Since the recent Chromie changes around two months ago, the mage meta has been slowly, but surely changing – even after some of those Chromie buffs got blunted by nerfs. Right now mages could be categorized based by their effective ability range.
There are the long ranged ones: Chromie, Hanzo, Li Ming, Mephisto :: All of them capable of long range poke while still having strong defensive tools which can nearly save them from nearly any situation, unless they make a mistake. Meph is a little odd one in this regard, but I´d still categorize him as a long ranged mage. He is less favored though because of his skill ceiling and amount of team coordination needed to work well.
Then there are the short-mid ranged mages:Kaelthas, Jaina, Kelthuzad, Nazeboo, Guldan, Orphea. Orphea´s fine because of her nearly infinite damage potential fused with her mobility and self heal – even though she has the shortest range of all. Not fit into all, nor against all team compositions, but still fulfilling a strong and needed position.
It´s the others who are starting to fall off of the big bench or never even had the place there. Nazeboo is like a stumbling toddler that has no place in the game until 20. I admit he could be fine if you plan into the ultra-late game, but let´s be honest that´ a niche of a niche. If the enemy team plays it right it´s more likely you won´t get 20 at all.
Then there´s Kelthuzad who still has a strong niche. The problem is that it´s getting smaller and smaller. His problem is that the team comps that he´s really strong against are getting less and less common. Heroes have mobility, self cleanse, — and dives against Kelthuzad can throw off the focus of his whole team.
The last three: Jaina, Kaelthas, Guldan are more or less in similar situation, Guldan possibly a little worse off than the other two. To fulfill their damage potential they all have to get into the effective range of the enemy. And to do this even having perfect positioning all the time is not enough. Some compositions can easily bully you out of that position a lot of times and reduce your damage output by a large margin. This means that in some cases if you play with these shorter ranged mages you´ll unavoidably need your team to provide you a level of defense to make sure your pick is worth the trouble. And that´s where the inferiority comes in.
When you corner a Li Ming she can teleport away, when you corner a Hanzo he can jump away and Chromie can just blast you from a range long enough so that she just never has to worry, and when not there´s still time trap. The team with the longer ranged Mages will always have more flexibility, more wriggle room. You´ll always need to spend more resources to dive a Li Ming than a Kaelthas. And when a hero you can play a lot more safe with has the same damage potential than the one that has to risk getting burst down every time they go into a fight you have a problem.
And I realize that there can´t be a meta where every hero can be picked without any consequences, because balancing the game to that degree is just not possible. We don´t need all we just need more.
I just fear of more power being shifted to long ranged mages while the others are left alone. It really threatens making the mage meta stale and monochrome. The gap between them right now isn´t that big, but they would still need buffs to have the same viability.
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© Post "Shifting of the Mage meta" for game Heroes of the Storm.
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