Hero Idea: The Queen

Welcome to the second article in the Hero Idea series. Once again, this series of articles looks to give an idea of what a possible implementation of certain characters from the various Blizzard franchises. On top of that, this genre of games has a wide variety of unique mechanics to be implemented – these articles will attempt to work the mechanics effectively into the grand scheme of things. During the design process, I take many cues from current Heroes of the Storm heroes to make a design that fits well into the game.

REMEMBER THAT THIS ARTICLE IS BASED COMPLETELY ON SPECULATION. PLEASE DO NOT CONSIDER THIS AS AN OFFICIAL LOOK AT BLIZZARD’S DEVELOPMENT – THIS HERO CONCEPT WAS MADE BY US FANS.

Overview

Zagara, the Queen, is our focus this week. This design makes Zagara a potent specialist hero with unique abilities that have multiple effects. With this hero, I tried to emulate the idea of multiple units within Starcraft but do so in a way that does not require normal micro features within the game. A player must be aware of the position and the health of their brood in order for Zagara to be effective – quite reminiscent of the style of play found in the Starcraft games but with a Heroes of the Storm twist. Overall, I looked to make a design that can give large variation in playstyle whilst also conforming to the idea of multiple units throughout the hero.

Heroic Trait

Transfusion – Target non-hero unit is healed, buildings are healed for 75% less.   Medium Range, 10 second cooldown.

Mutually Exclusive Talents

  • Parasitic Spine: Auto attacks will drain a small amount of the target’s mana and give it to Zagara.
  • Powerful Transfusion: The healing from transfusion will be increased by 50%, does not apply to buildings.
  • Impaling Spines: Auto attacks will apply impaled – when allied units deal damage to the target, they will be healed for a small amount. The healing also applies to any time one of the Zagara’s units hits or uses an ability on the target.

Transfusion is an active heroic trait that works extremely well with Zagara’s overall kit. Because she looks to create an army of units, managing its health is important. Although new units are quickly spawned, allowing certain key units to stay alive for longer will allow Zagara to be more effective. Another note is that this ability can be used on captured mercenary creeps – extremely helpful if Zagara is pushing alongside mercenary camps. The reduced effectiveness on buildings is a given, as being able to effectively heal a tower would cause games to last much longer than what Blizzard would want.

First Ability

Q: Acid Spines/Spawn Broodlings – Shoot Acid Spines at the target enemy unit, dealing minor small damage to target enemy unit – two Broodlings will spawn near the target enemy.

These Broodlings will attack anything Zagara attacks, dealing small damage. The Broodlings are immune to AoE damage and skill shots but die in one auto attack from a hero. A maximum of 6 Broodlings can be present at a time – when spawning above the maximum, the lowest health Broodlings are replaced.  Medium Range, 4 second cooldown.

Mutually Exclusive Talents

  • Spawn Zergling Raptors: Instead of Broodlings, Zergling Raptors are spawned. They do slightly more damage and can leap to targets.
  • Spawn Mutalisks: Instead of Broodlings, Mutalisks are spawned – the maximum is changed 3. Mutalisks deal slightly more damage than Broodlings and their attacks bounces to one bounce. These will die in 3 about three auto-attack’s worth of damage.
  • Queen’s Control: The maximum amount of Broodlings is raised to 8 and the cooldown of the ability is lowered to 3 seconds.

This is the first of three abilities that has two main functions – a spell effect and a summon. As the most spammable ability in Zagara’s arsenal, she will be continually using this spell to generate a decent size army of Broodlings. They are a pretty simple unit that will continue to attack the last target Zagara attacked – if she is still within a range equal to her attack range. Definitely just a basic damage ability for Zagara. Spawn Zergling Raptors changes the Broodlings to an extremely mobile variant that does slightly more damage – it allows players to focus more on dealing damage to enemy heroes by allowing the Zerglings to keep up close to specific targets. Spawn Mutalisks is a more AoE variant – opting to attack multiple targets, making the units much more useful for pushing quickly forward. Queen’s Control is a simple addition to allow the Broodling army to build up much larger and faster – the reduced cooldown also makes the possible damage output on a single target much larger. Overall, general damage output ability.

Second Ability

W: Ensnare/Spawn Corruptor – Fling a snaring web to the target location and spawn a Corruptor at the Zagara’s location. Enemies caught in the medium AoE will suffer a weak movement speed slow for 2 seconds, in addition for each Corruptor alive one random unit in the AoE will take 25% more damage for 5 seconds.

The Corruptors are not immune to AoE but will die to about three auto attacks worth of damage from a hero. A maximum on 3 Corruptors can be alive at a time – when spawning above the maximum, the lowest health Corruptor is replaced.  Medium Range, 4 second cooldown.

Mutually Exclusive Talents

  • Mass Corruption: Each Corruptor alive will apply their damage amplification to two units in the target area.
  • Corrosive Web: Enemies by Ensnare will take medium damage over time.
  • Sentience: Corruptors will no longer apply their damage amplification to a random enemy in the target AoE. Instead, they will apply the damage amplification to a target near Zagara every 3 seconds, prioritizing heroes without the debuff already.

Once again, this ability is a two effect ability – but this one focuses on utility. As a slow, its duration is quite small but its lower cooldown allows the up-time for the slow to be decently high. But this ability encourages careful positioning and casting. Players will want to carefully position themselves to keep her Corruptors alive around her – otherwise, careful usage of the AoE cast will be required in order to assure that specific targets will be hit by the amplification of damage. Mass Corruption makes hitting the correct targets with the damage amplification is much easier, on top of that – having the maximum Corruptors will allow 6 targets to be amplified at once giving it great synergy with AoE abilities from allies. Corrosive Web does not modify summoning portion of this ability but instead looks to allow Zagara to deal more damage herself – the bonus damage with the moderately low cooldown can give her decent damage potential. Sentience changes the usage of the Corruptors and the skill itself – it allows for Zagara to more easily apply the damage amplification on a couple enemy heroes but it requires her to be closer to the enemies which will put her units in significant danger, carefully positioning is extremely important if this talent is chosen.

Third Abilities

E: Parasite/Spawn Lurker – Zagara throws parasites to the target location and spawns a Lurker.  Enemies at target location are revealed for 3 seconds and all Lurkers will burrow to shoot spines towards the centre of the target location, dealing medium damage in a line.

The Lurkers will die in about three auto attacks worth of damage from a hero. Lurkers are briefly invulnerable when they burrow to shoot spines. The spines will always reach the target location in 0.3 seconds.  A maximum of 3 Lurkers can be alive at a time – when spawning above the maximum, the farthest Lurker from Zagara is replaced. Medium Range, 3 second cooldown.

Mutually Exclusive Talents

  • Carapace: Lurkers will have increased health and armor.
  • Seismic Spines: Lurker’s spines will have a wider line AoE but will take 0.5 seconds to reach the target location.
  • Spawn Impaler: Instead of Lurkers, Impalers are spawned. After 0.5 seconds after cast, they will launch a single large spine at the target location, dealing heavy damage in a small AoE.

This ability introduces a unique look to skillshots. The basic portion of the ability is quite lackluster – but it should be kept in mind the reveal can be permanently maintained which could be useful against invisibility heroes. But due to the nature of this ability, players might not even want to hit the target directly with the normal effect – some might use it as a skillshot in efforts to assure the Lurkers will hit the desired targets while keeping in mind that the projectile originates from each Lurker, wherever they may be. Carapace looks to help the Lurkers stay alive longer to allow for more possible damage – enemy players may want to kill the Lurkers when spawned in order to reduce Zagara’s damage potential. Seismic Spines turns this ability into a powerful teamfighting ability – the increased travel time requires the Lurkers to be spawned closer to the fights but the increased AoE makes gives it incredibly strong AoE damage potential. Spawn Impaler trades away the line AoE ability for a smaller AoE point dealing much more damage – this significantly makes it harder to hit multiple targets even hitting a single target would be hard due to the delay.

Heroic Abilities

R1: Spawn Overlord – An Overlord is summoned and will follow Zagara. For 20 seconds, the Zagara’s limit on units is increased (Broodlings to 8, Corruptors to 4, Lurkers to 4) and the cooldown on abilities are halved.

The Overlord will follow Zagara and will die to about 5 auto attacks worth of damage from a hero. When the overlord dies, cooldowns are immediately doubled and if there are more units that the base maximum, they will die as if they were being replaced.  Self-Cast, 100 second cooldown.

This ability is geared towards the strength of Zagara’s abilities in longer team fights. The player needs to focus on keeping the Overlord out of danger in order to make the most out of the ability. The nature of this ability allows Zagara to put out many units quickly to overwhelm enemies within the teamfights with the various effects of her spells – quantity over quality in this case.

R2: Infestation – Infest the target enemy hero or building for 20 seconds. It will take low damage over time and lose medium amounts of mana or one ammo every second if it is a tower. If the unit dies while under the effect of Infestation, a Swarm Host is created at the location of death. So long as it is alive, it will summon pairs of locusts every 3 seconds that will move to the nearest lane attacking, anything in its path.

The Swarm Host will not move from its spawned location and will die to about 7 auto attacks worth of damage from a hero. The locusts deal small damage will die to about 2 auto attacks worth of damage from a hero.  Long range, 80 second cooldown.

Infestation is a different take at Zagara’s ability to summon more units – this one comes in a conditional form. The ability itself is extremely powerful due to the mana/ammo drain – constraining the resources of the target. Its conditional effect is a unique look on pushing a lane by placing down what is essentially another creep creating structure. But this makes the player choose between two purposes for this ability – either to use it offensively to constrain enemy’s resources or use it when they’re about to die to assure that it summons the Swarm Host. An extremely skillful player could use it so that the resource/damage drains are used and the target dies right at the end of the duration to maximise efficiency.  

Playstyle

Spawning new units consistently is an aspect of Zagara that will never change – how players will effectively use those units to play a specific role will be different however. By focusing on certain aspects of specific roles, players can specialize through the use of the talents. It should be noted that mana needs to be managed properly as it is the largest thing holding back Zagara’s overall strength as her cooldowns are quite low already. Players might find themselves choosing playstyles that focus on different things each and every game to react and adapt to enemies.

Due to the large amount of possible builds from the talent system, here are some ways that Zagara could possibly be played – do not forget though, these are not the only way to play Zagara; the skies the limit with customization within Heroes of the Storm.

Mass Pusher

Talents

  • Impaling Spines – heal on hitting auto-attack targets
  • Spawn Mutalisks – spawning Mutalisks instead of Broodlings
  • Sentience – Corruptors auto-casting their damage amplification
  • Seismic Spine – wider AoE but slowing moving spines from Lurkers

Using the heroic ability Infestation – this build looks to push lanes quickly and effectively by amassing a huge army of creeps and mercenaries while bolstering it with powerful spawned units from Zagara.

When pushing a lane, Zagara will want to take down a mercenary camp or two in order to help her push – Sentience is an extremely efficient way to maintain damage amplification on mercenary camps to help kill them faster while using Mutalisks to quickly dispatch of them – all while being healed consistently with Impaling Spine’d auto-attacks. Then, while moving into lane, the combination of Impaling Spines consistently healing creeps while Mutalisks and Corruptors continually amplifying and dealing damage to the enemy creeps can quickly take out the creep waves and keeping your own creeps alive. If creep waves need to be cleared quickly, Lurkers can be summoned to deal large amount of AoE damage to creeps. Whenever a tower is about to die, using Infestation further bolsters Zagara’s ability to push. All in all the whole build allows for Zagara to create a snowball of many creeps, units, and mercenaries to be a force to be reckon with when pushing in a lane.

Teamfight AoE Damage

Talents

  • Parasitic Spine – mana steal on auto-attack
  • Spawn Mutalisks – Summon Mutalisks instead of Broodlings
  • Mass Corruption – Corruptors will damage amplify two targets instead of one
  • Seismic Spines – Lurkers AoE line is larger but slower

Using the heroic ability Spawn Overlord – this build combines the various AoE talents to make Zagara’s ability extremely effective at dealing out large amounts of damage to multiple enemies.

During a teamfight, Zagara can open with a Spawn Overlord to begin spamming her abilities – Mutalisks will continually use their bouncing attacks to hit multiple targets within a fight while Mass Corruption allows Zagara to easily spread the damage amplification debuff to many enemies at once even within the hectic battle. With the addition of Seismic Spines, her AoE damage is extremely potent so long as the fight does not move too far from where it started as more and more Lurkers are spawned to produce more spines on cast. Overall, the AoE allows Zagara to continually damage multiple enemies within a teamfight to make huge impact with her many units.

Single Target Damage Ganker

Talents

  • Parasitic Spines – mana steal on auto-attack
  • Spawn Zergling Raptors – spawn leaping Zerglings instead of Broodlings
  • Corrosive Web – DoT on ensnare hits
  • Spawn Impaler – spawn Impalers instead of Lurkers

Using the heroic ability Infestation – this build looks to deal decent amounts of damage to a single target to quickly pick them off in a ganker.

Parasitic Spine can help maintain Zagara’s mana pool in between ganks to ensure that she can continually cast her spells. The use of Zergling Raptors will allow damage from those units be pretty consistent on a single target – unlikely to be kited out. Corrosive Web allows for you to do increased damage but it perfectly chains up with the Impaler effect as it will make it easier to hit the spine to get maximum damage. All of this together, it uses Infestation to further increase the possible damage output of Zagara and allow her to reap the bonus of spawning a Swarm Host as she can easily finish off a target with Impalers.

These three builds are not the only ways to play Zagara – the choice of talents should be very flexible within the game to allow players to adapt to the decisions of enemies in order to make the most out of their hero. Do you like my implementation of the Queen for Heroes of the Storm? Which talents would you combo together to make a build that fits your playstyle? Do you think the modified method of micromanagement is interesting, or would you opt for normal micromanagement ala Starcraft? Feel free to post your thoughts on our forums.

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