How I Now Play: Varian Wyrn

I figured with yesterdays article on how to frustrate a Fenix that I should follow up with how exactly I play the new Varian. Well, wait no more fellow Nexus-goers for I have come to your much-needed rescue. It’s time to forge on ahead without looking back. Take a look at my favorite king in all of Azeroth: Varian Wyrn.

Let’s get out of the way why exactly Varian is so different from before. You could read every nitty gritty detail from Blizzard, but I think it boils down to only a few things:

  • Parry-Varian isn’t really a thing anymore (unless you ONLY want to parry Basic Attacks)
  • You select Varian’s role (Level 10 Heroic Ability) at Level 4 now
  • Self-heals got nerfed
  • Heroic Strike got slightly nerfed

Got it? Great! Time to move onto my Varian Tank build. If you wanted an Assasin build then you’ll just have to wait until another time. Sorry!


Tier 1

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Lion’s Maw:
    • This isn’t going to be a popular pick for many people but let me explain. You’re a Tank, so your job is going to primarily be utility, disruption and the survival of your team correct? Keeping that in mind, if you take this quest it’s not for the damage but for the 2 second, 50% snare. That is a fantastic tool. You may have to hit 30 Heroes to reap this reward, but being in melee all the time especially to setup Taunt picks you’ll get 30 Heroes easily. I often finish this quest well before Level 10.
  • Overpower:
    • This would be one of the more preferred, “correct” alternatives for most people. It’s not a bad talent, I’d just rather the other choices in most cases unless they have some scary auto-attackers like a Butcher, Raynor, or Tracer.
  • High King’s Quest:
    • A fun alternative if you think your team is lacking in some damage. It scales really well over the course of the game but that’s also part of the problem. It’s nice to have a constant quest for the length of a match but you really won’t see all of the rewards until late game.


Tier 4

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Taunt:
    • This is a Tank build so we’re not even going to consider the other choices right now.


Tier 7

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Lionheart:
    • Alright, again, let me explain this choice. I like this style of using Lion’s Fang for mainly one reason: I now have a ranged heal. What am I talking about? Think about it, Lion’s Fang is a ranged ability with a heal, and a snare built into it. This is a great option for poke or some pseudo-area control especially paired with the Level 1 Talent Lion’s Maw. With that quest complete you can potentially snare their entire team for 50% and heal off of it. Consider that scenario for a Cursed Hallow, or Volskaya Foundry where there are strong chokes to the control points.
  • Second Wind:
    • Nothing has changed here. It has some synergy with the High King’s Quest at Level 1 if you chose that, but that’s the only reason I’m even mentioning this talent.
  • Victory Rush:
    • I’d consider this talent slightly buffed now. Though the heal is a bit less than what it was before, it now only has a 30-second Cooldown as opposed to the old 60-seconds. The uptime on this should feel more consistent than before and I’d consider it an acceptable alternative should you find yourself laning a lot. This is especially true when map objectives are near lanes like in Volskaya Foundry, or Dragon Shire. Still situational, but it shows some good synergy on select maps.


Tier 10

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Shield Wall:

    • I’d argue that this talent is practically mandatory especially as a Tank. The ability to negate all damage received during a Parry is one of the strongest things Varian can ever do. If they have even one Hero whose damage is Ability-based as opposed to Basic Attacks take this. Mages will hate you, and you will laugh as you Charge and then Taunt them securing the kill. The world can be a beautiful place and Shield Wall will help you to see that.
  • Warbringer:

    • You’ll almost never consider this over Shield Wall. But I’ll mention this as an option if you have one of the scenarios below:
      • The other team has all auto-attackers and you want to keep both charges of Parry that you currently have. (read: Shield Wall talent description).
      • You’re not being focused and/or you’re going to be taking Juggernaut at Level 13 for much-needed %Damage.


Tier 13

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Juggernaut:
    • If you need the extra %Damage, and the other two talent choices aren’t optimal for the enemy team composition then consider Juggernaut. As mentioned before, if %Damage is your jam then this has some good synergy with Warbringer at Level 10 too. I just find it too situational where I’d be in a game and end up picking both of those Talents.
  • Mortal Strike:
    • This is nearly always what you’ll end up grabbing here. Though the uptime can be a bit wonky as a Tank with the little control over your Heroic Strike Trait, it’s still a powerful effect. Especially when you pop Parry on a Butcher who just charged into you and marked you with his Butcher’s Brand. Less Healing is less Healing!
  • Shattering Throw (Cooldown: 30 Seconds):
    • I’d love to make this green but I’m all too familiar with how situational this is. Besides Fenix, this is used to great effect against a Tassadar, Artanis, or even Lucio to destroy his Sound Barrier Heroic Ability. But if there aren’t any Shields in your game then this will truly be a wasted Talent choice. Pay attention to your enemies comp..


Tier 16

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Banner of Stormwind (Cooldown: 45 Seconds):
    • This can have its moments. Movement Speed is always nice for either engages or escapes. If you’re lacking that boost to your team and you think it’d help people survive more often then 20% Armor then, by all means, pick this banner.
  • Banner of Ironforge (Cooldown: 45 Seconds):
    • 20 Armor to everyone within its radius? You really can’t go wrong here. Worst case is no one uses it, and the best case is that it ends up saving the life or lives of your teammates because of their sudden extra survivability.
  • Banner of Dalaran (Cooldown: 45 Seconds):
    • I’ve tried to make this work, I really have. Giving 20% Spell Power to your teammates is great but… I find it’s never enough. Though the boost is noticeable, I find that I almost always have rathered one of the other two banners. Let’s say we managed to get a kill because of the boost, but we lost two of our own in the process. I would wonder if that extra Armor may have saved them instead. Even if it meant not securing the kill at least we’d be down less.


Tier 20

How to Now Play: Varian

  • Vigilance:
    • Taunt’s already at a relatively low Cooldown of 16 seconds, especially considering its power. Reducing that further is both fun, and a little crazy. If you’re not being focused, then you may end up accidentally dropping its Cooldown just by being the Tank in the middle of everything. If you are being focused, then you may find yourself almost chain-Taunting enemies in a way that shouldn’t be allowed.
  • Glory to the Alliance:
    • 50% bonus healing? I can’t see that ever being bad. You’re going to be dropping your banners defensively anyway so why not buff their healing too? If you’ve been worried about their well being and it gets them to survive a little longer then it seems like an obvious choice to me.
  • Demoralizing Shout (Cooldown: 25 seconds):
    • Oh Varian, you have so many good Level 20 talents! Demoralizing Shout was recently BUFFED in the patch where Varian saw all of these changes. This was a good talent before, but now it’s a great one. No longer will it decrease the damage done by enemy Heroes by 25%, but by a whopping 40%!!! That’s incredible! Combo that with the Banner of Ironforge and essentially your team could be taking 60% less damage for a few valuable seconds.


That’s what I put together for my Varian as of late. Though I differ only slightly from this at times (I’m looking at you Fenix), I’ve found that this new Varian is actually more enjoyable. I don’t think anyone was a fan of going against a Parry-Varian before. It felt unfair and cheap that he could become basically invulnerable so often. The changes were to be expected and although they may have ruined how many people were playing him before, to me its opened up some new avenues. I like this Varian, maybe you should give him a go too.




Featured Art ~ “Varian Wrynn” from Sendolarts on DeviantArt.
Additional Art ~ from the “HotS Complete” app on Google Play.

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