Developer Insights: Spillin' the Creep on Zagara
It’s time for another Developer Insights in which we explore a hero’s design and mechanics. We’ll be chatting with Senior Game Designer Richard Khoo about the zerg Broodmother herself, Zagara.
Trikslyr: Zagara's heart truly lies with the Swarm. She believes the zerg are superior in every way to any other lifeform in the StarCraft universe. What were some of the important steps the design team took to make sure Zagara felt powerful and zergy?
Richard: In the lore, Zagara is a zerg broodmother that summons and commands an endless legion of zerg to destroy her enemies. We took that fantasy to heart when we designed her kit and made it so all of her power was reflected in her summons, which can easily outnumber and overwhelm minion waves. We made sure that all of her abilities summoned in some fashion, and we matched the ability functionality with a zerg unit that properly represented it. For example:
- Hydralisks hunt down their targeted foe.
- Roachlings come in multiples and can be used to absorb damage such as turret shots or minion damage.
- Banelings explode for area damage.
When you look at the broad spectrum of specialist heroes, Zagara is more pointed at killing enemy heroes than others. During Zagara's time with Kerrigan in Heart of the Swarm, she witnessed this "kill or be killed" rule first hand. We wanted to express this mentality through her Devouring Maw heroic, which can absolutely devastate the enemy if used correctly.
Trikslyr: Zagara possesses a unique trait that is currently unmatched by any other hero. Zagara can lay Creep Tumors, which produce creep, allowing her and her pets to have quicker movement speed when they are on top of the purple substance. How can Zagara players maximize their usage of such a trait?
Richard: A huge part of the zerg fantasy is their ability to spread and use creep. Being our zerg summoner, it felt appropriate for Zagara to be able to lay Creep Tumors down. The tumors spread creep to give Zagara a strategic edge with vision, while also providing her troops a tactical edge with movement speed and health regeneration bonuses. These tumors are burrowed by default, so I would recommend placing them in areas where you think you can be flanked or in areas where you will be fighting often. As a side note, the tumors can be destroyed by the enemy with AOE damage, so I would avoid putting them right in the middle of the lane, as incidental damage will likely destroy them.
Trikslyr: Zagara's heroic abilities are vastly different from each other. Nydus Network allows players to move around the map with strategic placement. Devouring Maw on the other hand, allows Zagara to gobble up and root opponents, potentially setting up a strong team fight. What are some talents players should be aware of, that synergize well with the different play styles associated with the two heroics?
Richard: To fully utilize the split-pushing Nydus Network build, I would recommend leaving a Nydus in the Hall of Storms near your core, so you can retreat and heal quickly. If you have any front forts up, I leave a Nydus near the Healing Well to keep it safe. Place your other Nydus Worms in nooks and crannies around the map (Think of Murky hiding spots.) If you're looking to push lanes as aggressively as possible, I would recommend:
- Ventral Sacs (Tier 1)
- Medusa Blades (Tier 2)
- Volatile Acid (Tier 3)
- Grooved Spines (Tier 5)
- Baneling Massacre (Tier 6)
- Broodling Nest (Tier 7).
You sacrifice a lot of team fighting utility, so just like at the movies, be mindful of your nearest Nydus exit in the case of an emergency situation.
You can also build Zagara for maximum effectiveness in team fights if you choose Devouring Maw. You will want to focus on burst damage to take advantage of the AOE CC the maw provides. If you would like to maximize your burst capabilities, you can select the following talents:
- Centrifugal Hooks (Tier 1)
- Envenom (Tier 2)
- Volatile Acid (Tier 3)
- Grooved Spines (Tier 5)
- Brood Expansion (Tier 6)
- Tyrant Maw (Tier 7)
There are a couple variations on this build that you can use depending on the situation. If you are looking to focus more on basic attacks and sustained damage, I would swap out the aforementioned picks with:
- Envenomed Spines (Tier 2)
- Battle Momentum (Tier 3)
- Metabolic Boost (Tier 6)
- Fury of the Storm (Tier 7)
This type of build works well in the Haunted Mines. It's also works well if you want to play even more keep away from the enemy. It is important that you continue to spread creep in either of the above builds as the movement speed bonuses to Zagara and her summons from creep will give you a tactical edge.
Trikslyr: It's always exciting to see a new hero leave the bullpen and head into the wild. What will the design team be keeping an eye on in regards to Zagara? Anything players should be testing?
Richard: The controls for using the Nydus Network are hot off the presses. That is to say, it's functional, but not necessarily as optimal as they could be. I know we have some room to improve on this in the future. I'm curious to see what kinds of things people will do with Nydus Network. We had a lot of fun testing and designing this ability, so we hope it'll translate to a fun experience for players.
As a designer I'm really looking forward to playing this hero. She is the first "siege" hero we designed, when Heroes of the Storm was in its infant stage, with the "I want to play my own game" mentality. She really can take control of a lane and bully people out. The idea being that when she's set up, she has total control, but if you send assassins at her, she crumbles.
Trikslyr: We're all looking forward to playing her, but for now, it's time for our favorite part of Developer Insights! Let's hear about some of the goofy moments that surfaced when testing Zagara in her early stages.
Richard: In an early version of Zagara, her Nydus Network wasn't really a Network. It was just a single Worm that spewed out Broodlings that attacked anything near the lane. One day, the balance was a tad off and the Nydus Worm spawned Broodlings faster than our top tier mercenary camps could kill them, which back then were Stone Zealots and Grave Golems. So basically, Zagara could solo every mercenary camp by herself. She reigned supreme for a day...until we nerfed her to the ground.
A huge thank you Richard Khoo and the design team for taking time out of their day to chat with us about Zagara. If you missed any of our previous Developer Insights, check out the list below, and keep an eye on HeroesoftheStorm.com for more news from the Nexus.