Heroes of the Storm: Ganking, Abilities and Healing Wells

This is the third posting of what I’ve written so far for the book, tentatively titled The Over-the-Shoulder Guide to Heroes of the Storm, that I was endeavouring to write and publish by October, 18th, 2015.

NOTE: This is barely-edited first draft text which includes [FILLER TEXT] for things I couldn’t look up while writing or as-yet unwritten sections of the book.


But what if your player isn’t sticking to one lane? Why would they go and wander when they need to get xp for their team?

Well, as mentioned earlier, having two Blue players around when a Red asset gets blown up doesn’t net the Blue team double the xp; that’s why they need to have one Blue Hero in each lane (but only one per lane). This leaves two (or three, on a two-lane battlefield) Heroes with nothing to do.

Well, that’s not entirely true. What they can do is travel the map and interfere with the Red team’s efforts to gain xp.

There are a few ways to do this, but the most obvious one is to harass (and, if possible, blow up) the Red team’s laning Heroes. If the Red team has one Hero in each lane, then two roaming Blue Heroes can join forces with the Blue Hero in one lane and overpower the Red Hero in that lane, forcing it back behind the walls or even blowing it up so that it’s out of the game for a few seconds (and then has to travel all the way back to the lane’s outer wall), giving the Blue team uncontested access to that lane’s xp for a while.

This tactic of hunting down and taking out opposing Heroes with the advantage of numbers is called “ganking,” a term which comes from [EXPLANATION].

As mentioned earlier, taking a Hero out earns your team xp. Expert player and YouTuber CJ “Rhykker” Miozzi holds that doing so while the Red team’s level is below six can earn the Blue team less xp than just laning, although there is the advantage of denying the Red team an xp collector for half a minute.

Why don’t Heroes use their Abilities all the time?

You’ve probably noticed that, as the Blue team’s level goes up, your player has chosen new talents for her Hero, including ones that grant new Abilities. So why isn’t she using them all the time?

Well, to stop folks just pressing their ability keys (usually Q, W, E, R and / or D, with the odd number thrown in also) constantly, the game imposes a couple of limits. The first is the cooldown. This is a countdown timer that starts immediately after your player triggers her Hero’s ability; until the timer reaches zero, the ability can’t be used again. The amount of time varies from Ability to Ability, although the time typically gets larger from left to right on your player’s Ability list (a split second to two seconds for the one that your player triggers by pressing the Q key; a few seconds to a minute and a half for your player’s Heroic talent.

The second is your player’s supply of Mana. If you look next to the portrait of your player’s Hero in the left hand corner of her screen, you’ll see a thin blue bar underneath her thick green one. This bar shows your player’s Hero’s Mana supply. Every Ability costs a certain amount of Mana to use, and if your player starts running low, the number of Abilities she is able to use immediately drops (they’ll turn dark purple in the Hero’s Ability list). Mana replenishes over time, but not always quickly.
(NOTE: A few Heroes, like Illidan, don’t actually have a Mana bar.)

Thirdly, there are skillshots.

When your Player tells her Hero to attack, she normally clicks on the Red team asset, Mercenary or objective character she wants the hero to go for and then leaves her Hero to do its thing; the Hero will keep attacking until the selected objective is destroyed, even if it means following a fleeing target. Every attack it can make automatically hits.

However, some Abilities allow your Player to line up a shot either in a straight line or by selecting an area. These Abilities can take a split second or two to warm up before they fire, so your player needs to exercise her judgment on where her target will most likely be by the time the Ability fires. Such Abilities (like Raynor’s Penetrating Round, Malfurion’s Entangling Vines or Gazlowe’s Deth Lazor) are called “skillshots.”

Why did my player just send her Hero to drink from a well?

So you’ve seen that close behind each gate in the walls is a large building with two smaller buildings near it. One is another cannon tower, but the other is something that looks more or less like a well; it’s full of water until your player sent her hero over to it. Then the water vanished and a message about a cooldown timer appeared over it with a countdown.

The game calls this structure, naturally, a “healing well”; as with everything else, though, gamers come up with their own jargon for it. Some call it a “sippy cup” – a reference to a drinking aid for a toddler – that works because it sounds a little silly and its plosives and short syllables make it easier to say and hear than “healing well”.

Did you notice that the green bar above the head of your player’s Hero was less than half full? That means her Hero has been taking a lot of damage from the Red team. What the well does is give your hero a top-up on that green “health” bar, meaning they can take a bit more damage.

Like most things in this game, though, there’s a trick. If you watch carefully, you’ll see that after your player’s Hero drank from the well, there’s a dark green ”shadow” of health that appears in the Hero’s health bar; the Hero’s actual health slowly fills up to meet the bar.

So what that means is, it doesn’t allow the hero an immediate power-up; your player, especially if Red Heroes are pursuing her Hero, has to weigh up whether it’s worth drinking from the well now knowing that it’s not going to give her an instantaneous boost of health; she could be taken out, then return to the battlefield with that countdown still counting down and another potential fight to face when she might need it again.