Originally a playable character class in Diablo III, the Monk arrived in Blizzard's new MOBA Heroes of the Storm last night as a melee support named "Kharazim." More than any other character I've seen in the game so far, he's defined by his impressive versatility.
Kharazim is the first HOTS character that can select one of three different traits at the start of the game. Normally, a hero only has one. The three traits boost his healing power, mana regeneration, or attack damage with every third basic attack when he's in battle -- meaning that the third time he punches a bad guy, he would either a) heal his surrounding allies, b) regenerate some of his mana, or c) deal some extra damage.
Monk is listed as a support character, so it's easy to see how his basic abilities -- the ones you cast by pressing Q, W, and E -- can pair with his trait to make for a heals-heavy force on any team. His "W" heals the Monk and any allies in his immediate vicinity, for instance -- though just as importantly, it has a very low cooldown. His "E" move, meanwhile, boosts his attack speed and range temporarily, unleashing a blinding flurry of kicks and punches on whomever's standing in his way. And then there's his Q, which allows him to blink towards any enemy or ally in a short range -- teleporting him instantly into a tactically advantageous position.
Going with Kharazim's healing trait, then, I quickly picked up on some basic support combos in my first few games with him last night. He can perform life-saving stunts by zapping into the front lines of a fight with his Q, immediately firing off a W to heal his ailing teammates nearby, then press E to continue healing while simultaneously chipping away at an enemy's health. The Q jump also helps him escape from enemies who are chasing him, allowing him to blink a few feet away to stick next to a fleeing teammate -- or jump straight towards the nearest group of minions to put some distance between himself and an aggressor.
So far, what I've described about Kharazim makes him sound like a solid support choice. Similar to the Warcraft character Brightwing, he lends a helping hand to his team simply by being in direct physical proximity to them and radiating off healing energy.
That's all well and good. What I really love about the monk, though, is that he can be something totally different if you want him to. His Q and E abilities -- the blink move and attack speed boost -- grant him extra mobility and burst damage respectively. These are both very assassin-like assets, which means that he can also be a damage-dealing powerhouse -- though preferably only if you already have a dedicated healer on your team. Since his Q also lands an attack on its target and can be upgraded to deal more damage on impact, he's very good at hunting down individual targets who are trying to escape like so:
His W, then, can help keep him alive for longer so he doesn't have to go off the offensive. I toyed around with trying to build him as an ability power-heavy fighter (AP) by taking his health regen trait, which lets him use his healing and attack abilities even more often without having to go back to base and recharge, and it seemed to work well.
I haven't even gotten to his ults yet, and that's the best part of this guy. His offensive ult, "Seven-Sided Strike," launches the Monk into some sort of turbo ninja/avatar mode where he becomes untargetable and keeps kicking all the bad guys in his immediate vicinity:
Divine Palm, meanwhile, casts a healing spell that last for three seconds and will instantly revive an ally (or the Monk himself) if they die during that time window:
Both of these are incredibly powerful assets to have on a team, for totally different reasons.
I've only had time to play 8 games with Kharazim so far, but I can already tell that it's going to take some more time and tinkering to figure out everything that he's capable of. And that's a great thing in my book.