How I Play: Sonya

Sonya has been around since the beginning of Heroes and has seen prominent play ever since. For a long while she was the Warrior in Heroes that defined what the brawler classification meant. Today she’s barely changed still playing the Role of the aggressive front-line defender who loves to dive in and cause chaos. Today you’ll see a glimpse of how I like to play her.

To do this, we’re going to have to look at the talent tiers. I’m not going to go into immense detail as that is unnecessary and boring. I’m just going to give you the talents I’d usually pick and why before we move on. Got it? Great! Let’s begin.

Tier 1

  • War Paint: Basic Attacks heal you for 30% of the damage dealt.
    • The go-to. This talent has defined Sonya for such a VERY long time that I’m surprised they haven’t half-baked it into her yet. Sonya does a lot of Basic Attacks due to how she generates her main resource, Fury. Add in the fact that as a dedicated bruiser her health pool is a fair bit lower than other more tankier Warrior choices and you’ve got an obvious decision here.
  • Block: Every 5 seconds, gain 75 Physical Armor against the next enemy Hero Basic Attack, reducing the damage taken by 75%. Stores up to 2 charges.
    • An alternate choice. Though I’ll rarely take this as War Paint is arguably always better there are some matchups where I’ll consider it. Generally, if they have a heavy hitter like Butch or Greymane and I don’t run the risk of another Hero sapping the Block charges like a Lucio or Kharazim I’ll mull it over… and then probably pick War Paint anyway.

Tier 4 (you can go ahead and yell at me for this)

  • Focused Attack: Every 10 seconds, your next Basic Attack against a Hero deals 60% additional damage. Basic Attacks reduce this cooldown by 1 second.
    • This is supposed to be the go-to. However… I’d advise that it depends on what Sonya is going to be doing. Though generally, Sonya is there to provide pressure to which this talent helps accomplish on a single target, I will often grab Shattered Ground instead if I want more AoE for our team. Just depends on your own comp and the enemy teams.
  • Shattered Ground: Increases Seismic Slam splash damage to 75% of primary target damage.
    • Love this talent. This was my #1 for a while as I enjoyed creating the surprising amount of splash damage it provided. Remember it says “75% of primary target damage” meaning if the target is taking more damage (via reduced armor) and you’re doing more damage (via Wrath of the Berserker) then your splash is also going to do that much more. Don’t main source this talent.
  • Hurricane: Reduces the cooldown of Whirlwind by 1 second and Whirlwind removes all slows and roots on Sonya.
    • If you are acting as the pseudo-tank or even worst, the main tank then I’d advise this talent. More Whirlwind means more self-healing. And a slow/root removal is invaluable to anyone, especially as the tank.
  • Mercenary Lord: Friendly non-Boss Mercenaries near your Hero deal 50% more damage. Gain 50 Armor against Minions and Mercenaries, reducing the damage taken by 50%.
    • Alright, so this talent… even I rarely choose. But I can’t say I never use it. There are situations where I’ll pick it up such as if we don’t have a Specialist or something equivalent to push lanes in. If I’m the secondary tank and I find myself laning a lot, or if mercenary camps are able to push with the Objective such as on Infernal Shrines, Garden of Terror, or even Cursed Hallow then I may grab it. Just remember in a lot of the Battlegrounds you’ll need to grab the mercs before the Objective completes.

Tier 7

  • Follow Through: After using an Ability, your next Basic Attack within 6 seconds deals 40% additional damage.
    • This is typically the more popular of the talent choices as it reinforces Sonya as a Hero that creates pressure. This is especially true on single-targets with this talent and has synergy with Focused Attack if you took that the previous tier.
  • Ferocious Healing (Cooldown: 10 seconds): Consume 20 Fury to heal 10.15% of your maximum Health. Usable while Whirlwinding.
    • Alright, so this is a magical talent in my heart. When I was first getting into Heroes I wanted to master Sonya badly. Her playstyle appealed to me and she was very popular but at that time with how low her health pool was I found myself dying A LOT before I got a chance to do anything. This one talent literally turned around my whole playstyle for Sonya and I’ve never looked back. I take this all the time no matter what Role I have Sonya in for the game. Consider taking this at all times even just to have a strong on-demand heal that’s almost free every 10 seconds feels.

Tier 10

  • Leap: Leap into the air, dealing 135 damage to nearby enemies, and stunning them for 1.25 seconds.
    • A rare choice but again depends on comp. If we’re low on stuns, or if they have a lot of casters/squishies where our damage just needs a chance to blow ’em up then I may choose Leap. This is weighted even heavier if I find that I’m not the main source of damage for our team. May as well provide some utility so the real damage can do their job.
  • Wrath of the Berserker: Increase damage dealt by 40%. Reduce the duration of stuns, slows, and roots against you by 50%. Lasts 15 seconds, and extends by 1 seconds for every 10 Fury gained.
    • A great choice at all times. More damage, less CC, and the potential to extend it indefinetly so long as you remain in combat? The applications for this are vast as you only need to remain in combat to keep feeding in Fury to keep up the buff. Max your Fury then pop it on a merc camp you want down fast. Or even for an Objective like the Plant Terror. 40% more damage is A LOT of extra damage. It’s not uncommon that I find myself in fights long enough that when Wrath falls off I’ve got another ready or nearly ready to go. It’s just SOO good.

Tier 13

  • Life Funnel: Increases the healing of Whirlwind to 35%, tripled versus Heroes.
    • Solid talent. I’ll ALWAYS pick this if I’m actually acting like a tank, or if I’m worried about my survivability. The baseline for Whirlwind healing is 25%. The real place this talent makes a difference is against Heroes. You’re looking at 105% healing versus the default 75% against Heroes. And remember that is %damage per target hit. If you’re on top of 3 enemy Heroes or more most of the time they’ll have a hard time killing you because you’re just healing so darn much from Whirlwind.
  • Aftershock: Using Seismic Slam reduces its Fury cost by 50% for 2 seconds.
    • Now and then I’ll pick this assuming I probably picked Shattered Ground at Tier 4 and definitely will be picking Furious Blow at Tier 16. It’s fun now and then but generally not needed unless you really need those constant high damage Seismic Slams.
  • Mystical Spear: Reduces the cooldown of Ancient Spear by 3 seconds. You are pulled to the target location even if you don’t hit an enemy.
    • If I don’t need the healing from Life Funnel or the damage from Aftershock then I’ll pick the utility from this talent. The reduced CD is great but the main reason you want this is to be “pulled to the target location even if you don’t hit an enemy.” This makes chasing a lot easier as well as escapes. Because you are ALWAYS pulled it means you can cut across terrain or obstacles that normally would be un-pathable.

Tier 16

  • Furious Blow: Increases Seismic Slam damage by 50%, but costs 40 Fury.
    • Refer to the Aftershock talent above. I’ll ONLY pick this talent if Aftershock was picked previously.
  • No Escape: Increases the Movement Speed bonus from using Basic and Heroic Abilities to 25%.
    • My go-to for this tier. If you don’t understand it then you need to re-read Sonya’s trait “Fury: Use Fury instead of Mana, which is gained by taking or dealing damage. Using a Basic or Heroic Ability grants 10% Movement Speed for 4 seconds.” So basically your free Movement Speed you got before is now buffed to 25%. This again helps to chase down Heroes or even escape. Because something like Whirlwind is a channeled ability as long as you’re performing it then that procs the Movement Speed. I’d consider this even more if you didn’t pick up Mystical Spear on the previous tier (Tier 13) as I like to have one of the two talents to facilitate my persues and escapes.
  • Nerves of Steel (Cooldown: 70 seconds): Activate to gain 30% of your maximum Health as a Shield for 5 seconds. Usable while Whirlwinding.
    • This is by far the more popular choice for the community but not for me. Generally the populous as a whole believes Sonya to be a pretty good kit from baseline. They would tell you to pick up talents to up her survivability and buff her auto-attack. They wouldn’t be wrong to tell you this (obviously), but that’s not the way I want to play her. That’s not me. I’ll pick this talent if I’m very concerned about my survivability. If I’ve been getting deleted quickly or worst, before I even get on top of the other Heroes then I’ll grab Nerves of Steel to make sure I can get in there and do my job.

Tier 20

  • Arreat Crater: Leap leaves behind an impassable crater for 5 seconds. Reduces Leap’s cooldown by 20 seconds.
    • Lol. That’s about all I have to say. If you did take Leap and are against a bunch of squishies that can’t Blink, Teleport, or Bolt of the Storm out of this then maybe… but generally it does more harm than good.
  • Anger Management: Increases all Fury generated during Wrath of the Berserker by 100%.
    • Rarely taken. If I’m having trouble keeping up my Seismic Slams AND I picked Furious Blow at Tier 16 then I’ll consider this. If I want to be generous, then the extra Fury pool generated certainly makes it more comfortable to weave in Ferocious Healing and gratuitous Seismic Slams but generally I just feel Fury-capped for taking this talent. It just doesn’t seem to have the support it needs to be viable in a comp right now (can we have a Berserker Rage-esq talent please?)
  • Nexus Blades: Basic Attacks deal 20% more damage and slow enemy Movement Speed by 20% for 1 second.
    • The final go-to talent this finishes off the theme of chasing down Heroes. With the possibility of having Mystical Spear (Tier 13), No Escape (Tier 16) and now this talent that’s three different ways to pursue Heroes and stay on top of them. No complaints.
  • Ignore Pain (Cooldown: 60 seconds): Activate to gain 75 Armor for 4 seconds, taking 75% less damage. Usable while Whirlwinding.
    • If you’re acting as a tank, or again are worried about survivability then this talent delivers in spades. 4 seconds of 75% less damage taken may as well read as “4 seconds of unliklihood to die.”


That’s it! We did it! Great job taking the journey with me of how I play Sonya. Again, I cannot stress enough that this may not be the most popular, useful, or “right” way to play her but it’s what I do. It conforms to my playstyle and I honestly don’t feel like it holds my team back. I genuinely beleive that there are alot of talents for different Heroes out there that just aren’t picked because no one does. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used, they just may not be the best choice in most situations. So get out there, fool around with the options you have and feel out how you want to play your Heroes. If we weren’t supposed to actually “choose” our talents then they wouldn’t be in the game, so what are you waiting for?




Featured Art ~ “Hell Hath No Fury…” from gregory-mack on DeviantArt.

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