A Lunara Story: Your Love Is Poison

May 28, 2016

The first time I saw her, she was taking a sip from the well. I’ll never forget the water running over those beautiful lips, the sun glinting off of her small, delicate antlers, or her slender figure silhouetted against the backdrop of the keep. Her lively, capricious eyes danced in unison with the water as she drank, like a sparkling pool of amber. Her long mane of curly, threaded locks cascaded down her doe-brown back to casually hang off to one side. She was the most perfect creature I had ever seen. This was my love, this was my Lunara, the first of the dryads.

But love has its drawbacks, its pangs and hungers. I longed for this dryad, but alas, no such fate could bring us together. She was an outcast, the product of poor Hero design and low damage numbers. She was considered the lowest ranking among her peers, the Assassins, and shunned from all decent play—a hermit from society, rarely seen and never spoken well of. I cursed Blizzard for their work on poor, poor Lunara. But I never gave up on her, even as she rose through the ranks from her ignominious beginnings to become one of the greatest champions of the Nexus. I never gave up on her and, though she doesn’t know, I will never forget her. This is her story….

-Kael’thas Sunstrider

Spurned, Disdained, and Scorned in Her Youth

To be blunt, Lunara is quite possibly the worst Hero to date on release, posting the worst Hero League win rate ever at 35.5% (shattered only recently by Chromie at 32.8%). Among a plethora of problems with her “unique movement”, she also put out horrid numbers for an Assassin while sporting one of the lowest health pools in the entire game. In essence, she was a glass cannon that did no damage and often ended up cancelling her own attacks.

Issues with her movement were the biggest impediments to becoming a decent Hero. Kudos to Blizzard for trying to come up with unique ideas for Heroes, but the “jumping short distances” part of her movement was problematic for a number of reasons. The original implementation forced Lunara to attack only at the end of a jump. Before it was tested properly, Lunara’s attack speed and “gallop speed” (for lack of a better term) didn’t match up, so if an attack command was issued in midair, she would wait until landing to attack. The result was that she couldn’t kite properly without cancelling her auto attack.

The second biggest issue with her was that her damage, even with poison, was puny. The whole crux of her character was designed on poisoning enemies via auto attacks and abilities and dealing lots of damage over time, but her poison did almost no damage. With weak auto attacks and damage from spells on top of that, she looked helpless trying to deal damage in fights while avoiding death herself.

Finally, there was the problem with her abysmally small HP bar. I can’t count how many times Lunara mysteriously vanished in a teamfight after getting hit with a stray Blizzard or getting stunned once by a Muradin. Combined with the lack of mobility, she was in a constant state of red alert to achieve the near impossible mission of staying alive.

These were the core reasons why she had problems, but there was a lot of speculation at the time as to which problems were the biggest. Others brought up complaints against Lunara’s Wisp and talent trees, etc. Lunara was torn to shreds by critics looking for solutions.

Kept in the Hope of Greater Promise

Luckily, all of the hate that Lunara garnered was eventually addressed by concrete improvements from Blizzard. ”The first update released three weeks after Lunara’s inauguration granted her 10% additional health and bumped her poison damage up significantly (also introducing the first value since the scaling changes to something other than 4%). The result: Lunara saw a mild spike in activity but still paled in comparison to other Heroes. She still had multiple issues with the visuals on her attack. Half the time she would complete half of the attack animation but not attack, leaving players frustrated and disappointed with her status.

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Luckily, not two weeks later, Blizzard announced that they had finally fixed Lunara’s attack animation by speeding it up considerably and fixing some of the minor bugs that cancelled her autos sometimes. Her wisp even got a bit of a buff! Nonetheless, she was still in a pretty bad spot competing against the popular Heroes at the time.

Raynor was still quite common at the time despite his nerfs, and Falstad and Valla had the market cornered on big AoE ranged damage. The introduction of Greymane shortly after blew away all other ranged Assassins with the infamous Gilnean Cocktail build that would sometimes bug out to deal double damage in the late game. Lunara just couldn’t compete.

The Last One Standing

During the months of February through April, Blizzard went on a rampage against ranged Assassins, cutting down many of the strongest Heroes in their prime. Kael’thas got reworked with poor numbers, Li-Ming received multiple nerfs, Valla lost all of her AoE damage, Falstad went through multiple talent reworks, Greymane’s most powerful build was stolen from him, and Jaina got deleted from the game. The only one untouched was Lunara, who continued to grow stronger and stronger with each patch.

(Jaina didn't actually get removed from the game. She's just bad and never picked anymore.)
(Jaina didn’t actually get removed from the game. She’s just bad and never picked anymore.)

With updated builds prioritizing Nature’s Culling to compete with siege Heroes like Sylvanas or Li-Ming, Lunara has become a force to be reckoned with. She now provides the most sustained AoE damage in her class while being much tankier (ironically) than Valla. She still has a bit of trouble with rotations on larger maps, but overall, she does a lot of things very well. She has become the greatness she was destined to be.

Professional teams are only just now starting to catch on to her power, and only a few exploit it fully. mYinsanity sticks out the most for their Lunara play in recent times. They drafted Lunara consistently throughout their undefeated tournament run in Tours, utilizing her huge spread damage output in conjunction with Heroes that could easily clean up fights. Without a way to easily snipe her with a stun train, she’s way too slippery to catch in the current meta.

Thus marks her rise to greatness. From the very beginning, I believed in her—my light, my life. To others, she was simply the last one standing—but to me, she was forever first in my heart.

May 19, 2016
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Christopher Meek
Chris is an esports aficionado who has followed and written about several different games, including StarCraft II, League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm. He has served notable time at Team Liquid, among others, in the pursuit of becoming a freelance writer and editor. He’s sometimes been known in the MOBA community as “that feeder” but continues to improve and remains optimistic for the future.
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