Due to her impressive damage and mobility as compared to her meager tankiness, Sonya is often regarded as more assassin than warrior. Regardless of any confusion in her role, Sonya is a brawler at heart. Though her health pool is low, her Whirlwind ability gives her surprising sustain as long as it’s hitting a hero or five. When paired with her mobility, Whirlwind allows her to thrive in the thick of a fight.
Having Fury instead of mana forces Sonya to attack things to use abilities, but this is exactly what she wants to be doing, and being free from mana allows her to leap and grapple her way across the battlefield as long as she’s in the fray. Her damage and disruption should not be underestimated, nor her self-sustain. If you’re going to attack a Sonya, make sure she’s dead before you let up pressure.
Use Fury instead of Mana, which is gained by taking or dealing damage. Using a Basic or Heroic Ability grants 10% Movement Speed for 4 seconds.
Sonya will never have to return to base for mana – she runs on Fury instead. This bar starts out empty, filling when Sonya lands basic attacks and Ancient Spears. Whirlwind and Seismic Slam both expend Fury, the latter without a cooldown; as long as Sonya can keep attacking targets, she can keep using her abilities. The 10% movement buff this trait grants shouldn’t be forgotten, as it is excellent for chasing and escaping.
Ancient Spear (Q)
Cooldown: 13 seconds
Throw out a spear that pulls you to the first enemy hit, dealing 380 (114 + 14 per level) damage and briefly stunning them. If this hits an enemy, generate 40 Fury.
Ancient Spear is Soyna’s initiator and gap-closer, as well as a way to gain a quick burst of fury. This is a skillshot and can easily be blocked by creeps, so good aim and patience is required to get the most out of this ability. With a later talent pickup, Ancient Spear can become a form of escape as well as an initiator.
Seismic Slam (W)
Cooldown: 1 second
Deals 420 (116 + 16 per level) damage to the target enemy, and 105 (29 + 4 per level) to enemies behind the target.
A repeatable damage outlet, Seismic Slam is Sonya’s bread and butter. With a cooldown of only 1 second, the Fury cost is the only thing restraining this ability. As long as she’s generating lots of Fury, Sonya can put out impressive AoE damage by spamming Seismic Slam. This becomes especially true when the ability is talented towards.
Cooldown: 4 seconds
Deals 875 (210 + 35 per level) damage to nearby enemies over 3 seconds, and heals for 25% of damage dealt. Healing doubled versus Heroes.
Whirlwind is what makes Sonya so deceptively resilient. While this ability is great for taking out minion waves and recovering some health, its ‘ healing doubled versus Heroes’ clause makes it an insane source of self-sustain in teamfights. Especially against enemies trying to trade blow for blow, Whirlwind can turn dire-seeming circumstances into a victory. Using this ability grants Fury’s 10% movement speed buff, making it good for chasing as well as escaping. All that said, this ability shouldn’t be looked to for damage output, but rather for survivability.
Cooldown: 70 seconds
Leap into the air, dealing 270 (61 + 11 per level) damage to nearby enemies, and stunning them for 1.5 seconds.
Mobility and crowd control in one airborne package? Yes please. While she loses out on damage and being able to berserk through stuns and slows, Sonya can make some big plays by Leaping into the fray and stunning her foes. Coupled with the speed from Fury and Ancient Spear, Sonya becomes a movement machine with this heroic.
Leap makes for an excellent initiator. The rest of her kit is excellent for following up a Leap, as Sonya can Whirlwind and Ancient Spear around once she’s landed, spamming Seismic Slam as she goes. That said, Sonya is not a tanky character and cannot withstand enemy fire for long – she needs team followup to her Leaps to make them worthwhile. While its stun is AoE, Leap will often have to be used on single targets or for escaping, rendering it sometimes underwhelming.
Wrath of the Berserker (R)
Cooldown: 45 seconds
Increase damage dealt by 40%. Reduce the duration of silences, stuns, slows, roots, and polymorphs against you by 50%. Lasts 15 seconds, and extends by 1 second for every 10 Fury gained.
Wrath of the Berserker sends Sonya into an frenzy that increases her damage and allows her to wade through crowd control. By attacking enemies and generating fury, Sonya can remain in this state interminably. This is the heroic of choice for barbarians looking to deal the most damage – the 40% damage increase affects Sonya’s entire kit, from basic attacks to Whirlwinds and Seismic Slams.
While this ability doesn’t actually make Sonya tankier, the reduction time on debuffs is a huge step towards staying alive. Having more freedom to attack, slam, spin, and grapple will already have an impact on Sonya’s damage output, not to mention the 40% across-the-board buff. This skill requires less commitment than Leap. Not only does Wrath of the Berserker have a lower cooldown than its fellow heroic, it doesn’t plunge Sonya into enemy lines and allows for more conservative lines of play.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: Shot of Fury
One of Sonya’s weaknesses is an inability to use Whirlwind or Seismic Slam without first landing an Ancient Spear or a few basic attacks. Shot of Fury can give Sonya a spike of Fury at any time, freeing her up to use whichever ability she needs as tactically as possible. Sometimes spearing in and attacking someone isn’t the best option, and being able to turn that into two Seismic Slams (or what have you) is very useful. It should be noted that Shot of Fur can be used during Wrath of the Berserker‘s duration to add another 5 seconds to its duration.
War Paint is a potent health-restoring talent, but many Sonya’s prefer to use their abilities for damage and their basic attacks for fury. In an auto-attack focused build this can work wonders with Whirlwind to keep Sonya alive, unless she’s being bursted down before she has a chance to sustain herself.
Block can be picked up if there looks to be some fierce auto-attackers on the other team, e.g. Zeratul or Nova. That said, Sonya’s survivability is reasonable before level 10 with Whirlwind alone, making Block a lower priority.
Endless Fury is good for saving up fury to chain together multiple abilities and allowing some high burst damage, but it pales in comparison to the other talents available at this tier.
Level 4 Talents
Recommended: Shattered Ground or Focused Attack
As early as tier 4 Sonya has to start choosing what to build towards. Shattered Ground is a must-have for Sonya’s who want to be smashing face with Seismic Slam in the late game, as it adds 50% damage to the ability’s splash.
Focused Attack has risen alongside Follow Through as a viable pickup for an auto-attack build. The damage increase this provides to Sonya’s basic attacks is not negligible, especially if she’s swinging away to get the most out of the talent’s cooldown reduction.
Hurricane is a situational pickup for when the enemy has overwhelming roots or slows. Wrath of the Berserker can also help to mitigate these, but being able to snap out of them immediately is useful against heroes like Arthas.
Superiority actually allows Sonyas with certain builds to solo the boss of certain maps by level 10. While it doesn’t add a tremendous amount to her offensive kit, for more tactical Sonyas looking to win through early bosses, constant mercenary pickups, and surprise split pushes, Superiority can prove a valuable talent choice.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Composite Spear or Follow Through
Composite Spear and Poisoned Spear both make great additions to Sonya’s Ancient Spear ability.The 30% range increase from Composite Spear helps her stick to enemies better and, with the later Mystical Spear talent, expands her mobility by quite a bit.
Poisoned Spear is a strong burst damage increase and is good for Sonyas who want to make picks early in the game. With another ganker at her side, the extra 75% damage on Ancient Spear goes a long ways towards securing kills.
Follow Through, on the other hand, is ideal for Sonyas who have stuck to the auto-attack route thus far. By interspersing basic attacks between Seismic Slams, Sonya can eke a lot of damage out of this talent, especially in conjunction with Focused Attack and Wrath of the Berserker.
Ferocious Healing provides an extra bit of sustain, but 10% health for 20 Fury is a pretty poor rate. The other talents in this tier sharpen Sonya more as a hero, but Ferocious Healing can be picked up if survival is a serious concern.
Level 10 Heroics
Recommended: Wrath of the Berserker
Wrath of the Berserker increases Sonya’s game presence by a lot. A semi-permanent 40% damage increase is huge in any sort of altercation, and the debuff reduction is massive in teamfights. Unless a Sonya is pushed into an off-tank role by an over-saturation of assassins, Wrath of the Berserker is usually the stronger pickup.
Leap has a more punishing cooldown and isn’t easy to land. Sonya is too squishy to be initiating an bearing the initial brunt of an assault, making this more of a chaser and gap-closer, which the barbarian already has through Ancient Spear. The extra CC through the stun is always nice, but having Sonya shred through enemies (instead of the other way around) is usually the preferred route.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Mystical Spear
At its base state, Ancient Spear is useful for closing gaps and initiating. Mystical Spear takes this mold and shatters it, allowing Sonya to use this already-strong ability for sheer movement. Not having to hit an enemy unit to jump to the spear is a huge bonus, and Mystical Spear is widely chosen for that reason.
Spell Shield can keep Sonya alive longer in teamfights if she’s getting bursted down by mages like Jaina or Kael’thas.
Since Fury isn’t terribly difficult to generate, Aftershock‘s cost reduction isn’t too attractive, but can be picked up for repeated Seismic Slam use.
Life Funnel is an okay pickup, but Sonya wants to be relying more on her wits to survive than she does Whirlwinding in crowds of enemies.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Nerves of Steel or Furious Blow
Sonya is always looking for better ways of staying alive, and Nerves of Steel is one of those ways. A huge, on-demand shield that lasts 5 seconds and can be used while Whirlwinding is exceptional as far as survivability goes.
Furious Blow makes Seismic Slam hit like a truck at the cost of 10 extra Fury per cast. For Sonyas who want to be doing huge ability damage, who live and die by the slam, there is no better choice at this tier.
Imposing Presence is a great pickup against auto-attack heavy teams, as always. Are Valla, Nova, and the Butcher getting Sonya down? Then she should probably pick this up.
No Escape is great for Sonyas who want to go fast.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Anger Management or Hardened Shield
Wrath of the Berserker is already powerful, and Anger Management just ramps its power level up even further. 75% reduction to all debuffs will make it so she’s never pinned down in fights, and an extra 50% Fury generated will allow the barbarian to spam skills and stay in Wrath mode for longer.
Hardened Shield is always a reasonable pickup on the heroes to whom it’s offered. 4 seconds of 75% damage reduction, when used well, can keep Sonya alive through the tempest and waste a lot of enemy cooldowns, allowing this simple talent to swing fights.
Nexus Blades is always fun, especially if Sonya has built exclusively towards her basic attacks. That said, the damage increase and slow from this talent aren’t terribly impactful in this point of the game, though it will push Sonya to her peak attack potential.
Arreat Crater is a mostly fun talent that can be used to zone and trap enemy heroes. In a competitive game, a player would need to have a very unorthodox strategy to make this the most valuable pickup.