Welcome back to Broken Myth! Today, we’ll discuss the various forms of “hero stacks” found throughout the Fold. As Vainglory stacks can drastically turn the tides, they must be accounted for during any battle and how they change over the course of the game.
Normally, when we hear the term “stack,” we associate it with Breaking Point or Broken Myth. Though item stacks are only visible to individual players using the item, the opposing team will definitely notice the major damage spikes. Similar to item stacks, hero stacks augment certain abilities, often offering a substantial buff in team fights. Opposed to item stacks, hero stacks can be visible to all players or just the individual player on that hero. For instance, in the case of Blackfeather’s Heartthrob stacks, everyone can see how many stacks have been built up. On the other hand, only the player playing Taka knows how many Ki stacks he has. Let’s jump in and see how each of these hero stacks influence the battles on the Fold!
Alpha: Core Overload
Each time Alpha uses Core Charge (B) she gains Core Overload for 5.5 seconds, stacking up to 3 times. With each additional Core Overload stack, utilizing Core Charge deals increased true damage to Alpha. However, it also increases the damage output of subsequent Core Charges and causes her basic attacks to heal her. Basic attacks refresh the Core Overload duration.
When Alpha lands her Prime Directive (A), she loses the increased true damage effect of Core Overload, but maintains the lifesteal from basic attacks effect dealing increased damage for each stack of Core Overload removed.
Core Overload stacks are only visible to Alpha. Opposing players must be aware that Alpha regenerates health per basic attack after using Core Charge. As such, the longer the fight, the more damage Alpha will deal as she builds up Core Overload’s stacks.
When playing Alpha, try to gain 3 Core Overload stacks prior to the fight. Ideally, we would want to have 3 Core Overload stacks for each Prime Directive to ensure maximum damage.
Baptiste: Soul Fragment
Baptiste acquires Soul Fragments via his Heroic Perk, Reap. Basic attacks generate one soul fragment, whereas abilities generate one soul fragment per enemy hero damaged. Upon reaching 4 soul fragments, Baptiste is empowered for 4 seconds and deals increased damage, but generates no additional soul fragments.
Soul Fragment stacks are visible to all players, indicated by the white bars underneath Baptiste’s mana bar. When fully charged, the bar will slowly empty over 4 seconds. Try to avoid engagements with an empowered, or nearly empowered, Baptiste as the damage bonus is substantial. Instead, engage when his empowerment is about to expire in order to minimize it’s effect.
When playing Baptiste, one has to juggle generating Soul Fragment stacks while also trying to maximize the number of abilities within the empowerment window. Bad Mojo (A) is often a good way to poke and acquire Soul Fragment stacks. Engaging at 3 stacks can set Baptiste up to maximize damage output by opening the empowerment window with a basic attack before using any abilities. A key note is that the maximum number of Soul Fragment stacks you can gain from Bad Mojo or Fearsome Shade (Ult) is 3. As such, landing a Fearsome Shade on all enemies is a great way to quickly build Soul Fragments.
Blackfeather’s basic attacks and abilities apply Heartthrob stacks to enemies. This stacks twice on minions, but up to five times on heroes and objectives. Any time stacks are added or refreshed, Blackfeather also deals additional crystal damage for each stack of Heartthrob already on the target. When Blackfeather uses his Feint of Heart (A) against a target with full Heartthrob stacks, he executes the target for bonus true damage based on the target’s missing health.
Blackfeather’s Heartthrob stacks are visible to all players as little hearts float around the affected target. Once reaching max Heartthrob stacks (2 on non-heroes, 5 on heroes), the hearts will change to broken hearts. To counter these stacks, we want to either slow down Blackfeather’s attack speed or dodge his On Point (B) and Rose Offensive (Ult) abilities to prevent stacks. Once at full Heartthrobs, players should be more aware of their health as Feint of Heart will deal more damage with the less health they have.
When playing Blackfeather, we want to simultaneously get a hero low in health and at full Heartthrob stacks. This ideal situation will make the next Feint of Heart a death blow to that hero. On Point is a great ability to use to build stacks from afar, especially once it’s overdriven and gains extra range, and can build stacks on each hero hit with the ability. Build a few Heartthrob stacks from a distance on your primary target before engaging and achieving full stacks to maximize the damage from Feint of Heart.
Catherine: Captain of the Guard
Catherine gains 2 armor and 2 shield every time she stuns or silences an enemy hero with her abilities. She can gain 1 stack if she lands her Merciless Pursuit (A). If Blast Tremor (Ult) successfully lands on all three enemy heroes, Catherine will gain 3 stacks. Otherwise, Catherine will gain stack(s) based on how many enemy hero(es) she silences. However, if either of her abilities are blocked, she will gain no stacks.
Captain of the Guard stacks are only visible to the player playing Catherine. They are shown for each hero silenced or stunned, but represent 2 armor and 2 shield per stack. Catherine will look to build stacks early on in the game by using Merciless Pursuit on easy targets. Players can avoid these stuns by positioning away from bushes in the lane or running from Catherine until the ability times out. When playing into a Catherine, pick up a Crucible as soon as possible to block Blast Tremor. The best way to counter stacks from Blast Tremor is to Crucible the ability.
As there is less punishment for aggressive plays early game, Catherine-users should aim to gain 2 stacks of Captain of the Guard (Heroic Perk) per minute. Building stacks either on poorly positioned lane carries or harassing enemy junglers are good strategies to meet this goal. As the game progresses, Catherine’s abilities should be used for team utility in engagement rather than on cooldown. At this point, stacks will come more passively as you use your abilities in team fights.
Glaive will generate Bloodsong (Ult) stacks from basic attacking or from receiving basic attacks. Each stack grants him bonus lifesteal with a max of 20 stacks. Upon activating Bloodsong, Glaive will do massive area of effect damage per Bloodsong stack. However, this consumes all active stacks. Glaive respawns with the same number of Bloodsong stacks prior to death.
Glaive can generate Bloodsong stacks with every basic attack, so most Glaives will reach full Bloodsong stacks before engaging in a fight. When facing a Glaive, it is important to note Bloodsong stacks cannot be mitigated. If he has no stacks, he is much easier to bring down in a team fight.
When playing Glaive, players should look to keep Bloodsong stacks maxed out as much as possible. Use basic attacks on minions to build up Bloodsong stacks safely. Use Bloodsong primarily as a finisher to maximize the passive lifesteal granted by Bloodsong stacks.
Grumpjaw: Living Armor
Grumpjaw’s Living Armor (Heroic Perk) grants him increased defenses. Every few seconds and every time he basic attacks, Grumpjaw gains a stack of Living Armor, up to a maximum of 5 stacks. Enemies can remove stacks of Living Armor by dealing damage to Grumpjaw. He loses one stack per second while taking damage from basic attacks and abilities. Grumpjaw’s Grumpy (A) deals bonus damage for each stack of Living Armor.
Grumpjaw builds Living Armor stacks both passively every second and actively with every basic attack. The Living Armor stacks are readily visible to all players as white bars under Grumpjaw’s healthbar. With full stacks, Grumpjaw is significantly tankier with a 30% damage reduction. When facing Grumpjaw, apply continual damage while kiting to remove his stacks and prevent him from building anymore. Once his stacks are low he is much easier to bring down and deals less damage with his Grumpy charge.
When playing Grumpjaw, players want to keep their Living Armor stacks maxed out as much as possible. Avoid being kited where Grumpjaw has a hard time sticking to a target after Grumpy has been spent. Using Grumpy at max stacks will deal the most damage possible, and the slow allows Grumpjaw to stick to a target for a short time. Use Hangry (B) to actively rebuild stacks with the increase attack speed and burst your target down.
Joule: Thunder Strike
Thunder Strike (B) sends a bolt of energy directly in front of Joule. If this strikes an enemy, every Thunder Strike that follows will have bonus armor pierce and shield pierce until you miss. Thunder Strike’s cooldown scales with attack speed.
Joule’s Thunder Strike is a linear skill shot. As such, it can be dodged by moving out of it’s trajectory. Thunder Strike stacks are visible to all players through a lightning effect on her default and tiered skin models, and a special frosty aura on her SE model. Additionally, all players can see the “MISS” notification when Joule fails to land a Thunder Strike. At this point, you should look to engage knowing she has no stacks.
When playing Joule, landing Thunder Strike is key. Aim for your target’s feet as this is a good indication of where their hitbox actually is on the Fold. (Since we are looking down on the Fold at an angle, heroes appear diagonal to us, but are actually standing up vertically on the map. This means that if we aim skill shots for a hero’s head, we are going to miss since that is usually outside of the hitbox of the hero.) Thunder Strike’s cooldown scales with attack speed, so picking up items such as a Tornado Trigger or Breaking Point will increase the number of Thunder Strikes you can dish out. The Thunder Strike stack can also be obtained on minions, so make sure you have the stack up before engaging enemy heroes.
Whenever Kestrel lands a basic attack, she gains a 10% energy cost reduction on her abilities. When Kestrel uses One Shot One Kill (Ult), she fires a single arrow across the Fold, impacting on the first enemy hero, large creature or structure in its path. When this hits an enemy hero, it reveals that hero and grants Kestrel full Adrenaline stacks.
Adrenaline stacks up to a maximum of 5 times, but quickly wears off. Adrenaline stacks are only visible to the player playing Kestrel. These stacks are more of a boon to weapon power Kestrel as they rely on basic attacks; whereas crystal power Kestrel relies more on straight Glimmershot (A) arrows.
When playing Kestrel, building Adrenaline stacks can help with farming. Since these stacks reduce ability cost, they increase Kestrel’s mana efficiency, allowing her to use her abilities more freely. Adrenaline stacks can be gained from minions, as well, so look to build them before firing off any abilities if the opportunity arises.
Koshka: Twirly Death
Upon activating Twirly Death (B), Koshka twirls, damaging all enemies around her. Her next two basic attacks within 5 seconds deal bonus crystal damage. Empowered attacks have lower basic attack cooldown (0.5s) than her normal basic attacks (0.8s).
Koshka’s empowered basic attacks offer an immense amount of burst damage, especially in the early game. Although the stacks are only visible to the Koshka player, the Twirly Death animation is very visible. Players matched against Koshka should build defense to counter her early game burst and look to extend the game to the later stages where she falls off significantly.
When playing Koshka, utilizing Twirly Death stacks is the key to success. Twirly Death stacks paired with the increased movement speed give Koshka the fastest Jungle clear time in the game. Players should look to push their early advantage and close out the game quickly. Use Twirly Death before an engagement to maximize the number of empowered basic attacks. For instance, use Twirly Death in a bush before engaging, jump on your target with Pouncy Fun (A), use empowered basic attacks, Twirly Death again and finish them off with the second set of empowered basic attacks. Easy!
Basic attacks & abilities apply Weakness for 4 seconds (up to 8 stacks) with a 0.5% crystal ratio. Each stack reduces the target’s damage by 6.2% and increases Krul’s lifesteal against the weakened target. When Spectral Smite (B) is activated, Krul detonates the Weakness stacks to deal damage and regain health based on the number of stacks consumed.
Krul’s Weakness stacks are one of the most visible stacks in the game. All players can see the skull above the head of the affected player with a flame lit up for each stack applied. Since Krul is a melee hero, we will need to be close to apply stacks. The best way to avoid stacks is to kite away from Krul or crowd control him. Always be sure to save your escape move until Krul has burned his Dead Man’s Rush (A).
When playing Krul, sticking to a target and attacking as quickly as possible is key to maximizing the utility of Weakness stacks. Use Shadows Empower Me (Heroic Perk), to obtain a speed boost and slow your target. Build attack speed and learn to stutter step to apply as many stacks as possible. Save your Dead Man’s Rush as another gap closer or to give you more effective health. Finally, getting an understanding of how much damage your Weakness stacks do will help finish off enemies quickly as you do not always need to hit the full 8 stacks.
SAW: Spin Up
Each basic attack increases SAW’s attack speed by 18%, but it also decreases his movement speed by -0.12 (up to 12 stacks). After 3.5s without basic attacking, SAW will lose 1 stack of Spin Up (Heroic Perk) every 0.2s. Activating Roadie Run (A) clears all stacks of Spin Up and allows SAW to move freely. Activating Suppressing Fire (B) grants all stacks of Spin Up upon completion of the cast.
SAW’s Spin Up stacks are indicated by the white bars under his health bar for all players. Understanding that these stacks turn SAW into a turret makes countering it simple. Do not engage a fully spun up SAW; rather, kite the team fight away from him where he will have to reset his stacks to engage. SAW can be stunned during his Suppressing Fire to prevent him from gaining full stacks of Spin Up.
When playing SAW, players must dance the elegant SAW dance between potato and immobile death machine. Learning to use SAW’s Roadie Run and Suppressing Fire to engage and disengage will vastly improve your SAW game play. He is also heavily reliant upon positioning, so stutter stepping is key to maintaining stacks and repositioning SAW. Spin Up stacks can be built by basic attacking minions.
Every 5 seconds, Taka’s next basic attack is replaced with a Mortal Strike. Mortal Strikes deal 40 (+35% weapon ratio) bonus damage and grant Taka a burst of movement speed. Whenever Taka Mortal Strikes or uses an ability, he gains a stack of Ki, which speeds up his Mortal Strike timer by 0.9s and grants 20% cooldown speed. (5 Ki stacks max.) Ki stacks last 12 seconds before they are reset. X-Retsu (Ult) grants bonus Ki stacks upon use based on number of ability points in X-Retsu.
Taka’s Ki stacks are only visible to the Taka player. Upon reaching level six, Taka gains a huge power spike, allowing him to quickly max out Ki stacks with X-Retsu. Players should be wary of this damage spike and build defense to counter it. As Ki stacks last for 12 seconds, Taka will be able to disengage and reengage with full Ki stacks. As such, it is difficult to mitigate Taka’s Ki stacks.
When playing Taka, players should look to keep their Ki stacks maxed as often as possible. This becomes easier once reaching level 6, but players can also basic attack minions to build Ki stacks. When at maximum Ki stacks, Taka Mortal Strikes every 0.5 seconds, so players should look to basic attack between their abilities to maximize Mortal Strikes. Mortal Strike can be used on minions for an extra speed boost when fleeing from or pursuing the enemy, as well as refreshing the Ki timer.
WHEW! There are so many stacks in Vainglory! We hope you now understand stacks and their importance on the Halcyon Fold. Let us know if you want to see any new and exciting content in the comments below. Until next time, may the odds ever be stacked in your favor.