How to dominate Hero League with Sylvanas
Sylvanas Windrunner, the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken, has been a long awaited addition to the Heroes of the Storm universe. With her recent release Blizzard brought joy to the hearts of many die-hard fans and I dare to say, her kit and gameplay did not disappoint.
In this guide I will discuss the optimal ways of using the Banshee Queen to bestow her wrath upon her enemies in Hero League. What I would like to underline is that, at this moment, nothing counters a good Sylvanas. (Even Nova).
Sylvanas was introduced as a Ranged Specialist, although many claim the build that I am about to suggest is an Assassin one. I however remain headstrong about her Specialist character as the main thing I favor specialists for (fast pushing and applying pressure around the map) is in her trait. Before continuing, let’s discuss Sylvanas’ pros and cons and her abilities. They are as follows:
- Well rounded specialist with a taste for quick assassinations
- High mobility
- Good outplay potential
- Great ability to dictate the tempo of the game and teamfights (My preferred heroic ability “Wailing Arrow” means that you are the one who decides when will enemy heroes use their key abilities and how long will they be able to use them (I’m looking at you Lilly).
- Banshee Queen
- Squishy target
- Positioning makes a larger difference, than usual, so there is more room for misplay
- It does take time to reach the necessary perfection.
- Usually people get upset if you don’t follow them around 24/7 even if you have your legit reasons.
- With great power comes great responsibility. People are usually critical of the Sylvanas on their team.
- Arthas is still alive
Trait: Black Arrows – Basic attacks and spells stun minions, mercenaries and towers (except the core) for 1 second.
A great tool for sieging and sneaking of mercenary camps. If used correctly, Sylvanas can capture mercenaries and siege forts without taking any damage.
Q : Withering fire - Deal moderate damage to the closest enemy, preferring Heroes. Stores 5 charges. Gain 1 charge on nearby enemy Minion or Mercenary deaths, and 3 charges on nearby enemy Hero deaths.
This combined with the Trait is your main tool of sieging without taking damage. Since unless there is a hero around, the ability automatically targets the last target hit, you can basic attack one tower and Q the other one at the same time, thus avoiding any attacks. The same tactic applies to taking a siege mercenary camp.
Since the ability prioritizes heroes this is a great harass tool in laning and also a great burst tool, because of the lack of cooldown between the arrows fired. An important note is that you can just hold down “Q” and the ability will keep firing. This is a great way of not exhausting your finger by repeatedly pressing the button.
W: Shadow dagger - Deals light damage to a target initially, followed by moderate damage over the next 2 seconds. The effect spreads to nearby targets.
This gives you amazing wave clear and just adds on to the siege potential that you already got plenty of. Since it does damage over time, it sometimes ensures that an escaping foe finds his death.
E: Haunting wave - Send forth a wave of Banshees dealing moderate damage to all targets. Reactivate to teleport to the banshees’ location.
Many people underestimate the range of this spell. On many occasions I have taken a kill on a foe who thought he managed to flee, but ended up taking lethal damage coming from my mighty banshees. In general this can be used as an escape tool and what is most important to note is that its bizarrely long range allows you to make pretty neat escapes. A common trick is E-ing in one direction and then running into another so your opponents chase you. When you click E again you teleport at the end of the spell and leave them wondering what has happened. It also dodges Nova’s “Triple tap” as, if you wait to be hit once you will send it to full cooldown, or if you E right away you will just dodge it and she will be able to cast it again in 10 seconds. A great way to ruin her plans to get a reset past 20.
R (Heroic) – Sylvanas has two heroics, but I will note the only viable option in my opinion - Wailing arrow - Shoot an arrow that explodes for massive damage and silences enemies for 2.5 seconds. Can be reactivated to detonate the arrow early.
Throwing this in the middle of a heated fight usually throws off your opponent’s concentration since their abilities are silenced. It can be used to stop channels, like Lilly’s “Jug of 1,000 Cups” or Nazeebo’s “Ravenous Spirit”. My favorite way of using it is to silence the enemy Rhegar who is just about to use “Ancestral Healing” on their Illidan.
You should always choose “With the wind” (Increases Withering Fire range by 25%) With this you can harass opponents in lane as well as keep your distance in team fights. This is definitely the most optimal talent.
At level 4 “Envenom” (Activate to poison an enemy Hero, dealing 180 (+30 per level) damage over 5 seconds) is the top pick. Since it is Hero League and you play with strangers, you can use this to make sure the right enemy finds his death no matter how distorted your team’s focus is or you can use it as a bodyguard spell. Nothing better than emptying your Q and Envenom into a Zeratul who thought he got you out of position.
At level 7 “Follow through” (After using ability, your next Basic Attack deals 25% additional damage.) is my pick. This is simply amazing if you know how to stutter step. If you don’t – you better learn, stutter stepping is the most valuable mechanical skill when playing Sylvanas and this talent is the reason why. Since your Q has 5 charges and no cooldown, you can exploit it in such a way so every attack hits with 25% more damage. This is especially useful in 1v1s where you are seemingly low, but come on top in the end and chases. It is practically impossible to escape a Sylvanas which utilizes this properly, since she will hunt you down to your grave with her E.
EDIT: With the Kael'Thas patch, "Follow through" received a big buff. In order to keep Sylvanas balanced, Blizzard introduced a personal talent for her - "Remorseless". The talent has the same effect as the old "Follow through".
At level 10 the Heroic to choose is “Wailing arrow” (Shoot an arrow that explodes for 200 (+20 per level) damage and silences enemies for 2.5seconds. Can be reactivated to detonate the arrow early.) As I already discussed, it is pretty amazing and at this moment is by far the better option than “Possesion” (Force an enemy Minion to fight for you. It gains 20% Attack Damage and Health. Cooldown increased to 20 seconds when used on Catapults.)
At level 13 the choice is “Evasive Fire” (You gain 10% Movement Speed for 2 seconds whenever an enemy is hit with Withering Fire, stacking up to 30%). This adds to your mobility and helps you kite in an amazing fashion. Considering the recharging of Q happens within a second this ensures that you are always having a movement speed boost in fights. Whether you will hunt someone down or make a great escape, this is your talent to go with.
Level 16 is the only time where I think you can choose between two good talents. First is “Will of the Forsaken” (Activate to become Unstoppable and gain 30% Movement Speed for 3 seconds) That is pretty great and makes you rather uncatchable due to the unstoppable buff and huge movement speed that you can add up to with the “Evasive fire” talent. It gives a “Sprint” vibe, only they can’t stop your sprint. The other one is the one I usually favor – “Blood for Blood” (Activate to steal 15% of target enemy's Max Health and slow its Movement Speed by 30% for3 seconds.) This gives the crowd control that Sylvanas lacks and also saves you from that annoying Zeratul, Nova, Illidan or anyone else that can stick to you since you instantly steal some hp. In many cases it even surprises the mentioned and leads to their death.
At level 20 as of recent I started picking "Fury of the Storm" (Every 5 seconds, your next basic attack will deal an additional 20 (+9 per level) damage to the target, and 20 (+24 per level) damage to all nearby Minions and Mercenaries.) I think it is pretty great to sneak mercenary camps even faster and also grants a whole lot of sustained damage in prolonged final fights. Upgrading the Heroic is also an option as it doubles the silence time and buffs the damage, but as I said Fury of the Storm took my heart.
Let’s discuss separate map strategies. A general rule is that each map and the objective/objectives on it, respond to a timer. Learning those timers is essential to successful Sylvanas play, since she has the potential to manipulate the flow of the game. A good Hero League advice is to be positive and try to lead your team to victory. Usually once they see you are confident, they follow and from there on it is up to you whether you will suffer defeat or triumph in victory.
I generally like to go to a side lane and hope the first tribute will spawn on the other side. If it does I siege the lane as almost always the enemy team rushes to the tribute. If it doesn’t I soak xp for a while and then rush to the close tribute trying to help my team. The general better thing to do is soak xp since the tribute itself gives nothing more than a bit of early morale, while soaking can transition into an advantage for the next tribute fight.
An important thing to note is that a tribute can’t spawn at the same place twice as well as if the second one spawns top, the third will be bot and vice versa.
An important thing to note is that a tribute can’t spawn at the same place twice as well as if the second one spawns top, the third will be bot and vice versa. People claim that Sylvanas is not optimal here since the Curse makes her passive useless, but I beg to differ, as a good Sylvanas player can rush the bottom mercenary camps and push an easy keep while the enemy fights to take the third tribute. It is very important to note that being cursed often doesn’t do anything to you as long as you are playing around it smartly. Taking a boss usually forces the enemy to defend instead of push with full force, so focusing on mercenary camps and bosses when behind, is a legit strategy for winning while avoiding team fights. Taking one boss and then rushing to the boss on the other side is a popular "cheese" strategy that never gets old, since the enemy is forced to defend and can rarely contest you.
The way the map is, a bottom Sylvanas is a huge constant pain for the enemy. Not only can you retrieve the bottom chest quite fast, but you also have knights to take and push with every 4 minutes. As a general rule you should just take a siege/knight camp around 15 seconds before the chests just to apply pressure. At a later stage of the game you can quickly take your siege camp, the knights and the enemy siege camp and push into oblivion. The best time to do so is when you know chests are spawned or you suspect the enemy is at boss. Trading this for a boss is quite good since you will deal a lot more damage than a boss and the enemy team will have no choice but defend or they can quickly find themselves on the losing side.
Garden of terror/Dragon shire
I put them together since the way the mercenary camps are situated, as well as the objective result, are similar. Again, just apply pressure by sneaking camps. In all cases avoid being the Terror or Dragon Knight, since instead you can assure with your passive that they take no damage from structures, thus help for a longer push. On the Dragon Shire map you can stroll around mid to have control over the statue as well as being able to quickly aid your teammates at a shrine. Given your kit you can sneak quick seeds at the terror map, so you should always try doing that and taking mercenaries while the enemy is busy killing the Boss seed camp.
Ah, Haunted mines! Sylvanas’ paradise. Just wait for mines without losing hp and mana. Proceed to dive into them and go as far away from the 10 and 12 skull camps as possible. I say this because even though you might get them, you will probably end up dying, to the enemy team that usually prioritizes them. A better way is to take at least 32 skulls on the other side that most teams leave for last.
Having achieved an overall skull count of at least 40 you can leave the mines, since you being Sylvanas already means your golem will be stronger, because of her Black arrow negating possible tower damage being dealt to him.
Having achieved an overall skull count of at least 40 you can leave the mines, since you being Sylvanas already means your golem will be stronger, because of her Black arrow negating possible damage being dealt to him. While others fight at the Boss skull camp, take the enemy siege camp, thus denying them the opportunity to use it to defend from the golem. Later take your siege camp at the proper time (around when the golem passes the gate) so it helps you with their golem.
I usually ignore knights since they die rather quickly, but if they are free and nothing better is on the horizon – go for them as the game progresses. The reason why I say having Sylvanas is so great here is because she can ensure your golem doesn’t suffer damage thus pushes faster. Also when the golem dies you can sneak a keep or tower just to remove some obstacles from his way. Remember, the mines remain open for the whole game so you can use them for roaming or assuming a starting position for clearing skulls.
The first two temples spawning are top and mid so you can assume the bot position and just push. If you see your team loses both temples you might want to help them since losing both of them is a bit too big of a hit in my opinion. As on the other maps with such timers, the optimum thing is to sneak some camps before the spawning of temples for some extra pressure. Depending on the situation it is sometimes more beneficial for your team to hold one temple and for you to push another lane.
A choke point is the boss fight – never risk it, many giant leads have been lost over there and many will be. This boss should only be done risk free after you have decisively won a fight in the area.
Being Sylvanas you can give your team a small edge with an extra pushed fort and then just proceed to capture one temple at a time, since your temple will have fewer structures to push and you will ultimately have the lead. It is usually hard to lose such a lead unless something really bizarre happens or you die at boss.
Tomb of the Spider Queen:
The outline of the map is the same as Sky temple. I have found the mercenaries to be rather unimportant here, but you can always take some for stronger siege power before getting weavers. Pay attention to gems and take them, I have noticed people being rather ignorant about collecting them. It is good that if you die, you don’t lose gems to the enemy team so the price paid is not as high as on Blackheart’s Bay. In general as Sylvanas you can make the difference just by being mechanically on top of the enemy team and always being around for some quick pick up of gems that fell from a slain teammate. Again, as on Sky temple, don’t gamble the boss. You can, however, bait the enemy as there is a good fog of war right before entering the boss pit. Try communicating this to your team especially if you are behind, since you can get a quick mega kill plus boss that can put you back on the table.
As much as Heroes of the Storm revolves around team play and solo carrying is significantly less possible, it is not impossible. People generally listen if you take the initiative and aren’t toxic about it, and Sylvanas is the right hero to do this with. Pick the former Ranger General of Silvermoon and conquer the Nexus!
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