Heroes of Newerth: Gunblade is Nothing Special
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
I am always looking forward to Heroes of Newerth new hero releases because they usually bring new mechanics and play styles to the table. After reading the preview for Gunblade I was excited to try him out but I turned out to be very disappointed.
The hero plays like a ranged agility carry but features a play style that goes against the average agility carry. This is a nice change as it brings something new to the table but I am not a big fan of this play style. It could just be that I was spoiled with some of the great hero releases in the past weeks but I did not enjoy playing Gunblade.
To begin, let us take a look at his skills.
Gunblade’s skill set
None of his skills are too interesting. While they are not copies of existing skills, the new mechanics they add to the game are not very fun or creative.
His first skill, Crippling Slugs, fires three times in a chosen direction dealing damage and applying a stacking slow. It is a great skill because of its high damage and great slow. The slow percentage adds on to the previous percentage which means that at max level you are able to slow the enemy by 51%! As the game progresses, the burst will not be as significant because the damage does not scale but it is great for early kills.
Lethal Range is his second ability. It is a passive that grants bonus damage to Gunblade’s auto attacks based on his distance from the target. This skill only works on heroes so it is not very useful in the early game in most situations.
It is an interesting ability but changes the play style for agility carries quite a bit. Normally carries are to stay far and only poke their heads in when it is safe to do so. However, this skill encourages the very squishy Gunblade to jump into the middle of fights.
This is where his third skill, Demonic Shield, comes in. It provides a shield to Gunblade that absorbs a base amount plus additional damage based on his agility. The shield also grants additional movement speed. While this shield is meant to absorb damage and allow Gunblade to be in the middle of team fights, it does not mean that Gunblade is not squishy.
Even when maxing this skill early on I still found myself dying quite fast. I won’t say it is entirely useless as I have been saved many times because of this skill, but it still felt lacking. Depending on your play style, this skill serves many purposes. The additional movement speed is great when chasing enemies leading up to a slow with Crippling Slugs. I find myself using this skill mainly to get away from enemies or turn on initiating enemies.
Solo mid as Gunblade
Gunblade’s ultimate is Grappling Shot and like the name suggests it pulls Gunblade towards the target. The grapple also deals damage, a one second stun but best of all it decreases the targets armor. This is a great skill to go with Lethal Range but it should be used carefully. The last thing you want to do is pull yourself into a trap.
When leveling up Gunblade’s skills you want to be maxing out Crippling Slugs as soon as possible and leveling up the ultimate whenever possible. The trouble I had when coming up with a skill build for Gunblade was if I should be leveling Lethal Range or Demonic Shield.
After trying out both paths, I have concluded that Gunblade is too squishy in the early game to afford leveling up Lethal Range. You will simply be killed if you go too close to your opponent. Therefore it makes sense to be leveling up Demonic Shield to make up for your squishiness.
As far as items go, they are not very different from most ranged agility carries. At the beginning of the game it is wise to pick up some smaller items which provide stats to aid in last hitting. I tend to get two duck boots and minor totems to fill up my six item slots.
Some viable options on Gunblade
Gunblade seems to work better in a safe lane with a support hero to allow easy farming. Going down the middle lane is also an option if no support is available but many heroes can easily burst Gunblade down in the early game. Just try to farm up as much as you can as Gunblade becomes very powerful in the late game. Late game is where Gunblade really shines but it can be painful trying to get there.
Without a support you’re going to have to make some adjustments to ensure the game lasts a while. I’d suggest grabbing a Grave Locket to get you through mid game. It will not steer you too far off your main item build because of its low cost, and it still provides great stats.
When it comes to choices of boots, you can decide between Ghost Marchers or Steamboots depending on the game or personal play style. I highly recommend Steamboots because of the additional stats as Ghost Marchers will make you easy prey for enemy casters. Remember that when the game gets into the late game, it is wise to disassemble your boots and build Post Haste. Mobility around the large map is essential when playing any team game.
Geometer’s Bane has become one of my favourite items in the game. The stats and damage it provides are great but I really love the active ability. It serves many purposes such as juking or fooling enemies and dispelling active de-buffs. It also provides a 0.1 second invulnerability which can be used to save yourself if timed correctly. The created illusions also have the attack modifiers on the original! This is one of the core items on Gunblade.
You want to be focusing on items which provide agility and damage but do not ignore survivability. I am not a fan of glass cannon builds because one mistake can cost you the game. Therefore items such as Shrunken Head are essential to your survival. Sol’s Bulwark is also a great item which benefits your entire team.
In team fights you need to be close to your enemies to deal maximum damage. This can be hard because everyone will be wanting to kill you but the listed items and your shield should allow you to soak up a bit of focus fire. Keep in mind that all of these item suggestions and play styles change from game to game. The great thing about Heroes of Newerth is that no two games are the same.
To conclude, I was not very pleased with the latest hero. While he does offer a twist to the play style of agility carries, his skill set was nothing special. Hopefully the upcoming hero offers a more unique skill set. I still suggest checking out Gunblade because even though he did not appeal to me does not mean that he is a bad hero. You might come to love this suicidal play style. I am more of a passive player that tries to hold off on full team fights for as long as possible, making a good portion of his skill set useless in the meantime.