What is Ranked Play like?
While I myself have not played it, I have gotten to check out what the deal is. Let’s lay out the basics first. You must be level 30 AND own 10 heroes. Originally, I heard those heroes would have to be at least to level 5 as well, but this has since vanished. Because there is an uproar about everything, let’s break down why such a restriction has been put in place to better understand the idea behind “ranked”.
First and foremost, there needs to be some way to verify that you know what you’re doing. Since they don’t exactly monitor everything we do (or do they?), the best judge of this is what player level you hold. This equates to a certain number of hours invested in the game, and while this still doesn’t mean you’re Thor’s gift to HotS, it can be assumed you have a strong command of the basics.
Second, you need a hero pool of ten that you own. Why don’t the rotations count? If they’re still rotations for you, then you probably don’t care enough about them to purchase them meaning they aren’t your best options. This req also translates to you having enough choices that you are good at to fill in any gaps in the team come your turn to pick a hero.
During the draft portion, you can see what map you’ll be playing. First player goes. Two from the other team go. Two from your team go. And so on until the final player picks their hero in response to both their team, your team and the map.
So let’s talk about this data you have to understand to make informed decisions that will benefit your team. The map. This map could be one of six. Each of those requires a very different style of play. Often in unranked I wish I could see the map so I could my hero based on that alone. I mean, Falstad is fun, but his fly ability makes him damn near crazy powerful on The Haunted Mines because the map’s tiny size. So now you’ve mentally figured out that puzzle, it’s time to look at the 9 different heroes – 4 on your team, 5 on the other – if you’re lucky enough to go last. You have to know how each one plays and how certain members can do sick combos. If there are two stealthers on the opposition, you better damn sure hope at least one of your members has some sort of reveal. Plus, is the other team tank or damage heavy? And so on and so forth.
In the end, it’s all about promising everyone who plays Ranked that their team members know what they’re doing and won’t flub the game just because this is their very first time doing a certain map or playing a certain character. And from what I’ve heard, Blizzard’s accomplished this.
So… Sky Temple. What now?
I had the same reaction when I first played it. The first go around made it seem far busier than Blackheart’s Bay but with a refreshing theme. It is a large map with three points of contention—the shrines top, mid and bot. On top of these lovely little structures, there is a whirlwind spawning boss bot mid. Luckily, creeps stick with their three lane split. But you’re not here for a summary, are you?
As far as strategy goes, there are two ways to deal with it that I’ve seen (time, of course, will reveal something different in the coming months). You either fight to get a shrine or you push like hell. Assuming only one is up and you can easily take on the opposition in a 5v5, by all means, jump in and just lay waste. If, however, they can stop you, your time is better spent focused on mercs, boss pulls and pushing the towers yourselves. Just remain wary of the position of the enemy. If they have to leave a shrine, that shrine remains active, so they can simply decimate your team and then go back to decimating your defenses.
Basically, you should never just lie there and take it. If you can’t grab a shrine for yourself, immediately go into Plan B mode. While the ammo those shrines shoot does do a lot of damage, forcing the enemy team to deal with incoming waves of mercs and creep map dominance means they’ll be too busy later when the shrines pop again.
There’s never a sure fire way to victory, but not being able to take the shrines doesn’t have to mean end of game.
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