Zeratul Post-Rework (Ragnaros Patch) by Masterfish

Zeratul Post-Rework (Ragnaros Patch)

By: Masterfish
Last Updated: Dec 26, 2016
11 Votes
Build 1 of 2


Build: I Can Consistently Land My W

Level 1
Level 4
Level 7
Level 10
Level 13
Level 16
Level 20


Build: Let Me Show You My Wormhole

Level 1
Level 4
Level 7
Level 10
Level 13
Level 16
Level 20

Introduction Top

Ever since the Zeratul talent rework some time ago, the people I play with and against seem to be incredibly confused as to how to build this hero. A good chunk Zeratul players I come across seem to chose their talents more or less at random. so I've decided to write up my two cents on what I consider to be the best ways to make used of the new and improved Dark Templar.

I've included two builds, which are really two variations of the playstyle I believe is both the most enjoyable and the most effective. There is a little bit of flexibility in the talent choices, which I will get into later.

Level 1 Talents (Why Vorpal Blade isn't Optional) Top

As the title says, the talent to pick at this tier is Vorpal Blade, pretty much no matter what.


Because it blows the other two options out of the water, that's why.

Vorpal Blade offers a second teleport ability, with global range, on a 15 second cooldown. It gives you more chase, ability to secure kills on targets that have their own mobility (like Valla or Li Ming, say).

Greater Cleave by comparison, doesn't offer very much at all. Your AoE ability is bigger now. Whooo! Except your job as Zeratul isn't to deal AoE damage. If you wanted to do that, you'd be playing a ranged mage of some description. Zeratul is meant to engage, hard, burst down a target, and get back out. This talent doesn't help you in any way.

Shadow Hunter has several problems. First and foremost, it doesn't immediately do anything. The mana reduction it offers is more or less irrelevant. What you really want is the quest reward, which lowers the cooldown of Blink through auto attacks. The problem is that you need to collect 20 globes first, which takes a while and even then it just isn't good enough, mostly because full AA Zeratul just isn't possible anymore like it was before the rework (more on that later). Compare this to Vorpal Blade which more or less you a second charge of your Blink right away, and you start to see why this doesn't really match up to the competition.


Take Vorpal Blade

Level 4 Talents (How Blizzard Tried To Hide Follow Through Under a Different Name) Top

Warning, Math Ahead!

All the talents at this tier increase your damage in one way or another. So really, the question becomes: which talent deals the most damage?

The Short Answer:

It's Combo Slash

The Long Answer:

Using lvl 1 values, for simplicity's sake:

Grim Task, fully stacked gives you 222.56 bonus damage ( Singularity Spike makes all the numbers weird) NOTE you will not have full stacks immediately, and will likely never get there in most games

Grim Task (realistic version, at half stacks) gives 111.28 bonus damage.

Rending Cleave Gives 83 extra damage.

Combo Slash, if you get a proc off of all 3 of your basic abilities, gives 157.2 bonus damage. That isn't as hard to do as it seems.

First of all, let's talk about Grim Task, also known as Gathering Power. It's too inconsistent. Waaaayyy too inconsistent. Why? Because to make use of this talent, you have to not die, while playing one of the most inherently risky heroes in this game. Good luck with that one.
To make things worse, the rewards aren't even very good until you start getting it stacked pretty high.
On a side note, if you want to have some fun, you can pick this talent against Murky and The Lost Vikings specifically if you want to have some fun farming kills off of them.

Now for Rending Cleave. The math says it all on this one. It just doesn't do enough. The one upside is that you get more waveclear, but Zeratul's waveclear is already pretty good as is, and besides, you're not there to kill minions. You're there to kill heroes.

Finally, Combo Slash. Why Blizzard renamed this, I will never fully understand. Follow Through is a much, much better name.
Anyway, this is the damage talent of choice, as you can do as much damage as Grim Task with near full stacks, upon picking the talent, while dying as often as you want.
The only catch: it requires some finesse. You have to weave in an auto attack between each ability you cast to use it effectively. This will take a bit of getting used to, if you didn't play Zeratul with Follow Through before the rework.
Trust me, it's more than worth it.


Combo Slash all the way

Level 7 Talents (Where Things Get Interesting) Top

Let me preface this by saying that none of the talents at this tier are, strictly speaking, bad.

However, some of them are definitely better than others.

First off, Wormhole. Before the rework, this was the best level 13 talent Zeratul had. He now gets it at level 7, which sounds highly balanced, and also like a pretty good deal.
And it is.
What Wormhole allows you to do is engage with Blink, while having a safe escape in your back pocket. Essentially, you get a second charge of Blink with the catch that it can only go backwards, if that makes sense. The other problem, of course, is that you only have 2 seconds in which to do damage.
Pretty good thing that you're a burst assassin, huh?
When using Combo Slash and Vorpal Blade as you should be, Wormhole also gives you a way of getting a 4th crit, since reactivating Blink will proc Combo Slash.
You can also use this glorious talent to bait enemy abilities. Blink in, cleave, auto attack, blink out and watch as the enemy stuns only hit thin air.

On to Slip into Shadow. This is the talent I don't particularly like. I understand the appeal of it, Blink is your best ability, but the cooldown increase just seems like too big of a downside, considering how good the competing talents are.
Here's the problem I have with it. Say you engage, with the first charge of your Blink, but something goes wrong, and you have to teleport out again. With with this talent, you would be waiting a grand total of 18 seconds before you get any of your mobility back, and Zeratul without mobility is completely hamstrung.
I think 18 seconds is too long a wait to pay for the utility of the second charge of Blink, when compared to the competing talents.
Side note: yes, I see the synergy with Shadow Hunter. Unfortunately, that talent is too terrible to ever take.

Seeker in the Dark. This one is my personal go-to, despite how much I hyped up Wormhole. Let me explain why.
The one downside that Wormhole has, when playing against opponents that are paying attention, is that it makes your movements somewhat predictable. If they see you blink in, they know where you will wormhole back out to.
Seeker in the Dark gives you the ability to hard engage with your Singularity Spike, thus letting you keep your Blink as an escape, which you can use to teleport wherever you want.
The downside is that you need to land your W. If you miss, most of the time you won't really be able to do anything until Singularity Spike comes off cooldown again. Overall, I don't reccomend this one to anybody that is new to the hero or not confident in their ability to land skill shots. However, the flexibility it offers makes it the best talent overall, in my opinion.
I also don't like this talent on Infernal Shrines, specifically, because trying to land Singularity Spike through all the little skeleton minions is a nightmare.


Your choice between: Wormhole or Seeker in the Dark

Level 10 Talents (The Illusion of Choice) Top

Shadow Assault, unfortunately, just isn't very good anymore. As I mentioned before, the talent rework essentially killed the old AA Zeratul build that this heroic was good decent with, because the necessary talents ( Seasoned Marksman, Berserk, etc.) were removed. Zeratul's damage comes from his spell rotation now, since you can't buff your attack speed and damage to ridiculous levels anymore. Also, having Vorpal Blade and your level 7 talent of choice gives you all the mobility you need.

Void Prison is the clear winner here. I could write a novel about the potential uses and greatness of this ability.
It can set up wombo combos, it can save your entire team at the press of a button, it can save your buildings, your core.
It can do a lot of things. Void Prison is one of the best heroics in the game, period. The catch: it's a bit tricky to use. As I've said before though, it's well worth learning.


Void Prison

Level 13 Talents (Survival of the Stealthy) Top

This is another case of none of the talents being bad, but some being better than others.

Starting off with the weakest, Shround of Adun. The shield is pretty neat, but it's only 15% of your health, which means it gets outclassed by the other talents. That's all there really is to this one.

Spell Shield is a fantastic talent, sometimes. If you're afraid that the enemy team can burst you down with spells, then you take this talent. If they have primarily AA damage, then you don't. Pretty simple.

Mending Strikes should be your go-to talent at this tier. With your empowered auto attacks from Combo Slash, you will very quickly heal for more than Shroud of Adun shields you for, plus it allows Zeratul to solo any Mercenary Camp without help or losing health.
In fact, you gain health from defeating Siege Giant or Firebat camps.
In any game where you aren't afraid of getting deleted by opposing mages, you should take Mending Strikes.


Mending Strikes unless you feel you need Spell Shield

Level 16 Talents (All of the Damage) Top

Sentenced to Death is probably the best overall talent on this tier and if you took Seeker in the Dark at level 7, not taking this is definitely a mistake. These two talents together are what really allow you to delete the enemy back line.
The synergy between them lies in the fact that Seeker delays the explosion of Singularity Spike which gives you more time to get in your sweet, sweet bonus damage in the form of crit auto attacks from Combo Slash.
Without Seeker in the Dark I personally feel like you don't have enough time to get the damage in for it to be worth it.

For this reason, I perfer Master Warp Blade whenever I play with Wormhole, and also because the crit from Master Warp Blade heals you if you took Mending Strikes, which gives you some pretty decent sustain. The Master Warp Blade crit falls neatly onto the end of your damage combo, for some extra burst.

Void Slash is kind of mediocre. There is some potential in it, since the cooldown reduction is actually pretty decent, but it turns out that you can't really sit in the middle of the enemy team for long enough to get multiple iterations of Cleave off before you teleport out or are killed horribly.
Unless the enemy team fell asleep completely.
As a result, the other options are superior.


Sentenced to Death if you took Seeker in the Dark
Master Warp Blade if you didn't

Level 20 Talents (Please, Please, Please Take Rewind) Top

It's in the title.
Rewind is so stupidly good on Zeratul that not taking it should be treated as a hate crime.
You get a second Blink to chase, or to escape after you've dumped your double Cleave and double Singularity Spike into your unfortunate victim.
If you took Sentenced to Death, you can rewind into a second Singularity Spike to extend the bonus damage, as well as having the first W benefit from the bonus damage of the second one. If you get some Combo Slash procs in there, you can kill most ranged assassins from full health.

For the sake of completeness, I will go over the other options at 20, despite the fact that they might as well not exist.

Nerazim Fury is the upgrade to the heroic you should never take. Enough said.

Gift of the Xel'Naga isn't bad at all, actually. But it isn't nearly good enough either. Void Prison has almost double the cooldown of Rewind and it also doesn't really help you fulfill your most important purpose, assassinating people.

Nexus Blades doesn't do as much damage as Rewind lets you do, and also doesn't give as much utility as a second Blink. Also just not good enough.


Read the title.

Conclusions, Tips and Tricks Top

You made it! You read through my novel of a guide.
Or you skimmed through it a bit.
Whatever, I don't judge.

There's a lot more to playing a good Zeratul than picking the right talents, especially the build you just read about, so I thought I'd offer a few tips and tricks to help you along:

First, and most important: don't start every fight by blindly diving into the enemy. Zeratul does a lot of damage, but before the late game (Lvl 16 and 20) you can't kill anybody from full health, by yourself, if the enemy team is grouped. Wait, in stealth, until there is a low health target for you to finish off, or you know your team can follow up to finish the kill.

The previous rule does not apply if you see the golden opportunity to land a good Void Prison.

While we're on the subject, here is the golden rule of a good Void Prison. Unless you are setting up some kind of AoE wombo combo, a good VP doesn't hit the entire enemy team. A good void prison splits the enemy team in two. If you catch all 5 enemies, your team can't damage anybody until they get back out, and you've essentially done nothing (the exception being if you allow your team to channel an objective).
If you catch only 3 or 4 however, then the poor saps stuck outside will face the wrath of your entire team, and die horribly. Once the Void Prison ends, you can mop up the rest of the team.

There is a specific combo I like to use with Combo Slash and Wormhole for maximum damage. It goes like this.
Blink onto your target.
Auto Attack
Auto Attack
Wormhole back out. (this is where they miss all their abilities they tried to hit you with).
Vorpal Blade back onto your target (this triggers the Combo Slash crit from Wormhole)
Singularity Spike
Auto Attack, as many as it takes to finish your target off. They are slowed from Singularity Spike so they shouldn't really be able to run. This combo works best when ganking somebody that is alone.

Void Prison procs Combo Slash so get an Auto Attack in there once it ends before you start spamming your abilities.

You can reactivate Void Prison to cancel it! Because of this, whenever a follow up ability (like Apocalypse, Ring of Frost or Wailing Arrow) misses, it's technically your fault, because you could have cancelled the VP, but didn't.

Don't approach teamfights head-on. Circle around and apprach from the side. This way, there is a much lower chance that a random spell will hit you and de-stealth you. It also tends to make potential Wormhole escapes more effective.

Void Prison makes your Core (and the enemy Core, for that matter) invulnerable, if you trap them in it. This is especially relevant on Warhead Junction, as you can use Void Prison to negate the damage of enemy nukes. This can win you games, in a pinch.

And that's all, folks! Hope you enjoyed, and I very much hope you enjoy your future endeavors playing the most slippery assassin in the Nexus.

Quick Comment (2) View Comments

You need to log in before commenting.

11 Votes

Quick Comment (2) View Comments

You need to log in before commenting.

HeroesFire is the place to find the perfect build guide to take your game to the next level. Learn how to play a new hero, or fine tune your favorite HotS hero’s build and strategy.

Copyright © 2019 HeroesFire | All Rights Reserved