With Heroes of the Storm‘s launch date of June 2nd approaching, there are bound to be plenty of newcomers interested in trying the game. I’ve been playing MOBAs for over a year now, but I still remember how intimidating the genre can be for new players. With that in mind, this article will focus on easing new players into the game by teaching them the basics of a couple of heroes of every role that work great for beginners – and that can also be devastating in the hands of experienced players.
- Muradin (Melee Warrior)
- Raynor (Ranged Assassin)
- Uther (Melee Support)
- Zagara (Ranged Specialist)
- E.T.C. (Melee Warrior)
- Gazlowe (Melee Specialist)
- Li Li (Ranged Support)
- Valla (Ranged Assassin)
Muradin is classified as a warrior in Heroes of the Storm, which means his role is to protect his teammates, crowd control enemies, and initiate team fights. If you’ve played World of Warcraft or another MMO, then you can think of Muradin as a tank. In fact, Muradin is one of the tankiest heroes in the game with strong CC, high survivability, but relatively low damage output.
Muradin’s gameplay mechanics are fairly straightforward and simple to learn, but deep enough that he doesn’t feel boring to play even at higher levels. Like most heroes, Muradin starts out with three basic skills that he can upgrade through talents which are gained at key level intervals.
His Q ability is Stormbolt, a short range skill shot that does a small amount of damage and stuns the target for a short period of time. Effectively using your Q is key to playing Muradin because the stun is great for interrupting channeled abilities or locking down targets for your damage-dealers to burn down.
Thunderclap, Muradin’s W ability, is an area of effect that damages and slows all enemies it hits for a few seconds. The AoE component makes this skill useful for both team fights and clearing minion waves in the early laning stage of the game. Like with Stormbolt, the damage isn’t as important as the slowing effect, which can be used to cut off a weakened enemy’s escape.
Dwarf Toss (don’t tell the Elf) is Muradin’s E ability and is a short range jump that can be used as a gap closer or an escape. I mentioned above that one of Muradin’s roles was to start team fights, and that is where Dwarf Toss comes in real handy. This ability allows him to leap into the middle of the fray, chase down escaping targets, and leap back to safety if he takes too much damage.
Speaking of taking too much damage, one of the great things about Muradin is that thanks to his passive trait, Second Wind, he won’t be out of the fight for very long. Second Wind is what makes Muradin such a great tank, because once he is out of combat for a few seconds, he begins regaining health at a very fast rate. Moreover, that regain rate is doubled if Muradin is below a certain health threshold.
Muradin’s fourth ability is his heroic ability and is unlocked at level 10. Like all heroes, Muradin has a choice of two heroics: Avatar or Haymaker. For new players, I highly recommend going with Avatar because it greatly increases his survivability and makes his basic attacks stun for the duration of the ability. The stuns themselves are barely noticeable in terms of duration, but they are great for interrupting channeled skills such as Valla’s Strafe ability or Azomdan’s All Shall Burn. Avatar takes everything that Muradin is good at and makes him even better at it for the duration of the ability.
Haymaker is not a bad ability, but it’s a bit harder to use and I don’t think it fits Muradin’s role as well as Avatar does. I will say that according to what stats we have, the win rates for the two skills are very close, but Avatar is by far the more popular of the two heroics.
I touched upon Muradin’s talents during the discussion of his ultimate abilities, but they are worth discussing a bit more in depth here. However, I will not be going into a full build simply because builds can and should change over the course of the game’s life and even over the course of an individual game. In general, and especially if you are new to the game, I recommend building Muradin’s talents to make him as tanky as possible, so talents that increase his self-healing or damage reduction such as Third Wind or Stone Form are always strong choices. That said, there are a few talent tiers that could use a more in-depth look.
Level 1 is one such tier because there are several good choices here. The two I use the most are Block, which reduces basic attack damage by half, or Infused Hammer, which helps to offset the mana cost of your Stormbolt. In general, I go with Infused Hammer, but if you’re going up against a hero that does heavy, but slow, auto-attack damage such as Sgt. Hammer or Nova, then Block can really help you stay in the fight.
At level 13, you face another difficult decision, since there are several strong choices at this level. Spell Shield is basically Block for ability damage and is always a safe choice. Healing Static improves your Thunderclap by adding a healing component. Thunderstrike greatly increases the damage of Thunderclap and can be a good choice if your team has multiple warriors on it, but since it only triggers when the ability hits only a single target, it can be a bit unreliable in team fights.
You can’t really go wrong at level 20 as all of your options are good ones. The upgrade to Avatar, Unstoppable Force, is a really strong choice. Hardened Shield is an activated ability that greatly reduces the damage Muradin takes, so it can really add to your survivability. But honestly, I think that Muradin has enough sustain that he can get by without it unless he is getting focused by the enemy team. Your third option is Rewind, which resets the cooldowns on all of your basic abilities and is my personal favorite. However, knowing when to use it can be a bit tricky for new players to figure out so honestly I feel that Unstoppable Force is the safest bet.
Raynor is a ranged assassin from the StarCraft universe and is one of the first characters I learned to play. While Raynor’s main role is to deal damage to enemy players, his kit makes him a very versatile character, and he is well suited to both team fights and pushing lanes. Let’s take a look at his kit.
Penetrating Round (Q) is a short-range skillshot that pierces multiple targets and knocks them back. The piercing element of this ability is especially helpful in the early laning phase of the game as it allows Raynor to efficiently clear minion waves. The knock-back component, however, is a bit of a double-edged sword. It can be really helpful for kiting enemies and keeping them at a safe distance, but when chasing down fleeing targets, using it can actually push them out of Raynor’s range and allow them to escape with low health. In those situations, it is best used as a finisher.
Inspire (W) gives Raynor – and to a lesser extent, his allies – a fairly significant attack speed boost. Since this skill applies to minions and mercenaries as well as allied heroes, it can be a strong tool for pushing down lanes and give your team an edge in fights.
Most assassin-type characters are very squishy and will die very fast to focus fire, but Raynor fares a bit better than most thanks to his third ability: Adrenaline Rush. This passive ability heals Raynor for a large portion of his health whenever it drops too low, thus enabling him to stay in the fight longer than a lot of other assassins. However, it does have a very long cooldown, so it’s important to get out of danger once it triggers.
Advanced Optics, Raynor’s trait, gives him the longest attack range of any ranged assassin in the game and more vision than any other character. It’s a simple trait that you probably won’t ever think about, which makes it ideal for newer players who are still learning the ins and outs of Heroes.
Like all other heroes, Raynor has two heroic abilities to choose from: Hyperion or Raynor’s Raiders. Both are very strong, and the choice of which one to use really depends on your build, the map you’re on, and your overall playstyle.
The Hyperion is a long range AoE skillshot that randomly damages enemies in a straight line. Thanks to its increased damage to enemy structures, this skill is very good for pushing lanes and siege damage. Its AoE component also makes it useful on maps such as Sky Temple, where objective fights are centered around small areas, as it can be used to effectively zone back the enemy team.
Raynor’s Raiders is a targeted ability that summons two banshees to attack an enemy. This skill is great for picking off high priority targets such as support characters or other assassins, because it does massive damage and can be re-targeted. These are both strong heroics, but for new players I’d recommend going with Raynor’s Raiders, simply because it fits better with Raynor’s role of an assassin, and as a new player it is probably best to focus on a single role instead of trying to build a hybrid character right off the bat.
Raynor’s talents allow for some variation in playstyle, including an auto-attack build, a build focused around improving his Q, and even a build that turns him into a quasi-specialist by focusing on quickly gaining and buffing mercenaries. It all depends on what you’re trying to do, but for new players, I think a build focused around improving his auto-attacks will be the easiest to learn. I won’t give a full build here, but there are a few talents that I think are best suited to new players.
The level 1 talent Give Me More greatly increases the amount of health gained from Raynor’s E ability, which will increase his survivability and in turn his damage since, of course, a dead assassin deals no damage.
At level 7, I’d advise picking up Revolution Overdrive, which adds a speed boost to Raynor’s W. This can be used both offensively for chasing down fleeing targets and defensively to help Raynor escape pursuing enemies.
Level 20 is where things get a bit tricky, as you have several good options to choose from. You can either choose to buff your heroic ability, take Nexus Frenzy which further increases Raynor’s auto-attack range and speed, or you can go with Bolt of the Storm, which is a short-range teleport. All of these can be pretty good options depending on the situation, but due to the fact that Raynor has no escapes, I would recommend choosing Bolt of the Storm in most cases.
Uther the Lightbringer is a melee support from the Warcraft universe who brings strong healing and crowd control to the table. As a support, his main role is to keep his allies alive and set up kills via his stuns. However, despite the fact that he is wearing plate mail and carrying a giant hammer, he is lacking when it comes to damage and can be kind of squishy, so he is not the best solo laner. You should try to be with at least one other teammate whenever possible.
Uther’s Holy Light (Q) is a single-target heal that restores a good amount of health, but comes with a fairly short range, a long cooldown, and a hefty mana cost in the early game. Despite those drawbacks, this is your bread and butter healing spell and is invaluable for keeping you or your allies in the fight.
Holy Radiance (W) is a straight line skillshot that heals any allies in its path for a decent amount and does a small amount of damage to enemies. Since it can heal multiple allies at once, this skill is best used when your allies are clumped up together. It can be used offensively to help push lanes or finish off a fleeing opponent, but due to its low damage and fairly long cooldown, it’s generally best to use it as a heal.
One of Uther’s more offensive offensive abilities is Hammer of Justice, which stuns a single target for a short amount of time and does a small amount of damage. Like with Muradin’s Stormbolt, the stun is more important than the damage, as it can be used to set up kills, interrupt channeled abilities, or buy your allies time to escape.
Eternal Devotion, Uther’s trait, has gone through some significant changes and nerfs throughout the course of the beta, but it is still a fairly useful trait. When Uther dies, his spirit remains on the battlefield for 10 seconds. During this time, he can heal his allies with Flash of Light – a fairly weak heal with a very short cooldown.
When it comes to heroic abilities Uther, has two strong choices, depending on how you want to play him and what the enemy team composition is. Divine Storm (R) is an area-of-effect stun that can really set your team up for some devastating combos if it is used properly. The downside is that is a melee ability, so to use it to maximum effect, Uther has to be in the middle of the enemy team and he will often get burnt down before he is able to get the skill off.
Divine Shield (R) is a defensive ability that grants its target a movement speed boost and invulnerability for a short time. I’d advise picking this skill if you are trying to play Uther as more of a backline healer type character since it is a ranged ability and thus doesn’t require you to jump into the middle of the fray like Divine Storm. It is also a great counter to single-target nukes like Nova’s Triple Tap or Kael’thas’s Pyroblast.
Uther is fairly versatile as far as builds go and he can be played as a frontline healer and minor off-tank or a pure backline healer, depending on which playstyle you prefer. Neither one is necessarily easier or better than the other, so the choice really comes down to individual preference. Due to the amount of variation in Uther’s builds, there aren’t too many mandatory talents, but there are a few tiers that are worth discussing in detail.
At level 1, I highly recommend going with Conjurer’s Pursuit ,which increases your mana regeneration every time you gather three health globes. Without this talent you’ll often run into mana problems throughout the course of the game. The increased range that Reach gives Holy Light isn’t a bad choice, especially if you want to try playing Uther as a backline healer, but once again you’ll run the risk of running out of mana and not being able to heal anyone, so I still think Conjurer’s Pursuit is the safer choice.
Shrink Ray or Blessed Champion are both decent choices at level 13. Shrink Ray reduces the target’s damage and movement speed by half for a few seconds and is one of the best support talents in the game. Blessed Champion makes the first basic attack you do after using Holy Light heal all nearby heroes for a small amount, so it can be pretty good for a frontline healer build, but I still think that Shrink Ray is the better choice.
Level 20 is a difficult tier as is often the case. The upgrade to Divine Storm can be very strong, but I don’t feel that it is worth taking, since it simply doesn’t add very much to the skill. Storm Shield is great for adding to your team’s survivability as it grants them all a very strong shield that lasts a decent amount of time. The other option is Benediction, which revives Uther at the location of his spirit once Eternal Devotion ends. This ability has a very long cooldown, but it can be extremely helpful for quickly getting back in the game during those crucial endgame team fights. Honestly, there is no right or wrong choice in this tier, and it really comes down to your playstyle. However, if you want to play it safe, I would go with Storm Shield because it is a great all-around talent.
The Zerg Broodmother Zagara is a ranged specialist from the StarCraft universe that excels at aggressively pushing lanes and taking down enemy structures. This makes her very strong in the early game, and if played right, she can really help her team take the lead in terms of levels due to how much experience towers and forts give when destroyed. Her strong pushing power is made up for by the fact that she is very squishy and has few escapes, so positioning is key to Zagara’s survival.
Baneling Barrage (Q) is a ranged skillshot that launches four banelings that explode on contact with the enemy and do a high amount of splash damage. The AoE effect makes this a great skill for clearing minion waves and mercenary camps. In addition, the banelings can also soak a few shots from enemy structures, but I don’t recommend using them in that way unless it’s a matter of life or death. The biggest weakness of this skill is that because of it’s slow travel speed, it can be easily dodged by opposing heroes.
Hunter Killer (W) summons a Hydralisk that will chase its target to the ends of the earth until it expires or is killed. This is Zagara’s main source of hero damage and is one of the strongest attacks in the early stage of the game. The hydralisk is great for pushing back enemy heroes, as there aren’t very many heroes who can safely tank the damage it will dish out. That being said, it is important to remember that the hydralisk will only attack a single target and will vanish once that target is dead, so it should be saved for heroes.
Infested Drop (E) delivers a small amount of damage in an area and summons two Roachlings. The Roachlings do a fair amount of damage, but they can also be used to help soak ammo from enemy structures, push lanes, or take merc camps.
Zagara’s trait is an activated ability: Creep Tumor (D.) Zagara has increased health regeneration and movement speed while standing on Creep, so it should be spread as much as possible to help ensure she has a means of escape. Additionally, Creep also grants vision to Zagara and her allies, which can be used to grant advanced warning to your team. Try to place the tumors near high-traffic areas such as objective spawn points or merc camps so your team can keep an eye on what the enemy is up to.
Zagara’s choice of heroic abilities is a bit more limited than some other heroes, because while Nydus Network can be useful for split pushing and capturing merc camps, it is fairly useless in team fights and Heroes of the Storm is a very team-oriented game.
Devouring Maw is a far stronger choice for team fights as it is a strong crowd control ability that can be used to remove key targets from a fight or set your team up for some very strong wombo combos. It can also be used defensively to interrupt channeled abilities. On that note it is also the only skill in the game that can interrupt Diablo’s Lightning Breath.
As is always the case, your talent choices will vary from match to match, so none of the following recommendations should be considered gospel. Still, there are a few talents that can really make life easier for Zagara, especially if you are new to to the game or the specialist role.
The increased health regeneration from level 1‘s Reconstitution can be a life saver – assuming you’ve spread your creep properly. Demolitionist’s increased structure damage and ammo-leach can make it a tempting choice if you have teammates helping you push, but if you do have a strong push going, then you normally won’t need the extra damage, and your minions can soak the ammo well enough on their own.
The reduced cooldowns usually make Battle Momentum an easy pick, but Zagara actually has two strong options at level 7. As was mentioned above, Zagara is rather squishy, which is why Rapid Incubation is such a strong pick at this level. The extra damage that Battle Momentum provides is very handy, but the ability to rapidly restore your health and mana makes Rapid Incubation the safer choice.
At level 20, I highly recommend going with Bolt of the Storm to give Zagara a much needed means of escape.
The Elite Tauren Chieftain – or E.T.C. as he is more commonly known – is a Warrior from the Warcraft universe that focuses on displacement and disruption. His high health pool and strong crowd control make him one of the most popular tanks in the game. He doesn’t do very much damage, but he is great at setting up kills and protecting the members of his team that do deal a lot of damage.
Powerslide (Q) is a dash that deals a small amount of damage and stuns any enemy it hits. As with Muradin’s Stormbolt, the damage isn’t nearly as important as the stun. This skill allows E.T.C. to interrupt channeled abilities and intercept fleeing targets, which leads into one of the key aspects of playing E.T.C. well: body blocking. Put simply, it is standing in front of your team’s target so they can’t escape, and the dash on Powerslide makes it great for that. Powerslide can also be used defensively to get out of dangerous situations.
Another important aspect of playing E.T.C. is knowing how his Powerslide and Face Melt (W) work together. Face Melt does a minor bit of damage and knocks any enemies away from E.T.C. This is great for sliding into a group of enemies and knocking one of them towards your team to set up a quick kill. It can also be used defensively to push pursuing targets away. Like with Muradin’s Haymaker, players need to be careful that they don’t accidentally push enemies away from their team when teammates are attempting to secure a kill.
Guitar Solo (E) is one of the keys to E.T.C’s tankiness. It allows him to regenerate a decent amount of health over a few seconds. It’s not nearly as strong as Muradin’s Second Wind, but it does help to keep E.T.C. in fights.
Rock Star is E.T.C.’s passive trait that triggers whenever he uses a basic or heroic ability and grants an attack speed boost to all nearby heroes. It might not seem like much, but it can be a significant buff, especially to heroes like Illidan or Valla that naturally have high attack speeds.
When it comes to heroics, both Mosh Pit and Stage Dive are strong, and the choice really depends on your playstyle, how the game is going, what map you’re on. Mosh Pit forces all enemies around E.T.C. to dance, which stuns them for several seconds. It is one of the strongest AoE stuns in the game and can be devastating in the right hands. It also combos very well with Power Slide, since you can simply slide into the enemy team and then use Mosh Pit to set your team up for some great combos.
Stage Dive really shines on large maps such as Cursed Hollow, because it allows E.T.C. to teleport anywhere on the map, damaging and slowing any enemies caught in it’s area of effect. The biggest strength of this skill is that it gives E.T.C. a global presence, allowing to quickly join team fights or capture objective points with relative ease.
As I mentioned above, both of these skills are viable, and the choice really will vary from game to game, but for new players I would recommend Mosh Pit simply because it fits very well into E.T.C.’s kit.
In terms of talents, there isn’t really any one build that is the best for E.T.C. and, unlike some characters, you won’t be building around a single ability like you can with Raynor or Valla, so the choices really do depend on how the game is going.
If you feel like you are taking too much damage, then you should focus on talents that increase your survivability, such as Block and Spell Shield, or focus on talents that increase the health regeneration from Guitar Solo. Keep in mind that Block is on the same tier as two talents that buff Guitar Solo, so you’ll need to decide whether damage negation or health recovery is more important. As always, that decision will be heavily influenced by the enemy team composition, since Block shines against heavy hitting auto-attack heroes, but is useless against heroes who rely on ability damage.
In general, E.T.C. is already very tanky and difficult to kill, so unless you are just going up against a very heavy damage team you probably won’t need too many talents that boost sustain. So in most cases I recommend talents that increase the usability of E.T.C.’s crowd control abilities.
There are several strong options at level 20, including the upgrades to your heroic. Tour Bus allows E.T.C. to use Power Slide during Mosh Pit, which can allow him to catch other targets in the stun. Crowd Pleaser is a fairly straightforward buff to Stage Dive that increases the radius of effect and reduces the cooldown for every enemy hit. Death Metal is a fun talent that casts Mosh Pit whenever E.T.C. dies, even if he took Stage Dive. My big problem with this talent and ones like it is that I don’t like talents that plan around your character dying, since ideally you should not be dying.
Gazlowe is probably the most complex character on this list, and playing him takes awhile to get used to. However, once you master the basics of his playstyle, he is a very rewarding character to play due to his strong pushing power and his ability to contribute well in team fights. One of the things that makes Gazlowe a bit complex is the fact that even though he is listed as a melee specialist, nearly all of Gazlowe’s abilities are ranged skills, and depending on your playstyle, you may very rarely engage in melee combat.
Rock-It! Turret (Q) places a turret on the ground that deals damage to nearby enemies. This is a great skill for pushing lanes, as the turrets can be used to damage and soak ammo from enemy structures. It also shines during team fights around objectives as it can be used to zone out the enemy team, and on maps such as Cursed Hollow, the turrets can be used as a form of disruption to keep the enemy from gaining the tribute, since any amount of damage will interrupt the process.
Deth Lazor (W) is a channeled ability that increases in range and damage the longer the skill charges. It takes a few seconds to charge and has a fairly long cooldown, but it is useful for both clearing lanes and can do a strong amount of damage to clumped up targets in team fights if you let it reach its maximum charge.
Speaking of charges, Xplodium Charge (E) throws out a bomb that deals damage and stuns any enemies caught in the area after a short delay. It is a useful skill for both laning and taking merc camps, but it is a bit difficult to land in teamfights thanks to the delay, but that can change depending on your choice of heroic.
Gazlowe’s trait, Salvager, allows him to recover scrap from his turrets and enemy structures. You can also press D to automatically destroy your turrets and collect scrap from them. This scrap restores mana and makes his cooldowns recharge at a much higher rate for a few seconds. Both of these are very helpful as Gazlowe relies heavily on his abilities, and they all have long cooldowns and fairly high mana costs. This means effectively managing your scrap is an important part of playing Gazlowe.
The choice of your heroic ability is actually even more important on Gazlowe then it is on most other characters because it will really determine your approach to the rest of the game. Robo-Goblin is the go-to choice if you want to focus on taking merc camps and split-pushing because it massively increases the damage your basic attacks do to non-heroes. In my experience, I’ve found this ability really shines on larger maps where you can split-push with less risk of running into the enemy team.
If you are planning on playing more team-oriented then you should go with Grav-O-Bomb 3000, which is an AoE that pulls all enemies into the center of its area of effect and deals moderate damage. This skill combos very well with Xplodium Charge as you can simply throw down a charge and use your heroic to pull enemies into the explosion and stun them, setting your team up for some very strong combos.
Your talent choices will really depend on whether you are planning on playing Gazlowe as a split-pusher or team fighter, as certain talents such as Superiority are very useful for split-pushing, but useless in a team fight. For example, if you wanted to go for a team fighting build, then the two upgrades to Xplodium Charge at level 1 and level 16 can really add to the damage you do with the combo of Xplodium Charge and Grav-O-Bomb. The level 1 talent, Extra TNT, increases the amount of damage your charge does for every enemy caught in it, and the level 16 talent, Kwik Release Charge, gives you a second charge of Xplodium. Keep in mind that if you do choose to go with Extra TNT then you’ll be giving up two talents that buff your trait. Scrap-matic-Smelter increases the amount of mana you gain from picking up scrap and Break It Down further increases the cooldown reduction from scrap. Both of these are very good, and honestly, I would advise going with one of them at level 1 over the extra damage from your E simply because it doesn’t provide a lot of benefit in the early game.
Another very viable build for Gazlowe is the turret build. This is actually my favorite build for him and is the most versatile because there are many talents that modify his turrets in different ways. The first major improvement comes at level 7, when you can choose to take Rock It! Turret XL which allows your turrets to attack two enemies, or Engine Gunk, which applies a slowing effect to your turrets’ attacks. At level 13, you can add a third charge to your turrets by picking up Turret Storage, and level 16 offers a fairly decent range increase – Long-Ranged Turrets.
I haven’t spoken much about builds centered around Gazlowe’s W, and that’s because I don’t find the Deth Lazor build to be all that effective. There are a couple of decent talents for it though. Level 13‘s EZ-PZ Dimensional Ripper allows the lazor to slow enemy heroes and will lock down structures and minions. This makes it a viable choice in a split-push build, but I think there are better options at this range for team fighting. Hyperfocus Coils greatly reduces the cast time of Deth Lazor, but it’s on the same tier as Long-Ranged Turrets, Kwik Release Charge and Stoneskin, and honestly I think all of those are stronger choices.
The upgrade to your Grav-O-Bomb at level 20 can be a strong choice, as it adds a bit more range and damage. The upgrade to Robo-Goblin increases your basic attacks against heroes so it can help in teamfights, but honestly I feel like it goes against the spirit of the a Robo-Goblin build. Hardened Shield is another strong choice, as Gazlowe can be very squishy, so the extra survivability helps. Fury of the Storm is strong in a split-push build because it helps you gain merc camps faster and push lanes. None of these are really bad choices – it mainly depends on how the game is going. However, I do think the upgrade to Robo-Goblin is the least desirable.
Li Li, from the Warcraft universe, is a ranged support that excels at keeping her teammates alive during the heat of battle. Her strong healing is balanced by a relative lack of damage and she has less crowd control than supports such as Uther or Malfurion.
What makes Li Li such a good choice for new players is the fact that three of her skills are smart targeted, meaning that the ability will choose its own target. Healing Brew (Q) will heal the nearest ally for a decent amount of health. This ability can heal minions, but will prioritize heroes, so don’t worry about friendly minions stealing your heals. The obvious downside to this mechanic is that you can’t prioritize which of your allies you want to heal – apart from positioning yourself such that the ally you want to heal is closest to you.
Cloud Serpent (W) is a targeted ability that summons a serpent to help allies in combat. It doesn’t do very much damage, but it does enough that it can help out in team fights or be useful for augmenting Li Li’s damage, which is not all that great.
The second of Li Li smart-target abilities is Blinding Wind (E), which does a small amount of damage and blinds the two closest enemies, once again prioritizing heroes, making them miss their next two basic attacks. This is one of Li Li’s strongest skills in team fights as it can really help to limit the amount of damage the other team can throw out. It’s especially useful against heroes like Sergeant Hammer who rely heavily on auto-attack damage.
When it comes to heroics, I highly recommend going with Jug of a Thousand Cups as opposed to Water Dragon. Jug functions as an amped up version of Healing Brew; it will heal nearby allies for a substantial amount and is capable of keeping entire teams alive.
To be clear, Water Dragon is not a bad skill to choose, as it is on a very short cooldown and provides Li Li with some much needed damage and one of the strongest slows in the game. I simply do not think it fits her role as a healer nearly as well as Jug of a Thousand Cups.
Fast Feet, Li Li’s trait, grants a movement speed increase whenever she takes damage. This makes Li Li one of the hardest heroes to chase in the game as she can keep herself alive and stay out of the enemy’s range.
As for talents, at level 1 I recommend picking up Conjurer’s Pursuit for the mana regeneration buff, otherwise you could find yourself low on mana during extended team fights. However if you’re confident in your ability to manage your mana, then Pro Toss can be a strong option for the increased range of Healing Brew.
At level 4 I’d advise going with either Healing Totem or Mending Serpent. Healing Totem is a great way to compliment your already strong healing by placing down a ward that heals all allies in a large area. If you plan to use your Cloud Serpent a lot then Mending Serpent, which adds a healing component to the skill, can be fairly strong, but overall I prefer Healing Totem simply because it can heal your entire team.
The Good Stuff is gained at level 7 and adds a healing over time effect to Healing Brew. In my opinion, this is one of the most important talents to pick up if you are planning on going for a pure healer build on Li Li. However, if you are having mana problems, then Pitch Perfect will reduce the cost of mana on your Healing Brew, but if you’ve taken Conjurer’s Pursuit you shouldn’t be running out of mana enough to need the help from Pitch Perfect.
At level 13 you once again face a difficult choice, as both Shrink Ray and Hindering Winds are strong talents. Shrink Ray, which reduces the target’s damage and movement speed by half, is one of the strongest support talents in the game and is great for helping to focus down a single target early in fights or for securing kills on fleeing targets. Hindering Winds applies a fairly strong slow to your Blinding Winds skill. It isn’t as strong as Shrink Ray, but it is on a much shorter cooldown and can hit two targets at once. The choice is really a matter of preference, but I do recommend taking one of these talents, as Li Li is sorely lacking in crowd control.
If the enemy has a lot of crowd control on their team, then Herbal Cleanse at level 16 can be lifesaver, since it will allow your Healing Brew to remove all CC effects on the target as well as grant a movement speed boost for a short time. If the enemy team is not heavily reliant on CC, then Two For One is the best choice in this tier as it allows Healing Brew to heal two allies for the price of one – albeit with a slightly longer cooldown.
Storm Shield and Bolt are always strong options at level 20, and the upgrade to Jug of Thousand Cups can be very useful as it allows it to heal two targets at once, but I prefer Kung-Fu Hustle, which makes your cooldowns recharge at a much faster rate while Fast Feet is active. This is is great in teamfights and can allow you to get off multiple ultimates in a single fight.
Valla is a ranged assassin from the Diablo universe and is one of the most popular assassins in the current build of the game. Her main role is hero damage, but her playstyle is very versatile so there are several different ways in which she can deliver that damage.
Hungering Arrow (Q) is a skillshot that deals a large amount of damage to the first target it hits. It will then seek out two more targets and deal half damage to them, so it can be used to help clear out minion waves or merc camps if needed. What makes this skill really shine, however, is the fact that it can also hit the same target multiple times, so this makes it a very strong skill for bursting down priority targets such as healers or other assassins. This is a very powerful ability, but it makes up for it by having a relatively long cooldown, so timing is key to using it effectively.
Multishot (W) is a long ranged cone skillshot that deals a large amount of damage to all enemy targets in its radius. This makes it ideal for clearing out minion waves, merc camps, or in team fights, when the enemy team is grouped up. Multishot shines on maps that center the objective around quickly clearing out a groups of enemies, such as the Haunted Mines or Tomb of the Spider Queen.
As I mentioned in the discussion of Raynor, most assassins are very squishy and can easily be burnt down by focus fire. Valla is no exception to that rule, but unlike a lot of assassins, she does have a means of escape in the form a of a short range dash called Vault (E.)
Valla’s trait, Hatred, is a passive that grants her an attack damage and movement speed bonus for every auto-attack she performs, stacking to 10 times. This is a very strong trait since, no matter your build, Valla will be auto-attacking a lot, and the extra damage really adds up – not to mention the speed boost can help her hunt down fleeing targets or make a getaway of her own.
Valla’s choice of heroic abilities is a a bit of a difficult one, as both are strong depending on the situation. Strafe, or as I like to call it, spin-to-win, deals a high amount of damage to nearby enemies over the course of a few seconds. Valla can move and use Vault while channeling Strafe, so it can be difficult for enemy heroes to avoid.
Valla’s second heroic is Rain of Vengeance, a short range skillshot that deals a moderate amount of damage and stuns any enemy target in the area. This skill is a bit more tactical in its use than Strafe and it is often picked as a means of interrupting a channeled ability, such as Nazeebo’s Ravenous Spirit. Overall, both are strong picks, but for the most part I would suggest Strafe, especially for new players, as it deals consistent damage and is simply easier to use.
I mentioned above that Valla was a very versatile hero, and the main reason for this is because her talents allow her to be built in multiple different ways. Players can opt to focus on Hungering Arrow, Multishot or make an auto-attack focused build, and each are viable. Due to this flexibility, Valla’s talent choices will largely depend on which of those playstyles you choose to focus on. With that in mind, let’s take a more in-depth look at each one.
A build focused around Valla’s Hungering Arrow will allow to to do a lot of burst damage to a single target and is probably one of the highest single-target damage builds in the game. The downside is that Hungering Arrow can be a fairly mana intensive ability and has a long cooldown. There are ways to mitigate these weaknesses, such as taking the level 1 talent Cost-Effective Materials, which will reduce the mana cost of Hungering Arrow by a decent amount, though you lose out on the health sustain you would gain by taking Siphoning Arrow. The cooldown can be reset by taking the level 7 talent Repeating Arrow which resets Hungering Arrow’s cooldown when Vault is used though you’ll need to learn how to incorporate Vault into your damage rotation.
The second option is the ever popular Multishot build, which increases the effectiveness of Valla’s W. This build is great for staying in the back line and doing a lot of area damage to the enemy team; it really shines on maps such as the Haunted Mines where quickly clearing out groups of enemies is very important. The level 1 talent Composite Arrow increases the range of Multishot by a large amount, making it one of the longest range area-of-effect abilities in the game. At level 3, you’ll want to pick up Arsenal, which further increases the damage done by Multishot, and you can add a slowing effect at level 13 by taking Frost Shot.
The final option is to a build around Valla’s auto-attacks, and this is actually one of my favorite play styles on her due to the fact that it allows her to do deal consistent damage throughout team fights and, with the right setup, can provide her with some fairly strong self-healing. The auto-attack build is probably the build with the most variety in terms of talent choices, so let’s take a deeper look.
At level 1 you’ll probably want to go with Rancor, which adds an attack speed bonus in addition to the other benefits provided by your trait. Level 4 is when things begin to get tricky as you have two strong options. You can either go with Manticore, which increases the damage of your auto-attacks when they are used on the same target, or you can go with Vampric Assault, which heals Valla every time her auto-attacks deal damage.
Level 7 features another tough choice between the movement speed increase of Hot Pursuit, which doubles Valla’s movement speed once she’s maxed out her stacks of Hatred, or the extra damage provided by Searing Attacks. This is an activated ability that greatly increases your auto-attack damage for five seconds, but makes each attack cost mana. Both are good choices, and it boils down to your playstyle and how the game is going. If you find yourself getting focused a lot, then you might want to pick up Hot Pursuit to give yourself a bit of extra escape, but if you need some extra burst, then Searing Attacks is a strong choice.
Level 13 features Giant Killer, which further increases your auto-attack damage, and since the damage is based on the target’s overall health pool, it can be very useful for burning down tanks. The second option is to go with Tempered By Discipline, which adds a healing component to Valla’s passive. This can stack with Vampric Assault to provide some very strong self-healing to Valla or it can be used to replace it if you decided to go with Manticore at level 4. Both of these are very strong choices and it really depends on the game. If the enemy team has a strong frontline, then Giant Killer can help you cut through their tanks, but the sustain gained from Tempered By Discipline should not be underestimated – I have used it and managed to come out of fights with more health than when I went in.
At level 20, the upgrades to your heroics can both be strong options, but I’ve found that they lose out when compared to your other two choices at this tier. Nexus Frenzy is a great talent for every build, but is almost mandatory in an auto-attack build since it greatly increase both the range and attack speed of your auto-attacks. Notice that I said it is “almost” mandatory, and that is because Bolt of the Storm’s teleport is a great talent both defensively and offensively. As always, the choice will vary depending on how the particular game is going, but I do think that Bolt is the safer of the two choices.