Tyrael is an angel of Justice by day and a playboy who orders Scotch with ‘Just Ice’ at night. Tyrael really feels like a divine being in Heroes of the Storm. From his kit that enables others to his floating, rather than walking animation, and his ability to call down holy judgement on the enemy. He is also deceptively difficult to play and in a way epitomizes the idea of Heroes of the Storm; very focused on the experience of playing as a team. If that appeals to you, it might be time to try on some wings.
Roles that Hero Can Fill:
Tyrael is strictly a tank; he can’t really fill the bruiser role. That said, his kit almost lends itself to being that of a support, rather than a tank, and to a large degree he tanks by enabling his team rather than disabling the enemy team. Understanding his dynamic is essential to playing as, and with, Tyrael.
- Q; El’Druin’s Might: A moderate damage ranged ability that slows by 25% for 2.5 seconds. After you use it you have 6 seconds to reactivate to teleport to the target location, re-slowing any adjacent enemies. This is Tyrael’s engage, disengage, and poke mechanic all rolled into one. The flexibility here is enormous. You can Q backwards, then be aggressive with movement speed from E and disengage with re-Q. You can poke with Q and the sword being there automatically threatens a re-engage. Tyrael is a highly mobile tank and correct use of this ability is a huge part of that. Whenever you are using the teleport, you have to remember there is an animation time on the sword traveling before you can hit Q again.
- W; Righteousness: A decent sized self-shield and a small shield for all adjacent allies. This is part of what makes Tyrael a support-y tank. Use it for self-sustain, use it when you are peeling for an ally, and depending on talents it can have other uses as well.
- E; Smite: A medium damage area ability that leaves behind an area of marked ground. You and your allies receive a 25% speed increase for 2 seconds when walking over the area. This is a huge part of what allows Tyrael to peel. Q to a target who is on a squishy member of your team, that target is slowed. E the ground and your ally is effectively moving 60% faster than the enemy that is on him, easily allowing for a disengage. The speed increase is the most important part of this ability and learning to use it for peeling, chasing, engaging, disengaging, and such is a huge part of playing Tyrael well.
- Trait: Archangel’s Wrath: Dying turns you into a bomb with a short fuse. This can be used to finish low health heroes, particularly with the right talents, but ideally you don’t want to die. Sometimes, however, intentionally dying in a close team fight is the right decision and you should always be looking at how tightly the enemy team is grouped and how low their health is. If you are ahead in levels, dying to trade is usually never worth it. It is always worth it when you are behind in levels.
Every map but Dragon Shire is strong for Tyrael. Because he functions so much as an enabler, the more he is with his team, the better he is, and Shire doesn’t allow for that in many cases unless your team can do a strong four-man rotation. Of the remaining maps, Cursed is his strongest because of his strengths on boss fights.
During the laning phase of the game, Tyrael is amazing at poking in lane with Q and breaking rotations. He lacks hard CC for strong gank potential but his ability to manipulate speed and body block is strong enough to kill anyone who overextends in lane with some help from his team. Ideally he wants to be protecting the rotations of his team and be a mobile ward. On bigger maps where rotations are harder, or if he is part of a double tank composition and the other tank has more gank potential, he can hold down a lane.
In team fights, Tyrael can poke for a long time until someone over extends. Between Q and W, he has a lot of threatening poke and a lot of sustain to wait for that perfect opportunity. If the enemy dives his back line, he wants to immediately Q into E to peel for them. Look for big damage combos on the enemy team that you can deny with Sanctification, be it defensively or to deny the counter initiate if you’re supporting a dive team.
Tyrael shines when he can enable high damage melee heroes: Greymane, The Butcher, Xul, and Kerrigan are all strong examples. In double warrior comps he pairs well with lower mobility but high damage heroes like Arthas, Rexxar, Diablo, and Stitches. He can be an anti-dive tank because of Sanctification and often drafting him that way is a good option as it denies him to the enemy team. The appeal is the ability to deny the dive with Sanctification and disengage with Q, E, and, later on, Holy Ground on Q and Imposing Will on W. The problem is the counter initiate usually has to secure a kill, which means your team not only has to coordinate on standing in one safe spot, but also focusing the same target.
Sanctification giving burst mitigation enables all the utility healers, including Lúcio, plus there is no such thing as to much movement speed which is often underestimated in HotS. Movement speed negates damage from immobile heroes like Zarya and Ragnaros, and gives them damage by allowing them to be in position faster. It also gives them a strong disengage option. Any immobile hero is better with Tyrael.
Not strong with heavy poke comps: Chromie, Azmodan, Sgt. Hammer, Nazeebo, or similar heroes. He doesn’t do anything to really enable these heroes and they usually require their tank to have hard CC, which Tyrael lacks.
Wombo combos, melee damage dealers, and heroes that are weak to dive like Chromie and Lt. Morales. Sanctification timed well can deny any combo in the game for your whole team with good positioning. His high mobility and tools to avoid getting punished make going into the back line, and supporting any heroes who also dive the back line, very easy.
Tyrael suffers against heroes with multiple forms of disruption. Sanctification is only really strong if your team is grouped, but things like Devouring Maw on Zagara or Wandering Keg on Chen can punish grouping or spread your team in a highly unfavorable way. He struggles against Li Ming unless you can consistently dodge all her poke, and he has very few ways to deal with a good Cho’Gall, though Sanctification negating either of Gall’s Heroics is a notable advantage. At a high level of play Zeratul’s Void Prison can negate the value of Sanctification and it becomes a game of chicken to see who will use their heroic first, but in less coordinated environments the impact isn’t as big.
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.
- Sanctification: A 0.5 second cast time to make an area invulnerable. Words almost fail me at how good this Heroic can be and, for me, ranks as one of the top five Heroics in the game. Outside of some eraser style comps, which require a lot of practice and coordination, this is the heroic you take every time. I wish there was a simple check list of tips I could give to learn how to time Sanctification, but it is just extremely difficult and requires a lot of practice. The key to good Sanctifications is to think like a support player. Try and use it as an enabler for your team to stay in a fight and turn it decisively in your favor.
- Judgement: Compared to Sanctification, this Heroic is very lackluster. It does low damage and has a huge warning for the enemy team built-in to it. The only reason it is viable is because Cleanse cannot be self-cast. Heroes like Greymane, Hunt Illidan, Smash Ragnaros, and Tracer, especially Tracer, have the ability to dive the support with Tyrael. Taking out the support instantly at the start of a team fight is a team fight you should always win. If the enemy team did not or cannot take Cleanse, and they have an exceptionally squishy or critical back line target, then the value goes up, but the key remains that your team can follow up. Tyrael isn’t doing anything on his own. Uther and Auriel both shut this idea down completely and you essentially end up trading Heroics, which can be worthwhile, especially post-20 when your CD can be as low as 30 seconds.
- Even In Death: The ability to use your high mobility after you die to guarantee the value on your explosion, which is now better, is actually huge and will often be clutch in turning close team fights. Tyrael played well basically never has to die, but sometimes dying to trade for a higher value target or multiple low health enemies is the right choice. All non-damaging talents work with the abilities you can use while dead including Holy Ground (16), which to a degree has some anti-synergy with this talent.
- Regeneration Master: Shields increase the value of regen and you have a decent one in your base kit, plus the extra health. With the exception of BoE, this will always be a high value talent, but it does very little to enable Tyrael as a play maker, which he absolutely is.
- Protection In Death: This is sometimes taken in “protect the Greymane” compositions. The shield is enormous late game because Greymane’s health scales at 4.5%. That said, I don’t think this talent is ever worth taking because the best case scenarios for it, multiple tanks or Cho’Gall, are ones where Tyrael shouldn’t be dying, but it could be good very situationally so I am not labeling it a strict trap.
- Purge Evil: On duel-centric maps, like Dragon Shire, where Tyrael is simply not going to be with his team constantly, this is the talent of choice because it gives him some kill potential outside dying to trade. Also in double or triple tank, or otherwise relatively low damage, compositions it adds some damage that is usually needed. But the real power here is along with Reciprocate (7) it gives him solo kill potential on any fragile back liner, whom he can always get to to with his kit.
- Horadric Reforging: All of Tyrael’s repositioning and poke is wrapped up in his Q. Having his Q up more often, particularly on maps with lots of choke points like Towers of Doom and Cursed Hollow where poke is more valuable for interrupting already, is amazingly good and synergizes well with Holy Ground (16). If you don’t plan on taking Holy Ground, or aren’t on a map where interrupts are critical, this loses a lot of value. After the latest changes this is even better. In the competitive scene I expect this talent to become the default, but to due the difficulty of getting consistent value out of it I am keeping the situational label.
- Swift Retribution: This helps increase the mobility of you and your allies, which can be a huge deal for enabling low mobility melee heroes, like Xul and Arthas, or increasing the chase and dive potential against highly mobile back lines like Li Ming. Now also technically faster than mount speed and at a high level of play the mobility increase can outright win you games.
- Vigorous Strike: Your auto attack is really bad for a warrior and you are giving up some of the top talents in his entire kit for this.
- Angel’s Grace: The chase and body blocking potential this gives Tyrael, particularly with Horadric Reforging (4), is very high. If your team doesn’t need any additional wave clear and you are going to have to chase down highly mobile heroes, it is very strong. Speed is often underestimated in HotS, but since everyone has the same base movement speed the increase is very valuable.
- Reciprocate: The fact that the explosion activates only after the shield is broken or wears off is kind of awkward, but it offers wave clear and a little bit of extra damage in team fights. Even after the nerf, all the other talents at this tier are so lackluster that this is still the default.
- Zealotry: Righteousness’ shield isn’t big enough that increased duration is every likely to matter. So this reduces the CD by 2 seconds. That is pretty lackluster for a 7 tier talent, especially by comparison to adding wave clear, which is always going to have an impact. Even though it has some synergy with Tyrael’s most dominant talent, Imposing Will (13), it just isn’t strong enough to justify taking.
- Follow Through: It is nice when you can evaluate the value of a talent just through math. It takes six AAs with Follow Through to do more damage than one Reciprocate. Given that you can only activate Follow Through five times in one rotation of abilities, which involves both uses of Q as well as your heroic, Reciprocate will always do more damage when trying to burst down a single target. It’s also area of effect, which in itself has utility, and provides waveclear. There is no reason to ever take this talent over Reciprocate.
- Imposing Will: It is debatable if any other talent on this tier is ever worth taking when set beside this one. Any damage to you while W is up triggers it and it is an attack and movement speed slow. If Chain Lightning from Thrall bounces to you and the squishy he is trying to collapse on is suddenly completely safe. You stand in a Phoenix and the disengaging Kael’Thas suddenly doesn’t get away and dies. The trick to using this talent is to try and take splash damage on purpose every time you W so it is constantly triggering on the enemy team.
- Burning Rage: Wave clear is very valuable, particularly on some maps, and in uncoordinated play this can help make up for people missing soak, but in any coordinated game it shouldn’t ever be better than Imposing Will.
- Angelic Absorption: This actually used to be even more of a trap then it is now. It used to be that the heal over time didn’t refresh at all, so in practice it only ever triggered once per shield. Even with Amplify Healing, it simply didn’t heal for enough to matter and didn’t usually heal for more than the damage that the attack and movement speed slow on Imposing Will would have prevented. Now each instance of damage will refresh the stack, making it slightly better, but still not better than Imposing Will because that talent helps your whole team when played correctly while this one only ever helps Tyrael, who is a team-centric hero who sometimes wants to die. I will say that in a highly selfish style of build this may be a viable talent, but Tyrael is inherently not a selfish hero.
- Angelic Might: When the level 4 talent that reduced Smite’s CD per target hit existed, this kind of had some high damage potential. Without that, this doesn’t really do anything at all.
- Blade of Justice: The speed of the attack animation is hilarious and almost worth taking just for that, but sadly Tyrael’s AAs aren’t very good. Making them faster does very little to make them better and the other talents at this tier are terrifyingly good. Though it should be noted this is technically more damage than Blood for Blood against all but a few heroes, but it lacks the burst and the sustain aspect.
- Holy Ground: You can guarantee capture point steals, including bosses, make choke points into dead ends, deny disengages or chases, and make poke Qs even more threatening. There really isn’t much about Tyrael this doesn’t improve, though in some ways it does alter the ways in which you use your Q. Positioning it correctly becomes a lot of about looking for chokes, looking for even slightly over extended heroes, thinking about where fights might go and pre-Q an area to immediately get back to that location. Even just the simple fact that any corner can become a box to trap an enemy if you position it perfectly. It makes throwing Q directly on top of an ally being attacked by a melee hero even better, as it immediately creates space in addition to the slow.
- Salvation: In the best case this almost more than doubles the shield from Righteousness. In practice it rarely gets that value and it only increases Tyrael’s shield, not that of his allies. In a focus fire situation where Tyrael is getting bursted out, Blood for Blood is a better talent and in a situation where he is not getting bursted he can disengage. In addition to that, the most consistent value is in a heavy melee comp, but Holy Ground’s ability to force engages is critical for heavy melee comps.
- Blood for Blood: In higher level games where focus fire is very strong, this talent is often mandatory purely for survivability and it gives Tyrael a burst ability to aid his team’s focus fire. Additionally, Holy Ground also doesn’t get as much value unless it forces boss steals simply due to better positioning, so this starts to edge it out. We often see it in the Korean and Chinese pro games as a result.
- Angel of Justice: If you went Judgment, you did it for a blow up comp, and this makes that happen more often and from much greater range. There are also late game cooldowns that can deny the full combo from your team. If you can bait them out, disengage, and then wait for the 30 seconds while Judgement comes back up, you can set your team up for a guaranteed kill. Mostly, this talent is incredibly fun though, but it won’t be better than Hardened Shield in most situations.
- Holy Arena: The most valuable thing you’ll ever do with Holy Arena is end the game while on core in a fight you otherwise would’ve lost, and it will be epic. Realistically, it is usually worse than Hardened Shield, but it has niche uses, such as all melee comps that can somehow force the fight on top a Sanctification.
- Hardened Shield: Ridiculously strong survival talent. As a tank sponging damage is often your job and in the late game damage gets pretty insane.
- Nexus Blades: Tyrael has a really poor AA for a tank. Increasing something that is bad is rarely worthwhile. This is basically only worth taking if you just aced the enemy team, got 20, Sanctification is on CD, and you’re going core to end the game.