Thoughts on HoTS: Mana Fountains Losing Importance

HoTS Brawl Well

TL;DR Some character have talents specifically for regenerating mana faster. These are game changers not because more mana means more abilities spammed overall but because they allow the player to engage whenever the map objectives come up without planning ahead.

I don’t know about you guys but when I play Kharazim, I always always take “Insight” at Tier 1. This is the talent that grants mana on every 3rd basic attack. It’s amazingly good. In a patch last November, BLIZZARD made Insight an even more enticing talent pick. Healz build or DMG build, doesn’t matter. After just a few minutes into each game you can stand and soak forever with smart positioning and a halfway decent team. The vast majority of people still take the healing talent at this level but that’s only because they’ve never tried getting juiced on teh manaz. If you try Insight you will never go back. And when I say “you will never go back” I mean you will choose that talent forever AND that you will not touch your B button for the rest of the game. No Going Back.

Heaven starting zone

Going back to spawn will heal your character to full and refill their mana bar.

I understand different characters have differences in sustain. I just don’t know if I like this infinite mana capability on a healer. It adds variation in playstyle and thus more choice and thus more fun? …..Maybe. I’m kinda torn. A Raynor + Kharazim team will overtake a Valla + Uther team all things remaining equal with their superior soak. Other lane soakers Azmodan, Lost Vikings, Murky, Gazlowe, are weird in specific ways that Raynor and Kharazim are not. Are their shortcomings substantial enough to warrant godly soak potential? Yes.

Abathur

Direct combat strongly discouraged.

The HoTS team has done a fantastic jeearrb of dreaming up characters who break all the rules by having strange engagement mechanics, interactions, or quirks but also have upsides to balance them out. Abathur is a great example of a strange support character who is never meant to engage in a fight himself. It feels good playing without resource on characters like Cho’Gall (though I do think it’s stupid that the friggin’ MAGE doesn’t use mana) and Illidan. I think having different resource pools or no resource pool at all is awesome and makes characters feel different. But is infinite mana an acceptable utility balance for a pretty vanilla DPS character? How about a healer?

I feel the game has made a drastic shift away from healing wells and hearthstones toward lane sustain in kit. Raynor and Kharazim are not the only offenders but at a certain point in the game, these two characters shift from having a mana bottleneck to having a cooldown bottleneck. A Raynor player can use every ability the instant it comes off cooldown indefinitely. No doubt this is meant to balance the character late game but my complaint is that the map positioning enabled by this always full playstyle, is a benefit miles above and beyond the in-fight utility.

 

Healing Fountain

Fountains are critical healing structures that keep players in the fight.

 

Drink The Sippy Cup / Flush The Toilet

A game has been going for a bit. Everyone is in lane trying not to get poked too hard. Suddenly the objective is up and you’re at three quarters health but have no mana. This is the moment where you have to decide if backing to get mana is worth being late to the party. Boy it sure would be great if you were standing waist deep in a refreshing fountain. But yours was exploded and your Abathur is up at the top of the map chilling next to a kiddie pool full of jungle juice under a shade umbrella. This is your fault. If you’re playing a character that needs to top off, you have to force the correct rotations. A PUG Chen is not going to just hook you up with his ice bucket of Coronas, you have to be smart.

A Heroes of The Storm map objective

Fighting over timed map objectives

HoT Tip: Rotate based on fountain availability to get everyone to objectives faster and gain the level lead from soak. Lanes without fountains can be defended by Abathur, Chen, Gazlowe, Johanna, Kharazim, Murky, Raynor, Rexxar, Illidan, and to a lesser extent Sonya and Valera players.

 

Being in the right place at the right time is huge in Heroes of The Storm and I think it’s part of what make this game so great. I hope we’ll continue to see high damage characters being countered by characters that have interesting utility and map control options. I also hope that the development team eases off on the characters who don’t use mana as it undermines the unique way they handle rotations, lane pressure, and team leveling. OR in true HoTS fashion, they could add a character or two who disrupt the mana fountain mechanic. Spawning mana springs, rebuilding destroyed fountains, or even support mobility options (looking at you Lucio) for speedier trips home, are all feasible options. It’s HoTS so nothing is sacred.

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