A once proud king of a strong race, Anub’arak was brought low by Kel’Thuzad and resurrected as the traitor king who aided Arthas in his race to sit upon the Frozen Throne. Now an undead monstrosity that roams the Nexus, spawning insects, burrowing into the ground, and putting webs everywhere. If you ever wanted a small army of beetles to follow you wherever you went, have I got an opportunity for you.
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Anti-Mage (ability burst) Tank, CC oriented Bruiser; not ideal as a Tank vs AA.
- Q; Impale: A 1 second in-line stun with good range. Usually area stuns are heroics, not base abilities. Between this and Burrow Charge, Anub has the most hard CC of any tank in his base kit.
- W; Hardened Carapace: A small shield, though fairly large relative to Anub’s health pool, with a 3 second duration. On its own this is not terribly impressive but it does add much needed survivability and has very strong talents to pair with it.
- E; Burrow Charge: A 0.5 second area stun and positioning tool. The ability that makes Anub’Arak a strong tank at engaging, disengaging, and playing mobile ward. Also provides Unstoppable frames that can be abused to dodge things like Xul’s root, which isn’t as good as the Invulnerable it used to provide and to a degree pigeon holes Anub’Arak into using it more defensively. Because of the long cooldown and how essential it is to allowing Anub to control fights, correct use and timing of Burrow Charge is the thing to master for good Anub’Arak players.
- Trait; Scarab Host: Spawn a Beetle that lasts 8 seconds whenever you use an ability. These absorb skill shots, can be used as scouts (if no enemies are around they will find the nearest lane), provide a small amount of extra damage, eat tower shots during building pushes, and in general are just really annoying for the enemy team. They have a health bar and are targetable, so heroes that have reset on kill abilities (Kerrigan with Clean Kill and Stitches with Last Bite) might benefit from them.
Anub’Arak has 20 spell armor baseline. This means he takes 20% less damage from all ability damage. That is massive against a huge list of heroes. Ragnaros, Li Ming, Jaina, Chromie, Alarak, Kerrigan… the list goes on. Even auto attack heroes often do half or more of their damage from abilities, with few exceptions. If there is a single ability damage her on the enemy team, either sustained or burst, Anub is a good pick. If there are two, Anub is in many ways the best pick in the game.
Every map with large amounts of terrain features, such as Garden of Terror, Sky Temple, and Dragon Shire, benefits Anub’Arak. It allows for the range on Burrow Charge to get real value with surprise engages or clutch escapes. Having relatively low health and no built-in sustain, constant skirmish maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen and Battlefield of Eternity really hurt him when played as a tank; however, his solo laning abilities will sometimes allow him to be the bruiser on these maps as long as he is drafted with that in mind.
In the laning phase Burrow Charge into Impale is one and a half seconds of stun. Due to the range on Burrow Charge, especially with Underking, Anub arguably has the best gank potential against otherwise slippery targets like Falstad. If he is drafted as a tank then he should be rotating and looking for kills, disrupting enemy rotations, being a mobile ward, and using Burrow Charge to escape if needed. His beetles, in particular, offer unique tricks for disrupting rotations and being a mobile ward, as they will seek out the nearest lane if there is nothing to attack and on the way they will spot and even dismount enemies.
This takes practice and, on some maps, specific positioning to achieve consistently. The majority of the time in team fights he will walk in, not Burrow Charge, focusing on absorbing ability damage when Nerubian Armor is up and spawning beetles to absorb skill shots. Only use Burrow Charge as an engage if you went Locust Swarm or you know your support will save you. If the fight is turning in your favor, you can Burrow Charge aggressively to chase and secure kills, but always remember that Anub’Arak has the lowest health pool of any tank with one of the longest cooldown escapes.
If drafted as the bruiser, Anub’Arak can be a safe solo laner. What he lacks in sustain he makes up for in the safety of Burrow Charge. As the bruiser he’ll often be responsible for isolating a target with his stun kit, while the tank tries to sponge most of the damage for the team. This can include taking critical heroes out of the fight with Cocoon.
Other stun heroes (Rexxar, Kerrigan, etc) and dive heroes (Chen, Tracer, Greymane, etc). Tanky dive heroes make up for Anub’Arak’s relatively lackluster healthpool while letting him be a massive CC machine. Strong body blocking or initiation stuns are easy for him to follow up with his own stuns, and Beetles always create a little bit of chaos for skill shots and dive heroes thrive in chaos.
Low damage tanks. Aside from that, Anub’Arak fits into most team compositions, as long as he is countering the enemy team. He revolves much more around being a counter than he does synergizing with his own team.
I consider Anub’Arak to be the hard counter to Li-Ming. Between Beetles absorbing skill shots and Nerubian Armor reducing what damage does make it to him, she just can’t kill him and he can keep taking the hits for his team. To a slightly lesser degree, he is always good against all the Mages and with multiple stuns and the ability to get into the back line he destroys Morales. Anub’Arak is always a good pick up for teams that are otherwise light on hard CC, because he can bring so much of it. It isn’t uncommon for drafts that still cover all roles to be light on CC; Anub can patch that weakness as a tank, a bruiser, or a flex pick.
With the lowest health pool of any tank, his only ability to live as a tank comes from Nerubian Armor and his innate Spell Armor. Strong AA heroes like Greymane and vulnerability abilities like Tyrande’s Hunter’s Mark completely negate his tankiness. Spread ability damage that is constant, like Nazeebo or Lunara, is also a huge hindrance though much less so now that he has base spell armor. If the enemy team can easily secure kills with just AA damage, Anub’Arak cannot function as a tank.
The Default: This talent is usually the default pick just because of how strong it is and at best other talents at this tier are only situationally better.
Niche/Situational: One of the most common questions I get asked is when do you take certain less picked talents. They often have uses but the uses are specific to either comps or maps. These are those talents.
Must be Paired with Other talents: Often there are certain talents that, by themselves, are not very impressive but synergize so well with other talents that if you plan on taking the other talent, you should take the talents that pair well with it.
Trap: Trap Talents are either actively bad or, more usually, simply so much worse than competing talents at the same tier it doesn’t make sense to ever take them.
Fun: This can be a little bit of a personal thing, but I’m going to label the talents I personally consider fun even if they are not actually worth taking in real games.
- Locust Swarm: Locust swarm offers a significant amount of both damage and healing. As a relatively fragile tank who needs all the sustain he can get, you will almost never pass this up unless Cocoon will allow you to end fights instantly by removing a critical hero or heroic ability. This is now even better because of Spell Armor.
- Cocoon: Extremely high impact and otherwise non-cancelable heroics like Kerrigan’s Maelstrom and Malfurion’s Tranquility are wasted by a well timed Cocoon. Technically this also works against Li Li’s 1,000 Cups but you already have two stuns in your base kit. The trade off in your personal survivability can be worth it to negate these heroics. It takes Cho’Gall completely out of the fight, forcing a 5v3. Sometimes a composition is based around a particular hero, like Illidan, and removing that hero from the fight makes the team collapse. Identifying when this is the case is a critical skill for understanding when to take Cocoon over Locust Swarm. Cocoon’s health mechanics are not very transparent. The Cocoon has 32 base health which decays by 4 per second. Each enemy attack reduces the health by 2.
- Nerubian Armor: This talent is, in some sense, what allows Anub’Arak to be a tank. His health pool is not high enough to deal with the sustained damage from AA-centric comps, but versus ability based comps he is extremely disruptive and hard to kill. Odds are if you drafted Anub’Arak as a tank, you did it specifically for this talent against a hero like Li-Ming. Realistically if you drafted Anub’Arak correctly, you will always be taking this talent. The major exceptions come in the recent abundance of non-ability burst damage, as from Nazeebo and Q build Gul’dan. Against sustained ability damage dealers Anub’Arak can still be picked up just because of his baseline spell armor, but it makes more sense to take Regeneration Master in these cases.
- Resilient Scarab: Having your beetles actually live to leech more health for you with Leeching Scarabs (7) is surprisingly good against skill shot based ability damage dealers, like Li-Ming. The problem is Nerubian Armor is better.
- Regeneration Master: If the enemy team has no burst ability damage dealers (Li-MIng, Kael’Thas, Jaina, Chromie, Magestad, Stackmodan, Kerrigan), then you take this.
- Shed Exoskeleton: A hero dependent on evading or absorbing skill shots needs mobility. His primary mobility tool being on such a long CD means a second one is extremely welcome, especially on such a short cooldown. This requires very thoughtful use of your W for chasing, body blocking, disengaging, engaging, and dodging but usually the control from Bed of Barbs is slightly better.
- Bed of Barbs: The extra damage is not the high point here, it is the area slow. When you have the most hard CC of any tank in your base kit you wouldn’t think you’d want a slow, but you often do. It enables chasing, peeling, and zoning options that straight up do not exist for Anub otherwise and it often allows you to keep more targets inside of Locust Swarm for longer, which means more sustain, indirectly helping to patch your largest weakness. To a degree it even allows you to peel for yourself even when Burrow Charge is not available as an escape and it enables Acid Drenched Mandibles (13).
- Legion of Beetles: Anub’Arak’s niche as a skill shot blocker is dramatically enhanced by this talent. Against any hero with high value skill shots, especially Li Ming, you take this every time. If you are planning to take Leeching Scarabs (7), it is also advisable to pick this up.
- Underking: Single-handedly gives Anub’Arak the longest engage range and escape of any tank. Doubling the damage on an already high damage ability is also noteworthy. Regardless of your role, this makes everything Anub does better. Utilizing the increased range can be very difficult so at low levels of play it may not see much value.
- Chitinous Plating: There are some heroes who have very low damage abilities. E.T.C with Face Melt, Johanna with Condemn, Shield Glare, and Punish, Lunara with her trait, etc. Against these heroes this talent allows for some increased survivability just by spamming your W and combos with Urticating Spines (13) to drastically increase your damage. Also has obvious synergy with Nerubian Armor if you can time it so that it is up when you take damage on your shield, it will see more value. The major problem is you will run into mana issues with this talent combo, which largely puts Epicenter (16) off the table.
- Subterranean Shield: Allows Anub’arak to usually safely engage with his E and have enough health, shields, and control to get out safely even if things go sideways. This allows Anub to play much more aggressively in team fights, shields give him a buff to heal with Locust Swarm (10) and all around makes him a menace.
- Leeching Scarabs: Armor makes all healing more efficient. Anub’Arak’s baseline armor dramatically increased the value of this talent, to the point where if you plan on taking Legion of Beetles (4) because of the enemy team it is a must take. Without Legion the value isn’t quite there.
- Burning Rage: If you do the math between Urticating Spines and this talent, they do the same amount of damage to heroes if W is spammed. But Burning Rage is the same damage against all targets, not just heroes, which makes it better on wave clear oriented maps or PvE objective maps. As a tank you are so often adjacent to members of the enemy team that the difference in hero damage is negligible whereas the difference in siege damage is notable. Also clears Zagara’s Creep.
- Urticating Spines: Gives more burst than Burning Rage, but the real combo here is that with Chitinous Plating (7) it can be spammed consistently. No other two talents anywhere in Anub’s tree offer this much of a combined boost to your damage in fights, but it must be taken with Chitinous so plan accordingly.
- Acid Drenched Mandibles: This talent gives Anub’arak the ability to dive backline heroes and harass them with a reasonable threat of being able to kill them. If you have the mechanics to consistently stutter step and manage your cooldowns such that the uptime is at or near 100% on your focus target, always take this unless you need the wave clear from Burning Rage.
- Beetle, Juiced: Considering the other talents Anub’arak got in his rework, the full beetle build is fairly lackluster, but if you have both Legion (4) and Leeching (7) this can be good, especially if your E hits are inconsistent.
- Epicenter: Gives you the flexibility to use Burrow Charge as an engage on a semi-regular basis because the reduced CD means it will be available again to either chase or escape, as needed. Against heavy melee teams or maps where grouping is semi-forced because of choke points, or when comboed with heroics like Devouring Maw, this will see a lot of value. Also just having the shield up more often from Subterranean Shield (7) is huge.
- Debilitation: Diving the backline burst hero or even the support, hit them, you essentially negate their value for 4 seconds. Which is a long time for a team fight in HotS. Further pushing your ability to be a huge nuisance to backline burst heroes.
- Hive Master: If you hadn’t noticed the trend yet, Anub is the most fragile tank overall, which means in highly coordinated environments focus fire just instantly kills him. If a team is focusing you successfully, and you have 19 levels to figure that out, take Null Shield or Rewind to attempt to deal with that. If you’re taking mostly incidental damage then this talent will completely negate that while adding damage.
- Cryptweaver: If you took Cocoon specifically to remove a critical hero from a team fight, the upgrade gives you more time to get a pick before Cocoon ends… but you cannot chase because you must remain nearby. Given those circumstances this talent is almost never worth it. A Rewind CC Chain you offer is more likely to secure a pick than the extra four seconds.
- Null Shield: If you’re getting blown up by ability damage even through Nerubian Armor, this talent is mandatory. Late game deaths are really bad. If you’re not… Rewind and Hive Master are both vastly superior.
- Rewind: If you’re not dying, or are the bruiser and the support is keeping you alive, this is very strong. Three straight seconds of area stun, six beetles, and the potential to safely engage then disengage if needed. But it works better if your team follows up; if they aren’t, it loses a lot of value.
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