Once you understand your roles, and establish the basic idea of your game plan, it is time to look toward other aspect of the game play. There's a few things/styles to keep in mind when establishing a plan for your game play decisions. (Keep in mind on what type of heroes your team have drafted, some heroes are better suited for a certain style than another, hence is why they are prioritized for that specific style)
Macro - Focus mercenaries, manipulating minion waves, and primary focus on pushing down structures rather than team fighting to gain advantages.
Team fight - Building a strong team fighting composition that will be able to win in a straight up 5 vs 5, (or smaller even groups, sometimes might even win down numbers)
Objective - Focused on Objectives of the map, and building a composition that is strong around it. I.e. an AOE composition on infernal shrines to ensure you will get more shrine minions than the enemy team.
A general basis is that (Obviously it’s not set in stone because it will also come down to the composition itself, and how well the teams play around it):
Macro > Team Fights > Objectives > Macro
Macro playstyle can just run a team fighting composition around the map and avoid them
Team fight composition is generally strong in group situations and should be able to kill and push out Objective style compositions
Objective Style compositions can typically hold lanes against macro heavy style compositions, and win through map mechanics
Early Game Brawling
The reason most people start out 5 mid isn’t to brawl and run it down mid, which I see too often in all sorts of games. Teams start out as a group mid because, A) It is fastest location to respond as a group to either lanes if the enemy team push structures, B) Scout for vision for where the enemy team are, and C) attempt to clear out mid waves first so you gain a rotational advantage.
If you know your team composition has nothing to gain from fighting level 1 in the middle, because you either have a lot less wave clear, or your team composition does not win a early trade (on top of the fact that if you have no stacking heroes at level 1), then it might be better to just start in lanes.
Note: Early game deaths aren’t the end of the world if your team dies, however, it is also important to keep in mind that they do not gain you much if you try to over commit a track down on an early game kill. Early game deaths only amount to one minion wave of soak (I think it’s around till level 4 where a minion wave is worth more than a kill in terms of XP), with low death timers, if you aren’t able to deny soak or push down structures, or gain some sort of advantage for over committing for a kill then it is most likely not worth to chase for a kill and miss minion waves.
Wave Clear Priority
The biggest take away from this whole guide, and the best way for players to learn to become better and climb faster would all come down to this one tip. Wave clear priority. Ultimately, the strongest teams and the smartest players will understand how to manipulate waves to their advantage. This gives them EXP advantage over the enemy team, as well as vision control, which may not seem like much but is extremely important in this game. This idea will often be missed in all levels of heroes of the storm, hence it is also why castors, analyst, players, and many others often criticize and promote the idea of wave clear heroes.
There are many ways to manipulate waves, such as freezing and stacking them up, fast clearing, denying enemy rotates, etc. However, the point overall here is that if you are able to clear the waves ahead of the enemy team, then you have more opportunities to trap at least one member of the enemy team, and force a outnumbered fight. The key here is that you always want to force the enemy team to choose, between leaving the wave and missing soak to help their teammates or let your team take the uneven fight and just soak, either way it’s a lose-lose situation for them.
It is also important to remember, if you pushed out the waves and started a fight, and the enemy team responded by ignoring the waves and coming to help their team. You can advice your team just walk away and look for advantages elsewhere (push structures, or camps). They are already losing because they are missing EXP just to be on the safe side to help their teammates, so there is no reason to be blood hungry and force that 5 vs 5, unless you are sure you have talent, cooldown, or pure team composition advantages.
In this case, less is more. If you are able to fast clear waves, and allow enemy teams to have the least amount of vision on where your team is currently positioned, then they will be more scared and wary for invades/ganks/pushes. Hence, if you do not contribute to the wave clear, you might want to consider not showing in the waves, such as hiding in the brush nearby, and provide vision instead if the enemy team is approaching. *Note* - You do not want to be in aggressive bushes as a vulnerable target such as the healer.
If you have vision control in this game, you have a massive amount of advantage, because the enemy team’s movements will be very telegraphed. If the enemy team were to do a sneak rotate under the fact that your team has vision control based on waves, structures, anchoring, etc., then they must rotate in an extremely long manner.
Certain heroes are more vulnerable than others, especially every role differs, but you must understand that every hero, in their role, can be caught out and blown up by the enemy team. The best way to prevent that is to understand when you should use your gap closing ability, and your escape ability (Generally, they are one and the same) For example, a muradin jump, Zeratual blink, or a E.T.C Slide.
As mentioned earlier, Crowd Control abilities are strong in shutting down dives, so you must understand that when you, or your teammates no longer have their CC abilities, it opens up a window for the enemy team. Such as if Muradin stun in down, then the enemy team know if you guys have no other stun abilities, there will be nothing that disrupts any of their cooldowns or anything to lock them down. Thus, it is important to use your abilities with a purpose in mind, rather than just throwing them on cooldown, especially if your abilities does not stack or scale.
The biggest cooldowns to keep in mind is every player’s ultimates. Some ultimates are insanely powerful, and a major key to their ability to team fight. *Note* - Sometimes if you are behind, or even ahead, it is wise to take a fight against the enemy team IF they are down ultimates while your team still have theirs. A level 13 to 15 fight or even a level 11 to 13 fight is not a huge difference if you identify which cooldown are missing and the most crucial to the enemy team’s team fight prowess.
Its seems way too often in Hero league, and previously in my open division days, where I see teams and people just take camps because they are can. However, you want to take mercenaries camp with a purpose, generally it is to create split pressure while your team contest something else (structures, boss, objectives) elsewhere.
Know that if you take your camp too early, too late, or with no purpose, then you will most likely gain nothing off the time wasted to take the camp with the minimal EXP gain from the camp, and it most likely would’ve been more beneficial for you and your team to pushing during that time instead.
A very basic mistake in this in its simplest form would be, teams take camp at 1 minute as it spawns, and just leave the camp (Which generally would just get cleared out by the enemy team with no value). For example; Giants on Cursed Hollow, when the tribute will spawn on the other side. (**It probably be better to cap camp closer to tribute spawning so it creates more pressure)
Always think about what you are doing with the mercenary camp you are taking, and when taking camps you got to make sure that your team is covering every lane of soak, so no EXP is lost. Typically, no more than two people are required for the camp (Generally, it is either the Roamer(Flex) or the main range with the support, but not always) unless you wish to burst out the camp fast and all the lanes are already pushed out.
Sometimes, people are also too obsessed with the idea that you need to create a split camp pressure that it forces them to lose positional and objective advantage. (Most of the time they dont see that, but that's a different matter) For example, if infernal shrine is spawned, or is spawning soon, it is better to arrive at the objective as it spawn to set up positional advantage, rather than giving 15 skulls away just to take a camp. This creates a situation where it is most likely too late for you to contest the objective, because the only way to win the objective at this point, is to force and win a team fight, and zone the enemy team out of the objective. (** Unless the situation is that you are ahead in talent tier advantage that knowing that it will be impossible for the enemy team to contest, OR your team is giving away this objective to begin with and you are planning to split push anyways.)
Remember what the mercenaries camps are meant to do, it is to create pressure on the enemy team. Therefore, at certain moments of the game, such as Dragon Shire when you have both points captured. If the enemy team is playing correctly, it will be incredibly hard to take the Dragon if the enemy team is all alive, and thus trying to force a click can actually put you in a disadvantage position because your team might be picked off in the process. At moments like these, remember to take out mercenaries camps, they are your friends, and it will create pressure so the enemy team will have to clear while you can get an easier capture on objectives such as the Dragon Knight.
Common Hots Jargon
Anchoring - Standing in a nearby bush, ensuring the enemy team is not approaching your teammates nearby, and that they are safe from engagements.
Bursting - Killing the enemy team within one rotations of spells
Chunking - Withering down the enemy team’s Health pool, so that they feel they are too low to step up and engage
Easy - Typically referring to the siege camp, (the easiest camp to take on the map)
Flanking - Looking for engagements onto the enemy team from different angles, generally this means from the back, hench flank
Hards - Typically referring to the bruiser camp
Hovering - Being nearby your team outside of vision so that you are able to respond within moments notice
Hyper-Carry - Generally the one hero that is responsible for dealing damage in an all-out support composition to enable this said hero
As always, thanks for reading and hopefully the content was helpful. It was written over time, and was a rough brainstorm of ideas that I kind of sat on for a while, so thought I should just release it in its rough forms rather than let it sit there and wither away. I appreciate it if everyone can share it, give me feedback, and help promote the community as a whole because I truly believe this game deserves so much more attention when played as a team game.
Also, shout out to Ishb00, Drated, Jhow, DarkChimaera, and LFM's Coach HeroPhysio who help me develop this guide along the way and giving me some inspiration. I have sat on this second part for a while, and I apologize for not releasing it sooner. There are a lot more things I wish to add to this section, and would love feedback from the community, but I will continue to add on to it later on once I have more content in mind.