Like many Heroes of the Storm players, I’ve waited a long time for another “solo” Warrior. Johanna was the last, back in June 2015, and while it’s fair to say every Warrior can be drafted without another, some are undoubtedly better suited than others.
Of a roster consisting of 19 Warriors, I would argue that the list of those who can comfortably protect a team all by themselves is probably as few as 6 (Arthas, Diablo, Johanna, Muradin, Stitches and Varian). Every other has a kit that works far better when accompanied by another Warrior, and even of those I’ve named, the likes of Diablo and Varian can struggle without being wrapped in the perfect composition.
To be a solo Warrior requires that the hero not only has personal survivability, but also a kit that allows them to initiate, peel, protect and disrupt. The likes of Arthas, Muradin and Johanna can all do this thanks to a set of abilities that offer all the above. In the case of Johanna, she has access to a stun, pull, blind, Unstoppable, self shielding and two heroics that provide further crowd control and mobility.
It’s with excitement then, that Garrosh - a much needed solo Warrior - has finally arrived in the Nexus. Does he perform the role well and, after all this time, have we finally another Warrior we can draft around, without automatically reaching for a second?
With the exception that the Public Test Realm isn’t the ideal test bed for jumping to any conclusions (compositions are usually wonky), all signs point to Garrosh being a solid draft as a solo Warrior. His kit, while slow and lacking in mobility, makes up for this by the fact he has a variety of tools to disrupt the opposition. His kit, for anyone who has yet to see it, includes the following:
Armor Up: Garrosh gains 1 Armor for every 2% of maximum Health missing.
Groundbreaker: Deal 81 damage to enemies in an area. Heroes hit on the outer edge are pulled toward Garrosh.
Bloodthirst: Deal 156 damage to an enemy and heal for 10% of Garrosh's missing Health. Healing is increased by 100% against Heroes.
Wrecking Ball: Throw a nearby enemy Hero, Minion, or Mercenary to the target location, dealing 91 damage to enemies near the impact and Slowing them by 30% for 2.5 seconds.
Warlord’s Challenge: Silence nearby Heroes and force them to attack Garrosh for 1.5 seconds.
Decimate: Deal 50 damage to nearby enemies and Slow them by 30% for 1.5 seconds. Deals 100% more damage to Heroes, and each Hero hit reduces the cooldown by 1 second. Stores up to 3 charges.
It’s undoubtedly strong on paper and offers crowd control, utility, control, survivability and sustain. In practice, I’ve found it to be incredibly effective too. Unfortunately for Garrosh, he’s very vulnerable to ranged attacks, perhaps much more than both Johanna and Muradin. The prevalence of heroes such as Falstad, Genji, Gul’dan, Li Ming and Valla can see him pressured near instantly and for the most part, there’s little he can do about it. Where Johanna can blind or shield herself to buy time to arrive into a fight, or Muradin can dive straight in with a well timed Dwarf Toss, Garrosh lacks all of this. Instead, he’s entirely reliant on face-tanking (literally running into a fight), or landing a well placed Groundbreaker to drag opponents towards himself.
What’s particularly interesting about this approach, even if it does lack finesse, is the fact that Garrosh can withstand most initial beatings. His Trait, Armor Up, provides immediate mitigation the moment he begins to lose health. While the starting sums are small, as any fight progresses he can comfortably maintain 35 armor or more (regularly skirting on the edge of death). If he pairs with a Support such as Uther, he proves particularly challenging to bring down thanks to additional bursts of armor and quick use of Bloodthirst.
Despite his kit appearing simplistic, there’s some lovely synergy between his abilities. A well timed Groundbreaker, followed immediately by Wrecking Ball, can see an enemy hero pulled and thrown a huge distance away from their team. If Garrosh then body-blocks while using Decimate, few can survive it.
Where his Talents are concerned, there’s already some stand out stars. Indomtiable at level 4 provides early access to Unstoppable, while Defensive Measures and its shielding at 13 pretty much turns him into Artanis as long as he can successfully pull players. Finally and at 16, Earthshaker offers further crowd control and an invaluable stun. Even his Heroic abilities, despite being drastically different, are both good. Although I suspect most will gravitate towards Decimate (its cooldown, charges and utility make it an easy choice), the wombo-combo potential of Warlord’s Challenge is vastly superior to Varian’s Taunt. Several times when playing against Garrosh my team and I have wiped thanks to his AOE taunt.
If I have any concerns about Garrosh, despite his weakness to ranged poke and his lack of mobility, it’s the fact that he’s not an overly exciting hero. For a hulking brute of an Orc, he’s small in stature, his animations aren’t particularly satisfying and he lacks...‘oomph!’. There’s undoubtedly a feeling that he’s relentless, especially when he’s low health and high on armor, but Bloodthirst is fairly mute in its animation and effect, Groundbreaker doesn’t quite have the crack of Muradin’s Thunder Clap, and his basic attacks lack the hard thunk of Johanna’s Morning Star.
Despite being sluggish, I can’t help but wonder if Garrosh would have been better with a berserker style of play, similar to Warhammer Online’s Choppa. The more damage Garrosh suffered, the larger he could have grown, and the more damage he could have dealt. Perhaps if necessary, Blizzard could have made it so he dealt bonus damage on ability use, or received temporary movement speed. Such a mechanic might step on the toes of Zul’jin, but I think there’s more than enough scope within such a design to clearly differentiate the two. As it stands however, and despite him undoubtedly working well as a solo Warrior (he also performs well as a second Warrior), I’m a little unenthused by Garrosh. I’ll likely play him a great deal when I do play Warrior, but as Chris Carter and I discussed in our earlier piece, I feel he, like many other Warriors, simply needs ‘sexing up’.
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