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Playing For Keeps

by - 6 years ago

After the release of the Guldan patch, many people proclaimed this the Age of the Specialist and predicted a rise in the Split Push Meta. While both of these are true to an extent, I think you could just as easily call this the Age of the Catapult. Taking down a Keep and unlocking Catapults is now a game changing event, which means attacking and defending Keeps is more important than ever.

Prior to the targeting change, destroying a Keep and gaining Catapults gave your team a nice little advantage, but it wasn’t a win condition in and of itself. Now that has all changed. Catapults can definitely be a win condition. What makes the new Catapults so powerful isn’t just the damage they are able to do, which is significant, but how they force the other team to adjust their play. Once a team has Catapults pushing for them they have effectively put the enemy team on a clock counting down to their defeat. The opponent must do something to offset this advantage or they will eventually succumb to the relentless pressure of these Catapults.

Having written Catapult a half dozen times now, I think it is important to stress that all of this centers around destroying a Keep. Taking down a Keep means Catapults, and Catapults mean pressure. Pressure leads to difficult decisions for your enemy, which means more opportunities for your opponents to make a mistake. All of this starts with taking down a Keep. Lets look at some of the forms that this pressure can take.


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The most obvious example of the danger that Catapults pose is their ability to push a lane and take down the Core. It is shocking how fast a Core can drop when multiple waves of Catapults are able to stack up. Once a team unlocks Catapults by destroying a Keep, the enemy must repeatedly spend time clearing that lane or the Catapults will eventually build up and destroy the Core. When a team has Catapults bearing down on them, every decision they make from that point forward is influenced by their need to continually clear minion waves.


Everyone knows how important Objectives are in Heroes of the Storm. It is part of what makes the game so different from other MOBAs.

Depending on which side of the Catapult push you are on, Objectives can either be much easier or much harder to contest. If you are on the side with Catapults, you are free give Objectives your undivided attention. If you are on the side against the Catapults, you have the difficult choice of whether to focus entirely on the Objective or divide your attention and also defend against the minion wave. This constant temptation for the defending team to split focus can often cause them to fall even farther behind. If the team with Catapults notices that the enemy team isn’t going to strongly contest the Objective, it can free them up to focus on other areas of the map. Now in addition to taking the Objective they might also able take a merc camp or push down a Keep in another lane. This can lead to a snowball situation when the offensive team is able to generate threats faster than the enemy team can deal with them.

Team Fights

This is a Hero Brawler after all, so we would be remiss if we didn’t discuss team fights.

Much like Objectives, the fact that the team facing Catapults has to constantly decide between attacking and defending puts them at a distinct disadvantage. The team that loses a Keep is much more likely to find themselves outnumbered in a fight since there is always a chance that someone on their team will decide that they need to go clear the minion wave. Since outnumber team fights are generally losing team fights, this usually means that the defending team will continue to fall farther and farther behind, if they don’t simply lose the game outright. Which brings us to the next subject…

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Shut the Backdoor

Once a team loses a Keep they are at risk of losing the game at any time. Sure Catapults are game changers, but the biggest danger to losing a Keep is that it gives the other team a clear path to victory. Without a Keep to slow them down, the enemy team is always has the potential to end the game in seconds. Any time they win a team fight, there is a chance for them to march right down that lane to victory. Any time they win an Objective, there is a chance to push that lane for the win. Even without something as substantial as winning a team fight or securing an Objective, there is always the potential for a back door push once a Keep is down. The defending team must always be wary of the ever present danger of the enemy team deciding to make a surprise push to end the game. Losing sight of this risk can quickly result in defeat if the defending team is caught off guard and can’t react quickly enough. As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, the Minions themselves can backdoor a team if they get too busy focusing on other areas of the map.


Now What?

Just because you’ve lost a Keep doesn’t mean the game is over. The key is to find a way of offset the advantage that the enemy team now has, and the sooner the better. You do this in much the same way that the enemy team grabbed the advantage in the first place. You take down one of their Keeps, you grab a boss or some mercenaries, you secure an Objective, or you win a team fight. Regardless of the path you chose, it is important to stay aggressive.

Defending, while sometimes necessary, is not going to win you the game by itself. No matter how good your defense is, at some point you have to generate some pressure of your own or you are just extending the amount of time it takes to lose. Keep in mind that while you are defending, your opponents are likely generating more threats for you to defend against. This is how games snowball and it is why it is important that you find a way to do something other than simply react to what they do.

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Because of reasons such as these, a much higher priority should be placed on Keeps in the current game. Being able to take down a Keep gives your team a significant advantage, and conversely losing a Keep can easily dig your team into a hole that they cannot get out of. Times have changed and the late game is no longer just about Objectives and Team Fighting. While these are still major factors in the game, teams must also balance the importance of dealing with the threats that minion waves now pose. There will be times that passing on an Objective or forgoing a team fight is the right choice if it means destroying or defending a Keep. Gone are the days where teams could just ignore minions and mercenaries in the late game and leave it to their Structures to clear the wave.

There are always going to be changes in a game like Heroes, which is why it is important to continually change how you play as well.


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JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been doing Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013. You can hear JR every week talk about Hearthstone on the Well Met Podcast published on iTunes.

One response to “Playing For Keeps”

  1. Tomás Vittino says:

    I never realized catapults started spamming after a keep was destroyed. I might sound very noob, but I never paid any attention to this. Always thought they started spamming after lvl 16 or so.. Mindblown! Great Article!!