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.
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.
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.
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.
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