If you're a fan of Blizzard's awesome free-to-play MOBA called Heroes of the Storm then you are probably familiar with one of the most unique characters' The Lost Vikings. While they are not seen as regularly as most other heroes within a quick match or the ranked formats, these characters happen to have the highest win rate of any hero currently in the game and can be incredibly powerful under the right circumstances.
As someone who has loved playing the Vikings and would consider them one of my “main” heroes that I excel with. When played as they were designed to be, expect them to bring in big XP leading to massive level advantages in the early to mid game that should cause your team to get far enough ahead to win your matches without much effort.
Here's a few example of how effective the Vikings can be:
All About The Split
The Lost Vikings are one of the most unique heroes in the Nexus, and their strength comes from the ability to split-push them down multiple lanes and having the ability to constantly move a Viking to an empty lane to soak during critical objectives where the other team is occupied. If you aren’t utilizing this element throughout the majority of your matches then the Vikings are not the most suitable choice for you as you lose much of their advantage when simply playing them as a grouped entity. If the Vikings are played correctly they should have the most XP gained at the end of the match (by a longshot) and close to the bottom of the list in hero damage though the XP gained more than makes up for this.
Soaking Is Top Priority At All Times
Something you need to remember about the Vikings is that they are meant to be played as a massive soaking character and not a character designed for combat. While there are certainly times where you want to take on another hero or join in on a team fight yet the vast majority of the games you play should involve moving one or more of the Vikings into an empty lane to soak or to take objectives and/or mercenary camps.
When soloing my vikes in separate lanes, much of my interaction with the other team is simply running away or keeping my distance as more often than not, I'm going to lose that battle. While each Viking only grants the opposing team a fraction of the XP when they die, it is good to play it safe and keep them alive as much as possible, so you don’t lose out on critical soaking potential.
On maps with objectives that often result in team grouping, I’ll either send Olaf with the team as a mere extra body to take and deal additional damage while soaking Baelog and Erik or soak all three lanes utilizing each Viking. While some may think this is counter intuitive because you aren’t helping your team get the objective, it is important to realize two things.
First, the XP I’m gaining from soaking three lanes unopposed is incredibly powerful and will help my team to get up 2-4 levels over the course of a game thus rendering the 4v5 team fights of my team members easy to win despite being down a man. Secondly it will cause chaos for the other team as they will often split up and lose focus on the objective to trying to disrupt me from soaking so much XP thus helping my teammates score the objective without much effort.
Utilize Each Viking's Strength
Each of the three Vikings have their own abilities and characteristics. Erik is the smallest, fastest and has the farthest range but he also has the least amount of health. He's usually my “go-to” when it comes to switching to a new open lane and the one that I maneuver around the map the most.
Baelog has more health than Erik, but is slower and has less range. His sword throwing ability is exceptional though as if positioned correctly his attacks will deal 50% splash damage to enemies behind his primary target thus allowing you to clear minion waves or merc camps more efficiently. You can even increase this splash damage to 100% if you choose a particular level 1 talent (I choose this often depending on the map).
Olaf is the tankiest of the three but also the weakest regarding his attack and movement speed. Olaf has the most trouble moving about the map and clearing lanes so typically I'll have him roam with my teammates or act as a tank when taking camps more than simply soaking. After level 13, Olaf's soaking potential becomes infinitely better if you choose his talent ‘Hunka Burning Olaf' which will do AOE damage every second to enemies around him.
Know Which Maps Are Pro-Vikes & When To Adapt Your Build
Vikings can be an incredible advantage to your team when played correctly, but they aren't always the best choice for all maps. For example, I tend to choose a better hero on Tomb of the Spider Queen, Haunted Mines and Dragon Knight as these maps lane structures are rarely left empty enough to take advantage of the Vikings Soak potential. My desired build is pretty straight-forward, but I do tend to swap up the first level talent depending on the map. If we are a mercenary heavy map like ‘Garden of Terror’ or ‘BlackHeart’s Bay’ I’ll typically grab bribe whereas I’ll take ‘block’ on maps like ‘Dragon Shire’ or ‘Sky Temple’ and I’ll simply choose the ‘explosive attacks’ talent for virtually every other map.
Map awareness is crucial
One of the hardest things to get used to with the Vikings is the lack of any real down-time within a match as three characters split between the map can get pretty hectic especially when enemies are attacking multiple Vikings in different areas. The key to mastering this is keeping an eye on the minimap every couple of seconds and jumping between your available Vikings to make sure you are continually soaking, grabbing globes and avoiding dangerous situations.
Mercenary Lord Is Your Friend
The mercenary lord talent is often overlooked for most heroes and for good reason. However, when you are playing the Vikings, it is one of the most critical talents to choose for two reasons. One is allows you to power up your merc camps by keeping a Viking within range of them thus doing more damage in a smaller amount of time. The second and more important reason is that it makes each Viking take 50% less damage from minions and mercenaries meaning they can stay in lane and soak without every really needing to worry about them dying to a large minion wave. When you are microing them around the map and not paying close attention to them individually at all times, this talent can make your life a lot easier and increase your efficiency.
Use your hotkeys
Switching between each Viking in separate lanes can be cumbersome especially in the heat of battle, but getting used to double tapping the hotkeys (#1-4 on the keyboard) will make your screen automatically jump to the Viking you have selected. Relying on this rather than manually clicking will make your life a heck of a lot easier and keep you more productive throughout the match.
The Vikings trait includes the ability to boost health regen of all three characters by grabbing those health globes that spawn when killing minions and mercenaries. Every globe that is acquired adds a 0.5 health regeneration attribute to each of the Vikings. Since the Vikings are soaking and taking so many camps throughout the course of a match, this can really add up and cause your Vikings to gain critical sustainability in the late game.
Play Again Is The Ideal Ultimate
While the Vikings' Longboat Raid ultimate is enticing as it is fun and good in a team fight environment, it isn't as powerful as it once was and simply isn't the ideal choice. By choosing ‘play again' instead you can instantly shift all your Vikings to one position on the map or simply skip the respawn timer all together.
Late game the play again talent can be crucial and I've won games simply because of the ability to risk a Viking or two then respawn them instantly to push the core. Another huge advantage to this is you’re able to quickly remove a Viking from danger that may be holding large amount of coins or gems, crucial elements to those objective maps by activating the ‘play again’ ultimate from a Viking who is safe on another area of the map.
Don’t be afraid to take camps
With three separate Vikings all working together to attack a camp, you can take camps early in the game as a group or mid to late game as a single/duo. The great thing about the Vikings is that they are hard to play against due to their sheer numbers as you can be soaking two lanes while killing a camp simultaneously and the opponents more often than not won’t even notice a Viking missing from view. Camps are even more powerful if you choose mercenary lord in your build and be sure to grab the globe after completing the camp for maximum effectiveness.
Solo The Boss
Late game, the Vikings are one of the easiest heroes to solo a boss due their trait (health regeneration), multiple characters dealing damage at the same time, microing which character takes damage from the boss (swapping when one gets low) and the ability to utilize play again if the Vikings are too low, or one dies in the process. While it is a risky decision in regards to the other team interrupting, there are plenty of good times to solo boss as the Vikings when you are up multiple levels or on the head count.