Hi there. I’m Fusillade, currently #156 on the NA solo Q ladder for HOTS. I played League of Legends for 6 years before transferring over to Heroes. I see that there’s a lot of requests for a guide for new players (especially those coming from Overwatch) and I’d figured I should make it so I can give them a wide overview of the game and also reevaluate my knowledge of the game (which is mostly instinct by now).
Heroes of the Storm (HOTS) is technically a MOBA, but calls itself a hero brawler game. There are 11 battlegrounds (Haunted Mines not included). The goal of the game is to destroy the opposing team’s core, and each battleground has a specific objective to give an advantage to a team towards that goal. Each battlegrounds consists of 2-3 lanes, and each lane has two forts (the second one is called a keep) and two gates with two turrets each. I’ll do a quick overview of each map and its objective.
Battlefield of Eternity (2 lanes): First to kill the enemy immortal will have theirs push the stronger lane (in terms of structures), shield is dependent on how much HP is left on the living immortal
Blackheart’s Bay (3 lanes): Collect doubloons from chests and merc camps and channel them to Blackheart to fire cannons at enemy structures
Braxis Holdout (2 lanes): Hold both beacons to make progress towards zerg waves. First team to get 100% will release zerg waves (sizes depends on progress) in both lanes for both teams
Cursed Hollow (3 lanes): Capture 3 tributes to disable enemy structures through the curse
Dragon Shire (3 lanes): Capture the 2 shrines at the top and bottom of the map and have someone channel the statue in the middle of the map to take control of the DK (which is designed to destroy structures)
Garden of Terror (3 lanes): Collect 100 seeds from shamblers (15 from the small ones, 50 from the big one) to be able to summon a Garden Terror
Infernal Shrines (3 lanes): Activate the shrine and defeat 30 guardians to summon a Punisher to push its respective lane (will also periodically jump-stun the nearest enemy hero)
Sky Temple (3 lanes): Hold temples to have them fire lasers at enemy structures, the last shot will fire 5 rapid lasers after temple is depleted or guardians are defeated
Tomb of the Spider Queen (3 lanes): Kill ranged minions (spiders) or heroes to collect gems and turn them into one of two altars to summon Webweavers to push all 3 lanes. Initial cost starts at 50 gems and increases by 5 for each turn in.
Towers of Doom (3 lanes): Channel altars to fire shots on the enemy core, damage is dependent on number of bell towers owned
Warhead Junction (3 lanes): Collect Warheads and use F to launch a nuke in a targeted area (deals 50% more damage in the middle)
Each team shares an experience pool. Experience is collected throughout the game and determines the levels of all heroes on the team. There are 4 ways of collecting experience:
- Soaking (being near a minion when it dies)
- Enemy hero kills
- Destroying enemy structures (towers, forts, keep)
- Experience over time (very small)
In general, you should prioritize soaking for most of the game. It is the most consistent form of experience and worth a lot more than kills early on. Laning is very simple: just soak the waves. You don’t need to last hit. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter who’s in the lane. Usually, you want a strong solo laner to hold one lane, but the simplest way to handle laning is to match each lane in terms of number of heroes and constantly rotate (move from one lane to the other) to look for ganks or to assist a lane in trouble.
Levels and Talents
Each hero has an individually unique talent pool which augments current abilities and/or stats, or gives them new abilities. Talents are available at levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. Level 10 gives Heroic abilities (which are basically ultimates) and level 20 gives Storm talents (which augment Heroics or give very strong late game abilities). Talents are why getting experience is important. The first team to get level 10 will have a huge advantage over the other one, and in general, having a talent tier above the other team is an advantage. If your team is slow to level 10, it is heavily advised to avoid combat and soak until they reach this point to have even ground.
Heroes and Player Progression
HOTS has a dual progression system: player and heroes. Each game’s accumulated team experience is applied to both the player’s account and the hero they played. Player progression is capped at level 40 and heroes at 20. Gold is given at specific levels, one key point is that when a hero reaches level 5, they grant 500 gold. Therefore, I heavily advise you to get as many heroes to level 5 ASAP to get this gold. Ranked is unlocked when a player is level 30 and they have at least 14 heroes available (owned + free hero rotation) at level 5.
Each hero has one of 4 roles: Assassin, Warrior, Support, and Specialist.
Assassins: Damage dealers. Usually classed as ranged/melee and sustained/burst
Warriors: Mostly melee heroes who are designed to soak up damage and deal CC
Supports: Healers/Supportive heroes that provide healing/shielding and some CC
Specialist: Unique heroes that each have a certain niche. Usually push heavy and classified similarly to assassins
General team comps consist of at least 1 warrior for tank, 1 ranged DPS, 1 melee DPS (can be a warrior or assassin), and 1 support, with the 5th being a flex hero (most commonly another ranged/melee DPS, 2nd warrior for damage, or 2nd support).
My Recommended Heroes for New Players
When you first start, you should be figuring out the game and how heroes work. Here’s my personal recommendations to get familiar with hero roles and the game.
Ranged DPS: Raynor
Raynor is your typical “AD Carry.” He sits at range and steadily shoots people. He is immobile, so by playing Raynor, you should be mainly focused on learning how to position, which IMO is the #1 key to being a great player. You should be positioned in the back behind your tank and dealing damage as much as you can, retreating when necessary and pushing forward when you can.
Talents: 1 (Seasoned Marksman,) 4 (Focused Attack), 7 (Revolution Overdrive), 10 (Hyperion), 13 (Giant Killer), 16 (Executioner/Bullseye), 20 (Nexus Frenzy)
Johanna is designed to soak up a lot of damage, and she’s quite easy to play. She has innate wave clear and sustain through talents. Your general playstyle should be walking into minion waves with W, using Q to wave clear/chase, using E for blinding auto attack DPS, and hitting D whenever you are taking a lot of damage or CC’d. As a tank, you should be either leading the charge or peeling back for your DPS. She has plenty of CC to do both.
Talents: 1 (Reinforce), 4 (Laws of Hope), 7 (Blessed Momentum), 10 (Blessed Shield), 13 (Burning Rage), 16 (Holy Renewal/Blessed Hammer/Imposing Presence), 20 (Indestructible).
Malfurion is another position dependent hero, but he’s very strong right now in the current meta and simple to play. Use Q to heal a large amount over time, use W to clear waves or poke, use E to root, and use D to give Mana and cooldown reduction to an ally (only usable on heroes with mana). He’s quite immobile, so he’s a heavy target for divers. You should be sitting in the back and using your heals when needed.
Talents 1 (Shan’do’s Clarity/Moonburn), 4 (Elune’s Grace), 7 (Strangling Vines), 10 (Tranquility), 13 (Life Seed), 16 (Tenacious Roots), 20 (Storm Shield/Bolt of the Storm)
IMO, these are the strongest heroes in the current meta for your reference.
Assassins: Samuro, Li-Ming, Valla, Falstad, Tychus
Warriors: Muradin, ETC, Johanna, Zarya and Dehaka (As 2nd warriors)
Support: Malfurion, Brightwing, Auriel
Specialists: Sgt. Hammer, Xul, Sylvanas, Zagara
Quick Tips for HOTS Gameplay
*ALWAYS WATCH YOUR MAP. The easiest way to find the enemy heroes is by seeing where they’re not (if they aren’t on the map, chances are they are rotating to another lane for a gank).
*Siege camps are available on each map and are designed with a single purpose: to push a lane. Early on, don’t prioritize camps over soak. Only take them when they can be done quickly enough to not waste a lot of time doing other things and when they can be done safely.
*The same tip for siege camps applies to bosses, but they are a lot riskier since they have a lot more health. It is recommended to at least destroy the fort in the lane that the boss is in so you can get more value out of its push and have the majority of your team assist in capturing it.
*USE QUICK CAST. You can set this in Hotkeys -> Quick Cast Setting. Quick cast will allow you to cast abilities faster.
*You can self-cast an ability by pressing ALT with an ability button. This is very useful for casting supportive abilities on yourself (heals, shields, Azmodan’s Black Pool).
*ALWAYS MOUNT UP (Z) WHEN YOU HAVE IDLE TIME. The extra movespeed can help you move to other places on the map faster and also increases your ability to react to enemy movements.
*If you haven’t reached level 6 or 10 as a player, you should definitely join the Recruit A Friend program to get Raynor and Sylvanas and a stimpack for free.
*Use Try Mode to figure out heroes/talents. This is a great function of the game as you can preview a hero/skin in a simulated scenario.
*Use hotslogs.com to see popular talent builds and winrates. Usually, the most popular talent is the “best” talent, but you can try to see why it’s popular and if another talent suits your personal playstyle better.
*The fountain heals your for 50% hp and 40% mana over a period of time, but can only be used every 2 mins. Use it wisely.
*Hitting B will send you back to your altar (spawn point) after channeling for a few seconds. You will be healed a base amount of HP and Mana immediately and the rest over time. Remember to hearth whenever you need to (hearthing early in the game should heal you to full instantly, so don’t spend too much time in there).
*Stealth heroes (Zeratul, Nova, Samuro) will have a bluish shimmer over their heroes. They can be revealed if they are damaged or CC’d.
*Experience is the best way to learn. Observe what each hero does and what talents they get so you can learn how to play/deal with them.
I took quite a while to type this and I may have missed a few things, but I’ll be around to answer any questions. I hope this guide was worth your while and have fun in the Nexus!