Some people like to keep a safe distance from their opponents and wear them down with guns, bows or magic. Well, not me. I like to get in close and personal. If that’s also your style in Heroes of the Storm then you might want to consider taking Zeratul out for a spin. The most infamous Dark Templar from the Starcraft universe is a very powerful stealth assassin that requires quite a bit of skill to master and play effectively. Although you don’t have to be an expert at the game in order to make good use of this hero, some prior experience with characters that can put the hurt on and vanish before anyone notices is definitely recommended.
There are several ways of playing Zeratul, but the build we’re going to look at today is one that I found to be the most effective. I’m calling this one the “Silent Strike” build and it’s all about dishing out as much damage as possible and then making your self scarce asap. Zeratul already has quite a big advantage over other assassins thanks to his trait that allows you to remain undetected on the battlefield. While similar heroes like Nova are designed to inflict crazy amounts of damage from afar, with Zeratul you’ll have a much harder time getting some clean kills because this is a melee character. That said, it’s undoubtedly more fun to slice and dice rather than shoot and run in my opinion, so let’s see how “Silent Strike” turns you into one of the most badass killing machines in Heroes of the Storm.
Level 1: Right off the bat you’ll want to focus on building up your damage output and the way you do that is by picking Seasoned Marksman at level 1. Some might argue that Greater Cleave is a better choice here and it definitely has its merits, however, there’s no extra damage to be gained for Zeratul by picking it. With Seasoned Marksman on the other hand, you’ll get +1 permanent basic attack damage for every 6 minion or mercenary kills. Now, this might make it seem like you need to be laning in order to build up the bonus, but there are maps that allow you to kill a plethora of minions while you’re going for objectives.
Even though your job is to kill enemy heroes, participating in completing objectives is just as crucial and on maps like Haunted Mines or Garden of Terror for example you should help your team mates by gathering skulls and seeds. With Seasoned Marksman, you are encouraged to be a team player because for every 6 minion kills you’ll be getting a permanent attack bonus that keeps getting bigger as the game progresses. Block, Rapid Displacement, and Regeneration Master can and should be completely ignored in most situations. Greater Cleave can be useful depending on map and opponents, but for the most part I think Seasoned Marksman is the best skill Zeratul can pick at level 1.
Level 4: Here you’ll have a pretty difficult choice to make because both Sustained Anomaly and Gathering Power are excellent skills at this level and some of the other ones are not too bad either for that matter. I used to go for Sustained Anomaly all the time in the past when playing Zeratul and it worked out pretty well, but with the Silent Strike build you’ll want to pick Gathering Power instead. This skill increases you ability power by 2% for every hero kill up to a total of 12% and it also provides you with an 8% permanent bonus straight from the get-go. If you manage to participate in killing six enemies you’ll end up doing 20% more damage with your abilities from that point forward, which is not too shabby if you ask me.
The main disadvantage here is that the extra 12% damage goes away if Zeratul dies, although you’ll still start off with 8% more damage than usual when you respawn and you can build it up again from there. I recommend this skill for those of you who can keep Zeratul alive for long periods of time because if you can’t, then just the 8% bonus might not be worth picking over Sustained Anomaly, which gives you slow and AoE. If you feel like you are a master at controlling Zeratul, Vorpal Blade is also a pretty good skill to pick. Focused Attack and Vampiric Assault should be ignored.