The Banshee Queen
Minions. Structures. Objectives. Heroes. That Sylvanas is so effective at demolishing all of these things should be a bit worrisome, but let’s leave that for the balance team – this hero is a blast to play. Two damage abilities, an escape, and an incredible AoE silence (sorry Possession) make up this hero’s kit. These, coupled with her trait’s ability to stun minions and structures with auto-attacks make her one of the game’s most potent heroes, and one that is oft picked up.
Some heroes feel like they only work as long as your team is around, while others seem most at home pushing a lane alone (hey there Gazlowe). Sylvanas, somehow, is a beast in both areas. Leaving a Sylvanas alone in lane is an impersonal way of saying “goodbye” to that lane’s structures. This doesn’t mean you can discount her in a teamfight, however – with her high mobility, sustained damage, and fight-swinging Wailing Arrow, she is often the determining factor in such a scuffle.
Black Arrows (D)
Basic Attacks and Abilities stun Minions, Mercenaries, and Towers for 1 second.
This is among the most powerful traits in the game, and is what makes Sylvanas a pushing monster. Auto attacks, Withering Fire, and even the spread of Shadow Dagger will stun minions and towers, allowing her to devastate creep waves, solo mercenaries, and demolish any lane she’s left alone in.
Withering Fire (Q)
Cooldown: 2 seconds
Shoot the closest enemy for 85 (28 + 3 per level) damage, preferring Heroes. Stores 5 charges. Gain 1 charge on nearby enemy Minion or Mercenary deaths, and 3 charges on nearby enemy Hero deaths.
This ability is insane. It has a short cooldown, holds five stacks, and zero resource cost. This decimates heroes as easily as it does creeps, especially when used in bursts.
When in lane, this should never be above 2 charges unless you’re saving up for an objective; they cost nothing and regenerate with time and minion deaths, so their incremental damage is not negligible. Withering Fire applies Black Arrows to the NPCs it hits, and is especially useful for stunning one siege giant while you attack the other.
Shadow Dagger (W)
Cooldown: 10 seconds
Deals 80 (13.5 + 3.5 per level) damage and an additional 320 (54 + 14 per level) damage over 2 seconds to target unit. The effect spreads to nearby targets.
Shadow Dagger does impressive damage over time and stuns minions and towers affected by it for two seconds. It also spreads substantially, allowing Sylvanas to bring minion waves and tower walls to a standstill with it. The DoT it deals to heroes is also impressive, and with Cold Embrace, a level 16 talent, it can make affected enemies Vulnerable, allowing her team to burst enemies down.
Haunting Wave (E)
Cooldown: 11 seconds
Send forth a wave of banshees dealing 250 (41 + 11 per level) damage to all targets. Reactivate to teleport to the banshees’ location.
Haunting Wave does decent damage, but its main function is its teleport, which grants Sylvanas a massive boost to her survivability and chasing. When in trouble, it’s often lucrative for Sylvanas to send a Haunting Wave in the direction of safety before running in the opposite direction. This forces enemies to choose between following you or your wave. Right before the teleport timer runs out, she can choose to continue running or teleport to her wave, depending on her enemies’ actions. At this very least, this will split the pursuers in half and improve Sylvanas’s chance of survival.
Wailing Arrow (R)
Cooldown: 90 seconds
Shoot an arrow that can be reactivated to deal 500 (158 + 18 per level) damage and Silencing enemies in an area making them unable to use Abilities for 2.5 seconds. The arrow detonates automatically when it reaches maximum range.
An incredible teamfighting ability, Wailing Arrow has the potential to damage and Silence the entire enemy team. Best used to initiate a fight, before enemies have a chance to blow their abilities and make the Silence irrelevant Wailing Arrow shuts down much of the enemy team’s damage, healing, and other utility for a short time. It can also be used towards the end of a lull in a fight, when enemy abilities are about to come back online. However fleeting the window it provides, Wailing Arrow opens the gates for a total blowout, and is often the preferred heroic because of it.
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Force an enemy Minion to fight for you. It gains 20% Attack Damage. Costs 5 charges to convert a Catapult Minion. Stores 7 charges.
Should a Sylvanas want to go full push, this is the way to go. With Possession, Sylvanas can steal the majority of an enemy minion wave. This allows her to amass a large minion wave and, in conjunction with Black Arrows, can quickly raze a lane’s structures.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: With the Wind or Lost Soul
Sylvanas is dependent on her abilities for damage output, and supplementing them through talents are a good way to access the hero’s full potential. With the Wind adds a substantial increase to the range of Withering Fire, allowing Sylvanas more flexibility with her positioning while laning, ganking, and skirmishing.
While Withering Fire is a powerful and spammable ability, Shadow Dagger has a very high damage potential, especially when combined with the Cold Embrace talent at level 16. As such, Lost Soul is a strong pickup that improves Sylvanas’s sustained damage and tower-pushing.
Level 4 Talents
As far as damage goes, Envenom is unrivaled on this tier. It has no mana cost and no drawback besides its moderate cooldown, and can give Sylvanas the damage she needs to secure kills throughout the game. It’s rather short range isn’t a concern for this hero due to her mobility.
In a heavy push build, Paralysis can assist with dismantling creep waves, mercenary camps, and towers. The other talents in this tier are not generally advised.
Level 7 Talents
Recommended: Unstable Poison
Unstable Poison grants Sylvanas a palpable boost in pushing capabilities, and is what makes her such a powerhouse in the Haunted Mines. If a player can disperse Black Arrow through a wave before killing one minion, they can kill the entire wave with the chain reaction. Enemy heroes foolish enough to mingle with their minions will get evaporated if you can explode a wave around them.
Remorseless, on the other hand, has its uses in topping the hero damage chart – if a Sylvanas can manage to deftly weave together auto-attacks and Withering Fire, this can be a potent talent. If her team lacks damage, this can be picked up to try and surmount whatever resilience the other team may have.
Life Drain is a reasonable choice in compositions without healers, or if Sylvanas thinks she’ll be soloing a lot during a game (which isn’t necessarily advised). If she’s dropping too quickly in teamfights, throwing a dagger into the fray and staying back might turn her luck.
Level 10 Heroics
Recommended: Wailing Arrow
However cool it may be to steal an enemy minion wave and march on their walls with a might horde at your heels, Wailing Arrow is almost always going to be a bigger asset to your team. This thing can blow a seemingly lost game wide open, and makes it so no teamfight is necessarily unwinnable. Sylvanas is already an insane pusher and decent damage dealer; the added utility of Wailing Arrow pushes her to the top tier of heroes.
In a strategic composition that is build around split pushing and pressuring the enemy base than it is around teamfights, Possession allows Sylvanas to dominate a lane on her own while the rest of her team applies pressure elsewhere.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Evasive Fire or Splinter Shot
Evasive Fire lends so much to Sylvanas’s already-intense mobility that it’s hard to pass up on. She can ease out a periodic spray of shots to maintain a moderate speed boost, or chain 3 together to get a massive one. This allows Sylvanas to dance around teamfights, dodging enemy skillshots, avoiding melee hits, and chasing down low hp stragglers.
Splinter Shot adds a lot of damage to Sylvanas’s kit and can really decimate mercenary camps, making it another strong option. Overwhelming Affliction has its place in certain slow-based builds and team compositions, but is generally overlooked in favor of Evasive Fire or Splinter Shot.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Cold Embrace or Blood for Blood
Widespread 25% vulnerability is a huge boon to a team, especially one loaded with burst damage from the likes of Jaina or Kael’thas. Cold Embrace makes all enemies affected by Shadow Dagger take 25% more damage, allowing Sylvanas and her team to burst down swaths of foes, be they minions or heroes. When combined with Lost Soul, which reduced Shadow Dagger‘s cooldown, Sylvanas can soften up the enemy team quite often.
Blood for Blood remains popular for its burst damage and heal, and can help a Sylvanas to take down an enemy in a duel or regain some crucial life in the middle of a fight.
Of late, Will of the Forsaken has also emerged as a popular pickup, especially against CC or burst heavy teams. Gaining movement speed and immunity to crowd control for 3 seconds is often enough to help her escape a gank or nullify the peeling attempts of an enemy, allowing her to pick up a kill. Survivability-conscious Sylvanas players will have a hard time passing this up.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Bolt of the Storm or Fury of the Storm
What’s better than a teleport? Two teleports! Bolt of the Storm shoots Sylvanas’s mobility through the roof, making her a discombobulating hero in the right hands. It allows her to escape from solo pushes gone awry and to muster some fine-tuned positioning for a Wailing Arrow. This ability is usually a good choice when proffered, and this is no exception.
Fury of the Storm, on the other hand, further supplements Sylvanas’s damage and gives her a healthy amount of burst. Especially if she picked up Remorseless to boost her attacks after using an ability, the furious auto-attacks can deal some massive burst damage. This can help her match more dedicated carries in the late game.
Boosting either of her heroics is a situational call, as they do not provide overmuch utility in their advanced forms, at least when compared to Bolt or Fury.