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The "R" meta reveals potential problem with Heroes game balance

Heroes Nick “Dorazion” D'Orazio



Remember when Sundering was one of the most powerful Heroics in the game? There was an inherent tension that came to picking Thrall and it was all thanks to the skill-testing heroic that was Sundering. In the hands of a pro, Sundering could dominate entire team fights. It could separate a tank from their backline, or isolate a support from the rest of their team. It could disengage when timed properly or interrupt your opponents vital abilities. It was a playmaker.

And of course, there was counter play. A Well timed Sanctification, Cleanse or any other ability that caused unstoppable would make the Thrall player think twice about using Sundering. On top of that, clever opponents could simply watch their positioning and make it difficult for Thrall to hit multiple heroes with the stun. 

But there was a down side as well.

Sundering could miss entirely or only hit one target. A weak Thrall player never got full value out of Sundering and, because of it, Thrall was a powerful hero that scaled with player skill. Sundering was the perfect type of Heroic that raised the overall skill level of the game. Before you picked Thrall, you had to ask your self mentally:

"Can I make full use of Sundering?"

The current state

What I described above isn't the reality we face today. In fact, Thrall players have no reason to ever pick Sundering thanks to the impossibly powerful Earthquake heroic that has changed the meta ever since it was initially buffed. I wrote about the buff in December, but back then the power of Earthquake was still somewhat of a trade secret. Now everyone knows how insanely effective it is to walk up to a group of Heroes and press the R key.

And this isn't where Heroes wants to be.

Why not?

Remember earlier when I described the skill-testing aspects of Sundering? All of that is gone now that Earthquake is so powerful. Sure, it's still possible to completely whiff an Earthquake, but it's extremely rare. The AoE and cool down of the heroic is so forgiving, even the most amateur of Thrall player can get game-winning value off a late game Earthquake.

The same argument can be made for Rehgar's Bloodlust vs. Ancestral Healing. Ancestral Healing is a powerful ability that allows Rehgar to make big plays. The tension between landing the perfect Ancestral vs. whiffing it completely is palpable and creates a more dynamic experience as a support player. Ancestral Healing is an ability that gets better once the player gets better.

But that isn't the case with Bloodlust. You just press R and it happens. Sure, you have to decide "when" to press R, but that is pretty straightforward-- when a team fight is about to happen. 

Ease of (ab)use


Fun is subjective and I'm sure there is a group of people that enjoy the current state of the game, but they are in the minority. The community has been vocal about their disdain for the current Earthquake and Bloodlust power levels. These heroics impact the game state to a level that doesn't match their ease of execution and the result is losses and wins that don't feel very memorable.

"Oh, another Earthquake that won / lost the team fight"

"Try and Mighty Gust when they Blood Lust"

"Save Sanctification for Earthquake"

Things are started to feel the same every Hero League game.

Just a couple patches ago, Bloodlust and Earthquake were both ignored heroics. They were essentially never, ever picked. This wasn't an ideal scenario either and, back then, the utility and strength Sundering and Ancestral Healing provided were too strong to ignore. 

But at least then the skill-testing Heroics were the powerful options. As it stands now, two of the strongest heroics in the game are also the easiest to use.

I repeat, two of the strongest heroics in the game are the easiest to use.

Finding the balance

For every Zeratul that lands an awesome Void Prison or Tyrael that lands a clutch Sanctification, there are much more Thralls and Rehgars pressing R in the middle of a team fight and getting just as much value, if not more. 

This, to me, is a subtle way to make Heroes of the Storm a worse game. I'm all for powerful Heroics and I think there should be more Heroics like Mighty Gust and less Heroics like March of the Black King (please buff!). However, Heroic strength should be proportionate to the level of execution they require.

The Bloodlust and Earthquake were flat buffs aimed to make these heroics viable choices. Now, they are the only choice.

So what happens if they are nerfed? Sundering and Ancestral become default again? Perhaps the problem with these Heroics is tied with their ease of use and lack of counter play. I personally would rather live in a world where Earthquake is a garbage heroic, because the other way around isn't very fun.

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QUICKPOLL

Are Earthquake and Bloodlust too strong for how easy they are to use?

Yes, this is the primary issue.
Thank you for voting!
No, there are counters that people need to start using.
Thank you for voting!
Nick “Dorazion” D'Orazio
<p>I love games and love writing about them. Heroes of the Storm GosuCrew lead and foremost advocate of Jake Badlands entering the Nexus.

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