Heroes of the Storm 101 for new players

By a noob, for noobs

As you might have read, I recently got into Heroes of the Storm in a big way. I’m super late to the party, and our own Chris Carter has already written a great list of quick tips you should definitely read if you’re interested in playing, but I have a few of my own tips to add. As a player almost completely new to the genre, I had to learn a few basic things before things really started to click. If you’re just starting out too, I have some tips that can save you some time and embarrassing losses.

Of course, take these tips with a grain of salt. I’m a noob sharing my observations and strategies with other noobs, nothing more. I’ve noticed that many of the existing guides out there tend to assume you’re already a fairly proficient player looking to refine your game, which is fine. But these are tips for the greenest of the green, the folks who have never played Heroes, or maybe any other MOBA for that matter, but would still like to give it a try (something I highly recommend!).

General tips

  • When you first start, focus on not dying more than getting kills. Heroes might not be as prone to hopeless snowballing as other MOBAs, but it can still happen if you have a teammate who is constantly feeding the enemy easy XP and free lanes. Don’t be that teammate! Kills and #BigPlays will come with time, there is no need to dive towers and chase people all over right away.

  • Play the objectives! Heroes is unique in that it has a variety of maps, each with a different gimmick. One may have you collecting gems or coins and depositing them in a central area to summon NPCs that will attack enemy forts, others may have you rushing to an area to defend, attack, or claim a certain objective for other benefits. It’s almost always a good idea to prioritize objectives over pushing a lane or grabbing a mercenary camp or whatever else you might be doing (you’ll learn when it’s a good idea to break that rule with time).

  • Watch the mini-map. The mini-map is your friend. The mini-map is life. The mini-map will show you where the objectives are on a map, where your friends are, any revealed enemies, any active merc camps, and so on. It’s also the best way to quickly communicate in a random quickmatch (where you’ll likely be cutting your teeth). Ping the map when you need your teammate’s attention, pay attention when they signal for backup, and keep an eye on those sneaky, sneaky assassins who keep popping in and out of the fog.

  • Play around with different characters. Try to make a point of touring every free character you can. Not only is this a great way to earn gold (as Chris pointed out, you gain a tidy sum for each character you take to level 5 and it’s a fairly quick process), but it will also give you an idea of what each other hero is capable of. Important to know when sizing up a fight, and something that is much easier to learn by doing rather than just watching.

Character tips

  • Stick with Honest Jimmy. Jim Raynor is the tutorial character for a reason; he’s super easy to use. That said, he’s also surprisingly strong. He has a simple, but useful toolbox that lets him score high hero damage and push lanes while staying fairly safe. He’s one of the cheapest characters to buy with gold as well as being included in the $5.00 starter pack if you don’t mind making a small investment. You can learn the ropes, and the maps, with him and eventually move to more nuanced characters.

  • Don’t get too strung out about top-tier picks or “playing the meta.” You’re new, the people you’re going to be matched with will likely be new as well. Nobody in your cohort is going to know how to properly take advantage of the best characters anyway. Hell, I’ve been playing a ton of Gazlowe (supposedly one of the worst characters) and I’ve been topping the scoreboard for siege damage and team XP in most games (sometimes even hero damage!) Can Gazlowe hang in a competitive meta? Probably not. But down in the slums with all the other newbies, he plays just fine — as does almost every other character.

  • That said, you should probably stay away from the Lost Vikings, Abathur, and Chen. These are not bad heroes, but they’re more complex and require advanced knowledge to properly use. Grow into them later (Murky has a rep for being a tricky character as well, but honestly he seemed pretty easy to use to me, so your mileage may vary depending on play style).

Playing with others

  • This is probably the most “duh” tip ever, but the game is much more fun when playing with people you know! You don’t need to fill out a full five man team, even having just one or two wingmen can let you be a more complex and tricky with your teamwork, setting up coordinated attacks, or trading off lanes while someone heals or secures an objective. A little simple teamwork goes a long way!

  • If you have a dependable partner or two, try to play complementary characters that can support each others efforts. Have a friend who likes aggressive melee characters like Thrall or Sonya? Try pairing up as the monk, Kharazim, who can heal nearby characters in melee range and deal respectable damage in his own right. You can be bash brothers chasing down foes together far more effectively than you would on your own. Diablo and E.T.C are walking meat slabs who can bully other players with multiple stuns and repositioning attacks when they roll together. It might not be complicated, but other new players will probably have trouble dealing with the pair. Even better if you have another friend playing a high-damage clean up character like Jaina to take advantage of the chaos.

  • When all else fails, just play Li Li. She’s dead simple to use and can drag otherwise hopeless teams through nasty brawls with her prolific healing. Hey, if you and your friends are all new, you might occasionally need a crutch to lean on as you learn.

Again, these are fairly basic tips, but they might just make your entry into the world of Heroes and MOBAs a little bit smoother than it would have been. I’ve been completely blown away by how much I’ve enjoyed my time with Heroes so far and would encourage you to try it for yourself if you’ve been interested but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Of course, if you have some more knowledge bombs new players should know, or some tips for more advanced players, please feel free to share!

Nic Rowen