Public Test Realm Preview: Mal’Ganis

Now that Dreadlord Mal’Ganis has made it to Heroes of the Storm‘s Public Test Realm (PTR), here’s a look at his abilities and a couple of builds for him!

Mal’Ganis: Base Kit

(Q) Fel Claws: When Q is pressed, Malganis dashes forward a small amount dealing AoE (Area of Effect) damage with his claws. This ability can be reactivated two more times after the initial cast, with the third time stunning all enemies hit for .75 seconds.

  • After casting Fel Claws, you have three seconds between each activation. This gives you time to weave auto attacks in between hitting Q.
  • Fel Claws moves you forward similar to how Greymane’s Razor Swipe works. Having three charges gives you decent mobility.
  • While Fel Claws deals damage and stuns on the third swipe, it can be used to escape a bad situation or dodge skill shots.

(W) Necrotic Embrace: Deal AoE damage around Mal’Ganis and gain 25 armor for three seconds.

  • The armor supplied by Necrotic Embrace goes a long way in making Mal’Ganis a sturdy hero.
  • The instantly available armor is great against burst damage like Kael’thas’ Pyroblast.
  • The Cool-Down (CD) of Necrotic Embrace is eight seconds, but it lasts for three seconds. This means Mal’Ganis can have 25 armor almost constantly in a fight with only five seconds of downtime between casts.
  • This ability can be used in between reactivations of Fel Claws.

(E) Night Rush: Channel for .75 seconds before gaining 50% movement speed for two seconds. During this time, Mal’Ganis can pass through enemy units and puts enemy heroes he touches to Sleep for 2.5 seconds.

  • Because this ability has a channel time, it can be interrupted.
  • The movement speed granted by Night Rush offers Mal’Ganis a good way to engage into a teamfight.
  • If he can complete the channel, Mal’Ganis can also use Night Rush as an escape.
  • Necrotic Embrace can be used during Night Rush, but Fel Claws cannot.

(Trait) Vampiric Touch: Mal’Ganis heals himself for 45% of the damage dealt to enemy Heroes, and 15% of the damage dealt to non-Heroes.

  • Vampiric Touch heals Mal’Ganis from any damage he deals, not just auto attacks. This means the AoE damage from Fel Claws and Necrotic Embrace gains more value for each enemy unit hit.
  • The armor granted from Necrotic Embrace makes the healing from Vampiric Touch more valuable because the armor makes the new health harder to cut through.

The Heroics

Carrion Swarm: Mal’Ganis transforms into an Invulnerable cloud of bats after channeling for one second. This swarm deals damage inside its area and heals Mal’Ganis for 100% of the damage dealt to heroes.

  • Because of the channel, this ability can be interrupted.
  • The Invulnerable status makes Mal’Ganis incapable of taking damage or being targeted by abilities.
  • Because the swarm has an Area of Effect (AoE) and Mal’Ganis heals for 100% of the damage it deals heroes and 15% of damage dealt to anything else because of his trait, you want to hit as many enemies as possible for maximum healing.

Dark Conversion: Channel on an enemy hero for .75 seconds before swapping health totals over three seconds.

  • This ability heals Mal’Ganis up to the percentage of health his target was at.
  • It also applies a Damage Over Time (DoT) effect to the target with the damage being equal to Mal’Ganis’ missing health when he finished the channel.
  • Because Mal’Ganis cannot cast this while dead, Dark Conversion can never kill someone by itself.
  • This ability is incredibly risky if you try and swap at low health, making it difficult to use.

PTR Builds

Main tank build: Mal’Ganis is, arguably, capable of main tanking. He has a stun on his Q and a sleep on his E, but neither one of those CC effects are particularly reliable. We’ll see how it shakes out once he goes to live but in PTR, he’s been a passable main tank with builds like this.

  • (Level 1) Time to Feed: Damaging a nearby enemy Hero heals Mal’Ganis for a small amount; each enemy hero can be healed off of again six seconds after first being damaged.
    • This offers decent sustain in team fights and gives Mal’Ganis an additional source of healing.
    • You can see which heroes you can heal off of by a little vampire teeth image beneath their name.
    • Winged Guard is also viable here if the opponents have heavy auto attackers like Butcher or Fenix. This talent gives you a charge of physical armor for each enemy hero hit by Necrotic Embrace and passively grants up to one charge of physical armor over six seconds.
  • (Level 4) Fueled by Torment: While Necrotic Embrace is active, Mal’Ganis heals himself for a small amount of HP every time he is dealt damage and also heals himself 15% more from damaging enemy heroes.
    • More self-healing and sustain to keep Mal’Ganis healthy.
    • This is particularly useful against Tracer, Genji, or Tassadar as their auto attacks hit multiple times per auto.
    • Echo of Doom releases a burst of AoE damage after Necrotic Embrace ends and increases the duration of Necrotic Embrace by one second for each enemy hero hit by the extra AoE damage. While it increases the duration of his armor during fights, Fueled by Torment heals Mal’Ganis in minion waves, against camps, and against enemy heroes so it serves to keep him alive a bit better than Echo of Doom.
  • (Level 7) Will of Tichondrius: The last reactivation of Fel Claws steals 4% of the HP of any enemy hero hit when they are stunned by it.
    • Again, another way to heal Mal’Ganis in addition to his trait.
    • This will steal 4% of the HP of multiple enemy heroes if you can stun more than one.
    • Very effective against beefy tanks like Stitches or Diablo.
  • (Level 10) Carrion Swarm: Main tanks tend to need a way to stay safe if they get focused, if they overextend, or get pushed out of position and Carrion Swarm does that. It would do that better if there weren’t such a long channel time, but it’s a solid way to save Mal’Ganis from damage or CC and allows him to heal himself a ton if he can hit multiple enemies.
  • (Level 13) Blood Rush: Gain 1% movement speed each time Mal’Ganis is healed, up to 15%. This lasts for eight seconds and refreshes the duration each time you are healed.
    • This works alongside Mal’Ganis’ trait and all the previous talents in this build to give him an almost constant 15% movement speed bonus.
    • This movement speed will be valuable in allowing Mal’Ganis to reliably bodyblock opponents.
    • The speed will also help Mal’Ganis position more aggressively so his AoE damage can heal him more or so he can more reliably peel for his allies.
  • (Level 16) Plague Bats: Casting Necrotic Embrace unleashes a wave of bats that launch in a cone from Mal’Ganis’ position dealing small amounts of damage.
    • This provides Mal’Ganis with better wave-clear and a ranged way to secure kills.
    • The damage dealt by these bats will heal Mal’Ganis due to Vampiric Touch so it can provide burst healing.
  • (Level 20) Seeker Swarm: After Carrion Swarm finishes, bats fly out from Mal’Ganis and hunt down nearby enemy heroes, sleeping them for 2.5 seconds and dealing a small amount of damage.
    • This can effectively sleep all five enemy heroes allowing your team to isolate one and kill them before their teammates wake up.
    •  Alone in the Dark reduces the vision of heroes slept by Night Rush during the sleep and for two seconds after. This can be a very effective way to make sure the enemy healer cannot heal his/her team due to their vision being reduced so much.

Bruiser Build: This build is more built around dealing damage and having utility than being a survivable main tank.

  • (Level 1) Vampiric Aura: Mal’Ganis and nearby allies heal for 10% of the physical damage they deal.
    • This gives Mal’Ganis some extra sustain and will combo with the auto attack talents we take later on.
    • Vampiric Aura brings some utility to the team in the form of passively healing nearby allies as they auto attack throughout the game.
  • (Level 4) Fueled by Torment: While Necrotic Embrace is active, Mal’Ganis heals himself for a small amount of HP every time he is dealt damage and also heals himself 15% more from damaging enemy heroes.
    • This is mainly taken because of the 15% increased healing from damage dealt to heroes.
    • Echo of Doom can be taken if you find yourself in the solo lane.
  • (Level 7) Black Claws: Using Fel Claws makes your next auto attack deal 45% more damage.
    • This synergizes with the extra lifegain from Vampiric Aura and Fueled by Torment for more healing.
    • You can weave your auto attacks between casts of Q for maximum increased damage from Black Claws.
    • Nightmare Fuel can be chosen on maps with a lot of bushes like Cursed Hollow or Battlefield of Eternity. It increases your auto damage by 30% while inside a bush and for four seconds after leaving a bush. It also makes your auto attacks deal 125% more damage to sleeping targets.
      • Nightmare Fuel may be taken in conjunction with Ana as she can also sleep enemies fairly often.
  • (Level 10) Versatile: Both options have their merits here, but Carrion Swarm offers better safety. Dark Conversion may be the pick if you find yourself getting low on health often.
  • (Level 13) The Night Beckons: Enemies slept by Night Rush are slowed by 30% for 2.5 seconds upon waking up.
    • Honestly, anything on this tier can work, but The Night Beckons has a nasty slow that can help your team secure kills.
  • (Level 16) Frenzied Assault: Attacking an enemy hero with higher health than you causes Mal’Ganis to gain 40% attack speed and 10% attack damage for three seconds.
    • This can really turn a fight if your team starts losing or if you start getting low on health, the faster autos bring more damage and healing for you.
    • Plague Bats may be the safer option only because it is guaranteed to get value while Frenzied Assault only helps you if your HP is lower than your enemy’s.
    • Blind as a Bat removes Mal’Ganis’ vision, but also removes the CD on his Fel Claws ability for six seconds. This means you can spam the ability all you want for the duration of Blind as a Bat but you won’t be able to see any enemies.
      • This will have more use in coordinated play where allies can tell the Mal’Ganis player what direction to attack in.
      • You can see your health numbers when you hit enemies, so you can kind of follow the green healing number indicators to guess where enemies are.
      • All your base abilities can be used during Blind as a Bat.
  • (Level 20) Vanquish the Weak: Damage from auto attacks or from Fel Claws slows enemies by 15% and Vampiric Touch now heals for an additional 10% against slowed heroes.
    • This wraps up the auto attack center of this build nicely, offering more healing and slows so your allies or yourself can make quick work of your enemies.

Additional Thoughts

  • These are tentative builds because the PTR has a low population and games are hard to come by so testing is minimal. In addition to that, Mal’Ganis has solid talent diversity so these builds could easily change around depending on the situation.
  • He seems capable of main tanking with the right build even without instant access to CC, but it could be because his health pool is so large. If Blizzard nerfs his health too much, we may see him fall into the bruiser role.
  • He is currently not ‘overpowered’ the way that Kerrigan was in PTR a few weeks ago. He’s extremely capable of staying healthy and he seems hard to take down, but that’s a trait we see in our other premier main tanks Muradin and Diablo.
  • He has a lot of AoE on his kit, but his wave-clear really isn’t anything to marvel at. It takes all three Q casts, a W, and some sporadic auto attacking to clear a wave even into the late game. Different builds may effect his solo lane prowess, but he doesn’t seem like he’ll dominate lanes the way Yrel and Blaze once did.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading! As always, let me know if I missed anything in the comments! Mal’Ganis seems like he will be a very strong addition to the game, especially since he may bring some diversity to the tank meta that has been a little stale as of late. Remember, this is all on the PTR so it’s subject to change due to balance changes before going live. I’ll see you in the Nexus!

I’m Avinan, working in association with Daily Esports to cover Heroes of the Storm and Magic the Gathering news.