Hello! We are Charles and James. We played Heroes of the Storm to help you learn the basics of the game. And it was fun! Even when we died.
Charles: I wouldn’t class myself as a hardcore gamer, but I do love video games. Mostly I’ve enjoyed first-person shooters, RPGs, or sandbox action games where I can run around the map and get up to mischief. But even then, I usually play on easy and pretty much always alone. Multiplayer first-person shooters move too fast for me, and sports games just aren’t my thing at all.
Having said all that, I’ve always found online games like Heroes of the Storm fascinating to look at. I’ve never played a MOBA (multiplayer 0nline battle arena) before this, but have heard that people get really, really into them, and I’m eager to see what all the fuss is about. Maybe this is the perfect game for me and I’ll be make it big as an esports superstar.
James: I played Starcraft and Warcraft for countless hours. I can still remember the day I brought home the Starcraft: Brood Wars expansion and when Frozen Throne came out. I was definitely a fan of playing user custom games within RTS (real-time strategy) games (tower defence, what up!), so when DotA came out I played it often. It’s been really cool seeing the MOBA genre evolve because it combines two of my favourite things about games: 1) strategically defeating opponents, and 2) levelling up a custom character of my own and dominating other people with it. If there’s a better feeling than decimating hordes of enemies with a perfectly executed special, I’ve never felt it. Heroes combines these two elements, so this should be fun!
Charles: Right, where to start? Picking a character was one of my initial stumbling blocks with Heroes of the Storm. Like a lot of MOBA games, there’s a whole bunch of heroes to choose from, each broken down into four fighting styles or “classes”.
First off, you’ve got the Assassin. Swift and nifty heroes who can lay the smack down on multiple baddies but can't take too much of a beating themselves.
Next there are Tanks – these big burly dudes hold down the front line and do damage so heavy it can knock your opponents out, stopping them in their tracks.
Support class heroes are everyone's best friend. They're out in the field giving the team...support, basically. Most of the time this means boosting a teammate's health when they need it most or casting a buff that ups everyone's ass-kicking ability.
Flex heroes combine skill sets from other classes. Think of them as jack-of-all-trades heroes with awesome tricks up their sleeves, like summoning minions or disabling enemy towers. Having a Flex on your team keeps the other side on their toes like crazy.
That’s a lot to choose from when you bear in mind that each character has completely unique abilities regardless of which role they fit into.
James: I’m overwhelmed by the number of heroes but also excited to try playing them all. After a quick Google search, I’ve chosen Sonya because she is a Tank but also heals herself. It seems this will help me bring the ruckus but without getting killed. Checks out.
Charles: Making my choice got easier once I found out the new 2.0 patch meant I get 20 players for free. I picked up the “Flex” hero pack, which had a few of each of the roles, and played some games with a few of them.
James: After jumping in the deep end and finding it a bit, uh, deep, I have the following advice: If you’re playing a new hero, play against the computer on the lowest difficulty to learn all their skills. This way you’re more confident and capable when playing with real people who are relying on you. You can also Google "[Hero name] Heroes Build" to get an expert's advice on which skills to pick and how to use them. I found this helpful.
Charles: One of the things I like most about Heroes of the Storm is that there's more to it than just utterly crushing the other team’s base. Each map actually has its own goal to beat too. The goal of the map I played was to collect tokens that put a nasty curse on the opposing team... which is pretty weird but also really fun?
James: This game definitely sets itself apart by the different map strategies. Each map is unique, and certain heroes become more or less valuable depending on the objective. Then there's the question of the perfect strategy for each map.
Charles: Ambushes are no joke!!! Experienced players will lure you out into a lane and then cut you off from behind at the onset of the match. Beware! Stay behind your minions.
James: It’s really essential to get good map placement early in the game. If you don’t have a successful rally on your first charge, you’re going to immediately fall behind. One ambush forces you to retreat and then you’ve lost control of your lane and will fall behind in XP (experience points).
Also getting killed early in the game really sucks. Like first-20-seconds early. But it happens. Especially when you get stunned or rooted. I’m already forgiving myself.
Charles: Early on in the game, it becomes clear that teamwork is super important. All the times I died were the times I veered off by myself or tried to take on a hero alone. Once I’d figured that out, I tried my best to pay more attention to where other characters were on the maps, what lanes people were headed down, and where I needed to be. And not, like, dead, basically.
James: Teamwork is essential. Seriously. Two players with complementary heroes working together to command a lane is a recipe for success. The more you can work together to, say, stun an opposing hero then deal max damage or heal a Tank as they attack a tower, the faster you can gank opposite heroes and stay fighting constantly to maximise experience-earning. This game is like 10x more fun with friends.
Charles: Later on in the game, I started playing as Lt. Morales, a Support role hero with healing abilities, and that's when I really had to be on the ball. It became clear to me that healers actually have one of the most thought-intensive jobs in games like these. I really had to pay attention to all the abilities I chose as I levelled up and how they’d help my team members out in battle.
James: It’s interesting how you can customise your play style with a particular hero by choosing different abilities. There are multiple ways to play one hero, and some heroes are strong because they’re flexible. Also no item shop means you can't rely on standard power-ups or abilities. Each hero really is a puzzle and an opportunity unto themselves. I have so much to learn here.
CharIes: I really hit my stride with this hero and role, and even though I wasn’t the best player, I still managed to die a whole lot less and actually help my team win a game or two. I won’t be winning an esports trophy anytime soon, but I definitely had fun!
James: After levelling up Sonya a bit, I changed to Artanis. I find he’s more fun to play because he’s more flexible. Also he’s better at ganking (aka killing an opposing player), and I’m finding that’s my favourite part of the game.
We put together a few important things we’ve learned after spending hours playing Heroes. If you’re new to the game, read this and learn it!
When choosing a hero, team variety is key. You may have a favourite, but the net benefit to your team might be much greater if you pick a hero who adds something different to your team, particularly if you’re choosing last. Variety is the spice of life, and a team full of the same kind of hero doesn't look too hot. If you're playing solo, however, this becomes less important as the system will auto-match you with complementary ally heroes.
You unlock new skills at levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20. Levelling up gets you awesome new talents, which you can use to beat the crap out of your enemies. Choose wisely, and choose skills that complement the way you play the hero. (Remember to look up a guide if you want an expert opinion).
Replenish your health and mana at every opportunity. Keeping your health topped up makes all the difference between a good game and game over. It’s definitely worth running back to base to use a healing fountain if it means you don’t die on the battlefield.
Playing as an Assassin or Support? Get behind the team Tank! These classes are skillful, but don’t stand much of a chance on the front lines. Let your Tank do the up-close-and-personal punching and use your minions as a meat shield.
You gain XP when anyone on your team kills an enemy. A team that plays together slays together. Teamwork helps you rack up experience faster, which means faster level-ups.
Proximity also gives you XP. Standing near minions as they kill other minions will give you XP; this is known as “soaking.” Contribute to their fight to speed up the process, then mount and move on – but not before soaking up all the XP as your minions finish the job.
Levelling up is key to victory. Even if you have enemy hero kills early on, farming minions for XP is essential. This is because hero kills won’t win the game. You need to dominate the opposition, and the easiest way to get ahead is to outpace them in levelling.
At the onset of the game, positioning one hero in each lane and farming is the quickest way to earn XP. The research is in, and it suggests this is the optimal strategy for victory until all heroes have levelled up to unlock new skills.
If the minimap is empty, it might mean you’re about to be ambushed. Things look quiet… Too quiet. Pay close attention to the minimap. It lets you know where your enemies are or whether they’re hiding.
“Ganking” means focusing on killing an opposing player’s hero through a focused attack or ambush. It’s an essential part of the game, and one you can use strategically to shift the tides of battle.
Farming waves and ganking are both great ways to earn XP. Ideally you want a mix of both. Killing waves is easy XP that should not be missed, and sacrificing a wave for a possible gank may be worth it – but only if you can complete the kill.
Beware of overextending. Striding too far across the map will get you killed and gives the opposing team free XP (also called “feeding”). Don’t give them an edge by playing too aggressively. Instead build strength as a team then use that strength to coordinate attacks.
Study the movements of any mercenaries you see on the map. Capturing them can give you all kinds of special advantages and put pressure on the enemy team. Mercenaries are one of the easiest ways to turn the tides of battle. But also be careful! The strongest mercenaries are hard to take down alone.
Splitting up your team can be dangerous. Just like in every horror movie you've ever seen, splitting up is bad news. If the opposing team finds you alone, you’re extremely vulnerable. Even if you travel in small groups, the opposite team can together quickly eradicate your party.
After the map is set, consider working as a group to make tactical progress across the map. Working together to clear a lane en route to the keep can be a game changer, even if it leaves your defences vulnerable.
Destroying the enemy’s keep is a power move. Doing so spawns catapults that put additional pressure on that lane. This + mercenaries = a great way to do passive minion damage on structures.
Don’t walk into bushes alone. They’re great hiding places for assassins and can lead to your doom. Certain heroes can better use their skills in these areas to drain your HP or reduce your movement. Beware!
Sometimes letting an enemy hero escape with low health is the best way to maintain a team advantage. Chasing them all the way across the map could lead you into an ambush. Don’t feed!
Seriously, don’t feed.
James: To be honest, I’ve gotten pretty addicted to this game (I might have installed it on my home computer and ordered a gaming mouse and watched some professional match livestreams). I still have a lot to learn, but I’m getting there. Maybe I’ll feel like a pro once I’ve mastered all the heroes. At this point, I have a lot of learning to do. But it’s fun to try out new heroes and get competitive with the ones I know well. Now I just need a team...
Charles: If I'm being brutally honest with myself, I'm not the best player in the world. But I still love getting to grips with the different types of heroes and the teamwork involved in trying to win games. I've still got way more playing ahead of me 'til I get as good as James, but give me a couple of weeks and I'll be ganking with the best of 'em.