One of the largest maps in Heroes of the Storm, Cursed Hollow was one of the first maps in the game. Despite this, it still hasn’t been mastered by many players. With a host of ways to throw an advantage down the drain, it’s important to know exactly what not to do when vying for the Raven Lord’s help.
Featuring three lanes each with a massive chunk of unexplored jungle between them, Cursed Hollow welcomes players that know how to navigate the fog of war safely. It’s a perfect battleground for heroes that can use the bottlenecks of the jungle to their advantage. Teams fight over ‘tributes’ that spawn in one of six random locations in the jungle. After collecting three the Raven Lord will curse the enemy, lowering their minions to 1 health and preventing their structures from attacking.
As much of the fighting takes place in the claustrophobic fog-of-war, your team composition should take into account the jungle’s many bottlenecks.
Choosing your hero
Burst assassins are always popular due to how well they can punish enemies that make a mistake, and Cursed Hollow only amplifies this trend. Jaina, Kael’Thas, and Li-Ming can obliterate an enemy team with a good combo when their heroes are bunched up between the trees. Warriors with area-of-effect crowd control are incredibly effective here, too - ETC’s Mosh Pit can turn a teamfight and Diablo’s Apocalypse is guaranteed to cause pandemonium.
Being a large map, a strong The Lost Vikings player can wipe the floor with the other team if they’re able to soak experience from multiple lanes at once. Capable opponents might be able to counter you, but you’ve got a good chance to pull ahead in experience if you pull it off.
A typical setup for laning is to split 1-1-1 in the lanes with two people roaming, or 1-1-3/1-3-1. Before the first tribute spawns, the aim should be to capitalise on enemy mistakes and prepare for the ensuing fight that will almost inevitably occur at the tribute. Make sure to capture the watch tower for a little bit of free vision in your side of the map.
The timing of the tribute is random, and spawns roughly between 2:30 and 3:00 with a short warning. As soon as it spawns, take two of the players who are either roaming or in the 3-hero lane and capture the giants, if possible. They’ll help push out a lane while the enemy is distracted, or pull enough enemy heroes away for you to take the tribute.
Just a tribute
One key mistake people make on Cursed Hollow is trying to fight for every single tribute. This isn’t always necessary - if your team could use the experience at the cost of one tribute, go for it. If you’re behind and can’t fight right now, leave the tribute and don’t sacrifice yourselves just to delay the enemy. It’s impossible to give you rules for every situation, and this is something you’ll have to learn for yourself. Just remember: one tribute on its own gives no bonuses, giving up the first doesn’t mean you won’t be the first to hit three tributes and curse your opponents.
If possible, make sure to block skillshots aimed at whoever is capturing the tribute so it’s not interrupted.
That said, when you are contesting a tribute, you should keep track of a few things. Firstly: how strong is your team in a closed area against the enemy team at the current level? Some teams will be worse at level 1 than level 10, while others won’t be as dependent on a level advantage.
You’ll also need to consider if your team’s strengths lie in drawn-out fights or a quick explosion of abilities. This often depends on the support - some, like Li Li or Lt. Morales, will be able to maintain sustained healing, while Uther will struggle to heal the whole team over a long period. Take fights that are favourable, and know when to retreat if you haven’t been able to get the fight you need.
After someone has captured a tribute, consider either returning to lane or taking one of the easier mercenary camps. They’ll push down a lane to distract the enemy when the next tribute spawns, forcing them to either leave you to capture it or lose experience and structures in the process.
Power of three will set you free
Once you’ve managed to get three tributes, the enemy will be forced to defend and this is your chance to push an advantage. Quite literally, in fact: the team should focus upon sieging structures and pushing down lanes. Don’t use the free 90 seconds as a time to take the two easier mercenaries, however taking the boss is an option.
Your focus should be on taking down enemy structures, as an experience lead often snowballs into a victory. The boss mercenary, however, is perhaps the best bargaining chip in the game. With the curse active, you have free reign over the map - this provides a fantastic opportunity to capture your boss, or your enemy’s if you’re feeling confident.
It requires teamwork, as one hero can’t take it on on their own. It’s usually necessary for a tankier character to take the hits. The boss has two abilities: a slam that deals huge damage and stuns people around it, and a snare which targets an area and deals damage to those caught in it. Don’t underestimate the damage of this root, even if you’re not taking the boss’ punches.
The boss is a bargaining chip because it doesn’t need an escort to dominate a lane, acting as a way to extend your free reign over the map. If you can capture it, the enemy will have to defend, letting your team siege a second lane alongside the boss or take the next tribute without a challenge.
Don’t prioritise taking the boss during curse-time, however. It’s a useful plan B, but your aim needs to be taking structures, with the boss being something to fall back on if you’re running out of time.
As the game progresses, you’ve got two main options to close it out. The first of these is to use the tributes as a way to secure the game-winning teamfight, using the bushes and fog as a way to set up a deadly ambush. The long death timers will either let your team finish or move on to the second method: brute forcing of the boss. A strong team won’t let you just hit their core, so using the boss to finish is a safe strategy. Taking risks on Cursed Hollow isn’t a good idea - a couple of mistakes and the enemy might get enough tributes to curse your team. The control over the map that this imparts can swing everything in favour of your opponents.
Don’t forget that the tributes are more than a way to trigger curses: they attract enemies like moths to a flame. It’s often easy to work out the paths enemies will take, so prepare ambushes as much as possible. Use the darkness of the fog and the limited vision to your advantage, and make the Raven Lord proud.
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