Heroes of Newerth: A Freeze is Coming
By Jon Thorp (Speedohdk), OnRPG HoN Specialist
Editor’s Note: Abubakr has been reassigned to other pending projects. Speedohdk will be taking up the banner of providing Heroes of Newerth coverage in his place. Enjoy his first column reviewing Ellonia!
With Heroes of Newerth's patch 2.5.21 comes the release of the highly anticipated Ellonia, an intellect teamfight oriented hero based around her extremely short cooldowns and large aoe (but high mana cost) abilities. The range on her abilities gives her the power to be a large threat and have a strong presence in the game even if played as a support role; but in this review we will be looking at her from the eyes of a solo / carry / ganker / initiator role (since those are the playstyles I have been most known for).
Nearly all of Ellonia's abilities are skill shot and combo based, giving her a high skill cap yet still being accessible and enjoyable to newer less experienced players due to the extremely short cooldown of her abilities. To fully understand what I mean by this, we will need to take a close look at her skills and analyze how each of them will synergize with each other.
Glacial Spike: This ability is the bread and butter of Ellonia, being both her most reliable nuke and longest range spammable spell. Early game glacial spike has to be used selectively because of both the cost of the ability and her low starting mana pool (luckily she has an unbelievable int gain of 3.2 per level). Every landed glacial spike applies 5 charges of frosted, slowing the target's movement speed by 10% and slightly increasing the stun duration and damage of flash freeze. Mid and late game after Ellonia's tremendous int gain has kicked in this ability can be used fairly often to both nuke down creep waves and harass or set up kills. With good aim you can make incredible use of this ability’s cooldown and continue snaring a target and applying more and more stacks of frosted while doing a large amount of damage from 1000+ units away.
Frigid Field: Also having a 2 second cooldown, when used properly in combination with glacial spike Ellonia can completely shut down a team's movement speed while at the same time doing a tremendous amount of AoE damage. This ability must always be used carefully though because the max range is much shorter than glacial spike and can put her in danger of being caught by a stun or ultimate if not used at the right times.
Flash Freeze: Being her only targeted ability, flash freeze may ironically be her most difficult skill to use correctly. Because of the nature of how frosted charges add damage and stun duration to flash freeze, people naturally want to stack up a bunch of charges before casting this ability to have the greatest effect. Using this ability though almost always requires a full commitment(or kill attempt)because of the 500 max range putting you dangerously close to one or multiple enemies who would be delighted to kill you in 3 spells. Ideally flash freeze should only be used after absolute zero is cast because of the speed it applies large amounts of frosted, but more often than not it is more important to use a flash freeze with just a few charges of frosted to get a nice ultimate off. Knowing when to use flash freeze on the target is the most difficult part of Ellonia but should come naturally with practice.
Absolute Zero: And now we reach our most exciting ability, the reason people both love and hate Ellonia! Absolute Zero is cast in a way similar to how frozen orb works for sorcerers in diablo2. The closer you are to the center of this ability when hit, the more damage will be dealt to you. So that means in teamfights you should wait until an ally uses a stun or other crowd controlling ability/ultimate to hold someone still and then go bananas with absolute zero and frigid field and glacial spike until your entire screen looks like Antarctica!
Ellonia making use of the large range of glacial spike
Here we can see Ellonia making use of her ability to harass from afar even though she is a level under wretched hag. If this hag were to try and turn around and fight me with the 60% health she has I would likely be able to burst her to death in the time my stun gives me from the frosted already applied on her. A very powerful harassing ability when used correctly.
In the next section we will be going over how Ellonia should be built item-wise. You should understand though that I have a very unique play style and some people might find these suggestions controversial, but I will try to go over why I find this build and the luxury item options superior to what you would consider a more traditional build for Ellonia.(A VoD of a VERY in depth 5 hour long Ellonia only session I made to help mid level players can be found at the bottom of this article).
Solo mid / side lane Ellonia build
First, let's go over the starting items. This is an amazing build for newer players for a number of reasons; it has a good amount of regen, it offers a tremendous amount of survivability via +4 to all stats and +armor from RoT, and once ring of the teacher is finished it will allow you to hit much harder than almost any other starting build as well as giving you a consistent source of mana regeneration for the majority of the rest of the game. The single downside to this starting build is that great attention needs to be paid to the initial waves of creeps because you will likely hit for less than your opponent so glacial spike may need to be worked into your last hitting rotation to ensure you finish your ring of the teacher at a decent time.
The laning phase (or early mid game) items can be bought in no particular order, so long as they are gotten as soon as possible to increase your mobility via phaseboots, survivability by finishing a grave locket, ring of the teacher, major totem, and of course always carrying a town portal scroll in case your team needs you! Bottle is completely optional and depends on how far your initial runes of blight take you and how much rune control you will be able to hold over your enemy.
The only item I truly consider to be necessary to this hero (and most int heroes in fact) is tablet of command, also known as “push stick”. The utility brought to you and your team as far as initiation/chasing/fleeing and most importantly your ability to continue farming safely by this item is almost unbelievable for the price (2050 gold). If you are a HoN player and do not actively buy push sticks on intellect heroes I STRONGLY encourage you to get in the habit of doing so, even if you are not used to it at first. If you are a newcomer to HoN it will take a good deal of practice to master push stick but you will thank me later, it is legitimately one of the best items in the game, and insanely cheap to make.
If you have kept up your farm as a solo laner and lategame is on its way you have to decide what to make after push stick. A number of factors come into play at this point and some things you need to ask yourself are “what does my team need?” “what will increase my ability to farm safely?” “what will grant me the most usefulness in teamfights for the gold?”. If your team is lacking initiation I would suggest picking up an assassin's shroud. If the game looks like it will be going extremely late you may want a nullstone for the sustainability and safety it gives you while farming. If you think your team needs raw damage or if it needs you to be able to absorb some attacks you may want to consider hellflower or frostwolf skull.
The ability to choose the exact right items in every game for every situation that may arise is a very difficult thing to master. However with consistent analysis of why you pick up what items and if there could be a better solution, then over time you will start to notice it becoming easier to see what item is needed when. Overall knowing what is most ideal in a moment’s notice will make a tremendous impact on how your game is played out!
If I were to give a one word description of Ellonia, it would have to be awesome! A job well done by S2 for creating a hero with new concepts in mind that are accessible to both new players and advanced players alike. I am extremely pleased with this release and hope to see more great releases like this in the near future by S2.
Speedohdk's Ellonia Learning Day: http://www.twitch.tv/speedohdk/b/316392034