Deckard Cain was probably tough to translate into a MOBA, but Blizzard mostly pulled it off


I’m not big on his heroics, but his talents and abilities are ace

For what feels like decades Diablo fans have wanted a playableDeckard Cain. The old loremaster was an immediate favorite after his debut in Diablo, and his involvement in future iterations on top of his classic rap only helped fuel the fire.

Cain is a support, heavily anchored by his potion-dropping power (Q). As Cain your job is to strategically place (at first, five max) healing potions at key points (or throw them on top of allies to insta-heal) to keep your team alive — a drastically new style of play that kind of marries the specialist turret-placing strategy with healing.

To effectively play Cain you’re going to need a high amount of awareness (something most high-level MOBA players already have), as directing allies into safe pockets of healing is key to keeping them alive and re-engaging enemies after a stealth heal they didn’t see coming. My favorite thing to do is to have a trail of potions going in one lane leading back to my base: so if I need to retreat I can just follow a steady stream of health back into safety. His control-based abilities of a slowing Horadric Cube and a rooting Scroll of Sealing, both of which require a bit of lead and aim, only make him more valuable in a teamfight — not to mention his passive armor buff and 50% faster cooldown recharge when he’s near at least one teammate.

I’ve found that Cain has greatchase potential, as he can chuck a cube a rather long distance, root them, and then use his “Stay Awhile and Listen” ultimate to sleep them (or Lorenado to force them back to you), sealing the deal if basically anyone else is with him or your foe is low health. Speaking of heroics; while reading a book to sleep a group of enemies and displacing them with a book tornado are practical, they’re not nearly as flashy or fun as other ultimate abilities. I spoke to a Blizzard hero designer about this aspect in particular, and initially, Cain had a meteor smash heroic as an homage to Diablo IIIand a power that would utilize various Diablohero techniques, but they decided against it for a more grounded approach. I get that, but they don’t feel as impactful from a visual standpoint as they could have been.

Perhaps more so than the vast majority of the Heroescast, Cain’s talents feel important. Each choice colors how he plays, quite literally in the form of the various Cain also has a few tricks up his sleeve that will keep him relevant even if he’s tweaked stat-wise. This initial “Scroll of Identify” talent that links up with Scroll of Sealing reveals heroes for eight seconds (16 after hitting 20 opponents), a great counter to stealth or slippery characters. He’s also great for zoning and preventing structure damage on top of his primarily goal of healing his team — something he can spec into further if you grab specific talents, like ones that reduce healing and will force a sustain hero to retreat to a well.

The haggard aesthetic and raw joy of hearing Deckard Cain speak in Heroes of the Stormis going to be well worth the 15,000 coins he’ll go for at launch, much less the eventual reduced 10,000 so long as you’re a Diablofan at heart. There’s a few aspects of his kit that feel uninspired, but for the most part the elaborate array of talents and general trickiness will keep people on their toes.