Stan

The Nexus is Shifting (Official)

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Battleground variability in Heroes of the Storm is something that sets the game apart from other MOBAs. Now that the number of battlegrounds has risen to 13, Blizzard thinks new players may feel overwhelmed when dealing with so many maps and different objectives. Lead Battleground Designer John Deshazer made a blog post where he's talking about map rotation, battleground selection and more. Maps available next week can be found here.

  • New players will always play their first game on Cursed Hollow
  • 3 map rotations are planned for each Season (9 maps per rotation)
  • Maps rotate every 3 weeks

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

The variety of Battlegrounds available in Heroes of the Storm, and their respective objectives, allow different Heroes and team compositions to shine. By presenting players with a range of map mechanics and interesting strategic situations, we create opportunities for exciting teamfights and thrilling come-from-behind victories. We believe the different Battlegrounds make Heroes of the Storm more fun to play and more entertaining to watch.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing, though. And as we’re now in the era of Heroes of the Storm 2.0, we’ve heard some players express concern with feeling overwhelmed by the growing number of Battlegrounds. Asking players to manage 13 unique event timings, strategies to defeat large monsters with varied abilities, or memorizing the optimal path to collect doubloons can feel like quite a lot.

When Heroes first launched, it only had a handful of Battlegrounds. We began to debate the possibility of a rotation in earnest about the time the map pool reached double its original size. Longtime players may have noticed that whenever we’ve introduced a new Battleground, we’ve reduced the size of the map pool to funnel more players into the Nexus’s latest challenge. With the launch of D.Va, we decided it was time to formalize our approach to keeping the game fresh without overloading players by introducing regular Battleground rotations.

Battleground Rotation Details

Here are the major details for our current approach to the Battleground rotation:

  • Reduce the number of Battlegrounds available in matchmaking game modes from 13 to 9.
    • We agree with community feedback that six Battlegrounds felt like too few, and will be running nine, instead.
  • Create moments in our ranked seasons for the meta to shift due to Battleground rotation.
    • We’re starting with three rotations per season and nine Battlegrounds per rotation.
    • These should be considered living numbers that we are constantly monitoring, and can adjust according to what feels best for the game while still feeling impactful. If we raise the number of maps in the pool, for example, rotations won’t feel meaningful.
  • We’ve updated our multi-tiered map introduction system to help alleviate information overload for newer players.
    • New players will always play their first game on Cursed Hollow.
    • They’ll then move into a sub-pool of Battlegrounds drawn from the current rotation.
    • This sub-pool will open up to all nine Battlegrounds in the current rotation, gradually acclimating newer players to the game’s full range of strategies and experiences.
  • We’ve also heard lots of feedback about the map selection process. We’ve spent time reviewing and have come up with some ways to improve this process moving forward, which should result in a healthy and fun map pool with each rotation.
    • Our first consideration is the reward aspect of the Battleground mechanic and its layout. Examples of this are the Curse or Punisher. We want to offer strong variety here. Layout often ties into the Battleground’s mechanic and helps decide how many lanes it has.
    • Next, we consider the gameplay aspect of the Battleground mechanic. Examples are Tribute collection and killing skeletons. Variety is the key here, just like the reward aspect.
    • Our final consideration is visual. We have lots of beautiful Battlegrounds, and we’d like to have a healthy representation across different themes, so from game to game players shouldn’t see the same tile sets.
  • Lastly, there are improvements we’d like to make to some Battlegrounds, and we can make those improvements while they are out of rotation. The rotation creates a nice moment for us to reintroduce reworked Battlegrounds. You’ll never know where our Battlegrounds will grow.

I want to thank our players for all the feedback we received during the Heroes 2.0 Open Beta, and following the release of Hanamura. We believe our approach to Battleground rotations will result in a better learning experience for newer players while keeping a diverse pool of Battlegrounds for everyone to enjoy. As with everything we do on Heroes, we will continue to learn and improve upon this system. We love the enthusiasm and passion in the Heroes community and with your help, we’ll continue to make Heroes of the Storm the best game we possibly can!

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Can't they just add a map filter that players can select individually? So they can choose by themselves which maps they wanna get queued?

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45 minutes ago, Valhalen said:

Can't they just add a map filter that players can select individually? So they can choose by themselves which maps they wanna get queued?

I'm surprised they haven't got the hint that not many players like Braxis or Warhead. I thought Braxis was a cool concept at first, I never liked Warhead from the start, but over the months, it's became abundantly clear that the game wouldn't lose anything special if both were removed entirely from the rotations. 

Both have their issues, but it reminds me of map blacklisting in WoW, where two simply doesn't feel like enough half the time. I was nearly finished IoC meta achievements and I'd be tempted to stick that on the blacklist... but then Alterac Valley, Strand of the Ancients and Battle for Gilneas! All of those maps annoy me in various ways mostly because I am entirely done with their achievements and they offer very little in terms of solid pvp; if I could play Warsong Gulch forever, I would. However, some of them are just terribly designed - Battle for Gilneas and Strand in particular.  They don't seem to update the maps on WoW very often except in order to make competitive play balance changes, which are few and far between.

I'd much rather see them follow up the news that they were looking at several maps in the game in terms of redesigning like Haunted Mines, but honestly, if I suffer through anymore snowball Braxis games with that stupid throw pit boss, I think I might actually be happy to see Blackheart and Garden. 

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i love braxis and warhead though, pushing with the zerg or landing some good nukes is amazing, also that starcraft music daaaayum

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2 hours ago, Plaguestorm said:

i love braxis and warhead though, pushing with the zerg or landing some good nukes is amazing, also that starcraft music daaaayum

Braxis has had some some satisfying moments like a good push, or defending against a full zerg wave extremely quickly and then making a comeback, but the latter simply doesn't happen often enough, and the map doesn't support other ways to make potential comeback plays either, except for what is arguably the worst boss in the game; you're more likely to see your team wipe taking it than see it take an enemy gate down let alone a fort or keep. 

While I love the music on both, Warhead went from being 'hey cool, I like the big maps' to 'oh. 3 nukes on core is a win' very quickly. The bosses there are ridiculously easy to kill but harder to defend against, which is another negative point for me when it comes to the Starcraft maps. 

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Well, I don't like this decision. Since 2.0 only a few maps were in the rotation and now we're at a point where I had enough of Towers of Doom and Braxis H. for a long time. My point is if you play a lot, less variety will just make the game worse. I think they should create more maps, instead of putting in these limitations.

Edited by edg
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Although I can agree that 13 battlegrounds is a bit much at once, the real problem for me isn't the amount, it's just that some battlegrounds are miles behind the other ones.
I just don't want to play Hanamura, Garden of terror and Blackheart's Bay, even if I stomp the enemy team, the gameplay on those maps just isn't that great.
Why can't we just get a blacklist system for maps?

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The many maps is surely one of the game's strong points but a map rotation doesn't seem the best course of action imho. Like, there will be times where someone's favorite maps will be in so he/she will overplay and others when they'll be rotated off so he/she won't play much or at all.

Personally, I believe giving the player the option of veto (never play in some maps) like in SC II would be the best solution. Each one has maps that likes and dislikes. For example, I like all maps (not to the same degree but overall yeah) except ToSQ (objective feels kinda underwhelming, announcer sounds...ehhhwww, spiders etc). And I don't get why Booty Bay gets so much hate. Maybe because it's pay2win map? Or perhaps engages/teamfights happen less frequently than others? Boss kinda impossible to tell if being contested? Idk. Personally, I like this map a lot; objective feels strong and rewarding, Blackheart makes me crack up everytime and so on. I've read that they're not considering allowing the players to veto which was pretty disturbing...:/ (reddit iirc)

Talking about the Battlegrounds, I've been watching HGC every chance I get and I believe many like me are kinda annoyed and bored seeing same Heroes (with a few exceptions) AND same maps (no exceptions here) over and over and over... They should do something about that imho; maybe not allowing a team to have the same choices (pick & ban) every 2nd-3rd series (or every other series if it gets too repetitive, which it does).

That's all for now. Congratulations on the work, site looks pretty dope and sorry for Trump's Great Wall of txt :>

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7 hours ago, Valhalen said:

Can't they just add a map filter that players can select individually? So they can choose by themselves which maps they wanna get queued?

This will have the same effect like in Counter Strike where everyone just plays dust2. Ppl will find 1 best map and filter only this and other games will get hard to find but that's just my thought

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2 hours ago, Kaelos said:

This will have the same effect like in Counter Strike where everyone just plays dust2. Ppl will find 1 best map and filter only this and other games will get hard to find but that's just my thought

Yeah, right. Solution to this is pretty simple: limit the blacklist size say to 4 maps. 4 out of 13 is a good rate and the list will provide additional feedback to Blizzard. This can single out the underplayed maps and pay more attention to them.

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I really like the dust2 argument. Hate that map.

I think that giving Blizzard the deciding vote on what are we going to play is not a great idea unless there would be some caveat to it. If the player base votes and gets a bad mappool, well, this one is on us; if They pick a bad mappool, we will blame Blizzard and that's not something They'd want.

Map diversity in HotS I feel is twofold : they are different, but still same. What I think needs to be done is this :

1) Clearly identifying the map role - Tomb and Blackheart are PvE payment maps, Temple and Punishers are PvE point capture maps, Dragon and Braxis are just "PvP" point capture, Junction and Hollow are generic; you see what I mean. Having different visuals and slightly different layout doesn't really make up for the fact you're doing the same thing on them.

2) Then you just make a mappool with these roles, where a pair of maps are definetly PvE, a pair of maps are definitely "PvP", and so on.

3) With that, a veto system may be implemented easily, so you can cut off a playstyle you don't enjoy. Because let's face it, seeing a Nova main on your Tomb of Spider Queen is not great, and playing Nova on this map too.

Of course the balance of all HotS' maps is different and should be taken in the account, because they are not exactly the same. I'd also say some of the unique maps should not be taken out of the map pool at all (like Towers of Doom).

Edited by Paracel
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Despite what I said about the filters, I actually want that they add all maps to rotation. And add a smart queue to reduce the chances that you get queued on the same map twice. This other day I got queued into Towers of Doom four times in a row, pretty annoying. Maybe a filter COULD work, as a ban-system where you can only ban one stage per match (which could be applied to every game mode). This would prevent the "CS Dust" issue.

If we played on the same "CS Dust-like" map, or only had one map layout like many other MOBAs, the game would feel stale and boring (one of the reasons I don't really like other MOBAs). Having map variety with different types of objectives is great, but maybe the just need to tweak some mechanics in those stages so they become a bit more appealing. But it is impossible to perfectly balance something and at the same time please everyone.

Edited by Valhalen

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14 hours ago, SteveFrost said:

Talking about the Battlegrounds, I've been watching HGC every chance I get and I believe many like me are kinda annoyed and bored seeing same Heroes (with a few exceptions) AND same maps (no exceptions here) over and over and over... They should do something about that imho; maybe not allowing a team to have the same choices (pick & ban) every 2nd-3rd series (or every other series if it gets too repetitive, which it does).

I know what you mean. The HGC is ridiculous for having the same maps and heroes being played all the time. There is very little diversity in it and the most you'd see would be in the earlier stages of the ladder where you might see a Chromie or TLV. A big "might". Like it's always Tyreal and Malf and Tychus and so fort. And never rarely Braxis. It's very sad to see that the "pros" won't use other heroes and stick with comfort picks most of the time. I get that they do play the map but still...you usually always see a Tyreal and Zeratul without fail. It's not fresh and you'd wonder why that even now when the game is at its most balanced state (going by Oxygen's tier list) they still stick to the old picks.

Also welcome to IcyVeins xD

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The Pros are not only choosing for comfort, they choose what they know and play best, because they do it not for fun, it is about money for winning or losing a game.

For the rest of us, it is very sad that players, even after the mega bundles etc, still stick to the same heroes all the time and even in drafts players pick heroes they want to play instead of a more useful hero. Many of those players I see seem to play their heroes well but they play others heroes too less and lack knowledge about them. This results in a bad performance.

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On 5/13/2017 at 4:30 AM, Stan said:

Blizzard thinks new players may feel overwhelmed when dealing with so many maps and different objectives.

 

What a load of.... seriously how are the maps even remotely overwelming? The map diversity is the reason hots is so different than other mobas, why take it away in fear of people not being able to handle something so simple?

The majority of the people i know are sick of playing over the same maps over and over again,this thing is doing more damage than good, at least put the whole map rotation thing as "optional" so only the "overwelmed" people do it.

Edited by Kurosu

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I find myself new among the HotS players, I only started playing a few weeks ago. I have tried this game once a long time ago, but I didn't even reached lvl10. Now I nearly lvl40, but I can say that you can give us more maps at once. There is no overwelming anywhere.

If someone plays this game those few maps are easy to learn, you can freely give us more. Even if its not the whole, but 5-8 would be nice. The variety and diversity in the maps are fantastic, it would be a shame to make it stuck like this.

----------------------------
I included the learning of characters too - that 20 what we have got -  but as the gold income is pretty slow we won't be able to buy more in a short time so we only have to focus on the available chars and the maps.
Sorry about my english, I still have to use google translate in some parts :'D

Edited by Rubyel

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7 hours ago, Kurosu said:

What a load of.... seriously how are the maps even remotely overwelming? The map diversity is the reason hots is so different than other mobas, why take it away in fear of people not being able to handle something so simple?

It's about map specifics like timings. Read the blue post again. You can't have a person who's just into the game figure out all the spawn and travel distances at the same time, during the very initial learning stage, unless that person has extensive experience within RTS genre. Timers on the maps aren't the same - we don't have all the objectives spawning at 1:30 etc. - that's why this diversity equals complexity.

There isn't an option to ladder on a few select maps you're trying to learn initially either, unless you find a premade gang and go customs. But that's not what everyone is capable of. 

Lowering the learning curve is an important part of getting people to play your game. That's what HotS needs right now to compete on the MOBA market.

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14 hours ago, MurkyFelix said:

I know what you mean. The HGC is ridiculous for having the same maps and heroes being played all the time. There is very little diversity in it and the most you'd see would be in the earlier stages of the ladder where you might see a Chromie or TLV. A big "might". Like it's always Tyreal and Malf and Tychus and so fort. And never rarely Braxis. It's very sad to see that the "pros" won't use other heroes and stick with comfort picks most of the time. I get that they do play the map but still...you usually always see a Tyreal and Zeratul without fail. It's not fresh and you'd wonder why that even now when the game is at its most balanced state (going by Oxygen's tier list) they still stick to the old picks.

Also welcome to IcyVeins xD

Merci beaucoup c:

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4 hours ago, Paracel said:

Lowering the learning curve is an important part of getting people to play your game. That's what HotS needs right now to compete on the MOBA market.

I can't think with Blizzard's head, but making a lot of players angry by lowering the number of maps playable just doesn't seem to be a good tactic. I guess new players who are interested wont stay only because they need to play on 9 maps, not on 13. If they enjoy the game, they'll stay. The variety of the maps was a positive thing for me as a newcomer. Now I feel like they take away something and make the game a bit more monotonic.

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3 hours ago, edg said:

I can't think with Blizzard's head, but making a lot of players angry by lowering the number of maps playable just doesn't seem to be a good tactic. I guess new players who are interested wont stay only because they need to play on 9 maps, not on 13. If they enjoy the game, they'll stay. The variety of the maps was a positive thing for me as a newcomer. Now I feel like they take away something and make the game a bit more monotonic.

Maybe another solution would be to limit maps based on player level. For example, having access to 3 basic maps at level 1, a number that progressively increases, unlocking maps as you level up, similarly to unlocking talents based on player level. That way new players would be queued with other new players and learn the maps at their own pace.

Edited by Valhalen
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6 hours ago, Paracel said:

It's about map specifics like timings. Read the blue post again. You can't have a person who's just into the game figure out all the spawn and travel distances at the same time, during the very initial learning stage, unless that person has extensive experience within RTS genre.

Based on my experience, new players don't really care about the map at all. They usually want to learn the heroes first, and they learn the maps afterwards, as knowing how to play your hero well and simply tick to the team, even though you don't know why or what you are doing, is usually better than doing the correct rotations, but dying a lot as you don't know how to combo your abilities and such. 

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On 5/14/2017 at 4:25 AM, Caldyrvan said:

The Pros are not only choosing for comfort, they choose what they know and play best, because they do it not for fun, it is about money for winning or losing a game.

I see your point; but regardless of winning or losing; they get a flat salary that earns more than my job right now. So I still say poo to the lack of diversity in it. 

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On 14/5/2017 at 6:25 AM, Caldyrvan said:

The Pros are not only choosing for comfort, they choose what they know and play best, because they do it not for fun, it is about money for winning or losing a game.

 

3 hours ago, MurkyFelix said:

I see your point; but regardless of winning or losing; they get a flat salary that earns more than my job right now. So I still say poo to the lack of diversity in it. 

And aside from bad experience for viewers, this also reflects bad (or complete lack thereof) game balance for Heroes and maps alike. Like, Ragnaros was supposedly "nerfed" but he's still near 100% pick/ban (99,99% or something) because of flawed (for game health) design- why would someone not pick him? Additionally, if they keep picking the same stuff and using the same strategies, game will become stale (people tend to copy pasta the pros with varying levels of success) which is never a good thing.

I know they're pros and they're interested in winning, not catering to any sort of fan service but things like that hurt the game imho. Besides, if they only need to practice certain comps for very specific maps, they're having a field day and this turns HotS into your random 'typical MOBA' with the 'main map' and 'OP heroes/champs/whatever'.

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2 hours ago, SteveFrost said:

Like, Ragnaros was supposedly "nerfed" but he's still near 100% pick/ban (99,99% or something) because of flawed (for game health) design- why would someone not pick him?

Ragnaros has 31% ban+pick rate in Hero League, which is nowehere close to the 100%.

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      Health increased from 1425 to 1550 Health Regen increased from 2.969 to 3.23 Basic Attack damage reduced from 90 to 81 Abilities
      Withering Fire (Q) Adjusted functionality: Pressing Q once fires 5 Withering Fire arrows at the closest enemy Mana cost increased from 0 to 25 Damage reduced from 48 to 39 Range increased from 6.25 to 8 Cooldown increased from 2 to 8 seconds Cooldown now restores all charges No longer gains charges on Minion kills Nearby Heroes takedowns now refresh the cooldown of this ability Fire rate reduced from .188 to .375 (50% slower) Withering Fire cannot be cast while a previous cast of Withering Fire is still firing Shadow Dagger (W) Adjusted functionality: Shadow Dagger no longer spreads to nearby targets each time it does damage.  Damage dealt by Sylvanas to the primary target of Shadow Dagger spreads its effect to all nearby enemies. Mana cost decreased from 75 to 50 Duration increased from 2 to 2.5 seconds Damage reduced from 37 to 29 Haunting Wave (E) Banshee travel speed increased by ~6% Mind Control (R) Cooldown reduced from 60 to 50 seconds New functionality: After a .25 second cast, launch a missile that impacts the first enemy Hero in its path.  Impacted Heroes are Silenced, Slowed by 30%, and forced to walk towards Sylvanas for 1.75 seconds. Black Arrows (Trait) New functionality: Activate to cause all Basic Attacks and Abilities to Stun Minions, Mercenaries, and Structures for 3 seconds over the next 10 seconds. 40 second cooldown New Passive functionality – Banshee’s Curse: Basic Attacks infect enemies with Banshee’s Curse for 3 seconds.  Sylvanas deals 25% bonus damage to enemies with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse. Talents
      Level 1 Overflowing Quiver (Q) Removed Dreadful Wake (E) Removed Overwhelming Affliction (Trait) Moved from Level 16 Adjusted functionality: Enemy Heroes with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse are slowed by 15%.  Basic Attacks against Slowed enemy Heroes deal 1% of their maximum Health in damage New Talent: Unfurling Shadows (W) Quest: Each time Shadow Dagger deals damage to enemy Heroes with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse, increase its damage by .5% New Talent: Banshee’s Curse (Q) Hitting an enemy Hero with Withering Fire increases Sylvanas’ Attack Speed and Ability Power by 5% for 6 seconds, stacking up to 5 times Level 4 With the Wind (Q) Removed Mercenary Queen (Trait) Moved from Level 1 Adjusted functionality: Friendly non-Elite Mercenaries near Sylvanas deal 60% more damage.  Sylvanas Stuns and deals 30% additional damage to Mercenaries with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse. Possession (Active) Moved from Level 7 Now requires 3 charges to be used on Catapults Unstable Poison (W) Moved from Level 7 Damage increased from 116 to 130 Now triggers on enemy minions who are afflicted by Banshee’s Curse, Black Arrows, or Shadow Dagger Radius increased from 2 to 2.5 Level 7 Barbed Shot (Q) New functionality: Hitting the same enemy with 5 shots of Withering Fire causes the last shot to deal 350% bonus damage Lost Soul (W) Moved from Level 4 Adjusted functionality: Reduce Shadow Dagger’s cooldown by 1.75 seconds each time Sylvanas uses a Basic Attack on an enemy Hero with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse. New Talent: Festering Wounds (E) Haunting Wave deals 25% more damage and applies 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse.  Level 13 Cold Embrace (W) Moved from Level 16 Duration increased from 2 to 2.5 seconds Now also reduces the Armor of targets that Shadow Dagger spreads to by 10 Spell Shield (Active) Removed Remorseless (Trait) Moved from Level 16 New functionality: Increase Sylvanas’ Basic Attack range by 1.  Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse fire an untalented shot of Withering Fire.  This shot applies Banshee’s Curse. Windrunner (E) Adjusted functionality: Teleporting with Haunting Wave resets the cooldown of Withering Fire.  Haunting Wave can be cast a second time for free within 5 seconds after teleporting Level 16 Life Drain (W) Moved from Level 13 New functionality: Dealing damage to enemies with 3 stacks of Banshee’s Curse heals Sylvanas for 15% of the damage dealt.  Doubled against Heroes Evasive Fire (Q) Adjusted Functionality: Hitting enemies with Withering Fire grants Sylvanas 6% bonus Movement Speed for 2 seconds, stacking up to 30%.  Basic Attacks refresh this duration. Will of the Forsaken (Active) Moved from Level 13 Level 20 Dark Lady's Call (R) New functionality: Reduce the cooldown of Mind Control by 30 seconds.  Heroes hit by Mind Control have their vision greatly reduced for 5 seconds.  Withering Barrage (Q) Moved from Level 4 New functionality: Hitting an enemy Hero with Withering Fire decreases its cooldown by .75 seconds Warrior

      Stitches
      Abilities
      Hook (Q) Range reduced from 12.5 to 11 Slam (W) Cast time increased from .25 to .313 Cooldown increased from 6 to 7 seconds Range increased from 8 to 9.5 Mana cost increased from 30 to 35 Added functionality: Now has an Inner area that deals 40% Bonus Damage and applies a 40% slow for 1.5 seconds Devour (E) Ability Effects now occur at the start of the ability's cast, rather than at the end Vile Cleaver (Passive) New Functionality: Basic Attacks apply Vile Gas to nearby enemies, poisoning for 45 damage over 3 seconds. Re-applying Vile Gas increases its duration rather than resetting it, up to 10 seconds. Talents
      Level 1 Chew Your Food (E) Removed Dampen Magic (Passive) Removed Heavy Slam (W) Removed Hungry for More (Passive) New functionality: Quest: Regen Globes grant 30 permanent Health Every 15 Regen globes, Stitches gains 5% permanent Movement speed up to a maximum of 20% Savor the Flavor (E) Additional heal over time effect duration reduced from 5 to 4 seconds. Moved from level 7 New Functionality: Casting Devour on a Hero restores an additional 10% of maximum Health and Mana over 5 seconds and permanently increases Stitches’ health regeneration by 1. New Talent: Patchwork Creation (Passive) Increase all healing received by 15%. Nearby Minion and Hero kills Heal Stiches (Minions for 30, Heroes for 300) Hero takedown heal amount reduced from 300 to 240 Level 4 Amplified Healing (Passive) Removed Restorative Fumes (Trait) Removed Putrid Ground (W) Removed New Talent – Playtime! (W) Heroes hit by Slam reduce the cooldowns of Stitches's other Basic Abilities by .5 seconds. This cooldown reduction is increased to 2 seconds for Heroes that are hit by Slam's inner impact area. New Talent – Chop Chop (W) Hitting a Hero with the inner area of Slam increases Stitches' Basic Attack Speed by 50% for 4 seconds. New Talent: Serrated Edge (Q) Hooking an enemy Hero deals 5% of their max life as damage and decreases Hook’s cooldown by 4 seconds. Cooldown reduction decreased from 4 to 3 seconds. Level 7 Last Bite (E) Removed New Talent - Blight (Trait) Vile Gas heals for 33% of the damage it deals. Activate to apply Vile Gas to all nearby enemies and reduce their healing taken by 20% for 5 seconds. 40 second CD Cannibalize (Passive) Moved from level 20 New functionality: Heroes hit by Basic Attacks and Slam’s inner area heal Stitches for 2% of his maximum health. Healing reduced from 2 to 1.75% of maximum health Tenderizer (Passive) New functionality: Basic Attacks slow the target by 25% for 2.5 seconds. If the target is afflicted with Slam’s Slow, refresh its duration. Level 13 Flea Bag (Passive) Removed Mega Smash (W) Removed Indigestion (E) Removed New Talent – Lacerate (W) Slam afflicts enemies with Vile Gas and reduces armor by 10 for 4 seconds. New Talent – Digestive Juices (E) Devouring an enemy Hero reduces their damage dealt by 40% for 4 seconds. New Talent – Gas Flare (Passive) Stitches deals 16 damage per second to enemies around you. This damage is increased by 150% for 4 seconds after successfully Hooking an enemy Hero Damage per second reduced from 16 to 15 Level 16 Pulverize (W) New functionality: Slam slows all enemies by 75% for 1 second. Slow duration reduced from 1 to .75 seconds. Shish Kabob (Q) Removed Toxic Gas (Passive) Removed Fishing Hook (Q) Range bonus increased from 40 to 50% New Talent - Meat Hook (Q) Hooking an enemy Hero restores 16% of maximum health over 4 seconds. For 4 seconds, Basic Attacks against the Hooked Hero will refresh the duration of this healing effect. Level 20 New Talent – Second Helping (E) Gain an additional charge of Devour. Devouring an enemy Hero reduces the cooldown of your Heroic ability by 5 seconds. New Talent – Shambling Horror (Active) Passive: Stitches is no longer affected by Slowing effects Activate to gain 50 Armor for 4 seconds. 60 second CD.   Collection
      Many seasonal items have made their way back into the collection and will be available for crafting and in Loot Chests for a limited time!
      New Bundles
      The following new bundles are only available for a limited time! Toy Heroes Bundle Cuddle Bear Stitches Skin Pack Cosmic Force Valeera Skin Pack Dehakasaurus Rex Skin Pack New Skins (Limited Time Only!)
      Stitches Cuddle Bear Stitches Snuggle Bear Stitches Honey Bear Stitches Dehaka Dehakasaurus Rex Dino-Metal Dehakasaurus Rex Playtime Dehakasaurus Rex Valeera Cosmic Force Valeera Psionic Cosmic Force Valeera Nega Force Valeera Sylvanas Mint Sugar Plum Sylvanas New Mounts (Limited Time Only!)
      Cosmic Lion Psionic Lion Nega Lion Plush Unicorn Plush Zombicorn Pretty Plush Unicorn Fuzzy Plush Unicorn Honey Plush Unicorn New Portraits, Sprays, and Emojis
      Several new emoji packs and portraits have also been added to the game. Bug Fixes
      General
      Fixed an issue causing camera jumps and cursor resets when using drag scroll. Made a number of improvements to AI behavior. Heroes, Abilities, and Talents
      Brightwing: Fixed an issue preventing Brightwing from applying the Sticky Flare talent effect if it hit more than one target. Brightwing: Fixed an issue preventing Brightwing from applying the Hush! talent effect if it hit more than one target. Chromie: Dragon’s Breath’s warning splat will now display after the ability has been cast. Deckard: Fixed an issue causing Deckard’s portal to be visible in Fog of War when using Hearthstone. Leoric: Fixed an issue that allowed Drain Hope’s damage and healing to persist through time stop effects. Lunara: Fixed an issue preventing Lunara from playing a voice line when she died. Stitches: Slam will now reveal its impact area and targets. Stitches: Serrated Edge no longer deals bonus damage to friendly targets when using Helping Hand. Stukov: Fixed an issue causing Massive Shove to remove Weighted Pustule from its target. User Interface
      Fixed a number of tooltip issues and inaccuracies across the game. Fixed an issue causing Hero models to prevent players from pressing the Ready button in the queue screen. Fixed an issue causing grandmaster numbers of 3 digits to extend beyond portrait frames while in a party. Kel’Thuzad: Added a quick-cast option for Glacial Spike. Zul’jin: Added a quick-cast option for Amani Rage. The latest Heroes of the Storm content patch with Stitches & Sylvanas updates is now live.
    • By Oxygen
      Find out more about how the recently-announced 2019 gameplay changes will affect Heroes of the Storm in the long run.
      Just over a year ago, in preparation for BlizzCon 2017, I produced a lengthy article outlining some of Heroes of the Storm's most important issues. Notable among these was that of Quick Match team compositions. To me, Heroes of the Storm had always been clearly designed and balanced with tanks and healers in mind. As such, failing to enforce team compositions that included these classes caused a number of important problems across the game.
      Following disappointing BlizzCon 2017 announcements on the matter (class changes were discussed briefly, but composition changes were not), a reddit post and a blog post published six months later would confirm that changes to Quick match team compositions were indeed in the works, though no ETA was given. BlizzCon 2018 was a pretty safe bet that would turn out to be accurate.
      So, what's the big deal?
      As Heroes of the Storm's introductory - and most popular - game mode, Quick Match must absolutely accomplish two things: Groom its player base for improvement and present Heroes of the Storm in the best light possible.
      Year after year, however, the Quick Match system has continued to fail on both counts completely, discouraging new players and veterans alike with frustrating matches that taught bad habits and ultimately hindered the growth of the player base's skill level. How can players learn to follow up without a tank to initiate? How can they possibly internalize what their reasonable survivability is like against five other assassins? The answer is simple: They can't, because these situations are nonsensical and for the most part subpar in any remotely competent environment. Fortunately, this will soon be a thing of the past.
      Placing players in a tank-healer environment - around which the game was designed - leads me to believe that player base's skill level to improve across all game modes. Drafting skill is likely to improve as well, leading to fewer draft infighting situations. Further, it  will reduce the frustration caused by unreasonable team compositions to ultimately better retain new players, whom will get to experience the game as it was meant to be played as opposed to this rather ridiculous game mode.
      Needless to say, I think this is one of the best BlizzCon announcements to date, though I must still question what took so long. The most educated guess I can produce has to do with fearing longer queue times, but here's to hoping the "Call of the Nexus" incentive will be enough to entice players into checking out classes they haven't tried out just yet. A strong enough incentive could have the positive side effect of allowing players to develop a better global understanding of the game through approaching roles they're less used to.
      Classy new classes
      The new class system builds on the old system simply by further specializing the existing classes and removing specialists. Reworking the class system was necessary to allow team compositions to be reworked themselves.
      Heroes in the old warrior class were divided into the tank and bruiser classes, with tanks now being mandatory for Quick Match team compositions. This makes sense, as many bruisers were typically unable to fulfill the role of true tanks completely, which is to reliably initiate and peel. Allowing the warrior class to continue existing in its current state would have created the kind of lopsided team composition problems we experienced back when Varian was treated as a damage dealer.
      Heroes in the support class were divided into pure healers and support heroes, which is just a way of identifying heroes who do not use healing as their primary means of assisting teammates. Given that healers must now be included in team compositions to the same extent as tanks, this change also makes sense.
      The specialist class was merged with the assassin class because it hadn't made sense in a long time to treat them any differently; most of them were simply fancy damage dealers. The assassin class itself was split up into melee and ranged assassins.
      If you've been keeping up with some of the more recent versions of my tier lists - I don't blame you if you haven't - you'll note that I had already opted to further divide the classes, with a focus on play style rather than role a few months ago. Specifically, melee assassins are divided into fighters and stalkers, and ranged assassins into marksman and casters. My system has the advantage of being a bit more flexible for edge cases such as Genji and Tracer, who play more like melee assassins yet were labeled as ranged by Blizzard. Still, this distinction is of little relevance to most players.
      Conclusion
      Short conclusions mean I am happy with things.
      Oxygen discusses why the announced changes might just be the best thing to happen to HotS.
    • By Stan
      A shroud of uncertainly looms over the future of HGC and Heroes Esports as a whole due to the lack of HGC updates for the upcoming year and many pro players as well as casters are either done with the game or transferring to other games.
      Gillyweed (HGC Caster)
      The well-known female HGC caster is moving to Rocket League in 2019.
      Placeholder for tweet 1070532465503088640 Trikslyr (HGC Caster)
      Tim announced he won't be casting HGC in 2019 and he plans to make streaming his major focus.
      Placeholder for tweet 1071925490473152518 Tetcher (HGC China Caster)
      Chris voiced his uncertainty on Twitter today, following the lack of HGC information.
      Placeholder for tweet 1072029712514510849 We're going to closely monitor any announcements, so keep an eye out on the Heroes news section!
    • By Stan
      Free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of December 11.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: December 11, 2018
      Raynor Muradin Sonya Nazeebo Uther Jaina Zarya Li-Ming Deckard Blaze Yrel (Slot unlocked at Player Level 5) Junkrat (Slot unlocked at Player Level 10) Tychus (Slot unlocked at Player Level 15) Whitemane (Slot unlocked at Player Level 20) (Source)