I haven’t played any Hero League lately, but I might make a late push to get back into Platinum with one month left in the season.
Also: I literally just read the updated Tier List, and…wow. I’m going to have to buy and play Murky. It’s like the whole world is upside down. What’s next, Gazlowe overtaking Murky as the new King of Heroes? Stitches actually good again? Or dare I dream, people seeing that the boss is overrated?
Sorry, I got carried away there. Back to Anub’arak, who I’ve been playing almost exclusively lately, for some reason (along with Ragnaros).
Anub’arak is in a bizarre place right now: he’s supposed to be an anti-mage warrior, but mages are trash these days now that double warrior/sustain is so popular. And yet he had the highest win rate in the game until they made Murky great. (Not great again; like /b/, Murky was never great). So let’s go into the talent section and see if we can’t discover why he’s so good along the way.
(All talent percentages are for Master/Diamond players on Hotslogs).
Level 1: Dampen Magic (78.0%)
This protects you, periodically, from all abilities, even if they don’t seem magic-based. It’s good, but its competitors are also weak: Regen Master, even in a sustain meta, takes too long to complete. Extended Spikes just don’t have the impact that Dampen Magic does, and how much difference is there between extended and regular spikes? Also, even if your beetles live, they often do the unexpected. You can’t rely on them for damage.
Level 4: Underking (42.8%)
The consensus seems to be against me here, as Legion of Beetles clocks in at 51.2%, but hear me out. Underking is a playmaker. The extra range can get you out of a tough spot, especially if you’re tunneling through barriers. Or it can get you between an enemy and his base, getting a kill for your team.
On the other hand, Legion has all the drawbacks of beetles generally: they’re unpredictable. They’re stupid. And they get themselves killed on maps like Heroes of Eternity, Dragon Shire, or Garden of Terror with frequent AOE damage map events.
The only reasons I can think of to pick Legion are to waste more tower ammo (doesn’t justify giving up Underking) or getting in the way of skill shots from the likes of Muradin, Li Ming, or Nova…but how many of them are relevant right now?
Level 7: Chitinous Plating (31.7%)
Once again, I’m going against the grain of the more mainstream Leeching Scarabs 45.1%). Maybe if I were playing more Hero League and therefore facing double warrior all the time, I could justify Scarabs. But then again, with almost every popular tank right now having low-level AOE that will kill them fairly quick, I worry about their survivability. Chitinous Plating, as long as you have mana, always works. And hey, faster plating equals more beetles. Everyone wins.
Fun random fact: beetles, in terms of the number of named species (with over 400,000 named) are the most numerous order (Coleoptera) of life in the world. This is now an educational blog.
Level 10: Locust Swarm (69.7%)
I was very surprised to see such a clear consensus on this one. On Heroes websites I always read about how great Cocoon is. Maybe the people finally know that Cocoon is very much a double-edged sword, especially in pug teams with no coordination. Have you ever cocooned someone, but it helped the other team more than your own? I have. I just don’t see a strategy of ‘Cocoon the healer and then blow up X’ succeeding on a team of strangers.
Level 13: Burning Rage (56.5%)
Urticating Spines is in a distant second at 27.8%. I just don’t know why you’d want area damage only when using Hardened Carapace as opposed to Burning Rage’s constant AOE. True, they probably do about the same DPS, but I want to save Carapace for when I’m in trouble, not mindlessly trigger it while clearing minion waves.
Level 16: Epicenter (56.1%)
Poor Blood for Blood. I’ve been playing this game long enough to remember when 5-man Blood for Blood teams were all the rage, and Anub was at the center of it. I thought maybe it would make a comeback in the double warrior scene, but to keep yourself alive, getting away trumps life steal every time. Epicenter is also the talent of choice for Underking fans like me.
Level 20: Hive Master (47.8%)
Hardened Shield is second at 30.8%. It’s a decent choice, but I like that Hive Master can never be wasted.
Now for how to play Anub’arak generally.
I used to hate Anub, but now I realize that’s only because he’s weak early game. His poke has a long cooldown and is very often dodged is a laning phase. Therefore I resort to using Harden Carapace, hitting someone, and then moving back, with Burrow Charge if necessary. It’s also easier to spike people if they’re running from you, and they will have less time to react since you’ve just charged them.
In team fights you’ll probably be at the front since you are obviously a warrior, though not the toughest around. So, just open up with Hardened Carapace and try to get the most out of your abilities. If they’re already on your healer (which could mean you’re in the middle of a crowd) you can unleash Locust Swarm and spike the most dangerous offender. Just make sure you don’t miss because you won’t get another chance for over 10 seconds. In a peeling situation, though, there are several factors in favor of a hit: close range, the enemy paying attention to someone else, the fact that they are probably going in a straight line to catch your fleeing healer, and so on.
If it gets really bad, you can interpose yourself between the friendly healer and the enemy, then spike their whole team as they pursue. Chase scenarios are always the best time to land skill shots, whether you’re the hunter or the hunted.
If your team is the aggressor, try to spike someone and then put yourself between the enemy and his base right after the stun wears off for maximum effect. Spiking first has the added benefit of reserving Burrow Charge for escaping bad situations…or not putting you into them to begin with.
And don’t forget to use the terrain to your advantage. An aggressive Burrow Charge is great for when the enemy is A) going through a choke point or B) going around a corner; cutting across terrain, even if it’s seemingly impassable like water, can put you in front of them so they can be sacrificed to the Underking.
Anub’s probably at his weakest when it’s a cagey 5v5 standoff. Just don’t use spikes unless you’re absolutely sure you’re going to hit, and go from there. There should be a teammate who’s better at poking than you are, so let them do their thing. Just don’t engage until there’s an obvious reason to do so, e.g. your team pops Bloodlust, you stun multiple enemies with spikes, and so on.
Anyway that’s been my Anub guide. Have fun and remember, the boss isn’t as good as you think he is.