One of my favorite Heroes of the Storm character to play is Nazeebo. A witch doctor from the Diablo franchise, his primary roles include off-laning—meaning he can be somewhat self-sufficient when the rest of the team is elsewhere—and being very annoying in team fights. He spreads poison, summons zombie walls, and has all manner of creepy-crawlers to fling at his foe.
This is not a post about playing Nazeebo and the many ways he can contribute to a matchup, however. This is a post centered around one particular trait, available at level twenty, that takes nearly the entire match to work up to—if you aren’t playing with this talent in mind from moment one, it will be worthless to you. That’s right, today I’m discussing Vile Infection.
Nazeebo’s unique mechanic is that he receives bonuses to his permanent mana and health pools every time a minion dies while poisoned by one of his attacks. Slow at first, other talents can be taken which turn this squishy character into quite a tank at later levels, if allowed to take down wave after wave of minions without lane pressure. For players hoping to make the best use of Vile Infection, they better start hitting minions early, and often.
Many characters have quests to injure or kill minions, while other characters can make short work of waves with basic abilities like Johanna’s Condemn or Gul’dan’s Fell Flame. When playing with a Nazeebo on your team, please let them poison minions before killing the waves; even if the match doesn’t last until level 20 or their build is geared toward a different end-game goal, the infinitely-stacking bonuses from poisoning minions can make a huge difference in overall survivability. For a character with no/few escape abilities, every little bit counts.
Vile Infection, when taken at level 20, gives Nazeebo a new quest. Including all of the minions he poisoned previously—remember, only those who died while poisoned count—if he reaches a grand total of 175 or more, he gets a large power spike. Some go so far as to say it’s the biggest power spike in the game, as defining as getting Heroic Abilities at level 10.
All of Nazeebo’s abilities and basic attacks apply a small damage-over-time poison effect to his targets, be they minions, structures, or camps. His basic abilities also apply poison to heroes, but not his basic attacks. The true power of Vile Infection is in how it changes this innate poison ability:
If a Nazeebo player successfully gets 175 stacks of Voodoo Ritual at level 20, that means they are not only doing 362 bonus damage per hit, but that this extra damage is on top of the multi-strike power of each of his abilities. Hitting an enemy hero with 5 poison toads at level 20 normally deals 1,303 damage over 6 seconds—not too shabby! Hitting the same hero with five toads powered by Vile Infection however …
5 toads totaling 1,303 damage.
5 applications of Voodoo Ritual for 1,810.
Bonus damage from Vile Infection (+150%) for an extra 4,525.
—7,638 damage— (a 586% increase)
Also note that Nazeebo can launch two waves of these frogs within two seconds, bringing his raw damage potential to 15,276, or a DPS of roughly 2,500. To say that’s insane is an understatement. Granted it requires perfect positioning, but that’s the joy of theorycrafting here; we can talk best-case scenarios.
What’s more, each of Nazeebo’s attacks now deals this bonus damage. Basic attack? Bonus damage. Basic ability? Bonus damage. Since all of Nazeebo’s abilities are multi-hit affairs, you can see how this scales up his power level to the moon and the stars. whether he’s sieging down enemy structures or launching vicious attacks against enemy heroes.
Minion waves spawn every 30 seconds and amble their way across the battlefield in predefined lanes. For most maps there are 5 minions per wave, with catapults added as Forts and Keeps get destroyed (which also count for Voodoo Ritual). This means a perfectly-playing and -opportune Nazeebo can get to 175 minions in 17.5 minutes—I know, the number seems odd but I double-checked the math myself. Double-laning, team fights, and the natural ebb and flow of battle can and will adjust this total, but know that it is entirely reasonable in all but the quickest of matches to hit the target for Vile Infection.
I won’t say that if you’re striving for Vile Infection you should ignore the rest of the map and the goings-on thereof, but I will say that without constant and consistent effort, racking up 175 kills is a very, very high bar to reach.
My personal strategy is to start basic attacking the front of the wave while I throw spiders at the back half. This ensures the most amount of poison spread, whether I’m being assisted by minions, heroes, or structures. If I’m at a wide angle to the wave, I’ll send waves of frogs into their midst; since they explode with AoE damage, there’s a very good chance I’ll hit them all. If I have to run from an engagement, say due to hero pressure, I’ll cast Zombie Wall in order to damage and hopefully finish off straggling minions.
This all depends on the length and circumstances of the game, of course, but the largest decision waiting for you at 20 is whether or not you think you’ll hit 175 with enough time left in the match for it to make a palpable difference.
Just because it’s fun, let’s take the earlier calculations and see what a Nazeebo could do while under the influence of Ana’s Nano Boost Heroic Ability, which amplifies spell damage by 30% and reduces ability cooldowns by 150%. That means each full wave of frogs can now deal up to 9,929 damage. With two waves, now we’re looking at a total of 19,859 damage (more than 3,300 DPS)! Short of invulnerability, protection, or healthbar transfer, there is simply no character who can survive that much abuse, let alone from a single source.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.