Sonya, the representation of the barbarian class from Diablo 3, has seen a bit of a resurgence as of late. She is a strong bruiser with some of the best initiation and sustain tools in the game. A good Sonya is the perfect compliment to a true tank when running a double warrior comp but can also function as the sole warrior on the team in certain setups. The main challenge for players new to Sonya is learning how much damage she can sustain through and when to initiate. These are skills that can be acquired through getting to know the hero roster and plenty of practice with Sonya. If you want to see some of the basics on Sonya you can go check out the BlizzPro hero page here.
Fury – (Trait) This is the mechanic Sonya uses instead of mana. Fury is gained by taking or dealing damage and is also granted by some abilities and talents. The other part of this is a 10% movement speed boost for 4 seconds after using a basic or heroic ability so keep that in mind when considering your positioning for an initiation or disengage.
Ancient Spear – (Q) The brief stun, quickly moving to a target, and the fury are all reasons this will be Sonya’s main initiation tool. Practice the distance on this so you get a real good feeling of the distance needed to close the gap.
Seismic Slam – (W) This ability comes out quick with a low cooldown so it can be a bit of a fury hog. The damage on this skill is amazing though and can really burst down low health opponents quickly. The scaling is also amazing on this ability so much so that you don’t even really need to take a single talent that buffs it. This is ability can have a strong impact at any stage of the game so recognize when its time to slam the enemy into oblivion.
Whirlwind – (E) Sonya’s main form of sustain and damage when engaging groups of of enemies. The main thing that makes this amazing is talents like Ferocious Healing, Nerves of Steel, and Ignore Pain can be used during Whirlwind which can make her a nightmare to deal with. The damage is good on this and it can also be used as a wave clear/heal. The uses of whirlwind are many and that is why when I play Sonya I try to keep enough fury banked to always have it at the ready.
Leap – (R) This is a big time stun and a really good engage tool for dive comps when she is the sole tank. This ability is in no means bad and in certain comps it will be the heroic of choice but Wrath of the Berserker is such a game changer that Leap looks a bit lackluster in comparison. Unless you are a part of a team compisition that needs the extra lockdown most of the time you will be passing on Leap.
Wrath of the Berserker – (R) A 40% damage increase? Check. A low cooldown on a heroic at 45 seconds? Check. A long 15 second duration that can be extended for such a large steroid to your damage? Check. A 50% reduction in all CC while it’s active including polymorph? Check. Honestly this heroic is out of this world good. It makes Sonya capable of dishing out mad damage and making her close to unstoppable with a competent healer. You will be taking this skill almost every time and enjoying the massive power spike Sonya receives at 10.
War Paint – This talent is pretty much a must with that amount of healing. This has a lot of synergy with your level 4 and 10 talent picks in this build as well. The only catch is you have to remember to use Sonya’s basic attack to get the most out of this. Players new to Sonya should get a feel for how much healing she will receive, if she has a focused attack buff at the ready, and how much healing she receives during Wrath of Berserker. This is all so you can get feel for how much trading and sustaining Sonya is capable of. Block is another option at this level but only if you’re going against a heavy auto attack team composition.
Focused Attack – A great talent that has amazing synergy with the rest of this build and the way Sonya should be played. At level 4 there is no real other choice so take this and remember to throw out those auto attacks.
Ferocious Healing – This is a bit of a toss up at this level but I personally like ferocious healing at this level because I often forgo Nerves of Steel later on. The extra sustain can allow you stay and trade some more provided that Sonya has some fury banked. Follow Through and Poisoned Spear are both decent choices at this level and can be considered depending on your needs within the game especially if your team needs extra damage and sustain wont be an issue.
Wrath of the Berserker – see heroic abilities section.
Mystical Spear – 4 seconds is a pretty big cooldown reduction on a skill that is your primary source of fury and such a strong engage tool. This will also allow you to be pulled to the end of the location of the spear even if you whiff a spear. This can be very helpful for closing the gap against high level players who have great movement and positioning so you can force some action with Sonya.
No Escape – I know most people take Nerves of Steel here but I really feel like its overkill. Going from 10% to 25% on your movement speed bonus from your trait is a massive jump. The amazing utility of that much movement speed can turn Sonya into a wrecking ball that is almost impossible to chase down. Her whirlwinds will move much quicker through the enemy formation and failed engages can easily be escaped from with a quick mystical spear in the other direction. The uses are limitless and makes Sonya stronger and more versatile when comparing it to a shield every 60 seconds.
Ignore Pain – Just an amazing flat damage reduction for a long duration that can be used during your whirlwind. The goal of ignore pain is to activate it and bear the brunt of the opponents Heroic abilities and/or burst damage. Try not to waste this skill because at level 20 it can flat out win you engages which can often win you the game.
Early game can be a bit rough for Sonya especially if she has to lane against someone who plays safe with strong ranged harass and/or lockdown CC. The key is to just play patient and look for opportunities to punish an enemy who overextends. Your primary goal early on is to soak experience and be ready to rotate on small maps if it can get you a quick kill. If you have a strong lane partner you may be able to lockdown the enemy and really pour the damage on. As always pay attention to the mini map to avoid ganks and be present for winnable map objectives.
Mid and Late game is where Sonya really shines. A solid engage with Wrath of the Berserker active can make it very easy for your team to wipe out the opposition. You want to be a bit of a bully when your support is around and do everything you can to force action and be in people faces. If someone is caught out alone and you’re around you should be trying to punish them with massive amounts of damage. Sonya excels at taking on the boss and can even be done by herself with practice. On maps that have big fights on key objectives such as Sky Temple, Cursed Hollow, or Infernal Shrines he Whirlwind ability can do a lot of work.
Like most heroes in this game Sonya is very effective at what she provides and can be a strong addition to most team compositions. Practice is always the key and you can never have enough of it so if you like Sonya try to play her as much as possible with the information provided above. As always if you have any comments or feedback you can leave them below and come back next week for another build provided by BlizzPro.