Our essential guide to playing Sylvanas with the most powerful talent build.
Our complete Sylvanas guide has everything you need to know about playing this Hero, with the latest builds, tips, map advice and counters.
As a Ranged Specialist, Sylvanas is held in high regard by the HotS community and with good reason. Her ability to simultaneously disable a pair of turrets with ease can be used to gain a massive early-game XP advantage, she can zip out of trouble (or find more of it faster) with her mobility skill, and she has a primary Q attack that feels godlike at times.
In short, she’s a hell of a lot of fun to play, and if you don’t already own her in your roster you shouldn’t hesitate to take her out for a spin when you get the chance on the free rotation.
Sylvanas strategy guide and overview – January 2016
While you wait for some of your more powerful Talents to unlock, you should use Sylvanas as a lane pusher, clearing down minions with your Shadow Dagger and Wither Fire skills. When you’ve unlocked Unstable Poison, you should apply Shadow Dagger to the minions that focus down the weakest minions. When you’ve dealt with one wave, move around the map to another to repeat the process.
In group fights, stay as far back as you can while still being in range of the enemies, and spam Withering Fire and Shadow Dagger to your heart’s content. Envenom is particularly useful for finishing enemies off – not to mention amusing for you when they think they’re just about to make their escape. Get used to reaching for that 1 key if you’re new to the game, and don’t forget you have multiple charges to fire off on Q – hold down or fire each charge one at a time if you wish. You have a powerful escape tool in the form of Haunting Wave if the action gets a little too hot to handle, but save Wailing Arrow for locking down healers towards the end of a skirmish.
When you’re not getting stuck in with your buddies, keep soaking up that XP from lanes, support your team on rattling off map objectives nice and quickly, and pick off any Mercenary Camps you’re able to polish off – your Black Arrows Trait should allow you to bite off a surprising amount of AI bother. Just keep in mind that Sylvanas is as squishy as she is powerful, so stick to Mercs on your own team’s side of the map if you’re flying solo.
The best Sylvanas Talent build – January 2016
You should, of course, tweak elements of your Talent build to suit the enemy team composition you’re up against, but you will find the following set of Talents a potent combination in the average battleground encounter.
Sylvanas offensive build
Level 1 – Barbed Shot – Withering Fire deals 200% bonus damage to Minions and Mercenaries.
Level 4 – Envenom – Activate to poison an enemy Hero, dealing 352 damage over 10 seconds.
Level 7 – Unstable Poison – Minions and Mercenaries that die under the effects of Black Arrows explode, dealing 255 (121 + 4% per level) damage to nearby enemies.
Level 10 – Wailing Arrow – Shoot an arrow that can be reactivated to deal 500 (238 + 4% per level) damage and Silencing enemies in an area making them unable to use Abilities for 2.5 seconds. The arrow detonates automatically when it reaches maximum range.
Level 13 – Splinter Shot – Withering Fire hits a second target for 64 (31 + 4% per level) damage.
Level 16 – Cold Embrace – Shadow Dagger makes enemies Vulnerable, taking 25% more damage, but the range of Shadow Dagger is reduced by 25%.
Level 20 – Bolt of the Storm – Activate to teleport to a nearby location.
Sylvanas Abilities, Heroic Abilities and Traits – January 2016
Sylvanas has some extremely powerful direct and AOE damage, not to mention a fantastic teleportation skill. Take a little time to familiarise yourself with all of these core Abilities before setting foot inside your first battleground. Note the Black Arrow Trait in particular, which temporarily stuns all AI characters and prevents structures from firing at you and your allies.
Withering Fire (Q)– Shoot the closest enemy for 86 (41 + 4% per level) damage, preferring Heroes. Stores 5 charges. Gain 1 charge on nearby enemy Minion or Mercenary deaths, and 3 charges on nearby enemy Hero deaths. Mana: 0, Cooldown: 2 seconds.
Shadow Dagger (W)– Deals 82 (39 + 4% per level) damage and an additional 325 (154 + 4% per level) damage over 2 seconds to target unit. The effect spreads to nearby targets. Mana: 75, Cooldown: 10 seconds.
Haunting Wave (E)– Send forth a wave of banshees dealing 250 (119 + 4% per level) damage to all targets. Reactivate to teleport to the banshees’ location.. Mana: 75, Cooldown: 11 seconds.
Wailing Arrow (R)– Shoot an arrow that can be reactivated to deal 500 (238 + 4% per level) damage and Silencing enemies in an area making them unable to use Abilities for 2.5 seconds. The arrow detonates automatically when it reaches maximum range. Mana: 100, Cooldown: 90 seconds.
Possession (R)– Force an enemy Minion to fight for you. It gains 20% Attack Damage. Costs 5 charges to convert a Catapult Minion. Mana: 100, Cooldown: 12 seconds.
Black Arrows– Basic Attacks and Abilities stun Minions, Mercenaries, and Towers for 1 second.
Sylvanas counters and match-ups – January 2016
As each balance patch introduces an assortment of stat changes, it can be tough to keep track of which Hero is strong or weak against which others. We like to keep a close eye on the community-curated rankings posted at HeroesCounters. As a quick snapshot, here are the current top five Heroes for each counter category, correct at the time this article was published.
- Strong against- Nazeebo, Lost Vikings, Murky, Gazlowe, Abathur
- Weak against- Nova, Zeratul, Zagara, The Butcher, Falstad
- Teams well with- Valla, Tyrande, Jaina, Nazeebo, Anub’arak
Sylvanas tips – January 2016
Sylvanas is an extremely powerful HotS Hero, but there’s no denying she can prove to be a little bit squishy when wielded by inexperienced hands. For that reason, we’ve put together a few tips which we think will give you a headstart, and help you give a good impression to your team! Don’t forget to share any of your own tips in the comments.
- Make sure you’re using all of your charges of Withering Fire! Either tap multiple times to excercise a little control, or keep the button held down to simply fire off your charges until the skill drops back onto its – short – cooldown.
- Haunting Wave is a relatively poor source of damage, and so instead is best saved up for mobility needs. That might be catching up with a fleeing enemy, or getting yourself to safety! You can use those banshees to confuse the opponent. If they run towards them, they expect you to teleport, so keep running. If they keep coming directly for you, pop the teleportation secondary effect of this skill.
- Once you’ve unlocked Cold Embrace, you’ll find that five shots of Withering Fire can absolutely obliterate an affected Enemy Hero.
- When facing two firing turrets, don’t forget that you can use your Auto Attack to stun one turret, while stunning the other with Withering Fire as and when it comes off cooldown. Sylvanas is an amazing lane pusher, and this ability to disable turrets can give your team a massive experience lead.
- While opening a fight with Wailing Arrow isn’t necessarily the most appalling play you can make, it’s far better to save it for when the silencing effect will really catch the other team off guard. Think of AOE healing on the enemy team, for example. Understand the enemy team composition and think about the most annoying application of Wailing Arrow you can make!
Fightin’ Cowboy’s videos helped us out a huge amount while we were learning the game. The builds have changed with balance patches and shifting metagames, but the broad principles remain the same.