Anticipating Rexxar

Ready and Willing

At this point, any drop in HotS’s 40-hero barrel has the potential to make waves. Kael’thas, Johanaa, Leoric, Sylvanas – all of these recent heroes have become mainstays in the global meta. Blizzard has been nailing heroes’ fantasies left and right, creating visceral and fun-to-play characters that are rapidly filling the role gaps in the game.

This week we find ourselves anticipating the addition of a new warrior, Rexxar, and many wonder how impactful the half-ogre, half-orc beastmaster will be. While his talents and exact numbers remain unknown, we have been allowed a look at his kit and can glean a few things from it. Keep in mind that his talents and stats will cement his role in the meta. If you’ve yet to see his spotlight video, you may want to check it out:

Official Rexxar Spotlight

The Hunter Unleashed

Rexxar is a ranged warrior with a minion counterpart – his bear Misha. Together they make a formidable duo with what looks to be high damage output and reasonable crowd control capabilities. Blizzard has divulged that they decide which hero to add next by looking at gaps in the current hero pool, and Rexxar appears to fill the quintessential ‘two-part hero’ role.

I say ‘quintessential’ because this concept has been explored by other MOBAs, namely through DoTA’s Lone Druid and HoN’s Wildsoul. True to form, however, Blizzard refuses to make their hero a carbon copy; while the concept of a ranged hero and his trusty bear has been broached, the design space has plenty of room for exploration.

The biggest perks of the ‘bear heroes’ in other games were the individual bears’ ability to hold items and move independently from their attached hero. Since the only downside to the bear’s dying was a cooldown, a popular strategy was to focus on earning gold for the first 20 minutes of the game (a feature of other MOBAs that I truly do not miss) and stack items onto the beast. This allowed a sort of Kamikaze tactic where the bear would lumber in and maul people while his auxiliary hero hovered in the background.

Rexxar will permit no such shenanigans. Misha is tethered to Rexxar and cannot stray too far from his side. While some of the hero’s talents will undoubtedly bolster Misha, the game’s lack of items will prevent abuse of her non-hero status. Or will it?

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Misha – a Curse or Boon?

There have been jokes that Misha is more the hero and Rexxar more the pet, and with three of his five possible abilities revolving around her it’s no wonder. Misha, Charge! (W), Mend Pet (E), and Bestial Wrath (R1) are all abilities that revolve around Misha. This means that when Misha dies, there is a window where Rexxar is deprived of 50% – 75% of his abilities.

Misha operates on an individual timer, her death lasting anywhere from 5 seconds in the early game to 35 in the late. She counts as a quarter of a hero kills when slain, whereas Rexxar grants three-quarters. Misha dies when Rexxar does, rounding him up to one whole kill should he go down.

It seems that the best way to defeat Rexxar will be to make a quick decision – kill Misha and leave the hunter neutered, or ignore the bear and charge the hero himself. Without having played against the hero, one can only speculate as to how easy or difficult this will prove. That said, once his slow and stun are expended, Rexxar looks as if he will have a tough time disengaging.

That is not to say that Rexxar will be weak. The susceptibility of he or his bear to being focused down does not change the fact that this hero will have a permanent summon. Considering the power of adding another body to a fight, a la Summon Water Elemental or Gargantuan, the everlasting Misha promises to bring a lot to the table.

In fact, Misha has a few characteristics that make her distinct from other hero summons. An extension of Rexxar, she is able to pick up regen globes, capture mercenary camps, and receive heals and buffs that are normally reserved for heroes. Remember the item-stacking strategy from other games that I mentioned earlier? Well, similar results may be achievable by piling buffs on of Misha and using her as a frontliner without consequence. Imagine Abathur’s Symbiote sitting atop her, or a Lightning Shield or Cloud Serpent. If Rexxar opts for Bestial Wrath and pumps talents into Misha, this could prove an especially effective strategy.

Beyond that, the benefits of having Misha as a permanent companion are rather self-evident. The hero has two sources of auto-attacks, which likely indicates a high damage output and strong solo capabilies. Misha is actually able to peel for Rexxar, given that she attacks and stuns independent of the hero. The big bear will be able to harass, body block, and clog up teamfights with relative impunity, especially in the hands of a proficient player.

Show Me What You’ve Got

On paper, Rexxar seems as if he might fit better in the category of Specialist. He fills a unique design space and promises to push well, attributes that are rampant in the class.  Blizzard has decided to release him as a Warrior, however, a decision that is surely not arbitrary. This leaves me wondering how resilient Rexxar himself will be. Is most of his Warrior’s fortitude found in Misha, leaving him vulnerable to focus fire? Or will the (absolutely ripped) beastmaster be given stats and talents that augment his vitality as well as his bear’s?

While these questions must remain for now unanswered, there are a few things that seem apparent. Firstly, Rexxar is going to be an absolute bully in lane, along the likes of Zagara or Nazeebo. Having the ability to switch Misha between aggression and passivity will allow Rexxar to send his bear into the opponent’s face relentlessly, calling her back to Mend Pet when she’s looking worse for wear. The ability to affect a wave of minions (and the heroes behind it) with little risk of death is absolutely insane.

As far as his slot in the preexisting Warrior sub-roles, I think Rexxar will gravitate towards the role of the bruiser, though he won’t slot perfectly into it. While he has a slow and a stun, making him a CC-heavy hero, he looks as if he wants to be pressuring enemies instead of deflecting for his backline. In a sense, Rexxar is both a front-and back-line hero. Misha can charge into the thick of the fight while Rexxar lingers back, out of harm’s way. In the periods between fights, Rexxar appears to be a strong ganker (due to his CC) and a strong jungler/pusher (due to his inherent meat-shield).

While his role in the upcoming meta is uncertain, Rexxar looks able to create immense positional pressure. In a time where the meta is teetering between the NA double-mage meta and the Korean double-bruiser one, Rexxar may be the hero to overbalance the scales. Personally, I think he fits well into the Korean playstyle, which relies so much on relentless forward momentum and an aggressive front-line. Sending Misha ahead to assist a friendly Leoric or Arthas in the vanguard is something that may become common (and reviled) in the coming weeks.

That said, we really cannot be sure without the talents and numbers. For all we know, Rexxar will be endowed with a version of Giant Killer that applies to both Misha and himself, making him the biggest tank-buster around. Whatever the case, Rexxar is an exciting addition to the hero pool, and we look forward to keeping an eye on him. Check back in a week for an article regarding his formulating role in the meta!

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