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BlizzCon hands-on first impressions: Greymane

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Greymane is one of the upcoming assassin-class Heroes for Heroes of the Storm. Check out his abilities, talents, and our first impressions from the BlizzCon build.

 

We've already briefly gone over the major reveals from Day One of BlizzCon. In this article, we'll take a deeper look at one of the new heroes, Genn Greymane, including our impressions after having gotten some hands-on time with the hero.

 

Abilities and Talents

 

Before we go over our impressions of the hero, we are listing its talent tree in this section. We've hidden it so it does not clutter the article, but feel free to expand it if you want to check the talents out (including our current preferred picks).

 

Human abilities

 

  • Gilnean Cocktail (Q) - Hurl a flask in a line that deals X damage to the first enemy hit and explodes for 3X damage to enemies in a cone behind them. 70 mana, 9s cooldown.
  • Inner Beast (W) - Gain 50% Attack Speed for 3 seconds. Basic Attacks refresh this duration. 60 mana, 16s cooldown.
  • Darkflight (E) - Shapeshift into a Worgen and leap at an enemy dealing X damage. 10 mana, 6s cooldown.

 

Worgen abilities

 

  • Razor Swipe (Q) - Swipe forward and damage enemies you pass through. No mana cost, 4s cooldown.
  • Inner Beast (W) - Same as the human form.
  • Disengage (E) - Dash towards the targeted location and shapeshift into a Human. No mana cost, 6s cooldown.

Talents - personal favourite picks are underlined

 

Level 1

  • Wolfheart – While Inner Beast is active, each Basic Attack lowers its cooldown by 1 second.
  • Perfect Aim – Increases Gilnean Cocktail’s range by 15% and refunds 35 Mana if it hits an enemy Hero.
  • Scented Tincture – Gilnean Cocktail reveals enemy Heroes for 10 seconds.
  • Viciousness – Increases Inner Beast’s duration to 4 seconds, and causes Ability damage to also refresh its duration.

Level 4

  • Thick Skin – Using Darkflight reduces the damage of the next 2 Heroic Basic Attacks made against you by 50%.
  • Eyes in the Dark – Disengage grants Stealth for 4 seconds.
  • Insatiable – Inner Beast causes Basic Attacks to restore 5 Mana, up to 100.

Level 7

  • Quicksilver Bullets – Increases Human Basic Attack range by 20%
  • Incendiary Elixir – Gilnean Cocktail deals 200% more damage to the enemy it impacts and explodes even if it misses.
  • Drought Overflow – Doubles Gilnean Cocktail explosion length.
  • Wizened Duelist – Takedowns increase Basic Attack damage by 3% each, up to 15%.

Level 10

  • Go For the Throat – Leap at an enemy Hero and shapeshift into a Worgen, slashing 3 times for X total damage. If this kills them, the Ability can be used a second time within 10 seconds for free. 90 mana, 120 cooldown.

 

  • Marked for the Kill – Shapeshift into a Human and fire a shot hitting the first enemy Hero for X damage. For 5 seconds, they are Vulnerable, taking 25% more damage, and you can re-activate this to leap at them and shapeshift into a Worgen. 75 mana, 60 cooldown.

Level 13

  • Running Wild – Increases Darkflight and Disengage’s range by 35%
  • Visceral Attacks – Worgen Basic Attacks reduce Razor Swipe’s cooldown by 1 second.
  • On The Prowl – Inner Beast increases your movement speed by 30% once it has been active for 3 seconds.
  • Unfettered Assault – Doubles the range of Razor Swipe, but increases the cooldown by 2 seconds.

​​

Level 16

  • Concentrated Blast – Increases Gilnean Cocktail’s damage by 50% while Inner Beast is active.
  • Relentless Predator – Reduces the duration of silences, stuns, slows, roots, and polymorphs against you by 75% for 5 seconds after transforming into Worgen form.
  • Executioner – Basic Attacks deal 40% more damage against slowed, rooted, or stunned targets.
  • Alpha Killer – Worgen Basic Attacks against Heroes deal bonus damage equal to 3% of the Hero’s maximum Health.

Level 20

  • Unleashed – If the free cast of Go for the Throat kills its target, another free cast is provided.
  • Gilnean Roulette – Marked for the Kill passes through enemy Heroes, making all of them Vulnerable and allowing Leap to be used on each marked target once. The closest target is preferred.
  • Hunter’s Blunderbuss – Human Basic Attacks splash for 100% damage behind the target.
  • Tooth and Claw – Worgen Basic Attacks cleave for 100% damage.

 

Hero Design

 

Greymane is one of the 4 upcoming assassins announced at BlizzCon. Specifically, he is the first "hybrid" assassin, in that he has the ability to shapeshift, or transform himself, in order to completely change his ability set and heavily influence his short-term playstyle. In his basic "human" form, he fulfills the role of a typical ranged assassin, whittling down enemies with a barrage of relatively strong ranged attacks and abilities. In his alternate "Worgen" form, he fulfills the role of a melee assassin, dealing extreme levels of damage and rapidly closing gaps between himself and foes - at the cost of attack range, and, as a result, personal safety.

 

Unlike what I initially expected, shapeshifting is tied to his E-key ability, as opposed to being merely tied to his trait (D-key). Specifically, while in human form, the Darkflight ability (described in the spoiler above) causes Greymane to rapidly dash to a targeted enemy from a very respectable range, forcing him into his Worgen form. The trait itself includes a clause that makes the Worgen deal a hefty 40% more basic attack damage than the human one, at the cost of turning his once-safe ranged attack into a melee one. The Darkflight ability, as a Worgen, is replaced by Disengage, a long-ranged dash which, expectedly, allows one to disengage (or more recklessly, catch up to someone) and brings you back to that weaker but oh-so-reliable ranged human form.

 

The purpose of this design is twofold: first, it forces players to make use of both forms in order to play the hero optimally and, as such, exploit not only an limited facet of the hero. Second, it gives a very clear sense of direction to the hero's design, in that, without ever reading a single tooltip, you can very easily understand that the Worgen's purpose is to be in the thick of things (well, not so much, unless you do not value your own life) whereas the human form is meant to be played from range. This design is further emphasised by the fact that each respective form's abilities are appropriately ranged or melee, depending on the current form.

 

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Nidalee: Have we met somewhere?

 

Gamplay and Impressions

 

If you have played Nidalee from League of Legends, you may be well on your way to understanding the mindset that comes with playing shapeshifting heroes. In a best case scenario, you want to be in your most powerful form, and that is the melee one. However, as a frail assassin, this is hardly recommendable. As such, you must learn to appreciate each situation that is presented to you and respond accordingly by knowing when to go in for the kill, or simply relax from the back... at the cost of much potential damage.

 

The fact that the Worgen form feels so powerful and relentless makes the Darkflight ability very rewarding to use appropriately, but also, dangerously addicting. Against better judgement, I have more often than I would like to admit found myself dying in situations where I could have entirely lived simply because I wanted to embrace my inner beast and turn opponents into tiny red ribbons. As a side effect of his trait's potency (especially when combined with Inner Beast, described above), however, Greymane is a potent jungler, despite very limited self-sustain.

 

Gameplay-wise, his ranged form felt a bit like Valla, with the ability to deal a decent bit of area of effect damage and improve your own attack speed through attacks, and incentivising a constant use of basic attacks with Inner Beast. His melee form felt close to The Butcher, if simply not for the outrageous amount of damage that he could output, though also with the low cooldown, small area of effect Q-key ability that served to improve your uptime. If you happen to like either of these heroes (or even better, both!), which I do, then you may very much enjoy Greymane.

 

The hero's major downside is, as with most assassins, an appalling lack of any sort of crowd control. Not even his Heroic abilities offer him such options, something that is seldom seen in other heroes. I suppose that flexibility must come at a cost, must it not?

 

An Unfavourable Meta

 

With no crowd control nor any self-sustain (even through talents!), and an ability set that promotes an aggressive and frankly predictable in-your-face kind of playstyle, I can not currently foresee Greymane becoming a highly contested pick unless there is a drastic shift in a meta-game that is so punishing to melee heroes. Having the potential of dealing large amounts of damage is one thing, but if we are to learn anything from Friday's BlizzCon games, it is that team synergy and drafting is an overwhelming deciding factor for otherwise fair matches. And unfortunately for Greymane, he synergises very poorly with the vast majority of the hero pool and fails to bring new, meta-shaking tools to the field.

 

Some may argue that his "flexibility" is part of his strengths, but when we really get down to it, damage is damage. I must concede that he may see play as a finishing touch to well-drafted pick compositions that could use that bit of ranged damage, but that is nothing that other existing heroes may not provide.

 

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Genn Greymane in his ferocious Worgen form.

 

Conclusion

 

Greymane is a well-designed hero that is wildly satisfying to play. The majority of his talents complement an aggressive playstyle with more aggressive choices, which, unfortunately, may lock the hero away from seeing much serious play. I had a hard time gauging how much damage he actually dealt in comparison to other heroes, due to the fact that the BlizzCon build uses the new normalised hero stats, but his melee Worgen form is probably up there with The Butcher and Sonya. Both of his Heroic abilities involve dashing to something, meaning that if you fall behind, your team will have a difficult time to recover against well-coordinated teams.

 

For the more common of mortals, however, he will make a generalist pick that should work with and against most team compositions. Even when shifting to Worgen is hardly viable in some team fights, the form has an interesting PvE niche that will at least give it a purpose.

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Great write-up! Thanks for taking the time to put it all down.

This side of the scaling changes, the meta does seem to favor hard-hitting, self-sustaining heroes (since everyone is a little squishier). I agree that the lack of CC will hurt Greymane, and it leaves me wondering what niche he will fill. Perhaps a finisher, like the "new" Zeratul: stays safe until a hero is weak enough and jumps in for the kill. His ultimates certainly favor that kind of play style, and he has an incredible escape mechanic.

I wonder if you have any additional thoughts on him now that the new scaling is live and we've seen different assassin rise to compete for the coveted damage-dealing spot (Nova, Thrall)?

 

PS: One mechanics question, as I haven't been able to determine from the videos I've seen: does the cool down on Inner Beast start after casting, or after buff expires? e.g. will Inner Beast be able to attain full uptime like Sonya's Wrath if you keep swinging?

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PS: One mechanics question, as I haven't been able to determine from the videos I've seen: does the cool down on Inner Beast start after casting, or after buff expires? e.g. will Inner Beast be able to attain full uptime like Sonya's Wrath if you keep swinging?

 

Pretty sure you can keep it up permanently, though that's pretty hard to do outside of during the laning phase.

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      Abathur: Abathur is the kind of hero that comes and goes with the metagame state and who generally thrives in assassin-oriented states. As with Genji, I wouldn't be fooled by his limited winrates; he just simply tends to do better at higher level, more organised play, and particularly in longer matches. To avoid on Haunted Mines and Braxis Holdout. Please pick your Ultimate Evolution target responsibly, and go for an assassin, with Maiev, Genji, Hanzo, and Jaina making incredible targets. Incidentally, avoid Evolve Monstrosity; it has been tested and rejected a long time ago.
      Tychus: Not a big leap in tier, but a leap nonetheless. He went from seeing pretty much no play for quite a while to seeing some, including tournament play. As expected, he does well against Blaze and a few other bruisers, on top of being on the more resilient side of ranged assassins. Commandeer Odin is excellent, but the real sleeper here is Neosteel Coating, which can do funny things with Relentless Soldier.
      Probius: Nearly as unpopular as The Lost Vikings. Though I don't think he's bad, I certainly think he does not have a place in the current meta. All of the top picks do extremely well against him, as does diving in general. I really wish I had more insights here, but the very few times I did see him in the last month, it was rather sad to witness. 
      Sgt. Hammer: I initially had her as viable, but upon reading user comments, I had to agree: she does extremely well against team compositions that cannot deal with her, and poorly otherwise. This is basically what the Niche tier should be defined by. We could discuss at length why this design is rather unhealthy for the game, but I think Blizzard has recognized this by not releasing a single specialist in over a year.