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An in-depth beginner's guide t Sylvanas in Heroes of the Storm.

Heroes of the Storm – Sylvanas Guide

An in-depth beginner's guide t Sylvanas in Heroes of the Storm.
This article is over 9 years old and may contain outdated information

This week saw the launch of Sylvanas – The Banshee Queen in Heroes of the Storm. The Undead Blood Elf from World of Warcraft dominates the flow of the game. In this guide I’ll explain how to play Sylvanas, as well as pre and post Hero Level 4 builds. This is the style and build that I’ve had the most consistent success with.

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Play Style:

Sylvanas is a powerful Ranged Specialist lane pusher. As you level up your push also becomes your sustain. This allows Sylvanas to either be the carry or the distraction for the team. For example, in Blackheart’s Bay, when all players go to the vision point Sylvanas stays bot and solo pushes getting the faster level 2. This allows the team to win the vision fight and get a decent lead early. After that Sylvanas has a free lane no matter who contests outside of a multi person defense hence the distraction option.

Laning Against an Opponent:

A short 1v2 clip against a Kerrigan and Malfurion, Raynor ganks at the end.

In a 1v1 situation you’ll want to use Shadow Dagger to harass the opponent and push the wave at the same time. Follow this up with Withering Fire on low health minions to pick them off to give you target on the enemy hero. You can use Haunting Wave as either a chase to finish a kill or as an escape if you’re collapsed on. If you take Wailing Arrow, you can use it as harass or soft disengage by silencing chase abilities. A 2v2 lane works the same way.

In a 1v2 you take a more defensive stance. Use Shadow Dagger to take down waves as they approach your towers before they can do any damage. If you’re lucky the enemy Heroes will also be in range for the spread, getting free harass onto them as well. You’ll also use Withering Fire defensively, don’t use it unless you need to though, as you don’t want to push too far away from your structures. Haunting Wave should be saved as an escape. Wailing Arrow is good for self peel or setting up ganks.


The trick to taking down structures is positioning and taking advantage of Black Arrows. When attacking Gates stand to the side of the turret you’re attacking so that you can pressure the turret even without minions. Also drop your Shadow Dagger on the gate for the optimal spread and also damage dealt over time. With no contesting you’ll have a fort down fairly early in the game.

Mercenary Camps:

Sylvanas also excels at taking merc camps due to Black Arrows and sustained damage. Use Shadow Dagger on the camp and dump Withering Fire and auto attacks into the mercenaries to take them down quickly.


Here I’ll list the basic abilities and what they do. Heroic abilities will be in the Traits below.

  • Withering Fire (Q): Shoot an arrow at the closest target, gains charges upon killing an enemy heroe or minion.
  • Shadow Dagger (W): Damages an enemy over time and spreads to nearby enemies.
  • Haunting Wave (E): Deals damage and allows teleportation.
  • Black Arrows (Passive): Attacks and abilities stun Minions, Mercenaries, and Towers.


Here I’ll list all trait options available to Sylvanas. I’ll note which ones are basic traits available at Hero Level 1.

Level 1 Traits: 
  • With the Wind: Increases Withering Fire Range by 25%. (Basic)
  • Lost Soul: Reduces Shadow Dagger cooldown by 2 seconds. (Basic)
  • Barbed Shot: Withering Fire deals triple damage to minions.
  • Corruption: Basic Attacks destroy Ammo. 
Level 4 Traits: 
  • Paralysis: Doubles Black Arrows duration. (Basic)
  • Overflowing Quiver: Free Withering Fire cast if a stack would be gained while at max stacks. (Basic)
  • Ranger’s Ambush: Haunting Wave refills Withering Fire.
  • Envenom: Activate to do damage over time to heroes.
Level 7 Traits:
  • Unstable Poison: Killing a minion or mercenary affected by Black Arrows causes them to explode damaging nearby enemies. (Basic)
  • Life Drain: Shadow Dagger heals Sylvanas each time it spreads to a new enemy. (Basic)
  • Follow Through: Using an ability empowers the next basic attack.
  • Mercenary Lord: Nearby Siege and Bruiser Mercenaries deal 50% more damage.
  • Shade Form: Haunting Wave grants stealth.
Level 10 Heroic Abilities:
  • Wailing Arrow: Fire an arrow that damages and silences. Press R a second time to detonate this skill early. (Basic)
  • Possession: Turn an enemy minion into an ally.
Level 13 Traits:
  • Overwhelming Affliction: Black Arrows slows heroes. (Basic)
  • Evasive Fire: Withering Fire grants move speed. (Basic)
  • Splinter Shot: Withering Fire hits a second enemy for reduced damage.
  • Spell Shield: Reduces incoming Ability Damage.
Level 16 Traits:
  • Windrunner: Can cast Haunting Wave a second time within 2 seconds of the initial use. (Basic)
  • Cold Embrace: Shadow Dagger makes enemies Vulnerable. (Basic)
  • Will of the Forsaken: Activate to gain Unstoppable and move speed.
  • Blood for Blood: Activate to slow and steal health from your target.
Level 20 Traits:
  • Deafening Blast: Increases the power at the center of Wailing Arrow, and doubles the silence duration. (Only available if you take Wailing Arrow) (Basic)
  • Dark Lady’s Call: Increases the bonus of possession target and allows for possession of mercenaries. (Only available if you take Possession.)
  • Fury of the Storm: Basic attacks chain to enemy minions and mercenaries every 5 seconds.
  • Bolt of the Storm: Activate to teleport a short distance.


Pre Hero Level 4 Build:

This is my recommended build for a player new to Sylvanas.

  • Lost Soul
  • Overflowing Quiver
  • Life Drain
  • Wailing Arrow
  • Evasive Fire
  • Wind Runner
  • Deafening Blast
Post Level 4 Build:

Here is my recommended build for Sylvanas once all traits are unlocked with notes.

  • Lost Soul: With the Wind can be taken if you don’t use Life Drain.
  • Envenom: More Hero damage on a priority target.
  • Life Drain: If you don’t need sustain you could take Mercenary Lord. Sylvanas lacks the attack speed to make full use of Follow Through considering you’ll be pumping out Q frequently.
  • Wailing Arrow: It brings too much utility not to take it. Possessed minions end up getting stuck in the front so they die too fast to take advantage of it. Only take Possession if you take Dark Lady’s Call at 20, even then it’s worthless if you’re capping all merc camps.
  • Evasive Fire: I don’t feel it matters much between Evasive Fire and Overwhelming Affliction. It depends on if you’re chasing or being chased. Evasive Fire is the safe option in this set. Splinter Shot is also viable here for a stronger push.
  • Blood for Blood: Really there is no other option in this section. Blood for Blood is just overall a strong active to turn the tides on an all in assassin late game.
  • Fury of the Storm: Generally if you hit level 20 playing Sylvanas you’re winning, so taking Deafening Blast isn’t optimal. Fury of the Storm gives you just an overwelming push that no one can really handle and sets up that final team fight to end the game.
Traits You Should Never Take:

Here are a few traits you shouldn’t even consider taking, and why they are on this list. 

  • Corruption: If you’re auto attacking a turret it’s already not firing so destroying the ammo is pointless. Had this trait been an attack speed buff instead, Follow Through would have become a more viable option later.
  • Follow Through: You really don’t have enough attack speed to make this trait worthwhile. You’re generally pumping out Withering Fire constantly and are maybe getting one auto attack per five Withering Fire.
  • Shade Form: Stealth does nothing for Sylvanas, she’s not an assassin so it gives her no gank pressure and if you get Haunting Wave off odds are you’re safe. Nova and Illidan are likely the only two Heroes that can still get you at this point.
  • Bolt of the Storm: If you feel like you need this active you’re better off just grouping with your team. If The enemy team is still singling you out they’re likely ignoring the other four members of your team. A Haunting Wave plus Wailing Arrow combo should suffice to keep you safe while your team is freely attacking the enemy.

Please keep in mind that these are only suggestions, everyone plays their own way and finds their own builds. This is just what I’ve found that works, or doesn’t work. If you find a different way that works better for you stick to it, don’t fix what isn’t broken.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns please post them below.

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Currently an unpublished author working on multiple full length novels 3 of which being a 3 part trilogy. Also an avid video game player with a penchant for MMOs.