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Five Greymane Insights: Tips and Strategy

k0nduit

k0nduit

Sun 21st Oct 2018 - 2:00pm

Greetings! k0nduit here, and today I've got a quick article for you on Greymane. I've played a good bit of Greymane, and I've been jotting down some tips, tricks, and other observations I've made while piloting the King of Gilneas. Interested in learning about some of Greymane's intricacies and nuances? Read on!

Wolfheart vs. Viciousness at Lvl 1

The most commonly accepted Greymane build these days is the auto-attack build (though I will note that cocktail build is still decent in some spots, don't count it out). This build focuses on improving Greymane' main source of damage output - his auto-attacks - by providing flexibility and power to his base kit's mechanics. The first step in this build is deciding between two Inner Beast talents at lvl 1.

vs.

Wolfheart and Viciousness (pictured above, respectively) both improve the usability of Inner Beast. Wolfheart provides a shorter cooldown of the ability after dropping it, while Viciousness increases its general uptime. In terms of a teamfight scenario, Viciousness is my go-to pick every time. The reality is, dropping the Inner Beast attack speed buff is usually the result of some kind of CC locking you down, positioning snafu, just barely missing an auto-attack in time while playing around an opponent stepping forward, etc. Any of these things can cause you to drop Inner Beast in the middle of a fight, and being down your 50% attack speed buff - even for just five to ten seconds - is a massive setback that can cost your team the fight. Thus, keeping it up all the time in a fight is preferable to being able to more quickly reactivate it if it's dropped.

Viciousness is so strong because with 4 seconds to refresh the Inner Beast duration, you have a greater leeway to reposition, walk around, switch targets, etc.; additionally, because ability damage now counts towards the duration refresh, you have more options. There have been so many situations where I'm in Worgen form in particular, and I'm struggling to get off an auto-attack on a fleeing target to refresh Inner Beast and keep my attack speed buff going. But with Viciousness, Razor Swipe will allow you to easily keep up Inner Beast when you're just barely out of range for an auto-attack; and believe me, this comes up game in and game out. As an aside, a niche, but extremely notable example of the power of Viciousness is when you're playing against Artanis. Suppression Pulse will blind you for 4 seconds, which means that if you do not have Viciousness, Artanis can literally blank your Inner Beast, which is completely backbreaking in a fight. But with Viciousness, you can use Darkflight, a Cocktail, Razor Swipe, or even one of your ultimates to preserve your attack speed buff through a Suppression Pulse.

Artanis can drop your Inner Beast buff at will with Suppression Pulse. Taking Viciousness at lvl 1 prevents this disruption!

Wolfheart, to me, is best when you feel that you'll need to activate Inner Beast frequently for various reasons. The best example of this is when you're doing camps - you can pop Inner Beast for a camp, and have it ready for when you go to lane or a fight happening nearby; while with Viciousness, the cooldown after doing the camp will be much longer. Wolfheart also rises in value a little on Battlefield of Eternity, where you'll want to activate Inner Beast while burning down the Immortal, but you'll have to stop during halftime to reposition, to go do a mercenary camp, etc. As an aside, going Wolfheart does make me want to take Insatiable more at level 4 (as using Inner Beast frequently will run your mana dry).

A quick note, do let Inner Beast drop if you don't need it. There's a tendency to want to keep auto-attacking stuff to keep the buff up, but if you're not in a combat situation then you may find yourself dropping it, and having it awkwardly being on cooldown when a fight breaks out. This is particularly a consideration with Viciousness, as you have so much time to proc/refresh the buff, but it'll still be on a long cooldown when it finally drops. Know when to let your attack speed buff drop to have it ready for when you actually need it.

Overall though, I highly prefer Viciousness in the vast majority of situations. If you're a Wolfheart fan, try out Viciousness, I promise you'll see a whole new world - and it might even be difficult to go back!

Go for the Throat Insight and Tips

Go for the Throat is a powerful Heroic ability. While its use cases are often going to be straightforward (finishing burst damage, with the potential for a reset), here are several tips to keep in mind in order to get the best value out of Go for the Throat (abbreviated GftT from now on).

1. The first tip is that Darkflight's baseline range is just slightly longer than GftT's range. So, if you're in human form chasing a fleeing enemy with a red skull over their head (the indicator that GftT will finish the target) and mashing 'R', but are just barely out of range, try using Darkflight on the target first: the extra bit of range might make the difference. This might even allow you to save GftT, because you'll have the opportunity to do the standard Greymane combo (Darkflight-> AA -> Razor Swipe -> AA) that might finish the kill.

2. Your effective range for GftT from human form is longer than what it would seem. You'll often find yourself in situations where you want to GftT a target for the execute, but your target is out of range for Darkflight or GftT. But, the best line of play in these kinds of situations is to use Darkflight on an intermediary unit and then GftT your desired target. In other words, use a target for Darkflight to get in range of GftT. Here's an example from HHE Khroen's stream that I clipped a while back:

To me, this is a great example of breaking free from the trap of functional fixedness and using abilities in ways that they aren't usually employed. In the vast majority of scenarios, you will be using Darkflight on the target you want to be hitting. But, using it as a tool to simply close the distance to the target you ACTUALLY want to be hitting is less common. Always keep this use case in mind when playing not only Greymane, but also other heroes with targeted mobility skills.

3. GftT's reset mechanic can sometimes be a trap. The tendency to only use GftT when you see the red skull over an opponent's head is strong, but it's one that, when trying to optimize your Greymane play, you'll have to overcome. You can use GftT as simply another gap closer, not necesarily as the final blow. Just quickly gap closing to your opponent (after they've expended a mobility skill or defensive CC ability to get away from your Darkflight) to get off more damage can be the right play. In a teamfight, oftentimes just getting a kill will swing things in your favor. Playing for the GftT reset can sometimes be greedy, whereas ulting into a half-health target to get in range for a Razor Swipe and a few more AA's might secure you the kill or win you the teamfight.

4. In general, if you see a target that can be executed with GftT, just rip your ulti! In high pressure teamfight scenarios, I would almost always just pop GftT on a target rather than saving it for more value later in the fight. After all, you get a free cast - you'll be able to use it on another target in the next 10 seconds!

However, the red skull can bait you a bit and make you 'see red', so to say. It's also important to hold it in situations where your opponent has no chance of escaping (like if you're bringing your team to gank an opponent with no retreat options) and will simply go down to your auto-attacks/the rest of your team's damage. GftT is a precious tool, and if you can save it, then you should. Don't use it simply because you see you can get the execute!

And to be honest, these kinds of situations where you can finish someone with just autos come up even in those hectic teamfights, where usually you just want to rip GftT. I don't want to lead you astray by saying that you can save it there... but sometimes you CAN save it there and get more value later. It takes some very disciplined, thoughtful play to know when to save your ultimate and know when to go for the throat. You'll build this wisdom with experience and practice.

6. GftT grants "Unstoppable" for a very brief period of time while you're traveling to your target! Most of the time this won't be relevant...except for when it absolutely is and can come up big, haha. So, keep in mind that you can avoid stuff like Chromie's Time Loop by ulting a target at the very last moment before you get pulled back. Other general skillshot CC abilities like Dehaka's Drag can also be outplayed by GftT'ing when you're about to be hit. In Dehaka's case, you can just use your ultimate on Dehaka himself when the Drag is coming out. Using Go for the Throat in this manner might seem wasteful (it's an 80 second cooldown, after all), but ensuring you don't get hit by the CC and live is in many cases much more preferable.

Keep in mind that GftT's range isn't the largest out there, and that you travel extremely quickly when using Go for the Throat. The Unstoppable frames are a powerful tool, but your timing has to be on point! By spacing yourself out from your target, you can create a longer Unstoppable duration; if you feel that you want the Unstoppable effect, then if possible stay in GftT's outer range on your planned target to give yourself a bigger margin for error/window for the U-frames.

7. Keep in mind that sometimes the 'red skull' execute indicator can lie to you! The game makes the calculation based on the health the opponent has, compared to the damage GftT will deal; it doesn't factor in things like shields, or armor! This is why Garrosh is a difficult target to execute with GftT. Keep in mind the presence of armor before going for an execute and consider putting out a couple more auto-attacks on targets with armor if you're looking to get a reset.

In many situations, it's a good idea to pour all of your damage in, and not just assume GftT will always secure the kill - incoming healing and/or shielding can also stop you from getting the reset, or the kill altogether. Be disciplined and know when to execute your full Darkflight combo first (E->AA->Q->AA) to play around incoming healing rather than just immediately Darkflight'ing into GftT'ing.

8. In teamfights, windows of opportunity can open and close in just fractions of a second. It may only be a brief moment before the enemy team's healer gets a skill off of CD to help save their ally, or your target's mobility skill refreshes. Thus, when trying to secure a kill, when you know you want to GftT, GftT IMMEDIATELY when you can secure the kill with it. With time, you'll get a sense of when you can rip the ability even before you actually mentally register the red skull visual! Just activate it after you make the last auto-attack that you feel gets the enemy low enough. If you're unsure of course, you should wait - the reset is valuable tool. But, as you develop a feel for how much damage you deal and the health pools of your opponents, you'll naturally be able to build this skill.

Greymane Powerspikes at 13

Greymane isn't commonly known as a 'powerspike' character, as there isn't an obvious point at which he gets really strong (common examples of this are Zeratul at level 16, Nazeebo at level 20, etc.). However, level 13 provides a subtle, but incredibly impactful powerspike and is huge for Greymane. Greymane's level 13 Talent tier is focused on improving his mobility. Each of the options has its own strengths and weaknesses, but time and time again I return to On the Prowl (Inner Beast increases your Movement Speed by 30% once it has been active for 3 seconds).

A 30% movespeed buff is absolutely massive - that's mounted movespeed! While everyone else is navigating a teamfight on foot, you're moving around as though you're permanently mounted. It's hard to understate how valuable that kind of persistent movespeed buff is. You can reposition more effectively, chase more effectively, escape more effectively, and dodge skillshots more effectively. Watch the first 50 seconds or so of this GenG Rich video (before it transitions into the start of the game itself), and you'll know what I'm talking about:

On the Prowl shores up many of Greymane's weaknesses and ties his kit together nicely. With additional movespeed, you're better able to reposition and continue to land auto-attacks/abilities to keep your Inner Beast buff up. Greymane also has the problem of being unable to 'chase' effectively in Worgen form, as once you've committed, your target can walk away having only taken a couple of auto-attacks. With 30% movespeed, you can chase a bit and land those few extra AA's you need to pick up the kill.

As a side note, if you have Viciousness, you can activate Inner Beast early to get 1 second of 30% movespeed in a chase, or a retreat (as Viciousness increases the duration of Inner Beast to 4 seconds, and you need 3 seconds to elapse before you get the movespeed buff) - used well, this tactic might make the difference. Activating Inner Beast a little early is in general a good idea to get the movespeed sooner.

In essence, On the Prowl makes you into a much more annoying DPS for the enemy team to deal with, both in human form and in Worgen form. Not only do you become much better at outputting damage and chasing, your defensive capabilities skyrocket as well; when running away, you're already mounted without having to mount, and can just occasionally throw an auto-attack at something to keep the buff up. You can consider level 13 a huge powerspike. Greymane is already pretty good at going in, then going out of a fight, repositioning, shifting targets, etc.; On the Prowl accelerates and accentuates all of that and makes everything much smoother.

Greymane's Mastery Portrait.

The other level 13 talents do have their place. I take Running Wild (Increases Darkflight and Disengage's range by 35%) when dealing with opponents who operate at great range, or when I want to quickly follow up on opportunities my teammates create (for example, I often find myself taking Running Wild to quickly follow up on Valeera initiations). Unfettered Assault (Increases Razor Swipe's lunge distance by 60%, and Worgen Basic Attacks reduce Razor Swipe's cooldown by 1.5 seconds) is great mobility for when you're in Worgen form (and it accentuates your PvE potential), but it's a bit win-more (because if you can stay in Worgen form for extended period of time, you're probably already winning the fight!) and doesn't help your human form mobility at all.

All in all, I take On the Prowl almost every game. Moving around 'mounted' and kiting around unmounted tanks is a great feeling. While the other mobility options can be better in specific situations (and you should pick them when you feel that they're good), I would stick with On the Prowl when you're in doubt. It's always going to put in work for you.

To Darkflight or Not to Darkflight? That Is the Question.

When you first start playing Greymane, the traditional advice is to stay in human form until you see a target get low, then you can shift into Worgen form to finish off the kill. This is certainly a good strategy in general, but against particular heroes and in certain matchups, you really want to think ahead and plan out how, and even whether you should use Darkflight.

Pre-13 (i.e. before On The Prowl), it's sometimes best to stay in human form as long as you can when chasing a fleeing target. This is because when you shift into worgen form, your chasing ability becomes more limited and you'll only be able to get off a couple more auto attacks in a reasonable timeframe. If you're in human form, you can continually get off autoattacks (keep up your stutter stepping!) until you're about to be out of range of your target, then use Darkflight to get back into range for a couple more high-powered autos. Essentially, when you have the leeway to get off more human form basic attacks before you Darkflight, they can help secure the kill.

Now, let's say you're fighting Li Ming in a bit of a 1v1. If you use Darkflight on Li Ming, she can respond with her Teleport. This will strand you in melee form for 5 seconds, which will allow her to rain down spells on you while you can't deal any damage to her (unless you have Go for the Throat as a second gap closer, but that's another matter). When fighting characters with mobility skills or defensive CC, look to save Darkflight.

Returning to the Li Ming example, let's say that I keep stepping close to her, maybe even literally auto-attacking her in melee range in human form (which Greymane has a cool animation for, by the way). You might say, "you could be auto-attacking in Worgen form for damage here!" True, but now if Li Ming Teleports, I can then respond with Darkflight to keep the damage flowing, not get stranded in worgen form, and secure the kill. Heroes with similar movement abilities, like Kharazim or Falstad, fall into the same category. The same concept also holds true for heroes with particular defensive CC options, like Kael'thas or Thrall. Regarding the latter two examples, by committing to Worgen form early, you're exposing yourself to their CC (Gravity Lapse and Feral Spirit, respectively), which are now very easy to land since you're in melee range.  

This line of play comes up most often when you have the advantage in the engagement and the opponent is fleeing. Saving Darkflight is best in these situations, as you are applying enough pressure while in human form and can hold Darkflight in your back pocket to cover your opponent's escape/defensive options. In more evenly matched duels, you should consider shifting to Worgen form early (depending on circumstances) to get more damage and mitigation from your Worgen form armor bonus. If I take Go for the Throat, this line of play is very appealing; against Falstad for example, I can Darkflight on to him ASAP, then when he uses Barrel Roll to create distance, I can Go for the Throat to stay in range in melee form and pressure the kill with further auto-attacks.

There are certain heroes that, when trying to pressure/go for a kill, you simply cannot use Darkflight on if their defensive abilities are up! ETC and Garrosh are the two best examples that come to mind. You can pressure them freely in human form, but the second you commit to melee form you'll get Face Melted/Wrecking Ball'ed, respectively, securing the tank's escape. Oftentimes when trying to kill these heroes, unless I know that the ability in question is on cooldown, I'll simply hold Darkflight indefinitely and whittle them down with autos. By the way, the value of On the Prowl shines in these scenarios. Now, you can chase infinitely while in human form and continue to apply pressure!

In short, when looking to kill a target who possesses a mobility or defensive skill, if you can't immediately burst them down by shifting into Worgen form, then STAY in human form and use Darkflight to follow them after they use their defensive option. Darkflight is a huge signal that you're committing - don't commit unless you're sure you can get value.


Cursed Bullet: Discussion and Mechanics

I'm a huge fan of Greymane's heroic options. They both have their applications in different matchups, and both create a widely different gameplay experience depending on which you choose. I'm always surprised by how much my playstyle will change depending on whether I go Bullet or GftT. Every game, you'll be faced with the big decision between Greymane's Heroic options.

When Do You Pick Cursed Bullet?

The core questions you have to ask yourself when deciding between Greymane's Heroics are, "Is my team's plan to kill the enemy team's backline or frontline? How does our composition work, and what's my role in it - will I be hitting the tanky targets in front of me most of the time, or will I be getting damage onto squishy targets?" What's important to understand is that it's usually a decision that is contingent on your whole team's gameplan, not just your own preference. Let's say you have a Garrosh on your team, who's excellent at creating picks. The presence of Garrosh makes me consider Bullet much more, as Bullet enables those single-target blowups and picks (that Garrosh so readily can provide), even on tanks. Bullet also synergizes well with Malthael's Last Rites - you can get someone low, and Malthael can finish the kill with his execute. A Diablo on the enemy team also highly incentivizes me to take Bullet, as it'll be a great tool to manage his massive health pool and make him a viable focus target in situations where he otherwise wouldn't be. Keep an eye out for these kinds of things and develop a gameplan with your talent choices and playstyle, in addition to evaluating whether you'll mostly be hitting the tanky individuals or backliners.

Sometimes deciding between the two can be tough. Honestly, I often find myself asking my team in Hero League, "GftT or Bullet here, what do y'all think?" Getting some input helps, and again, coordinating your ultimate choice with your team's gameplan is critical. Once you've made a decision, play with your heroic choice in mind. If you have GftT, try to switch focus to the enemy's backline a bit more proactively, don't hit the enemy's tanks all the time if you can help it. If you have Cursed Bullet, try to look for quick blowups, etc.

Cursed Bullet Mechanics

So, Cursed Bullet has an interesting interaction with Greymane's 'E'. First, let's talk about GftT for a bit: if you use Go for the Throat in human form, your 'E' (Darkflight/Disengage) is immediately put on full cooldown (but if you're in Worgen form already, GftT has no effect on the CD of Disengage). Whether you had Darkflight off cooldown, or 1 second from being off cooldown (which happens if you've shifted to human form recently), Disengage will immediately be put on the full five second CD (this might be for balance reasons, as GftT'ing into Disengage seems potentially OP).

So, getting back to Cursed Bullet's mechanics: for whatever reason (and I'm not 100% sure if this is intended or not, it likely is though), Bullet does not affect your 'E' cooldown in any way. This means that you can be in Worgen form, use Bullet (shifting you back into human form), and then immediately use Darkflight to get back into Worgen form. Honestly, it looks pretty cool haha. Besides that line of play in and of itself (which is probably why it functions the way it does and is its biggest use case - being able to Bullet and stay in Worgen form), Cursed Bullet not affecting your 'E' cooldown has a couple other neat applications:

1. Let's say that you see an opponent at half health or less, and don't want to use Bullet on them as it won't do too much damage. You can start in human form, shift into Worgen form immediately with Darkflight, get in as many auto-attacks as you can, and then Bullet back into human form to get the human form range to deal more damage, essentially closing the gap for the last autos. If you think the initial damage from Bullet will be less than the damage from the additional autos you can get off by switching back to human form, then this is a line of play to consider.

Put another way, this technique is best used if you cannot kill your opponent with the initial transformation into Worgen form because your target has a mobility/defensive skill. If you need two 'gap closers', keep this tactic in mind. However, if you can get the kill by Bulleting then going into Worgen form, then just do that! This will be a more niche combo compared to just Bulleting and then Worgening to secure a kill, particularly after level 13 when you have On the Prowl and can keep up with opponents in Worgen form.

2. Let's say you're fleeing from a teamfight/bad skirmish. You're currently in Worgen form. To escape, you can use Disengage, but this distance might not be sufficient. Instead, an option you can go with is to use Bullet, and now in human form, use Darkflight to a minion or another target nearby, creating some distance. Then, five seconds later, you have Disengage to use as you please. The strength of this method is that you can create more space first with Darkflight: if you were to Disengage initially and run away, you may not have a target to Darkflight to on your retreat path (remember, Darkflight requires a target, while Disengage is unconditional mobility). In this way, you can get access to both of your mobility skills (and even all 3, you'll get to use a Razor Swipe or two most likely while in Worgen form) in your escape, rather than just Disengage.

Both of these applications are somewhat niche, but they do come up. Keep them in mind when you go Cursed Bullet!

The Lord of the Worgen

Greymane's a great character to try and master. His main weakness is that if you solely want to be in ranged form in teamfights, other heroes perform the ranged DPS role better, as half of Greymane's kit is locked in his melee form. But otherwise, he's got build options for different situations, he can do merc camps well, his structure sieging is one of the most formidable in the game, and he's in general a reliable DPS with a high skill ceiling and incredible damage output when played well. In general, if you're looking for a damage dealer to pick up for your Hero League adventures, I would recommend Greymane - you'll rarely go wrong selecting the Lord of the Worgen. His gameplay's quite dynamic as well; every game you play, you'll find yourself discovering new things about the character and his matchups. Hopefully this article gets you going on your Greymane journey.

That's all for today, I hope you enjoyed the article. If you'd like to discuss anything HotS, have comments/feedback on this article, or just want to say hi, feel free to tweet me @k0nduit and I'll get back to you.

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