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Created February 7, 2020

Thinking Man's Tank

Welcome to Carry Class! This week, we'll be taking a look at everyone's favourite Howard Stern impersonator - Anub'arak, the Traitor King! The living siege engine crosses the CC of an ETC with the escapability of an overweight Genji. While that comes at a price - survivability that you need to actively manage - the potential upsides include an all-in-one 1.25s CC train that can hit an entire team and slow them by 25% for 2.25 seconds afterwards, not to mention a point-and-click void prison. Let's get to it!


The Traitor King

Anub'arak is a powerful frontliner, offering a versatile set of tools that can be adapted to any situation. In previous guides, I've gone over variations of tanking such as Walling, Gating, Diving, and Flanking. Anub'arak is well suited to executing all of these, and - importantly - is strong at rebuking these styles as well. There's not much you can't do when your body repositions over terrain and your stun travels the length of most chokes. The aforementioned downsides are made up for via your W key, which we're usually going to talent quite heavily into, in order to mitigate. In essence, at 7, your W is a 4s CD providing 60 spell armour and 30% move speed. That last one is key - move speed on anything this big translates to fantastic body blocks, baits, and all-around jukes. It's going to be the cornerstone to your defensive and offensive play, enabling you to quickly charge forward, feint, and back off. Like a Tyrael, you can bait out cooldowns left right and center with a little creative play and a reasonable sized bravery pill. 


Tools of the Damned

Anub'arak offers a versatile kit; your stun hits for a second but can be used at range, allowing you to setup a 'domino' effect where your kill target and their saviour are simultaneously disabled. Think of it this way - a Ming orb hitting two targets is like throwing two orbs. Hit three targets, and you've tripled the value of your cooldown. Hit 5? You probably just win that teamfight. Now carry this mentality over to Anub'arak - while the timing is a little more precise, you have the same carry capability with careful planning and deliberate execution. Of course, that doesn't quite describe the mentality of most tank players, where kills translate directly to testosterone. Like the title says, we're looking for something a little more refined here; hence, the Thinking Man's Tank.

Noblesse, the Korean world champion of 2017, and coach of the undisputed best team in the world, Gen G, was famous for fantastic Anub'arak play. Watching his stream, you could feel the calculation behind every move. Now, you don't need to be Noblesse to find value in this hero. But you can live up the reputation with little "ah-hah!" moments; and you'll find plenty of these should you choose to arm yourself with a large undead beetle. 


The Traitor King's Shield

So, let's get to it. Your first lesson is survivability. Many players will cry out that Anub hardly qualifies as a frontliner, given his unimpressive base HP and hitbox the size of a small country. This is a flawed assumption; firstly, Anub has damage mitigation taped to his base kit in the form of his W, which offers 328 HP baseline. Secondly, this armour comes with Spell armour; 40, or 60 if talented into. This spell armour is going to help you survive a lot of damage, given that most burst comes via spell damage. What this requires from you is intelligent button pressing, which is another reason why Anub'arak is often overlooked in favour of Mal'Ganis or Johanna, which are typically brain-dead as they come. While all tanks have an infinite skill ceiling, given the complexity of your decision making, some come with floors quite a bit higher than the norm. Here's one of them; your survability is deliberate, not given to you. You need to activate it.

Fun fact: on virtually every talent tier with an activatable talent, the non-activatable talent has a higher winrate in 90+% of leagues, simply because talents that require you to think are universally used less correctly. See: Cleanse, the indisputable best level 7 on every support that has it - according to pro players, at least. In SL, you'll find it a little harder to come by that vein of logic. It doesn't mean you shouldn't apply it - there's a reason these strategies are powerful, after all, and that's what you're here for. 

Right, so all of that might sound a bit daunting; and it is, because it requires you to learn something new. But that's the fun of exploring the tank pool; when you learn something on one hero, it'll carry over to others. In this case, Johanna's D, ETC's E, and Muradin's E all offer something for you to base your Anub play off of. This intermingling effect is one of the reasons top players could pick up just about any hero and dominate in SL with a few games' practice - because their knowledge base was built already, and simply being applied. For you, it's a little different - we're here to learn how to press buttons, but also why. Make sense?

Speaking of which, let's go over Anub'arak's E usage. Pre level 10: Don't. There, that was simple, wasn't it?

Alright, we'll go into a little more detail. Anub'arak's E is a lot like Greymane's E. When used, something is dying. Ensure it's not you, because the main problem Noob'Araks will have is dying off cooldown hunting stuns with their E instead of their Q. Your Q is your leading stun most of the time, especially when you're not playing a dive composition. You want to play out of vision and then run up to your kill target. Alternatively, you want to predict their path of movement and interrupt it - and hopefully their movement ability. The best feeling in the world is interrupting a Valla, Falstad, or Fenix's E with a carefully timed stun. This is where you use your E, in situations where the kill is guaranteed should you hit it correctly, and the danger is relatively low.

You do NOT E directly into the enemy tank. This is a lot like sliding on ETC; do it aggressively, and die aggressively. Simple enough!


The Traitor King's Barbs

Speaking of which, let's go over Anub'araks stuns. You've got two, a luxury that only three other tanks have - and none of them can do it at range, or possess an escape. ETC is the closest thing to you in terms of CC time, but his CC is applied all at once - it can't be used, for instance, to bait an opponent into attempting to teleport out or respond with a channel. You've got separate solutions for separate problems, so use them. Stagger your stuns; like an Uther staggering heals, ensure you've always got a stun available to respond to problems. Your stuns are 12 and 14 second cooldowns, respectively, which is a very, very long time. Use your Q while holding your E; then use your E while your W is up. Finally, use your E when everything is available at the end; you'll find this to be the easiest way to play Anub'arak.

A big part of your playstyle is identifying the highest value ability on the enemy team and interrupting it. This is called 'trading'. Get used to it, because ruining other people's plans is what gives you joy in unlife. Is it Mal'Ganis' E? Lili's R? Or perhaps Malfurion's Twilight Dream. There's something on the enemy team that needs to be channeled or cast that you can react to and disjoint; on top of all your stuns, you've also got the point-and-click cocoon for ease of use. While you're learning Anub'arak, you can crutch on this to hit highly mobile or hard-to-predict heroes, like Zeratul, Illidan, or Tracer. Fun fact: if you Q under your cocoon a half second before it expires, the target will be completely stunned (that is, without time to press their escape) once they're released. This is going to be the majority of your kills into highly mobile targets. Just be sure they can't blink to dodge the cocoon when you cast it! 

This sounds all well and good, but it runs off a fundamental assumption that you'll find often inaccurate in storm league; that your DPS is conscious and breathing. To this I say, a tank's understanding of their DPS is half of tanking. Ishb00 was the best tank in NA for the simple reason that he always checked to see if his DPS could follow up before engaging. You, too, can find Ishb00 levels of competence by looking at your team to see if they can follow up before doing something. No matter how tasty a fiveman Impale and Burrow Charge looks, it's useless if your DPS is nowhere nearby.

However, this isn't good enough for Storm League. You need to be able to carry entirely by yourself. That's what Anub'arak's level 13 talent tier is for - giving you the damage you need to kill things. Whether you're taking Acid-Drenched Mandibles or Urtricating Spines, you'll find yourself able to 1v1 an enemy backliner or 1v5 an enemy team and start uptrading on damage. Your juke and jive playstyle is accented heavily by your own kill potential. Rememeber, a half health Johanna is just as tanky as a full health Nova - and both of those die to an ability rotation and five acid-drenched autos. If anything so much as sneezes in the same direction, you can cut those autos down to 3, or even 2. Acid-Drenched is my preferred recommendation on Anub'arak, because you'll find that the only kill that matters is the first one - as long as you can find that pick, the rest of the enemy team will quickly follow suit. Urtricating is fantastic at dealing team damage, but in my experience 1500 damage on one squishy is much better than 1500 damage split across 5 heroes. Your mileage may vary!

Ultimates of the Traitor King

A short primer on ultimate usage. Locust Swarm is a bit of an obvious one; try to hit it in a minion wave, or on a building wall, in addition to enemy heroes. This gives you significantly more self sustain, enabling you to live longer and deal more damage. Note that it is a damage ult first, not a healing one; the latter is simply a small benefit. It is incapable of full-barring you like an Ancestral.

Cocoon is the meat of the matter; correct Cocoon usage can make or break a teamfight. Your best cocoon target is a hero with a game-changing ultimate that cannot self-save. Nano-boosted Jainas, Lucios, Dragon-blading Genjis - all of these are fantastic heroes to lock down. You can look to either kill the hero you lockdown out of the cocoon or you can kill another hero while their saviour is isolated. Prioritise saviours above any other hero. If the enemy team has a hero that can snap-clear your cocoon (tassadar, tracer, li-ming) they automatically become your best cocoon target, as your ultimate becomes useless while they're alive. Practice diving with E, pressing R on the save target, and then Qing your kill target to achieve teamfight wins. 

Note that timers and cooldowns continue to run while a target is inside a cocoon - that target you locked down might have their teleport ready by the time they get out. You can put down a Q before your cocoon expires and the target will be hit the moment they exit. 


Talents of the Traitor King

While we'll go into a detailed breakdown of talents under their subsections below, we'll quickly run through your primary SL build and the two alternative builds here.

Standard Anub: Nerubian Armour/Shed Exoskelton/Chitinous Plating/Cocoon/Acid Drenched Mandibles/Epicenter/Rewind 

Your W is your bread and butter; move speed, spell armour, damage mitigation all-in-one. You'll scale heavily in the late game with Acid-Drenched and Epicenter, and at 20 you've got a ranged mobile mosh pit available for your killing pleasure. Play smart, play slow - and be ready to accelerate into kills!

Dive Anub: Regeneration Master/Underking/Subterranean Shield/Either Ult/Acid Drenched Mandibles/Epicenter or Debilitation/Rewind

Specifically for nuking a single target off the face of the earth, Underking gives you significantly more burst damage in your one ability rotation. That is, the damage you can deal pressing every button one time, ideally in the duration of the target being stunned. Underking doubling your E damage is very, very significant - that's worth an Acid-Drenched auto attack thrown in there. Dive is a co-ordinated composition, so you'll generally shy away from it in SL unless there's a very specific kill target, such as a Kel'Thuzad, Ana, or Morales.

I Don't Have a Healer/Absorbing Skillshots Is My Only Purpose: Legion of Beetles/Bed of Barbs/Leeching Scarabs/Locust Swarm/Any 13/Beetle, Juiced/Hive Master

The build names should give you an idea of where to use these. Provides reasonable healing over time (about 150 HPS at 20) while giving you a decent sustained fight. Useful on maps that are long and drawn out, such as BoE or Volskaya. Very niche build; strong into Junkrat traps, Orb Mings, and Chromie's pre 18. 

Tricks of the Traitor King

If you E before Q, there's a small gap in your CC train while you're finishing your E animation. Since your Q also has a cast animation, heroes can teleport - or try to teleport - out during this time. You can bait heroes by very slightly increasing this window (i.e. holding your Q for a short moment) to interrupt their escape. See: Fenix.

Q is infinitely easier to hit at shotgun range, and exponentially more difficult to hit at a distance, especially if opponents have vision. This is your most important weapon; practice with it extensively! Note that it is more dangerous to stun at shotgun range than at a distance as well. 


When you've advanced your play somewhat, you can practice fake-engaging - Eing in and Wing out. This can bait cooldowns from your opponent at relatively non-existant risk, since at 30% movespeed you're nigh impossible to catch. 

Engage with your Q, and only follow up with your E if you are killing the stunned target. Always have a W up when you dive!

Completing regen master is much easier on rotation heavy maps like Tomb, Volskaya, and Infernal. Look to prioritise it on these maps!

Anub'arak is strongest at engaging first; you don't want to counter-engage with this hero, as it's hard to hit skillshots on diving opponents. Try to play vision (i.e. hiding in bushes or just outside hostile vision range) in order to find the upper hand. 

Anub'arak is exponentially tankier into spell damage versus auto-attack damage. This does not mean you are weak to AA; all tanks are. Rather, you're stronger into mages, and you're fantastic into low-mobility targets. Look to prioritise killing these heroes: Jaina, Kael'thas, Gul'dan, or anything else with high damage throughput and low mobility.

When you're stronger on Anub'arak, you can start using him into high mobility chars to deny them their dives; a Tracer might be able to juke your Q, but she has to concentrate to do so. Similarly, a Zeratul must be wary of your Q when engaging with Wormhole, lest you stun them at the right time and 'strand' them on the wrong side of their teleport. This "interrupt" playstyle is the key to playing Anub'arak well!

Anub'arak is a powerful siege tool given he can tank tower shots with his beetles; Team Freedom in NA famously used Anub'arak/Greymane to steal many a frontwall at level 1. You can employ the same tactic in Storm League by going to unexpected lanes with a friendly damage.
Nerubian Armor
Increase Hardened Carapace's Spell Armor by 20.
Legion of Beetles is strong in the full beetle build; it can be situationally powerful into skillshot-heavy compositions where you can toggle it on to spawn a beetle, specifically to eat one skillshot. This is hard to do as the beetles spawn randomly out of you, not in a predictable fashion. Niche talent outside the beetle build.

Nerubian Armour is your go-to talent of choice. 60 Spell Armour allows you to virtually eat a pyroblast with your W alone. You have similar power into a Orb Ming, Chromie, or any other ranged mage you come across. This is the talent that earns Anub the reputation as the mage counter tank.

Regeneration Master is a fantastic talent when you need to be straight-up tankier into the majority of damage. 500 HP is the goal; the regeneration itself is rarely relevant, instead adding a small bonus on your natural regen. The point of taking this talent is completing the quest; if you cannot complete the quest, don't take it.
Shed Exoskeleton
Harden Carapace grants 30% increased Movement Speed for 3 seconds.
Bed of Barbs procs your executioner at 13 and enables your beetles to auto attack targets. It's also strong at dismounting heroes on rotations, warding rotations, and punishing clumped teams. To that end, it's a situational talent based off map; I love taking it on Cursed and Tomb especially, since the ward and dismount is more powerful into chokes or frequently channeled objectives. Be wary of overusing your Q to scout, though! 12 seconds is a long cooldown.

Shed Exoskeleton is what makes you a safe, safe Bug. 30% movespeed is ludicrously fast, and it's not tied to having the shield up either. You can easily achieve 75% uptime on the MS in hectic teamfights post 7. Movespeed is universally useful; for rotating, fighting, dismounting, diving, gating - you name it, movespeed helps with it.

Underking enables Dive Anub to help burst a single important kill target. It's a fantastic feeling to engage with a Genji or Illidan and evaporate a hero instantly - I'd recommend you try it out with friends!
Chitinous Plating
While Harden Carapace is active, taking damage from enemy Abilities reduces its cooldown by 1 seconds, up to 3 seconds.
Chitinous Plating makes your defensive available much more frequently, ensuring you've got plenty of gas in the tank during long, drawn out fights. Use it to take advantage of your massive body and find strong body blocks!

Subterranean Shield is primarily useful in giving you a second shield you can use at the same time as your W. This is a net increase in your burst survivability, which is important when you're diving!

Leeching Scarabs tops out the Beetle build with sustain, offering you a reasonable amount of healing when you're in a lane or on a camp. Don't expect the in-teamfight healing to be noticable; this talent is specifically for long, drawn out situations - i.e. everything but the fight itself.
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. Range: 6
Locust Swarm recently received a buff to both damage and healing, and it retains it's place as a powerful dive tool and burst weapon. It's exponentially more powerful if you're diving into a minion wave or a large number of heroes; the more targets you can proc it off of, the more noticable your healing. However, pick it primarily for the damage, not the sustain. The latter is just a helpful upside, not the point of the ult.

Cocoon remains one of the most powerful CC tools in the game, being a single target void prison with some interactability depending on enemy composition. Tracers, Tassadars, and Li-Mings will make this ult useless, but if you can draft Anub'arak late enough, you can dodge these heroes and cocoon with relative impunity. Taking a hero out of a fight is essential to achieving burst kills; no Ancestral/Cleanse/D Shield equals a dead hero. It's a creative ult that requires good decision making, but it's easy enough execution that I'd recommend it from the get-go.
Acid Drenched Mandibles
Attacking a Hero that is slowed, rooted, or stunned increases Anub'arak's Basic Attack damage by 70% for 3 seconds.
Burning Rage retains it's place as a fantastic middle-of-the-road talent. If you need waveclear, you take this talent and don't think twice. Its teamfight damage is respectable, multiplied significantly by bodyblocking multiple heroes.

Urticating Spines can be used as the capstone to your W build; it deals better and better damage the more heroes you can hit with the AoE. To that end, it's stronger into multi-frontline comps or when you're diving.

Acid-Drenched Mandibles is my talent of choice for Anub'arak in virtually every situation; single target damage is generally much more useful than AoE, as it helps to better achieve the kill. It also encourages you to practice weaving auto attacks, which is an important skill regardless of your hero!

Increases Burrow Charge impact area by 60% and lowers the cooldown by 1.25 seconds for each Hero hit.
Epicenter, neutered 4 times, is still the most powerful talent on the tier, boasting an enormous winrate despite it's successive nerfs. The sheer stopping power of an enormous AoE .25s Stun and 2.25s slow is unrivaled in base kit power. This talent, coupled with the enormous cooldown reduction, single-handedly wins games by allowing you to find stuns at much larger range. This is your go-to.

Debilitation is a niche talent that's fantastic into key supports that can't be cocooned or into heroes with self-saves. Diving a Kel'Thuzad is a lot less scary when he deals half damage on the counter-swing; that's the logic you follow when deciding whether or not to take this talent. Spell power reduction also reduces the efficacy of healing; Ancestral hits for half, for example, if you hit Rehgar. A powerful, if niche, talent.

Beetle, Juiced is a fantastic pun and an okay talent. While it does capstone the beetle build, you're usually better off with either of the E upgrades. By far and away the best sustain talent though, and you'll occasionally be brought to those drawn-out fights.
Activate to reset the cooldowns of your Basic Abilities.
Hive Master is a reasonable heal talent providing healing similar to regeneration master and damage comparable to an auto every 3 seconds. It's not that strong for a 20, though, and the sustain is generally less relevant than simply having a Hardened Shield.

Cryptweave is an incredibly niche talent, allowing you to further isolate a hero simply by remaining near your cocoon. Please message me if you figure out uses for this that actually occur.

Hardened Shield is one of the best defensives in the game; it pairs well with a Debilitation style engage where you're looking to disable a key hero and draw aggression while the remainder of your team engages. Also strong into pick comps like Garrosh or Stitches where you may need to force a fight and eat a lot of damage so your team is safe.

Rewind is generally your strongest 20 and your go-to; a ranged moshpit tends to be quite good. Practice with Rewind in try mode to learn the combos you can execute; understand that there are occasionally gaps in your CC, during which certain heroes can teleport. It's often best to simply Q, Rewind, Q when on mobile heroes.
Balance Patch - 11/12/19
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