Developer Insights: Azmodan Tells All
It’s time for another Developer Insights to get the inside scoop about heroes and their abilities. This time, Game Designer John Hodgson sits down to chat about the Lord of Sin, Azmodan.
Trikslyr: We've got a question from Twitter. @Thunderclaww asks "Azmodan seems more like a general, commanding the legions of Hell to do his bidding instead of engaging. How will that affect him (and his playstyle in Heroes of the Storm)?"
John: Thunderclaww, we are in agreement: Azmodan is a general, and his armies are legion. Azmodan was designed to match his reputation as a masterful (although overconfident) military commander and tactician of Hell. Although he went through many iterations on his individual abilities, Azmodan stayed a Specialist Hero during development. We made sure he would focus on pushing down enemy Forts with summoned units, bombarding enemies from afar with siege abilities, or conscripting Mercenary camps.
We wanted to do Azmodan the justice of being powerful in his own right, strength that a true Lord of Hell would deserve. In Heroes of the Storm, Azmodan is certainly able to wade into the thick of battle himself: he's got more health than any other Specialist currently, and his All Shall Burn ability is excellent for focused damage on enemy Heroes and structures. Obviously Azmodan prefers going into battle with an army of minions and Mercenaries at his back, but whatever the situation, he won't be going down without a fight.
Trikslyr: Everyone loves to talk about the talent system, so let's hear about some of his options. Anything in particular really stand out that you would recommend to a first-time Azmodan?
John: Players have already been forming up some awesome talent builds, but here's what I'd recommend with the current information:
For straightforward pushing power, I like to take as many Summon Demon Warrior upgrades as I can. My choices below:
- Army of Hell for more Demons
- Enduring Warriors to make them last longer
- Blazing Demons to help them cut through enemy troops.
On Merc-heavy maps like Gardens of Terror, I'll pick up Bribe and exchange some of those standbys for Hellforged Armor and Mercenary Lord to help solo the Merc camps myself and power them up when they're on my side. If you find your more direct pushes are getting shut down, you can try Bound Minion, Demonic Smite, or Battleborn for a safer, more split-push oriented route. A Demonic Invasion pick for my Heroic seals the deal on a powerful, focused siege build.There's also the "Baller Build:"
- Taste for Blood
- Sieging Wrath
- Black Pool to power up your Globe of Annihilation's damage
- Infernal Globe to help you make those long-distance shots more easily for bombarding Forts safely or picking off arrogant Nephalem (or Murloc eggs, or Zerg evolution masters).
When building Azmodan as a serious brawler, you might be surprised how well you can stand up in a one-on-one situation, especially if enemy players don't save an interrupt for you! Try picking up:
- First Aid,
- Black Pool,
- March of Sin
- Blood for Blood
- Fifth Circle
Trikslyr: Can you tell us about his two heroics and in what scenarios they excel at?
John: Azmodan's first Heroic ability is Demonic Invasion. Demons rain down from the sky, dealing damage on impact, then getting up and attacking nearby enemies. It's awesome for laying siege to a Fort due to the demons dealing extra damage to minions and structures, soaking up a ton of ammo, and gaining all the benefits of Azmodan's General of Hell Trait. It also makes taking a Mercenary camp solo a simple affair, including Boss-level camps! However, Demonic Invasion can be a little flat in teamfights... the demons can occasionally block a skillshot and gum up enemy Hero movement, but in general I think this ability is best in a PvE scenario.
Azmodan's second Heroic ability, Black Pool, is the much more subtle pick but extremely powerful when used well. Azmodan can create multiple Black Pools that nearly doubles the damage dealt by himself and his army (minions, Mercs, and his summoned Demons) while standing in the Pools. With enough of your army soaking in Pools, enemy fortifications can be destroyed lightning-quick, particularly if the Pools are empowering powerful units like Siege Giants and Catapults. As for Azmodan himself, I've found that boosting the power of a Globe of Annihilation, All Shall Burn, and his basic attacks really catches enemy players off-guard with the amount of damage being dished out.
Trikslyr: It's exciting to see another Hero from our Diablo universe. The Heroes community often wonders if we can count on seeing more Heroes from the Diablo franchise, maybe someone like Deckard Cain, in the future?
John: Well... let's just say there are many more Diablo heroes and villains in the works at varying stages of development. We've seen a lot of community (and internal!) requests for characters like the Necromancer, Imperius, the Monk, and of course, the Last Horadrim himself. You'll just have to stay a while and listen for news in the future.
Trikslyr: As you know, with every Developer Insights, we try to include a fun anecdote about cool bugs/stories that occur during the playtest. Have anything to share?
John: When developing a Hero or map, we don't usually have art or sound assets to test new implementation, so we just find different models and sounds from other stuff in Heroes, or even our older games, that we can use temporarily. For the earliest version of Azmodan, the old version of Demonic Invasion used Warcraft III Sheep critters as demons. Back then, the summoned units for Demonic Invasion were supposed to be zombies, and the ability was called "Corpse Rain"... or it's more informal, affectionate name used around the pit, "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor".
It was amusing to watch around 20 sheep march up a lane and decimate a town during playtests. We were going to ship it like that, but the artists thought it was a bad idea.
A huge thank you to John and the design team for taking time out of their day to chat with us about Azmodan. Keep an eye on HeroesoftheStorm.com for more news from the Nexus.