The Late Bloomer
When you think about it, Thrall is pretty badass. He is one of the most powerful shamans to ever live and long time leader of the Horde. Few people can withstand a swing of his mighty hammer! In Heroes of the Storm he is an often overlooked Melee Assassin. One of the reasons Thrall is often overlooked is because he’s a bit of a late bloomer. Depending on build, Thrall only becomes truly powerful around Level 13/16. Despite a bit of a weak early game, Thrall has a lot of utility, sustain, and one of the best engages in the game. Let’s take a deeper look at his abilities:
Thrall’s trait is called Frostwolf Resilience. It charges each time one of his abilities hits an enemy, after 5 charges, Thrall is able to self heal for 660 health (90+30 per level). This trait gives Thrall massive sustain, he’s able to stay out on the map and soak exp for a lot longer than other who might need to return to base. It also means that for advanced players, they can start a fight with what might seem like a disadvantage to health and then heal after using 1-2 abilities to win a 1v1 or other fight. This trait also makes Thrall an excellent candidate for farming merc camps although he is not tanky enough for soloing any Boss’s by himself.
The Rest of Thrall’s kit is pretty straightforward:
His Q is called Chain Lightning and it deals 390 (67+17 per level) to one enemy and half that amount to 2 nearby enemies.
His W is called Feral Spirit and summons some fiery looking wolves that run in a straight line. They deal 335 damage (50+15 per level) and also roots an enemy hero for 1 second. It does not root creep but will deal damage.
As you can see, Thrall is a fairly simple character to play but with a good amount of versatility. Chain Lightning can be useful for wave clears or to help finish off a fleeing enemy. Likewise, Feral Spirits has multiple uses. You can use it as an engage, to root a fleeing enemy, or to give yourself some breathing room if you’re trying to disengage. Last but not least Windfury follows the same pattern. The movement speed boost can be used to help you escape or to chase down a fleeing opponent and take them down for good. A quick note about Feral Spirits, it moves in a narrow straight line and can be tricky to land, your best solution is to practice, practice, practice. It will pay off, there’s no feeling quite like rooting someone in place to deliver a killing blow!
Moving on, let’s examine Thrall’s Talents:
Block - Generic talent that reduces damage. While it seems like a good idea to make Thrall more tanky, I feel it’s generally a waste to pick this talent. Thrall already has sustain from his Frostwolf Resilience. Only pick this if you find yourself dying often.
Rolling Thunder - This talent adds 30% range on your Chain Lightning and gives a mana refund if you continue to attack an enemy after using the ability. The extra range is nice for chasing an enemy down. It also necessary if you wish to build a Chain Lightning build which can be quite useful on smaller 2 lane maps. Not my first choice though.
Rabid Wolves - This ability causes a successful hit to grant 3 stacks of Frostwolf Resilience. I strongly discourage the use of this talent. Feral Spirits can be difficult to land and all your other abilities already grant Frostwolf Resilience.
Seasoned Marksman - This generic talent grants 1 extra point of damage for every 6 minions killed near you. Hero kills grant 3 stacks. I strongly recommend this talent in all 3 lane maps. Especially maps that focus on killing creep such as Tomb of the Spider Queen and Garden of Terror. While 6 minions seems high, you’ll find yourself gaining stacks quickly and the extra damage really adds up by mid/late game where getting enemy hero kills is extremely important.
Ride the Lightning - This talent adds 2 extra attack procs for Thrall’s Chain Lightning. This is an okay option for certain builds or for smaller 2 lane maps. Remember that all procs after the first hit only do 50% damage so it’s best applied for wave clear.
Spirit Journey - Feral Spirits travel 50% faster. This talent is almost completely useless. There are few situations where having them travel faster will make any kind of difference one way or another.
Mana Tide - This choice is almost always a MUST pick. It gives you back 15 mana along with health every time you get 5 charges of Frostwolf Resilience. Allows you to be in the lane smashing faces for longer.
Envenom - Generic Talent that lets you damage an enemy for 179 over 10 seconds. Mana Tide tends to have way more utility than this ability. If you absolutely must squeeze every drop of damage out of Thrall though, go with this.
Wind Shear - Take 4 seconds off your Windfury Cooldown! This should generally be your TOP pick at this tier. It means more escaping, chasing, and having Frostwolf Resilience proc more often. Use it!
Stone Wolves - Increase root duration of Feral Spirits from 1 to 1.5 . This ability is fairly useless. The .5 second increase will rarely make a difference. Plenty of other characters have a stun/root you can take advantage of.
Follow Through - Generic ability which gives you 40% extra damage on your basic attack after using an ability. Up front seems like a good choice since it means the first hit on your Windfury does even more damage. The problem is that Windfury normally has a 12 second cooldown! Overall not the worst choice but I find an 8 second Windfury has more utility.
Frostwolf’s Grace - Seems like a good idea but not recommended. As a player you should learn to not overextend and need an emergency heal button. Only choose if you’re still getting used to Thrall’s playstyle and need more survivability.
Level 10 - The Heroics!!
Sundering - This ability is amazing and should be your pick 99 times out of 100. It is one of the BEST engages in the game. After a short delay, you sunder the earth directly in front of you. dealing 160 damage and shoving the enemy to either side of your attack, stunning them for 1.5 seconds.
While you can’t control who gets shoved where, this ability is fantastic for letting you split up the enemy team and the stun allows you to focus fire down a particular enemy. The high damage also allows you to finish off a fleeing opponent. Highly Recommended! Quick note - This ability does NOT stun creep, DO NOT waste it on them!
Earthquake - Summons a massive earthquake that slows down enemy speed by 70% within the area. Lasts for 10 seconds. Earthquake does have a large impact but is largely useless. It’s best function is as a disengage tool if your team needs to get away. Not much utility and does not work as a great engage tool as if you use it early, the enemy team will just stun/root and generally try to escape the area. Does no actual damage unlike other AOE attacks, such as Tyrande’s Starfall.
Level 13 - Things get Real!
Restless Wolves - If an enemy is hit by Feral Spirits, it’s cooldown is reduced by 50%. Blizzard desperately wants you to create a build around Feral Spirits but this ability is again useless. Other talents at this level have more utility. Plenty of other characters have better stuns/roots that are easier to land.
Grace of Air - Windfury grants twice as many Frostwolf Resilience stacks. Not a bad pick for extra sustain. Assuming you’ve already selected Wind Shear at Level 7.
Giant Killer - Generic Talent - Basic Attacks against heroes do a bonus 1.5% damage based on their max health. Remember that Windfury increase your basic attack speed. This is the way to go for extra damage or against a tank heavy team since their large health pool insures you’ll be dealing them extra damage. Recommended!
Spell Shield - Generic Talent - Reduces ability damage by 50% for 3 seconds when you’re hit by an ability. 30 seconds cooldown. This is a situational pick and most recommended if you’re going up against a spell heavy team with Jaina or Kael’Thalas.
Forked Lightning - Allows Chain Lightning to hold 2 charges that can be used in quick succession. Only pick this up if you’re going with a Chain Lightning build. Even then it’s not always the best choice considering other talents in this tier
Ride The Wind - Windfury movement increase goes from 30% to 40%. Windfury attacks increase duration of movement speed increase by 1 second. This talent is meant to help with Juking but is pointless when you consider other talent choices like the next one…
Tempest Fury - Highly Recommended! Causes the 3rd attack of Windfury to hit 3 times for 75% damage. This is the KEY talent for Thrall and the reason for him being such a late game powerhouse. Properly specced, this attack will cause most heroes to drop to half or 1/4 th health (for squishier characters such as Nova, KT, or Jaina) where they can easily be finished off by the rest of the team. If your team has an edge, this ability helps you keep it, if you’re behind, it can help you catch up!
Blood for Blood - Activate to deal damage equal to 10% of the target enemy health and to heal yourself for 20%. This ability is terrible for Thrall, have you read Tempest Fury!? You’re already healing yourself with Frostwolf Resilience and smashing faces. This talent gives you no extra advantage or utility.
Level 20 - Ultimate Heroics
Worldbreaker - Sundering travels indefinitely. This ability is generally pointless. The regular Sundering should be enough to finish off a fleeing opponent. This extra range gives you nothing. It’s also not like Sgt. Hammer’s ultimate Heroic which causes the bullet to fly through the map continuously.
Earthen Shields - You and allies gain a shield equivalent of 15% max health each pulse. This shield lasts 4 seconds. This talent actually isn’t that bad but why would you pick Earthquake over The Sundering at Level 10? Good team fights but it’s a very long wait for a minor payoff.
Nexus Blades - Generic Talent - Basic Attacks deal 20% damage and slow for 1 second. This is almost ALWAYS the way to go. Extra damage on top of everything else, yes please!
Bolt of the Storm - Activate to teleport to a nearby location. This is a situational pick. If you’re fighting a team with a lot of cc this might be a good choice to help you escape. Likewise, if you’re doing split pushing of any kind, this can help you make a hasty retreat.
If you’ve read this far, you can see that Thrall is extremely versatile. While he’s not as good of a wave clear as specialists, he can still easily hold his own in a lane. A good thrall player will understand when to press the attack and when to use windfury to escape a situation where he is overextending. All of his abilities work well together. Someone running away? Use E to close the distance and use Q to finish them off or root them in place with W before moving in for the attack. Need to escape? Use W to root your pursuer and use E to run away!
An important note to remember is that Feral Spirits will not root creep but can still be used to deal a bit of damage. This is easiest when creep is marching in a straight line so use feral spirits to start before using Q or E.
This build (and it’s minor variants) are the most popular and successful with using Thrall. It’s focus is on maximizing damage and is extremely satisfying to take down enemies heroes mid game.
Level 1 - Seasoned Marksman (Helps you build up extra attack damage that will pay off)
Level 4 Mana Tide - For extra sustain leading to more charges of Seasoned Marksman
Level 7 - Wind Shear- Starting here you can windfury more often which leads to more frostwolf procs and thus more sustain.
Level 10 - Sundering - Between the damage, stun, and Windfury, allows you to take out most heroes.
Level 13 - Giant Killer - To squeeze out extra damage
Level 16 - Tempust Fury - Obvious choice - totally destroy opponents.
Level 20 - Nexus Blades - Even more damage, mauahahha!
Rolling Thunder Build
This is the other build that is common with Thrall. It’s better for smaller 2 lane maps where you won’t have as much of a chance to lane for Seasoned Marksman.
Level 1 - Rolling Thunder - For range increase and mana back. Remember to hit the enemies HIT by the lightning to get back extra mana.
Level 4 - Ride The Lightning - Let’s you hit 2 additional targets.
Alternative: Enevenom for extra damage
Level 7 - Wind Shear - Despite the build being about chain lightning, it’s hard to ignore how useful Windfury is for bust damage. Use it!
Alternative: Stone Wolves to maximize your stuns and create a bigger window for team to pick off a player.
Level 10 - The Sundering
Level 13 - Grace of Air- Gives you extra sustain thanks to the extra Frostwolf Resilience proc.
Alternative Giant Killer/Spell Shield - Do you need to deal more damage? Or do you need to take less damage? See how your game is going.
Level 16 - Forked Lightning - This allows you to throw around a LOT of lightning and that’s a good thing.
Level 20 -Bolt of The Storm - Allows you to dive in and Lightening things up or using Windfury before beating a hasty retreat!
Things to Watch Out For
As a melee assassin, Thrall has some inherent weaknesses. He’s particularly susceptible to Nazebo since he has no easy escape from the Zombie Wall. He’s also weak to ranged fighters who can slow or stun him and attack from afar like Jaina or KT. Sgt Hammer tends to be less of issue if you’re okay with diving in and relying on your trait to give you the edge.
It’s also important to note that despite the self heal - Thrall is NOT a tank. He’s not as squishy as other assassins but he just can’t soak that much damage and can be prone to overextending if you rush in too deep with Windfury. As usual, positioning is key. With a little patience and with backup from any other character that has a CC/Root, Thrall is absolutely deadly. So get out there and smash some faces!