Heroes of the Storm: Lane Sylvanas Build
Greetings, hero! Welcome to my first in a series of guides for Blizzard's Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA, Heroes of the Storm. I will be making guides for several of my favorite Heroes, and possibly make more as I get more comfortable with each character. To start off, let's talk about one of my all-time favorite characters, Sylvanas Windrunner, Dark Lady of the Forsaken, also called the Banshee Queen.
A Bit of Background Information
Sylvanas Windrunner was formerly a High Elf Ranger-General of the city of Silvermoon. During the events of the the Scourge Invasion, taking place in Warcraft III, the death knight Arthas led the undead Scourge to Silvermoon to make use of the Sunwell, a font of magical energy. Sylvanas led the High Elf army against the Scourge forces but ultimately perished at Arthas' hands. Instead of a simply killing her, he decided to resurrect her as a banshee as punishment for resisting him.
After the events of Warcraft III, the expansion pack "The Frozen Throne" was released which continued the story of Arthas and Sylvanas. Taking place in the formerly human lands of Lordaeron, Arthas and his minions spread the plague of undeath until nearly every living thing in the area is either dead or serving the Scourge. During this time the leader of the Scourge, the Lich King, begins losing power and loses control over Sylvanas and others. Sylvanas is approached by the demons who are supposed to keep the Lich King on a leash but have begun to fail. They desire to take Lordaeron for themselves and convince Sylvanas to aid them in killing Arthas. Setting up an ambush, they attack Arthas with his own soldiers, forcing him to flee to the frozen wastes of Northrend to unite with the Lich King.
The demons seize control of the area, however Sylvanas decides to double cross them and plots to take the region for herself. Using her banshees, she takes possession of a force of ogres, bandits, gnolls, and murlocs to attack one of the demons who offered his allegiance in exchange for allowing him to live. Using the demon's undead forces and his human puppet's army, Sylvanas defeats the demon's former allies and takes control of Lordaeron.
Sylvanas takes control of the capital of Lordaeron and turns the royal crypts beneath the city into her seat of power, creating the Undercity. From here, Sylvanas works to free the minds of other undead from the Lich King's control, forming her own faction named the Forsaken. Assuming the title of Dark Lady of the Forsaken, she plots to kill Arthas to avenge her own death and make her undead people strong to protect them from a world that will never accept them.
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Sylvanas in Heroes of the Storm
I think that's enough backstory to give you an idea of what this character is all about, so lets move into Sylvanas' role in Heroes of the Storm (HotS.) Sylvanas is a specialist, meaning she doesn't fit into the other three roles: warrior, support, and assassin. Warriors are essentially tanks, they are built to absorb damage and most have at least some form of stun and/or slow. Support are healers, with the exception of Tassadar who primarily prevents damage with shields rather than healing damage. Assassins are damage dealers, with abilities that vary pretty wildly from one to the next.
Specialists on the other hand are a varied bunch. For example, Abathur is good at pushing lanes and supporting his allies. Sgt. Hammer is particularly good at destroying enemy towers and forts from a distance. Sylvanas is a bit of a hybrid, her special trait allows her attacks to completely stun enemy minions, mercenaries, and buildings.
If you've never played a MOBA before, you are probably lost right now. "Pushing lanes? What's the difference between a mercenary and a minion?" Ok, let's go over that before we get into the rotten meat and undead bones that is the Banshee Queen.
In MOBAs, the map is split into (typically) 2-3 lanes where the non-player armies do all of their fighting. Pushing a lane refers to helping your soldiers, or minions, defeat the opponent's minions with the goal of getting your troops to the enemies base. In HotS, there are two forts per lane that guards the enemies "core." The core is the ultimate objective in the game, you win by destroying it. Each fort comes with 3 towers plus the fort itself, all of which will shoot at you, prioritizing minions before attacking your hero. Naturally, you want your minions to soak up this damage while you get in as much damage as possible to the enemy structures.
As for the difference between minions and mercenaries, well that's simple. Mercenaries are small camps of soldiers around the map. When a team wants to recruit that camp, first they have to defeat them in combat. There are three kinds of mercenary camps. Siege, bruiser, and boss. Siege camps will have two large units who throw large rocks at their targets, and they are very good at fighting enemy structures, fighting from just outside the range of buildings. Bruisers are better for defeating enemy minions, though they aren't slouches at attacking buildings either. Finally, most maps have a boss. These massive creatures require a team to take them down, and it is very worthwhile. Boss' have a lot of health and deal a lot of damage.
Every hero in Heroes of the Storm has three abilities, two ultimates (though you can only choose one), and a trait. Taking a look at Sylvanas, we see that her abilities are:
1. Withering Fire - Activated by pressing Q, withering fire deals damage to nearby enemies, favoring enemy heroes over minions. You have five charges of this attack, which will replenish every two seconds.
2. Shadow Dagger - Activated by pressing W, shadow dagger throws a dagger at the enemy, dealing some instant damage plus an additional two seconds of damage, and the effect spreads to nearby enemies.
3. Haunting Wave - Activated by pressing E, the haunting wave is a very important move to master. This skill sends out a wave of banshees, damaging any enemies it passes through. Pressing E again before the ability ends will teleport Sylvanas to the banshee's location. Haunting wave is used as both a chase and escape mechanic, meaning you want to use it to get close to a fleeing target or to get away when you feel you are going to lose a fight.
4. Wailing Arrow - Activated by pressing R, this is Sylvanas' first heroic ability, meaning it has a long cooldown and should be saved for when there is a large team fight. This arrow travels along a straight path and explodes when it reaches it's maximum range, or can be detonated early by pressing R again. The explosion will deal a decent amount of damage, but the real value to this ability is that any foes that are caught in the blast radius are silenced for two and a half seconds, meaning they can't use any of their abilities. At level twenty, you can take a talent that increases the damage dealt and length of silence by 50%.
5. Possession - Also activated by pressing R, this is the other heroic ability. Possession allows you force an enemy minion to fight for you, and it has a very short cooldown of four seconds (increased to twenty seconds if used on enemy catapults.) At level twenty, you can take a talent that allows you to use possession on enemy mercenaries with a twenty second cooldown. Honestly, you probably won't see many Sylvanas' players taking this ability as it is considerably less useful than Wailing Arrow.
6. Black Arrows - This is your trait, it is constantly active. Black arrows allows your abilities and basic attacks to stun enemy minions, mercenaries, and buildings for one second, effectively shutting them down completely as long as you keep attacking.
Tier 1 Talents
Talents are awarded when your team reaches certain levels. 1. 3, 7, 10, 13, 16, 20 are the levels at which talents are granted. At the beginning of every game, you get to pick your tier 1 talent. Here, and in the following sections, we will go over each talent per tier and explore which are good, which are useful in certain situations, and which are just plain bad.
With the Wind - Increases the range of Withering Fire by 25%
Lost Soul - Reduces the cooldown of Shadow Dagger by 2 seconds.
Barbed Shot - Withering Fire deals 200% more damage to minions and mercenaries.
Corruption - Attacks against structures destroys 2 ammunition.
All four of these talents are pretty good, depending on your playstyle. For maps like Blackheart's Bay, where there will likely be a ton of team fighting, Lost Soul is very good to keep spreading damage among the enemy team. With the Wind is a decent talent regardless of map as you can attack from father away, which is a big help when your target is a melee fighter. Corruption is the weakest of the tier 1 talents because of the Black Arrows trait. You already shut down structures with your abilities, so destroying ammunition isn't as important. It also becomes useless during the late game when the only structure left is the core, which has infinite ammunition and cannot be shut down by the Black Arrows.
For my build, Barbed Shot wins out on every map except Blackheart's Bay. The extra damage to minions is very nice in the early game to keep your minions constantly pushing on the towers or attacking enemy heroes. Late game, this talent is outstanding if you need to fall back to defend your bases. At higher levels and with the right talent combinations, you will destroy entire waves of minions in about a second. It also helps you take on mercenaries earlier to recruit them for your team.
Tier 2 Talents
At level 4, you'll gain access to another set of talents. Let's take a look at what our choices are.
Paralysis - Increases duration of Black Arrow by 100%
Overflowing Quiver- When you would gain a charge for Withering Fire from killing a minion or enemy hero at maximum charges, it will automatically fire.
Ranger's Ambush - Using Haunting Wave to teleport refills all Withering Fire charges.
Envenom - Activate to poison an enemy hero dealing damage over the next five seconds.
This tier isn't as close as the previous one as Envenom outclasses the other three considerably. Paralysis is a fairly decent follow up, but the other two talents just aren't very good. You should never have maximum charges of your Withering Fire while fighting the enemy and I personally use Haunting Wave as more of an escape move, and if I need to escape, I'm not going back into combat right away so there is no need for an auto-refill of charges.
Envenom is one of the best early talents in the entire game as it does massive amounts of damage early on (and respectable damage at later levels so it is always good to have) and quite a few times have I managed to throw it on a fleeing enemy who died a few seconds later because he couldn't get to the healing fountain quick enough.
Paralysis is decent if you also take the level 13 talent (tier 5) Overwhelming Affliction which causes your Black Arrows to affect enemy heroes as well, though I take a different talent at level 13 so Paralysis isn't that great for my playstyle.
Tier 3 Talents
Tier 3 talents are chosen at level 7.
Unstable Poison - Minions and mercenaries that die while affected by Black Arrow explode, dealing some area damage.
Life Drain - Shadow Dagger heals you every time it spreads to a new target.
Remorseless - After using one of your abilities, your next basic attack (within 3 seconds) will deal 25% additional damage.
Mercenary Lord - Mercenaries near your hero do 50% more damage.
Shade Form - Haunting Wave grants stealth for 3 seconds, using the teleport will not break stealth.
This is another meh tier. Life Drain does fairly well for your survivability, as does Shade Form because you will be un-targetable while stealthed. Mercenary Lord has it's uses, especially on maps with a lot of mercenaries and if you can continually get them on your side. If the other team is consistently taking them before you, don't bother with this talent. Remorseless is an excellent talent if you using Withering Fire wisely and let it alternate between using that ability and letting a basic attack go off.
For my build, I almost always take Unstable Poison. With this, you can rip through enemy waves in seconds, and is highly valuable in close games where you need to play some defense. It can also be useful early and mid game if you can get the minions fighting next to their own buildings because when they die, the structures will take damage too. And of course, it works on mercenaries as well, so this talent makes soloing bruiser camps go a bit faster.
Tier 4 Talents (Heroic Abilities)
At level 10, you finally get your heroic ability. These are very powerful skills that do a wide array of things such as a single move that does massive damage, a short lived aoe ability, heal all allies near you, etc. Sylvanas has two heroic abilities that you will, unlike pretty much every other hero in the game, only care about one of them.
Wailing Arrow - Shoot a single arrow that can be re-activated to detonate early. All enemies caught within the blast radius take a fair amount of damage and are silenced for two seconds. Wailing arrow has a 90 second cooldown.
Possession - Force an enemy minion to fight for you, granting it 20% extra damage and health. Possession has a 4 second cooldown, increased to 20 seconds when used on enemy catapults.
Wailing Arrow is far and away the better talent because it is useful in team fights. Almost every heroic ability should be useful for team fights, the main one off the top of my head is Gazlowe's upgraded shredder talent which makes him better for taking down mercenaries and structures, but that's for another guide.
I've read a few arguments for taking Possession but it just doesn't ever seem to stack up versus Wailing Arrow in practice. If you could do nothing but push lanes for the entire match, then it might be worthwhile, but the current strategy just doesn't allow for it to be very viable.
Wailing Arrow's silence is it's greatest aspect, because just before the team fight is started, you can hit as many of the enemy team as possible with it, giving your team a two second jump to activate their own heroics and try to wipe out the enemy as fast as possible. Silence disables all abilities, even the mount button. You may need to practice with it a little bit to perfectly nail the timing of the explosion, but this is a very strong talent to bring to your team.
Tier 5 Talents
Tier 5 is available when your team reaches level 13.
Overwhelming Affliction - Black Arrows now applies to enemy heroes, slowing their movement speed by 5%. Stacks up to 5 times.
Evasive Fire - When an enemy is hit with Withering Fire, you gain 10% increased movement speed for 2 seconds, stacking up to 30%
Splinter Shot - Withering Fire now hits two targets, the second target takes less damage than the first.
Spell Shield - When taking ability damage, reduce that damage and further ability damage by 50% for 2 seconds. Effect only activates every 30 seconds.
A pretty decent tier overall. Spell Shield is alright, though if the fight isn't over quickly then you may be up the creek without a paddle once it wears off. Evasive Fire is another alright one, if your team loses a team fight and you need to get away. Both are less useful than Overwhelming Affliction and Splinter Shot however. Overwhelming Affliction is an excellent talent for when you need to stop an enemy from getting away, such as at the end of a team fight and you want to mop up the survivors or if you need to get away from one or two enemies. On maps like Blackheart's Bay where there isn't as much lane pushing and more team fighting, I go with Overwhelming Affliction.
For this build, I pretty much always go with Splinter Shot. With this and the previous combination of talents, you can demolish minions in a second and mercenary camps will be laughably easy. With proper positioning, you'll also be able to use basic attacks on one tower and hit the gate and second tower with your Withering Fire, dealing some damage but more importantly, keeping both towers on lockdown and unable to fight back.
Tier 6 Talents
Tier 6 talents are available at level 16.
Windrunner - After teleporting using Haunting Wave, you can cast a second one for free, within 2 seconds.
Cold Embrace - Shadow Dagger causes enemies to become vulnerable, increasing damage taken by 25% but also reduces the range of Shadow Dagger by 25%
Will of the Forsaken - Activate to become unstoppable (cannot be stunned in any way) and gain 30% movement speed for 3 seconds. 60 second cooldown.
Blood for Blood - Activate to steal 15% of an enemy hero's health and slow them by 30% for 3 seconds. 60 second cooldown.
Windrunner isn't very useful in most situations because after the first teleport, more enemy players will give up on chasing you down, and if you can't catch and kill a weakened enemy with the first Haunting Wave, then you should probably let them go. It's generally a poor idea to chase too far into enemy territory. Will of the Forsaken is another less useful talent, especially with the other two options available. Blood for Blood is always a strong talent, and good for your own survivability especially when used against an enemy warrior, who usually has the most health.
A lot of people recommend Blood for Blood, however I personally adore Cold Embrace. This ability is quite stellar in team fights and it can also affect structures. The reduced range is what causes it to be a turn off to some players, but I find it a worthwhile sacrifice to make the entire team suffer an additional 25% damage. (Remember, Shadow Dagger spreads to nearby enemies.
Tier 7 Talents
And finally, we have tier 7 which is unlocked when the team hits level 20. This tier contains an upgrade for each of your heroics abilities as well a couple of useful skills. Let's take a look.
Deafening Blast - Enemies at the center of the blast of Wailing Arrow take an additional 50% damage and are silenced twice as long.
Dark Lady's Calling - Possession can now be used on enemy mercenaries with a 20 second cooldown. Damage and health also increases to 30%
Fury of the Storm - Every 5 seconds, your next basic attack will deal extra damage to the target as well as damage to enemies around the target.
Bolt of the Storm - Activate to teleport a short distance, 40 second cooldown.
Dark Lady's Calling makes a lousy ability slightly less lously, but still pretty bad. It is more useful for the increased damage and health gain than the ability to control mercenaries. Fury of the Storm is an ok talent, though there are two better choices. This late in the game, the little bit of extra damage isn't going to do a lot in team fights and you will already kill enemy minion waves in 1-2 seconds, so it just isn't as worthwhile.
You really won't go wrong with either Deafening Blast or Bolt of the Storm. The increased damage and silence is extremely nice, though more often than not I go with the latter talent. Being able to teleport away from a fight when things turn against you is a lifesaver. A good tactic to save your butt is to Bolt away then immediately use Haunting Wave to put additional distance between the enemy team and yourself. This buys you time to mount up and retreat to a safe location.
Now that we're familiar with the talents that Miss Windrunner has, what about actual gameplay? Well for this build, I've focused on abilities that enhance Sylvanas' natural talent for pushing lanes. I prefer taking either the top or bottom lane, because it's much easier to get ambushed in the middle lane by an enemy who likes to roam. especially the stealthy Nova or Zeratul.
Enemy heroes will always be the priority targets, but it's also important to keep enemy minions stunned with your abilities so your own minions can kill them off and press forward. For this, I mainly use Shadow Dagger. Haunting Wave will accomplish this as well, but I prefer to keep it handy to escape. You'll notice on all maps that there are patches that you can't see into, such as bushes or clouds of mist. Haunting Wave is also useful if you aim it at those locations because it will reveal any heroes that might be hiding there.
Early on, pick a tower to focus on and stay out of range of the other one. You won't have Splinter Shot yet, so you can only keep one structure stunned for long periods of time, though a Shadow Dagger aimed at the gate is a good choice because it will spread to both towers and stun each one temporarily. If you're lucky, you'll only have to deal with a single enemy hero in your lane and can try to keep them hiding behind their own gate. Keep working with your minions and whittle away the tower's health. Sylvanas is a slow pusher, so take your time and be cautious with enemy heroes.
Sylvanas is great for taking siege camps at pretty much any level because of her ability to stun both giants. Stand right up against one of them and start attacking the other one with your basic attacks. That one will be stunned until it is dead. Use Withering Fire to keep the other one stunned as much as possible. It's important to stay on top of the one giant because his melee attack takes longer than his ranged attack, giving you more opportunity to interrupt him. Sometimes his attack will go through, but that's ok. While Sylvanas doesn't have a particularly large health pool or high defenses, she's strong enough to withstand them.
At level 13 you can start soloing the bruiser camps without suffering much damage. Focus on taking out the spellcaster at the rear of the group and let your Withering Fire stun two other targets. That's three out of four threats that will be neutralized. When the spellcaster is down, focus your basic attacks on the soldier who isn't being hit with Withering Fire, then everyone will be stunned. Keep this up until all four bruisers are dead and the camp is yours.
A lot of Heroes of the Storm is reacting to what your opponent is doing. If they are bringing four people against your entire team of five, feel free to split off from the group and push some lanes or run around and capture mercenary camps.
Another tactic I enjoy in the mid to late game is if the enemy team is pushing deep into your base, is sneaking past them and attacking their base. This will draw one or more of them back to deal with you, giving your team some breathing room to try and push them back out and even up the fight a bit.
Well, that wraps up my guide to Sylvanas. Let me know what you think of this build in the comments and feel free to ask any questions or voice any suggestions you have to improve this guide. Good luck and knock 'em dead!
Tips and Tricks
1. When you really need to get away from an enemy chaser, cast Haunting Wave at a wall and teleport when the banshees are on the other side. The chaser will have to go around the wall, giving you some time to get some distance between the two of you.
2. Use envenom often, especially on squishy targets such as healers.
3. Take mercenary camps as often as possible. Even if your mercenaries aren't very useful against the enemy team, it denies them the use of those same mercenaries.
4. If you outnumber the enemy team, as in they have more dead heroes than your team does, suggest to your team that you take the boss mercenary. The boss will do a lot of work for you and force the enemy team to respond to it quickly, opening up other lanes for you to push.