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Orphea BlizzCon 2018 Hands-on Experience

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Oxy had a chance to play Orphea at BlizzCon and share his thoughts on the first Nexus-born Hero.

Hey everyone! I once again had the chance to attend BlizzCon this year, meaning I also got to play some Orphea. As is tradition for such announcements, here's a wall of text about the hero's abilities, some of her talents, her design, and her power level. Although I was also going to discuss her controversial nature, I'll be keeping that for another post.

Release Information

Orphelia is primarily the brain child of developer (and much appreciated acquaintance) Kyle Dates.

If the 1-month her release schedule stands true, Orphea should be available to everyone on November 13. She may also be available on the PTR starting November 6, if PTR there is. Further, she'll be given out for "free" to those who have acquired this year's virtual ticket.

Stats, Abilities, and Talents at a Glance

Click the spoiler below to reveal Orphea's statistics, abilities, and talents.

Spoiler

Level 1 Statistics

Health: 1821 (Comparable to Stukov)
Mana: 500 (Normalized average; everyone with mana has 500 mana)
Attack damage: 83.2
Attack speed: 1.2
Damage per second: 99.84 (Comparable to Arthas, D.va Mech, and Mal'ganis, and higher than most if not all casters)
Attack range: 5.5 (Average for ranged heroes)

Basic Abilities

Note: The information presented in the press kit didn't appear to be up to date with Orphea's state at BlizzCon. The most notable change was Shadow Waltz's cooldown going from 5 to 7 seconds, and its damage being reduced slightly.

Shadow Waltz (Q) - After 0.5 seconds, deal 138 damage to enemies in a line. Hitting a Hero with Shadow Waltz sets its cooldown to 2 seconds, refunds 25 Mana, and causes Orphea to dash a short distance upon moving.

Cost: 25
Cooldown: 7

Chomp (W) - After 0.625 seconds, deal 296 damage to nearby enemies in front of Orphea.

Cost: 60
Cooldown: 10

Dread (E) - Release a wave of dread that deals 88 damage to enemies hit. Dread erupts 0.75 seconds after reaching the end of its path, dealing 182 damage and Slowing enemies in the area by 25% for 2 seconds.

Cost: 50
Cooldown: 14

Trait

Overflowing Chaos (D) - Hitting an enemy Hero with a Basic Ability grants 1 Chaos. Chaos can stack up to 3 times. While Orphea has Chaos, her Basic Attacks against Heroes consume all Chaos, dealing 50% increased damage per stack, and healing for 100% of the damage dealt.

Heroic Abilities 

Eternal Feast (R1) - After 1.5 seconds, deal 218 damage in an area. Eternal Feast repeats every 1 second as long as it hits an enemy Hero.

Cost: 75
Cooldown: 65

Crushing Jaws (R2) - After 1.25 seconds, pull enemies in an area towards the center, dealing 286 damage and Stunning them for 0.75 seconds.

Cost: 75
Cooldown: 50

Talents

Level 1 talents

En Pointe [Q] - Shadow Waltz deals an increased 50% damage to enemies hit by its end.

Growing Nightmare [E] - Each Hero hit by the wave of Dread increases the damage of its eruption by 25%.

Ancestral Strength [D] - Non-Heroic Abilities deal 25% more damage to Stunned, Rooted, Silenced or Slowed enemies and grant 1 additional Chaos when hitting Heroes.

Level 4 talents

Allegrissimo [Q] - Hitting Heroes with the end of Shadow Waltz sets its cooldown to 1 second.

Backbiter [W] - If Chomp hits a Hero, Orphea immediately dashes a short distance backwards.

Fright [E] - Dread's Slow also applies to enemies in Dread's path, and stacks up to 50%.

Level 7 talents

Insatiable [W] - Hitting a Hero with Chomp sets its cooldown to 2 seconds.

Ravenous Hunger [W] - Quest: Minions that die within 1.5 seconds of being hit by Chomp permanently increase its damage by 3 and heal Orphea for 60. Heroes that die increase its damage by 60 and heal Orphea for 25% of her maximum Health.

Mind Devourer [E] - Quest: Hitting Heroes with Dread increases its damage by 5, up to 200. Reward: After hitting 40 Heroes, hitting an enemy Hero with Dread's eruption sets its cooldown to 6 seconds and refunds 50 Mana.

Level 13 talents

Determination [Q] - After dashing with Shadow Waltz, Orphea gains 50 Spell Armor, stacking up to 2 times. While Orphea has Determination, her Physical damage is increased by 15%

Abyssal Symbiosis [W] Hitting a Hero with Chomp instantly grants Orphea maximum Chaos.

Invasive Miasma [D] - Activate to deal 150 damage to all nearby enemies after 2 seconds. For each Hero hit, heal for 182 and gain 1 Chaos.

Level 16 talents

Bond of Anguish [Q] - Shadow Waltz deals bonus damage to Heroes equal to 3% of their maximum Health, healing Orphea for 50% of damage dealt.

Dead Magic [D] - Basic Attacks that consume Chaos ignore Armor and deal 115 Spell Damage to all enemies around the target.

Lurking Terror [A] - After Dread erupts and for 2 seconds after, activate to cast Chomp from the eruption area. Does not share a cooldown with Chomp.

Level 20 talents

Monster Within [R1] - Eternal Feast grants 1 Chaos each time it hits a Hero. While Eternal Feast is active, Orphea's Attack Speed is increased by 50%.

Engulfing Oblivion [R2] - Crushing Jaws reduces the Armor of Heroes hit by 25 for 2 seconds. Takedowns set its cooldown to 5 seconds.

Eldritch Conduit [D] - Each Chaos consumed increases Orphea's Spell Power by 5%, up to 50%. After reaching the maximum bonus, the Spell Power is increased by an additional 50%. Lasts 10 seconds.

Final Toccata [A] - Activate to instantly reset the cooldown of Shadow Waltz. For the next 6 seconds, dashing with Shadow Waltz resets its cooldown.

Ability and Talent Discussion

Shadow Waltz

Quote

Shadow Waltz (Q) - After 0.5 seconds, deal 138 damage to enemies in a line. Hitting a Hero with Shadow Waltz sets its cooldown to 2 seconds, refunds 25 Mana, and causes Orphea to dash a short distance upon moving.

Cost: 25
Cooldown: 7

Orphea's character overview goes something like "a ranged assassin who dances around her enemies while using spells to empower her attacks." Shadow Waltz's name, then, provides a clue on how important it is. Indeed, Shadow Waltz is packed with effects, and saying that the ability defines Orphea would not be an understatement. One may be tempted to draw a comparison with League of Legend's Kalista and her rather unique passive, Martial Pose, which lets her hop about after delivering basic attacks. I'd say the comparison is valid, although the two character's gameplay are anything but similar.

Naturally, the most notable aspect of Shadow Waltz lies in its potentially very low-cooldown dashing effect. To put things into perspective, abilities which provide similar levels of mobility (VaultVault being a classic example) are typically gated by a cooldown of 8 seconds or more. On successful hero hits, Shadow Waltz shaves off 70% (5 seconds) of its own cooldown.

Don't make the mistake of thinking this brings Orphea's combat mobility to anything near Illidan levels, however; while it does let you avoid quite a few slower skillshots, one has to consider that all of Orphea's abilities have a rather hefty cast time or delay of sorts to them. Shadow Waltz itself has a cast time of 0.5 seconds and is rather predictable. The dash mostly serves to make up for the time spent casting, as opposed to being a legitimate way of moving about really fast.

In any case, considering her potential damage output, anything more would be ludicrous. Blizzard agreed too, it seems: The press kit that was released recently presents a Shadow Waltz with a cooldown of 5 seconds and a bit more damage than the BlizzCon version of the hero. And, given the general dislike of high mobility heroes, I think we're playing it safer than sorry.

Quite predictably, hitting Shadow Waltz was very satisfying because it opened up a good bit of playmaking potential, between being able to be aggressive to juking projectiles. In parallel, missing it made me feel miserable, as I felt disempowered (and rightly vulnerable) until it was available again. Is this too stark of a contrast? My initial reaction is to say so, though playing with and against players closer to my level will let me judge this more reasonably.

The dashing part itself sometimes felt a bit awkward in the sense that it triggers on the following click (as in, clicking towards a location "forces" Orphea to dash towards that location). In practice, this means you have to be extra careful following Shadow Waltz hits not to waste the effect or, worse, dash where you don't want to be. An annoying side effect of this is that Orphea will dash towards her basic attack target if this target move out of her basic attack range. I understand why this is the way it is, but I'm not a fan of this behaviour.

Synergy-wise, Shadow Waltz's dash naturally allows you to follow up with Chomp. It also makes basic attacks safer to deliver for the purpose of triggering one's trait, Overflowing Chaos. I'll be covering those abilities below.

Notable Shadow Waltz Talents

Quote

En Pointe [Q] - Shadow Waltz deals an increased 50% damage to enemies hit by its end.

In my experience, the majority of my offensive Shadow Waltz hits  were "just the tip," making En Pointe a reliable choice at level 1. A 50% damage increase on one's main ability is quite substantial, and it did have the side effect of being useful for PvE purposes, unlike the alternatives.

Quote

Final Toccata [A] - Activate to instantly reset the cooldown of Shadow Waltz. For the next 6 seconds, dashing with Shadow Waltz resets its cooldown.

Insane and probably quite fun if you're good. Since I was not, it became a cooldown reset at best.

Chomp

Quote

Chomp (W) - After 0.625 seconds, deal 296 damage to nearby enemies in front of Orphea.

Cost: 60
Cooldown: 10

Chomp is Orphelia's hardest hitting ability, and a pretty interesting one despite its apparent simplicity. The closest comparison I can make is Leoric's Ghastly SwingGhastly Swing, which may seem quite strange considering Orpelia is a caster, which are generally associated with staying away from trouble. Orphelia's kit, however, does provide her with a surprising amount of survivability between dashing around and the healing provided by Overflowing Chaos. This makes Chomp less dangerous to use than one might think, though walking up to an opponent never really turned out to be a good idea.

The 0.625 seconds cast time made it relatively easy to avoid by simply walking away, meaning that Shadow Waltz'ing aggressively was necessary to secure hits without the help of crowd control. I was also interrupted quite often and seemingly unintentionally. I think I wouldn't mind if the ability went off even when hit by crowd control. From a thematic standpoint, it might make sense, as the spell emanates from that family-heirloom-coffin-artifact-object Orphea lugs around.

From a waveclear standpoint, Chomp's area of effect is wide enough to hit the entirety of a typical minion wave, but its short range made it dangerous to use, and of little use while defending a siege.

For all the reasons stated above, I ultimately feel like Chomp could benefit from a damage increase; 10 to 15% might just do the trick. Some kind of effect befitting the eating theme could also be nice, though overloading Orphea's base kit is risky. Plus, there are some talent choices that do this.

Notable Chomp Talents

Quote

Backbiter [W] - If Chomp hits a Hero, Orphea immediately dashes a short distance backwards.

Remember what I said about using Chomp aggressively? This makes it less dangerous to do so, on top of providing Orphea with a second self-peeling tool to use against melee assassins. The caveat is it made it much harder to be aggressive, as the backwards dash was sometimes undesirable.

In general, I really like talents that change how things should and can be used. The game has a few of these already, but I hope to see even more examples of this in the future.

Quote

Insatiable [W] - Hitting a Hero with Chomp sets its cooldown to 2 seconds.

Chomp, Chomp, Chomp. This talent makes Chomp's cooldown line up with Shadow Waltz perfectly for a very satisfying and natural ability loop.

Dread

Quote

Dread (E) - Release a wave of dread that deals 88 damage to enemies hit. Dread erupts 0.75 seconds after reaching the end of its path, dealing 182 damage and Slowing enemies in the area by 25% for 2 seconds.

Cost: 50
Cooldown: 14

Dread is an ability that exists in a moba.

I am stating this because I find it dreadfully generic. It fits Orphea the same way it might fit any caster, period. This makes sense somewhat when considering that Dread most likely exists to lower Orphea's skill floor. Indeed, if Shadow Waltz and Chomp are difficult to use due to their short range and cast time, Dread is something that can be flung in the general direction of one's opponent or minions with reliable but ultimately unremarkable results.

Better players may be able to target Dread in a way that both the initial "shockwave" and resulting "flamestrike" hit the same target for a good bit of damage. The tacked-on slow helps with following Shadow Waltz and Chomp casts, on top of being Orphea's only source of non-heroic crowd control.

I can certainly understand the need for characters to be able to do something when everything else is out of reach (or the player's skill level), but I also can't help but feel that Orphea's design is already beyond the grasp of the less experienced players. And so, I feel like Orphea could have gone all out on the Shadow Waltz synergy theme, though Dread does work very well with the Crushing Jaws heroic ability.

Notable Dread Talents

Quote

Fright [E] - Dread's Slow also applies to enemies in Dread's path, and stacks up to 50%.

Gaining access to a reliable slowing effect felt like a big improvement for the entire hero's playstyle, between easing spell hits to keeping enemies within basic attack range. It also allowed me to trigger Ancestral Strength (Non-Heroic Abilities deal 25% more damage to Stunned, Rooted, Silenced or Slowed enemies and grant 1 additional Chaos when hitting Heroes) on-demand.

Quote

Lurking Terror [A] - After Dread erupts and for 2 seconds after, activate to cast Chomp from the eruption area. Does not share a cooldown with Chomp.

This talent turned Dread into a pseudo-Fury of the SunwellFury of the Sunwell-empowered Flamestrike. This is very likely to be the go-to level 16 talent.

Overflowing Chaos (Trait)

Quote

Overflowing Chaos (D) - Hitting an enemy Hero with a Basic Ability grants 1 Chaos. Chaos can stack up to 3 times. While Orphea has Chaos, her Basic Attacks against Heroes consume all Chaos, dealing 50% increased damage per stack, and healing for 100% of the damage dealt.

With such a classic passive basic attack empowerment, we are now knee-deep into League of Legends territory. Which is fine with me; I've always been a fan of promoting casters to attack as much as possible, as it's a simple yet effective way of rewarding player skill.

Overflowing Chaos felt like it was a significant part of Orphea's damage output due to its reliability. From numbers alone, a 3-stack hit deals about as much damage as a Shadow Waltz hit, and can't be whiffed on top of providing a very reasonable amount of self-sustain. In most games, my healing output was about one third that of a typical healer.

Orphea's very snappy basic attack animation made Overflowing Chaos easy to trigger on demand. Her sustained basic attack DPS is also very reasonable for a caster, lining up with that of a few tanks. It should be noted that hitting multiple heroes with a single cast of any basic ability DID grant several Overflowing Chaos stacks, making the tooltip a bit misleading; something along the lines of "Each enemy Hero hit with a Basic Ability grants 1 Chaos" would probably clear up any confusion.

Notable Overflowing Chaos Talents

Quote

Eldritch Conduit [D] - Each Chaos consumed increases Orphea's Spell Power by 5%, up to 50%. After reaching the maximum bonus, the Spell Power is increased by an additional 50%. Lasts 10 seconds.

A reward for playing well in long fight? Sign me up! Comparing this talent to Tal Rasha's ElementsTal Rasha's Elements really puts how strong it is in perspective.

Eternal Feast (Heroic Ability 1)

Quote

Eternal Feast (R1) - After 1.5 seconds, deal 218 damage in an area. Eternal Feast repeats every 1 second as long as it hits an enemy Hero.

Cost: 75
Cooldown: 65

You know how most heroes have that one really powerful heroic ability everyone likes and something like DragonstrikeDragonstrike, seemingly invented to annoy teammates? Yeah... Eternal Feast is the latter. Of course, I'm exaggerating to make a point, but from my experience, Eternal Feast required a fantastic setup to see any value at all. That 1.5 seconds delay feels long, and even when it hits, it doesn't feel like it deals all that much damage. To add insult to injury, its cooldown is 15 seconds longer than Crushing Jaws. There are a number of simple ways Eternal Feast could be made more competitive, from reducing its initial delay to lowering its cooldown to simply increasing its damage significantly to give it a real sting; a 30-35% increase might do it.

Crushing Jaws (Heroic Ability 2)

Quote

Crushing Jaws (R2) - After 1.25 seconds, pull enemies in an area towards the center, dealing 286 damage and Stunning them for 0.75 seconds.

Cost: 75
Cooldown: 50

As strongly implied above, Crushing Jaws overshadows Eternal Feast in almost every way. I like to think of it as a smaller but faster Grav-O-Bomb 3000Grav-O-Bomb 3000 on a hero that can actually follow up with significant damage of her own. Crushing Jaws' main point of appeal is that it lets Orphea one-combo-kill squishier heroes without help, something that's otherwise impossible. Considering the ability's short 50-second cooldown, this is most definitely worth it the moment you hit level 10. I don't think I need to go into the team fighting implications of pulling and stunning two or more heroes at once.

Balance and Competitive Viability

Disclaimer: Last year, I predicted Hanzo would see little to no competitive play. His patch notes include a lot of undo-redo, but overall, I'd argue he was slightly buffed over his initial state. The result? He's the most picked assassin, and 7th most picked hero in HGC phase 2 (and first in phase 1!). Is the meta unpredictably favourable? Am I underestimating his buffs? Is the map rotation good? Am I just bad at this? Though that last one is likely, the long-winded point I'm trying to make is that there's a lot we just can't know. So, take everything with a grain of salt.

That being said: I think Orphea lacks the tools that define a competitive caster hero on top of being pretty hard to play. What are these defining tools, you ask? On-demand powerful burst damage, safe and strong waveclear, and crowd control. Exceptions certainly exist, but most high tier casters feature one of these elements very prominently (Li-Ming for burst) or a healthy mix of it all (Jaina).

Orphea certainly felt pretty balanced, even in her current untested-BlizzCon state. However, casters who are "merely" balanced don't tend to be all that popular. Her waveclear is okay but unsafe and her ability to do mercenary camps is poor, as is her general PvE damage output. Remember that neither Shadow Waltz nor Overflowing Chaos trigger against non-heroic targets. Against heroes, her damage output definitely felt well above-average, but the obvious lack of crowd control is most certainly what is going to ultimately hold her back. I do believe Crushing Jaws to be a really powerful heroic ability however, to the point where it might just make up for everything else, assuming it is left untouched.

I did also find her self-sustain powerful. I even initially thought she might be capable of solo laning, but that might make your other lanes a bit awkward, especially if the meta is frontline heavy. Plus, her limited waveclear would make any kind of rotation hard to pull off.

Conclusion

I like Orphea, but I'm not by any means infatuated. Every aspect of the character - from ability design to appearance to balance - has several good elements offset by one or two elements I find weaker. I don't think she'll see competitive play unless fairly big changes are made, but this really doesn't have to be a goal for every hero. Sometimes, you just want a solid release showcasing a couple interesting mechanics and neat looking spells, which is exactly what Orphea has to offer - but no more.

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2 hours ago, Oxygen said:

I don't think she'll see competitive play unless fairly big changes are made

I remember you saying the same thing (actually worse) about Hammer after her latest rework... :]

 

On 12/1/2017 at 12:29 AM, Oxygen said:

I suppose I should mention that this rework significantly weakens Sgt. Hammer. If she was barely playable before as a novelty item, this smothered her completely.

And that was even before... nerfs.

Edited by Godeyes

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She might see quite a lot play. If numbers are an issue, they can tweak them with hotfix. Sometimes they are really fast these days. Overall kit seems solid, based on some gameplays.

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Orphea is cool and all, but I feel not enough emphasis has been put on the fact that JANITOR SKELETOR IS GOING TO BE A THING!! SCREW DOTA, LOL AND SMITE! THIS IS THE BEST MOBA GAME IN THE GALAXY!!!

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I am sure she will see plenty of play, at least lower to mid tiers. What she lacks in CC can easily be compensated by an uncoordinated enemy team (or an oblivious player). Also, she looks cool and is fun to play in team fights and skirmishes, and that is enough for some.

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I agree with everything except where she lies competitive wise. She feels like she'll be one of the best level 20+ late game characters simply because of Eldritch Conduit and her great sustain. I personally think she'll be on par with Kel'thuzad or Mephisto. A threat but nothing too good.

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      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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