Sonya is my kind of crazy. She’s a hulking warrior from Diablo III that loves to grab enemies by the throat, smash their face into the ground, and then get angry that the fight was too easy.
I’ve been playing her a ton in Heroes of the Storm lately, and toyed around with many different talent builds before discovering her secret power: ignoring one of her abilities entirely. I call this build the Smashing Sonya, and it sacrifices Whirlwind on the altar of team-fight and lane-pushing gods to receive immortality and legendary face-crunching pressure in return.
Try out this talent build in Heroes of the Storm (it’s free!) and let me know what you think, and what other Talents you really enjoy on Sonya.
Why You Should Play Sonya
- Sonya can do anything in the game: team fight, duel enemies, solo merc camps, and push lanes.
- Sonya rewards an aggressive playstyle and allows some room for error.
- Sonya is very underrated, allowing you to trick opponents into bad fights.
- Sonya has two gigantic swords and demands that you play her. Do not dare to defy Sonya.
Sonya’s Starting Abilities
- Fury (Passive): Abilities cost Fury, which is generated by dealing and taking damage. Ability use gives a short speed boost.
- Ancient Spear: Grapple onto an enemy, dealing damage and pulling you to them. Generates Fury if it hits.
- Seismic Slam: Deal damage to an enemy, and to everyone behind them.
- Whirlwind: Deal damage to all nearby enemies, and heal for some of the damage dealt.
What Talents You Take to Become Smashing Sonya
Smashing Sonya loves many things in life. But, above all else, she loves to smash things. Heroes, buildings, tiny pirates, it all breaks the same.
This build is centered around boosting Sonya’s Seismic Slam and basic attacks, letting her throw out massive, easily sustained DPS that also heals her. That lets her solo merc camps before the enemy is ready for it, push through an entire castle camp at level 4, and cut up face without flashy effects that throw off the enemy.
Here’s the talents you take to smash face too.
Level 1: War Paint — Basic Attacks heal you for 30% of damage dealt
This will do very little at the start of the game, but we’re picking up this one for its scaling. A lot of our big Talent choices later will boost our basic attacks by a huge margin. That’s when this healing will really kick in.
It’s also key to being self-sustainable when taking out merc camps and solo-pushing lanes.
Level 4: Shattered Ground — Increases Seismic Slam splash damage from 25% to 75%
This is a huge damage upgrade, especially for clearing out minions or mercenaries. For Seismic Slam, splash damage is way more important than the single-target damage (because it will hit 5+ people instead of 1). This might as well say “Double the damage of Seismic Slam.”
We’ll be creating mini earthquakes with this ability constantly in this build, so this Talent is a no-brainer.
Level 7: Follow Through — Your next Basic Attack after using an ability deals 40% more damage
At first, I thought this was the one Talent selection that had multiple viable options. But the more I played, the more I realized that this is one of the most core talents in the whole build.
It doesn’t seem like much on paper, but it’s the ace up Sonya’s sleeve that guarantees she will win duels, which is her big weakness in many builds. Not only does it boost damage, but it amplifies that 30% healing Sonya gets from the War Paint Talent to meaningful levels.
There is no internal cooldown on this ability, which means that you can activate as many times as you can use an ability. And, hey, we’re planning to spam Seismic Slam every second of every fight. How convenient!
Level 10: Wrath of the Berserker — Increase all damage by 40% and reduce disables by 50% for 15 seconds
The disable reduction is great in team fights, but let’s talk about the fun part. A longterm 40% damage boost is absolutely insane.
It’s not just basic attacks or abilities — every bit of damage you do is increased by nearly half.
Wait, were you about to whine that it’s only 15 seconds long? Sonya does not like whiners. Besides, the duration is increased by 1 second for every 10 Rage that Sonya generates while it’s active.
Ancient Spear generates 40 Fury and you can use it 3 times during a normal Berserker Rage — that’s a free 12 second boost right there. You get more Fury when you deal or take damage. I’ll save you the boring math details, and cut to the good part: As long as you’re fighting, you can essentially keep Berserker Rage up at all times. That’s a near-permanent 40% damage boost.
That also means you don’t have to be afraid to use your ultimate to clear out merc camps or push a castle. You’ll still be ready when the team fight breaks out.
Level 13: Aftershock — Subsequent Seismic Slams are cheaper
Pay full Fury cost for the first Seismic Slam, and all Seismic Slams after that cost 50% less. This is what really lets us spam Seismic Slam to proc Follow Through almost every basic attack. At this stage of the game, Smashing Sonya is an unstoppable chainsaw. If the opponent doesn’t send two enemies to stop you, you will mow down a lane and head straight for their Core.
It’s important to note that this is a percentage-based deduction, not a flat amount. Which means it pays off even more when we take…
Level 16: Furious Blow — Increase Seismic Slam damage and cost by 40%
Thanks to the Aftershock Talent, this one is a huge bargain: we get a 40% damage increase on our primary ability for a measly 5 energy cost.
Sonya’s lucky number is apparently 40 — and it’s ours now too.
Level 20: Nexus Blades — Basic Attacks deal more 20% damage and slow the enemy
I actually like it when heroes can choose to upgrade something other than their ultimate. On many heroes, the ultimate upgrade is so strong that you’d feel stupid for taking anything else.
Not here. Sonya’s ultimate upgrade is weak, and these Nexus Blades are sooooo tempting. This build benefits heavily from centralizing its Talents into two very narrow focuses — Seismic Slam and Basic Attacks — and compounding the upgrades on those two until the damage numbers will literally make your brain explode.
- Let’s assume that Sonya’s Basic Attack does 100 damage.
- Nexus Blades (20%), Wrath of the Berserker (40%), and Nexus Blades (20%) doubles our Basic Attack damage.
- War Paint heals Sonya for 30% of Basic Attack damage.
- Without our Talents, Sonya deals 100 damage and heals for 0 — resulting in a 100 health change.
- With our Talents, Sonya deals 200 damage and heals for 67 — resulting in a 267 health change.
- Our Talents make every Basic Attack almost 3x as effective as it was before. Incredible!
Oh, and the essentially permanent slow onto anyone you’re fighting is super nice. Sonya leaves no survivors!
How To Play Smashing Sonya
Harass your lane opponents with a simple combo: Ancient Spear, Basic Attack, Seismic Slam, Basic Attack, RUN AWAY! Thanks to the stun from Ancient Spear, you will almost always win the trade before dodging back into the bush you ambushed from.
As soon as you have Shattered Ground, you can solo push an entire lane and take down castles. Look for opportunities to sneak down a lane when the enemy team is distracted. Usually, single heroes can’t do much damage this early, and they won’t realize that have to stop you until you’re already taken down the front turrets and gate.
When objectives pop up, though, you need to be there. Dive into the enemy team and sow chaos on their backline. That’ll force them to group up on you, giving you maximum Seismic Slam damage, and giving your teammates room to breath.
Once you have Follow Through, you should be able to duel and solo kill almost anyone on the enemy team. This is when you still have the element of surprise (the enemy team will know to be scared of you later), so use it!
Once you get Wrath of the Berserker, you can easily solo any non-boss mercenary camp in the game. Take them all whenever there is downtime in the fighting.
You have two big goals at this point: protect your friends and destroy the enemy base.
If there’s an annoying assassin on the enemy team that has been easily sniping your friends, save Ancient Spear for jumping on them the second they show their face in team fights. You can ensure they are instantly stunned and help provide the burst damage to delete them before they can escape.
If your team doesn’t need babysitting, you should try to split push whenever you have the opportunity. Sonya is (kind of surprisingly) one of the best heroes and pushing down a lane and destroying buildings, and her duel potential means the enemy team usually has to send 2 people to stop you. If they do that, your teammates have a nice 4v3 fight in their lane. If they don’t, well, I’ve pushed all the way to the Core before — and won the game while my teammates kept the enemy from returning to base.