The Terror of Darkshire… or a misunderstood, lonely child of a creator who turned him out in the world of adults far too soon? The sense of a chaotic ride through a child’s imagination is an all too easy image to conjure when playing Stitches, from the bodily fluids being giggled about to the cheerful disposition of all events happening around you, and that clear sense of longing to be accepted. If that sounds like fun you’ve come to the right place. If it doesn’t… well, too late, you’re already hooked.
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Tank, one of the highest raw damage numbers bruisers in the game, potential late game instant win button, and one half of the Milk Carton combo. The one thing Stitches can’t really do is anything on his own. He shines in a more coordinated environment and is honestly quite terrible alone.
- Q; Hook: A medium damage skill shot that drags the target to you, stunning them for 0.5 seconds. The stun is mostly to make sure nothing disrupts the pull animation, but if you pull them into impassable terrain and they get stuck it will appear to stun them since the stun lasts until the animation finishes. When pulling from the far side of a terrain feature make sure you leave room for the target to get pulled into or they will stop at the terrain feature. The hook will go through friendly structures and map terrain but not enemy structures, and all targets will get stuck on any building that has a health bar. Walls, gates, towers, forts, keeps, and core. His Q is literally the reason to play Stitches. It is all of his initiation and pick potential, but a Q without follow up from your team will usually do nothing. So you have to be aware of where the enemy team is, where your team is, and the geometry of all potential engage spaces. Unless you are on comms, try and ping a lot when you are trying to Q. You don’t have to hit all your Qs, and in fairness you should only really count the ones that result in kills as hits, but you should only need to hit a couple of those in the late game to make it worthwhile.
- 1; Helping Hand: Instead of hooking an enemy, you hook an ally and the cooldown is reduced by half. If you use Helping Hand but hit an enemy first, you will hook the enemy and get the normal cooldown. This can allow you to peel for for an ally in a fight or force them to back up when they overextend. It does stun allies the same way normal Q stuns enemies, to ensure the animation doesn’t break, which means it activates on-stun talents like Sgt. Hammer’s Resistant (1) and Tychus’s Relentless Solider (7), but it will also disrupt friendly channels like Lili’s Jug of 1,000 Cups. So be careful.
- W; Slam: A medium damage frontal cone. This is a large portion of Stitches’s wave clear, and a lot of his damage as a bruiser with talents, but otherwise is pretty straightforward.
- E; Devour: A large self heal, does medium damage to enemy heroes and very high damage to non-heroic enemies. Despite the tooltip, it heals you for 19.92% of your total health pool. Note the long cooldown. Outside of certain talents, the only way to use this multiple times in a fight is to use it early.
- Trait: Vile Gas: A small area, damage-over-time ability that activates when Stitches takes damage. It has a cooldown between activations of 3 seconds. Without talents, it’s really just some free damage against melee enemies. If you position forward in a lane you can force minions to attack you and use it for wave clear, but with limited mobility that can be risky.
Stitches is surprisingly good on Infernal Shrines with some specific talents, despite the weakness of Q on the Shrines themselves. Otherwise, he tends to shine on maps with lots of space away from minion waves but with narrow or predictable locations that the enemy team will set up in. On Cursed Hollow there are safe crannies near every tribute spawn that Stitches can Q from, and late game boss attempts are in some ways equally predictable. Towers of Doom, Dragon Shire, Warhead Junction, and Braxis Holdout also fall into this category. On Tomb he can deny turn ins if he has an ally who can grant vision, so he is conditionally good on that map.
In the laning phase of the game, Stitches is looking to punish anyone who is low mobility or over extended past the midway point of a lane. You can let the enemy wave push closer onto your side of the map to bait the enemy team into over extending in lane. Using Q to get enemy heroes into tower range is an easy way to get some early game damage onto them and possibly secure a kill. If your team has another initiating hero with crowd control, Q is a very nice follow up to secure the kill. Outside of that, W is reasonable wave clear and your E allows you to sustain in lane if needed, which means handling a lane on your own is usually an option.
In team fights, bruiser Stitches has the luxury of staying back and waiting for that easy Q on an out of position hero, while threatening a lot of damage against any divers. As the tank he usually has to be further forward and Q becomes a tool to deny disengage for a hero that is already low or drag a fragile backliner into the front line if they move out front. There is a lot of creative playmaking potential with Stitches between 1, Q, and both of his heroics, but as mentioned in his Q section sometimes it involves understanding the geometry of the map as well as the strengths and weaknesses of both teams. This makes Stitches a hero who requires a lot of game knowledge to really play at a high level and even then you still need your team to follow up on what you do.
Bruiser Stitches really shines with any mobile tank who can be in the front, allowing him to be in the back and wait patiently for that perfect Q opportunity. Muradin, E.T.C., Leoric, Tyrael, even Misha. He requires follow up crowd control and damage to maximize the value of his Qs. Of course heroes with stuns, roots, or burst are very valuable to him. Brightwing, Tyrande, Kael’Thas, Jaina, Malfurion, Thrall, Auriel can position to be reliable follow up. He is one half of the infamous “Milk Carton” combo with Medivh: Q into Gorge (10) into Portal, “Have you seen this hero?” on the back of the milk carton. Medivh also helps Stitches’s mobility issues quite a bit in addition to granting vision for more reliable Qs. Tyrande, Tassadar, Zagara, and Brightwing also help grant vision for better Qs.
Low mobility melee heroes of any kind, since having two of the same weakness in your frontline is always rough. Dehaka, Uther, Arthas, Diablo, Johanna, Artanis, and so on. Outside of that he works with most ranged heroes very well.
Low mobility heroes. Hitting a Q on a low mobility hero with any follow up from your team at all should be a kill every time. If they have an escape the follow up crowd control from your team usually needs to be really crisp to ensure the kill, often being thrown out before anyone can even be sure the hook landed on a target. Stitches also works well against heroes who depend on knockbacks or disengages to be safe, like Sgt. Hammer. Lt. Morales, and Raynor. Get knocked back, Q the target to your team’s new position. If an enemy tries to use a disengage, like Sgt. Hammer’s thrusters, they usually make the mistake of doing it in a straight line. That is an easy Q and their escape is already burned.
Strong percent based damage dealers, such as Leoric and Tychus, can shred through Stitches’s massive health pool. Heroes who can punish his immobility like Kerrigan, Chen, and Tyrael can also cause him problems. At higher levels of play, heroes who spawn extra targets to block Qs can be difficult to play around, such as Anub’arak with his beetles and even Lunara’s Wisp with good reaction times.
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.
- Putrid Bile: Stitches’s primary weakness is a lack of peel and a lack of mobility. Putrid Bile is both and offers a lot of damage as a cherry on top. As a bruiser who is usually looking for Qs from the backline, it allows you to peel for your backline or allow your team disengage. It functions as a follow up to a successful Q to help lock a target down and trap them with body blocking. If you’re tanking it is literally the only tool in your entire kit that allows for strong zoning.
- Gorge: A mobile stasis with high damage attached for one enemy hero. Outside of something like the Medivh combo with portal to ensure a kill, a.k.a. “The Milk Carton,” this shines best as a tool to remove a critical hero from a fight. Swallow the tank while your damage dives and you’ve removed all the peel. Swallow the Illidan or Cho’Gall to disable those compositions temporarily, negate a large part of Kerrigan’s Maelstrom or Malfurion’s Tranquility. The way it is most commonly used, to try to set up a kill on a target after a hook, has a lot of counterplay and often results in baiting your own team into getting collapsed on and losing the fight. The duration is long enough to ensure captures on boss points, channeling Dragon Knight, Altars on Towers of Doom, etc., which makes it slightly better on those maps. If you are doing Q into Gorge as a combo, remember to shift queue so the Q-ed enemy cannot use an escape to deny the Gorge follow up. The ‘cannot be used on massive Heroes’ part refers to things like the Dragon Knight and Terror.
- Chew Your Food: Stitches has a large base health pool and E is on a substantial cooldown, which mitigates much of the value of this talent. It’s only really worthwhile when combined with Last Bite (7), which means all the limitations of that talent apply to this one, and when Dampen Magic is not a stronger option. Despite the tooltip, the amount restored is actually 9.4% of your total health.
- Dampen Magic: Essentially the best anti-ability burst talent in the game. Against most compositions this will offer more mitigation, as a tank, than any other talent. Li-Ming, Jaina, Kerrigan, Kael’thas, Chromie, Li-Ming, or any hero who does the majority of their damage as burst with their abilities on the other team makes this talent top tier.
- Hungry for More: Only truly worthwhile on maps where it can be finished quickly because sacrificing early game power for late game power is a risk with Stitches; hooks often end games anyway if you can get to the late game while even or ahead. That said, the extra movement speed helps patch the low mobility of Stitches, but it doesn’t stack with Putrid Bile (10) movement speed so if you think you’ll only need the movement speed in team fights, as opposed to a map where you are skirmishing frequently, it’s less valuable unless you plan on picking Gorge (10).
- Heavy Slam: Offers stronger wave clear. As a bruiser you often want the full W build, but this is the most often sacrificed talent if you need more survivability and your composition already has enough damage.
- Amplified Healing: Applies to E, which makes it a little more than 25% your total health pool, which is a massive heal. Obviously, as a high health tank, your support having more efficient healing on you is also very valuable.
- Restorative Fumes: If you are against three or more melee heroes, this will edge out Amplified for sustained healing, especially with Toxic Gas (7). With two melee heroes the numbers are quite a bit closer and Amplified will usually do better.
- Putrid Ground: Adds your trait damage to every target hit by W. This doesn’t affect the cooldown of your trait, but your trait will not stack with the W inflicted version. This is a key talent for the W build and should almost always be taken if you are the bruiser on a team.
- Tenderizer: With no real crowd control in your base kit, adding even a slow is a huge upgrade for a melee frontliner. It allows you to chase, body block, secure kills with Q more easily, and the uptime on a single target is 100% unless they have an escape.
- Last Bite: This is only worthwhile when you can ensure consistent resets. On some maps where you are constantly fighting in lane or there are Monsters to eat like Infernal Shrines, this is very easy. Otherwise you have to depend on the enemy team to supply targets. Zagara’s Hydras and Roaches, Gazlowe’s Turrets, Azmodan’s Demon Warriors, Xul’s Skeletons if he goes Jailors, Anub’arak’s Beetles, Malfurion with Vengeful Roots, and Nazeebo’s Zombie Wall.
- Toxic Gas: This is a cornerstone talent for both the full W build and the self-heal build against heavy melee teams. It adds one extra tick of trait damage, which for the W build synergizes with Putrid Ground (4). Against heavy melee teams gives you 33% more healing from Restorative Fumes (4) because of the extra tick and makes it more likely to hit multiple targets, potentially adding further healing. Without either of those talents this talent is just not worth taking.
- Savor the Flavor: You won’t always be using E on enemy heroes and it has a very substantial cooldown. Even using it at every opportunity, which may not be ideal because you might not need the healing, the amount you stack up is usually very low, unless the game goes on a long time, which it shouldn’t with Stitches. Hit a Q, take an unfair fight, end the game.
- Flea Bag: This really requires a minimum of two roots or stuns on the enemy team to be minimally good. The more you add, the better it gets. Resetting all your cooldowns is insane value for the W build, increases your self-sustain with E considerably, and obviously more Qs offers more playmaking potential.
- Mega Smash: With the full W build, this ensures Putrid Ground (4) always lands on multiple targets and greatly increases the potential value of Pulverize (16). On its own merits the talent isn’t good enough to take, at least one of those talents is really required. That said, with enough stuns or roots on the enemy team Flea Bag will actually be better for the W build.
- Indigestion: It isn’t so much that Indigestion is good, but it’s that it does something. Depending on your team, the enemy team, and the map, the other two talents at this tier can range from excellent to literally doing nothing, in which case why would you take them at all? Plus the Retchling is adorable.
- Pulverize: Putting W on a 6 second cooldown with all the synergy that has been built up to this point is fairly powerful. Adding a 75% 1 second slow in addition to that is insane, particularly if you aren’t great at hitting Qs or your team has had poor follow up to them. This is the go to talent for bruiser Stitches, but as with the others, it isn’t worth it if you haven’t taken the other W talents.
- Fishing Hook: This is the talent that opens up the possibility that Stitches just wins the game for his team. A single full length late game Q that results in an easy kill allows you to subsequently force a 5v4 on the enemy team. This either forces them to fight and likely lose, or it allows you to get a free Keep or other objective, which snowballs the late game in your favor and you win. The later the game goes and the longer death timers become, the more terrifying this prospect is for the enemy team.
- Shish Kabob: Outside of the goofiness of this talent, there are some things that push it into viability. The first is that if you use 1 it will pass through the ally and still also grab an enemy. You get the reduced cooldown and bring your ally and one enemy to your team. If you have a hero like The Butcher, Kerrigan, or Muradin who can jump in and stun a target, you can ensure you always pull off this double combo if you line up correctly. This requires coordination obviously but is quite strong. The second is sometimes you want to grab two enemies. Against heavy melee teams while your team has heavy area damage, forcing a 5v2 is actually better than a 5v1. For instance, with a Kael’thas with Burned Flesh. The last is that many heroes produce targetable summons; this helps bypass that weakness for players who can’t time their hooks around, for instance, Anub’arak beetles.
- Stoneskin: With a large base health pool this is technically strong on Stitches, but you give up basically all your late game play making potential as either a tank or a bruiser. This means it’s only good if your team is so bad they can’t seem to follow up on any of your plays and you just need to drag out fights for as long as possible. It’d be a trap but sloppy and ugly games do happen.
- Regenerative Bile: If you’ve been consistently catching multiple heroes in Bile, which is even more likely with the additional movement speed this is now equal to mount speed, this adds a lot of healing, especially when paired with Amplified Healing (4). It can allow you to engage in a strong late game sustain fight. As with all talents of this nature, the actual healing amount is slightly lower, 48.1% instead of 50% of damage dealt.
- Hungry Hungry Stitches: The best theoretical use of this talent is Medivh teleporting an entire enemy team into the kill zone on Towers of Doom. In a slightly more realistic scenario it can ensure boss steals on Cursed Hollow and Altar caps on Towers of Doom. In practice you just don’t need to swallow the entire enemy team to do those things. If you went Gorge there was clearly some synergy, just use that synergy, kill the enemy team, win the game.
- Hardened Shield: Are you getting blown up? Do you need to stay in the fight and be soaking that damage for your team so they can win the fight? Take this talent. Otherwise, Bolt is usually better.
- Bolt of the Storm: As always, any hero who has Bolt always has to consider taking it for the playmaking potential be it engaging, disengaging, re-positioning for good Qs, or abusing Gorge (10) to ensure a single late game kill.