, berserkers and stalwart knights.

So with the wealth of weapons wielded by legendary warriors in Warcraft, why do we not get legendary weapons of lore such as Gorehowl or Shalamayne? Although the Arms’ artifact was used by one of the greatest leaders of humanity, we’ve never really heard of the artifact itself, just of the king himself. Fury’s artifact is linked with Legion itself with links to the Vrykul, similar to Protection’s shield – though at least the shield is also linked to Deathwing, who I’m sure people are aware of.

Introductory Quests

A champion of your faction will encounter you (Eitrigg for Horde, Sergeant Dalton for Alliance) and will greet you in Dalaran, both of which concerned for other members of their faction (Saurfang for Horde, Danath Trollbane for Alliance), who will ask you to join them in a mission on the Broken Shore.

You fly with Saurfang/Trollbane to the Broken Shore, though before you land you are fired upon by fel cannons, and your partner in reconnaissance gets shot out of the sky and you unfortunately are forced to crash down behind a group of Vrykul at the beach. Once you aid them in killing the Legion forces on the beach. Once you defeat them, a holy val’kyr descends from the sky and raises two of the vrykul that fell in combat. For those that recall, val’kyr were vrykul females raised into undeath by the Lich King a few expansions ago, but as it turns out there are in fact golden versions of them that aren’t under the sway of the Lich King/Sylvanas. After another wave of demons, a pit lord engages your team and slowly takes down each vrykul one by one until it’s just you left. Once you get him to low health, he will detonate himself to kill you, and the val’kyr takes you to your order hall: the Skyhold!

If you enjoy the mythology behind Valhalla and the Nordic afterlife, then this is the class hall for you. Golden halls towering above the clouds, the great mead hall, an arena to test your mettle. It’s anything a warrior could ask for! But only the dead may enter Valhalla just as they may never leave, and that’s usually the case for the Skyhold too, however recently the val’kyr and Odyn have had to reassess that rule in order to recruit more to their forces. The val’kyr saved you just in time before your death in order to bring you into their ranks, and allow you to leave Skyhold to fight against the Legion.

Danica, the val’kyr that saved you, gives you a tour of the Skyhold before being announced to Odyn of your presence within the halls. Odyn sings your praises as the mightiest living warrior and names you Valarjar, the champion of his armies. It is then that you choose your artifact weapon to begin your journey into the Broken Isles.

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Arms – Strom’kar, the Warbreaker

The first king of the Humans, Thoradin, was famous for uniting the human tribes, forming the kingdom of Arathor and building the city of Strom, right on the doorstep of the forest trolls to the north in Quel’thalas. He forged an alliance with the High Elves of the region, and played a critical role in the Troll Wars as a master tactician and strategist. This was his weapon, though it was already a weapon of old as it was forged by the vrykul, the ancestors of humans, themselves. When he fought in the Troll Wars, Thoradin had the blade blessed by the elves, though when Thoradin went to discover the origins of humanity, the blade was lost along with the ancient king.

Odyn explains that when Thoradin went on his personal quest, he stumbled upon the tomb of Odyn’s brother Tyr, and the prison of Zakajz the Corrupted. He gave his life to prevent the beast from escaping, and in order for us to get Strom’kar, we have to finish what Tyr and Thoradin couldn’t and kill Zakajz once and for all.

Taking the trip to Dalaran, and then to Arathi Highlands’ location of where Dalaran used to be – remember to save Heroic Leap for the fall – and you’ll be instructed to go to Tyr’s Fall in western Tirisfal (notice the similarity in the name there…? After all these years!). When you approach the tomb, Twilight’s Hammer cultists are torturing Thoradin’s spirit to get him to tell them what’s in the tomb.

When you defeat the three cultists in the middle of the camp, Thoradin will thank you and tell you that he had to leave Strom’kar behind when he drove the sword into Zakajz’s skull. However, the beast is stirring once again so we have to delve into the depths  of the tomb to finish the job once and for all. Thoradin will offer you what aid he can as you go through the tomb.

After diving into the underwater cavern and coming up the other side, you find the place is swarming with old god fleshbeasts and a faceless one. Defeating them will allow you to enter the tomb itself, and you’re met with tendrils corrupting the wards defending the seal on the tomb. Once you interrupt and kill them, Soth’ozz the Guardian will spawn and you’ll have to kill him too.

Killing some more old god minions and you’ll finally get to the Grave-Prison of Zakajz, where he’s struggling for consciousness with a sword stuck in his face. Grab it, and the C’thraxxi wakes up and tries to kill you. After an underwhelming fight, the faceless general falls for the final time and you are able to take up the Warbreaker for yourself!

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Fury – Warswords of the Valarjar

Thousands of years ago, long before the first Legion invasion of Azeroth that caused the Sundering, Odyn betrayed the sorceress Helya, killing her and turning her spirit into the first of the val’kyr. One of the methods she used as vengeance against him was to steal this pair of swords and imbue them with her own rage, before giving them to a “helarjar” – a champion of her own. Now infused with both the power of Helya and Odyn, the champion Vigfus Bladewind hunted down the greatest of heroes to serve in Helheim. You are sent by Odyn to go to Tideskorn Harbor and deal with Bladewind’s warband, and make the twin blades yours.

Leaving Skyhold, you crash down back to the mortal realm in Stormheim, and you’re met with an old enemy: the kvaldir! It seems these mist-vrykul are actually the vrykul under the command of Helya, and they don’t seem too pleased to see you there. Set the bonfire alight to clear the mists, and they get even angrier with you, sending a few waves of enemies for you to deal with.

Once they’ve been fought back, you then have to deal with two mystics and then reach the docks. Once there, you realise that Bladewind still refuses to think you’re worthy to deal with, so it’s time to release his cargo – spirits of vrykul, Zandalari and Kul Tiras marines – by destroying the runestones around the docks.

Once all four runestones are destroyed, Vigfus Bladewind finally realises that you have a soul of great power and comes out of hiding. Taking him down to around 50% health makes him flee into the mists. After a few waves of trash standing in your way, it’s time for the final showdown, where a specter of Helya rises from the depths to imbue Bladewind with the fury of Helheim. Once you defeat him, you are able to take the swords for yourself, and Helya waves you off as if this wasn’t a huge setback to her plans.

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Protection – Scale of the Earth-Warder

Although many of us know who Deathwing is – and if you didn’t, go look up Cataclysm and Warcraft II – this artifact is a relic from before he became corrupted by the whispers of the Old Gods. This shield is over 10,000 years old, and was primarily used by the vrykul king Magnar Icebreaker after he stole one of Neltharion’s scales and forged it into an impenetrable bulwark. When he was betrayed by Helya, the shield was buried with him in the Path of Kings in Stormheim.

The ancient vrykul king would normally be in Skyhold, though his spirit languishes within his own tomb, so his son, Hruthnir, leads you to it. Leaping from Skyhold allows you to go directly to Stormheim, to where you need to be! Going down the path, and it appears that the dead are restless! Before you reach the tomb, an imp turns all the dead into more imps, and Hruthnir joins you in killing them. Once you defeat the main imp, the doors will open to the guardians, also barring your way into the tomb.

Defeating Reylar the Stormcaller faces you with a new trial, with winds pushing any attempt to run through them. Fortunately, being a warrior you can leap and charge over the winds to meet your goals. Once you defeat all three Windshapers, you can go to your final goal: the Tomb of the Icebreaker… But it’s protected by more storms up in the air! Fortunately, being a warrior you can throw your weapon at the balls of lightning to interrupt their casts of lightning protecting the door.

Hruthnir joins you in the Tomb of the Icebreaker and will attempt to convince his father, the ancient king, to join him in Skyhold. Predictably, it’s not as easy as that, and you fight against Magnus alongside the rest of the spirits within the tomb. Magnus will flee to higher ground once he gets low, and you have to finish off all the waves of spirits before fighting him once again. Once you defeat him, he comes to his senses and realises that his son is indeed trying to get him to join him in the Halls of Valor. He also conveniently leaves behind the Armaments of the Black Wyrm so your new artifact, the Scale of the Earth-Warder, is now yours to keep!

Hero Spotlight: Tyrael

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about it, so today’s mid-week article is going to be about Heroes of the Storm! While it isn’t a new hero every week like I originally predicted (waiting on PAX East for new heroes to be announced it seems!), Blizz are spotlighting heroes, and even going as far as to make short cinematics for each of them, such as the one above. This week, as you may have guessed from the title and clip above, we’re moving from the Koprulu sector in the Starcraft universe to the High Heavens and Sanctuary of the Diablo franchise.

He is the stalwart defender of humankind and Sanctuary. With his mighty sword El’druin, he intevened and defeated the Prime Evils before they could enslave all of humanity. Although his story continues on in Diablo III, it is the Archangel of Justice we fight as in Heroes of the Storm.

Blizzard classes him in the Warrior role where he has high sustainability but low damage, but from what I’ve seen him played as so far, he seems to do well in both Warrior as well as Support roles. He excels in poking at the enemy and generally annoying them, and his trait makes him effective even from the grave. 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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Might_of_El'druin_Icon[Trait] Might of El’druin: When Tyrael is about to due he becomes invulnerable and explodes after 3.5 seconds. Deals 200 damage to nearby enemies.

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Protection in Death: When Might of El’Druin explodes, Tyrael also grants nearby allies a shield that absorbs up to 50% of their max health in damage. This shield lasts for 5 seconds.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Atonement: On dying, move speed is increased by 50% and Tyrael resurrects 10 seconds faster for every Hero hit with Might of El’druin.

This trait is pretty badass (when you remember that you’re still active for a few seconds after you die). I believe the damage does scale for later levels, so it makes enemies think twice about killing you first in fights. Killing you early means that everyone gets a chunk of their health taken away, or your team spreads to avoid it, and if he has taken the talent then you’re faced with enemies with a sudden increase in health too. This allows Tyrael to continue poking away at enemies and being a general nuisance with his other abilities that can really make an impact on teamfights. And that level 16 upgrade will be pretty annoying, knowing that if you kill him he’ll just be back up to 50 seconds faster.

Punishing_Blade_Icon[Q] Punishing Blade: Deals 350 (84 + 14 per level) damage to enemies within target area, slowing them by 25%.Reactivating while the blade is present will teleport Tyrael to his blade, dealing 350 (84 + 14 per level) damage and slowing enemies by 25% in an area around it..

  • [Level 1 Upgrade] Horadric Reforging: Increases the damage dealt by Punishing Blade by 20%.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Angel’s Grace: After teleporting to his sword, Tyrael’s move speed is increased by 25% for 3 seconds.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Holy Might: Tyrael’s next 3 auto-attacks after teleporting to his sword deal 100% more damage.
  • [Level 16 Upgrade] Angelic Barricade: A 3 radius pathing blocker is created after Tyrael teleports to his blade.

The sword stays in the ground for up to 6 seconds, so you can either nuke the 700 damage straight away, or you can stagger it to make full use of the slow effect. It’s fairly spammable at 12sec cooldown, and it’s a real defining feature of Tyrael to be able to blink around in teamfights. It looks like a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to try it out. The talents for it seem a little underwhelming for the role Tyrael is in though, with the exception to Angelic Barricade. However, I’m sure there will be some games where Tyrael will shine in more of an assassin role than a warrior/support. After all: “There are no bad talents. Only bad players.”

Righteousness_Icon[W] Righteousness: Shields Tyrael, absorbing 250 damage for 4 seconds. When the shield expires it explodes, dealing 510 (168 + 18 per level) damage to nearby enemies.

  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Regeneration: Enemies that attack Tyrael while shielded grant him regeneration, gaining 30 health over 3 seconds.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Zealotry: Increases duration by 100% and the explosion damage by 25%.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] Imposing Will: Enemies that attack Tyrael while shielded have their Attack Speed slowed by 50% and Move Speed slowed by 50% for 2seconds.

This ability heavily reminds me of Abaddon’s Aphotic Shield (minus the purge ability, and it’s only usable on Tyrael himself). It allows him to be a little more tanky, as well as continuing his nuisance in the middle of team fights. Again, the talents aren’t game changers, but they still have their place, and allow Tyrael to become even more tanky, and then deals just over 600 more damage when it expires – or you can deal 125 less damage and sacrifice some ramp-up time to go for some CC, though the second level 13 option does require enemies to attack Tyrael. Even with these two abilities so far, he can dish out ~1500 damage each if he dives into a group of 5 enemies. It’s not going to kill anyone, but if you have 4 buddies at your back, it can definitely force the lane forward.

Hand_of_Sacrifice_Icon[E] Hand of Sacrifice: Redirects the next 1000 (240 + 40 per level) damage dealt to target ally to Tyrael instead. This damage is reduced by 25%. Lasts 10 seconds or until Tyrael and his ally are too far from each other. Cannot be used on self.

  • [Level 4 Upgrade] Cleansing Sacrifice: Hand of Sacrifice now removes all stuns, roots, silences, and slows from the target.
  • [Level 7 Upgrade] Hand of Providence: Enemies in the beam take 20 damage every half second, deals double damage to minions.
  • [Level 13 Upgrade] United Purpose: While linked, Tyrael and his target’s move speed is increased by 15%.

This is where Tyrael stands more in the support role than other warriors, and gives enemies another reason to try to disable or take him out of team fights. Turning 1000 damage on an assassin or a specialist into 750 damage to Tyrael is pretty insane at a 13sec cooldown, and even if Tyrael dies he has his trait to back him up. For support players using Tyrael, this becomes the defining ability that makes him who he is. The talents themselves can also become game changers, linking up with someone like Valla or Zeratul (though be careful linking with invis heroes as enemies will be able to see them better) will certainly help them not only with lane sustainability, but as a means of getting out if things do turn sour.

Judgment_Icon[R] Judgment: Charges the target, dealing 325 (135 + 10 per level) damage and stunning them for 2 seconds. While charging, nearby enemies are knocked back and take 150 (55 + 5 per level) damage.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Angel of Justice: Increases the cast range of Judgment by 50%, and reduces the cooldown by 30seconds.

The first of his ultimates grants him another way to initiate into combat, and is likely going to be the main way he does, being able to use his Q attacks while already in the fray (or to escape). The cooldown is long at 100 seconds, so the level 20 upgrade is almost required so that it’s up for every team fight – you don’t want to be waiting around to use it so that your enemies can push against your lane, plus the pushback is fairly sizable when the rest of your attacks favour enemies that are stacked up. You could admittedly use it defensively to take melee heroes away from your squishy supports and assassins, so there is two sides to every coin.

Sanctification_Icon[R] Sanctification: While channeling, Tyrael makes all nearby allied Heroes invulnerable and unstoppable. Lasts 3 seconds. Does not affect Tyrael.

  • [Level 20 Upgrade] Holy Arena: Increases duration of Sanctification by 1 second, also increases attack and ability damage by protected allies by 25%.

His second ultimate certainly lends to his support role much better than Judgment does, and with the level 20 upgrade it’s certainly going to make your enemies flee behind the defense of towers and gates. The only problem with this ability of course is that Tyrael has to channel it, and because he’s not invulnerable or non-CCable, as soon as that bubble goes out, you’re likely going to be focused very shortly afterwards – though it would certainly be OP if he was immune or could move around with the bubble. With the ultimate’s short duration, you need to communicate with your team mates when you’re going to use it, especially if you take the upgrade at level 20 when they’ll start hitting harder.

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As for skins, he currently has two available to him in the alpha: Demonic and Seraphim, both looking pretty awesome as shown in the images below. It’s certainly interesting to see Blizz go for skins of what could have happened to Tyrael had he either succumbed to corruption or became more warlike and stuck around in the High Heavens. I personally won’t be spending money on either of these skins, though if it turns out that I enjoy the playstyle of Tyrael, that demonic one certainly does seem pretty enticing… would love to see what Blizz could do with a mortal form Tyrael as a skin though, where he’s unhooded and in plain robes.