With Kerrigan’s long-awaited rework coming to the Heroes of the Storm live servers next week, here’s a breakdown of her updated abilities along with a build seen on the Public Testing Realm (PTR).
Kerrigan: Base Kit
(Q) Ravage: Kerrigan leaps to an enemy, dealing a decent amount of damage. This ability has 2 charges. If the enemy she jumped to dies within 1.5 seconds of being hit by Ravage, a charge and 20 mana are refunded.
This is Kerrigan’s main form of mobility. Use this as an engage tool, as a way to reposition in fights, or even as a way of escape if you can jump to a minion or mercenary that is out of harm’s way.
The resets built into Ravage allow you to clear minion waves quite effectively. Just auto-attacking minions down to low health and then using Ravage over and over on them can really get rid of a wave quickly. This strategy also gets a decent amount of value on the Infernal Shrines map, though not as much as it once did.
(W) Impaling Blades: After 1.25 seconds, Kerrigan stuns and damages enemies in a circular area for 1 second.
The main use of this ability is in conjunction with the next ability, Primal Grasp.
The stun on Impaling Blades can be used to interrupt channeled or wound-up abilities such as ETC’s Mosh Pit or Blaze’s Jet Propulsion.
(E) Primal Grasp: Kerrigan pulls enemies within a cone-shaped area in front of her towards her. Kerrigan emits a pulse of psionic damage in an area around her 2.5 seconds after casting.
The “Kerrigan Combo” involves casting Primal Grasp to pull enemies into the delayed stun of Impaling Blades. This combo is incredibly deadly as it can pull and stun multiple enemy heroes at once. However, there are many methods of counter play including the following:
Cleanse and Unstoppable effects from heroes like Brightwing, Uther, Rehagr, Whitemane, Garrosh, Malthael, and a few others.
You can run sideways to avoid the cone-like area of Primal Grasp so you don’t get pulled into Impaling Blades.
Stasis effects such as Ice Block, Time Out, or Molten Block can be used to dodge Kerrigan’s CC.
The rework added the psionic area of effect (AoE) damage to this ability. This should help with waveclear and getting some extra damage in team fights.
Primal Grasp is a displacement effect, meaning it can be used to interrupt channeled abilities or objectives.
(Trait) Assimilation: Kerrigan gains 15 percent of the damage she deals via auto-attacks or abilities back as shields. This amount is doubled when damaging enemy heroes. The shields will deplete after 6 seconds of dealing no damage.
The shields from Assimilation feel much better after this rework and easier to stack.
When playing Kerrigan, you have to be very proactive about keeping your shields up in team fights, as they will expire. This means autoing walls, minions, anything to keep yourself fully shielded.
The Heroic Abilities
Maelstrom: Kerrigan emits a circular psionic field of damage around herself.
Kerrigan can still use all of her abilities while Maelstrom is active. This means you can use the “Kerrigan Combo” to keep enemies within the area of Maelstrom.
Don’t forget that Assimilation means Kerrigan gets a portion of her damage back as shields. This makes Maelstrom supply Kerrigan with massive shielding as long as she’s hitting multiple enemy units or heroes.
Summon Ultralisk: After 0.5 seconds, an Ultralisk surges from Kerrigan’s location in a straight line, stunning the first enemy hit for 0.5 seconds. After the stun, the Ultralisk persists for 20 seconds and can be controlled by using the R button similar to Raynor’s Raider. The Ultralisk’s auto attacks splash.
The rework added a stun to this ability, providing Kerrigan with another way to interrupt abilities like Mosh Pit and channels on maps like Cursed Hollow or Towers of Doom. As a result, it makes her a lot more dangerous in capable hands among Heroes of the Storm attackers.
The Ultralisk’s splashing auto attacks make it excellent for sieging forts and keeps or just clearing camps backed by massive waves. In a team fight, the splash damage adds up.
Any and all damage dealt by the Ultralisk provides shielding to Kerrigan via Assimilation. Positioning the Ultralisk well so it’s auto-attacks splash to the most enemies can cause Kerrigan to gain huge amounts of shielding.
The PTR Build
Standard Kerrigan: Usually I try to show multiple builds for a hero, but Kerrigan really has one predominant build that has been growing in popularity in the Heroes of the Storm community. It focuses around keeping her as shielded as possible so she can keep up her layers of AoE damage.
(Level 1) Fury of the Swarm: This talent makes Kerrigan’s basic attacks generate 10 percent more shielding. In addition, using Ravage makes the next two basic attacks within 3 seconds splash.
This talent gives Kerrigan the following:
More shields from autos
Splash damage for better waveclear
Shield generation from the splash damage
Essentially this talent synergizes with itself and is very strong. Nothing else on this tier gives Kerrigan as much shielding or waveclear as this talent does.
(Level 4) Kinetic Fulmination: Damaging any enemy increases the damage of the next Impaling Blades by 15 percent up to 150 percent. (This is displayed by a stack counter that goes up to 10, each stack worth 15 percent.)
This talent lets you stack up on minion waves, neutral camps, hostile camps, enemy summons, and enemy heroes.
This talent is triggered off of splash damage. You can use Ravage to jump into the middle of a wave and auto a minion to have the splash damage from Fury of the Swarm give you multiple stacks of Kinetic Fulmination.Splash from Summon Ultralisk and Primal Grasp will do the same.
Because of this talent synergizing with all your splash damage, it is incredibly easy to have max damage on Impaling Blades.
This gives Kerrigan even better waveclear than she already had with Fury of the Swarm and the Primal Grasp‘s psionic pulse.
(Level 7) Bladed Momentum: Basic attacks against enemy heroes decrease the cool-downs of all Kerrigan’s basic abilities by 0.6 seconds each.
While this does nothing outside of combat with an enemy hero, this talent provides Kerrigan with a way to bring down the rather long cool-downs she has on Impaling Blades and Primal Grasp.
It seems that Bladed Momentum does benefit from the splashing auto-attacks provided by Fury of the Swarm.
(Level 10) Versatile: Both options below can be useful.
Maelstrom is good in these situations:
You just need to pump out more damage to secure kills.
You’re often in large team fights over objectives or camps.
You find yourself feeling a little squishy during team fights.
The enemy doesn’t have a lot of CC to pin you down and focus you.
Summon Ultralisk is good in these situations:
There is an important ability you need to interrupt, such as ETC’s Mosh Pit or Mephisto’s Consume Souls.
It also has value on Tomb of the Spider Queen, Towers of Doom, or Alterac Pass where you may need to interrupt channeled objectives.
Summon Ultralisk can help you push lanes if you find yourself needing to solo lane or if you need to get in important siege damage alongside an objective.
The Ultralisk is great at applying pressure to backline enemy heroes like Jaina or Kel’thuzad.
(Level 13) Volatile Power: This talent decreases the amount of time that your Assimilation shields last to 3 seconds, but increases your shield gain by 15 percent.
While you’re in a fight, you should always be damaging something due to all of your splash and AoE damage. This makes the 3-second duration of your shields not matter too much.
Shield generation is so much faster with that bonus 15 percent that, even if your shields expire, they’re easy to rebuild.
Psionic Barrier gives you 15 Spell Armor for each enemy hero hit for 4 seconds. This could be taken over Volatile Power against mage-heavy comps and/or ability power-focused tanks like Arthas or Blaze.
Chrysalis puts Kerrigan in a stasis effect that heals her for 5 percent of her HP per second over 5 seconds. This talent would be excellent as an Ice Block-style pick, except that its cool-down seems very long at 90 seconds and you’d probably get better sustain from Spell Armor or faster, bigger shields.
(Level 16) Painful Spikes: After Kerrigan deals damage to an enemy with Impaling Blades, those enemies take an additional amount of damage the next six times Kerrigan damages them within the next 5 seconds.
This build is already focused on getting the full 150 percent damage bonus from Kinetic Fulmination, so this talent fits right in.
After hitting an enemy with Impaling Blades, your autos, abilities, splash damage, and AoE damage all deal an extra amount of damage to your victims.
(Level 20) Psionic Shift: Teleport to a nearby location, dealing damage and gaining 300 percent-bonus Assimilation shields from the damage dealt by the teleport.
Positioning is key to being a good Heroes of the Storm player, and this talent lets you instantly be exactly where you want to be in a team fight.
The extra shielding from Psionic Shift can be the difference between life and death.
While I’m only really showing this one build, there are a few more floating around among Kerrigan players in Heroes of the Storm. Kerrigan’s Q build amps up the damage from her Q and gives her extra charges, but it doesn’t provide the same sustain or shielding that the above build provides. You also miss out on a lot of splash damage going full Q build.
Assimilation Mastery at level 1 makes it to where the following occurs:
Each tick of healing from a Health Globe gives Kerrigan shielding as well as health.
Kerrigan can rotate lanes without losing her shields because each tick from the globe also refreshes her shield duration.
Kerrigan’s mana and health regeneration double in speed as long as her shield is active.
This talent sounds amazing if Kerrigan needs to lane. However, in a lane, you want better waveclear, and Fury of the Swarm does that for you while also improving your sustain via shields. The mana regen feels excellent, but you can really feel how much shielding, waveclear, and damage you lose by not taking Fury of the Swarm.
Kerrigan seems incredibly strong among the Heroes of the Storm roster, so seeing balance changes going from PTR to live wouldn’t be surprising.
Due to her very potent waveclear, Kerrigan will probably be a meta pick on waveclear-oriented maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen or Braxis Holdout.
There’s a possibility that Kerrigan will see play in the solo lane because of her waveclear and shields. She may prove to be too mana-hungry, but the solo lane meta is a bit shaken up from the recent Blaze/Yrel nerfs.
Thank you, guys, for reading! As always, let me know if I missed anything in the comments. Remember, the above build is pretty tentative as the PTR is a place of mixed skill levels and limited games due to low population. Kerrigan’s rework seems to have made her particularly powerful, and as a former Heroes of the Storm Kerrigan main, I am very excited to see her hit the live servers! I’ll see you guys in the Nexus!