Tutorial on how to play Abathur in Heroes of the Storm
Strategies and possible builds for Abathur in HoTS
Abathur, master of evolution and a specialist in Heroes of the Storm is one of the most unique heroes of HoTS or MOBA in general. His unique play style as well as multiple talent paths make him challenging yet very rewarding to play.
In this article I'll try to describe Abathur and his game play options.
Abathur doesn't move to a lane just like a normal hero. He plays remotely and uses his Symbiote (Q) to attack surrounding targets and support the symbiote host. When you enter Symbiote mode you can't move the host, but you have access to three abilities:
- Stab: projectile that hits first target on it path
- Spike Burst: area effect that hits everyone in range
- Carapace: provides damage shield to symbiote host
Symbiote ability has 3 seconds cooldown so it's easy to change hosts quickly. Symbiote is also over when the host dies. This may be irritating when you symbiote a minion on a lane. It's best to symbiote the mage or even archers at the back of the minion wave to get symbiote long enough to do planned damage.
Second ability is Toxic Nest, which puts a mine at given place. The mine must activate and until it's not active it's visible to enemies and can be attacked. Armed mine is invisible but can be destroyed by area damage effects. Target (hero or minion) that steps on a mine takes damage and is revealed for few second. By default mine lasts for 90 seconds.
Abathur trait is Locust, which are spawned every 15 seconds and live 25 seconds. They behave like minions and just go to the nearest lane.
Abathur talents allow him to pick a path buffing his locust, mines or sumbiote abilities. That allows him to take vastly different play styles depending on chosen talent set, in short:
- Locust talents: most important are 13, 16 and 20 talents allowing spawning more locust and giving them ranged attack. This can push a lane a lot, but quite often is used to attack forts without drawing to much attention.
- Mine talents: at 1, 4 and 7 level we have mine talents. Full mine build uses
Vile Nesttalent to slow down enemy heroes. Abathur places single maps in many often passed places to irritate enemy heroes extremely (and make Nova, Zeratul gameplay way harder). Often combined with locust build.
- Carapance talents: talents at 1, 4 and 7 level buff Symbiote carapace capabilities - it can heal a bit, it can affect every minion near by or it can last even if you quite symbiote instantly after using it. In many cases it's to weak for any TF usage but it can heal and shield whole minion waves so they are harder to kill and thus move further into enemy lines. 16 level
Adrenaline Boostalso makes affects move faster which can be a utility to evacuate a hero or allow him to get into attack range against fleeing target.
- Symbiote talents: there are multiple talents increasing damage from spikes and stab as well as talents that buff the host like the
Adrenal Overloadtalent at level 4 which boosts atack speed of the host. In this build Abathur must be very active with it Symbiote and present in nearly every hero duels and fights. Adrenal Overload has a big synergy with Illidan and other assassins that do most of their damage with basic attacks (like Valla, Raynor and alike).
Among heroic abilities we have Ultimate Evolution and Evolve Monstrosity. The first one creates for 20 seconds an allied hero clone that has 20% bonus to attack damage, abilities and 10% bonus to speed. It can't use cloned hero heroic abilities. Monstrosity is permanent and is something like a big mercenary. While under Symbiote the Monstrosity may be controlled by Abathur. For every minion killed close to it it gets a damage bonus.
Clone is usually the most effective, but high skill cap heroic ability. The clone can do a lot of damage or help heroes and can die without consequences (Abathur isn't affected; if clone is killed before expiration enemy team gets only 1/4 hero experience). Additional Jaina can slow down enemies and deal damage alongside original Jaina for quite devastating results. Cloned hero can save heroes while cloned support is on cooldowns. You must know the abilities of cloned hero so it's quite a high skill cap as you must know a lot of heroes.
Monstrosity is much rarely picked. It can be killed by enemy heroes quite quickly if they know what are they doing. Low skilled players may underestimate it and get killed by symbioted Monstrosity. Ignored the Monstrosity will go alongside the lane and push it a lot. It's visible on the mini map so it can draw attention quickly.
This description is quite simplified and you will find that there is a lot more depth to Abathur gameplay, talents and abilities. Some of which I'll describe later on.
Possible Abathur strategies in examples
To learn and see all the Abathur tips, tricks and gameplay options it's best to watch experienced Abathur players. For example there is a player by the nick of Abathur that plays mostly with this hero. He has a YouTube channel with many games and tutorials on various Abathur builds.
Abathur has many viable build options and gameplays - all depending on map, teams and player preferences. Don't take hotslog talent popularity picks as the one correct build - that's not how Abathur works.
You can also watch two of my games, but those don't have any commentary. The first on Cursed Hollow shows a lot of Abathur utility, like the mines that prevent surprising gank when taking boss (versus Zeratul and other team members). The second one on Blackheart’s Bay shows more combat oriented game:
Abathur has very little hit points and very weak attack. That's why Abathur is always either close to his forts or hidden in bushes far away from enemy heroes. He won't be fighting other heroes directly as he can't win (aside of slaping almost dead heroes and Locust attacks). Abathur body is often used to body soak where Abathur sits in a bush next to a lane where minions fight. Every minion killed near a hero will give experience to given hero team.
One of Abathur key roles is to gather experience from lanes. Abathur can do it in a couple of ways:
- Body soaking with body next to minions
- Killing minions with mines or Symbiote attacks
- Soaking experience from minions killed close to symbioted host
- Killing minions with Monstrosity
Body soaking is quite popular, especially with mines/locust builds. The Abathur must be quite close to dying minions for it to work (around half of 1080p screen). When a minion dies and you are in range you will see a small +exp text popping in his place. If there is no such text - you are to far away.
Second way is just to kill them and soak remaining kills with symbiote. If you have a juicy minion wave going place mines under it when they stand still and fight with your minions. Next symbiote a minion on your minion wave end and wait for mines to blow up (attacking with all the spikes you have). Then clean remaining minions and you got all the experience from the minion wave in very short time. Don't symbiote first line minion or you may loose the symbiote before mines blow up.
When body soaking you must be very carefull. Some players may know Abathur gameplay and will notice locusts and their timers and will go looking for you. Especially Nova and Zeratul are the most dangerous. You can place mines to make them visible, but still, be careful. At some point the game bodysoaking may not be viable any more (a bit of experience for 60 seconds of respawn).
Remote playstyle allows Abathur player to show up anywhere on the map quite quickly. So called Abathur global presence refers to that you should be quite aware what is going out on the map and where your presence is most needed.
Aside of that you have to make your presence global. Mines provide vision so placing one under a boss will reveal when the enemy team will try to take it, the same with camps and map objective places. If you see fleeing hero there may be a chance to kill him from a lane minion when he will be passing by and so on.
Global Abathur presence kills two heroes
Practical usages of Abathur abilities
Abathur doesn't use mounts but he can burrow from time to time to any visible place on the map. He can also use mines to provide visibility on places he can burrow to:
- Taking empty shrines (Dragon Shire, Towers of Doom, and on Sky Temple you can get at least few shots if not more with multiple locusts as shield): put mines, if you are sure nobody is there you burrow, take and go back with
Bas enemies will come there shortly.
- Attacking forts with locust: You place a mine aside of fort and minions range, you burrow, spawn locust and place locust nest and go back with
- Killing almost dead heroes: very risky, but sometimes you are able to burrow and one-slap a dying hero
- Taking Dragon Knight: you can burrow to the statue and take it quickly
- Provide vision under boss or for burrow
- Protect against surprise attacks from enemy team durig boss, objective taking
- Slowing (talent) mines places around the map at popular places to disorganize enemy team play, especially for Zeratul or Nova
- Multiple mines to kill or deeply weaken enemy heroes. Sometimes with combination with team members like Stitches to land a hooked or swallowed hero into mines.
At first level you can pick Envenomed Nest that makes mines do additional 75% damage as poison. On 4 level we have: Ballistospores for global mines placing range (handy for attacking forts) and Prolific Dispersal which gives additional 2 mine charges (up to 5), which is handy for mass quick mining operations (or countering opposite Abathur locust pushes). On 7 level Vile Nest is a must pick for most annoying mine build.
You can also bomb and symbiote minion waves quickly. Just place mines on a standing wave, but not to much on the back, symbiote your rear minions and attack, wait for mines to blow up. You quickly will get all the experience and push the lane.
If you are in a QM against an enemy Abathur that went locust (and body soaking) build you can mine his locust/minions push when there is no symbiote as well as mine bush where he likely is located. Mine will make him visible. Either try to finish him from a minion symbiote or call team members to finish him before he burrows. If he burrowed very quickly he could use ultimate evolution - mine the place, he will be back there and mines will get him.
Objective place mines may be very effective
Protecting Boss takeover against Zeratul and his team
Ultimate Evolution place mining
- Saving heroes with carapace
- Saving deadly poisoned heroes with carapace shield (don't drop the carapace before the hero gets his HP back).
- Poking chasing hero with spikes to make him quit the chase
- Killing minions for experience and pushing
- Supporting assassins, specialists in killing
- Slowing, poking, weakening enemy heroes from allied warrior heroes
- Controlling monstrosity
Symbiote is Abathur main tool. Most aggressive build will pick spike talents and will be often seen with the team in hero fights. On level 1 you can pick Pressurized Glands that increases spike burst range. On level 4 we have Adrenal Overload for Illidan or other basic attack based assassin, on 7 we have Needlespine. On 13 we have Spatial Efficiency which gives additional spike charge, and Soma Transference that can heal host a bit (may be worth it for Buther or Illidan).
On 16 level we have Envenomed Spikes that slow down opponents and can be very effective when combined with allied area attacks and chasing down heroes. Adrenaline Boost makes host move faster when under the effect of Carapace (to run away, or to get in range of basic attack to snipe down the prey).
20 level Hivemind talent may be handy where two team members are often close to each other. You will get a weaker symbiote on nearby hero which gives you two shotting symbiotes (Envenomed Spikes can be handy with this).
Carapace oriented builds are quire rare, as pushing minions with it isn't as effective as in the past, while on heroes it can be easily taken down by burst damage that nowadays is often.
Cooperation between symbiote and heroes
Using symbiote efficiently isn't easy from start. At start you must be in range so using a ranged support for host won't be as effective as for example a warrior o Rexxars Misha, melee assassins. Sometimes 3 second cooldown on symbiote will make you stay on ranged assassin or specialist just to have constant spike poking ability (especially if the ranged hosts also takes symbiote range into account and helps you aim) or to just give him attack boost from adrenaline talent.
If you have a warrior in team he can be used to poke off and open up fights with other heroes. Symbiote won't kill, but be so annoying so that team warrior could not be ignored by enemy team members.
In case of melee assassin you buff then as well as make their work easier, you must snipe accurately as often melee hero won't be able ko kill fleeing enemy, but a spike will.
In case of Nova or Zeratul you can help them, but don't shoot before they will. Often they will have to position them and attack from surprise. Spikes don't break cloaking, but they are visible so enemies may notice the incoming ambush. As symbiote doesn't breake cloak Zeratul or Nova can go into enemy base, stand still while symbiote kills Murky egg or enemy Abathur if he doesn't react quickly enough.
Warrior as a ranged assassin
Ultimate Evolution - clones
Making clones can start or end a team fight, make a 5:0 counter-attack and much more. It's a highly tactical and thus
high skill cap ability, as you may have to clone various heroes and play them efficiently.
Clone can die but don't make him first thing to burst down as that may end him to quickly. To enter/finish a team fight you will need some crowd control and damage. Jaina or for example Nazeboo can be handy at that. Zeratul or Sylvanas clones can chase quickly and can go over walls to finish the job. Morales clone can heal the original Morals and/or another team member when enemy team wants to break her healing by doing as much spread damage as possible.
Clone can be very aggressive at getting kills
Monstrosity is questionable. It can die easily, but can be a viable in a team fight if not over-extending and supported. May force picking
Adrenaline Boost on 16 level or Evolution Complete on 20 to be very mobile with fully stacked Monstrosity.
Monstrosity defends and goes with the team for a push
Tips and tricks
- On Blackheart’s Bay don't stand close to forts or towers. Pirate cannons may kill you.
- Note that some people may say bodysoak aba when there is no need for that, like when all lanes are pushed or the level is high. Killing minions by your activity may be good if not better than risking with your body.
- Be aware that Nova or Zeratul can sneak into external forts and attack you.
- Abathur may sometimes move due to some misclick. You may end up on the middle of the map or outside the gate if you won't watch out.
- In Hero League it may be hard to justify Abathur pick. Play QM if you want to play a lot of Abathur. If you check hotslog (at the time of writing this down) on QM among 15-20 level heroes second most popular hero is Abathur (Nova is first :))
- Ask for help with stronger ranged enemy mercenaries. Abathur may have problems taking them quickly.
- Ping heroes that you are coming to them when you intend to symbiote them but having 3 sec cooldown (when they are going to take a camp, are deadly poisoned and alike)
- Some team compositions may be better against opposite team on late levels. So as Abathur you must get as much experience as possible so that enemy team doesn't get a lead in levels during early game.
I usually pick such talents:
- Level 1: Pressurized Glands or Envenomed Nest (when map objectives make mass mining enemy heroes easy, for auto-laning TLV and alike killing)
- Level 4: Prolific Dispersal or Adrenal Overload (when there are matching heroes and Abathur doesn't have to lane much, like 2 lane maps)
- Level 7: Needlespine
- Level 10: Ultimate Evolution
- Level 13: Spatial Efficiency, sometimes Soma Transference
- Level 16: Envenomed Spikes
- Level 20: Hivemind
Which means that with such talents I often play very aggressive Symbiote that shows up on heroes, clean lanes). You can check out my Abathur moments on YouTube too.