The Match Begins, Laning and The Race to 10 – Heroes of the Storm

This is the third posting of what I’ve written so far for the book, tentatively titled The Over-the-Shoulder Guide to Heroes of the Storm, that I’m endeavouring to write and publish by October, 18th, 2015.

NOTE: This is barely-edited first draft text which includes [FILLER TEXT] for things I couldn’t look up while writing or as-yet unwritten sections of the book.

The match opens on a flat area, upon which the Heroes of your player and her four teammates appear from nowhere. You’ll notice that most of them are riding horses or other strange creatures. These are Mounts, and they allow your player to get across the battlefield quickly.

You’ll also notice an animated headshot of your player’s Hero in the bottom left hand corner, and above that, a list of options. You might also notice above your player’s Hero the words “Talent Available” flashing on and off. The game is telling your player to choose one item from the list.

Your player might pick one right off the bat, or she might choose to wait a little while, giving you a look at the list. Each item on this list is a Talent, and it allows her Hero an extra capability. This list will appear again later in the game, and we’ll get back to it soon.

One thing to keep in mind now: while the list itself will reappear later, the items on it now won’t. When picking one of them, your player is making a choice about how her Hero will play this game.
You might even notice a list of all the Heroes in the game on both teams pop up. Your player did that by pressing the Tab key; she can do this at any time to get an idea of what sort of heroes her opponents (and team mates) are fielding and the Talents they’ve chosen for themselves. This sort of info can help her choose her Hero’s Talents.

Next thing, you’ll see the heroes on your player’s team all marshal at the first set of gates on their side of the battlefield. The game gives both teams twenty seconds to pick starting Talents and decide who’s going where, then the gates open and the players can send their Heroes across the Battlefield.

NOTE: During the game, you might hear your player and her team mates talk about “top,” “mid” or “bottom”. This refers to the three lanes on each map (some maps only have two, in which case you’ll just hear “top” or “bottom”); it’s a great short-hand for telling your team mates where you are, where you see opponents and where you want everyone to go.

Now, odds on you’ll see that your player’s team (whose Health meters and buildings are always coloured blue) has sent at least one Hero to each gate. Once the team’s minions appear, it’s likely that a Hero will stick by one squad as they match toward the other side of the battlefield. Depending on whether they encounter any Red Heroes (the opposing team is always coloured red), the Blue Heroes might hang back or they might get stuck in with their Minions, but unless they’ve met overwhelming opposition (like being outnumbered by Red heroes) they won’t go far from their Minions.

Why is this?

Well, if you get a chance, watch as the Blue Minions encounter the Red ones when your player is near. As the Blues kill the Reds, a little purple “+xp” appears over the dead Red minion and the blue progress bar at the top of the screen starts to fill. “+xp” means that the Blue team has earned “experience points” for the destruction of a Red Hero, Minion or building. (Note this: the individual Hero doesn’t receive the xp, the whole team does.)

The trick, though, is that the Blue team only earns that xp if a Blue Hero is nearby when that Red asset is destroyed. Having more than one Hero nearby won’t multiply the amount of xp earned, though; this is why you’ll see a Hero of each team hovering around the middle of each of the three routes the Minions take through the gates toward the other side. The Hero doesn’t even have to make the kill; it just has to be close (usually within half a screen).

As mentioned before, these three main routes across the map are called “lanes,” and this practice of earning xp from the destruction of the opposing team’s Minions in these lanes is often called “laning” or “lane farming.”

Why do Heroes need to make sure they’re earning xp?

Well, take a look at that portrait of your player’s Hero when that blue progress bar fills up and the big number next to it goes up (You’ll also see “LEVEL UP!” flash over the Blue Heroes’ heads). You’ll see some numbers in the green and blue bars on the right of it; the numbers to the right of the slash will go up. Basically, every Hero on Blue team has just got more powerful; they can dish out and take more damage and their pools of Mana for their Talents have got deeper.

Speaking of Talents: Remember how your player chose a Talent at the beginning of the game? Well, at certain Levels, your player gets to choose another Talent for her Hero. Not from the same list she had at the begging, mind; each milestone Level has its own list of Talents to choose from.

So, Heroes need to make sure they’re earning xp so they can get more powerful – and, ideally, while they’re earning xp for their own team, they’re interfering with the other team’s own xp-earning efforts.
There’s a particular goal both teams are racing each other for in this first stage of the game; Level 10. When a team hits Level 10, they get to choose one of two Heroic Talents for their team. These are real, heavy-hitting Talents that let Heroes do awesome things to aid each other, damage the opposing team or both. If one team beats the other to Level 10, that team gets a big advantage over their opponents.

You’ll know whenever a player uses a Heroic Talent; they’re flashy and loud and often accompanied by a piece of dialogue from the Hero in question.