Twinfinite recently attended PAX East and we had the opportunity to speak with Heroes of the Storm team members, Matt Villers and Kaeo Milker. We got some great insight behind the latest hero to join HotS, Deckard Cain, and they were kind enough to answer some burning community questions as well. The first page will be all about Deckard Cain. Learn more about how he will fit into the meta, how he will impact the support class as a whole, and more. If you’re interested in community questions, you can check that out on the second page. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Heroes of the Storm at PAX East 2018: Deckard Cain
Ed McGlone of Twinfinite: Can you start by giving us a brief overview of Deckard Cain?
Matt Villers, Lead hero designer of Heroes of the Storm: Deckard is of course, our latest hero, latest support. He’s kind of a new type of support, this set up support. He’s got a lot of abilities that really reward him for thinking ahead and planning. Knowing where a fight is going to be, where his allies need help.
He has of course his healing potions, he can put that down; he can leave that out there indefinitely, they don’t expire, he can have up to five of them. So he can spread them out to different lanes and support multiple allies at once. He can put them in one big clump in a bush and bait enemies into and get a huge heal. There’s just a lot of really smart ways to use that ability.
He’s got this kind of great CC set up combo with his Horadric Cube, with his Scroll of Sealing, he can lock down enemies and potentially set up other abilities. Likewise with his Stay Awhile and Listen, that enables some really good combos when your team is working together. It really rewards coordination.
Of course Lorenado, you can use that to push people away from your team, you can also use it pull people into your team. It’s vector targeted, so you got control over that. He’s got a trait that really rewards him for staying close to his team, so you really get that feel of he’s your support, he’s kind of guiding you and really helping you shine when he’s with you.
Twinfinite: Are there any heroes in particular that you think he will synergize really well with?
Villers: So yeah there’s actually a few combos that I super like. With Stay Awhile, you get rewarded for that big delay that it locks people down in. It buys time for other major abilities to go off. Jaina’s Ring of Frost is one example I bring up. You can lock down the whole team and Jaina has all the time in the world to perfectly aim that, freeze people, and that in turn can combo into other things. Or alternatively, you do that and E.T.C. follows up and Moshpits everyone. Oh and D.VA! With her talent that increases the explosion timer and damage, that lines up really well with Stay Awhile. So you can pretty reliably get that off if you can get a good Stay Awhile and trap everyone in it.
And in terms of some of his other talents, he has bottomless flask at level 20 which makes the potions regenerate themselves. So if you got a hero who’s kind of good at staying in one spot and doing a ton of damage if they don’t move, like Sgt. Hammer, put five potions underneath her and every few seconds the heals keep coming and it’s wild.
Twinfinite: That seems really strong. Is it by design that you wanted to create a really powerful support hero to emphasize that style of play more?
Villers: To an extent. It was kind of something that we discovered along the way because Deckard, he’s very different than our other heroes in general in that he’s not someone who’s out on the battlefield. He’s a narrator, he’s a storyteller. We had this big meeting when we started hero design that’s talking about their background and what powers they are known for and what people might expect to see from them. And for Deckard, it’s he knows a whole bunch of stuff and he identifies your items, and neither of those are really combat skills. So we had to approach the problem of how his skills would work in a different way really from a lot of other heroes. But what we ended up finding was that things that were forceful or destructive didn’t fit his nature. He’s Uncle Deckard! He’s a nice a guy, he’s smart and clever but he’s not someone you would expect to go out there and start smashing people.
What we ended up finding, first with healing potion, which is an early ability in his kit, is that more kind of tactical and clever feel really suited him and when we started doing other abilities that played into that kind of strategic nature is that he was beating enemies not by brute forcing them but being wiser, more clever. and outplaying them, and that’s what really felt like Deckard.
Twinfinite: Was Deckard someone that you have had in mind for a while or was he a new idea that you ran with?
Villers: Deckard of course is super iconic for Diablo and is one of the first things you think of. Diablo III cinematic, he’s right there at the start of it. So we’ve wanted to do him for a long time. It was just a question of: “Man how are we going to make this work? This is a battlefield game, it’s about conflict and he needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with Thrall and Arthas and characters like that. How’s that going to work?”
So once we were ready to take on that challenge we just dove right in. We were super excited to do him.
Twinfinite: What’s Deckard’s level of complexity? Is he someone that new players could pick up? Or is he more for veterans?
Villers: I want to say he’s kind of moderate. He’s not Abathur level where he’s super advanced, that you have to have a really good understanding of the game, like full on map awareness and all that. But he’s also got a little bit more going on, that you do have to think ahead a little bit to get power out of him.
Now we did make it so that his potions can be thrown directly at allies. So even if you’re not quite ready to jump into that whole “oh I’m thinking ahead to the objectives and jumping being lanes and rotating” you can still be a pretty effective healer with him, but to really start to show that [you] are a really effective Deckard, it’s probably more in the medium space.
Twinfinte: Can you give some more detail about how he’s different than other support heroes and why someone would want to choose Deckard over some of the other support heroes?
Villers: That’s something that we think about every time we set out on a new hero. One of the very first questions is: “What makes this hero different? Why would you pick them over some of the other heroes that are they are sharing a space with?” For Deckard, the big things are the fact that he can be in multiple places at once which is something our other supports don’t have. He can ride up to the top lane, drop a couple of potions there and come back to the middle and bottom lane and heal there, and really be helping on multiple fronts at once, which is awesome that he has this ability to look into what will happen in the future and where people might need help. He can go to an objective early and drop five healing potions there and when the fight starts there’s already a huge burst of healing waiting for his team.
Also that he has so much of that setting up his allies gameplay built into the rest of his kit, with the Scroll of Sealing, Stay Awhile and Listen, he’s really good at enabling combos in kind of an amazing way that you don’t necessarily see from the other supports.
Twinfinte: What is Deckard’s major weaknesses? Why would teams elect not to pick him?
Villers: Deckard doesn’t have a great deal of mobility. It would obviously be kind of weird if he was zipping all over the battlefield. So he’s someone if you catch him out, he has a bit of a hard time getting away. He can throw out the Scroll of Sealing, but once that’s gone, he’s just trying to drink his potions as fast as he can and hope he can get out.
Another one is that he likes to throw those potions out in advance. If you’re someone that has a skill shot, or a powerful delayed damage ability, you can watch people walk over to the potions, and enemies can see them, so they know “oh this guy is going to try and drink a potion” and punish that by lining up a skill shot with that. Heroes like Kael’thas with Flame Strike, can potentially punish people who are trying to drink potions. So those delay damage abilities kind of work against him.
Twinfinte: Has the addition of Deckard Cain forced you to re-examine the support class as a whole at all? Or how specific characters are balanced?
Villers: So honestly there is a trend that we have been following with supports for a while, where we have been trying to add decision making into their gameplay. There is kind of this classic stereotype of supports where they are just playing whack-a-mole with health bars right? And we want more decisions, more mastery, more opportunities to really shine and show off how awesome you are. So we have been pursuing that really with Alexstrasza. She’s got her abundance heal, and that’s kind of delayed and how you use that really affects things; choosing your right moment to use Dragon Queen. Ana has this really great engaging skill shot based gameplay. Stukov with the way that you spread his Pathogen around, and when you activate his trait. So these extra decisions you can make and when you make them really add a lot of fun and depth to support heroes. So that’s something that we’ve been following for a while and Deckard is kind of the next step.
We are also taking that back into re-works, like with Malfurion for example, we added that extra layer of where he has the Moonfire mini game. Who he has Regrowth on, he can try and then do some offense to boost his healing which is a really cool thing and we’ll probably do that in the future with other supports.