If you’ve never heard the term ‘glass cannon’ before, play a couple rounds with Jaina and you’ll soon understand its connotations. Jaina is a frosty spellcaster whose individual abilities grow more powerful when used in conjunction. Some longer cooldowns hurt her capacity for sustained damage, but her burst is some of the most potent in the game, capable of bringing an enemy from 100 to 0 in seconds.
Unlike Kael’thas, who can afford to Flamestrike incessantly from a safe distance, Jaina’s full damage potential can only be realized when in a closer proximity to her target. This is due to the her trait, which stacks damage on targets already affected by her chilling abilities, and to the stunted nature of Cone of Cold. With a host of slows at her disposal, kiting is certainly a possibility, but getting caught out of position pre-level-20 is usually a death sentence. Despite her fragility, Jaina remains among the top tier of damage dealers in the game.
All abilities Chill targets, slowing Movement Speed by 25% and amplifying damage from your abilities by 50%. Lasts 4 seconds.
Frostbite is what gives Jaina her ludicrous burst damage, and also what drives her skill cap through the roof. Each of her abilities will Chill the targets they hit, slowing them and, more importantly, making Jaina’s subsequent abilities deal 50% more damage to them. With a Water Elemental, a Blizzard, and a few well-placed Frostbolts, this wintry witch can absolutely smash an enemy team.
Cooldown: 4 seconds
Deal 350 (65 + 15 per level) damage and Chill the target.
Jaina’s only spammable ability, adept Frostbolting is what separates a novice Jaina from a grandmaster. This ability is excellent for inducing chill, chasing targets down, peppering in damage in teamfights, disengaging, etc. If talented towards, Frostbolt can do tremendous damage in a quick span, especially in conjunction with Water Elemental and Blizzards.
Cooldown: 15 seconds
Bombard an area with 2 waves of ice, dealing 365 (61 + 16 per level) damage each. Damaged enemies are Chilled.
Jaina’s most dangerous source of damage, Blizzard hits in two delayed waves, each of which applies Frostbite. If Jaina manages to hit both waves, her Cone of Cold and Frostbolts are usually enough to secure the kill. This skill’s radius and damage make it a powerhouse, but a Jaina must beware its lengthy cooldown. Using this ability aptly can swing teamfights and ganks in Jaina’s favor.
Cone of Cold (E)
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Deal 55 (+18 per level) damage and Chill targets.
This is an instantaneous AoE blast that excels at helping Jaina spread Chill, burst, and disengage. Though a Jaina typically won’t want to be close enough to a fight to hit many heroes with its AoE, this ability is still invaluable for topping off her burst damage, and can be talented towards to improve its utility.
Summon Water Elemental (R)
Cooldown: 80 seconds
Summons a Water Elemental at target location, dealing 205 (72 + 7 per level) damage and Chilling nearby enemies. The Water Elemental’s Basic Attacks do 170 (56 + 6 per level) damage, splash for 25% damage and Chill. Can reactivate the Ability to retarget the Water Elemental. Lasts 20 seconds.
Jaina’s Water Elemental is a truly fearsome summoned unit, capable of Chilling enemies with its attacks and mirroring whatever abilities Jaina casts. Because of this, the Water Elemental is a key part of Jaina’s high burst potential and what makes her such a potent teamfighter. Water Elemental has an initial AoE damage, so be sure to position it somewhere it can start doing immediate damage. Activating this heroic while it is already active allows Jaina to retarget it, giving her control over who she wants to focus.
Ring of Frost (R)
Cooldown: 100 seconds
After a 1.5 second delay, create a Ring of Frost in an area that deals 680 (224 + 24 per level) damage and roots enemies for 3 seconds. The ring persists for 3 seconds afterward, Chilling any enemies who touch it.
Worse in most cases than Water Elemental, Ring of Frost is difficult to land and even more difficult to justify. Though it vastly increases Jaina’s potential for utility, it is typically not a worthwhile pickup, especially since Jaina isn’t a utilitarian hero – she’s a damage dealer. For maximum damage output, Water Elemental is the easy choice. That said, Ring of Frost is a consideration if a Jaina is a part of an AoE teamfighting composition.
Level 1 Talents
Finding a comprehensive Jaina’s build is difficult, especially with the recent changes to Envenom and other talent shifts. In my mind, there are two approaches – the Frostbite build, and the Frostbolt build. I will discuss both talent paths here.
Recommended: Deep Chill or Winter’s Reach
Deep Chill is the common consensus for the tier one pickup because of the game-long utility it brings. Between chasing survivors and controlling movement in teamfights, adding another 10% slow to each of Jaina’s abilities nets a lot of value.
Winter’s Reach, on the other hand, lends impressive range to Frostbolt and is a key to that build. Building towards Frostbolt still affords Jaina high burst while allowing her to participate in a teamfight from farther away. Buffing Frostbolt also increases Jaina’s sustained damage, as Frostbolt is easily spammable later on.
Conjurer’s Pursuit doesn’t add enough to Jaina’s overall game to be worth the pickup here, regardless of the mana longevity it may proffer. Lingering Chill likewise scales poorly into the late game, making the aforementioned two talents the optimal choices.
Level 4 Talents
Recommended: Arcane Intellect or Frost Shards
While talents that replenish mana are usually not a competitive choice, Arcane Intellect is widely regarded as one of the exceptions to this rule. With Arcane Intellect, Jaina can spend a lot more time free from fountains and wells, whether she’s pushing a lane or blasting through a teamfight.
That said, you will never get the most out of a hero if you opt for a resource-alleviating talent – while the choice makes a quality of life improvement for the player, the hero itself usually suffers a loss of damage or utility. Frost Shards is a continuation of the Frostbolt build and is the optimal talent for hitting peak damage. You can get a surprising amount of damage out of your Frostbolts once they start hitting two heroes each.
Envenom has fallen out of favor since its nerf, and as such is overshadowed by other talents in this tier. Snowstorm adds a nice radius increase to Blizzard, but Frostbolt’s 4 second cooldown (opposed to Blizzard’s 15) makes it easier to reap high damage with Frost Shards.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Frostbitten or Ice Lance
Frostbitten further increases Jaina’s damage ceiling, making her combos hit even harder. Adding a 15% damage boost to each of her chained skills is a massive increase and helps Jaina scale into the midgame admirably.
If a Jaina is instead opting for the Frostbolt Build, Ice Lance is what allows such ridiculous spammability of the ability, reducing its cooldown to 2 seconds as long as it hits a chilled target. This is great for sustained damage in teamfights and for chaining slows on a fleeing enemy.
Frost Armor is irrelevant if you can maintain good positioning, and the cooldown decrease granted by Ice Floes is typically less effective than the two recommended talents.
Level 10 Heroics
Water Elemental should be picked up 95+% of the time, if only because it enables Jaina’s combos so well. Each auto-attack applying chill to an enemy makes it so that Jaina doesn’t have to waste her abilities to Chill enemies, and can instead squeeze maximum damage out of them. You should have a very good reason for not picking this heroic ability, as Ring of Frost is difficult to get full value out of.
That said, if you are in a composition that focuses on smashing teamfights with AoE combos, or if you feel your team is so lacking in utility that it’s worthwhile to sacrifice DPS to fill that gap, choosing Ring of Frost will not cause you to lose the game.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Improved Ice Block or Icy Veins
One of Jaina’s easier tiers, and one that comes down to personal preference. If you have opted for a build that is more up close and personal, like the bursty Frostbite build, or if you are worried in general about getting focused down in a fight, then Improved Ice Block is the way to go. As it is an Improved version of this skill, it not only protects you for 3 seconds, but also Chills enemies around Jaina when it expires.
Icy Veins, on the other hand, directly augments Jaina’s damage potential. It often goes hand-in-hand with the Frostbolt build for an insane 5 seconds at the start of a fight. This activated talent makes Jaina’s abilities recharge 3x as fast and cost half as much mana for five seconds. The ideal scenario for a teamfight is to cast Water Elemental where enemies are densest, pop Icy Veins, and then proceed to unload spells as fast as possible. If Blizzard is cast immediately after Icy Veins, another will be up for use in 5 seconds, and if your Frostbolts are connecting you can fling them out at mach speed.
Storm Front, while not as impactful as Kael’thas Flamethrower talent, can still be a viable pickup, and allows Jaina to throw down heavy damage from afar, though she might not be around to follow up on it.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Northern Exposure or Ice Barrier
This is another fairly contested tier of talents. In it, Jaina must choose whether to opt for more damage, utility, or survivability. Northern Exposure grants Cone of Cold an armor debuff, making enemies affected by it temporarily take 25% more damage from all sources. This is great for helping her team burst targets down, be they bosses or heroes.
Ice Barrier often goes with the high-burst Frostbolt build. In conjunction with Icy Veins, Jaina can build an immense shield in the first seconds of a fight, allowing her to stick around and deal more damage. If the enemy is easily breaching your front line and coming for your behind, this is a wise pickup and will give you some crucial moments of sustain.
If a Jaina is unhappy with the CC setup of her team, she can opt to take Numbing Blast to make her Cone of Cold root targets, although doing so may force her out of a good position. While adding a third wave to Blizzard might seem like a top-tier move, it’s already difficult enough to hit a target with two waves – only the stunned and the stupid will allow themselves to be pummeled by three. Thus, Snow Crash is seldom best choice, barring some insane Johanna/ETC CC shenanigans.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Bolt of the Storm or Wintermute
By level 20, mana should not be an issue, allowing you to ignore Arcane Power. Assuming you took this guide’s advice and eschewed Ring of Frost, you won’t have to worry about empowering that, either. This leaves you with the much lauded Bolt of the Storm, or with a much-improved Water Elemental. The damage increase provided by thebuffed elemental is substantial and hard to pass up, but when it comes to the late game, surviving is everything. If Jaina wants to ensure her survival, Bolt of the Storm is a very pragmatic pickup.