The Tactical Lexicon for HoTS

General Discussion
From my experience, the biggest issue of HoTS is having very big differences in experience, vocabulary and observational skills between allied players. The gist is we have a conglomerate of players that don’t know that they don’t know, don’t see that they don’t see and players using a mix of terms other ones don’t share the same definition of understanding — I know i’ve seen plenty of team spats where people are fighting over the use of a word (like ‘peel’ or ‘soak) and then just falling apart in team fights.

While most of this isn’t going to be new or unique information (stickies and links to other guides are around) its been awhile since someone posted something like this, and with what I’ve seen firsthand and heard from player-feedback, it seems a handy resource like this would at least be topical for people to point toward.

So, tldr; the point of this topic is to present terms in the context of Heroes of the Storm so players can have both common ground on the jargon of the game and increase their awareness of tactics they may not have considered. As a warning, some of the terms or going to see very basic but I need to establish a solid foundation to express more complicated terms and concepts as I go on.

At present, this is going to be several post/sections long, so I may end up editing these post and adding quick-links later on.

Section II Generic Terms:

Hit Box: Every hero, minion, summon, structure, etc has a colored ring on the ground beneath that unit. This ring indicates the specific range where the game calculates where a hero will take damage. Similar rings are also shown on attack abilities to indicate the area where any hit-boxes inside the area will take damage. Ie. if your personal golden ring is not within the red ring of Jaina’s blizzard, then that hero will not take damage from blizzard. Many such abilities usually convey where damage is going to be dealt soon (such as a mercenary boss doing a big stomp attack) so avoiding damage is simply a matter of taking your golden hit-box out of the red or purple circle of incoming doom.

Please note: units have various sizes of hit-box. Many heroes all have a similar hit box, but a few of them either outright have a bigger hit-box, or they can conditionally change the size of their hit box (Muradin’s Avatar heroic increases the size of his hit box) The hitbox does not necessarily contain all the parts of the hero inside their box — kerrigan’s wings clearly go outside of her box — but the box does indicate where the game is checking to confirm if an attack hits and will then deal damage, or alternatively, heal.

Quick Cast settings Depending on what hotkey settings your q,w,e,d and 1-9 keys are set on influences how and when the player controls using their abilities. If quick cast is either off or set to ‘on release’ then the game will display an outline of the expected area of effect of the given ability. This allows players to alter the aim and timing of an action to not be directly tied to the position of the mouse. (apparently this is especially important for Alarak’s telekinesis functionality.)

I would encourage any player to check all hero abilities with quick-cast off just to get an idea of the effective range of all abilities in the game. It makes it much easier to know how to both dodge enemy attacks and aim your own if you know the actual detection range of an ability.

Basic Attack At present, all units in the game have a default attack action that triggers when one unit moves into attack range of an enemy unit. This automated action is the Basic Attack. The range, speed, damage and animation from one hero’s basic attack will be different from any other hero.

When a player clicks with the right mouse-click, this issues a Move command and is indicated by green arrows. This puts movement as the priority of the hero’s actions and after movement has stopped, the unit may default to using their basic attack on any unit in range. However, if right-click is used directly on an enemy unit it becomes an Attack command, and the hero will attack that unit as soon as they get into range. Attack commands are indicated by red-arrows.

Move: the hero will move to the spot first, and then attack.
Attack: the hero will attack the target as soon as they get into range.

The attack command can be used at any time with the [default] hotkey of A. Using the hotkey allows attack commands to be used on the ground, so the hero will target whatever unit may be closest (once in range) without needing to directly click on a unit.

While the effect of these two seem almost identical when just clicking on empty ground, the difference between the two is probably the biggest factor in how heroes are controlled in team fights. A player using move commands to attack will often
a) take longer to initiate their attack
b) not be attacking from their max range.
c) miss trying to target a specific unit that either has a smaller hitbox, or one that’s clustered around a bunch of other ones.

Similarly, issuing attack commands when trying to move will slow the player down as the hero will prioritize a pause to attack instead of trying to push their way through any available openings.

Range Range in this game is determined by interactions between one hit-box to another. For simplicity sake, the ‘average’ hero unit has a Hit-box that indicates a range-radius of 1. I call this “1 unit” as that unit visually indicates the effective measurement of all ranged effects and abilities.

To clarify, only some heroes have this 1-unit sized hit box, not all of them.
Kerrigan is a hero that has a hit-box that is 1-range unit in diameter (RU from now on) Kerrigan’s Basic attack is 2 RU, so Kerrigan can attack any unit that is 1 RU away from the edge of her Hit-box and thus she doesn’t need to be quite at point-blank range to hit enemies with her Basic Attack. This range distinction is important if she talents into Fury of the Swarm as Fury of the Swarm treats her splash attack as an extension of her Attack Range: from the point of Kerrigan’s attack, the damage will splash to other units within ~4 RU of that point (attack range of 2 RU is extended out from the target she hits, so 2U + 2U = a splash reach of 4)

Knowing the size of a hero’s hitbox allows the player to determine ‘depth’ in the game and know the effective distance of other abilities and attack range. This may seem kinda pointless for using one's own abilities (cuz visual casting arrows) but those don't always show up for enemy attacks :P
Section III Damage

HoTS is pretty much determined by “damage” in one form or another. It takes hero damage to kill the enemy team and reduce their ability to protect their base; it takes siege damage to destroy structures and (in most maps) eventually destroy the core.

Poke Poke is any form of damage that can be dealt safely — without any fear of any retaliation from enemy heroes… except for perhaps their own poke, but the point of poking is to deal damage without taking any in return.

Raynor has a longer attack range than most heroes. His attack range allows him to poke an enemy target at least once before they have the chance to get into range with their own attack. This allows raynor (at least in early game) to attack a unit once, then move away so a unit can’t return fire — he can safely use his Basic Attack to deal damage. The lvl 4 talent Focused Attacks encourages Raynor to poke an enemy hero by boosting his poke damage at set intervals.

Li Ming, on the other hand, uses ability damage from her [default] Q and W keys to safely deal damage. Typically her magic missile is primarily used to “poke” as the ability can be used on very short intervals.

Skill Shot Some q/w/e/d abilities need to be aimed to hit a hero. They have a specific area of effect (AoE) and a set speed before the ability actually takes effect. Brightwing’s Arcane Flare (on Q) has a very slow animation and two aoe indicators. It takes more ‘skill’ to deal damage with Arcane Flare, esp in hitting the middle bullseye, than it would with Basic Attacks. “Skill Shots” require a sense of aim and timing otherwise enemy units can move out of the way. Basic Attacks (for the most part) do not require any sort of aim-control outside of one unit being in attack range of the other unit.

(Some of the difficulty in aiming a skill-shot is offset by smart/quick cast settings.)

In the case of Poke, once Raynor has begun his Basic Attack on an enemy Li-Ming (the wind-up) that attack will connect even if Ming then tries to teleport out of the Basic Attack range: once fired, the bullet will travel until it hits the target. Most ranged attacks will continue to follow their designated target once fired.

Skill shots, on the other hand, have a set range and either stop on impact (hitting something) or stop at their maximum range.

So Raynor could walk up to Li-Ming, Poke her with his Basic Attack and maybe even walk out of the line of fire before she can try to poke back with Magic Missiles.

Sustain This is damage that a hero can keep on doing for as long as needed, or until forcibly stopped. Raynor’s basic attack does not have any sort of ammo in-game, so he can sustain that attack type against another unit. Sure, any unit could keep using their Basic Attack against another, but this term generally applies to heroes that would actually win a battle using such.

ie If Raynor and Jaina fought using only their Basic Attacks, Jaina would lose.

Depending on how a hero talents, they can either improve their sustain damage, or increase how long they can sustain what damage they do otherwise deal, or outright increase the instantaneous damage they deal: their burst damage.

Burst This is damage that’s really high for a single moment (such as Kael’thas Pyroblast) but if averaged out over a long period of time (usually the cooldown) then it’s typically weaker than sustained damage.

Li Ming can fire 3 Magic Missiles every three seconds, or in a way, one missile per second. If one missile hits one target, Ming can sustain 147 damage per second. (using numbers from her profile tooltip)
Arcane orb deals 405 damage at its peak distance. That’s a spike of 2.8x the damage of a single missile, but if her orb only hits 1 target every 8 seconds, then its only 50 damage per second.

Arcane Orb provides a form of burst damage, generally if it hits more than one target, while Magic Missile can represent sustain damage. Like with Basic Attacks, talents can change the nature of basic abilities so where Li Mings Orb could be used much more frequently, or Magic Missile getting damage upgrades to become Burst damage.

Damage over Time (DoT) Some abilities and damaging effects don’t deal all their damage in a single moment. The ability may only need to hit once, but the effect continues for several seconds after the initial attack. DoT damage is usually considered a form of sustain damage due to the time interval from initial damage to complete damage dealt.

Gul’dan’s Corruption ability has stacking waves of damage. 1 hit would deal 34 damage per second (dps) — which is less than Ming fumbling her poke damage — but at 68 and even 102 dps, the damage starts to add up and even exceed burst damage in a comparable time-frame. The key thing with DoT damage is that players may not really process how much damage they’re going to take in relation to the amount of heath they have. Looking at the health bar after 2 seconds is very different than looking at it after 6 seconds — one case is less damage than Ming’s orb, the later is more. However, the trade-off here is the longer the time interval, the more opportunities there can be for players to use healing to offset the DoTs.

Sub-section IIIa, Targeting

Each ability has a certain amount of targets it can hit at any given time. Some abilities are intended for hitting one target, a small group of targets, or as many as can possible fit in a given area.

Single is usually a thematic distinction for heroes, or abilities, that are best used to focus, and keep focused, on one target at a time. Burst Damage intended for one target will have a different amount of damage dealt when compared to an ability designed to hit more than one target.

Multi-target is for hitting several heroes, either as a side-effect of how close they are together (such as Chain lightning bouncing) or several projectiles all move together, but each one must hit a unique target (such as the grenade’s from Valla’s Multi-shot talent)

AoE is Area of Effect, and usually indicate a specific circle of area that will deal damage to all units in the area.

Some heroes have a specific appeal based on how much damage they can deal to a specific target. Heroes built around Basic Attacks (called AA-heroes) are usually single-target attackers, or rather, only one hero i taking damage from them at a specific moment. There is a slight exception as some attacks on specific heroes can be modified into splash damage, which is aoe damage dealt around the target select as the main unit hit by the basic attack.

Other heroes have a higher damage potential IF they hit several heroes, but this type of damage is usually less damage dealt to a specific hero.

Focus-Fire is specifically the call to direct any and all damage (single, multi, aoe, burst, sustain, etc) onto one specific target.
Section IV: Movement

Dealing damage, fighting over objectives, taking the core, etc etc isn’t going to go well if heroes don’t move around.


Any action in the game has a brief pause before it happens, and a slightly delay before doing the next action; some actions even have a duration where they can’t be used again for a time after either delay.

The first part (the initial delay before acting) is called the Wind-Up and any command that doesn’t complete its wind-up will stop if another command is given and cancels the first command given. Think of it as watching a Baseball pitcher going through the motions before throwing a ball.

The second part (delay after an action) is the Back-Swing. In many cases, the back-swing can actually be cut short by issuing another command before the back-swing finishes. Funny thing, in ‘real life’ this would be the follow-through motion, and is essential for an action to actually be effective. However, in video games (not just this one) players want to cut it as short as possible, so it gets a different name :D

The final part of a command action, the Cool Down, is the amount of time before the Wind-up begins again.

In the case of Basic Attacks, the Attack Speed is the whole duration of Wind-up, attack, Back-swing and cool down all put together. AS = Wu + BA + Bs + Cd

Nova has a Basic Attack Speed of 1 attack per second. It does not take her 1 whole second to complete the attack, but rather 1 second is the whole duration of the time it takes between Nova attacking once, and then attacking again.

Nova has a very very short Wind-up on her attack, its practically instant. She pretty much has 8/10 of one second remaining after her bullet fires to be issued new commands before she’ll attack again. The average human reaction speed (visually) is 0.25, which is slower than the time it takes nova for fire, but more than enough time for nova to be issued several move commands before she can attack again.

Nova’s attack animation has a back-swing of her gun recoiling from the attack and her body reacting in kind: she does not need to stand around waiting for that animation to complete, she can walk around while it happens, so the Back-Swing is canceled, which may otherwise take up to 1/2 of a second if players wait for that to stop before moving.

The ability to jungle between a hero attacking, canceling any extraneous animation and then moving until they can attack again is call Stutter-Stepping.

When done well, one hero may initiate an attack and then move back out of enemy attack range before the enemy can return fire. When done poorly, the attack doesn’t go off at all (canceling the wind-up instead of the back-swing) When done right, heroes that Stutter-step will out-poke and out-sustain a hero that simply stand’s still and tries to fight back. When done poorly, the botched stutter-step will usually lose to a stationary target.

This extra mobility allows a hero to keep moving and possibly dodge enemy Skill Shots that would otherwise connect had the hero remained stationary. Futhermore, Stutter-stepping is essentially for keeping pace with an enemy hero that’s trying to run away — most heroes move at the same speed. Thus, if a hero pauses to attack, and doesn’t stutter-step, they’ll likely not be able to keep the target within their attack range to hit again.

Nova has a talent that directly modifies her Basic Attack speed: Anti-armor shells (AAS). This talent increases her attack damage by 2.5x, but it also increases the Cooldown of her attack by the same (minor change to the rest of her animation timing) A Nova that just stands still and fires for 10 seconds will not do any additional damage when compared to her regular attack.

However, with AAS nova has ~2.4 seconds before she can attack again; her basic attack switched from being sustained damage (albeit not very good) to pseudo-burst damage. A nova that stands still for 2.5 seconds between attacks is pretty much dead, so she’s the tutorial to basic Stutter-Stepping. Nova cloaks after 3 seconds while AAS fires after 2.4, so when done ‘right’ nova can either reposition and fire again before cloaking (assuming she’s safe to do so) or she can hide, cloak and not lose as much a damage interval before she does another ‘burst’ attack.

Nova happens to get this extra animation added to her gun barrel that visually indicates the cooldown duration with AAS, so players can see when she’s ready to attack again, and thus visually confer the steps of Stutter-stepping without needing to feel it out completely on their own.

Due to the long length of time between attack intervals on AAS nova, there’s not much difference between move+attack command strings used and players can usually “stutter” well-enough just by using right-mouse clicks. However, the difference between Attack and Move command strings (issue several together) is essential for pretty much all other heroes, so the distinction made at the start of this guide actually starts to matter for most any other hero.

Stutter-stepping is one of the first ‘not-basic’ maneuvers in the game, it’s not something the game really spells out, and for many players that don’t know to look for other people doing it, they may find the concept confusing, pointless or even outright cheating.

Orb Walking

Stutter-stepping is an attack, move, attack series of commands using the Basic Attack. Orb Walking is the exact same concept, but its done using ability commands instead (q,w,e,r,d,1,2,etc)

At present, the hero that best represents Orb Walking is Zagara. Zagara has little-to no wind-up on any of her abilities and plenty of back-swing to cancel. Most of zag’s abilities don’t actually require her to look in the same direction as she would be aiming, so she can [/b] move in one direction, while casting in another.

While the cast interval between Baneling charges is small enough Zag can effectively channel them out in one chain, the cooldown to the next time she can fire again is long enough that she could spread out how many banelings she fires so it seems like banelines are her basic attack, and thus Stutter-step, but casting instead of attacking.

With the right rhythm Zag can even weave some basic attacks between her ability casting — basically, Zagara can both Orb and Stutter, though she typically alternates between then, rather than doing both at the same time. However, while zag [i] can
do both, the trade-off for her comes at the expense of a little-mentioned stat that doesn’t show on on a characters’ info sheet: Turn Speed.

Turn Speed Each unit in the game takes a different amount of time to go from looking (and moving) in one direction, to a different one. In the case of Zag, while she can freely cast roachlings and hyrdalisks around her, Zag does need to be facing a similar direction to where she is firing Banelings — she is considerably slower trying to fire a baneling behind her (when running) than she would be when casting ahead of her position (when chasing)

Turn Speed casting makes a difference between one hero trying to run, and another chasing; some heroes can do it pretty well, others may end up slowing themselves down enough that the enemy catches up.
The “Tank”

The “Tank” is generally regarded as the hero that is intended to protect squishier ally heroes (that deal damage) by taking the brunt of the damage, controlling how and where the enemy can move, and otherwise intercepting enemy heroes that attempt to ‘dive’ allied squishes.

Basically your typical warrior is expected to be both front, center and back all at the same time. Since that isn’t possible, here are a few terms and techniques that help make it seem like they can do more than just jump into the backline and autoattack a squishy hero

Peel the blanket-sweep term that gets tossed around on what warriors need to do. “Peel” is cognate with what it seems like: literally “peeling” one thing off another; removing the skin from a fruit (to peel) or removing that pesky illidan from attacking the support (to peel)

What’s commonly overlooked is all the tricks to actually “peel” and people just rant about the end result.

In reality, very few tanks can outright “peel” an enemy hero off an ally: diablo’s combo, muradin’s haymaker, anub haymaker and an ability combo from ETC and Johanna are pretty much the bulk of direct “peel” that are practical to use for that term. Otherwise, a tank tries to use a mix of direct ‘crowd control’ abilities (such as stuns and slows) and some movement techniques to try to help the hunted ally get away.

Zone Sports term here based off of basketball defensive tactics: zoning is the capacity to hinder where an enemy goes by making them not want to go there.

For example, Diablo is terrible at poking, but just watching him walk around can intimidate enemies because of the Displacement Diablo can do — namely overpower + shoulder charge to move an enemy from relative safety to potential danger. Many heroes don’t want to be within a certain proximity of the bad end of diablo’s combo — so him moving into certain positions can intimidate enemy heroes into falling back so they’re not in range of his abilities.

However, if a threat isn’t can’t actually be acted on (such as having the ability be on cool down) then the zone falls unless another hero can fill the space — a solo diablo is kinda only scary near his own gate/tower, and tends to need someone else to be the follow-up on the scare.

Screen Another sports term here, also functions as its namesake. Unlike zoning, which uses intimidation to influence enemy positioning, screening is physically impeding enemy movement. Tassadar’s Force Wall is an actual barrier enemies usually can’t cross head-on, so placing a wall between an enemy and an ally literally screens them from pursuit. Similarly, Zaraya’s heroics should be able to also function as a peel or a screen. There are other examples of ‘screens’ but most of those are inaccessible to the warriors that are expected to peel; so instead warriors use a different technique to effectively screen where their innate abilities do not: this would be Body Blocking.

Body Blocking So, all those walls about hit boxes and movement from earlier? Yea, that stuff all matters here. Heroes of the Storm’s movement tries to constantly calculate the ’shortest’ path between two distances. This is an active process, so any new variables that get into the currently set path will immediately cause the game to try to correct into a new path.

If a route is blocked by a hero’s hit box, the game will try to map a new route, which can cause a hero to automatically move in a way they don’t want. Additionally, when two hit boxes rub directly together, it can cause some movement slowing that wouldn’t otherwise happen. So a warrior moving around can do several things

1) directly block a route, such a small path, or a gate, keeping a unit from going where they want.
2) Moving directly into the game’s pathing will force a hero to try to move into a new path, this forces them into Turn-speed ruts, where they can losing valuable speed because their hero keeps changing the direction they are facing.
3) Two hit-boxes rubbing together does cause some movement slowing, even if either unit does not drastically change the way they are facing, they still move slightly slower if they brush past another object — this is easiest to notice when trying to move around forts and towers, esp their broken remains; brushing against the rubble will slow a hero down just enough to matter.

Body Blocking is pretty much the Stutter-Stepping for Warriors. This is somewhat complimented by many warriors actually having a slower attack speed, but in many cases, the attack damage a warrior would deal pales compared to the damage allies can deal if a warrior continues to body block effectively. However, its not uncommon for players to just keep clicking on a target hero to deal damage with their basic attacks, instead of trying to move around the hero to manipulate their positioning.

Good body blocking can be comparable to outright stunning a hero, only it doesn’t proc relentless effects :D
The Pusher

Heroes of the Storm is made of of 4 parts: the lanes, the base, merc camps, and objectives. Lanes have minions that march and clash with other minions, and with some manipulation, a sufficiently building up of lane minions can cause noticeable damage and eventually even take the core. In the way of the minion-march are structures that have limited ammo to kill enemy minions. Then there’s mercs camps that can be taken to help push alongside the minions and lastly, each map has some sort of function that helps push the lanes and eventually take the core as well.

To a certain degree, many maps have a built-in “pusher” role, so some teams can build around trying to monopolize that. Otherwise, its common for a team to want at least one hero that is capable of manipulating the power of any of these 4 parts: minions, mercs, strcutures and/or the objective.

wave clear This is the ability for a hero to both quickly, reliably, but also cost-effectively kill enemy minions and possibly mercenaries on their own and also do so while enduring enemy poke damage.. Please keep in mind that wave clear is very different than outright push power. If an enemy flood of minions are killed, and not much else, then the ally minions will simply clash with the enemy ones again and the momentum of how and where the minions meet may not change just because some minions were killed. Rapid wave-clearing simply changes were the minions fight, and not necessarily how they clash.

Push Push is the active killing of enemy minions to progress where ally minions will fight next. Real ‘push’ isn’t just about killing one set of minions as fast as possible as that simply moves where the next wave fights and doesn’t actually shift the momentum of the wave. If one wave of minions were to be completely stopped, the enemy wave would keep walking till they meet; depending on the distance to travel, one side will get reinforcements from the next wave of minions before the other. The side with more minions will then meet the next wave of enemies, clear that wave, and eventually get reinforcements again.

Lane Momentum is the flow of where the minions are going when unassisted. Certain heroes can influence this flow, so even after they leave the lane to go elsewhere (new lane, fight at objective, etc) that lane may still be pressured by bigger waves of minions because the flow allows one side to build up reinforcements before the other can match it in kind.

‘Good’ pusher heroes typically have summons to supply expendable units so the minion wave can maintain its own units, or they can influence the strength of the minions, or even the speed that they travel down the lane.

Like the concept of “peel,” the command to “push” a wave tends to look at the end result, and not the tricks that went into how it got there in the first place. Players that conflate wave clear with push may find their progress either easily stopped, or even that the lane momentum is now against them once they leave the ‘push’ to try to take camps or contest the objective.

However, in many cases, “push” is the follow up after winning a team battle, so the enemy resistance is low and players don’t bother to notice the distinctions between effective pushing as they just default to the idea cuz that’s what someone else told them to do.

On the reverse, some heroes drop opportunity to take merc camps that the enemy side has more than enough time to kill. While “push’ can put pressure on an enemy side, it also means that all the beautiful experience is all on an unsafe side of the map, so a team that overzealously “pushes” may have just fueled the enemy and forced themselves to sit around and wait for something else to happen, which completely kills their ability to soak

Soak Everyone and their mom probably thinks they know this word on HoTS — i wouldn’t be surprised if I get some flak from people for my not putting this in an earlier section. “Soak” is simply the ability to stand near enemy creeps and get experience for the team. Experience is the major currency of HoTS and the team that can collect the most typically gets to higher levels, more talents and that then increases their experience lead further. So the capacity to “soak” waves of minions is essentially for doing well in the game.

However, many players are under the delusion that every hero has to “soak” every lane at all times.
And that is simply not true.

When two minion waves clash (unassisted) there’s somewhere around 60 seconds before one minion dies — Depending on lane momentum and how many heroes are “soaking” or “pushing” the lanes, those numbers can change —Each lane has approximately one minute where a hero doesn’t need to be there “soaking” the lane. Depending on the map, distance between lanes, or the heroes picked, one hero is capable of getting all the experience for 2, if not more, lanes because they can clear one lane, and then move to a new lane before any of the enemy minions (or at least more than 1-2) would die just from minion damage.

The potential for one hero to be in one lane, get the minion experience, then move to another lane and get that lane’s experience, then move back again is part of the rotation

One hero can monitor the momentum of lane movement and decide if they should ‘soak’ by waiting, or use their wave clear to quickly get the lane experience and then move to a different lane. If one hero can hold 2 lanes, that then frees up 2 other heroes to try to control and contest other parts of the map, namely, taking merc camps, trying to roam about the map and kill enemy heroes (to prevent them from soaking, pushing taking their own camps and so on.

Basically, if one team assumes everyone must be split to ‘soak’ the lanes, they’re not going to have the time and man-power to deal with a team that splits their focus and rotates their lane experience. Ie. if there are 3 lanes, and 1 hero can more-or-less holds two lanes, then 4 heroes can commit to pushing 1 lane. This would match 4 against 2 and likely force another 2, if not more to come help defend that lane. This forced engagement may then leave the one side who’s trying to “soak” leave a lane empty or even regulate the furthest away hero (who wouldn’t get to the 4v2 clash in time) to try to now suddenly match the “rotation” the other team was doing, only this may have been a hero who only planned to “soak” and thus doesn’t have the waveclear to actually manage more than one lane on their own.

So, like stutter-stepping, knowing the concept of how the maps, minions, and such, works allows a team to do tactics that dictate the flow of the game.

“Soak” may typically be associated with idle action, but the tactical implications of proper ‘soak’ are anything but idle.


(continued next post)
("Pusher" part 2)

Sniping not to be confused with Nova’s ability, but the concept here is similar. Just about any structure is prone to some sort of sneak attack or burst damage focus. Some heroes, like sylvanas, cripple enemy structures and allow a team to quickly destroy forts for experience — this is an important tactic as structures provide set amounts of experience while minions and mercenaries provide scaling amounts of experience.

Aside from structures, some heroes excel at destroying fountains. Without a nearby fountain, heroes either have to waste time going further to get health/mana or even outright hearth back to base, and then have to run all the way back to where they had been in their lane.

If one side snipes all the fountains, that can put a lot of stress on an enemy team if they don’t have cost-effective wave clear. While they health to recover mana at base, enemy minions push the waves, build up momentum and may even take a fort of a team can’t keep up. This sort of tactic is part of how to make split pushing effective.

Split Pushing is the ability to manipulate minion momentum in multiple lanes. Like “pushing” this simply doesn’t just mean having a person with decent wave-clear in each lane all running forward — a split like that can leave heroes vulnerable to being killed, or simply having their ‘push’ cleared out by a hero with better tools or mercenary camps. Split-pushing is a product of forcing an enemy team to react to movement that they can’t match in kind.

For instance, Zagara can use her nydus to go from one lane to another in a second. However, for her opposing lane mate, if that hero tried to follow that course on horseback, by the time they mounted, rode to a lane, cleared the minions, mounted, and rode to another lane to then do the same thing would take considerably more time and effort than it would Zagara. Furthermore, the timing on when this works is important: the enemy needs to be forced to deal with wave pushing threats at a time they don’t want to do so, such as just when they want to gather up to contest a map objective.

The ability to effectively split push is based on mobility, timing and perceived threat (typically the size of the minion group) which usually requires waves of shifting lane momentum and not just outright “wave clear” As as mentioned before, faulty split-pushing may backfire and simply feed the enemy team the experience load while your side ends up standing around waiting for camps to respawn, minions to come back in to safe soaking range, and so on.



Healing is the reverse of damage; an ally takes some damage, and then that ally needs to recover that damage dealt for them to continue to stand around and fighting, soaking, etc. Since this is just anti-damage, some of the concept of healing pretty much follow damage terms; sustain, burst, HoTs (instead of DoTs) and so forth. However, there are a few different concepts at hand.

Preventative Healing One of the tools that healers have that damage dealers (usually) don’t have is the ability to prevent damage from happening in the first place. Li li’s blinds can prevent heroes from dealing damage with their Basic Attacks for a few seconds, so this isn’t damage she suddenly needs to recover for her team through healing, its damage she kept from happening. in the first place. While Blind is an obvious option, some talents and abilities are not quite as obvious — many players will deride a malfurion for taking Twilight Dream over Tranquility. However, if malfurion is successful in silencing key enemy heroes, he may have outright prevented more damage than he could heal in time to keep his team alive.

This isn’t to say that Twilight has precedence over Tranquility, but its important for heroes to be able to anticipate the amount of damage they’ll have to deal with, and then decide which tools will help them be able to do that best. While Tranquility provides lots of Aoe Healing, it is healing over time and some heroes may not have the time to survive long enough for those heals to work. In such a case, preventing the damage would be better than trying to react to and heal through it.

Reactive vs Proactive “healers” are a precious commodity in heroes of the storm as they essentially ‘correct mistakes’ An ally didn’t dodge some skill shot pokes? Support hero can heal that back up. Ally hero poked his head to far into the bushes? Healing might be able to ‘fix’ that.

The idea that supports can ‘correct mistakes’ generally regulates the player to reacting to the damage dealt as a consequence of those mistakes. However, the alternative is to anticipate what damage is going to be dealt, and try to be ready for it accordingly. This is important for delayed heals like Ancestral or Divine Palm as typically if a hero has to “react” to an ally needing them, by then its probably too late.

This is also important in prioritizing the right target. Reactive healing just looks to mend damage that has been dealt, but some heroes may now be in a position to not take additional damage, while another hero is now in the line of fire instead — healing one that’s ‘safe’ to fix the ‘mistake’ may not be enough to salvage the fight.

Similarly, heroes all have different damage thresholds (ie Health) so one not-tank hero may need the heal more than the tank would despite one having ‘less’ remaining health than the other. Some heroes specialize in surprising enemy heroes and may need the healer to anticipate them suddenly getting the focus their tank used to have.

Basically, there’s more to ‘support’ than just healing back the damage dealt on the team’s ‘tank’. Its not uncommon to see a support only focus on following the ‘tank’ and otherwise assume all criticism or advise offered their way is just ‘toxic’ chat — while the tank certainly is important, it doesn’t mean the healer has to follow in their shadow at all times. Part of anticipating a heal is anticipating that the tank will probably go a little too far for the support to follow, and the tank will subsequently try to escape (as many warriors do have abilities for pulling out of a fight) which may suddenly leave the support hero close to combat than just a moment prior.
Damage Dealers

Its not uncommon for players to look at a score board and pretend they know just how useful all those numbers have been over the course of the game. This similarly applies to healing, siege, and damage taken. The capacity to simply have numbers does not indicate they were effective at their job.

Roam A roaming hero is one that specializes in moving from one lane to the next in, typically, an attempt to kill enemy heroes and disrupt their ability to soak all lanes. These heroes usually enable a hero kill to be secured, but they may not have dealt the most damage, and sometimes they don’t get the last hit either. Because they spend time moving around the map, they don’t spend the time to solo soak a lane nor do much poking, so its not uncommon for even the best of roaming heroes to have smaller numbers to show for their efforts than any other ally — but that doesn’t change they may have done their job effectively.

Dive Diving heroes can break past the enemy tank and attempt to kill, or chase away enemy heroes.. While some heroes are better at diving than others, this is a tactic any hero or team could do too — some teams will choose to dive their whole side so they can remain within range of their support/healers, esp if they have really mobile heroes. Effective divers can usually offset most ways a ‘tank’ may try to peel — that’s why its their job to dive in the first place. Similarly, this tactic can be useful for getting enemies to waste some of their abilities to try to stop the dive, so the end up being less effective than they normally would be otherwise. If a dive doesn’t break the enemy formation, than it could still be scraped by going for a trade

Trade is typically used in terms of hero deaths, but it can apply to other game objectives as well. While all heroes share experience, not all heroes are equally useful for their team, so having one type of hero die in exchange for a hero on the other side may leave one team in a better position than another. Typically heroes that are defined by burst damage can make for a decent trade if they spend all their juice to take out a hero that old the enemy teams sustain (basically their damage ‘carry’ or their healer or even tank)

Similarly, one team may have several of their heroes die, but win an objective. Depending on how strong the enemy team is, them trading some deaths for the objective or boss camp may be a worthwhile trade (while alive, enemy too weak to stop objective) or be waste (enemy more than strong enough to deal with boss/monster)

While some players do understand that a trade can be good or bad, from my experience, this is probably the least understood, or most feared, concept in HoTS. The trade is usually evaluated based on the heroes involved rather than their respective role for their team.

Murky at his core is pretty much a Trade hero personified, but some heroes do provide a similar opportunity cost if they can suicide to secure a specific enemy kill in exchange — some are more obvious due to having post-death effects, while others are a bit more situational. Generally teams would prefer to avoid making trades, but there are some team tactics that are completely defined by them.

It does take a careful eye to see a good trade from just ‘feeding’ but it also takes an observant and experience set of allies to understand the opportunity gained from decent trades.

The general rule of thumbs though, is to avoid making trades, or rather, avoid trying to salvage a crumbling battle into trying to make a trade. In some cases, sure, that one enemy hero getting killed might really through the enemy for a loop for the next minute or so, but that’s generally a mix of having a specific hero that excels for diving/chasing/catching a hero to finish the off, and similarly, the right kind of target to pick off too. Its not too uncommon to see a player overestimate their ability to get a kill by going into the fort/base area and then getting kited to death.

Kite While this is probably better suited in the Movement section, the whole point of decent kiting is to deal some sort of damage while doing it. Kiting is the process of just barely staying out of the reach of a chasing enemy; its a carrot and stick routine, there’s bait (a squishy or low hp hero) and an overzealous enemy that really wants the bait. The basis of kiting is to have a mix of mobility boost and some kind of slow while running in loops so the enemy isn’t completely deterred by a player completely getting away. (not literally loops, but frequent changing of direct helps to keep the enemy guessing on where you’re trying to move so they can just cut off the escape path)

Lili is a solid kiting hero: as a support/healer, she has plenty of incentive for enemies to try to focus her. Her trait, fast feed, triggers on damage to give her a speed boost and her kit has access to more than one slow in her talent tree, so she has several ways of building around how she kites her enemy target.

The key to kiting is to understand its a stall tactic there has to be some sort of goal for why you’re keeping an enemy on the chase. This can be to try to bait an enemy away from an objective, to try to stall allies coming to help, and so on. While any sort of class could do this (such as muradin) its generally aimed for squishier heroes to at least the know the concept so they dont run into a panic should their own tank/front line be completely out of position to peel for said squishy.
and reserving this spot for more rooms in the future; either more context, a tl;dr summary of highlights (by reformatting the top post) or a q/a section.
Great post so far. One thing I'd edit is the term "trade". It usually means trading your resources for the enemies. This doesn't always have to be kills/deaths, but can sometimes simply mean hp for hp or a combination of hp/mana for hp/mana.

The reason some heroes (e.g. thrall, rex, zag) are such good solo laners is due to them having a significantly easier time trading "up" on any exchanges with the enemy. This means they can usually come out on top in any hp/mana trade with the enemy.

Trading is a very important aspect of this game due to the trickle down effect that comes about from every small exchange or skirmish, which might influence future, decisive 5v5 big fight.

Some heroes are designed to allow for strong trades like falstad being able to Z quickly back to frontlines after a heavy trade or Muradin's passive quickly healing him up after a trade.

Understanding how to trade efficiently in given matchups makes one overall a stronger player.
Good post amu. When I get some time later on in the week I'll probably edit the 'trade' section into two parts to incorporate more information on the various points you brought up.
What a long worthless post....

Considering nobody plays this game, and those who do won't bother to read through all that vomit anyway

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