Heroes of the Storm

Johanna Rework – Design Analysis & Feedback

Jo's one of my fav tanks, and has had quite the journey from utter simplicity and self-preservation to a complex, engaging frontliner. Here's advice, notes and observations on design and balance, and some feedback… that never amounts to anything, but I like pondering out loud!


Like Arthas, Johanna is a tank that excels at controlling groups of nearby enemies, and thus has an increased focus against basic attacks to counter sustained damage.

She was once perceived as a hero that mostly stayed alive a lot, a slew of talents increasing her sustain. As her first rework came, this weirdly popular thread mourned her loss of a passive regen talent and the addition of more skillful talents. I love bringing this thread up! And its comments…

That rework introduced more interactive mechanics and limited pure self-sustain, adding risk and reward that affect decisionmaking. Also had a bunch of cdr talents as a side theme, that fit a hero that repeatedly ccs enemies to keep 'em close. The latest rework rings similar bells.

Ability Builds & Heroics

  • Punish builds focus at pestering frontlines, but also add a surprise burst of damage and cc to the frail and fleeting. Overall the burstiest aspect of Jo, suiting her lowest-range ability.
  • Condemn builds excel at keeping enemies close to you, away from soft teammates and within the radius of painful abilities. It's a full cc package with cd reduction, move speed and slows.
  • Shield Glare builds excel at longer fights where an onslaught of aa dps is your main concern, especially ranged. You skip cc for pure sustain in blinds, self-heals and aoe shields. If it's hard to reach and slow the back, you might as well just blind them as your team melts the front.

Both of Jo's reworks spiced these up. 2+ hits for the short-ranged Punish, keeping as many enemies near you with W, and cdr that spices up your blinds since, again, pure sustain is too simple.

As for heroics, there used to be a heroic Burrow Charge next to a heroic Storm Bolt, but the former transformed! FS was the more selfish one, but now enables and protects your allies like Blessed Shield does, yet in very different ways. In one heroic your hurl your very shield for offense, in the other you protect your allies as you watch over them. One stuns enemies, one gives your team Unstoppable. Before a mini-stun. Pretty flavorsome really. And ironic, if you consider the names!

  • Falling Sword makes so much sense for Johanna now, and got more badass as you lead an assault, not jump solo and await backup. FS can counter brutal assaults, ‘cancelling’ enemy heroics as Unstoppable Jo slips away to revive her allies. But at its best, this is a tool that boosts assaults. So many scenarios, but interestingly it pairs great with divey tanks and their heroics (E.T.C. + Mosh, Diablo + Apocalypse), so I wonder if we’ll see this in double tank comps.
  • Blessed Shield remains a flexible tool with immediate impact that fits many scenarios- again, best of all an offensive one. It helps your team engage or escape, cancels dangerous abilities, etc etc.

Tier 1 – Define Thyself

A sustain tier that focuses on Johanna's key aspects. Blinds, sticking to enemies, & tankiness.

  • Zealous Glare adds the de-devastating potential for blinding an invading team, and overall flexibility onto which you'll capitalize by neutralizing dps boosts and moves on your squishies.
  • Divine Fortress has a loan so stay alive… It's also the first talent that's about keeping enemies close. Not by improving said aspect, but rewarding it. Your punches, that is!
  • Laws of Hope was always a passive button, not dependent on timing or interaction. It now trades its passive regen for a Regen Globe quest, rewarding good rotations etc. Depends a bit on map but barely talent synergy or enemy comp, thus the simplest and thus most flexible talent here.

Tier 2 & Tier 3 – CC and Mobility

I group these together because of some odd talent placement, as it would seem Tier 2 should be all about crowd control and Tier 3 about Johanna’s own mobility.

  • Subdue will really punish foes that just used their dives n' dashes. Choose wisely as it's an inflexible teamfight talent. Pestering frontlines is great, but whether you'll slow the fleeing backline after a dive or complete the quest depends on map & comp.
  • Eternal Retaliation, a blend of its old self and Sins Exposed, means you don't just bring people close but have to personally give each a greeting. Cdr and mana is ideal for an annoying friend.
  • Hold your Ground boosts your survivability, preserves your mobility, the kind of enemy cc affects its validity. Kinda bland for this rework, keeps you alive and skips more enemy cc.
  • Sins Exposed reduces the allied/self-heals of tanks & bruisers in longer fights, and might hamper a life-saving burst of healing. I kinda prefer old Zealous Glare which extended your blind and could protect both you and your team, but with a 2nd E charge it’d be a nightmare.
  • Conviction gives passive speed that's simply terrific on a crowd-controlling machine that lacks mobility abilities outside Falling Sword, as with Death's Advance on Arthas (on lvl20 tho!).
  • Steed Charge is a lot like old Fanaticism, including bonus D duration that gets you more value out of your shield. It provides otherwise missing dive potential on lvl 7, or a potent escape.

Tier 5 – Aoe

This tier is all about aoe damage, but the differences and conditions make each talent stand out and stay interesting. Overall, we go from the most burst and lowest range to the most spread out dps.

  • Roar deals all of its damage in one go, but its condition keeps it interesting. How often can you get it, on how many and which targets, without missing out on a crucial slow? As with all Q talents, excellent vs a tough frontline, but if you get deeper, it might just secure a kill.
  • Holy Fury, like the new Eternal Retaliation, rewards a fat W, its condition being that you capitalize on it. Fittingly, it deals its damage around Johanna, so during hard engagements you may find the frontline on your one side and a couple squishies on the other. Perks like ER synergy, bit more PvE, mana-less reveal, and countering multi-body comps kept this talent afloat, until that is…
  • Blessed Hammer, a bit overblessed atm, is carefree in its effect, as it's ranged and covers a big area. Its interest lies in getting the most out of your basic attacks and abilities. It loves Blessed Momentum, but also likes an E build. It’s the least bursty but allows you to be annoying at range!

Tier 6 – Define Thyself Even More

A great lvl16 gives the ultimate upgrades to key aspects of your hero. Similar to level 1, but Holy Renewal combines blinds and self-sustain, while the other two are about keeping enemies close.

  • Shrinking Vacuum is a wonderful replacement for a generic talent. With the slow, you may find yourself not needing to Q right away, extending the slow duration you output. It’s very versatile and perfectly encapsulate the defense and engage package that Condemn is all about.
  • Holy Renewal is best for your own survivability, offering no movement cc but able to negate tons of poke. Adding the shape of the ability, it's generally best against more ranged comps.
  • Blessed Momentum is a darn flexible talent that synergizes with everything. At its core it’s the ultimate reward for keeping your enemies close. Enemies with blinds or lots of mobility may discourage this, but it’s hard to go wrong with it.

Tier 7 – Storm!

  • Heaven's Fury, fittingly as it now enables your team as well, gives them a lil’ healing boost to keep them in shape as they dive or run away. The cooldown reduction and immediate impact of the dps & hps feel great and work beautifully.
  • Radiating Faith stuns more people for longer, what’s not to love! 1.75 seconds is a decently long time for your allies to react, but ideally everyone's in position to wreck havoc.
  • Indestructible is a boring talent that passively lets you live longer on a huge cooldown. Compared to talents like Gift From The Embalmer, this looks like a relic of the past design-wise. It’s fine if you tend to get focused down, just don’t pick it against the odd anti-shield damage.
  • Blinded By The Light protects your team in the simplest way, giving shields. The cdr is what’s interesting about it, and is likely balanced around the new E build's synergy.

Balance Feedback

  • Old vs new statistics. Initially Falling Sword outperformed Shield significantly, but players seem to have adjusted to where they're balanced. Since their winrates AND pickrates seem ideal, it's Johanna overall that needs some blessing on her lesser aspects.
  • Most tiers should see buffs to match their best, especially tier 5 that was always weak compared to the equivalent talents of Anub'Arak and others. Tier 3 may need both buffs and a Conviction nerf.
  • Zealous Glare could get mana refunds. The E build, like W, is also rather spammy!
  • Divine Fortress is a tad weak, Blessed Momentum a tad too good. Matching the duration of their bonuses (currently 2.5 vs 4 sec) could provide a sensible fix.
  • Subdue could get another bonus for hitting 2+ Heroes, like Heroic cdr. But the simplest, more flexible buff would add another way of getting the reward, hitting X Heroes with Punish Y times.
  • Sins Exposed can get a bigger debuff, but also a duration cap like with old Sins Exposed.
  • Holy Fury could get more dps but duration reduced by 1-2 seconds, making it more dynamic without sacrificing the multi-hit aspect. Still, capping its effect to 4 heroes would also help balance it. Temporarily boosting radius as with Leoric's Burning Despair is another option.

Design Feedback

  • I would switch Hold your Ground with Sins Exposed to have a clear cc and mobility tier.
  • Hold your Ground and Indestructible are pretty passive talents. HyG could get a bit of old Fanaticism to spice it up, or another fitting mechanic. Indestructible feels particularly antiquated, so comfy that it always remained popular despite being the weakest choice, if by a small margin. It needs a bit of spice, maybe a dynamic way to reduce its coodlown (see Gift From The Embalmer).
  • Blinded By The Light has way too high synergy with the E build, which makes it balanced around it. Thus it's a more build accessory than a 'shield everyone' talent. The simplest fix would be reducing both the cd and cdr. Still, Blessed Hammer does cdr right and may have something to teach this one. Could tie the cdr to basic attacks, boosted against blinded enemies.


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