Falstad was one of the original Nexus denizens when Heroes of the Storm was released in Technical Alpha. His role in the pro meta has changed significantly over time, moving from a primary ranged assassin (formerly known as “Magestad”) to the Auto Attack–focused hybrid Assassin he is today.

Recently, Blizzard implemented changes for the High Thane of the Wildhammer Clan that may update his playstyle yet again. Keep these changes in mind when experimenting—but in the meantime, Team Dignitas member (and fellow Western Clash champion) Joshua “Snitch” Bennett is here to provide his time-honored Falstad build.

Trait Talk: Understand Tailwind

Falstad's Trait, Tailwind, increases the Hero’s Movement Speed by 15% when he hasn’t taken damage for six seconds. Snitch said, “Tailwind is mostly useful in the lane phase when there are not as many sources of damage to take, or at the beginning of team fights where you're poking and hitting the front line or when you fly in behind and then you have a little bit of move-speed when you move to engage.”

Level 1: Get Comfortable with Seasoned Marksman

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Snitch’s build begins with Seasoned Marksman, which adds Attack Damage for every takedown or enemy minion killed in Falstad’s proximity. After 40 Attack Damage has been gained, the quest is completed, granting him an activated ability that increases his Attack Speed by 40% for three seconds.

Snitch says: “I don't think you have to be too concerned about finishing the quest. The stacks will just kind of add up throughout the game, especially if you're getting good split push value.”

Level 1 is the first tier where Falstad has changes. Gathering Storm now returns 10 mana per Hero hit with Hammerang, on top of already increasing its damage by 1.5. Wingman also has been buffed, reducing Lightning Rod’s cooldown by three seconds on top of its original Bribe functionality.

Level 4: Become a Formidable Lane Opponent

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At Level 4, Falstad can begin holding his own in lane with Hammer Gains, which heals him for 20% of each basic attack dished out. As the game unfolds, and your basic attacks do more and more damage with Seasoned Marksman, you will also see more healing returned from Hammer Gains.

Snitch says: “The sustain is a strong lane-phase tool because you'll commonly either be split-pushing or laning 1v1 in the early game and it's very valuable to have this life steal.”

Other options: “In some matchups Static Shield isn't a bad alternative, I used to take it a lot when playing against Zeratul. A lot of people did.”

Falstad’s Level 4 also has been changed. His talent, Updraft, has been altered so that the shield gained from using Barrel Roll (E) no longer has a duration.

Level 7: Play Around Your Power Spike

At Level 7, Falstad really comes online with BOOMerang, a talent that lets you reactivate your Hammerang mid-flight to deal 165 damage.

Snitch says: “BOOMerang is his biggest power spike. He does more damage to the frontline straight away. It gives him that extra bit of wave clear, allows him to split push better, [and] gives him extra burst and poke damage.”

Level 10: Make a Mighty Wind

At Level 10, Mighty Gust is Snitch’s Heroic of choice. One of its most enticing parts is that it applies a 40% Movement Speed slow that decays over four seconds to any target hit.

Snitch says: “It's really one of the best tools in the game and a big reason why he's been in the meta so many times. Obviously, you have the classic move where you can fly behind and push them in, but there are so many other creative ways you can use Gust if you just experiment with it and practice scenarios.”

Level 13: Emphasize Auto-Attacks

In keeping with the Auto-Attack style we’ve been building toward with Seasoned Marksman and Hammer Gains, Snitch takes Giant Killer at Level 13, which amplifies this even more. Giant Killer causes Basic Attacks against enemy Heroes to do bonus damage equal to 1.5% of the victim’s max Health.

Snitch says: “If you do end up finishing [the] Seasoned Marksman [quest], you'll have the Attack Speed buff, which makes Giant Killer even better. This talent is great against the enemy front line. It just adds to Falstad’s consistent damage output through the Auto Attacks.”

Other options: “Flow Rider is not bad. It synergizes well with Aerie Gust at Level 16, but you do end up with this awkward area around Levels 13–15 where you don't get too much value out of the trait and this talent by extension.”

Level 16: Find Late-Game Value

At Level 16 Snitch strays a little from the norm, taking Aerie Gust over Afterburner, which is what most pro players opt for. Aerie Gust halves your trait activation time from six seconds to three, and increases the Movement Speed bonus by 10%.

Snitch says: “I really like this talent because it’s valuable to have this consistent 25% Movement Speed. If you're playing well around enemy spells, this talent is very rewarding—so long as you're not taking any damage. [And] there are a lot more times in a game where you won't take damage for three seconds compared to six.”

Level 20: Decide How to End

Nexus Frenzy is the low hanging fruit at Level 20—increasing Falstad’s Attack Speed by 20% and his Attack Range by 1.1. But of the Storm Tier talents to choose from, Snitch favors either Epic Mount or Wind Tunnel.

Snitch says: “Wind Tunnel is kind of a 'win more' talent, but it's really good for making that aggressive play that can finish the game. [But] if you're not sure what you should go for, it should probably be Epic Mount. It's consistent value, a nice cooldown buff, a shorter delay on the cast time, a faster flight, and makes Falstad a lot safer overall.”

Last Thoughts: Falstad’s Place in the Meta

If the above sounds strong—and it does—you might be wondering: Why doesn’t Falstad see more play at the pro level?

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Falstad Facts

- Seasoned Marksman stacks indefinitely.

- The cooldown for Hinterlands Blast is reduced by 25 seconds for every enemy Hero it hits.

- Lightning Rod deals more damage with its first strike than it does with subsequent strikes.

“People are uncomfortable playing him against certain other heroes in the meta,” said Snitch. Genji, initially seen as a strong counter to Falstad, is a problem—but the robot ninja’s numbers are much lower now. Given that, “I think [Falstad will] probably start making a comeback soon,” he added.

Interestingly enough, while Falstad currently sees a negligible amount of play in the West, the Hero never left the Eastern meta. “Falstad is just more of a comfort pick [in Asia],” Snitch said. “The main person people point to as a ‘Falstad player’ is Lockdown from Tempest. You should definitely watch some of his games if you are interested in learning more about the Hero. You'll see him use Mighty Gust in a lot of creative ways. He's definitely a candidate for the best Falstad in the world.”

To see Snitch’s (or Lockdown’s!) Falstad in action, look no further than the HGC match detail pages, which are full of pro player builds, VODs, and stats.