MEDIC! PTR Impressions and an In-Depth Guide to Lt. Morales.
As probably anyone reading this knows, Lt. Morales has been on the Public Test Realm since last week, and through many 15+ minute queues, I’ve had the opportunity to play her fairly extensively, and try out quite a few different builds. Today we’re going to go ahead and take a look at the whole package. I’ll go over my thoughts on Morales, go into all of her talents in depth, and look at a couple of builds that I’ve tried out.
The Doctor Is In
General Thoughts on Lt. Morales:
At the time of writing, Morales is a unique support, playing not quite like any other Support Heroes,while still taking lessons from some of the support heroes already in the game, as well as drawing influence from games such as Team Fortress 2, and Blizzard’s upcoming IP, Overwatch. To get a better idea of just where her influences lie, and what her overall design says about her, let’s look at her kit.
Trait: Caduceus Reactor – Regenerate 3.12% of your maximum Health every second after not taking damage for 4 seconds. Very similar to Muradin’s Second Wind, Morales’ trait is essentially designed to compensate for the fact that Healing Beam cannot be used on yourself. The nature of the trait also makes it extremely important to position well, especially given the fact that Morales is one of the most fragile healers in the game. Her starting Health is a measly 700, outclassing only Tyrande, and she only gains 110 per level, making her the worst scaling support in terms of overall health. This makes it very easy to punish her for being out of position.
Q: Healing Beam – Heal an Ally for 40 (+20 per level) health per second as long as they are in range. Reactivate to switch targets, or activate your Trait to cancel the channel. This is Morales’ only strictly health restoring ability, and it is extremely potent. Much more akin to Malfurion’s Regrowth than something like Uther’s Holy Light, Healing Beam is best used proactively, and when used appropriately makes it very difficult for the enemy team to kill the target without significant burst given just how much healing it is pumping out. This ability is further strengthened by her next ability…
W: Safeguard – 60 mana, 15 second cooldown. Grant a target ally Resistant, reducing damage taken by 25% for 3 seconds. Just an insane amount of damage mitigation as this spell is cast throughout the game, this is very potent when used against a particularly burst heavy team such as double mage. This ability also really shines when you consider that it can be cast while channeling Healing Beam. Used on a high priority target combined with healing beam can save heroes who are very close to death, without much of an investment on positioning. Couple that with it’s instant cast time and you don’t have to put yourself in any real danger
E: Displacement Grenade – 50 Mana, 12 Second cooldown. Fire a grenade that explodes on the first enemy hit, dealing 80 (+20 per level) damage, knocking enemies away. Morale’s Displacement Grenade is a soft CC that is much more useful defensively, as opposed to Uther’s Stun or Malfurion’s Roots. What sets the grenade apart from the other Support characters is that it is one of the most powerful peeling tools currently available to a character in this classification. I’ve tried out a build based entirely around her Grenade, and while this is not necessarily the best solo-support build, it gives you unrivaled battlefield control. Displacement Grenade is a straight skill shot, travelling until it hits a target, setting it apart from Tychus’ Frag Grenade in that it is much harder and riskier to use offensively, but that much more potently when used to peel, or get an opponent out of position.
R1: Stim Drone – 100 Mana, 90 second cooldown. Grant an allied Hero 75% Attack Speed and 25% movement Speed for 10 seconds. Essentially a more potent, targeted Bloodlust. Most useful on a team that includes an extremely valuable melee assassin or powerful auto attacker. Combos best with Illidan, The Butcher, Raynor, Valla, and Kerrigan in my experience. What sets Stim Drone apart from Bloodlust is that unlike Rehgar, Morales doesn’t need the burst healing that comes from Ancestral Healing, making both of her heroics completely viable.
R2: Medivac Dropship – Target a location for a Medivac transport. For up to 10.5 seconds before takeoff, allies can right-click to enter the Medivac. 60 mana, 50 second cooldown. This is possibly one of the highest skill cap, but most potent heroics to be added to the game since the initial release. The amount of map presence, and mobility it grants to an organized team is unparalleled. The range is similar to Falstad’s Z ability, not quite global, but it can get you to where you need to be 9 times out of 10. Utilizing the dropship to quickly travel between key points on the map such as the two Bosses on Cursed Hollow, or The Boss and the Coin Turn In on Blackheart’s Bay can swiftly turn a game in your favor.
If Morales sees competitive play (which I firmly believe that she will) I think that Medivac Dropship will be the default choice for Heroic, with Stim Drone being used in very specific comps. Her overall kit makes her a very viable healer in my mind, particularly when paired with Melee assassins, or against a Mage-Heavy opposing team. I’d be very surprised if she had no presence at Blizzcon.
Now, one disclaimer for this entire guide is that of the roughly 25 games I was able to get in with Morales on the PTR between long queue times and real life commitments, I never played a game that did not have a morales on each team, most of the time she was the only healer on either team, and many times the team was a complete mirror match. As such I can’t speak with a lot of certainty to her various builds strengths and weaknesses with different comps, and given that so many of her talents seem like they would complement a very specific team comp, as we examine her talents below we’re going to be speaking with no small amount of hypothetical brainstorming and theorycrafting.
Please state the nature of your medical emergency! – An In Depth Talent Analysis for Lt. Morales
Scouting Drone: Generic talent that grants a vision ward that can be destroyed by the opposing team. Vision is obviously super useful, but in a casual game, or any sort of solo queue environment it’s usefulness can swing wildly based on how attentive your team is, I wouldn’t recommend taking Scouting Drone in a vast majority of situations.
Prolonged Safeguard: Increases Safeguard’s duration by 1 second. Probably the most potent, but risky of the level 1 talents, Safeguard is so powerful against a lot of the top tier assassins currently in the meta, that when used correctly it can single-handedly turn a teamfight in your favor very early on. The other two provide you a lot of protection and forgiveness for making mistakes, while Prolonged Safeguard is a pure buff to the talent’s effectiveness.
Feedback Loop: When Safeguard expires, 45 mana is refunded. If you find yourself leaning on Safeguard a lot, or casting it on cooldown against a really aggressive team, Feedback Loop might be your best bet, as Morales is extremely mana hungry, and making one of her main spells cost ¼ of its original mana cost can really help your sustained laning capability in the long run.
Trauma Trigger: You automatically gain an untalented Safeguard automatically if you take damage while below 50% Health. This effect has a 20 second cooldown. Much like Feedback Loop this is a very forgiving talent if you aren’t 100% comfortable with Morales just yet. It allows you to be a bit more aggressive with your positioning, and can protect you from untimely deaths in the early-mid game. ALternatively though, this talent is extremely powerful if your opponents are wisely focusing you down first and foremost, or have an aggressive dive comp that can get to you quickly and effectively, it allows you to continue shielding your allies and not need to worry about yourself as much.
Advanced Block: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Basic Attacks by 50%. Stores up to 3 charges. Pretty self-explanatory, a strictly better version of Block that gives you one additional charge. This is another great talent if you find yourself constantly target effectively, or if you aren’t the best at positioning yet. Also very powerful against slow auto attackers such as King Leoric.
Infused Grenade: Displacement Grenade’s Mana cost is refunded if you hit an enemy Hero. This is an interesting talent, it can be used in a lot of situations, especially given the other talents at this tier. If you find yourself doing a lot of the peeling for your team this is a great pick up since it essentially makes the ability free to cast, improving your sustain massively. Strangely though I used a later talent much more often in the grenade build that I experimented with.
Bioshield: If your target is at full Health, they gain a Shield that absorbs 27.5 (+ 7.5 per level) damage, stacking up to 5 times. This ability stacks to just crazy levels late game, and pairs very well if you’re going all-in on a buffing build with an Illidan, Butcher, etc. or focusing on your Warrior. One thing to note, however, is that these shields disappear immediately when switching targets. This is a talent, however, that encourages you to keep the beam going, which will lead to major mana issues if you aren’t careful.
Upgraded Ballistics: Displacement Grenade travels 50% faster and enemies directly impacted take 33%more damage. As I mentioned above, this is the talent I used more often than not when building a hilarious grenade based build for Morales. The speed at which the grenade travels after taking this talent is crazy, and is guaranteed to catch opponents off guard. The extra damage is essentially icing on the cake, however it’s pretty great taking out a fleeing enemy with a grenade, just because you took this talent.
Calldown: MULE: Activate to calldown a Mule that repairs Structures, one at a time, near target point for 40 seconds, healing for 100 Health every 1 second. Grants 1 ammo every 3seconds. MULE is a tried and true map specific pick for a variety of Heroes, and that remains the case on Morales. Maps that are focused on lane pushing like Dragon Shire or Garden of Terror are where the talent really shines. There isn’t a whole lot to say about MULE that hasn’t been said time and time again.
Cleanse: Activate to remove all stuns, roots, silences, and slows from the target and reduce the duration of their reapplication by 50% for 2 seconds. Even post-nerf Cleanse is still a powerhouse of a support talent against a lot of the stronger heroes currently in the game. CC being such a huge part of the meta right now, even when you can’t “Pre-cleanse” like you used to, being able to shut down CC is a very powerful tool. I’m wary to say whether or not this is my default pick, as the talents at this tier are so varied and useful in different scenarios.
Irradiate: Enemies near your Healing Beam’s target take 21.5 (+1.5 per level) damage per second. Looping back to the Stacking buffs on a strong melee assassin, this talent is an integral part of that build. The damage seems small on first look, but when your target is in the thick of every fight constantly sticking to enemies it can add up QUICK. The talent is essentially a better version of Burning Rage applied to your target, and given that Burning Rage is one of the go-to talents for many warriors in the game, that should speak for itself.
Clear!: Displacement Grenade’s explosion radius increased by 33% and knocks back farther. This is clearly the pick for our cheesy grenade build, but it is an extremely potent talent on its own. The main to use of Morales’ grenade is to knock enemies away while retreating, increasing that effect on two level makes the grenade that much more effective in basically any composition. It can also be used as an alternative to cleanse to protect crowd controlled targets.
When it comes to the Heroic Abilities we discussed this during the description of the talents. Medivac is basically the go-to for many reasons, but Stim Drone will make your Illidan, Butcher, etc. That much more powerful if you’re going with the “Buff that guy!” build.
Spell Shield: Upon taking Ability Damage, reduce that damage and further Ability Damage by 50%for 3 seconds. Can only trigger once every 30 seconds. Another talent to take if you are often finding yourself focused down by the enemy team, whether by any fault of your own or not, Spell Shield provides you with a significant amount of survivability.
Preventative Care: Basic Attacks against your Healing Beam target reduce the attacker’s Attack Speed by 25% for 2.5 seconds. Similar to Irradiate, this talent is essentially a better version of Imposing Presence, after the recent nerf to that talent. This talent tier has some of the most varied talents and all of them are totally viable in any number of games.
Couples Therapy: While channeling Healing Beam you are healed for 25% of the healing amount at the cost of an additional 4 Mana per second. Another Great talent if you are finding yourself taking a lot of damage, be mindful of the increased mana cost though, this can burn through your mana very quickly if you’re not careful. AN extremely potent talent when used appropriately. I’m told that this is currently healing you for free when your target is at max health, and that this may or may not be a bug. If this is not a bug, and it is working as intended, this is probably the most potent talent at this tier.
Intensive Care: When Healing Beam is on a single target for over 3 seconds, its healing amount increases by 25% and Mana cost increases by 4. As above, this is an extremely potent talent that will straight up increase your healing, which obviously helps when the enemy team is particularly good at focus firing. Once again though this will destroy your mana pool if you do not use it conservatively.
System Shock: Displacement Grenade slows enemies by 50% for 4 seconds. The slow amount decays over its duration. Another strong grenade talent, inside or outside of the actual grenade build. It assists greatly in any escape, but also can be used in the rare occasion that you are using it offensively from behind the enemy backline. It’s worth noting that that last situation shouldn’t really be happening by level 16 anyway, but there you have it.
Shield Sequencer: After casting Safeguard, you can cast it a second time within 3 seconds at no cost. When used appropriately, this essentially gives you a double length Safeguard on the same target, which is probably how you’ll be using this a majority of the time. Otherwise it makes 2 of your allies that much sturdier, and can be used to great effect when your team mates are not able to position well.
Second Opinion: Reduces Displacement Grenade’s cooldown by 2 seconds and it now holds a second charge. My choice for talents when building for the Grenade. Getting two of these is pretty funny, especially given how much damage they can do at this point in the game. I could see this being taken in a normal build as a niche pick if you have a very frail backline who just keeps getting dived. It’s very helpful for knocking around a double warrior comp.
Inoculation: Increases Safeguard’s initial damage reduction to 50% for the first 1.5 seconds. Arguably the most powerful talent, with the highest skill cap. The potency of this talent increases exponentially with your ability to land it appropriately. This can effectively neuter either one of the mages’ opening rotation if timed perfectly.
Storm Shield: Activate to give all nearby allied Heroes a Shield for 20% of their max Health for 3 seconds. Much like all of Morales’ other generic talents, there isn’t much left to say about Storm Shield that hasn’t been said before. It’s a completely viable talent that has seen popularity throughout its lifetime. It scales best with high health heroes, obviously, and is a great reactionary ability in team fights. The one downside of taking it on Morales is that she doesn’t have any real AoE healing to burst out when the shields go up like some other Support Characters do.
Medbay: Medivac heals nearby allies and everyone aboard for 110 (+ 10 per level) Health per second. This essentially turns Medivac into a more traditional Healing Heroic. It provides a heavy amount of healing when used, but sort of puts you in a strange place for using it as a transport, as you are rarely using it after a big fight when many of your team will be at low health. That being said this talent is super versatile and can essentially be used a stationary Jug of 1000 cups or Tranquility if you’re team needs that little extra push in the late game.
Caduceus Reactor 2.0: While Caduceus Reactor is active you restore 8 Mana a second and gain a Shield that absorbs 58 (+ 8 per level) damage, stacking up to 5 times. This is obviously the least skill intensive level 20 talent, a simple buff to your trait, and while it is extremely potent, the odd thing about this talent is that the better you are at playing Morales effectively, the less use you’ll get out of it. Some extremely clutch plays can be pulled off by strategically taking damage in order to regen your mana and make yourself harder to kill, but that is an extremely risky play that I would only recommend to people who are very comfortable with their team.
Transfusion: Increases the duration of Stim Drone by 2 seconds. You also gain the effect of Stim Drone when cast on an ally. Clearly the pick if you’re going for the buffing one ally build. The extra 2 seconds of the buff is deceptively powerful, and while you getting the buff seems pretty useless, the movement speed is a huge boon when it comes to keeping up with your buff target.
Many of the recent Heroes that Blizzard has released for this game have received less and less generic talents, and have massive build diversity. Morales takes this to the next level, and to me has some of the best talents in the game from a design perspective, as well as a unique hero feel.
Dammit, I’m a Medic, not a Doctor! – Talent Builds for Lt. Morales
Looking through Lt. Morales’ talents can be daunting, so many of them are powerful and can fit into a variety of Builds. For the purpose of this guide I’m going to go over 4 builds; A Basic, build focusing on sustain and survivability, a more advanced solo-support style build focused on efficiency, a Buff Build meant to be played with a powerful Auto Attacker, and a Cheesy Grenade Based build that I would necessarily recommend playing in a solo queue environment. For description of the talents, and why they belong in each build, see the above descriptions.
Build #1 – Congratulations! You’re my First Patient…Ever.
Level 1: Trauma Trigger
Level 4: Advanced Block.
Level 7: Clear!
Level 10: Medivac Dropship
Level 13: Spell Shield
Level 16: Shield Sequencer
Level 20: Caduceus Reactor 2.0
Build #2 – Need Some Triage?
Level 1: Prolonged Safeguard
Level 4: Bioshield
Level 7: Cleanse
Level 10: Medivac Dropship
Level 13: Intensive Care (Note that either Preventative Care or Couple’s Therapy may be better at this level depending on your team comp.)
Level 16: Inoculation
Level 20: Stormshield, Medbay as a secondary situational Pick.
Build #3 – If I do this wrong it’ll hurt a little. If I do it right, it’ll hurt a lot.
Level 1: Prolonged Safeguard
Level 4: Bioshield
Level 7: Irradiate
Level 10: Stim Drone
Level 13: Preventative Care
Level 16: Shield Sequencer or Inoculation
Level 20: Transfusion
Build #4 – Suck it up! You act like you got both arms blown off.
Level 1: Feedback Loop
Level 4: Upgraded Ballistics
Level 7: Clear!
Level 10: Medivac Dropship
Level 13: Spell Shield
Level 16: Second Opinion or System Shock
Level 20: Caduceus Reactor 2.0 or Stormshield