A Failure in Execution
Written by: Phantom
Tassadar, the legendary Protoss executor, is beloved by both the Nerazim and Khalai. His actions opened the path to the unification, and his sacrifice saved his race and shaped the future of the Koprulu sector. It is no wonder that he is one of the most beloved characters of the StarCraft franchise, and likewise, such a disappointment for many in his Heroes of the Storm incarnation.
Heroes of the Storm is built around playing with the legendary heroes we all have come to love through the more than 26 years of the company’s history. The game designers and artists go to great lengths to bring all of these heroes to life and represent them in the most faithful way as possible.
With Tassadar, however, Blizzard has failed. The savior of the Templar has no resemblance to his StarCraft version apart from name and appearance.
More Than a Templar
Tassadar has always been the odd one out in Blizzard’s MOBA. If there’s one word to describe him, it would be “shield-bot”—a far cry from the mighty Templar he should be posing as.
The Tassadar in Heroes is a very different hero from the Tassadar of StarCraft lore. High Templars are the most powerful psionic beings in the Koprulu sector, and as the most respected warriors among the Khalai, they spend their lives meditating and improving their psionic abilities to become increasingly more powerful. Their minds are so advanced they are capable of creating devastating psionic storms that obliterate everything and drain their enemies’ energy through a violent chain reaction that has been reported to literally blow up the minds of their subjects.
An early model of Tassadar in Blizzard DotA
High Templars are the single most powerful Protoss warriors. They are glass cannons by nature with low health, low movement speed, and incredible amounts of damage. And that’s just a normal High Templar!
Tassadar is not just anyone. He is considered by many of his race to be the greatest warrior of all time. He vaporized the surface of Chau Sara with Gantrithor. He single-handedly led a rebellion against the Conclave and took on the most powerful Protoss forces in the sector. He combined the dark energies of the void with his own psionic power to destroy the Overmind. Tassadar is a straight up badass.
His role as as a support has never really fit with the idea of a High Templar, and his limited healing capabilities have relegated him to a niche role before the game even officially released. For a shot period during the Technical Alpha, Tassadar was actually very strong—type F in the chat for Archon—but he never actually filled the role of assassin.
Tassadar’s damage was tuned way down once the game was fully released, and Blizzard did their best to relegate him to a support role. Since the rework, Tassadar has found his place in double support compositions enabling hyper carries to do the real work while he sits in the back line and spams shields.
One must wonder then, how did Tassadar, THE High Templar ended up in being a niche support?
Let’s review his abilities. In Heroes of the Storm, his skills are designed to protect and support other heroes. His ranged abilities and considerable auto attack range aren’t there to overwhelm the enemy from afar; they’re to help him stay in the back line while the real stars get the kills.
Tassadar’s tickle beam slows enemy heroes while the rest of the team deals damage, and his trait Oracle helps reveal potential flanks and stealth characters. He’s able to shield allies and provide some sustain with Plasma Shield while also dealing moderate AoE damage with Psionic Storm. Dimensional Shift is an escape ability that enables him to run away.
Tassadar’s Heroic abilities, Archon and Force Wall, enable him to control the battlefield better. Force Wall blocks the pathway of enemy heroes to slow them down and trap them. Archon turns Tassadar into a “mighty” archon with slightly increased damage, shields and an AoE attack.
Of those abilities, only Psionic Storm is a templar ability, and even then its damage has been tuned down considerably. The rest of his skills are quite frankly a terrible choice for a powerful templar. Dimensional Shift goes directly against the concept of a slow, powerful hero by giving him an unnecessary escape. Plasma Shield makes no sense with the lore. Oracle has absolutely no connection to the unit at all.
Tassadar the Sentry
What if I told you the hero was not originally designed as Tassadar? If we take a look, his abilities more closely resemble a sentry or oracle. His Plasma Shield is similar to the shields provided by a Sentry, while Force Wall is an improved version of its Force Field ability. His trait, Oracle, is similar to the Oracle’s “Revelation” ability.
Psionic Storm wasn’t even in the game originally. Players that had the opportunity to play the early Technical Alpha will remember the ability actually used to be called “Time Warp”, an ability from StarCraft 2’s Oracle (later moved to the Mothership Core). Originally, it slowed enemies in an area and dealt small amounts of damage but was later renamed to Psionic Storm and had its animation updated to the current one.
These similarities are, in fact, no coincidence. During the Blizzard DotA and StarCraft Mods panel at BlizzCon 2011—yes, it’s been that long—developers stated that they “like to use an iconic character whenever possible” and mentioned that in the original build of the game, Tassadar was a sentry. They noticed he wasn’t that cool to look at compared to other mighty heroes like Thrall or Kerrigan. Still, they wanted to have some Protoss representation.
Luckily, they had a Tassadar model from Wings of Liberty which they modified for the game. You can see the Blizzard DotA character design fragment in the video below. This is the reason Tassadar has support and sentry-like abilities: he was a sentry.
At the time, this decision made a lot of sense. However, at some point during the transition from Blizzard DotA to Blizzard All-Stars and finally Heroes of the Storm, this philosophy changed.
Sgt. Hammer was originally Horace Warfield and later Edmund Duke. However, the developers believed a Siege Tank did not accurately fulfill the fantasy of these heroes. Tassadar wasn’t so lucky. The fact that Tassadar was left as is while the generals were deemed worthy enough to be saved for different heroes is honestly mind blowing.
Blizzard at least managed to capture Tassadar’s essence with a gorgeous hero model and kickass skins. His abilities look sharp, and his voice lines are everything one could want of the Savior of the Templar. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to salvage the hero. His abilities and playstyle are just not what you would expect of the legendary hero.
Tassadar has been forced into an eternal limbo between assassin and support due to other Protoss fantasies superimposed onto his character, and as a result, Blizzard has struggled to reconcile Tassadar to his role. He is neither a mighty assassin capable of destroying hundreds of units nor a solo support; he falters somewhere in between. Having hybrids supports, if done well, can be a valid design choice, but Tassadar falls flat. His character in lore is simply not a support.
One of the main attractions of Heroes of the Storm is playing with your all-time favorite heroes, those amazing characters you grew up with. Who doesn’t fantasize about playing as the mighty Templar who single-handedly saved his race from destruction? I want the hero I grew up with, not this glorified sentry. If it were up to me, I’d rework Tassadar into an assassin and never look back.
[Phantom] is an avid Heroes of the Storm player and senior writer who specializes on creating unique and fun articles. Always trying to drive discussion forward, he's always working on new ideas and projects.