Almost every guide I write about Heroes of the Storm begins with the importance of team coherence, unity, and the ways in which a fight between opposing sides can develop. Ostensibly the game itself is about the clashing of these larger-than-life heroes, but a key component that separates higher-level play from lower is knowledge of when one should be fighting.

Often players will overplay their position when instead they should be trying to lose slowly, so excited to rush in and use their Heroic ability in an attempt to single-handedly turn the tide of battle. I see this happen all across the match, from the opening rush to a final defense of the core, and today want to address this issue not only for the betterment of your own enjoyment of the game, but also so your team has a higher chance of winning.

In addition to everything else going on in the game window, there are very important numbers to recognize and understand, to take into account before deciding on a course of action. In addition to the death/respawn timer for both teams, you can view your own team’s Heroic Ability cooldowns and the level parity of the match. By a careful observation and understanding of these numbers, and how they relate to when it is appropriate to engage with an enemy, everyone’s game can be improved.

Respawn Timers

It’s one thing to have a numbers advantage during a fight, tipping the scales in your favor. If however the opponents have a character respawning in short order, particularly those with global travel abilities like Dehaka or Falstad, this fully-healed hero may pose a big problem for your battle-beleaguered forces. If someone is close to respawning, and/or can join the fight before your own reinforcements, it may be wise to disengage, no matter that you have an enemy structure down to 50%.

Alternatively, waiting a few more seconds for your own team to rally before diving in can have a big impact on a fight’s outcome. Rather than ones and twos throwing themselves against the enemy horde, possibly causing trickle deaths, present a unified front and go in from a position of strength. Team-fights are all about the whole being more than the sum of its parts.

Heroic Ability Cooldown

It’s one thing to go in as Ryanor with guns blazing. It’s quite another thing to have Lt. Morales ready to use Stim Drone which increases ally attack speed by 75%. Every character’s Heroic Ability is a potential game-changer, and the proper application, timing, and synergy between them is essential to gain—and keep—the upper hand. Each member of a team can see how long until each other member’s Heroic Ability will be ready to use, and it is vastly better to engage with a fully-stacked deck than try to go in while drawing empty. Even the more defensive-focused Heroics such as Anduin’s Holy Word: Salvation should be accounted for; the one thing I’m sure of is that your team’s plan will fall apart as soon as you meet the enemy, and being ready to reinforce, bulwark, or dig in against an opponent is essential.

A side note about Heroic Abilities. There’s a common belief that “killing an enemy is always worth the use of a Heroic Ability” and while I can’t categorically agree or disagree with the sentiment, people with large-scale, AOE-type abilities with long cooldowns—such as Gul’dan, Jaina, and Deathwing—may want to think twice before pulling out their biggest guns in the hope of only taking down one opponent. It’s always important to look at the situation and see what, and where, your abilities can be best utilized.

Team Level

Trying to antagonize or engage a team which is several levels ahead, particularly key talent tier levels, is a foolish endeavor. That said, keeping a careful eye on team levels can dictate when the appropriate moment is to strike. If both teams are at level 9 and the map objective is coming up, it may be advantageous for the slightly behind team to dive in, hoping to disrupt things before their foes pick up Heroic Abilities. Similarly, a team with level 16 talents against a lower-leveled enemy may want to press the advantage, even if they don’t have their full team at their back.

One of the most frequent problems I see—and I myself suffer from this too—is the incorrect timing of Heroic Abilities at the end-game. Most Heroics have a lengthy (60 second or more) cooldown, and most level 20 storm talents affect the Heroic Ability in some way. Please think twice about using your Heroic Ability when you’re in the midst of level 19, because it’s very likely that you would have gotten much more utility and power out of it as soon as you ticked over to level 20.

Header image taken from promotional material for Heroes of the Storm