Elite. Tauren. Chieftain. A legend in his own time. A Tauren who inexplicably owns a guitar. Everything you always wanted to be when you grew up, maybe minus the hooves and the body hair. While almost everyone is fond of the quirky, colorful character invented for Warcraft, he is also one of the top tanks in Heroes of the Storm and has some of the greatest playmaking potential of any hero, as befits a Rock God. Or anyone playing him, for that matter. Now, how about we get you on stage…
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Tank, though late game he can be a sustained healer or split soaker with the right talents.
- Q; Powerslide: A 1.25 second area stun that acts as an engage, escape, and general repositioning tool. Always think about the cooldown on Powerslide when you use it. Powersliding at the right time is what defines good E.T.C. play. For ganks, it puts you on the far side of the target to set up body blocks. For team fights, you want to come in at an angle and get a flank, so you can either slide across the front line so you don’t go too deep, or through the frontline from the back so you get the stun without being over extended. Every time you use Powerslide, you want to be trying to achieve a specific objective, whether it’s engaging, isolating a target, disengaging, or anything else . Do not use it without a clear intent, the CD is simply too long to use it in a cavalier fashion. Because of how narrow it is and the lack of a speed increase option, it is now far easier to get interrupted or negated when using Q by players with good reaction times. Escapes, knockbacks, counter stuns or roots, even just a movement speed increase on a hero who is walking away can cause it to miss. You need to position more aggressively to ensure it hits which can be very risky, so always make sure your team is there to follow up.
- W; Face Melt: A knockback centered on E.T.C. that can re-establish body blocks, ensure picks, peel, isolate a target, even steal capture points with the right talents. Outside of the major plays you are trying to make with Q, this is the primary “tanking” ability E.T.C .has to ensure his team mates can focus targets or remain safe. Don’t spread out minion waves or mercenary camps, it makes it harder for the rest of your team’s area of effect to be efficient. Likewise, when isolating a kill, don’t bounce enemies out of your ally’s skill shots or ground effect abilities.
- E; Guitar Solo: A small self heal. Without talents that is really all it is, though it does also proc your trait. With the relatively low mana cost, this is almost spammable for the self sustain, even more so with talents.
- Trait: Rockstar: Every time you use an ability, you gain 20 armor, taking 20% reduced damage, for 2 seconds. Utilizing this trait is awkward given the cooldowns on E.T.C.s base abilities, and it makes you heavily dependent on timing your E correctly to mitigate poke and ranged burst.
There honestly isn’t a map on which E.T.C. is bad. He is good in chokes because of Q; he is good in open areas because the threat of both his heroics forces the enemy to stay spread out which makes isolating targets easier; he is good at contesting fixed points; he is good at mobile fights; he is good at PvE damage because of his trait enabling his team; he has a clean escape to break rotations and protect his team on rotation heavy maps. With his armor changes he struggles far more on heavy sustain maps, like Braxis, Tomb, and Dragon Shire.
Until 7, you really just want to protect your team, keep an eye on the enemy team, break their rotations, and look for picks with Q. Post-7 you will have wave clear and your ability to be active on the map can change dramatically. You can clear a wave efficiently by yourself which means you do not always have to be with someone on your team to be doing something useful. This is a pretty big change from old E.T.C., who never wanted to be separate from his team.
During team fights you want to help your team isolate a target to kill. Usually this involves strong use of your Q and W. Both of your heroics are massive threats and in most cases shouldn’t be used as engages, but held to bait force the enemy team to save CDs that could interrupt them. If the enemy team manages to get into your backline immediately reposition with Q to peel for them with W.
Other heroes with CC, particularly Kerrigan and The Butcher because his Q is a perfect follow up for their engage tools. He’s arguably the best tank for The Lost Vikings comps because of how threatening he is in 4v5 and how safe he can keep his team in a 4v5. Obviously Mosh Pit enables all sorts of wombo combos. His ability to be one of the strongest sustained healers in the game makes him the best tank to pair with Auriel, bar none. He’s even stronger with Arthas than he was previously because Speed Metal (4) is available much sooner.
There isn’t a composition E.T.C. doesn’t fit well in as long as you remember he has to be the tank, so warriors paired with him need to be relatively high damage. Now that he has wave clear he actually fits into even more compositions than he did before.
There are a lot of heroes who are simply very vulnerable to stuns and knockbacks that E.T.C. is good against: Illidan, Cho’Gall, Azmodan, Gul’Dan, and Medivh to name a few. But in a lot of cases the heroes E.T.C. is strong against require a specific execution. For instance E.T.C. is one of the best counters to Kerrigan in the tanking world. His W used immediately as she jumps in displaces her and either interrupts or forces her to place her combo in the wrong spot. If you don’t hit that split second timing window, E.T.C. is very bad against Kerrigan. Almost all of E.T.C.’s match ups are like that; they require thoughtful use of his abilities at precise times and he is good. Otherwise, he isn’t.
After the rework to Q and Q talents, he is extremely weak to anyone with a knockback, skillshot root or stun. Q is slow enough now that a max range one can be negated completely with good reaction time. Even Dehaka can actually Drag E.T.C. as he is sliding in.This makes counter initiating against E.T.C. very easy for a number of heroes, including Sgt. Hammer, Johanna, Kael’Thas, Arthas, Thrall and so on. He also lost almost all his anti-burst tools, so heavy burst heroes become a skill matchup. Either you dodge everything, your healer saves you, or you die.Heavy ranged burst or ability sustain damage, like Gul’dan and Nazeebo, are now a huge struggle for him as well.
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.
- Mosh Pit: An incredibly strong ability. Just the threat of Mosh Pit can force heroes to hold stuns and displacements. Successfully getting off a full duration Mosh Pit should just end a team fight in your favor. Even though it has an exceptionally long cooldown, even using it to guarantee a single kill right before an objective in the late game and can lead to a decisive win for your team. Always save Mosh Pit until it will get value. You need to be aware of every enemy ability that can interrupt it, if they are on CD or not, and where your team is to make sure they can follow up. Usually you shouldn’t open with it; hold it in reserve as a threat and wait patiently for the enemy team to make a mistake in using their CDs or in being too grouped together. It is much harder to land a good Mosh now because of the Q changes, so bear that in mind.
- Stage Dive: The global mobility it provides on maps like Dragon Shire, Sky Temple, Braxis, Warhead Junction, and Cursed Hollow can literally be game winning. Now that E.T.C. has wave clear this may well become the stronger of the two Heroics for most ladder play, allowing him to split push aggressively and still show up to fights on time. In high level play we’ve occasionally seen this used to deny Zagara Nydus strategies and Vikings spit soaking, which is an excellent use of the ability. You can either deny the lane and instantly be at the team fight, or win the teamfight and instantly be on top of the split soaker, using your CC to hold them until your team can rotate for the kill.
- Prog Rock: The best late-game talent by a decent margin. An additional 100 HP/second on your E, and after the quest is finished you heal your team for roughly 85% of what Brightwing puts out with full trait build. The only time you don’t take Prog Rock is if you don’t expect to be able to finish the quest or the map is likely to snowball so the early game matters more than anything else. With Echo Pedal (7) giving E.T.C. decent wave clear you should usually be able to finish it by the 11-13 minute mark, sooner on some maps.
- Guitar Hero: With the buff this marginally viable for E.T.C.’s personal sustain, especially if you are going to go Hammer-On (7). Prog Rock and Block Party are both better for your team, but in situations where you can consistently attack a PvE target in particular (Battlefield, Sky Temple) this keeps you at full.
- Block Party: The problem with Block Party is that you’re getting on average 3 charges of block per 10 seconds, assuming constant ability use, they don’t accidently get overstacked, and your party is actually nearby. The reason that is a problem is in the late-game when Prog Rock’s quest is finished, the 50% from Block is negating about 100 damage each, so 300 damage on average, but Prog Rock is healing your team for 400+ every 8 seconds, before factoring in other talents. So Block Party is only going to be good if the enemy team has a lot of auto attack heroes who hit hard, heroes who have Focused Attack and Follow Through in particular are good to look out for, and you’re on a map where completing Prog Rock is difficult or the map is so snowbally that only the early game matters. BoE is the obvious contender. The main benefit is the Block charges are controllable. If you see Thrall trying to collapse on a target with Follow Through powered abilities, you can negate a lot of his burst on your ally. It also benefits non-burst healers like Brightwing and Malfurion to give their sustained healing more time to work and it is arguably better in heavy focus fire situations, so at higher levels of play it may eclipse Prog Rock.
- Speed Metal: Still an incredibly strong talent at enabling low mobility melee heroes and peeling for low mobility ranged heroes, but it has pretty stiff competition in the peel department with Loud Speakers so now you have more of an offensive/defensive dynamic. Do I offensively enable my Arthas, Xul, Alarak, The Butcher, etc., or do I expect to be defensively peeling for my ranged squishies? There is a simple reason this is the default however: E.T.C. lost all his good anti-burst and anti-CC talent options. He is now completely dependent on dodging skill shots to not die, and with the change to Q you need to position more aggressively to ensure it lands. Movement speed helps with that.
- Crowd Surfer: There isn’t anything bad about this talent, but it is perhaps a little gimmicky. It does allow for some epic Tour Bus (20) Mosh plays over walls and on some maps, like Braxis, being able to bypass terrain drastically increases the speed of your rotations and your ability to escape. This talent is going to be very strong with heroes like Kerrigan and someone that grants vision, because now you can follow them over walls for all sorts of interesting ambushes. For instance, on Cursed Hollow you can Powerslide through the horseshoes above and below mid and you can catch an entire team rotating through a choke. So it has uses and it opens up completely new potential for playmaking and escapes. The concern is when using it aggressively your team has to be on the same page and follow up. It also makes escaping from player generated terrain easy, such Leoric’s Entomb, Tassadar’s Force Wall, and so on. In fact if either of those heroes are in the match with or against you, this should be the go to.
- Loud Speakers: Precisely as good as it used to be, but one talent tier down. It increases the knockback of Face Melt enough to push enemies completely off of capture points, which is the biggest reason to take it as it gives E.T.C. the ability to contest bosses and as such is almost mandatory on Cursed Hollow. It doesn’t increase his peel very much just due to the fact that most Face Melts are followed up by body blocks to enable peels, though it does increase self-peel and gives him enough range to safely use it to check bushes.
- Echo Pedal: Respectable wave clear very early on in the game. The pulses still don’t stack, so you have to space your ability usage two seconds apart for maximum impact but realistically wave clear is to valuable at almost all levels of play to consider anything else.
- Hammer-On: This talent, with the changes to it and Echo Pedal, now actually does more more single target sustained damage so it can be good on Battlefield and similar maps. Should almost never be taken with Stage Dive however, as you need the wave clear from Echo Pedal to maximize the impact of having a global heroic.
- Pinball Wizard: This is more burst than Echo Pedal and is reasonable wave clear if you can use Q+W on the wave. The window for getting the bonus damage is approximately 2.25 seconds after Q, try to hold your W for as long as possible so as not to interfere with your team’s follow up to Q. At a high level of play if you take this the plan should be to Q,
wait 1.25 seconds, and then W into your team’s follow up. That takes some practice.
- Mic Check: With Block Party (1), Speed Metal (4), and Echo Pedal (7), the cooldown reduction can actually matter just to have some of those up more frequently. It isn’t as good outside of that specific synergy, so think carefully about just how often you want those things up.
- Face Smelt: Still an amazing talent, adding a very reliable slow is important because of how much harder Q can be to land consistently.
- Encore: Still gives you an untalented version of W. I’d rather have Mic Check for the trait and talent synergy or Face Smelt for the slow every time, but the leftover Amp does do a lot to zone certain heroes such as Muradin, denying his re-engage option with Dwarf Toss. That said this will more often then not help the enemy team just as much as hinders them, so be very careful every time you use W if you take this talent.
- Aggressive Shredding: Combined with Prog Rock (1) you will straight up heal for more than Brightwing as long as you are auto-attacking. That is correct, this talent potentially makes E.T.C. a better healer than a full support, though Brightwing is valued for more than her healing. Reduced cooldown interacts with Speed Metal and Echo Pedal.
- Show Stopper: The loss of Spell Shield makes this the only burst mitigation tool anywhere in E.T.C.’s kit. Let me be clear. This talent isn’t good. I’m not happy about a talent that wasn’t good at 13 being moved to 16. But because there is literally nothing else anywhere in your talent tree to deal with burst, this talent may be necessary against burst heroes like Li-MIng.
- Imposing Presence: This talent should basically always be combined with Block Party (1) because if that was the right level 1 choice, it was because of heavy auto attackers, and this adds to that. The slow is also a significant addition to E.T.C.’s kit for controlling fights. The only real exception is against Tychus. Block Party is terrible against him but Imposing is the best survival tool E.T.C. has to deal with him.
- Tour Bus: If your Mosh Pits have consistently been getting interrupted by a particular hero and you’re on a map with chokes, like Infernal Shrines or Cursed Hollow, this talent gives you the ability to suddenly add that hero to the Mosh Pit. You can even start the Mosh Pit not on anyone and suddenly be on top of the enemy team. While it requires a lot of practice and some coordination from your team, this is one of those “playmaking” talents that can define games. Bolt of the Storm, however, does a very similar thing and has other utility uses so it is usually the better choice. Though Crowd Surfer (4) and Tour Bus offer next level playmaking potential.
- Crowd Pleaser: The upgrade for Stage Dive is actually pretty insane. I personally will never take anything else if I choose Stage Dive. However with the nerf to reduce the cooldown reduction by 10 seconds per enemy hero instead of 15 seconds you can’t reliably have it up multiple times in a fight. The increased area is still quite nice but the playmaking potential of both Death Metal and Bolt of the Storm overshadow it by a bit. It is still semi-reliable against The Lost Vikings or low mobility heroes in general.
- Death Metal: Against melee heavy blow up comps, which are prevalent in some metas, this can be a ‘win the game’ talent. The Mosh isn’t interruptible, so what looks like an over extension by E.T.C. can actually be the game winning play if your team follows up. Make sure your team knows you took this talent or are planning to take it, so they can dive in the moment you die rather than backing off. If you can secure multiple kills off of the Death Mosh in exchange for just your death, it should win you the game. Remember this can be taken even if you do not go Mosh Pit (10) which in some ways makes it an even bigger surprise for the enemy team.
- Storm Shield: Having a support talent on a tank can make your team very hard to kill in the late game. If you’ve been losing team fights because your comp is getting blown up too fast, this is an easy way to patch that. Also if you win a team fight and get 20 off of it and go core, this can be the difference between managing to finish the game versus dying at 3% Core health. If multiple heroes all have Storm Shield you can have an annoying late game composition that is almost impossible to kill and with the Prog Rock and Aggressive Shredding interaction big shields give that healing time to actually work.
- Bolt of the Storm: Bolt into Q. Bolt into Mosh. Bolt to escape. By far the most flexible talent at this highly competitive tier.
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