Our eighteenth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier list for the Fenix patch of March is here!
We present our eighteenth Heroes of the Storm Meta Tier List for the Fenix patch of March 2018.
Welcome to Icy Veins’s Meta Tier List for the Fenix patch. The goal of this list is to try and detail game’s current metagame state. The prime goal of such lists is to inform players regarding popular and trending team composition drafting strategies (i.e. the drafting metagame). Although tier listings are generally the product of balance, many factors come into play when discussing the relative perceived strengths of heroes, including player regions, maps, play style, skill level, and, of course, personal perception. As such, any tier list—including this very one—should never be interpreted as gospel, but rather, as a guide to better grasp what to expect with regards to typical drafting experiences. One useful application of such lists is to allow you know which heroes to look out for in terms of practice and counterplay, ultimately improving your knowledge of the game.
Using the list
As stated above, tier lists are easy to mistake for gospel. As new strategies are discovered and experimented with, so changes the perception of the relative strengths of each hero. Tier lists still prove to be useful as a snapshot of player expectations in terms of drafting. Although it is generally considered preferable to focus on high tier heroes (Prime and Core tiers), it is important to note that Heroes of the Storm’s wild character and map designs make it so that any given hero’s tier position is prone to fluctuate depending on the situation at hand.
One classic example of such is that of Kerrigan on the Infernal Shrines map. Although we currently judge her to be a mid-tier hero, her drafting priority shoots up to first-pick or first-ban material on this specific map due to the nature of its objective. Certain heroes also synergise so well with each other that the sole fact of having the opportunity of drafting them together is generally enough to increase their potential. Tassadar and Tracer, for instance, are generally nightmarish to deal with for many. There are too many examples of these interactions to reasonably produce here, but we invite you to consult our guides to know exactly where and when each hero shines. The guides have been linked in the lists below for your convenience – just click any of the hero names to access them.
A ↑ next to a hero’s name means its tier list position has increased since the previous month whereas a ↓ means just the opposite. Additionally, a + or – sign indicates short-to-medium term predictions (which is to say, about a month) for tier increase(s) or decrease(s), respectively. These are often updated after significant balance patches and/or when clear trends are emerging.
If you’re newer to the game, also consider visiting our glossary for a comprehensive list of discrete Heroes of the Storm terms.
Current ranked mode map rotation
Prime tier heroes are considered to be extremely strong in all situations, and show no obvious weakness. They are very often banned or picked right away, as they generally dictate the pace of most matches.
Varian (Taunt) (reworked)-
Core tier heroes are strong in a wide variety of situations and have few counter-picking possibility. They should form the core of your team, and be picked after Prime Tier heroes have been distributed.
Viable tier heroes are generally well-rounded that have either fallen out of favour, or, inversely, are on the rise in popularity, due to the current Prime tier contenders.
Varian (Colossus Smash) (reworked)↓
Varian (Twin Blades of Fury) (reworked)
Niche tier heroes have niche application on certain maps or for certain team compositions. They may also picked to “round out” your team composition when your team composition is missing out on key components, such as a “jungler” (mercenary camps), a solo laner, or solid waveclear.
Lost Vikings Tier
The Lost Vikings
The Lost Viking are deemed to be either considerably weaker than the majority of other Heroes, or much more challenging to play properly. Although they may situationally shine, this notoriously poorly designed trio is generally avoided by most players.
Fenix: “What if we made Hanzo’s attacks splash?” asked nobody ever, and the answer was Fenix.
This is our second meta-defining hero release. Though unlike Maiev however, quick nerfs are nowhere to be seen besides some 4% damage reduction since the PTR patch. This is well below my own conservative estimate of “20% too much damage”. Where do I even start? Fenix is only bad at what he doesn’t do. In other words, he’s not a healer and not a tank, but makes up for that about everywhere else. On top of feeling grossly overtuned, Fenix is excruciatingly simple to play, turning most engagements with him a mathematical equation involving complex variables such as “who’s basic attack is the strongest” and “who has the most health”. In most cases, Fenix wins, but if you’re not too sure, you can always back out for a few seconds and allow half your health and inexplicably inexistant mana to fill back up.
Although coin flipping your talent choices would be an effective way of reaching 60%+ win rates, the really good ones include Emergency Protocol, Combat Advantage, and Auxiliary Shields. They more or less make Fenix harder to kill all while simultaneously providing non-negligible offensive bonuses, taking the burden of having to make decisions off your shoulders.
Heroic-wise, both Better Strafe and Better Hinterland Blast have a place; I suggest the latter if your team has a way of setting up effective crowd control chains, such as Taunt.
Tuning Fenix properly will be a difficult task. Although all he really provides is damage, damage happens to be the ultimate form of utility; after all, when you have slain all your enemies, what is left to fear? I usually like my nerfs done through power shifting “easy” damage (basic attacks, point-click abilities, wide area of effects) to “hard” damage (skillshots, situational effects), but most of Fenix’s damage is so simple to deliver that I’m not sure how I would proceed. Weapon Mode: Phase Bomb may need to be weakened somehow to incentivize players to use Weapon Mode: Repeater Cannon and thus have to play more aggressively. Although drastic, removing the splashing effect outright may be a reasonable place to start given how powerful Fenix’s ability to waveclear is.
Stukov↑: Last month, I commented on being on the fence about Stukov, essentially comparing him to a weaker Malfurion. Upon review, I realized I had missed a crucial element: Burst Healing. Though missing Ice Block is a big blow against dive, Stukov does have the ability to punch his problems away with actually threatening basic attack damage, unlike other healers.
Garrosh↑: With high sustain healers being so popular, Garrosh’s Armor Up is doing wonders for his survivability and general ability to be disruptive. He doesn’t quite stack up against some of the top tier tanks, however, with Diablo being a notoriously strong counterpick (and in general). A well timed Indomitable can certainly help mitigate this weakness however, particularly post level 16.
Johanna↑: She’s doing better than most tanks in terms of winrates; I suspect she’s proving to be a good counterpick to some of the top tanks. Shield Glare is also quite good against Fenix, if he happens to sneak into drafts, and her waveclear is some of the best of the tanking line. Quite easy to play, too, so if you’re looking to start tanking, give her a try. I don’t think I’m ever upset to see Johanna on my team. Well, not any more than I usually am, anyway.
Greymane↓: Despite highly waning popularity, Blizzard decided to hit Greymane with this oddly-timed and significant 25% nerf (1 second) to Razor Swipe. Though it may not seem like much, this affects his waveclear, mercenary camp claiming potential, general damage, and chasing potential. I was hellbent on keeping Greymane as a Prime tier hero, but this makes it difficult to legitimately defend.
Li Li↑: Speaking of unexpected changes, Li Li received a new “anti-basic attack” tool in the form of the Wind Serpent talent. Just as with Johanna, give it a try if Fenix happens to sneak past a ban. Having access to Pseudocleanse is interesting as well. Even without this change however, I feel like Li Li was beginning to gain more traction. I wonder if it’ll last, but she’s fine right now.
Anub’arak↓: The current metagame state is not particularly friendly to diving and to most melee assassins, leaving Anub’arak quite lonely for the time being.
Auriel↑: Small buffs gave me hope.
Medivh↑: His rework made him more accessible to low- and mid-level players while making him less excessively annoying in the hands of Medivh one tricks. Arcane Explosion may be busted, however, and probably single-handedly carries his win rate its currently reasonable level by providing him with huge potential burst damage and helping with waveclearing. My assessment has not changed since last month.
Valla↓: The last couple “marksman” ranged basic-attack based assassins released (Fenix, Hanzo, Zul’jin) all feature longer-than-average basic attack ranges than Valla. Those without better mobility (read: Zul’jin) aren’t popular right now. Let’s just say Valla is the victim of much blatant powercreep.
Varian↓*: Many players, including myself, had predicted the doom of Varian. We were 66% right, with Taunt still performing decently. The Shield Wall changes were pretty brutal to all specializations, though overly so to Colossus Smash and Twin Blades of Fury, which relied upon the lengthy protection effect to stay in combat at all and bait ability damage like no other hero could. Warbringer may just be the better choice now considering it allows you to jump to allies.