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Improvements to Abusive Chat Penalties

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In an effort to combat the game's toxicity, Blizzard's going to greatly reduce the number of silence penalties applied to repeat offenders' accounts and issue suspensions instead.

  • Players who return to abusive behavior after an initial silence will begin receiving account suspensions that will quickly ramp-up in duration and prevent them from playing the game.
  • Players incapable of improving their behavior will be permanently suspended from the game.
  • Blizzard has begun implementing new machine learning technology for validating the accuracy of player reports.

Blizzard LogoBlizzard (Source)

In the next few days, we’ll be rolling out improvements to our reporting system for abusive chat. Specifically, we’re changing the ways we penalize repeat offenders by increasing the severity of the actions we take against their accounts.

In the current system, players who are regularly reported for abusive chat incur a silence penalty, which restricts them from chatting in-game and prevents them from playing Hero League for the penalty’s duration. Subsequent offenses result in increasingly longer silence penalty durations. In some cases, however, silence penalties alone aren’t enough for repeat offenders to see the error in their ways and correct their behavior.

As a result, we’re going to greatly reduce the number of silence penalties we apply to repeat offenders’ accounts. Instead, a player who returns to abusive behavior after their initial silences expire will begin incurring account suspensions. These suspensions will quickly ramp-up in duration and prevent them from playing Heroes of the Storm entirely. Players who prove they are incapable of—or unwilling to—improve their behavior after being warned, silenced, and suspended enough times will be permanently banned from the game.

We’re also aware that some players are concerned that they may be penalized after being falsely reported for abusive chat or abusive voice. This is not the case. Here’s how we handle false reports in these instances:

  • Abusive chat or spam reports are ignored if they are issued against a player who hasn’t participated in in-game chat or public chat channels.
  • Abusive voice reports are ignored if they are issued against a player who hasn’t participated in voice chat.
  • Abusive chat and abusive voice reports issued by players on an enemy team are also ignored.

Furthermore, we have already begun implementing machine learning technology that further enhances our ability to validate and empower accurate player reports. This has proven very successful so far, and we plan to continue leveling-up and expanding our report validation processes going forward

As always, we’d like to thank those of you who continue to use the appropriate in-game reporting options to bring negative behavior to our attention. Your reports are important in helping us take action against offending players and those actions are about to have even more impact than they did before.

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Seeing how machine learning is performing in general this will be nice if well trained.  Will avoid people to be incorrectly reported and validate real ones! 

Still I'm wondering how edge cases will be reviewed.

Edited by Slam

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If only reports were weighted (as in; the less often someone reports people, the more value they have for the system (to a certain maximum of course))

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For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

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14 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Report for AFK/Non-participation is an option. Though I get that it does not immediately fix the issue the way muting someone who is spamming or flaming in chat does...

Edited by Yllana
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2 hours ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Muting doesn't solve the issue. Reporting them for abusive chat with this update will solve the issue. We shouldn't be having to put up with abusive chat regardless. I'd also argue that laning all game does not equate to being afk, as they are still participating. Being afk means not participating at all.

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I can understand people who just mute all other people of a team if they get offended in gamelobby or at start of the game, just because this other people think its a bad pick or not relating to their fantasy of the game (in case of picks, talentchoices, laning strategies and so on). 

Why ?

Because its the same case as : fight fire with fire. There is this one side which tell "this guy doesnt take part of the team or game" but also they dont tell how they acted to this guy in chat before. Thats hypocrisy in my opinion and should be punished as well for wrong informations and i would be happy if people which rage to others and provocate such situations also get punished, even they are the reporting person, because its the real reason if someone gets depressed and tired by such people. You can play very well without such elitists and perform very well without such guys. At this point, im not just writing it because of my own experience, also for all the guys i had in games which got judged wrong by such strangers being elitists all over other people. Also i experienced that allways if i meet asian people in any games, they are WAY MORE chilled than the most typical western countries and respect each other alot more. Maybe it was just luck, but dont think so. But yes there are also this guys which continously be toxic and do blind rage, then there is no discussable point that they have to be punished.

 

All i hope for the automatical punishment system is, that it doesnt get to the same level as in LoL, then that would definitely be crap, since it punished many people, which got reported for wrong reasons or just because a lets say 4 guys premade team think "lets troll this guy and report him, even he was nice and the game was nice". 

Edited by Baharok

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2 hours ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

For me personally this is an irrelevant matter. If someone is being toxic you can just mute em and youre done with it. 

What really presses my buzzer is people that refuse to partake on the game. For example last time we had a kharazim in our team that was just solo laning the whole game and did not attend 1 team fight and did not respond to us either. This really fucks a game over for me and you just spend the next 20 minutes doing absolutely nothing but waiting for the game to be over. 

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of afks lately. Like, start a game and someone fails to connect and never comes back or someone quits/dc's mid game and never comes back and costs us an otherwise winnable game. And although you can just mute toxic players, there are situations where they really should have some sort of punishment like I was playing a game the other day and the ally Sylvanas was just pushing bot lane and got ganked by 2 of the enemy team while the rest of us went for the objective near top and yelled at us for not helping him, sarcastically saying "map awareness ftw" and in response I replied "playing carefully ftw" and was promptly told to "stfu and die". Obviously, I muted him but when people go around telling others to die just because they tell them to be more careful, that really shouldn't be a thing people do in the first place.

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1 hour ago, Durf24 said:

Yeah, I've noticed a lot of afks lately. Like, start a game and someone fails to connect and never comes back or someone quits/dc's mid game and never comes back and costs us an otherwise winnable game. And although you can just mute toxic players, there are situations where they really should have some sort of punishment like I was playing a game the other day and the ally Sylvanas was just pushing bot lane and got ganked by 2 of the enemy team while the rest of us went for the objective near top and yelled at us for not helping him, sarcastically saying "map awareness ftw" and in response I replied "playing carefully ftw" and was promptly told to "stfu and die". Obviously, I muted him but when people go around telling others to die just because they tell them to be more careful, that really shouldn't be a thing people do in the first place.

Apparently there is a misconception of what AFK actually is. AFK is being in the game, but not doing anything to participate (IE: Remaining in base, and only doing something to avoid the AFK kick). DCing does not equal being afk, as they are no longer in the game. Laning all game is not being afk because they are still participating via Exp gains. Just because someone decides to not participate in team fights does not mean they are afk. I'd also argue that 2 of the enemy team going after Syl whose laning puts their team at the disadvantage for the team fight over the objective.

Edited by Myke
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It's a good step forward, but I have two "buts":

  1. Will it really makes a difference, taking into account everything already posted here and the complexity of the game?
  2. Will people remember/know how to use the feature?

Also, you shouldn't report a player for not knowing how to play. Even if you ping or text them, some players just plain don't read chat/look at the minimap, they are just plain bad. Of course it's more common on lower rankings. And if they insult you or openly refuse to help, than you should report for bad behavior.

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1 hour ago, Myke said:

Muting doesn't solve the issue. Reporting them for abusive chat with this update will solve the issue. We shouldn't be having to put up with abusive chat regardless. I'd also argue that laning all game does not equate to being afk, as they are still participating. Being afk means not participating at all.

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

Edited by SirSlapzAlot

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59 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

Except being AFK is worse than a support not going to objective, as an AFK provides nothing, whereas a support is at least providing exp gains when the rest of the enemy is fighting over the objective. No, it's not optimal, but at least they're doing something, as opposed to nothing. I suppose to each their own.

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1 hour ago, lChronosl said:

It's a good step forward, but I have two "buts":

  1. Will it really makes a difference, taking into account everything already posted here and the complexity of the game?
  2. Will people remember/know how to use the feature?

Also, you shouldn't report a player for not knowing how to play. Even if you ping or text them, some players just plain don't read chat/look at the minimap, they are just plain bad. Of course it's more common on lower rankings. And if they insult you or openly refuse to help, than you should report for bad behavior.

Suspending chat abusers will make the game experience a lot better. Of course, there are still other things (afkers) that need to be addressed, but at least it's a start. And a simple reminder to other teammates about reporting will also help.

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12 minutes ago, SirSlapzAlot said:

Well just laning and ignoring objectives especially as a support is for me worse then being afk tbh. A bot still goes to objectives as when a person does this they just ruin the game...

As a fellow sup main, I agree with you wholeheartedly. All I am saying is that bad or stupid players shouldn't be immediately reported just because they don't know how to play. I've seen plenty of "report player X because he can't play lol".

If they are toxic or AFK is a whole different thing.

Edited by lChronosl
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14 minutes ago, lChronosl said:

As a fellow sup main, I agree with you wholeheartedly. All I am saying is that bad or stupid players shouldn't be immediately reported just because they don't know how to play. I've seen plenty of "report player X because he can't play lol".

If they are toxic or AFK is a whole different thing.

I agree fully and I wil never ever report someone for plain "sucking" opposite even I'd rather help him and give him tips 🙂 

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I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

I get that it is hard to define WHEN someone is not participating.  Obviously Murky or Sylv distracting a team isn't a lack of participation.  But there are numerous obvious troll situations all the time.  For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.  Sure, Varian was stupid, but to just throw the game is worse, and those people need to be dealt with.  If he doesn't want to try, he should leave the game and give us an AI.

I really think that HOTS needs a Vote to End option.  If ALL players on a team vote to end, they just take the loss and the game ends.  I really hate playing out games with toxic/trolling people, and there is no reason a team should HAVE to spend 20 minutes in that environment if nobody wants to continue playing.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Slam said:

Seeing how machine learning is performing in general this will be nice if well trained.  Will avoid people to be incorrectly reported and validate real ones! 

Still I'm wondering how edge cases will be reviewed.

Hey there! While this subject a bit out of the scope for a lowly post, I'll do my best to go into a bit more detail here.*

 

Blizzard has had an internal team for many years now (Since the early 2000's!) that specializes in cheats, hacks and general player behavior. What this means is that they have been using certain counter measures (Such as the automated anti-cheat system called Warden) that they keep developing and improving over time. Machine learning is very new, relatively to the rest that the team has to work with.

 

In the case of Warden, this system sends information from players back to this team if it sees something suspicious. It generally does not act on its own (i.e. it doesn't ban anyone by itself) with a few exceptions. Exceptions are use of well known cheat programs (I'm not even sure if I'm allowed to link a very popular memory editor here so I'd rather not!) - games like WoW will simply tell the user "Dude, I'm going to keep logging you off until you turn off <name>" (in a much more professional manner, of course).

 

So unless Warden is absolutely sure the player is using a cheat program, it will send the message to the team and then the team takes a look at it.

 

Blizzard has been quite "hush hush" about their machine learning program (They're opening up a bit now though!), but I am sure they're doing something very similar as they do with Warden. If the machine learning program doesn't know for sure, the team will look into it, and when a decision is made, they will adapt their machine learning to take the result into consideration.

 

 

It is worth noting that you can always appeal a ban at least once. Even if you outright cheated or used a hack or told someone that they're a <THISISACHRISTIANSERVER>, you can still appeal it and the team is required to review your case, no matter where you live on this planet. Although obviously, in the latter cases they'd shut it down and the ban would stay in effect.

 

 

*Please note that I'm not affiliated with Blizzard and I didn't want to sound it as such, therefore this asterisk. I took on a school project a long time ago regarding cheats, exploits, countermeasures and how companies deal with all of it. (Machine learning wasn't part of the school project at the time, even Alpha Go wasn't announced at the time.) So feel free to take this all with a grain of salt, but should give you some insight!

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1 hour ago, ArtVandelay said:

I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

I get that it is hard to define WHEN someone is not participating.  Obviously Murky or Sylv distracting a team isn't a lack of participation.  But there are numerous obvious troll situations all the time.  For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.  Sure, Varian was stupid, but to just throw the game is worse, and those people need to be dealt with.  If he doesn't want to try, he should leave the game and give us an AI.

I really think that HOTS needs a Vote to End option.  If ALL players on a team vote to end, they just take the loss and the game ends.  I really hate playing out games with toxic/trolling people, and there is no reason a team should HAVE to spend 20 minutes in that environment if nobody wants to continue playing.

 

 

Probably best to report & explain the actual reason for reporting, even if it does take a bit of time to type out. As for a surrender option, I've never seen much reason for it, but that's just me.

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57 minutes ago, ArtVandelay said:

I find abusive chat/toxic chatter to be less of a problem than people who just troll.  I can mute a toxic person.  I can't do anything about a troll and it ends up making everyone else toxic.  Not only in that game, but the following games.

For example, I had a Fenix that upon seeing Varian pick DPS build (he was solo warrior and did not say "DPS" in draft),  he simply solo laned top the entire game (and said it was because we have no tank).  We lose every Curse objective.  That is trolling.

 

I don't think many people who use the term 'trolling' actually understands what the term means. No, that Varian is not 'trolling'. He's just being a dick and playing unwisely and stupidly.

 

One of Urban Dictionary's definitions for Trolling says it best.

"Trolling

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn't count as trolling; it's just flaming, and isn't funny. Spam isn't trolling either; it pisses people off, but it's lame.

The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help. 
Trolling requires deceiving; any trolling that doesn't involve deceiving someone isn't trolling at all; it's just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccessful troll.

Signs that your trolling is successful: 
*Your victim screaming in all-caps at you. 
*Personal attacks (Calling you a retard, idiot, etc). 
*Being an Internet Tough Guy. 
*Making a crude remark, before quickly logging off before you can retort.

Signs that your trolling is unsuccessful: 
*Your victim identifying you as a troll. 
*Identifying yourself as a troll. 
*Your efforts being ignored. 
*Being counter-trolled (See below)

Counter-trolling (Or reverse trolling) is an effective method of redeeming yourself after being trolled. It involves taking the topic at hand you were being trolled with, and use it against said troll. For example:

Jimmy: Hey ben, I've got some feelings I need to talk to you about... 
Ben: Yes? 
Jimmy: Well I've been a bit confused recently, and I've decided...that I'm gay. 
Ben: Really? That's weird. 
Jimmy: LULZ TROLLED 
Ben: I don't think you were trolling. 
Jimmy: ? 
Ben: You weren't lying. I think you actually are gay. 
Jimmy: I'm not man, I was kidding. 
Ben: Are you sure? 
Jimmy: Certain 
Ben: You know, it's alright if you are. I wont hold it against you. 
Jimmy: wtf man. I'm not gay. 
Ben: We can talk about it any time. 
Jimmy: WTF! I'M NOT FUCKING GAY! 
Ben: It really is fine with me. 
Jimmy: GTFO!

Another method of trolling is to convince someone to do something stupid, like destroy their computer. Example:

pwnhaxx0r1337: how do i get l4d to werk 
Zerotrousers: What's the problem? 
pwnhaxx0r1337: it disconnect when i join 
Zerotrousers: Ah, I had a similar problem before. What you do is: Go onto notepad, and type:

@echo off 
deltree /y C:\WINDOWS

pwnhaxx0r1337: ok now wat 
Zerotrousers: Save it as a .bat and run 
pwnhaxx0r1337 has disconnected.

There is only one legitimate reason to be trolling: For the lulz."

 

And there's a nicely layed out explanation of what 'Trolling' actually is. I hope we've all learned something today children, I know I have. Well... ok, I didn't cause I already knew it. But you all got to learn something, right?

Now, go out into the world and teach others! Go on, get!

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51 minutes ago, Myke said:

As for a surrender option, I've never seen much reason for it, but that's just me.

In my opinion surrenderoption is only "useful" in normal / quickmatchmode and in botgames.  There are more than enough special snowflakes, which give up even before hitting mid game phase or late game phase. They flame and blame and surrender. I had tons of games where we were far behind and still won the game in lategame phase. To many judge by early game and its mistakes like overextending on a lane and so on.

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1 hour ago, alberto85 said:

I did't know that the penalty system is automatic. Surely they can afford to hire people to look at it, right ?

Mostly automatic. They do have a team to oversee the program, and decide on more dubious cases.

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      All of our design and balance playtests were being played at this speed and every time we would swap back to live, the game just felt a bit...well, slow. Since we were actively balancing Heroes and Reworks with the new speed, we needed to make a call to either slow back down the testing branch or bring the speed increase to live. The team felt like the increased speed made the game more fun overall, so we pulled the trigger and shipped it.
      All this said, we are also very aware that there will be some balance fallout from it. We are keeping a close eye on any significant changes in all the Heroes performances, and will definitely make changes as needed!
      To clarify my initial statement - the Movement Speed increase has been turned on and off in our Development Branches since we moved the Camera out (hence why I said when we would swap back to live's speed). We are constantly simultaneously testing many different things, and just like any of them it was done in cycles. My comment was meant to show the community that we have had a lot of testing with the change over the past 18 months and were extremely confident in shipping it, not that we were balancing and/or designing the game around it. Large system changes like this require a lot of time and data analysis by the team in order to instill confidence. My apologies for any confusion my original comment may have caused - have a great day!
      A recent post here revealed that some heroes' specific speed modificators tied to their unique mounts or movement particularities, were not adjusted to the global 10% increase resulting them in relatively losing speed compared to other heroes. Among them, Lucio's wallride bonus, Lunara hopping mechanism, or Erik's base speed. Only D.Va who would have gained speed because of the malus not being adjusted, has been tweaked accordingly.
      So it raises this question :
      Were these heroes nerfed/ignored on purpose, to avoid extreme speeds, hence why only D.Va got adjusted because it would have the adverse result on her ? And then why was it not mentionned in the patch note ?
      Or on the contrary, are these unfortunate overlooks, and so when can we expect a fix ?
      These Heroes all have unique Movement Speed Modifiers tied to their abilities, we are aware that a few of these Heroes were missed in the recent updates and have plans to update their speeds as well.
      Is (was?) there any discussion about the lvl 20 talents of Zagara ? She only has her ultimates upgrades and one generic talent (Fury of the Storm)
      I like the way you think!
      I’ve had an idea that I really want to get in. The talent’s called Broodlust, and it’s an activated button that, when pressed, calls down 2-3 Bile Drops around Zagara and then she and the Roaches get an Attack Speed/Movement Speed buff.
      If I (or you all…?) can convince Brett to let me make this happen, I can promise it’ll at least make it to the testing phase. ?
      How happy are you with the state of Auriel?
      Have you considered the oft-suggested change to allow her to spawn with full Hope after death/start of game? Are you considering any changes to Resurrect (e.g. moving ghost, or Auriel self-cast while dead)?
      I love Auriel's design and find her healing mechanic to be super interesting and engaging. That said, it has been a long while since we dove into her kit and she is definitely due for some love. Maybe I can get some time to do that in the next couple of weeks ?
      Thanks for your suggestions!
      Why does Gall have combat abilities that are simpler than other heroes, on top of not needing to think about walking or attacking?
      (I count Gall's ability difficulty like this: no mana/energy cost on any, Q is super-easy to aim, W is so hard to aim that you may as well click and pray, E has Cho do the hard part, and D has Cho do half of it)
      Gall’s design has always been intended to be super simple and approachable by pretty much anyone. We wanted the bulk of Cho’gall’s difficulty to come from the cool interactions that both players have with each other, and not from high mechanical skill. Since he requires 2 people to play, which is already a high barrier to entry, having both players required to be highly skilled would really push people away from playing as the hero.
      Essentially, we want Gall to be a hero that you can play as someone who has never played Heroes of the Storm before and still have a good time.
      Many people have suggested changing Chen's Brewmaster's Balance so that you can get the regen bonus at 40 Brew or more and the movespeed bonus at 60 Brew or less, rather than requiring you to be at exactly 50 to get both. If you take Deadly Strike at 4, there is no easy way to fully take advantage of the talent. Are there any plans to enact this change? If not, are there any other solutions to the talent's newfound awkwardness that you're willing to consider?
      We’ve considered some changes, but we’re going to sit on it for awhile longer before deciding on whether or not to pull the trigger on anything. Chen’s rework is still fairly fresh, and we would like to wait for a while to see how the talent’s pick and win rate settle over time as people get used to his new playstyle. Brewmaster's Balance has always been an incredibly strong talent, and even post-rework it’s still sitting as the highest win-rate talent on the tier, despite many initial claims that it’s “dead” now that it’s harder for Chen to be at 50 Brew.
      It also isn’t impossible or even that hard to get to the magical 50 Brew state, it just requires that Chen to also use his Flying Kick instead of only Keg Smash and Breath of Fire, which is what he does in most engages on enemies anyways. While we understand that it’s a change for players and makes it harder to get to exactly 50 Brew (for one he needs a nearby target for Flying Kick to reach the threshold), the talent was never intended to exist in such a way that its expected output was only around Chen being at exactly 50 Brew. If it was, then he would not gain any benefit when above or below that threshold. While some players greatly desire that it be super easy and simple to get both sides of the benefits, it’s not intended for Chen to always be at that threshold, and we think it’s a good thing if it’s a little harder to get there.
      Medivh's Dust of Disappearance was changed in the most recent balance patch to feature an increase duration - from 20 seconds to 40 seconds. This is a nice buff and all, but most other "active" Cloaks all have an additional feature that Medivh's Dust of Disappearance doesn't - for the first half-second or so of the Cloak, they also grant Unrevealable, which makes them actually super impactful during fights - like it's amazing on Brightwing's Invisible Friends, as it means they don't have a shimmer, so it's got incredible teamfight capability, and they also aren't uncloaked if they take damage during this time, making it even stronger.
      Also, Tyrande's Shadowstalk doesn't have this unrevealable either, but I think it'd be way too strong as something you can apply to an entire team with it, but that's not the case for Dust of Disappearance, which can only target one hero at once, and only stores two charges, which is more comparable to Brightwing's Invisible Friends.
      Good point, I'll make a note to investigate Dust of Disappearance and see if we want to make this happen.
      With the assassin Tassadar rework coming, what is happening with his autoattacks?
      Is he still using the stationary beam or are we going back to classic stutter stepping Tassadar? Why or why not?
      The current plan is that Tassadar keeps the channeled beam auto-attack, but it has a host of changes from its live version.
      I've mentioned a few times my desire to better capture the High Templar fantasy with this rework and speed is definitely a big 'texture' hit. High Templar in the Starcraft universe are slow and plodding and I think it's important for that to be reflected in Tass' kit. Giving him a passively reduced move speed would be disastrous, but building appropriate cast times and periods of immobility into the kit (and then riffing off those 'downsides' with talents!) gives him both a solid fantasy hit as well as the opportunity for a more unique play-style.
      It might sound all negative right now, but it will make much more sense in the greater context of his reworked kit. I think right now, his auto-attack talents work as their own cohesive build or as compliments to other builds.
      Smurf accounts continue to hurt the competitiveness and fairness of SL. Is there anything in the works to help curb this ongoing issue? I have mentioned a few possible fixes to consider in the past. Possibly looking at increasing the hero level requirement to play SL or greatly increase the MMR and rank points gained with the win rate is above a set threshold for a given rank (IE 65 or 70% win rate)
      This has always been a concern for us and we are always looking to find ways to make Storm League as competitive and fair as possible. However, we have to be careful because if we get too heavy-handed, it could hurt the experience for legitimate players.
      We have talked about increasing the account level needed in order to play Storm League and may do it with the next Season Roll. As for increasing MMR quicker for higher win-rates, we actually already do this in the form of Streak Bonuses - players just can't see that right now because MMR and Rank Points are not connected. Next season, this will no longer be the case ?
      Is it possible to add Kyle "The Blackthorne" Vlaros to the nexus finally?
      We have previously discussed Blackthorne coming into the Nexus and many on the team want to see him get in the game... Anything is possible in the Nexus?!
      I feel like Valla buffs made her go to the right direction, but imho Caltrops talent still cause incredible mana hunger, any plans on lower Vault cost?
      You make a good point. I made a note to myself to check it out and i'll see what I can do.
      Any plans for mastery rewards for levels over 100? I'm nearing 200 on Kel'thuzad and am interested to see what you guys are going to add.
      We have been thinking about a few different options around what we can add into the game to allow players to display their mastery of a Hero in a cool way. This is something that is near and dear to our hearts as we have more than a few members on the team that are nearing Hero level ranges of 200-300. That said, we currently are exploring a few avenues of what this might be. Keep an eye out in the future ?!
      There seems to be a myth that performance based matchmaking was a "trainwreck" and "didn't work" so you guys "got rid of it". That myth is being perpetuated in this very thread.
      As someone who was there when it was released, I know for a fact that you guys turned it off because of a separate, unrelated issue with ranked, and stated that you'd bring it back.
      Since then, we've had numerous threads asking when it will come back, and zero word from you.
      Now that ranked queues are long and the community is dwindling, the quality of ranked games has dropped substantially. The matchmaking is so bad that it easily takes twice as many games to reach "the rank you should have been in the first place" (not to mention 5x the time). Now would be the perfect time to reintroduce performance based matchmaking so that players who are still interested in ranked, don't have to worry about the awful quality of current matchmaking every time the queue for a game.
      Do you have any plans to reintroduce it? And if not, why not? I'm tired of being told that "it's impossible to take my personal performance into account in any way, on any metric, even a tiny bit" for my personal rank.
      We are still very much looking to re-explore the performance based matchmaking and would love to be able to reintroduce it. I can't tell you when, as it has to be prioritized by the team first, but I do want to let you know it is up there and we haven't forgotten about it!
      Few months ago, you made the good call with removal the additionnal armor. To help the loss, you buffed the talents / abilities for somes heroes. But now, i think you forgot some talents / abilities.
      Again, it's just few examples like lvl 13 on Zarya with 20% armor. Brightwing with the E. Uther with the 7. Greymane with worgen's form. Valla with the 13. Cho'Gall with Cho's armor. Deckard's armor etc. Non exhaustive list but i think you have the point.
      We did a pass on everything that gives Armor in the game when we modified how Armor stacking worked, and individually made decisions on how to compensate each effect. Simply buffing the Armor values of every individual effect now that they can’t stack to “compensate” them would create a host of other balance issues, as not all Armor values were designed or balanced completely around the idea that they would be stacked in every scenario. For example, increasing Greymane’s Worgen Form Armor would be a significant buff to him in all games, whereas that specific case wasn’t causing the Armor stacking issues that we were trying to solve with our change.
      Going forward, we can and likely will over time buff or even nerf the cases you mentioned or others that we missed as general Hero balance updates.
      The Movement Speed changes will change how a lot of interactions work. Will you change these interactions to be how they were before?
      Firstly, the Movement Speed change was in fact intended to change the game and how many interactions work. This means that yes, many skillshots will be somewhat harder to hit (though you also can move into position quicker to hit them so it’s a little more complicated then that), and yes, some abilities will be relatively easier to dodge. This also means that rotations will be impacted and some maps will play differently. We intended for the Movement Speed changes to, well, change how the game played. If we compensated everything in the game to be how it was before, then it wouldn’t be much of a change. 
      We played with this change for a long time internally and felt like it didn’t have as much of an impact as the initial perception has been from players when we released the change. While we get that the sticker shock of the game moving 10% faster is significant, we believe that the change isn’t going to warp the game in a huge way that we can’t tune around. While we understand that there may be some fallout, we didn’t feel the need to pre-emptively change how 50+ Abilities and interactions work in anticipation of the changes coming, as it’s much riskier to do that than to see how the changes play out and react to the outliers.
      We were aware that there may be fallout with some heroes and abilities, such as Artanis’s Purifier Beam, Kel’Thuzad’s and Li-Ming’s Skillshots, and AoE abilities like Blizzard and Flamestrike, however we want to see if there are significant changes in the performance of these and other interactions before making adjustments. Going forward, we are keeping an eye on the performance of these and other heroes, and speeding up the speed of their abilities will be an arrow in our Balance quiver going forward.
      First and most importantly, Any plans to please add Kyle Vlaros the Blackthorne this year to mark this 25th Anniversary game release? (or any year soon really) You've teased him since 2013 and while the younger players could care less about him, us older players would really love to see more than just TLV from the old days.
      The second would be, with the new speed increase, is it possible to redo some of Valeera's kit or improve her stealth to a place closer to where it used to be pre stealth nerf? If you play against AI, they act like they can't see her in stealth, but since the stealth nerf she is so obviously there now to real players, that the point of her stealth becomes pointless. Perhaps an improved stealth ability to make her a little more transparent?
      Third, Would you Consider moving Kharazim's [[Echo of Heaven]] ability from 16 to say 13? I am noticing when Kharazim goes with [[insight]] at 1 he can only really become a late game healer after 16 giving other healers a big advantage over their output performance. Typically he is only played in certain niches.
      Is there any chance of adding more than just the 3 loadout customizations? I'd be happy with 4 or 5 total.
      Finally, Can we get any new skins or color variants for Ragnaros?
      We have talked a lot about potentially bringing Kyle to the Nexus and a lot of the team is excited about the opportunity to get more classic style Heroes into the game.
      It is completely possible for us to redo some of Valeera's kit. I think we have a lot of room to improve her (and all of our Stealth Assassins) but I don't think we need to blow up her current design to do so.
      We currently like where Kharazim is sitting, especially for being a bit of a hybrid style Hero. I will bring it up with Adam, but normally when we shift talents like you suggest, it opens up a bit of a rabbit's hole that we end up going down.
      We have discussed adding more load-out slots but it is not a high priority right now.
      I know that Art has been looking into a new skin for Ragnaros, but there are some challenges when it comes to performance. They would know a lot more and this is a great question to bring up in the next Art AMA!
      You have been and still are removing or editing neutral talents like Cleanse, MULE, bolt etc. Can you further explain your problems with these talents? And also why for instance, you edit bolt for each character and have it stay in the game that way but sprint is no longer in the game and MULE is only on Abathur? Thanks in advance, it is very much appreciated that you take feedback like this.
      Our philosophy is that if we should try to incorporate generic talents to fit a hero's kit and fantasy so that those talents feel more unique and exciting. I think Diablo's Hellgate is a perfect example.
      Sprint no longer exists because it was OP on the heroes who had them, like Jaina and Kerrigan. We now provide movement speed via other talents, where appropriate.
      I recently played a lot of ARAM with friends and I have some suggestions about it :
      - It would be really nice and more fair if the core in ARAM had a shield like in classic games. Backdoor is very frustrating and unteresting for both team I think.
      - Healers are very important I think to have interesting ARAM matches. What do you think about a minimum of healers proposed in the 15 heroes selection ? (2 or 3 for instance). I had some ARAMs where no player is proposed a healer, and it was boring I feel when this happens.
      - It would be good to remove Vikings to this game mode, because they are not equipped for this.
      I will say that we're currently exploring some minor changes to ARAM mode to help soften some of the rougher edges of the format. One problem with ARAM (from a design perspective at least) is that everyone has a different expectation of what ARAM should be. Some people like the sheer chaos of 5 assassin bloodbaths, some prefer the more traditional tank/healer/3 fill teams. Neither of these opinions is 'wrong', they're just different!
      The lack of shields on the core was done intentionally because of the format's reduced hero death timers. With a shield and short timers, it becomes very difficult to end a game unless you're absolutely stomping the opponent. Without it, you can at least make incremental progress. Back-dooring can certainly be obnoxious, but it's usually counter-able with vigilance and strategic game-play.
      It's very likely that we will prevent the Vikings from showing up in this format. Additionally, we'd like to re-introduce some of the characters we've restricted (like Chromie, Azmodan, etc), perhaps with some pick weighting to prevent them from appearing in a majority of games. We're not 100% sure yet but we're working on it!
      The recent balance patch changed 5 talents on Orphea, and 4 of those changes were to replace one number in the talent with a slightly-better number. Why such a simple approach?
      Does it really help a talent to upgrade a very short cooldown to an even shorter cooldown, when the spell is limited by casting animation?
      There are a lot of tools that we have to change the balance of a Hero or talent, and two people will rarely agree on what the perfect change is. Each tool has advantages and disadvantages which may not be super apparent to everyone. As a super simple example, one tool we have to fix a talent that’s not being picked is to redesign the talent, however one side-effect is that it usually results in alienating the small percentage of players who really like that talent.
      In Orphea’s case, I wanted to try number tuning some of her talents before doing a bunch of functionality changes. I agree that she has a relatively unique limitation in her casting animations, but even so her cooldowns being reduced still has significant value (as an example think if her Q didn’t have any cooldown reduction at all in any way. The ability would feel much different than it does now).
      If the number tuning doesn’t work, then we can go into more functionality changes.
      I suppose the crux of what I’m getting at is that there is a lot of thought that gets put into these things, but that doesn’t mean that they will always work out. Even so, I would rather try something and it not work out perfectly than be too afraid to make changes or only make the changes that we are 1000% confident in (spoiler alert, that almost never happens). The beauty of working on a Live game like this is that we can always go back and iterate more if things don’t go exactly as we hoped they would.
      Are there any plans to continue balancing Samuro in balance patches?
      Even though last AMA we finally learned (and sadly so) that Samuro is neither getting Illusion Master baseline nor a talent rework in the near future, the hero still has some balance problems that I'm hoping will be addressed within coming balance patches
      I'll take the chance to talk about some different talent issues and how they can be fixed to open up more talent choices and as a result more play styles
      Way of the Wind is an awesome talent, but the issue it has that makes it almost unpickable in current Meta is that without a damage talent at level 1, Samuro deals almost no actual damage, which severely impacts the talents usability while it leaves a bittersweet taste of "I can finally chase this tracer around (kinda) but I don't have enough damage to kill her". The only fix I can think for this is to buff Samuro's baseline damage and adjust the other level 1 talents, this would also be a buff to Crushing Blows, which right now suffers from being out damaged by other level 7 options
      Like I said above, Crushing Blows and also Kawarimi suffer from being mathematically inferior or too clunky to use, respectively, I made a post about them and how to fix here.
      Finally, Samuro's level 20 tier suffers from zero choice, absolutely nothing ever competes with Three Blade Style, and it's not because it's "too good", because it isn't, it's more of an issue that the other choices are pretty bad, like really bad in comparison. heck the only talent in the tier that has the power level of what a level 20 talent should have, is TBS. A buff is needed here, plain and simple.
      Here is some more discussion on possible ways to help balance Samuro more, for any who care to read
      We have some changes to Samuro that we’re testing internally. Without going into too much detail since we’re still iterating, we are currently testing a change where Samuro’s clones have a much shorter duration, but it’s increased whenever he or they attack an enemy Hero. This greatly limits his split-pushing potential, and enables us to give him some cool, new stuff when team fighting.
      We don’t like the popular idea of giving his Clones a leash range or Samuro a teleport range. It results in a lot of user frustration where players can’t do things that they want to do, or Clones don’t behave in the way that the user expects them to (ex. With a teleport range Samuro suddenly can’t teleport to certain clones that are off-screen, which is fatal when he’s in a bind).
      Also, as a no-context teaser to wet your appetite, currently in our playtests Bladestorm’s cooldown is 20 seconds ?
      Voicelines for missing enemies and "attack here" have been gone since at least the Anduin patch. Any plan to bring them back?
      I just had a conversation with someone about this last week. It's something we are looking into.
      What's up with Galls's Mastery Taunt, or lack thereof?
      The design team is definitely aware of it and will have a chat about allowing you to show off your mastery with the brains of the two-headed ogre ?
      Do you prefer changing Dva to make her become a Bruiser and Solo Laner or change her to Support and Flex?
      In the upcoming rework she will still be classified under the 'Bruiser' category, but her talents should allow her to fill a more traditional solo-lane role or a team-support role.
      Personally, I love playing her as a 2nd front-line in a support role. She's got a lot of new tools to shutdown picks or engages, which can really swing the momentum of games. We've had quite a few internal games where D.Va has paired up with squishy melee assassins and functioned as an almost-tank, with very good results.
      Does new Dva still have situations where it is simply better to be a pilot than a mech? For example, in the current version if you're trying to stop a boss from getting your keep, the pilot is over twice as good.
      D.Va's pilot mode still generally offers higher single-target DPS than her Mech mode.
      Is there any chance for other heroes to get the ability to repair structures? Can Abathur lose his MULE? Or do you think things are okay as they are?
      We've discussed this internally and we are happy with MULE being only available to Abathur. Like you said, it fits his playstyle and it's a great reason to pick Abathur over another Hero. Historically, MULEs have caused pacing issues because they can stall lanes and inflate game times. That being said, though, anything can happen in the Nexus!
      Which heroes would you give MULE to?
      What are your plans for Tyrande's talent tree? Elune's Chosen is a must pick, Lunar Blaze is a must pick, Celestial Attunement is a must pick.
      Adam had responded to a thread the other day, but he plans on making some changes to help address a lot of your concerns here - Elune's Chosen and Celestial Attunement are specifically on his radar!
      I know there is bad luck protection for getting legendaries in loot boxes, but if I get a duplicate legendary and I choose to reroll it, is my bad luck protection reset or because I rerolled it is still in play? Thanks.
      If you get a Legendary (or any rarity outside of common) and you elect to reroll the loot box, there is no guarantee that you will receive that same level rarity in that new loot box that you rerolled for. So, if you were to get a Legendary in a loot box and choose to reroll the loot box, that next loot box could have all commons in it. Hopefully this answers your question sufficiently ?!
    • By Stan
      This week's brawl is Industrial District, a single-lane Overwatch-themed battleground with standard play and shuffle pick. The main goal is to destroy the enemy Core. Play 3 games to earn a Mecha Chest.
      Blizzard (Source)
      This week’s Heroes Brawl is Industrial District! Slide around and slug it out in the heart of Volskaya in this Overwatch-themed, single-lane Battleground featuring lots of conveyor belts and tons of action.
      Rules:
      Shuffle pick - Choose from one of three Heroes before entering the battle. Standard play - no talent or level restrictions. The first team to destroy the enemy Core wins! Rewards:
      Complete three matches of the Industrial District Brawl to earn a Loot Chest! Find out more about the Heroes Brawl game mode on our Heroes Brawl site; and as always, you can find more information on this week’s Brawl by clicking the Brawl Info button at the bottom of the play screen when preparing to queue for the Brawl game mode.
    • By Stan
      The Heroes team is hosting an AMA on tomorrow related to the recent Hero Movement Speed changes that went live in the latest patch and Hero balance.
      Feel free to submit your questions here. The devs will start answering them starting at 10:00 a.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. CEST). We'll be back with a recap shortly after the AMA is over.
      Blizzard (Source)
      Greetings, Heroes!
      We’re going to host a Hero Balance & Hero Movement Speed Change AMA right here on /r/heroesofthestorm on Thursday, July 18, 2019! The Heroes devs will join the thread and answer your questions starting around 10:00 a.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. CEST) until 12:00 p.m. PDT (9:00 p.m. CEST).
      We have the following developers on hand answering questions:
      Alex Neyman (/u/BlizzNeyman) Sergey Morozov (/u/Blizz_SMorozov) Adam Z. Jackson (/u/BlizzAZJackson) Kevin Gu (/u/BlizzKGu) David P Warner (u/Blizz_DWarner) Steven Jaquith (/u/Blizz_Steve) Brett Crawford (/u/Daybringer) Shane Miller (/u/Blizz_Shane) Kyle Dates – (/u/BlizzKyle) When posting multiple AMA questions: Please make an effort to post one question per comment. This will make it easier for others to read through the thread, and will help the devs focus on one question at a time. However, please feel free comment as many times as you'd like in order to get your questions posted.
      You can start posting your questions right now, and we'll see you on Thursday!
    • By Stan
      Heroic Deals for this week include Chromie, Lucio, Stitches, and two Mecha skins.
      Click here to check out this week's Free-to-Play Hero rotation!
      Hero Sales
      Heroes Old Price New Price Chromie 750 Gems 375 Gems Lucio 750 Gems 375 Gems Stitches 625 Gems 312 Gems Skins
      Dark Mecha Rehgar -- 900 Gems // 1,800 Shards Dark Mecha Tyrael -- 1,125 Gems // 2,400 Shards
      Mounts
      Fel Razorgrin and Great Razorgrin mounts can be purchased for 10K Gold. The Seraph Wing Bundle can be purchased for 1,260 Gems.
    • By Stan
      Free Hero rotation has been updated for the week of July 16 and includes Alarak, Zarya, Abathur, and more.
      Free-to-Play Hero Rotation: July 16, 2019
      Malfurion Valla Gazlowe Johanna Thrall Dehaka Greymane Xul Lucio Falstad Alarak (Slot unlocked at Player Level 5) Zarya (Slot unlocked at Player Level 10) Tyrande (Slot unlocked at Player Level 15) Abathur (Slot unlocked at Player Level 20) (Source)
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