Thornwake - borderline detrimental

I’ve been trying to run sister of the thorn lately with (what I consider to be) her less broken build configurations (ultra-shove, double stacking walls, ironbark thicket, healshare) with the intent of really really giving her vanilla(ish) ult the ol’ college try.

It was worse than mediocre, it was legitimately bad. I absolutely screwed myself over and over with this wall. Here are my major takeaways:

  1. If you place them too far away they have no effect. Enemies go around them and engage as normal.

  2. If you place them too close you get absolutely SHAFTED as every single sweeping attack you attempt invariably snags on the wall leaving enemies untouched and hitting you.

  3. If you place them anywhere between you and enemies you lose vital positional information about those enemies, allowing them to flank you much harder than they otherwise could.

  4. Their duration is so short, even with ironbark, that they will never last through a wave of enemies. This gives you a nice secret enemy surprise 10 seconds after you cast where between one and ten enemies you couldn’t see can suddenly hit you.

  5. They don’t prevent enemies from swinging. That means that as soon as they go down sometimes enemies are mid-swing, hitting you instantly.

  6. It felt like sometimes enemies could hit me through the wall. This might be a bug, or it might be a weird artifact of how they generate (or don’t generate) near existing structures.

  7. Every situation I used them in that felt like “This is where I could use a wall” I also could have just pushed or killed the enemies instead and gotten similar utility.

  8. Casting drops your guard which makes them pretty hard to use in tight situations.

  9. Using them in chokes or tunnels is potentially a valid use case for patrols and works well at holding enemies off when needed, but tunnels and hallways are also often the places where they are least needed, making me feel obliged to just delay combat for 10 seconds so I can get some use out of my ult.

  10. A lot of the typical use cases involve splitting up the horde into two groups (to the left and right of the wall). In my experience, a lot of weapons shine on dense groups (not hyperdense) and this is mostly counterproductive. It just facilitates the team getting surrounded faster.

  11. The walls aren’t wide enough to make any meaningful impact. At best you can make an existing choke smaller, but this is inconsistent because a lot of the times enemies will just climb the terrain on one side of the choke that they weren’t climbing before, splitting the horde further and making it harder to manage.

  12. Most of the time it was better to have no wall. Most of the time I actively hindered my allies and enhanced my enemies with this ult.

This ult has some serious troll potential. I think if it weren’t for bloodrazor thicket people would be burning down the village because of how awful this ult can be if used in the wrong situations (which is most situations, actually). I found that in the most ideal situations the best I could do is wodner whether or not what I did actually helped anyone, or just wasted time when I could have been killing.

I also played around with the 6 second debuff version of the wall, but I didn’t use it like a wall, it was just basically a deployable witch hunter captain ult which I tried very carefully to place in such a way that it did not F up my teammates’ aim / attacks, which was not easy.

Of course it’d be silly if I didn’t suggest some alternative, so here’s that:

  • Give the hedge a surrounding field of movement-inhibiting shin-high brambles that slow enemies significantly. Either extending the wall line or in a larger ellipse. This lets you still use the wall part for cover but gives you more visibility / reaction time to enemies running around it. This also allows you to stay further away from the wall and still get utility out of the ult, which helps with the “Wall ate my swing” melee issues.

  • Make the hedge last longer and give some visual indication when it is about to go down so you and your team don’t have to literally count seconds or keep checking on it.

  • Make bloodrazor thicket work more consistently with the crowd control kind of design principle so it’s more comparable thematically to the base ult and not just a nuke. I like the idea of trading protection for DOT, so perhaps something that works like a weaker firebomb.

The goal is to keep the ult’s (intended?) role as crowd control but make it more practical in that role without hindering it’s ability In the situations where it currently works well (patrol in a tunnel) (ratling gunner blocks).

And just a PSA: Yes! I think we all know sister of the thorn is too powerful right now. I do not think that is because of vanilla thornwake or ironbark. I would really like to NOT make this topic about SOT balance overall and just about making her vanilla ult less… well… detrimental, situational, and griefable.


I can see how the idea for this ult came about, but even if you can find a use for it on its own merits (not just the extra 20% damage talent), it’s dreadfully boring.

I’m fine with Bloodrazor being a more direct-damage, talent; being in a place where it can kill Stormvermin but not Chaos Warriors and can be projected at range makes it very unique. It just needs to be tweaked; perhaps with just a central damage zone that can one-shot (to prevent killing 5+ SV at a time), or just a limit on what it can hit - or remove the bleed.

With the default ult, I don’t really know. Maaaaybe if it was a big semi-circle and you could theoretically enclose your own team for safety with two it’d have some recovery use in a desperate situation.

Am I the only one who also just think it looks horrible? It’s so perfectly shaped that it looks like a carefully-manicured topiary, not some wild ticket of thorns.

I don’t play elf so my observations are entirely of a third person.
As such, I have to say I absolutely hate her default ult. I feel like it mostly shuts down anything I am doing if placed near me, let alone on me. Makes me thankful her bloodrazor is so overpowered everyone is using it.

If the rest of her kit wasn’t so bloated I would just flat out suggest the wall not to stop player swings. Hell, maybe do it anyway, as it stands I feel like bloodrazor is just a must pick to make the ult usable for both parties.

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I ended up asking my buddy who ran Sister to switch to the freaking grenade ult instead after I got downed a number of times because I either got hit through the wall, or got hit by some guy sliding about in what was supposed to be a running glued-on attack, or simply because the hedge ate all my cleave.

Seriously, I think giving the ult that slowing bramble effect with visuals like in the Weaves would be much better. Not seeing enemies is even worse than getting a hyperdense horde.


Yep the default wall is horrible, as is ironbark…blackvenom has some use but honestly it´s not amazing by any standard either and if her kit wasnt so strong then she´d be considered really weak for it.

I mean really, a 60 seconds cooldown ability that staggers things in a small area? With all the above mentioned problems? I quit playing her after i got done with her challenges because honestly on cata she has some build choices but very limited.

Bleed critical staff? More lifts staff? Critical javelin? Moonfire power? Incandescence or radiance.

There is literally only one use I have found for the wall and that is breaking monster AI with it, but even that is inconsistent.

You can also push the monster out of bounds and insta kill them, but that’s not really what I’d call legitimate use case :smiley:

I don’t understand why the solutions have to be so problematic. If the larger issue is the troll potential, weapons getting stuck then just make it so that allies can attack trough the wall.
This way it gives better splitting value, can be more creative with it around allies and can be extremely powerful in right scenarios.

If it still needs more after that then adjust accordingly but I really don’t believe it needs to have full rework just yet.

I feel like the wall just doesn’t really work with the enemy AI. I like the concept though. Her active choices are “longer cc”, “cc with debuff”, and “smaller range, big damage”.

(Incoming armchair dev nonsense)

I would dump the wall in favor of a cc option that already works. Like “vines spread out over the ground over 2 seconds, then retract amd knock down all enemies in the area” as the base version of the skill. Basically a ranged fk active, balanced by having to account for a 2 second delay.

The ironbark replacement could be “restore all stamina, dodge count, and give 20% movespeed to allies in the area for the duration”.

The blackvenom could be “replaces knockdown at end of skill with instant stagger (stumble) on cast, debuffs enemies in range to take 20% more damage.”

Bloodrazor would stay the same.

To go with this I would change cluster of radiants to grant an additional effect to the active every 3 minutes rather than a second cast. Ironbark replacement would grant an active charge to one effected ally, blackvenom a second stumble as the skill expires, Bloodrazor a second cast within ten seconds of first cast. As an added bonus this would also balance radiant inheritance.

Yeah I feel like a Zyra ult from League of Legends would fit her class 100% more than what we currently have.

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Oh man, I only know zarya from overwatch but if this is graviton surge, having an ult that pulled enemies together could be really cool for a support character, and feasible with vines!

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There are quite a few idea that could be played out to redistribute the value of a wall. The first one I think that would be a massive balance distribution would be to remove stagger on bloodrazor and give the stagger to both wall forms when they first erupt!. That alone would be immensely powerful to balance the 3 skills. Bloodrazor is already powerful enough to kill things or do high damage. It doesn’t ‘need’ to stagger on top of it. Fire walk from sienna is a 40sec ability with the ability to reposition, do high damage, use 2x times, and stagger nearly everything in its path.

Every wall if nothing else becomes a stagger object meant to disrupt enemy formations. Half the enemy gets thrown towards your team and the other half gets tossed behind it. There are some more ideas like still let allies attack through the wall. Including enemy attacks, but ranged do not. This removes a pain point in anti-team support from misuse. The other idea being make it transparent somewhat to allies to let them see behind it. I think you can tag enemies and stuff.

Another idea is just make the wall bigger in general say by like 50%. 1-2 walls would be way more useful in more situations in open areas if it was wider. Though wider would sort of need that not blocking vision/attacks idea.

One of the ult choices issue I see, just like BH, GK and many others.

I like the areal CC alternative you’ve suggested, and it is actually what I and people I play with has talked about as well. It would be much better than the wall, at the very least. Areal tangle fits the characteristics of SotT perfectly well too, IMO.

On the side note, assuming that the alternative areal tangle field do become SotT’s new base ult, I think Bloodrazor should be removed. It is a necessary evil at the moment. It is needed because of how other wall ult choices fails to be competitive, but by nature it’s probably the most boring, simple and uncharacteristic, yet insanely strong ult there is.

Yeah that’s why I made a point of saying I’d change cluster of radiants as well. Having it only provide one extra cast per 3 minutes for bloodrazor increases its average recast time from 30 seconds to 45 (6 casts in 3 minutes is reduced to 4). It also auto-nerfs morag-hei’s doomsight by providing fewer active casts to trigger it and limits radiant inheritance to once every three minutes instead of once per minute. I think the combination of these things makes the other choices feel much more competitive.

I mean I’m not married to bloodrazor but it is cool. I’d kinda rather limit its OP’ness a bit rather than remove it. Even if it was bad it’s still cooler than the current alternatives which are hedgerows. Rich people plant those when they don’t like their neighbors, you don’t fight evil with them.

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Doesnt work even with full on trees, ask the french from ww2.

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The wall also blocks Pyro Sienna’s Burning Head ability if shot directly at it. This would happen if the elf decided to wall off an advancing horde when sienna fired.

I havnt tested BH Saltz but I would assume all projectiles are effectively blocked the same way.

This ability seems to benefit the enemy more than the team.

Oh yes, my BH has been c**kblocked multiple times. :smiley:


One thing I worry about your suggestion is that it will affect not only Bloodrazor but all of SotT’s ult talents, and I feel it’s not necessary of a change as it seems quite obvious what the actual problem is.

I find Bloodrazor overtuned even without extra interaction with other talents. Bloodrazor is instantly casted, has high dmg, infinite cleeve and gauranteed stagger while wielding only 40 sec cd. It’s a Jack in the box, good at everything, and in my book that isn’t a good design. Nerfing other things around Bloodrazor so that SotT can stay balanced when using it sounds a misleading one to me. We have the suspect found guilty; Bloodrazor. Let others be judged by what they do, not what Bloodrazor did.

Sorry, but I would rather not. I do sometimes like overpowered features when it’s complicated and hard to master. Bloodrazor isn’t. It’s just too good, in a dumb way.


Not really, just like GK holy swing it also has a cast, albeit a short one, and the cooldown is 60 seconds. The area affected is fairly small and the DPS is usually way more than you´ll ever need.

The most overtuned aspects of bloodrazor is armor pen and staggering monsters, cleave after that.

The problem with SoT is not mainly found in bloodrazor, it´s still radiance and doomsight, because with an ability happy team she has borderline infinite crits which was already a bad idea on shade who at least needs to go behind enemy lines to make use of hers optimally.

Did not get better on SoT who has more easy to use damage boosts baked in.

Cast time is irrelevant. It is 0.7 seconds which can easily be generated by standing back or dodging or a quick push. Even when surrounded there is no issue casting the career skill.

And no the cooldown is 40 seconds (unless has the wronge value). 60 seconds is the cooldown for a Cluster of Radiance. Which brings us to the next problem that you have to career skill bars which allow a spam each 30 seconds if you want to. And this is before we are talking about cooldown reduction by getting hit, damaging enemies, using Hekarti’s Cruel Bargain or a simple cooldown reduction on the Trinket. The area affected is large enough and the most overtuned aspect of bloodrazor is certainly its damage. If you have a tool which can kill multiple Stormvermins on the spot with unlimited cleave then it is an issue.

The stagger is the actual only interesting and fun part of Bloodrazor and is what it should have concentrated on: Stagger for control, a prolonged but less severe bleed and far far far less direct damage. High damage and unlimited cleave is always a problem.

I agree though that Doomsight and Radiance are also in for some kind of adjustment.