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.
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. :)