Malfurion Stormrage, Archdruid of the Night Elves, twin brother of Illidan, world champion of marathon napping. It seems appropriate to follow up my Tyrande Article from last week with a guide focusing on her counterpart, Malfurion. Now, aside from being married to Tyrande, Malfurion shares her classification as a support, although his classification as such is much more fitting of his kit and overall playstyle. Much like Tyrande, Malfurion sees quite a bit of play in the competitive scene, typically as the support character that a team pick if Rehgar was taken and Uther was banned. It is more or less universally agreed upon that he can solo support extremely efficiently, holding his own against heroes such as Rehgar, and rising above heroes such as Tyrande, for the first time in his millennia long life.
Now, before I get off on a tangent about my thoughts on Night Elven Society (Of which I have many) let’s focus on Malfurion’s place within The Nexus.
First let’s take a look at his kit, starting with his Trait. Malfurion’s D key is the activated ability, Innervate. It can be cast on a friendly hero to restore 15% of that Hero’s maximum Mana over 5 seconds, with a 30 second cooldown. This, along with some of his other utility, makes him an ideal laning partner for mana hungry heroes such as Jaina, Kael’Thas, or Valla. Now for his abilities:
Q: Regrowth - 60 Mana, 7 second cooldown. Heal target ally for 54.6 (+12.6 per level) Health instantly, and an additional 136.5 (+31.5) Health over 10 seconds.
W: Moonfire - 20 Mana, 3 second cooldown. Deal 40 (+10 per level) damage to enemies within target area and reveals them for 2 seconds.
R2: Twilight Dream - 100 Mana, 90 second cooldown. After a short delay, deal 136 (+36 per level) damage in a large area around you, silencing enemies and making them unable to use abilities for 3 seconds.
Clearly Malfurion’s kit is a little more of what I could call “Standard Support” kit. As mentioned above, the combination of Innervate and Entangling Roots makes him a great laning partner for the Mages, giving them some much needed sustain, as well as holding people in place for their AoE Skillshots. His Heroic Ability Tranquility, is also one of the best support heroics in the game, and while it can’t pull of clutch plays quite like Reghar or Uther, it is much more user friendly, and is used much differently than the aforementioned heroes.
One thing to keep in mind while playing Malfurion, especially if you are more familiar with Uther, Rehgar, or even Kharazim, is that most of his heals are not as reactive as the others, and instead should be used in a proactive manner. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of builds. The first one is a simple build that should help you get the hang of playing Malfurion on his free week. The second is more of an Advanced Build to try out once you get the hang of the character.
Build #1 - New Player Friendly
Level 1: Shan’Do’s Clarity – Reduce the cooldown of Innvervate by 10 seconds. Whenever possible you should avoid laning with Heroes that do not use mana, such as Sonya, Illidan or Murky. Instead, set yourself up with a friend who is going to be using a lot of mana, and use innervate on cooldown. This will provide them with a huge amount of sustain, and keep them soaking that precious early game experience for much longer. There really isn’t much of an alternate pick here, as the Talent Harmony is kind of a trap, forcing you to spend extra mana in order to get a mana discount on Regrowth. I would only suggest picking a different talent if you somehow end up with a comp that consists of Abathur, Illidan, Murky, and Sonya.
Level 4: Elune’s Grace - Increase the range of Regrowth, Moonfire, and Entangling Roots by 30%. This talent allows you to be much safer in your positioning, especially when your opponent is particularly aggressive with their placement, keeping yourself safe from any crossfire that might come your way. We have another “Trap” talent at this level in Rampant Growth, which seems very attractive on paper, but when you really look at the numbers, the initial heal of Regrowth is so low compared to the heal overtime, this talent is never really worth it.
Level 7: Enduring Growth - Increases the duration of Regrowth by 6 seconds. This talent is worded a bit strangely and seems to imply that it would reduce the amount of healing per tick of your main heal, and instead spread the healing out over a longer period of time. Instead, this simply adds extra ticks, giving you a serious bump to your healing (Testing needed, to the best of my understanding this is the case) MULE and Cleanse are both tempting talents here, and could be viable as niche selection in higher levels of play, but for new players, or people just trying out Furion, stick with Enduring Growth.
Level 10: Tranquility - No real choice here, Tranquility is an incredible Heroic which essentially gives your party a giant “STAND IN ME TO NOT DIE” circle to huddle around for one of those big teamfights. Used towards the beginning to middle of a teamfight, this ability will likely keep your team healthy enough to sustain through quite a bit of punishment. It is also worth noting that unlike Li Li’s Jug of 1,000 cups, you cannot be stunned out of Tranquility.
Level 13: Life Seed - Nearby damaged allied Heroes will automatically gain the heal over time portion of Regrowth, this effect has a 20 second cooldown. This is just straight up free “Smart” healing that you do not have to commit any effort to. As with the level 7 talents, the two active abilities Shrink Ray and Ice Block are both totally viable in certain situations, but require a bit more know-how and awareness to use effectively.
Level 16: Hardened Focus - While Above 80% life, your Basic Ability cooldowns regenerate 50% faster. One of the strongest generic support talents in the game, provided you can stay out of trouble (which you shouldn’t have much problem with using this build) you’ll be able to cast Regrowth very rapidly, and keep the enemy team dealing with your roots throughout a team fight.
Level 20: Serenity - Increases Tranquility’s healing by 25% and also restores 5 mana per second. A nice little buff to your already powerful heroic ability, a flat increase to healing, and the addition of a little bit of mana regen as well, what more could you ask for? Stormshield is a good alternative here in situations where you have a really beefy team with a LOT of HP.
Build #2 - Advanced Tech
Level 1: Shando’s Clarity is probably still your pick here, unless you’re low on mana users to lane with. Furion’s trait is just so potent when used effectively, giving you so much sustain that it’s hard to pass up an opportunity to improve it.
Level 4: Elune’s Grace is still a great pick at this level, however if the opposing team doesn’t have a lot of reach, and you are more comfortable with your positioning, taking Versatile (25% increase to mana regen on Innervate) is OK. As I mentioned above, Malfurion’s trait is extremely powerful, however it is worth noting that it is a percentage improvement, so it scales up on heroes like Kael’Thas who end up having a massive mana pool by the late game, and is a little underwhelming on lower mana pool heroes.
Level 7 - As I mentioned in the first build, enduring growth is a super strong support talent, although there are definitely times you would want to pick Cleanse or MULE. Cleanse works great when you’re facing down an opposing team with a number of stuns or other forms of crowd control. MULE is more of a niche choice. If the opposing team excels at split pushing, and you’re on a map where pushing is the main focus (Garden or Terror or Dragon Shire, mostly) it can be an extremely potent answer to those Map Objectives.
Level 10 - Much the same as the first build, Tranquility is your support ultimate, it would be very rare that I would suggest taking Twilight Dream.
Level 13 - Here we see our first major difference between the builds. Once you have a good understanding of how to play Malfurion I would no longer suggest taking life seed, as it adds very little to your abilities, and is more of a safety blanket. Instead I would suggest taking Shrink Ray (Activate to reduce and enemy Hero’s damage and movement speed by 50% for 4 seconds) if you have a coordinated team that can effectively focus down a hero, or if they have a high value target such as Kael’Thas who is greatly affected by abilities like Shrink Ray. Alternatively, you can take Ice Block (Activate to place yourself in stasis and gain invulnerability for 3 seconds) If the opposing team seems particularly bent on focus firing you down at the begining of any team fight, or if you don’t have a super strong tank to peel for you.
Level 16 - Here we have another opportunity to switch up our talents. If you’re facing down a comp that has a better damage potential than your team, Hardened Focus is probably still not a bad choice. However, if you’re winning team fights pretty effortlessly, Tenacious Roots is a great talent to up your zoning and crowd control potential. It’s also worth noting that level 16 is a huge damage increase tier for many Heroes. It’s always worth taking a look at your opponent’s team comp when choosing an “Off-Spec” talent like this.
Level 20 - Serenity and Stormshield are still the go-to picks here, but as with Any heroes who have access to Rewind or Bolt of The Storm, they have their place as well. If the enemy team is particularly strong at zoning you out, Bolt of The Storm works great for that clutch save. Rewind is a little less effective on Furion, as he has relatively low cooldowns as is, but a double entangling roots can be absolutely devastating to the opposing team if used appropriately, setting up a late game teamfight win, and end a game in your favor.
General Tips for Playing as Malfurion
- Think of regrowth as sort of the opposite of many healing spells in the game. Most heals are to be used after an ally has take as close to the amount of damage that the heal will be healing for, so as to get the maximum amount out of it. Since Regrowth’s heal overtime portion is so much more potent than its initial heal, try and use it pre-emptively to give the friendly hero some sustain while they are fighting.
- Do not spam moonfire. You are not a Moonkin! Moonfire is a great spell, and is awesome for punishing a Zeratul or Nova who reveals themselves at an inopportune time, but the amount of damage it does to minions, compared to the amount of mana it costs will seriously hurt your presence in lane in the early game, especially considering you are not able to innervate yourself.
- Entangling roots is super versatile. It can be used to Zone enemies out of an area when used on a strategic choke point, or interrupt objective turn ins on maps like Blackheart’s Bay or Tomb of The Spider Queen. It can also be used to hold someone in place while your Jaina casts Blizzard and decimates their health pool.
- Just like with Regrowth, Tranquility must be used proactively, not once the team is all about to die, and it can likely will not be used to save a single target from dying like ancestral healing or divine shield.
General Tips for playing against Malfurion
- Burst damage is the bane of his existence, if you can focus fire someone down very quickly there is very little he will be able to do with regrowth, unlike a more bursty support like Uther.
- Learn how to avoid entangling roots. There are some heroes who can avoid this with clever use of skill such as Zeratul’s Blink, Leoric’s Wraith Walk, or Anub’Arak’s burrow. Otherwise it is almost always worth walking around whenever possible, as you are unlikely to catch up if you just take the root.
- Since Tranquility is nearly impossible to stop, it is often best to simply try and zone out another member of the team to focus down, or retreat a bit while Tranquility runs its course. Of course, if it is cast too late, and you realize this, continue bursting down your targets, so knowing how to gauge that is another valuable skill when facing down Malfurion.
While the two builds we looked at today have a lot of overlap, the talents that do differ can cause a great difference in how you play Furion. Much like many of the over 2,000 gold heroes, he has a very slight learning curve, but a really high skill cap when it comes to high levels of play. I’d recommend anyone who wants to seriously get into the Support Role to give him a try, and put some time into developing your skills with the Archdruid.
In closing, Malfurion is an extremely potent support who also happens to be one of the least expensive Heroes in the Shop. If you are a new player looking to expand your hero collection for Ranked Play, or just need another support, Malfurion should be a high priority pick for you. The two guides above should get you started with Malfurion, and if you’re anything like me, he’ll quickly become one of your favorite heroes in the support role.