[Updated for Guldan Patch] Detailed all talents in-depth guide by Existor

[Updated for Guldan Patch] Detailed all talents in-depth guide

By: Existor
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2016
42 Votes
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Dehaka

Build: Speed & CC focus

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Dehaka

Build: Disengage & Dark Swarm focus

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Dehaka

Build: Protecting allies with Drag

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Dehaka

Build: Zeratul with small hook

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Dehaka

Build: Ganking split pusher

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Dehaka

Build: Dark Swarm & speed focus

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Dehaka

Build: Dark Swarm focus (vs mages)

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Hey all, I'd like to write a guide for all beginners who are trying to play Dehaka. It can be less than a guide, but more like bunch of tips on how to talent him with some information on his overall strategy and play style.

I'd like to go through all tiers and explain why each talent can be good and in what situation. There can be multiple builds depending on your play style and what you want to do as well as what your team needs. Do you have lack of CC? Do you want to protect allies from heavy dive? Or trying to empower your ganks through Brushstalker and surprize stealth attacks? Or you maybe want to go full tank and become almost immortal.

Dehaka is really unique 50th hero of the Nexus, and he is one of those heroes that can be built depending on enemy and your team, meaning that there is no only one go-to build. All talents are viable in some way, depending on how you and your team utilizes it.

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Z - Brushstalker
  • With that ability you can jump across the map. You can simply recall to base, heal to the full and come back to fight almost instantly. It's like Diablo, but instead of dying you're just retreating at the right time, recalling, healing to the full and burrowing into the fight again.

  • Use it to scout enemy camps, sometimes enemy hero can be alone or have half health left from taking camp, you can snipe him and take camp. Just burrow to brush, wait a bit and do your stalker job. Greatly synergies with global scouting tools your team may have such Abathur Toxic Traps, Tyrande Owl or Azmodan scouting with his globe (it provides vision for short time too!)

  • Thanks to Brushstalker you can use fountains during laning phase and don't save them for teamfights around objectives, because it is faster and a lot better to recall to base, heal to the full and burrow back to fight rather than walk (mountless!) to nearest fountain and be healed for only 2/3 of your health.

  • Build called "Ganking split pusher" emphasises your pushing and it synergies well with Brushstalker. For example Tributes ping you on the map that they are gonna spawn in 15 seconds. Usually all heroes pressing mount and immediately running to the place where Tribute will appear. But not Dehaka, You can push during these 15 seconds, clear one more minion wave and only then Brushstalker to objective event. You can keep enemy specialist to stay on lane and then "teleport" to your team, creating 5v4 scenario, since enemy specialist still must mount and walk through half of the map.

Q - Drag
  • Not much to say here, just want to remember you that you can cast Dark Swarm and auto attack during Drag, meaning that you're dragging enemy hero AND auto-attacking him during that time. It is basically 1.75 seconds stun, so you have two choices: drag enemy closer to your team or stay at place and attack that enemy for at least two auto-attacks.

W - Dark Swarm
  • great ability for Dehaka, allowing to ignore unit collision and it have a lot of use actually

  • and here is your first combo: Drag enemy hero, cast Dark Swarm and while enemy hero is Dragged, walk through him and bodyblock from other side! Chen is a master of bodyblocking (with Q and his Barrel ultimate), and Dehaka now also do some great bodyblock plays!

  • if you are bodyblocked, use it to escape also

E - Burrow
  • Use it to dodge skillshots and CC stuff

  • Use it to disengage heavy melee teams (if talented). In rare cases you can interupt ETC Mosh Pit, if cast it at proper time.

  • Use it for tricky plays like cloaked ganks or great escapes from brush (if talented. here is a trick: try to stealth-burrow inside a brush, so enemy won't see where exactly you are burrowed. Still it is possible to reveal you with AOE-abilities, but there is slightly more room and place to fool them by going in opposite direction or just staying at place while enemy will try to chase you and go away from brush)

  • Use it to dodge dangerous ultimates like ETC moshpit, Nova's tripletap, KT's pyroclasm, Illidan's hunt and other ultimates that priobably where targeted at you

R - Isolation / Adaptation (explained in Talents Tips section)

D - Essence Collection. Here are some tips on when to use this trait and on early laning overall:
  • Speed / regen for every 50 essence (level 1) stacking is separate from your trait essence stacking. With these two talent you starting to have two essence "bars", so if you already have 50 trait-essence, you still can continue to collect essence for your speed / regen quest.

  • During laning phase against heavy poke try to not eat damage and collect essence, better swap lane or wait for a good moment when you can grab enemy hero and do your damage and CC, but don't try to play 1v1 vs heavy poke (Lunara who can kite you, Valla or Raynor). Early game you won't have much essence and it will be very easy to poke you and leave with low health.

  • As I said, early game Dehaka is very weak to ranged poke because he don't have essence to outheal it. So it's better collect essence for incoming first teamfight. In this case it can be better to let enemy push lane so your towers will kill all the minions so you get the needed essence without taking too much damage.

  • On other side, thanks to Brushstalker (Z) you can eat all the poke, if that poke is mana- based. So by eating all the poke you're forcing enemy heroes to use fountain before next objective event. Yes, you can use fountain too, but the strategic trick here is that you can recall to base, heal to the full and back to fight and/or objective instantly, while enemy heroes need to use Mount to walk to that objective.

  • Early game try to collect as much essence as you can, don't spend it on healing early poke (except you got ganked by 2-3 enemy heroes), try to save it for first map event teamfights

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Here are explanations on each build. Of course any of talents that are presented here are subject to change by yourself depending on enemy and your team. If you think, that taking other ultimate is better, then take it! There is no one go-to build for Dehaka, and all talents are viable, but some of them synergizing better than others. You're Zerg after all! Evolve and adapt!


Speed & CC focus - this build can be good when enemy team have strong backline and only one frontline (i.e. just one tank). Main goal of this build is to empower your Drag by making it last longer and increasing range so you can grab little bit easier those who is trying to keep distance from you (Valla, Lunara, Kael'Thas, Raynor and other). Also, with this build you can drag not just longer, but futher and more deep into your team.

When to pick this build:
  • Your team lacks of CC
  • Enemy team have important heroes that must be focused first (Morales, kael'Thas, etc)
  • Enemy team have mobile heroes like Falstad, Valla, who can just dash/run away
When to not pick this build:
  • Enemy team have a lot of melee, bonus movement speed will be just a waste
  • Your team lacks of burst damage to quickly focus Dragged target
  • Enemy team have very strong peel for their backline, i.e. many CC to keep you away from their assasins


Disengage & Dark Swarm focus - imagine a team that have two warriors and melee assasin? or two warriors and melee support (Rehgar for example or kharazim). In such cases you don't need elongated tongue and faster speed, because nothing to chase, enemy heroes are already fighting nearby you. All you need is to utilize that. In this build you are empowering your Dark Swarm by allowing to cast it more often and when needed, you can burrow for knocking diving melees away from your squishies. If timed well, that knock can save your team from ETC's Moshpit.

When to pick this build:
  • Your team lacks of AOE damage (you have mostly snipers, non-aoe mages, auto-attackers)
  • Enemy team got heavy dive composition (Thrall, Sonya, Illidan, any tank)
  • Dark Swarm is a spell ability, so it is better to use this build vs teams with blind or evade (Lili, Illidan, Johanna)
  • Your team will know that burrow is not for saving yourself but for saving them by disrupting heavy melee dives, and reacting accordingly
When to not pick this build:
  • Enemy team have AOE-healers (Kharazim, Uther for example) who can outheal damage from Dark Swarm with a single cast of any healing ability
  • Your team have good AOE damage already. medium damage from Dark Swarm won't make a big difference, but lack of improved Drags will be noticeable for example.
  • Enemy team tends to stay spreaded (team comp example: Zeratul, Morales, Falstad, Johanna, Azmodan - they will never be nearby, meaning that you will hit maximum 2 of them at time, if not one)


Protecting allies with Drag - similar to build above, this is about protecting allies from those who is trying to dive your team intensively. The idea of this build is that you are constantly auto-attacking those who is trying to dive your allies and dragging them away or just keeping in place (it's 1.75 sec stun after all). Of course you can replace it with 0.5 additional seconds on Drag duration, but in my opinion, having Drag more often is the key to protect your allies from those Zeratuls, Thrall and other melees.

When to pick this build:
  • You must protect squishy allies from strong frontline in enemy team (2-3 melee heroes or more)
  • You have what to auto-attack to reduce Drag cooldown
  • Enemy team got heavy dive composition (Thrall, Sonya, Illidan, any tank)
When to not pick this build:
  • There isn't much what to auto-attack, and Feeding Frenzy talent will be just wasted in that case. There is an exception when you fighting at maps like Infernal Shrines or Tomb of the Spider Queen, since there you can also auto-attack nearby minions or objective creeps to reduce Drag cooldown as well.
  • Regarding only one tank - there can be different cases as well, but I will try to explain, why one-tank at enemy team is the reason why this build may not be that effective. First of all, if you are attacking enemy tank, you will be already away from more important heroes (like mages or ranged assasins). And second - you will just waste time auto-attacking enemy tank, which it is his job actually - take damage (which is already isn't big from your autos) and peel for damage carries.


Zeratul with small hook - main idea of this build is to use your Brushstalker offensively and gank across the map. You pressing Z, burrowing to location where enemy hero is pushing, burrowing for cloak and then doing your perfect gank by dragging and Dark Swarming enemy hero while your ally (allies) attacking it. Longer Drag duration just makes "stun" last longer and cloak allows to gank while cloaked. Basically you're becoming Zeratul with small hook.

When to pick this build:
  • Your team already have tank and you are playing more like roaming assasin
  • You want to focus on ganking and CC'ing
  • Enemy team have heroes with lack of escape and great pushing potential (i.e. Zagara, Azmodan, Guldan), in such cases ganks become more important.
  • Your team have good damage and CC to burst down Drag'ed target. Examples: Kerrigan, Thrall, Zeratul.
When to not pick this build:
  • Of course, when you're solo tank. In team fights having this build will just make you lose every teamfight.
  • Map is heavily oriented on teamfights. Battlefield of Eternity is the best example of that - most of the time you are teamfighting around Immortals. It may work in rare cases, if you brushstalker enemy backline, but keep in mind that you will be solo, and enemy team can just focus you. More rare cases are when you do that in premade, like flanking with your friend who is playing Kerrigan / Zeratul, and doing such flanks together. As I said, this build is better for ganking and roaming, especially when you do that with heavy burst / cc champs, and when it happens on big maps where specialists are good at pushing but lack of escape.


Ganking split pusher - not so standard build that focuses on lane presence and very fast essence collecting. Allows to collect essence extremely fast while staying at lane. Good for maps where fights happen on lanes or nearby (Tomb of the Spider queen or Dragon Shire). This build allows to gain 31 essence from single minion wave (3x7 from minions + 10 from globe), 36 essence if Essence Devourer quest is complete (hich also increases your essence from 50 to 60). Basically you're becoming tanky specialist-pusher, that can push lane even when there is 2 seconds left before Tribute appears. When it does appear, you just burrow to objective event, while enemy specialist needed to mount and walk some time through map. Swift Pursuit allows you to roam between lanes at better speed, if you walk through brushes.

When to pick this build:
  • Map is more about fighting around lanes (i.e. Tomb of the Spider Queen or Dragon Shire) or you want to push heavily before objectives occur, and then Brushstalker-buttow to objective event
  • Your team lacks of AOE or wave clearing
  • Your team don't have specialist (eg 3 assasins)
  • You like splitpushing
When to not pick this build:
  • Your team lacks of good CC (which is a job of tank usually), since you trade improved Drags for better pushing
  • You are continuing pushing even when objective appeared. You must brushstalker or just come to objective event, or it will be 4v5 for your team. Except rare cases, when enemy specialist is pushing too. But it is very dependant: let enemy hero push lane or help your team to win 5v4 teamfight, since enemy team will lack one member


Dark Swarm & speed focus - another teamfight-oriented build that focuses on increasing your speed and allowing to chase enemies with Dark Swarm. To stay longer in fight, you're better take Adaptation ultimate, so you can spam Dark Swarm almsot infinitely untill you run out of mana. Dark Swarm deals pretty good damage, sometimes granting you top hero damage.

When to pick this build:
  • Your team have 2nd tank / bruiser / melee to dive effectively (Stitches with gas talents and Putrid Bile, Sonya, Anubarak). Basically who can walk with you and deal some good AOE damage and disrupt enemy team by diving them.
  • Your allies are well-protected by support and enemy team don't have assasins that can flank your squishy assasins (Zeratul, Nova). By the way, because of you're going away from your support which stays closer to your mages and assasins, taking Adaptation ultimate will be better in this case.
When to not pick this build:
  • Enemy team have very strong CC with mobile heroes, to keep you in place and run away. Examples are ETC, which can just stun and knock you away, and Falstad, who can just kite you in that case.


Dark Swarm focus (vs mages) - similar to build above, this one is slightly different. Instead of speed you're taking 50% reduced magic damage from 2 next abilities against you. Many of you may think that not taking speed / regen essence quests at level 1 is bad idea, but believe me, 50 hp/sec regeneration or 15% more speed won't save you from burst and properly aimed poke of magic damage from Li'Ming, Kael'Thas, Jaina, Greymane (all his damage usually comes from some poke and then finishing ability damage). This talent greatly synergies with Symbiosis, allowing you to have 50% reduced ability damage almost forever. This build is better for teamfight focused maps such as Battlefield of Eternity or Towers of Doom. Of course modify this build to take more essence from minions instead, depending on what map you have.

When to pick this build:
  • Enemy team have 2+ mages or heroes with strong ability damage (Kerrigan also), like Chromie and Kael'Thas, who can just burst half of your health with single combo.
  • Your team have 2nd tank / bruiser / melee to dive effectively (Stitches with gas talents and Putrid Bile, Sonya, Anubarak). Basically who can walk with you and deal some good AOE damage and disrupt enemy team by diving them.
  • Your allies are well-protected by support and enemy team don't have assasins that can flank your squishy assasins (Zeratul, Nova). By the way, because of you're going away from your support which stays closer to your mages and assasins, taking Adaptation ultimate will be better in this case.
When to not pick this build:
  • Enemy team have very strong CC with mobile heroes, to keep you in place and run away. Examples are ETC, which can just stun and knock you away, and Falstad, who can just kite you in that case.

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Good in cases when there is too much mages, like Kael'Thas and Li'ming alltogether. I think this talent isn't good now because: a) mages are banned every game. b) it just reduces two next abilities and cooldown of Dark Swarm is pretty big, except you take CD reduction at level 7, and still that level 7 talent (Symbiosis) requires you to stay nearby enemy heroes so cooldown is reduced.

In my opinion, this talent must be taken when: a) your team have bad wavecllear (mostly 1-target assasins). b) your team have no jungler, but Dehaka is still bad at jungling, except he takes 50 essence and then goes to merc, because his damage output to clear mercs is very low.

Good when enemy team have mobile heroes (Valla, Falstad, Lunara, and others with built-in speed boost stuff). Don't take this talent when enemy team have mostly melee. They are already in your range, and higher speed won't give you much except better escape. In my opinion, take Tissue
regeneration if there are many melees in enemy team.

Must have talent when:
  • Your team have low-healing or no healing support (Tyrande / Tassadar) or no support at all
  • There is too much poke in enemy team (Gazlow turrets for example or Chogall manaless poke)

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This talent can be great for some tricky plays, like with cloacking on Greymane or Sylvanas. Of course if your enemies are smart, they will just reveal you right after you burrowed, but on other side, it opens for some interesting moments in 1v1 and 2v2 fights (Dragon Shire, sometimes Towers of Doom, sometimes Tomb of the spider Queen, and maps with many brushes like Battlefield of Eternity). Also this talent allows to do some cool ganks, imagine Z-burrowing to brush, then burrowing for cloak and then ganking outside of brush (cloaked!) and dragging someone who is not waiting for you at all.

Great talent for disengage, when enemy team have a lot of melee and frontline, basically it can be used defensively, to throw away enemy melees from your squishies, and when someone is chasing you (usually melee), you're knocking them and going away. Also this talent, if timed well, can counter ETC Moshpit (if you burrow before he starts his moshpit) and other channels, like Nazeebo's non-gargantuan ultimate or Chen's drunking. But try to save this talent mostly for disengage cases against heavy dive team compositions.

This talent is good on maps where most teamfights happen at lanes (Tomb of the spider Queen, Dragon Shire).

Great talent, and I love it more than One-Who-Collects. I'll explain why. This talent is more teamfighting talent than One-Who-Collects. On maps where most teamfights happen away from lanes, such as Battlefield of Eternity or Cursed Hollow, if you or your team doing a kill, you instantly getting 25 essence. Thats basically half of your health to regenerate. And this talent allows you to snowball in teamfights once one kill is done, and go ham by chasing top damage/healing targets.

This talent requires good teamfight and teamplay because if you don't achieve at least one kill, it may be harder for you to survive. This talent becomes even more OP when you are already maxed at essence, meaning that you are doing everything to shut down target (and of course you are focused because too greedy), and here you go: 50 essence heal, your team doing kill, you got 25 more essence, resulting in a Johanna-level tank atributes in terms of tanking and health amount.

Also this talent is great against enemies like Misha, Murky, The lost Vikings, because for every kill you're getting full amount of essence - 25, no matter whom you're killed.

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It reduces cooldown of your Drag ability by 1.5 sec every auto-attack. Take this talent when:
  • there are many objects to auto-attack (Tomb of the spider queen - minions nearby, Battlefield of Eternity - Immortal itself)

  • when your team lacks of CC and there are many front-line melee heroes in enemy team. Attack them too! Thrall, Illidan, Sonya, Chogall. Actually, this talent can be great in case, when there is just thrall. It can be considered also as defensive playstyle. You're using Grab on those who is trying to chase your squishy allies.

Increases duration of grab by 0.5 seconds. This talent is good in a bit different cases, when you are trying to focus on enemy top-damage or top-healer targets and your team have enough burst damage to focus enemy hero which was grabbed. This talent is also good in combination with increased rangeat level 16 (Elongated Tongue)

CD reduction is stackable! it means the more heroes you hit, the faster this ability will be ready to use again. If you're hitting 2+ targets, you basically making this ability to be ready off-cooldown when it's ended, allowing you to spam it infinitely (untill OOM or CC'ed). This talent is a must-have when:
  • Enemy team have a lot frontline and melee, i.e. 2 tanks and melee, and also melee support (even more great!)

  • You are sure you can chase enemy heroes, i.e. when you got speed from essence at level 1 or when your team have good CC to keep enemies inside of your Dark Swarm.

  • This talent greatly synergies with Whirling Dervish at level 13, allowing you to have reduced CC almost always.

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Take it when there are mages and strong healers on enemy team. Don't take this talent when enemy team have many AA, because then you will just waste half of Isolation ability (the part that silences). Yes, blind and slow are good, but take it carefully when your team also lacks of CC and you know that you need to focus specific target (Morales, Kael'Thas)

Take it when you're solo-tank and when you talented into non-regen stuff and/or when, as I said above, silence won't make much difference. Also Adaptation allows you to deal damage with your abilities and stay a lot longer. Take it when you're taking non-regen talents at other tiers to keep your tankiness. Do not take it when you already have regen talents, it will be just a waste since you will become super healthy tank that can do nothing except take damage and regen it. It may work, but you're trading some utility for more tankyness (i.e. Dark Swarm damage, better Drags or pushing potential).

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Take it when enemy team lacks of CC, because it can improve your mobility a bit when chasing, escaping and roaming/splitpushing). Keep in mind that it just gives you 5% more speed, if you stacked Enhanced Agility (permanent 15% speed boost). In other word, speed bonuses do not stack, and you just getting highest speed bonus (in this case, 20% more speed in brush compared to 15% permanent speed buff).

Same as above, if enemy team lacks of CC, take this when you are going to use Brushstalker agressively and when you are going to take Apex Predator at level 20. Also good for more surprizing ganks.

As said above, this talent greatly synergies with Symbiosis, allowing you to have reduced CC more often. No explanation, take it when there is high amount of CC in enemy team.

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This talent is must have when your team lacks of CC and enemy heroes are quite fast or have some escape mechanism (Valla, Tychus), allowing them to dash/flee away when Drag duration is over.

Good against teams where enemy heroes know how to position themself well and who are mostly ranged. Don't take this talent when enemy team have a lot of melee, because it becomes just wasted talent pick.

Can be good when you're lacking of healing in team, or when there are small skirmishes (1v1 and 2v2 for example on Dragon Shire), and when you don't have essence but trying to buy some seconds to survive. Good to pick when your build isn't focused on healing and sustain.

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Epic ultimate upgrade when enemy team have a lot of mages and those who relies on abilities to deal damage. Also great on maps where everyons is usually clumped (Battlefield of Eternity for example)

Can be good, but in my opinion, you should know when to use it. Enemy still can shut down you during those 4 seconds at such stage of game (level 20, wow). So try to use Adaptation ultimate WHILE regeneratin from D-trait, otherwise smart enemies won't attack you or will heavily focus during those 4 seconds.

One of interesting uses of it can be split pushing. Dehaka can jump across the map like crazy, and with some scouting tools (Reveal area or Tyrande's owl) it can open for some great plays such as jumping to someone or scout enemy camp (while staying in brush). This talent is also super strong on maps like Dragon Shire or Sky temple, where after doing a kill or clearing temple, you can jump to other temple and help your allies.

Is a separate cooldown ability, which can be taken when you don't need to Isolate whole enemy team and when you think that having separated defensive ability from Adaptation ultimate is better. It's also good against heavy burst teams, while updated Isolation is better against more sustain-poke based teams.

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