Heroes of the Storm

The Problem With Deathwing – A Rework Idea and Thoughts.

HeroesoftheStorm 4 - The Problem With Deathwing - A Rework Idea and Thoughts.

I’ve played a lot of DW recently, and despite how fun he is to play, he seem to have some huge issues with his design which I think could be easily tweaked to bring him into a better place.

DW has dropped from his arrival status of first pick/first ban, to now fall into a niche last pick to take advantage of fewer counters to him. Even with this, I’ve noticed a decrease in his melee effectiveness and builds seem to have moved from melee, to hybrid (Q talents at 13 and 16), to now straight Q only.

Now, bear with me, but despite having a 60% win rate with him (solely through last-picking and going full Q with regen at level 1), let me attempt to convince you why he’s actually weak and in need of some buffs. Yes, buffs…

DW is a raid boss, that starts off a game strong (which is perfectly fine as many heroes do) but then plummets into the realm of being one of the worst heroes in the late game. He gets hammered 1v1 from nearly all other heroes from the mid-late game and it’s brutal, even when considering his other strengths. End-game, he still hits hard, but is weaker than a fly when being targeted. This is even worth verses a hard counter, unless you Q build from range. The scaling for the other heroes’ damage becomes a greater issue as DW cannot be healed by allies. The increases in suggestions for instances of protected give DW a minimal lifetime when landing from full HP., without, hopefully, making him OP.

This idea is designed to smooth his power out a little, whilst still keeping his counters appropriate, and allowing DW to have a talent tree that works across the game and keeps him with that raid-boss feeling for the length of a match. These suggestions are based around balancing his overall numbers, such as his damage bonuses verses heroes.

Base Kit

Remove his ‘stance switch’ as its unnecessary. DW is already slow enough and doesn’t need a stance to limit his abilities. It’s never used mid-battle and his energy already limits his ability uses and his talents will further push a DW towards some abilities over others.

Instead, have Q-E as DW’s ‘Destroyer’ abilities, and have 1-3 as his ‘World Breaker’ abilities. Give DW a small, weak cone of fire breath as a quicker Q for Destroyer and move his channelled Q to 1. This keeps Destroyer with quicker, weaker abilities and World Breaker with powerful, wind-up abilities.

The initial damage of Lava Pool should feel more rewarding, so its damage should be weighted towards the initial damage, less for the DOT, and it shouldn’t last so long.

DW should have the strongest base AA damage, but a much lower overall DPS through a slow attack speed. He’s a dragon!


To make up for the ‘flexibility’ DW now has with the lack of stances, there is a +10 energy premium the first time you use an ability of a different type to the ones previously used, i.e. using Destroyer abilities has a standard energy cost, but the first time you use a World Breaker ability, it’s costs more. Using the same subset of abilities and chaining them together is efficient on energy, whereas mixing the unique 6-ability base kit will be inefficient.

DW starts the game without a ‘premium’ but using one type of ability adds the premium onto the other type, i.e. a Destroyer ability adds a premium onto the next World Breaker and vice versa. Using one type of landing adds the premium to the other set of abilities.


For a Raid boss’ ultimate, it’s a bit…meh…

Rebalance its damage so that it deals more ‘impact’ damage to heroes that DW swoops over. Buildings take more damage, both from the impact and the residual AOE damage. The AOE damage then deals less overall to all other targets.


His Trait button should activate the ‘stance switch’ animation (because it’s awesome) and give DW 1.25s of protected during this animation. Yes, give DW a controllable protected ‘roar’ on a 60-second CD. If Bellowing Roar is taken at 10, it adds the fear effect onto his button and triggers at the end of the Protected channel, which fits with the wind-up time the ability already has.

I’ve read that the devs didn’t want the current switch stance on his trait, and put it on his 1 instead, due to the amount of text he has. Some concise re-wording solves this minor issue and you can use alt to expand the text, just like with talents currently.

DW cannot effectively pre-tap, because he’s so slow, and cannot be healed at all by allies. Add his tap automatically onto his trait, but as it’s a 60 second CD, he now gains 50% of the total of a normal tap, so it averages out, but allows him to benefit from a half-tap in battle.

DW doesn’t heal when backing, so although he can now tap when all wells are destroyed, remember, his flight has a +33% CD.

Armour Plates

His armour plates should factor more into play and counter-play with DW, like moving from one phase of a raid boss to the next. His armour plates should have 0.75 seconds of Protected baseline when removed. This gives poke a powerful tool for dealing with DW as he won’t gain the true value of the protected, but give him just a small window of survivability in late-game fights, especially when he engages in his terms, i.e, landing into a fight. It might sound OP, but consider that he cannot be healed and has such hard counters, so, as a raid boss, he should have some decent staying power in a late-game fight. Others bruisers, even assassins can all last a lot longer at, and by, level 20, along with the ability to receive heals and buffs from their allies.


Flight should be increased to 60 seconds of CD. This increases the counter-play of forcing him into the air when DW doesn’t want to and can affect his rotations if you win a lane against him. I never struggle to rotate or be caught out, which happens with the other global heroes, so it needs to be rewarding to push him out of lane, gank him, or poke him down.


Flight is not rewarding for DW, even when winning his lane. He cannot mount to double soak, or grab a camp as he’s poor at clearing mercenaries (which should remain), however he cannot use his global to any real effectiveness by staying in lane and grabbing an extra wave before joint the fight. It takes 4-seconds of inaction/no damage taken, 2-3 seconds of take-off animation, then a wait of 8 seconds, before another 1 second of landing, which is lacklustre to say the least, then waiting 4 more seconds to use an ability. That’s around 20 seconds in total, whereas other globals take less than 5 seconds before periods of action from one part of the map to another.

Part of his landing is what makes DW so poor late game, as you simply cannot land on the enemy team late game as you’re dead before you can even waste your Cataclysm escaping. Yes, you can wait until the first round of abilities have been thrown out, but then you still to wait to land and use abilities. He’s a raid boss that often cannot engage late game as his design intends. He should be strong when he engages on his own terms, like all other tanks and bruisers, and keep some of that raid boss feel into the late game.

Q – Destroyer Landing should stun in the centre and deal much more damage to targets in the centre, as well as instantly killing minions. This landing adds an energy premium onto subsequent World Breaker abilities.

W – World Breaker landing should slow in its full area and deal more damage than currently, but over a few seconds. This landing adds an energy premium onto subsequent Destroyer abilities.

These options give DW some meaningful choice and make you think about the first ability to be used to make sure you don’t have the energy premium, or that you do, but feel that it’s worth it anyway, such as Destroyer Landing (stun), followed by a World Breaker ability (Earth Shatter’s stun).

E – In-flight, your E is a skill shot, called Meteor, used like Skyfall currently. It’s gained at level 7 and has a variation based on the flight talent picked. Gain a charge of Meteor on flying and every 8 seconds airborne (see level 7 talents below).

Talents – As current unless changed

Level 1

Dragon Soul – Healing is also based off of periodic damage from his W (his level 4 Heat Wave talent) and his 2 (Lava Pool).

Molten Blood – Regen is based on the current amount of plates, 0.20% per plate.

Draconic Might – Add +0.5 seconds of protected when losing an Armour plate, to a total of 1.25 seconds, which is the same as a Varian (I think) but remember, he can fly less frequently and it’s uncontrollable, so weak verses poke, but helps him survive late game.

Level 4

Infernus – Base damage is increased by 10% per current plate and doubled when cast at 75% energy.

Heat Wave – Adds 1 second duration to Incinerate’s AOE and 0.5 seconds to Lava Pool’s duration for each missing armour plate. Rebalance durations and stacks accordingly.

Dragon’s Ire – Damage is increased by 10% base, then +10% per missing plate.

Level 7

Firestorm now reduces spell armour on landing, and does a mini-(newly-balanced) cataclysm in its area. Meteor has 1 charge, is larger, and leaves a small Lava Pool for 3 seconds.

Death Drop now reduces ability CDs after landing depending on the number of heroes landed on, allowing you to attack immediately if you land on multiple enemy heroes. Meteor has 2 charges and each hit reduces your landing CD, allowing you to land much quicker.

Skyfall now has the current Firestorm’s meteors on landing, which prioritise heroes and reduce flight’s CD for each hero hit. Meteor has 3 charges and recover a larger percentage of health than the current version.

Level 10

Burn Beneath My Shadow – Increases Cataclysm impact and periodic damage against buildings to make it more siege focused.

Bellowing Roar – Adds onto his trait, but otherwise as is, apart from increasing the channel time to 1.25 seconds, due to his protected, then add this 0.25 seconds onto the fear duration.

Level 13

Wicked Inferno – Adds +5 energy per second for the new weak, non-channelled Q, as is currently for his new 1 (old Q).

Ruination- Onslaught and Earth Shatter have reduced energy cost and Earth Shatter stuns for 0.25 seconds longer. Gain CDR for both.

Fire And Fury – Remove the CDR, reduce base increased damage against disabled heroes to 20% but double this to 40% for the first AA used after each ability. This gives him the closest thing to an AA build and gives him a cycle of ability, AA, ability, AA, etc.

Level 16

Elementium Plating – Rebalance the values and add the effect to his trait. Recovering plates, protecting yourself, and half-tapping all synergises and avoids adding another button onto his 4. This personal survival button is a big trade off to his DR, which benefits his whole team, or personal Conflagration DPS.

Level 20

New Talent – Terrify – Bellowing Roar, and his trait, now receive 15 second CDR for each enemy hero feared. Harder to hit with now, but more protected so he can land and face tank more, but not attack himself when getting resets.

Destroyer’s Rampage – Rename to Rampage – Now applies to both subsets of abilities, but ends when the energy premium is triggered, i.e. using a World Breaker ability after a Destroyer Landing, or vice versa.


The developers did a great job with how epic DW feels, mostly, but I feel these changes will improve some of the areas that feel like a wet cloth, like the minimal damage caused when a giant dragon lands on your head, and crucially, how little he can stay alive in the end game. Of course, these ideas are based around his numbers being balanced, but if there’s any hero that deserves a fully fleshed-out kit, without becoming a piano build through talents, it’s our favourite raid boss.

What do you guys think and what, if anything, would you change?

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