In my previous post, which you can read right here, I go into a poorly-organized ramble-rant about the history of the MOBA genre and detail some basic terminology that has recently entered my lexicon. Originally, that post started out as a top ten list of my favorite heroes in Heroes of the Storm, but my background info section quickly spun out of control. THIS post is what I intended to write in the first place, my personal top ten favorite heroes in the game.
So first, some background. This is strictly my ten favorite heroes to play in the game. A hero's uniqueness, aesthetic, or lore has very little to do with it. If my personal criteria included how cool a hero's concept was, then Abathur, Murky, Leoric, and Rexxar would be in the list below. Spoiler alert: they aren't. This isn't a list of what heroes I think are the coolest, it's my ten favorite heroes to play.
Truthfully, my taste in hero selection is a little... vanilla. I like mostly-straightforward movesets, and avoid heroes with a lot of skills on the number keys. Hell, I prefer auto-attack builds for most assassins. Nine of the ten below are among my top-ten most played, so my choices are backed up by data. Whatever. Here's the list, which is technically a top eleven. You probably know the drill by now if you read this blog at all.
Sollosi's Top Ten Favorite Heroes in Heroes of the Storm
This is definitely premature, putting him as an honorable mention on this list, but Cho'gall's gimmick is SO fascinating to me that I cannot wait to try him. A single hero controlled by two players, taking up two slots on a team, and potentially DEVASTATING offense and EXTREME tanking. Intrigued at both the warrior Cho side and assassin Gall side. It sounds awesome as hell. I will be playing a LOT of Cho'gall with my HotS-buddies Paul and David, thanks to my RPGFan-buddy Josh's BlizzCon virtual ticket. I wouldn't be surprised one bit if Cho'gall finds their way into my top 15 most-played heroes in the next few months. He comes out the day I'm posting this, and I am SO HYPED! CAPITAL LETTERS!
Melee assassins are perhaps the most glamorous characters in any MOBA, being the highest-risk, highest-reward fighters, capable to carrying a team to victory or easily forming the weakest link in the chain. I don't trust melee assassin users when I play in Quick Match (mostly Butcher, Illidan, Kerrigan, and Zeratul, but technically also including Thrall), and don't favor them myself. Except for The Butcher. He's the melee assassin that I cheat on all my warriors with. Butcher's ultra-aggressive kit, including powerful auto-attacks, a self-heal, and a charging stun, are so much fun to use. Butcher's tether heroic is brutal and his inferno is even more burst damage on one of the scariest, hardest-hitting assassins in the game. I wouldn't trust myself to use Butcher in a Hero League game, but I love chopping up some FRESH MEAT in Vs. AI games with friends.
For a month or two, the undead beetle emperor was my second-most-used character. In the summer of 2015 Anub's improved beetles trait (every time he uses an ability, he summons a beetle) gave him additional damage, tanking, and self-heal to tremendous effect. His kit's really good on its own: two moves with stun, a good engage/escape, and a quickie shield plus more crowd control and self-heal in his selection of Heroics. Then came the inevitable nerf, with all of his skills dealing less damage, and reduced movement speed on beetles as well. Bummer. After the nerf I started using Anub'arak less and other warriors more (like the other three on this list for instance), but I still have love for the WarCraft member of Team Bug Legs (shout-outs to Zagara and Azmodan, both of whom almost made this list over The Butcher).
Valla is one of the most basic, easy-to-use heroes in Heroes of the Storm, but her damage potential is excellent; Valla has a noticeable presence in professional HOTS matches. She was one of the first assassins I bought, and she's great. There are at least three obvious starting points for Valla builds: burst damage with Hungering Arrow, area damage with Multi-shot, and auto-attacking with Hatred talents. All three of those build types are extremely useful, depending on the enemy team and the map you're playing on. That's the kind of versatility I like to see. Her big damage, good range, and a solid escape skill in Vault are a few of the reasons why I play Valla multiple times per week.
Tassadar is the only support on this list, which is a little embarrassing because 1) Tassadar's kit isn't very Support-like, and some players insist he should be re-classed as a specialist; 2) supports are valuable, necessary teammates and I'm selfish not to use them more often; and 3) supports comprise about 17% of the game's heroes, but only 10% of this list. I'm a bad gamer. But Tassadar sure is fun to use, with ample shields, decent area-of-effect damage, and one of the best escape skills in the game. He's hard to kill, and above-average at both dealing and preventing damage. Pretty boss for a Protoss.
The Lord of Terror was one of the first heroes I bought with gold (the very first ones were E.T.C. and Valla, I think) and I only regretted that purchase for a half-second when I learned that Diablo would be temporarily free to all Diablo III owners in July. By then I had him for a few months, so whatever. Diablo needs to collect souls (by defeating minions) for the health and regeneration bonuses required to make him a decent tank, but his moveset is so aggressive (a suplex-stun, a dash-stun, and an area-damage fire stomp) that he's a great warrior for headhunting heroes or clearing waves of minions. Big Red has had his ups and downs in the meta, but I love using him as a beefy bruiser (maybe not a solo tank).
One of my choices of favorite heroes that aligns with the HotS meta (along with Valla, Tassadar, and the #2 and #3 spots on this list), Jaina is the most popular assassin hero in the current state of professional Heroes of the Storm, for good reason. Her skills all deal great damage, and her trait means that all of her regular attacks and skills slow down enemies AND grant bonus damage to future attacks for a shot time. A few talent and skill combinations that Jaina has available to her do INCREDIBLE burst damage, but I'm not good enough to use them properly. In fact, I think I might be bad at playing assassins in general. There's a reason my top four is all warriors and specialists. Still, Jaina's damage potential is enormous and she's a really fun, powerful ranged assassin.
I haven't used Nazeebo heavily for a few months, because he was the second character I got to level 9 (after number one on this list) and because his spiders got nerfed (I loved his spiders build...), but I still really dig him. Nazeebo is one of the best self-sustaining heroes in the game, since he can hide safely behind spider, toad, and zombie summons while his trait recovers small amounts of mana from killing minions. This makes him a great solo lane hero that can also contribute pretty well to team fights if you stay an appropriate distance away. Also, it's cool as hell that's he's a Diablo hero with a WarCraft troll head mojo in his left hand and a StarCraft Zergling head on his waist. Love it. I wish Heroes of the Storm had more pet-using heroes. Hmm... that gives me an idea for another list....
The quintessential warrior. Muradin has a simple, easy-to-understand kit, rich in stuns, slows, and self-heals. Dwarf Toss is a really solid engage or escape, but you should really save it as an escape. Muradin can be an elite peeler if you invest in Storm Bolt or Thunder Clap, a sturdy tank if you invest in his defensive talents and Stone Form, or a devastating counter to assassin heroes if you focus on single-target damage. Muradin is my go-to pick for Hero League, because he fits into almost any composition and can end up in a number of roles suited to a warrior. And he only costs 2,000 gold (one of six heroes at that low price)! Everyone should try and buy Muradin!
I always liked Sonya, really. I used her quite a bit early in my Heroes of the Storm career, and eventually bought her as part of the Retail Bundle in June. I had her as my portrait for much of the summer, but also occasionally lamented that she was so frail for a warrior. Then she got better, and I got good. My Sonya performance improved dramatically since the October patch, when she received a buff to a few of her skills and I started using Ancient Spear more effectively. She used to be one of my favorite warriors, now she is my ABSOLUTE favorite. Extremely high sustained damage, an excellent self-heal in Whirlwind, and huge chasedown potential with her speed-increasing trait and Ancient Spear. I use her almost like a melee assassin, but her additional toughness puts her at another level.
If you like having big damage numbers in the score screen at the end of a match, do I have a hero for you! Hammer is a fairly vulnerable specialist, who lacks a good escape other than her Z-mount and doesn't have much in the way of defensive skills or talents. Still, if Hammer gets some space to do her thing, she can dominate the push and contribute massively to teamfights. Powerful ranged auto-attacks with the rest of her kit providing setup and keep-away, Hammer is one of a very small number of heroes that can safely attack outside the range of cannons. Getting a feel for her positioning is the key to using Hammer, but once you have that down you'll be demolishing towers, forts, keeps, and cores in no time. Playing as a solo StarCraft siege tank is so incredibly satisfying; I wouldn't have believed you six months ago if you had told me.
Whew, that was fun to write. But do you know what the only thing more fun to write than a list of likes is? A list of hates. So here's a bonus top five (which is actually six) of my LEAST-favorite heroes to use in Heroes of the Storm. Also, I forgot to mention this earlier, but I haven't used Artanis enough to consider him for either list. I *just* started using Morales for the first time, but my feelings on her are mostly positive. Definitely not a least-favorite. The five below are basically my shit list. I'm only buying them if all other options are exhausted and I find them more interesting / less annoying with the passage of time and a few patches. Unlikely, but not impossible.
And I should mention: I'm not upset or annoyed at all if one of my teammates is using one of the below heroes. Maybe a little for the melee assassin, I guess, but that's not the issue. I fully acknowledge that these five can be effective; I just have zero interest in playing them. Here's the list, which, again, has a misleading number in the title.
Sollosi's Five Least-Favorite Heroes in Heroes of the Storm
This is probably unfair of me, as I know very little about Overwatch in general or Tracer in particular, but everything I've seen and read about her seem like she won't be for me. Fragile, can set traps, and has a time-rewinding escape. Seems like a ranged version of #3 on this list that can also use harassment tactics like #2 on this list. Multiple fast teleports sounds pretty awesome, admittedly, but Tracer's probably not for me. I'll withhold final judgment until I try her when she lands in 2016.
Stitches is an unusual case for me, as I dislike him MUCH less than the others on this list, but had a rather miserable week getting him to level 5 way back when and feel that his kit is unbalanced and unsatisfying. Yes, the Morales patch was kind to his talent pool and yes, Hook is the best non-Heroic engage in the game. But Stitches feels clunky, Hook has a long cooldown, and in virtually all cases I'd rather be using any other warrior.
Stealth is not for me. I like characters with sustained offense options, a little less fragility (most of the time) and slightly more idiot-proof. I have awful timing and map awareness for stealth characters, and don't even like playing other stealth video games. So yeah, I'm not a fan of either of the stealth assassins in HotS, but I like Nova slightly more than Zeratul because her longer range and clone-damage builds are slightly more appealing to me than what Zeraul has to offer. But she's David's favorite hero, so I see plenty of Nova when I play Heroes of the Storm. That's fine as long as I'm not the one using her.
Zeratul is extremely effective in the right hands, but I am absolutely the wrong hands. Adding to my anti-stealth prejudice above, last June I obtained codes for Zeratul and a Zeratul costume as part of the Heroes of the Storm retail bundle. I was really excited to try Zeratul, as I'm a fan of Protoss characters and he's the ninja-assassin of Heroes of the Storm, but had an awful time leveling him up. His blink-teleport is awesome, but melee burst damage without a self-heal, barrier, or other form of CC is a big turn-off. Not my style at all. I'm annoyed that I ever bought him. I should've just given the hero and the costume to David for a sandwich or something.
Support is the HotS class that I play the least (which I mentioned earlier in my Tassadar blurb), but not because I dislike playing support. If a team needs a healer then I'm perfectly willing to do some work as Uther, Malfurion, or Kharazim. But Li Li, man. Her offense and defense are of the low-volume harassment school, which is not my preference. While I think her Heroics are fine and I'm not opposed to her non-targeted abilities, I don't love her offensive options, crowd control selection, or even the look of her character. A teenage humanoid panda with an annoying voice? REALLY!? Whatever. Li Li only costs 2,000 gold, and I even obtained a code for her in that retail bundle (I gave the code to David). I will never spend gold on her. Ever.
By the way, this retail bundle I bought that I've mentioned several times? It was a physical $20 bundle containing codes for Jaina, Li Li, Sonya, Zagara, and Zeratul, plus a samurai costume for Zeratul (which admittedly looks cool) and a golden tiger mount. I really, really dig four-sevenths of that pack, as Zagara, Jaina, and Sonya are all characters I use often and the golden tiger is dope. The rest... not so much. But I don't feel bad. $20 for four things I use all the time isn't so terrible.
The Lost Vikings
If a decent player is using The Lost Vikings on my team, that can be pretty awesome. T.L.V. is probably the best lane-soaking hero in the game, being able to soak three lanes at once so the rest of the team can ambush at will or team up for a huge single-lane push or fight over an objective. They are a major asset in the right hands, especially on certain maps. But sweet Jebus, TLV is a tough hero to learn. My lack of micro-management and map-awareness skills is EXTREMELY evident when I flail around with the Vikings, and I usually give up and just group them together for spinning, jumping, and calling the Longboat for okay-at-best damage. Not great. I feel useless most of the time as the Vikings, even though I appreciate their neat gimmick and in-game potential. But that doesn't mean I like using them.
As someone who loves lists of things, it was pretty fun to make this list. Or these lists. I've been HotS-obsessed for months now, so it was an easy post write. Next up in my Heroes of the Storm series is a list of ten characters from Blizzard games that I wish would enter the Nexus soon. A top ten... most wanted, you could say. Expect to see a lot of Diablo characters on it. For reals.