Alexstrasza has entered the Nexus a couple of days ago and many of you might be wondering how viable she is and what builds should you use. So we sat down with KilluZiioN, the support player for Team Freedom and a quarterfinalist of Blizzcon 2017. He shared his opinions on Alexstrasza, her builds and even a few useful tips and tricks.
Hey KzN (KilluZiioN recently changed his tag to "KzN"), Alexstrasza has been live for a few days now. Before we take a look at her in detail, what is your general impresion of her kit?
Alexstrasza is awesome. Her kit is super interesting and makes her a unique hero in Heroes. I think she will be viable in both competitive play and Hero League which makes me really happy.
It indeed looks awesome also thanks to her trait Dragonqueen. Using it resets her ability cooldowns and all of her abilities are empowered. How should the players aproach using it as it kind of works as a second heroic ability?
Dragonqueen is indeed a big part of her kit in what makes her that good at the moment. It should be used at a crucial part of the game like a Tribute fight or a boss fight, etc. This cooldown is really important so make sure not to waste it. Also, keep in mind that if you use Cleansing Flame while in Dragonqueen form, the duration of Dragonqueen staggers. Make sure to look for big plays when dropping from the sky after Cleansing Flame!
Gift of Life is her basic healing ability and it heals for a rather large amount (847 at level 20) at full health with a 7 seconds cooldown. However its healing quickly diminishes when Alex reaches lower percentages of health. Which mistakes in its usage should players avoid?
I think most of it is to keep an eye on your own health kinda like a Guldan. Make sure you grab every healing globe on the map when available and make sure you heal self with Abundance. The biggest mistake would be to get yourself out of position to heal an ally. Play back and use Gift of Life wisely and make sure to land Flame Buffet (with Fire Within at lvl 7) to sustain yourself.
While Abundance, which heals all friendly heroes in the targeted zone for 20 % (30 % when empowered) after 3 seconds, is a potent healing, it also signals your enemies where you want to be in 3 seconds. What is the best placement for it without potentialy making it a deadly trap for low health squishies looking for healing?
Abundance looks super simple to use but is actually way harder than it looks. In a "poke war" situation, i think the way to use it is kinda like an Auriel heal where your team just has to comeback and regroup for a second, get the heal and go back in. Basically, either use it safely in the backline or, if you are winning the fight, place it forward ahead so your team can get the heal while chasing the enemy team. If you are playing against Alexstrasza, you can use heroes like Zeratul, ETC, Ana. Any heroes that benefits from a team that stacks a lot to punish her really easily.
Flame buffet is her only non-heroic damage ability on a rather short cooldown which rewards hitting enemies back to back and when empowered it knocks enemies in an arc back. Does hitting enemies repeatedly with Flame Buffet actually do some reasonable hero damage or is it mainly a wave clear ability like Tassadar's Storm?
It's less of a wave clear ability but does way more in general for Alex. If you go full Flame Buffet build (which i think is the way to go), it reduce cooldown of Dragonqueen, slows and give you health back. It kinda feels like a Jaina Frostbolt, super hard to dodge and to run away from. Also, the empowered version of Flame buffet (Wing Buffet), is literally a 4 seconds cooldown small gust.
Last but not least, her heroic abilities the Clensing Flame and Life-Binder. What do you think of them as they both seem viable yet situational?
I think Cleansing Flame is straight up better. It does decent amount of damage, heals a bunch, can get you out of trouble and create the possibility of aggressive Wing Buffet play. On paper, Life-Binder does look pretty good until the moment you want to use it on let's say your 1 health ETC when you are 100%. Suddenly, you get hit by a Chromie combo and Life-Binder does nothing. That's the moment I realize it could be ok but most likely won't be played at all in competitive.
You previously mentioned the E damage build. Could you elaborate why you think it is the best build and can you see some use for the Q/W healing build that some players like to run (including ex-Dignitas Bakery who mentioned it as the go to build for double support comps)?
Well first of, I want to mention that I don't think Alex is viable as a solo healer but can be really good in a double healer comps. I think the E damage build is better just because if I want an actual healer in the draft (that does less damage but more healing), there is most likely an other hero that can do it better than Alexstrasza. I think she is going to be a situational pick kinda like a Tyrande / Medivh type of hero but she will be really strong in those specifics scenarios. Keep in mind that the hero is still really new to everyone and I really hope I am wrong so I get to play her more!
Alex being a situational pick like Tyrande sounds a little odd to me, as she seems to be a strong and generaly solid pick. Do you think that she will be played more than Tyrande or will she be played in pro play only once in a while?
Way more. My point was more about her not being first pick / first ban material. Also, as of right now, if you want to grab a solid healer in general in the beginning of draft, you are not thinking of Alex. She will definitly see pro play but more as a situational / reactionary pick in draft.
Two of her level 13 talents, Pacify (a Shrink Ray kind of talent) and Life Unbound (a 15% max health healing ability) come with an interesting mechanic. What is this mechanic and how can players get most out of it?
Both of theses abilities are active with a 60 or 90 seconds cooldown. The cooldown can be reduced by 30 seconds if you heal an ally while they are stunned, silenced or rooted. Basically, it's the *cleanse* ability for Alex. When you are level 13, make sure to use your heals with that in mind. When your ally gets crowd control, use Pacify on an enemy or Life Unbound on him, throw him a Gift of Life and reduce the cooldown of it. It's a huge deal to play around this mechanic to make the most of Alexstrasza's kit.
Are there any other situational talents you might be wanting to pick time to time or is the build set in stone?
I've tried running Exuberance at level 4 with the E damage build and it was not bad at all. Not sure in what situation it's better yet but pretty sure the talent is legit. Also, I've tried Blessing of the Red at level 20 and I think it could be good in a super late game type of game but most of time Ancient Flame will be better for sure.
Alex seems to synergize well with a lot of heroes, high health ones thanks to her percentage healing and other supports thanks to the Q mechanic. Which comps does she fit in?
Like I said before, a lot of double support composition will work well with Alex. Mainly because she is fragile and need substain to be use at her full potentiel. I think after that, the maps will affect her effectiveness a lot. She will do well on any map with long objective like Cursed Hollow, Infernal Shrines, Braxis Holdout, Battlefield of Eternity and Towers of Doom.
The same mechanics make her weak against some heroes as well. What kind of heroes does she struggle against?
Any heroes with poke damage or hard engage. If the enemy team gets on her before she can transform into Dragonqueen or use Cleansing Flame, she is dead. Keep in mind that the cast of Dragonqueen can be interrupted by knockbacks, stuns and silences. Since her self-substain is pretty low, poke like Chromie can be really annoying to deal with. That's why I recommend double support with Alex.
You can blow her cds before entering the dragon form, use Clensing Flame as an escape or as a semi global. Are there any other useful Alexstrasza tips and tricks you can share with us?
Abundance can be use to bait cooldown of the enemy team. If you are playing against a bunch of poke and your team is healthy, throw Abundance close to you without going in to it and hope the enemy team waste abilities on it. And with Flame Buffet build, you actually do a good amount of damage and are hard to escape from. If you land a couple of them in row, you can actually start winning 1vs1 fights.
Thank you for this rather extensive interview, any shoutouts or final words?
Shoutout to you for the opportunity. Shoutout to Team Freedom and EsportsUS (a nonprofit charitable organization using esports as a platform to help children in need) and shoutout to all of her fans and keep cheering for us in HGC 2018!
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