Heroes of the Storm: Leoric guide
The Skeleton King, driven mad in life and eventually betrayed, has arrived in the Nexus to haunt all who oppose him. A powerful Warrior hero, Leoric literally haunts the battlefield as an ever-present force in both life and death. He may be a slow attacker, but his damage makes up for it and his health-stealing will send your enemies running away (though not always escaping). Additionally, he has one of the coolest crossover skins in the game in the form of Vrykul Leoric (and its many vrykul-themed color variations).
Before jumping into the full guide, a few quick build suggestions are listed below if you want to just dive right into Leoric play. A more detailed breakdown of each talent option can be found later in the guide.
This build is focused around Leoric’s Drain Hope ability and will make health almost a non-issue. It sacrifices some of the utility and tanking talents but gives you some very strong health-stealing.
This build uses the go-to tank talents to allow Leoric to get up close and personal with his enemies. It sacrifices some damage output for the sake of pure tanking but will allow you to take on most enemies or safely engage team fights.
This build is my favorite because it balances many of Leoric’s individually strong talents for a build that gives decent damage output and still adds some decent survivability (or a shorter death timer if you do die). The downside is that it sacrifices some of the more synergistic aspects of Leoric’s talent tiers.
Skeletal Swing (Q): Leoric may only have one offensive basic ability that can be used on non-heroes but it’s one of the game’s heaviest hitters. This ability is great at clearing minion waves very quickly or doling out a burst of damage against structures. The key to using this ability effectively is knowing where to position Leoric to hit the most targets. If used in the right location, this can hit an entire minion wave or the triple-threat of two towers and the gate in between them.
Drain Hope (W): Leoric’s skill shot, Drain Hope can only be used on heroes but its use is a necessary part of Leoric’s toolkit. The healing and damage from this are both percentage based, which gives it incredible power. The downside to this is that (unless talented) it will slow you, so be sure to use it as close to your enemies as possible, otherwise they will break the channel and waste the use. Recent changes to the ability have reduced the damage and healing by 5% each, but also prevents it from being interrupted by stuns and changes it to do consistent damage and healing per tick. However, considering the most difficult part of using the ability is keeping in range and avoiding (or hoping to avoid) stuns, we think the changes balance out.
Wraith Walk (E): A surprisingly challenging ability to master, Wraith Walk has an incredible range of usefulness but can be very dangerous if not used carefully. The most important part of this ability to remember is that your body stays behind and remains attackable until you teleport to your Wraith. Outside of that, this ability is great to escape from roots or blockades (such as Malfurion’s Entangling Roots or an enemy Leoric’s Entomb), or as a way to pass between objects. Just be sure you know where your ghost is before the channel ends or you may find yourself stuck too close to enemies or their towers.
Entomb (R): Leoric’s first heroic ability, Entomb is his crowd-control option but can still be just as deadly as any offensive option. The tomb can be used against any number of heroes if you’re able to find them traveling close together. If you have someone else on your team with a targeted ability such as Nova’s Precision Strike, try to time this tomb in such a way that will prevent your enemies from escaping. Be aware of any heroes who can path through or over walls, though, as a Dwarf Toss or Haunting Wave will negate this ability’s effectiveness.
March of the Black King (R): A truly terrifying show of strength, Leoric’s second heroic ability outshines Entomb — if you can hit enemies with it. The downside to this ability is that it’s relatively easy to dodge if your enemy sees it coming. There is no way to adjust your course once you’ve used this ability, which makes its usefulness vary much more than Entomb’s. The healing from this can bring Leoric from nearly dead to nearly full if you hit enough enemies and the damage is impressive, but, again, if you miss any of the swings, the ability is significantly less effective.
Undying (Trait): The defining characteristic of Leoric, Undying keeps Leoric on the map where you want him the entire match and is a key part of his gameplay. While you are Undying, two of your abilities are altered (see below) and become the tools you will use to both harass the team while dead and cheat death to bring yourself back to life more quickly. Certain talents that restore health also contribute to Undying’s ability to bring Leoric back to life more quickly.
The most important aspect of this trait to remember is that, unlike Murky or The Lost Vikings, each of Leoric’s deaths still counts as a full death and gives the enemies full experience. You absolutely need to be sure you are not too far into enemy territory when you fully resurrect or you risk dying all over again and feeding the enemy team.
Ghastly Swing (Q): During Undying, your Skeletal Swing loses some — okay, all — of its oomph but still can be used as an effective tool to help your team with a well-timed slow.
Drain Essence (W): Similarly, during Undying, Drain Hope loses its offensive capabilities but is a key component of bringing Leoric back into the fold as quickly as possible. Using this ability on cooldown during Undying will lessen your death timer and is what makes Leoric’s deaths different from other deaths.
Tips for playing Leoric
Leoric is a relatively straightforward Warrior that can be easy to learn but a little more difficult to master. Playing him most effectively comes down to knowing how to make the most of his Undying trait and not feeding the other team with a poorly placed resurrection. Deal as many slows as possible to support your team, heal as often as possible, and place yourself strategically before you resurrect.
As for abilities, each has a different function which makes mastering Leoric come down to knowing when and how to use each type to its full effect. Maximizing Skeletal Swing is a matter of knowing how to hit the most enemies and when to save it for a well placed slow; the key to Drain Hope is not letting your enemies outrun it (though this is no longer a huge damage loss because the damage has been changed to be consistent per tick rather than increasing over time); and Wraith Walk is arguably the most difficult basic ability to master, as knowing when to cancel its effect is paramount in escaping before being killed. Similarly, both of his heroic abilities require good timing and placement. It is a good idea to examine all his talents ahead of time to see what sort of build you would like to go for, as many of his talent tiers work very well with each other.
My personal favorite this tier is Reanimation. Not only does it act as a good way to keep Leoric alive and on the field longer, but it works during Undying to bring Leoric back faster. With Leoric’s strong minion-clearing capabilities, gathering the regeneration orbs needed for this is fairly easy.
Another popular choice is Hopelessness, which gives you more leniency with your Drain Hope. The reason I typically shy away from this talent is because the tier 13 options offer a way to remove the slowing effect from Drain Hope. If you don’t choose that talent in tier 13, this can be useful but gathering both will usually be overkill (at least in my experience).
I’ve personally almost never had mana issues with Leoric, so Mana Thirst isn’t a talent I ever take. However, if you find yourself using mana too quickly, this is an excellent boost to your staying power. Similarly, Block isn’t an ability I take too often but it can be helpful if you want to go for a full-tank build.
My favorite choice here is Willing Vessel, which adds a flat 5% healing to Drain Hope. Late game especially, this can be a significant amount of health returned. Enemies who break your Drain Hope channel will make this talent less useful, but considering it can’t be interrupted by stuns and the damage per tick is now consistent (rather than increasing over time), this is less of a downside than it once was. However, if you have trouble keeping it channeled, it might be better to avoid this talent until you have mastered making the most of Drain Hope.
Fealty Unto Death‘s mana return is, again, not something I find particularly useful since mana is rarely an issue on Leoric. Its health return, however, can be useful as a way to stay alive and have a consistent map presence. The more important aspect of this talent is that it works during Undying. I still don’t prefer this over Willing Vessel, since the most useful aspect requires you to die, but it is an appealing choice, especially if combined with Leoric’s other healing talents.
Hardened Bones and Royal Focus both alter your Wraith Walk and can be useful, but I find them to be a little too situational to be picked over the other talents. Hardened Bones certainly comes in handy if you tend to use Wraith Walk solely as an escape mechanism whereas Royal Focus is entirely the opposite and only boosts Wraith Walk’s usefulness as a movement ability.
All of the level 7 talent options are fairly comparable. Personally, Ossein Renewal and Ghastly Reach are my top two picks for this tier but your choice will largely depend on how you prefer to play Leoric. Ossein Renewal is great for keeping yourself alive during team fights or for coming back more quickly after dying, and 20% is a significant portion of health to return. Ghastly Reach makes the range on Skeletal Swing, quite frankly, huge. If you can aim your swings and hit your targets regularly, it won’t top the other options here but it still remains a nice choice if you like making Leoric even more inescapable.
Paralyzing Rage can be a great way to slow enemy heroes, but modifying only the movement component of Skeletal Swing means it’s less useful when it comes to buildings or minions.
I tend to avoid Lingering Apparition because a longer Wraith Walk just means Leoric is exposed for a longer time. If you use Wraith Walk purely as a way to maneuver around the map, though, it will only make that easier.
As discussed above, I prefer Entomb simply because I find it easier to get the most use out of. Truthfully, both heroic abilities are strong options to fit whichever playstyle you prefer with Leoric as long as you are able to aim them well and use them when your team will get the most out of each. March of the Black King‘s biggest drawback is its set path once cast but even one or two hits will heal Leoric significantly and deal massive damage to enemies.
Another great talent tier, each option here adds to a different aspect of Leoric’s play. Crushing Hope and Drain Momentum are my favorites and will change how you think about using Drain Hope. If your enemies rarely escape you, then Drain Momentum is not really as viable. If you find them running away often, though, this is a great way to get the most out of Drain Hope without worrying about it being cancelled. Crushing Hope, if you’re confident you can keep Drain Hope channeled, is an amazing talent for damage output since the bonus is a flat 10% of your enemy’s health.
Spell Shield and Burning Rage are the other two options and both have their uses as well. Take Spell Shield if you want to go with a full tanking build and give a little extra survivability against enemies, especially in team fights. Burning Rage adds a little extra damage to enemy heroes and makes clearing minion waves a little easier, but with his already-strong minion-clearing abilities, the other talents here may be more beneficial.
With how strong Skeletal Swing is, Renewed Swing is my top choice every time. Being able to cast it twice allows you to clear minions, throw out lots of damage to buildings and heroes, and slow twice in a row. The most important part of this talent is making sure the second swing is still aimed where you want it to be aimed (and that you use it before the free cast expires).
Imposing Presence is the tank option this tier and will benefit your team during team fights. Personally, I don’t find it stronger than the other options, but it’s still a great choice for a full-tank build.
Consume Vitality and Unyielding Despair both give Leoric ways to heal himself more often. Each has its benefits and your choice between the two will likely depend on how often (and on how many enemies) you find yourself using Skeletal Swing and Drain Hope. I don’t find survival a big issue on Leoric, so I shy away from these talents in favor of Renewed Swing. The regeneration is still great, though, and Consume Vitality can be especially useful during Undying if you find yourself dying often.
Spectral Leech is a very popular pick at level 20 because it adds both significant damage and survivability when Leoric is up against enemy heroes. This late in the game, this talent can make a huge difference, especially against enemies with a similarly slow attack speed.
Hardened Shield, like always, is the tanking option here and can be a great choice for team fights and for players who like to get right in the middle of battle.
Death March and Buried Alive both alter your heroic choice but are also both dependent on actually getting efficient use out of those choices. Each is a strong option and can be taken if you frequently engage in team fights and know how to maximize your heroic ability’s effectiveness but overall I still prefer Spectral Leech since it will always have a place when up against other heroes.
That about sums up The Skeleton King! He’s a very strong Warrior, even with the recent nerfs to his Skeletal Swing. Knowing how to make the most of his Undying trait and his survival mechanics will differentiate the beginners from the masters. His talents give him a variety of playstyle options, so it’s best to give him a few games to see how you’re most comfortable playing him before choosing a definitive talent set. Good luck!
Written by Michael Mitchell. Last updated 11/17/15