Blizzard's Heroes of the Storm entered closed beta this week, which means that there's a whole lot of players trying out the MOBA. If you're trying to learn the ropes, here are a few tips to get you started.

Master Thrall
How To Pick Your Character
After completing Heroes of the Storm's training, the next step for advancing your skills is to play Co-op Mode. In these matches, you'll team up with players against a squad of A.I. opponents. For these matches, you'll have to make a crucial decision: your Hero. The playable characters are split into four classes. Here's a brief summary of each class and how they fit into the team's strategy.
  • Warrior - Durable characters that often have crowd control abilities as well. Their job is to draw attention from more fragile teammates.
  • Assassin - Quick, high-damage heroes that are great at finishing off enemies. Assassins often have low health, though, so they need to time their attacks well and be ready to retreat.
  • Support - Support heroes can't deal or take much damage. However, they excel at healing allies or boosting their abilities. As a result, they're better off when they're with other teammates.
  • Specialist - Specialists are wild cards that don't fit into any of those three other categories. They're often good at destroying enemy buildings but can also be suited to damage, crowd control or buffs.
While specialists tend to be harder because of their unusual sets of abilities, there's no "right" class for newbies. As long as you play your character in a way that's appropriate to that class, you should be able to get by. If you're a support character, don't run off on your own. If you're an assassin, don't lead the charge in battle.

It should be fairly easy to pick your first character because you'll only have five to pick from at first. Try to pick a character that has an Easy or Medium difficulty, as that usually means they have a very straightforward playstyle. I'd also recommend choosing a Ranged character, as it will make it easier for you to hang back and not get stuck in the middle of a pack of enemies.

Heroes of the Storm characters brawling
What To Do In Battle
While each map has different secondary objectives, the main mission is the same: destroy the enemy team's base. The A.I. minions spawning at your base will assault the enemy's fortifications and you will support them in taking down each wall and cannon before directly assaulting the "Core" in the heart of the enemy's base. Your job is also to beat back the enemy heroes and minions trying to do the same to your base.

The most important thing you can do, though, is not die. When you die, you help the other team level up and become more powerful. Furthermore, you'll be out for the fight for an extended period of time and unable to help your team. Stay behind your minions and let them take the brunt of damage from enemy towers. Only engage enemy heroes if you're not outnumbered and you're not next to their towers.

If you're low on health, go right-click the health spring behind your front forts to regenerate some health and mana. Or use your hearthstone (B) to go back to base and quickly restore your character. Hearthing and then running back to the frontlines takes you out of the fight for much less time than a death and doesn't help the other team grow in power.

Sky Temple
Play The Objectives
Heroes of the Storm varies from a lot of other MOBAs by having multiple Battlegrounds, each with their own objectives. These objectives are vital to your team's success and can turn the tide of the match:
  • Blackheart's Bay - Collect doubloons and give them to the pirate lord Blackheart at the center of the map. You can also kill enemies to steal their doubloons. Once you've turned in enough coins, Blackheart will fire his ship's cannons at the enemy's base.
  • Cursed Hollow - Gather Tributes that spawn periodically throughout the map. When a team gathers three tributes, their enemy team's minions are temporarily reduced to 1 hit point. Their forts, meanwhile, can't fire their cannons.
  • Dragon Shire - Two shrines at the top and bottom center of the map can be captured by standing on them. When a team holds both shrines, one of their players can activate the altar at the center of the map and turn into a massive Dragon Knight. The Dragon Knight can punt enemy Heroes or burn forts and enemies until their health or time expires.
  • Garden of Terror - When night begins, plant enemies will spawn at the middle of the map. They drop seeds when killed. Whenever a team earns 100 seeds, one player can click the plant back at their base to become a Garden Terror. This huge monstrosity has the ability to wreak havoc on forts and enemies alike with its special abilities.
  • Haunted Mines - A mine's entrances will open at the top and bottom of the map periodically. Players must enter the mine and kill the enemies inside to steal their skulls. After all 100 skulls have been collected, a Grave Golem for each team will spawn. Their power will be determined by how many skulls the team collected. Each time the Golem is resurrected, they'll start where they were last killed.
  • Sky Temple - Players must capture and hold shrines located near the middle of each lane. When a team holds a shrine, it will fire beams of energy at enemy fortifications. A.I. enemies will periodically spawn at each active shrine to make it harder for teams to hold them
The team who is better at completing these objectives is more than likely going to be the winner. Make sure that you're ready to help complete these goals once the timer runs down. However, you should still be cautious. If you die, you'll be unable to contribute toward these objectives.

Your team might also want to attack mercenary camps through the map. By killing these A.I. minions and then standing on the nearby circle, you'll spawn a set of powerful friendly minions for your team. This can help your team a lot in controlling the map's lanes and knocking down enemy forts. It's hard for most heroes to kill these mercenary camps on their own, though, so be sure to help players that want to kill them (they'll usually ping the map) or ask for assistance if you want to do it. The game has its share of douchebags but most are willing to help you out.

Heroes of the Storm cast
How To Get Gold And Unlock More Heroes
New players are restricted to playing five heroes that rotate every week. You'll gain two more rotating slots once you level up your account. If you want to permanently unlock a character, you'll need to pay gold (or real-world money). You can get gold in three different ways:
  • Winning matches - 10 gold per win
  • Reach level 5 with a specific Hero - 500 gold each time
  • Daily quests - 300-600 gold each
Daily quests unlock once your account hits level 6. You'll earn one of these quests per day at 3 AM PST and can have up to three on your account at a time. The objectives for these quests often involve winning matches with heroes from a specific universe (Diablo, StarCraft or Warcraft) so they're great at encouraging you to explore different characters.

In your earliest hours of Heroes of the Storm, I'd recommend trying a range of characters. By hitting level 5 with the set of free characters each week, you'll earn a bunch of gold that you can eventually spend on unlocking a hero. Exploring the full range of classes will also help you determine what kind of characters you want to permanently unlock and play in matches against other players.

One thing I'd recommend against, though, is spending gold on characters you've never played. Even if they sound great on paper, you might not be happy with their playstyle. If a character isn't part of the free rotation that week, you can test them out by pressing the "Try" button on the character's page in the in-game store. This will put you in a one-lane match against the A.I. where you can give the character a whirl and see whether they feel like a fit.

Unlocking all of the current characters will take awhile just by earning gold. The task will be made even harder by Blizzard continually adding new heroes. However, should you run out of new characters to add to your collection, you can always spend your gold on alternate skins for your existing heroes.

Once you've leveled up your account to 30 and unlocked 10 characters, you'll be able to jump into the ranked Hero League. At this point, you should have a few characters you know inside and out. Experience with a broad set of heroes will be valuable because these matches use a draft for selecting characters. You may not be able to get your preferred hero as a result. This is all a long ways away, but prepare now by trying out very Warrior, Assassin, Support and Specialist the game has to offer. You never know what you'll end up gravitating towards.

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