Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, the Dark Lady, Queen of the Banshees, current Warchief of the Horde, and ruler of the Forsaken has a long history of design tweaks and redesign overhauls in Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm.
Last year, Sylvanas saw the most recent and perhaps most significant series of changes, and although her playstyle is now different, she is still a force to be reckoned with in experienced hands. Check out the summary of both the changes made and the philosophy behind those changes:
Sylvanas' Team Role
Forget everything you knew about the old Sylvanas. In the early years of Heroes of the Storm, her passive ability was so useful in laning that entire early game compositions were built around the idea of attempting to snowball a lead by quickly sacking a single lane and its Fort and Keep to take down the core. When you don't succeed, this is usually a loss for your team. Sylvanas did not offer much in terms of raw damage in the late game, though she did still have utility in the level 10 heroic ability and armor debuff through her Shadow Dagger.
Players may recall how matches played on the map Hunted Mines could be over in no time at all if the team with Sylvanas coordinated a strong initial push. This was done almost exclusively thanks to her trait, Black Arrows. Now, this trait reads: “Activate to cause all Basic Attacks and Abilities to Stun Minions, non-Elite Mercenaries, and Structures for 3 seconds. Lasts for 10 seconds,” which is on a forty-second cooldown. It also says: “Banshee's Curse: Basic Attacks infect enemies with Banshee's Curse for 3 seconds, stacking up to 3 times. Deal 25% more damage to enemies with 3 stacks,” which is passive.
That forty-second cooldown is the fundamental change in her trait. Before, it was active by default all of the time, and it made her difficult to take down.
While Sylvanas was a specialist before, she is now far more of a ranged assassin with some of her previous toolkit tailored towards weakening enemy minions and mercenaries or buffing her own.
Sylvanas' Talent Selection
There are numerous builds that one can employ depending on their playstyle and objective. We will briefly present two that focus on afflicting multiple targets or a single, high-value target.
Note that all builds call for Wailing Arrow at level 10, but you can also choose Mind Control if you are so inclined. Wailing Arrow is almost always going to be the dominant skill shot, but often it is wasted on a team that has no coordination. Because of this, it is better to choose once you have a feel for your team and their playstyles.
Sylvanas Build Option - Shadow Dagger
First, we can consider a build that stacks Shadow Dagger and targets more than one opponent. This works best on maps in which the opposing team is forced into small spaces, which allows you to make the most out of Festering Wounds. Because of this, consider Battlefield of Eternity or any map with an objective that provides the most opportunity for tagging many enemies at once. This might take a bit of practice, but you will see a massive amount of stacks added from hitting multiple opponents at once in no time.
- Level 1 – Unfurling Shadows
- Level 4 – Possession or Mercenary Queen
- Level 7 – Festering Wounds
- Level 10 – Wailing Arrow
- Level 13 – Cold Embrace
- Level 16 – Life Drain
- Level 20 – Deafening Blast
The level 4 talent is up for debate. Although Sylvanas now handles mercenaries and minions differently than before, she is still able to put out enough damage to lane effectively and gather camps once they become available. This means that Sylvanas can reliably obtain Mercenary camps before Kael’thas at level 4.
For a detailed explanation of the power of this first build, you can check out this video. While there are some differences, the fundamental idea of being able to spread to multiple targets easily remains intact.
Sylvanas Build Option - Single-Target Shadow Dagger
The second build focuses on a Single-Target Shadow Dagger playstyle. Sylvanas is clearly able to select one target to apply an effective, deadly armor debuff. By selecting Might of the Banshee Queen and Lost Soul, Sylvanas can easily maintain the debuff consistently without having it removed at any point. If you need to melt a tank or an opponent who lacks mobility, this is certainly the way to do it.
This build sacrifices the multi-hit plan of the previous built, and unfortunately, is less dependable when you are queuing into Hero League or a Quick Match since you don't know who you're playing against. You can explicitly lay out your intentions in chat by stating that you will debuff a specific character, but unless the team capitalizes on your efforts, your work is for nothing.
On the other hand, this build can work wonders with a well-organized group or with a dedicated partner who can put out enough raw damage to destroy an opponent.
Apart from the two main builds listed above, it is important to recognize that Sylvanas deals more damage now but plays differently than before. Many players have stated that the changes ruined the character, while others seem to feel that with practice, Sylvanas works well with her adjusted role.
The use of either Possession of Mercenary Queen combined with the proper timing of the Dark Arrows trait can still effectively remove Towers, Forts, and Keeps from the game. However, now players must look ahead and strategize, rather than using them at any time.
Sylvanas was not always the Dark Lady. In life, she was the ranger-general of Silvermoon until she fell during the events of Warcraft III to Prince Arthas Menethil after he became a Death Knight. He sought to curse Sylvanas for her opposition and turned her into a banshee, an agent of the Lich King forced to serve after death.
When the Lick King’s control weakened, Sylvanas was able to escape, reclaim her body, and gather other undead to fight. This is the origin of the Forsaken in World of Warcraft.
Though we don't know much about her family, we do know that her mother was named Lireesa, she had three siblings called Alleria, Vereesa, and Lirath, a brother-in-law named Rhonin, a cousin called Zendarin, and three nephews named Arator, Giramar, and Galadin.
Over time, she has been no stranger to controversy. In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, she aided in the recovery of the Undercity following its capture by rogue undead and was forced to explain that she had no part in the betrayal that killed both Alliance and Horde when they began an assault on the Lich King. She killed Liam Greymane, which has since brought on the vengeful wrath of his father, Genn Greymane.
Now, players are anxiously waiting to see what lies in store for Sylvanas in the future. Is she still committed to the Horde or will we see her fall before the end of the most recent expansion in World of Warcraft? Only time will tell.
For now, at least, you can enjoy creating the best Sylvanas build Heroes Of The Storm has to offer.
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