Varian Wrynn is coming to the Nexus whether you are ready or not. While it remains to be seen how good of a main tank he will be, early indications are that Assassin Varian is quite strong. Regardless of what his initial win rate ends up being, you can expect to see Varian in every game you play for at least the next week so you better know how to play against him.
Let’s take a look at some of what makes Varian so strong and how to counter it.
Cleanse is Your Friend
A big part of what makes Varian so powerful is Warbringer at Level 4. This Talent reduces the cooldown of Charge and adds a stun to it, which means Varian players will have a targetable stun with a one second duration available every six seconds. The chain stun potential that Charge can set up is going to be huge, which is why Cleanse is going to be such an effective and necessary counter. Keep in mind that Cleanse isn’t meant to counter the Charge itself, but rather the wombo combo potential that may follow.
Relentless style talents will also take on new value if Warbringer leads to a resurgence of the Stun Meta.
Control is Key
Much like Illidan and The Butcher, what makes Assassin Varian such a big threat are his auto attacks. Heroes and Abilities that counter melee Assassins like Illidan and The Butcher are likely to work well against Varian also. Just like those Heroes, he is at his most dangerous when he is able to continually attack, and he is at his most vulnerable when he can’t. Blinds, stuns, and roots are all great tools for disrupting his auto attack potential, inhibiting his self sustain, and lowering his mobility. The key is to time these abilities properly. You’re not going to beat a Varian just by stopping his attacks for a few seconds, save your crowd control abilities for when you can secure a kill or when you need a clutch escape.
Range and Mobility
Varian is most effective when he is able to close the gap on his enemies, so you want to make it as difficult as possible for him to do that. This makes range and mobility valuable tools for countering Varian. In addition to the usual ranged damage dealers, you also want to focus on Heroes who can set a strong front line and peel. You should also place a premium on Heroes with good escape because Varian is a very sticky Hero. Heroes without the mobility to get away once Varian closes the gap are most likely going to die.
Playing against Varian isn’t just about counters; you also need to understand what he is capable of and what threats he poses to your team.
Once he reaches Level 10, Varian can easily solo bosses if he takes Second Wind at 7 and Twin Blades of Fury at 10. Because of this you have to be aware of what talents the enemy Varian takes and where he is on the mini-map. If he goes MIA after level 10 there is a good chance he is working on the boss. If you discover an enemy Varian trying to solo a boss, remain hidden until he is under 50% health and then swoop in.
If you are on a team with a Varian who is soloing a boss it is your job to draw attention away from him. Make sure you are visible on the mini-map and try to be as threatening as possible to distract the enemy team.
Varian has a Talent at Level 16, Shattering Throw, that can wreck havoc on shield based Heroes. This Talent grants Varian a new ability that does 50 damage to the target and up to 1400 bonus damage to their shields. It also passively grants Varian 200% bonus damage to his auto attacks against shields. This makes Varian a hard counter to Heroes such as Tassadar, Kerrigan, and Anub’arak. It might be wise to avoid shield dependent Heroes for the next week or at the very least try to bait out this ability before fully engaging against a Varian with this Talent.
Normally when you play Quick Match there is no way to know what you will get matched with, but some of that mystery is removed during a Hero release week. If that Hero is either a fan favorite, or especially powerful, you can safely assume you will encounter them in all of your games. Varian looks to be both of these things so plan accordingly. I would expect to see him in most Hero League games as well unless he ends up becoming first ban material.
For more information check out my Varian Wrynn preview from Blizzcon.