This is a guide for nearly everything Gazlowe, a melee specialist hailing from the Warcraft universe and everyone’s favorite jungler. I want to try and cover as many topics as I can.
I will admit that I am not an expert, but I do have a reasonable amount of experience with ~50 games as Gazlowe under my belt. I think I’ve got a pretty solid grasp of him by now, but I am more than open to any criticisms. If you see anything wrong or have anything to add, feel free to drop a comment.
- [D]Salvager – One of the keys to being a good Gazlowe is making use of his combat trait. Picking up scrap restores mana and reduces CDs, allowing him to use his abilities more frequently and aggressively. You should almost always clean up your turrets after you finish with them, with just a few exceptions, since a salvaged turret will replace itself in a couple seconds. Note that the buff from picking up scrap stacks the duration; if you have 1 second remaining on your salvage buff and pick up another piece of scrap, you’ll have 4 seconds remaining on the buff.
- [Q]Rock-It Turrets, 70 mana, 15s CD, 2 charges – The bread and butter ability for any Gazlowe. They’re his primary means of dealing damage and give him a health buffer versus mercenaries and minions. Since they drop scrap when destroyed/salvaged/timing out, they also let him use his other abilities much more frequently. If you have even the tiniest reason to drop a turret, drop a turret. If you’re not mounted and are in an area somewhat near where some enemies are, that’s reason enough to drop a turret. You don’t have to stop moving to drop a turret, so drop them even when you’re being chased.
- [W]Deth Lazor, 75 mana, 15s CD – In spite of its high damage and long range, the Deth Lazor is far more situational than his turrets for one very specific reason: the cast time. It takes a very long time to charge up to its full damage, locking him in place until the lazor is fired. I recommend using this in two situations (ignoring, for the moment, talents, which I’ll address later): picking off someone running away at low health or initiating against someone before they can notice. Note that you don’t have to complete the ‘cast’ for full damage, it hits the third charge level (and thus, max damage) halfway through the cast time.
- [E]Xplodium Charge, 60 mana, 12s CD – Difficult to use without the right talents or set up, but, remarkably, less situational than the Deth Lazor. Due to their lower mana cost and long duration stun, Xplodium charges are great for softening up/killing minion waves and making merc camps easier to solo. I wouldn’t recommend using this against enemy heroes unless you pick up Grav-O-Bomb. Most people will just move out of it.
- [R1]Grav-O-Bomb 3000, 100 mana, 110s CD – Without a doubt, this is the most commonly chosen heroic ability for Gazlowe. The reason for that is that it allows Gazlowe to pull off a ‘wombo combo’ in combination with his Xplodium charges, capable of dealing significant amounts of damage to anyone caught within the blast and stunning them afterwards. This is a huge boost to Gazlowe’s strength in team fights.
- [R2]Robo-Goblin, 100 mana, 100s CD – While Grav-O-Bomb is the standard choice, the Robo-Goblin is still fairly strong, especially late game. It essentially turns Gazlowe into the Dragon Knight every time it’s used and can be used to take down the Grave Golems on Cursed Hollow and Blackheart’s Bay a bit earlier than you would without it (in theory, I think you could manage it as early as level 10). With the Mecha-Lord talent upgrade, it becomes almost permanent and makes you very threatening to enemy heroes as long as you can stay in range.
- Area Control – Gazlowe can be an absolute nightmare for enemy teams once he’s set up. On any map with a static objective (like, say, Dragon Shire or Cursed Hollow), Gazlowe can be a huge help in controlling those objectives.
- Mercenary Camps – Gazlowe is absolutely unrivaled when it comes to taking mercenary camps. No one can take them as quickly, as easily or as efficiently as he can without Bribe stacks.
- Independent – This applies more to solo-queuing than groups, but it doesn’t really matter who Gazlowe’s grouped with. As long as your team comp isn’t horribly skewed, you should be absolutely fine.
- The Wombo Combo (Special) – With the right talents, Gazlowe has one of the most potent, if not the most potent, combos in the game. More on that in the Grav-O-Bomb section.
- Mobility – In short, he has none and he’s exceptionally weak on the move. Catch him out of position and he can neither get away nor really do much of anything to you. This is what Gazlowe pays for his excessive amounts of area control.
- Predictable – Potentially, anyway. A merc-focused Gazlowe will, presumably, spend much of their time on mercenaries. This means that if an enemy keeps their eye on mercenary timers, they’ll have an easy time catching him without much support from his team.
- Mana – Gazlowe’s mana can be finnicky. Even with scrap restoring mana, it’s always less than what you invested. It can be very easy to get caught up in spamming abilities and end up out of mana. It’s actually not terribly uncommon for me to hearth back to base for mana.
- Regeneration Master – This just…isn’t good. To its credit, if Gazlowe focuses on Mercenaries, he might end up picking up more globes than the rest of his team in the long run? Who knows. I don’t want to tell people what to do, but I’ll make an exception here: Don’t take Regeneration Master. You’ll be happier with literally any other choice.
- Demolitionist – This can be very strong in the early game. Gazlowe pushes very well, even at very low levels. It’s possible to make good use out of this while taking advantage of that. It trails off late game, however, where the problem isn’t so much the ammo, it’s the enemy heroes.
- Scrap-o-Matic Smelter – This extends Gazlowe’s mana into ‘nigh infinite’ range. It makes turrets essentially free as long you pick up the scrap they leave behind afterwards. Personally, I’m not a fan. Infinite mana isn’t something that interests me when baseline mana is pretty reasonable as long as you keep an eye on it.
- Break it Down! – While Scrap-o-Matic Smelter gives Gazlowe nigh infinite mana, Break it Down! is a huge boost to his cooldown reduction rate. This is especially helpful when it comes to his heroic abilities. A few salvaged turrets and they’ll be right off cooldown.
- Extra TNT – This was introduced in the Murky patch and I haven’t really tried it out. In theory, it can make Gazlowe’s aforementioned wombo combo deadlier by increasing the damage, but that comes at the cost of not being able to do it as frequently without Break it Down! Would also work well for handling minion waves.
- Superiority – Here I go again: Don’t take this. Non-heroic enemies are stupid and will prioritize your turrets over you. I’m not totally sure if your turrets even gain the benefit of this, and even if they did I wouldn’t recommend it. Turrets are tanky enough.
- Minion Killer – This, on the other hand, is a more reliable form of reducing damage taken from minions/mercenaries. Dead things deal no damage. If nothing else on this tier catches your fancy, this is a good complement to Gazlowe’s toolkit. More minion and merc damage = better pushing
- Reduce Reuse Recycle – If you’re primarily laning with Gazlowe, this can be good. On average, you’ll snag one scrap per minion wave. One scrap is basically the same as getting one turret.
- Clockwerk Steam Fists – I have this really cool image of this in my head of laying out turrets all over the map and keeping them all up with this. Unfortunately, I have no idea how much time is added per attack (my gut says 1 second per attack at most) and while the idea sounds cool, it wouldn’t accomplish much. Even if I could keep all the turrets up indefinitely, they’d naturally obsolete themselves by allowing friendly minions to push past. It could be pretty cool for holding objectives (‘Hello, I have a nest of 8 turrets around the Dragon Knight, would you kindly piss off’), but that’s about the most it could do, I imagine.
- Promote – I don’t have a lot of experience with this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else take it, so I’m not even sure how effective it is. I think it could be effective when combined with the Knights and their wizard’s attack speed aura, by buffing up some archers in a wave they’re close to.
- Rock-It! Turret XL – If you find your team involved in a lot of team fights, I cannot recommend this enough, but it’s good even outside of those. In team fights, who your turrets attack can be a bit random. This reduces that randomness by just spraying bullets everywhere. The hero you want to kill might not be the primary target, but odds are they’re getting hit. This is also great for handling minions and mercenaries, dramatically speeding up the process.
- Mercenary Lord – If, on the other hand, you find yourself really wanting to make the enemy team’s life a living hell, Mercenary Lord is there for you. The buffed up mercenaries are a serious threat.
- Engine Gunk – I’ve seen this used and it can be effective. I’m sure some teammates will love it, the ones who have trouble sticking to targets. Also increases turret damage by virtue of keeping them contained longer.
- First Aid – Having a personal potion is nice. If you’re finding yourself getting low on health a lot (and not getting burst down), it’s worth thinking about First Aid, but I consider Mercenary Lord or Rock-It! Turret XL to be of a higher priority.
- Calldown: MULE – Does the enemy team have a good Murky? Can no one else on your team pick this up? If you answered yes to both, seriously consider taking MULE.
Already addressed above.
- Burning Rage – Does this unstealth people? If so, it has some utility if there’s an enemy Zeratul who’s been cramping your style. If not, it’s…eh. AoE damage isn’t something Gazlowe is at a loss for and while Gazlowe’s a melee hero, you don’t want to spend a lot of time in melee.
- Kwik Release Charge – Did you take Grav-O-Bomb? If so, this is the second half of the wombo combo. Xplodium – Grav Bomb – Xplodium all stacked up on top of each other can stun anyone not quick enough to run away for ~5 seconds, and deal an incredible amount of damage. Even if you didn’t take Grav-O-Bomb, it’s pretty nice for taking merc camps.
- EZ-PZ Dimensional Ripper – Kinda nifty. I believe this works on mercenaries (but not Grave Golems), so reasonable for countering the enemy team’s mercs. If you plan on taking Hyperfocus Coils at 16, this is worth taking.
- Sprint – It’s one of the only escape mechanisms Gazlowe has access to, but that doesn’t make it a guaranteed pick. If the enemy team has been hot on your ass the whole game, take it. If not, just suck up whatever death you couldn’t get away from and enjoy whatever else you took.
- Long-Ranged Turrets – I haven’t actually taken this at any point in any game. I get panicked when I think I misclicked it. If this were on any other tier, I’d consider picking it up. Longer ranged turrets means more cover fire, after all. But it’s up against Turret Storage, which is so much better if you’re prioritizing your turrets.
- Turret Storage – It’s…beautiful. Being able to lay out 4 turrets takes your area control from good to great and, by extension, drastically reduces the cooldowns of all your other abilities. You can solo Grave Golems with this pretty easily.
- Hyperfocus Coils – Super laser, super fast, comparatively. This actually makes the Deth Lazor a worthwhile ability, though you’re giving up Turret Storage for it.
- Goblin Fusion – Haven’t tried it, but given that baseline Deth Lazor is mind-numbingly long to get to the third charge level, waiting even longer for a fourth charge level is just worse.
- Stoneskin – Gazlowe’s squishiness stems from his immobility. Gaining a short-duration shield isn’t going to fix that. There’s only a small chance that this will actually allow you to escape death.
- Resurgence of the Storm – So, uh, just don’t plan on dying. That’s really all I have to say about that. The only hero I could ever see having any justification for taking this is Tyrael, and even then I wouldn’t.
- Swift Storm – Just…don’t. I guess it’s sort of handy being able to get around faster and if the enemy’s gone gank squad on you, it’ll help you get by with the smallest amount of trouble.
- Miniature Black Hole – Expands your Grav-o-Bomb to the point that it’s almost inescapable if someone’s at the center of it. This really amps up his wombo combo.
- Mecha-Lord – Highly recommended. You’re now the Dragon Knight forever (almost), but you don’t draw anywhere near as much attention. The only downside is you can’t mount while it’s up and you can’t cancel it early.
Who’s Gazlowe pair up well with? Pretty much anyone, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t prefer certain kinds of teammates over others.
- Ranged Assassins – Being melee with mobility issues, Gazlowe has a problem with ranged heroes. They can hit him and his turrets, but it’s not often that he can hit back. Ranged Assassins are great at helping minimize that problem as well as helping Gazlowe get kills more regularly.
- Warriors with Stuns/Knockbacks – Know what makes a turret nest even more threatening? Not being able to get out of that turret nest because some bulky asshole is keeping you in it. And you couldn’t even get out of Gazlowe’s Xplodium, great. Heroes like Diablo and ETC make for a pretty amazing combo with the little goblin.
- Good Specialists – Not super high on my list normally, but any specialist played well is a great ally. Specialists all have varied means of pushing lanes and can push harder than anyone else if not dealt with. Being paired with other specialists cranks that up to 11, especially if they stay with any mercenary camps you capture. More than one other is where the territory gets sketchy. Specialists are muscle, but the other classes are the skeleton you’re attached to. No one wants to see a midget body-builder.
Note: This doesn’t mean Gazlowe doesn’t like to be paired with Supports. Supports are great and I’m almost always happy to see them in any game I play, but they’re more a benefit to the rest of the team than to Gazlowe himself. He’s very self-sufficient.
The people you’ll come to hate seeing on the enemy team.
- High-Burst Damage Heroes – With little to no survivability to speak of, Gazlowe’s easily picked off by anyone with good burst damage, even if he’s set up. Nova and Zeratul are particularly unwelcome sights, when you can actually see them.
- Other Gazlowes – You’re both probably trying to do the same stuff, so you’ll always end up stepping on each other’s toes. It’s like you’re both attempting to perform the same dance routine, so it’s just a matter of who does it better.
AKA the people who have their day ruined by a Gazlowe.
- Melee in general – Gazlowe is heavily anti-melee. While ranged heroes shouldn’t struggle too much with his turrets, being able to outrange them, melee wanting to engage Gazlowe have to run into the thick of his turret nest. This means they either need to take a lot of extra damage or they need to draw him away from his nest. For bonus points, dumb melee won’t move out of xplodium thrown at your feet. Especially if you’re getting low. If they do stand in it and you are low, just run away, they’re stunned for 2 seconds.
- Abathur, Technically – This is less Abathur having his day ruined and more Gazlowe having his day improved noticeably. Fun fact: An enemy Abathur’s toxic nests will drop scrap when destroyed. Sporadically gaining extra mana and shorter CDs? Yes, please.
Gazlowe’s strength varies a little based on the map. I’ve actually gotten into a debate about this with someone before, but here are my criteria for what makes a ‘good’ map for Gazlowe – a solid composition of mercenary camps and static objectives. With that in mind, here’s my ranking:
- Blackheart’s Bay – 3 Knight camps (2 in top lane, 1 in bottom lane), 2 siege giant camps (both bottom) and a Grave Golem up top would be enough to make it a favorite right from the get go. The bottom lane is very strong in that regard. Knights and Giants make a very powerful team, so if you get all three, you’re in for a wild ride. What makes this map is the coins. Aside from the mercenary camps, there’s 4 very easily captured doubloon camps. There’s basically so many camps that Gazlowe could keep himself perpetually busy just by running between all of them. Gazlowe will spend the vast majority of his time on Blackheart’s balls deep in coins. In addition, you can set up around Blackheart and keep the enemy team from turning in if need be.
- Dragon Shire – Three static objectives makes for one happy Gazlowe and the mercenary composition is decent. The three Giants on bottom can be pretty hilarious when all grabbed together and not dealt with quickly. The Knights are a little less spectacular, but if you grab them back to back, they’ll sync up almost automatically if unobstructed. The selling point is the objectives. No matter which one Gazlowe is at, he can deny the enemy team for a very long time. The mercenary camps are unavailable while the Dragon Knight is up, which is a bit of a bummer, but if you’ve already started fighting them, they won’t despawn unless you drop combat.
- Cursed Hollow – Semi-static objectives, mercenary camps are…less than ideal. Gazlowe can be pretty solid when he sets up around a tribute, but it’s a real hassle if he gets there late. The mercenary camps are bleh. The camps themselves are situated extremely close to both bases, with the Siege Giants situated behind a watch tower and the enemy Knights situated uncomfortably close to a high traffic area. Until he can take out the Grave Golems, there’s not much for him to do without taking a lot of risk. If the enemy gets the curse, Gazlowe’s well-suited to defending against it, as he’s more than capable of holding off minion waves with turrets and xplodium.
- Haunted Mines – Wanna know what Gazlowe can do on Haunted Mines? Not a whole lot. The mercenary camps are okay. Hope your Knights take the top lane, since the bottom giants on your enemy’s half of the map won’t meet up with the Knights until that first fort goes down. The objective is…half decent for Gazlowe. He’s awful when it comes to zombies, but he can reliably solo the big golem in the middle, which is particularly important later on in the game (especially by the third mine event when the big golem is worth 40 skulls). The biggest saving graces for Gazlowe here are that he can annihilate the enemy team’s golem faster than anyone and if the enemy team fully commits to the mine before capturing/dealing with mercenaries, those mercenaries can deal an incredible amount of damage. A full complement of turrets can absolutely shred the thing.
How to Mercenary
Speaking of mercenaries:
- Siege Giants – The easiest to solo outside of doubloon camps. So easy that the main benefit to being Gazlowe here is just his speed. Plop down a turret, drop an xplodium on both of them, start attacking immediately after and lay down your second turret ASAP. If you do it quick enough, the xplodium will detonate right as they’re about to start their first attack. After that just dance the dance of their people, shuffling back and forth to avoid damage from them. Your turrets can tank them, but if it’s still early game (before level 4), the turrets will die before the giants do. Better to tank and avoid hits for them.
- Knights – They are possible to solo at level 1, but I’m not sure how worthwhile it is to do so. If you want to try, here’s how it’s done. Drop two turrets and then sit around until you can drop a third, all of them in the middle of the group. Stand behind the wizard and start charging your laser to full. As soon as it fires drop an xplodium on the group. Your top priority is the wizard. From there, plop down more turrets whenever you can, positioning them so they tank the knights for you (they’ll attack whatever’s closest to them). Even if you’re good about this, you’ll still take a lot of damage and will be very low on mana. It takes about a minute to manage this on your own, starting at level 1.
- Grave Golem – Not soloable until later on, around level 10-16 depending on talents (and theory). Put all but one turret out of range of the golem’s slam attack, and the last one between you and him, near your feet. The idea is that the golem will destroy your turret first and when it does, you’ll immediately pick up the scrap from it and hopefully will have lasted long enough that you’ll be able to lay down another without taking too much damage. At 10, you can pick up Robo-Goblin, which I think can allow you to solo the golem (I’ve done it as low as 14) but I have not personally tested this. At 16, you can pick up Turret Storage, which will give you more than enough DPS and turret HP to down the golem before the golem downs you.
General Tips for Playing Gazlowe
- I start the game with laning, typically. I could grab mercenaries, but right out of the gate I don’t think it’s worth it. It takes far too long and I think I get more oomph out of personally pushing over spending 30-60 seconds grabbing whatever.
- The one time I recommend not salvaging turrets as soon as you’re ‘done with them’ (e.g. they’re no longer in range of minions) is when you’re in lane and closer to the enemy’s side of the map than your own. In this situation, I leap frog my turrets like with siege tanks in Starcraft, moving the rearmost ones up to the front. You never know when an enemy hero might pop up and you’ll want the extra protection they provide.
- When going for mercenary camps, I recommend trying to time them so you capture them before an objective. On every map but Blackheart’s Bay (which is kind of a clusterfuck as far as the coins go), this usually means someone has to peel off and deal with them instead of being where they’re needed. If no one peels off, congratulations, you’ve done a bunch of damage in that lane without even being there.
- Accompany your early mercs. For Siege Giants, your turrets are their tanks. For Knights, you’re their DPS. If you try to go grab a second merc camp to boost the power of your wave, the first camp you captured probably won’t accomplish as much as if you’d pushed with them. As the game goes on, you can get multiple camps working together.
- As situational as Deth Lazor is, don’t overlook it. If you start casting as soon as they start running, they’ll probably still be in range by the time you hit max charge. It’s immensely gratifying when you get a kill that way.
- Don’t get cocky. Gazlowe’s wombo combo is amazing when it works and his turrets are brutal when set up, but that doesn’t mean you can take on more than one hero at a time on your own. If a second person shows up, just run, even if you’re all set up.
- Don’t get cocky with merc camps either. Always be careful when grabbing mercenaries on the enemy’s side of the map. If you’re caught there, you’re pretty boned.
- Don’t be afraid to drop a combo on just one person. It’s best when you can nail a bunch of people at once, but with enough scrap, the CD on Grav Bomb is pretty low.
General Tips for Fighting Gazlowe
- If you can avoid it, stay the hell away from his turret nests. If you can’t avoid it, do everything in your power to get him away from them.
- Try to preempt him where you can. He excels at defense, but if you’re already there, it’s a serious uphill climb for him. This goes for merc camps and objectives.
- If you really want to kick Gazlowe’s ass, play him for a couple games. Just get a feel for how you play him so that when you’re playing against him, you can use your time with him against them.