Heroes of Newerth: Ravenor...
By Jon Thorp (Speedohdk), OnRPG HoN Specialist
With the new HoN patch 2.6.5 comes the latest S2 creation, Ravenor. I've always been a big fan of strength heroes and was excited to hear about this upcoming strength “carry”, hoping he might have a Berzerker type feel to him with high burst dps while maintaining a strong presence and decent survivability. Unfortunately what everyone received was a jumbled mess of abilities that not only do not synergize with each other but most of his skills have little synergy with any feasible item build whatsoever.
Official Ravenor hero spotlight released by S2, giving a brief overview of his role and abilities.
Ravenor is a hero that specializes in close-range AoE magic damage. His abilities fuel his ultimate which make him faster, and attack for more damage. Stacking quite high, with enough auto attacks Ravenor can quickly become a killing machine if left alone in teamfights. He does however have blaring weaknesses I will point out that will likely be addressed be S2 in a future balance patch to make him more viable in casual and competitive play.
Ball Lightning: Similar to Maliken's sword throw or bubbles' shell surf, Ball lightning is a skill-shot initiation ability in which you throw a sphere of energy toward a target location and have the ability to teleport to it instantly if an enemy hero is hit. While useful early game due to the slower movement speed of heroes at lower levels, as the game progresses the slow movement speed of ball lightning inhibits Ravenor's ability to initiate on his own and this spell becomes more of a follow-up initiation.
Storm Blades: This ability applies a buff to your attack, increasing your auto attack damage by a large amount and causing the extra damage to bounce to nearby targets. With only a twelve second cooldown, Storm Blades is essential for feeding your insatiable hunger for gold per minute by increasing your creep score when under pressure.
Electrical Feedback: The way Electrical Feedback has been implemented conflicts with the original intended use. Its high cooldown means it can only be used sporadically during an encounter; The high mana cost relative to Ravenor's mana pool forces an already mana-starved hero into making inefficient item pickup choices, or literally dropping Electrical Feedback altogether (which most people do).
Power Overwhelming: Increasing movement speed and base damage based on how many charges you currently have, this ability has the potential to be monstrous. However, after playing Ravenor extensively, seeing his level 3 ultimate at max charges simply isn't realistic. If you manage to land a follow up Ball Lightning to start off the charges and follow up with a well-timed storm blades, you can expect to fight at around half charges for an average skirmish. A decent ultimate to be sure, but its major downside is that the charges do not last long enough, falling off and resetting to zero after every encounter.
Ravenor chasing down Riftwalker with a successful Ball Lightning throw
Deciding what items to purchase on Ravenor is especially difficult due to his abilities being quite awkward and almost contradictory of the role he plays. Rather than giving him the jack of all trades title like S2 intended he is kind of the 'meh' of everything. Not really excelling at any one particular aspect of the game. This makes talking about his item builds somewhat difficult.
“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!”
This is a quote from another article is even more accurate here because of the wild item routes Ravenor can take. Whenever I coach I can never emphasize enough how important item analysis is.
This popular in game item guide (credits to lauffer) shows just how versatile Ravenor can really be, ranging from tank-oriented playstyles with heart plus helm of the black legion to raw damage builds like shroud plus hellflower for initiation into a strong burst chain. What items to choose is entirely determined by what hero composition your team has, the enemy team has, and what actions you think will have the most impact in the game with certain things taken into account. For instance, if you have a very dominant lane and are farming quite well you may want to go for the initiation into damage route; if you aren't farming so well on the other hand you may want to start off with a helm of the black legion to help your ability to get last hits safely.
If you are only comfortable with x build and it works, that is completely fine, but I encourage you to branch out and analyze what situations may arise in the game for you following picks and lanes. You may be surprised how effectively a build you previously thought inferior to what you normally do works if you give it a shot! Just remember, trying new builds is done with the intent to learn and improve, not to win. Winning is the thrill that makes video games so overwhelmingly enjoyable, but in a game with a learning curve as steep as Heroes of Newerth leaving and eventually expanding your comfort zone with regards to what items you pick up and when on any given hero is a necessity to improving.
Back to Ravenor, to say I enjoyed playing him would just be wrong. His weaknesses outweigh his strengths by a pretty wide margin and sadly he cannot serve a single purpose for any given situation that another hero cannot do better. He may be fun to play, but from a competitive view Ravenor is functionally worthless. To say a hero is obsolete in a game as diverse as HoN is a bold statement, but unfortunately it's true. With all that being said however, I have no doubt changes will come to Ravenor in one way or another in future patches. It really only takes a few tweaks to bring something underpowered from zero to hero, and there is a large number of ways to do this; not to mention a great beta testing team constantly testing new content and giving feedback on it. Overall I would say Ravenor is a potentially amazing hero, but currently underwhelming.