Stukov, the Infested Admiral, is a powerful melee healer with a lot of adaptability -- here's how to build and play him in every HotS situation.

Heroes of the Storm Guide: How to Build and Play Stukov

Stukov, the Infested Admiral, is a powerful melee healer with a lot of adaptability -- here's how to build and play him in every HotS situation.
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One of the latest characters to be added to the Heroes of the Storm roster is Alexei Stukov, a well-known face from Starcraft. Although he’s been around a while, Stukov is still a very popular choice when it comes to support heroes — not far behind Rehgar and Uther.

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But how do you play and build Stukov effectively? In this guide, we’re going to go over his playstyle, abilities, and some popular builds that are compatible with a number of different situations. Hopefully these tips will help you get your grip on him sooner rather than later!

How to Play Stukov in HotS

Stukov is a melee healer, which would normally mean that he has to be right up in the front with the tank if he wants to be useful. But thanks to some impressive abilities, the majority of his healing and attacks can be used from a distance and have a pretty decent range on them. The one place you don’t want Stukov to be is in the thick of a messy fight, because he is incredibly susceptible to crowd-control abilities.

The majority of Stukov’s abilities are classed as viruses, which means they can spread. So his heals spread to other allies, and his attacks spread to other enemies. This makes him incredibly mobile and useful in a number of positions.

Healing Pathogen
Stukov’s Abilities in HotS

As with all characters in Heroes of the Storm, Stukov has four normal abilities and two heroic abilities.

Normal Abilities
  • Bio-Kill Switch: Activating this detonates all of Stukov’s Viruses. Each Healing Pathogen active on a friendly target heals for 500, and each Weighted Pustule on an enemy target does 100 damage and slows the target by 70% for 2 seconds.
  • Healing Pathogen: Infects an allied Hero with a healing virus that heals the target for 240 Health over 4.5 seconds. It will then spread to nearby friendlies every 0.75 seconds. It can be cast on yourself, and it can also spread to you. It will only spread to targets who are not already affected by it.
  • Weighted Pustule: Stukov hurls a pustule that impacts all enemy Heroes in its path, dealing 20 damage and slowing targets by 5% which increases to 50% over 3 seconds. Weighted Pustule will also deal an additional 80 damage when it expires or if it is removed.
  • Lurking Arm: This is a channeled ability that creates an area that silences enemies inside and deals 144 damage per second to them. It deals 50% reduced damage to non-Heroes. It lasts until canceled or interrupted.
Lurking Arm
Heroic Abilities

Stukov will be able to choose between these two abilities at level 10.

  • Flailing Swipe: This is Stukov’s only real “up front and personal” attack. He will swipe 3 times in front of him dealing 50 damage to enemies hit which knocks them away. Each swipe is larger than the previous. It does have a long cooldown so you must judge when is best to use it to get maximum effect.
  • Massive Shove: As the name implies, all Stukov does with this ability is push someone — hard. His whole arm extends to shove an enemy until they collide with terrain. It deals 200 damage and stuns them for 0.5 seconds. Because Stukov is immobile during casting, this ability will give him a bonus 50 Armor while shoving an enemy.

Stukov’s Talents

The following are all the talent options available for Stukov. Level 10 talents have been left off as they are the heroic abilities above.

Level 1
  • Spine Launcher: Basic attacks become ranged, slow enemies but deal 50% less damage.
  • Fetid Touch: Reduces cooldown of Weighted Pustules.
  • Growing Infestation: Expands Lurking Arm’s area of effect.
  • Poppin’ Pustules: Weighted Pustules creates an area of damage.
Level 4
  • One Good Spread: Restores 40 mana and reduces the cooldown of Healing Pathogen by 2 secs.
  • Top Off: Increases heal-over-time effect by 50%.
  • Biotic Armor: Grants 50 armor as well as heals initial target.
  • Vigorous Reuptake: Increase Bio-Kill Switch’s healing by 40%.
Weighted Pustule
Level 7
  • The Long Pitch: Increase the range of Weighted Pustule by 100%.
  • Within my Reach: Increase the range of Lurking Arm by 50%.
  • It Hungers: Reduces cooldown of Lurking Arm and restores mana.
  • Targeted Excision: Reduces cooldown of Bio-Kill Switch.
Level 13
  • Reactive Ballistospores: Instantly spreads a Weighted Pustule when on low health.
  • Low Blow: Lurking Arm deals 150% more damage to enemies on low health.
  • Lingering Spines: Lurking Arm persists for 1.5 secs when canceled.
  • Virulent Reaction: Roots enemies for 2 secs.
Level 16
  • Superstrain: Instantly heals a stunned ally with Healing Pathogen for 250.
  • Universal Carrier: Healing Pathogen can continually spread through Stukov but with reduced effect.
  • Pox Populi: Healing Pathogen is no longer removed when detonating Bio-Kill Switch.
  • Eye Infection: Increases the final damage of Weighted Pustule.
Level 20
  • Controlled Chaos: Greants two additional charges to Flailing Swipe.
  • Push Comes to Shove: Massive Shove travels faster.
  • Bio-Explosion Switch: Bio-Kill Switch also detonates Lurking Arm.

How to Build Stukov in HotS

Depending on your in-game circumstances and who else you have on your team, there are a few different builds you can use effectively with Stukov. Below, we’ll go over one build that’s heavy on healing power when you need to take a more pure support/healer role, and another that’s focused around his Weighted Pustule ability when your team needs you to be more aggressive and damage-heavy.

Best Stukov Healer Build

When you’ve got plenty of damage on your team, and need to support more fragile characters with a ton of healing power, this is the build you’ll want to go for. The amount of sustainability packed in here will let you and your teammates stay in fights longer, and will beef up your squishies’ health bars while they hunt kill after kill. 

Here’s the breakdown of this build:

  • Spine Launcher increases the range of your attacks so you have even more positioning options.
  • Vigorous Reuptake will give you a really big healing spike that can help your team survive.
  • Targeted Excision reduces the cooldown of Bio-Kill Switch — which is a must for both burst damage and burst healing.
  • Massive Shove is great for putting the enemy tanks at the back of the pack so the squishier enemy damage dealers are exposed.
  • Reactive Ballistospores totally resets the cooldown on Bio-Kill Switch so you can use your viruses (and healing pathogens) much more often.
  • Pox Populi keeps your Healing Pathogen around longer — and more heals means more survivability. 
  • Push Come to Shove is really the only choice for the end talent tier if you have taken Massive Shove at level 10. It’ll buff up your Massive Shove ability to give you even more crowd control. 

Best Damage Build for Stukov (Weighted Pustule)

If your team is weighted more towards tanky characters and is sustainable enough to benefit from extra damage rather than healing, this is the build you’ll want to go with. The focus on burst damage and crowd control here will make you a force to be reckoned with on the front line — allowing you to more aggressively poke the enemy team and better control team fights while your other heroes finish them off. 

Here’s the breakdown of this build:

  • Fetid Touch will reduce the cooldown of Weighted Pustule and remove the mana cost, giving you more damage to throw at the enemy.
  • One Good Spread will restore mana so you always have your abilities on hand, whether it’s CC or damage.
  • The Long Pitch increases the range of Weighted Pustule so you can slow and damage opponents at even longer distances.
  • Massive Shove should (once again) be your heroic ability choice, since it offers some valuable crowd control that can take frontliners or aggressors our of the equation and help expose the more vulnerable parts of the enemy team. 
  • Reactive Ballistospores will fire off a weighted pustule when you take damage below 50% health. This will allow you to deal damage even when you’re fighting from the back foot, and punish nearby enemies who might be collapsing on you or trying to take you out.
  • Pox Populi will modify your Bio-Kill Switch so that it doesn’t remove your healing spores, but sets them to 3s. This isn’t a damage or CC buff like most of the other choices here, but it will give you a little bit of survivability and extra healing when you and your team get into a sticky situation.
  • Push Comes to Shove is once again the only viable choice if you have taken the Massive Shove ability, and will increase your CC.

Pros and Cons of Playing Stukov

One of the big positives about playing as Stukov is his ability to produce a high and sustained healing output through Healing Pathogen and the spike heals courtesy of Bio-Kill Switch. His multi-target style of healing makes him stand out from the rest. He can remove troublesome enemies or aggressive frontliners in a flash with Massive Shove, and has an AoE Silence from Lurking Arm that is sure to cause problems. His CC and sustain give him a lot of positioning options and a powerful presence in fights. 

On the flip side, Stukov does suffer from a slow attack speed — and some of his abilities have ridiculously long cooldowns. Without taking the relevant talents, misusing Bio-Kill Switch is almost unforgivable and can throw a fight or detract from your team’s performance.

In spite of his CC abilities, Stukov is also very susceptible to crowd control because he has no counters of his own — so even though he is a melee character, having him in melee range is quite risky. Because of that, this is a difficult character to master, and you’ll want pack in a lot of practice and attention to get the playstyle down perfectly.

Is Stukov your go-to character in Heroes of the Storm? How do you play him? Maybe you have a build you’d like to share with us? Either way, we’d love to hear your opinions of this great hero! If you want more build suggestions and character breakdowns, check out our other Heroes of the Storm guides for more tips.

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