Warchief of the Horde
Despite being a melee assassin, Thrall is deceptively survivable. While his health pool is admittedly mediocre, his Frostwolf Resilience trait sustains him as long as he is using his skills to damage enemies. Though not the most potent early game threat, Thrall scales admirably into the later stages of the game with his high auto-attack damage and his Windfury ability. Toss in a heroic that can disrupt the entire enemy team and you have a solid damage dealer.
While Thrall lacks the mobility of other melee assassins, such as Zeratul or Illidan, he makes up for it by being able to sustain himself through situations that would leave other carries bleeding out in the dust. If you manage to stay on a hero (with immaculate Feral Spirit placement), you can trade up with almost anyone – just don’t get cocky/kited. Thrall enjoys a diversity of builds, and though his role is now contested by The Butcher, he remains a viable and enjoyable hero.
Frostwolf Resilience (D)
Dealing damage with Abilities grants 1 stack of Frostwolf Resilience. At 5 stacks, you are instantly healed for 660 (90 + 30 per level) Health.
While Thrall’s health pool isn’t massive, he is constantly regaining health during combat thanks to this trait. Since many of his abilities yield multiple hits, I.E. Chain Lightning and Windfury, Frostwolf Resilience will be filling and activating constantly while Thrall is fighting. Understanding just how much punishment this hero can withstand by exploiting his trait is key to mastering him.
Chain Lightning (Q)
Cooldown: 6 seconds
Deal 390 (67 + 17 per level) damage to an enemy and half that amount to 2 nearby enemies.
Awesome for poking, wave clearing, and triggering Frostwolf Resilience, Chain Lightning is Thrall’s ranged nuke. With a low cooldown and manageable mana cost, it allows him to sustain in lane while simultaneously pushing it back and harassing enemy heroes. This should be thrown out whenever possible in fights, both for the damage and sustain it provides.
Feral Spirit (W)
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Send out a Feral Spirit that deals 335 (50 + 15 per level) damage to enemies in its path. Upon hitting an enemy Hero, the wolf stops and roots that hero in place for 1 second.
Thrall’s only real utility (aside from his Sundering heroic), Feral Spirit is a skillshot root that can make or break this hero’s ganking capabilities. While it does generate Frostwolf Resilience, it should generally be saved to stop a mobile enemy in their tracks, allowing Thrall to get a few extra hammerfalls in.
Cooldown: 12 seconds
Increase your Movement Speed by 30% for 4 seconds. Your next 3 Basic Attacks occur 100% faster.
Windfury is generally regarded as Thrall’s premier ability and is what defines him as a potent attack damage hero. Especially when talented towards, this ability adds huge spikes to Thrall’s potential damage output, helping him burst down heroes with auto-attacks alone. Its movement speed boost shouldn’t be ignored, as it’s great for chasing and escaping. A Thrall should also keep in mind that Windfuried attacks will generate Frostwolf Resilience stacks.
Cooldown: 70 seconds
After a short delay, sunder the earth in a long line, dealing 600 (182 + 22 per level) damage and shoving enemies to the side, stunning them for 1.5 seconds.
Massively disrupting if used correctly, a strategic Thrall can split enemy teams down the middle with this heroic, cutting each half off from the others’ support. The stun it provides is substantial and can affect an entire team at once, making it a huge boon for Thrall’s utility. Much like Zeratul’s Void Prison, however, careless use of Sundering can doom Thrall’s teammates as easily as his foes.
Cooldown: 60 seconds
Summon a massive Earthquake that periodically slows enemies in the area by 70%. Lasts for 10 seconds.
Oft overlooked in favor of Sundering, Earthquake creates a massive AoE slow, allowing Thrall and his teammates to run circles around them and control the fight. While it doesn’t put out any damage of its own, Earthquake is a great counter to heroes that rely on high mobility, like Illidan or Kerrigan, and can be incredible with a bit of team coordination.
Level 1 Talents
Recommended: Block or Champion’s Restitution or Rabid Wolves
Frostwolf Resilience grants Thrall some survivability, but that could use a little help. As such, unless the enemy team is bereft of attack damage (through heroes like Sgt. Hammer, Valla, Illidan, etc.), Block is often the best choice for Thrall’s first talent tier. It provides some much needed mitigation, giving Thrall more room to breathe and deal his incredible sustained damage.
Another option for survivability is Rabid Wolves – as long as you hit an enemy with it, it will grant 3 times as many Frostwolf stacks, granting Thrall some early-game survivability. This is a good call if he is facing a tough laner like Nazeebo or Zagara.
If the enemy team is all spells and burst, or survival is otherwise unimportant, then Champion’s Restitution grants him some additional flexibility with Chain Lightning and allows him to recover some mana, which will come in handy throughout the game.
Seasoned Marksman, though tempting, generally pays the least dividends of this talent tier, and is probably the least fun to play with, unless you’ve been brainwashed by another game to enjoy farming. Choosing it is generally a mistake.
Level 4 Talents
Recommended: Envenom or Mana Tide
Thrall has mana problems, it’s true. But with conscientious use of his abilities (I.E. don’t spam Chain Lightning on a creep wave for no reason) and shrewd base-returns, Mana Tide shouldn’t be a necessary pickup. However, it is a more user-friendly talent and will allow newer Thralls to toss around their abilities without worrying as much about resources.
That said, Envenom is generally regarded as the correct pick here. Even after the nerf, it provides Thrall with some much needed burst damage, and can prove very useful in the early stages of the game. Later on it can still supplement his DPS, albeit less impactfully.
The other two talents in this tier improve Thrall’s abilities, but adding a new ability (through Envenom) is generally a more value-conscious move.
Level 7 Talents
Windshear increases Windfury‘s uptime, and therefore Thrall’s damage and survivability, by a substantial amount. As Thrall’s autoattacks hit harder and harder, especially with further talents towards Windfury, the value this cooldown reduction provides becomes invaluable. As much as I like to advocate alternate talents, it is really difficult to advise anything but Windshear at this tier. Follow Through could make for some cool, high-skill-cap Chain Lightning builds, but the damage bonus from Windshear seems to surpass this option.
Level 10 Heroics
Unless you’re pitted against some mobile melee powerhouses, Sundering should probably be picked up over Earthquake. The utility it provides in teamfights and ganking is phenomenal. It does require some forbearance to use well, however – Thrall shouldn’t just barf it out because he’s started to engage some heroes. If in a strong teamfighting composition with positional manipulation like Johanna’s Condemn and some strong AoE, Earthquake can pull a lot of weight, as well.
Level 13 Talents
Recommended: Grace of Air or Giant Killer
Windfury is generally focused upon by Thralls; as such, Grace of Air is an excellent choice, as it allows a Windfury assault to trigger a full Frostwolf Resilience stack. This goes a long way in keeping Thrall alive long enough to deal maximum damage.
If the enemy has a few tanks, Giant Killer is another great choice. In conjunction with Windfury, it can really chunk down an opposing warrior’s health.
Spell Shield can also boost Thrall’s resilience, and should be considered if he’s being bursted down before he can even enter the fight by the likes of Jaina or Kael’thas.
Restless Wolves does boost Thrall’s utility and chasing capacity, but by this point in the game he should be more concerned with surviving to deal his now-soaring damage.
Level 16 Talents
Recommended: Tempest Fury
With Tempest Fury, Thrall gets a huge damage spike from Windfury. As long as he manages to land the third of his accelerated attacks, he can take a huge chunk out of enemy health pools every 8 seconds or so. Blood for Blood is a fine choice if Thrall is having a hard time with enemy tanks, but Giant Killer should help more with that, and Tempest Fury combined with Giant Killer is no joke. Forked Lightning and Ride the Wind don’t do enough for Thrall at this point to warrant being picked up.
Level 20 Talents
Recommended: Bolt of the Storm or Nexus Blades
Bolt of the Storm is, as always, an awesome pickup for landlocked assassins. It helps them initiate, chase, and, most importantly, escape. Thrall is no exception to this, and benefits greatly from Bolt of the Storm. Especially because he lacks any sort of mobility besides Windfury’s movespeed buff, Bolt can get him in and out of some sticky situations.
However, Nexus Blades stands as a tough contender for this last talent slot. The 20% attack boost is insane on Thrall because it is further boosted by Windfury. Slowing enemies makes it even more appealing, helping Thrall chase down stragglers between Feral Spirits.
Boosting either of his heroics can yield some cool results, but the aforementioned two talents are better regarded by the competitive community.