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The Heroes of the Storm holiday sale: How to save the most money

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The biggest bang, the smallest buck

Blizzard is running a huge sale in the Heroes of the Storm real-money store that started Nov. 24, 2015, and will run through Dec. 8, 2015. During this period, every character, mount and cosmetic item in the game is half-price. Blizzard is also offering a 360-day stimpack, which boosts in-game experience and currency gains, and which is half the price of purchasing 12 sequential 30-day stimpacks.

Heroes of the Storm now has nearly 50 characters at four different price tiers, and nearly 150 cosmetic items available. If you're considering laying out some cash to improve your collection, you may be a bit confused about what to spend it on.

This is your guide to the best deals in the Heroes of the Storm holiday sale.

How we're defining a bargain

A discount of 50 percent off characters and cosmetics is a decent one in Heroes of the Storm but, in many cases, these deals are not terribly exciting. Blizzard marks down a different hero and two cosmetic items to half-price each week, so we've seen a lot of stuff before at these prices. You're likely to get another chance to buy much of this content at half-off in the next few months as part of an ordinary weekly sale, even if you skip this particular deal.

The items this guide is going to draw your attention toward are the items that are either ineligible to be included in those regular sales, or are unlikely to be discounted again anytime soon. If you're trying to figure out how to spend a limited amount of money on Heroes of the Storm right now, you should consider making these items a priority.

Three unprecedented bargains

There are a few cosmetic items that have never been available at prices this low, and aren't likely to be discounted again this much anytime in the foreseeable future. If you get enough enjoyment out of cosmetic items to justify spending money on them, you will want to take a close look at these.

The first is the Second Chance Bundle, which contains the Great-father Winter Rehgar skin, the Winter Veil Jaina skin, and the Reign-Deer, Nazeebra, Lunar Tiger and Magic Carpet mounts.

All the items in this bundle were previously removed from the store: The Christmas skins and the reindeer mount were seasonal items, the Tiger and the Carpet have been rotated out of the shop to make room for new mounts, and the Nazeebra (a zebra in armor that resembles the Diablo witch doctor's) was part of the retired Nexus bundle.

I'm Jewish, and I'm holding out for Rabbi Raynor

These items are not currently available individually, and the bundle price is 50 percent off the total retail price of the items. The bundle price is $29.99, or $5 per item, and each of these items was $9.99 at full price, except for the Nazeebra, which was never sold individually, but was considered to be a $9.99 value for the purposes of calculating the price of its original bundle.

Blizzard sold the Magic Carpet and the Lunar Tiger for $5, or 50 percent off, as weekly sale offerings. However, the Christmas skins and mount have never been discounted more than 25 percent, which was the markdown from the à-la-carte price on last year's Christmas bundles.  If you already have some of this stuff, the Second Chance Bundle is one of Blizzard's recently implemented dynamic bundles, so the price will be reduced by $5 for each of the included items you own.

If you like your characters to look kind of unique, the Christmas skins might be attractive to you; it's pretty rare to see them in a game, since Blizzard only sells them for a few weeks each year.  They're also pretty cool-looking skins. Great-father Rehgar's ghost wolf form gets a red Rudolph nose, and Winter Veil Jaina's water elemental ultimate ability turns into a snowman.  Personally, I skipped this one, though. I'm Jewish, and I'm holding out for Rabbi Raynor, Hasidic Leoric and The Kosher Butcher. Seriously, Blizzard: Do it.

The two legendary skins, Tychus' infested skin and Tassadar's mecha-form, have also never been sold for half-price. Mecha-Tassadar was part of the weekly sale the last week in July, but it was only discounted 25 percent. These two skins are the most elaborate cosmetic transformations in the game, and feature unique animations, voice-overs and art.

At the full price of $15 each, however, purchasing these skins is hard to justify. At $7.49, they are a bit more appealing.

The best heroes to buy on sale

Heroes of the Storm has four price tiers for heroes. The cheapest heroes sell for either 2,000 gold or $3.99. The next tier is 4,000 gold or $6.49. Above that is 7,000 gold or $8.49, and finally, the most expensive heroes cost 10,000 gold or $9.99.

As you can see, the value ratio of gold to money is not the same among price tiers; for the cheapest heroes, 1,000 gold is equivalent to $2 at full price, while for the most expensive, 1,000 gold is only worth $1.

That means that, when you consider buying characters for real money, whether at full-price or on sale, you should spend your cash on the most expensive characters, and use gold to get the cheaper ones.

Beyond that, you should probably try to focus during this sale on heroes that you aren't likely to get another chance to buy for half price in a weekly anytime soon. The weekly sales tend to include characters that are older and haven't been featured in recent sales.

The vast majority of weekly sale heroes have been drawn from the game's oldest characters, with a few exceptions. In March, Blizzard discounted Azmodan and Chen, who had been released five and a half months earlier in October 2014. In May, Jaina was included in a weekly sale, six months after her December 2014 release.

The first time a hero released in 2015 was included in a weekly sale was in September, when Blizzard discounted Thrall, who was introduced in January. However, on Nov. 3, Blizzard discounted Kael'thas, who was just released in May, and on Nov. 17, Blizzard discounted Kharazim, only about three months after his Aug. 18 launch.

weekly sales tend to include characters who are older and haven't been featured in recent sales

The November discounts may indicate that Blizzard is becoming more willing to include recent heroes in the weekly sale rotation, but it's also possible that Blizzard only ran weekly discounts on these newer characters because the store-wide discount was about to happen anyway.

As such, the recent Kharazim sale notwithstanding, we're going to assume that the newest heroes are the least likely to be discounted in the near future, after this sale ends. The 2015 heroes are, in reverse chronological order: Artanis, Lt. Morales, Rexxar, Kharazim, Leoric, The Butcher, Johanna, Kael'thas, Sylvanas, The Lost Vikings and Thrall.

Thrall, Kharazim and Kael'thas have all been recent sales, and probably won't be discounted again for a while. Artanis, Morales and Rexxar are the newest heroes, which makes them unlikely to be included in the weekly sales. Sylvanas and the Vikings seem like they may be due to appear as weekly sales soon, and Johanna, Butcher and Leoric might pop up within the next couple of months.

blizzard sale

If relative strength in the current meta is a consideration, Thrall and Kael are strong right now; the last patch's changes to stat scaling were very good to these characters. Rexxar, Leoric and Johanna are all strong warriors, though recent patches have weakened Leo and Jo a bit.  Kharazim and Morales are solid supports right now, but Sylvanas and Artanis are kind of struggling to compete against other characters who perform similar roles.

Blizzard releases balance patches frequently, and those patches can dramatically alter the relative power of different heroes.  But in the current version of the game, I think the best heroes to buy with cash during this sale, starting with the highest priority, are: Thrall, Kael, Morales, Rexxar, Leoric, Kharazim and Johanna.

Other cosmetic items

It's tough to give advice about how to optimize purchases with the rare- and epic-quality skins, since there are a lot of them, they're all in the weekly sale rotation and taste in these things can be very subjective.

There are a couple of things worth noting, however:  First, newer skins, like heroes, are a bit less likely to show up in weekly sales than older ones. The in-game shop automatically sorts skins by release date, so the newest skins should be the first ones you see. If you love anything on the first couple of pages, now is a good time to buy it.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Heroes of the Storm has "master" skins for each character that can only be purchased for 10,000 gold after reaching level 10 with the character. These are unusual and recognizable because of how difficult they are to get, so they can be desirable alternatives to skins bought with cash.

these are the best prices we have ever seen or are likely to see in the future for the Christmas skins

Second, mounts designed to match specific characters or skins have not appeared in the weekly sale rotation before, and I'm not certain they're eligible for weekly discounts. These mounts include the Judgement Charger, the Marshal's Outrider, the Butcher's Battle Beast and Tyrael's Charger.  In general, mounts appear more rarely than skins in sales, so, for these reasons, now is a good time to buy mounts that you like.

But you don't have to pay to get a cool alternative to the default horse. Blizzard has given away several cool-looking mounts in the past, including the Wonder Billie for beta players, the mechanospider for a Facebook promotion, Malthael's Phantom for Diablo players, the Ironside Dire Wolf for World of Warcraft players, and the Hearthstone card for Hearthstone players. Blizzard has also sold special gold-only mounts for 20,000 gold each, including the Money Pig, the Treasure Goblin and the Blackheart Doubloon.

The 360-Day Stimpack

Stimpacks are a paid boost that increases your gold gains per game by 150 percent and your experience points for your characters by 100 percent. The math on stimpacks suggests they're only a good deal for extremely dedicated players.

Here's why: If you consider 10,000 gold to be worth $10, then you have to play about nine games per day, seven days a week, to get $10 worth of value in gold out of a $10 30-day stimpack. That's a serious grind.

Since the new 360-day stimpack only costs $5 per month, you only have to play half that much to break even. But you have to maintain that pace for a full year rather than just for a month.  That's a pretty major commitment.

Here is how I see the value of this stimpack: $5 for a 30-day stimpack would be attractive to me, since I could buy it when I expected my schedule to be relatively quiet, and when I planned to be playing a lot of Heroes of the Storm. But buying a 360-day stimpack means I will be paying for a stim that will overlap with periods when I am too busy to spend a lot of time gaming, or when I am traveling, or when my gaming time is occupied by something other than Heroes of the Storm.

I've been playing this game for about a year, and I've run hot and cold on it. When I've got a new character I am enjoying and have nothing else to do, it's easy to play five or six games in a single stretch. But when my attention is focused on something else, or when I just don't feel like playing, I'll only log in a couple of times per week to run a few games against the AI to clear out my daily quests.

Heroes of the Storm feels a lot more rewarding when I have a stimpack active, but the stimpack also makes me feel like I have an obligation to play the game every day, and I'm not sure I want to be saddled with that for an entire year.

If you're into Heroes of the Storm and expect to be playing it for the next year, a $60 360-day stimpack is a much better deal than a $10 30-day stimpack, but it would be much more attractive if we could buy shorter-duration stims at this lower per-day price.

Happy Shopping

Okay, so, to sum it up: Every week, Heroes of the Storm has a 50 percent off sale on one character and two cosmetic items. Right now, Blizzard is running a special holiday promotion and discounting everything in the game by 50 percent. That means that this sale is, for most items, a pretty good deal but nothing we haven't seen before.

However, these are the best prices we have ever seen or are likely to see in the future for the Christmas skins and mount, and for the legendary skins. Buy these now if you want them.  After that, the newest heroes are unlikely to be available at these prices again anytime soon.  If you want to play with some of the strongest characters in the current meta, you should make sure you have Thrall, Kael'thas and Lt. Morales, who benefited tremendously from recent changes to the game's level scaling.

Beyond that, the 360-day stimpack might be an OK deal, if you expect to play more than 1,200 games of Heroes of the Storm in the next year, but Blizzard still hasn't managed to make stimpacks particularly attractive for most players.