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Oxygen

BlizzCon Hands-on Impression: Ragnaros

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Oxygen had the chance to play Ragnaros at BlizzCon and has listed his thoughts on the gameplay, design and viability of the hero.

Abilities and Talents

Before going over our impressions of the hero, it's worth including a list of abilities and talents. You can find all the information required in the spoiler tag below, as well as our current advice on picking talents. All abilities prefaced by "Molten Core:" imply that the initial ability changes after using the (D) trait.

Spoiler

Abilities

Empower Sulfuras (Q)
 - Mana: 25  
 - Cooldown: 4 seconds
 - Your next Basic Attack is instant, deals 222  damage (+4% per level) in an area, and heals you for 20% of the damage dealt. This healing is doubled versus Heroes.

 - Molten Core: Molten Swing - Stun and damage nearby enemies

Living Meteor (W)
 - Mana: 60
 - Cooldown: 12 seconds
 - Summon a meteor at the target point that deals 80 damage (+4% per level), then rolls in the target direction dealing 560 damage (+4% per level) over 2 seconds.

 - Molten Core: Meteor Shower - Summon a line of meteors.

Blast Wave (E)
 - Mana: 50
 - Cooldown: 10 seconds
 - Ignite yourself or an ally, granting 25% Movement Speed for 1.5 seconds, then causing a fiery explosion that deals 108 damage to nearby enemies.

 - Molten Core: Explosive Rune - Cause a delayed explosion in a large area.

Molten Core (D)
 - Cooldown: 100 seconds
 - Channel on an allied or destroyed Fort or Keep to unleash your full power. Your replace the Fort or Keep temporarily, gain new Abilities, and have 4156 Health (+4% per level) that burns away over 18 seconds.
 - When your Health is fully depleted, your return to your original form.

Talents

Level 1
- Sulfuras Hunters
 - Quest: Every time you kill a Minion with Empower Sulfuras, its damage is increased by 1, up to 30.
 - Reward: After killing 30 Minions, increase its damage by an additional 90.
- Shifting Meteor
 - Reward: After hitting 50 heroes with Living Meteor, its duration is increased by 30%, and you can recast the Ability to change its direction once per cast.
- Engulfing Flame
 - Blast Wave's cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds, and its radius is increased by 15%

Level 4
- Fire Ward
 - When Living Meteor hits an Enemy Hero, you gain a charge of Spell Block, reducing damage from the next enemy ability against you by 50%. Can hold up to 2 charges.
- Slow Burn
 - Blast wave slows enemies hit by 40% for 2 seconds.
- Catching Fire
 - Quest: Gathering a Regeneration Globe increases your Health Regeneration by 2 per second, up to 30.
 - Reward: After gathering 15 Regeneration Globes, you can activate Catching Fire to gain Resistant for 3 seconds, reducing damage taken by 25%

Level 7
- Hand of Ragnaros
 - If Empower Sulfuras hits at least 2 enemy Heroes, it restores 10 Mana and its cooldown is reduced by 2 seconds.
- Molten Power
 - Each enemy hero hit by Living Meteor increases the damage of your next Living Meteor by 15%, up to a maximum of 75%.
- Superheated
 - When you cast Blast Wave on yourself, it deals 100% increased damage.

Level 10
- Sulfuras Smash
 - Mana: 75
 - Cooldown: 60 seconds
 - Hul Sulfuras at the target area. It lands after 0.75 seconds, dealing 187 damage (+4% per level). Enemies in the center take an additional 374 damage (+4% per level) and are stunned for 0.5 seconds.
- Lava Wave
 - Mana: 80
 - Cooldown: 100 seconds
 - Release a wave of lava from your Core that travels down the targeted lane, dealing 603 damage (+4% per level) per second to non-Structure enemies in its path and instantly killing enemy Minions. Damage increased by 33% versus Heroes.

Level 13
- Cauterized Wounds
 - Empower Sulfuras heals you for an additional 60% of the damage dealt to heroes over 2 seconds.
- Tempered Flame
 - When Blast Wave damages an enemy Hero, you gain a Shield equal to 100% of the damage dealt for 3 seconds.
- Submerge
 - Cooldown: 90 seconds
 - Activate to place yourself in stasis and heal for 624 Health (+4% per level) over 3 seconds.

Level 16
- Giant Scorcher
 - Empower Sulfuras burns enemy Heroes for 6% of their maximum Health over 3 seconds. This additional damage does not heal you.
- Meteor Bomb
 - Living Meteor explodes at the end of its path, dealing 229 damage (+4% per level) to all nearby enemies.
- Blast Echo
 - After Blast Wave explodes, cast another Blast Wave on yourself. Can only occur once per cast.

Level 20
- Flames of Sulfuron
 - Sulfuras Smash slows enemies by 50% for 2 seconds and enemies in the center are stunned for an additional 0.5 seconds.
- Lava Surge
 - Lava Wave gains an additional charge and its cooldown is reduced by 10 seconds.
- Heroic Difficulty
 - Your Health and damage are increased by 50% while in Molten Core, and its cooldown is reduced by 50 seconds.

Hero Design

The iconic Ragnaros is one of the two Heroes announced at BlizzCon 2016. At a first glance, he is an ability-focused ''battlemage-like'' Assassin that relies on abilities to deliver the bulk of his damage, but enjoys swooping in for a few basic attacks whenever the opportunity arises. 

He stands out, however, in his ability to quite literally become a raid boss by ''engulfing'' a friendly Fort or Keep or ANY dead Fort or Keep (which includes opponents') through his Trait, Molten Core, after a few seconds of short range channeling. While under Molten Core, living friendly Forts have their attack disabled, and their normal health bar replaced by Ragnaros' alternate form's own humongous health bar. While in this form, Ragnaros also gains access to 3 new abilities that replace his normal abilities. You don't want to pick a fight with Ragnaros while in this form, let alone when he is supported by allies. You can leave this form at any time by using your trait again, or by losing all of your health, which slowly degenerates over the ability's duration. Dying while in this form simply sends you back to your original form, with however much health you had upon cast.

Empower Sulfuras (Q) is a run-of-the-mill basic attack ''preparation'' skill that makes your next attack deal a significant amount of ability damage to the next target (and nearby enemies) hit. You are healed for a small amount of the damage dealt, and this amount is doubled versus Heroes. Highly reminiscent of Arthas' Frostmourne Hungers and other such abilities. Excessively satisfying ''crunchy'' sound upon use. Gives Ragnaros a very respectable amount of lane sustainability, and is one of the main contributor to his burst damage combo. Great at dealing with Mercenary Camps.

Living Meteor (W) is a vector-targeted line damage ability. Its targeting is reminiscent of Alarak's Telekinesis, but in practice, you use it as you would use Gul'dan's Corruption. This one deals a ridiculous amount of damage to anyone foolish enough to remain within the Meteor's area of effect for any amount of time. To put things into perspective, I've taken a wild Varian's health from 50% to 0 as he attempted to escape my wrath through a narrow gate, unaware of the boulder's potency. To me, this is Ragnaros' defining ability. Waveclear, combo, poke, punishing runners... it does it all. And it feels great. It may also be slightly overtuned. Looks like the Diablo II's Druid's Molten Boulder, which is cool.

Blast Wave (E) buffs an ally (hero, minion, or yourself, even), granting a short and relatively potent movement speed increase. Upon expiring, a relatively large explosion occurs around the target, dealing are of effect damage. The damage is mediocre, but the movement speed is particularly useful for landing Empower Sulfuras or positioning yourself for Living Meteor. This ability is significantly improved by talents, most notably the one that double-casts the ability.

Sulfuras Smash (R1) launches a projectile that deals a large amount of damage in a big area of effect. Enemies in the center of the area of effect take significantly more damage, and are stunned for half a second. Huge range, huge combo potential, looks amazing. There's a slight amount of synergy with the rest of the kit, as the stun allows you to reliably land the rest of your abilities, but most of the time, you'll be looking for sheer ''damage everyone a lot'' value with this one. The cooldown is relatively short given the power of the ability.

Lava Wave (R2) causes a huge wave of lava to pour down from your Core structure down the chosen lane, all the way to your opponent's own Core. Minions, Mercenaries, and Heroes (not structures) that touch the wave are completely annihilated. I cannot understate this; the wave's damage is grossly overtuned, dealing over 1000 dps at level 16 or so, although I suppose it is avoidable, and can never be used to contribute to some objectives. It will always generate a tonne of experience for Ragnaros, however, due to its global kill nature. Combined with Molten Core, Lava Wave probably makes Ragnaros one of the best Heroes at protecting Forts and Keeps especially. Looks amazing, feels amazing - but not when you're standing in it. Will yield surprise Abathur kills every time.

Gameplay and Impressions

Ragnaros is great. I think the English language doesn't have the words to describe how sweet he feels to play. The art teams - graphics and sounds alike - have outdone themselves in terms of conveying ridiculous fiery destruction.

With competitive waveclearing, solid unavoidable damage, flexible Heroic ability choices, a versatile kit, and, of course, the unique ability to push 2-3 Heroes away from Forts and Keeps, I feel that Ragnaros may become the new go-to ''what do we need? Oh, right, anything'' Valla-Gul'dan-esque damage dealer. I suppose this versatility is also a weakness of sorts, as he is not particularly outstanding at anything, but rather, can respond to a variety of situations well. He also handles Mercenary Camps with relative ease, thanks to Empower Sulfuras' sustain and area damage.

I had the chance to try all 3 Q-W-E-oriented builds. Empower Sulfuras build offers excellent sustain and Mercenary clearing, but getting in the thick of things for juicy multiple Hero hits can be difficult, as Ragnaros is not particularly resilient. Living Meteor build was my favourite of the bunch. That thing helps with waveclearing, besieging, and poking, all while keeping you about as safe as you can be. It sucks for dealing with Mercenaries, however, and missing Meteor is awfully punishing, so beware. The level 1 talent that increases the duration of Meteor and allows you to redirect it is really fun to use, and has some particularly strong synergy with the level 16 exploding Meteor, as it essentially guarantees that you'll get that damage off. Blast Wave build had me very skeptical at first, but that one's true power is unlocked at 16, when you get to double cast the thing automatically. Combined with the shielding provided at 13, you can pretty reliably generate shields that scale with how daring you are to hug as many opponents as possible. This one would be quite strong against melee-heavy team compositions, and otherwise lackluster.

I do wish I could say more about him, but we're just dealing with an exceptionally well designed Hero here that is extremely satisfying to play. Although not particularly difficult to play, he will most certainly be a crowd favourite, if not just for the fact that it's Ragnaros. 

Meta Meta?

Ragnaros is currently grossly overtuned. What he lacks in utility, he significantly makes up for in raw damage. I may or not be slightly worried about this, as, last year, when I tried out Greymane, Lunara, & Cho'gall, I believe changes were not made to their kits or numbers in any way. I did get confirmation from one of the devs, however, that they would likely revisit some of his numbers. And so, I feel that his viability will be directly tied in to his damage values, somewhat akin to Valla and Gul'dan. He's a good choice for rounding out your team composition, but he doesn't bring anything significant that you would build your team around. He would also be interesting as a counterpick to push-heavy teams that might include Azmodan or Sylvanas. I have a feeling he may be at his strongest on Tomb of the Spider Queen because you can't really rely on the map objective to push down structures while avoiding Molten Core. Consider he can eat temple lasers and Blackheart's cannonballs, by the way, so the respective maps might see him a lot as well. And Lava instantly destroys Zerg waves of any size. Is this problematic? Probably, and we shall find out to what extent exactly in December.

Our writer Kendric has also provided us with some gameplay footage of Ragnaros, which you can find here.

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The first time I saw his gameplay video I knew that the bread and butter build would be Living Meteor. The damage and range is too good to be ignored.

Either the devs will hit him with the hardest nerfs as the meta metas, or simply tune down his health to make him the squishiest Assassin alongside Chromie.

How much base health he has, by the way?

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9 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Either the devs will hit him with the hardest nerfs as the meta metas, or simply tune down his health to make him the squishiest Assassin alongside Chromie.

Blizzard? Nerfs? They would never!

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On 24.11.2016 at 2:19 AM, Oxygen said:

Doubt they'll make him squishy. It goes ''against the fantasy''.

Isn't fire kinda squishy tho?

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