In addition to the major changes coming with Heroes of the Storm 2.0, the next character has been revealed. The Amazon Warmatron Cassia comes straight from Diablo II to show the nexus how powerful a Javazon can truly be. Cassia will fill the role of a ranged assassin while also acting as a counter to typical ranged auto-attack characters, such as Valla or Raynor. She can be built a few different ways with emphasis on her strong auto attacks, persistent poke damage, or excellent survivability. In general, Cassia looks to be a great new addition to Heroes of the Storm and should please any player who remembers her from Diablo II.
- Avoidance (Trait): When moving unmounted, Cassia gains 65 Physical Armor against Heroic Basic Attacks, reducing the damage taken by 65%.
Cassia’s trait is what is going to separate her from the rest of the ranged physical damage dealers on the Heroes of the Storm roster. While her overall kit isn’t that difficult to figure out, the difference between a good player and an excellent one will be highlighted through the use of her passive trait. Knowing when to keep moving and weave attacks or Lightning javelins between enemy auto attacks is going to provide a massive advantage.
- Lightning Fury (Q): Hurl a javelin that damages the first enemy hit, and splits into two lightning bolts that deal damage to enemies in their paths.
Veteran Diablo players will immediately recognize two of the Amazon’s iconic abilities: Lightning Fury and Fend. Although not quite as devastating as in the ARPG, Lightning Fury is an excellent tool for harassing enemy heroes with moderate damage and a short cooldown. There are a few talents that increase the effectiveness of Lightning Fury to make it a real annoyance for the enemy team by the late game. This also synergizes very well with Avoidance due to its quick cast animation that allows for excellent stutter-step utility.
- Blinding Light (W): After 0.5 seconds, Blind enemies in the target area for 2 seconds. Passive: Cassia deals 15% increased damage to Blinded targets.
While not necessarily a classic Amazon skill, Blinding Light fits very well into the rest of her kit. Not only can Cassia potentially reduce physical damage taken by 65%, but she can also blind enemy attackers to further reduce their effectiveness. The added damage is just icing on the cake.
- Fend (E): Charge at an enemy, and upon arriving channel for 1.5 seconds, damaging enemies in front of cassia every 0.25 seconds. Deals 50% reduced damage to non-Heroes.
For situations where you really need to burn down a specific enemy, Fend is a great tool to deal tons of damage. It acts as a short gap closer and does high, channeled damage in a cone for 1.5 seconds. Unfortunately, this leaves Cassia stationary, but it can be cancelled if necessary. While this is counterproductive with her passive ability, it can be great for chasing a fleeing enemy or finishing off low-health targets.
- Ball Lightning (Heroic 1): Throw a ball of lightning at an enemy Hero that bounces up to 6 times between nearby enemy Heroes and Cassia, damaging enemies hit.
If your team needs even more harassment, Ball Lightning can devastate enemy heroes that group up. Each bounce does moderate damage, but the fact that it hits up to 6 times makes it add up fairly quickly. If there’s only one enemy in sight, it can also bounce off of Cassia; this way it can still help finish off a lone enemy hero even though it will do half the total damage. Furthermore, the level 20 talent can cause Ball Lightning to bounce indefinitely, which can lead to some hilarious combinations with teams that emphasize crowd control.
- Valkyrie (Heroic 2): Summon a Valkyrie that rushes to Cassia after 0.75 seconds, pulling and damaging the first enemy Hero hit, and stunning them for 0.5 seconds at the end of her path. The Valkyrie knocks back all other enemy Heroes in her way.
Is the enemy team playing “protect the Sergeant Hammer” or is there a medic always cowering in the backline? Then Valkyrie is likely the go-to Heroic choice. It accomplishes the same goal as a Stitches hook, but instead it pushes a single enemy hero from behind while knocking back all others. Between the damage, stun and team displacement, landing Valkyrie will definitely setup a potential kill opportunity. However, the cast delay can make it difficult to hit mobile targets, so make your choice wisely.
Here is a complete list of Cassia’s current talents. This is subject to change before her official release.
- Thunderstroke: Quest: Hit Heroes with Q. Reward(1): 20 Heroes hit = 60 damage. Reward(2): 40 Heroes hit = 2 Charges.
- True Sight: Increases the damage dealt to Blinded enemy heroes by 10%. Quest: Deal Basic Attack damage to Blinded enemy heroes. Reward: 80 Heroes hit = Blind duration +1 second.
- Charged Strikes: Activate to cause your basic attacks to bounce to a nearby enemy for 8 seconds and increase their damage by 40%. 20s CD.
- Ring of the Leech: Cassia heals for 35% of the damage dealt to enemies affected by Blind.
- Inner Light: Increases Blinding Light radius by 25%. Upon being Rooted or Stunned, Blinding Light pulses around Cassia. This can only occur every 6s.
- Plate of the Whales: Gain 5HPS while Avoid is active. Quest: Every 5 Attacks reduced by Avoid grants 1 additional HPS. After 15 bonus HPS, cap it and gain 10% max Health.
- Impale: Increases Fend’s damage by 50% to enemies below 40% health.
- War Traveler: Gain 3% movement speed every 0.5 second Avoid is active. Stacks up to 5 times. The bonus is reset when Cassia stops moving.
- Lightning Surge: Cassia stores blocked damage and upon reaching X damage her trait can be activated to deal Y damage in an area around you.
- Grounding Bolt: Lightning Fury slows enemy Heroes by 20% for 1.5 seconds
- Thundergod’s Vigor: Hitting an enemy hero with the initial Lightning Fury missile reduces the cooldown by 1s.
- Seraph’s Hymn: Reduce Blinding Light’s Mana cost from 70 to 40. Basic attacks against Blinded Heroes reduces the cooldown of Blinding Light by 3 seconds.
- Lunging Strike: Increases Fend’s duration by .5 seconds and the area of effect by 20%.
- Pierce: Lightning Fury’s primary missile now pierces. Perpendicular bolts are now only spawned from Heroes.
- Penetrate: Enemies take 3% increased damage from Fend each consecutive hit.
- Martial Law: Basic attacks against Stunned, Rooted, and Slowed enemy heroes deal bonus damage equal to 3% of their maximum health.
- Infinite Lightning: Ball Lightning can now bounce infinitely.
- Imprisoning Light: Upon initial impact, Valkyrie deals additional damage to nearby Heroes and roots them for 4 seconds.
- Titan’s Revenge: Increases Basic Attack range by 2 and your Basic Attacks now ignore armor.
Overall, there are viable skill builds that focus on all three of Cassia’s main abilities. The Lightning Fury build will emphasize harassing enemy heroes and choosing Thunderstroke, Thundergod’s Vigor and Pierce can lead to an almost endless amount of electrified javelins. Focusing on Blinding Light is more of an auto-attack oriented build with talents like True Sight, Ring of the Leech, Martial Law, and Titan’s Revenge. Fend builds can also put up big numbers with Impale, Lunging Strike, and Penetrate.
After a bit of hands-on experience, I definitely preferred the Lightning Fury build because it allowed for the most mobility and sustained damage with: Thunderstroke (1), Plate of the Whales (4), War Traveler (7), Ball Lightning (10), Thundergod’s Vigor (13), Pierce (16), and Titan’s Revenge (20).
While other builds have higher auto-attack or burst damage, this rewards the player with staying mobile and at max range to spam Lightning Fury. Cassia can be incredibly tanky for a ranged assassin, but she does lack an escape mechanism and she can be easily punished by overextending or getting caught out of position. A single root or stun negates all of her survivability, which means the best strategy is to minimize the opportunities for that to happen.
The long range of Lightning Fury allows Cassia to stay much farther away from danger than her auto attacks. Once she completes her quests and gets Pierce, there’s almost nothing stopping her from constantly spamming them. The level 10 and 20 choices are generally more preferential or situational, but both have their uses. I found Ball Lightning to be great for additional fire-and-forget damage, especially against enemy melee heroes once they commit to a team fight. Personally, I liked the increased safety and damage of Titan’s Revenge over the potential damage increase of Infinite Lightning, but if you find an enemy team constantly clumping up then the latter could have uses.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see what the professional players can do with Cassia, but I expect her overall win rate to be above average. She will definitely make a nice addition to the Nexus.Related: Blizzard Entertainment, Heroes of the Storm, Heroes Summit, MOBA, Preview