Abilities and Talents overview
General Pros and Cons
Hero role and aim in fight
Standard Jaina Build
Build Pros and Cons
General style of play and Tips for the Build
Talent deviations for the Build
Tips on how to play against Jaina and the Build
Heroes that work well with and against Jaina
Jaina is one of the strongest and most contested heroes in the game. Often times you can see her either picked or banned. And there are many reasons for that. As an Assassin, Jaina is very effective at providing burst damage. Moreover, in some hero setups she is able to blow enemy Warrior away in just few seconds. Her talent kit is diversified, allowing her to adapt to enemy composition. At the same time, she has a lot of talent builds for many hero compositions and maps. Lastly, all her spells provide constant slow, making her extremely good at teamfights.
In competitive scene, Jaina is counted as tier 1 hero. You can see her either being picked or banned in most cases. However, the way actual draft will go depends on many variables, such as map, Meta-game, region, and so on. One of the popular draft approaches is to get Abathur after you draft Jaina. Such setup will offer extreme amount of burst damage, and usually is able to obliterate enemy Warrior in split-second! The talk is, of course, about Ultimate Evolution Heroic.
With recent changes to her ultimate, “Water Elemental” no longer does damage in area of summoning, we see more players playing with “Ring of Frost” Heroic. This choice is situational, and usually comes to play when additional burst damage is required.
Let’s take a look at Jaina’s abilities, to start building up our understanding of her strength and weaknesses, as well as idea of why she is so strong and contested.
Abilities and Talents overview
This part of the guide will be focused on highlighting the Abilities of Jaina. The Talents will be reviewed in each build, so understanding of them will be bound to the actual build. Jaina has 4 active abilities; the amount can be increased by the talents. She has passive Trait, which works on all units and structures.
This ability has longest range, out of all abilities, costs 30 Mana and has 4 seconds cooldown. The ability is a skillshot and has mechanic similar to Muradin’s “Stormbolt”. What that means is it hits the first target it lands on. “Frostbolt” will be first ability in your spell rotation. In fights, you want to “hook” enemy with it, to increase the damage of your other abilities, as well as apply slow effect, so the target won’t escape your AOE abilities. Low cooldown of this ability makes it very useful in teamfights. Lastly, there is a build based around this spell, which brings extreme burst damage in the game and allows obliterating enemy heroes in few seconds.
It is not only the name of the company that makes cool video games, but also a name of second Jaina spell. The ability is AOE spell, which has 75 Mana cost and 15 seconds cooldown. “Blizzard” consists of two AOE waves, each having a delay before landing. This ability will be your main source of damage in quick and bursty fights. Also, ability is very good at wave clearing(killing lane minions and mercenaries). To fully hit the minion wave, cast the center of ability at the mage minion. “Blizzard” will be second ability in your usual spell rotation. You want to cast it on the enemy after you hit him with “Frostbolt”. Usually it is done in the direction of fleeing, so enemy would be hit by second wave. Of course, there is a build based around “Blizzard”.
Cone of Cold
The “E” ability costs 50 Mana and has 10 seconds cooldown. It has highest instant damage, among all abilities, but at the same time its range is relatively short. The spell is tricky for use, as it has almost melee range. “Cone of Cold” has small AOE, in form of cone. This ability will be your last ability in the standard spell rotation. Also, this ability is a finishing blow to a minion wave, after you hit them with “Blizzard”. There are no “Cone of Cold” build in the game. Only few talents are presented in the talent tree that will upgrade the ability. They are situated on level 7 and 16. The ones that are usually picked are on level 16, while upgrade on level 7 is rarely chosen.
It appears that this is not only the name of the game engine, but also of Jaina’s Trait. And her Trait is very powerful tool. It is passive ability that affects all her spells. Each spell she casts will slow movement speed of the target for 25%, or 35% if you skill corresponding talent, and if target is already chilled, the damage from her abilities will be increased by 50%. The effect lasts for 4 seconds. The amplification percentage can also be adjusted by the talent and be 65%. Keep in mind that the Trait also affects Bosses and Structures, apart from minions and heroes. Basically, the Trait is one of the reasons Jaina is so strong in the game, and is so contested. It provides nice burst damage, and at the same time it provides nice CC.
General Pros and Cons
Now that we know Jaina’s abilities, let’s see the bigger picture of things and discuss what Archmage is good at, and what weaknesses she has.
Here you can read main reasons that lead to Jaina being one of the best and contested Assassins in the game.
High burst damage output and constant CC application
All Jaina abilities designed to deal burst damage, be it single target or mass fight. Her talents and Heroics even increase the amount of DPS. Depending on the build, she can do many things, but all of them are designed to provide high amount of burst damage. This makes her one of the best Assassins in the game. If it wasn’t enough, Jaina also provides tons of CC’s with her Trait. It strongly affects tides of battle, as it is really easy to focus enemy heroes that are permanently slowed.
Very good teamfight potential
Almost all Jaina abilities are AOE. In fact, only “Frostbolt” is single target spell. This is second reason why she is so strong. Not only you have abilities that have high damage numbers and provide constant movement speed slow, but also they are AOE! This leads to incredible teamfight potential. It also forces enemy to watch out for the positioning, as clumped up enemies can be easily obliterated by Archmage.
Such strong hero, of course, has to have some weaknesses to be balanced. Here are some of them.
Positional dependency and team oriented gameplay
All the basic abilities are designed to do damage and slow. Such a nice kit to have. However, with no mobility spells, options to reposition herself, and other utility options Jaina is very positional dependent and more team oriented than other Assassins, which can play on their own. That doesn’t mean you can’t kill isolated hero on your own. You can and will. There are plenty of options and abilities to do that. The question is can you survive after that. And this is a moment when allies have to peel for you. Otherwise, with cooldowns on your spells, you will likely fall a victim to enemy Assassin. The situation is, of course, not as dire as it may seem at first glance - there are some talent options that can provide additional self-sustain. But they will be described down below, in part(s) of the guide that will tell about different builds.
Medium skill cap
This, of course, is very relevant weakness. It will fully depend on what type of player you are, and what is your skill level. If you are used to play “Glass Cannons”, or have moderate previous Moba experience, Jaina won’t be hard to play for you. If you are more of a casual type of the player, you will have a need to get some practice and experience, to play Archmage on a decent level. Overall, i think Jaina has nice design, so if you find troubles surviving the fights, there will be some talents to help you out.
Lastly, playing Jaina will require some experience in terms of understanding\feeling of what you can do and what you can’t. Here I’m talking not only about the positioning versus certain heroes, but also about the damage output you can do. Knowing\feeling how much damage you can do, at every stage of the game, is one of the key traits of good Assassin player.
Please note, above you read Cons and Pros of the hero based around the ability kit. The talents Jaina has may, and will, affect her strong and weak spots.
Hero role and aim in fight
As you can see, from abilities and Heroics, Jaina is an Assassin hero designed to erase enemy heroes from the Battlegrounds. Depending on the enemy and allies composition of heroes, as well as path you chose, you will be chilling to death either one enemy hero or many of them. Archmage can be played in many ways. The standard build, which will be described down below, is kind of mix of everything on a good level, but offers more close quarter combat. “Frostbolt” build will be focused on bringing down single hero. This build is especially good at focusing enemy Warriors. Yeah, that’s right! While considered a misplay for many heroes and situations, Jaina actually has a luxury of killing enemy Warriors in just few seconds. Also, the build will offer safe range in terms of positioning. Lastly, the “Blizzard” build will be oriented at zoning, making team wipes, and doing “full YouTube moves”. It will require additional attention to the positioning, but the results are quite spectacular.
Standard Jaina Build
The build is very well rounded and is good at everything that is required from Jaina. Moreover, this build will do in most game scenarios and situations. You will always have enough Mana and the ability to provide good DPS. You will have answers for many in game situations and will fit in many ally comps, as well as versus many enemy comps. Such versatility, flexibility and high effectiveness at killing enemy heroes, are the reasons why this build is most popular out of all Jaina builds.
These are standard talent choices for standard build) There are some alternatives, which will be described later. Mostly, they are reactionary decisions on the enemy picks, on the map specific, or on the ally setup.
This talent will increase slow percentage, provided by the Trait, up to 35. While 10% might seem no a big deal, it actually matters. For enemy, it will be almost impossible to dodge a skillshot, or escape other abilities, with such movement speed. Also, this talent is good for kiting melee heroes. In general, Jaina is already good at this, so this talent further increases her effectiveness.
As description states, the talent will give Mana to Jaina when she hits Chilled targets. If target is hit with auto-attack, hero will receive 5 Mana. If target is hit with a spell, Jaina will receive 25 Mana. The Chill effect is applied by her Trait, and her Trait is applied to all abilities. Basically, this talent is a source of almost infinite Mana pool. For caster, it is very important to have “healthy” Mana pool. “Arcane Intellect” will be very good at prolonged fights, as your hero will be having Mana for the spells, while rest of the heroes won’t. Lastly, this talent will be very strong at maps that have stationary objective capture. The reason is at those maps you will have prolonged fights for the objectives. Such maps are “Cursed Hollow”, “Sky Temple”, “Battlefield of Eternity”, and “Haunted Mines”.
“Frostbitten” will increase damage amplification from Trait by 15%, and will make it to be 65%, in total. Overall, DPS buff this talent brings will vary, depending on the spell rotation, but it is around 10% of your DPS. For hero oriented at bursting down targets, having such talent is always nice. Again, if it seems not a big deal, think about Tyrande. I mean her Trait. It provides 25%, and she is able to blow heroes away with just her abilities, I’m not even talking about the fact that it also applies for allies abilities! Jaina is not Tyrande, so this 15% buff works only for her abilities, but the actual numbers are critical to bringing down the targets. Also, Jaina has enough AOE spells to make this talent do wonders.
If we were to talk about this before patch 13.0, then the choice would be “Water Elemental”. The reason for that is, previously, it provided AOE damage at casting point. The damage numbers were something like 40% of “Ring of Frost” damage, plus Elemental would immediately score a right-click, which was something about 15-20% of damage of RoF. Now, the story is different, as Elemental no longer provides AOE damage at casting point. So, the choice is situational. If you feel like obliterating enemy team in 1 second, then “Ring of Frost” is good choice. Jokes aside, “Water Elemental” is better at prolonged fights, zoning key heroes, and slowing auto-attackers. At the same time, “Ring of Frost” will be good at bursting down target(s). The Elemental will provide stable DPS and results, as well as will be hugely annoying to your enemy, while Ring is more risky play, but offers higher reward.
Improved Ice Block
This is active talent that has 60 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. What it does is it places Jaina in invulnerable state, and she is not able to act other than canceling the “Ice Block” before it expires. The talent also chills nearby enemies, while “Ice Block” is active. This is very strong save talent. With its help, you will be able to dodge some of the key enemy Heroics or spells. It will also buy some time for your team to come and help you. Lastly, it has some tricky uses, which I’ll describe in the Tips section.
“Cone of Cold” will now root targets that are Chilled, for 1 second. This is very strong upgrade for “Cone of Cold”. It is always good to have additional CC in team. However, the crowd control this talent brings is insane. You can root enemy team if you hit them with Blizzard. Also, this talent is extremely effective versus melee heroes, or heroes that heavily rely on the escape abilities. This talent allows you to kill enemy Assassin single-handedly, as you are able to burst down full HP in about 1-2 seconds. Also, talent is very good for some wombo-combo setups.
Bolt of the Storm
“Bolt of the Storm” is active talent that teleports hero in the selected location, within the range of the talent. The talent has 70 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. Bolt will serve as both, save ability and initiation ability. In the late game, Jaina offers insane burst potential. She is able to obliterate enemy Assassin single-handedly, within one second of time. So, Bolt will be insanely good initiation ability. With right spell rotation, enemy hero won’t be able to escape due to “Numbing Blast” talent, but at the same time will receive fatal damage. At the same time, this talent can be used defensively to “blink out” from dire situations and poor positioning, or to dodge some enemy initiations and Heroics\abilities.
Build Pros and Cons
As I’ve mentioned before, this build is very versatile, has answers for many situations, and very well rounded. You are able to provide burst damage in any situation. But that’s general description, let’s talk about the details. Firstly, build is very good at prolonged fights due to “Arcane Intellect”. Same we can say about chasing heroes down, or some chaotic fights. Secondly, you provide insane amounts of damage with the help of “Frostbitten” talent and “Ring of Frost” Heroic. Also, you have nice save ability, which buys you and your team some time in dire situations. Lastly, you have additional CC, and you are able to do wonders with it. Now, let’s look at bigger scale of things and see how this build affects Pros and Cons of the hero, compared to General Pros and Cons.
Very good at prolonged fights
The “Arcane Intellect” creates wonders at maps with prolonged fights for the objectives, and in usual prolonged fights. When most of the heroes will be at low Mana pool, or have no Mana at all, you will have half of your Mana left and will be able to do tons of DPS. Of course, Major part of this strong spot in Jaina gameplay comes from “Arcane Intellect” talent, but there is also one important detail, which is short, 4 seconds, cooldown of the “Frostbolt”. Having almost infinite Mana is nice, but you really won’t do whole lot if you don’t have spells to use.
Ability to single-handedly obliterate enemy hero(es)
This Jaina feature wins fights, games, and tournaments. Your enemy always has to keep in mind the possibility of you “blinking in” with “Bolt”, and deleting him from the game with rotation of spells such as “Blizzard”, “Frostbolt”, and “Cone of Cold”. There could be different variations of this rotation, depending on your ultimate and some enemy heroes specific, but the option is always there. And this option is one of the key reasons why Jaina is so valued among the pro gamers.
After all, Jaina is still weak Assassin with low health pool and no escape abilities. The talent choices of this build offer nice save options and ability to reposition yourself, once every 70 seconds. So, compared to previous Pros and Cons, Jaina with this build is less positional dependent and team oriented. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can “go ham” and be on the front line all the time, or think that you can do on your own, without the team. The dependency is still there, it just has lesser values.
General style of play and Tips for the Build
This topic is very relative, as there are a lot of variables that will affect what you can do, and what you can’t, how you can play, and how it is better not to play. So, I’ll describe general patterns and some template situations, to show in which situations patterns are used best. Of course, the end result will be spiced by the tips. Tips will lead to better understanding of this “general style of play” thingy, and will allow me to share me some tricks and gameplay experience.
As Jaina, you would want to play either aggressively or defensively. Aggressive style of play means that you are always behind your Warrior, able to immediately follow his CC with your spell rotation. Sometimes you can even be on the front line, but this is for more experienced players, and is very debatable style of play, with lots of rules and is not for everyone. If you are learning how to play with Jaina aggressively, stay behind the tank, in reach of your spell rotation. Such style of play is available when enemy can’t really punish you for such positioning, or you don’t care because you have stronger line-up, or Uther with “Divine Shield”. Usually, if enemy doesn’t have long range CC’s or diving heroes, or heavy initiation comp, you have a green light.
In the reverse scenario, you don’t have Uther, stronger line-up, or enemy can punish you, you have to stay in the back line, in range of your support. Ideally, you want to enter the fight when major threats are blown and enemy spells are on cooldown. This way you will be able to unleash your damage without any major consequence. By “enter the fight” i mean unleashing your whole ability kit. That doesn’t mean you just stand aside doing nothing, until right moment appears. You can throw some “Frostbolts” and act like you are going to go in.
So, these were template situations and general patterns of style of play. Once you hit level 13, and grab “Ice block”, the situation will change a bit. Now, you can play with your weakness and bait enemy to go in for you. The outcome of such action will, of course, depend on your ability to feel the game and the level of play of your teammates. They can just be “learning players” and not capitalize on enemy miss-plays and your awesome bait won’t have proper effect.
As you can guess, the situation will also change once you hit level 20. With “Bolt of the Storm” you are now able to do “YouTube moves”, and in case of experienced players, play very aggressively, resulting in few enemy heroes, or even whole enemy team, being deleted from the game. Of course, such play style will require some experience, game understanding, and game feeling. But that’s the reason people are playing Assassins, to do some incredible moves and carry games. This playstyle is less true for Heroes of the Storm, as it is more teamplay based game, but there are heroes like Jaina, which are able to play like that.
Plays versus melee Assassins
When playing versus heavy melee comps, or Zeratul, Illidan specifically, “Frost Armor” talent paired with “Numbing Blast” will be very effective. What you do is you immediately cast “Cone of Cold”, as soon as enemy hero hits you. This way he will be instantly rooted and will allow you and your teammates to focus him down. In case of Zeratul - he won’t be able to blink back with “Wormhole” talent, for the duration of the roots. In case of Illidan - he won’t be able to use “Q” or “W”, for the duration of the roots.
Ring of Frost tip
If you know that you are definitely going to play with “Ring of Frost” Heroic, consider playing with “Conjurer’s Pursuit” and “Snowstorm” talents, at level 1 and level 4. This shift in talent choices is done for the radius increase of the “Blizzard”. The need in this comes from style of play when, in mass fights, you hit enemy with “Ring of Frost”, and at the same time use “Blizzard” in the middle of the Heroic. With the “Snowstorm” talent in play, “Blizzard” will hit not only the targets that are in the middle of the Ring, but also the targets that are rooted by the Ring.
Plays versus Tyrael and Kaelt'has
When playing versus Tyrael, “Ice block” can be used to absorb Tyrael’s “Judgement”. To do so you have to cast “Ice Block” during the animation of Tyrael’s Heroic. This way you won’t be hit, stunned or get damaged, as “Ice Block” makes you invulnerable. If needed, you can cancel the “Ice Block” to quickly reposition yourself. Same trick can be done with “Bolt of the Storm”. However, it will require fast reaction time from the player. You need to “blink out” in the time when Tyrael is flying towards you. Such tricks can be done not only versus Tyrael, but also versus Kael’thas. And here I’m talking about “Pyroblast” Heroic. Dodging it with “Ice Block” should be easy - you just hit the “Ice Block” button 1 or half second before Pyro is going to hit you. At the same time, dodging Pyro with Bolt will be harder task, as you have to “blink out” just before it is going to hit you.
Rotation of spells and the level 16 talent choice
In mass fights, your main damage source will be “Blizzard” ability combined with “Cone of Cold”. Depending on the talent you choose on 16, your rotation of spells will be drastically different. If we are talking about the roots talent, then you want to use your “Cone of Cold” after first wave of “Blizzard” hits. If the situation is different, you took the damage amplification talent, then you want to hit targets with “Cone of Cold” first and then use other spells to benefit from damage amplification. However, in both cases “Blizzard” will be first spell to cast, and you will either use “Cone of Cold” before first wave hits, if you skilled damage amplification, or after first wave hits, if you skilled roots. I guess it is needless to say that in every scenario you have to be in “Cone of Cold” range, near your enemy.
Talent deviations for the Build
Jaina is very flexible hero, with cool talent kit, so even in standard build there will be a lot of alternative and situational talents.
Here you can go for “Conjurer’s Pursuit”. The talent will increase the regeneration rate of your Mana by 0.1 point per Health Globe. Apart from “Arcane Intellect”, this talent is also very good at providing additional Mana in prolonged fights. Usually, it is taken when you plan to go different talent on level 4, “Snowstorm”, so you know that you won’t have an Arcane talent.
As you already know, the alternative talent on this tier is “Snowstorm”. The talent will increase radius of “Blizzard” by 30%. Such talent choices are good on maps with lots of narrow spaces, or to support ally setup of heroes. First example that would come to mind is teamplay with Johanna. She uses her “W” to catch enemy heroes, while you are able to do more damage and catch more heroes with the increased range of the spell, by casting it prematurely onto the location of Johanna’s “Condemn”.
This talent tier offers two interesting options. First talent is “Frost Armor” talent, which Chills enemy heroes that attack you and every 8 seconds reduces the damage of the enemy auto-attack by 75%. “Frost Armor” is very good against right-click heroes and heroes that have high auto-attack burst damage output. Second talent is “Ice lance”. It will lower the cooldown of your “Frostbolt”, by 2 seconds, when it hits enemy that is already Chilled. This talent will be very strong in prolonged fights and on the maps with stationary objective fights. Other than that, the talent will also increase your pressure on the enemy front line and Support.
There is another talent on this tier that upgrades the “Cone of Cold” ability. Its name is “Northern Exposure” and it applies Vulnerability effect on the targets hit by “Cone of Cold”. The Vulnerability effect will increase the damage taken by 25% and will last for 2 seconds. If you feel that your team has enough CC already, and you are looking for additional burst damage, this talent is ideal. The amount of damage you will be able to unleash is extreme. However, you have to keep in mind that this spell change your rotation, as you want all your other spells to benefit from the damage amplification effect.
In some cases, “Bolt” may not be required and you will be looking at other talent option in strife to further increase your burst damage output. At this time, out of the shadows, comes “Wintermute” talent. This talent is an upgrade to your “Water Elemental” Heroic. It will increase the cast range, by 50%, and will allow your Water Ele to mimic your abilities, for half of the damage. With this talent, tales about Jaina single-handedly killing enemy team can become truth. If not, the upgrade will extremely increase your DPS and burst. Keep in mind that Ele will cast “Blizzard” spell at the same location of the original one, after the cast and duration of the original one is finished.
If you took “Ring of Frost”, the Water Ele upgrade will, of course, not be available to you. In such cases
“Lightning Bolt” “Arcane Power” will be the choice. It will provide additional burst damage potential, as well as nice Mana refreshment. The talent has 60 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. It increases the Ability Power of the hero by 15% and restores 400 Mana upon activation. The effect lasts for 5 seconds.
You might be considering taking upgrade for the “Ring of Frost” Heroic. Please, don’t! Upgrade is named “Cold Snap”. It provides additional frost explosion after the original ultimate is ended. And that is the problem. The original Heroic will expire in 4,5 seconds. On level 20 the damage output of the heroes are such that enemy heroes will either be already dead, or won’t be in the center. This effect will rarely find its uses, so it is better to take “Arcane Power” instead.
Tips on how to play against Jaina and the Build
Generally, you want to abuse the weak spots of the hero. They are: poor mobility, no safe abilities until some point of the game, and team oriented gameplay. When playing versus Jaina you would like to isolate her from her team, or catch her out of position. This way, even if she has “Ice Block”, we are talking pre-level 20 situations, you will still able to kill her, as “Ice Block” only buys few seconds of time. That time won’t be enough if she is separated from the team or have gone too far in her positioning.
Jaina is squishy Assassin. She has low health pool and no shields or other forms of decent self-sustain. This makes heroes that provide burst damage very effective against her. If you pair such hero with heroes that provide disable or stun for few seconds, you will have an easy time killing Jaina. The key point is, of course, to catch her out of position or while she is casting her spell rotation.
Very mobile heroes will be very effective versus Jaina. You will be able to go in do some damage and go out. Even if you won’t able to take her down, this will be effective action, as she will be forced to stay out of the fight for some period of time. If she’s not, she will likely to fall victim to your teammates or yourself.
Post level 20, when Jaina will have Bolt, the situation will change. It will be harder to bring her down, as she will have escape ability. However, this escape ability is often used as initiation tool. You can play around it, and wait for her to use it, or overextend with its usage. Of course, you can create situation to bait the usage of the Bolt, and the positional overextension.
These were tips regarding general hero and actions choices. Now, let’s talk about the mechanics and outplays based on it.
Ideally, you want to have an answer to Jaina in your pick. I mean team setup. And I’ll talk about specific heroes in the part below. Here, I’ll talk about stuff like the mechanics and outplays you can do versus her.
Playing on weaknesses of the enemy hero is nice, but good players often times know their weak spots and won’t allow you to capitalize on them. You can play on enemy mistakes and hope that he will do one, but such approach won’t work in higher levels of play. So, you have to learn how to play against strong spots of the hero.
You have to understand how Jaina works. I mean what is her damage source, which spell is bigger part of the damage, and how to play against all this stuff. Her main damage source, in whole spell rotation, is “Blizzard”. The key part of playing as Jaina is to be good at hitting your enemy with a “Blizzard”. If Jaina is able to damage you with “Q” and “E”, but won’t hit you with “Blizzard” you won’t receive fatal damage. “Blizzard” is not instant spell - it has delay before first wave hits, and it has delay before second wave hits. In fact, only instant spell that Jaina has is “Cone of Cold”, and it has almost melee range of casting. That means that dodging “Frostbolt” or “Blizzard” is vital part of the gameplay versus Jaina.
If you stay in long range versus Jaina, and you dodge “Frostbolt”, she won’t have the ability to come in range of other spells and hit with them, as you won’t be slowed and it will be easy for you to dodge “Blizzard”. If you got caught by the “Frostbolt”, you need to dodge that “Blizzard”, or you will be dead, most likely. It is best to always have your save ability for such cases. It shouldn’t be hard. “Blizzard” has 15 seconds cooldown, while most of the basic save abilities has less or the same cooldown time.
Now that we’ve discussed basic abilities, it is time to talk Heroics.
Often times i see Jaina in games. No wonder, she is one the strongest heroes in the game. And often times i see hero that is running away from her Water Ele, while his team is chasing someone. And that is a mistake. The mistake by the teammates of course! Kill the damn Water and don’t chase! “Water Elemental” does moderate right-click damage and slows your ally. It creates huge zoning effect, and in fact you are fighting 4x5 if Water is attacking your ally. It takes few seconds to kill Elemental, but most players ignore that fact. That ignorance often times come at a cost of the fight.
In professional games, especially now as Elemental doesn’t do AOE damage at the cast point, this ultimate doesn’t have such huge impact as it has in Hero League. In those games, players are organised and usually it is a first action they do, killing “Water Elemental”, when Jaina casts it. Of course Hero League environment is different, but what you can do is stop underestimating this Heroic potential, in terms of zoning, and help you ally. If you are the one who is attacked by the elemental, spam the pings at yourself. Usually, not all your allies are “learning how to play this game”, and there will be 1-2 that will help.
Jaina casts her Elemental either to zone some hero out of the fight, or to burst target down. If you are the Support player, tracking Jaina focus and burst healing her targets is one the best things you can do for your team. If you are the Warrior player, throwing some zoning or stunning abilities at Jaina while she is bursting down someone can save a life to your ally. Same rule is applied against Elemental. Don’t be shy to use abilities at him, in case there is no critical need to use them elsewhere.
Now comes hard part. What to do if you are that guy, which is chased by Elemental and/or is focused. If you don’t have any useful abilities up, there is nothing you can do but ping for help. Under useful abilities i mean either some save abilities, or abilities that can disable Jaina and disrupt her spell rotation, or Water.
Ring of Frost
Playing versus “Ring of Frost” is much simpler! You either have an escape ability to dodge it, or you are most likely will be dead. Sometimes, there is a decent support player that will save you with “Cleanse” and heals, but the odds of that to happen equals to the percentage of win rate of a balanced hero, by Blizzard standards) Also, there can be prominent ally(ies) that will use his abilities to counter initiate, disrupt enemy actions and save you, but the odds of that to happen equals to the percentage of the players representing each rank)
Also you can try standing in the middle area. Sometimes it works, and enemy won’t focus a player that is standing still for 4 seconds, in one place.
Jokes aside, if you are playing the Support role, you can Cleanse the Root or Slow effect from the Ring. And doing so will save your ally. If you are playing Warrior hero with stuns and other hero roles that have powerful initiating abilities, your job will be to prevent enemy from focusing down your teammate(s) that is caught in the “Ring of Frost”.
Lastly, if you are that guy, you need to reposition yourself out of the Ring. If there no such possibility and you see that you will get caught, go in the center of the Ring. That way you won’t be rooted and won’t receive damage and Chill effect. Once the Root effect is expired, move away from the center, but keep in mind that you will be Chilled by the Ring, as it persist for 3 seconds after Roots, and Chills enemies who touch it.
These were general tips. Now, let’s discuss specifics about the particular build.
Frost Armor and Numbing Blast combo
If you are playing as melee Assassin, and Jaina has “Frost Armor” and “Numbing Blast” talents, you have to wait until she uses either majority of her spells, so even if you are rooted she can’t kill you, or she uses “Cone of Cold”, so you won’t be rooted. If the situation is going to develop by the first scenario, make sure there no allies around her, who can either stun-lock you, or deal fatal damage.
How to play versus Ice Block
Very valuable against this build will be the experience and knowledge of how to play against “Ice Block”. If you are the hero, which key spells or initiation can be absorbed by “Ice Block”, than the best time for you to act will be in the middle of casting time of Jaina’s spell rotation. This way, you have a high chance to catch her before she uses “Ice Block”.
How to play versus Numbing Blast or Northern Exposure
In case of first talent, roots, you will need to use any ability that provides self-sustain, before the damage will hit you. If you are playing the Support role, you can Cleanse the roots, or save ally with other support abilities. Also, if there is nothing you can do, but you have “Shrink Ray” talent, you can use it on Jaina, as it reduces all damage hero does by 50%. Needless to say, that it has to be done before Jaina did all her spell damage.
In cases of second talent, you need to quickly reposition yourself out of the focus. If you are playing the Support role, than healing and saving the ally hit by the mark will be your top priority.
In both cases, as other roles you are free to do any actions that will prevent Jaina and her allies to focus down rooted or marked target.
Blink in combo
In the late game, it is very important to keep track of Jaina positioning and anticipate her actions, as you can be obliterated by her “blink in” combo in one second. Usually, it is best to stay in the range of your Support, so he will have time to react, and won’t have to waste precious time running towards you.
Heroes that work well with and against Jaina
Heroes you would like to take when you play with Jaina
Generally, as a Jaina player, you want to have Support that can save you if you make positional mistake, and 1-2 Warriors that are mobile and have few disable abilities.
As I’ve mentioned before, Jaina is team dependent hero. This means that she needs support from her team. If we are to talk about Support heroes that go well with her, than Uther is the best choice. Right now, with the rework to “Cleanse”, Uther is back to №1 Support spot. So, ideally you want to get Uther, as he provides everything Jaina and team needs. He has amazing burst healing, the best saving ultimate in the game, “Shrink Ray”, stuns and other useful stuff.
If you don’t have the ability to play Uther, than any other Support will do. I have to correct myself and say, every support except Brightwing, Tyrande and Tassadar. Right now, Brightwing is in very specific spot and is very weak as a solo Support. Play him if you really know what you are doing. Tass and Tyrande are not supports, but something like semi-supports or specialists. You can play them together with Jaina, especially Tyrande, as she provides insane burst damage boost, but not at the role of main Support.
Main idea when playing a Support is to determine which style of play your Jaina have chosen, and play accordingly.
As Jaina, if you are playing aggressively, it is best to have supports with burst healing, like Uther, Rehgar and Kharazim. If you chose to play passive, it is best to have reactionary supports, like Malf or Li Li.
Ideally, for aggressive style of play, you want to have Warriors that are able to jump in fight with you, providing disables and body-blocking. Johanna, Anub, Muradin and Tyrael will be the best for such style of play. On the other hand, if you want to play more passively you will need Warriors that are able to hold the damage and peel for you. Leoric, Arthas, Johanna and Muradin will do the trick.
Other roles and hero picks, except Warriors and Support, are not so important to Jaina, but there are some nice heroes that suits well with the general style of play of Archmage.
In general, it is fine to play with any Assassin hero. However, there are some specific heroes which are extremely good, so they will be more preferable to have. I’m talking about Zeratul, Kerrigan and Valla, and in some cases Kael’thas. Double mage setup is specific one, so I’ll talk about it later.
Zeratul is good to have in a team, because he is very mobile and is always able to assist you with your target. Together with Jaina, Zera will bring extreme amounts of burst damage and will be able to kill enemy heroes in split-second. Also, he has best zoning and initiating Heroic in the game, which can help you isolate target from the team, or disable enemy Support for the duration of the burst.
Kerrigan is good addition to Jaina, because she will shift focus from Jaina on herself. Also, she provides tons of disruption, disables, and damage. Together with Jaina, she will be able to obliterate enemy team, just like in those YouTube movies.
Valla is good, because she is Valla. I mean she is most flexible hero in the game. Valla can always adapt to different style of play, and provide whatever you need. If you need additional burst damage, she will be able to provide additional burst damage with damage numbers on par with Zeratul. Also, she is mobile, able to follow you around, has very good self-sustain, amazing Heroics, and is Demon Hunter)
Now, lets talk about Kael’thas. It is better not to have double mage setup, because both of this heroes have same weakness - they are team and position dependent, have no self-sustain or save abilities. When you already have one hero like that, it is better to have other Assassin or Specialist hero with different kit, and set of weak and strong spots. You can try playing double mage setup. There is nothing wrong with it! It is just that you will have to put much more effort in your positioning and the game focus, than with other setups like Jaina\Zeratul or Jaina\Raynor. Oh, and your teammates will also have their stress doubled.
The heroes i didn’t mention at the start, and which can work wonders with Jaina, are diving melee Assassins: Illidan, Thrall and Butcher. Reason for that is their skill cap. They can do wonders, as they will be getting all the focus from the enemy team, while creating space for Jaina and doing tons of damage. But playing with them is relatively hard, and requires good communication, teamplay and experience.
There are few god-like teammates for Jaina. First of all it is Abathur with “Ultimate Evolution” Heroic. This guy will bring burst damage potential of your team to the skies. One Jaina is good, but two Jainas are able to delete enemy Warrior from the game, in the blink of an eye.
Next one is Murky with “Octo-grab”. This Murloc will be not only annoying as hell and create a lot of space for you, and will assist damage wise, but will also provide 3 seconds of stun that is only dispel-able by “Cleanse”. But how can you “Cleanse” the “Octo-grab” if you are the target of it? By the way, “Octo-grab” lasts for its full duration, even if you kill Murky before it is finished.
Good Sylvanas players will be very effective in duo with Jaina, as they will be able to hit either whole enemy team with Silence, or the enemy Support. This will let you kill your target without any/major resistance. Lastly, Sylvanas can provide nice damage amplification that will further increase Jaina bursting potential. Oh, and the wave clear these two have is amazing!
Speaking about the damage amplification: there was no space in other roles, so I’ll provide accommodation for Tyrande in Specialist role. She is also very good with Jaina. She provides nice lockdown and damage amplify. At the same time, she has good scouting, burst damage and offers nice heal.
Heroes you would like to take when you play against Jaina
Basically, these will be the same faces you’ve seen in previous part of the guide. There are few reasons for that. Firstly, heroes that are good with Jaina, at killing other heroes, are also good at killing Jaina. Secondly, Heroes of the Storm is a young MOBA and there not so many heroes in the game, and the amount of strong and playable heroes is even less.
Snatching that Uther from the enemy team, will be a good choice. Usual play style for Jaina is aggressive one, but with Uther she is able to play super aggressive and not be punished at all. So, taking away that possibility would be a good tactical move. If Uther is taken by the enemy team, you would like to have either Rehgar or Kharazim. They will provide burst healing, and will be able to keep teammates alive under Jaina’s assault. The setups with Malf and Li Li can work, but they require more communication and teamwork, are harder to play, and mostlikely won't work in Hero League environment.
As you can see we have a new sub-division here. Playing melee Assassin versus Jaina is very hard. Almost any mistake will result in death. I really advise you not to play those guys versus her, unless you are really good with them. If you are, than do it! She will be a food for you. But why am i telling you this? If you are good with melee Assassins, you already know this!
Just name heroes from previous part of the guide, and you will be right about Assassins that are good against Jaina. While providing excellent burst damage herself, Jaina is squishy Assassin. So heroes like Zeratul, Valla and Kael’thas will extremely good versus her. There are also less popular and harder to play heroes like Nova and Falstad. They can be good versus Jaina, but their effectiveness will highly depend on players skill and teamwork. And yes, Zera is ranged Assassin!
Situation here is the same as it is with Assassins. All the Assassins that are good with Jaina are also good versus her. So, you can either snatch Leoric and Johanna from her team, or pick hero that will be good at peeling for your damage dealers.
Short story long, the situation is same as it is with previous categories. Just imagine Murky keeping Jaina disabled for 3 seconds, or Zeratul with Abathur’s Hat, one-shooting Jaina and so on.
This is the end of the first part of the guide. This part was about Standard burst down build for Jaina. The part also featured hero overview with description of abilities and weak/strong spots of the hero. The build was described from the perspective of talent choices, strong and weak spots of the hero, and alternative talent choices. Also, build description contained tips on how to play with and against Jaina, as well as heroes that are considered to be good teammates and good foes of the Archmage.
Next two parts, about Frostbolt and Blizzard builds, will arrive soon.
Part 2, about Frostbolt build: http://www.keengamer.com/article/12071_in-depth-jaina-guide-frostbolt-build
Part 3, about Blizzard build: http://www.keengamer.com/article/12075_in-depth-jaina-guide-blizzard-build