Talking Through the Raynor and Azmodan Reworks with Equinox

Yannick LeJacq, Blizzard Entertainment | July 10, 2018

StarCraft Assassin James Raynor and Lord of Hell Azmodan both received significant gameplay reworks that just went live in the Nexus today. We sat down with Jon “Equinox” Peterson, former coach of the North American pro team Simplicity, to hear his thoughts on how the new versions of these two longtime denizens of the Nexus will play out going forward.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

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Equinox sees both reworks as notable improvements upon the previous iterations of the characters, if not necessarily a dramatic overhaul of their entire playstyle and place on a team in both cases. Raynor is still the same dutiful auto-attacker he’s always been, just…better.

“Raynor's role has not changed at all with the rework,” Equinox says, “he's still a simple auto attacker, just a much better auto attacker now. I think the most significant thing they did with him is just give him good talents, with the new talents he feels like a threatening auto attacker and he has some power early game.”

Azmodan, on the other hand, has become a more “well-rounded hero.”

“I really like that they changed up his [Azmodan’s] playstyle a bit,” Equinox says, “he's not just about tossing Globes [of Annihilation] now. You can do a lot of damage with your summon-able demons and auto-attacks.”

“I believe Azmodan's playstyle has changed, or at least you have the option to change it now, letting you weave in auto attacks that are empowered after using Q, and having your E and W be a potential power point in your kit really makes him feel like a well-rounded hero.”

Their New Builds Are Still Up In The Air

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Part of what Equinox finds exciting about the two new reworks is that he feels they both make their respective heroes more dynamic when it comes to picking talents.

“Both the Raynor and Azmodan builds were pretty much the same all the way through beforehand,” Equinox says. “You played Globe build on Azmodan, and you played the Seasoned Marksman mini-game on Raynor.”

“After the reworks there's definitely some diversity in the builds, allowing you to build towards different strengths on both heroes,” he says. “For Azmodan, you can play around your lasers [All Shall Burn] while incorporating your auto-attacks and W's [Summon Demon Warrior] into the mix and actually have it deal a lot of damage—but you're also still able to play the globe game at the same time.”

“Raynor you can play towards stacking your new trait with the level 1 talent Veteran Marksman and letting that be a big part of your damage, or you can play Ace in the Hole and build towards giving yourself the ability to slow and have a flat 35% increase on everything.”

When it comes to specific talents, Equinox is fond of Raynor’s level 1 Talent Ace in the Hole, which gives him a 35% damage boost against that are slowed or stunned. Paired with a Support or Warrior teammate with some solid crowd control abilities (or another Assassin with strong CC like Yrel or Kel’Thuzad), it can be pretty devastating.

“I think it’s too good to give up,” Equinox says of Ace in the Hole, “along with Fight or Flight at level 4,” which reduces the cooldown on Raynor’s self-healing ability Adrenaline Rush by a whopping ten seconds and gives him an armor boost every time he activates it.

“Having 35% more damage on all your abilities while enemies are slowed is very strong, and also having 25 Armor on top of your E [Adrenaline Rush] makes him able to duel a lot of the Assassins like Tracer and Genji,” Equinox says.

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As for Azmodan, Equinox just says: “I don't think has any required talents as of right now, I feel you can go a couple routes with him and I really enjoy his new level 20 Trample.”

He’s a big fan of both Heroes’ new Heroic Abilities as well.

“I really like both of the new heroics,” Equinox says. “Raynor's Raider specifically is awesome, I love having a little buddy floating around that does a significant amount of damage—and makes you a lot tankier at level 20.”

“Tide of Sin is pretty self-explanatory,” he says of Azmodan’s reworked Heroic that now empowers his next Globe of Annihilation he casts. “It gives you more damage, I'd like to see the cooldown lowered a bit, but overall I'd say it’s a good change.”

Where Do They Go From Here?

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Raynor, like many a damage-heavy Assassin in Heroes of the Storm, has found a place in the pro meta from time to time over the years. But Equinox is particularly curious about how Azmodan might start to see some higher-level play with his new rework.

“Azmodan hasn't had a big spot in the pro meta for a long long time,” Equinox says of the Lord of Sin. “The last time was around 2015 when Tempo Storm would run him sometimes on Tomb of the Spider Queen, stacking his globe talent with all the minion kills. I think with the rework, he might see some play if his damage output is high enough. I would definitely pick him right now.”

What do YOU think of the new Azmodan and Raynor? Are you eager to try out a new talent or two, or are you just excited for the epic new Warchrome skins they’re both getting now too? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see you in the Nexus!