Breaking Down Zeratul Changes with Glaurung
Zeratul has long stood out as the most popular of the four stealth assassins in Heroes of the Storm, boasting a combination of mobility and explosive burst damage that makes him a far more compelling choice in the pro scene than his peers—the likes of Valeera, Nova, and Samuro. To all us non-pro players, meanwhile, the Dark Prelate is best known for sneaking around and relentlessly terrorizing us since long before Heroes officially launched. But now that all aspects of stealth have been dramatically reworked for the new year, how will the deadly Protoss fare? To get some answers, we spoke to world-famous Zeratul player and Tempo Storm star Mike “Glaurung” Fisk about the new and seemingly improved Zeratul.
More Mobile Than Ever
Making stealth characters much easier to see even when they’re cloaked might seem like a big nerf to an assassin like Zeratul given how core invisibility is to his character. But Glaurung is confident that Zeratul will still manage to shine thanks to some new strength’s he’s been given to compensate for the stealth changes.
“I think Zeratul thrives as an off-lane 1-v-1 hero with the rework,” Glaurung says. “In the early to mid- game, his teamfight is a lot weaker than before. But late game, he's a monster.”
Glaurung thinks the rework’s biggest changes are the new Heroic Ability—Might of the Nerazim–and the fact that Zeratul’s Vorpal Blade ability is now baseline, rather than a Level 1 talent.
“This needed to happen,” Glaurung says of the Vorpal Blade adjustment. “I’m happy to see the change.”
Vorpal Blade is an ability that, when triggered, instantly teleports Zeratul to the last enemy he hit with a basic attack—as long as he casts Vorpal Blade within a few seconds of that attack landing. Prior to the rework, it was an optional level 1 talent, but it made Zeratul so much better at chasing down enemies, particularly highly mobile Heroes like Sylvanas or Tracer, that it was effectively a mandatory pick.
Go for Globes
Now that Vorpal Blade is built into Zeratul, Glaurung feels the Hero’s baseline kit is complete, and more powerful than ever. So what’s his current preference at Level 1? The quest talent Shadow Hunter. This talent lowers the cooldown of Zeratul’s short-ranged teleportation ability Blink, giving him “a lot of improved mobility” once you’ve collected the 15 health globes for the quest. And since regen globes have also been reworked so they now switch to a “neutral” status if your opponent doesn’t pick them up in three seconds, adept Zeratul players can make quick work of the quest if they manage to dominate their lane.
“I really like the globe quest now,” Glaurung says. “It’s fun to pressure a lane to get two globes with every minion wave.”
Glaurung also feels that the Level 7 talent Seeker of the Dark—which allows Zeratul to teleport to the target of his Singularity Spike—makes it a much stronger choice than the other two choices at that level. But aside from those two crucial picks, he thinks that the rework has done a good job of making “multiple playstyles available,” and he can see a number of different situational picks at Zeratul’s other talent levels.
“Level 4 and 13 are particularly open to interpretation, I think,” Glaurung says. “Sometimes you need more defense, or more accessible damage.”
New Heroic Shows Promise, Deals A LOT Of Damage
Zeratul’s Heroic Ability, Void Prison, which freezes everyone caught in its radius in an immovable Jell-O-like dome for a solid five seconds, is one of the most powerful and potentially game-swinging Heroics in Heroes of the Storm, and Glaurung admits that. “There’s no disputing its power” he says. But he insists that the new Heroic Might of the Nerazim is also “super fun” and has a lot of potential despite its exceedingly high skill-ceiling.
Running on a short 20-second cooldown, Might of the Nerazim recasts the last basic ability Zeratul used, meaning that he can now, say, Blink two times in a row to jump a great distance in a second’s time. Or he could double-Cleave, dealing a ton of damage in an instant. The Heroic also has a passive bonus that gives a 40% damange boost to Zeratul’s next basic attack after he uses an ability. All of a sudden, the Dark Prelate now has even more devastating burst damage potential.
“I’ve really been enjoying Might of the Nerazim because of just how much more damage you can do in so many different situations now,” Glaurung says.
Zeratul’s rework only just went live along with all the new changes made to stealth, regen globes, towers, and much more. Glaurung is hesitant to comment conclusively on what the new Heroes of the Storm meta might look like after all the dust has settled, but we encourage all of you to experiment with this deadly new version of the assassin. Let us know how you’re planning to play Zeratul using the #HGC hashtag, and we’ll see you in the Nexus!