There are some parties that you just don’t want to go to, and a Party Bush is one of them.
If you aren’t familiar with the term Party Bush, it is when several members of a team, or in some cases the entire team, all hide in the same bush or obstruction. The intent is to catch unsuspecting members of the opposing team off guard by hiding near a path they are likely to travel.
For many players, the beginning of the game is much like a duel. There is a certain understanding for how fights are to be conducted, and it is assumed that everyone is going to follow these traditions. In the case of Heroes of the Storm, this means that players divide up between the different lanes, proudly ride out to their assigned location, and then they either stand there or spin around in circles until the minion waves show up, at which point the fight begins. Sure, there are the occasional Nova or Zeratul players sneaking around like cowards, but otherwise everyone knows they are supposed to pick a lane and fight there until the first Objective spawns.
In the competitive scene things are much more chaotic at the beginning of games. For the Pros, the start of the game is more like battle in Game of Thrones where there are no rules and winning is all that matters. Teams are much more likely start the game traveling as a full group of five. They might try to quickly push a single lane in hopes of taking down a tower or two before their opponents can respond, which we talked about last week. Or they might try a Party Bush strategy, where they lay in wait somewhere unexpected in hopes of securing an early kill on a careless enemy. Either way, their intention is to strike quickly and then divide up between the different lanes so that they don’t miss out on any XP.
As you can see, while the end result is that both groups are in lanes ready to soak experience when the minions arrive, the better players attempt to do something with those first 20 to 30 seconds, instead of just twirling circles on their mounts waiting. While it can be tough to get your entire team to hide in a bush somewhere if you are playing solo queue, you might be able to get the other person in your lane to hide with you.
Party Bushes are not just limited to the beginning of the game. They can also be especially effective when Objectives spawn. Players are often so tunnel visioned on quickly getting to the Objective that you can easily catch them off guard. This is another situation where people will often follow your lead, even in solo queue. If your team gets to an Objective first, go ahead and hide in a bush. People will often hide along with you instead of just standing out in the open waiting. Bosses and Mercenaries can also present great Party Bush opportunities. Anytime you can predict where your opponents are likely to go there can be an ambush opportunity.
On the flip side, you need to be aware of the danger that Party Bushes represent to you and plan accordingly.
The first step in protecting yourself from falling victim to a Party Bush is to be aware of the mini map. If enemies are missing from the mini map you should be suspicious. If the game is just starting, missing enemies almost always mean that they are hiding somewhere looking to ambush.
In this first example we have a Kael’thas solo in the top lane. He just hit D to activate his trait, and is moving forward to drop a Flamestrike on the minion wave. We are 35 seconds into the game at this point, and if you look at the mini map you will see that there are only two enemies visible. This should be a cause for concern. We have to assume that the missing enemy Heroes are laying in wait somewhere, since they have had more than enough time to reach their lanes.
As you can see in the second image with the fog of war removed, two of the enemy Heroes are in the bush right below Kael’thas. The third is hiding in a bush in the bottom lane. Since Kael’thas is about to move forward and attack the minions, he is going to find out about these two enemy Heroes the hard way. Now they probably aren’t going to be able to kill him, but they are going to be able to force him to use the fountain 45 seconds into the game. This means he is going to miss out on half a minion wave of xp, his towers will have to waste ammo, and his fountain will be on cool down when the first Objective spawns. All because two Heroes decided to wait in a bush instead of standing on the road, and the opposing Hero overlooked the threat missing Heroes represented.
So what could KT have done differently? For starters, he could have considered hiding in a bush himself instead of just sitting in front of the gate. Another option would be to use an ability like Gravity Lapse to check the bushes. No matter which set of bushes he checks he is going to be in a better situation. If he checks the top bush he would know it is safe there and he could move up to the top half of the lane to get more distance from the bottom bush. If he checks the bottom bush he hits Raynor with Gravity Lapse and follows up with a Flamestrike and Living Bomb. Then the enemy team would be on the defensive instead of him.
Here is an example of Johanna using Shield Glare to check for hidden enemies at the beginning of the game. In this case there is no one there, but with four Heroes missing 30 seconds into the game, it stands to reason that they are hiding somewhere. Most Heroes have some type of ability that can be used to check dangerous bushes. Not only can this foil potential ambushes, but it also lets the opponent know that you aren’t going to be an easy mark. Keep in mind the importance of checking dangerous bushes continues as the game goes on. Don’t be the guy who face checks a bush only to find out that is where everyone on the enemy team is hiding.
Use those bushes to your advantage whenever possible, and be on the look out for enemy Heroes trying to do the same thing. Keep your location hidden whenever possible. Vision is one of the most important aspects of this game, and it is often overlooked by even good players.