Falstad isn’t given enough credit. As far as ranged assassin’s go, he’s often overlooked for the likes of Raynor, Jaina, Kael’thas, or Valla. This is a shame because his damage scales very well and a good Falstad player can often help his team secure wins especially on maps with multiple objectives such as Dragon Shire and Raven Lord.
Let’s break the character down a bit and start with his trait, Tailwind. This ability gives you a 20% movement speed increase after not taking damage for 6 seconds. It makes sense considering that Falstad is always mounted on his gryphon. The talent might seem a little underwhelming but Falstad has access to a unique ability. He can fly! Usable once every 30 seconds, Falstad will after a short windup, fly to a designated point. While his range isn’t the whole map, it does cover a substantial area.
Falstad’s flight trait is invaluable especially for a team that communicates well. It allows him to quickly join a teamfight, capture an objective, or to clear out some creep. It’s especially useful for getting back into the heart of the action after recovering from a death.
His abilities are pretty straight forward:
His Q is Hammerang. It throws out a hammer in straight line that returns to you, dealing 290 (62 + 12 per level) damage and slowing enemies by 25% for 2 seconds. The attack deals damage as the hammer flies both forward AND back.
His W is called Lightning Rod and deals 235 (45 + 10 per level) damage to an enemy, and an additional 165 (32 + 7 per level) damage per second for 4.25 seconds if you remain close to the target. Pretty simple, stay close to your target and even if you’re not attacking them directly you’ll still be doing damage. It has a long cooldown at 15 seconds. Make sure you’re positioned for it proc a few times before using it! One of the perks of this ability is that in a team fight, it’s typically being overshadowed by flashier abilities and can do a surprisingly large amount of damage to your target before they realize it!
His E is called Barrel Roll! How awesome is that? You dash in the designated direction and gain a 375 (90 + 15 per level) point Shield for 2 seconds. While the shield isn’t much, it’s usually just enough to help you disengage from bad situations in one piece.
From these 3 abilities you can already get a sense of how falstad plays. You throw your Hammerang which slows your target making it a little harder for them to walk out of the range of the Lightning Rod. Additionally, the hammer can always be thrown behind you which will slow the enemy and hopefully give you a chance to escape. Hammerang will take some practice to land but it’s essential to doing well with Falstad. It’s important to note that the hammer will always come back to you. As such, if you miss on the initial throw, reposition yourself so that the enemy is hit as it flies back!
There’s two different ways to use the Barrel Roll, you can use it to dive in and get a few extra procs of damage off the Lightning Rod or use it to help you escape if you’ve accidentally overextended. While using the Fly ability is great for getting back into the fight faster, it can also be utilized to chase down an enemy who’s fleeing. Be careful about flying in blind though, you could potentially get ganked by the enemy! Fairly straightforward stuff, let’s take a look at the talents.
Level 1 Talents:
Power Throw - Increase the range of Hammerang by 40% and the slow duration by 25%. Pretty solid pick, has good synergy with later talents. Makes it a bit easier to hit/reach your targets.
Updraft - Increase the range of Barrel Roll by 30%. If you’re having trouble learning Falstad’s positioning, I recommend this talent for the increase in survivability. Overall, there are better options at this tier.
Season Marksman - Generic Talent. For every 6 enemy Minion or captured Mercenary kills near your Hero, gain 1 Basic Attack damage. Hero Takedowns count as 3 Minion kills. This is also a very solid choice for Falstad, especially on maps that feature heavy soaking such as Tomb of The Spider Queen.
Conjurer’s Pursuit - Collecting Regeneration Globes permanently increases Mana Regeneration by 0.1 per second. While it’s true that Falstad is fairly mana hungry, I generally don’t recommend this talent. The reason for that is Falstad’s ability to fly across large portions of the map. It’s a simple matter to teleport back to base, replenish your mana, and get right back into the action. Having said that, if you’d like extra sustain, pick this.
Charged Up - Lightning Rod strikes the target 2 additional times. Solid pick. Lightning Rod does pretty good damage, don’t get greedy and overextend!
Flow Rider - Lowers the cooldown of Barrel Roll by 40%. Another survivability talent, you might consider this in the beginning when you’re still learning positioning.
Vampiric Assault - Generic talent. Basic Attacks heal for 15% of the damage dealt to the primary target. Falstad doesn’t have the biggest health pool, in fact he’s pretty squishy, as such this is a totally viable choice especially when you’re still learning the hero
Gathering Power - Generic Talent. Hero takedowns increase Ability Power by 1%, to a maximum of 15%. Half of this bonus Ability Power is lost on death. Ever since the changes to Gathering Power it’s been seeing a lot less play. However, I’d still recommend this talent, especially once you’re more comfortable playing Falstad. A 10% or a 15% increase in ability power is significant for this hero.
Battle Momentum - Generic Talent. Basic Attacks reduce Ability cooldowns by 0.5 seconds. It’s true that you’ll be auto attacking quite a bit with Falstad so this will absolutely give you access to your abilities faster. However, Falstad is already very mana hungry and this will just make that more apparent. Not recommend unless you’re with a Malfurion or going with a Lightning Rod build.
Secret Weapon - Basic Attacks deal 80% bonus damage while Hammerang is in flight. This ability is a solid choice, especially if you’ve already chosen Power Throw at Level 1. Since Power Throw sends your hammer out further, you’ll be doing the bonus damage for an extra hit or two.
BOOMerang - Reactivate Hammerang mid-flight to deal 25 damage around the Hammer. If you want to squeeze every bit of damage out of your hero, this is the way you go. This is a skillshot that you activate by pressing Q again while the hammer is in the air. Can only be used once per throw. On a personal note, not a fan of the ability but some people swear by it.
Free Roll - Barrel Roll costs no mana. Other abilities at this tier have more utility. Not a good choice.
First Aid - Generic Talent. 60s cooldown. Heals 35% of your maximum health over 6 seconds. This is a good option especially when you’re still learning to play the hero, provides some much needed survivability to Falstad.
Level 10 - The Heroics!
Hinterland Blast - After a short delay, deal 280 damage to enemies within a long line. There range on this ability is MASSIVE. Very good for finishing off a fleeing team. Also very good pick when your team is root/stun heavy. Does very good damage. It has a long cooldown though at 90 seconds. Many players tend to be very trigger happy with the blast and waste it. It’s best to be patient and wait for your opponents to be lined up properly or rooted before you fire.
Mighty Gust - Push enemies away, and slow their Movement Speed by 60% decaying over 5 seconds. This ability tends to be used less often but perfectly viable. I recommend it for more experienced players of Falstad. It can be used to disengage from a fight or in conjunction with your fly ability, you can reposition yourself and then push your enemies into your team. Very satisfying!
Giant Killer- Generic Talent. Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes deal bonus damage equal to 1.5% of the Hero’s maximum Health. Solid choice, especially on tank heavy teams.
Crippling Hammer - Increases the Movement Speed Slow of Hammerang to 50%. While this synergizes well with Power Throw and potentially increase your slow to 75% I generally don’t recommend this talent because other talents at this level have more utility. Not a bad choice though if you’re up against very dodge heavy enemies like Zeratul or Illidan.
Thunderstrikes: Lightning Rod deals 15% more damage each subsequent strike. Solid option. If going with a lightning rod build, is essential. As always, make sure that you don’t get greedy and overextend in an effort to have one additional proc go off.
Static Shield: Gain a Shield equal to 5% of your maximum Health after every Lightning Rod strike. Lasts 4 seconds and stacks. Despite Falstad being squishy, I don’t recommend this ability. HoTS tends to reward aggressive play more often than defensive. The other talents at this tier are better choices
Aerie Gusts - Reduce activation time for Tailwind to 2 seconds, and increase the Movement Speed bonus to 30%. Not as good of a choice as other abilities at this tier. Generally if you need to get somewhere faster you can just fly there.
Hammer Time - Your first Basic Attack against a target slowed by Hammerang will stun them for 0.75 seconds. While the stun might seem to be quite short, it’s actually quite helpful in team fights, can also be used to help disengage.
Afterburner - After using Barrel Roll, gain 60% Movement Speed that decreases over 3 seconds. Blizzard really wants you to create a Barrel Roll build for some reason but other abilities at this tier have more utility by far!
Overdrive - Generic Talent. Activate to increase Ability Power by 25% and Mana costs by 40% for 5 seconds. This is a very solid pick if you’ve also picked gathering power. Getting a potential 25% ability power increase on top of 15% and nailing an enemy team with a hinterlands blast will absolutely shred their life bars. While it’s makes Falstad very mana hungry, the late game burst of power can make all the difference in a team fight that assures victory for your side.
Call of the Wildhammer - Hinterland Blast has double the range and deals 25% more damage. While Hinterlands Blast is great, I generally don’t recommend upgrading it at 20. It has a fairly long cooldown at 90 seconds. The range and damage on the regular Heroic is already solid and doesn’t generally merit upgrading.
Wind Tunnel - Mighty Gust creates a wind tunnel for 4 seconds. Enemies caught in the Wind Tunnel will be periodically pushed back. If you already have Mighty Gust, this is actually a great choice. The cooldown is much shorter on this heroic at 50 seconds. Very useful for setting up kill opportunities for your team!
Nexus Frenzy - Generic talent. Increases attack speed by 20% and range by 20%. Excellent choice, especially if you’re using an auto attack build. More damage and range is never a bad thing!
Epic Mount - Reduces flight by 20 seconds, reduces the cast time by .5 seconds, and increases speed by 50%. This is a very good choice if you want to maximize your utility. Taking this talent lets you fly every 10 seconds which allows you to make some clutch plays near the end of the game. An excellent choice if you’ve selected Mighty gust at 10.
Auto Attack Build:
Level 1: Power Throw/ Seasoned Marksman - This choice comes down to how large the map is and how often you’ll be killing minions. If you’re playing on a smaller map it’s almost always better to go with Power Throw.
Level 4 - Gathering Power/ Vampiric Assault
Level 7 - Secret Weapon/First Aid - If you’ve selected Power Throw at level 1 then Secret Weapon help pump out even more damage. On the other hand, if the enemy team is stun/slow heavy, you might consider First Aid for extra survivability.
Level 10 - Hinterlands Blast/ Mighty Gust - Both viable! Are you playing with friends and using mics? Mighty Gust will help you set up kills. Does your team have good stuns/roots? Then Hinterlands Blast is probably the better choice
Level 13 - Giant Killer - The extra damage is very useful!
Level 16 - Hammer Time/Overdrive - The stun goes a long way towards team fights and to help you escape when needed. Overdrive helps provide burst if you feel that you need to pump out a little extra damage.
Level 20 - Nexus Frenzy - Good Synergy with previous talents, let’s you pump out extra damage.
Lightning Rod Build:
Level 1: Power Throw - This will help slow down the enemy enough to hopefully get an extra lightning rod strike on them.
Level 4: Charged up
Level 7: Battle Momentum/Secret Weapon - Battle momentum will help you ready Lightning Rod again faster!
Level 10: Toss up, see above
Level 13: Thunderstrikes
Level 16: Overdrive - No brainer here, activate every opportunity before using Lightning Rod.
Level 20: Nexus Fury/Epic Mount - The Nexus Fury will go well with the Battle Momentum and help you Lightning Rod sooner. On the other hand, Epic mount gives you more map presence and chase enemies. Alternatively, can help escape bad situations as needed.
Playing Against Falstad:
Falstad is fairly squishy. As such, any kind of slow/root will make him very vulnerable to being focused fired down quickly. Many Falstad players use Barrel Roll too aggressively, they can easily be punished for overextending. Illidan, Zeratul, and Nova absolutely tear him to shreds. If you are hit with Lightning Rod, immediately back off out of it’s range. It has a fairly long cooldown at 15 seconds so you can turn around and safely attack.