Howdy folks, I’m -RandomRepitition.
I’m here to bring you a guide for learning and gaining the valuable skills and knowledge on the Frontline Metagame.
For far too long, there’s been misconceptions of what is and is not viable, useful, or generally strong or weak to the Metastate of the patches. Because of that, useful tools and hero choices get put to the way side, while the cool kids club of the hero pool is all people talk about and mention/play in Quick Match and Hero League, and now for Team League as well.
Because of these trends, I made this guide to teach and and educate people on both the novice, adept, and high-tier in-depth mastery of Frontline Strategy and Tactics.
What is the “Frontline”, and how do I master it?
The frontline are the player character picks that initiate fights, bodyblock enemy players, absorb and control damage effects, and zone/control the fight and the overall situations of the map.
For example, you don’t send Zagara and Valla in to initiate on 4+ people at once, or walk into the enemy jungle to acquire vision of enemies and steal camps —
She’ll get squished like the bug she is, Valla will die on the spot, and they’re just not enough of a threat when spotted and caught out alone.
However, put them on the backline and put three dedicated picks to engage/control for them, now they’re not pressured to hard-engage and can attack anything that moves.
You send in that Diablo to flip, slam and CC the enemy, so that MamaBug can kill them with her babies and retaliate. Then, you bring in the Support to heal Diablo so he can mitigate the damage and control the state of the fight. While BigD’s taking flak, that’s when Valla comes out to deal damage on weakened targets and the off-tank MeleeSin/Warrior rotates in to cover/swap with him and push aggression.
When it comes to it, everyone knows this.
But see that’s the thing: That’s competency, what I want to show you is true mastery and wisdom in the role.
“lol !@#$ why should i? i only play casual anyways”
But don’t you want to expand your horizons and gain true mastery over the role, and learn everything you need to know, just like the top/best players do?
What the common/casual players don’t know are the multiple different tactics and strategies, as well as the draft potentials combined with all of the information I want to teach and present to you, that creates the whole of what I define as Frontline Mastery.
So, if you don’t: that’s your prerogative, and this guide probably isn’t for you.
If you do: stay awhile and indulge me and yourselves with the deets I’m about to lay on you.
Role and Responsibilities of the Frontline
The role of the frontline is to act, react, and control the situations of the map, vision, and lane control, as well as redirect and mitigate actions during the teamfight.
You’re responsible with how your team plays the match as a whole, and every action/reaction and communicative response from you will shape your game from win to loss.
Everyone plays their part to the frontline in some way: Either as Retaliative DPS, Damage Mitigation, or Crowd Control, but none are as key to the team as the Primary and Secondary Frontline Picks.
– Having a winning attitude.
– Understanding your endgame: You are the playmaker, your actions effect the outcome.
– Putting the well-being of the team over yourself.
– Learning to analyze your decision making, as well as recognize your mistakes, and make the right call for each situation.
– Don’t let your ego get in the way of admitting mistakes.
– Utilizing every tool you intend to use and making sure nothing is wasted.
– See the potential play in every action and reaction, and make the play when you see it.
– Become skilled enough that you can confidently point out your allies’ mistakes, and help them solve them in a timely manner.
– When helping your allies with their mistakes, try not to be “annoying”: It’s okay to give a push (Pointing it out), bad to give a body-tackle(Being a Broken Record/Anal About It)
Breakdown list of Relegated/Standard Frontliners
Hard-Initiation Warriors (High Offense, Low/Mixed Defense)
Ability-Based Peeler Warriors (High Defense, Moderate/Mixed Offense)
Tyrande (Hybrid/Skill Match-Up)
Tassadar (Hybrid/Skilla Match-Up)
Standard RangedSin Backlines (Will soon to have a guide)
Chapter One: Building Block Basics
Counterpick Strength and Choices
For every hero, there is another that counters them. 75% of your wins in the draft will come from the effective choices you make with your Frontline, and the talents that can take that become play-making tools and factors of success. The 25% is player input, and how you use them on a skill basis.
What determines the strength of a Counterpick is tied to disablestates — Hard/Soft CrowdControl.
When in doubt, refer to the following equation when dictating the strength of CC, and how much worth it is to your team’s overall comp:
(Note: Your opinions may differ with my own, but after analysis of over 3500 games across three accounts competitively, I’m confident in this breakdown. If you have questions, concerns or contestments, ask in a reply quoting the exact part. )
≡ : Identical To
≠ : Not Equal To
≥ : Greater-Than or Equal To
≤ : Less-Than or Equal To
≈ : Almost Equal To
Void Prison >≠ Stun ≥ Polymorph > 45%+~ Slows ≡ Root > Silence ≥ ~40% Slows.
Regardless of other CC durations, Void Prison is Greater-Than and Not Equal to any other form of CC, as it is a statelock with a duration of 5 seconds.
Following the VP outlier:
Stuns are Greater-Than or Equal to Polymorph.
Polymorphs are Greater-Than or Equal To 45% and higher Slows.
Roots are identical in purpose to the 45% + Slows.
Silence is Greater-Than or Equal to ~40% slows.
Void Prison >≠ Stun ≈ Polymorph ≈ Root ≈ Silence > 45%+~ Slows ≡ ~40% Slows.
As the frontline, you’re there to absorb the damage and control spells and mitigate with your sustain spells and Defensive Active Outplay Talents.
Getting slowed isn’t always going to kill you, but being silenced at an important moment will, as will getting Stunned, Poly’d, or Rooted.
Never let the enemy get the power of getting free damage on you alone without paying for it — Every hit on you should be a free hit on thier backline, not free poke on you.
Void Prison >≠ Stun ≈ Polymorph > Silence ≥ 45%+~ Slows ≡ Root > ~40% Slows.
If you can’t cast spells as a Ranged Pure/Hybrid Sin or as a Specialist, your damage is being highly reduced in burst, but if you’re AA reliant, you’re still relevant with your sustained damage — Unless you’re Jaina/Caster Falstad/Tychus, then you’re just going to be very angry.
But, if you also can’t move, you’re in more danger than you can handle until you aquire Bolt of the Storm or your choice of a Escape Tool if you don’t already have one. And again, if you can’t cast it because Silence, it’ll just be very annoying. Sometimes, it could even kill you.
However, if you just stay back until the CC comes out, you can avoid this altogether. Know how far forward you need to be to deal DPS, and how far back to be able to juke and stay out of range of them.
TL;DR: It’s not your Frontline’s fault if you’re not wise enough to get/stay out of the line of fire as much as possible.
All in all, anything that reduces your MSpd to a standstill is an opening to death, while poly and stuns are death. Stand as far back as possible until the disables come out, then move forward. Silence as a whole is just annoying.
Special Section: About Knock-Up and KnockBack
“hey wait, we only have 6 disablestates? what about knock-up and knock-back?”
You see, unlike many other MOBAs, HotS doesn’t treat the pullback and pop-up states (KnockBack and Knockup) as seperate unique states.
They’re derivatives of Stun, and don’t recieve a unique state unless the skill is programmed to.
Examples of this are Anub’arak and Raynor: Primary users of these effects.
A knockback is a movement and controlstate that is hardcoded to disable you for ¼ of a second (.25), as is KnockUp.
But, the KnockUp forces movement on the Y-Axis, so you’re effectively stuck in place. KnockBack drags your character to where the AoE dissipates on the X-Z Axis, and controls the model for the same period of time — That is, until effects that extend the duration are added, or a skill/ability with the same coding but a longer duration is used.
This is why the normal Q from Raynor feels stupid until Bullseye, but Sonya/Stitches Chain/Hook feels so OP — By adding length or duration to the state, you add a longer duration for the animation or the statelock, thus passively increasing the duration.
This is also the reason why Anu’s Impale is a strong 1s Stun with a Visual Effect of KnockUp to confirm the model animation, but BurrowCharge looks lesser in duration by comparision — Same effect, shorter hardcoded duration.
What counters what, and whom can choose the counters?
Along with the power of talents and basic skills effects, there’s the concern of the action bar traits, or more professionally known as the Active Outplay Tools, a listing of talent choices that are self-contained effects that can be used on a timed basis.
There’s three types: Defensive, Offensive, and Supportive.
Below is a list of all current Active Outplay Tools (AOTs), organized by type.
Offensive: General Standard for Ranged/MeleeSins, Warriors, and Specialists.
Arcane Power (Jaina)
Icy Veins (Jaina)
Blood For Blood
Defensive: General Standard for most roles, with a focus on Warriors/Assassins/Supports
Bolt of The Storm
First Aid/Stoneform (Muradin)
Ferocious Healing (Sonya Only)
Siphon the Dead (Diablo Only)
StoneSkin/Nerves of Steel (Sonya)
Ice Block/Improved Ice Block (Jaina)
Hardened Shield/Ignore Pain (Sonya)
Supportive: General Standard Options for Supports/Hybrid Supports, and certain Pure/Hybrid Specialists
Healing Ward/ Healing Totem (Rehgar)
When to pick certain hero counters over others.
During draft, you might look at volitile picks like Nova, Zerutal, or Valla, and not know how to counter them properly.
You might try to stack on extra ranged damage, or double up on supports, warriors, or specialists, when somestimes there’s a pick counter that’s more viable/desirable than others.
To know when and what to pick, count the number of potential DPS threats to the number of Support/Frontline picks on the enemy draft, and then your own.
If you have more blockers (Frontline) than they do, you’re more than in a good position to pull out another DPS source. If you have less, you have to make sure the pick can defend itself, or it’s virtually useless in combat, even if it looks good on paper.
Consult your allies before making such an executive decision to organize the pick, and make sure those following your draft can support it.
Chapter Two: Know Your Role
Pregaming Your Draft
Whether its Hero or Team League, you must pregame your draft. Regardless of it being as non- to low-vebal as possible or an exchange of literature, you must communicate with your team to have sucess in outdrafting your enemies by coordinating who has what heroes, what experience in what role over others, and the overall confidence they have with said pick.
To help with this, try following the below tips:
Establish Front/Backline Players.
If someone’s flat better at the Front or Back of a teamcomp, put them there. It’s a win/win situation — They have complete confidence in picks, and do not have to concern themselves with the in-depth understandings of another role, and already have in-depth mastery or competent understanding to the mechanics of the role and hero they choose.
Know what Frontline works best with the Backline
Some heroes are just flat better in certain comps with others, it’s a guaranteed fact. Some may be decent overall, become flatbroken and stupid good on the (dis-)engage and mitigation when paired with a back/frontline that synergizes well.
Try to learn/study all of the heroes, so you can figure out who works best with whom.
Nullifying Enemy Drafts with Offpicks
Calling back to the point made in the “Hero Counters” section, the best pick to lead with is a offpick that doesn’t fit the popular kids’ meta. Sometimes, a Kerrigan or Anu’ will shake things up in such a way the enemy doesn’t know how to immediately counter-draft it, or don’t know how to handle it in-combat.
So, next time you see enemies picka -insert “op” hero here-, don’t call GG. Pull out the offmeta, and make them cry when the “hardcounter” or broken hero they pcik gets Rekt’d by your Offpick.
Tailoring your Drafts to the Maptype
Passive Maps and Strengths
If/When the map is something that’s a passive farmfest before the important main objective goes live (Mines/Hollow), your best tactic is to have a backline of minimum two people that can solo clear lanes, a frontline of at least two dedicated frontline picks, and a possible hybrid/offpick.
It allows you the power of having two people who can shove back a lane in one spell early-to-endgame, while retaining the frontline standard to have a balanced fight on objectives.
Hollow/Mines generally have camps that are more or less there to be taken after killing enemies or completing a tribute run, so it’s less action-packed and stressing when they’re taken.
Aggro Transitive Maps and Strengths
For Shire/Garden, things will be a bit more difficult when you start throwing in Player-Controlled Map Gimmicks, rather than passive NPC pushing units.
For these maps, it’s best to try to take three dedicated frontlines and one dedicated backline — Someone who can solokill the Mercs, and people who are strong when grouping with CC.
Try running AA-Reliant Heroes for the dedicated backline, and have the standard support on tap to mitigate damage for a person at a time, while still having a Healing Ward or a AoE heal to keep people topped up in-combat.
HyperAggro Maps and Strengths
The maps of Bay/Tomb/Temple is where the most aggressive of picks will dominate.
Consider running a Assassin Offpick for these maps, since once Tier One structures fall and massive fights break out, it’s a long way to safety for both teams.
In general, having a balanced team is ideal, but having someone who can solo caught-out targets will make it easier for your team to make plays at any opportunity, especially when cleaning up fights to control/take/contest objectives.
Closing Statements: There Is Always Something New To Learn
New, old, Pro, Beginner — I really do not care who you are, what your rank and status is, or what you think is best or what you can guaranteed is best right now in the game —
This game is ever-changing.
Every patch addition and new change to a hero will diversify, cull, and add to the MetaGame as it exists now.
Because of that, the game will be able to make itself “fresh”, every now and again.
So, even for someone like me who knows it can get stale time to time, things that I know, have learned and discovered, will be like a dawn and spark of insight to someone lesser or greater.
That being said, let me make it clear:
There is always something new to learn, always a new tactic being formulated, always a new strategy being planned, and always somethingsomeone else or yourself can do better.