Vainglory News

Blackfeather – Vainglory’s Next Assassin: A Breakdown of His Kit and What You Need to Know

blackfeather_splashIt’s been a year and two days since Vainglory’s last assassin—Taka—showed up on the Halcyon Fold. With only two heroes falling into the assassin category, out of the now 18 heroes available, Blackfeather is a long awaited addition for any assassin-lover. So let’s take a look at his abilities, how he’ll be played, and many other interesting questions.

Heroic Perk: Heartthrob

“Blackfeather’s attacks and abilities apply Heartthrob stacks to enemies. Any time stacks are added or refreshed, Blackfeather also deals crystal damage for each stack of Heartthrob already on the target. Instead of energy, Blackfeather uses Focus for his abilities. This is capped at 100 and naturally regenerates. Blackfeather also recovers an additional 10 focus for each basic attack he lands.”

So to break this down, there are two elements at play here: first, rather than energy, Blackfeather uses a resource called Focus; second, Blackfeather applies stacks of Heartthrob to enemies he attacks.

Focus: Focus recharges over time and maxes out at 100. Basic attacks recover 10 focus. Blackfeather also recharges 35 focus when he hits an enemy hero with his B skill, On Point.

Heartthrob: When Blackfeather attacks an enemy with a basic attack or an ability, he applies Heartthrob stacks to that enemy. Heartthrob stacks are represented by “broken hearts.” Every time Heartthrob stacks “tick” (are refreshed or are increased by abilities or basic attacks) they deal crystal damage based on the number of stacks already on the target. Heartthrob stacks are also used to enhance abilities. It is unclear what the maximum number of Heartthrob stack is; its likely this is still being balanced.


A-Ability: Feint of Heart

“Blackfeather lunges to his target and attacks, dealing increased attack damage (+60 crystal power) and applying weapon effects. For the next 4 seconds, the target leaves a rose trail. Blackfeather and his allies gain move speed when moving through this trail. When this ability is used against a target with full Heartthrob stacks (shown as broken hearts) it will execute the target, dealing additional true damage based on the target’s missing health. Overdrive: The rose trail also removes and blocks slows while Blackfeather and his allies move along it. Additionally, Feint of Heart’s cooldown is reset if the target is killed within 0.5 seconds of being struck.”

So let’s break this ability down: at its simplest, Blackfeather lunges at his target and deals weapon and crystal damage. This attack applies basic attack effects like on-hits and Breaking Point. The next aspect of this is that the ability causes the target to drop a trail of roses behind them that when walked on gives a speed boost to Blackfeather’s allies. This move speed boost scales with crystal power.

If the target this is used on has full Heartthrob stacks then an “execute” is dealt dealing true, percent-missing-health damage. And if the target is killed within half a second, its cooldown is refunded.

On overdrive the ability removes certain debuffes from allies while they’re on the rose trail.

It seems like the key to this ability will be utilizing its execute and cooldown reset to finish off damaged foes and then quickly move to the next target. Assassin build will want to focus on this. Supports will find more usefulness in the abilities debuff: Rose trail which will allow their teammate to chase dying foes.


B-Ability: On Point

Blackfeather pierces all enemies in a line, damaging them and applying a decaying slow for 1 second. The duration of this slow is increased by 0.3 seconds for each stack of Heartthrob on the target. If this hits at least one enemy hero, Blackfeather also gains a barrier that scales with 15% of his bonus health and recovers 35 focus. The amount of focus recovered is further increased with 2% of his Max Energy and 50% of his energy regeneration. Overdrive: On Point gains increased range.”

This ability slashes a line dealing damage to all enemies in that line and applying a slow. The slow is increased by Heartthrob stacks. Black feather gains a health barrier and recharges focus when this hits an enemy hero. The focus recharge is increased by energy items. Overdrive increases the line’s range.

This ability adds some nice utility to Blackfeather’s kit and will likely find the most use on support builds.


Ultimate: Rose Offensive

“Blackfeather cuts through his opponents, landing basic attacks on all enemies along his path. During the dash, Blackfeather is immune to negative effects and takes greatly reduced damage. This ability has 2 charges.”

Blackfeather dashes through enemies landing basic attacks on all enemies. Blackfeather takes reduced damage and can’t be rebuffed while dashing.

The ultimate stores two charges similar to Contraption or Petal’s A-abilty. The cooldown is very short as long as you have charges stored, but if you run out you need to wait for one to recharge. Taking the third rank in this reduces the cool down between charges dramatically. The can be combo’d with on-hit effects for some crazy results like Shiversteel’ing a whole team.

Balancing an Assassin

bf_lore1000Part of the reason we haven’t had an assassin released in a whole year is because SEMC has been been struggling to balance the two we already have; the role of an assassin in a 3v3 game is a tough one, as Gadianton point out in his original sustain-tala guide: the best outcome an assassin can make is to turn a 3v3 battle into a 2v2. Even if the assassin takes out his target, he is left useless while waiting for his cooldowns to comeback up. This is part of why Vainglory’s assassins tend to be played more like bruisers with Koshka and Taka’s best builds tending to focus on sustaining in fights rather than bursting through them. So how will Blackfeather tread this tough line between bruiser and burster? From what we’ve been shown so far (which is of course, subject to change), one way he’ll manage this is with his rewards for smart ability usage; killing a foe that you’ve marked with a rose trail results in a cool down reset allowing you to stay in the battle longer. The double charges on his ultimate will be crucial as well; spend them right away for the burst? Or ration them for when you need their utility?


Two Paths: Weapon Assassin or Crystal Bruiser

Ciderhelm, at the end of the reveal post, emphasized that Blackfeather is all about choices. He’s designed to have two very distinct build paths: weapon for finishing off fights with his execute damage or crystal for team utility. No matter which path Blackfeather takes, he’ll still feel some of the advantages of the other path in his kit. An assassin build will feel his utility when their chasing down fleeing targets, and a support build will still feel the his intense burst damage and executing power.

As a weapon assassin, Blackfeather seems to strive off of finishing fights and managing stacks of Heartthrob. WP Blackfeather will want to take third rank in his ultimate for its quick burst. Taking the overdrive in A or B will depend a lot on taste and the final stats of these abilities, but I’d imagine A will be the more popular choice for assassins. Ciderhelm specifically mentions that assassin builds will want to utilize critical strike items for adding some burst.

As a crystal tank, he maximizes the utility from his A and B while combo’ing his ultimate with Shiversteel. CP Tank Blackfeather will take overdrives in A and B to increases the range of their slow and also improve rose trail’s buff. Support builds, while still benefiting from his ultimate, won’t need to quickly execute it twice like assassins and won’t be hurt by the slightly longer cooldown between charges that’s experience at the ultimate’s second rank.


Let’s do what WP Blackfeather does best and finish this; Blackfeather is expected to drop in the 1.11 update slated for early-December or even late-November. He’ll be the 19th hero added to the game, finishing this year with a near-twenty hero roster. He’s the third assassin in Vainglory and the first one in over a year now. Everything said here is based on information that is subject to change before his release. You can read the original post here.

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