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It's Free Chen-week again and I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to post a short Chen-thread for people who wants to start or even become better with him. I'll go into some topics which surfaces from time to time again and hope that everyone can get something out of it.

It's my first time as Chen-player, what should I be aware of?

  • There're two main builds for him with many variations. A offensive build which focus on doing damage and his more well-known tank build.
  • Chen has been nerfed several times by now despite still doing fine with a healthy 50% winrate despite getting a small nerf with each second main update. The newest one focus on changing his brew-mechanic a bit which wasn't well received by the community.
  • He is a true "easy to play but hard to master"-character because of his ackward playstyle. The player needs to know when to refill their ammunition (= brew) and when to back off without becoming a feeding burden for the own team while still during their job as tank or bruiser.
  • Chen is one of the heroes who will perhaps receive a rework in the near future coming soontm because of his really bad talent-pick rate (source). Despite the stigma of being a "tank-only character who you can't use against stun-comps" Chen has ironically a well-thought-out talent tree.

The talent builds (short version)

These are the basic builds to go:

Build Level 1 Level 4 Level 7
Defensive Regeneration Master Amplified Healing Brewmaster's Balance
Offensive Consuming Flame Deadly Kick Brewmaster's Balance

Unlike other guides I would suggest that the motivated Chen-player should try both playstyles out and practice them because of their different nature and how to approach the fights. Offensive Chens can't tank well but do a lot of damage and Defensive Chens vice versa.

The rest of the talents will be chosen by the synergy with the own team and what is needed against certain characters on the other side of the map. Does the enemy team has many stuns? Well, then let's take Relentless on LV13 for example.

With understanding and mastering both playstyles you're free to experiment the more drastic differences by taking talents like Grounding Brew or Keg Toss at their LV1-tier which offers some new playstyle variations for the experienced Chen-player and is making the transcending far more smoother.

Brewmaster's Balance

The LV7 talent 'Brewmaster's Balance' is the mandatory-pick at its tier with a current 83%-pickrate according hotslogs because it introduces a new and tactical game-mechanic based on Chens current brew-level (= ammo):

  • Below 50 brew: 20% more Movement Speed
  • Above 50 brew: Increased HP-Regeneration
  • Exactly 50 brew: Have both bonis at the same time

Chens abilities allows him to hit the 50 brew sweetspot easily with a single Keg/Fire-combination which is why it is such a popular talent and escape-tool to have.

Heroic talents: Wandering Keg VS SEF, which should I take?

This question isn't easy to answer but it really comes down with which heroic you're a) more comfortable to use and b) is perhaps even more needed in the current match-up. Wandering Keg is a superb utility to zone and bring single targets with no escapes (Morales, Kael'thas) to your team on a silver plate. Even more, it's also a great tool to disengage from a fight, rescuing teammates or cancel/hinder game-changing abilities (ETCs Mosh Pit, Thrall's Earthquake, Artanis' Suppression Pulse, ...) to make an impact so your own team has a better chance to survive these encounters. Otherwise there's currently no real use in taking it's LV20 talent-upgrade Untapped Potential.. unless you really like to wreck havoc at full speed in a washmachine-combo with Sonya and her Arreat Crater or go balls-deep into a fight.

Chens other both talents Hardened Shield and Bolt of the Storm are for the most time the better choices when chosing Wandering Keg as your prefered heroic ability.

Storm, Earth, Fire on the other hand is a great engaging-, survivability- and even scouting-tool but rather weak heroic at it's own and should only be used to bodyblock heroes or finish them with very low hp off. What SEF really makes a very powerful ability is its LV20 upgrade Elemental Conduit which allows Chen to do ridiculous high damage with his kick-ability and becomes a massive zoning-tool for him, regardless which build has been taken in the current match. Assassins and specialists will hate you for that ability especially because the blue spirit will stick to the focused target until the hero is out of range or dead. To add some salt to their pain, this skill can easily be used again with very low brew costs after its duration ends and works very well with Chens stickiness.

Viable Solo Tank? And how to play a bit better Chen

  • If you have already a tank in your group (Muradin, ETC, Johanna, Dehaka..) it's not a bad idea to go with the Bruiser-build if possible.
  • If your team lacks damage it's even viable to play Chen as a bruiser too so you can compensate a bit for a missing assassin. This is very true for QMs where it is still a possibility that you get three warriors in one game.

Chen can be a viable Solo Tank and offers some great synergies with popular heroes which is why you shouldn't write him off because he doesn't offer any stuns.

However, a Chen-tank needs to know his role. He is the meat shield until the very end when they try to escape. No unnecessary kick-dives until it's time to chase or finish them off. You're no finisher, you're a slowing machine with an insane regeneration and they need to focus you down at some point.

People tend to say that Chen can be ignored in the battles which may be true if you don't follow certain builds or don't have the potential to bring out 100% in team battles. Going tanky doesn't make you a damage dealer until LV20 with SEF (if chosen) or playing a bruiser won't let you soak as much as you're used to do. Knowing these basics let you play a much better Chen. But let's go through some well-known hiccups:

  • The usual Chen-player is not careful enough and lacks the experience in fortifying his brew. Not only stuns will cancel your drinking but also disruptions like ETCs Face Metal or Sonyas hook.
  • A Chen drinks for the most time only when they know that they cannot get stunned or ganked down. Yes, you're a popular gank-target because you're easy to focus down but on the other hand a real annoyance to deal with. You're to a certain degree unpredictable in your movement and everyone is quite tense around you because you can target/dive everyone without a warning. That makes it even with them I guess.
  • They don't go also too deep and hunt people after either because they can jump across walls like an Illidan. Chen's diving-ability doesn't work like his one and you shouldn't go ballsy without knowing were the rest of the enemies team are or still below LV10 for have even better escape-tools.
  • The modern Chen-player also knows when to backoff or when the use his abilities at the proper time. Single tank-Chens don't do damage, they provide escape opportunities for the team with their slowing keg and secondly start to bodyblock.
  • They also jump between the low-on-hp mate and the hero who chase him down.
  • They² wandering keg' the dangerous people out or bring the high target priorities in and are aware that they can get focused down while being in a barrel.
  • A bruiser-Chen also calculates how deep he can dive in without getting focused down as well. This is essential to know because we will fortify second or every third action we do.
  • Knowing to play Illidan helps also to understand Chen a bit better and when to dive or not.

Synergy/Teamplays with other characters

Slow + Unfair Advantage or Executioner

LV13: Lunara

LV16: Greymane, Raynor, Sgt. Hammer, The Lost Vikings, Valla, Xul

One of the easiest and most fun parts of Chen is that he combos well with other assassins and specalists for doing critical damage. This works especially well with Chens LV1 Keg Toss (Increase Keg Smash range by 125%.) and LV7 Full Keg (Increases Keg Smash's damage and radius by 50%)-talents if you have more experience with the Pandaren Brewmaster.

Dive & Bodyblock Combos

Characters: Diablo, ETC, Greymane, Illidan, Muradin, The Butcher

Chen is a very good hero for bodyblocks and follow-ups for securing a takedown due his big HP-pool (5600 at LV20). Playing with a Diablo, Illidan and/or Muradin in the own team is a dream come true bodyblock-party when someone tries to escape or can be ganked. LV16 Pressure Point is your best friend for these situations.

Chens basic combo

Keg + Fire works also well with heroics which prevents heroes from escaping easier: Butcher's Furnace/Setup for Lamb to the Slaughter, Artanis' Suppression Pulse, Dehakas Setup for Isolation, Tychus' Drakken Laser Drill to name a few examples. Heroics, which requires to be the enemy within a radius or works well with other characters to follow-up.

Actually this doesn't need to be listed but it's never wrong to keep it in mind that you can still annoy the hell out of the people by simply jumping in, bodyblocking and slowing them down.

Regeneration Wall

Defensive Chen with many, many Orbs + Morales.

It's hard to deny how frustrating it can be to play against this duo. Chen regens too fast with Brewmaster's Balance and +35 regen orbs. Focus Morales!! all the way.

And at last: What you should fear while playing as Chen

  • -% def-reduction heroes like Jaina, Tyrande, Sylvannas, Nova or Xul.
  • Heroes with Giant Killer and Tychus especially
  • Leoric with his Drain Hope-ability
  • Disruption-characters like Sonya (hook) or ETC (Face Melt) next to your typical Stun-combos and characters in combination with the mentioned weaknesses above.
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