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Heroes of the StormDec 6, 2019 10:00 am CT

Deathwing explodes into Heroes of the Storm alongside the first Nexus Anomaly

Tremble mortals, and despair! Doom has come to the Nexus. Deathwing has finally made it to Heroes of the Storm. He’s been playable for a few days now, and he’s just causing all sorts of havoc in games all across the Nexus. I don’t think there has been a hero with this much of a gap between being announced and being playable, but the wait is finally over. Well, one wait is over —  you still might be looking at a hefty queue time if you’re trying to play him in Quick Matches. Remember that if you attended BlizzCon or bought the Virtual Ticket that you got Deathwing for free, so go be the best Dragon you can be!

Blizzard really pulled out all the stops with Deathwing. They even got Kevin Michael “Cloaken” Johnson back to be the narrator in the Deathwing video. It was super great to hear his voice again — the Qhira spotlight just didn’t feel the same without him. His voice just feels like the Nexus to me, so much so that he’s now the only announcer I use when I’m playing. It’s just not a good game unless I get to hear him say, “Hey what’s up, I’m Kevin from the Heroes dev team, and I’m here to announce your game.”

How to play Deathwing

Deathwing feels like one of the best heroes they’ve ever released. He captures the fantasy of being a giant world-ending Dragon supremely well. When you play him you feel large and in charge, and the hardest thing to realize is that you’re not invincible. He’s well made and has great talents, but lesson one is that you can’t do everything by yourself. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Make sure that you’re not overcommitting to fights and that your team is in place to back you up.

You’re such a large character that it can be hard for the enemy team to ignore you — and you can use that to your advantage. If they’re all looking at you, they won’t notice the Valla who is tearing through their Support. You’ll especially want to have teammates who can help keep the enemy team locked down. Stuns and Roots mean that you’ll have an easier time landing your abilities. Everything you do has some wind-up which nimble heroes like Tracer can exploit to stay alive longer.

With the ability to swap between Destroyer and Worldbreaker you’ll have some extra choices on how to approach each fight. I’ve found that the up close and personal Destroyer form really shines in the early game or in games with a lot of melee heroes. The overall damage is lower and there aren’t as many heroes who have access to their abilities that do damage based on how much health you have. As the fight goes on you can transition to using Worldbreaker more to help with stuns and slows, and to give yourself some space so you can make a quick retreat if things are going poorly. If you’re going to build around staying in Destroyer form, it pairs well with the Bellowing Roar ultimate. Since you’re going to be surrounded by melee, you might as well make them fear you.

Defeating Deathwing

Deathwing actually feels like one of the most balanced heroes they’ve released. He’s not so overpowered that he’ll completely run roughshod over any enemy team — like Qhira can if she’s not locked down. Beating Deathwing really comes down to treating him like a raid boss from World of Warcraft. Get him alone, and then beat him up as fast as possible before he can do too many things.

While Deathwing does have a large health pool it’s not the largest in-game — that honor still belongs to Cho’gall. Deathwing is more comparable to Stitches by the late game, so he’s very vulnerable to being separated from his team and focused hard. Falstad excels at this with Mighty Gust — since Deathwing is permanently unstoppable you can Gust his team away from him to get him all alone. Medivh and Zeratul also work well for this with their Void Prison and Ley Line Seal ultimates.

Heroes that do health % damage as part of their base abilities are also really strong choices to counter Deathwing — Malthael, Leoric, and Tychus all have massive percent based damage from level one. Plus with how large Deathwing is it’s really easy to land abilities on him like Leoric’s Drain Hope. You can really ruin Deathwing’s day if you steal a quarter of his health bar with one ability as soon as he comes crashing down. There are lots of other heroes that can talent into percent based damage at level 13 to 16, too. Might be a good time to try out the recent buffs to Zagara, and drop some superpowered Roaches on his head.

Deathwing’s size also makes it really easy to body block him from escaping, especially if he’s been greedy and landed in a tight spot. Try and have a tank get between him and escape routes and hope that you can outlive him. Greed will wind up being your best friend against a Deathwing. Wait for him to make mistakes and punish him for them. When he takes the talent that resets his Cataclysm ultimate when Forts and Keeps die, a lot of players will start being really reckless with engages around lower health buildings. Watch as he overextends and becomes an easy target. It turns out that the biggest counter to Deathwing is his own hubris.

Nexus Anomalies and you

Deathwing isn’t alone though, he’s also come in alongside the first of the new Nexus Anomalies. Announced at BlizzCon Nexus Anomalies are temporary changes to how the game plays. They’re intended to last for about a seasons length of time, but if they wind up being popular they may be made permanent. This first Nexus Anomaly is all about how you earn experience.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment (Official Post)

  • Minions no longer give Experience by killing them, but instead drop an Experience Globe that must be collected.
    • Footman and Archer Minions (and their equivalent on different Battlegrounds) drop an Experience Globe that lasts for 6 seconds and awards 80 experience (plus 2 every minute).
    • Wizard Minions no longer give Experience, but Experience Globe values have been increased to compensate.
    • Experience Globes slowly move toward the closest allied Hero within 6 range, and are collected when an allied Hero comes within 1.5 range.
    • Experience Globes will not move toward Heroes that are hidden in bushes or Stealthed, but they can be still collected by these Heroes if they move within 1.5 range.
  • A few Heroes have special interactions with Experience Globes.
    • Ragnaros Lava Wave will now instantly collect Experience Globes as it passes by.
    • Abathur’s Symbiote is treated as a Hero for the purposes of collecting Experience Globes.
    • Hallucinations like Samuro’s Mirror Images or Nova’s Holo Clones are treated as a Hero for the purposes of collecting Experience Globes.

This is a pretty major change. I can see it being pretty helpful at lower levels of play since the concept of soaking experience by standing near minions is something that some players haven’t quite grasped, but it’s going to be less impactful at the high levels. There it’ll be less about being near minions, and more about how well you can bully the people who are in the lane with you away from the orbs. Ranged heroes could have a much harder time going up against bruisers like Sonya and Thrall now.

The experience orbs will also make quick minion wave clears more dangerous in the late game. Before someone like Li-Ming could toss an Arcane Orb out and already be turning around and heading for the next lane, now she’ll have to put herself in danger to make sure that the experience comes her way. Plus with all those heroes getting special globe interactions they forgot about poor Azmodan. He was a multi-lane powerhouse, leaving demons behind to get experience, sending lieutenants to get other lanes, or even just throwing giant globes of annihilation one lane over — none of those will absorb experience globes anymore.

I love the idea of Anomalies in theory, but if an Anomaly doesn’t feel great to play then you’re stuck with it for the next few months until a new one shows up. I know that they don’t want to split their player base even more between different modes, but it would be nice to have some options about playing with them, especially if there’s always going to be an Anomaly active.

Deathwing is an amazing hero. He won’t fit into every match but played properly you’ll bring ruination to your enemies. Now go out there and be the best world-destroying dragon that you can be — just make sure you watch out for the Anomaly’s twist!

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