A lot of problems I see with Alexstrasza is the improper use of her strongest tool: Dragonqueen.
Greetings, my name is Owlbuddy and I'm an Alexstrasza main that plays in Master/Grandmaster every season. My goal here is to try and help up-and-coming Alexstrasza players make the most of the hero's most powerful tool and potentially improve general game-sense as a whole.
First we're going to go over Dragonqueen basics
Basically, Dragonqueen is a long cooldown on her trait that gives Alex access to a set of 3 brand new abilities that are stronger forms of her regular basic abilities. It also gives her an increased health pool, CC reduction, a large conal auto attack that heals allies caught in it, and as an added bonus gives her Cleansing Flame ultimate a near instant cast time.
Keep in mind, it will also make Alex a very noticeable target and greatly increase her hitbox as well.
It will easily change the sway of any teamfight and will give Alex's team a tremendous advantage... provided it's used correctly.
So... when do you use it?You always want to have Dragonqueen up for an objective. It's not an ability that should be used carelessly or over something petty like stealing the enemy teams mercenaries 2 minutes into the game. Dragonqueen only lasts 15 seconds (without any talents) as well, so you need to make the time you have with it count.
To make this easier, I'm going to explain use of her Dragonqueen for each map. I will only be covering the current competitive map pool.
Infernal ShrinesThis is widely considered to be Alexstrasza's best map, and rightly so. The objective is about point control and securing 40 little dudes before the enemy can. Simple and easy and the minion count actually makes remembering to DQ much easier. Your goal will be to convey with your team to show up healthy and ready to rock and roll AS SOON AS THE SHRINE SPAWNS.
You want to get a head start before the enemy team has a chance to set up. Popping DQ too early here can result in the enemy team having time to wait for it to fall off and still having time to either catch up on little dudes or outright capture it before your team can (especially if your team has poor shrine clear or their team has excellent shrine clear).
Once you've secured your lead on little dudes (preferably around the 20-25 little dudes mark) you're going to want to pop DQ. This will almost always secure you the objective. You want to use DQs AAs to cleave the little dudes down while also catching your allies in the cone for the free healing. Always be sure to use your basic W before going into DQ and make sure to use Q off CD while DQ.
If it looks like you will lose the shrine due to someone dying early or showing up too late to the objective, save Dragonqueen to defend the enemy punisher. Remember DQ is also a fantastic defensive tool.
On the other hand, if your team can capture the objective without being contested, such as being up a talent tier or merc pressure in an offlane, then save Dragonqueen for pushing with the punisher. If this is done early game, you can almost always guarantee an early fort and sometimes keep walls. If this is done late game, you can potentially push core to win.
This clip is going to be a bit of a meme, because Linked popped DQ here with absolutely no reason to, but it shows what I just mentioned without the distraction of a teamfight.
He plays way back, waits til there's a healthy lead on little dudes, and then goes DQ to secure it and keep everyone topped off.
In his case popping DQ here isn't as much as a big deal because he has the 20 upgrade to cleansing flame for those wondering. Better to be safer than sorry, and it worked out because LE pushed to win with this punisher.
I see a lot of people go in and try to spam E on little dudes. I usually advise against this as a whole because it's hard to get mana resets, but also because it puts you in harms way. They had no vision of blue team, as a result you want to do the same and play incredibly passive.
Volskaya IndustryThis map is actually very similar to Infernal Shrines. The difference being how much longer on average it takes to cap the point. First point is usually the hardest to gauge when to DQ, mostly because death timers are super short, but you really really want to wait until at least 60%-70% captured. The longer you wait, though, the better. In a best case scenario, you want it rolling while your team is going into overtime. This forces the enemy off the point, long enough to capture it without needing to even kill anyone.
With first point, it is okay to let someone die (provided the enemy team isn't close to capturing the point) and then regroup to push again with dragon to secure it as opposed to popping it super early.
Unfortunately, best case scenarios don't always happen and you may be forced to pop it early. It is much harder to get value out of an early DQ, but really focus on trying to get a pick, and if you can't do that, make sure the team is topped off and healthy enough to go into "Teamfight - Round 2".
Other than that, you play very similarly to how you play on Infernal Shrines.
Dragon ShireI really like Alex on Dragon Shire. You can pull off some cheeky plays with DQ on this map. The best time to use it is to obviously win a skirmish bot/mid lane WHILE you control top lane. If you can get a kill or two at this time, you will almost always guarantee the objective.
Some tricks I like to use, if your team doesn't have amazing kill pressure, is to wait until top lane is held, force a 2 v 4, or 3 v 4 (make sure your tank is bot with you) and send someone mid (usually hidden from the enemy teams sight). Have your tank hold bottom point while the enemy team attempts to go in for a gank, and then pop DQ. They will either continue to try and kill the two of you, which giving the tank's life for Aiur is favorable if it secures the objective (although most of the time your tank can live long enough to cap point AND still escape). Or run away from the scary dragon and give you the free objective without any contesting.
This is harder to pull off if they have a quick rotation to stop mid cap like Genji, Falstad, or Dehaka. If you fail to cap with this method, make sure top lane is totally fine to keep holding because you won't be in the position to take a fight for mid lane control if they secure both shrines.
If you don't feel confident being cheeky, save DQ for big teamfights. These usually happen late game on Dragon Shire though.
As a result in the early game, it is okay to use DQ to steal their siege giants or to pressure bot lane walls if you have bruisers pushing.
Tomb of the Spooder QueenThis map is similar to Dragon Shire, where it is less obvious as to when to teamfight. Usually you want to save it for either pushing with Spiders, or defending against spiders. It depends on how much damage you'll get done pushing to determine whether or not you should use it aggressively or defensively. Or vice versa, how much damage the enemy team will secure with their push if you don't have it. Honestly, it comes down to a judgement call. I personally try to use it aggressively to force a snowball.
If you get first spider turn in, use DQ to get as much value as you can, this puts you closer to 10, and as a result you'll be able to defend the enemy turn in with talent pressure alone. Then your team can turn in again, and keep the pressure going. If you have DQ up again for second turn in, I'd almost recommend holding it until enemy turn in just to negate as much as you can out of their potential comeback.
Like I said, this map is all about judgement and there really isn't a right or wrong answer, provided you don't pop it randomly for something petty.
Use Dragonqueen to determine what tributes you want. You won't have DQ up for every single tribute, unfortunately, so when you use it, make it count.
Because the spawns on CH are a little RNG, you want to avoid using DQ on favorable spawns, and use it on less favorable spawns. It's okay to use it on first tribute, and then tell your team to give up second tribute. THIS IS OKAY AND ENCOURAGED. Playing Alex and playing with Alex is all about playing around her Dragonqueen cooldown. Take fights you'll have a huge advantage on. Fair fights are for the foolish. If you manage to secure 2 of the first 3 tribute spawns, even if you get behind in xp and are down your 10s or something, you can afford to give up another tribute. At this point you'll have heroics AND Dragonqueen, which should almost always be a guaranteed curse.
Alterac PassHonestly this map is basically Volskaya 2.0. Due to the nature of the objective though, you may even get multiple DQs per phase. Use DQ to further push the advantage and try to get some kills or stop the enemy from wiping your team.
Because the objective takes time to cap, using it too early can result in having to turtle until you have DQ up again. All about patience here.
Towers of DoomPretty straightforward here as well, use it when the towers spawn.
If it's a three tower spawn, use DQ to push the advantage in the 4 v 4, however if the enemy team is a super stall comp or your comp is dependent on the tools of your solo laner to secure kills (such as Thrall Earthquake), wait until your top lane captures your side altar and rotates down before DQing.
Single tower spawns can be used early in a teamfight to push the enemy team back and allow your team to capture. Usually you want to be on the frontlines to mini-gust the enemy away, so let one of your ranged DPS capture the objective.
Battlefield of EternityThis one is pretty similar to Alterac Pass. Use DQ to push the objective hard, or to defend a super push. Then turtle on your immortal until DQ is up again.
Be weary though. BoE has a lot of different angles you can be engaged on. You really need to be aware of your positioning, especially when fighting under the enemy immortal to avoid being engaged on or being hit by immortal mechanics.
Sky TempleVery similar to all of the other point control maps. For first temple phase, you can usually secure both temples if played properly. Have either your winning solo lane solo capture top against their solo lane, or send two people top. Then use DQ to capture mid for as long as the cooldown lasts (or if you kill someone) and then back off and go back to soaking.
First solo spawn bot lane is like an Infernal Shrines spawn, and whoever wins the teamfight usually wins the point. Just use DQ when the enemy team commits to the fight to press your advantage.
The rest of the map plays out similarly, but keep in mind Dragonqueen is very powerful for boss control as well, and if boss ever becomes a win condition for the enemy team, you want to try to have it up in case you need to contest it, or defend it at keep/core. Likewise, don't try to attempt taking boss unless you have DQ up or the enemy team is dead.
To be honest... I haven't played enough Alexstrasza on the reworked Braxis to give it confident guide. Forgot about this map until I got here in writing. Dragonqueen works wonders defending zerg waves and securing a point though, however the new contest system makes it much more difficult to pull off.
This isn't a fantastic map for her because it's an ongoing objective that is incredibly easy to stall in BOTH lanes. Use it to save dying people I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So do exactly everything you said without ever changing it up, got it!
Please, don't do this
Alexstrasza is not an easy support to play and to get full value out of. She takes a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error. You will learn what works best, and what doesn't. There will be situations where you need to deviate from the norm, and it will make you a stronger Alex player. This guide is to help lay down a foundation and give explanation as to why Alex players make the decisions they do. Do not take this as holy gospel, but rather a way to experiment with your own Alex play and learn more strategies you may not know already.
I hope you enjoyed reading and I look forward to any comments or questions!