caution, this post is massive!
So, I'm seeing a lot of players out there playing single form Queen of Thorns, or on the same note Torchbearers. Some of these builds are playable, and work perfectly fine but I just have to say one thing, not meaning disrespect to anyone. Ignoring one entire half of the demigod you are playing is inefficient. As a queen of thorns player, It pains me to come across a mirror match, knowing right from the get go, that the game is already won.
Here I am probrably coming across as cocky to most of you. Let me start by saying that I'm not claiming to be 'the best' queen of thorn players out there, I'm not even claiming to be great. But what I am, is good, and I've at least got an understanding of the theory, even if, in application, I am prone to, just as everyone else, making mistakes, and disregarding the theory that I'm putting forward.
I hope that all you Queen players can at least take this all on board, and try and understand where i'm coming from, add to it, and apply it to your own styles. I'm also hoping to spark somebody to do the same with a topic on Torchbearer, a character I have no familiarity with, but can easily see has the same mechanical considerations as our beloved Queen.
Wait... So what is this guide going to be all about? Ah, right. It’s a lesson on form. Rather than having you beautiful ladies hide in your shells all day, I’m going to teach you about good posture, and when it’s appropriate for a Queen to be forward and sharp, and when she should appropriate the delicate little flower she is.
Step 1:Know your roles
You have no stuns. You have no shatters or silences... you have nothing to stop your enemies escaping except for a slow, which you don’t even have right off the bat. You’re a support character. You support your allies in killing the enemy heroes, pushing enemy towers, and holding important flags. You must be elegant and exert your presence both in offensive and defensive manoeuvres that your team is partaking in. This means if you hide in your shell all day, you’ll never let yourself be known. Your opposition will simply ignore you, taking out more threatening opponents. Only turning on you when you’ve attempted to defend your ally, and your shield is on cool down (your opponent WILL do this if they’re any good, and then you’re deadwood). Mulch shamble is nice, sure... but you’re probably going to take a stun off the bat, and a reactive ability is useless. Part of why shield is so good is because it’s proactive. It reaches its full potential by predicting who’s going to need it and when. If you stay out of your flower and go for all siege and spike abilities, pushing enemy towers and creep waves like there’s no tomorrow, then you can’t save allies, and more importantly, yourself when things get out of hand. A queen who is too forward and doesn’t know her place, won’t last very long. By staying in open mode, you also lose out on many of the passive benefits of closed form as well. This is why you have to know your place, and learn to adapt to the situation.
Step 2: Early Game
This section is far from conclusive. I’ll start by saying that Queen of Thorns should carry out all her roles straight from level 1. Given that this means you want offensive as well as defensive elements, there is a lot of room for working. I’ll now introduce the most important element of an effectively played mixed form Queen. Prediction. It’s important that, at the very start of the game, you can take advantage of early slip ups of the enemy team, yet reliably hold a defensive position. For this reason, I almost always choose ground spikes as my first ability, and get defensive items (generally a monk idol, if I think I will be laned with someone I can easily stay out of melee attack range of, like rook, unclean beast and oak, or the ranged demigods who are likely to harass you as much as you’re harassing them, I grab Scalemail and Banded Armour, to allow myself the staying power to shrug off most problems with careful management, until I at least get my shield.
If you really expect to be hit hard right from the get go, get shield first, and grab something a bit more aggressive (like the boots of speed, so you can out harass the skirting characters like Regalus), or if you’re unsure, grab the defensive items and choose your ability in lane (9 times out of 10 I don’t suggest this, because if you end up in a heavily opposed lane, being out harassed, sure you won’t likely get killed, but I doubt you’ll be quite as effective with shield and defensive items at pressing an advantage (like an enemy demigod slipping up, and staying around with not quite enough hitpoints) due to the fact that you have neither good movement speed, nor a skill that will help your allies that DO have good movement speed kill faster.
Step 3: Evaluating skills
A lot of what I read about queen of thorns, even as a mixed form caster, say something along the lines of “90% of the time you’ll be in closed form” which is 67% incorrect, as 84% of all statistics are made up on the spot. However, the general idea is that you’ll be making more use of the closed form than the open, though the better your team is performing, and the more active your advances, you’ll find you’ll be spending a lot more time in open form. For this reason, you’ll find your closed form skills to be more useful for the bulk of the game. Namely Shamblers and Shield. Some also like mulch, but I find that shield is generally sufficient with smart prediction, and lets you spend more skill points buffing your shamblers, which are an important part of any duel form Queen build. Your shamblers play the role of more fat for when you’re pushing towers, (or running past them to cap important flags) drawing the tower’s fire off of the queen herself, and allowing you to run in while open, and lay down some spikes. And also provide incoming damage and fodder for any opponents who might like to chase you, or harass you. Shield is primarily a tool for escaping or attrition. Too often I’ve seen the queen put a shield on an ally so they can chase into the enemy base, only for it to allow them to get killed by towers and their target turning to fight them, or failing to get the finishing blow, and then spending the next minute or so, running back to heal, then getting back into position. For chasing, your open abilities are much more effective. Ground Spikes let your allies kill the target quicker, meaning they won’t be drawn as far towards the enemy base if/when the opponent decides to turn tail, and Spike Wave (which you only really need for the slow. Level 1, I find is sufficient). Uproot is, in my opinion, meh... Ground spikes and the endeavours of your minions/allies should bring towers toppling down in a ridiculously short time period.
Step 4: Application and Awareness
Okay, now I’ve given a VERY brief overview on my thoughts on getting your mixed Queen of Thorns off the ground, so this is where the real gold of the lesson is. I’ve already stated that your open form is offensive, and your closed form is defensive, and you’ll be using open form a lot more when your team is performing well. Here’s the big secret. The reasons that all you closed form queen players don’t stand a chance. Queen of thorns is the one demigod that I hear a lot of people saying ‘she can’t kill, but she doesn’t die either’ about. This is because of shield. Some might argue that it’s shield and mulch. Then I’ll counter argue that Shield and awareness give you the same survivability, but with the added bonus that you can actually use your open form to get kills to boot.
Keep track of your minimap. If you’re alone and either in quite a safe place, or you can see all enemy demigods, open up, use spikes and be aggressive, kill creep waves, spike towers, damage, damage, damage. But keep track of your minimap. The point of your open form is to be forward. Force them to respond. And when you see the enemies move, close up, put your shield up, and just waste their time. In defensive mode you sit on your flag, stubbornly defend to budge and most importantly, buy your allies time. One on one, a well played queen should out attrition just about any hero of equal level with similar gold capacity through smart micro management, and good use of mana resources. This means that most of the time, if you’re alone, your opponents will try to 2v1 you. Don’t get cocky, sit close to your towers, be careful of their abilities. If you have to back off and give them the flag, then do, and go harass somewhere that’s more easily defensible (or support your unhindered ally in the time period they’re capping. Carrying a few portal scrolls is endlessly useful for this).
If you’re pushing forward, make sure you’ve got a shield up. Stay in closed mode unless you’re spiking a tower. If you are spiking a tower, make sure you have full minions, and get ready to move. Stay aware! Watch your minimap for red dudes at the corner of your vision radius, the millisecond they come in, close up and back off, unless you can finish the tower off in a single attack, you can always come back in a minute. If they sit waiting for you to come back to that tower, they’re wasting valuable time when they can be getting experience, time that you and your team will be utilizing to cap flags and gain ground elsewhere. They have to move if they want any chance of winning. The moment they do, just port to your closest flag and finish the job.
Watch the minimap! I cannot stress this enough. Get used to it. If there’s nothing eventful happening around you (you’re capping a flag unopposed, spiking minions without an enemy hero nearby) you should be looking at your minimap for those all important red dudes. Keep the other eye on the base of the flag you’re capping, or nearby buildings, for a suprise port.
It’s also a good idea to ask your allies regularly what they’re doing, or encourage them to tell you when they are going to attack. If you’re playing with friends, or for a clan, use teamspeak, or vent to know what is happening. If you are just having a casual game with random people, just use the in game text regularly, if they seem to be fairly inexperienced, try and keep an eye on what is happening with them (often when I’m capping a flag, I move my camera to my allies in other lanes while looking at the minimap, and hovering my cursor over my allies and their opponents).
Your offensive form, to be used to its full potential requires you to effectively use teamwork and the magical minimap
The moment you see your ally gaining an upper hand, pressing the attack, or typing something like “lets gank UB while he’s capping the mid flag” you put your shield up, come out of your flower, and get moving. You’re in business mode. When you’re moving in for an aggressive manoeuvre, you want to be able to lay down ground spikes asap. Then ready the spike wave for the slow, and run ahead of your opponent ready for the second ground spike while your allies deal the real damage. QoT’s groundspike, spikewave with oaks penitence and surge of faith is basically GG to any enemy demigod. If it isn’t, you should be seriously wondering why your demigods are so underpowered compared to your opposition. Queens abilities should help you surprise and bring down just about any demigod though, with good enough teamwork and careful planning.
So in the end, Queen of Thorns, to be effectively used mixed form, and optimized for maximum offensive and defensive support, you rely on prediction. A few tools of prediction mentioned in this guide are:
1. Use your minimap, it’s your best friend
2. Communicate with your allies, they are good friends, or at least casual acquaintances...
3. Play aggressive, but play smart. No sense charging in whilst in open form and getting yourself killed, when you’d probably do better to skirt a bit, find somewhere safer to play and go bother the kids there
4. Use closed form when unsure. More of an element of the previous, Using closed form and keeping a shield up when probing the unknown means that if you do make a mistake, you’ve got a buffer that lets you get away with it. Just remember to get out of hairy situations fast, and make sure if you are going to fight an enemy demigod, you will get support or an escape route faster than he does.
I didn’t mention it here, but using minions as scouts is another great one. I like minotaurs for this. They’re cheap as chips, and let you keep all your shamblers with you.
Feel free to add to this, and discuss. This is just my initial input, and I’d love to see other add to it, question it, and in all, improve everyone’s understanding on how to effectively use all the assets that are given to Queen of Thorns.