HotS,

  • A Detailed look at How HotS Is Better

    Better than what? Everything. LoL is used as the example of the antiquated MOBA design, because it is the most popular and more importantly, the one that I have personal experience in. The goal is not to make LoL look bad, but as the title says, to show HotS as better.

     I'm CarlTheLlama, one of the top support mains in Heroes of the Storm. My competitive teams have placed as high as 3rd/4th in NA, individually I've been as high as #9 on the leader board, and I've played 4500ish games since I started playing in November of 2014. Before that, I was a Diamond 1 support main in League of Legends, with somewhere between 6-8k games played there, and many, many hours spent watching competitive games to match. Before that I had 2k games in Aeon of Storms, a custom SC2 MOBA, so I’ve had quite a bit of experience in the genre over the last 3 years.

     I left LoL months before getting HotS access (and haven't looked back, so a few of my comments about it might be outdated), ultimately because of the toxic atmosphere that seemed to be in every match you found yourself in (HotS has been much nicer), but mostly because LoL was never really a fun game for me.If HotS hadn’t been as good as it is, I probably would have walked away from the MOBA genre and never looked back. The reason I was able to get into HotS as much as I have is because it’s dramatically better, both for people new to the genre and those like myself who are veterans. If you haven't tried it you should, or if you're looking to get your friends into this game, here's what you can tell them.

     

    Boomier

    The first thing that drew me into HotS was it was boomier. What do I mean by that? Well I've always liked fires,fire is entrancing and enchanting, but a good explosion, a fire in fast-motion, really gets the heart racing. It’s boomier.

     So it is with HotS, it's a MOBA in fast-motion, but simply describing the ways that it achieves this doesn’t capture how the deviations from the standard MOBA path all synergize together, and only touches the surface of how much better the game actually feels. That said, let's look at some of the things HotS does differently, because metaphors are nice, but evidence is nicer.

     The first thing you'll notice being boomier are the champions. Not only do they start with all of their regular abilities skilled instead of getting them one at a time, but their kits are fuller and each can flat out do more. For example, Malfurion is a "sustain bot" similar to Soraka- restores health and (for free) mana, has a low damage/low cost/low cooldown ability for a little waveclear/tickling champions, and is the same type of immobile squishy that is strong in drawn out poke wars.

     However, Soraka's CC (silence) and mana restoration are tied to the same cooldown, so you have to pick one or the other, while Malf gets both on separate cooldowns. Furthermore, Malf's CC is an AOE root + zone control ability (instead of single target), which is generally a more dynamic CC, since you can make more offensive plays with it than a silence, while also having stronger defensive plays. But wait, there's more. Soraka's ultimate is a team heal, and while every hero in HotS gets to choose one of two heroics, usually Malf picks the team heal as well. The difference is, Soraka's is a simple button push, while Malf's is much more involved, creating a healing circle around him for 8 seconds as he moves. So, while Soraka's you cast and forget about, Malf's you have to reposition with, which combined with his squishy nature makes positioning choices much more interesting, making you think about which teammates you can heal for how long. The skills being more manipulable and engaging makes them more fun, but the fact that you have to work to make the ability effective means there's more room for skillful players to get more from the champion when playing him, or to make him less effective when playing against him.

     Those may seem like simple differences, but just as Soraka is one of the least exciting champions in LoL, Malf is one of the least exciting in HotS. However, even his kit has engaging features, and abilities that take care to execute to differentiate the successes from the failures. This lets you connect to the game in a way that you know what you're doing right and wrong. The trend of overall more dynamic champions grabs you from the start, and makes you want to see more.

     

    Improving the Genre

     While it's a popular opinion of many LoL-philiacs that HotS is a more casual game that lacks strategic complexity, there are more than a few elements that LoL doesn't have that HotS does. While the ability to mount may just seem like a way to make the pace of the game faster, many champions get unique mobilities in place of a mount, such as a Shen-style teleport, a Twisted Fate-style teleport, emergency speed boosts (all on significant cooldowns) and more. It's one more factor to the calculate that makes drafting and rotations more complex.

     Blizzard has also played around a lot with champion bodies as a mechanic. Changing the hitbox of a champion is an old and established mechanic, but Blizzard has taken it to the next level by having a hero that operates remotely from inside the base, with no body on the battlefield, and a hero with 3 miniature bodies (substantially lower HP, damage, etc.) that can move independently so you can have them in all 3 lanes (they've made more characters that play around this idea, but they're harder to explain). The ramifications of that are enormous when you stop to think that an ability healing/damaging all heroes in an area will get between -20% and +40% value.This creates a strategic element that is refreshing and invigorating to the veteran, and gives more options to newcomers trying to find heroes that fit them.

     There's also 9 maps in play already (more will come) to LoL's 1, which is another entire dimension that LoL (and to my knowledge, mostly every MOBA before HotS) doesn't even start to enter into. Even as a new game compared to one that has been developed for years, HotS looks at least as complex, if not drastically more so.

     The reason it's more accessible to the casual gamer is because it's logical and intuitive. Instead of needing to study what runes, masteries, and items are meta (not to mention farming them in addition to your champions) you look at a handful of choices at a time (instead of a sea of them) and say, "Oh this makes sense for this type of champ. These talents look like they synergize. We need more damage so I think this choice might be better here." It feels more like a game that requires some logic, and less like a class in something you have no interest in. The whole game is devoted to this idea. That's right, instead of keeping a veritable notebook in chat of camp timers, you can just look and see if they're up or how long it will be until they are, and make your moves based on information, instead of doing bookkeeping.

     

    Balance and Variety: Game Design Synergy

     While we're on the subject of competitive integrity, let's look at the talent system. It allows talents to be balanced to an individual hero, rather than needing to balance items across an ever-expanding champion pool. The result of this is that a hero can be accessorized more fully, and that the pool of viable heroes is larger. For example, LoL ADC builds had little to no variation, you simply opted for whichever items were strongest that patch, which in turn largely dictated the tier list for roles, taking champs in and out of the meta. Furthermore, items for ADCs were rarely seen on fighters like Renekton, because they had to be balanced in a way that no champ in the game could abuse the item, which usually meant entire classes weren’t able to get good use of it.

     With HotS, those limitations don't exist. If a talent is OP on a champ, it's tuned down for them without affecting anyone else, and if the talent is too strong on everyone that gets it, the talent gets tuned down and they don't have to mess with a champ "because they always get this item for their playstyle." Of course the same principle applies if it's too weak; it gets tuned up for the individual. If there's really no hope for the talent ever being on that champ without being OP, instead of a champ/item being nerfed into oblivion, the talent is simply removed from that hero and a new one put in it's place. As a result, almost every single hero (there are currently 41) is seen in competitive play regularly in HotS, which is more than you'll see at a given time in a LoL meta, despite having a champion pool 3x as big.

     Even cooler than that, the talent system allows for a lot of build flexibility on each Hero. Instead of following the same rigid item build path (due to the difficulty of balancing items), the only change being the order of a couple items based on the lane opponent. This is one aspect of the game that is still being fleshed out, and while build paths are more interesting and dynamic than LoL when I left (and I assume it hasn't really changed since there’s only so much you can do with an item system),the best is yet to come.

     Because the XP to access those talents is shared, everyone's on the same page as to when power spikes are. What's more, one person having a bad go of their lane is more easily dealt with as a team because the damage is mitigated across the board. It's sort of like an insurance policy that prevents you from taking any single hits that will leave you devastated.

     If you're against someone with 1000 more gold than you, you're always going to be down 1000 gold worth in stats, and they're going to always have their items more completed, meaning that gold will be more efficient, as if it's accruing interest, which allows them to deny more and more gold to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. This leads to the game losing meaning quickly, becoming a painfully one-sided snowball, which is only counteracted by the fact that the snowballer has to walk long distances to impact the rest of the game.

     The main strength of advantages accrued in HotS is generally not the stats that a higher level will give you, but the window of time where you have a talent and the enemy doesn't. The more your lead is, the more larger the window is where you're a talent up, and the smaller the window is where they're even with you on talents. That means both teams have a goal to keep fighting towards, a window where they will be on better footing than they would otherwise. If they're behind they have hope to mostly mitigate that fact, and if they're ahead they have timings where they're heavily favored to win fights.

     

    Bull Manure

     I don't know much about rodeos, and if you're reading this, odds are you don't either. I don't think it's difficult to imagine however, that people who work in a rodeo have different jobs, and while one person gets to have the fun and attention of riding the bull, someone else gets the menial, inglorious task of cleaning up after it. What Blizzard has done with HotS has effectively removed all the bull manure from the game, so that players get to be the cowboy and not the janitor. Ya know, so it feels like a game instead of a job.

     If you're a support main, rejoice! Resources don't need to be squabbled over like they do in LoL. Yes, supports have fully functional builds just like anyone else due to the talent and XP system . But more than that, the mindless repetition of PvE last-hitting has been replaced with PvP battles to contest objectives of varying strength. Even in lane, fighting happens much more than in LoL, since minions always prioritize attacking other minions in range over heroes, so there’s no game mechanics to discourage action. Tower diving works similarly, so a better balance is struck between being able to take advantage of being ahead, while not letting a lane snowball completely in one direction, because forts won't aggro while there's a wave there. That wave either gets cleared quickly while you soak the XP, or you can use a rear tower to help deal damage to people diving you. You also don't lose out on anything while being dove under structures, you'll still get the XP. Of course, in LoL if you were in this situation you would still lose out due to not getting last hits.

     Of the many advantages of the XP system in HotS, one is that flat gold farming is replaced by scaling XP rewards.No matter how far behind you get in HotS, if your opponent gets overconfident and screws up enough that you can punish it, 2 strong teamfight wins can take you back to even in stats with them. The first teamfight is obviously the more important one, which will shore up the major differences. Then the second teamfight you're at a stat disadvantage, but it's small enough that good play by you can win the second fight, instead of needing your opponent to reach for too much. What that also means is that you can lose the first twenty minutes of a match, but have more fight in you than the other team, win the last 3 minutes, and walk away with the W, without having the 20 minutes of farming yourself back in between.

     That means the whole game matters, there's no "well it's snowballed and there's not a realistic chance of coming back now," because of game mechanics. There's also no need to argue about surrendering because there's no option (the combination of game time and comeback potential makes such an option absurd). And if you do get snowballed on and get crushed, the game is over in as little as 8 minutes. That sounds brutal, but in reality it means far less time spent needlessly in frustrating, agonizing, and pointless games.

     So to recap, your fun tank fills up much faster in HotS because you're mining it more efficiently. You're doing more dynamic, engaging activities, and there's practically none of that time where you're there because you have to be, not because you want to be. You get to ride the bull, not clean up after it.

     

    Conclusion

     In short, HotS is more engaging, more stimulating, more strategically complex, more prone to encourage civil play, better balanced, and a more efficient use of time to have fun. It discards the useless baggage that LoL has held onto, and is a much better game both casually and competitively as a result. I can't speak at Dota2 since I never played it, but I have a hard time seeing an outdated gold MOBA being able to hold a candle to HotS.

     One thing that many old MOBA players are sure to feel is that they've invested too much in their old games to move on now. Part of me wants to think that's the same as staying in an abusive relationship, but I also felt the same way before I left LoL. I had invested a lot of time, energy, and emotion into it: I had become an expert- accurately predicting cause & effect in LCS games, had some success as a challenger level analyst, and was a published theorycrafter there; and all of that was hard to leave behind. While I left LoL without any experience playing HotS, or even any serious idea that I would someday play it, I found once I started playing that what I'd invested in LoL served me well in HotS.

    Switching over to HotS is not abandoning an investment, but rather adapting it, and doing so to get more reward from future investments. Skills and experiences that I made in LoL carried over well to HotS, and are what allow me to enjoy the game as fully as I do. Similarly, the future of HotS is brighter because of the path paved by LoL. Now, however, the next level has been released, and to stay behind is to cheat yourself.

     

    For the best strategy guides on HotS, see this: https://goo.gl/eYVNEq

  • Blizzcon 2015 World Championship Recap

    It's been a few weeks since the Blizzcon World Champion was crowned. Did you miss the action? Want to see some of the awesome highlights again? Then take a few minutes to get caught up with the Heroes of the Storm 2015 Blizzcon World Championship below!

     

  • 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!   

  • Lunara Spotlight

    The Lunara spotlight has finally been released. Check out the much awaited hero below!

     

  • 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!