It’s Midgame Moves week for Heroes of the Storm! It’s time to continue the educational content series that kicked off 2018 featuring some of the smartest personalities in the scene. Midgame Moves will be focusing on the meaty middle portion of a competitive match! Yesterday we touched on Map Pressure and Mercenary camp timings. Today we will learn about Boss control.

We’ve all unintentionally thrown a game on a Boss before. Bosses in Heroes of the Storm are some of the most unforgiving points of contention, and often leave disaster in the wake of their attempted capture. However, capturing the Boss doesn’t have to be unnerving, so long as your team is on the same page and you know what information you’re looking for.

Have a Reason and Follow Through

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“Bosses aren't typically used for building leads, they're used for finishing games or getting meaningful structure advantages that help you finish the game later,” said HeroesHearth Esports’s Coach Rori "CauthonLuck" Bryant-Raible, who spent the entirety of 2017 competing professionally with the Tempo Storm roster. “Have a reason for taking the Boss and try to get your team on the same page with that reason.”

Taking a Boss in the early game is generally considered an extremely risky move with very little payoff. The Boss will demand a soft defense but won’t get much done unless your teammates are pushing with it. If you’ve already committed multiple members to taking the Boss and there is no going back now—what do you do next? “A big mistake teams make on Sky Temple is taking the Boss in the midgame and letting it push alone on its own. The best utilization of the Boss is when there is a specific plan you can get your team behind: ‘Take this Boss and push with it’, or ‘take this Boss and go kill top Keep while they defend the Boss on bot Keep’, or ‘take this Boss and then go to the other side of Cursed Hollow and take that Boss and push with it while they defend the first one’. If you take a Boss and let it wander on its own, it's a mistake.”

Baiting a Fight on Boss

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Yes, the Boss does an excellent job of pushing the lane, creating map pressure, and demanding a response. However, it can be an amazing tool for starting a fight as well. “If you're up—say level 16 to 14—that is usually a good time to start a Boss. If the other team tries to contest you, you're fine taking that fight, so long as everyone on your team gets off the Boss and fights. If they don't contest you, take the Boss and push their Keep with a talent tier advantage. You turn your level lead into getting a Keep down, or if you get a pick while they're defending you might just win the game.”

Communication is key! When you’re not trying to bait a fight, you should make that as clear as possible to your teammates. “If there are times when you know you're just sneaking the Boss and you can't win a fight if they enemy team finds you, you should try and let your team know that like, 'Hey, we're trying to sneak this, if someone scouts us just back up and give it up unless it's almost dead'.”

Sneaky, Sneaky, Dead.

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Sneaking Bosses can be good when you have Heroes that have high damage output such as Greymane, Sonya, or Jaina. “A common Boss sneak happens on Tomb of the Spider Queen,” said Cauthonluck. “If you can force the enemy team to clear the bottom Web Weaver last, your team can start Boss on top as soon as the Web Weavers die. It's very easy to kill and capture that Boss before the enemy team can rotate top from the bottom Web Weaver.”

The Hail Mary Play

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When a game looks all but over, sometimes the only option is to pull a Boss and pray for the best. This fight usually determines the outcome of the game, so make sure your lanes are pushed out enough that catapults or a devious backdoor won’t spell your unfortunate demise before you engage. “The point of this desperation play isn't necessarily to get the Boss. If they don't fight you, you get it for free and it's a little bit of an advantage, but the entire point of that move is to get the enemy team to fight you while they're not quite 20. It's a valid strategy.”

Short Answer? No.

Long Answer: “I would almost never recommend soloing a Boss. Maybe with an Illidan and Abathur combo, it could be worth it—but in general, it takes so long that even if you're capable of doing it, it's far too risky and the map control you give up just isn't worth it. Anytime you have someone capable of soloing a Boss it's generally way more effective to just bring one extra DPS with them and kill the Boss much quicker and make yourself less vulnerable to being invaded. You can still have the same benefit, you're doing the Boss without the enemy team knowing and you can still do that while having three of your Heroes visible on the map instead of four. It's something that really shouldn't be attempted.”

Thieves in the Night

It is possible, albeit difficult, for Medivh to steal the Boss with Ley Line Seal.

So, you’re casually strolling between mid and bot lane with some of your teammates minding your own business when you catch a glimpse of the enemy Varian wailing away on the Boss. Prepare to invade!

Tyreal's Holy Ground is your best friend when it comes to stealing a Boss," said Cauthonluck. "Although, Zarya's Expulsion Zone is also very good. Chen's Wandering Keg can achieve kind of the same thing, although it can be difficult to get all their members off the point long enough to capture it. Falstad's Mighty Gust is another tool, but it can be tricky to setup because it requires hitting the Gust into Barrel Roll from a very specific angle where it sweeps the entire enemy team off and leaves you on the point. Any time you do that you're basically resigning yourself to death. I would be very careful with that one.”

To Defend or Not to Defend

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What is the best way to go about deciding who needs to defend against a pushing Boss? "Most of the time you're going to want to defend with everybody," said Cauthonluck. "However, if the enemy team isn't pushing with their Boss, it's usually best not to defend with all five but to have your highest DPS Heroes defending while your Warriors and Supports are doing useful things on the map such as soaking, defending other lanes, or doing Mercenary camps."

As always, do your best to be constantly aware of the variables in play. "If you're one or two creep waves away from getting to 16 or 20, then it can be good to have four people defend and one person on your team go to soak that talent tier before you defend hard."

Armed with this information, hopefully your next attempt at Boss will be a little more thought out. Check back with us tomorrow for more of Midgame Moves Week when Team Dignitas' Vilhelm "POILK" Flennmark explains how to recover from a lost team fight.