Heroes of the Storm

On Chromie’s Dragon Breath and Basic Attacks: Gameplay and Fantasy Integrity

HeroesoftheStorm 1 - On Chromie’s Dragon Breath and Basic Attacks: Gameplay and Fantasy Integrity
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Been seeing concerns over current Chromie’s design, which I think surface a lot due to Whitemane’s changes.

It’s important to note that, unlike Whitemane, Chromie started broken. Gameplay was oppressive and passive, bombarding from way back with defensive Time Traps. An obscene amount of reworks tried to fix her, with many mistakes. Turning W visible, making her a stacking machine. All this experience lead to this Chromie. Whitemane never was this. She got freshened up, things went wrong chiefly in terms of fantasy, and are already being looked at.

I’ve shared some thoughts on the latest rework before, but there’s enough new to add and it’s a warm-enough topic for another thread. Let’s just have a look at two issues I see brought up.


You Basic (Attacking)?

Call me fallacious, but imma go ahead and declare this as an absolute objective truth real quick.

Conjuring clones of yourself to attack enemies is one of the mage-iest things ever.

(Ninjas and stealthed people like Nova might do it too, Gaz and Probius ain’t that self-important so they just use turrets.)

But in HotS, it’s heresy if a significant portion of mage dps is colored orange? Why have a game that prizes its uniqueness in heroes like Abathur, its maps, talents tailored to every hero, limit itself based on a restrictive, made-up classification?

Invoking this, or Chromie’s past design, is convenient and nothing else. Everyone is entitled to their preference. But that doesn’t make them correct or… ugh, victimized. Meaningful basic attacks were key aspect in making Chromie more interactive and fair to face. Does that make her Valla? No. This was incorporated into clones. Since she’s all about conjuring sand images of her gnome/dragon self, it serves her playstyle’s themes to make her clones more crucial.

But perhaps you find the new W isn’t at all crucial…


W-hy so Breathious?

This header makes no sense. But with Dragon’s Breath being invisible, neither do these:

1: Too high damage, as was the case initially. That much burst on an invisible all-or-nothing ability is unfair.

2: Multiple uses. Suggestions for these erroneously arise from the notion that three blasts can just become separate casts, on low cd or working like Junkrat’s Q. Even if not invisible, adding another bombardment ability to Chromie on top of Q would be silly. Now imagine if you had to ask yourself “I wonder where that blast falls” every few seconds. That’d be a nightmare, unless the damage was low enough to make this sand sculpture of a dragon feel measly for both sides.

Can’t find the comments on Jaina getting lower damage for a 3rd wave on Blizzard, so she was more about zoning (see dev comments). Take my word for it, the top comment was… against the idea. Relevant!

Zoning is often misunderstood. Some see it as an excuse for an ability not working properly, or meant for noobs who love standing on red things. Why isn’t everything a juicy, quick Flamestrike?

But zoning is more complex than that. It’s area denial, it’s defending your pals, them helping you land the damn things, it’s low chance but high reward, it’s predicting the flow of battle. That last part is especially noteworthy for Chromie.

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Generally, Dragon’s Breath isn’t a zoning ability, it’s a skillshot. But adding conditional, zoning-esque power was a good way to move it from supreme burst without making it visible or oppressive, but actually more engaging.

‘Engaging’ means encouraging thought, factoring risk vs reward. Maybe the risk of 204 or 408 damage ain’t worth considering if you’re a careless healthy tank, or you can survive when about to deliver a crucial blow/cc. But in general…

1st wave needs no introduction. You see Chromie casting, hoo-wee, where’s it gonna land?! Will it soften our frontline? Backline? Deliver a killing blow or strike an escape route? Is it where I think it’ll be or did Chromie play mindgames?

2nd wave is like… an expansion pack. Might be obvious where it is, but maaaybe Chromie was tricksy again.

3rd wave. Well you know where this one lands. That makes it meaningless, right? Like a Blizzard outside Ring of Frost? Both wrong! If you're under it, you have one final, but very simple question. Is it worth eating this or should I dodge?

From Chromie’s side, you have this simple tool of pure damage, but at a long range, invisible, affecting an area over time. What do you do with it? I guess that’s covered right above. After simple frontline / backline pressure, be more considerate and playful, and you’ll make all the more difference.

From your allies’ side, if we’re talking high-level competent etc etc, they may have their own movement impairment or displacement to add, position themselves so enemies take the hit, and so on.

And thus, each wave has the same damage, but diminishing thought required. The lower HPs are, the scarier it becomes. The higher the skill level, the more everyone can be involved. Ain’t that just dandy for a basic ability?


In Conclusion

Sand-flingin’ clones enrich not only Chromie’s gameplay, but also its flavor. As does Dragon’s Breath. Invisible, involving, just the right amount of scary, it’s fair and no longer a Flamestrike variation.

Yes, this is far removed from Chromie’s past iterations. So? I myself looove infinite stacking, but nowadays I don’t think it belongs to any hero, certainly not her. I picked Bye, Bye all the time, but it’s just so cheap. You can love something, it can be empowering and fun, but also bad design. A carefree sand machine only bothering hitting distant, annoyed enemies.

Chromie isn’t Valla, W isn’t dumber cuz there's not an essay’s worth of mental output in every cast. The third wave not hitting half the time doesn’t make W bad, it’s like a weirder, sneakier Corruption (same 204 damage atm, too). She can use balance changes but overall she’s in a good spot, and certainly, healthier and more skill-dependent than ever.

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