Hierarch of the Daelaam and liberator of Aiur, Artanis is one of the most heroic and legendary leaders of the Protoss race. His incarnation in the Nexus is a powerful brawler, solo laner, and jungler capable of shredding assassins and tanks alike. Despite his many strengths, Artanis has never settled into the professional Heroes scene. While the professional meta is certainly a good guide for playing the game optimally, it is important to understand that professional metas can often be functionally different from the average experience of the player base. This guide will provide some insight into talent builds and gameplay considerations that should help the average player understand when to use Artanis effectively in appropriate scenarios.
When it comes to Artanis, I think it’s best to hold yourself accountable to 2 big rules. These rules can help you succeed with all heroes, but I find them to be especially helpful on Artanis.
Rule #1: Moving = Living
Don’t stop moving. Whether soaking a lane, capturing a merc camp, or participating in a team fight, it is critical for melee assassins to be efficient at stutter stepping. The practice of weaving auto-attacks in between movements is important for all heroes, but holds greater weight for Artanis. The obvious benefits are avoiding skill shots and unnecessary damage from mercenaries, but this also enables more control over the cooldown reduction for Artanis’s Shield Overload. Maintaining uptime of Shield Overload during critical moments can be the differentiating factor between life and death.
Rule #2: You Don’t Have to Press All of Your Buttons All the Time
For the sake of your mana, your survivability, and the sanity of your team, hold your Q and E buttons for the right moments. New Artanis players often try to emulate the cool “WTF moments” by nearly always using their Blade Dash and Phase Prism cooldowns together for a long range swap. While this is an important skill to have (and it can be devastating in the right scenarios), there are a handful of issues with this practice:
- The two abilities combined cost 135 mana, draining a significant portion of Artanis’s mana pool. Compare this to the similar effect of Stitches’s Hook which is only 75 mana.
- Q and E have a 10-second and 16-second cooldown, respectively. Again, compare this to Hook. Two abilities for the effect of one is a hefty price.
- Because Blade Dash directly ties in to the cooldown reduction (CDR) of Shield Overload, having the ability available to get the greatest amount of CDR is critically important. Using Blade Dash before Shield Overload has activated leaves you waiting 10 seconds for a significant CDR that could save your life. The return dash also does a significant amount of damage, so using the dash for the sake of a long range swap is a significant DPS loss.
- Long range swaps can sometimes place your character into dangerous territory, either in the clump of the enemy team or next to enemy structures. Always consider your positioning before executing a swap, not just the resulting displacement of the swap target. Sometimes, casting Phase Prism alone is enough to displace the enemy or interrupt an important ability.
With these considerations, it is important to exercise good judgement when using each ability. There is no defined way to use each ability, but try to adjust to fit the need of the moment. Always assess whether you need to push for damage or survivability, and let that inform the timings of your abilities. You will eventually fall into a rhythm that makes sense, balancing high single target damage with sustained survivability. Remember that with his most recent rework, Blade Dash can also provide cooldown reduction for Shield Overload on minion waves and mercenaries.
Artanis does not fit neatly into every composition like other bruisers. Roots, stuns, slows, or any other form of interference that prevents Artanis from sticking to a target with his auto-attacks will severely impact his survivability and damage. Conversely, allies which assist in his ability to stick to a target are highly valued, either with CC, displacement, or enhanced movement speed. It is important to note that I use the term “bruiser” when referring to Artanis, as his high damage makes him perfect for the off-tank and solo lane roles. He will not perform well as a main tank, a role which requires consistent peeling and CC to be effective.
Artanis excels at focusing down backline and frontline targets, particularly ones with low mobility. Unleashing a Twin Blades assault on a mage will often obliterate a chunk of their health and pressure them into a retreat. Taking Titan Killer or Psionic Wound at 16 will help shred tanks, making him effective against whichever target he is focused on. Both heroics allow him to respond to the enemy draft. Purifier Beam zones out and pressures low mobility healers and assassins. Suppression Pulse offers low damage, but solid damage reduction in the form of a large AoE blind lasting for 4 seconds.
Draft Artanis when the enemy team has low mobility backline who will have trouble escaping from his Twin Blade range or his Purifier Beam. When combined with a Malfurion, Lucio, or Uther, his effectiveness improves. Before making the final decision to pick Artanis, it is important to consider his matchups in the solo lane, where he will be spending a lot of time.
Solo Lane Matchups
A good solo lane player can do the following things:
- Soak exp without dying
- That’s it.
It's that simple. Obviously there is more that can be discussed (i.e. rotating to the team when necessary), but really your most important contribution is being responsible for your lane. Contrary to what one might think, you don’t have to dominate your lane to be a good solo laner. A 50-50 matchup is by definition the 2nd best result one could hope for. No experience is lost, keeping the team on pace with the enemy. Anything greater than that is just icing on the cake. Over-aggression in lane, particularly on heroes without viable means of escape, is the number one way to lose your lane matchup. When moving towards or past half-way in the lane, ALWAYS look at the mini-map to determine the location of the enemy. Some matchups will require you to use the lane minions for shielding (particularly if you’re worried about a roaming Garrosh). In general though, it is best to move around the wave or allow it to come towards your towers. This prevents characters like Ragnaros and Alarak from enhancing their wave clear and healing. You may also be able to bait your opponent into overstepping and swap them into your tower range.
Also understand that taking Amateur Opponent or Reactive Parry at level 1 heavily improve Artanis’s solo lane capabilities. Block charges always gain more value against slow auto-attackers like Leoric, Rexxar, or Ragnaros, but lose value against fast auto-attackers like Falstad or Greymane. Unless Block is needed, Amateur Opponent will greatly help you with wave clear, merc camps, and siege damage. Lastly, taking damage during Shield Overload or when the cooldown is available is always more valuable than taking unmitigated damage. This will play into many of the matchups below when trying to pressure them out of lane.
Consider the chart below for some matchup tips in the solo lane. As of the current meta and hero balance, most of Artanis’s matchups will come down to player skill. No matchup is a guaranteed victory or loss (as anyone can beat anyone) so the more knowledge you have on each matchup will help ensure that you at least stay on the same level and soak experience.
(Green = favorable for Artanis, Yellow = skill based, Red = unfavorable for Artanis)
Level 1 Talents
Reactive Parry, as mentioned in the solo lane discussion, gains a lot of value against slow auto-attackers. If the enemy has one or two heroes with high-damage, low attack speed auto-attacks, then consider this talent. Do not bother with this talent against fast attackers like Tracer. A nice bonus of Reactive Parry compared to most other Block talents is that you have control over your Block charges.
Amateur Opponent is my go-to in most cases. The talent improves Artanis’s early game control over mercenaries, bosses, and minion waves, while providing excellent siege damage when pushing for core. On Tomb of the Spider Queen, Amateur Opponent can help with defending against Webweavers. The talent gets the most value on Battlefield of Eternity and Infernal Shrines, where it offers outstanding PvE race and defense potential.
Seasoned Marksman offers great late game bonuses against high-health pool tanks when combined with any or all of the following talents: Follow Through, Triple Strike, Titan Killer, and Psionic Wound. This talent is easier to complete on smaller maps when you can rotate for more stacks. Do not take this talent on large maps unless you expect the game to go long. The scaling of this talent in the late game can help keep you on pace with other heroes who have stacking quests like Kael’thas or Nazeebo.
Level 1 Summary
Amateur Opponent in most cases. Reactive Parry for slow auto-attack matchups. Seasoned Marksman for scaling damage against tanks in the late game on maps where you can stack.
Level 4 Talents
Psionic Synergy doesn’t gain a whole lot of value considering Artanis is often in the solo lane. Even without this talent, Artanis has many viable ways of reducing the cooldown of Shield Overload.
Shield Battery is a somewhat awkward talent. More often than not, your Shield Overload will be completely used in a team fight rather quickly. This leaves very few windows for the CDR to gain value. The added duration is nice in theory, but very rarely finds value. Much like Psionic Synergy, Artanis has little need for added CDR on Shield Overload.
Shield Surge is currently the most viable talent in this tier. This talent provides a direct, valuable buff to your shields when you need them the most. Artanis players who have practiced using their Blade Dash and Twin Blades for optimal CDR on Shield Overload will be extremely tanky and draw lots of attention away from their teammates.
Level 4 Summary
Take Shield Surge.
Level 7 Talents
Solarite Reaper provides a direct buff to Blade Dash. This means better wave clear and lots of damage in team fights.
Warp Sickness is a very powerful talent that enables Artanis to stick to a target after a successful swap. Additionally, this increases the value of swapping a target into your fortifications, as they will sustain tower or fort damage for a longer duration. This talent is strong whether in the solo lane or in a team fight. Consider this talent a buff for both you and your team.
Chrono Surge is a talent that is difficult to gain value from. Long range swaps will rarely gain value from this talent, as you land too far away from your target to get the most uptime. Best used for short range duels on a control point. Furthermore, while this talent provides a tempting DPS increase, it is tied to a 16-second cooldown on a conditional skill-shot. The utility and lockdown provided by Warp Sickness is much more consistent and valuable.
Follow Through is a strong talent for burning a single target, especially since you can easily proc the buff with Twin Blades. This talent has strong synergy with Seasoned Marksmen, Titan Killer, and Psionic Wound, and will help you pressure the frontline or delete backline targets.
Level 7 Summary
Take Warp Sickness for utility and control, Solarite Reaper for wave clear and team fight damage, and Follow Through for single target burn.
Level 10 Talents
Suppression Pulse is strong against teams that rely on auto-attacks. The 4-second blind is effective damage mitigation for your team and provides a buffer for Artanis to gain more value out of Shield Overload. The pulse is also good for slowing enemy DPS on the Immortal on Battlefield of Eternity. Taking the level 20 upgrade also allows for a good channel interrupt on a relatively short cooldown on maps like Tomb of the Spider Queen, Towers of Doom, Dragon Shire, and Blackheart’s Bay.
Purifier Beam is perfect for pressuring healers and assassins in a team fight. This can cause them to get out of position or miss skill shots. Heroes with particularly low mobility are very susceptible to Purifier Beam, especially when slowed by your Warp Sickness or other CC from your team. The level 20 upgrade can be devastating if used correctly.
Level 10 Summary
Both talents are viable and very effective for their intended purposes. Default to Purifier Beam unless the enemy comp and map require Suppression Pulse.
Level 13 Talents
Templar’s Zeal is another talent that is strong in theory, but hard to gain direct value from. The other talents in this tier offer more direct value.
Triple Strike is a particularly strong talent, which improves your burst damage and CDR for Shield Overload. This talent has strong synergy with Seasoned Marksman, Titan Killer, and Psionic Wound.
Graviton Vortex is most appealing for the 5-second reduction of Phase Prism’s cooldown. This improves the usefulness of Warp Sickness and brings the cooldown more in line with Blade Dash. Swapping two backline heroes is a nice added bonus as well.
Phase Bulwark is a strong survivability upgrade, improving Artanis’s longevity in a team fight. The inherent functionality of Shield Overload makes Artanis strong against low to medium damage. Adding a 50% reduction against spells, which often come in the form of burst damage, helps patch up any remaining gaps in his survivability. The longer Artanis can stay alive, the more damage he can dish out.
Level 13 Summary
Especially after its recent buff, Phase Bulwark joins Triple Strike and Graviton Vortex for viability on this tier. Use any of the three as necessary.
Level 16 Talents
Zealot Charge increases Artanis’s mobility significantly, allowing him to stick to backline targets more frequently. This lessens his reliance on Phase Prism for closing the gap between enemies.
Titan Killer shreds high-health targets, especially when paired with any combination of Seasoned Marksman, Follow Through, and Triple Strike.
Psionic Wound is more effective than Titan Killer at burning targets with armor like Garrosh, Blaze (during Pyromania), or targets healed by Uther. Time your Twin Blades with your assassins’ major abilities for optimal value.
Plasma Burn is a situational talent at best and will rarely achieve the value provided by the other talents in this tier.
Level 16 Summary
All three Twin Blades talents are strong in their intended purpose. Take any of the three to meet the demands of the match. Zealot Charge is a reliant default choice.
Level 20 Talents
Orbital Bombardment is good on maps and against comps where Suppression Pulse is getting the most value. Twice the disruption and damage reduction. Bear in mind that there is a 10-second cooldown between each use, though the blind still lasts for 4-seconds.
Target Purified is a very strong upgrade for Purifier Beam. You can get free value by casting the ability on a target who is about to die and gain another 8-second window to try and achieve another kill. Rinse and repeat. The chaos and stress this can cause the enemy team is significant. This can single-handedly turn a late game team fight in your favor.
Force of Will is another powerful survivability upgrade, to be taken as necessary. Combined with Shield Surge, Phase Bulwark, and even Reactive Parry, Artanis turns into a sturdy diver. His extended survivability will often surprise enemy teams who will try just a bit too much to bring him down. This creates space for your teammates to do what they need.
Nexus Blades provides value much in the way of Warp Sickness and Zealot Charge, allowing Artanis to increase his damage up-time on a single target. This can help lock down a target in the late game and help when pushing for core.
Level 20 Summary
Adjust as necessary. Target Purified is a solid default.