Roll Out the Tip Jar
Written by: Inimical
With the new influx of players in Heroes of the Storm 2.0, a lot of you are probably looking for advice. Some of you who have been playing the game for years and find yourself stuck in a lower league can't seem to find the right answers to improve. In the words of Jaina Proudmore, "I'm here to help!" These tips are aimed at newer players or those in “MMR hell” and can't seem to get out of Bronze-Platinum. But there’s something for everyone; even Master and Grandmaster players fail to adhere to these fundamentals from time to time and cost their team the game because of it.
The first piece of advice is "don't die". This obvious tip has been written in multiple guides since Alpha, but most of them don’t fully illustrate the consequences of you dying.
Your death gives your opponents experience, but it also can lead to missing multiple waves of soak and compound the xp loss. It can also force your team into a bad rotation to cover the soak.
But more importantly, dying is a result of many factors like positioning, knowing your limitations, effectively playing the composition, and understanding the laning phase. Addressing all of these areas will make you a better player, and by improving in these areas you’ll find yourself dying far less.
One trick to help you die less is called "stutter stepping". Bakery did a video on stutter stepping a while ago, and it's definitely worth your time to watch it. While the video uses Valla as an example, you should do this with every hero. Stutter stepping allows you to be mobile while attacking to dodge skill shots and “kite” toward or away from enemies while still doing damage. One or two auto-attacks can make all the difference between securing a kill and allowing an enemy to escape.
Just like “don’t die” is an obvious piece of advice, “don’t take free damage” is too. However, one thing I notice even in my own play is not being completely alert and taking free damage from skillshots. Every skillshot that hits your hero does damage, and eventually that damage adds up. If you aren't constantly moving in lane, you are probably losing a good chunk of your HP from getting nailed by skillshots.
The damage isn't simply negative space on your HP bar either. It also translates into:
- having to tap your well very early
- eventually losing your lane/losing towers because you're too hurt to contest
- straining your healer's mana pool
All of these elements can cost you an objective because your healer has to hearth or you can't tap a nearby well to get back in the fight or you can’t empower the objective because you lost structures in the early game.
The inverse is also true: if you hit all of your skillshots, you'll do significantly more damage. In Hero League, I take advantage of people’s inability to dodge skillshots when playing someone like Chromie or Kael'thas, and it usually translates into a lead, if not straight up kills.
This is likely the main reason you die. You were in a bad position.
You wouldn't believe how even top level players do not position properly. If you're new to the game or MOBAs in general, you may not have any idea how to position at all. Luckily, I made a sweet diagram in MS Paint around the tribute on Cursed Hollow. Cursed has a lot of chokes around tribute areas which can be punishing if you don't set up for tributes properly (meaning your team needs to be quick to the objective!). Taking a standard composition—one tank, one melee, two ranged DPS, and one healer—this diagram illustrates how you should position.
Your tank should be at the front since they have crowd control (CC), a high health pool, and can eat a lot of free damage. Anyone else at the front will probably get melted. Depending on the composition of your opponents, even your tank might not be safe at the front for very long.
Combo-based melee heroes or off-tanks like Alarak, Kerrigan, or Leoric generally want to stay as close as possible to the tank to assist by pumping out damage or follow up CC. Other melee heroes like Dehaka, Illidan, or Sonya do better for flanking or diving the back line. Think carefully about which category you fall into as a melee hero and adjust accordingly.
The two ranged players should be close enough to the melee/tank to effectively use their ranged abilities but not close enough to get CC'd by the enemy. It's incredibly important to make sure you have a good amount of room to retreat so that if the fight goes poorly, you will have the space to to dodge stuns and skillshots as you kite back to safety.
Your healer should be as far back as possible before the fight. If you lose your healer early you probably aren't going to win the fight, so safety is a must. Healers are also a better defense against a flank from Zeratul, Genji, etc. compared to your squishy assassins because of their sustain. It’s important for a healer to keep an eye on the flank merely as a precaution and alert the other members of the team.
Your second DPS has a few responsibilities. While they typically should be following up on the engage, there are other important things to consider. In the diagram, the DPS also has the option to check the bush for an enemy flank, follow up with the healer on a potential flank, or focus on the front of the fight.
Keep in mind, this is simply an example. Certain compositions and different maps lend themselves to variations of this diagram. If you keep this diagram in your head though, it's a good foundation for how you should be approaching positioning.
Follow up on CC
One of the biggest problems I see with players at all skill levels is following up on crowd control or initiation. Heroes of the Storm is a game which relies on good coordination and teamwork. If you are simply raw-casting spells without any CC/initiation from your team, you are likely not getting their max value.
For example, if you are Malfurion, and the Anub'arak on your team hits Impale (Q) on a target, you should follow up with Entangling Roots (E) to trap them. By chaining CC on the enemy hero, you give your team enough time to follow up with the damage and delete them. But if the damage or CC isn't there when it needs to be, your enemies just walk away. Don’t waste your spells before an initiation; save them so you can chain it with your teammates.
Chaining CC drastically improves your chances of securing a kill, even against Cleanse
But what about Cleanse? To be honest, it’s unlikely you’ll be playing against a support who takes Cleanse or knows how to use it properly in lower leagues. If your target in the chain CC does get cleansed, it's not the end of the world. All you have to do is hang back and wait for your cooldowns to reset and try again. Cleanse has a 60 second cooldown. That's roughly four CC cycles before it is back up assuming all CC has approximately 12 second cooldowns + 1 second durations. So even if you aren't winning the trade in terms of kills, you still force out the Cleanse and create a window of opportunity for a free kill later on.
Save your abilities and use them as follow up the initiation. You'll get more value out of them and it'll make teamfights go your way more often than not.
Know when to fight
This is also a huge problem for players at all skill levels. Some people love to mindlessly fight. Heroes of the Storm is a "hero brawler", but that doesn't mean you constantly fight.
Here is a list of good times to fight (or "forcing"):
- On an objective (if you have even talents, even numbers, or a talent and/or numbers advantage)
- Whenever you have a numbers advantage post-10
- Whenever you have a talent advantage (ex: 10 to 9). It is incredibly important to force fights at level 10, 16, and 20 power spikes if the enemy isn't on the same tier.
Here is a list of when not to fight:
- When your team is down a talent
- When you are down in numbers (ex: 4v5)
- Over an objective that doesn't matter (siege camp, Cursed Hollow tributes (1/3 or 2/3); this counts double if #1 or #2 are also true
- When you do not have Heroics up, especially critical ones like Apocalypse, Void Prison, or Divine Shield
While there are other scenarios on when and when not to take a fight, these are a great foundation to start. For a more advanced discussion of when to fight and when to retreat, check out EsportsJohn’s post on checklisting. The bottom line: if you and your team to stick to these rules, you'll find yourself throwing less and winning more.
Be productive after getting kills
When your team gets kills you, ask yourself: "What do we do now?" Most players who are not very good will automatically head to a mercenary camp, and this could not be more wrong. When you get kills, look at it as a "power play". Enemies are off the map, so what should you do?
If you are near an enemy fort/keep, destroy as much of it as possible without sacrificing yourself or an ally. Even killing towers yields a good chunk of experience and begins to open up the map up for your team. Pay attention to death timers when it comes to make a call on a structure, particularly with keeps and the Core. If your healer is dead, this is generally NOT a good option unless you have minions at the ready, the game is very late, or you have a specialist who can hard push like Sylvanas or Nazeebo.
If you can't get a structure but you’re close to a boss, this is good call after kills in the mid game after levels 10-13. So many games are thrown over a bad boss call, though, so be careful. Make sure you know who has boss control on both teams and be ready for it when the boss does go down. If you're mindful of death timers and all five members are burning down the boss, you should secure it easily, but don’t be afraid to just back off boss halfway through if it’ll lead to a team wipe.
If you can't take boss, then do whatever mercenary camp is closest to you on the map. You can split to cover multiple camps at once, but it's not usually recommended. It burns down both camps more slowly and risks one or more people getting caught out of position and giving map control back to your opponents.
Don't split post-13
You shouldn’t be splitting much after level 10, but especially after level 13 you need to be working as a five man unit (deathballing). If it is absolutely necessary to split and clear a lane, your team needs to play the 4-man passively while clearing the lane. Failing to do this normally ends up in a major (sometimes game-ending) throw. The only time it’s acceptable to play aggressively in the 4-man is with a global hero like Falstad, Dehaka, or Zagara since they can rotate to a fight instantaneously.
Don't do this...pretty much ever
The concept of clearing lanes is the only exception of splitting post-13. Splitting puts your team at a huge risk by giving the enemy team an opportunity for a numbers advantage. If you are already behind in the game and someone on your team gets ganked, you’re at an even greater disadvantage.
Your opponents can capitalize on kills in a number of ways by taking the boss or an easy objective win which, depending on the circumstances, could end up costing your team the entire game. Again, I cannot stress enough how crucial it is that both the 4-man group and the hero clearing a lane must play defensively. If you are going to split to clear lanes, do it without putting your team and the game at risk.
This is a lot to take in, especially for newer players. Don’t try to incorporate all these things in one play session. Figure out an issue in your play and start with that. Some of the fundamentals I've mentioned are a great foundation, but there are many exceptions. Rather than boggle yourself down with specific exceptions, just adhere to the fundamentals and bend them when you need to. I hope these tips help you guys advance in rank, and I look forward to seeing you in the Nexus!
Curt "inimical" Moyer is selling out and becoming a full-time PUBG streamer.
You can follow him on Twitter or watch him play on Twitch.
You can follow him on Twitter or watch him play on Twitch.