First off I’d just like to say that as a long time Dota/League player, Heroes of the Storm Alpha has thus far been a very unique and refreshing take on the moba/ARTS/hero brawler genre and I am so excited for this game to move into beta so that I can show more of my friends how much fun heroes can be. So without further ado, here is my guide to Falstad.
DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be the best Falstad player, far from it, just someone who has played a lot of him and enjoyed the hero enough to create a guide for a hero that I feel is underplayed/underrated and generally not well understood. The guide is intended for beginner to intermediate Falstad players, but I welcome any thoughts/opinions/constructive criticism from fellow Falstad mains. After reading this guide you should at least have some understanding of the hero and how to play around him.
Stats lvl 1-25: Falstad has a very fragile lvl 1 hp stat of 710, one of the lowest in the game (roughly on the level of Nova and Valla), which scales to 3710 at lvl 25, 5th lowest in the game, and 3rd lowest if you remove Murky and Abathur. What this means is like your fellow ranged assassins, Valla and Nova, you will live and die by your positioning especially in large fights. Stunned Falstad = Dead Falstad. However, you have higher burst (and in AoE) than Valla and a more reliable escape mechanism than Nova so that is something to keep in mind.
Falstad has a base attack damage value of 34, which is middling among ranged heroes but scales into a very respectable attack damage stat of 284 at level 25 ranking 6th overall and 4th among ranged heroes (only 5 damage less than Nova). This promotes Falstad’s playstyle of weaving autoattacks in with his spells, and his passive makes orbwalking easy. However keep in mind that while Falstad can contribute to dps with his basic attacks, you are not Raynor, you are not Sgt. Hammer; your damage hinges on your accurate and timely use of abilities, and if you do not feel comfortable moving into auto range you can do more than fine with just the damage from your spells. Also, Falstad’s attack speed is mediocre at best so you should use the time between attacks to reposition (orbwalking).
Playstyle: Falstad is an AoE burst mage with considerable range and excellent mobility. If played well, he can be an omnipresent unkillable terror who can threaten even the tankiest heroes with his ludicrous damage.
I would say that his kit is best suited for pick-offs and counter-initiation. Wait until the opponent clumps and let ‘er rip!
-Arguable highest burst in the game when executing an overdrive rewind full rotation, and as gravy it is almost all AoE
-PLAYMAKER with fog Shock and Awe snipes
-Global presence = easy ganking and objectives with a numbers advantage
-Performs well in duels, skirmishes, and full on teamfights (most heroes only do well in 1 or 2 of these situations)
-Access to some of best talents in the game (rewind, battle momentum, overdrive) with decent hero-specific alternatives
-Can 100-0 anyone with a full combo (yes that means you too, Arthas)
-Can be easily baited
-Requires high map awareness to unlock full potential
-Spam happy = early game mana issues (as a Dota player I don’t spam my abilities enough to see this as a large weakness)
-Needs some levels to really get rolling
-Little utility other than raw damage
-Completely dependent on skillshots (if you aren’t using quickcast, you’re doing it wrong)
-Needs his team to play aggressive to engage fights where he can abuse his global pressure
-Needs peels vs certain heroes
Uther-Can give you sustain in lane which you lack, and his stun ultimate can combo into Shock and Awe. RIP teamfight.
Brightwing-He’s OP and the only thing better than Global Teleport is double Global Teleport! But seriously he has heals and stuff.
Illidan-One hero that you really can’t outduel. His flip makes it super hard to escape or hit your skillshots and he is not lacking in damage, he can also immediately respond to your flight with THE HUNT. However his teamfighting is crap and yours is God-tier so you can abuse that.
Zeratul-His stealth allows him to bypass your team and rip right into you. He is mobile enough to stick and has enough damage to kill you. Also be careful flying to help allies when Zeratul is missing, he might be waiting there for you to take the bait.
Nova-Mostly the same reasons as Zeratul only she is more fragile and less mobile, comes down to who lands their skillshots whether you can 1v1 her or not.
Tyrael-He has multiple gap-closers which means you are gonna need some peels from your team and he is tanky enough to dive you.
Abilities: you can find the full text for Falstad’s abilities here: http://heroesofthestorm.gamepedia.com/Falstad?version=be7bb0c49278a2e3f8eb73f2af4a8876
(Trait) Tailwind: 20% movespeed after not taking damage for 6 seconds.
This is part of what makes Falstad so mobile. Since he has a very nice escape heroes without a second gapcloser or considerable crowd control will find it difficult to stick to Falstad. Allows you to quickly dart in and out of spell/autoattack range in large fights and chase down fleeing heroes in skirmishes with ease.
(Q) Hammerang: Skillshot nuke with an added slow that returns to you.
The base damage is respectable but will eventually be talented to OMGWTF levels of damage later in the game. Note: The Hammerang will only deal damage once to each enemy it passes through, there is not any extra damage for hitting an enemy twice. Tip: This is your big, consistent source of damage and the only shred of crowd control that you have, if you are not comfortable hitting a max range Hammerang, just wait until you are a little closer (you are fast from tailwind) and then use it. This will often be the difference between a kill secured and your target escaping.
(W) Thunderstorm: Passive component deals decent damage to a nearby random unit every 8 seconds, activate to deal the same damage to 4 nearby enemies. These 4 hits can all hit the same enemy and each hit has its damage reduced by 25%.
The damage on this ability is only slightly less than the damage from your base Q. What makes it insane is that while the damage is reduced by 25% for each hit on the same target, 25% is not very much reduction. If all of the charges hit on the same target it does approximately 273.5% of the base ability damage to a single target, which makes this a VERY strong ability in a duel. Valla pls. Pro tip: This ability can only be activated if there are eligible targets somewhat close by. Which means if you are in the jungle with no nearby hostile creeps and the ability is lit up, an enemy is nearby either in the bushes or cloaked.
(E) Barrel Roll: Medium range dash with an added two second duration shield.
This is what makes you relatively safe on a solo lane or in teamfights and allows you to make ballsy plays. Note: This dash is capable of passing through impassable terrain such as trees and gaps in the docks on Blackheart’s Bay. I do not know every gap that can be passed through so you are going to have to just learn it from playing Falstad. Reminder: There is a shield component to the spell so if you find yourself in a duel scenario where you want to get that last Auto or two while staying alive, use this ability just for the shield. Who know you might even dodge a skillshot with it!
(Z) Flight: Long range teleport with a slight delay, replaces your mount. The range is roughly half of the Haunted Mines map (aboveground).
Appropriate use of this ability is what separates a great Falstad from a mediocre one. Most of my game I find that this ability is almost constantly on cooldown because I am either helping my teammates with ganks or objectives, or simply using it to reduce travel time back to lane. This is what allows Falstad to use laning tricks with proper coordination and can give your team a large experience advantage. Tip: You can use this ability to escape! However it can be interrupted by stuns and you will likely not live long enough to cast it if you have 2 or more enemies on you. Tip#2: NO ONE ESCAPES THE GRIFFON! Use Flight to hunt down distant stragglers after teamfights.
I am not going to go over all of the talents, just the ones I feel are most relevant. One nice thing is that Falstad does have some real options with his talents unlike some heroes; you don’t really feel that you are giving up too much by choosing one over the other cough Sgt. Hammer cough
here are 2 builds that I recommend: hero level 1-4 build: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/falstad#onps
This build makes do with the available talents and after the second ultimate is unlocked it plays very similar to the advanced build with slightly higher survivability and utility. Substitute Shock and Awe for Aerial Blitzkrieg as soon as it is unlocked but the other talents you can keep for as long as you want without sacrificing too much. This build is also good for newer players that may forget to use overdrive and/or rewind. It’s tough at first but soon you’ll get comfortable with working these two powerful abilities into your rotation and be combo’ing like a pro!
advanced build: http://www.heroesfire.com/hots/talent-calculator/falstad#sh8I
This build require a bit more micromanagement and focus to pull off but it is OH SO WORTH IT. No one is safe from your combos when you pop overdrive and feed them a face full of lightning. The ULTIMATE TECHNIQUE KAMEHAMEHA COMBO OF DEATH: Overdrive -> Q -> BOOMerang Q -> W -> Rewind -> Q -> BOOMerang Q -> W -> R This combo will vaporize even the tankiest heroes assuming you are not WAY behind in levels. Often a simple overdrive Q -> W -> R will be enough to finish off assassins, supports, and specialists.
My picks for Level 1: Seasoned Marksman, Bribe, or Updraft
Here is where I think you have the most leeway. The only clear losers here are improved dog fight and conjurer’s pursuit. Your mana issues are really only during early game and guess where conjurer’s pursuit is weakest: early game. Dog fight is lackluster because the shield is really not that impressive and odds are if you are getting any use out of the extra duration, you failed to escape and are dead anyways. At least with the range increase on updraft you have a better chance of getting away and activating tailwind. I would recommend updraft to newer players since you will be safer and you probably don’t feel comfortable enough to get much use out of seasoned marksman in later fights anyways. Bribe can be very good so go for it if that is your thing but my personal playstyle is to get seasoned marksman and BRING THE DAMAGE.
Level 4: Gathering Power, Wildhammer
I think that in the long run you get more mileage out of gathering power since it affects all of your abilities, but you can’t go too far wrong with Wildhammer. Since Hammerang is our most used ability 50% bonus damage to your first target is nothing to sneeze at and can be very powerful early on. Gathering power, however makes our ult even more ridiculous and helps our snowball potential, a couple stacks can boost our damage to insane levels. Play aggressively while you’re low on stacks even if it seems risky. Eventually you’ll string a couple kills together and make up for a weak early game.
Level 7: Battle Momentum, BOOMerang
Honestly, all of the talents in this tier are decent, but I only really enjoy the two that boost my damage. Battle Momentum is probably my favorite talent in the game but here it faces stiff competition from BOOMerang. The difference is playstyles. Battle Momentum can cut your ult cooldown by half or more, meaning it is up for every fight. So if it seems like a game of more small engagements with small breaks in fighting, aka more skirmishes I would go for Battle Momentum. BOOMerang, on the other hand, can nearly double our Hammerang damage if it connects, adds even more AoE, and makes our overdrive rewind combo even more deadly. If the explosion connects, our overdrive Q will drop squishy assassins below 50% and dent tanks.
Ultimate: Shock and Awe
This is really no contest. The range on Aerial Blitzkrieg is pretty pathetic in my opinion and the animation might as well say “FOCUS ME NOW” in big letters. That’s assuming they don’t just walk away and dodge it. Maybe it could work if you have some other faster initiation but it’s really not worth the effort when Shock and Awe is one of the longest range and highest damage abilities in the game. The nail in the coffin is that Shock and Awe even outdamages Aerial Blitzkrieg while actually synergizing with Falstad’s playstyle. Also, the width on Shock and Awe is actually decent, if you aim right at your target, odds are they will need to have fast reactions in addition to some type of blink ability to dodge it. Note: The range on Shock and Awe is about 40% of the range of your Flight ability for those of you who use quickcast, upgraded it is about 80% of the range of Flight. Tip: Falstad is about making plays and getting sick snipes! If you see a low hp enemy go into the fog, let it rip! You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and the cooldown is not particularly long (this goes double for the battle momentum build).
Level 13: Rewind
If you don’t feel comfortable managing the extra button you can get crippling hammer. I would recommend just keeping rewind around even if you think you will forget to use it because eventually you will start using it and then you will love it. Tip: Rewind reduces the cooldown of your escape! You might feel bad for using it defensively but it is better to use it suboptimally and stay alive than to save it and die. Two barrel rolls in four seconds is difficult to stick to and will likely guarantee your escape!
Level 16: Overdrive, Afterburner
Overdrive is the key ingredient in your burst and is more consistent than gathering power. The cooldown is not very long so use it whenever you think you have a kill opportunity as it will push your damage over the top. Afterburner is also a very good talent and I wish they had it on a different tier like in early alpha. This is your go-to choice if you don’t want the extra button press and makes you basically unkillable if you don’t get chain-stunned.
Level 20: Blast of Awe, Preparation
25% increased Shock and Awe damage? Yes please. Also with the increased range, if you see anyone squishier than E.T.C. below 1/3 hp on the map, pop overdrive and give them the LAZOR. Odds are they will not have the reaction speed to dodge. In teamfights you now are at your strongest, if you have an opportunity to hit 3 or more heroes with your overcharged ultimate, your team will likely win the fight just off of that. OK now on to preparation… PREPARATION? YOU HAVE ADVANCED TALENTS NOW SO WHY DID YOU TAKE AERIAL BLITZKRIEG!? Just kidding, if you did by chance still go for Aerial Blitzkrieg this talent actually makes it not terrible, but don’t get any ideas…
Falstad is amazing on: Dragon Shire, Cursed Hollow, Blackheart’s Bay
These maps have very powerful objectives that allow Falstad to abuse his global prescence.
Falstad is decent on: Garden of Terror
The objective on this map is not as game-changing and snowbally and the mechanics are not as favorable to Falstad. He is still the best hero in the game though so you should win this one anyways!
Falstad is mediocre on: Haunted Mines
You can’t fly into the mines which is fair but hinders our map presence. On the other hand this map is so small that you can Fly literally everywhere without having to move into range much at all unlike larger maps.
Dragon Shire, Cursed Hollow, Garden of Terror: Try to get solo middle lane. You can push very fast and you can easily reposition to either sidelane and tip the balance of early fights with a numbers advantage.
Blackheart’s Bay: Two ways to play this, either go solo bottom lane at first and soak exp until you can fly top and turn a fight. If the other team sends one bottom against you, you can fly top and get a 5v4, if they keep all 5 top then you push and give your team an experience advantage but communicate to your team that it is not in their best interest to fight 5v4 till you secure the exp advantage. OR you can start top with your team and fight on the Watchtower and see what you can get. If you win the early fight then you’re already golden. If you lose then don’t freak out, just Fly bottom lane and soak exp till you catch up.
Haunted Mines: With this map I would recommend doing a 4-1 split on the lanes. You solo while your 4 teammates try and get a good fight on their lane, you can easily fly to their aid if needed.
You should be at every fight or objective unless it is in your team’s best interest to just play passive and soak exp.
Early game: Keep your eye on the map while soaking exp. If you see a good opportunity to get aggressive and turn a fight, do it. Your damage is not great yet but your Q and W can take about 2/3 off a hero if they connect. Keep in mind that you have no sustain so if your laning opponent does have healing you should not look for trades. If your opponent is squishy and lacks sustain then you can look to drop them low. However, if you are going to feed at all during the game, it will be now while you are slightly not as strong as you are later (I would never use the word “weak” when describing this hero). If that happens, don’t worry just keep trying and eventually you’ll string together a couple kills and not be too far behind. On the other hand, if you can get the snowball going early there are not many ways to stop Falstad because of how well he scales.
Mid game: You hit a huge power spike at each of your talents, moreso than other heroes. Use your global presence to make plays on objectives. For example a good Falstad can pretty much dominate Dragon Shire on his own by being a nuisance. Your burst might not be insane just yet but as long as you’re not too behind you can easily comeback and carry.
Late Game: I would call this level 16+. If you made it this far, congratulations, you are likely winning teamfights on your own by now with your OMGWTF burst. You can duel anyone as long as you hit your skillshots and you can drop a whole team to 50% hp or below with one overcharged Shock and Awe. While it may be tempting to save your ultimate for the end of teamfights to secure a kill, try to land it whenever you see enemies clumped and can hit 3 or more. This is not to say that you should’t use it for pickoffs, that is a different story and I would encourage it. An ult for a hero is always a good trade! (except murky) A word of caution though, this is also the phase of the game when you need to have the best positioning. At this point melee assassins have become scary and odds are if you’ve been having a decent game, they will be looking to come straight for you. Also be extra careful of baits as this is when they can be the most devastating. Odds are if you see someone solo-pushing a lane, they aren’t solo! Don’t give in to the temptation to Fly into the fog of war!
Tips for the game in general:
Play aggressive and don’t be afraid to make mistakes! You learn fastest by making aggressive plays and learning your limits!
Never rage or give up on a game! You’re playing FALSTAD THE BEST HERO IN THE GAME! It’s only a matter of time before you win! Just don’t lose before that time!
Getting good at Heroes, Dota, League etc. is all about experience! Don’t get discouraged if your first few matches don’t go so well, everyone was a noob at some point!
NOW GET OUT THERE AND PLAY SOME FALSTAD! FOR AERIE PEAK!