NOTE: This is not a tier list. This is an explanation of the strengths of warriors and how they best work in comps or to counter your opponents picks. While I think tier lists are useful, it’s better to learn what works well and how to tell them apart. I may also be mentioning currently underpowered Heroes as examples. Keep in mind, a Hero can fall from oppressive and King to the bottom of a tier list in one patch (Sorry Stitches.)
That being said, you are now entering the World of the Warrior!
Now, I keep hearing a lot of talk about warriors being tanks, and some warriors not being good enough because they can’t tank. And while I have also been guilty of trying to put them all under one label, I’ve come to accept that each has a role they fit on your team.
And this is where I came up with this analogy; Shield, spear, and mace.
A shield is focused on heavy defense, a mighty aegis for your team, the immovable stone wall. What they lack in offense or mobility, they make up with it in tenacity, resolve, and the ability to protect their team.
A Spear is all about engage potential. They thrust themselves into combat, at times accurately plunging themselves into a vital area of the team, disabling it. However, due to their aggressiveness, they may lack defensive or protective options.
Finally, the Mace. A mace was a weapon designed to combat plate armor. If you could not piece or cut through, you smash and apply such force that it would warp and cave in. This is a very middle ground, but specializes in taking out other fortified heroes.
Each warrior as all three aspects to some extent, or can be talented into it, A primarily “Shield” hero can go full offensive, and the same goes for a “Mace” focusing on defense, so in my example section, I may list a Hero as both a Shield and a Spear (ETC for example) But I will tell you where the talents are different so they can fit that role.
There also isn’t a clear cut Rock>Paper>Scissors design where victory is guaranteed, but seeing their strong points will make it easier to see how they fit your team, how to play with them, and how to play around them
Sadly Captain America isn’t one of them.
When you read “We need a tank” in the draft screen this is what people default to without thinking.
These are primarily the walls of meat and CC. They specialize in protecting the back line, they stay huddled to a high value unit, pinning down and punishing anyone who dares go near them. But as I mentioned before, they lack mobility, they can’t re position fast enough if their protectee wanders off because they saw a flower. (in other words they can’t save you if you get caught out.)
When to Pick a Shield:
Even though it seems as if you can never go wrong, there are instances when you do and don’t want to pick them:
- Small maps or maps with a lot of choke points. Their abilities work best in tight areas where there is limited room for the opposing team to maneuver. (Spider Queen, Haunted Mines, Cursed Hallow due to the Curse spawns)
- If you have Long Range, High Damaging, low mobility units that will die if someone sneezes on them. (Kael, Hammer, Zagara. )
- You have no idea what you’re doing. If you’re forced to tank for your team and you have little if any experience, you really can’t go wrong by just picking someone with a ton of health that needs to hug the squishies.
- Enemy team has a lot of mobility. You’re not going to catch the Zera or sylv, just stop embarrassing yourself
- The enemy team has Long range sustained damage. Again with the lack of mobility, you’re going to eat a lot of damage before you close the gap. And even if you do, you leave your entire back line exposed for a Zeratul or a half decent Nova.
- Big wide open maps. Do you see a pattern here. The more options they have to run to, the less effective your skills are.
Examples of Shields:
- Johanna – Definitely the best at this role, with Condemn and Punish, she can easily lock down nearly anyone who dares run past you.
- Muradin: With Avatar, Reverb, and Stone Form. Again, just a massive wall of health and CC. doesn’t have the same lockdown potential, but with Dwarf leap he can reposition a lot easier than most.
- ETC: Loud Speakers, Face Smelt, Encore. ETC is a very versatile hero. He can reposition quickly if need be (At the cost of using his stun as mobility or Heroic) and can provide peel for days. The massive knockback and 60% Slow from Face Smelt will make sure whoever touches your backstage honey will leave in a body bag.
- Stitches: Tenderizer, Gorge, Pulverize. The terror of darkshire lived up to his reputation when he entered the Nexus, but Stitches play too rough and no one wants to play with Stitches. He’s someone I think is undertuned, but is still pretty good. Even if you can’t land a hook to save your life (Bronze mechanics over here), you can easily be a bodyguard. Tenderizer is a perma-on hit slow, Pulverize is still a great AOE “root” and Gorge isolates one person dumb enough to over extend.
For when “Just the tip” isn’t enough
This is when you go all in, thrusting yourself into the heat of battle, Representing the Spirit of Longinus as you impale the teams only hope, forcing yourself upon some unfortunate soul with your throbbing hot justice… penis.
These Warriors specialize in diving in, the ones that start the fight. Usually by singling out one person, or just CCing the entire team. They often have the highest mobility. Many have ways not only to get in a fight, but also survive and bail out if need be.
When to pick a Spear:
If someone says “We need HARD engage.” OK, It’s out of my system, I swear. But
- When you need to get on the back line as soon as possible to minimize the damage that can be done to your team
- You need to cover ground quickly. Either due to objectives or to chase high mobility assassins
- You just want to YOLO in, because real Warriors overextend… and then blame their support (“WTF TEAM!”)
- Opposing team has a lot of burst healing or immunity. Seriously, if your target can be full healed from 1%, it may not be the best idea. Or if they have Zeratul with Void Prison, as they can ensure no one on your team will follow up. (Not like they were going to anyway!)
- They have an extreme amount of burst in a very short time. If your target can kill you in one rotation, they will do it. Like Jaina, Water Ele, into CoC, into, Blizz, into frostbolt, and you’ll be dead before you can blame the BW for not TPing with you.
- Your target has more mobility than you. This is more of a guideline But I say this because if you do engage, and they juke your follow up, or even the actual ability. you’ll be in a very bad spot.
Examples of Spears:
- Tyrael – Best one, hands down. Judgement not only is a massive gap closer and stun, but it also knocks everyone around the target away, absolutely decimating their positioning and formation.
- ETC: Rolling like a stone, Double Neck Guitar, Most Pit, Show Stopper This is all about getting a good Powerslide in and Ulting the enemy team. You can also go Stage Dive if the target outranges your slide (Hammer for instance, if she ever comes back into the meta)
- Sonya Shot of Fury, Composite Spear, Leap, Nerves of Steal I love Sonya, just going out there and saying it, she is very undervalued. With Leap she has an AOE stun, and can follow up with a secondary stun on her spear. She also has a suprising amount of burst even if she isn’t talented for it. With Mystical spear, she can also get a lot of mobility, even going through terrain to chase. The issue is her low health pool, so if you go in, you better be sure you kill their main source of damage before the CC wears off.
- Anubarak: Underking, Urticating Spikes, Locust Swarm, Burning Rage I always tell new Anub players, “your E is not an engage” but I should say “It’s not an engage, unless you have your heroic is up.” Much like Sonya, he has a long range AOE stun, with a follow up stun, and a tiny health pool. The difference is He can’t get stunned out of his regen. He also does a fair bit of AOE damage and his beetles can protect you by blocking some of those skill shot abilities they use as a counter attack.
Mace: Not just for protesting hippies
The tank busters, often refered to as brusiers. When they see a heavily armored opponent, clad in the strongest steel, they aren’t deterred, they just see a casket you put yourself in.
These Heroes will outduel, outtrade, outsustain and even use their opponents strengths against them. They may not provide the control of battle that may be desired, but you know what they say. Death is the best CC.
I will say, these are my favorite type of Warriors. They get a lot of flack and brushed off by saying “They can’t solo tank!” Yeah they can, they can very easily take the hits just as well as the rest. What they can’t do is bail people out of their own stupidity, like the Valla who uses vault as an engage, or the Illidan who Hunts into the enemy team. How is that my fault to begin with? I didn’t know I had to babysit you and peel when you decide to get caught out. I bet you’re just fucking dying to make some snarky remark on how I made the bad pick, if you had no fucking faith in me, then you shouldn’t have instalo- Oh wait, right, back to the guide.
When to pick a Mace:
While these are often seen more fringe, they are just as effective in achieving your goals, may not be the cleanest victory though.
- If they have a low damage frontline. You can make quick work of those that invest heavily in defense.
- Your damage dealers can take care of themselves. If you have a really competent assassin, or just one that isn’t going to die in a global cooldown, It may not be a bad idea to go for the extra damage
- PvE Maps: Due to their nature, the Maces don’t mitage damage as much as they just sustain or heal themselves back up. This means they can easily solo objectives if need be, such as Garden Terror, Sky Temple, and Haunted Mines.
- You wanted to play an assassin, but you don’t want to learn, positioning, and mechanics, and safety.
- You have a weak healer. Due to your lack of mitigation options, you going to take a lot of hits to the face. You do have ways to heal yourself up, but they are CD dependent.
- They have a lot of Hard CC. A lot of Maces need to be attacking or using abilities to keep themselves topped off. A poly, into a stun, into a second stun, into a LiLi blind, will make sure you won’t get an edge in
- Your team lacks peel. I fucking hate assassin mains. They could be a naked orange and still bitch about not getting peeled. Seriously, learn to position and how to dodge a skill shot, not hard, red circle=bad!
Examples of Maces
- Leoric – Drain Hope into Crushing Hope is the best tank killing ability in the game. Spectral leech just further cements him as this. He can also punish “Shields” with his two Heroics. Lack of Mobility means they ain’t going nowhere!
- Sonya Warpaint, Ferocious Healing/Follow Through, Wrath of the Berserker/Leap(Only with Crater at 20), Imposing Presence/Nerves of steel. Sonya is again, a very undervalued Hero. She puts out a lot of damage, which means a lot of healing. Her fury resource (not mana) and regen talents means she will never stop attacking unless you manage to kill her. With her Crater talent, you can also isolate and pin down a low mobility tank (Don’t aim for the assassin if you have this talent, they’re just going to blink out of it, and you’re going to look like an idiot.) She also never has to B back, meaning after a teamfight, she can just start pushing lanes, backdooring, soloing boss, soloing core. Seriously, she’s amazing, try her out.
- Arthas Eternal Hunger, Rune Tap, Immortal Coil Arthas used to be the King, woke up, still King. OK, not so much anymore, but he’s still very good. He has some lockdown in a root, the AOE slow, and very nice damage. While he still has to worry about mana, and has low mobility. His kit makes sure any opposition can’t move either. He does work best with a heavy engage, but he can also work in those tight corners and choke points “Shields” love to fight in. And as the winter sets in, as they grow numb from the cold, their blood chills, and with their last visible icy breath, they will whisper “Arthas”… Until Uther divine shields them. Fuck you Uther!
- Diablo Essence of the Slain/Demonic Strength, Life Leech, Continuous Overpower, Lord of terror Yeah, this guy is still in the game, and despite many people considering him a joke , he’s still really strong. He has the ability to charge in and isolate a target. Pulling them from safety and knocking them back into his team. (Again, I point to the “Shields” I mentioned earlier as good targets) He has a very good amount of CC as well to follow up on the back line if he chooses to, or he can scrap with the tank, the Life Leech talent means he’ll probably never lose a 1v1, and Lord of terror can be used as clutch heal.
In Conclusion: Yes! I’m finally done!
I hope this guide helped you guys out to better recognize strengths and weaknesses to having certain warrior types. This will hopefully aid you in making better decisions in draft mode, either to compliment your allies or counter your opponents.
I do want to reiterate, that the warriors are incredibly flexible in their talent selection and can be tailored to fit a role that the team might need.
Let me know what you guys, feedback is appreciated. And if this gets a positive response, I may write up more guides on Heroes, roles, or maps.
Now go out there, and be the Ultimate Warrior!