Abilities and Talents overview
General Pros and Cons
Hero role and aim in fight
Standard Burst-down Build
Build Pros and Cons
General style of play and Tips for the Build
Situational Talent choices
Tips on how to play against Sylvanas and the Build
Heroes that work well with and against Sylvanas
Meta – conditions of the game in which some heroes are more popular than the others due to the nature of the game environment. For example, Meta game in professional games and Hero League will be different. In first case people have voice communication and spend a lot of time in the game, so they can play various heroes on extreme level and do organized moves as a team. At the same time, Hero League is an environment of players of different skill and understanding of the game, so heroes that are easier to play and provide effective results will be more valued there.
AOE – Area of Effect.
to Poke – to deal some amount of damage to the enemy while staying at the safe distance.
Wombo-Combo – a setup of spells or Heroics that brings overwhelming results, like bringing every enemy team member down almost simultaneously. Usually, it involves spells with tricky mechanics.
to Burst down – to use high damaging spells and abilities in quick succession.
DPS – damage per second.
Divy hero – mobile hero that is able jump in and out of the fight, while bringing in moderate damage numbers.
DOT – damage over time.
Stutter-stepping – movement technique that utilizes cooldown between the auto-attacks to move a bit towards the targets. As a result, a player is able to dish out more right-click damage.
to Peel – to use disruptive abilities, as well as body-blocks, to protect your allies. Usually, it is done by Warriors.
Once upon a time, there was High Elf ranger Sylvanas Windrunner. She lived in peace and harmony, until Arthas, the villain, destroyed her city, turned her undead and she was teleported to the Nexus. Oh, wait! I heard there was cool game named Warcraft III. It had one of the most amazing story spins. And history of Sylvanas is not that simple and blunt. So, if you care, please discover her full storyline by the link(s) below. You won’t be disappointed. Ideally, i want you to finish Warcraft III campaign, and also its add-on, The Frozen Throne. But then, who will read my guide?
In-depth lore description:http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Sylvanas_Windrunner
One hour and a half lore description from World of Warcraft history god himself, Nobbel87:
Few patches ago, back in March 2015, Sylvanas was one of the top picked heroes, both in Hero League and in competitive Hots. There were several reasons for that. First of all, she suited the Meta game of that time very well. Second, she was very strong at many things. She was good at bursting down heroes, and at the same time she was good at pushing and wave-clearing. Plus, at that time Meta was burst-down oriented. So, heroes that were able to bring burst damage were contested.
Nowadays, Sylvanas is decent hero capable of doing all that she was doing before, but is less popular. There was a patch that changed her a bit: her burst down damage was lowered. Also, the Meta game changed. So, now we don’t see her every game as it was back then. Don’t get me wrong! She is not underpowered. The Banshee Queen is very strong hero, capable of winning games single-handedly. She was just tuned down from a state of being imbalanced, to a state of being balanced and decent.
Abilities and Talents overview
Sylvanas is very interesting hero, not only in terms of lore, but also in terms of gameplay. Her role is classified as Specialist, by the developers. However, professional gamers refer to her as an Assassin with Specialist capabilities. The reason for that is she is able to provide enormous amounts of Hero damage, while at the same time she is very effective at what Specialist hero does. Also, the nature of the damage is such that it is good at both, drained out fights and quick fights that require burst down damage.
Let’s take closer look at her kit, so we can better understand the reasoning behind all that bla-bla i wrote above. Sylvanas has 3 active basic abilities, active Heroic and passive Trait.
This ability fires a projectile at nearby enemy, preferring Heroes. Ability has 5 charges and costs no Mana. The cooldown is 2 seconds for the charge, but you can fire all 5 at once. Each charge deals 28(+3 per level) damage. Sylvanas gains one charge if nearby enemy minion dies, and 3 charges if nearby enemy Hero dies. The range of the ability equals to your auto-attack range.
This ability will be a source of both, your Hero damage and your Siege damage. With this ability you will have easy time pushing structures, clearing minion waves and bursting down enemy heroes. Tip: if you wish to fire all 5 charges, you don’t need to press “Q” 5 times. Just press it and hold it, until all the charges are fired.
Second basic ability, has 10 seconds cooldown and costs 75 Mana. Shadow Dagger has interesting mechanic. It is a single target spell, not a skillshot. Once it hits enemy, it spreads on nearby enemies doing initial damage and DOT damage. The original target of the spell also receives initial damage and DOT damage. The initial damage is small, 13,5 (+3,5 per level), while dot damage is a bit bigger, 54 (+14 per level). The DOT effect lasts for 2 seconds. Shadow Dagger is good poking spell, but the most efficient use it has is during the laning phase. With its help you are able to disable enemy creep wave for 3 seconds, as this spell applies Sylvanas’ Trait. This spell will be part of your pushing power. Combined with “Q”, it will provide very strong wave clear.
The ability has 11 seconds cooldown and costs 75 Mana. The spell is AOE in form of stretched cone and deals 43 (+11 per level) damage. “Haunting Wave” sends forth a wave of banshees on which you can teleport, while the wave is flying. The teleportation process looks like your hero being moved to the location. During this process the hero gains “Unstoppable” effect. This ability will be your escape tool, in case of dire situations, part of your burst damage, in fights, or additional wave clear power, during laning phase or when you need to de-push the lane. The ability has a mechanic that needs to be learnt and usual way of using it, as an escape tool, is to send banshees in one direction while running in the opposite.
Sylvanas’ Trait is passive ability that works on the minions, mercenaries and structures. The Trait effect is applied to her basic attacks and abilities, and stuns structures and minions for 1 second of time. The Black Arrows is one of the main reasons Banshee Queen is as strong as Specialist. The Trait not only allows her to push lanes with ease, or take Siege Camp on her own, but also is very strong tool when pushing with objectives, as it “switches off” enemy buildings and they don’t damage the objective.
As i always do, I’ll describe the Heroics and their use directly in the Talent Choices overview.
General Pros and Cons
Let’s see what strong and weak spots Banshee Queen has, based on the information we got from the abilities overview. What do we see? Sylvanas has very powerful Trait. It allows her to excel at lane pushing, wave clearing and objective pushing. Her ability kit can be used to burst target down or for wave clear. She has decent poking damage and escape ability that grants “Unstoppable” frames.
Her weak spots will be positioning and survivability. Banshee Queen is designed in a way that she has no self-sustain. Also, she is very position dependent. The “Haunting Wave” spell provides a way to escape, but is only effective when you can anticipate its use. Otherwise, it won’t do much. The spell is not instant and the travel speed of the projectile is not very fast.
Hero role and aim in fight
Banshee Queen is labeled as Specialist. However, in the professional scene she is considered an Assassin Hero with excellent Specialist capabilities. This leads to her, fulfilling both roles in the game. In fights you want to assist your mates with the damage, be it burst damage or poking. At the same time, you have a task to land very good Heroic, which can be a fight changing weapon. Lastly, you have decent kit for dueling. These were Assassin capabilities. Now, let’s talk about Specialist capabilities. As a Specialist, Sylvanas player wants to capture mercs before the objectives, clear the lanes and put additional pressure with lane minions, also before the objectives. It is also very important to push with your team and especially with the objective. Sylvanas is one of the best heroes at pushing with map objective, as she saves the health of it by stunning the enemy towers and forts\keeps. As a result, objective survives longer and deals more damage. This can snowball the game, as you will have a greater level lead.
Standard Burst-down Build
This is the default build you can see in high level Hero League games or in tournaments, when Sylvanas is picked. This build is good for many things. It has awesome wave clear. It has very strong burst down potential. You are able to blow away targets, with the same HP as yours, in just few seconds. At the same time, just like with any Sylvanas build, you bring insane utility with your Silence and pushing power.
Here are few examples of this build being played on the pro scene:
The final of HOT6 Superleague between Team DK and MVP.Black,
game 2 (0:30:17), game 4 (1:38:07) and game 6 (2:52:46) :
The Final of HTC Heroes Brawl between Tempo Storm and Cloud 9, game 1 (0:11:00) and game 3 (1:15:10) :
Talent choices of this build will provide insane wave clear, additional burst down damage and mobility. As it is with each Hero in Heroes of the Storm, there is variety in talent choices, so situational and alternative talent choices will be described after the build overview. The main idea of this build is to provide laning control, burst-down damage and utility. The control of the lanes will come in form of extremely fast wave-clear, the “Unstable Poison” talent. The additional burst damage will come from “Envenom” and “Blood for Blood” talents. Lastly, the utility will come from the Silencing effect the ultimate brings. Also, Sylvanas will have additional mobility with “Evasive Fire” talent. She has very good right-click fire rate, 1.67. So, additional mobility will also result in additional auto-attack DPS.
The talent will increase damage from “Withering Fire” by 200% to Minions and Mercenaries. Note: 200% means x3. So, if description of the spell states that the charge does 50 points of damage, it will do 150 points of damage to the Minion or Mercenary. This upgrade increases your wave clear potential, but most importantly it allows you to capture Siege Camp faster. Sylvanas can capture Siege camp on her own. But, it takes some time. With this upgrade in action, the process is faster. Lastly, this talent will help you to pop enemy minions like a balloons with level 7 talent, “Unstable Poison”.
Nerfed, but still viable talent. It will be good at bursting down targets, as it provides 210 (+30 per level) damage over 10 seconds of time. “Envenom” is activatable talent that has 60 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. This talent will be power spike in Sylvanas’ burst-down potential. “Envenom” has range that is a bit shorter than the range of your auto-attacks or “Withering Fire”. You want to be closer towards the enemy to use it. Also, talent will be very useful versus invisible enemy heroes. They won’t be able to retain invisibility until poison wears off. And that is 10 seconds of time. If I’m not mistaken, you can’t dispel “Envenom” other than using “Divine Shield” on the poisoned target. But, who wastes such powerful Heroic to dispel poisoning effect, right?
This talent will be god-like when it comes to wave-clearing or pushing. In few seconds of time, you will be able to destroy any enemy creep wave. Any Minion or Mercenary that will die under the effect of Black Arrows(Trait) explodes, dealing 84 (+9 per level) damage. This talent will be also good when you will push the enemy with some map objective. The quick kill on enemy creep waves will lessen the amount of damage objectives takes. That will allow it to deal more damage, to enemy structures, before it will be destroyed. Of course, I’m talking about the map objectives like “Dragon Knight” or “WebWeavers”.
Right now, unlike many other Heroes, Sylvanas doesn’t possess a viable second Heroic. Your choice will always be “Wailing Arrow”. Unless you are playing the A.I. match). “Wailing Arrow” has mechanic similar to “Haunting Wave”. You fire an AOE spell that flies towards pointed location and can be activated manually to deal AOE damage and apply Silence effect. If not activated, the Heroic will detonate when it reaches max range. The Heroic deal 158 (+18 per level) damage and applies Silence effect for 2.5 seconds. This ultimate is very powerful spell. It can be used to burst down single enemy or disable key enemy Hero. It can be used in some wombo-combo setups. Lastly, “Wailing Arrow” can be used to break enemy initiation and force counter-initiation of your team. Ideally, you want to hit as many targets as you can. But, it is best to use it accordingly to your teammates actions and general situation.
For general knowledge, i will also describe second Heroic, the Possession. This ultimate costs 20 Mana. It has 7 charges, and each charge has 12 seconds of cooldown time. What this ultimate does? It converts enemy lane minion into allied one. Each Possession consumes 1 charge and increases unit attack rate by 20%. With this ulty you are able to steal away whole enemy creep wave. For that, you will spend 140 Mana and 7 charges. The stolen minions will be your allies until they die. They will also have some violet effect around them. While this Heroic seems to be good at pushing, it completely kills your team-fighting potential and utility. Sylvanas has plenty of Specialist tools already, so there is no real reason to kill one of your biggest strengths for a bit of additional pushing power.
Each use of “Withering Fire” will grant you the 10% movement speed increase for 2 seconds. The buff stacks up to 30% movement speed gain. “Evasive Fire” will boost Sylvanas’ mobility a lot. With its help she will be able to dodge many skillshots and be very good at chasing down heroes. Also, repositioning on the battlefield will be an easy task. The 30% buff is huge. The mounts give 40% boost. You will be able to maintain the speed buff not only by hitting enemy Heroes, but also by hitting any object in the game. Minions. Structures and Mercenaries.
Blood for Blood
Activatable talent. Has 60 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. Steals 10% of targeted enemy Hero max HP and heals for twice the amount. This talent will be boost to both, Sylvanas survivability and burst-down potential. With its help it will be easier bringing down beefy targets, or staying alive in duels. Also, the talent will lessen the load on ally Support. “Blood for Blood” has range that almost equals ranged auto-attack. Something around 5.0 or 5.25. If you will be attacking Hero at max range of your right-click attack, you will notice that Sylvanas will take a step forward when ordered to use BFB. Lastly, i want to tell that this talent is best used on Warriors, when there is a need in self-heal. Usually, enemy Warrior has double the max HP of Sylvanas. So, healing numbers will be huge.
Bolt of the Storm
If you read my guides, you know that I am a big fan of this talent. There are many reasons for that, but i will describe them after the talent overview. So. “Bolt” is 3rd activatable talent in this build. It has 70 seconds cooldown and costs no Mana. The talents that cost Mana are almost non-existent. Probably, i should stop writing that talents cost no Mana. Whatever. What this talent does? It instantly teleports a Hero to a selected location, within the range of the talent. So, “Bolt of the Storm” is an escape tool. But, at the same time, it can be used offensively. You can blink out of the danger, or blink in to force a fight and do cool initiation move. Also, as the spell is instant, it allows dodging enemy projectiles, skillshots and even Heroic(s). First one that comes to mind is Tyrael’s Judgment. You just blink out when he is mid-flight. The result will be him wasting his Heroic and having it on cooldown, and you chilling nearby and not being stunned or damaged. For Sylvanas, this talent is nice save ability. You might think that “Haunting Wave” is enough. But, no! In mass fight(s), you can melt down in 1 second of time. So, you won’t have time to reposition yourself properly with “Haunting Wave”. Unless, you cast it prematurely. But, you won’t have that possibility all the time. Other valuable argument, to take this talent, is many enemy Assassins will get it. If you won’t have it, then enemy will have positional advantage over you. Also, he will be able to use it as an escape tool, and you can lose him while chasing down. So, "Bolt of the Storm" for everyone!
Build Pros and Cons
As I’m describing the features of the build, i have to mention that utility and pushing power Sylvanas has, comes from her basic kit. That means i won’t mention them in the overview of the weak and strong spots of the build, as they are not a part of the build. They are part of Sylvanas kit. They are presented in any of her builds.
Extremely fast wave clear
This build has two talents, “Barbed Shot” and “Unstable Poison”, that make killing creep waves a child play. Sylvanas in general is good at de-pushing. But with the “Unstable Poison” talent in play, she is able to blow away enemy creep wave, of any size, in just few seconds. Such feature impacts game stronger than it might seem at first glance. During the laning phase, you are able to clear the wave faster than your opponent. If it happens right before the map objective spawns, you will have some number and time advantage over your enemy. Later in the game, you will be able to clear waves of any size if few seconds. This will save your time, which you can use on other objectives and moves with a team.
Huge Burst damage
Basic kit of the Banshee Queen already provides decent burst-down damage. This build adds “Envenom” and “Blood for Blood” talents to the mix. As a result, you are able to single-handedly pop up enemy Assassins. While doing so, the timing of your Silence will be crucial. Apart from killing the target on her own, Sylvanas will be good at focusing down the target or disabling the key enemy hero for the duration of the burst.
Additional mobility this build offers comes in form of “Evasive Fire” talent and “Bolt of the Storm”. The 30% buff to movement speed is a lot. With its help you are able to do many things. It allows chasing down heroes and dodging some of the enemy skillshots. It is much easier to reposition yourself on the battlefield and assist your allies. Lastly, you right-click damage output will be higher, as you are able to do “stutter-stepping”.
Positional dependency and Absence of decent escape ability until 20
This topic is crucial for many Assassins and Specialists and it is also crucial for Sylvanas. She is very fragile hero. She has no self-sustain. The “Haunting Wave” plays the role of escape ability. However, in the situations when you are not aware of the danger ahead, and you need to reposition yourself immediately, it won’t be effective. The Wave has specific mechanic. It takes some time for the spell to fly towards a point. So, it won’t be able to reposition you immediately. And that leads to my next point. The Banshee Queen doesn’t have decent escape until level 20. All this puts additional pressure on your positioning. If found in a bad spot, Sylvanas will meltdown in few seconds of time, and won’t have enough time to escape using “Haunting Wave”. Sometimes, you able to teleport on the wave, but the distance it traveled won’t be enough to escape.
Relatively high skill cap
This topic emerges from the previous one. Due to high positional dependency, Sylvanas may be a relatively hard to play hero. How hard it will be to play her? Mostly, it will depend on two things. Your positioning. Your understanding of the gameplay. When playing as Sylvanas it is very important to anticipate the flow of the fight and make decisions that will be beneficial in the future. I mean not only the positioning. It is also very important to understand when it is best to use your ultimate. The Silence Heroic is half of Sylvanas’ utility.
General style of play and Tips for the Build
Of course, there is a style of play for the Hero. But it will be highly influenced by many things. The things like enemy hero composition. The things like map, and so on. So. The topic is very relevant. This means i can’t describe the ideal pattern. There is no ideal pattern. There will be different situations in the game that will require different decision making. And right decision making you’ve made in one game, may turn to be wrong decision making in the other. But i have to explain the basics somehow, right? So. I’ll explain some reactionary patterns in some scenarios. This way you will be able to build your own understanding of the style of play for Sylvanas. It will let you make right decision making in different situations, which are not described in the guide, but may occur.
The Laning phase. Here you want to dominate the lane and be aggressive. Most heroes will lose a lane to Sylvanas if it is solo lane. Beware of Zagara though. You can’t win a lane versus her. So, it is best to play reactionary and just clear the waves near your towers, and don’t take Hydralisk damage. In general, you want to create a lane pressure, so enemy has to play reactionary. This is especially important right before the map objective will spawn. With you pushing power, you are able to clear the enemy creep wave fast and force enemy into the decision. He will have to decide between rotating to objective and clearing the wave. Both decisions will result in slight advantage to your team. In first scenario small amount of XP will be lost, and your team will go forward in XP, or will catch up a bit. The second scenario will lead to a number and a positional advantage for some period of time.
However, while pushing the lane, don't overextend with your positioning, as Sylvanas is very susceptible to rotations. You don't want to be near the enemy gates, unless you are aware of the enemy location.
The Fights. In fights, Sylvanas gameplay will look like a dance between the back-line and front\middle-line. Ideally, you always want to be behind someone and take zero poking or AOE damage. You want to go in do the damage and go out. The amount of the damage you can do and the amount of the time you can stay, will depend on the type of the fight. There can be fights based on poking, or there can be quick fights with hard engage. The right time to go in is when your allies are doing some moves which require follow ups. Mostly, these will be Warriors or Melee Assassins engaging the enemy team. The form of engage will vary. It can be ultimate. It can be usual ability with stun or the slow effect. Your job will be to damage the enemy hero that is engaged on. But. You need to stay in relatively safe position, as the Banshee Queen is very fragile hero and will melt down very fast. Huge part of your utility and the fight outcome will depend on the use of “Wailing Arrow” Heroic. This spell is the key for winning a fight. Understanding when it’s best time to use this Heroic will require very good game anticipation, as well as game experience.
Proper “Wailing Arrow” use. In general, there are 3 “right” scenarios to use the Heroic effectively. You want to engage, disengage or burst down the target with this ultimate. In the engage scenario, your team is diving in, or initiating a fight, on enemy hero(es). They are in reach of their abilities towards the enemy. It is anticipated that in next 1-2 seconds of time it will be best to follow them up will your kit. In this scenario, it will be best to use “Wailing Arrow” either for target(s), to secure their death, provide additional burst damage, and prevent them from using any abilities that might save them. Or for the enemy Support and hero(es) that can provide good disengage for the enemy team. This way, you will prevent such heroes from assisting their allies and saving them.
Second scenario. Using the Heroic to disengage. You see that fight won’t go your way, and you see that your team is starting to retreat. Now comes tricky part. If you read the situation in a wrong way, or will panic, the ultimate will be wasted. You need to use Wailing Arrow to disengage only when there is no other way around. I mean. Your allies won’t survive otherwise.
Third scenario. Bursting down the target. Be it a duel situation, when you caught some enemy Assassin, which you can kill single-handedly, or you are assisting you allies in killing isolated enemy hero, you can use the Heroic to secure the kill. But. I’m talking about the situation when the Heroic plays key part in the result. Rarely, you need to waste your ultimate to just add additional damage to the target that will be killed eventually.
If it is a duel, the “right” use of the ulty will be to deny enemy from using their escape ability and finish them off in the next 2-3 seconds of time, or to deny the timing of powerful ability that can turn the tides of the duel. Same logic applies in case of teamfights. If Heroic just provides additional damage on target that will be dead in next 2-3 seconds of time, and there is no way it can be saved by the teammates, then it will be a waste. However. If the target has escape abilities. If the target is able to survive, or escape. If the target is in the 2-3 seconds of reach of the allies that can save it, the use of the Heroic will be the right decision. You will prevent enemy from escaping, or surviving, until allies can assist him.
As you can see, the “Wailing Arrow” topic is very relative and tricky. These were some general patterns i explained. There is more stuff that needs to be learned. About the “Wailing Arrow”. But. It will be very inefficient to write about it. This stuff will become understandable after the reader will acquire some experience and game knowledge that comes after playing as Sylvanas.
If you need to fire all charges of the ability as fast as you can, there is no need in bashing the “Q” key many times! All you have to do is hold it down. This way, Banshee Queen will fire all the charges automatically. One by one. At the maximum follow up speed possible. Targeting nearest hero.
However. If the fights are prolonged and you took “Remorseless” talent, you want to fire charges manually. This way, you will get the max efficiency out of the talent. Each right-click attack will deal additional 25% damage. Of course. The matter of balance, between quickly releasing all charges for the additional burst damage, and firing them according to your auto-attack rate, will come with experience of playing Sylvanas.
Unexpected Silence is very powerful tool. It can turn the tides of the battle. Most likely, it will. One of the ways to use your Heroic so it won’t be seen by the enemies is to flank them. Ideally, you want to throw the ulty through the impassable terrain. Usually, enemy doesn’t have vision there. This way, your ulty will be very unexpected. Also, it is much easier to hit many players that way. When they are unaware of your positioning, or don’t see the projectile of the Heroic.
Since the nerf of this talent, you want to use it at the beginning of the burst or in the middle. The talent lasts for 10 seconds and damage comes in small portions. So, it is best to use it as soon as you can. This way, your target will less likely have a time to be saved by the ally, or reach the fountain.
“Blood for Blood”
On the contrary to the “Envenom” talent, it is best to use this one as a finishing blow. This talent does its damage and healing instantly. Of course, this rule applies to most of the offensive uses. If you are using BFB for healing purposes, it’s best to choose the enemy with most max HP. Usually, it is an enemy Warrior hero. Ideal candidate would be Muradin with his Avatar activated. On level 16 the talent will give you about 1300 HP, for such target. For example, the health pool of Sylvanas equals to 2600 HP, on the same level.
The “Evasive Fire” is very strong talent. However, to maximize its efficiency you need to learn how to “stutter-step” and to make room for your allies, or even body-block the target, when you are on the chase with your team. “Stutter-stepping” is a movement technique, which utilizes the cooldown between the auto-attacks. Each hero has its own attacking speed and the cooldown between the attacks. While auto-attacking, between the cooldowns Hero stands in one place. This time is used to move a bit towards to the target you are attacking. It is very important to move only a bit, as you don’t want to waste a time on a moving when you have your auto-attack off the cooldown. Ultimately, this pattern of actions will allow you to dish out more right-click damage. Usually, it makes a difference. Allowing you to score a kill or bring the target to low HP faster. You can check the auto-attack speed and the cooldown time of any hero by pressing C(by default), which is character sheet panel. Lastly, Sylvanas has very fast auto-attack speed, 1.67, and very low cooldown between the attacks. So, if you are a newcomer, it will be easier to practice “stutter-stepping” using heroes that have slower attack speed and larger cooldown gap.
Here we are. Discussing the use of the tricky escape ability. The ability is tricky indeed, and can be so for both Sylvanas and her enemies. The ability has very long range, and you want to teleport on the end of the wave to travel the maximum distance. This is considered to be effective use, and to do so you need to anticipate the flow of the game. It takes time for the projectile to fly to the maximum distance. So. What you want to do is cast the ability prematurely. This way you will guarantee the escape. Constant anticipation of the game flow requires very good map control. Efficient use of “Haunting Wave” will be based on a good map control. If you will use the ability right before you are being ganked, it won’t make much difference, as the teleport will be disrupted or you won’t travel enough to escape.
You want to run in the opposite direction of the wave’s path. And. You don’t want to leave much traveling space between your escape point and the teleport point. During the movement to the escape point you are as susceptible to killing as you where before using the escape ability. So, it’s best to make your teleport point to be your escape point.
Lastly, i want to mention that "Haunting Wave" grants the Unstoppable effect. It lasts for the duration of the teleport, which is not instant. It takes time to teleport to a point of the wave, and the longer the travel distance is the longer teleport time will be. During all this time, while she is teleporting from her location to the point of the wave where player used the ability for the second time, Sylvanas will have Unstoppable effect. This will allow her to negate any disabling effects.
Situational Talent choices
Please note: the talent choices pattern shown above is a collective image of situational talent choices. It's NOT a talent build you should follow.
If you feel that you won’t require additional wave-clearing power, this talent tier offers two choices. First choice, “Lost Soul”, will reduce the cooldown of “Shadow Dagger” ability by 2 seconds. This talent will be good if you are planning to take “Cold Embrace” talent on level 16, and you anticipating to use "W" ability a lot in the fights. Also, talent will increase your poking potential and damage in prolonged fights.
Second choice, “With the Wind”, will increase the range of “Withering Fire” by 25%. After picking up this talent your “Wither Fire” range will exceed the range of auto-attacks. This talent will be very useful in poking wars. It will allow you to poke enemy heroes from a safe distance. Combined with “Evasive Fire” on level 13, the talent will make chasing enemy heroes much easier task. Basically, the need in this talent exists when your team doesn’t have any engage and enemy setup has 3-4 ranged heroes, or you anticipate to play a poking game.
For the Burst down build, there will be no situational talent choices on level 4. Other talent choices presented on this tier won’t provide additional burst damage, or the damage will be lower than the damage from the “Envenom” talent.
This talent tier will be one of the most versatile. Here you have 3 different choices. Keep in mind that for choosing one of the following talents you will give up awesome wave-clear potential that “Unstable Poison” brings.
“Life Drain” talent will add healing effect to “Shadow Dagger” spell. The spell will now heal for (13.5 + 3.5 per level) each time the dagger spreads to a new enemy. This talent will provide a form of self-sustain for the Banshee Queen. If you hit 5 targets with it, it will heal for 10% of your health. Hitting more targets will result in more heal. Standard minion wave has 7 units. The talent is very good for the Infernal Shrines map, as you will be able to heal tons of health with it. The shrine spawns 10 creatures per turn, plus there are always some enemy heroes. Lastly, this talent will be very effective at poking wars and will reduce the load on ally Support.
“Remorseless” talent will be Sylvanas’ version of common “Follow Through” talent. “Remorseless” will increase the damage of next basic attack by 25%, for 3 seconds after using the ability. This talent will be huge buff to right-click DPS and burst down potential, as Banshee Queen has very fast a-a speed, 1.67, and has lots of abilities. Each charge of “Wither Fire” will count as separate ability.
Lastly, “Shade Form” talent will grant 3 seconds of stealth upon using the Haunting Wave. The stealth won’t be broken after teleport activation. This upgrade is a good boost to survivability. With its help you will be able to dodge some targeted initiation spells like Tyrael’s “Judgment”, or change the focus of enemy pets like Jaina’s “Water Elemental”.
Sadly, as of now, there is only one available Heroic for Sylvanas. Devs has been working on buffing the “Possession”, but it is still not viable ulty. The Silence “Wailing Arrow” brings is so damn strong that sometimes it is the major reasons Sylvanas is picked.
This talent tier can exchange chase down potential of “Evasive Fire” for additional damage in form of the “Splinter Shot” talent, or additional survivability in form of the “Spell Shield” talent. “Splinter Shot” is an upgrade for “Withering Fire” ability. Now, the ability will fire additional projectile that will do 75% damage, ( 21 + 2.25 per level ), of the damage of the original projectile. This upgrade is very good at putting additional pressure, and providing additional poking power, on the enemy line-up. If you like the talent, depending on the need, you can further increase its effectiveness with “With the Wind” or “Barbed Shot” talents on level 1. Combined with the "Barbed Shot" talent, "Splinter Shot" will be very effective at soloing camps on Diablo themed maps, where every camp consists of 3 mercenaries.
The “Spell Shield”. It is a very strong survivability talent. The talent will provide shield that absorbs half of the spell damage. The shield lasts for 3 seconds and is triggered by enemy spells. The shield appears every 30 seconds. The talent is very effective against enemy spell casters and burst down oriented line-ups. Depending on the ally setup, I usually take it against some strong burst damage heroes like Kael, Jaina or Nova.
If you feel that you won’t need additional sustain and want more team oriented burst down option there is “Cold Embrace” talent. After learning this talent, “Shadow Dagger” will apply Vulnerable effect to the enemies. The effect will increase damage taken from any source by 25%. The effect lasts for 2 seconds. The talent will reduce the range of “Shadow Dagger” ability by 25%. “Cold Embrace” is very powerful talent for burst oriented gameplay. It will require more teamplay, but is more rewarding. Also, it has some kind of AOE effect, as the poison from the dagger spreads to nearby targets allowing you to apply Vulnerable effect to multiple targets. This talent will be a huge buff to DPS output of your team.
Generally speaking, you don’t want to pick other talents than “Bolt of the Storm”. The reasons why Bolt is so good for Sylvanas I already described earlier, in Talent Choices section. Here I will describe other talents that are presented at level 20. So. Apart from Bolt, there are also 2 Heroic upgrades and “Fury of the Storm” talent. Let’s start with “Fury of the Storm”. The talent is augmentation of right-click DPS, but is designed to be effective against minions. Every 5 seconds, your basic attack will deal 200 additional damage to the target and 500 additional damage to minions, mercenaries around the target.
“Deafening Blast” is an upgrade for “Wailing Arrow” Heroic. The upgrade will increase damage of the ultimate by 50% and the Silence effect duration by 2.5 seconds, to enemies that are hit by the center of the explosion.
Lastly, “Dark Lady’s Call” is an upgrade for “Possession” Heroic. The upgrade will boost ultimate’s efficiency. The number of charges will be increased by 3. The recharge time will be downed by 4 seconds, and 5 charges can be used to convert enemy mercenaries. The upgrade won’t work on Bosses.
Out of all options described above, the only viable one is the upgrade to “Wailing Arrow”. The efficient use of it requires additional skill. Also, the value of the positioning will be higher, as you won’t have that safe button in form of Bolt. This choice is kind of “high risk, high reward” play. It can be a choice without great risk when your team has 2-3 levels advantage.
Tips on how to play against Sylvanas and the Build
When playing versus Sylvanas you want to use her weak spots and have the answers for her strong plays. As every Assassin\Specialist, she doesn’t have huge HP. Also, her self-sustain is non-existent and escape ability is tricky to use. This leads to the most effective way of dealing with her – lock her down with stuns or roots, at the same time provide enough damage to kill her. Usually, one hero with stun and one hero with solid DPS is enough. The damage can be magical burst down, like Kael’thas, right-clicks, like Raynor, or mixed type, like Zeratul or Sonya. The main role of the hero with stun ability is to disrupt the escape with “Haunting Wave”. To do that you either land a stun towards the end of wave’s duration, the time when Sylvanas usually ports to the wave, or you can follow the wave and land a stun on the teleported hero. Once it is done, Sylvanas’ escape ability is disrupted, it will be a matter of few body-blocks, from the hero with stun(s), and few abilities\right-clicks, from the damage dealing hero, before the Banshee Queen will be killed. So, the key part of ganking\killing Sylvanas is to anticipate\disrupt the “Haunting Wave” escape.
Other ways of dealing with her are standard. I mean the mass ultimates that allow you to disrupt enemy positioning, isolate target heroes, or split enemy team apart.
This was general approach of how to play against Sylvanas. Now, let’s dive in more particular stuff, like laning and playing versus her abilities.
First, let’s talk about the abilities. Her “Q”, “Withering Fire”, is basically free ability that cost no Mana and provides solid poking/burst damage. The fact that it is free leads you to such approach. You don’t want to take free damage from this ability. You want to punish Sylvanas every time she tries to use it for free.
When hit by “Shadow Dagger” ability, you want to reposition yourself away from any ally units, heroes and structures. You don’t want it to spread towards units, as it will stun them, deal damage and push the lane. You also don’t want to spread on the ally Heroes or Structures for the same reason. You don’t want to increase the amount of the damage it does, by spreading, as it will put additional pressure. It is also crucial to anticipate the use of “Shadow Dagger”, as experienced players will use it when you are nearby the targets for the spread effect.
Lastly, as was described before, you want to disrupt the teleport effect of the “Haunting Wave”. The spell is rarely used for pushing\dealing damage. If it does, than Sylvanas can’t do anything against ganks\initiations. To cancel the teleport effect, just stun her in 1-2 seconds after she uses the spell.
The stuff described above is usable for both, laning and mass fights. So. Down below I’ll provide general approach to the laning. Usually, to out-push the Sylvanas in solo\triple lane is not a thing. The Heroes that can do this with ease are Gazlowe and Zagara. So, what you can do is let the lane be pushed. In a way that Sylvanas will be in right-click range of your towers. This way she is very susceptible to your team rotations. Even successful “Haunting Wave” won’t save her, as she will have a solid distance to run, before she reaches her own gates. Usually, this distance is enough to land a killing blow.
Now that basic abilities and laning phase is discussed, its Heroic time!
As it is with every major AOE Heroic, like Zeratul’s VP or Zagara’s Maw, you don’t want to be grouped up. Ever. Especially in the late game, as death in the late game fights can cost you a game. Of course, I’m talking about the situation when you and your teammates are in the reach of “Wailing Arrow”. Also, as it is with every hero that poses major threat, you want to know the positioning of such hero. This information will allow you to react and anticipate the Heroic.
As you know from General Style of Play section, there are 3 general and effective uses of the Heroic. Ideally, you want to anticipate the fight and play accordingly. You want to spread out once you see the Heroic projectile, to mitigate the effect. Ideally, you want to have your escape ability up, to be able to jump out of the AOE.
If you are playing as a Support hero, you want to be in reach of your mates to mitigate the burst, which will follow the use of the Heroic, or you want to throw your saving abilities prematurely on anticipated target of the burst, in case you are being hit by the Heroic. Of course, ideally you don’t want to be in Heroic’s AOE.
Any other class wants to play accordingly to their spells and anticipation of the fight. If you are the Warrior that is going to be bursted down, you want to use all your saving cds. If you are playing the hero with some disruptive AOE spells\ultimates you want to use them to mitigate the effect of the Silence and burst.
All the basic tips have ended. It’s time for Build particular Tips!
In general, any Sylvanas build is good at pushing\de-pushing. This build in particular, uses “Unstable Poison” talent. This talent allows to clear minion waves in just few seconds. Experienced Sylvanas players will use this feature right before the objective starts. This will put additional lane pressure. The more the game progresses, the more pressure such feature will create. It is especially important to anticipate and counter such moves in the latter stages of the game, as they can cost you a Keep or lead in the race to level 20.
I guess, it is needless to say that you don’t want to stand in the creep wave and receive free damage from the explosions. Few patches ago, people died that way, as damage from each minion stacked. No longer the case. But. You don’t want to take a Free damage.
Sylvanas is good at taking easy camps on classical maps, where Siege camp consists of two Giants. You want to anticipate and punish such moves. Especially. When the “Barbed Shot” talent is taken.
Usually, Sylvanas disappearance from the lane will signify that move, when there is really nothing to do except laning or camping. Also, it will be very common move, to solo capture Siege camp, 30-20 seconds before the objective start.
"Envenom", "Blood for Blood" and dueling
Those two talents, listed above, they have the same range as standard right-click attack does. Envenom has a bit less. But. Let’s get to the point. The point is that they are huge part of Sylvanas' burst, apart from basic abilities and Heroic. To “dodge” them, you need to stay in the range that is higher than default auto-attacking range. This will be crucial in duels, and when you are on half of your HP as squishy. In duels, it will also be important to anticipate the Heroic use. In fact, it is the key part of winning the duel versus Sylvanas. If you are able to spread the burst from “Envenom” and “Blood for Blood”, and dodge the “Wailing Arrow”, while providing your damage, you are most likely to win the duel.
Usually, killing a squishy like Sylvanas is not problematic, once you dealt with the escape ability. However, in case of this build there is an effect in a kit that is provided by the “Evasive Fire” talent. It might be underestimated by many. The increased movement speed and mobility this talent gives, allows Sylvanas to easily dodge many skillshots and makes it harder for you to land them. It will also be harder to body-block her. So. You need to keep that effect in mind. You don’t want to underestimate it. Also, you don’t want to be greedy and save a disruptive spell. It is better to secure the kill, than see Sylvanas fleeing on low HP.
Some experienced Sylvanas players may do the body-blocking of the target, when it doesn’t pose a threat, with the speed that this talent gives. You want to anticipate such scenarios and have an answer for them.
“Bolt of the Storm”
In general, you won’t see the offensive use of this talent. Sylvanas gains no benefit of using the Bolt to initiate, so most of the times it will be saved as decent escape ability. To counter play it, you need to anticipate its use or force enemy Sylvanas to use it in a way that will be beneficial to you. Also, you can try betting on the slower reaction of the player. If you will be able to lockdown Sylvanas for 1-2 seconds of time, it will be enough to bring her down.
Heroes that work well with and against Sylvanas
Sylvanas, the Banshee Queen, is very flexible hero in terms of hero compositions. She can be good at pushing setups. She can be good at poking wars and burst down setups. According to the approach of the match and anticipated hero composition you want to have the corresponding build and line-up. We can safely assume that any Sylvanas build is viable for pushing starts. So. Apart from Burst down comps, i will also provide heroes that suit well the idea of pushing your opponent.
Keep in mind that information provided below is of general design. The usefulness of each particular hero can change, depending on the many variables, like map, enemy\ally comp and so on. The heroes that are named as the best ones are usually good in almost any match.
Supports and Semi-Supports
For pushing setups, the ideal heroes would be Malf or Brightwing. Usually, such setups have Sylvanas in tri-lane. And. Heroes described above will provide excellent lane pressure and support. Malfurion will also be a source of strong zoning and Mana.
Tassadar and Tyrande will be good for both burst down and pushing comps. In pushing tri-lanes they will be able to provide additional sustain and vision. Tassy will put additional pressure on the lane, while Tyrande offers additional lockdown.
For burst down oriented line-ups, the ideal heroes would be Uther and Kharazim. They are both good against burst oriented comps, so you want to snatch them from the enemy, with Uther being best support in most situations. These heroes are good for momentum based fights and dives, as they are able to provide immediate response and are best suited for fast-paced, burst down oriented games. And. Aggressive plays.
Double T of Semi-Supports is also good for burst setups. Tassadar will provide additional vision, blocking with “Wall”, or burst with “Archon”. Lastly, he will increase the sustainability of your Melee hero. At the same time, Tyrande is best for such setups as she is able to provide everything team needs: scouting, lockdown, burst healing, burst damage, zoning\healing with invis and especially the Vulnerable effect.
Other Support heroes are mediocre, in general, unless enemy\ally setup says otherwise.
For burst down setups, as your main tank, you want heroes that are able to provide sustain, lockdown, peel and initiation. Ideal heroes for such purposes would be Muradin, Johanna or ETC. Muradin is the best tank in the current Meta. He works ideally for any setup. He provides tons of disruption, in a way of stuns, slows and auto-attack slows\stuns. Also, he is very durable and mobile. Johanna is good at what Muradin does, except she doesn’t have such mobility. Also, she is not that good versus right-click heroes. Basically, ETC is just harder to play version of Muradin. Also, ETC is god-like tank when enemies don’t have a lot of ways to disrupt “Mosh Pit”. In some specific scenarios Stitches, Chen and Diablo can work. But. They are specific. Very specific.
As an off-tank role, you want heroes that bring a lot of utility. The utility can come in various forms. For such a task, Tyrael, Anub and Sonya are the best ones. Leoric and Rexxar can also be good. But. They will require higher level of play. Speaking of which, Leoric can be insanely good in the hands of experienced player. In the current Meta, Tyrael is considered to be the best off-tank, or bruiser hero. He provides excellent lockdown, is very mobile, and brings tons of utility to the team. The utility comes in form of shields, body-blocks, speed buffs and excellent second Heroic, which can be used to counter play many popular mass ultimates and divy line-ups. Same we can say about Anub’arak, but he is trickier to play and is more specific. However, he provides excellent options and counter plays. For example, he is widely used to disrupt the Support with his “Cocoon” Heroic. Lastly, Sonya. Well. She is just good at wrecking heroes, as the amount of damage she provides, both magical and right-click, is insane. Also, she has good self-sustain, and is used to quickly kill enemy frontlines. She is used with particular build that brings in strong auto-attack damage, while providing additional sustain and mobility.
For pushing setups, the heroes described above can also work. The best ones will be Arthas and Johanna. For pushing setups you want to provide additional peel, and have additional survivability as a main Tank. Arthas is not only the best sustainable hero in the game, but also provides solid damage numbers and slows. He can also be used with “Sindragosa” Heroic, as off-tank, to trade insane survivability for insane pushing power. Other heroes described above will just have to change their approach to more peeling oriented, or more pushing momentum oriented, style.
Assassins and Specialists
Of course, Sylvanas is the best friend of many Assassins that favor the burst down style of play. It can come in many forms and shapes. You can have casters like Jaina and Kael, Nova and Valla. On the other hand, you can play with heavy dive in, momentum based heroes like Butcher, Thrall, Kerrigan and Illidan. Lastly, there can be a mixed type of heroes like Falstad or Zeratul that are able to provide both burst and field control.
As for Specialists, heroes like Abathur, Zagara and Nazeebo will be very strong for both pushing and burst down style of play. Abathur is insanely good when it comes to global pressure and map vision. On the other hand he can provide insane burst with copy of Jaina, or other caster hero. Zagara will form a deadly combo when it comes to pushing setup, while she can be very useful with proper Maw use in burst down fights. Same can be said about Nazeebo, but he is less straightforward and is more specific.
In current Meta, the best Heroes to use with Sylvanas are: Kael, Jaina, Valla, Raynor, as ranged Assassins, Kerrigan and Butcher, as melee Assassins, Abathur and Zagara as Specialists. Other heroes that are mentioned above, or not mentioned at all, can work. But. They are more specific and will depend on the map, or hero setup.
Kael and Jaina are very well suited for burst down style of play, as they get the most benefit from the Silence effect of the Heroic. The 2.5 seconds of Silence is more than enough to obliterate enemy squishy.
Valla is one of the best choices, as an ally of the Banshee Queen. She is on the most flexible heroes in the game, and even when paired with Sylvanas can be played in different ways. You can have "Multishot" build, for pushing in the tri-lane and poking gameplay. You can have "Hungering Arrow" Valla, for quick burst down oriented fights. Lastly, you can have a right-click based Valla if your setup allows you to do so.
In the current Meta, Raynor is one of the best auto-attack heroes. The pushing power his "Hyperion" brings can snowball the game very hard, especially when allied with Sylvanas' pushing power.
Melee Assassins in general are very good with Sylvanas, as their gameplay is very momentum based. But. Kerrigan and Butcher have the best synergy, as they are able to maximize the effeciency Silence brings. One of the good examples of the synergy and power Kerrigan and Sylvanas have, can be seen in the second game between Na'Vi and Dignitas, in the EU Road to Blizzcon group stage: (3 minutes and 34 seconds)
The Banshee Queen's lack of decent escape ability, and its specific mechanic, makes heroes that are able to provide either disables, which don’t allow to teleport, or burst down damage, to be very effective against her.
As it is dictated by the Meta and hero weaknesses, we will see similar heroes in this section, with more emphasis on the stuns and damage. Muradin, Johanna or ETC will be able to seal the deal. They will provide enough lockdown time and the damage to disable and kill Sylvanas before, during and after she teleports to “Haunting Wave”. Other Warrior heroes are also able to complete the task but are trickier to use. Some examples are: Arthas and Tyrael are able to provide enough disable and damage to assist in killing the Banshee Queen. Anub'arak and Diablo will be good at ganking,and body-blocking the hero. And so on. What i want to point out is how Stitches can be effective versus Sylvanas' escape. You just have to land an anticipating hook in the teleport point and that is it. Or. You can hook Sylvanas 1-2 seconds after she is casted the spell, but haven't teleported to it yet.
Assassins and Specialists
Here you want to emphasize on the burst damage or mobility. Many heroes described\not mentioned in the previous section, about heroes that are good with Sylv, can work. The best ones will be current top tier in the Meta: Jaina, Kael, Valla, Raynor, for ranged Assassins, Butch and Keri, for Melee’s, and Abby\ Murky, for Specs. Probably, i should explain why Murky is good. He provides 3 seconds disable with “Octo-Grab”. That is more than enough to destroy Sylvanas. Also, the cooldown of the Heroic is insanely low, 50 seconds. However, when playing as Murky versus Sylvanas, you don't want to be on the same lane with her. Experienced Sylvanas players will be able to completely counter your laning phase. Fast auto-attack will allow Sylvanas to easily deal with your "W". At the same time, she will have an easy time killing you with her "free" charges from "Withering Fire".
Supports and Semi-Supports
Same faces here, as they were in the Allies section. However, the emphasis should be made on not the actual Support hero you play, but more on the positioning and anticipation of the game flow. It is, of course, the best choice to go Uther\Kharazim against burst down oriented comps, and Malf\BW versus pushing\poking comps. But. More importantly is how you will play them. You want to anticipate the action pattern of the enemy and act accordingly. It is very important not to get Silenced or disabled, but at the same time to be in the spell reach of your mates. More detailed tips for Supports and their style of play against Sylvanas are provided in the section above, named “Tips on how to play against Sylvanas and the Build”, the part about how to play against Heroic.
Lastly, i should say that throwing a good “Force Wall”, to separate enemy Heroes from the target of burst, can be a fight changer. Same we can say about Tyrande’s stun. However. It is harder to land. Also. It is very, very likely that you won’t land it on all enemy heroes that are going to kill your ally.
All the stuff above was about defensive play. I think it is understandable that you should also assist your allies in the offensive plays towards the Banshee Queen. But, don't overextend with the positioning. Stuninng, or disabling ability that won’t allow to teleport on the wave\use Bolt, landed in the right time, onto Sylvanas, can be a difference, a fight changer, or even a game changer if we are to talk about the late game.
This is the end of the guide. There will probably be few more parts about less popular and specific, but still efficient, Sylvanas builds. They will arrive soon. If they will, you will find them down below, in the links description.
Lastly, what i wanted to say is this guide uses awesome cosplay of Narga. The shots were made by exceptional photographers such as Arwenphoto and JustMoolti. You can find them by the links below.
Deviant-Art profile of Narga: http://narga-lifestream.deviantart.com
Site of Arwenphoto: http://arwenphoto.com
Deviant-Art profile of JustMoolti: http://justmoolti.deviantart.com