I've recently become quite bothered by the MMORPG language being used by HoN players. I just want to put the word out there that HoN does not play like a PvP MMORPG, and the same terms and hero roles you would find in WAR or WoW do NOT apply. My goal is to educate beginners and intermediates who may be using this mistaken terminology, because if they think of Kraken, Pestilence and Hammerstorm as tanks instead of as initiator, semi-carry, and ganker/semi-carry/pusher respectively, they are likely to misuse the hero and inadvertently perform poorly.
With that said, I'd like to put forward some relatively broad but clear definitions for the different hero roles that are present in HoN and actually make sense. Granted, I'm only a low 1700 PSR player, so if any competitive players can come here and convince me that a tweak or redefinition is necessary, I'm open to that.
So, since we should start somewhere, I'll use Nigma's video guide to hero roles as a basis for my own dissertation.
In it, we see the following major roles listed: Carry, Initiator, Disablers, Support, and Nuker, with Sub-Roles including Tank, Ganker, and Babysitter.
Personally, I'd throw Nuker and Disabler into the blanket "Ganker" category because the qualities that make a good nuker or disabler also make for potent ganker, and it's simpler to have 1 category instead of 2.
So in short, I would have the 4 following Main Roles: Initiator, Carry, Ganker, and Support; and the following Sub-Roles: Tank, Disabler, Nuker, Babysitter. Any of the main roles may have skills or a playstyle that allows them to specialize in one or several of the Sub-Roles.
Section I: The Hero Roles.
DISCLAIMER: the heroes I show under each heading can and often do have secondary roles depending on team composition and the stage of the game (early-, mid-, or late-game). The lists of pictures are by no means exhaustive, I'm mainly listing them to give examples, not as definitive lists; many heroes are not shown because of the image limit, and some heroes fit into multiple categories, but this cannot be shown either.
This section is NOT meant to define the role of each specific hero, but to describe the essence of their roles and give a good idea of what skill-sets fit the description.
These guys are, for the most part, all about the following:
- Massive AoE disables
- Powerful AoE ults (often goes along with the above)
- Global abilities.
- The ability to single out enemy heroes in a teamfight to turn it into a 4v5.
The initiator's role is to decisively start the fight on the right foot and allowing your team to come in after you and do their thing. An initiator is the single most important class of hero you can have when teamfights come around.
A lot of initiators rely on being in the middle of the fight and getting a channeled or otherwise powerful ult off (Tempest, Magmus, Behemoth, Kraken, Soulstealer), making portal key a top priority for them. Other heroes that can double as initiators when you are lacking typical ones include Pestilence, Andromeda and Deadwood; all of these can initiate because they have hefty disables or because can turn the fight into a 4v5 in the right circumstances. Valkyrie and Vindicator can initiate in an emergency because they have global ults with powerful buffs/debuffs that give your team a significant edge in a teamfight.
Due to the need to achieve the best positioning possible, many initiators that rely on their disables and ultimates WILL require a portal key, so make sure that whoever is initiating for you is doing their job properly. Without a proper initiation, you're just asking to lose a fight if the enemy is even slightly more well-organized. This means initiators with AoE abilities have to hit as many key enemy heroes as fast as possible.
Because getting into the thick of things to start the fight is a risky business that can often get you killed, initiators tend to not be carries, because they will often not get the kills they assist in, and they run a higher chance of dying. Exceptions of course include Chronos and Soulstealer. To prevent this, most initiators build tanky items, some kind of escape mechanism if they lack a natural one (void talisman, shrunken head, assassin's shroud, ironically enough portal key), or barbed armor to get people to stop attacking them.
The most hardcore initiators are Magmus, Behemoth, Kraken, and Tempest.
Softer initiators are everyone else mentioned above, though Hellbringer and Engineer can be almost considered hardcore.
Carries are honestly a trickier class to define, especially with the early-game power of a lot of S2's carries, which makes them less differentiated from gankers.
However, Carries are generally acknowledged as heroes with:
- A relatively weak early-game prominence but who can;
- Shine and just destroy entire teams once they have farmed enough items.
They usually have any combination of the following:
- A percentage- or multiplier-based ability, or
- An ability that scales with damage, attack speed, or their main attribute (usually Agility, as in the case of Nighthound)
- Abilities that can deal massive damage but rely on staying alive for a prolonged amount of time in a teamfight.
What makes them tricky to define is the fact that they scale well with items, as well as the weak early-game definition. Some carries, such as Corrupted Disciple and Soulstealer have a decent or even great early-game due to their nukes and other abilities, other such as TDL, magebane, and Sand Wraith have a very rough earlygame but scale much better, while certain heroes like Defiler and Torturer can carry because of their ult and strong, spammable aoe abilities, while being monsters early-game. Then there are heroes like Swiftblade and Puppetmaster, who are great earlygame, and at every stage after that.
Carries themselves also vary on a scale of hardness, or how strongly they scale through to late-game compared to their earlier relative uselessness. Chronos, Sand Wraith and TDL are real hard carries that scale tremendously. Others that don't scale to that same level are called semi-carries, or soft carries.
Semi-carries can usually be found amongst agility gankers like Valkyrie and some strength-based heroes like Hammerstorm and Pestilence. These heroes also scale with items to a certain degree, but they generally peak midgame to early-lategame, at which point better-scaling carries dominate them. They are generally not pressured or required to farm an expensive core set of items, but can be quite effective with a minimum of items, meaning they should really be spending a lot of time ganking and in teamfights, without neglecting any farm that comes their way. Of course, the beauty of a good semi-carry is that s/he can the game for you before the opposing carry gets ridiculous, depending on how much you dominate during midgame.
A Ganking hero is good at either:
- Dealing a great deal of burst damage through his abilities.
- Dealing a lot of damage through his early auto-attacks.
- Laying down powerful stuns, silences, holds/roots, and slows.
- Or, preferably, all of the above.
They excel in small skirmishes where there are fewer targets available and their (usually) single-target disables shine because they can render 1/3 to 1/2 to all of the enemy heroes being ganked totally defenseless. In a teamfight, gankers pick up the slack of disabling the enemy after the initiator has done his job. The Ganker's abilities generally wane in power as more enemies join the fight, because even the best gankers cannot keep 5 heoes perma-disabled, and at that point the enemy is more likely to disable YOU as well. However, it is insanely better to have their burst damage and disables available in a teamfight than to not have them, because you can only rarely win a teamfight without disables.
Yes, these are heroes who should think about the team's well-being before they think of their own stats. They are often item-independent heroes whose main role as dictated by their abilities and playstyle is to:
- Buff or heal their own team.
- Push creeps and/or towers down quickly.
- Cripple the enemy's ability to fight through debuffs.
- Maintain map control through wards since they are rather item-independent.
Because they are generally item independent and because they often have to give up farm for more item-dependent heroes, support heroes are often the ones found baby-sitting carries in the early game to give the star player a head start. Good babysitteres usually carry a heal, a stun, a slow (or any combination thereof), and a skillset that allows them to maintain lane control for their lane-partner.
Section II: Sub-Roles
When I referred to sub-roles, I referred to roles that heroes from any of the four main categories can also do. They are not necessarily tied to the original category. Zakharov provides rather the opposite of what I had in mind by breaking down each main role into specialized categories. I would refer to these as specializations instead of sub-roles.
The gods of turtling, these heroes are great for stopping team pushes, protecting your structures, and allowing a game to reach the later phases. Their strengths lie in strong AoE abilities that can screw with a pushing team. As such, they often come from the ranks of pushing supports and initiators. Some discourage pushes (Behemoth, Kraken, Keeper), others can simply push down the enemy's push (Torturer, Nymphora).
This section comprises heroes that can either prevent a blink+ult initiation, interrupt a strong channeling ability or ult, lessen the damage your team suffers from an initiation, or have abilities that seriously hinder the enemy's positioning.
Many regular initiators like Behemoth, Magmus, and Tempest can technically fulfill this category if they somehow get jumped on first but have a tiny bit of time to react.
Secondary initiators can compound the damage and/or lethality of a regular initiation. Much like initiators they are built around very strong aoe ultimates, but their abilities are usually not enough on their own to achieve the same effect as an initation by someone with heavy disables.
Because they usually cannot disable the enemy as well as a Tempest or Behemoth, or even Hellbringer during an initiation, they have to go second or risk having their most threatening AoE abilities interrupted prematurely. If a proper initiator is lacking, a Shrunken Head and Portal key can ensure that they at least start the fight off on the right foot for your team.
Heroes that specialize in dealing lots of magic (or physical) damage in a burst to bring a valuable target down to a low amount of health. Stuns are optional but often present on these guys. They are item-independent early and mid-game, so they can do their job very quickly in ganks without ricing for extended periods of time, meaning they let your team secure the advantage early. The same goes for their cousins in the next section.
Heroes with lots of lengthy and annoying disables that can effectively shut down a dangerous enemy hero without diverting a great deal of team resources toward killing him outright. Just like Nukers, Disablers are item-independent, and make for great gankers.
These heroes pack a lot of lane control through either good attack animations, good base damage, heals, stuns, or strong buffs and debuffs. They are basically there to make up for the lack of lane control that Chronos, Predator, TDL or Magebane would have against a typical dual lane. They are for the most part ward-whoring supports or heroes that otherwise don't need to rice 24/7 to do their job, unlike the carry they are paired with.
Their job in a lane is to keep the carry alive and safe, not fight him for farm, and deny the enemy farm. After the laning phase they usually take up the support role. Melee babysitters like Accursed and Keeper are usually paired with a ranged carry like FA or Arachna because they are very good at countering harassment and helping the carry escape or survive ganks and skirmishes in a lane. Of course, try to never send a melee babysitter with a melee carry or you're just asking for all sorts of trouble.
Heroes like Pestilence, Blood Hunter, Sand Wraith, Madman, Rampage, and Warbeast, who have a way of tracking a target as it flees, and/or a way to catch it easily with MS buffs/debuffs and sometimes stuns. These heroes are great to have in a gank or after a teamfight to clean up stray survivors. They are entirely situational and you likely won't need a dedicated chaser if you pull off good ganks and win.
Heroes like Andromeda, Pyromancer, Slither, Witch Slayer, occasionally Behemoth.
Roamers are like a sub-category of gankers who don't stay in a particular lane all game but roam around the map assisting in, and creating opportunities for ganks and kills early-game while giving your team an extra solo. A good roamer is very item-independent, and has strong stuns, nukes, or other CC abilities; they are expected to make their money from ganks instead of creep kills, so a roamer must be very successful to justify roaming. Although they are a high-risk strategic investment, good roamers can turn the game for you. Roaming heroes can also be pulled out of the roaming role to lane, and play as normal gankers if necessary.
One mark of a good roamer is a level 1 skill that has a strong CC and/or damage component. Slither's Poison Spray, Andromeda's Comet, Witch Slayer's Graveyard, Behemoth's Fissure all match that description. Other slows like Hellbringer's or Wretched Hag's are also good, but these heroes are not very effective at level 1 as an Amdromeda or Slither, because their high-damage skills happen to not be their CC skills at early levels.
Yes, some heroes can tank better than others. In general, a lot of heroes have to become more tanky because their main way of dealing damage is either an annoying AOE DoT or some constantly spammable spell that hurts the enemy a lot. They become tanky to get the most out of their skills, not because they are masochists and like to absorb damage for its own sake. I will concede that failing to get a proper initiator on your team means you will have to rely on somehow getting a good deal of farm on a tanky character so he can run in and distract the enemy while your team hopefully follows up. However, under no circumstances should this be considered the main role for ANY hero. I will explain the last statement more in the next section, but if you do consider it a main role, chances are that you aren't playing at a very high level.
Section III: The Folly of Tanks.
Now, you can break down the roles I listed above into any dozens of categories, but if you want accurate categories that describe the heroes and their roles on the team, you're going to need to stick to these categories. With that out of the way, I want to outline why "tank" should never ever ever be considered a hero's main role.
First: many people, especially newer players, seem to think that it is the role of someone on the team to eat nukes, disables and autoattacks by rushing in first. This is mistaken for initiation because it drains the enemy's disables. Now consider this: Legionnaire starts running toward your team, he's tanky as hell but doesn't do much damage unless he gets the taunt off or you attack him. What do you do? You stun/sleep/hold/kite him and go after his team. Sure sounds like a "successful" initiation!
The point of an initiation is NOT to get the enemy to waste his nukes, it's to waste the enemy before he can react. Legionnaire would be MUCH better off using portal key to blink into a cluster of enemy heroes and giving YOUR team a 3 second window to attack instead of eating one or two disables and then being ignored until the tide turns against you.
Why would you have a hero simply RUN in first? If you do that, the enemy won't just be gentlemen about it and let you waltz into position to get the most use out of your aoe abilities. Here's what happens in different situations if you try to initiate with a "tank:"
a) your enemy is competent and stuns him, ignores him and destroys your team.
b) your enemy is incompetent and blows everything on him. Congratulations, you're now fighting 4v5 with nobody to "tank" damage and disables for you.
Even if you get the "initiation" off, it could have been done vastly better with a portal key to seize optimal positioning.
Second, and last: The very concept of having a character dedicated to eating damage doesn't work in HoN. It works in WoW, but this is not WoW. Think back to Patton's words, "The object of war is not to die for your country, it's to make the other bastard die for his." If the "tank's" role is basically to attract fire, he's just dying for his country, not killing the other bastard. You don't win by absorbing nukes, you win by killing the enemy first and pushing his lanes down.
On that note, you won't always kill the enemy off perfectly, neither side will always get a perfect stunlock down on all 5 enemy heroes and take 0 damage; damage will fly everywhere according to the player's individual judgment. Initiating gives you a definite edge, but someone IS going to eat damage. Unfortunately, it won't always be the guy with 4k hp and 30 armor. As such, it is everyone's responsibility to have survivability; that is, everyone has to be tanky to some extent to avoid dying in 2 seconds, but every single hero has something better to do than to stack EHP when they could be gearing up and playing in the mindset for carrying, initiating, supporting, or ganking.
Section IV: Afterword On Effective Hero Picking
Due to the ever-changing metagame in HoN, you'll see more emphasis put on different roles as certain strategies are found to be more powerful than others. Some heroes will become more versatile or adopt different play-styles as the game evolves, so they will move between categories and power levels. As much as I would love to cover those changes in a guide or to set down guidelines for effective picking, what I write down will inevitably be outdated within a few weeks.
Reading outdated guides usually proves to be a disservice to the community if those guides stick around, so I'd rather leave readers with the following advice about picking:
1. Follow. The. Competitive. Scene.
That's it. Everything else is fine-tuning and elaboration.
Look at the heroes that successful teams pick. You'll obviously learn more from watching and following a well-executed strategy than a badly-executed one. Look at what role each hero plays and how he plays it. Then think back to this guide and try to judge how important each role is to a team, what heroes are most effective in that role, and how they synergize with their team-members. Just remember, competitive teams will find novel ways to use heroes in certain roles, blending roles, or creating new ones, but the basics of the roles I list here will likely be at the heart of any competitive lineup out there. The exceptions of course being unconventional strategies such as the massive minion pushes by clan [Dy] against  that try to think outside the metagame box and create something new.
One aspect this guide don't cover is laning, which could be an entire guide on its own, so try to see laning strategies in competitive play (dual mid against a strong solo, lane switches, roamers, Ophelia jungling the enemy jungle, babysit lanes, which heroes are most versatile etc.). Note that the reasoning for picks can come both from thinking about performance in the laning phase as well as teamfights, so while a hero like Tempest might be a great asset in a teamfight, picking him might hurt your team very badly early-game if you aren't prepared to run two strong solos. The safest approach picking is to do it as holistically as possible, and with a well-defined goal in mind.
1/24/10: Added a note in the beginning of the hero role section. Gonna work more on the carry section and sub-roles.
1/26/10: Added hero examples in the sub-roles, prettied it up a bit, added disclaimer in the 1st section. Image limit reached, the pictures are staying where they are for now.
2/25/10: Added 4th section. Added Blacksmith, had to remove Valk from initiators. No new pictures
Gonna use this post as a preliminary role description for some/all heroes. Roles are listed in order of importance and what is most efficient for the hero. With some heroes like Witch Slayer and Pyro, it's obviously debatable which role you primarily want to use them in.
Hellbringer: softer/secondary initiator, support, counter-initiator (vs. Tempest), ganker, tankish mid- and late-game.
Nymphora: Support, can assist ganks.
Accursed: Support, tankish, built as carry in pubs.
Blacksmith: Ganker, support, semi-carry.
Andromeda: Ganker, support.
Armadon: Semi-carry (midgame), ganker, tankish mid through lategame
Slither: Ganker, support, semi-carry, secondary initiator.
Panda: Ganker, semi-carry if farmed correctly, possible soft initiator with correct items.
Pyromancer: Ganker, support.
Witch Slayer: Ganker, support.
Pharaoh: Ganker, soft initiator, can support lategame with right items.
Corrupted Disciple: Carry/semi-carry, ganker (should still give a bunch of focus to ganking earlygame), anti-carry.
Puppet Master: Carry, ganker.
The Dark Lady: Carry
Kraken: Initiator, poor ganker, tankish.
Predator: Semi-carry/carry, ganker.
Engineer: Semi-carry, soft/secondary initiator, counter-initiator, carry.
moved to strategy
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i like it, definitely explains hero roles to a good potential
although you could break down, like difference between babysit support and other types
When is a door not a door?
When it's ajar!
I enjoyed reading it but it has its flaws. The specifics on hero roles is a rather shady, and definetly non-linear area. I 100% agree with you when you say MMORPG terms dont apply at all, but imo there are more subcategories - like semi-carry, soft carry, hard carry. IMO as well, a disabler doesnt really exist, as 100% of HoN disablers have either strong gank capabilities or strong support abilities.
Then I disagree with some of your heroes in some categories. Take Pharaoh for instance; imo, his strongest - if not more defining role - is initiation. His strong initiating combo is what makes him shine as a ganker. Take Soul Reaper; is a support, but also a perfectly plausible semi carry, that happens to carry by tanking. Pretty much like Defiler.
All of this to say that any labeling is extremely general - meaning its never ever precise - and too dependant on individual opinions/the way you see the hero. There really isnt a "one word" that can label any hero in HoN.
these hero roles are roles throughout the game. tank is simply a role within a particular engagement/phase of the game. in particular, when you are pushing towers and raxes, having a tanky hero up ahead will force the engagement. it allows your initiators better positioning.
Consider Blacksmith for your ganker list.
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Demented Shaman isn't in support, which is actually funny.
Great guide though, there needs to be more overall strategy guides (rather than hero specific ones) like this one.
Edit: appears to be fixed
Last edited by Exalion; 01-27-2010 at 05:26 AM.
This space for rent.
Good guide in general, hero roles tend to be very well explained, although you should point out that some heroes can have multiple roles in a single game (e.g. Soulstealer), or be played as different roles in different games (e.g. Torturer). I also think you need to explain subcategories a bit more. You mention them in the start, but don't explain what they mean. Here's how I see it:
These heroes initiate by separating one or more of the enemy heroes from his team, killing those heroes first, then finishing off the rest of the team.
These heroes are all about initiating before your opponents and disabling as many of them as possible.
Although all these heroes can act as first-in initiators, they prefer to come in after the initiation in order to more reliably use their AOE abilities, and to avoid getting focused and killed too fast. Any other hero with an AoE stun can also be considered a weaker follow-up initiator.
These heroes don't actually initiate, but use their global skills to allow their team's initiators to initiate first.
These heroes tend to be extremely powerful at the 20-40 minute mark if well farmed, able to lead a push to victory with their powerful pushing abilities. These heroes are sometimes referred to as "tank carries" due to their tendency to get survivability items. Torturer, Pollywog and Soul Reaper may instead be played as support heroes instead of carries.
These heroes tend to spend a fair bit of time early-midgame ganking, and can carry lategame if their ganking is successful
Hard Carry: The usual suspects.
These heroes are what people commonly think of as carries - they farm until they have enough items to kill everyone, then they kill everyone.
These heroes, who tend to be disablers, aren't usually able to gank anyone alone, but can help another hero execute a successful gank. They often act as babysitters and ward buyers.
Other Ganker: basically who you'd expect
These heroes tend to have either lots of nukes ( etc) or lots of single-target disables ( etc). They are capable of ganking some heroes alone, but are more successful when they are accompanied by a support ganker.
Defensive support: :jera:
Often referred to as "babysitters" or "healers", these support heroes tend to focus on making sure the carry can farm well. They are more commonly seen on turtle teams, in which they buy lots of wards to prevent the carry from being ganked, and use their supportive skills to protect or buff the carry.
Offensive support: and all the Support Gankers
These heroes support a gank- or push-oriented team, providing the necessary disables, heals and/or pushing power to make the team's ganks and pushes successful.
I may have missed some heroes in each category, but you get the general idea.
Last edited by Zakharov; 01-24-2010 at 06:48 AM.
Initiation is one of the hardest things in HoN, if you don't have a dedicated initiator (with a blink/AOE disable) then it usually turns into a "who gets kited first" scenario.
I've had games where Accursed tanks up and runs in first, and does eat most of their focus for a few seconds, but it's about running back just as your team approach so that people change targets.
Playing an initiator sucks most of the time since you do most of the work and die the most, unless you are using something like tempest.
Pharaoh is an OK initiator, but only if you have a single soft target that you have spotted or has been kited. I've found him more effective if you can ult on a squishy support/mage at the back of the team after the fight has started.
btw, I would put puppetmaster as a carry since 90% of people play him that way primarily.
Being 'tanky' depends on the items you get. Any hero can be a tank with the right items.
This is why the definition of tank doesn't fit in to this game. There are >two< characters with skills that would be considered tanky. Those are Legionnaire and Armadon.
It might be prudent to get some strength heroes so you can flesh out your collective HP amounts, but the idea that you need a tank, or should gear up to have a tank, is bogus.
It's worth mentioning that some heroes are anti-initiators, meaning that their skill should be used better defensively to negate an intiation from opponent team.
Those heroes are similar to those of meta-initiators: Jeraziah, Vindicator, Valkyrie, Hellbringer, Engineer. Some of these heroes' skill can be used to initiate, but more often than not they will use their ulti right after the initator of the other team moved into action. IMO this way they can exert the advantage of their ulti to the most.
I don't consider ganker a primary role.
Primary roles are Support, Carry, and Semicarry. Secondary roles are Ganker, Roamer, Initiator, Pusher, Babysitter, <probably a few others I'm missing>. Tertiary roles are all of the anti-roles. Anti push (behemoth), anti carry (corrupted, soul reaper).
A lot of people use support to encompass heroes who sacrifice everything for the team but that's not really the case. A support is a hero is any type of hero that is relatively item independent, but they can still farm and choose to spend their gold on supporting items, i.e. barrier idol, puzzlebox, sheepstick. A support that also farms a little bit can split the cost of courier/wards/dust, but not necessarily buy it all. A babysitter ("hard support") is a hero who sacrifices basically everything and takes the brunt of the cost for team support with upkeep costs.
This guide isn't bad by any means though, the above is just my opinion.
I'll just copy something I wrote long ago (actually not that long)
Tank is more of a role than you seem to be making it. Of course, no single hero is very much capable of taking the heat of 5 heroes at once, but it is a sub-role that many heroes have. Basically, a good tank will have enough HP to be able to survive a couple spells and attacks from their heroes, and yet be a threat enough to be worth these spells from the enemy. Also, a tank will generally position the enemy more defensively giving an offensive advantage.
A good example is Corrupted Disciple. If built as a tank, he can spam his AOE chipping the enemy HP a good deal, and this AOE will generally drive any low HP nukers or supports back preventing them from casting spells on the most dangerous heroes (AKA carries or healers). Also, his ult constantly brings enemy armor lower, causing him to be a threat worth some spells.
Accursed and Armadon on the other hand, are NOT good tanks. Although they pose somewhat of a threat if left alive, it's not very difficult for carries or nukers to get up front on the action and deal damage to the fragiles. This is why Accursed is played more as a support, and Armadon is rarely picked. If Armadon wants to pose a threat, he will need a frostfield plate or a radiance, and the farming this requires is enormous for someone like Armadon, unless an incompetent team lets him triple stack in the jungle and farm like a madman.
Also, about the main topic, roles are NOT something that you should be assigning to your team. You just play with what you need. Most heroes have more than one role ex: Blacksmith being a semi-carry, a ganker, a support, and a semi-tank because of his abnormal strength. Although he is not especially strong in any of these, he is capable of doing all of these all at once, and choosing to go only one route simply lowers his potential. He is fully capable of fulfilling all of these roles at once.
So basically, just choose what your team needs... don't be one of those noobs that says CHOOSE SUPPORT HERO.
Anyway, this isnt about Pharaoh. Carry on