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Ragnaros: An in depth guide so far

Heroes Gosu “GosuGamers” Gamers

The Firelord of Blackrock Mountain, Ragnaros was recently released on the PTR servers yesterday. We've been giving him a try and here's how we feel about his gameplay.

Ragnaros's Core Gameplay

Ragnaros is classified as a melee assassin, and he does function reasonably well in that capacity. However, he also has a lot of specialist-like abilities, so it is fair to say that he's a bit of a melee assassin/specialist hybrid.

Lane Strategy

As a melee assassin, Ragnaros is often going to be a solo laner going up against his counterpart on the other team.  

Many melee assassins win their lane by bullying the enemy out of lane via poke (like Thrall with his Chain Lightning or Alarak with his Lightning surge). Neither of them have a lot of waveclear. Ragnaros couldn't be more different from them.

It would be much more accurate to compare the laning phase of Ragnaros to Sonya. Sonya doesn't have any ranged poke, but she has incredible sustain if she sits in the middle of enemy minions and mercenaries and whirlwinds. Ragnaros has similar mechanics. Empower Sulfuras makes his next auto attack instant, deal area of effect damage and heal Ragnaros for 20% of the total damage dealt. This will heal Ragnaros for an incredible amount in the middle of a wave of minions and mercenaries, just like whirlwind for Sonya.
 

Ragnaros has, perhaps, the best wave clear in the game, with all 3 of his basic abilities dealing significant area of effect damage.

As Ragnaros, you can definitely hold your own in a 1v1 against almost any laner in the game. The problem is, this will expose you to ganks, as it requires sitting in the enemy minion wave. This is totally unnecessary, as Ragnaros has perhaps the best wave clear in the game, with all 3 of his basic abilities dealing significant area of effect damage. It is much easier to simply let the other laner push the wave towards your towers, and then go out and delete the wave.

There is no way for Thrall and/or Alarak to bully you out of lane, because you can erase any poke damage they did by using Empower Sulfuras on the wave.

 

It is very ill-advised to leave Ragnaros alone and uncontested in lane. 

 

His push ability is probably on par with many specialists. If he is that far foward though, ganking him is a good strategy as his only escape increases his move speed by 25% for 1.5 seconds. An overextended Ragnaros is an easy kill.

 

Ragnaros's Burst combo

Melee assassins depend on being able to engage on a target and deal significant amounts of damage in order to be effective. 

The Ragnaros engage goes as follows:
 

  • Self-cast Blast Wave
  • Follow up with Living Meteor on top of the target to deal maximum damage.
  • Auto attack, and then cast Empower Sulfuras for an additional auto attack that deals area of effect damage.  
     

At level 20, this deals 2,238 damage when properly talented (228*2+658+487+487+150).  We'll talk more about the talents later.

As an aside, Living Meteor is a vector targeted ability like Alarak's Telekenesis, so don't forget to take full advantage. If you cast it on top of a target, it will deal the impact damage (164 at level 20) + 0.75 seconds of 658 at level 20 damage per second, which comes out to about 658 damage at level 20.

Talents

Now that we have gotten through Ragnaros's core gameplay, let's talk about the most exciting part: what talents to choose?

Level 1: 

Sulfuras Hungers is the obvious choice at level 1. The reward for quest completion is one damage per minion killed and an additional 120 on completion of the quest, which is great considering that it's an easy quest to complete (kill 30 minions with Empower Sulfuras). This increases Ragnaros's wave clear even further, increases his self-sustain, and increases his damage in teamfights. 

Shifting Meteor is bad because Ragnaros's W, Living Meteor has no utility, and because the talent doesn't do anything until the quest is complete, which requires hitting 50 heroes with it.

The radius increase on Blast Wave isn't necessary. The cooldown reduction is nice, but it pales in comparison to what Sulfuras Hungers brings.

Level 4:

Slow Burn is the clear pick at level 4. It makes your engage more effective, by slowing the target of your engage and nearby enemies by 40% for two seconds on hit. But it also can be used to make your tank's engage more effective as well, as Blast Wave can be cast on an allied hero. It also might help you or an allied hero escape, by slowing pursuers.

Fire Ward isn't very good if you only hit one target, especially considering that the ability has a 12 second cooldown and the ability damage reduction charge can be easily eaten up by a low damage ability.

Catching Fire is interesting if you are dealing with a high damage enemy team burst composition. However, there's a talent at level 13 that's probably much more attractive if this is the case. 

Level 7:

Superheated is the talent you will generally pick here. It reliably adds to your burst damage and wave clear, and this makes it the best talent on this tier.

Hand of Ragnaros is pretty interesting, as a two second CD reduction on a four second cooldown ability is pretty good. The problem is, you have to hit two heroes with it, and that probably isn't going to happen consistently enough to make this the best talent on this tier unless the enemy team has tons of melee heroes.

It's just too difficult to get enough value from Molten Power to make it worthwhile, as it requires hitting multiple heroes with Living Meteor to stack up the damage bonus. However, decent players will simply get out of the way in most cases. Even when you do succeed, there's the issue that you don't get the benefit right away from hitting multiple heroes - it comes on the next cast of Living Meteor, which could very well hit at most one target. No thanks.

Level 10:

Lava Wave is the heroic of choice, due to how lackluster Sulfuras Smash is. Lava Wave does have significant drawbacks: it's not going to impact any teamfight unless the teamfight is in lane, it takes a long time for the Lava Wave to arrive as it travels from your core, and it has a long cooldown (100 seconds).

However, Lava Wave does have significant benefits. First of all, it gives Ragnaros semi-global presence. He can use this heroic to delete any troublesome mercenary wave or halt any big split push dead in its tracks while being at a teamfight or in a totally different lane. It also allows Ragnaros to soak that experience necessary to get that next talent tier with 100% safety. Finally, it can be an extremely valuable defense against map objectives, something we'll talk more about later. And obviously, if the enemy team gets caught in it, well, they are going to take a ton of damage.

Sulfuras Smash is really bad. The 60 second cooldown means that it can't be used often enough to justify its general low impact in teamfights, and it deals very little damage unless you hit a target in the center (targets in the center are also stunned). This isn't going to happen unless you hit an ETC who is casting Mosh Pit or a sieged up Sgt Hammer. Pretty much the only reason to pick this heroic is to interrupt Mosh Pit, except that this heroic is telegraphed enough that any good support with cleanse will cleanse ETC.

Level 13:

Resilient Flame is the go to pick if the enemy team has a burst composition and a stun. 50% damage reduction for 3 seconds when you are stunned is crazy good, and the reason why Catching Fire is not a likely pick at level 4.

If you don't need Resilient Flame, Cauterize Wounds is the go to pick. It provides a crazy amount of sustain, as an additional 60% of the damage done by Empower Sulfuras to heroes heals you over 2 seconds.

Tempered Flame is a trap talent - it's literally outshined by Cauterize Wounds in every way. Even if you managed to hit multiple heroes with Blast Wave, you could have also hit multiple heroes with Empower Sulfuras, and Empower Sulfuras has a lower cooldown. Not to mention, Empower Sulfuras heals you while Tempered Flame merely provides shields. 

Level 16:

Blast Echo is one of Ragnaros's best talents overall, and certainly the best talent at this tier. It creates a second blast wave on Ragnaros after the first one expires, and there are tons of uses for this. The most obvious one is that it allows Ragnaros a chance to do a secondary burst on the target after the initial burst combo is over.

Since your target is now slowed for 40% after you landed the initial burst combo on them, you have the option of sticking to them for another 1.5 seconds and then landing a secondary burst combo consisting of the 2nd blast wave, an auto attack and then another Empower Sulfuras for an additional 1580 (456+487+487+150) damage at level 20.

Another thing Blast Echo provides is a more reliable escape. You can cast Blast Wave on yourself to disengage from a bad fight, slow any enemies who are still on you for 40% at two seconds courtesy of your level four talent choice, and then use the movement speed increase from the second Blast Wave to get yourself out. You could also use the talent to facilitate the escape of both yourself and a teammate. It also could be used to set up an engage for your team's tank and yourself, because you can cast Blast Wave on the tank to help him engage the enemy team, and then have Blast Echo provide your own engage shortly afterwards.

Giant Scorcher is Ragnaros's version of Giant Killer, but it is at 16 instead of 13. It causes Empower Sulfuras to burn enemy heroes for 9% of their maximum hitpoints over 3 seconds. Because Empower Sulfuras deals AOE damage, this talent is potentially way stronger than the standard Giant Killer if the enemy team has lots of melee heroes. However, Ragnaros does not heal for more because of Giant Scorcher damage: there is no synergy between this talent and the baseline Empower Sulfuras ability healing, or the additional healing from the level 13 talent Cauterize Wounds.

Because of this, this talent shouldn't be picked unless the enemy team has a lot of melee heroes.

Meteor Bomb suffers from the same ailments other Living Meteor talents suffer from: there's no real benefit other than damage, and it's just too easy to get out of the way of Living Meteor before it reaches the end of the path.

Level 20:

Submerge is Ragnaros's version of Jaina's Improved Ice Block at level 20. The difference is that Ragnaros heals for 1315 at level 20 once he comes out of Submerge. Unfortunately, this ability has a 90 second cooldown, unlike Jaina's 20 second cooldown on Improved Ice Block. This makes it a very situational talent that should only be picked if Ragnaros's team lacks healing or the enemy team has a serious burst/stun lock composition.

Flames of Sulfuron makes a terrible heroic less terrible, since now it at least slows enemies hit even if they aren't hit dead center and affected by the stun. However, there's no reason to be stuck with a terrible heroic so that it can be made less terrible at 20...

Lava Surge gives you a second charge of Lava Wave and reduces the charge cooldown from 100 seconds to 90 seconds. This isn't too shabby, as it greatly increases Ragnaros's map control. Pick this if you don't need Submerge.

Heroic Difficulty rarely provides enough value to justify it as a level 20 talent pick. Enemy teams aren't going to siege into a Ragnaros controlled fort or keep except under rare circumstances, so the only reason to pick this would be to better defend against map objectives with the extra damage, health, duration and reduced cooldown. 

Trait 

Molten Core allows Ragnaros to unleash his ultimate form on the terrified enemy team at the location of an allied or destroyed fort, gaining a new set of abilities and a new health bar. That health bar slowly burns away over 18 seconds (27 with the trait upgrade at level 20), but it can be ended early if the enemy team/map objectives deal enough damage to Ragnaros in this form. Ragnaros can also end this form early and return to his original form if he should so choose.

Ragnaros has three new basic abilities while in Molten Core:

 

  1. Molten Swing - Deals 371 damage at level 20 in a wide arc and stuns all enemies hit for 1 second.
  2. Meteor Shower  - Each meteor deals 349 damage at level 20 and slows enemies hit by 25% for 1 second.
  3. Explosive Rune - Deals 658 damage at level 20 to targets underneath it after 1.5 seconds.
     

Most important of all though, is this little detail: While Ragnaros is in his ultimate form and replacing an allied fort/keep, that structure takes no damage. This means that Ragnaros in effect shields said structure from damage it otherwise would be taking.

With that in mind, let's look at the maps where Ragnaros will be most dominant.

Maps where there is a pushing objective

 

  • Tomb of the Spider Queen
  • Battlefield of Eternity
  • Infernal Shrines
  • Braxis Holdout
  • Reworked Haunted Mines

 

Notice something? Sylvanas is a powerful hero on all of these same maps, and her trait is a big reason for that. Ragnaros's trait completely shuts down Sylvanas's trait, making him a powerful counter to Sylvanas on these maps. Beyond that, Ragnaros's trait allows him to greatly assist his team in defending against the map objective. Lava Wave will almost certainly be the heroic of choice on these maps, due to its ability to both assist the pushing objective on offense and help clear out the pushing objective on defense.

Maps where the objective deals structure damage

 

  • Warhead Junction
  • Sky Temple
  • Blackheart's Bay

 

Ragnaros's trait will be fantastic on Warhead Junction, where he can literally absorb nukes.

It is not quite as strong on Sky Temple and Blackheart Bay, where he will have to sit in his trait for a prolonged period of time to absorb the damage that the the cannonballs/lasers do. It is not advisable to do so on Sky Temple unless your team is in no condition to engage the enemy team on the temple, as you will not be able to move or assist your teammates in engaging the enemy team while in Molten Core.

The Verdict

Ragnaros has far too many strengths, and too few weaknesses.

He will likely be highly prioritized in competitive, thanks to the large amount of utility that he brings. His kit is great, but Blizzard needs to introduce more weaknesses for him to be balanced. For example, allowing Ragnaros to cancel his trait early is not good as it denies enemy teams the ability to punish Ragnaros for forcing out his trait. 

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