Heroes of the Storm: Malfurion guide

Malfurion has awoken from his long slumber in the Emerald Dream only to be drawn into battle in the Nexus! On Azeroth he is a leader among his people and a very powerful Druid belonging to the Cenarion Circle, a group of magic users who can transform themselves into different animals and call upon the restorative powers of nature to heal and defend. Sadly Malfurion isn’t allowed to shapeshift in Heroes of the Storm, but if you’re looking for a hero who can roll both healing and mana out on his allies all while wearing a giant pair of antlers on his head, then Malfurion is the hero for you!

Malfurion (Malf for short) is a ranged support, using heals and roots to keep his team alive and create openings for his allies to take down enemy heroes. Despite being essentially locked into the support role with very little wiggle room, Malfurion still sees his fair share of high level play, even popping up often in tournaments and the like. So let’s untangle those roots for a minute and see how this hero can grow!

Abilities

Regrowth – A small heal with a significant heal-over-time (HOT) portion, Regrowth requires a little bit of forethought to get the most out of it. Because of the HOT, this ability does not make a good emergency heal; granted, it’s better than nothing when a teammate is low, but Regrowth is much more suited to healing between or before fights, where the HOT can actually do work.

Moonfire – This ability is a quick burst of damage in a small radius with a very short cooldown and a fairly low mana cost. It also reveals stealthed units that get hit by the ability, but you’d better have good aim!

Entangling Roots – Entangling Roots is one of Malfurion’s most important abilities, and also one of the hardest to land properly. Roots grow within the inner circle of the targeting reticle and expand to the bounds of the outer circle over the course of 3 seconds.

Tranquility – Malfurion’s first heroic ability is Tranquility, an AOE HOT with a fairly large radius. Allies have to stay within the circle to receive healing, though Malf can move and use his other abilities while Tranquility is active. Unlike Valla’s Strafe, this ability is not technically a channel and, therefore, cannot be interrupted — incapacitates like Void Prison and Gorge only delay the effect.

Twilight Dream – His second heroic ability, Twilight Dream, is an AOE damage burst that silences any enemies within the affected radius for 3 seconds. This ability is centered around Malfurion, so he needs to be within melee range of his targets for it to be effective. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, being in melee range of the enemy team on a support character is not the most ideal situation to be in.

Innervate – Malf’s trait is Innervate, an ability that returns mana over time to the targeted ally. Unfortunately this cannot be used on Malfurion himself, but it does allow him to keep a teammate fueled up and in the fight.

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Playing Malfurion

Unlike his beloved Tyrande, Malfurion is very much focused around healing and utility rather than dealing damage. Due to his lack of on-demand healing and a means to get out of danger quickly the Archdruid should be played with a healthy dose of caution, floating around the periphery of your team’s back line, only dipping near the front to toss out heals and roots.

Strengths

  • Roots synergize with other heroes’ AOE abilities
  • Very good total healing output
Weaknesses

  • Weak burst healing
  • No escape mechanism
  • Mana sponge

Malfurion is rated “easy” by Blizzard, a grade that I think is half-true. I wouldn’t say he has a steep learning curve, but timing your Entangling Roots correctly and keeping on top of Innervates isn’t exactly child’s play. After you get comfortable with his abilities, however, playing Malf becomes a fairly simple matter.

Because his damage is quite lackluster, and because competitive play leans on burst damage so heavily, there’s really only one way to build this druid: heavy support. There are a few options on a couple tiers, but generally the principle behind his playstyle remains the same. I have tinkered with a damage build in bot matches, and while it’s fun to get out of Malfurion’s standard box every once in a while, it’s certainly easy to see why it’s not viable.

Level 1 With the June 23rd patch, Malfurion no longer has access to Conjurer’s Pursuit, a talent that was so ubiquitous in Malf builds that it might as well have been baseline. By lowering the mana cost of Regrowth and Entangling Roots, Malf’s mana should hopefully be a little less endangered.

Therefore, your level 1 talent pick is going to be much more open to debate than it was before. Harmony is a good default grab for a support-focused role, especially when you consider that a) Moonfire has a low cooldown and mana cost, and b) Harmony stacks.

Shan’do’s Clarity has gotten better with the changes to Innervate, namely that Innervate now returns 15% of the target’s maximum mana instead of a flat amount.

You could opt for Scouting Drone if you want to keep an eye on objectives like shrines on Dragon Shire and spider eggs on Tomb of the Spider Queen, because vision is a very valuable thing to have. However, the drone itself is very flimsy and what information you gain could easily be gleaned from good minimap management.

Moonburn is a talent designed to help Malf lane, a skill that isn’t terribly important for a support in the grand scheme of things. Even so, I could see this talent being useful if you have a Nova/Zeratul hit squad on your team and you want to let them roam, but even in that case I might prefer something else.

Level 4 Another tier that’s seen significant changes, both Protective Shield and Healing Ward have been removed from Malfurion’s kit. On the one hand it’s nice to not have Malfurion’s strongest talents be generic talents available to many other heroes (a situation not unlike Kerrigan’s setup), but on the other I have to admit I’m going to miss them, Protective Shield most of all.

Even with the “standard” pick in this tier removed, a new king has taken its place: Rampant Growth. Rampant Growth provides a bit more of that burst healing that Malfurion so desperately needs, and it doesn’t help that the remainder of the talents at level 4 have little to no effect on Malf’s healing output.

Elune’s Grace has gone from fairly useless to a decent contender, especially if your Malf will be filling the role of a second support to someone like Uther or Rehgar and as such doesn’t need to be so upfront with his healing. Being nice and cozy in the back line and able to reach your warriors and brawlers in the front is a wonderful feeling.

Vengeful Roots could be a good situational talent, if you have a burstier support but are lacking some damage or are running with an aggressive bunch of assassins that can capitalize on your roots.

Versatile, on the other hand, isn’t a terribly useful upgrade to Innervate; it’s true that using his trait often is part of playing Malf to his fullest, but many times there are more important things to worry about (like healing teammates, healing yourself, shielding a teammate, general positioning, where and when to put roots down, keeping an eye out for a stealthy to drop a Moonfire on).

Level 7 An auto-pick this tier, you’re likely to be going with Enduring Growth at level 7. Increasing the value of the HOT on Regrowth by 60% without spending any additional mana is a no-brainer.

The patch saw Battle Momentum replaced by Cleanse, a 30 second cooldown that can free up an ally from crowd control and save them from certain death. So many team fights and burst damage combos involve some sort of stun or root, so Cleanse can be worth its weight in gold in organized play.

Calldown: MULE can be helpful for countering a split push or a lane focused specialist, though it’s more of a stopgap than a true counter. MULEs buy your team time to group up and push back, although sometimes it’s just not enough.

Strangling Vines would be better if Entangling Roots did more damage, but considering they already hold a hero still for 1.5 seconds it’s pretty understandable why that’s not the case.

Level 10 Malfurion’s heroic talents at level 10 are polar opposites in more ways than one.

Tranquility is a fantastic AOE cooldown for team fights, especially since it will run for its full duration unless Malf is killed. It also moves with him, extends through terrain, allows Malfurion to cast his other abilities while it’s up. Of course, very focused burst damage from heroes like Nova or Jaina can cut through Tranquility’s HOT, so supplementing the heroic with some Entangling Roots or other crowd control to help mitigate the amount of damage coming in is ideal.

Twilight Dream seems like it’s there to provide an illusion of choice more than an attempt at a viable pick. It’s not that the damage on the ability is terrible: it’s how it’s delivered. Expecting a healer with no escape and little burst healing to wade into the middle of a team fight to get the most out of this talent is, quite simply, unrealistic.

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Level 13 At level 13 you have one very solid option and one situational option. Life Seed, the very solid option here, essentially allows you to cast 1.5 Regrowths for the same mana cost with the only caveat being that you need to pay attention to where the extra Regrowth goes so you don’t double up on a single hero. Note that the June 23rd patch increased the cooldown on this ability from 15 to 20 seconds, a slight nerf, though not enough to render Life Seed impotent.

Shrink Ray, the situational option, serves a fairly similar purpose to Ice Block, and in a lot of circles it’s a toss up between the two. The way I see it, Shrink Ray is the better choice because of its flexibility in both offensive and defensive situations. Ice Block takes Malf out of the fight for 3 seconds, during which time an ally could need healing or a shield, and the enemy team could easily push forward enough to completely surround the druid-cicle. With no disengage, your life-saving talent just turned into your tomb.

Full Moonfire was really nice in my experimental damage build, and it makes decloaking those sneaky assassins much easier, but at this point in the game you’ll want to be reinforcing your role as support and building into more damage is a bit counter-productive.

Level 16 As sad as it is to say, level 16 is the first talent tier where I feel like Malfurion has a tough choice to make. Of course, the choice is between only two talents, but it’s something!

Hardened Focus can be a good pick here. Keeping to the back line, out of harm’s way, you’ll be able to cast more heals and roots than you ever thought possible. The value of this talent lies in the ability to keep yourself above 80% health, so if the enemy team has some aggressive assassins you might want to go for Tenacious Roots instead. Landing your roots can be tricky, so making the ability more reliable in the late game is very valuable.

Hindering Moonfire is a distant third option; you could nab a stealther before they can go back into hiding or slow Rehgar’s puppy enough for a root or stun to go out, and with Moonfire’s short cooldown you could potentially chase for your quarry for quite a while. If you’re chasing in the late game, though, you’re either putting yourself wildly out of position and vulnerable to a counter gank, or so far ahead that the remainder of your team can do just fine without you.

Lunar Shower shares the same problems as Full Moonfire at level 13 — it’s a bit late in the day to be trying to eek out more damage.

Level 20 Finally we arrive at level 20 and Malfurion gets his last talent before the game ends. Here we see another one-or-the-other situation, this time between Serenity and Storm Shield, though I will give Bolt of the Storm an honorable mention for being such a good general talent.

Serenity is a good default choice because it simply makes your good heroic ability even better.

Storm Shield, meanwhile, requires team comp consideration because every other support in the game has access to the talent. Coordinate with your other support (if you have one, at least) to ensure you don’t have unnecessary overlapping.

Nightmare requires that you take Twilight Dream in order to build into it, and since you didn’t take Twilight Dream you’re not going to take this talent. That’s an easy decision.

Rewind is better suited for burst healers like Rehgar or Uther, because using Rewind to throw out another Regrowth won’t save anyone’s life when they’re being focused. The only real use this ability would get is casting two successive Entangling Roots, and in the end that’s just not enough.

Bolt of the Storm, however, is a talent I will rarely condemn as a “poor choice.” Many heroes with Bolt of the Storm at level 20 don’t have an escape in their basic kit, so grabbing the ability to get out of dodge every 40 seconds when you’re feeling pressured is never a bad decision.

Even though Malf is fairly inflexible, he is very good at what he does — sprinkling his allies with magic seeds to replenish their health. Tranquility and Entangling Roots in the hands of a skilled Malfurion player can be the foundation on which a team is built, so don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get in touch with your inner horticulturist! 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 7/14/2015.