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Heroes of the Storm: Stitches

At the end of our look at the Support hero Tassadar, I said we would likely look at Muradin next. I lied. Stitches came up in the Heroes of the Storm free-to-play rotation and I learned the meaning of true love. Stitches is a beefy member of the Warrior class, heroes that are typically low damage, high survivability. In many cases, the threat a Warrior poses is not in his or her ability to kill you -- but the fact that they're a nuisance, unkillable things that make a slow push into your territory and you must struggle to stop them.

While Stitches does have those qualities, I also like to think of him as something of an offensive Support character. Where most Support characters help your Heroes survive a battle, Stitches helps his allies murder the other team. He picks your enemies apart and holds them still while your assassins go to work.
Skills
Hook (Q)
Skillshot
Cooldown: 14 seconds

Pulls the first enemy it contacts toward Stitches, dealing (48 base + 8 per level) damage and stunning them for 0.5 seconds.
Slam (W)
Cone
Cooldown: 8 seconds

Deals (61 base + 6 per level) damage to enemies within the target area.
Devour (E)
Cooldown: 30 seconds

Deals (320 base + 20 per level) damage to Minions or (60 base + 10 per level) damage to Heroes. Restores 20% of Stitches's maximum health.
Vile Gas (Passive)

When damaged, Stitches emits a gas cloud that persists for 4 seconds. Enemies who enter it are poisoned for (14 base + 2 per level) damage per second for 3 seconds.
Putrid Bile (R)
Heroic Ability
Cooldown: 60 seconds

Emits bile that deals (23 base + 3 per level) damage per second to enemies within, slowing them by 35%. Lasts 8 seconds.
Gorge (R)
Heroic Ability
Cooldown: 80 seconds

Completely consume target enemy Hero, trapping them in Stitches' stomach for 3 seconds and dealing (30 base + 5 per level) damage per second. The trapped Hero cannot move or act and doesn't take damage from other sources.

Cannot be used on massive Heroes.

In my experience, the tools available to Stitches make him an incredibly self-reliant character. He doesn't need a support class at his back to be a formidable tank. He can handle a great deal of his own healing, especially when we get to the talents section. Stitches can get on fine solo and truly shines when paired with a character that deals high damage -- any of the game's Assassins.

Hook is the core of what makes Stitches so deadly. Stitches can ensure that no one but the tankiest of characters can escape an engagement with him. Not only can he prevent an escape, Hook allows him to pick and choose his targets with ease. Nova, an assassin who works best when allowed to remain at range, can be yanked into the melee and annihilated. Alternatively, in large engagements, Stitches can peel a hero out of the enemy team, singling them out. Stitches's team can then pick off their enemies one by one, easily turning the tide of battle.
Slam's damage isn't substantial and the cone isn't particularly long, but it is quite wide. A slam from Stitches can hit nearly every minion in a lane as well as all of the enemy Heroes among them. And since he's a Warrior, he's going to be in the melee himself, where his passive ability comes into play. When Stitches takes damage, a cloud appears beneath him, dealing damage over time to everyone touching the gas cloud. Simply attacking Stitches in close range becomes a risk, all melee characters knowing they won't come out of the engagement unscathed. Slam combined with the cloud makes dealing with minions a non-factor -- Stitches's existence will eliminate all of them and he has no issue tanking their damage.

Gorge and Putrid Bile present an interesting dilemma -- as they are your Heroic Abilities, you can only choose one of them at level 10. For some characters, the choice is almost a non-issue, you'll nearly always choose the one best suited for your role as support, assassin, or so forth. In this case, both have their strengths.

When you activate Putrid Bile, Stitches begins to emit the bile where he stands. For 8 seconds after you've activated, the bile continues -- you can move while under the effect, spreading the bile in your path. You can move through a battle, coating the entire thing with damaging bile. You can move behind an enemy, slowing their ability to escape beyond what your Hook ability can do. It also increases the amount of AOE damage Stitches puts out, which is already respectable with Slam and Vile Gas.

Gorge effectively stuns a single target for 3 seconds, dealing damage over the course of the Gorge. Much like Hook's ability to single out an opposing hero, Gorge completely removes them from the battle for 3 seconds, in which time they cannot escape, be healed, or anything else. Of course, if they survive the Gorge, they'll be back on the field again, though weakened. In that time, you might have been able to pick off their ally, leaving them vulnerable -- and doomed.

Currently, Gorge lists the caveat that it cannot be used on massive Heroes. So far, that caveat appears meaningless. Either the "massive" designation is deprecated, a ghost of older builds of the game, or it has not yet been implemented. So far, it appears Gorge can be used on every hero in the game. For a time, we held a working theory that it meant you could not consume heroes under the effect of a Heroic Ability that transforms them (such as Tassadar's Twilight Messiah) but that didn't prove true -- you can use Gorge on Tassadar's Archon form just as easily as you can use it on plain ol' templar-form Tassadar.

Talents

At levels 1, 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 20, you'll be able to choose a new talent. Many of these talents are passive, but some are active. Your Heroic Ability at level 10 is your most important talent choice, but every choice determines your unique strengths for that particular match.

Level 1
  • Path of the Warrior: Your Hero gains an extra 25 Health for every level gained.
  • Regeneration Master: Gather 3 Regeneration Globes to permanently grant you +3 health per second. Stacks.
  • Wide Slam: Arc and range of Slam increased by 15%.
  • Bribe: Kill enemy minions to gain stacks of Bribe. At 40 stacks, activate to capture target Mercenary Camp. Does not work on Golems.
If you want to build Stitches to be as much a tank as possible, the first two choices here are the most alluring. Path of the Warrior gives a flat increase to health, while Regeneration Master is a stacking health regeneration buff. Since Stitches is a melee hero who can slaughter minions with ease, and it's minions who drop Regeneration Globes, Regeneration Master can stack pretty quickly. How high Regeneration Master stacks depends on the length of a match -- if it's a long one, the regen can get pretty insane. The choice is whether you want to start a new engagement with a bigger healthpool, or if you want your standard healthpool to fill up more quickly between engagements.

I don't have much love for Wide Slam, personally. It doesn't increase the damage, only its arc and range. Slam already has a pretty wide arc and Hook does an excellent job of making sure the target you want is within your range. I'm sure that are Stitches players who take it, though, and I'm sure they make good use of it. Don't write it off. Experiment with it, see if you like it.

Considering Stitches's ability to churn through minions, Bribe might be an excellent choice here. You have to decide, though, whether you want to take a tanky warrior like Stitches out of the fight from time to time to use those stacks of Bribe to pay mercenaries. How badly does your team need you in your lane, fighting the hard fight?

Level 4
  • Amplified Healing: Increases healing taken and regeneration effects by 30%.
  • Superiority: Reduce damage taken from non-heroic enemies by 50%.
  • Toxic Gas: Increases Vile Gas radius by 120% and the duration of its damage over time effect to 5 seconds.
All of these are excellent, depending on how you want to build Stitches. Superiority is probably the least good, but it's still good. Amplified Healing makes Stitches's survivability even more insane. Superiority trivializes non-heroes even more than they were. Toxic Gas makes Vile Gas even more deadly. Personally, I go with Amplified Healing, but I don't think you can go wrong here -- as long as you choose the one that synergizes best with your role and your other talent choices.

Level 7
  • Block: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Basic Attacks by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
  • Relentless: Reduces the duration of silences, stuns, slows, and roots against your Hero by 50%.
  • Tenderizer: Basic Attacks slow enemies' Movement Speed by 25% for 1.5 seconds.
  • Chew Your Food: Using Devour also heals Stitches for 10% of his max Health over 3 seconds.
I'm no big fan of Block. It may be that, over the course of a match, it reduces enough damage to justify its worth. However, it only reduces damage from basic attacks -- that is, auto-attacks, not abilities. It never seemed to me that those basic attacks were the real threat.

Tenderizer is golden. As long as you continue attacking an opposing hero, they will never escape you unless they have some form of teleport in their abilities. Zeratul has Blink, for example. But you know what? That's fine. If Zeratul blinks away, your Hook can reel him back in. It's pretty amazing.

However, if survivability still concerns you, you can't go wrong with Chew Your Food. If you're taking a pounding and you have Chew Your Food, remember to use Devour as soon as its cooldown has ended, every single time. You can save yourself from near-death with that method, eventually working your way up to full health on your own, never leaving the battle.

Of these options, Relentless is the least appealing, but it may be something you need to take depending on your opponents' team composition. If you're playing against a team with a crazy array of stuns and roots, Relentless is the way to go.
Level 10
  • Putrid Bile
  • Gorge
See the discussion of these abilities in the Skills section.

Level 13
  • Spell Shield: Periodically reduces the damage received from Hero Abilities by 50%. Stores up to 2 charges.
  • Mega Smash: Arc and range of Slam increased by 25%.
  • Indigestion: Using Devour unleashes a Wretchling with 250 health.
  • Sprint: Activate to increase Movement Speed by 75% for 3 seconds.
I won't lie: I pick Indigestion most of the time. It may not be the best choice, but it's fun. Who doesn't want to burp up a slime monster after eating someone? It gives Stitches a little more damage while it lives, so it's pretty good in that sense, but probably not the most effective choice. Still, it's fun.

Spell Shield is best for survivability, reducing the damage from your opponent's high-damage active abilities. Sprint will help Stitches pursue your enemies when Hook fails you. Mega Smash, like Wide Slam, doesn't impress me, but if you pick both of them ... that's one hell of a big Slam.

Level 16
  • Imposing Presence: Enemies that attack you have their Attack Speed slowed by 30%.
  • Fishing Hook: Hook has an additional 5 range.
  • Pulverize: Slam stuns targets for 0.5 seconds.
  • Rewind: Activate to reduce the cooldown of your Basic Abilities by 10 seconds.
Rewind is always something I find tempting, but rarely choose to take it. The same applies here. It has its own cooldown to consider. While back-to-back Hooks or Devours are pretty awesome, I'm not sure I want to dedicate another keypress to making that happen. That might be sheer laziness on my part and I encourage all of you to experiment.

Imposing Presence absolutely should be taken if you want Stitches to be as beefy as possible. Fishing Hook might be the best choice if your role is to set up kills for your assassin friends. If you've taken the other Slam talents, it would be silly to pass up Pulverize at this point. The end result of Wide Slam, Mega Smash, and Pulverize is an absolutely massive area of effect for a stun ability.

Level 20
  • Resurgence of the Storm: Upon dying, revive back at your Altar after 5 seconds. This can occur once every 120 seconds.
  • Bolt of the Storm: Activate to teleport to the target location.
  • Regenerative Bile: Putrid Bile lasts 2 seconds longer and heals for 50% of the damage dealt.
  • Hungry Hungry Stitches: Gorge lasts 1 second longer. While active, Gorge can be recast.
For the most part, I go with whichever talent augments the Heroic Ability I chose. If you took Putrid Bile, why not make it that much better? In the case of Hungry Hungry Stitches, Gorge becomes a sight to behold. In the 4 seconds that Gorge is active, you can continue using it over and over again. If the opposing team comes at you with 4 of their players in one lane, you can Gorge 3 of them while your ally (or allies) pick off the one that remains, then destroy the others when they burst forth from Stitches's gut. It's frighteningly powerful. With Hungry Hungry Stitches, Stitches can singlehandedly rout a heavy assault.

In the case of a Warrior like Stitches is the only time I consider Resurgence of the Storm. For its amusement factor, mostly. Killing Stitches is not easy, and as a Stitches player, your goal is to not die. If the opposing team decides to eliminate you before your allies, however, you can be right back in the fight in short order. That's extremely demoralizing to deal with. Again, though, you don't want to be dying in an ideal world. Regenerative Bile or Hungry Hungry Stitches will make you more effective alive rather than making your death more efficient.

All in all, there's a level of synergy in Stitches's talents that you don't currently see with all heroes. Your talent choices can take an innocuous, non-threatening aspect of this character and transform it into something horrifying, something that will give your opponents reason to fear your presence. Slam can be taken from a light cone-based damage effect to a massive stun you can cast every 8 seconds. Stitches can go from being a tank to an unstoppable juggernaut. He can become a hero from which you cannot flee. Think about the build you want and follow through on it -- you will become the best at whatever it is you want to do.

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

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