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Timing Is Everything: A Guide to Chromie

by - 4 months ago

She would have told you that she saw this coming all along, but Chromie has finally made her way into the competitive Meta. Although her participation size is small, her impact cannot be ignored, especially on Battlegrounds like Tomb of the Spider Queen and Braxis Holdout. Despite her growing popularity and success in the HGC, she has remained largely overlooked in Hero League. A big part of this is because players don’t build her properly and her win rate suffers as a result. The build we are going to focus on in this guide is based on what has become the standard HGC build. While other Chromie builds are more popular on HOTSLogs, this build consistently has the highest winning percentage. Let those other Chromie players take the “popular” Talents, I am going to teach you which Talents actually win games and why.

Abilities

Sand Blast (Q): After 1 second, fire a missile that deals damage to the first enemy Hero hit.

Dragon’s Breath (W): Fire a blast into the air that lands after 1.5 seconds, dealing damage to enemies in an area. Enemies cannot see where the blast will land.

Time Trap (E): Place a Time Trap that arms and stealths after 2 seconds. The first enemy Hero to touch it will be put into Status for 2 seconds. Only 1 Time Trap can exist at once.

Timewalker (D): Chromie has traveled to the future, and as such, will learn her Talents 2 levels earlier than her teammates.

Chromie’s Trait allows her to get all of her Talents 2 levels earlier than other Heroes, including her Heroic. This is a sizable early game advantage that you should try to take advantage of.

Chromie hits hard, provided you can actually hit your target. The first step to learning to play Chromie well is to get used to the wind up on her Sand Blast and Dragon’s Breath abilities. Both of these abilities have noticeable delays before impact, which means you are going to need to adjust your aim accordingly. Don’t aim where your target is now, aim where they will be in 1 or 1.5 seconds. This is an acquired skill and requires some anticipation on the part of the Chromie player, but once you have it down it is a very rewarding feeling to watch a player walk right into your sand avalanche.

Time Trap not only provides good crowd control, but it can also be used to provide vision as well. Chromie lacks mobility so strategic placement of Time Traps can go a long way to increasing her survivability.

The Build

*Keep in mind that all of these Talent Levels are going to look weird because Chromie gets her Talents two levels early.

Level 1: Timewalker’s Pursuit – Activate this Talent to reveal an area for 2 seconds. Enemies seen are revealed for 4 seconds. Quest: Gather a Regeneration Globe increases your Mana Regeneration by 0.1 up to 1.5. Reward: After gathering 15 Globes you also gain 5% Ability Power.

The difference in this build and the “standard” Chromie build is immediately apparent. Both other Talents on this tier, Compounding Aether and Deep Breathing, are more popular than this Talent, but Timewalker’s Pursuit is the superior choice and has the higher win rate to prove it.

There is so much value in Timewalker’s Pursuit. The extra sight can be used to help prevent ganks or to line up skill shots. The extra Mana regen essentially allows Chromie to spam her abilities on cooldown and the 5% extra Spell Power after collecting a measly 15 Globes makes those abilities hit even harder.

Compare this to Compounding Aether, which buffs an Ability that can only be used on Heroes, and Deep Breathing, which makes using your W on anything other than Heroes wrong, and the choice should be obvious. These Talents remain popular because players love to nuke enemy Heroes, but they both have significant drawbacks.

Level 2: Bronze Talons – Increase your Basic Attack range by 35%. Using Sand Blast increase the damage of your next Basic Attack by 250%.

Once again, this is the least popular Talent according to HOTSLogs, but it is the one with the highest win rate. Chromie’s absurdly long ability range means that players often neglect auto-attacking with her. This is understandable given the danger that moving into auto-attack range can present, which is what makes Bronze Talons such a good choice. The additional range allows Chromie players to get their auto-attacks in from a safe distance and the damage bonus can really add up over the course of a game.

Level 5: Dragon’s Eye – Dragon’s Breath does 25% more damage to enemies in the center.

This is the default choice in most Chromie builds, which is understandable given how underwhelming the other two options are.

Level 8: Temporal Loop – Choose an enemy Hero. After 3 seconds, they will teleport back to the location where you cast Temporal Loop on them.

Level 8: Slowing Sands – Place a sand vortex that greatly slows enemies inside it. The longer it is active the more it slows, up to 60% after 3 seconds.

I went ahead and described both Heroics as they are both viable choices in the right situation, but I am going to recommend Temporal Loop for most players.

Assuming your abilities are off cooldown and you pick the right target, Temporal Loop is almost a guaranteed kill unless the enemy team steps up and makes a clutch play. At most skill levels they aren’t going to. Try to avoid high health targets like Warriors and Heroes that have built in escape mechanics like Ice Block. Focus on targets that can’t save themselves and force them to rely on a teammate making a play. Once you learn how to pick the right target is is just a matter of learning how to time your abilities around the 3-second delay.

Slowing Sands is a good choice on maps where zone control is a priority or if you find that opponents at your skill level are able to consistently negate the kill potential of Temporal Loop.

Level 11: Reaching through Time – Increase Sand Blast and Dragon’s Breath’s range by 15%.

The right choice at this tier depends on how often you are getting killed. If staying alive isn’t a problem you should go with Reaching through Time. If staying alive is something you are struggling with then go with Time Out.

The extra range from Reaching through Time offers its own form of protection and it gives you crazy poke range. This is definitely the Talent you should be working towards, but if you need survivability I prefer Time Out over Bye Bye.

The problem with Bye Bye is that it completely removes Chromie from the fight, which often means that her teammates die instead as they suddenly find themselves in a 4v5 fight. Time Out is like a much better version of Ice Block. Pro Tip #1: Don’t wait until you are almost dead to use it. You have a much better chance of surviving if you use it at 40% health than if you wait until you are at 10% health. Pro Tip #2: You don’t have to let it run its full duration. You can press the ability key a second time to cancel it.

Level 14: Shifting Sands – Hitting an enemy Hero with Sand Blast increases your Ability Power by 8% for the next 10 seconds. This bonus can be stacked up to 40% and the duration is refreshed whenever you damage enemy Heroes with Sand Blast.

You are going to be throwing out Sand Blasts like crazy and with a 2.5-second cooldown you can easily keep the buff up in team fights even if you miss a few shots.

Quantum Overdrive is a reasonable alternative, but the DPS increase from Shifting Sands is as good or better without the added complication of managing another cooldown.

Level 18: Andorhal Anomaly – You gain 3 charges of Time Trap, and can have 3 active at once. When your cooldown finishes, you gain 3 charges at once.

Being able to have 3 Time Traps active at once provides a tremendous amount of control. Enemies who find themselves in a Time Trap have to worry about being instantly deleted and with 3 Time Traps out the chances of an enemy finding their way into one are pretty good. Time Traps are also great at providing vision and we all know how many games are lost late because a team wiped when they didn’t see the enemy team coming.

If you went with Slowing Sands at Level 8 then you should probably go with Pocket of Time here instead.

Strategy

Chromie requires a high amount of skill to play well. While it may sound like a play on her time traveling motif, playing her well really does require you to see the future. Both of her damage abilities are skill shots and you have to aim based where you think your enemy will be in 1 to 1.5 seconds, not where they are now. Fortunately, people are fairly predictable so you can use that to your advantage.

At Bronze and low Silver, players tend to plant their feet and there isn’t a lot of movement in their game. You can usually aim right at these players because they aren’t going anywhere. As you move higher into Silver and Gold you will see players stutter-stepping more and they will start to pick up on the audio queues from your abilities and attempt to avoid them. Although these players move more, they are still very predictable in how they do so. They tend to move along a horizontal line, left and right as you look at your monitor, and when they perceive danger they move directly back towards their gate. Anticipating these players is usually as simple as drawing an imaginary line between where they are now and where their gate is and aiming an inch or two down that line. Once you get into higher Gold and Platinum, players start to learn that they can’t dodge skill shots by moving horizontally so they start moving vertically instead, up and down as you look at your monitor. Adjust your aim accordingly. By the time you get into Diamond and above players are less predictable in their movements and anticipating where they are going to go becomes like a game of rock, paper, scissors. Keep in mind that these are just general tendencies and not hard and fast rules. Don’t come tweeting at me if you find a Silver player who dodged vertically instead of horizontally. It is up to you to study your opponents each game and get a feel for how they move and then aim accordingly. This is part of the fun of playing Chromie.

It helps to be an optimist if you are going to play Chromie. When you fire off your abilities, you have to do so with the belief that you are going to hit your target. In most cases, you will combo your abilities. You are going to cast Dragon’s Breath and then immediately follow it with a Sand Blast. If you wait to cast Sand Blast until you see if Dragon’s Breath hits you are going to miss out on a lot of kills. Have faith, no second guessing. Pick your spot and confidently fire off both your abilities. You will miss occasionally, but when you hit they are going to feel it.

Take advantage of your long range as much as possible and avoid the temptation to blast away at the tanks. Sand Blast has a very short cooldown, so it is fine to use that ability to poke away at the tanks while looking for a better target for your Dragon’s Breath/Sand Blast combo. Chromie’s range is long enough that she can usually fire into the enemy back line while safely behind her own front line.

Chromie isn’t for everyone, but if you are good with skill shots and enjoy trying to out think your opponents then she might just be the Hero for you. While it takes practice and a good sense of timing to make the most of her abilities, she can be a very fun and rewarding Hero. Chromie is at her best when she has a solid front line that can keep her safe while she uses her long range to out poke the enemy.


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Lee Vaughn

Lee has been playing Blizzard games since the 90's and Heroes of the Storm since the Tech Alpha. If he isn't playing a Blizzard game he is probably tweeting about one.