The most recent Heroes of the Storm patch has arrived, bringing with it a new hero (Sylvanas) and new map, Tomb of the Spider Queen. Let's take a gander at the patch notes, shall we?
First up, let's deal with the newcomers:
Her Q ability is Withering Fire – it shoots the closest enemy, prioritising heroes. You get five charges. W is Shadow Dagger which does light damage to its initial target, then damage over time which spreads to nearby units, so it's good for wave clearance.
On E is Haunting Wave which sends out a wave of damaging banshees which Sylvanas can teleport to by hitting E again. As I've noted before, it’s similar to Illusory Orb – an ability from Dota 2’s Puck and looks like it offer similar repositioning, escape and chase options. In a bot match I was using it to pop up behind enemy heroes just before they retreated so I could get extra shots off and finish them.
Her heroic abilities are:
Wailing Arrow which is an explosive arrow that deals area of effect damage and silences enemy heroes for 2.5 seconds. You can detonate it early by pressing R again. Alternatively, Possession forces an enemy minion or mercenary to fight for you.
Tomb of the Spider Queen
You're looking at a three lane battleground awash with spidery things. Spider minions and enemy heroes drop gems of power on death which you need to collect and deliver to the Spider Queen altars between lanes in the middle of the map.
If you deliver 50 gems you'll get your first wave of Webweavers - minions which head to all three lanes and give them a shove on your behalf. The cost of summoning Webweavers goes up by 5 each time you use the ability.
A few other things which caught my eye in the patch notes:
"Significantly reduced the likelihood that players will receive the same Battleground multiple times in a row when playing in matchmaking game modes."
"Initial implementation for Team League, the second mode of Ranked play in Heroes of the Storm, has been added to the game!"
Team League is a competitive ranked play mode where you can sign up as a group to take on other teams. You need to be player level 40 and own at least 10 heroes to actually do that. Free rotation doesn't count, by the way. Creating a team costs 1,000 gold and you can be a member of up to three teams.
"Commander Raynor has received a significant model update. Among many other things, holster logic has been addressed."
There are also a few changes to the map-specific damage you earn - the Sky Temple does 10% less damage, while Blizzard have also altered the damage and health of Lane Golems on the Haunted Mines map. Those golems are creatures you earn by collecting skulls. When one team only had a few and the other team had loads the power difference was huge but it looks like Blizzard are making that difference less severe when there's a big skull disparity. The more powerful golem in that situation has also had its health reduced.
I'm tentatively pleased about that because I've always thought those types of damage were too high. However, the patch notes do list some nerfs which might offset the damage reductions - specifically that gates, towers, town halls and walls have all had their health reduced by about 10%.
Right. That's enough writing. I'm going to test this patch out.