Analysis of Skills and a Guide to an Aggressive Thorn Build

Decided to list out my normal build on Thorn.

Before I get started, let me emphasize that this is how I play Thorn. There may be other setups that are better suited for you but this setup has worked wonders for me!

My stats as of 5/11 (1 week of gameplay)

I would also like to point a few things out before I start on her Helix tree. Despite what her character card says about here, Thorn is not a Sniper. You should not be playing her from ranged, taking shots at anyone from the longest range you can. While I say you should not do this, you should also know that this is a valid tactic depending on the situation.

Battleborn lists every Battleborn with 3 descriptive titles with one telling you their style of gameplay. Battleborn will tell you that Thorn is a sniper, but I would call her a Hybrid. She is Brawler at heart, but is not limited to ranging like other Brawlers. Thorn can engage any target from any distance, with close to medium being the most effective for damage, and medium to long range being effective for survivability. You need to weigh one play style against the other constantly, and switch it up depending on the situation.

Thorn should never stop moving, and I would suggest, never stop jumping. It is way easier to track movements when you are the one causing the changes, however when you are shooting a moving target, you should know it is difficult to track people when they can change directions at any time without your knowing. If you are jumping, you should be able to keep track of your targets and remain accurate, however your targets will constantly have to adjust their aim up and down, and left and right. If you build your Thorn int he same way as mine, you will be able to stay constantly moving at all times.

Now let’s get started with the Helix tree.

Quick View:

Helix 1: Swampfoot
Helix 2: Fell Wind
Helix 3: Burst Propulsion
Helix 4: Nockout
Helix 5: Hextension (normally)
Helix 6: Brutal Blight
Helix 7: Vaulting Hunter (normally)
Helix 8: Enduring Blight
Helix 9: Kreshek’s Rage
Helix 10: Earthrender (for now)

Now allow me to explain each skill and why I choose one over the other:

Helix 1: Swampfoot/Piercing Volley

I used to say Piercing Volley was the most useless skill because you used to get the same effect from the skill later on called Draw Strength, however I guess GBX saw my comments about how you could get this effect from Draw Strength cause upon release, it no longer effected Volley shots. If you are good with Volley’s and trust your shots to bounce around several times, this skill can put out a TON of hurt. But I recommend against it. Thorn only has one CC… and that is a Slow from Blight. This is absolutely amazing for any engagement. Slows keep manueverable classes from getting around quickly, allowing you to land more arrows in them in less time (cause let’s face it… it will be a once in a life time game when you get 100% bow accuracy,) Swampfoot is also excellent for Wave Clearing (killing minions). Wave Clearing is essential for Thorn, don’t let people get upset at you for focussing mobs early game, you need to level up.

Helix 2: Cursed Earth/Blight Brawler/Fell Wind

I gotta say, this choice is just too obvious… Fell Wind 100%. It is a waste to spend your Blight on getting easier Curse arrows. Blight does incredible amounts of damage (will probably get nerfed someday to be honest…) and has huge wave clearing potential. You should not be wasting it on making your arrows or quick melee do curses. Having Fell Wind is amazing when someone is chasing you and you don’t have the HP to safely engage them. Put it down under your feet and away you go! If someone continues to chase, they will be slowed and take an incredible hit to their HP since Blight is so strong.

Helix 3: Draw Strength/Burst Propulsion

I used to defend Draw Strength over Burst Propulsion like my life depended on it! However after giving Burst Propulsion a shot since they nerfed my Draw Strength effects, I would HIGHLY recommend Burst Propulsion instead. It allows for so much more mobility. Kelvin is looking at you with Sublimate? Jump and quick melee towards the ground, if he doesnt wait for you to fall back down, you should be good to go! Rath’s Ultimate is OP and you got Silenced? Jump, look at the ground, Quick Melee! Thorn is probably the only class that can get away from Raths Ult without the use of skills (especially when you get higher Jump). Draw Strength lets you shoot through friendlies… which is awesome but once you start learning to jump around all the time, you won’t normally be behind friendlies and there isn’t many occasions where you actually shoot two people at once (when you do you feel awesome tho… double headshots are great!)

Helix 4: Kreshek’s Judgement/Focused Volley/Nockout

I’ll go in order this time. Kreshek’s Judgement: This is great when your not lvl 15 with your Lore Challenges incomplete. Volley is great for putting an easy Curse effect down. Sometimes it is hard to land that Curse, but Volley can fix that. However if you already have a way to get easy Curses (like her Legendary gear) then this is now a useless skill.
Focused Volley: (I will be testing this more in the next few days. Going to leave my original comments on this skill for now, but due to @GatoDelFuego 's comment about this skill, I will probably be changing this.) This is actulaly a DPS loss. In comparison to Nockout, you will do less damage with this unless you land all three in a critical spot. The positives about this however, is that you have more range to fire from cause more damage with just 3 arrows. The negative? You can miss a lot easier… and missing with Volley is already easy on small targets.
Nockout: This is what I usually go for nowadays since I have her legendary gear. The two extra arrows give you more damage to put but you do need to be right in their faces. This skill is excellend for large targets like Montana or ISIC as you can put a nice 700+ damage dent in their HP early in the fight. Also if you do choose to make a Volley heavy build, and make it so volley pierces, you can bounce a lot more arrows around in small rooms and such.

Helix 5: Hextension/Fiendish Curse/Hexsanguination

Another obvious choice for me, Hextension. Why would you not choose more damage? I see Thorns who use Hexsanguination all the time and I just laugh… if you choose this then you are probably not very sure of yourself. This is great for added damage when you can’t land your hits consistently, but you lose out on a lot of potential. 10% blight damage and ultimate damage is a LOT. I would suggest Hextension. Fiendish Curse is good if there is a Kleese or annoying Reyna cause you can burn their health when they are overshielded or constantly fed shields. Thorn can get some insane Shield Pen if built for it. But I would still normally suggest Hextension.

Helix 6: Brutal Blight/Swift Volley

I used to take Swift Volley a lot because Volley was my go to for damage, however since expanding on the possibilities with Blight, I now take Brutal Blight. This skill combos extremely well with later Helix choices as well. However if you are the Volley kinda guy… then Swift Volley can dish out the more accurate and guarenteed damage.

Helix 7: Eagle Eye/Phasing Arrows/Vaulting Hunter

This one is is difficult in some enemy comps. Eagle eye is garbage… Thorn is plenty accurate enough and if you decide to get proficient with her, her legendary makes this useless as you will never not full draw… Full Draw also gives you 100% accuracy and the lowest Arrow Drop and fastest Arrow Speed. Phasing Arrows… this is another great skill for those peskey Reyna/Kleese teams. Built correctly, you can get as much as 85% or more Shield Pen as Thorn. That is a big ■■■■ You to Reyna and Kleese. Vaulting Hunter is just too good. Melee can no longer touch you, especially when combo’d with Burst Propulsion. Also Ranged will have a hard time hitting you with your constant movements. The only downside? Some people have played too much call of duty and a Marquis can 3 shot you while you flying through the air like a beautiful Butterfly. Still however, landing Crits is super easy when you are shooting down on people, only problem is, less area to hit… gotta be accurate to land those top down shots.

Helix 8: Enduring Blight/Distant Blight

THORN IS NOT A SNIPER! Not in the sense that you would call Marquis a Sniper at least. You should be up close, where your disadvantage of having a bow when others have guns doesn’t matter. Enduring Blight gives your Blight a LOT more damage potential, as well as locking down an area for even longer (cause no smart player will walk through blight… so you basically shut off that part of the map). Distant Blight is… rather useless… at least with how I play. If you are playing from range, you are doing Thorn wrong. You need to play medium ranges constantly harrassing your enemies and playing their weaknesses. I would not suggest this skill, even if it would be nice at times to be able to stay away and land a further blight, the 6 seconds is just too good to pass up.

Helix 9: Archer’s Boon/Kreshek’s Rage

Thorn does not need lifesteal. You are all about keeping away from damage with every trick possible. By the time you get to this skill you should have the mobility needed to avoid as much damage as possible Kreshek’s Rage however makes your Volleys kill people faster! And with Thorn, killing faster is the way to survive. It’s kill or be killed! Plus she already has health regen as your passive and you can easily just do a return or go to a Supply Station and do some long range fire while you wait for your HP to regen.

Helix 10: Wild Judgement/Trap Training/Earthrender

I am just waiting for the day, when GBX releases an indoor map filled with small rooms… oh man will that be day! Wild Judgement is excellent for small rooms like the halls on the side in Overgrowth (Incursion) but in the current map designs, is too situation to warrant taking, and even if we got small indoor rooms in the future, I would still suggest Earthrender. If you have been building a Blight build with your thorn, this skill will get you triple kills like no other! (serriously… 4/7 triple kills to date are from people running into this stuff when I didnt know they were there :3). A Ultimate Blight and a Blight put together is more than 400 damage per second if someone stands in both while cursed. This is amazing! A lvl 10 Thorn probably has the highest DPS in the game. A skilled Thorn is more deadly in any situation than a Spin to Win Rath at lvl 10. Blight and a lvl 10 ultimate with Earthrender can take out a Sentry’s shields and do a little HP damage all on it’s own with every Blight skill selected.

Gear: Thorn Legendary, Attack Speed Module, and Shield Pen or Skill Damage or Attack Damage. I take Shield Pen now because you never know when you might want to make a shield pen build. However the other two are excellent choices for putting out more DPS than a Shield Pen ever would without a Reyna/Kleese/Shepherd Bot shielding.

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Gameplay: Once you have her Lore Gear, you can start playing in the manner I do. You can play this way small changes too the Helix build and a little slower shooting, but for the pace I set with Thorn, you will need her Lore Legendary

I am horrible with this, like serriously, I have a huge problem with this part. DONT FOCUS PLAYERS! Thorn is absolute trash low teir. Sure you can do well with her but compared to her potential at higher teirs, she is a trash hero at start. Do not focus players if you can help it. Make sure you hit every minion that you see. You do not need to kill minions for the exp though I believe you get more exp for dealing more damage. Still, hit everything and blight every wave you see until you are level 10.

Leveling up as quickly as possible is essential for steamrolling enemies. I would suggest buying turrets and terminals but I also highly suggest getting your Lore Legendary ASAP since that will increase your damage potential by a very large margin (though it does absolutely nothing for wave clearing.) Thorn needs to get her Ultimate if she wants to kill people quickly. Her arrows are pretty subpar for damage in comparison to Marquis and Toby, your fellow “snipers”. The main bulk of your damage will come from forcing players through your blight and volley to their faces.

Engaging ranged targets:

Marquis: DO NOT ENGAGE AT RANGE UNLESS YOU KNOW YOU CAN BREAK THEIR SHIELDS AND DO HEALTH DAMAGE BEFORE THEY TURN THEIR ATTENTION TOWARDS YOU! Thorn cannot win a 1v1 at ranged against any half decent Marquis. If you want to kill them, get around their team and get close, place a blight where they are near the edge and the majority of the blight is in their path to escape. If you can force them to stay in blight as long as possible you will deal a huge amount of damage. Use a volley in their face ASAP so they last less time in Blight. Marquis likes to Bitch Slap so be sure to smack them first so they stay in the middle of the Blight, also try to be between them and their escape. Body Blocking people stuck in blight is easy since they move slow and can’t jump.

ISIC: This guy is a horrible class that needs some changes (as of 5/11)… but despite some things that are extreme annoyances, Thorn can counter his defenses. ISIC has a Rotating Wards skill that they all love to get the Deflection Shields on. This shield makes him Invulnerable to ranged damage, and fires ranged shots back at you. Arrows will not damage these Wards and they must all be destroyed to lower his deflection shield. Blight is your answer. A blight below him will attack all 4 of his shields and break them down quickly. You will be free to fire arrows into his stupid skull until his skill is off cooldown and he once again becomes invuln to most of your attacks. (this skill can deflect your Ultimate as well, and the wards will tank everything if you splash your ult next to him, so do not use your ult if you think he can put this skill up. Unless your level 10 and have Earthrender, then you might kill him.) ISIC should also not be engaged at close range if possible unless you can jump around to dodge his shots, he does a lot of damage and has a Stun skill. Stay at medium/long range as much as possible but dont be afraid to be close, his gun is not the easiest thing to use in the world, especially when you are in the air and not near the ground.

Melka: Blight this chick. She can still get around using her skills, but if she uses them to escape, then she loses a lot of damage potential. She is also tiny and hard to hit, chances are your first engagements with this chick will end badly… mine did… She is pretty squishy if you can land some nice blows with Blight and Volley or an Ultimate, but she can also slip away quickly if her skills are off cooldown. Also her poison is nasty… try not to be scared of it but if you reach 300 HP and are still poisoned, it is wise to run before that stuff kills you. Other than that, all I can say is “Git Gud Scrub”… fighting her is based on experience and skill with the small hit box and high mobility.

Montana: Dont’ get close to this guy, he will put a lot of hurt on you. Shoot his head, it’s small but surprisingly easy to land shots on consistently. If you get close, he will deal a substantial amount of damage, can stun you or knock you up, and easily lower recieved damage with 2 skills, Hailstorm (30%) and his Ultimate (50%). Pick him off from a distance with your fellow ranged or do what you do best and blight their movement and volley their faces! If a Miko is on them just remember, Miko is GOD, he chooses who lives and who dies.

Engaging Close Targets:

Rath: Rath is simple to kill as Thorn provided you have leveled up and build up your mobility. Thorn is the only class that I know of that can avoid Rath’s Ultimate without the use of skills. Jump up, and quick melee with Burst Propulsion to get yourself ontop of a ledge or stay above his head. If he is one of those Rath’s that likes to bounce people on their heads, just quick melee up or slight angled away to stay above and take as little damage as possible. Put down a blight ASAP once your silence is off if they silenced you and start pumelling them while they struggle to regen HP and get away.

Galilea: Galilea will get scared and hold her shield up to keep from dieing when she is low on HP. If you have a blight, put it in her way on the way out. Blight damage goes around her shield and directly into her HP/Shields. Also jumping above her will allow you land arrows around the shield. If you are good with geometry, try to bounce shots around her with volley to hit her from behind. If she stuns you… just hope you survive it and jump away. Probably not a good idea to fight a galilea when your also on the verge of death unless you have a blight.

Miko: Avoid Miko if you don’t have an Ult and they are close to another enemy. You probably wont kill him if you dont have some serrious burst. A nicely landed Volley and a centered Blight with some Quick Melee to keep him trapped in it might kill him, but chances are he will out heal your damage if your attacking him alone. His Stun spore is also super easy to land when up close, so be careful of that if you try to land a heavy Volley or do some quick melee on him.

There are many more and I am honestly too tired right now to list every battleborn for this guide… just assume you blight them, stay close, and volley their critical locations… also Git Gud… cause Thorn is a skill based class that not everyone can play effectively.

Wow! We definitely need to spend some time together as Thorn.

I’m not going to write a guide like this, although this is awesome, it is only how one type of Advanced Thorn does it.

First of all, I use a Standing Desk and believe it gives me an edge with Thorn.
As such I’ve learned to nail Eagle Eye. Literally. And yes, Thorn is a very good Sniper.

Crowd Control for me is much different, once I can bounce back I dive in and throw down a blight, then melee.
Most of the time, even in Advanced mode, I kill every minion in that area.

This is great advice in many matches with thorn I am 80-100+ minion kills, not only does this help you level fast but 2/3 modes that will really help your team push and prevent opposing team pushes.

Well I play PC. So far I have out performed every other Thorn I have ran across but hopefully someone can make me push my limits :stuck_out_tongue:

I also in no way believe this is the only way to play Thorn. I do believe this is the most aggressive style and will push the most damage from her, but it might not be suited to how everyone else wants to play.

The only thing I can say is, DO NOT STOP JUMPING! Don’t care how you play her, unless your jumping to make shots easier on Marquis, you should never stop jumping. Also Quick Melee… it answers everything… and sometimes if I am point blank to someone I will fire one arrow into them, quick melee, fire another, quick melee. It’s a very disruptive attack pattern and makes people have a hard time running, however you do take more damage normally…

This is just about exactly how I have run thorn as well. INSANE minion clear!

I like to use the focused volley mutator over nockout. I hit it by mistake one match, but quickly realized that I was getting double the amount of volley eliminations as normal…perhaps I’m not playing thorn to her max potential. But my strategy is always slow them with blight, curse them, and then line up the headshot volley for the KO. Not being able to run from thorn is scary!

I tend to get a Cursed Blight for the kill. Cursed targets standing in Blight is scary!

I havent really tested Focussed Volley recently, I used it only once way back when I first started using Thorn but never went back to it. Infact I used to use the Cursed Volley for the really easy Curse effect until I got Thorns Legendary gear, now I take Nockout so I have a higher damage potential. I really should start working on Focused though because that will have a higher damage count if you land 2 or 3 crits, even 1 crit and 2 hits should do more damage I think.

I’ll probably make a video someday when I get around to actually trying to record stuff so I can make a visual guide… probably be long as ■■■■ tho :stuck_out_tongue:

I got a question about:
Helix 5: Hextension/Fiendish Curse/Hexsanguination

I’ve been using Fiendish Curse quite a bit and I figured I’d try out the guaranteed damage per second of Hexsanguination. I noticed right away I was no longer basically one-hitting people’s shields with charged arrows. I thought the fiendish curse’s shield penetration would first need an enemy to be cursed and then it would penetrate/bypass the shield. However, it seems to work on the initial “cursing shot” and basically does more shield damage vs bypassing said shield. I want to have a setup that is best against good players and not just the normal player (like walking into or staying in Blight). So I figured against good players getting that curse bonus damage is much tougher and that wiping out their shield super fast may kill faster. Then the DoT guaranteed damage might be better. Also, I feel like I engage first with Blight more times than not so quite often they aren’t cursed while in Blight.

Good points here.

I’m going to make a video guide in the coming weeks and redo this guide with more info on every helix option and maybe short videos on situations where one may be better than other.

Because of all the success I have had with pretty much any option in the helix, I want to make a guide that maybe doesn’t tell you how to do the best, but instead tell you how everything works and how you might combo it in real combat situations so you can make your own Thorn.

That will be great, and since Thorn is an advanced class let’s hope you really dive into the details. :anchor:

I’ll do my best, never made any long videos other than montages… definitely nothing with me talking…

Hopefully it goes well :slight_smile:


Switched to the Focused Volley helix and boy is it hard to land! At least on small moving targets. Huge damage potential… gonna have to make a volley focused helix build and see all I can do with some accurate shots :slight_smile:

Eh… it’s trash… feels like a DPS loss :frowning: Definitely wouldn’t suggest taking penetrating volley over the slow from blight :frowning:

I do switch to Slow Blight on The Experiment, it really shines there since one more second is all you need.

I’ve only seen one Thorn who used this and to date it was the best Thorn I’ve seen. Not saying it was solely because of this skill, just saying.
Hexsanguination is excellent for putting damage on that fleeing enemy who you can’t pursue for whatever reason, fire a Volley and if he/she doesn’t die, the DoT might do the job and has for me several times. Then there’s the benefit of an extra 8 seconds added to the target’s shield recharge delay and 8 seconds that they have to spend running or hiding before they can teleport back to base. If you need to maneuver to re-position yourself rather than just chase directly you might find that your target is hiding somewhere with a full shield or has teleported back to base, but while they’re bleeding they can’t do either and you can wait out their death or sneak up on them to finish them off rather then charge in and die for the kill if they’re surrounded by allies or defended by a turret/sentry, or let them go and miss the kill altogether.
As for lost damage, Wrath of the Wild deals 500 damage. +25% from Curse, that’s 625. Stack another 10%, 675. 12 damage over 8 seconds is 96, 96>50. I haven’t tested this at level 10 when skill damage scales while DoT remains fixed but at level 5 and probably for a few levels after DoT damage outweighs +10% to Cursed enemies. Blight of course deals less damage and no enemy is going to stand in it for the full 6/12 second duration (Well, they shouldn’t anyway, any enemy who does is a dead enemy either way) so less damage = smaller benefit from percentage increases.

Using Hexsanguanation isn’t about not being sure of yourself, it’s about being sure that you can secure the kill that other Thorn’s can’t, risk free :wink:

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I use the DOT a lot in PVP because so many times when I hit with a Fully drawn cursed arrow those enemies just run because they got hit so hard and I rarely have a chance to land a second shot.

A few of the big slow ones I do like Toby, Kleese, Montana, but most just run.

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I will be redoing this guide completely once I complete my video guide. Ill be doing away with all my opinionated comments and be trying to find reasons for every Helix options. Been testing around a bit with different build choices and gameplay styles, kinda hurting my stats but oh well :stuck_out_tongue:

Also as a note: I always try to make games last the 30m, so build heavy for late game :slight_smile:

I know I’m late to the party here, but I disagree with a lot of your helix choices.

I play her as a sustain champ that can’t be matched in lane. I spec into getting the most out of her Blight and bleed, and it has nothing to do with being “unsure” of myself. She dishes out enough damage that her bleed takes away enemy champs only hopes of escaping with <100 hp.

1: Swampfoot (but I see the value in PV)
2: Always Fell Wind, good for getting into or out of any situation.
3: Always Draw Strength, Thorn has too much mobility for Burst Propulsion to be of any value in my experience.
4: Always Kreshek’s Judgement, free curse with every volley on every champ effected…
5: Always Hexsanguination, combined with H4, every volley is followed by bleed damage. That just screams free secure kills with no chance of them escaping.
6: Always Brutal Blight
7: Always Vaulting Hunter, that jump makes her among the most mobile champs in the game and makes Burst Prop pointless
8: Always Distant Blight, doubling the range of your most powerful attack and CC? How can you not take that? The cooldown isn’t that bad, and you’ll use it more often at farther range. Hell this wipes out minion waves is 2 seconds, so the farther away you hit them, the better off you are. Plus, slow down escaping champs with ease.
9: Whichever, not a huge difference.
10: Earthender, an additional blight.

Oh don’t worry, so do I :stuck_out_tongue:
I just just delete this thing honestly… never gonna get around to properly redoing it and probably never make that video guide unless I stop playing the same group of 100-200 people on PC :frowning:

But Burst Propulsion is amazing, even with Vaulting Hunter. It’s not as useful in Incursion anymore with Sniper Towers now being more beneficial for the enemy team than your own (GG you dumb piece of shit box out front) but in a map like Meltdown it allows for new bits of mobility that Vaulting Hunter didn’t offer.

Burst Propulsion also goes in any direction, so for PC players, that means going in a horizontal boost while simultaneously fighting someone. PC players can use it to juke shots. Console players? Ya probably not…

The only situation that makes it useful for any system, is avoiding things that Vaulting Hunter might of made you go towards. (or if not lvl 7 yet) Also allows you to jump over dangerous skills. Kelvin Sublimate? Jump>Burst Prop. Want on that ledge for whatever reason? Jump>Burst Prop. Rath just silenced you and is now spinning and winning under you? Can’t use your jump cause stuck airborne? Burst Propulsion.

Also you have to think. If you have Vaulting Hunter… just who do you need to shoot through? I used to use Draw Strength a lot but after switching I realized… I don’t shoot multiple people that often… In fact if I jump up, I just shoot one person and I avoid body blocked shots. It only helps for Wave Clear really since it doesn’t effect Volley (like it did in OBT), and you know… Swampfoot Blight kills anything that isn’t Shepard Bot Overshielded, do I need to shoot 2 or 3 mobs with a single arrow? Not really.

Blight has a CD of 15 seconds, a duration of 6 seconds, and insane amounts of single second damage. Why get more range when if you play Thorn aggressively and in close proximity? Double that duration and suddenly there are only 3 seconds where a Blight is not on the map… that is a lot of area denial and a huge potential for more damage dealt. Especially if your trying to blow up a Sentry… it’s a ton of damage and effects Earthrender’s Blight as well.

As for the DoT, I tried it out a bit… not really impressed… I like to blow people up fast and there are plenty of ways for someone to heal up in time to not die to a DoT effect. More Curse damage means 10% stronger volley hit, 10% stronger blight, 10% stronger Ultimate. There are too many ways to get more damage from every skill, compared to the more damage from a single skill or long enough draw back. I did the math, a lvl 10 Cursed Wrath of the Wild does 1046 damage + 10% stronger blight after + the damage from the arrow. A lot of classes are dead by this point.

K I am gonna stop… I didn’t intend to write this much… sorry. Guess I like these discussions :3

I agree 100% of how useful burst propulsion is. Got pulled into Galilean ring of death and your slowed? Burst Propulsion. I second the getting away from rath spin to win. Never die with that if I have burst propulsion. Makes it so easy to get around maps, and yes, useful in fights to kite around people. So much easier to deal with melee characters if they don’t realize you burst propulsion yourself behind them. Being chased by some wine with low health on a raised platform. Jump off and Burst yourself back on before you hit the ground. They will have gone down blindly following you.I play on console, and I approve burst propulsion.