Heroes of the Storm: Johanna guide

Accompanying the official launch of Heroes of the Storm is a new hero, the non-caped crusader Johanna! This stalwart warrior has entered the Nexus in search of an apprentice, though she doesn’t seem to be in too big a hurry to leave. If you’re struggling over whether to shell out the cash or coin to enlist Johanna into your retinue — or buy her alternate skins — read on!

Johanna is a melee warrior, protecting her allies by keeping the enemy team at bay and attempting to draw damage away from friendlies. Her crowd control abilities and damage mitigation are top notch, but she certainly has her fair share of foibles. If you’re thinking about taking up the banner of Zakarum and doing some crusading of your own, hopefully this guide will help!

Abilities

Punish – A 60% slow cast in a sweeping arc in front of her, Punish is Johanna’s follow up to Condemn in her crowd control combo. Talents can increase Punish’s damage and slow strength, the latter of which is arguably the more important buff. As Punish is restricted to melee range and Johanna has precious few movement increasing abilities or talents, trying to chase an enemy down and slow them is typically not a great idea. Instead, this ability is invaluable in keeping a hero your team is focusing in range.

Condemn – Very nearly Johanna’s reason for being, Condemn is an AOE stun that pulls enemies towards you. Follow Condemn with a quick Punish and your team will have a solid couple seconds to unleash damage on your hapless target. Pair this ability with Jaina’s Blizzard or Nazeebo’s Zombie Wall and you’ll have an inescapable pit of death on your hands.

Shield Glare – On first blush Shield Glare doesn’t seem to be very good; as is the running theme with Johanna, its damage is nothing to write home about even though it can hit a lot of targets. The key to this ability is the Blind effect, turning Shield Glare into a way to shut down your targets’ output for four seconds. Essentially Johanna’s E ability is a toggle for your enemies’ basic attacks, making it effective for both covering retreats and pulling ahead in team fights.

Falling Sword – The first of Johanna’s heroic abilities, Falling Sword sends Johanna up into the heavens and then, after a quick shimmy and shake, back down to the ground, tossing enemies briefly into the air. The ability to move while in midair allows you to reposition in the middle of a team fight, but in terms of using it to chase or escape, it’s not quite fast enough. It is a nice way to prevent some damage though, as Falling Sword basically removes you from the fight for 2 seconds.

Blessed Shield – Johanna already has a lot of crowd control in her toolkit, but why not give her more? Blessed Shield is a skillshot that stuns its initial target for 2 seconds, then bounces to 2 additional targets and stuns them for 1 second. Personally, I typically take this over Falling Sword because stunning multiple targets at once is always useful, and it’s a ranged ability, making it great for chasing the last enemy hero fleeing a team fight.

Iron Skin – I have to admit, Iron Skin is one of my favorite traits in the game right now. On a 20 second cooldown you have a shield that absorbs for 25% of your health and makes you Unstoppable for 4 seconds. After dying many times trying to stun Diablo during Lightning Breath, I can easily say I have seen the raw power of the Unstoppable buff. For those brief moments, neither slow nor stun nor snare or root will stay Johanna’s crusade.

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Playing Johanna

Johanna fulfills the “meat shield” archetype for warriors and tanks to the letter — she is there to crowd control, take the hits her allies can’t, and chew bubblegum. And as it turns out, bubblegum was never invented on Sanctuary.

Strengths

  • Very high mitigation
  • Crowd control a-plenty
  • Great initiator
Weaknesses

  • Very low damage output
  • No quick escape outside of talents
  • Burns through mana

As with Kael’thas, Johanna is rated as “easy” by Blizzard, and again I think this is a bit of a mistake. The single most important skill to have when playing Johanna (as well as most other warriors) is positioning. Knowing how and when to body block, where to position for a good Condemn, and how her positional abilities harmonize with her team — these are definitely not “easy” things to pick up and put into practice.

Team composition is vital to getting the most out of Johanna. If you’re building a team with friends, shy away from knockback-oriented talents like Thrall’s Sundering and Brightwing’s Emerald Wind. For team fights, you’ll want to capitalize on the Condemn-Punish combo with strong AOE abilities like Metamorphosis, Precision Strike, and Phoenix. Setting up crowd control chains is another good idea, such as using Condemn to pull fleeing enemies into E.T.C.’s Mosh Pit or Gazlowe’s Grav-O-Bomb 3000 as Jaina is casting a Blizzard and Kael’thas is putting down a Flamestrike buffed with Ignite — combos like these are what Heroes was made for.

With Johanna being so new, builds are still being tested and designed for a lot of the different situations you can find yourself in. One of the great things about this crusader is that the lion’s share of her talents are situational and there isn’t only one way to spec her. That said, I did come up with a general build that I go to when I don’t see an obvious path for my talents to take, though my propensity for deviating from this “default” is much higher than for a hero like Nova or Thrall. I also goofed around with a Punish build, though I would not recommend using this competitively in the slightest.

Level 1 Starting out, there are really only two options: Reinforce or Regeneration Master. Reinforce is great when going against heroes with high auto-attack damage such as Valla, Sgt. Hammer, and Raynor. Regeneration Master, on the other hand, can be really good when you know you have to soak a lane and can snatch up a lot of regen orbs to get these stacks high.

I’ll give an honorable mention to Righteous Smash, as Johanna has little else to help her save mana and this talent will very often make Punish a free cast. However, it is my suspicion that in the mid to late game, when the gameplay switches from laning to brawling, the benefits from Reinforce and Regeneration Master will start to outpace Righteous Smash.

Knight Takes Pawn might be good if you have something like two other warriors and no specialists, but it’s just such an odd talent because Johanna split pushing is at odds with pretty much everything she’s about.

Level 4 Again, there seem to be two talents that stand above the others at this level: Laws of Hope and Amplified Healing. Laws of Hope is great for those times when you find yourself without a support, as well as in the late game as a means of staying in the action longer. Amplified Healing pairs well with Regeneration Master from level 1, and works well with support heroes like Uther and Rehgar who can just pour healing into you as you stun and slow the enemy team.

I’ve played a bit with Eternal Retaliation and, while it’s great for quickly clearing minion waves and helping with camps, it never seemed to have a huge impact on team fights. And Roar might be more competitive if it boosted Punish’s damage by something like 100% instead. As it is, the base damage on Punish is too low to make a 50% increase significant — not to mention the fact that you’re a warrior, not a tanky assassin.

Level 7 My go-to talent this tier in nearly all situations is The Crusade Marches On. Iron Skin is pivotal to Johanna’s survivability, so seeing it more often is a very welcome boost.

I’ve seen Sins Exposed paired with bursty assassins like Kael’thas to boost their spike damage, but the surprisingly small extra damage from Shield Glare hardly seems worth it. Conviction could be good for getting into position to body block your opponent after a Condemn-Punish combo, though the small movement boost makes the timing very tight to pull off consistently.

A lot of players are extolling the merits of Battle Momentum, but I firmly believe it is a clever trap laid out by Blizzard for some reason beyond our understanding. Johanna’s entire utility is focused on the frequent use of her abilities, and as such her mana drains faster than a suddenly too-warm swimming pool. Using her abilities faster means more frequent trips to the healing fountain or spawn point, resulting in your team fighting a 4 vs. 5 more often than they really should.

Level 10 The most significant talent tier in the game, level 10 introduces heroic abilities. Johanna’s heroics are distinct from one another, though to be perfectly honest I find myself taking one of them 90% of the time regardless.

Falling Sword is essentially a harder hitting Leap with a lower stun duration, a bit of an awkward juxtaposition for someone as focused on crowd control as Johanna. The ability to move midair adds an interesting spin to Falling Sword, though the time you have in midair combined with the speed at which she moves translates into a weird situation where you’re hoping the enemy team doesn’t know where you’re going and don’t move slightly to ruin your heroic.

Blessed Shield, meanwhile, takes something that defines Johanna and gives her another way to excel at it. The only real drawback for this heroic is that it’s a skillshot, and as such might present a challenge if you want to stun someone in the back line first. In my matches I’ve found that even the 1 second stun from the shield’s bounces are sufficient to create some big plays.

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Level 13 I would say that this level’s talents offer the most flexibility out of all of Johanna’s talents. Subdue is typically my “default” grab since an enemy hero traveling at 20% of their normal speed might as well not be moving at all, but I can see merit in both Burning Rage and Hold Your Ground as well.

Burning Rage shines in circumstances where most team fights are a large, tight cluster, whether that’s due to the map geometry or team compositions. Having that small amount of damage constantly ticking will help counteract AOE healing and punish the enemy team for staying on you for too long. Hold Your Ground could be a great pick when you find yourself facing a bursty enemy team and it syncs up with The Crusade Marches On perfectly.

Level 16 This tier was quite close to tying with the previous talent tier in number of viable picks, but while Fanaticism and Imposing Presence are both solid picks, I’m giving Holy Renewal half credit.

Fanaticism is Johanna’s one and only escape (not counting Falling Sword — an ability on an 80 second cooldown does not a good escape make) and it arrives quite late into the match. The movement bonus increases the more damage you take, making it great for retreating, peeling, chasing, and engaging.

Imposing Presence is a godsend against a heavy auto-attack comp with heroes like Illidan, Valla, and Sgt. Hammer, as it just shuts down those heroes’ damage output when they focus on you. It is certainly not as good against ability-centric heroes like Kael’thas and Nova, so keep that in mind when sizing up the enemy’s team comp.

Holy Renewal is a bit gimmicky in that, when the entire enemy team is hit, it can heal for almost a quarter of your maximum health. But those situations are few and far between, leaving Holy Renewal lacking luster.

Blessed Hammer looks like a great source for some extra damage every time you use Condemn, at least in theory, but this late in the game your focus should hardly be on damage when there are already two very solid options in Fanaticism and Imposing Presence. Let your assassins worry about those kinds of things.

Level 20 At long last we reach the second most significant talent tier, level 20. Upgraded heroics are always a nice thing (well, most of the time), but Johanna has access to Indestructible and Storm Shield as well.

Taking Heaven’s Fury or Radiating Faith seems like the obvious choice based on what heroic you took at level 10, though again my predisposition to avoiding Falling Sword certainly influences which talent is grayed out. Storm Shield, whenever it’s offered, could be a good choice if your support is weak or the enemy team seems to outmatch you in every fight.

I’m going to go a bit against the grain here and say that Indestructible is not a great pick up. In practice, warriors are usually some of the last heroes alive in a team fight as the enemy team knows not to focus on the role that is designed to be focused on; they will instead do everything they can to get at your squishies behind you. If they manage to do this, Indestructible simply becomes a way of escaping a domination, and if they don’t then your team has likely already gained the upper hand. Besides, unless you can pop Iron Skin immediately after Indestructible goes off, the enemy team can easily catch up with you, prevent you from fleeing to safety, and kill you once the 5 second shield expires.

There’s also the issue that Indestructible is essentially an automatic “oops” button. If you and your team play well, you’re not likely to see situations where the talent will go off, whereas had you taken Radiating Faith you could have stunned the entire enemy team with one cast. Play around with the ability as much as you want, but in my travels it looks like the weakest option this tier.

As you can see, Johanna, when played to her potential, can set up huge plays and control the enemy team for days on end. I hope this guide has helped you understand this crusader a little better, maybe convincing you to try her out for yourself! As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!

Written by Dan Desmond. Last updated 6/4/2015.