Time Kills: A ‘Heroes of the Storm’ guide for Chromie

Chromie screen

So, how did you like my guide on Chromie? Did you find it informative?

….

What do you mean “I haven’t read it”?

Oh, right. I forgot that I could time travel and that this version of you, dear reader, hasn’t delved into the deep, dark secrets that my guide has to offer.

This means I still have to write the thing, doesn’t it? Bollocks.

I’m Will Harrison, video game critic for the Toledo Blade; join me as we go on a journey through space and time to learn the ins and outs of Chromie, leader of the Bronze Dragonflight and newest assassin Hero in Heroes of the Storm.

Chromie sand.jpg

Chromie: At A Glance

Only a few weeks after release there are already massive misconceptions in regards to Chromie’s power level and her role on a team. If you find yourself the team mate of a Chromie player, keep the following in mind: She’s never going to lead the pack in siege or hero damage, she’s neigh useless in capturing mercenary camps, ans she isn’t capable of saving other heroes from death.

What Chromie does provide is map control, utility, and deceptive power that stems from being able to deal damage while completely out of harm’s way. A good Chromie player will be heard and not seen, using traps and long-range spells to catch the enemy off-guard.

In essence, she is the Sniper class of this game, moreso than actual sniper Nova. Chromie’s role is to pick a position, trap or force the enemy into going a specific direction, and capitalize on foes being out of place during team fights.

Positives

  • Despite not being great at wave clearing, Dragon’s Breath is a great wave clear move, cooldown be damned.
  • High mana pool. By the end of the game mana is a non-issue.
  • A high amount of burst damage that can hit the enemy without warning.
  • The best ranged attacker in the game, even being able to out-range a siege mode Hammer.
  • The only assassin that provides any true team utility.

Negatives

  • Incredibly low health pool.
  • Reliant on delayed skill shots that require a lead time.
  • No reliable escape buttons that don’t require set-up ahead of time.
  • Useless on mercenary camps, wave clears, and killing objectives like Garden of Terror.
  • Uneducated players will assume she isn’t doing anything or not helping.

Let’s move on to the traits and skills, eh?

Trait

Trait

The ability to learn talents one level earlier is pretty cool, but nothing game-breaking. It does lend to situations where Chromie can fend off an enemy team that has reached level 10 before her squad, which can sometimes be the difference between a game that snowballs or stays close.

I mean, this is pretty simple. Don’t overthink it.

Abilities

Trait

Sand Blast is a long-ranged skill shot that fires on a delay, meaning that is might be one of the hardest skill shots to use in HOTS. It deals a huge chunk of damage, doesn’t cost much mana, and has a relatively low cooldown. Honestly, I think the delay and narrowness of the projectile balance out the fact that Sand Blast is spammable to a point.

The range of Sand Blast plays into how Chromie should be set up on the board: Outside of the opponent’s vision — preferably from stealth — and not giving foes time to react to the projectile screaming across the screen.

Even before the talent that increases the range on Sand Blast it has a huge casting range. Don’t waste time trying shoot enemies who are running after you, as it won’t scare them off. You’ll just waste time casting and dying.

Dragon’s Breath paints a circular target that, after another delay, crashes down in the area selected. Enemies can’t see the animation showing where it will land, which means you can catch opponents off guard during team fights. Because of the range, Dragon’s Breath is also a great move to fish enemies out of stealth or mess with planted opponent’s like Hammer in siege mode.

This is also Chromie’s only wave clearing move, but don’t waste it. The cooldown is long enough that you won’t want to use it on a wave of mobs, only to get pounced on before a fight.

Time Trap is an odd ability choice for an assassin, but plays into Chromie’s game of setting up shop at range. Time Trap can be used to protect your flank while hammering enemies from at range, and can also be used to trick an enemy who may be trying to dive.

This ability is great on maps like Blackheart’s Bay where you’re defending or attacking a fixed position. Chromie can lay down traps and either force enemies another direction or catch a foe running headlong into a trap. Time Trap combos well with Dragon’s Breath, if you can nail the timing. Keep in mind that the duration of the stasis is shown above the enemy’s head once they are snared.

Ultimates

Trait

Chromie’s ultimate abilities serve two very different purposes: Utility and damage. Slowing Sands is a physical obstacle that the opposing team will have to work around, as the radius and amount of slow at play is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that it stays on the map for as long as the mana holds out.

Temporal Loop is a skill shot of sorts, in that players who want to take advantage of its 100 to 0 damage potential will have to get the timing down, allowing for a well-timed Dragon’s Breath to crash down as stasis wears off.

Most will disagree, but Slowing Sands is the superior ability in almost every instance. The size of the vortex makes it usable as an escape button for a retreating team, but it’s real use lies in setting traps and fights, allowing you to draw a line in the sand, so to speak.

Maps with fixed objectives like Dragon Shire and Blackheart’s Bay allows Slowing Sands to shine, putting a big ole’ obstacle in the enemy team’s path. Suddenly they have to choose between going around the vortex — and possibly running into Time Trap — or walk straight through and potentially getting walloped, all with no way out.

The vortex plays well into Chromie’s sniper strategy, letting her set up shop in a controlled area where enemies are forced into a bottleneck of sorts. While Temporal Loop can be satisfying to land, the range and timing make actual application spotty at best. The distraction and upheaval Slowing Sands provides allows Chromie a better chance at lining up skill shots on an enemy team that may not see where she is.

Talents

Chromie’s skill tree doesn’t allow for different builds, per say, but does allow the utility and focus of each of her main skills to change. There’s also some quirky picks, such as an ice block, a hearthstone skill, and a level 20 talent that can really mess with people in the middle of a hectic fight.

Let’s take a look.

Level 1 Talents

level

The choices for level 1 boil down to preference, but there’s only one real, every situation choice. Compounding Aether is the way to go, given that it’s your main source of damage skill shot. In most cases the 25 enemies hit will happen by level 14, though I’ve gotten it as early as level 10 before. The damage increase is nothing to sneeze at.

Others will swear by Deep Breathing, but I honestly find Dragon’s Breath harder to hit than Sand Blast, not to mention that hitting 25 heroes with Breath is a different story than hitting 25 with Sand Blast, given the cooldowns.

Tiemwalker’s Pursuit serves little use past level 10, as Chromie has a bountiful mana pool. By the end of the game your mana is no longer an issue. The ability power boost is nice, but not enough to shirk the other two quests.

Don’t take Peer Into The Future, even if you’re against Zeratul or Nova. Just having the ability will make you nervous and you’ll find yourself using it to protect yourself over and over instead of staying focused on skill shots and map awareness.

Level 3 Talents

level 3

Bronze Talons is the way to go here, but not for the reason you assume. I dislike the basic attack range increase because it tends to create unhealthy play habits for Chromie. Chromie’s basic attacks are practically useless and any ability that requires you to leave that long-range comfort zone isn’t doing the player any favors. However, the Sand Blast/basic attack buff makes it worth while, especially since that increase isn’t on a timer. It’s your next basic attack, no matter what.

Piercing Sands can have uses, but it’s more of a get out of jail free card for folk who aren’t great with the skill shot involved. It will allow you to hit some slop if your main target is missed, but it’s not something to rely on. It has uses in the late game when enemies tend to clump together, but doesn’t have a place unless you want to buff Sand Blast as much as possible.

As with Murky’s  talent that increases the radius of Pufferfish, I just don’t think much of Enveloping Assault. It’s a great ability for players still figuring out the timing and nature of Dragon Breath, but as you become more skilled with Chromie it becomes less of an issue. I would keep this ability in consideration on maps like Sun Temple, where enemies will be locked into an area where you might want that larger radius.

Level 6 Talents

level 6

There’s a lot of variety at level 6, as all three are viable picks. Mobius Loop is the preferred talent, with the cooldown reduction far outweighing the drop in damage. Dragon’s Eye is a far more situational skill, and one that I’d only recommend taking if you also spec’ed into Enveloping Assault at level 3. The damage boost is nice, but the center radius is hard to land on heroes. Still, it’s useful for objectives, waves, and towers.

My preferred pick is Chrono Sickness, as the cooldown reduction on Time Trap can be a lifesaver. The added slow is icing on the cake, but can also lead to your team picking apart an enemy who was unlucky enough to wander into the trap in the first place.

Chrono Sickness is a must-choose if you plan on going with the appropriate level 20 skills down the road.

Level 12 Talents

level 12

Tough choices in the level 12 tier, but there’s only one clear choice. Bye Bye! is an odd talent, but one that serves its purpose on smaller maps like Spider Queen and Towers. Given how squishy Chromie is (even after the 6/1/16 patch update that increases her health pool.) This is a quirky pick, but honestly I think it’s a far better “get out of jail” button than it’s level 12 mate Time Out.

Time Out seems like a good escape tool, but in essence you’re delaying the inevitable. It’s greater use is as an interrupt on incoming spells, such as Kael’Thas’ fireball ultimate. As a running away move it is lacking when compared to Bye Bye!.

Reaching Through Time should be the talent of choice almost every time. The range increase is imperative, turning Chromie into an off-screen damage machine. Savvy players who can move their cameras while still aiming will take full advantage of being able to take enemies who can’t see you due to screen size.

Level 15 Talents

level 15

The level 15 talents boil down to preference. Shifting Sands is my go-to choice, as the potential ability power increase (for as long as you can hit the skill shots) is a nice perk. The true power of this talent is in late-game team fights where you’ll have plenty of targets for Sand Blast. With the cooldown reduction to Sand Blast in the most recent patch there’s even more call for Shifting Sands.

Fast Forward is an attractive talent, given that it plays directly into the sniper style that Chromie should inspire to. With the recent patch this skill reduces the cooldown to almost a second, allowing even more spamming potential. There may be merit in choosing quantity over quality, as you may be ignoring the damage increases with this talent, in lieu for more chances at landing a Sand Blast.

Quantum Overdrive is the pure, injectable version of Shifting Sands, all without the hassle of having to do anything. The big issue here is the number of attacks you’ll be able to land in that 10 seconds. Realistically, you’ll get in one Dragon’s Breath and two and a half Sand Blasts. I’m sure someone will do the math eventually on whether or not this talent offers more damage potential than the other.

Level 19 Talents

level 19

I’ve seen plenty of people on the HOTS Reddit argue that Pocket of Time is a redundant pick, as the reason you’d want the talent — the mana cost reduction — is a non-factor by the time you get to level 19… Which is true. By this point Chromie has more than enough mana to leave Slowing Sands running without taking a hit on mana that matters.

Despite this, I like this talent because of the slow increase. A 70% slow is nothing to sneeze at, especially if an opponent runs into the vortex by accident. This is more of a preference than a recommendation.

I find Loophole to be a fun party trick and nothing more. While I can see this talent being useful as a way to disorient an entire grouped enemy team, there’s no real application unless you can coordinate with your own team. It’s a good idea for a talent, but maybe not the best choice in the level 19 tier.

Past and Future Me is a great choice, especially if you’re into turning a lane into a shooting gallery. The Chromie sand sculpture can legitimately confuse opponents who may be in a hurry or playing in an unorganized fashion, not to mention the amount of projectiles flying around. If you’re able to reposition Chromie in between blasts, the effectiveness of this talent is doubled. I like this talent a lot.

Andorhal Anomaly is a great choice for anyone looking to play a trap game and mess with the opponent. Combining this talent with Chrono Sickness gives Chromie a ton of options to make an attack spot safe, which is a big deal for her. Suddenly, Time Trap besides her own version of Hammer’s mines, enabling you to protect your flank from anyone seeking out the source of the sand falling upon their heads.

Builds

I have two builds available. The first is my preferred build, centered around damage shenanigans. The second is a more defensive build that works wonders on smaller maps.

level 19

This build is a more damage-oriented, general build that makes use of Sand Blast as your main attack. Mobius Loop and Bronze Talons provide some wave clear and objective boosting, while talents later in the build allow Chromie to fling Sand Blasts like no tomorrow.

level 19

This build is situated for smaller maps, as well as static-objective maps such as Sun Temple. In other words: maps where guaranteed team fights are going to happen. The damage centered around a larger and more frequent Dragon’s Breath, with Sand Blast almost being used more of a poke; in fighting game terms, think of it has a mid-range footsie attack, used more to keep an opponent honest and off-guard than for damage.

The Time Trap talents will help Chromie set positions where you can hide and attack, using Slowing Sands and multiple traps to set a perimeter where your team can either force a fight the opponent doesn’t want, or where you can attack and escape.

Choke points like the narrow hallways of Spider Queen work wonders for this set-up, essentially allowing Chromie to block off access in front and behind of her.

Tips, Tricks, and Things Not To Touch While Going Back In Time

  • Don’t be afraid to not engage or run away. This will annoy more aggressive team mates in Quick Match queue, but there’s no sense in Chromie senselessly dying from ineffective helping when a friendly Illidan runs in like a doof.
  • Make sure your team mates know how Time Trap works and that they can kite enemies into them. I’ve seen team mates actually walk around Traps because they didn’t know what they were. Ditto for Slowing Sands.
  • Don’t waste time trying to attack enemies as you run away. You’ll just get killed.
  • Be smart about Time Trap placement: Lay them down in areas where you think the enemy will go. Stealth spots like bushes are a plus.
  • I enjoy placing Slowing Sands down in areas and just leaving it, messing with the opponent’s mind. Given how short the cooldown is, it’s good to experiment.
  • Use stealth to your advantage when or if you aren’t able to attack from a full screen-length away. Chromie’s attacks need to be hidden, given their long casting time.
  • Remember that Dragon’s Breath gives zero warning to opponent’s while it winds up. It’s a great move to drop on unsuspecting backline opponents like KT, Jaina, Wizard, and Hammer.
  • Chromie works well against: Hammer, Arthas, Tracer (when not in range of Tracer), and Wizard. Use Chromie’s superior range to your advantage.
  • Fear Murky. He can eat Chromie for breakfast.
  • Best maps: Sun Temple, Dragon Shire, Spider Queen, Blackheart’s.
  • Don’t use on: Garden of Terror. You’ll spend most of your time not doing much and getting ganked from every direction.
  • Be careful about your sand dupe if using Past And Future Me: Smart players may figure out where you are based on the direction your dupe is turning.
  • Don’t talk to your past or future self, you may break the space-time continuum.

End.

Chromie can be a devastatingly damaging character if left unchecked, which is her real goal. Keep her shallow health in mind, play smart, and focus on key enemies that can hurt you first.

Follow these rules and you’ll be on the road to mastery with Chromie.

As for me?

Roads? Where I’m going I don’t need roads.

The bathroom. I have a gnarly burrito for lunch and… It was a mistake.

Will Harrison is a journalist in Toledo, Ohio who writes about the video game industry. Find him on Twitter, at The Toledo Blade, on YouTube, or on Twitch.

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