Strategy,

  • Dodging Skillshots: Timing & Technique

     

     

    Introduction

           Dodging skillshots can be one of the most satisfying feats to pull off in Heroes of the Storm especially when you did it consciously. It sets apart a good Jaina from a great Jaina simply by saving herself from taking what can sometimes seem to be negligible damage. The more important reason to dodge skillshots, aside from avoiding damage, is because many skills shots can stun or root your hero. A proper stun or root can get you out of position and allows the enemy team to quickly engage your hero. Channeled abilities that get canceled by stuns like LiLi's Jug of 1,000 Cups is another reason why you want to dodge skillshots.

           There are three ways to improving your ability to dodge skillshots: watching hero animations, anticipation, and mouse positioning. Before I go through these three topics I think it goes without saying that keeping your hero moving is one of the best tools for not getting hit by skillshots. Even if you are auto attacking as Raynor, take the time to take a step from side to side in between each auto attack, just to make it that much harder for the enemy team to hit their skill shots on you.

     

    1. Watching Hero Animations

           Each hero has a specific animation for their skillshot casting as well as their respective skillshot. Watching for these animations can greatly aid in dodging a skillshot coming your way. For example, Muradin raises his right arm that is holding a hammer when casting the skillshot and this is followed by the skillshot itself which is animated as a lighting hammer traveling forward. The skillshot casting animation time and the skillshot itself can either be fast or slow. Anub'arak's Impale ability has a slow casting animation time and a slow skillshot animation time, making it easy to dodge an Impale coming your way. Zeratul's Singularity Spike ability has a fast casting animation time and a fast skillshot animation time, making it difficult to dodge. Some casting animations are also easier to spot than others. Arthas, for example, has a very distinct animation for his Howling Blast ability.

           It takes a while to get used to watching for hero animations and I suggest playing a few heroes you rarely play just to get used to their animations. I also recommend picking one enemy hero during the loading screen that you will consciously watch for when you are ever in a lane with them or even during team fights.

     

     

           Zeratul's Singularity Spike: Fast Casting Animation & Fast Skillshot Animation

     

     

    Anub'arak's Impale: Slow Casting Animation & Slow Skillshot Animation

     

     

    2. Anticipation

           Many heroes have skillshots, and simply reminding yourself before the start of the game that the enemy will try to hit you with them will immediately improve your consciousness to dodging skillshots. Sometimes it is so much easier to just run when you are getting chased down by the enemy, but always ask yourself if anticipating to dodge a skillshot is worth it. I'm not talking about zig zagging all the way to safety and just giving your enemy more time to catch up, I'm referring to actually positioning your mouse so that you are ready to dodge (more on this later). Watching the hitbox direction (the little pointer underneath each hero) can also help you anticipate if an enemy hero is intending to shoot your face with a skillshot. Finally, although you are not technically “dodging a skillshot”, hiding behind minions and structures is also a great way to deny your enemy from hitting you.

           

    Although not technically a skillshot, the ability to dodge Kerrigan's combo is a useful skill to have

      

    3. Mouse positioning

           So you knew that Kael'thas was going to stun you with Gravity Lapse, but you couldn't quite react fast enough and he stuns you and blows you up with a flamestrike and two living bombs. What can you do to not let this happen again? A lot of the time it comes down to mouse positioning. If you are not casting abilities or throwing down your own skillshots, your mouse should be positioned above or below your hero, never in front or behind. This allows you to move your hero laterally (side step) much quicker and react to an incoming skillshot much faster. Here are a two images to illustrate the ideal mouse position:

     

    Mouse Positioning for Slow Reaction Time

     

    Mouse Positioning for Fast Reaction Time

     

           Animations, Anticipation and Mouse Positioning, that's all there is to it. Dodging skillshots definitely requires some practice and I even suggest going on Try Mode to see the different animations. Soon enough you'll be side stepping like a pro and maybe even learn how to dodge giant balls of fire.

     

  • Forgot About Grey: Understanding the Lord of the Worgen

       

          It's a fitting theme that Greymane is a man-wolf who prefers to lurk in the shadows. His announcement at BlizzCon, while welcomed happily, was overshadowed by the groundbreaking new playstyle of Cho'Gall. Despite this, many people left the convention with Greymane as their favorite hero of the 3 announced. Later, after Greymane's release, there was little in the way of flashy announcements or waves of huge popularity for our shaggy friend. On top of that, Li-Ming and Xul were announced almost immediately after, and the excitement (and soon after, derision, in the case of Li-Ming) over these new Heroes again removed Greymane from the spotlight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Most of the community thought they had Greymane "solved", and placed him in the role of a gimmicky Hero who had a melee transformation mostly useful for cleaning up low health heroes at the end of a fight, and many gave him the dreaded "win more" title. He received a decent buff a few patches back, and settled in comfortably as a semi-popular Hero League pick, seen occasionally in tournaments, and generally well liked, but not loved. His nearly ideal win rate of 50.1% on HotsLogs reflects his settlement at a decent "upper middle class" status. But there's more to this noble lycanthrope than meets the eye. 

    What's his strength?

    Genn is as frustrated with the way you play him as you are with your teammates.      

     

    When evaluating whether or not you should consistently play a hero, an important question to ask yourself is "What does he provide for us better than my other choices?" For most people, the answer for Greymane is "nothing". He has decent dive, of course, but the general consensus is that he's not as good of a melee assassin as Thrall or Zeratul, and he's not as good of a ranged assassin as Raynor or the mages. It's easy to think that Greymane's hybrid nature makes him a "master of none" type hero. But Greymane's  greatest strength isn't his ability to kill, kill, kill, as it appears it should be, but rather a very unique power: the ability to lend a huge spike of momentum to a teamfight at a whim. When used skillfully and with knowledge, his Darkflight engage can single-handedly save a teamfight that's being lost, completely crush a teamfight that otherwise would end up in a wash, or make an even trade from a fight that would have initially been a disaster. Most heroes hold their contributions on their sleeves, but Greymane keeps his big moves back, and only truly unleashes them at the most critical moments. 

     

    Greymane's  greatest strength isn't his ability to kill, kill, kill, as it appears it should be, but rather a very unique power: the ability to lend a huge spike of momentum to a teamfight at a whim.

         The most popular builds you'll see both on Battle.Net and in pro matches focus almost entirely on Gilnean Cocktail. A fantastic poking ability, the focus on this spell relegates Greymane to a secondary role: poke and cleanup. While this can be effective, builds like these are ignoring an entire half  of Greymane's kit and potential, because of his lack of sustain and immediate escape. The fear is that if he uses his Darkflight for anything other than cleanup, he will immediately be eviscerated (And hey, sometimes that's true!) But with proper support from healers and tanks, and most importantly with intelligent and patient use of his melee form, Greymane can poke, engage, fight, and stay safe multiple times throughout a fight. The aim of this article is to show how we've had some success with this aggressive playstyle, and encourage you to try it for yourself. NOTE: The author does not make the supposition that this is the absolute best build for the Hero or that other builds and styles are inferior, only that he has had success with this playstyle and build in Hero League since Greymane's latest buff. 

    The Build

    http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/greymane#gpbW

    Level 1: Vicousness

    There's some debate about whether to take this talent or Wolfheart at level 1. Both are great skills, but Viciousness is recommended here because the extra second of duration allows you to keep your combo going between creep waves without using mana.

    Level 4: Eyes in the Dark

    A lot of people think that this talent isn't useful because it usually doesn't secure an escape that you didn't already have, and that the stealth gets popped very easily even before it goes off. These are both true, but this talent is not only a great juking tool, but it does something that isn't written in it's tooltip, because it isn't a direct game mechanic. When Greymane rolls away and goes into stealth, it gives opponents extra justification for giving up on the chase, and forgetting about him. In the heat of a team fight, this allows Greymane to disengage while enemies refocus on more immediate dangers, and lets him re-initiate his ranged attacks from an ideal angle.

     

    Level 7: Incendiary Elixir

     

    This may be the one universally agreed upon Greymane talent. The ability to wave clear at a safer range, the ease it gives poke, and the doubled damage make this too big of a threat to not choose. 

     

    Level 10: Go For the Throat

     We take that thing about Incendiary Elixir being the only universally agreed upon choice back. This ult is Greymane's main and only source of burst damage, and can be used as an escape (killing one low health hero deep in, then using the free leap to go back to a low threat tank closer to your team,) to boot. Marked for the Kill, Greymane's other ult, is a very difficult spell to hit while offering arguably lower rewards than this spell.

    Level 13: On the Prowl

     

    The Speed Boost on this talent is incredible. Greymane is a great hero to counter powerhouse mages like Li-Ming, but with her short escape, it becomes much more difficult to put her down without this talent. The movement speed is not available until Inner Beast has been active for 3 seconds, so make sure you use it after engaging in close quarters for a time, then chasing down stragglers. Don't chase too far, though!

    Level 16: Alpha Killer

    Level 16 is where Greymane can take any talent and have it be a solid choice, depending on your enemies, and your own team composition. Raynor takes Giant Killer most of the time even when he's not fighting a ton of tanks, because a damage boost on attack across the board is always going to be solid no matter who you're shooting. The same logic applies to Greymane. Relentless Predator isn't a bad choice if you're getting stunned out and focused on a lot in your game, and Concentrated Blast is terrific if you're wanting to play a more ranged game (though this particular guide tries not to.)

     

    Level 20: Tooth and Claw

     Adding splash to Greymane's already meaty melee attacks lets you output insane amounts of damage against heroes, creep waves, and mercs at a scary rate. Unleashed probably will very rarely allow you to use it's third jump, although when you do it feels good, and this talent is an exclamation point on any solid Greymane session.

     

    This build allows us to play most effectively in the style we will be describing in the next section, one of maximizing the damage of both forms of Greymane in teamfights by using them both multiple times. So, how should one be playing to achieve our goal?

     

    Poke, Kill, Poke, Kill 

    Playing Greymane is a unique kind of thrill because he requires a strong inherent sense of how an engagement is going before he commits. Most people know how to clear creep waves and chase, but it seems that the point that separates a bad doggie from a good one is tactics during teamfights. Luckily teamfights are the most important part of the game, so we will be focusing on them for this section. 

    Using Greymane during a teamfight can feel like a train that's run off the rails, barreling around, howling, wreaking uncontrolled havoc and then finally dying in a fiery heap. We recommend using the spacebar to keep track of yourself during chaotic moments, and practicing keeping your cool during teamfights. Wildly flailing at your keyboard is the worst thing you can do!

    Using Greymane during a teamfight can feel like a train that's run off the rails, barreling around, howling, wreaking uncontrolled havoc and then finally dying in a fiery heap.

    Knowing how and when to engage with him is his key to victory. As you engage, he explodes with a ton of furious damage, and becomes immediately a high threat target for enemies to take down. After casting Darkflight there is a sense of rising tension as Greymane's damage rises, until he finally hits his tipping point and you get blown up. When that happens, it means you didn't have the appropriate sense for when to disengage. Sometimes it happens early, sometimes it never happens. 

    A good practice exercise as you try him out in the future is to roll away using disengage after you go into melee form as soon as the cooldown expires and you're able to roll, no matter what. You'll be surprised at how much you're able to get done and how frustrating you can be to your opponents by doing this, as you continually go back into ranged form and begin your damage process all over again. As you get more practice, you can hold off on rolling away until a more appropriate time, allowing you to chase down more kills while (hopefully) not costing you your own life. But how do you know WHEN to engage?

     

    Here we've made a graph illustrating Greymane's versatility and control in a teamfight situation. It can be boiled down to one idea: you want to engage in melee form as close to the middle of this graph as you can, between the red and green, when the outcome of the fight is most in question. It can be terrifying, and you might misjudge it and be subject to the revulsion of your teammates at first, but when you get it down, you become the almighty furry savior of everyone's MMR.

    The blue line represents a teamfight where you're firmly in control the whole time, crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you, and hearing the lamentations of their women. There's no need to pounce or use your ult until the dregs of the enemy team attempt escaping. This is how most people view Greymane, as a semi-ranged cleanup crew. 

    The yellow line represents a team fight that's going poorly. This is the time when Greymane's best friend, the Warrior (that's right, not the healer!) is essential to turning things around. As things go down, if it looks like you're losing in damage but you still have a shot at winning, it's essential for the tank to accompany you back into the fray and spike your momentum back towards the winning side. Then as you disengage, you can get back to safety, continue poking away, and then Darkflight again for another spike, essentially forcing things back into your favor. 

    If you don't utilize your whole kit as much as you feasibly can, your "cleanup" role will never come up.

    The pink line shows the most common kind of fight, an even one. This is your sweet spot. As your instinct grows keener for when a fight is at the breaking point of victory or defeat, you'll get better and better at swinging fights towards the green. As you continue this, enemies will become more and more aware of your ability to control the fight, and will try to shut you down, allowing your teammates to pick up the slack as you play more carefully. If you're dictating the enemies behavior, you're doing a good job. Just try not to let their change-ups work. 

    The orange line is for a disasterous engagement. It shows what happens during a fight like the one represented by the pink line, but without Greymane attempting to wrest control back, instead saving his melee form for "cleanup". If you don't utilize your whole kit as much as you feasibly can, your "cleanup" role will never come up.

    Your priority targets are assassins and generally squishy heroes. Greymane is an assassin of assassins, and heroes like Li-Ming, Zagara, Kael'Thas, and Valla are easy prey. Yes, all those OP mages and killers that fill you with dread on the loading screen? Get skilled at this playstyle, and you'll be happy to see them. 

     

    This is the heart of why Greymane is such a fun, exciting, and high skill cap hero. He requires not only solid teammates, but your own sense of how a fight is going to be spot-on, all the time. We hope you're excited about playing Greymane, as we always are, and if you liked this piece, give us a follow at @StormLegacyTeam before you head into the Nexus to tear some throats out. :)  

     

  • Introducing Nexus by the Numbers, a New Weekly Show!

    Storm Legacy is proud to partner with theorycrafter Skizzorsto bring Heroes of the Storm players a new weekly show: Nexus by the Numbers! 

    Watch the first episode below to learn more about the recently reworked Highlord of the Tal'darim: Alarak. Skizzors brings in-depth analysis to this punishing hero by focusing on the basics, advanced tips, talent choices and an overview in the 50 minute guide. If you are a Heroes of the Storm fan that enjoys detailed hero guides, this is the show for you.

    Be sure to subscribe to StormLegacy on YouTube to catch future episodes as well as new installments of Nexus Drafthouse!   

  • Mind Games: Tips & Tricks

    CarlTheLlama, #1 SoloQ support main (#53 overall on this month’s Blizz ladder- SoloQ isn’t kind to supports), shares the baits, bluffs, and mental buffs (Sometimes referred to as “game sense”) that can be employed by any player regardless of position or MMR to outplay their opponent.

     

    Baits

     

    • When your teammate is in a bush waiting to gank your lane, help him out. Giving up a bad trade, then falling back will sucker your opponent into moving forward to punish you, when in fact you’re about to punish his existence.

     

    • Bosses in SoloQ are more risk than they’re worth (unless you have death timers on the enemy team), but one way you can lessen the risk is to split push on the opposite side of the map to give them something else to focus on, because nothing says “we’re doing boss” like 5 people missing from the map (if you have someone like Rexxar who can solo boss, you can distract even more to bait them away from that side of the map). However, you have to do so with both eyes on your minimap so you don’t get collapsed on; the goal is to make them come to you, not to actually get push, so you want to stay visible and push waves, without being any further up than you have to, and mounting up whenever you suspect a gank.

     

    Bluffs

     

    "If you are far from your enemy, make him believe you are near. -Sun Tzu"

     

    • When you run straight at people, they tend to back up. When they don’t have full vision on your team, you can often use this to bluff your way into getting them to back off when you’re sieging, and other scenarios where you want to buy a second or two. Staying mounted while continuing to run in, and going a couple of steps further than you would in any sort of normal scenario are how you get your opponent to think you know something he doesn’t.The more slippery your character is, the more reliable the tactic, but don’t try it on KT, Tyrande, or other heroes that are free kills. That’s not baiting that’s just feeding.   

     

    • When you’re running short on good options, instead of choosing what seems to be least bad, pick whatever is most unexpected. For example, if you’re getting ganked halfway up the lane and you know walking back to tower is just going to end with you being dead, jumping into a bush and mounting/walking the other way will sometimes get you out. Same with going down to the merc camp at the bottom of Dragon Shire, or the side paths on Battlefield. That’s what those are there for, and because they are so rarely used people forget about them, making them more effective than you’d think.

     

    -This principle can be applied many other ways, for example, when you know a spot skillshot (like Tyrande stun) will be coming for you, waiting for the cast animation and having your cursor ready to walk back towards the enemy is most likely to get you out of the hitbox, and possibly survive.

     

    Beautiful Outplays

     

    "Even if a man dies in a ditch, he should die falling forward. -Sakamoto Ryoma"

     

    • As you get more experienced, you know the capabilities of your hero, so you know when you aren’t going to get out of certain predicaments, and running merely prolongs the inevitable. When you find yourself caught in those situations don’t die like a coward, get something done. Turning and dealing what damage you can will often allow your team to follow up on your death and get something out of it.

     

    - If you’re in a situation where you got caught out while you’re with your team but were positioned poorly, blowing your heroic typically takes priority because of the likelihood that a fullblown teamfight will break out despite the unfavorable circumstances for you, and getting off as much as possible is your top priority. If you get caught in almost any other scenario however, blowing your heroic will be a waste (depending on the cooldown of the heroic and the death timer). This is particularly noticeable with Leoric, who I often see use March of the Dead King at 10% HP to live an extra second, only to respawn 30 seconds later and not have it when he needs it. Don’t die like a coward, but don’t die like a noob either.

     

    • One of the tightest chokes, yet easiest to sucker people into fighting in, is their own gate. Herd them towards it or bait them out to it, and fight. Your AOE abilities will hit more people because of the cramped space, you’ll be able to get on more of the targets you want because they have less room to position themselves, and they won’t be able to escape as well because they’re blocking each other. There’s a definite balance that has to be struck with the damage of towers in mind, but after level 10 fighting in front of fort gates is increasingly worthwhile, and after 16 the same goes for keep gates. Even if those markers aren’t met, you can prepare a fight at gates by running them out of ammo, or occasionally even having a knight camp push with your wave to soak the damage.

     

    • When a solo kill happens late game, it opens the opportunity for a respawn roulette. Essentially, once you have that edge, getting your team to group together, paired with active map awareness can let you control the win. Pushing 5v4 with the timer is good, but normally an enemy team won’t defend with 4 in that situation, at least one person will be off in another lane. Rounding up the posse to gank them will let you create a respawn roulette where they never have a full team on the field. The longer you keep them short on people, the more impatient people will get and you can keep making picks.

     

    Buffs and Debuffs of the Mind

     

    • Throughout most of history, the chief factor in determining the outcome of battles has been morale, in large part because a group that expects a positive outcome from their efforts is more likely to stick to a plan and be organized, and because they’ll focus more on the task at hand and less on personality clashes. Give your team a morale buff by typing “gj” when something goes right anywhere on the map. When something really big goes right, like a 5-0 team wipe, celebrate with a slightly longer message, like “niceeee.” Short, focused, celebrations make people want to earn those results again.

     

    • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Every hero has some niche thing about them that your team will forget about. For example, when I’m playing Brightwing I often recall and TP right back, at a break in fighting in the middle of a teamfight/skirmish, so I type “brb tp,” to remind people. Or, I’ll remind them that when I die as Uther, ghost form healing makes me just as effective as a normal hero in a fight. If you do so in a friendly manner ahead of time, you’ll avoid common unforced errors.

     

    - The same goes for interactions between heroes, with a small exception. Instead of a gentle reminder, pose it as a polite question: “stim odin?” “save Dshield for when I go in?” etc. Clarifyingone or two “obvious” things politely in advance will take stress out of team games, and put some more MMR on your profile, no matter where you are on the leaderboard.

     

    • Always keep the focus on the next step, not the last one. Talking about what someone else picked, or defending what you picked does nothing productive, and does distract. Leave off any discussion about previous plays that doesn’t directly feed into what to do next.

     

    - Keep in mind when doing so that whatever it may feel like, telling people what to do isn’t going to pay off unless they want to be told- which is almost never the case. At the end of the day SoloQ is to improve you, not anyone else, so you really shouldn’t want to coach your teammates anyways.

     

    AND DON’T FORGET!

     

    At this point in my other Tips & Tricks I usually remind people that one bad plan is better than three good ones- going with the group and not throwing in another opinion/call is best. However, it’s important to remember simultaneously, that a bad plan is better than no plan. Even if people disagree and another plan gets chosen, you’ve started the process of getting everyone on the same page.

     

    To see the other articles in the Tips & Tricks Series, as well as my stream and every other piece of content I make, check out this https://goo.gl/eYVNEq

  • Nexus by the Numbers Episode 3: Tyrande

    If you love to quickly blow up enemy heroes or throw scouting owls across the map to pester the other team, the latest episode of Nexus by the Numbers was made for you! Join Skizzors this week for a detailed look at Tyrande, the off-support hero with a passion for bursting down enemies. Tyrande was recently reworked in the D.Va patch (25.4) and this particular guide was not impacted by the recently applied balance patch: 25.5.

    You can watch Episode 3 of Nexus by the Numbers below, or over on YouTube. Enjoy! 

  • Playing With Fire: The Power of Kael'Thas



     

    Introduction

     

    Kael'thas: the fire mage notorious for his power spikes. Before the August patch, Kael'thas relied on reaching level 16 for the Ignite talent. Currently, Kael'thas is still considered a late game hero, but his power spike has shifted over to level 13 with his Chain Bomb talent. But what about the early game? What can Kael'thas actually offer to the team until he reaches full power? Do you just hope your team carries you to level 13 and you take the wheel from there? As you get matched with better players, you will notice that the effectiveness of Chain Bomb is mitigated by proper enemy positioning and spacing. What can you do to make sure that reaching level 13 is remains a power spike? This article will provide you with some tips and tricks for making Kael'thas as annoying as possible for your opponents.

     

    Note: This article will use the following standard talent tree build for Kael'thas as a reference point. 

     

     

     

    Tip: Kael'thas' Phoenix can be used to chase down fleeing enemies since it deals damage along it's path to the destination point. 

     

    Early Game: Level 4 Mini Power Spike

     

    The talent that is most commonly taken at level 4 for Kael'thas is Nether Wind. This increases the range and speed of Gravity Lapse by 30%. It doesn't sound like much, but level 4 is definitely a small power spike for Kael'thas. However, Nether Wind is not like Chain Bomb in that taking the talent will not suddenly boost your impact in team fights. Landing a Gravity Lapse on the wrong target or at the wrong moment will not help your team in any way. This section will provides some tips for maximizing what you can do with Gravity Lapse post level 4.

     

     

    1. Combo Potential

     

    The range on Gravity Lapse after you take Nether Wind is VERY long. In fact, in terms of basic abilities, the range is rivaled only by Tyrande's Lunar Flare and Anub'arak's Impale. Due to its long range, landing a Gravity Lapse is more than just a simple stun for your team, it gives your teammates the opportunity to close the distance so that they can follow up with their shorter range spells. For example, you could use your Verdant Spheres (Kael'thas' trait) to land a triple stun in order to set up a juicy combo for Kerrigan to jump on. The animation for Kerrigan's W+E combo is quite long and can sometimes be dodged with proper side stepping. With your stun, however, Kerrigan's combo is impossible to escape. Try to think of Gravity Lapse as a tool to set up kills for your teammates rather than just for yourself. All of this of course heavily depends on your knowledge of other heroes. The better you know your teammates' heroes, the more consistent you will be in setting up combos.

     

     Immediately after a Devouring Maw is the perfect time to triple stun your enemies.

     

    2. Positioning & Targeting

     

    When throwing down a Gravity Lapse it's ideal to be flanking so that the enemy has little to no chance of dodging it. Being stunned when you have no idea where it's coming from can be pretty terrifying, especially for squishy enemy heroes. Also, throwing a Gravity Lapse through terrain and at an angle that is not in the enemy's line of sight gives your team the opportunity to combo unsuspecting heroes. If it's not safe to flank and you have to throw the Gravity Lapse straight onto the enemy's line of sight, try to cast it at maximum range. This will give yourself the space to be able to step behind your front liners if you miss the stun. In the meantime, while waiting for your Gravity Lapse to reset its cooldown, just hide behind allied heroes so you are not vulnerable to getting jumped. A Kael'thas without his Gravity Lapse can get blown up pretty quickly if the enemy team decides to target you.

     

     

     Gravity lapse is also great for catching enemy heroes who think that they are safe behind their gate.

     

    Who do you target with your Gravity Lapse? Do you always just go for the squishy hero in the back? The prime targets for Kael'thas' stun are heroes who have the tendency to overextend in order to do damage (e.g., The Butcher, Illidan, Sonya). Landing a stun right at the moment The Butcher is no longer Unstoppable as his Ruthless Onslaught charging run ends will mitigate any damage he can deal and will even put him at a dangerous position. Be patient with your stun. Someone will overextend, and that someone will get punished with your stun.

     

     

    Soaking Yourself to Late Game:

     

    This next point is short and straightforward, but very important: before turning “Super Saiyan” at level 13 you need to soak enough XP to get there. It is important that you are diligent in soaking XP instead of engaging in random skirmishes. This is especially important for Hero League games where your team will not exactly be completely coordinated. Is your team pointlessly chasing after a Johanna? Are there 4 people doing camps and 2 empty lanes? Then you should make the appropriate rotations and clear as many lanes as possible. Be active on the map and take over soaking for your team. You cannot control what your teammates do, but you can soak yourself to the late game.

     

    Late Game: Using Tanks to Spread Your Fire

     

    You've hit level 13, you now have your Chain Bomb talent, but you find yourself at a level disadvantage since your team struggled in the early game. In fact, your enemies are about to hit level 16 and they are knocking outside one of your keeps. It's time to make Chain Bomb do some work! Sometimes if the enemy team clumps up you can throw random Living Bombs at your enemies and just hope that they stay clumped up long enough so that it spreads to every enemy for a magical team wipe. However, this will not always be the case since good players will know that they should start spreading out as soon as Kael'thas hits level 13. Making use of tanks to spread your bombs is one trick to making sure your bombs always spread.

     

     Muradin spreads the gift of fire onto his teammates.

      

    Tanks are usually the ones who get the team fights started which means they have to charge in to engage. At the same time tanks will take take considerable amount of damage during team fights forcing them to retreat for a little while. It is during this small window that a tank is retreating that you should be timing your Living Bombs. Doing this forces the enemy tank to make a tough decision: stay a little longer so that the Living Bomb does not spread or retreat and risk spreading the bomb on the team. This is easier to do on certain retreating tanks than others. Tanks with quick escapes like Muradin's Dwarf Toss or Leoric's Wraith Walk tend to spread fire to their teammates if you can time it just right. For example, when Leoric is below ¾ of maximum health you can stun him with Gravity Lapse, quickly cast one small Flamestrike (save your Verdant Spheres trait for the upcoming Living Bomb) underneath him and one Living Bomb. By the time Leoric is no longer stunned he has to make the decision on whether or not he should Wraith Walk to escape. The escape speed on Leoric's Wraith Walk is faster than him just walking back which makes it harder for the enemy team to disperse. Once he reaches his teammates it is up to you if you want to force the explosion on the bomb by casting a second Living Bomb or just wait for the bomb ticks to finish before exploding. Casting a second Living Bomb to trigger the explosion will mean that you lose damage from the first bomb's ticks, but the spreading effect you get from the bomb is well worth it.

     

    When to Pick Kael'thas: General Principles

     

    We have gone through some tips for maximizing Kael'thas' potential from early game to late game. It is now time to go through general principles for when you should draft Kael'thas. These principles are not set in stone and your judgment based on what your team needs is still very much required when drafting. Rather these general principles are here to guide your thought process when thinking about drafting Kael'thas.

     

    Map Size & Game Length

     

    The smaller the map the easier it is for you to soak multiple lanes if your team is ever leaving lanes empty. This will make is a lot easier for you to reach level 13. When drafting Kael'thas you should also consider the likelihood that the game will get to the late game. If the enemy composition has powerful early game heroes (e.g., Kerrigan, Valla) it will be harder for you to get to the late game. Also consider how long the game will last. Matches on maps like Dragon Shrine and Garden of Terror tend to be longer which works in your favor in terms of getting to the late game.

     

    Team Compositions

     

    Kael'thas can indeed do a lot of work for your team. However, this does not mean that you should just automatically lock in Kael'thas every time you queue up in Hero League. Kael'thas excels when he has a solid front line to hide behind, making double tank compositions very favorable for him. Also, in the late game Kael'thas' damage output is quite large making him stronger against Support heroes without a good burst heal. Even if your Living Bombs do not kill enemy heroes, it will put the enemies at a low enough health such they will no longer be able to continue the fight without access to burst heal. Another strength of Kael'thas is against heroes who have targetable spawns like Anub'arak's beetles or Nazeebo's zombies. These spawns can aid you in spreading your bombs on the enemy team. On the other hand, Kael'thas can be weaker against enemy team compositions that can dive and burst down him down in the early game making it very difficult to reach the late game. Below are a few heroes to keep in mind when drafting Kael'thas.

     

     

     

    Closing Thoughts

     

    As you get better with Kael'thas it will become evident to you that positioning is vital in order to make him effective. For example, you need to be there when the enemy team is passing through a choke point. Capitalizing on opportunities to spread Living Bombs on clumped up enemy heroes can lead to massive team wipes. Aside from making Kael'thas effective, positioning is also key to making sure you stay alive, if not at least making it very difficult for your enemies to take you down. If your spells are on cooldown, there is no need to be on the front line. As Kael'thas, there is no need to get off every single basic attack possible. Just get in a better position and make it hard for your enemies to get to you. Kael'thas is annoying enough as is with his Chain Bomb, there is no need to risk dying by overextending with basic attacks. This is also why Arcane Barrier is often taken in favor of Backdraft at level 16 in the competitive scene. Arcane Barrier is just another tool for Kael'thas to survive. A Kael'thas that is not targeted and allowed to use up all his mana during a team fight will wreck havoc on the enemy team.

     

    Thank you for reading StormLegacy's hero gameplay guide, we hope this information  helps make you the best fire mage in the Nexus.

     

     

     

     

      

  • This Is Jimmy

     

     

     

     

    Introduction

     

         Commander James Raynor: the first hero that you are introduced to when you enter the Nexus. Thanks to Uther and the in-game tutorials, everyone knows how Raynor works and what he is capable of. However, despite these tutorials, one can argue that Raynor is often not played to his full potential. Raynor as a hero currently has such a lowly reputation to the point that the Heroes of the Storm community have come up with a stereotypical label - Laynors - laning all day, everyday. Even Carbot Animations characterizes Raynor as nothing but a dopey hero. This guide is intended to help you step up your Raynor gameplay as well as eliminate any doubt your teammates may have had about players who pick good ol' Jimmy boy.

    Although Raynor has talent selection diversity (especially at level 10, 13 and 16), we will use the following common Talent Build as a reference point for the rest of this guide:

     

     

     

    Let's get started!

     

    1. Stutter Stepping: Making Use of Advanced Optics

     

    Raynor's trait, Advanced Optics, gives his basic attacks 20% more range than other ranged heroes as well as a 10% vision range boost. So what? Compared to Leoric's Undying trait this seems very underwhelming. You are completely right, it is not a game changing trait unless you do this one thing called stutter stepping. Stutter stepping, also known as kiting, is taking a step in between every attack animation. Stutter stepping, combined with Advanced Optics, ensures that Raynor can constantly deal damage without ever being engaged by the enemy. This is particularly important in the late game once you have enough Seasoned Marksman stacks. Aside from stutter stepping to make sure you are safe and not in melee range, it is also a good habit to stutter step side to side even when no one is chasing you. This just makes it that much harder for the enemy team to land a skillshot on you. Stutter stepping is also a great tool for securing kills. You never want to have an enemy hero get away just because you forgot to take one extra step in between basic attacks. A Jaina that gets away with 1% health is the same thing as a Jaina that never received any damage. If you are just starting out with Raynor, I highly recommend going on Try Mode to get a feel of the pause between attack animations. Try it out with and without Inspire (W) activated. Simply put, stutter stepping is the one mechanic that separates an average Raynor from a below average Raynor.

     

    2. Going from average to phenomenal: Raynor the Bully

     

    Raynor is the one hero who can win a team fight before it even starts. The combination of fast attack speed and long range makes Raynor one of the best lane bullies. Constantly dealing damage to enemy heroes to trade your basic attacks for their health, mana or both can put the entire enemy team in an unfavorable situation. For example, in Cursed Hollow if you can deal enough damage to an enemy hero during the early game laning phase to force them to use their Healing Fountain, then they will not have this resource when a tribute spawns. Better yet, if you can force them to Hearthstone back to base between 2:15 to 2:45 (first tribute spawn timing) then you force the enemy team to fight 4v5 for a period of time.

     

    In the late game, then, how do you use Raynor to turn team fights in your favor? Usually before a team fight breaks out, there is a period when both your teammates and the enemy heroes are doing a “dance and poke” routine where both teams just fight each other for space. This is when Raynor shines in the late game. Raynor will probably not be able to reach the back line of the enemy team with his basic attacks, but he can still shred tanks and other front liners. This damage you deal will probably just get healed up by the enemy Uther, but this means that that healing ability is no longer available for someone else. You have just successfully traded your basic attacks (which cost nothing) for precious mana and cooldowns.

     

     You cannot kill Leoric, but you can make him cry.

     

     

    3. When to pick Raynor: General Principles

     

    We have gone over what Raynor's potential can be with proper hero control, as well as what his roles are throughout the game. It is now time to go through general principles to when you should draft Raynor in Hero League. These principles are not set in stone and your judgment based on what your team needs is still very much required when drafting. Rather these general principles are here to guide your thought process when thinking about drafting Raynor.

     

    Map Size

     

    Raynor excels on maps with a short distance between lanes. This allows you to really take advantage of Seasoned Marksman and get as many stacks as possible. When rotating from lane to lane, it is best to fully clear one lane, then rotate to the next lane to soak the minions without dismounting. Only dismount if you see an opportunity to ambush and secure a takedown, otherwise you are wasting time getting back to your own lane. Every minion counts, and you should rely on your teammates on the adjacent lane to do the wave clearing for you. Maps that have an oval shape (such that the top and bottom minions always come later than the middle set of minions) can also work well for Raynor, just practice the timing of your mount and dismounts so that you are not losing out on XP.

     

    Team Compositions

     

    Just because your team needs an assassin and you are a hot shot with your Raynor does not mean you should automatically draft him. Raynor excels most against double tank enemy compositions. Taking Giant Killer at level 13 and combining it with stutter stepping is one of the ways that Raynor can decide the outcome of a team fight before it even gets started. If the enemy team took Leoric and Muradin, then you can be confident in locking in Raynor. At the same time, Raynor performs better when you have a front liner hero (e.g., Johanna, E.T.C.) or someone who can peel damage from you that you cannot get away from even if you stutter step constantly. You should also keep in mind that Raynor as a hero does not have the best wave clear. He does, however, excel in prolonged team fights in maps such as Battlefield of Eternity and Infernal Shrines since he will usually never run out of mana.

                                       

     

                             

     

    Duo Queuing

     

    If you are duo queuing you may want to ask your duo partner to take a hero with a fast wave clear as well as a good ganking potential (e.g., Jaina, Kael'thas). Constantly rotating from lane to lane with your duo partner not only stacks your Seasoned Marksman stacks more efficiently, but it also keeps your enemies on their back foot. On small maps like Dragon Shire, you can force enemy heroes from each lane to Hearthstone back to their base just from abusing the damage you can dish out with your basic attacks when rotating from lane to lane. This can give you just enough time to have a hero advantage on the battlefield to capture the Dragon Knight or secure a takedown.

     

     

    Tip and Tricks for Raynor:

     

    Zagara's Creep & Hyrdralisk

    When you are playing as Raynor you will rarely run out of mana and will usually have tons to spare. You can use this spare mana to shoot Penetrating Rounds (Q) at the center of Zagara's creep to kill the tumors. A lot of heroes can clear the creep, but it should be you that is constantly doing it since you will always have spare mana as Raynor. You'll be doing your teammates a huge favor since they will get to conserve their mana for when a team fight breaks out. Another thing you should look out for is when you are in lane with Zagara and she spawns a Hydralisk to push you away. If you are quick, you can actually shoot a Penetrating Round (Q) at the Hydralisk and hit Zagara as well.

     

    Murky's Pufferfish

    Raynor is one of the heroes who has a fast enough attack speed to destroy Murky's Pufferfish. Getting rid of the pufferfish greatly reduces Murky's ability to push lanes, just watch out for Murky players who try to stand over the pufferfish to try and block you from shooting it

     

    Strategic Activation of Adrenaline Rush (E)

    When playing as Raynor you might find yourself in situations where you have to heal up just before a team fight breaks out and there is no healer or Healing Fountain to be found nearby. In these situations, it is advantageous to let a few minions hit you to just get you below 30% health so that it activates your Adrenaline Rush ability. Yes you will be giving up a few health points to the minons, but you avoid the risk of getting bursted down during a a team fight and not getting value out of your Adrenaline Rush at all. This is a trick you may want to use in the late game when the heal from Adrenaline Rush is quite large, but the burst from the enemy heroes will be much faster than your healing.

     

    Controlling Raynor's Raiders

     

     The range on Raynor's Raiders is the same as Raynor himself without Nexus Frenzy.

     

    Stutter stepping should also be utilized with the Stealth Banshees that spawn from the Raynor's Raiders heroic ability. Far too often the banshees are cast on an enemy hero and they just end up dying within seconds, barely doing any damage. The banshees last 22 seconds and, if controlled properly, have the potential to be more annoying than the Hyperion heroic ability. The range on the banshees is also long enough (almost as much as Raynor himself) to make stutter stepping manageable. It is not necessary to get kills with your banshees, you just want them to be annoying for the enemy team to deal with. The more time the enemy team has to spend dodging your banshees, the more basic attacks you will be able to get off from Raynor himself during a team fight. Treat your banshees like a second hero that you have control over.

     

    Thank you for reading StormLegacy's first hero gameplay guide, we hope this information helps make you one of the hottest smoking guns in the Nexus!

    Coming soon: Kael'thas – Playing with Fire