Hierarch of the Daelaam, supreme leader of the all Protoss, struggling to make two opposing sides of a cultural ideal into one unified whole. The Khala and the Nerazim. Artanis seeks a twilight time for his people, a place where the light and the dark can exist side by side. For his people, he will bear any burden. Do you have the fortitude to take up the burden of the Protoss leader?
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Artanis is an excellent bruiser, with the ability to solo lane effectively and consistently win or tie the lane against other melee solo laners. However, he will struggle against ranged heroes even if they are not traditional solo laners. Do not draft him as a tank, though there are tankless compositions that work well with Artanis on certain maps.
- Q; Blade Dash: A low damage forward dash that bypasses all terrain and a high damage back dash that returns to your exact starting point is kind of an odd ability. Outside of the swap combos (see Art of the Swap), this is primarily used for three things. Wave clear, doing reasonable area damage, and dodging ground targeted effects like boss stuns, Flamestrike, Sulfuras Smash… anything with a graphical warning can be easily evaded if you aren’t otherwise locked down. Lastly, it reduces the cooldown of Shield Overload per target hit, 1 second for normal enemies and 2 seconds for heroes. Often in fights you will want to combine dodging and cooldown reduction, and in laning, particularly as the solo lane, you may want to combine wave clearing and resetting. Blade Dash will be cancelled if you are stunned, rooted, polymorphed, or displaced at any point during the animation which can make using Blade Dash into certain heroes a death sentence.
- W; Twin Strike: On activation your next auto attack will cause you to charge the target and immediately deliver two auto attacks, including all talents and bonuses as well as reducing Shield Overload’s cooldown. Once the animation has gone off you can immediately start backing out, meaning it can be used to sort of “poke” from a short distance. It does not reset your auto attack timer, but you cannot do a regular auto during the animation so if you are already on top of a target it is better to auto then W. The gap closing aspect of your W is nearly all of your mobility in fights, since Q returns you to where you started, so the decision between using it for burst mobility or sustain is always an important one.
- E; Phase Prism: A low damage skill shot that can only hit heroes. On hit it swaps Artanis’ current position and the enemy who was hit. It has a very long cooldown at 16 seconds. Rarely used on its own and almost always used with Q for swap combos (see Art of the Swap). If you do use it on its own, it will likely be on an over extended target or if you are rooted. If you are rooted and therefore cannot move, you will not swap, meaning this will act as a “pull” instead. While the situation does not come up often due the cooldown, it is something you should be on the lookout for against heroes with root abilities.
- Trait; Shield Overload: Artanis’ “sustain” mechanic. Gives him a shield roughly equal to 15% of his maximum HP if he is at or below 75% health and he takes damage. It has a 24 second cooldown, but every auto attack reduces that CD by 4 seconds, including the two free autos from Twin Strike. After learning all the swaps, keeping track of this cooldown and using your abilities appropriately to keep it available as often as possible in fights is the hardest part of playing Artanis well. Outside of unusual and difficult to pull off swap escapes, Artanis is an all-in hero. Once you are in a fight, either they back off, you win, or you die. It is almost never a good idea to disengage as Artanis, you are always more likely to survive by fighting to keep reducing the cooldown of Shield Overload. So using Q and W appropriately to maximize up time on your trait is enormously important, as is stutter stepping to get each and every auto attack off while staying mobile.
The Art of the Swap:
Swapping has enough odd mechanics that it gets its own section. First, the basic idea of a swap is you Q to an area, use your E, then whenever your E hits the target will be swapped to where you currently are in your Q. This means that releasing your E at different times may change the distance you displace a target. There is a real timing to master to each of the individual swaps to get the most out of them.
Because you are guaranteed to pass through your target during swap, note that the Q damage will apply to them as you pass through (though not more than once, so if you already hit them with the leg of Q, it won’t apply again). Since you do more damage on the backswing this can be relevant to your timing if all other factors are equal, but it will rarely make the difference. This also means that regardless of how you do the swap, whether E > Q or Q > E, you will always get one hit worth of cooldown from Q on Shield Overload.
While your Q can bypass all terrain, the enemy you swap cannot pass through terrain that has a health bar. So no forts, keeps, walls, gates (though the enemy gates are OK, your gates are not), or fountains but you will swap through these obstructions, so be careful lining up your swaps in situations where this can change the swap into a dive into 1v5 and feed. Learning all the spots on a map where you can swap safely is actually a big part of playing the swap game, but a good tip is to look for terrain features that are otherwise impassible, such as the alcoves on around each tribute on Cursed Hollow or the water on Blackheart’s Bay.
Hook Swap or “The God Swap”: The most common swap has a similar effect to Stitches’ hook though without the safety. Q to max distance, release your E sometime between the start of your return but before you go out of max E range; this will swap the enemy all the way to where you started. Considering the combined distance is almost ¾ of a screen width, that is a massive displacement. Most heroes taken that far away from safety should just die to follow up from your team or towers. Of course, the danger is that you are just as displaced, so use with care. You need to be able to survive the follow up to your own Hook Swaps, as well as ensuring that the swapped target will ideally die. Finally, after a Hook Swap you can immediately start to walk back towards the target and use W to gap close, returning yourself to safety. This is made much easier with Zealot Charge (16).
Reverse Swap: Unfortunately, you don’t get to do this one as often. If someone makes the mistake of being in your face you can Q away from them then immediately E. This is very similar to Diablo’s Overpower into Shadow Charge combo, delivering a hero gift wrapped to your team without putting you out of position at all. Note that his can also be used as an escape if you are being chased, Q over a piece of terrain, swap the enemy and you can just mount up and ride away into the sunset.
Gap Closer Swap: Similar to the Hook Swap but rather than looking to bring a hero to your team, you are looking to bring yourself to the hero. Q to a target and immediately use E. You will swap with them and end right next to them. Useful for chasing and synergizing with certain talents.
Artanis is strong on almost every map but often for different reasons. It is important to account for this in drafts and talent choices. Maps where swaps are relatively easy to land for high value often fixate around an objective that can be skirmished over, particularly if it is adjacent to terrain features. Towers of Doom, Sky Temple, and Cursed Hollow being the best examples.
Artanis also has an enormous amount of value in Amateur Opponent (1). This talent is so strong that it led him to being in the pro Chinese meta even before his rework on BoE, which is still the strongest map for it, but it also lets him solo mercenary camps and objectives on other maps as well. Garden of Terror, Blackheart’s Bay, the very late game on Cursed Hollow where bosses often become the win condition, and Tomb of the Spider Queen for defense against spider waves.
Last, but not least, Artanis is a very effective duelist over fixed points. Dragon Shire, Warhead Junction, and Braxis Holdout thus rank very highly for him and it adds another notch for his viability on Sky Temple, which is probably his strongest map as a result.
As a solo laner, Artanis’ primary kill potential is reverse swapping his opponent into towers, so it is in his best interest to let them push up until they are in range. If the focus is tying the lane, waiting until your trait triggers and Q-ing the wave for clear will give you optimal sustain. Against a ranged opponent in particular, you simply won’t be able to do much besides tie the lane if you can’t execute a big reverse tower swap unless they misplay and take “poke” damage from your Q on the wave.
With Amateur Opponent, Artanis is reasonable at soloing mercenary camps, which is a factor on many maps. It is not worthwhile to solo camps without this talent, instead you should be laning or with your team.
When Artanis is with the team, you are looking to maximize the utility of swaps. This can involve bringing someone into the team or peeling a flank from a fragile backliner. The one major weakness of Artanis’ kit is his lack of disengage. Once you go into a fight, unless some other hero on your team offers an escape mechanic for you, you’re in that fight until you win, die, or the enemy team disengages from you. It is almost never the correct decision to stop attacking as Artanis once a fight has started because you are far more likely to survive if you keep attacking to reset your trait. It is therefore critical that you pick your swaps, engages, and follow ups to whatever the tank is doing very wisely.
Your high damage is also always an asset in focusing down a target. Don’t focus solely on using the swap mechanic as a long range pick tool; think about the various ways you can use it to isolate valuable targets, disable enemies, or setup combos on the enemy team. For instance, if you’re flanking you can displace the healer away from the focus target to make it easier for your team to burn them down. Long range swaps are good, but they are not the only, or even primary, utility Artanis represents in a fight.
Artanis’ one major weakness is that he completely lacks a consistent disengage. Any hero who could give him that would be, far and away, his best partner. Medivh has portals. Swaps are annoying enough for the enemy team, but swapping and then using a portal to safety is even more so. Plus Force of Will buffering for shield resets is very hard to deal with. Artanis may be the single strongest pairing with Medivh in the entire game. Unfortunately the duo is relatively difficult to pull off without good communication, so is unlikely to work in QM/UD/HL environment. But single handedly fixing a hero’s largest weakness has to be noted.
Other strong pairings include any heroes who can reliably follow up swaps with crowd control, such as Malfurion with roots. Chen, Anub’Arak, and Tyrael really work well with him in that regard if they are otherwise appropriate for the draft. Because of the swap mechanic, Artanis is very good at forcing fights in a specific area that can be set up beforehand. Heroes like Jaina, Sgt. Hammer, Misha, Xul, and even Gazlowe really appreciate that.
Artanis usually needs a lot of babysitting from his support because he can often get into a lot of trouble in fights. Tanks with high self-sustain or mobility that allow the support to give Artanis that babysitting pair well with him. Tyrael, Dehaka, Zarya, Arthas, etc. However, due to his own burst mitigation in the form of Shield Overload, the major weakness of certain supports not providing burst healing doesn’t matter as much to an Artanis as it does to other bruisers, so utility supports pair very well with him: Malfurion, Tyrande, or Kharazim.
Medivh. Even though this is listed for strong with, that assumes communication and a high level of coordination. In a less coordinated environment, the chaos of portals plus swaps is a headache for both teams. For a very similar reason, lots of heroes with playmaking heroics that can be fumbled by a mistimed swap are usually very poor pairs with Artanis, such as Zeratul, Leoric, Li-Ming, Alarak, Diablo, Chromie, Varian, or Nova. Not only do most of these heroes often want to keep their distance but their heroics usually require careful placement for maximum impact that you can fudge just by going after the same opportunity at the same time.
Any relatively immobile hero is the easiest possible swap target for Artanis. If they are also relatively fragile and can be erased immediately after the swap, so much the better. Raynor falls nicely into this category, Zagara off creep, and Sgt. Hammer. Medivh being swapped away from a portal is a death sentence. On the sturdier but still immobile side you have heroes like Stitches, Alarak, Arthas, and Thrall. Understanding which heroes have limited mobility options are important to drafting Artanis. Additionally, all auto attack heroes can be negated for 4 seconds in team fights with Suppression Pulse (10), which is always going to be a consideration.
Mobile heroes that can easily dodge swaps or have such a long range they can position in such a way that you simply cannot get to them. Nazeebo is an interesting case that basically goes from immobile easy swap to nigh impossible to get to if he goes Things of the Deep at 1 to increase the range on all his abilities. It gives you an idea of how narrow the window Artanis works with is. Heroes who want an isolated target to blow up are difficult because Artanis gives them that for free. Swapping into a Kharazim with Seven Sided Strike is not a good idea and just by that possibility existing on the enemy team, Artanis becomes severely limited in his playmaking options. Point-and-click stuns, such as Varian’s or Diablo’s, or wide area displacements like E.T.C.’s Face Melt (especially with Loud Speakers) destroy Artanis as they can interrupt Q and leave you over extended.
The Default: This talent is usually the default pick just because of how strong it is and at best other talents at this tier are only situationally better.
Niche/Situational: One of the most common questions I get asked is when do you take certain less picked talents. They often have uses but the uses are specific to either comps or maps. These are those talents.
Must be Paired with Other talents: Often there are certain talents that, by themselves, are not very impressive but synergize so well with other talents that if you plan on taking the other talent, you should take the talents that pair well with it.
Trap: Trap Talents are either actively bad or, more usually, simply so much worse than competing talents at the same tier it doesn’t make sense to ever take them.
Fun: This can be a little bit of a personal thing, but I’m going to label the talents I personally consider fun even if they are not actually worth taking in real games.
- Suppression Pulse: A global 4 second large area blind can range from a nice bonus to devastating, depending on the enemy team composition. Certain heroes depend on their auto attack synergy, like Taz’Dingo Zul’jin, and this negates them completely. But even outside of that, almost every hero in the game has a decent auto attack. Negating that much damage is huge in team fights and it gives you a really good save mechanic when you execute a dangerous swap to secure a kill for your team. Just immediately Alt-R yourself after you’re in the middle of the enemy team and it’ll be much harder to kill you. The global area nature is also extremely useful on maps like BoE for denying the Immortal race to the enemy team, delaying objectives on Cursed or ToD if needed, etc.
- Purifier Beam: Primarily useful if your team has a massive slow against a low mobility hero. Meaning a hero who has no increased movement or blink abilities and there isn’t anyone on the enemy team who can increase movement. If you can get a good slow off, this should just kill most heroes. You have a decent slow potentially in your own kit with Warp Sickness (7). The timing is tricky because you must cast Purifier Beam, then use E to swap, so the laser actually starts pulsing on them immediately after the swap. This is a situation where using just E by itself is going to be much more reliable. Chromie, Gul’dan, Jaina, and Kael’Thas are very good targets if you can get to them. Remember that is also does area damage, so the double swap that forces the two targets together (Graviton Vortex, 13) means you can effectively talent to potentially kill two heroes with the combo.
- Reactive Parry: This mitigates some damage to allow for a bigger breather between shields, but the increased margin is very narrow and when positioned well Artanis already has top tier survivability. If you are the solo laner, this can be very helpful in winning the lane against certain heroes, such as Thrall, but it usually isn’t necessary with careful play.
- Amateur Opponent: Ridiculously strong talent. It single-handedly made Artanis part of the Chinese meta on BoE even before his rework. On any map where there is a PvE objective, you should almost always take this. Tomb, Shrines, BoE, Garden, Blackheart’s, and Haunted Mines. It also allows him to solo mercenary camps efficiently.
- Seasoned Marksmen: Not only does this increase damage, the increased attack speed adds to your survivability by resetting Shield Overload’s cooldown faster. Try to use it as your shield has been triggered and you are trying to reset the cooldown in a team fight. On any map where you don’t take Amateur but are laning consistently, the value of this will add up quickly.
- Shield Surge: The only risk with this talent is sometimes it doesn’t do anything, such as if your shield goes off above 25% and then you die before you can achieve a reset. But nearly doubling the shield at low health is amazingly good, especially once you get good at managing all the tools you have to reset the cooldown.
- Shield Battery: The cooldown reduction sounds nice, but adds up to almost nothing if you do the math unless you get the full duration, which is unusual. The increased duration is almost always irrelevant. The only niche scenario where this gets value if is you’re against a heavy ability damage team and you take Phase Bulwark (13) to increase the value of each shield. However, if for some reason you are constantly dueling a single opponent all game long, most heroes don’t have enough damage to burst through your shield and suddenly this is quite strong. Similarly, if your team is running a deletion comp where you go in to kill just one person consistently, your shield won’t get bursted through. These scenarios are pretty unusual for Artanis, but they can exist. It does also slightly reduce the amount of real hp damage you take if you are soloing merc camps with Amateur Opponent (1), but that is probably only a valuable consideration on Blackheart’s.
- Psionic Synergy: Not normally a good talent, but against heavy melee teams, or against heroes that add additional bodies like Samuro, The Lost Vikings, etc., you can sometimes get a full shield reduction with one Q. This is 8 seconds per hero if you get them going both ways, so 3 heroes is a full reset on Shield Overload. Also because every version of the swap combo uses Q and E together, you will get a Q cooldown reduction every swap. With Graviton Vortex (13) swapping two targets plus this talent, you get 8 seconds of cooldown per swap. Artanis is a hero built around small margins of survivability and with the right talents, in the right situation, this is the best talent at this tier for increasing that margin.
- Solarite Reaper: This is best thought of as a wave clear talent. Technically it adds some chase damage, but that is not a great reason to take it. While it isn’t ideal for Artanis to be clearing waves and certainly doesn’t synergize with Seasoned Marksmen (1), sometimes your comp is low on wave clear or you’re often alone in lane going into the mid-late game on a map like Dragon Shire and you just need wave clear.
- Follow Through: The short cooldown on W and the burst from a gap closing swap combo Q > E > Auto > W > Auto is fairly nice. Also adds race to objectives like BoE.
- Warp Sickness: This talent gives your team more time to react to swaps. That value cannot be overstated, particularly in games without comms like QM/UD/HL. A hero who gets swapped when your team isn’t paying attention can get sometimes just walk out; a hero who gets swapped and is slowed is going to die basically every time you execute the swap so they land near your team. Also as mentioned in the Purifier Beam (10) section, the combination can give you solo kill potential on basically a significant portion of heroes in the game.
- Chrono Surge: Adds 2.5 extra attacks over the duration, assuming you get them all off. It is much more difficult to stutter step your attacks with the increased attack speed but this is another talent that can increase both Artanis’ damage and survivability because of the way it interacts with his trait. This should primarily be used if you are going to be using the swap combo primarily as a gap closer, as opposed to hook swapping,which is fairly unusual.
- Templar’s Zeal: Compared to the playmaking potential, trait reset potential, or burst mitigation potential of other talents at this tier this simply does not do enough to be justified. It isn’t necessarily that the talent is bad, it just pales in comparison to every other talent at this tier in terms of opening up options for Artanis.
- Triple Strike: Adding a third hit to your W but increasing the cooldown by 1 second is a difficult thing to evaluate just with numbers because W is also your mobility. Is 4 additional seconds of cooldown reduction on Shield Overload per W worth the 1 second on your gap closer against a mobile target? Is it more damage with Amateur Opponent (1)? Over how long a time window? The answer is that it adds, against a stationary target, about 30 dps at level 20 over baseline W, but that extra second on your gap closer is likely to make you miss at least one auto against a target that is running away, which is almost certainly not worth giving up mobility for. With talents like Amateur Opponent (1), Seasoned Marksmen (1), and Titan Killer (16) giving you extra perks for each strike, it is certainly worth it if those talents are correct for the map and composition you’re dealing with. But it also has anti-synergy with talents like Reactive Parry (1), Follow Through (7), Psionic Wound (16), and Zealot Charge (16). Taking any of those with this is almost never a good idea.
- Graviton Vortex: Lower cooldown on swap means more opportunities to make plays and shorter windows where the enemy team can feel safe. Swapping two targets not only doubles the chances of securing free kills but drastically increases your own chances of survival since you’re dealing with a temporary 1v3 worst case instead of a 1v4.
- Phase Bulwark: Against heroes you would normally struggle against because of poke, like Li-Ming, this makes you nearly invulnerable. That said, compared to the other talents at this tier, this talent doesn’t dramatically up your playmaking potential and normally Artanis has enough survivability when played well in almost all cases. This will primarily shine in coordinated environments when Artanis is drafted to play aggressively and “trade up” in terms of cooldowns and kills. That simply doesn’t happen in QM/UD/HL.
- Zealot Charge: The increased range is huge. Not only does it increase your personal safety late game by allowing you to W back to your target after a swap, negating one of the major weaknesses of hook swaps, but the chase potential and mobility during fights is enormous.
- Titan Killer: Without Triple Strike (13) this is just a decent add-on that doesn’t really compare favorably when compared to Zealot Charge (mobility) or Psionic Wound (vulnerability). But with Triple Strike you are suddenly chunking any hero for a huge portion of their health pool (6% of their base health, plus the auto value). After the nerf this usually isn’t as good as other options at this tier even with the synergy, but against double tank compositions where swaps are less likely to secure value the combo of Triple Strike and this is going to help you wear down the front line.
- Psionic Wound: In the unlikely event that everyone on your team consistently focuses the same target in teamfights this is, far and away, the strongest option at this tier regardless of build or team composition. Artanis himself derives very little benefit from it because it applies after the last strike of W, so you are completely dependent on your team to make this a worthwhile talent.
- Plasma Burn: With shields up, which is not a constant even if you optimize for it in your talents, this adds 120 area DPS at level 20. There is probably a scenario against a sustained damage over time team, on a map like Infernal Shrines, where the value of this talent could add up quickly. However, this is generally too specific to be useful.
- Orbital Bombardment: Having two charges of Suppression Pulse is very strong. Two 4-second blinds over a 14 second period is a huge amount of negated damage and the global nature means you can hold a charge in the late game on certain maps for scouting or objective denial while still having your heroic available for a team fight.
- Target Purified: Just as the range of Purifier Beam is global, so is the reset on Target Purified. As long as you can see a member of the enemy team anywhere on the mini map, they will be targeted. This is particularly hilarious against The Lost Vikings, especially if they take Viking Long Boat because the boat counts as a “kill.” Then each Viking comes out of it and also dies: pop, pop, pop. There probably are a few niche scenarios where this talent is more than just a fun pick up, but who cares? Because the resets are hilarious.
- Force of Will: There are situations where Artanis is drafted for his ability to take a lot of punishment and be in the face of the enemy team while his team actually secures kills, allowing his team to trade multiple cooldowns used on Artanis for the lives of heroes on the enemy team. This facilitates that in drawn out late game team fights, but as noted with Phase Bulwark (13) this is rarely a winning strategy in an uncoordinated environment.
- Nexus Blades: The damage is a great bonus, but really the slow is why this talent is so strong. A slowed hero can’t run away. If they can’t run away then you always have a target to auto with proper stutter stepping and use of W. This does double duty increasing both your survivability and your damage in the late game.
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