Do you hear that sound, mortals? It’s the call of the Earth, beckoning you back to Mother Gaia.
Err… Sorry. That was just my cell phone. False alarm.
Speaking of being one with the Earth: A new Heroes of the Storm Hero was added to the roster this week in the form of Lunara, World of Warcraft dryad and follower of Cenarius.
Our new four-legged friend dates back to the Warcraft 3 days, where the Dryad Night Elf unit could remove magic effects, apply poison to enemies, and also had a pretty mean human call.
The core of Lunara’s kit is very much in line with that classic WC3 unit, this time bundled as an agile master assassin who, when given the space to work, can be a gigantic pain in the rear and an excellent team fight finisher.
I’m Will Harrison, games critic for the Toledo Blade. Join me now as we take a look at the elusive master of the forest, Lunara.
Lunara: At A Glance
This ranged assassin Hero fills a similar role to that of Nazeebo in that the majority of your damage isn’t going to be in bursts. Also like the spider-chucking voodoo master, possessing proper spacing and knowing the range on your attacks can be the difference between a successful strike and getting dropped in three hits by a stun chain.
Lunara is an agile hit and run Hero who can escape danger and effectively chase, all without much risk involved. Her poison trait allows a measure of board control, which also makes her great at finishing off or turning the tide in team fights.
Here’s a short look at the good and bad sides of Lunara:
- Above average movement speed, in addition to an awkward, jerky movement animation makes Lunara extremely hard to hit with skill shots.
- Her kit tends to not be very mana intensive, with skills that can keep her in the blue stuff all match long.
- The poison trait damage is nothing to ignore. If an opponent escapes a fight with low health and three stacks of poison, they may very will die.
- A variety of choices in regards to skills. Unlike a lot of assassin Heroes, I feel like Lunara has options without being stuck in a cookie cutter build.
- Lunara can run circles around slower opponents, allowing her to harrass and poke in the early game with great results.
- Two great Ultimate abilities, though Thornwood Vine stands out as a great ability that shores up a lot of Lunara’s problems in the mid-game.
- Wisp is a great talent that shines on maps like Sun Temple. Probably the best “canary in the coal mine” ability in the game.
- Hole-E-Crap is she squishy. Lunara might as well be made of toilet paper when against stealth, stun-based, and burst Heroes.
- That jerky animation is a double-edged sword, in that her auto attack can be difficult to land and stutter-stepping is impracticable.
- While she has access to a slow and has higher mobility than most, she lacks a clear cut escape until level 20. Lunara is easy to body block as well.
- Lunara can be bullied out of the laning phase easily, in part to her short range and slow attack speed. Her attack speed is as slow as Raynor’s.
- Her only healing talent is underwhelming, to the point where it’s not a worthy pick over offensive talents in the same tier.
- Her art and portrait are creepy.
No, really: Her portrait is creepy. Check it out.
Yeesh. Talk about a death stare.
Let’s move on to the trait before she comes back.
Lunara’s poison offers a constant stream of damage that will eat at the heartiest of Heroes. She has the added bonus of each ability also causing poison, allowing her to spread the love to opponents in equal measure.
Due to the nature of her auto attacks, applying poison can be a chore. If you’re having trouble, be sure to take the Noxious Blossom range increase talent, as well as the talent that increases attack range for a short amount of time.
In my experiences with Lunara so far, I would advise that keeping one opponent at full stacks of poison can be more beneficial than trying to keep at least one on multiple Heroes. That being said, this is where the fact that Lunara’s abilities all apply poison can come in handy.
Keep your auto attacks focused on one opponent while using your skills to keep their friends infected. This way, Crippling Spores can remain in play as a crowd control tool.
Speaking of those abilities, let’s take a look.
Noxious Blossom is a semi-skill shot that will require you to lead moving opponents into it’s web. The attack has a small area of effect but can lead to mass infection if you manage to catch the opposing team sleeping and standing in the same space.
Blossom is also a decent wave-clear move that will allow you to apply poison to an enemy hero that may be bullying Lunara out of the laning phase. With the right talents, the casting range and effect area can both be increased, turning Blossom into an excellent chase-down attack.
Crippling Spores is Lunara’s payoff for spreading and maintaining poison stacks, with it slowing anyone with poison upon ability activation. Spores is a great ability to trigger on opponents who are or have escaped, as well as a mop-up ability when team fights fall a part and enemies try to peel away from the fight.
Wisp may be Lunara’s best talent, as it can keep you alive, warn team mates of danger, and even mislead opponents. On maps with a capture and hold objective, Wisp can be set up in high-travel areas, keeping your team from being surprised by a rush of opponents.
Likewise, Wisp can be used as an effective misdirect. Place your Wisp out in the open in one area of the map and you may be able to trick opponents into thinking that that they know your location.
The uses of Wisp are endless. Use it on the entrances of the mines, place a Wisp on the turn-in at the Spider Temple, watch short cuts on Blackheart’s Bay.
I cannot say enough good things about Wisp. Trust me, you’ll be able to tell if a Lunara player is worth their weight by how and when they use their little blue friend.
Thornwood Vine is my Ultimate of choice due to the fact that it solves a lot of the problems I have with Lunara’s kit. It’s ability to hit — and a apply poison to — multiple enemies is a boon, allowing Lunara to chip away during team fights.
The vine is also an effective wave clear, especially in the late game when your team may be trying to lead a cavalcade of mercenaries to the opponent’s core.
All that said, my favorite use of Thornwood Vine is as a chase down and escape tool. It’s a great move to bust out when chasing or running and you see an opponent attempt to hop on their mount. One whip with the vine and they’re dismounted, as well as poisoned and primed to be hit with Crippling Spores.
Vine will also go through terrain and objects, allowing Lunara to hide in a stealth spot or behind a wall and whip it good.
Leaping Strike has uses, but I see the move as the inferior Ultimate. The leap does provide Lunara with defense from attacks, but it’s quite easy to use Leaping Strike and end up on the wrong side of town during a team fight.
I may have also seen more than a few Lunara accidentally Leaping Strike over an enemy turret wall, being shredded in the process. Don’t do that.
Lunara’s talent tree is weird in that she has build options, but there’s just a few levels — such as level 1 — where none of the choices are overwhelmingly great. In cases such as these, and as always, pick talents that best support your team or match well against the enemy team.
Don’t do something like pick Giant Killer against a team without a tank. Just… Don’t.
Here’s the talents.
LEVEL 1 TALENTS
The level 1 tier is one of the weakest talent groupings for Lunara, as nothing jumps out as a “must pick” talent.
Photosynthesis and Cruel Spores drop from serious pick contention for two reasons. Lunara has zero issues with mana when played correctly, making Photosynthesis a weak pick. Cruel Spores sounds fine in theory, but offers little utility in the grand scheme of a post-level 10 match.
On most maps I tend to choose Blossom Swell, but that is a personal choice and maybe not the best one. Honestly, Natural Perspective is the prime pick, especially in the late game when poison application is easier. Coordinate with your team via voice and think of mid-lane ganking scenarios where Lunara and a tank like Stitches can pin down a marked opponent for easy kills.
LEVEL 4 TALENTS
The Wisp tier is interesting, as I don’t think any of the talent choices are bad picks. Really, the choice of talent at level 4 boils down to individual play style and map. Dividing Wisp can be a boon on maps with multiple choke points such as Sun Temple. Meanwhile, Timelost Wisp is beneficial on smaller maps where the Wisp may be in danger more often or you find yourself needing constant coverage.
Nimble Wisp provides a considerable vision radius increase that comes in handy on Dragon Shrine and Mines, while Skybound Wisp can reveal larger swaths of maps with tight corners such as Cursed Hallow and the Gardens.
In other words: Pick what you like. You won’t be wrong. Personally, Dividing Wisp is my jam.
LEVEL 7 TALENTS
The level 7 tier is weird, as there are a few talents that seem to be a slam dunk choice but aren’t nearly as effective as you’d believe. Siphoning Toxin seems like the obvious choice due to it being Lunara’s only healing option, but the amount received is underwhelming.
If it were a level 1 talent I might give it more leniency, but as it stands the healing has little impact.
Splintered Spear is an interesting choice that has applications, but can be tricky in practice. The triple attack will typically trigger immediately, as it appears Lunara will automatically begin auto-attacking after casting Noxious Blossom. This makes it a great wave clear attack and a decent choice for assaulting towers. Additionally, it’s a strong way to spread poison stacks in late game team fights where enemies may be clustered.
I think Wild Vigor is a great choice due to the fact that, unlike later talents that trigger off Crippling Spores and Noxious Blossom, it’s duration is dependent on uses and not a short span of time. You’re guaranteed to get those four basic attacks no matter what, unlike the later talent that increases your attack range but only for six seconds.
When combined with Giant Killer and the attack speed increase talent later on, Lunara can chop down the likes of Artanis, Stitches, and Cho’Gall with ease in the late game.
If siege is your thing, Nature’s Culling is the way to go. When combined with Noxious Blossom, Lunara gains swift wave clearing, as well as damaging buildings with ease. I suppose it could help with clearing mercenary camps, but the damage she takes in exchange may not be worth it in the late game.
LEVEL 13 TALENTS
Once more we have a talent tier with a wide variety of choices, all of which could fall under the correct option. Pestering Blossom turns Noxious Blossom into a great late-game harass, chasing move, and team fight instigator. I’ve had more than a few games where the range increase allowed me to apply poison to a group of fleeing enemies, who then were hit with the slow from Crippling Spore.
Depending on the composition of your team, Unfair Advantage can be an underrated skill. If you’re relying on only Crippling Spores as a source of slow, don’t bother with the talent, as you won’t be getting the most out of that potential damage. However, if you find yourself aligned with Johanna, Murky, Anub’Arak, or any other character with terrify slows then by all means consider this talent.
Also situational, Giant Killer can make Lunara an absolute monster with the right combination of opponent and talents. Using Giant Killer, Invigorating Spores from the Level 16 tier, and Wild Vigor from Tier 7 generates damage burst from auto attacks unlike any other ranged assassin.
Finally, we have Greater Spell Shield; an odd choice because of it’s sheer situation specific applications. I cannot recommend this talent unless facing a team with Lunara’s largest threats: Zeratul, Nova, K’T, or any other character with massive burst or stuns.
Against these opponents, the shield will be an absolute requirement due to Lunara’s thin skin and tiny health pool. More than a few times I’ve found myself go from zero to dead in less than a few seconds because I was out of position and facing utter destruction.
LEVEL 16 TALENTS
I consider this tier to be the most important and formative set of talents for Lunara. From here, her build can go in radically different directions that all serve a purpose. The choice is really up to the player, as each option can change Lunara’s play style from this tier forward.
Choking Pollen can further improve Noxious Blossom’s ability as a chase move, especially if the range increase talent was taken. The downside is that achieving maximum effectiveness for this talent requires you to cast it two times or have stacks of poison already going. Don’t forget that Crippling Spores increases the poison duration when cast.
Despite it’s limited active time, Star Wood Spear will keep Lunara alive in the late game, guaranteed. If you’re confident in the abilities of your tank, feel free to skip this and head to Invigorating Spores, but keep in mind that the range increase can keep your feet out of the fire.
Speaking of Invigorating Spores, this talent is great while also not being as good as it seems. Due to the twitchy nature of Lunara’s basic attack, you may find yourself not maximizing the number of auto attacks you get in while the six second proc is active. I actually recommend this talent more for a siege build where Lunara can stand still and pummel buildings, making the most of that 50% speed increase.
Let Them Wither makes your Crippling Spores slow far more effective, but this is certainly the least attractive trait of the four. If you have slows on your team already, skip this talent.
LEVEL 20 TALENTS
Most players will gravitate towards taking the companion talent to their Ultimate ability, no matter the other options. In the case of Lunara, I would ask that you look closely at the two additional traits and ask how they can best serve yourself, as well as your team.
Abolish Magic is not only a throwback to the Warcraft 3 dryad’s abilities, but a hell of a cleanse. This talent could mean the difference between your team being down 2 people in a team fight or turning the tide and pushing back the enemy.
Likewise, Galloping Gait shores up the fact that Lunara moves slowly when pressed for time due to her lack of a mount. This talent allows her to move at 240% normal speed for six seconds, which could mean the difference between saving your team from a lop-sided team fight or arriving to a weakened squad.
The Ultimate traits are what they are. I’m fond of Forest’s Wrath, as it makes Thornwood Vines and it’s range absolutely insane. I’ve knocked entire chasing groups of opponent’s out of their mount animation, slowing them in the process and laughing like a maniac for surviving such a one-sided situation.
Likewise, this talent makes Thornwood Vines a great choice for stopping fleeing opponents dead in their tracks.
Our first build is a general composition that I use with a team of two tanks, a healer, and two DPS.
This build doubles as a “giant killer” composition, best used for dealing damage to HP targets. The Level 4 talent is still purely up to personal preference, but in this case I prefer having the added speed and range.
The second main build I’ve used is more of a general damage dealer, meant to be an off-DPS and fight finisher.
This build is designed more for spreading damage around, whittling enemies all at once, and chasing opponents who may try to retreat and heal. I like using Splintered Spear in this build because of it’s spread, helping keep stacks of poison up on as many enemies as possible during team fights.
If you’re indifferent about the level 20 talents, both Abolish Magic and Galloping Gait have their uses. Moreso than other Assassins, Lunara is more about building a talent tree that suits the needs of your team and the map you’re playing.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND PROPER GARDEN MAINTENANCE
- Wisp can be activated to anywhere on the board, no matter your position. Move the map manually by dragging on the mini-map, activate, and enjoy.
- Keep in mind that Lunara is hard to click on, thus making her a harder target to auto attack.
- Lunara’s biggest advantage and first priority should be applying poison. Always think about what you can do at any time to apply poison to as many people as possible.
- Don’t be afraid to help out a friend on mercenary camps, but avoid trying to take them solo. You can’t easily, and the loss in time and health won’t be worth it.
- Due to a lack of a mount, don’t waste movement. Plan ahead of time on where you’re going to go.
- Sulfur does wonders for plant growth. Take a bunch of used matches and place them in the soil around crops. Said sulfur and nitrates will really help out your plants.
Thus far, Lunara has proven to be yet another unique, intriguing character in Heroes of the Storm. She takes some work and doesn’t generate impressive damage numbers as easily as the likes of Jaina or K’T, but she has a utility that I think the others cannot provide.
Get a hold of me on Twitter if you have any comments, questions, queries, or suggestions.
Will Harrison is the video game critic for The Toledo Blade, a daily, Pulitzer-prize winning newspaper in Ohio. Contact him on Twitter @DoubleUHarrison or on Battle.Net at zeyepawdz#1645.