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There Is Always Hope: A Guide to Auriel, the Archangel of Hope

Strofo

Strofo

Mon 17th Apr 2017 - 6:23pm

Auriel, the Archangel of Hope, comes to the Nexus via the Diablo franchise, where she played a vital role in the survival of Sanctuary, the game’s main world setting. It was her grace and compassion that convinced Imperius, the Archangel of Valor and her fellow Angiris Council member, not to carry out his wishes to destroy humanity.

Auriel uses her command of the forces of light and hope to provide healing support to her teammates in the Nexus, and is the only support in the game who relies on a symbiotic relationship with her allies in order to fuel her abilities.

 

Here is a quick look at the abilities that the Archangel of Hope brings to the Nexus.

Q — Sacred Sweep
Auriel sweeps her deadly cord, Al’maiesh, in a wide 180° arc, dealing damage to enemies. Enemies caught in the center section of the arc take additional damage.

W — Ray of Heaven
Auriel’s signature ability heals all allied Heroes in a targeted circle for the amount of energy spent. This ability consumes all of the available energy in Auriel’s bar, and is her only ability that uses her energy.

E — Detainment Strike
Auriel lashes out with Al’maiesh in a straight line, knocking back the first enemy Hero hit. That Hero will also be stunned for a duration if they collide with terrain obstacles (like lane walls) or buildings.

Don't position like this at home, kids.

R1 — Crystal Aegis
Auriel encases an allied Hero in a protective crystal, placing them into stasis for a duration and rendering them immune to all damage and effects. Upon expiration, the crystal explodes, dealing damage to all nearby enemies. Auriel can cast Crystal Aegis on herself.

 

R2 — Resurrect
After channeling for a brief duration, Auriel brings an allied hero back to life at 50% health.

D — Bestow Hope
Auriel attaches her Crown of Hope to an allied Hero, which persists as long as Auriel remains within a generous range of that hero. All damage dealt by the crowned hero causes Auriel to gain energy to fuel her Ray of Heaven. Damage dealt by Auriel herself will also grant her energy. Damaging heroes results in far higher energy gains than damaging non-heroic units and structures.

 

Level 1 — Swift Sweep (Q)
This talent increases the casting speed of Auriel’s Q by 50%, substantially reducing the amount of time she must remain stationary in order to use the ability. This provides several benefits. First, it allows Auriel to more consistently generate her own energy by quickening the best source of damage in her kit. Second, it considerably lessens the amount of danger posed by using her Q, since the casting animation without this talent leaves Auriel planted and defenseless for a brief moment. Finally, the talent synergizes incredibly well with the talents I will be suggesting for levels 4 and 13.

Level 4 — Majestic Span (Q)
Majestic Span increases the size of Auriel’s Q arc by 15%. This may not sound like much on paper, but you will notice a very large increase in the area covered by her Q after taking this talent. This choice synergizes well with Swift Sweep and provides many of the same benefits: more consistent and safer energy generation, and the ability to position Auriel a little more safely on the battlefield without sacrificing ability damage. The center of Auriel’s Q does a considerable amount of damage, especially for a support character, and Auriel is capable of making aggressive plays with her team with these two talents selected at levels 1 and 4.

Level 7 — Bursting Light (W)
This talent reduces the cooldown of Auriel’s healing ability by 2 seconds, cutting its cooldown in half. Bursting Light is Auriel’s signature talent, and should never be passed up. The power spike Auriel gains from this talent at level 7 cannot be understated. While she is still a strong character before level 7, Bursting Light is the talent that transforms Auriel into a truly frightening support in team fights, outclassing every other support in terms of her ability to sustain across long, complicated engages. With Bursting Light, Auriel’s heal on W will be available for use every 2 seconds, which severely shrinks the margin of opportunity for the enemy team to confirm kills against your team if you are using the heal consistently as it comes off cooldown. The talent also provides a large boost to your teammates, because it allows for more aggression, since your teammates’ damage will be directly translated into healing power to keep them going. Indeed, playing passively is detrimental to compositions that include Auriel.

Level 10 — Crystal Aegis (R)
Much in the same vein as Rehgar’s Ancestral Healing, Uther’s Divine Shield, and Kharazim’s Divine Palm, Crystal Aegis acts as Auriel’s panic button when situations go downhill for one of your teammates. It differs from its counterparts, however, in the fact that it does not actually provide any healing for the targeted ally; it only prevents them from being damaged or crowd controlled any further until the Aegis expires. As a result, you generally need to make sure to follow the expiration of the Aegis with an immediate heal on the target you are trying to save. (Keep in mind that, because the Aegis deals damage on expiration, you should receive a spike in energy from the explosion that you can use to quickly heal the endangered teammate.) In addition, because Auriel does not have access to Cleanse at level 7, Crystal Aegis is often forced to play a role as a pseudo-unstoppable, canceling ultimates like Chromie’s Temporal Loop, Sylvanas’s Mind Control, or Butcher’s Lamb to the Slaughter.

Level 13 — Blinding Flash (Q)
Blinding Flash causes Auriel’s Q to blind all enemies caught in the center of the arc for 4 seconds, acting as an effective damage mitigation tool, and seriously crippling enemy teams that are heavily reliant on auto attacks. This talent synergizes very well with your choices at levels 1 and 4, since the combination of a faster and larger Q makes it quite easy to hit your blind on multiple enemies at a time consistently. Combined with Auriel’s E, this talent provides Auriel with an additional peel to save her teammates who are under assault.

Level 16 — Reservoir of Hope (W), Will of Heaven (D), Wrath of Heaven (D)
Auriel’s choice talent at level 16 is Reservoir of Hope, which is a stacking quest talent that rewards Auriel with an additional 75 maximum energy for each time she casts a full-energy heal. Reservoir of Hope is the only level 16 quest talent in the game, and its late arrival to Auriel’s arsenal of talents is offset by its sheer power. Provided you have an allied hero capable of dealing high amounts of sustain damage, Auriel’s heals can quickly become impossible to race against in sustained team fights.

Level 16 is, however, a tier with several viable options, each with its own pros and cons depending on your team composition. Will of Heaven, which grants the bearer of Auriel’s crown increased attack speed, can be an excellent choice when paired with heavy auto attack heroes like Sgt. Hammer, Zul’jin or Greymane. Wrath of Heaven provides a boost in ability power to the crownbearer, which can be very powerful with spellcasters like Li-Ming, Chromie and Gul’dan.

Level 20 — Shield of Hope (Num-key)
The Archangel of Hope’s unique version of Storm Shield is Shield of Hope, a num-key ability that grants all allies in a radius around Auriel (including herself) a shield whose power is inversely proportional to the recipient’s current remaining health. In other words, the more wounded the ally, the higher the shield that ally gets. The key difference is, while Storm Shield is sometimes most optimally used at the outset of a fight to guarantee value, Shield of Hope rewards you with additional value the longer you wait on it. This can be especially devastating when used in conjunction with heroes like Zul’jin and Artanis, who benefit from remaining dangerously close to death.

 

Due to the nature of her kit, which forces Auriel to rely on at least one of her teammates for consistent damage output, she requires careful choices for team compositions in order to be most effective. Specifically, Auriel shines with heroes capable of dealing high amounts of damage over long periods of time — for this reason, she tends to benefit from heroes who are not heavily reliant on mana or other resources that could deplete quickly over the course of a fight.

Valla is one of Auriel’s best companions simply because she is capable of laying down big bursts of damage but can also settle into a steady, unrelenting damage dealer from the back who can easily keep Auriel’s energy bar full. Valla’s level 1 talent, Hot Pursuit, is a wise choice when paired with Auriel to ensure she maintains the mana levels she requires over the course of longer fights.

Gul’dan is another hero who shines with Auriel because their two passive abilities are extremely symbiotic. Gul’dan sacrifices his own health to restore his mana, which he converts into damage, which then fills Auriel’s energy bar and eventually returns to him as health. This deadly cycle eliminates Gul’dan’s usual mana maintenance issues, allowing him to dish out incredible amounts of damage.

Finally, pairing Auriel with the two-headed ogre Cho’gall can feel as close to cheating as one can get in Heroes of the Storm, since Auriel will receive the benefit of damage from both Cho and Gall while they are crowned. An allied Cho’gall also provides an excuse to take Resurrect if two-for-one deals are your kind of fun.

While Valla and Gul’dan are Auriel’s two best DPS counterparts in the game, other heroes are capable of filling the role adequately outside of coordinated play. Heroes like Zul’jin, Lunara, Sgt. Hammer, Tychus, and Greymane can be excellent choices to pair with Auriel because they are capable of high DPS output without having to rely on mana, and can therefore remain in fights for longer periods. Even burst mages like Li-Ming, Chromie and Jaina can be decent when paired with Auriel, but the more inconsistent nature of their damage can sometimes spell trouble for your team if you end up low on energy at a critical juncture.

While it can be tempting to use Crystal Aegis in a manner very similar to the other “get out of jail free” heroics like Divine Shield, resist the temptation to do so. Many situations that a Divine Shield can solve are not fixable with a Crystal Aegis. Think of the heroic more like an ice block that you force onto an ally — if there isn’t any chance for your team to counterengage or provide peel for the affected hero, then the Aegis was more than likely a waste. The goal is to get the hero out alive, not to simply delay death by 2 seconds.

Auriel is also one of the only supports in the game who comes equipped with hard crowd control in the form of Detainment Strike, allowing her not only to set up kills for her team but also to interrupt channeled abilities like Sonya’s Whirlwind or Gul’dan’s Drain Life. However, it can be one of the more difficult stuns to land since it requires you to both hit a skillshot and also knock the enemy into a piece of terrain, the latter of which is not always guaranteed. As a result, you should pay extra attention to your positioning on Auriel relative to other supports. If you know you are facing off against an enemy hero whom you’re going to want to interrupt, try to keep that hero sandwiched between yourself and terrain obstacles as much as possible so that you have the stun available at a moment’s notice. If you can land stuns consistently with Auriel, your teammates will start to take notice and learn to focus down those targets for you.

Also be mindful that Detainment Strike can be used only for its displacement effect, allowing you to push enemies off objective points, knock opposing heroes off mercenary camps for quick steals, or simply as a peeling tool to slow enemy chases.

Finally, the key difference between a good Auriel player and a top-tier Auriel player comes down to the use of her passive ability, Bestow Hope. While it may seem prudent to simply drop your crown on your ranged carry and leave it there for the duration of the game, it is often not the optimal choice. Notice your warrior player about to go for a big damage ability, like Leoric’s March of the Black King or Diablo’s Lightning Breath? Switch your crown over to him for the duration of the ability and then swap it back. This can be easier to juggle with characters like Chromie, whose damage comes in predictable bursts, and is far easier to pull off if you are in voice communication with teammates and know when specific power plays are coming. Mastering the micromanagement of Auriel’s passive is perhaps the most difficult aspect of her character, but will earn you commensurate rewards.

 

EARLY GAME (LEVELS 1-6)
Auriel doesn’t become fully team fight ready until level 7, so the early game is a time for some measured caution. Auriel should never be assigned to lane alone, simply because you lose the value of her crown and energy generation. Always pair her with another hero or, even better, place her in a 4-hero rotation between lanes to maximize the value from her AOE healing. Even though she prefers company in lane, her Q is an effective wave clear tool that can be used from a fairly safe distance given the talent choices at levels 1 and 4, and she doesn’t struggle as much as some supports do with clearing minions.

MID GAME (LEVELS 7-15)
After Auriel gains Bursting Light, she becomes a fearsome menace in team fights. You should start to look to be more aggressive with your positioning as a team, confident that the damage you put out will be converted into hit points to keep your team going. This is especially true in smaller skirmishes, like those popular on Dragon Shire — Auriel paired with a strong sustain DPS hero will rarely lose to any other 2-hero combination. Be aware that, especially as frustration levels rise on the enemy team, Auriel will often become a priority target, and her tools for escape are relatively limited once her defenses are breached.

LATE GAME (LEVELS 16-20+)
With Reservoir of Hope, Auriel’s heals start to grow rapidly in size, which is incredibly difficult for enemy teams to break through as the game goes longer (as there is no maximum limit on the quest talent). Continue to play aggressively, and don’t be afraid to bait enemies into poor positioning by allowing your allies to drop a little lower in hit points than usual, encouraging enemy pursuit. A good number of stacks on Reservoir of Hope can heal a squishy character to nearly full health in a single cast, catching opponents off guard and allowing for aggressive counterengages in team fights. And, of course, use Shield of Hope as a substitute in those cases when you find yourself low on energy but in need of healing.

With the right team and a solid understanding of her mechanics, Auriel can be one of the strongest support characters in the game, capable of incredible saves and playmaking. I hope this guide helps you learn to love the Archangel of Hope. Happy playing!

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