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Math of the Storm: Patch 28.3

Hi there, ChaosOS again. Today’s article is going over the Muradin and Zul’jin reworks found in patch 28.3, the Junkrat release patch. Patch notes can be found here.

The spreadsheet for changes can be found here.

Undocumented Changes

Before discussing the actual reworks, it’s important to highlight some undocumented changes in the patch (Courtesy of HeroesPatchNotes.com)

  1. (Not technically undocumented, but misleading) Headhunter provides additional spellpower in addition to basic attack damage.

  2. Let the Killing Begin gives 40% attack speed at max stacks but requires 8 stacks at 5% per stack rather than 5 stacks at 6% per stack. Hero kills continue to give max stacks instantly.

  3. Buzzsaw was buffed from 50% damage to 75%

  4. Muradin’s new Unstoppable Force actually gives 0.75s of CDR rather than the listed 0.5s

 

Zul’jin

Baseline Quest and How Things Stack 

The new baseline quest for Zul’jin comes at the cost of a 13.5% base damage nerf. To break even, Zul’jin baseline needs 70 stacks of You Want Axe. By level 20, the break point grows to 153.4 stacks.

Base damage * (Berserker + Grevious Throw + Headhunter) 

“You Want Axe” stats are directly added to Zul’jin’s base damage and are properly multiplied by various damage increases and decreases. His trait (Berserker) and Q (Grievous Throw) stack additively for a 1.75x multiplier on Zul’jin’s basic attacks.

Level 1

TL;DR Boneslicer best damage, Headhunter AA range adds massive amounts of safety, Recklessness may be good for W build

Boneslicer mitigates the mana cost of Grievous Throw and enables later Grievous Throw talents. Each AA beyond the first three adds 45+ dmg (depending on how many stacks of his baseline quest). It also minorly improves waveclear by dealing 125 damage to whole wave.

Headhunter’s reward was completely reworked from the weak active reveal to an impressive attack buff. The buff caps at +10% AA damage and spellpower, which is less damage added than Boneslicer if Zul’jin attacks a marked target at least 4 times, but the range is incredibly valuable and the primary reason to pick Headhunter. An attack range increase from 5.5m to 6.6m increases Zul’jins threat area (the area that is within his AA range) by 44%m while increasing his range from 6.6m to 7.7m increases threat area by 36%. The added spellpower is worth 12.5 damage per Q, 11.2 per W (22.4 with double hit, 44.8 with quad hit), and increases the healing on Regeneration from 30% to 33% of Zul’jins HP. The weakness of Headhunter comes from the reliance on completing the quest, which is of extremely variable difficulty and entirely contingent on the nature of each team’s composition. 

Recklessness provides a +10% increase to AA damage, which is competitive with Headhunter. The +20% Spellpower adds 25 damage per Q, 22.4 damage per W (44.8 with double hit, 89.6 with quad hit), and between +140 and +280 damage to Guillotine (from 50% to .01% HP).

Level 4 

TL;DR Amani Rage allows lots of tricks, Voodoo Shuffle otherwise valuable for the cleanse

Troll’s Blood increases Regeneration’s total healing from 30% to 37.5% of Zul’jins max HP, or 585.3 HP to 731.625 HP. Each tick increases from 6% to 7.5%. The mana restore is worth 29+1 mana per level, a ~45% to ~70% mana cost reduction based on level.

Amani Rage is a powerful talent thanks to its synergy with Zul’jin’s passive.  The HoT effect restores 1/6th of the sacrificed HP every second, while the armor increases Effective HP by 11% while regenerating. This means that despite Amani Rage sacrificing 50% of Zul’jin’s current HP, he only loses 45% of his current eHP. Furthermore, because every point of armor is worth more than the last, this talent heavily synergizes with any allied hero that can grant armor.

Voodoo Shuffle reduces the cooldown on Regeneration to 10s and the mana cost to 50. Picking this talent gives an active Cleanse for roots and slows that is available every 30 seconds. Voodoo Shuffle does higher healing-per-second than Troll’s Blood, but Troll’s Blood wins in total healing and mana efficiency per cast. Zul’jin does not ordinarily have mana problems in “real” team compositions, but Troll’s Blood may be preferable in QM games without proper healers.

Level 7

TL;DR Based on level 1. Vicious Assault goes with Boneslicer, Ferocity with Headhunter, and Arcanite Axes with Recklessness.

Vicious Assault increases the added damage on Grievous Throw from 50% to 80%, adding a total of 90% AD across 3 procs. This talent synergizes heavily with Boneslicer for a (mostly) permanent 30% AD bonus and overtakes Ferocity given the unlimited quantity of Grievous Throw procs. 

Arcanite Axes is the core talent for W build. The 20% reduced cooldown returns Twin Cleave to its pre-patch cooldown, while the uncapped quest adds 1.5 damage per stack per full revolution of the axes (or 1.8 damage while below 50% if Recklessness was selected at level 1). Returns on the quest will vary per game, making it impossible to directly compare this talent to the AD-oriented talents on this tier.

Ferocity provides up to to 35% attack speed at minimum HP, which synergizes most with Taz’dingo at level 10. However, if Boneslicer was selected at level 1, Vicious Assault will always provide more damage than Ferocity against a target hit by Grievous Throw and doesn’t impair Zul’jin’s ability to stutter step. 

Level 13

TL;DR Ensnare is powerful if ZJ can outrange, elsewise Lacerate

Eye of Zul’jin adds up to 30% movement speed after 10 basic attacks. It’s primary weakness is that throwing 10 basic attacks can be extremely difficult; even at low HP values with high attack speed, that is 3 to 5 seconds of pure basic attacks. The 2 second duration furthermore makes it extremely difficult for Zul’jin to maintain stacks without fully committing to a fight, making this a relatively unwieldy talent.

Lacerate doubles the slow from each axe, which upgrades one hit from 15% to 30% and two hits from 30% to 60%. Assuming the double hit, this works out to an upgrade from a total of 60% slow to 120% every 10 seconds (8 with Arcanite Axes), which takes away an additional ~2.64m of movement. This talent becomes even more powerful with Zul’jin’s baseline quest completion, as the second round trip of axes extends this powerful slow. 

Ensnare is a skillshot that imposes a 1.5s root, which takes away ~6.6m of movement. Ensnare is extra powerful when dueling other ranged carries, as Zul’jin’s baseline higher range will let him root them outside of their own basic attack range while keeping them in his. However, the skillshot nature of Ensnare makes it riskier versus enemy dive.

Also, for those curious on the details of Ensnare

Range: 10m

Width: 1.5m

Speed: 25m/s - Travel time: 0.4s

Level 16

TL;DR LtKB if <20 armor, No Mercy! if 20+ armor. WPWT for W build?

Let the Killing Begin is an additive attack speed bonus. This +40% AS adds 0.5 attacks per second at max stacks. The 8 stacks can be difficult to stack up before a fight though, as it requires more than one minion wave to fully stack. 

Wrong Place Wrong Time deals up to 150 damage per revolution to enemies caught by the double impact, which translates to 300 added damage per cast with 150 stacks of baseline quest. This synergizes with Ensnare, as the double impact range matches the max range of ensnare. One important note with regards to Wrong Place Wrong Time is that with the double revolution, Twin Cleave’s origin point also counts as an intersection, making the talent strong against dive. 

Note: The added quest stacks are difficult to evaluate. They come so late in the game, it is unlikely Zul’jin will get too many procs, but it may prove to be a significant amount of added damage in a longer game.

No Mercy! is the primary reason to go Q build, as it represents a massive damage boost vs. heavily armored targets. The breakpoint relative to Let the Killing Begin is 20 armor since ignoring armor is not as useful against low or no armor targets. 

Unfortunately, due to the wording, Zul’jin’s damage will not be increased against negative armor. If the enemy team lacks tanks or supports that utilize armor and Zul’jin is on a team with a hero like Jaina or Sylvanas, it would make significantly more sense to select Let the Killing Begin. Note that the +50% damage from Grievous Throw plus the spell’s impact damage make it optimal to cast Q even against a target with -25 armor.

Level 20

TL;DR All talents are good

Amani Resilience provides potential for massive heals, and the extra second of Taz’dingo (from 4 to 5 seconds) represents 25% longer at maximum DPS and sustainability. This buff, in combination with his baseline quest, make Zul’jin the prefered late game hypercarry from a DPS perspective.

Buzzsaw synergizes best with a particular playstyle of Zul’jin.

  • Pick Guillotine.
  • Go solo a mercenary camp and get dangerously low on health.
  • Throw Guillotine from fog of war and massacre someone with a gigantic 1050 base damage nuke.

The health refresh from Buzzsaw allows Zul’jin to fully participate in any ensuing fight while the actual "buzzsaw” portion provides some free damage (Up to 787.5, or 945 with Recklessness). This talent also synergizes with Amani Rage at level 4. Zul’jin can pop the Rage (increasing the damage Guillotine deals), get the full heal, then benefit from both the heal over time and the extra armor if he is attacked. 

Forest Medicine essentially gives an extra ability in teamfights. Regeneration is an extremely powerful heal, and having access to it in fights helps Zul’jin deal with divers, especially if he did not select Taz’dingo. 

Build Recommendations

There are three clear builds available to Zul’jin that focus on the synergy between his 1, 7, and 16 talents.

Turret Build: Headhunter, Amani Rage, Ferocity, Taz’dingo, Ensnare, Let the Killing Begin, Amani Resilience

Pro: Best build for raw AA DPS, gets 7.7 range with quest completion, makes Taz’dingo hard to run from.

Con: Relies on completing Headhunter, which is not a given. High attack speed is a liability for stutter stepping, extremely vulnerable to blinds etc.

 

Q Build: Boneslicer, Amani Rage or Voodoo Shuffle, Vicious Assault, Guillotine, Lacerate, No Mercy, Forest Medicine

Pro: No Mercy! is absolutely bonkers against any significant amount of armor.

Con: “Only” 6.6 AA range leaves Zul’jin relatively vulnerable.

 

W Build: Recklessness, Amani Rage, Arcanite Axes, Guillotine, Lacerate/Ensnare (Root better if mobility skills, elsewise slow provides consistent value), Wrong Place Wrong Time, Buzzsaw

Pro: Diversifies damage, less vulnerable to blinds/AS slows. Guillotine and Twin Cleave provides a lot of burst similar to Hungering Arrow Valla.

Cons: Less focused on AA damage, relies on maximizing Guillotine value. More skillshot dependent, which can be a liability against mobile heroes like Tracer.

 

Muradin 

Base Changes

Muradin eats a 9.3% basic attack damage nerf in the rework, which is important to remember in the context of later changes to basic attack talents.

The baseline quest requires 25 hits of Storm Bolt, with kills that happen within 3 seconds of Storm Bolt giving 3 bonus stacks. Assuming Muradin hits Storm Bolt on cooldown, starting from the mid engage at 0:15, and does not get any kills from those Storm Bolts, he will complete his baseline quest at 4:25. This is approximately a best case scenario, and realistically Muradin will complete his quest somewhere between 10:00 and 15:00 (~Level 13 and Level 16). An important difference between this baseline quest and others is that it has a definite cap, and so late game Muradin’s will play essentially the same and do not have any incentive to continue farming Q stacks.

The actual quest reward prevents enemy tanks from bodyblocking, and is usefulfor outputting more stuns. Muradin has an attack speed of 1.11, which is an attack period of 0.9s. This approximately drops the CD on Storm Bolt to 5 seconds, assuming continuous AAs.

Muradin’s mana changes make him much easier to manage. A full EQW combo costs 190 mana, down from 240, a 21% decrease. Fishing with Q takes 16.7% less mana, which is especially important given the increased importance of farming Q stacks.

Level 1

Perfect Storm is weaker post-patch, as losing the mana reduction makes this talent weaker by comparison. However, the majority of the decrease (was 60 to 45) was incorporated in the base mana cost change. Thus, this talent should specifically be picked against compositions that offer a lot of opportunities to farm Q stacks, such as a double tank composition.

I’ve written an article on Block already, the point being that it’s a very strong talent in 1v1 solo lanes. It’s also Muradin’s only in-combat durability talent this tier, which makes it valuable against high damage enemy compositions

Third Wind continues to improve Muradin’s bonus passive healing from 53 HPS to 80 HPS, and the “critical healing” from 106 HPS to 153 HPS. This represents between a 16 and 35% faster time to full based on how low Muradin’s HP is, which shaves off up to 14.7 seconds for Muradin’s time to fully regenerate his HP.

Level 4

Sledgehammer quadruples Storm Bolt’s damage against non-heroes, adding 330 damage every 10 seconds and adding 4 ammo drain against structures. This talent also multiplies the bonus from Perfect Storm at level 1, drastically improving Muradin’s PvE, whether that’s merc clear or Immortal racing. 

Reverberation doubles the AS slow on Thunderclap from -25% to -50% and increases the duration from 2.5 to 3.5 seconds. An important fact about this talent (as with any AS slow) is that AS slows are additive with AS buffs, meaning that if the enemy hero has any AS buffs this talent will not translate to a clean 50% damage output decrease.

Thunder Burn adds a secondary thunder clap that deals half damage but applies the same 2.5 second 25% AS and MS slow. This secondary effect can effectively extend the duration of the AS and MS slows from 2.5 seconds to 4.5 seconds. The zone has a radius of 3.7m (larger than Thunderclap’s 3m), so if Muradin positions on the opposite side of the target they will have to run the opposite direction to escape the second proc.

Level 7

Heavy Impact adds a 0.5 second stun to Dwarf Toss. Dwarf Toss has a fairly generous 2m radius, and the 0.5s can be important disruption in a teamfight.

Give ‘em the Axe! adds an additional 44 damage to Muradin’s basic attacks, or 48.4 DPS so long as he can maintain the buff. By himself, Muradin can maintain extremely high uptime by spreading out his CC. Q->wait 1.5s->W alone allows for 7 seconds of uptime without the level 4 bonus duration talents, with Storm Bolt and Thunderclap becoming available in a short 3 or 2.5 seconds respectively.

Skullcracker adds 52.8 damage and stuns for 0.25 seconds every 3rd basic attack (i.e., every 2.7 seconds). This adds ~19.6 DPS to Muradin, a 20% increase. This talent is weaker than Heavy Impact for chain CC, but can provide more consistent and reliable stuns if Muradin needs to interrupt channeled abilities without having to hold Storm Bolt for an interrupt. 

Level 13

Bronzebeard Rage deals 19 damage per second to nearby enemies, which can be doubled for 3 seconds after attacking a CC’d enemy hero. This talent is 17.5% worse at wave clear than the generic Burning Rage, but is 65% stronger in team fights where the “attacking a CC’d target” requirement is relatively easy to meet. 

Healing Static heals Muradin for 5.07% of his max HP per hero hit by Thunderclap, which is 140.2 HP. With Avatar active this improves to 193.6 HP.

Thunder Strike adds 192 damage to Thunder Clap when it hits a single target. This also buffs Thunder Burn’s damage to 96 against a single target.

Level 16

TL;DR Imposing Presence vs AAs, Stoneform Generally, Dwarf Launch with Playmaker at 10. 

Dwarf Launch increases the range of Dwarf Toss by 3.2m, from 8 to 11.2m. Furthermore, it reduces the cooldown from 10s to 7s, which significantly increases the power of “Dwarf Toss in, cast Haymaker, then Dwarf Toss Out” both by increasing the range from which Muradin can initiate but also by giving him an escape plan. This talent minorly synergizes with Heavy Impact at level 7, by giving more casts of Dwarf Toss to stun enemies.

Imposing Presence essentially adds an additional Thunder Clap to Muradin. Imposing Presence has a larger radius (5m vs 3m), heavier AS slow (50% rather than 25%), but a weaker MS slow (20% rather than 25%). The AS slow for heroes and summons that attack Muradin is a ~33% increase to how long it takes to kill Muradin with basic attacks, assuming no other AS modifiers.

Stoneform heals for 829.5 HP over 10 seconds, or 82.95 HP every second. This value improves to 1145.4 during Avatar, which is 114.54 HP every second.

Level 20

Grand Slam increases the damage of Haymaker by 79.75, from 319 to 398.75. Furthermore, it adds a second charge to Haymaker and causes Haymaker to refund its charge if the primary target dies within 3 seconds of being hit by Haymaker

Hardened Shield grants 75 armor for 4 seconds, increasing Muradin’s EHP by 300% for the duration.

Rewind resets the cooldown on all of Muradin’s abilities, allowing him to combo to fully delete a squishy target then leap out with the reset cooldown.

Unstoppable Force now adds 20 armor to Avatar, increasing Muradin’s EHP in Avatar by 25%. This is a 72.6% increase to Muradin’s EHP (Avatar is a 38% increase at base). The “Iron-Forged Momentum” style effect reduces the cooldown of Thunderclap and Dwarf Toss by 0.75 seconds every 0.9 seconds, which is ~83% CDR. This reduces the CD of Thunderclap to 4.25 seconds and the CD of Dwarf Toss to 5.5 seconds (3.75 seconds with Dwarf Launch at 7).

Build Recommendations

“Playmaker” build: Perfect Storm, Thunderburn, Heavy Impact, Haymaker, Thunderstrike, Dwarf Launch, Grand Slam (for bonus memes) or Rewind (for extra burst)

Pros: Significant burst, can full combo the majority of squishies in the game during a nearly 3 second stunlock.

Cons: Sacrifices significant survivability, combo is slow to execute despite stunlocking and can be mitigated either via Cleanse or by a second target to deny Thunderstrike value.

Note: Give ‘em the Axe at 7 is a significant damage upgrade, but makes escaping from the full combo significantly easier compared to Heavy Impact. Given that most of the targets Muradin can one shot are also ones with strong mobility skills, ensuring the stunlock seems more important than a bit of extra damage.

 

Competitive build: Third Wind, Reverberation, Heavy Impact, Avatar, Healing Static (+sustain) or Bronzebeard Rage (+damage/waveclear), Dwarf Launch, Unstoppable Force or Rewind

Pros: Significant durability and CC, difficult to kill.

Cons: Much less damage, making Muradin more reliant on his team’s ability to execute.

Note: Bronzebeard Rage is overall less preferable than Healing Static, but sometimes a draft is so lacking in wave clear that the survivability loss is worth the extra clear.

 

Final Thoughts 

Zul’jin has been significantly buffed. Relative to the old AA build, the new one gains major strengths in either improved range at 7.7 or in the ability to straight ignore armor. “Turret Build” Zul’jin looks to join Butcher and Nazeebo in the pantheon of disgustingly powerful late game carries, as 5 seconds of unkillable combined with extended range allows Zul’jin to eviscerate any team that doesn’t CC him out of the game.

Muradin seems to be about the same. While he did lose a small amount of damage, the baseline quest comes at very few other costs and is a significant buff to his mid/late-game CC. The talent condensations are welcome, given the bloat of dysfunctional talents Muradin suffered from.

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