Over the past 6 months, Anub has crept into the top tank spot in high level Storm League. His cocoon ult is very strong, his mobility is high, he has two stuns in his base kit, and a slight adjustment to his beetle talents made his trait stronger. He can be a bit squishy, especially for mobile auto attackers that can shred through his W shield, but with the build below you can help cover his weaknesses while enhancing some of his strengths.
I think at the moment of this writing I’m 16-4 as him in Master/high Diamond Storm League. It’s intuitive, but I’ve found that he pairs very well with a Jaina or Gul’dan, damage dealers who get stronger if enemies stay stationary. A good Chromie could potentially synergize with him as well. With burrow in and then Q to keep a target chain stunned, Anub has great gank potential and can quickly punish out of position squishies.
Like most tanks, his big mobility skill (Burrow Charge, E) is the main cooldown to watch for both allies and enemies. Anub cannot burrow into an enemy team and expect to live. He can control the front line for his team well with his W shield and beetles blocking enemy skillshots and abilities, with a Q for peel and an E to escape or to commit to a kill.
Cocoon value is maximized if you can get a cocoon off BEFORE burrowing in, but sometimes your cocoon target is too far away and you’ll have to burrow first. The reason I say this is because the Anub burrow is a “loud” ability, meaning most people in the skirmish know it is a big engage tool and enemy teams will prepare for defense as Anub is underground. If you can cocoon someone first, you can catch them by surprise while you burrow in and chain one or more enemies with a stun. Anyway, let’s get to the build!
Legion of Beetles
Anub'arak automatically spawns Beetles every 12 seconds and increased the Spell Armor of Beetles by 30. Can be toggled on and off.
With Anub’s “latest” change to bring his old level 1 and level 4 beetle talents into the same tier, I like Legion at level 1. The other talents here are pretty underwhelming. Beetles have a lot of uses, once you get the hang of them. They can be used to path into bushes, they can be used to try to dismount enemies on rotation, they can help with laning, they can help your team dive towers, they can help tank merc/boss autos, they block hooks/orbs/other skillshots, they can help stall lanes. This talent makes more of them, with some spell armor for them too!
Harden Carapace grants 30% increased Movement Speed for 3 seconds.
Level 4 is a strong tier for Anub. E build used to be a thing and Underking was a great way to improve his engage/gank/escape, synergizing heavily with Epicenter at 16. Even if you aren’t going E build, Underking is a decent talent, same with Bed of Barbs for persistent area damage + slow. However, I think Shed Exoskeleton is the best talent here. 30% move speed for 3 seconds is very strong. It can get you out of a risky spot without using your E, it can help you chase enemies, it overall helps you position well, either to absorb or dodge damage. With Chitinous Plating at 7, you’ll have 30% bonus move speed (with the 30 spell armor beetle it spawns, thanks to Legion at 1), up a lot during battles.
While Harden Carapace is active, taking damage from enemy Abilities reduces its cooldown by 1 seconds, up to 3 seconds.
While there might be some enemy comps where Chitinous Plating won’t get much value, most of the time it will, and it synergizes very well with Shed Exoskeleton at 4 and potentially Urticating Spines at 13, and with more Beetles spawning there’s even some minor synergy with Legion at 1. This talent means you need to pay attention to get value out of it, though, you want your W’s to be used when you’re absorbing ability damage. Small + fast ability damage is best (Li Ming Q, Arthas E, Genji Q, Hanzo W, Raynor’s Raider) as each tick during your W will lower the CDR for your next W.
Wraps target enemy Hero in a cocoon, rendering them unable to act or be targeted for 8 seconds. Allies of the Hero can attack the cocoon to break it and free them early.
An extremely powerful ult, Cocooning the right target in a teamfight can win it. It’s important to think about who is your cocoon target given the enemy team’s comp, even before you are level 10. It’s important to note that Cocoon functions like the Blackheart’s Bay chests… the timer is lowered based on each time the cocoon takes damage, regardless of how much damage is dealt to it. Enemies like Tracer, Genji, Lucio, Ana, Zarya (lol Overwatch heroes) can shred Cocoon quickly with just their auto attacks. Other heroes with dots like Naz, Lunara, Kael’thas (if his W is up), Li Ming (disintegrate ult) are also effective at ripping through the cocoon quickly. If possible, you’ll want to target these heroes with your cocoon to get maximum uptime. If an enemy team has several good Cocoon-breakers, consider holding Cocoon for a few seconds after a fight begins, when their attention is less focused on you. Also, Cocoon can be an excellent way to secure a kill on a solo target even if your DPS is a few seconds behind you. You’ll have a few seconds to position while your target is in the Cocoon, and even if they are close to their towers, your Beetles can tank tower while you keep them from getting to their gate with your stuns and body.
Casting Harden Carapace will also deal 80 damage to nearby enemies.
There can be situations where Acid Drenched Mandibles is important to get that extra single target damage, but Utricating Spines is the main option here, due to the synergy with Chitinous Plating at 7, which will lead to more spike damage during teamfights. This added bit of damage also helps slightly with PVE, especially wave clear (although still minor), and now makes your W able to clear stealthed objects (Zag creep, aba mines, Chromie trap) and players. Very good talent that works well with the previous build.
Increases Burrow Charge impact area by 60% and lowers the cooldown by 1.25 seconds for each Hero hit.
The 16 talent tier is a bit underwhelming if you didn’t go E talents at 4 & 7, but Epicenter is still the best choice here. I suppose there can be cases where Debilitation can get value, but the bigger impact area (60%!) is great, and the CDR means if you can get 2-3 heroes in your E stun you’ll have it back up quickly, meaning you can use it to dive enemies more freely.
Activate to reset the cooldowns of your Basic Abilities.
The Cocoon upgrade is worthless, so your options really are the generic Rewind and Hardened Shield. Both are good, but I just think Rewind is much more versatile and valuable than Hardened Shield for a hero like Anub, with 2 stuns in his base kit. E in, Q someone, W, Rewind, Q again, W, and E means you’ve locked down one more multiple heroes for 3-4 seconds, and that’s not even using your Cocoon! Huge power spike at 20 for this hero.