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Core Concepts: An Introduction to Heroes

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Core concepts contain useful information for players that are new to the game or have previously played a different MOBA. Blizzard mentions what makes Heroes stand out among other MOBAs.

What Makes Heroes of the Storm Unique?

  • It's about Heroes like Abathur (doesn't engage directly in combat), Cho'gall (two players play a single Hero) or The Lost Vikings (a player controls three units at the same time, imagine Starcraft).
  • The game has a fairly large pool of battlegrounds with different objectives.
  • Heroes of the Storm doesn't have an in-game shop for talents. Instead, they are designed like in a MMORPG
  • You'll level up as a team and there's no individual leveling

For individual Hero guides, don't forget to visit our guide section! Struggling with the new rewards system? We've got you covered!

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

Heroes of the Storm is the MOBA that continues to defy conventions and expectations. In the Nexus, fast-paced battles are waged across various battlegrounds, each with their own unique objectives to consider. Here, your heroes have a meaningful impact on their battles through the decisions you make and the talents you choose. There’s no item shop to consider, no slow-paced games to wear down your resolve; be prepared, this is a much different kind of MOBA experience.

In the Nexus, you fight hard, fast, and will work as team to counter enemy strategies and advance against your opponent. As you consider the advice we offer in this guide, we also encourage you to download Heroes of the Storm and charge into the tutorial.

HERO SELECTION AND ROLES

The Nexus has gathered many of the bravest and most heroic characters from across Blizzard’s game universes, and more still are being called to serve. Whether you favor the heroes of the Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, or Overwatch universes, you’ll find epic characters to explore and command.

Heroes in the Nexus are categorized as Warriors, Supports, Assassins, or Specialists, and you can find a detailed breakdown for each of these roles here. Despite these roles, Heroes of the Storm offers a number of Heroes who will challenge your expectations.

Abathurinline_Abathur.png

Rather than interacting directly with a battle, Abathur aids his team from afar using his Symbiote ability. Players who choose Abathur will need to have a supreme map awareness to make ample use of his long-range abilities. 

Cho'gallchogall_inline.png

Two players must work in harmony to command different aspects of this Warrior and Assassin duo: The Cho player controls movement and basic attacks, while Gall dishes out most of their ability damage. Both players can employ Cho and Gall’s separate abilities, but they must work in concert to take full advantage of them.

The Lost Vikingsinline_Vikings.png

The specialist team of the Lost Vikings are three separate Heroes commanded by a single player. The Vikings can be split up to push multiple lanes, or brought together to focus on their target. They are a challenge and a handful to master, but can be deadly in the hands of a skilled player.

Our Hero guide offers biographies for every Hero in the game, as well as specific information about their abilities, comparative damage, utility, survivability, and complexity. Familiarizing yourself with all the Heroes will be instrumental in learning how their abilities synergize, as well as what works most effectively against them. Keep in mind that following the launch of Heroes of the Storm 2.0 in your region and lasting until May 22, 2017, all players who log into the game during that time will automatically receive 100 Gems, which can be used to permanently unlock one (1) Mega Hero Bundle of their choosing. More details about this offer are available in our blog, here. We encourage you to check that out as that is a great way of picking up a ton of great heroes right from the start!

TEAM LEVELING – RISE TOGETHER

For a team to be effective, its members will need to act as one. The leveling in Heroes of the Storm reflects this philosophy, with each player contributing to a shared pool of experience. Team experience makes it easier to make rotations without losing the lane, and ensures you’re not fighting with teammates over gold and experience. Keep in mind that gaining levels faster than the opposing team will present your team opportunities for executing power plays at crucial talent-earning levels, which you’ll be able to capitalize on together.

You will rise as one, just as you will fall as one. Work together and you will reap the benefits of your efforts. Disregard, and your team will be torn asunder. As you explore the Nexus, keep on the lookout for helpful suggestions from the community as these will be invaluable assets in your battles.

 

THE TALENT SYSTEM – FORGE A LIVING WEAPON

In Heroes of the Storm, every Hero has their own diverse kit of skills and abilities that you will be able to choose from as your team advances. Starting at level 1, every few levels your team earns will present you with a set of talent choices that offer new tools or enhance your existing abilities. In Heroes of the Storm, talents have replaced what you may have come to know as the ‘item shop.’ These talents allow you to react to the battleground, your team composition, or the opposing team composition. A Hero’s kit is unique to them, and offers you different strategic opportunities to employ during the battle.

Talents_Inline.gif

Pressing the TAB key brings up a menu where you’ll be able to see which talents your team and your opponents have chosen. As you gain familiarity with the talents that are available to each of your heroes, you’ll make better and more informed decisions about how to react to the ever-evolving battle at hand.

At level 10, each member of the team will select from one of two powerful Heroic Abilities which greatly enhance your Hero’s effectiveness in the battle. When unleashed in succession with other complementary Heroic abilities that your team has chosen, these can be absolutely devastating against your opponent. Choose, but choose wisely; once your Heroic ability has been selected, the choice cannot be undone. As such, having a keen understanding of the talents and abilities for each of the Heroes is paramount to achieving success in the Nexus.

DYNAMIC BATTLEGROUNDS – THE CHANGING FACE OF BATTLE

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Heroes of the Storm features a wide range of battlegrounds, each offering unique gameplay and powerful objectives to master. Completing objectives creates advantages for your team, and are the primary points of interest and conflict on each Battleground (they’re also where team fights tend to erupt). Be warned: if you’re focusing on an objective and the enemy’s not present, it’s a good bet they soon will be.

In addition to the various objectives each Battleground offers, you’ll also be able to earn the allegiance of the Mercenaries who populate the world. To do so, you must first defeat the neutral mercenaries at their camp site, and then stand on the beacon nearby to capture them for your team. Determining the optimal time to capture a mercenary camp is crucial, and can be of great value when you need to distract the enemy team from capturing an objective. For breakdowns of the different battlegrounds and the objectives they offer, check out our Battlegrounds page.

GO FORTH WITH HONOR

We hope you’ve found this overview insightful, and more importantly, that it gets your blood pumping, engaging your insatiable hunger for victory. You have a wealth of experience to acquire in Heroes of the Storm, and we know you’ll be up to the challenges ahead. May you go forth with honor, bring glory to your teams, and have a blast in the Nexus.

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Blizzard is really selling their fish well. I think this is a great thing to show people that HotS is different from the likes of LoL and DotA. I honestly think it's a much better game given how it keeps the concept simple to teach new players how to play, but at the same time it is filled with layers of complexity that rewards more experienced players.

Edited by Valhalen
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3 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Blizzard is really selling their fish well. I think this is a great thing to show people that HotS is different from the likes of LoL and DotA. I honestly think it's a much better game given how it keeps the concept simple to teach new players how to play, but at the same time it is filled with layers of complexity that rewards more experienced players.

Unfortunately in most people's heads different = bad.I know people that claim hots sucks just because it doesnt have gold and items like the other moba's.Once people get used to something they cant see further.

Thats also why LoL is the biggest moba atm,its simple and easy,giving acess to everyone,but I gladly give up  on "first spot" because we all know what that turns the community into

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The Vid about player attitude made a bit sad.

There are young people and those tend to be impulsive which is normal (biologically I mean) that's ok they are still evolving. For the more adult players, like Kurosu said about players used to play other MOBAs, people are used to be bad, good or something in between. Through my experience (online and real life) there are only a few ppl who listen to such words about attitude and even fewer who take it to their hearts.

Sorry if I sound a bit too pessimistic and I think it's good to make this vid and to try to make ppl better. I really appreciate good behavior, makes the game more fun for all players :)

Edited by Caldyrvan
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22 minutes ago, Caldyrvan said:

The Vid about player attitude made a bit sad.

 Through my experience (online and real life) there are only a few ppl who listen to such words about attitude and even fewer who take it to their hearts.

Sorry if I sound a bit too pessimistic and I think it's good to make this vid and to try to make ppl better. I really appreciate good behavior, makes the game more fun for all players :)

You are absolutely right. People who are comfortably and anonymously playing a videogame are not interested in some other guys' anonymous tips or helpful comments (most of the time anyways). You might even get some weird flame back!

classic example:

me/average helpful guy: "hey Jaina, try to play a bit safe in your lane when you don't see the enemies on the map."
Jaina: "stfu 0 kills shit waveclear l2p"
me: "... But I'm playing ETC..."

Sure, there are exceptions, like when you're a new, enthousiastic player who is learning his stuff. I got more than a few tips myself. But bottom line: NOT being salty is way more important. Be neutral, take a gamble next game if you think your teammates are really scr*wing you over.

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On 5/2/2017 at 9:07 AM, Skyewalker said:

You are absolutely right. People who are comfortably and anonymously playing a videogame are not interested in some other guys' anonymous tips or helpful comments (most of the time anyways). You might even get some weird flame back!

Unfortunately, I think it's also impossible to judge at a first glance how the rest of someone's night has gone. You could be the most patient person in the world, but if you spend a night playing with people that intentionally feed every game, you're probably a bit more likely to lash out at someone eventually!

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    • By Oxygen

       
      Oxygen goes over some of Heroes of the Storm's features that most need improvement.
      BlizzCon 2017 will be Heroes of the Storm's 4th showing at our favourite yearly event. Since Blizzard has certainly delivered on the esports side of the game with HGC, I thought I'd share my thoughts on some of the game's systems. Here it is, then: Six aspects of Heroes of the Storm that need improvement.
       
      I) The Class System
      This point is extremely complex to discuss because it directly criticizes one of the core aspects of the game, and cannot be separated from resulting issues. I’ll try and break it down as simply as I can.
      The premise of this discussion point is a firm belief in the following statement: Heroes of the Storm was designed to be played with team compositions that include at least one tank, and at least one healer.
      I’ll develop this point further, but I’d first like to draw a parallel with World of Warcraft’s 5-player dungeons. In World of Warcraft, dungeons are specifically designed with parties composed of 1 tank, 1 healer, and 3 damage dealers in mind. You are allowed to twist party compositions at your own risk, if you can field 5 players willing to partake to the experiment, but the automatic group finding tool will never deviate from the established “1-1-3” norm. Why? Because these dungeons are designed, and tested that way. The damage taken output is normalized for a single healer to handle; the kill timers are made for 3 competent damage dealers to handle; no tank-switching mechanics are present, and so on.
      I understand that the normalized team composition statement is very bold for Heroes of the Storm because we have all experienced those matches where the above rules were all but respected. But, you may have observed that matches involving irregular team compositions were either extremely long or extremely short, or that they featured absurdly high or absurdly low kill counts. Why do such extremes occur?

      Not my most memorable performance. Or match.
      Tanks and healers are what I might call “inhibitors”; they inhibit kills. The sheer resilience of tanks – which is generally about 3 to 4 times that of your typical assassin or support hero – and general access to long-range mobility allows them to scout with relative safety to contribute to the own safety of teammates. Their access to reliable crowd control allows them to protect teammates as well. On the flip side, this crowd control also punishes poor positioning dearly… which is where healers intervene.
      Healers’ ability to undo damage contributes to safely capturing certain objectives, razing structures, closing out games, and, of course, making mistakes less impactful. Have you ever tried sieging a guarded core without a healer? Unless your team has a 3-man advantage or the help of a map objective, and assuming relatively competent players, this is generally unreasonable to pull off. Structures hit hard in this game, and minions die very quickly.
      Actually, everything hits hard; most assassins can kill each other in less than 5 seconds; heroic ability combos are devastating and almost always lead to kills. But tanks and healers help reduce these outcomes drastically; they create breathing room, partly due to their defensive nature and utility, and partly due to the fact that they generally have limited or otherwise very situational sustained damage outputs.
      6 paragraphs in, and I have yet to explain why this is problematic. Here it is, then: in essence, I feel that matches where tanks or healers are absent are too different from so-called “normal” matches. Lacking either role closes off several strategic options for your team; the game loses strategic depth, and often breaks down to which team fields the greatest abilities to quickly wrench kills away – usually through raw combat mobility or long range poke which makes retaliation difficult. This is not a problem (beyond design intent) when the playing field is even, of course; when both teams do feature irregular compositions, but the playing field is seldom even in this respect. Why? Two reasons, both related to drafting.
      The first reason deals with player preferences and proficiencies. The tank and healer roles are essential, but by design, less represented in any given team composition. Due to their importance, the skill disparity between two opposing tanks or healers may be felt more strongly than for assassins; in other words I feel it is much less punishing to have to handle a poor assassin player, as team compositions generally feature at least one or two more. This is especially true when considering that tanks and healers tend to require more knowledge and practice to play well. In a random drafting environment, you may find yourself in a situation where neither you nor any of your teammates are proficient at either role versus players that do display proficiency in these roles. Of course, it makes sense to reward players that master multiple roles, but the set drafting order, inability to trade hero picks, and questionable ability to blanket-block all forms of communication with teammates makes coordinating a messy business. This contributes to making the drafting process random at best, and toxic at worst. How? Nobody likes being forced into playing a role they do not wish to play, especially if they know they might perform poorly. But, nobody likes having a sub-par team composition either, nor tilting teammates before a given match has even begun. After all, specializing one’s hero pool and role is the norm for the MOBA genre, not the exception. If a player is stuck playing a role they do not wish to play due to the game’s design heavily promoting specific team compositions, they may set their team at a disadvantage. Would you rather risk something unconventional, or stick to one of your weaker or less interesting roles? In both cases, you are setting yourself up for a potentially frustrating match.
      The second reason has to deal with drafting and in of itself; what if, for whatever reason, your team did not manage to secure either role? Most players are used to having a certain stability, and while I do not doubt that many would not mind experimenting, not everyone is capable of nor open to doing so. As I see it, the role system exists to guide players very strongly towards what the developers had in mind. We simply need to remember the Varian debacle to see what happens when the intended system fails to function properly. For those of you who weren’t around back then, here’s a recap: Varian, as a multiclass hero that can elect to become a tank or an assassin, used to be considered an assassin for matchmaking purposes. This left Quick Match players in a situation where they were consistently matched against a tank without one of their own. Blizzard addressed the situation by making him a tank for Quick Match-making purposes.
      This ties in nicely with my next point: Quick Match, as the most played game mode by far, and the “logical” introductory step to PvP, ill-prepares players for drafting. It makes little sense to me to, on one hand, have a well-defined class system around which the game is designed, to then have a game mode that essentially throws the concept of team composition right out the window. As it turns out, tanks and healers are less popular than assassins, which often forces the matchmaking system to deal with an unevenly distributed population of players. It then has to make a choice between creating irregular team compositions, or to keep players waiting for an indefinite amount of time. I’ll also argue that Quick Match, in its current form, tends to put players into an “I play what I want when I want” mindset that translates poorly into other game modes. This would be fine if the natural progression was not Quick Match into Unranked Draft into Ranked Draft, but it is. When you design a game around team play, you need to groom your players into becoming team players from the get-go.
      If Blizzard is bent on keeping its current role system, Quick Match mode simply cannot continue to exist in its current form. The solution is rather simple: Just like the World of Warcraft dungeon system, and, more closely related, League of Legends’ Draft Pick system, players should simply select the role they wish to play before a given match, and not the hero itself. Enforce a basic 1-tank, 1-healer, 3-assassins/specialists rule. If there aren’t enough tank or healer players around to make queue times reasonable, incentivize players to switch to these roles with gold and experience bonuses that scale directly with how many players for roles are necessary to regulate said queue times. This would have the positive side effect of pushing players towards experimenting with new, different roles, potentially increasing hero purchases, and giving players a better understanding of the game as a whole. The same system should certainly be introduced to non-Team-League-Draft modes as well.
      For the record, changes to the class system were announced recently. I’m certainly looking forward to attending BlizzCon and reporting on those changes.
      tl;dr: Heroes of the Storm’s class system puts an inordinate amount of importance on drafting a basic, functional team composition, as individual matches come apart at the seams by design when tanks or healers are not present. The importance of such roles puts a huge amount of pressure on players playing these roles, making them less popular and generally more punishing to experiment with. Quick Match ill-prepares its players for mid- and high-level drafting experiences.
       
      II) Lack of Transparency
      It’s no secret that the MOBA genre is extremely competitive from a business standpoint. Two extremely well established giants – DotA and League of Legends – are estimated to hold over 80% of the genre’s market shares, and have accustomed players to a number of transparent systems.
      Heroes of the Storm features several systems that could benefit from improved transparency. One of the most broadly discussed subjects in this regards has been the nonexistence of an API for the game. Such a system would essentially allow third parties to use Blizzard’s data to disseminate information about a wide variety of game-related statistics, such as player performance information. This might include information such as experience level and win rates.
      While alternative ways of obtaining this information do exist as of today, they must rely on clunky user-submitted replay scraping to gather said information, meaning that their success depends directly upon the goodwill of players to feed the system. This presents several problems. First, it is difficult for newer websites to compete fairly with older monopolies, as good data depends on quantity. Second, statistics at different skill levels may be misleading due to low and otherwise uneven player contributions. Third, the ability to “rig” one’s performance by uploading only desirable replays may skew data. Furthermore, some of the more well-known Heroes statistics websites have been notoriously poorly managed and come under fire like clockwork. Whether ill-intentioned or not, this poor management ends up hurting the integrity of the game.
      Still, I must hold back a bit and admit that I’m thankful – not only as a player, but also as a guide writer – to have a way of accessing such data at all. If it weren’t for third parties, we’d be left in complete darkness with regards to any of the aforementioned information.
      Could we live without having data about, say, individual hero win rates or talent pick rates? Of course; and we did for a long time. However, I’ll be capricious and quote myself here: “Two extremely well established giants have accustomed players to a number of performance-related information systems.” When trying to create a name for yourself, you need to offer more than the established standard, not less. Regardless of the state of Heroes of the Storm, I feel that having an API or an equally transparent system is extremely important to make your typical MOBA contender feel like a complete game.
      The first reason is about being able to find concrete information about the metagame. MOBAs are – at their core – complex strategy games; thousands upon thousands of strategic choices and permutations are open to players. Even though outstanding websites do exist to help players out, the complexity and highly competitive nature of MOBAs makes them particularly cutthroat for beginners. Having access to detailed and accurate statistics allows content creators to provide new players with the information they need to get off on the right foot. Veterans, too, can make use of such data to analyze, adapt to, and potentially exploit metagaming trends to their own benefit. Ultimately, information is power for all players, and power is player retention.
      Information also empowers players in another markedly different way that I might call watchdogging. Without basic data such as win and pick rates, players would never be able to meaningfully criticize the state of the game’s balance. Blizzard developers are known to use individual hero and talent win rates to dictate at least some of their balance changes, as they so often comment. We cry out when things feel poorly tuned or unappealing because we love Heroes of the Storm. But without data, we are left relying on subjective and ineffective hunches to discuss balance; with it, we can support our assertions, and be proactive when things aren’t moving. Having access to exact player statistics also allows players to track and compare their progress, instills players with a sense of competition, and allows for watchdogging of the matchmaking system.
      I feel I must insist on how difficult proper design- and system-related criticism is to produce without data at our disposal. Transparency might mean exposing yourself to scrutiny, Blizzard, but it also means significantly improving your image, and providing yourself with an effective way of self-regulating. I suppose this is where I mention that the company has been displaying questionable transparency as of late; Overwatch doesn’t have an API either (though it is regularly discussed by Blizzard staff, and scraping websites do exist as well), and Hearthstone players can’t see their win rates or match history. By contrast, Warcraft III still lets you browse its ladder.
      The creation of an API is not the only way Blizzard can improve its transparency, however. In fact, an API might not even be necessary if all desirable information was simply given to us somewhere or in some form. Some of it is available, such as individual player statistics, but remains hidden behind a clunky, hermetic system that requires you to work through the chat or friends list system to use. In other words, if you want to look a specific player up, they need to be in a chat room with you (general channel, in-game, and so on) or on your friends list. No ladder exists outside of the Grandmaster ladder and unofficial ladders spawned by data websites. The match history log makes no listing of who played with you. There’s no way to see anyone’s mmr (matchmaking rating), including your own, so you can never tell if you’re being matched with and against players of your skill level. And to this I must ask a resounding “Why?”
      tl;dr: Heroes of the Storm lacks the basic level of transparency other similar games have accustomed players to having. This lack of transparency makes it difficult to assess the quality of the matchmaking system and of balance and design changes. The reliance upon third-party websites for such basic data creates a number of ethical issues.
       
      III) The Reconnection System
      If I were asked to point out the most frustrating element in Heroes of the Storm, this might just be it. If you’ve never experienced being dropped out of match before, for whatever reason – crashes, connection or computer issues, and so on – here’s how it goes: after obviously relaunching the game, you are treated to a screen inviting you to rejoin your game in progress. There are no other options here, not even an exit button; you either hit “Rejoin” to, well, attempt to rejoin the match, or ALT+F4 your way out of Heroes of the Storm. That’s fine; it incentivizes players to not purposefully disconnect from their matches to go and play another match right away. For some obscure reason, however, this screen doesn’t always appear. I’m not sure what triggers this problem, but if this happens to you, you’re done. There’s no rejoining that game, and you’ll be awarded a loss, your rating will feel the consequences of a left game (that’s 600 points – or 3 wins worth of points, on average) regardless of the match’s outcome. You might also earn yourself a leaver status, on top of potential player reports. This is a rather rare occurrence, however.
      Under normal circumstances, the Rejoin screen will appear, and you’ll hit rejoin, naturally. If the game you’re trying to rejoin is in the process of ending, however (in the Defeat/MVP screens), you’ll be stuck on this screen for an indefinite period of time and have to reboot the game. Again, you’ll be awarded a leave & loss. If the Rejoin button does work, you’ll have to go through the classic Loading screen. Once this is done, you hop right back into the match and get the full control of your Hero and, ready to make a comeback. At least, that's what you'd expect from playing League of Legends, DotA II, or Smite.
      No. After this short loading period, you’ll experience one of the most bizarre and scary things in Heroes of the Storm: The “Reconnect Successful” screen. It looks like this:

      Well, is it? Where'd the game go?

      I’m not certain why it exists, and I certainly don’t claim to understand the underlying systems, but this screen might be best described as some kind of limbo where you hear every sound (including death “bings”) in the match and see every shattered screen from the AI controlling your hero’s inevitable, repeated deaths, in a fast forward kind of replay. As the image above shows, during this time, you’re trapped “catching up” because “the server is X minutes ahead” of you. The quirkiest part of this strange experience, however, is that the time it takes you to reconnect is directly proportional to the current length of the match. On average, you can divide this length by four and end up with a pretty good guess of how long it’ll take you to actually successfully reconnect. Since most Heroes of the Storm matches last between 15 and 20 minutes, disconnecting at any point after 12 minutes means you’ve probably lost, or at least made the match excessively difficult (and more importantly, frustrating) for your teammates. If you do manage to finally reconnect, you’ll have to deal with the AI’s suboptimal talent choices, just to add insult to injury. As it stands, disconnections simply end up being too impactful. Nobody likes their losses (and victories, for that matter) to be defined by outside factors. Online tournaments, too, are affected by this, as thousands of viewers often end up held hostage by the system.
      I feel like I need to reiterate here that I don’t claim understand how the system works. What I do know is that this is the most frustrating reconnection system I have ever experienced, in any game. There’s no sugar coating this one: The process simply needs to become faster; the dreaded “Reconnection Successful” screen has to go. Players need a way to force the system to put them back into matches if the Rejoin screen fails. AI-controlled heroes need to stop picking talents for you; have we considered implementing a shared unit control system instead?
       
      IV) The Replay System
      Heroes of the Storm’s replay system shares its biggest issue with the reconnection system: Skipping through replays also happens to be an awfully slow process. Jumping to the end of a 16 minutes game took about 2 minutes of loading time, leading me to believe that replays can’t “seek” any faster than their 8x maximum play speed. Thankfully, scanning only has to be performed once; subsequent skipping is much faster. This lengthy initial loading time can still certainly turn off content producers from browsing replays to create highlight reels or showcase certain aspects of the game if they have a number of replays to go through. This also disincentivizes players from reviewing their matches to go over specific events or study certain strategies. Other than that, the replay system is functional, but very bare bones. Blizzard is obviously aware of this because they’ve officially promoted Ahli’s work on a better replay interface. But even with these enhanced features, the system’s polish and features pale in comparison to DotA II’s and League of Legends’ own.
       
      V) The Queue System
      Although I find queues to be on the long side of things, I can at least understand how the system would struggle to find an appropriate match for players with unusually high win rates, let alone 5 of us – and especially when considering that the game’s population is split across six different game modes. What I do find completely unacceptable, however, is receiving the all too familiar “A player you were matched with has disconnected or left the service” message followed by the need to go through the entire queue again. My group typically has to wait between 8 and 10 minutes to find Quick Match and Unranked matches, and often twice as long for Team League matches. Forcing 9 people to go through the entire process is both insulting and inefficient; if the system has found a match, why not just toss all 9 of us back into the queue and just look for one more instead of wasting some 90 minutes of collective time? Again, I don’t claim to understand the system, but other games do it, and for good reasons. This behavior is considered baseline, not exceptional.

      Awfully typical.
       
      VI) The Drafting System
      Although Heroes of the Storm heavily touts itself as a team-oriented game, I find it rather strange that we still do not have access to a draft hero trading system. I say “still” here because, as with the above features, hero trading is considered commonplace in the MOBA genre. My guess is that, at this point, there was an active decision to not include one. If this is the case, I must protest: On top of promoting draft interactions, hero trading reduces the impact of randomness in picking order. In other words, the system allows specialized late-pick players to focus on their role, and early-pick flex players to cover a broader variety of roles without feeling forced to play high priority heroes, regardless of the randomized picking order. Imagine yourself in a situation where your tank player might be the 4th or 5th player to pick on your team, in a metagame environment where tanks are generally prioritized. As the 1st pick, would you push your dedicated tank player’s away from their role so as to secure heroes considered high tier? As I mentioned earlier in this article, specializing one’s role is the norm, not the exception; the flexibility of this system is needed to reduce the randomness of drafting. I will mention that about a year ago, there were talks of adding such a system to the game. Here’s to hoping the upcoming BlizzCon will bring us good news about this. If the system does end up implemented, blanket chat blocks will have to be reworked to exclude lobbies. Or, at the very least, an indicator should show who isn’t receiving messages so that attempts at communicating aren’t in vain.
      While we’re at it, I’d also like to quickly touch on the horror that is giving AFK players a random hero instead of outright removing them from the game at hand. I don’t really have an argument for that one; it’s just annoying, and players who are serious about playing should be present for the drafting process.
       
      VII) Bonus Comments About Other Systems
      Here are some other thoughts that I feel don’t really need a dedicated paragraph to be taken into consideration. In no particular order:
      I’d like to be able to check out mounts in Try Mode. I wish I could use my Stimpacks whenever I please. As it stands, I don’t open Loot Chests unless I know I’ll be playing for a while, and if I do open a Stimpack by accident, I just ALT+F4 my way out of the game to preserve it. I would love to have an item gifting feature for my teammate’s birthday. I don’t particularly care for the forced MVP cut scene after every single match. I rarely see more than 2 people vote anyway; let’s at least have the option to opt out of it. I’d like to be able to check out anyone’s profile, at any time, if I happen to know their BattleTag. I wish my heroes were available across other regions. Players who opt out of receiving messages from non-friends probably shouldn’t be able to whisper other players.  
      Conclusion
      Heroes of the Storm is relatively feature-rich as far as modern MOBAs go. Unfortunately, many of these features and systems feel unpolished or underexplored when compared to the game's competitors. While it's difficult to tell just how much they affect the game's popularity, Blizzard has a history of continuously improving and supporting its games over their extensive lifetimes. Furthermore, many developer comments hint at improvements for some of the topics underlined in this article to be announced no later than this BlizzCon, making me excited about what's to come. I'll be there in person to report everything, so stay tuned!
    • By Oxygen

       
      We present our twelfth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the Junkrat patch of October 2017.
      Our twelfth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the month of October 2017 is here!
      Welcome to Icy Veins's Meta Tier List for the Junkrat patch. The goal if of this list is to try and detail game's current metagame state. The prime goal of such lists is to inform players regarding popular and trending team composition drafting strategies (i.e. the drafting metagame). Although tier listings are generally the product of balance, many factors come into play when discussing the relative perceived strengths of heroes, including player regions, maps, play style, skill level, and, of course, personal perception. As such, any tier list—including this very one—should never be interpreted as gospel, but rather, as a guide to better grasp what to expect with regards to typical drafting experiences. One useful application of such lists is to allow you know which heroes to look out for in terms of practice and counterplay, ultimately improving your knowledge of the game.
      Using the list
      As stated above, tier lists are easy to mistake for gospel. As new strategies are discovered and experimented with, so changes the perception of the relative strengths of each hero. Tier lists still prove to be useful as a snapshot of player expectations in terms of drafting. Although it is generally considered preferable to focus on high tier heroes (Prime and Core tiers), it is important to note that Heroes of the Storm's wild character and map designs make it so that any given hero's tier position is prone to fluctuate depending on the situation at hand.
      One classic example of such is that of Kerrigan on the Infernal Shrines map. Although we currently judge her to be a low-to-mid-tier hero, her drafting priority shoots up to first-pick or first-ban material on this specific map due to the nature of its objective. Certain heroes also synergise so well with each other that the sole fact of having the opportunity of drafting them together is generally enough to increase their potential. Tassadar and Tracer, for instance, are generally nightmarish to deal with for many. There are too many examples of these interactions to reasonably produce here, but we invite you to consult our guides to know exactly where and when each hero shines. The guides have been linked in the lists below for your convenience - just click any of the hero names to access them.
      A ↑ next to a hero's name means its tier list position has increased since the previous month whereas a ↓ means just the opposite. Additionally, a + or - sign indicates short-to-medium term predictions (which is to say, about a month) for tier increase(s) or decrease(s), respectively. These are often updated after significant balance patches and/or when clear trends are emerging.
      If you're newer to the game, also consider visiting our glossary for a comprehensive list of discrete Heroes of the Storm terms.
      Current map rotation
       
      Prime Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Anub'arak- Genji Tassadar- Nazeebo↑ Arthas Greymane     E.T.C.↑ Malthael     Garrosh↑               Prime tier heroes are considered to be extremely strong in all situations, and show no obvious weakness. They are very often banned or picked right away, as they generally dictate the pace of most matches.
       
      Core Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Dehaka Falstad Brightwing Azmodan↑ Diablo Jaina Lúcio+ Sylvanas Sonya+ Li-Ming Malfurion Xul Stitches↓ Valla Stukov-   Varian (Tank) Zeratul Uther↓-       Lt. Morales↑   Core tier heroes are strong in a wide variety of situations and have few counter-picking possibility. They should form the core of your team, and be picked after Prime Tier heroes have been distributed.
       
      Viable Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Artanis Alarak Ana Abathur Chen Cassia Auriel Murky D.Va Chromie Kharazim Probius- Johanna Gul'dan Li Li Zagara Leoric Illidan Rehgar   Muradin Kael'thas Tyrande   Tyrael Kerrigan     Zarya Lunara       Ragnaros       The Butcher       Tracer       Zul'jin       Kel'Thuzad     Viable tier heroes are generally well-rounded that have either fallen out of favour, or, inversely, are on the rise in popularity, due to the current Prime tier contenders.
       
      Niche Tier
      Warrior Assassin Support Specialist Cho'gall Cho'gall - Gazlowe Rexxar Nova   Medivh   Raynor   Junkrat (new!)-   Samuro   Sgt. Hammer   Valeera       Thrall       Tychus       Varian (Damage)     Niche tier heroes have niche application on certain maps or for certain team compositions. They are generally picked to "round out" your team composition when your team composition is missing out on key components, such as a "jungler" (mercenary camps), a solo laner, or solid waveclear.
       
      Bottom Tier
      The Lost Vikings Bottom tier Heroes are deemed to be either considerably weaker than the majority of other Heroes, or much more challenging to play properly. Although they may situationally shine, these Heroes are generally avoided by most players.
       
      Metagame assessment
      Junkrat felt quite undertuned on the PTR, yet suffered little more but nerfs to what was arguably his best heroic ability option, Rocket Ride. You  may have noticed that I labeled him as a specialist, and that's because he feels like one. I can't stop drawing parallels between Gazlowe and him, which are limited sustained area of effect damage and zone control. Heck, Grav-O-Bomb 3000 is just a RIP-Tire that pulls instead of knocking back, is it not? Junkrat's winrates are hovering around some 42% as it stands, making him one of the worst heroes in the game. On one hand, my PTR gut feeling seemed accurate. On the other hand, I think he's excessively difficult to play, but has potential, meaning that I think he will get a bit better over time, winrates-wise. Still, buffs are needed, and we're talking ~15-20% cooldown reductions and damage increases across the board. I would usually never dare suggest something as drastic, but Junkrat feels way off. Niche, probably bottom.
      E.T.C. has finally ascended to metal godhood, potentially as a response to Garrosh's popularity, or possibly because healers can't really shred him off due to Guitar Solo's near-infinite self-sustain and just enough basic attack damage to be threatening.
      Garrosh is now the most popular (and banned) hero in the game. The way armor works in conjunction with healing makes him ridiculously hard to kill in this healer-heavy metagame, while one good Wrecking Ball is often enough to secure a kill, granted you're not throwing E.T.C. Warlord's Challenge also happens to be a pseudo Mosh Pit that can't be interrupted and on a much shorter cooldown, which is really good for ripping kills away while healers can't... well, heal.
      Nazeebo's late game power was recently redefined (read: improved), and Gargantuan is a nightmare to deal with when disengaging or killing it is impossible. As it turns out, healers tend to lack the damage to quickly focus the thing down. In general, I feel that specialists begin to shine in such metagames, where proper waveclear and sieging tend to be rarer. This also means slightly longer games, which translates into more Voodoo Ritual stacks.
      Stitches is falling out of favour as blowup comps are. His lack of CC and single target damage are just what you don't want your tank to lack right now. Still, he's not bad by any means; simply falling out of favour.
      Uther no longer prime? What's going on! As stated for Stitches, blowout team compositions are a thing of the past. Uther's niche is just that: countering such blowouts with his burst healing and armor buffs, and setting up or following up with Hammer of Justice. These things aren't particularly useful in a sustain-oriented metagame. If Tyr's Deliverance wasn't such a late game talent, Uther may work, but it isn't.
      Lt. Morales is pretty much the polar opposite of Uther; high sustained healing, little burst, zero follow up potential, thrives in extended fights, and so on. Although she was slightly nerfed recently, it wasn't really enough to seriously affect her performance.
      Azmodan is rising for the same reasons Nazeebo is: waveclearing and sieging are in high demand right now, and massive health pools can become a problem, especially for teams that might run two low damage and waveclear support heroes such as Ana and Lúcio.
    • By Stan

      The free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of October 24.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: October 24, 2017
    • By Stan

      Heroes of the Storm Highlights are back with the 93rd episode of WTF Moments.
      If you have any interesting replays to share, you can submit them here, but don't forget to include a time stamp!
      Previous Episodes
      WTF Moments Episode 92 WTF Moments Episode 91 WTF Moments Episode 90 WTF Moments Episode 89