Harbinger Guide

dryad

Harbinger is a melee bloodline that can be viewed as a jack-of-all-trades. He has an array of abilities that allow him to melee, shoot projectiles, place AoE effects, and save his teammates. This wide skillset, in addition to his life leech theme, makes him one of the most versatile and survivable bloodlines in the game.

 Deals 150/170/190 damage on consecutive hits. Heals self for 35% of damage dealt if target is affected by Hemorrhage. [M1] Shadow Slash

Chop, chop, chop. Interestingly enough, not only is Shadow Slash one of your main sources of damage, it’s also Harbinger’s main source of self-healing. However, you only gain self-healing when your target is affected by Hemorrhage, which is applied using your other abilities. Making the most of this M1 depends on keeping Hemorrhage up on your target at all times.

When to use Shadow Slash?

  • When your target has Hemorrhage.
  • When your other offensive abilities are on cooldown.
  • Right after landing a Blood Grip.
 Usable on both allies and enemies. Deals 100 damage, leeches 100 health, inflicts Silence and Hemorrhage on impact with enemy. Pulls target to Harbinger's location.  Silence Unable to use abilities, lasts 0,5s - 0,8s depending on distance travelled.  Hemorrhage Reduces movement speed by 20%, lasts for 4s. [M2] Blood Grip

Blood Grip is a projectile that pulls the target to you. With this ability, Harbinger becomes a fearsome controller. If you land a Blood Grip on an enemy, you instantly tilt the odds of combat in your favor by isolating your target from his team. On top of pulling, Blood Grip deals damage, heals you, and affects the target with Silence and Hemorrhage. Absolutely brutal.

When to use Blood Grip?

  • When the enemy team is clumped together.
  • When an enemy doesn’t have anymore outs.
  • When an enemy is trying to escape.
  • When you want to interrupt an enemy’s channel or cast time.
  • When you need to apply Hemorrhage.
Travels to target location after impact and inflicts Hemorrhage on enemies near the destination.  Hemorrhage Reduces movement speed by 20%, lasts for 4s.  [Space] Shadow Shift

Other than Blood Grip, Shadow Shift is Harbinger’s only way to close the gap between him and his target. It’s also his only mobility spell, which allows him to travel across walls and over gaps. It applies Hemorrhage to all enemies within an AoE of his destination, which is a great way to start a fight.

You can also use Shadow Shift to dodge projectiles, but beware that there’s a small period of time between casting the ability and actually traveling. During that time, you can still be hit by spells.

When to use Shadow Shift?

  • When you want to initiate a fight.
  • When you need to escape or dodge.
  • When you need to apply Hemorrhage.
Deals 80 damage, leeches 80 health and inflicts Plague after a 1s delay. Enemies affected by Plague spread the effect to nearby unaffected enemies after a 1s delay.  Plague Causes the movement speed to be reduced by 15%, deals 40 damage, heals the Harbinger for 40 health every 1s, and lasts for 3s.  [Q] Affliction

As strange as it sounds, Affliction is your most important ability as Harbinger. It casts an AoE on the ground and inflicts damage and Plague to all enemies caught inside. On top of that, for every enemy you hit, you are healed. On top of even that, Plague will slow and drain HP from your enemies and heal you.

If you can land Affliction on all three enemies, you’ll suddenly be receiving tons of healing while your enemies slowly deteriorate in health. This means you can temporarily play super-aggressively because if you don’t, all of that healing will go to waste once you hit Recovery HP cap.

Affliction also has an EX version, which deals more damage, heals more HP, and inflicts Silence instead of Plague to enemies caught in the AoE. While Affliction is exceptionally good, Affliction EX is more situational. Plague is often times more useful than a short Silence, especially if you can hit more than one enemy.

When to use Affliction?

  • When the enemy team is clumped together.
  • When you want to slow an enemy.
  • When you want to force an enemy to walk elsewhere.
  • When you need healing.

When to use Affliction EX?

  • When you need burst damage.
  • When you need to interrupt an enemy’s channel or cast time.
Deals 280 - 360 damage and inflicts Amplify. Damage increases the farther the projectile travels.  Amplify Increases damage taken by 20% and lasts for 5s  [E] Shadow Bolt

Harbinger’s signature ability. Not only does it inflict a massive amount of single-target burst damage, it affects the target with Amplify so they take even more damage. Landing your Shadow Bolts are crucial. It has a long cast time to compensate for its power, but using all of that time to cast and missing will be bad for you, especially if you miss multiple times.

Shadow Bolt has a distinct sound effect while it’s casting. Attentive enemies will hear it instantly and react accordingly, making it difficult to land consistently. However, use this to your advantage by playing mindgames with the sound.

Shadow Bolt also has an EX version, which is instant cast, deals less damage than the normal Shadow Bolt, but applies a stronger Amplify debuff. The projectile even travels a bit faster. Quite a situational spell, but definitely not useless.

When to use Shadow Bolt?

  • When you aren’t in range to use your M1.
  • When you’re about to focus an enemy (to utilize the Amplify debuff).
  • When you need to burst down an enemy.
  • When you want to force the enemy to pay attention to your cast sound.

When to use Shadow Bolt EX?

  • When you’re about to coordinate with your teammates to Amplify some big-damage spells (e.g., Gunner’s Execute, Vanguard’s ultimate, etc.)
  • When an enemy is one hit from death.
Target ally becomes invulnerable, immaterial and unable to use abilities, increases movement speed by 40%. Moving through an enemy target deals 80 damage, inflicts Hemorrhage and heals the wearer for 80 health, lasts for 1,8s.  Hemorrhage Reduces movement speed by 20%, lasts for 4s.  [R] Nether Shift

Nether Shift turns a target teammate invulnerable/immaterial and increases their movespeed. It sounds like a purely defensive ability, but it also inflicts damage to all enemies that the Nether Shifted teammate walks through and the Nether Shifted teammate is healed each time. And also, it inflicts those enemies with Hemorrhage.

As strong as it is as a defensive ability, be sure you use Nether Shift offensively, too. Walk through a group of enemies and they’ll all find themselves with a chunk of HP lost. Plus, it heals you for a good amount if you manage to walk through the entire enemy team. The Hemorrhage debuff is just icing on top of the cake.

When to use Nether Shift?

  • When you need to dodge a projectile or spell.
  • When you or a teammate is being focused.
  • When a timed effect is about to burst (e.g., Ranid’s ultimate or Seeker’s ultimate).
  • When you need to apply Hemorrhage.
Empowers abilities, reduces damage taken by 20%, reduces debuff durations by 33%, lasts 8s. This effect cannot be dispelled.  Shadow Slash Increases damage by 15%, each strike leeches 75% health. The self heal effect does not stack with Hemorrhage.  Shadow Bolt Reduces cooldown to 0,5s, reduces cast time by 25%.  Plague Increases damage and healing by 75%, slows target by 30%.  [F] Dark Ward

Harbinger’s ultimate turns him into a near-unkillable dispenser of death. It temporarily buffs Harbinger (one reason why it’s called a “steroid” ult) in the following ways: reduces incoming damage, reduces debuff duration, increases M1 damage and life leech percentage, reduces Shadow Bolt cast time and cooldown, and increases the slow, damage, and healing from Affliction.

What a monstrous ultimate. As long as your ultimate is active, you need to go on the offensive and put out a ton of pressure on your enemies or else you’re wasting your ultimate’s extreme potential.

When to use Dark Ward?

  • When you have 100% energy. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter.

Basic Tactics, Techniques, and Combos

You rarely need to escape. Hemorrhage + M1 is how you survive, and you have 3 ways to apply Hemorrhage: Blood Grip, Shadow Shift, and Nether Shift. If you space those abilities out well enough, you can constantly keep Hemorrhage on your enemies, which means you always have a source of self-healing. Don’t run to your healer if you can Hemorrhage and heal yourself.

Focus the Amplified. If you tag an enemy with Shadow Bolt or Shadow Bolt EX, make sure you follow up on it with extra M1s and Afflictions. Don’t chase them into the middle of their team, obviously, but if the opportunity presents itself, do not waste the potential of Amplify.

Blood Grip + Shadow Bolt combo. After you land a Blood Grip, the Silence begins when the enemy lands at your feet. This means that if you start charging a Shadow Bolt while they’re flying over to you, they have less time to dodge it. If you pull them from far enough, you can almost guarantee a Shadow Bolt hit every time.

Blood Grip + Affliction EX combo. If you can time this well, you’re effectively silencing your enemy for a long time. This gives you free reign to slash away at them with your M1, which simultaneously hurts them and heals you with life leech. Finish it off with a Shadow Bolt if you can.

Affliction, Affliction, Affliction! The cooldown for Affliction is relatively short for the power of the spell, so don’t be afraid to constantly throw down Afflictions when there’s a chance you can hit multiple enemies. I can’t emphasize the strength of this spell enough. It heals, damages, AND slows. What more could you ask for?

Affliction vs. trances. Affliction does NOT trigger trance spells, so there’s a good bit of mindplay that you can do with it. When you’re up against a trance bloodline, pressure them and bait the trance. Once they cast it, immediately Afflication under them. By the time they realize what you’ve done, it’ll be too late and now you can go aggressive on them.

Don’t forget to Nether Shift your teammates. It’s tempting to save Nether Shift for when you need it. After all, it’s comforting to know that you only have to press SHIFT+R to have a get-out-of-jail-free card. Still, sometimes you need to save your teammates. Don’t be selfish with Nether Shift.

Advanced Tactics, Techniques, and Combos

Combos aren’t everything. As a bloodline, Harbinger is not as combo-heavy as other bloodlines. The most important point in his playstyle is to deal constant pressure with M1s and Shadow Bolts and keeping Hemorrhage on his enemies at all times. Resort to combos as a last resort for burst damage.
Controlling an early rune. A lot of Harbingers will use Shadow Shift + Affliction at the start of a round to scare away the enemy. Most people who do this don’t follow it up with a plan, though, so it’s nothing more than a cooldown waste. However, you CAN use this tactic if your team purposefully takes control of the middle map, allowing you to get the first energy rune.

Against ranged bloodlines. Ranged bloodlines are tough. Either you Blood Grip them to bring them to you OR you Shadow Shift and go to them. Either way, if you miss or time it poorly, you’ll be at a disadvantage. Best thing you can do is stay outside their M1 range and harass with Shadow Bolts and Afflictions. If they use their outs, follow with Shadow Shift and play super aggressively. Back off when their abilities reset.

Against rushdown comps. If you’re playing against a highly aggressive lineup, you can and should switch to playing a defensive Harbinger. Stay in range of your teammates and play reactively: attack the ones who attack your team. Save Blood Grip and Nether Shift for your teammates if you can. You have a lot of self-sustainability, so your teammates will probably need your support spells more than you do.

Against turtle comps. Some lineups are based heavily on shields, healing, and winning by attrition. Against them, you cannot play aggressively because they’ll outlive you easily. The best thing to do is play defensively and wait for them to make a mistake that you can exploit. Use Shadow Bolts, Blood Grips, and Afflictions to disrupt them and hopefully you can bait a few of their shields. When their big protection spells are gone (e.g., shields), you MUST punish them. Hard.

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