Heroes of the Storm – popular heroes guide: Raynor

James Raynor, Renegade Commander. He is the superstar of Hero League and in the list of most picked heroes in Quick Matches. You see him almost every competitive game. Why is he so popular? What makes him so strong? Why he is picked so much? That is what we are about find out in this guide!

Raynor in his battle suitimage source:

Basic abilities
Basic kit strengths and weaknesses
Hero role
Auto-attack build
Talent choices
Build Pros and Cons


This week is going to be epic. Space Lord Leoric has finally invaded the Nexus universe! Probably, this is the best skin Blizzard has made so far. Animations, skills, textures, and voice, everything looks so striking and amazing!

However, Space Lord is not the only one who likes space suits. I know another guy in a space suit! His name is James Raynor. He is no space lord, but you meet him every in Hero League game, and he is quite a visitor in Quick Matches. Jimmy is one of the top picked ranged Assassins in the game. Let's see what makes this guy so good.


Meta – conditions of the game that make some heroes to be more popular than the others, due to a nature of game environment. For example, Meta game in professional games and casual environment is different. In the first case, people have voice communication and spend a lot of time in the game. They can play various heroes on extreme level, and do organized moves as a team. At the same time, casual environment consists of players of different skill and understanding of the game, so, heroes that are easier to play are more valued there.

AoE – Area of Effect.
– dealing small amounts of damage while maintaining safe position.
– a setup of spells or Heroics that brings overwhelming results. For example, utter destruction of enemy team. Usually, it involves spells with tricky mechanics.
Bursting down 
– using high damage spells and abilities in a quick succession.
– damage per second.
– damage over time.
– an action that uses cooldowns between auto-attacks to move a bit towards a target. As a result, a player is able to dish out more right-click damage.
– use of disruptive abilities, as well as body-blocks, to protect your allies. Usually, it is done by Warriors.
Gap closer 
– an ability that is used to shorten a distance between you and a target.
 – roaming between the lanes to kill enemy heroes.


If you played in Stracraft, was it an original game or its second installment, you know Raynor. He is a central figure of the Wings of Liberty campaign, and he has his moments in two other expansions. He is also a recognizable character in the original Starcraft game. 

While we don't know for sure is it true or not, there is a theory about heroes that have joined the Nexus universe. It says that heroes join the universe after they die. It may be so, it may be not. However, if you are into Blizzard's games lore, you know that majority of heroes in HOTS are actually dead; we know this from corresponding games' lore. 

Beware, Legacy of the Void spoilers ahead! 

There is a hilarious theory that in the end of the LOTV campaign, in the final movie, Raynor is joined not by Kerrigan, but by Uther. The theory speculates that Kerrigan decided to relocate Raynor in the Nexus, to save him from the death; and the part that we actually see in the movie is Jimmy's  consciousness tries to adapt to teleportation process!

End of LOTV spoilers!

You can find Jim's actual lore by the link below. As every major character from the Blizzard universe, Raynor has an in-depth lore. I would even say incredibly in-depth, as his story is very detailed and is a part of 2 RTS installments; which are being played throughout out last 19 years.

Lore link: http://starcraft.wikia.com/wiki/Jim_Raynor 

Basic abilities  

James Raynor, Renegade Commanderimage source:

Jimmy is ranged Assassin. There are many ranged Assassin types in the game. There are spell casters, like Jaina and Kael, right-clickers, like Falstad and Jimmy, heroes that win games, like Nova or Zeratul, and so on. 

Jimmy is all about auto-attacking your target, and then auto-attacking it more. Occasionally, you will see him use some spells. They are described below. Usually, they are used to enhance auto-attack options or land a finishing blow. Oh, there is also a big bad spaceship. From time to time, it will cast a shadow on a battlefield, deleting enemy structures from the game and poking units that will stay in its radius.

Penetrating Round

This is the finishing ability I talked about. Primarily, you will be using it to finish off a target. It has a push back effect, so, it can also be used to push away a nasty enemy hero. However, you would like to save it and use as a finisher. It deals significant damage and has a tiny, something like 0.1 second, stun effect. The effect allows you to interrupt channeling Heroics. In this build we are going to use the talent that adds stun effect to Round, so, you will be able to land few additional autos during the stun. Hm, what else? During a laning phase, Round can be used to damage lane minions. You want to do this while they haven't collapsed on each other. This will allow you to hit whole wave, as minions travel in a straight and thick line. Generally speaking, the ability is a hard to land skill shot, as the AoE is small and a projectile has fly speed.

Ability description: deals 250 (+4% per level) points of damage and knocks enemies back. Round has range that is a bit bigger than Raynor's auto-attack rage, which is about 7 range. The ability has 12 seconds of cooldown time and costs 60 Mana. The push back effect is about 3 range. Round has small AoE and pushes back each unit hit.


Inspire is the ability you want to use each time you have a possibility to land few autos. It is actually the dream of any right-click based hero. The spell gives an attack speed buff and, if you skill the level 7 talent, a movement speed buff. Value of Inspire doesn't stop here, as it also has AoE effect: half of the attack speed buff is given to allied units and heroes. So, the ability is effective when you are stutter-stepping, and when you are pushing with your team. 

Ability description: gain 30% bonus Attack Speed for 6 seconds. Nearby allies gain half of the bonus. Inspire's range is a bit bigger than your auto-attack range and equals to 7 range. The ability costs 40 Mana and has 10 seconds of cooldown time.

Adrenalin Rush

Usually, you don't get to activate E, as the skill is passive. It grants you an additional sustain, and it has the talent that makes it an active ability. In the current stun and burst Meta game, you won't get to use much Rush. The heal the ability provides is not instant: it comes in portions over 1 second of time. Also, heal threshold can easily be avoided in 5×5 fights, or be activated too late. Anyway, additional 30% of health pool won't be handy if you are focused by 5 enemy heroes. So, Rush will be useful in duel scenarios and poke wars.

Ability description: automatically activates to heal for 458 (+ 4% per level) points of health when you are below 30% Health. Keep in mind that heal is not instant and comes in portions over 1 second of time.

Advanced Optics

Trait description: basic attack range is 20% further than other ranged Heroes, and you see 10% further than other Heroes. The standard auto-attack range for ranged Assassin is 5.5 range. The Trait makes it to be 6.5 range.

This might seem like not a big deal, however, here is a thing: most spells in Heroes of the Storm have range that is equal, or a bit bigger, to the standard auto-attack range. The 6.5 range puts you on edge of most spells, allowing you to poke a target with autos and retreat as soon as you smell danger. 

This is the end of basic abilities overview. If you wish to read about talents and Heroics, proceed to the "Talent choices" guide section.

Basic kit strengths and weaknesses 

Raynor design is definitely about auto-attacks. He has higher vision and auto-attack radius than most heroes do. Inspire is decent ability for auto-attack hero: you get an attack speed buff, and it also buffs allies around you. Unlike many ranged Assassins, Raynor has a decent self-sustain. It is specific, it comes in play during duels and poke wars, but it is better than most ranged Assassins have. Lastly, Jimmy has a nice finisher in form of Round, which can also be used to protect yourself and push away enemy hero. So, all kit is designed around right-click damage and the stutter-stepping technique. 

While all perks listed above are sweet and sound, our guy in the space suit really hates it when you position him badly in fights. Thing is, Raynor doesn't have any escape abilities until 20, and on 20 you usually go for the Nexus Frenzy talent; as it is incredibly good for auto-attack based Assassin. So, absence of escape ability and, as a result, the positioning are two main concerns of Raynor players.  

Hero role

Jimmy is auto-attack based Assassin. That means he is a source of constant damage. The damage is small at the start, but builds up to latter stages of the game. Raynor is not bad during the beginning; however, he starts to shine from level 13 and fully excels in the late game. He is very team oriented hero. You don't see him wondering around on his own. Laning phase is usually a quiet part of the game. You will be farming experience and stacks of the Seasoned Marksman talent. Action begins when you need to fight for map objectives, or the lane phase is over and it is time of teamfights. There are two approaches to the teamfight. You either stay with a team, waiting for enemy overextension while feeding enemy tank with bullets, or you flank at the right moment and pressure an enemy squishy hero. Also, there is important to use your ultimate at the right position and in the right time, but I'll describe the approach in overview of Hyperion.

Auto-attack build

This is the build that is seen in almost any game, as Raynor is superbly popular. The build has few situational talents. I will list and explain them after build explanation. The Auto-attack build is designed around boosting of hero strengths. You will see Jimmy being even better at auto-attacking and stutter-stepping. The build also features talent picks that revolves around the current Meta game: the 2nd charge of Round, so, you have 3 seconds of combined stun and Hyperion to heavily snowball a structural advantage. Hyperion will also be exceptionally good in pushes with active map objectives, like Dragon Knight or Punisher

Talent choices

Raynor's auto-attack buildimage source:

Let's see why this talent build is good, and what makes Ray so impressive at right-click damage, Warrior Assassination, and incredibly snowballing objective pushes. 

Seasoned Marksman
(level 1)

This talent will build up your right-click damage as a game goes on. Marksman is useful for any type of the gameplay that you will choose: you can stay on a lane and farm stacks by killing minions, or you can roam with teammates and get stacks from hero kills. 

The Scaling changes have made this talent even stronger. The benefit for level 20 is the same, compared to old scaling. However, the benefit per level is bigger, as heroes now receive less damage per level. Basic Raynor damage, on level 1, is 127 points. Each level gives +4% to basic attack, which is 5,08 damage. Your ussual progression with this talent (when enemy team doesn't feed and you don't get tons of stacks, or you don't die) is a bit more than 2 damage per minute. Roughly, Marksman is the 30% buff to your auto-attack damage.

Talent description:  for every 6 enemy minion or captured mercenary kills near your hero, gain 1 basic attack damage. Hero Takedowns count as 3 minion kills. Each minion wave consists of 7 units. It is not necessary to damage units, they just have to die nearby. 

Focused Attack
(level 4)

While it may seem that the talent is not a huge deal in terms of overall impact, it will be very handy in many situations. The first point is, this talent is great at poking. It will be effective during poke wars and during a laning phase. Each ten seconds you will able to poke an enemy hero with damage that equals to Penetrating Round damageActually, the talent will be ready sooner, because with each basic attack you will reduce the 10 second cooldown of Focused Attack

The longer the game will last the bigger damage this talent will do. At later stages of the game, you will be able to blow away 1/3 of health pool of an enemy squishy with just few autos. That brings us to the second point. The second point is, it will probably sound weird at first, this talent is also great at bursting target down. In lategame, this talent coupled with few autos and one Round will blow away half of hit points of an enemy squishy. 

Talent description: every 10 seconds, your next basic attack against a hero deals 75% additional damage. Basic attacks reduce this cooldown by 1 second. Please note: Focused Attack doesn't work on any units other then heroes, however, the cooldown reduction does. Also, this talent benefits from the level 1 talent, Seasoned Marksman.

Revolution Overdrive
(level 7)

Now, Inspire is you ultimate spell. Not only it buffs your and allies attack speed, but it also buffs your movement speed, allowing you to stutter-step more effectively and be more mobile. This talent is also more viable than it seems at the first glance. Most of the time, you are auto-attacking a target and sometimes you throw Rounds, of course you use W each time it is available. Thing is, this is mostly stationary gameplay, meaning you stand on the same place. The target that is standing on the same spot is very easy to hit with skill shots, and it is much easier to kill such target.. That is why Right-click heroes are played by using stutter-stepping. It makes you a constantly moving target, and the constantly moving target is harder to hit. 

The big value of this talent lies in the movement speed buff. With its help you move faster and you are harder to hit with an ability, and it is easier, much easier for you to perform stutter-stepping. So, apart from making you more mobile and better at chasing targets, the talent also boosts your survivability and makes stutter-stepping easier.

Talent description: gain 10% movement speed while affected by Inspire. Increase this bonus by 5% for each allied hero nearby when Inspire is cast. The maximum bonus is 30%. Usually, one or two allied heroes is enough, as 15-20% boost is, to chase down a target.

(level 10)

Hyperion is a very strong Heroic in the current Meta game. After the Scaling changes, the amount of structural damage heroes do is higher than before. This makes ultimates such as Hyperion very effective against buildings. Usually, you see the big space ship being used to push structures, together with mercenaries or active map mechanics like Dragon Knight, Webweavers, Punisher, and so on. This allows you to destroy a fort in one try, and you can manage to snowball a push further to a Keep. So, Raynor's ultimate is very good at team and objective based pushes. It is often used after Gates and Towers are destroyed, so, it has higher changes of hitting a Keep or a Fort. 

Apart from having a strong pushing potential, this Heroic also has nice zoning potential and can be a fight changing weapon. The spell has huge AoE. It covers the whole game screen while traveling from one point to another. This creates an incredible zoning effect: your enemies have to decide whether they want to take free damage and fight you, or they want to wait out the ultimate. Hyperion's duration is 12 seconds, so, it's not an easy choice for an enemy team. For example, during this time you can finish capturing a shrine on the Infernal Shrines map.

Ultimate description: order Hyperion to make a strafing run dealing 98 (+4% per level) points of damage a second, hitting up to 4 enemies. Also, it occasionally fires Yamato Cannon on structures for 1176 (+4% per level) points of damage. The ultimate lasts 12 seconds. The Mana cost is 100 and the cooldown time is 100 seconds. 

Keep in mind a long cooldown of the Heroic. You don't want to use it as a panic move. Also, you want to use Hyperion according to fight anticipation, as AoE doesn't stand in one place and moves; unlike other zoning abilities.

Giant Killer
(level 13)

This talent has its history in Raynor's builds. There were times when talent was always used. Then, the talent was neglected. Now, it is back again. As the stun duration on the level 16 talent was reduced, it is no longer profitable to take the 2nd charge of Penetrating Round for additional stun time; so, people are back to playing good old Giant Killer. In general, the talent is additional auto-attack damage, but it truly shines against Warriors.

Warriors have the most hit points out of all other roles, so, usually you avoid focusing them. However, auto-attack based heroes like Raynor don't mind poking Warriors with casual auto-attacks (if auto-attack damage isn't needed elsewhere). Giant Killer will highly increase the impact of such attacks, and it can make the idea of killing front liners a viable option. Of course, an outcome of the idea will depend on many circumstances, but Raynor and this talent are known to be good at killing Warriors.

Talent description: basic attacks against enemy heroes deal bonus damage equal to 1.50% of the Hero's maximum health.

(level 16)

Bullseye is the talent I talked about previously. Its effectiveness was reduced. Raynor could have 2 charges of Penetrating Round. They resulted in 3 seconds of stun, and that was a total overkill for the current Meta game. Despite duration reduction, Bullseye is still a viable talent. 

The addition of stun has much bigger impact than it seems at the first glance. Here I need make a small reference to channeling mechanics in Heroes of the Storm. In the game, there are two types of channeling abilities. One is like Nazeebo's Ravenous Spirit, which you channel while standing on the same place, and the other is like Valla's Strafe, which you channel while moving around. So, spells like Ravenous Spirit can be interrupted by Raynor's Q without Bullseye talent. At the same time, spells like Strafe can't be interrupted by Raynor's Q without Bullseye talent. That means the talent allows you to interrupt channeling of any Heroics. 

Other than the value described above, Bullseye is also good at providing you with an additional auto-attack time, an ability to chain stun abilities of your allies, and the ability to protect your allies.

Talent description: the first enemy hit by Penetrating Round is stunned for 1 second. Please note: the ability doesn't prioritize heroes! You can easily stun a minion or mercenary if there will be one between you and an enemy hero that you shoot.

Nexus Frenzy
(level 20)

Frenzy is a sweet talent for any auto-attack hero. In case of Raynor, it just gives him what he needs to be a fearsome killing machine. Apart from providing attack-speed increase, the talent also boosts attack range of the hero. Range boost has higher value for Raynor than for other heroes, because his basic range is better.

With the help of Nexus Frenzy, Raynor has 7.8 auto-attack range. That is an incredible range! It is the same reach that Raynor's Q has, and it puts Renegade Commander on the edge of long ranged spells. The talent allows Raynor to be superb annoying in fights, as he is very hard to initiate on or cast a spell; unless you have a Bolt. You can constantly poke enemy heroes with auto-attacks while staying out of danger. It will be a huge threat to an enemy, as Raynor's late game auto-attacks do moderate damage.

Talent description: increases attack speed by 20% and attack range by 20%.

Build Pros and Cons

What does this build gives to Raynor? Jimmy gets tons of additional options that increase his auto-attack damage. So, this build boosts the core feature of the hero. Other than the auto-attack DPS boost, Raynor also gets an additional stutter-stepping power, sieging and teamfighting power, and survivability boost.

What weaknesses are still there? The build doesn't grant decent escape tool to James. Huge auto-attack range, as well as higher movement speed, are cool; but they can't save Raynor if he is initiated with the help of enemy's gap closer or Bolt of the Storm. This means that positional vulnerability, created by the absence of escape ability, is still there. However, its impact is lesser, as Raynor is hard to reach and catch.


Raynor and Kerrigan. Look at this amazing teamplay!image source:

So, what makes Jimmy so good? Why is he picked so much? Why is he considered to be one the best auto-attack Assassins? There are two main reasons for that. The first reason is his auto-attack kit, and the second reason is his pushing kit. If you search Heroes of the Storm for another auto-attack Assassin with such siege capabilities, you will find none!

Raynor's auto-attack kit consists of two main features: a movement speed buff and an incredibly big range. Sure, Giant Killer, Focused Attack, and Seasoned Marksman are cool talents. They add numbers to your damage, letting you chop more and more hit points away from enemy heroes. But the higher movement speed and the 7.8 range is what really make those talents work. They are the core of Raynor's efficiency and the reason why he is able to get such value of the talents. The game has other heroes with similar, or modified, version of auto-attack boosting talents; however, you don't see those heroes shine as much as Jimmy does. They don't have the additional movement speed and the range!

Lastly, I have to mention Hyperion's power and an impact it has on the game. This Heroic alone adds a tremendous Specialist power. When you pick James, you not only pick best auto-attacker in the game, you also pick best auto-attacker in the game with Specialist powers. Almost always, the outcome of the siege with Hyperion is a lost Keep or a Fort!

So, these two distinctive features of Renegade Commander have made him one of the best.

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