Heroes Of The Storm has been in closed beta since around January 13th but, since people can easily score beta keys or buy in (not sure on the latter since the Founder’s Pack was removed), now is the time when the more toxic players and feeders come into the fray. I have decided we NEED a simple guide for those of us that want to compete but don’t want to break out calculators or make Heroes Of The Storm a career move.. Oh, and have FUN playing the game; after all, that should be the first priority!
I will open up by saying that Heroes Of The Storm is the one MOBA I can wholeheartedly recommend to all my friends, unless they don’t like the overhead/isometric view or are graphics snobs that need bleeding-edge technology even if the gameplay sucks otherwise. Blizzard has done it again by taking a growing space and making it their own. Here is a MOBA/ARTS (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena / Action Real Time Strategy) game that is truly accessible and plays more like an action game than a weird, drawn-out experience of Farmville mixed with Archon: Battle Chess. It’s fun, even when you’re losing badly.. Well, maybe if you’re not a sore loser.
This game has tons of depth without the high barrier to entry. The tedious elements that ruin other MOBAs or make them good only in small doses have been removed. Rather than worrying on last-hitting, denying creep farm/score (CS), or calculating your effective DPS after AC, resistances, shields, debuffs, auras, and sun-moon alignment offsets, you can actually focus on strategies and adapting to dynamic scenarios that are always exciting and intense.
As such, we’ll be kicking off an exclusive GeekyAntics series called VGB (Video Game Brawls) where we’ll compare games of similar styles and give you our verdict on which one, as objectively as possible, is the best across quantifiable categories. But, for now, I’m going to share what I’ve learned on HotS since playing in the alpha.
It’s NOT Pay To Win
There’s a lot of salt about the pricing structure on HotS but people forget that the game just recently went into beta. I agree that it is pricey but it’s actually still cheaper than the ever-popular yet still ridiculous League Of Legends. The only thing that tips the scale on HotS are the premium mounts but, still, LoL has had $40 skins sooooo…
The important thing here is that you don’t put money into this game and suddenly start winning, which is the epitome of pay-to-win. In fact, I would recommend sticking to the heroes that cost 2K or 4K gold (in-game currency). These heroes will be easier for newer players to get used to and eventually master.
You might see a top-tier hero dominating but don’t think it’s the hero and not the player. The game is balanced so that every hero has a fighting chance and can contribute to the team’s effort. So, if you want to drop mad gold on a Jaina, Kerrigan, Thrall, or whatever, you may want to hold off. Heroes with unique mechanics like Nazeebo, Lost Vikings, and Abathur typically work against your team if you do not have sufficient experience. Let’s not even talk about Nazeebo body-blocking his own team with those damn zombies.. Oops, too late!
Whereas other MOBA/ARTS games have characters that are easily broken to the point of being unfair or, on the flip side, picks that are almost unplayable, Heroes Of The Storm is very well balanced. I’ve seen “never spend a dime” type players beat fully-invested players. Pick any hero.. It all comes down to skill and which team plays best together.
Don’t Get Stuck On Kills
Contrary to popular belief, the Takedowns stat in Heroes Of The Storm refers to assists or participation in kills. There is no formal KDA tracked in HotS, certainly not on an individual basis. Kills also represent a smaller XP gain when compared to taking objectives like destroying enemy structures, clearing lanes, and taking mercenary camps. Even when the kills are worth more, one must consider the time lost while other things happen.. Like your base being overrun (yes, this happens.. TOO often).
Killing enemies and dominating the opposing team is always fun but it mainly serves the purpose of creating opportunities, whether it’s pushing lanes, capturing mercenary camps, or taking map objectives (e.g. tributes, spider gems, and dubloons). The respawn timer prior to level 13 just isn’t long enough to make pursuing kills truly worthwhile when there are objectives that will push towards victory faster and more consistently.
The #1 mistake I think players make on any MOBA/ARTS game is that they get tunnel vision and focus on kills too much. This leads to frustration and missed opportunities. It’s very easy to lose sight of the objectives on any given battleground/map on HotS so don’t worry about falling behind on kills or even levels. In fact, when you fall behind on levels, it’s best to avoid team fights until it’s absolutely necessary.
Master The Mundane: The Basics Of MOBAs
You may hear die-hard MOBA veterans talk about how players should focus on the fundamentals. Practice more, play against bots, L2P, etc. But what does this all mean?
The basics are the things you will naturally get better at if you are aware of them and gain more experience. It includes…
- Map Awareness – Everyone struggles here to some degree. You have to train yourself to notice the minimap and see if any enemies are unaccounted for.. And possibly doing something that could hurt your team.
- Timing – Play a MOBA enough and you start to get a feel for when an attack will happen, objectives refreshed, or you should fall back/regroup.
- XP Soak/Laning – Most MOBAs require that you stay in lanes as much as possible to soak up XP as enemies die but in HotS there is no formal laning phase. Some might say it’s up to when you reach level 10 but that’s more a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule.
- Positioning – Fighting a battle at multiple fronts rarely ends well, especially when your squishy damage dealers are singled out, leaving the rest of your team somewhat helpless.
- Rotating – This ties into positioning and laning. Basically, when you rotate, you see a teammate change positions and you swap with them. This ensures there is always proper XP soak but, more importantly, it helps against mis-matched lanes situation where a hero keeps getting picked on. Rotating when taking objectives is key so that you maximize XP.
- Disengaging – Knowing when to back out of a fight is something that few people have mastered 100%. You have to make snap decisions and sometimes they will be the wrong ones but, ultimately, any fight you can walk away from is a good one.
- Initiating – When the fight looks promising and everyone is in position, someone has to take point and intiatie the fight/engage. This is usually the tank/warrior’s job since they can likely take a lot of lumps and live to tell the story later.
- Skill Shots– Abilities that require aiming are tricky because sometimes you have to lead shots and account for projectile travel speed, as well as likely jukes/pathing and obstacles.
For many, positioning and being aware of what is going on off-screen is easier said than done. I would say it all comes down to confidence in yourself and, more importantly, in your team. In my experience, losing streaks happen when teams get deflated and sloppy as a result, and not vice versa. You won’t ever be perfect at the aforementioned but practice will improve your performance. Until then, don’t beat yourself up over mistakes because once you start hesitating or doubting, things only get worse – TRUST! [Read more…]