TL;DR: Play like a coward.
I finally made it to Master again. Last time was over a year ago.
This season, I had an even higher win rate with Support heroes than usual (and an even lower win rate with everything else). While Brightwing was still my most played hero, Alexstrasza was my most successful by a long shot.
https://i.imgur.com/mgjVycQ.png So I thought, someone might be interested in how to play her to her full potential.
At the beginning of every game, you have to decide if you want to play Gift of Life or Abundance. I'd say that Gift of Life is more commonly the correct choice (I'd say about 2/3) because of all the heroes that punish hugging thus making Abundance tricky to use. But if the enemy team does not have such a hero, I'd say that the Abundance build is overall stronger. If you have a Li Ming and you go for Abundance, tell her to consider Power Hungry on 1. It is a sweet synergy to provide Li Ming with Spell Power from the infinite globes in the mid-game.
Note that these two builds are ONLY defined by Alexstrasza's Level 1 and Level 7 talents. Her level 4 tier is completely situational and independent from your build. Many people tend to grab Surge of Vitality when playing the Abundance build without a second thought even though that talent has no inherent synergy with the build. Exuberance is generally sweet with Lifeblossom to pick up your flower more safely, but there are other factors to consider. The main question at your level 4 talent should be "Who needs movement speed? Me or my melees?".
For the heroic ability, I really came to love the new Life-Binder. The shorter cooldown makes it really valuable in those small skirmishes where the objective is not up and you do not want to use your Dragonqueen. The problem is that Cleansing Flames can be used as an escape, so you have to be super careful when you do not have it. While you can theoretically heal yourself with Life-Binder, this is very rarely useful because if you get ambushed, your teammates will hopefully try to save you and take some damage in the process. This will make it hard to find a good target to heal yourself in this case.
The other talents are pretty much set in stone for me. Pacify on 13, Draconic Disciple on 16 and Blessing of the Red on 20. Many players tend to pick Overprotective if they go Abundance Build, but I think this talent is not worth it. Abundance is most commonly used in one of two ways: In the backline during a break of a teamfight or in a poke war in which case the shields are nearly meaningless or to back up the frontline in which case the ranged characters are not going to step into the circle. Shields are useful to save people and Abundance is not the spell Alex wants to use to save people.
How to Dragonqueen:
Players in higher ranks have gotten pretty good at retreating when they hear the scary dragon. So the best moment to use it is usually when you want the enemies to retreat. This is usually the case when you are about to win the objective. This is why Alexstrasza is amazing on Infernal Shrines and Volskaya Foundry: When you are about to finish the objective, a retreating enemy usually means a won objective. Basically, the enemy needs to have a head-start on every objective if they do not want to risk this scenario.
First of all: Your basic abilities are going to be replaced upon transforming, so spam them before using your trait. However, one of the most common mistakes I see on other players is that they use Preservation instantly upon transforming. The cooldown of Preservation is equal to the duration of Dragonqueen, in other words: You always get exactly one use out of it. Yes, you will be spamming Breath of Life and Wing Buffet like crazy during your trait, but Preservation should be treated like a small heroic ability. HOWEVER: Upon reaching level 16 and taking Draconic Disciple, your duration will be long enough to get two uses of Preservation, so at this point it will be correct to use it within a few seconds after transforming.
Little known fact: Dragonqueen grants invincibility frames during the transformation. This can be extremely useful to dodge things like Pyroblast, Apocalypse, Stage Dive or other nasty things. You can practise this in Training mode against Kel'thas. Just drop low and the AI will launch a Pyroblast at you.
How to play:
Another of my most played heroes is Lt. Morales and I tend to play Alexstrasza very similarly to her. It is very easy to get trigger happy with Flame Buffet just to annoy the enemy tank, but I would say that this is mostly incorrect to do during teamfights until AFTER the dust has settled from the first initiations. Note that every poke damage is pretty bad for you because it will decrease your healing output. If you need to pop an Abundance defensively just to get your own HP back up, then you will have to deal with a long cooldown, so you want to avoid this at any cost. This also means that if you have to step into an aoe to grab your Life-Bloom flower, then you might get punished. Note that Gift of Life only costs 15% of your life while your threshhold talents require you to be above 75%. This means that as long as you start the fight with a flower and full life, you can afford to skip one flower without losing your threshhold. Your HP are super valuable, so treat them as such.
When going for the Abundance Quest, be mindful when going for Globes. It is ideal to freeze a lane next to your own wall to have a chance to snag the enemy globe, but rotations between two lanes can also work. This is where a little pressure with Flame Buffet can make the enemy not want to go for their globes, but be mindful of enemy divers. Alexstrasza is also a surprisingly good assistant for merc camps because Flame Buffet is essentially free after the first cast and it will also grant you a globe. The quest might feel very burdensome, but note that the Gift of Life build is also pretty weak until level 7.
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