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Using new Gathering Power

Using new Gathering Power

19 Nov 2015

Grubby with a fascinating dissertation on how to use the new Gathering Power (as of 17 November 2015).

5 comments

Gathering Power has gone through a number of changes throughout Heroes of the Storm's development, reaching its final destination (for now) with 17 November's Cho'Gall patch.

Going forwards, Gathering Power will start with a 0% bonus Ability Power upon picking the talent, increased by 2% for every Hero Takedown (not kill, more about that later) up to a maximum of 30% - and fully reset upon death back to 0%. Here's my thoughts on why this is the best iteration yet, and how to best use it.

Cho'Gall patch GP

The current version of Gathering Power (Cho'Gall patch) has 15 different power levels. There's 0%, 2%, 4%, and so on, and in 15 Takedowns you can get all the way to 30%. This makes the Talent situational, which is the actually the best kind of Talent from a design standpoint. Situational Talents force players to consider carefully and make compelling choices based on the situation at hand. Adaptation is one of the many facets of a player's skill. The ones that adapt (smartly) will have a leg up.

Gathering Power is the embodiment of situational talents, taking it to the extreme. It will be punishing harshly for Deaths, while rewarding killing streaks heavily. Whereas the last version of Gathering Power (Kharazim Patch) was also unforgiving, it was also unattractive with only 1% AP per Takedowns. The result was that you went from an "Already winning" situation to "Still winning", maybe not even thanks to GP.

Kharazim patch GP

So the Kharazim patch Gathering Power did a 1% bonus per Takedown, 0% passive starting Ability Power, and a half-reset upon Death. AP starts becoming interesting at about 6%+, so it wouldn't be worth it until 6 Takedowns. Even its power summit at 15% was not enough to guarantee late game domination. Dying punished you kinda harshly, without much of a reward for flawless play. Basically this usually entailed that if you were winning essentially without a level 4 talent, you would probably keep on winning afterwards as well, in spite of the Ability Power bonus, not because of it. The new version is different!

How to use the Cho'Gall patch Gathering Power

Cho'Gall patch GP will be best used when you can get an early game advantage, but have a team composition that falls off in the late game. At its maximum power, 30% Ability Power is a huge boost that could help secure the mid to late game.

I once had a game on Blackheart's Bay in January 2015 where we managed to net 23 to 0 Takedowns in the early game with an Arthas/Kerrigan roaming composition, but gave up XP soak in return. We may have gotten complacent, but the opponents also had a powerful late game composition. They dragged the game out by the skin of their teeth, and managed to come back.

Creating more significance in Takedowns vs XP soak

The sources of XP in Heroes of the Storm are sixfold:

  • Minion waves
  • Forts, Keeps, Towers
  • Hero Takedowns
  • Objective kills
  • Mercenaries
  • Passive experience trickle

Besides killing pieces of the enemy base, there is normally no real difference between the other 5 sources of Experience. Normally in the early game, if you give up most of 1 minion wave but get 1 more Takedown, it draws even, and you'll be on equal footing with your opponent. Using Gathering Power, such a trade-off comes with an additional benefit of 2% extra Ability Power for GP users. This would lead to more investments in Takedowns, increasing excitement for both teams and onlookers.

Which Heroes to use GP on

Right now, there are 4 Heroes that can make use of GP at level 4. Kael'thas, Nazeebo, Nova, Zeratul. Looking at the different Heroes:

Kael'thas

This Bloodmage can pick from Mana Tap, Gathering Power, Nether Wind and Envenom. Mana Tap is not as bad as I used to think, but competes with at least 2, probably 3, superior talents. Nether Wind is amazing as a disengage tool, multiple crowd control, and burst combo's. Envenom puts Kael'thas unnecessarily in harm's way for marginal advantages over his usual spell rotations.

Gathering Power in the Kharazim Patch stopped being useful for Kael'thas as 1-7% AP wasn't enough to give up the speed and range increase on Nether Wind. However, Kael'thas may be able to use GP if his allies can keep him alive. I could see GP being used if the team is Kael'thas, Tassadar, E.T.C., Illidan, Uther. Not only would Illidan attract most of the enemy's attention, there's also Tassadar's and Uther's defensive capabilities to save Kael'thas.

Nazeebo

The Witch Doctor's can choose from Spider Cluster, Promote, Mercenary Lord and Envenom. I've already said why I'm not a huge fan of Envenom. Both Promote and Mercenary Lord require Nazeebo to in a lane with superior odds, preferably 1v0, wholly unopposed. That's because Promote is countered by enemy presence, only working against enemy minions & buildings. Mercenary Lord requires Nazeebo to be immobile, and he has no escape. That's very risky for a ranged damage dealer to commit to. Both are situational talents that only work in heavily specialized compositions where you can do a 1-1-3 lane distribution and push all the way to the bank.

Finally, there's Spider Cluster, and this one is very good. It was the only serious pick for Nazeebo in the Kharazim patch, but Gathering Power will have a massive advantage for Toad builds (7 & 13) and Ravenous Spirit! I expect GP Naz to be extremely powerful when paired up with early game bro's, for example in a team of Nazeebo, Kerrigan, Stitches, Brightwing and Muradin. Spider Cluster will still be default, but GP will be the pot of gold at the bottom of a rainbow.

Zeratul

Especially in QM and lower level HL, Zeratul can get kills practically by himself. He can self-sufficiently boost the GP stacks and continue to dominate with it. With Zeratul losing Focused Attack and its replacement Master Warp Blade being far inferior, I could see GP becoming an attractive pick.

On a side note, I think the best talents to pick for Zera will be Level 1: Regen Master, Level 4: Vorpal Blades and Level 7: Follow Through. First Aid was already trending for Zeratul, but Focused Attack was an important source of damage. Giving up First Aid for Follow Through to have more damage would compensate for FA's loss, while giving more survivability and finish potential with Vorpal Blade. I could even see a potential drop of Wormhole if Vorpal Blade usage turns out to be super effective.

Nova

Similarly to Zeratul, Nova can get kills practically by herself especially on the lower levels, which is where she shines anyway. Her alternative choices are also quite poor (Envenom, Remote Delivery and Perfect Shot), making GP probably the default choice. Maybe Nova will be competitive viable.... maybe

Which allied Heroes will help your GP play the best

Having good early game Heroes on your team will help secure higher Ability Powers for GP. This added damage can help cover for Hero late game weaknesses. Excellent examples of early game Heroes who get the job done for kills are Tyrande, E.T.C and especially Kerrigan. This Queen of Blades also happens to drop off more than other Heroes at level 13+. If, however, she helped to buff up an allied Kael'thas' GP to 30% thanks to her early Takedowns, it may just give the Kerrigan team the upper hand.

Against which enemy Heroes to use GP

Using GP will be markedly better against easy-to-kill enemy Heroes. Going up against Vikings, Murky, Leoric, split pushers and melee Assassins creates a situation where GP could get above-average results. Even if die your fair share, your GP stackage may hover between 4-10%, being marginally valuable. Better (or safer) play may see you into the higher double digits, 12-18%.

Concern for snowballing

Some people may be concerned that effective GP stacking may lead to a snowballing Heroes experience. Firstly, not all snowballing is bad. A team who took a big risk-reward trade-off, is genuinely playing better, or is making good use of an early game powerhouse strategy, may or should be rewarded with being able to close the game more easily, barring any big mistakes.

Secondarily, a Hero with buffed up GP stacks still has the same HP as he ever did. Focused efforts for the opposite team to kill the GP Hero creates an exciting interplay with shifted priorities. Normally it may not be viable to dive on the enemy Nazeebo over other targets, but this situation may just create such a need. If successful, even poor Hero trades (3 for 2) may end up being worth it, if only you can reset Nazeebo's stacks back to 0%. The counter to snowballing will be banding together and prioritising a reset of their powerplay Hero's GP stacks.

The excitement for the competitive viewing experience

Having provided the commentating for tournaments like Heroes of the Dorm (April, 2015), Road to Blizzcon Europe (3-4 October, 2015) and BlizzCon Heroes World Championships (6-7 November, 2015), I've got a premonition that it will be incredibly exciting to cast players on Heroes who are picking Gathering Power. The combination of GP with early game roaming squads will mean non-stop action.

Secondly, the desire for the other team to kill that Hero specifically will create exciting climaxes and focus points. It will be easier to tell a compelling story revolving around that Hero.

Final observations (or tl;dr)

Use Gathering Power in lower level games on Nova and Zeratul, where netting many kills can make you a lethal glass cannon.

  • Nova will be terrifying to go up against for beginners (what blur?!)
  • Pair up GP Heroes with great early game heroes like Zagara, Kerrigan, E.T.C.
  • Kael'thas' default will be Nether Wind, GP if he's feeling greedy
  • Nazeebo's default will be Spider Cluster, GP if he's going Toad/Ravenous Spirit build

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