I now continue my build guides for Heroes of the Storm. Today, I’ll be looking at my top-played warrior and specialist: Johanna and Sylvanas Windrunner.
Coincidentally, Sylvanas is also one of the characters you can permanently unlock using my referral link. Learn the details here.
And don’t forget to check out my previous guides for Jaina and Tassadar.
UPDATE: The Sylvanas build has been updated to reflect the changes in the Dehaka patch on March 29, 2016.
Johanna: Shield of the Faithful
General thoughts: Johanna is the archetypal tank. She has very weak damage and mobility, but she’s extremely hardy and offers very strong crowd control. As Johanna, your most likely cause of death is going to be the inevitable overconfidence that comes from being almost — but not entirely — invincible.
As Johanna, your job is to get into the thick of battle and stay there. Constantly fowl the enemy team with your crowd control abilities. Force them to turn their attention to you — and away from your more vulnerable team mates.
Punish can more or less be your bread and butter damage ability. Condemn is useful for grouping up enemies for your team mates’ AoEs or interrupting powerful channeled abilities, like Valla’s strafe or Li-Li’s jug of a thousand cups. Shield glare is always handy but shines the most against auto-attack heroes like Valla or Illidan, and in rare cases, its long range and ability to ignore walls can allow you to land kills that would otherwise be out of reach. Iron skin’s shield is handy, but its crowd control immunity is arguably even better.
This build focuses on Johanna’s existing strengths, making her the perfect tank.
1: Reinforce: Using basic abilities grants a stack of block, reducing enemy auto-attack damage.
4: Laws of hope: Increases health regeneration. Can also be activated to provide a quick burst of healing.
Johanna has a pretty strong survival toolkit to start with, but the one she lacks is self-healing. This addresses that. The passive healing lets you recover from mild to moderate damage between fights, while the activated ability gives you burst healing to survive in the heat of battle.
Note that the passive regeneration continues even when the ability is on cooldown.
7: Battle momentum: Auto-attacks reduce ability cooldowns.
A versatile talent that allows you to apply crowd control more consistently, get more use out of reinforce, and boost your (admittedly meager) damage.
10: Falling sword: Leap into the air and crash down a few seconds later, damaging and knocking effected enemies upward.
Strong arguments can be made for both of Johanna’s ultimates, but I prefer falling sword. It deals more damage and can hit more targets, and in a pinch, you can use it as an escape tool.
13: Hold your ground: Increases the shield provided by iron skin and reduces its cooldown if it is destroyed.
Another talent that lets you hang in the thick of things longer, reinforcing your role as a frontline brawler.
16: Holy renewal: Shield glare heals you for each hero hit.
This plus laws of hope serves to address Johanna’s lack of self-healing. The healing for each hero hit is actually pretty substantive, so if you hit most or all of the enemy team, you’ll heal for a huge chunk of health. It’s at this point that you really start to get in the “she just won’t die” realm.
20: Indestructible: Upon reaching zero health, gain a shield equal to your maximum health for a few seconds. Two minute cooldown.
The name says it all, really.
If you’re being hit hard enough for this to activate, odds are you just want to retreat. You might also be able to get in some quick healing with shield glare.
Sylvanas: Screaming Fury
General thoughts: Sylvanas used to be an assassin disguised as a specialist, but as of the new patch, she plays more like a traditional specialist, though she maintains strong damage and team fight potential.
Sylvanas’ new talent tree doesn’t offer a lot of clear synergies or obvious builds, but it also allows her to be more versatile than she used to be, whereas before she was simply a glass cannon and nothing else.
With the new build, you’ll spend more time pushing and have a very strong lane presence in the early game, but don’t neglect team fights. You’re still one of the more dangerous specialists around, especially past level ten.
One thing that hasn’t change is that you’re still a very squishy hero with an unreliable escape, so you should still be very cautious, and it remains true that Sylvanas is not a great choice for soloing lanes or roaming the map solo, unlike most other specialists.
1: Paralysis: Increases the duration of black arrows by 75%.
The default duration of black arrows is a bit weak, but this gives you all the extra power you need to completely shut down enemy minion waves, and at level one, that can be a big advantage.
Later on, it also allows you solo mercenary camps more effectively, but despite Sylvanas’ role as a specialist, I’d still recommend getting the help of team mates where possible, especially for bruiser camps.
4: With the wind: Increases withering fire’s range.
Where possible, I like to pick talents that have both offensive and defensive applications. Something Sylvanas excels at is hunting down wounded enemies and finishing them off, and with the wind enhances your ability to do that.
Meanwhile, it also allows you to put out strong damage from a greater distance, thus putting yourself at less risk. This is crucial when you’re as squishy as Sylvanas.
As Sylvanas, your best defense is a good offense.
7: Possession: Permanently take control of any enemy minion. Catapults and mercenaries are immune. Three charges.
Once the game’s worst heroic, possession is actually pretty decent as a level seven talent. At that stage of the game, the enemy team is still going to have some difficulty countering, and between this and paralysis, your early game push power is going to be pretty scary.
Just make sure you’re using it any chance you get. Any time you’re passing a minion wave late game, remember to through out possession as you pass.
Random fun fact: If you possess enemy minions while your team is cursed on Cursed Hollow, the stolen minions will still have full health.
10: Mind control: After a short delay, take control of an enemy hero’s movement for a short time. During this time, you cannot take any other action, but neither can the target.
With possession moved down to level seven, Sylvanas now has two strong choices for ultimates. However, I favour mind control. It’s slightly easier to use, and vastly more fun.
Generally the idea is to find a squishy hero and “encourage” them to stroll into the waiting arms of your team. It’s obviously great for preventing a low health target from fleeing. You can also force enemies into range of your towers (just make sure there are no minions around to absorb shots) or other danger areas, or prevent someone from fleeing Artanis’ purifier beam. With very good timing, it can also serve as an interrupt for powerful abilities, like strafe.
Just be careful not to put yourself at undue risk, as you yourself are helpless during the channel. Maintain a safe distance.
13: Life drain: Shadow dagger heals you for a small amount when it spreads.
This tier is all survival options. I favour shadow dagger as a way to heal up between fights, which is not something Sylvanas can normally do without hearthing or visiting a healing fountain.
Spell shield is also a decent choice if the enemy team has strong ability damage heroes, like Li-Ming or Kael’thas.
16: Cold embrace: Shadow dagger increases damage taken by the first enemy hit.
Lots of good options on this tier. Evasive fire and remorseless are also strong choices, but cold embrace allows your team to really blow up an important single target, like a healer.
20: Bolt of the storm: A targeted teleport on a cooldown.
Sylvanas has a teleport by default, but between how awkward it is to use, her extremely low health, and a lack of strong competition on this talent tier, bolt of the storm becomes the obvious choice.