After finishing her hunt in Azeroth, the legendary warden Maiev Shadowsong enters the Nexus, seeking the thrill of the hunt once again. Who better to review her with than the flex player for SpaceStation Gaming Casanova, who is just as obsessed with her as she is with Illidan.
Maiev is a melee assassin, who thanks to her high health pool and a passive 10 % damage reduction, rather fits the description of a bruiser. After her announcement, many players were unsure what to expect as most of her kit from Warcraft III had already been given to Zeratul. Despite this, Casanova still thinks that Blizzard did a great job designing her kit. "She's slippery with high damage which I feel still fits the fantasy that people had from her Warcraft III counterpart. I like her focus on area damage and her ability to bait out high cooldown abilities with her trait. She should make a cool addition to the current cast."
Gotta Dodge 'Em All
Her trait allows Maiev to jump and become immune to all hostile effects for a brief moment. While Casanova likes the Vault of the Wardens as it increases the skill cap of the hero, he feels like it is a bit too strong at the moment. "As much as I love the ability I think it's a mistake to have it on such a low cooldown. The ability to completely avoid any ability on an 8 second cooldown is too powerful in my opinion but we will see where it really stands with time."
But it is not only her trait that makes her powerful. Her Fan of Knives with a new type of crescent hit zone coupled with the Medivh cooldown reset and mana return mechanic allows her to use the ability every 0.5s if she manages to hit at least 2 enemy heroes with it. Because a big part of her damage comes from spamming the Q, you need to keep your enemies close. And that’s where the Umbral Bind comes to play. Using the W resets the auto attack and makes the next one to cleave and apply a tether to all enemy heroes hit. If an enemy moves too far away from Maiev, they get gripped back, similar to Butcher's Lamb to the Slaughter. "I think it’s an interesting ability to play since both you and the enemy have to focus on the tether since the best thing for them to do is stay within the circle," Casanova adds. "For engaging it actually is nice since you want to CC and then position to land multiman Qs safely.
Her heroic abilities are the only thing Casanova is still not fully decided on. "I think the disc has higher potential to be amazing but it isn't the fastest moving projectile so it could be dodged or blocked. However, hitting any enemy with the disc in the teamfight should give you a very large advantage since it is 4 seconds of crowd control that cannot be cleansed," he said. "The cage seems good if your team has a strong AoE teamfight to help corral the enemy team, but overall it seems to me that the disc will be extremely strong as people begin to excel on the character."
Build around her strengths
Just like many other professional players, Casanova is a huge fan of the auto attack build, which he feels is the strongest at the moment. Nalsha's Momento coupled with a few other talents and her Q reset, allows her to deal a large amount of AoE damage quickly. "Bonds of Corruption on 7 synergizes extremely well with the physical damage on 4, and takes advantage of Maiev's high basic attack damage as well as empowering all the physical damage of your allies so I find it to be the best choice for the build." While the level 16 talent is set in stone for Casanova, the other talents are not so he shares his thoughts on other post level 10 talents as well. "I've been liking shadow armor on 13 if the game calls for me to look to blink into their backline, but if I can't go in and I have to sit back and poke with Q mostly then I think Bladed Armor would be best."
Maiev is offered 3 active Shadow Orb abilities at level 20, focusing on different aspects of her kit, each with a unique recharge mechanic. "Most of the time I take the Huntress primarily for the movement speed allowing you to stick to targets, as at that point between Armored assault and Bonds of corruption your auto attacks do an insane amount of damage but the attack speed helps you capitalize on that movespeed as well." But there is also a different, situational, way that Maiev can be built focusing on her Q rather than her auto attacks. "If the enemy has lots of ways to deal with physical damage I consider a more Q oriented build with Elune's Wrath on 7, Vengeful Knives on 16 and Shadow Strike on 20 but overall it feels weaker than the other build in most cases."
Casanova also tried different builds focusing on the other abilities Maiev has, but he feels like they are underwhelming. But their low damage output is not the reason why he doesn't like them. "The main thing that comes into play is, that Q is on such a short cd that the benefits you gain from the talents compound. As well as the fact that you can always auto attack. So taking talents for your longer cooldown abilities feels much worse since the effect isn't great enough."
Maiev's role and the meta
Her kit really shines in AoE fights so one would expect Maiev to be a weak duelist. But that's not the case, at least according to Casanova. "When I first saw her I expected she'd be fairly weak in 1v1 scenarios since her Q was based on resetting. However, between her extremely high basic attack damage and her Q still having solid damage and a reasonable cooldown without the reset and an auto attack reset with her W, I found her to still be an exceptional duelist that can excel even further on clumped enemies. Her passive also enables her to dodge out of major threats that the character she is dueling has, making her more versatile than possibly intended."
Given her potential damage output, she excels when paired with heroes who can either protect her or follow up on her pull, such as Tyrael, Uther or Jaina. But Casanova has another pocket pick that works with her rather well. "With my main build she is actually insane with Tassadar. He enables her to play further up with shields, and she lifesteals like crazy with the physical damage on her Q at 4 and her bouncing autos. I've had moments where I'm at 10% HP, get a shield, reset Q a few times and end up at full health." She is a great pick versus heavy melee teams but how does she fare versus heavy cc teams or mages? "I believe that would be strong against her. It's hard to tell at this point but in theory, having long ranged poke/follow-up and heavy crowd control would be the best answer as she doesn't have sustain and is vulnerable when her trait is down."
There is no doubt that she will become part of the meta unless nerfed. But where will she fit in the team comps? Casanova doesn't like her as a solo laner since he feels like she'd lose most of the matchups. So he has a different role for her in mind. "I would put her in the rotation. She can help set up kills with your tank, and her waveclear is good enough to help your team keep up."
Getting the most out of her kit
You can do many interesting tricks with Maiev. Dodge abilities with your trait, pull multiple enemies in your team AoE spells, or even pull them into Boss/Immortal stuns. Casanova knows a few others as well: "You can also do some cool combos with the tether. For instance, if someone facechecks you in a bush, you throw E backwards, W the character and take it to instantly pull them back towards your team," or how to poke enemies despite having no poke: "In the ideal scenario you want to send E in to poke, hit the target at the apex to get both instances of damage, and then take the E, aa, W to reset, aa and Q as you walk away. This is an extremely high damage combo and you have your trait to stop counter engage. Now this will rarely happen since people rightly won't stick around on top of your E but the same concept can be done without hitting both instances."
All in all, Maiev seems to be the strongest hero released lately, but what is Casanova's final verdict on her? Is she everything he ever wished her to be or did Blizzard let him and many other Maiev fans down? "Maiev is my most anticipated hero to come to HotS. I've been wanting her ever since I started playing the game, and I'm not disappointed. Her kit is extremely fun to play, and she has a high skill ceiling which is exciting to me as a competitive player who likes to push the limits of what heroes can do. In her current state I feel like she is very strong, and could push to the levels of being overpowered as people learn how to play her. Honestly, based on my first impressions I am very excited to see how players progress and discover the best ways to utilize her kit."
List of Builds